It’s amazing what you can get used to when you have to.
The dead starting to walk was a shock like no other. People just couldn’t handle it. When it started as many people died due to denial-induced inaction and suicide as they did to the zombies.
Just saying the word zombie without feeling foolish took some time. Everyone knew what they were but no one wanted to admit it. The press continued to use “the walking dead” or “undead” right up till the end. I guess it’s hard to be terrified of zombies after seeing them dance with Michael Jackson and appear as fodder in countless video games.
Realizing you were truly on your own, that no army helicopter was going to come out of the sky and save the day was a bitter pill to swallow. Even on the last day we had electricity the government was still promising that help was on the way.
It never came.
Killing a living person was a tough to overcome at first. I always thought it wouldn’t be that hard if I had to do it. Hell, I was a cop before the world went to hell so I was even trained to do it. Not to mention I thought I was desensitized after shooting several dozen zombies. Then I did it and it was like a punch in the gut. Not pulling the trigger, that was the all too easy part. It was what came afterwards that was hard. Watching him gasp, bleed out, his eyes loosing focus and knowing what he would turn into because of me.
Losing Carrie and Devon almost killed me. Both were taken when I was out searching for food. Coming home, finding the house overrun, shouting for them and getting no answer. I wanted to eat a bullet after that but something deep down inside of me wouldn’t let me do it. So I just kept going. It felt like I left a piece of myself back in that house with my wife and child. Whatever it was, I think it was something that I wouldn’t need anymore.
Now I figure I’m more like the zombies than not. I feel nothing. I exist, but don’t really live. I kill and move on. And like them, I eat.
Running out of food was the hardest thing of all to overcome. The grocery stores picked clean, no time or place to grow crops, no animals left to eat. I can’t even remember the last time I heard a barking dog or a singing bird. But there’s plenty of meat out there if you have the stomach for it. It often makes you puke, even after burning it to a crisp, but it’s better than nothing. And sometimes I get lucky. Maggots don’t taste as bad as you would think.
Then there’s the few and far between days when I am truly blessed and I find warm meat. Huddled and terrified, like I use to be. They trust in my old uniform, fall for my smile, and believe my kind lies.
And they have no idea of the things I’ve had to get used to.
© Brian M. Sammons
Brian M. Sammons has penned a few dark tales over the years. They have appeared in the magazines Bare Bone, Cthulhu Sex, Dark Animus, and Horror Carousel and in the anthologies Arkham Tales, Cthulhu Unbound Vol. 2, Horrors Beyond, and Twisted Legends, among others. Later this year his first novella, The R’lyeh Singularity, written with David Conyers, will be published in Cthulhu Unbound 3 which he also co-edited. Despite all this, Brian is often described by his neighbors as “such a nice, quiet young man” and he loves animals. You can find out more about Brian at his very infrequently updated website:
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