Happy Halloween, everybody!
A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist. ~ Stewart Alsop
Monday, July 9, 2012
It has become impossible to find out what is going on within the city of Baltimore. Without television or internet, we are limited to radio, and the only stations still broadcasting are located outside the city. We don’t know which areas have been affected, and we’re afraid to venture outside to determine the state of things for ourselves. The house is hot and stuffy, we’re running low on food, and without news to assure us that the reservoirs are still safe we’re afraid to drink any water that isn’t what we stockpiled days ago. Worse than that, tempers are running high — where a week ago we were all laughing and drinking wine while we watched our babies play together happily, we are now snapping at each other over nothing. When Sausage trips and hits his head on a table edge, C and Loving Husband nearly come to blows over baby-proofing. We can’t live like this much longer.
And it’s starting to look like we won’t have to. It’s mid-day, and for the first time in days, the eerie silence outside has been broken by the sound of breaking glass and muffled screams. C is the tallest of us, and he leans out an upstairs window to see what is going on.
The noise we heard was a gang of zombies, maybe thirty of them, methodically breaking into houses at the end of the street, dragging people from their homes and devouring them under the hot sun. They are moving in our direction.
We gather the children and as much of food and diapers as we can carry and hurry to the basement. This is where we will make our stand, with only one access point. It is our hope, though a faint one, that the zombies will find the basement too difficult to access, and will therefore pass us by in favor of easier targets.
By the time we’ve moved, we can smell them. As sealed up as we are in this hot and airless house, the stench of thirty animated corpses rotting in the record-breaking heat has crept under the door, around the windows, down the antique chimney. What had been horrifying and terrible is now also intensely immediate.
Loving Husband and C assemble the weapons they found — hedge clippers, a baseball bat, a heavy spade, assorted cooking knives. It doesn’t look like much, and it really isn’t. They plan to defend the narrow stairwell with the knives and clippers, leaving B and I to fight with the longer ‘weapons’ at the bottom of the stairs, should the zombies make it through that far. We are the last line of defense.
Now all we can do is wait. This is the hardest thing we’ve faced so far — the tension of waiting for our killers. The men murmur in the stairwell, quietly discussing strategy as if they stand a chance of saving us. In my mind, I kiss my Loving Husband goodbye, hoping that he knows how much I love him without my having to say it. I stand, spade in hand, next to B and her baseball bat, both of us ready to defend our babies with our last breaths. We wait for the sound of glass breaking, wood splintering, barricades crashing from above.
Finally, from behind me, comes an unexpected sound: metal grating on stone.
The zombies, so much stronger in death than they ever could have been in life, have torn the metal bars off of the basement windows and are breaking into the house from a completely unexpected direction. The thick, frosted glass breaks, smashed by graying, rotting fists. Snarls and grunts accompany the sounds of crashing glass and crumbling brick.
There is nothing between the zombies and the babies.
B shouts to the men, and they come running. I step around the playpen and attempt to hack at the blank-eyed, rabid faces that are pushing their way through the window casings. My spade is able to slow a couple of them down, knocking out some teeth, slicing open some faces, but nothing seems to stop them.
“This is it,” I think. “We can’t do it. We’re going to die here.” I turn my head a little, trying to see my beautiful child one last time, knowing my death to be immanent. My guard drops a bit, I hear a crack, and as I fall to the floor, I think I hear a far off wail. Then all goes black.
Next Time: The Conclusion