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My entry for my Hallowe’en Writing Challenge is here. Thank you participants, and Happy Hallowe’en.

“The Last One”

The fire had died down too much during the night, but it couldn’t be helped. I’d been in desperate need to rest after three straight days of running from them, and Marcus had been caught by them partway through the second day, so there was no one to share the watch. His screams had followed me, even into sleep.

As soon as I woke, I scrambled for a handful of twigs, leaves, and sticks to rekindle the flames, knowing that they were the only thing that would really keep them away. Once the fire was beginning to burn in earnest, I checked the gun I’d managed to grab from the facility guard’s body, a Colt 1911. “Only four rounds left,” I sighed as I checked the magazine. The .45 had been effective against them so far, but there were so many of them. Only one of us, me, now that they’d gotten Marcus. I sighed again, managing once more to hold back the tears that had threatened for the last day and a half, and chambered a round.

“He’s gone. Get over it. Get up, and get moving.” I added a small branch to the fire, watching as the flames kissed and embraced it, growing larger and brighter. As I listened for footsteps in the distance, I reflected on the past few days and marveled at how quickly everything had fallen apart.

We’d joked  for years, about how we couldn’t wait for it, and how our lives as video game geeks had prepared us for this exact situation. Well, let me just tell you that nothing, and I mean nothing can prepare you for the sight of your best friend being swarmed and eaten by those…things. We said that we’d make it through together, and now…I put my first three bullets into their heads. The fourth went through Marcus’ eye when I realized he wasn’t going to get away, when he realized what would happen if I didn’t.

The fire had scared them away, we didn’t know why, and I still don’t. I had the Zippo Marcus had given me for my eighteenth birthday, even though I didn’t smoke. I told him his habit would kill him. He said my nagging would be the death of him. Well, we were both wrong, but he was closer.

A crack of a twig breaking snapped me back to the present. They were here. I’d not gotten the fire started in time, and now they were here. “Son of a bitch,” I muttered, grabbing the burning branch in my left hand and the Colt in my right. They were getting closer, surrounding me, but there was no way in hell they could know what my plan was. I knew I wasn’t going to survive, but I was going to take as many of them with me as I could. I fired my first three shots as they came into view. I dropped my torch into the dry leaves and raised my gun to my head.

 

 

I woke up a few days ago and I found this in my twitter feed. Now I like good zombie fiction as much as anybody else (and probably a hell of a lot more than some of you), but the topic is one that I’d tried to avoid mainly due to the over-saturation of modern popular culture. Well, that and I’ve worked in retail over Christmas, so I’m pretty certain I’ve already had some first-hand experience with fending off zombies. NO! BACK! YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BRAIN! HAVE THIS DELICIOUS HOMELESS MAN WHO HAS BEEN CAMPED IN FRONT OF THE STORE ALL WINTER INSTEAD!

The zombie craze has been going strong for several years now, and I am pleased to say that I think the vampire sex fantasies are dying off slowly, as exposure to light generally shows how stupid that concept is. (Disclaimer: I have read the Twilight books, and once I was done, I found myself wondering if I hadn’t briefly been turned into a zombie… I got better once someone handed me a copy of A Game of Thrones, and I am fully convinced that this is a legitimate cure. If nothing else, you can use the hardcover editions for bludgeoning weapons and a layer of the paperbacks as a sort of lightweight but still nearly bulletproof armor. Thank you for saving me, George.) Not that vampire stuff can’t be done well. Bram Stoker’s Dracula give me chills, three readings later, and Anne Rice had a great thing going with her earlier work. Or there’s always the Sookie Stackhouse books. You might know them as those stories that Stephanie Meyer completely ripped off when she wrote Twilight, or like A Game of Thrones, you might know of the story from the sexy HBO adaptation (I’m still waiting for the HBO version of my own life to kick in).

This isn’t to say that the zombie fiction isn’t just as ridiculous as the vampire fiction. Far from it. However, it is technically a little more plausible, especially given recent events. People are even catering to the zombie apocalypse with “anti-zombie” ammunition, bladed and blunt weapons, and fortresses. Zombies are in our video games, our movies, our books, and even our news articles. Combine pop culture’s love of this kind of shit with the fact that some people are legitimately convinced that the world’s going to end because a calendar carved in stone around 2600 years ago is running out of room (oh, hey, look, my calendar printed on paper is going to end this year too, I wonder if that means that the world really WILL end…) and people start to get a little twitchy. I must admit, though, that I am curious as to how a civilization that has supposedly predicted the end of the world couldn’t have foretold their inevitable downfall… I mean, it’s not like anyone who’s ever predicted the end of the world has ever been wrong. Wait, what? You mean they’ve ALL been wrong? Oh man, I need to rethink my strategy… But I digress. In all seriousness, the zombie apocalypse could be a lot of fun. There are some great depictions of it. I just can’t help thinking that any disease or thing like that might likely just kill everyone rather than creating living dead. You can blame my recent reading of Margaret Atwood for this.

Anyway, I should get some sleep. Zombies are making me sleepy. What’s that sitting beside me, you ask? Nothing, nothing, just a little shotgun in the event that you start moaning and craving brains in the near future. Can’t be too careful.