ROW80-3 28/2/19 Where did summer go?
ROW80-3 01/09/2019 A break at the cottage

Almost Dead

Our latest prompt was to write about Zombies, but with a twist. I'm a little later than usual, but I was at a lovely cottage, with some wonderful people, and a lot of distractions. And only a tablet to work on - I prefer a laptop and a real keyboard. We went out for some drinks when we got back, then I threw this together. I had fun with this story about Steph and Stan. 914 words, or thereabouts.

Almost Dead


Stephanie hadn't planned on being a zombie. True, her fellow accountants often stalked around the downtown office like the living dead, but all the real zombies were safely in The Zone. Most of them anyway, rounded up periodically by the cops, and dumped through the gate. Once you got bit, you died, then woke up a shambling consumer of flesh. Especially brains. Sometimes it took minutes, sometime days, but it was inevitable. Oh, there’d been a trial of an experimental drug that could reverse the effects, her firm had been auditing it in fact. But the new Premier had put it on hold, as part of his program of cutbacks.

Getting bitten was an unexpected end to her coffee date with Stanley. He lived in the apartment next to hers, and always seemed to meet her in the hallway.

"Hey Stephanie," he’d say, blushing furiously. "How are you? Um, nice day eh? Do you, um, maybe want to get a coffee or something? Or not."

He was nice, obviously infatuated, and harmless, so one evening she finally relented.

"Okay, just a coffee, as long as you promise to not ask me again."

Of course he agreed, and of course he would ask again.

Coffee was okay, aside from him hanging on every word and staring at her with those spaniel eyes. It was on their way home, in between two streetlamps, that they were attacked. Or rather she was. Stanley had screamed like a girl and run off down the street on his skinny legs.

The bastard.

She woke up just inside the Zone gates, propped up against a wall. They'd dressed her in an orange jumpsuit and left her a bottle of water and a wooden club. Thanks a lot. Several others had been left with her too, but they had already started to aimlessly wander off. She finished the water in several gulps then took stock. Her head was killing her. Okay, she vaguely remembered and falling and hitting it. There was a long scratch on one arm, a fresh one, that looked like it was starting to heal.

Okay now, that wasn't supposed to happen.

Her stomach growled. She had a craving - for pizza she thought.

Brains? She tried to imagine eating raw brains. Nope, gross, definitely not on the menu. Maybe an arm? Nope. Obviously she was one of the lucky ones, that took a while to 'turn'. Maybe she hadn't even died yet. If she was lucky, she would have several days to find a way out of this. Other than just killing herself.

Before the Zone, this was just a normal neighbourhood, so there was still a grocery store just down the street. There would at least be some canned foods there, maybe dried fruits and nuts. She had just gotten to her feet when several real zombies appeared, shambling toward her, arms outstretched. She was pleased to discover that she could still run, so was soon safely in the store.

Thirty minutes later, her stomach filled with granola bars and canned peaches, she was back outside, looking for a place to sleep.

"Stephanie! Hi, it’s Stanley, remember me?"

There he was, running toward her with that goofy grin. "You bastard, you bailed on me. Left me for dead!"

"Sorry, um, Stephanie, I panicked. But I felt so bad I just had to come after you. I’m here now."

"But how’d you get in?" He was in grey city worker coveralls, baggy and nondescript.

"I have like, um, a friend that works for the city, but he’s on vacation. I borrowed his coveralls and pass. Well, um, stole I guess. I just waved his pass at the scanner, and I was in."

"A pass," she said. "Could you get another one? I need to get out. There’s an experimental program I think I can get into."

Stanley held up an arm, an arm missing a big chunk of flesh. "No, I’m here to be with you. I made sure I got bit as soon as I got here. Once I change, I can be a zombie just like you. I can already feel is coming on."

"But I’m not a zombie ,yet, she said. "And I don’t want to be one. I need to get out of the Zone and contact my people."

"No," he said. "You need to be with me. Just a few minutes more before my change I think." He grabbed at her arm. "You need to change faster now. I won’t let you leave me." He waved at some nearby creatures. "Hey, over here. Brains. She’s not a zombie yet. She’s waiting for you."

Bastard.

He coughed, then collapsed. "Please, I did this just for you. We’re destined to be together."

She sighed. Poor sap. He must really love her, to go to these extremes. But she couldn’t imagine a life with him, shambling through the Zone, snacking on rats and mice, as her brain deteriorated into mush. She had to try to reverse this. She pried his fingers from her arm and stepped back.

"No can do Stanley, that coffee date was our one and only." She eyed the approaching zombies. She had time.

"Sorry ghouls, gotta run." She quickly swapped Stanley’s drab coveralls for her garish ones and grabbed his pass. She returned to the gate and hid behind some crates. She’d wait for the next batch of the doomed and sneak back out with the delivery crew.

Then, hopefully, a cure.

 

Comments

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Joyce Juzwik

Ah, love. What a nightmare! Stanley's right where he belongs since it seems like his brain's been mush from the jump. He was so obsessed with Stephanie that he'd follow her to the literal end. Romantic? Not a chance, since he's willing to sacrifice her to get his way. Now, Stephanie though? She has to get out and find a cure before she turns. Heaven forbid she should end up back in The Zone with Stanley! Great job with this prompt!

Tessa

My favorite one to date!!

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