Friday, April 6, 2012

Just for fun... an early draft of "Birthday Wish"

Here's a very early draft of my zombie story "Birthday Wish" under the original title "Belated." As you can see, it evolved quite a bit. The version that was published in Soul Survivors: Hometown Tales is my favorite, however, this version does have a special place in my rotting heart.


Had I have known then what I know now, I would’ve taken the barrel of this shotgun, placed it under my chin, pulled the trigger, and split my head right down the fucking middle. That was my mistake. Judging by the blast I heard earlier my neighbor had not made that mistake.

I’m getting ahead of myself; I should really start at the beginning.

I am crippled. I have been for about five years now, ever since a car accident claimed what life resided in my legs, now they just hang there like the useless pieces of meat that they have became. I still don’t remember too much of the accident, just brief glances into my memory of a speeding car racing toward me being driven by some idiot who wanted to test the muscle of the V8.

I survived the crash. I guess in some ways you could say that I was lucky. But after looking out the window over the past few days I’m not too sure that “lucky” is the right word.

It had all started on Monday afternoon. At least that’s the best that I can figure. I know the first time the news mentioned anything about them was on Monday. The first reports were of attacks at the airport. Some initially thought it may be some kind of terrorist attack when a 747 crashed on the runway. I, along with the rest of the country, watched as the plane burned and could hear the screams in the background. The terrorist angle seemed to make sense in a way. There had been all sorts of similar reports happening all over the world; along with riots and murders in the streets. It really seemed to make sense. That is until the reporter ate her cameraman on live television.

That was two weeks ago.

Today, things that would normally cause my stomach to turn and knot are common. I have seen things that no human being was ever meant to see. A toddler walked out into the street the other day. He was wearing an old dirty sleeper suit that was covered with either dirt or blood. He was too far away to be certain but it was obvious that he was crying. I could see his shoulders jump with each racking sob and he chewed nervously on his sleeve. It was not long before one of them heard him. A middle aged woman stumbled out into sight. She had half of her stomach dragging along behind her like a dog’s leash, and an eye dangling from the socket like a goddamned tetherball. She came from the front of the building next to mine and quickly snatched up the crying boy. I closed my eyes and forced myself not to watch. Perhaps that was the scariest part of the whole event, the part when the crying stopped.

To say that I felt useless was an understatement. Could I have built the courage to run down the stairs, out into the street and scoop up the child in my arms like some caped comic book superhero and raced him to safety? No. If my legs were still functional I would’ve still sat here in silence with my head buried in my hands and cried along with the boy.

There is no help anymore. To call out for it is futile and only alerts them to your location. No. There is no help. There are no heroes. If there ever were any they are now out there walking the streets in search of their next meal or cowering behind the walls of an old dilapidated building hoping to die before the things come.

It’s getting harder to see the outside. There is an ever-growing haze filling the street and the sky has become an alternating strobe of black, red, and gray.

I honestly have no idea how long I’ve been sitting here in front of the window. I know that it has been a while since I have moved due to the stains on the carpet from where urine spilled out from the seat of the chair.

My daughter had been staying with me over the past couple of months, ever since my hired lady had gotten sick and had to take some time off. My daughter’s name is Gina, named after her great-grandmother.

She had volunteered to come over and help me out while things were getting straightened out. I had begged her not to go out.

During the first days of the event, Gina had heard the reports. However there were none in our area at the time and things still seemed to carry on as usual. We needed supplies just like everyone else and Gina was ready to make the trip. I told her that things were looking bad. But she insisted. She truly was my daughter because she had my stubborn nature all the way. It was my birthday, she said. And she thought that some ice cream would do just the trick.

I saw Gina today. She was shambling around in front of my building wearing the same dress that she wore when she left. In her left hand hung a slightly ripped plastic bag, which, no doubt, contained a quart of melted, mint chocolate chip ice cream, my favorite.

The streets are growing more and more populated, there is no living in sight, only the dead. I know that it will not be long before I expire from one way or another. I am very hungry and thirsty, and the door is only held by the lock on the doorknob and a small deadbolt.

I can still see Gina down there. She has barely moved since I first saw her. As if presenting the belated gift, she raised the arm with the bag into the air toward my window. A stream of thick green goop oozed from one of the tears.

I told her thank you, and I love you.

Within moments, Gina had disappeared from sight as she moved back toward my building. The others in the street seemed to follow her.

Heavy banging sounds are filling the halls and the downstairs lobby. They will be here soon. My daughter is bringing a gift along with the rest of her friends, which are enough people for a wonderful party. I wonder if she is bringing a superhero up as a surprise.

They are knocking at the door; I can hear the wood splitting.

I’m taking one last look down at the shotgun resting across my lap.

The door has popped open. My guests are here.

Make a wish.

It’s time to blow out the candles.

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