Saturday, March 3, 2012

Zombie Flash Fiction

Last December Slacker Heroes hosted Zombiethon 2011 and posted Zombie Flash Fiction from a number of authors, including me.  The rules were that it had to be 1000 words or less and it had to have something to do with zombies. If you haven't investigated the Slacker Heroes site it is well worth checking out.  Below is my Zombiethon 2011 entry, which was posted on December 15th, 2011:

The Launch of the Zombie Flambé
by Carol Holaday

With one more knot, Dale secured Justin and Sarah to the central mast of The Zombie Flambé. He carefully avoided tripping over a flailing arm or a jutting shoe, climbed off the raft made of kerosene soaked wood and zombie classmates and waded to the shore where he could admire his work.

As he watched them floating gently in the surf, moaning and gurgling, he thought about all the years of misery they’d put him through, starting the first day of Kindergarten when Justin, who had declared himself Dale’s new best friend, grabbed his sandwich and spit on it while the other kids in the class laughed, thus beginning Dale’s journey into 12 years of daily hell called school.

At the age of five he’d been branded as different, less-than, someone to mistreat and make fun of. After that day he frequently found his shoes in the toilet, or the other kids would “accidentally” knock his lunch bag off the shelf and then “accidentally” stomp it flat. In junior high and high school the torture shifted to being tripped while walking to his desk or shoulder butted hard enough in the hall that his books and papers went flying, only to be stepped on, torn and lost in the shuffle of students scurrying to classes before the bell. Dale spent a lot of time in detention for being late to class, not turning in homework, or turning in homework that was thrashed. His thoughts during these times shifted back and forth between suicide and revenge.

When he went to his dad for advice he heard, “Stand up to bullies.” That got him beat up.

He tried talking to the junior high counselor. It didn’t help.

His mother said, “Stay out of their way.” Good advice. And becoming invisible worked most of the time, except when Justin, his jock buddies, and his girlfriend Sarah would spot him and move in for a torture session. Dale dreamed desperately of escape. It came sooner than expected.

Two weeks into the ultimate nightmare of his senior year a terrorist group released a deadly virus into the main subway in London that spread through air, direct contact and water. It incubated in 3 days, like a cold, but this cold caused death, re-animation and a desire for human flesh. American contamination started in New York and spread rapidly. Schools shut down, stores closed. The looting and shooting began only to fall off as the looters and shooters became vegetables on feet. Military vehicles with machine guns and flame-throwers became a common sight, as a bullet through the brain or fire was the only way to kill the zombiefied. Eventually they tapered off too.

It was when his own family succumbed to the virus that Dale discovered he was immune. He watched his older brother, Jake, turn into one of the walking dead in just four days, his mom and sister a day later, then his father. None of them tried to attack him when he led them into the back yard, sobbing as he shot them between the eyes with his dad’s 22 revolver. Afterwards he built a large bonfire and burned their bodies, all the while wondering who would put him down when the time came. But the time never came.

Weeks later, all alone and bored, he came up with the idea for The Zombie Flambé, a project he could sink his teeth into. Driving an empty bread truck he began rounding up as many of his fellow classmates as he could find.

During one of his classmate collecting trips he came across Anna foraging in a local mini-mart. She would have shot him if a group of shuffling zombies hadn’t knocked a shelf over on her. He’d unburied her, discovered she was also immune, and they’d been together ever since, living in a cottage near the beach, using a gas generator for power, scavenging the things they needed from abandoned houses and stores, his zombie raft temporarily forgotten.

When Anna got pregnant, Dale picked up supplies from the local hospital, grabbed textbooks from the library, and boned up on childbirth. They delivered Layla together at home and were relieved when zombies took no notice of their new addition. A month later Anna happened upon a working ham radio in the house down the street, which is how they found out about “The Colony” 600 miles north in Northern California. Decision made, Dale decided to complete his project and take his family north.

The wood and zombie craft swayed up and away with the receding tide. Dale released the ropes holding it to the shore and let it float a hundred feet out before he picked up the Molotov cocktail he’d made for the launch, lit it and tossed it directly at Justin and Sarah. Glorious waves of flame erupted from the center of the raft as it floated away, engulfing the flag at the top of the mast that read, “Class of 2012 – Rot in Hell.”

“Hey, can we get a move on here before she gets hungry again?” Anna was standing by the loaded down Hummer at the seawall. Baby Layla was in her arms wearing a sweet little pink bonnet to protect her from the sun. God they were cute. And they loved him as much as he loved them.

Dale turned and waved. “Be there in a sec.”

By the time he reached the Hummer, Layla was safely buckled into her car seat. As they both piled into the front Anna rolled her eyes at him. “God you are such a drama queen, Dale.”

Laughing, Dale started the engine and Anna pulled out the map. They were off to start fresh in a new place. Dale knew this would be different because he was different. He was a survivor. He was finally free. As they drove up the main street he caught a flash of The Zombie Flambé in the rear view mirror.

Dale grinned.

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