I killed my first zombie with a hatchet.
It was raining, but in the daylight I could see that a small island floated just offshore. Several squat buildings—a farmhouse and a tiny shed—were sheltered among the tall trees. I knew I’d find nothing but locked doors and bare dirt there. But beyond the trees there was something else –maybe a dock. I waded through the shallows and made land.
Those things shambled in the mud, but with a little care I was able to thread the needle and make my way towards my goal. The boathouse was two stories tall and unoccupied—there was no boat in its slip, nor zombies inside. But within, sheltered from the rain, I found a single axe with a long red handle, as if it were put there just for me.
I didn’t question my luck. I took the weapon in my hands eager to make use of it.
I stepped out into the rain and walked the length of the dock skirting the shoreline. A nearby walker took notice of me and came running into the neck-deep water. I tried to swing at the thing from above but I couldn’t reach, so I plunged into the cold and hacked at the zombie until it crumbled and fell.
And then I started to get carried away. At first I’d do my best to creep up on the creatures and cut them down from behind. But I soon became careless. I’d made a pile of three or four of the monsters before I realized I was bleeding. A bandage staunched the wound. But I had lost a good deal of blood.
Still, there was something appealing about killing them all, about making this island my own—a brief respite in a cruel world. So I rushed through the puddles, hacking away at every zombie I could find. All told I took down sixteen of the bastards. But I was careless. One caught me with a claw. Another re-opened my injury. I took some painkillers and pressed on.
They kept coming. I was sure I’d swept the entire island, leaving corpses in my wake. But every time I turned around there were more of them. I was breathless and my vision was blurring. I couldn’t be sure if the shadow dancing in the distance was a tree or another one of the undead. Finally, one zombie blindsided me, knocking me to the dirt. And that was it. I was pinned. Or paralyzed. There was nothing I could do but watch as it tore the last shreds of life out of me.
Caution is my byword. From the beach I see a yellow construction crane towering in the distance. I climb a small hill and peer down into the unfinished yard and see no danger.
There’s more of use in this place than I can carry. I drink a can of Coke right there and shove two cans of Pepsi into my bag. There’s an axe here too, so I keep the familiar weapon in my hands, but promise myself that I’ll only use it in case of emergency. Tangling with zombies for fun just leads to trouble. And if places like this building bear fruit there’s no point in killing the undead in the off chance they’re carrying something useful.
I climb to the top of the unfinished building, picking over its ruins for everything I can get my hands on. My score is a mostly useless collection of ammunition and clips for weapons I don’t have. But I think of the future. From the roof I survey my surroundings. An industrial complex sprawls before me. Pipes and walkways connect tanks to buildings. Roads weave between them. For the life of me I can’t spot a single zombie amongst these ruins. All the small villages I’ve encountered have crawled with the undead. I should feel relieved by the quiet, but I am edge.
I explore deep into the plant. I climb around barricades and sidestep burnt-out vehicles. A kind of war was fought here. There’s a cluster of medical tents with rows of bodybags outside them. Inside, I find boxes full of medical supplies—stuff like blood bags and Epi-pens. I load up on the stuff, dropping empty cans and ammunition in favor of tools that will help me stay alive. Still, there’s more than I can carry. Grenades, light sticks, spare backpacks. I even stumble upon a tent that is much too bulky for me to carry. Finally I discover my first gun—a silenced pistol with fourteen rounds in the clip. Things are looking up, I think, when I hear the sounds of a church bell echo through the town.
The peals are followed by the distant crack of gunfire. I climb the ladder on the side of a brick building and clamber onto the roof hoping to catch a glimpse of the gunman. But I can pick out no movement in the direction of the gunfire. The bells have stopped but they, too, sounded like they were coming from the same direction.
The time it takes to climb back down the side of the building is all the time I need to remember my promise. I turn back the way I came and run for the hills.
About the Author:
Gus Mastrapa is a freelance writer from Apple Valley, CA. He doesn't believe in zombies.
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