It’s the ABC meets XYZ challenge at Chuck Wendig’s site, this week and I’m finally breaking my flash fiction silence by participating. I’m a little rusty with the short stuff so bear with me. (Or not, I don’t care. If you don’t like it then you can TP the trees on the front lawn if you want — that stuff will be worth a MINT when the zombies come, I swear.)
I’m writing a mashup of DIE HARD and THE WALKING DEAD because that’s honestly my two favourite things on the list. (I’d be even MORE thrilled had Boondock Saints or Indiana Jones been on the list, but this works too!) I warn you now that it’s a little NSFW because cussing and zombies. So here we go, I offer, for the approval of the Midnight Society a little tale I call:
BODEGA OF THE DEAD
“Son of a bitch,” I growled as I threw my weight against the solid door a fifth time. I knew that it was futile; these doors were designed not to budge. once they were sealed. Things had changed a hell of a lot since 9/11 and security was tight everywhere. I briefly considered drawing my gun.
You’re an idiot. I chided myself. You’re also off duty and not in your blues. Do you think these people are gonna respond nicely to you pulling a concealed weapon?
I hated when I was right. I rolled my aching shoulder and looked around, taking stock of the situation. I was trapped, in a mall, with a bunch of civilians.
Just like in the movies.
I felt a lump stick in my throat as the sick thought dawned on me.
We’d heard reports out of Atlanta, it had been all over the news. Reports that the dead were rising and walking around and eating people. We didn’t take it seriously. There was no footage, nothing to prove that it was happening anywhere, and if it was happening, everything had been so quietly taken care of that the Atlanta reports were written off as an elaborate hoax.
And now, here you are. Trapped in a mall with a bunch of civilians because some asshole decided it would be smart to push the panic button.
Everyone kept asking the same questions.
“What’s going on?”
“Why are we trapped here?”
“I wanna go home…”
At least there weren’t any kids present. I had a bad feeling that things were about to go from bad, to worse.
People were crowding around the main entrance like moths to a flame. Everyone wanted out. I’d thrown my weight against these walls already, this wasn’t working and I was starting to get claustrophobic. My security codes didn’t mean shit. Someone had deactivated all the keypads that would have allowed me to open the doors with my cop clearance. Flash some ID and push some buttons and this could have all been written off as a drill.
No, there was something nagging at the back of my head. Something screaming at me from the place where you couldn’t quite recall. Some people called it their gut instinct. Some people called it luck.
Call it whatever you want, but mine was going five alarm crazy and I couldn’t figure out why.
To make matters worse, I could feel the beginnings of a migraine kicking my in the temples; and I didn’t have any Aspirin.
I growled under my breath and pushed my way through the growing crowd. Malls didn’t just get put into lockdown with no sign of the security guards for no reason. I hurried back deeper into the mall, fighting against the surging tide of people trying to get out the front doors. I slipped into the nearest utility hall and started running.
The hallways weren’t locked, that meant that someone had tampered with them, or had intentionally left them open.
I didn’t like either option.
I skidded to a halt on the third floor and pushed the door open gently. The level was empty, everyone was downstairs. I nodded. That was good. I also noted, with growing fear, that none of the storefronts had gone into lockdown. Now I knew that someone was doing this intentionally.
I slipped through the door, taking one shoe off and using it as a door stop as I did. I pulled off my other shoe and slipped the laces into my belt. I’d seen CUBE enough times to know that a shoe is a vital piece of gear when dealing with the unknown. I padded across the hall and into the hunting supply store when the intercom crackled to life.
“I wish that I could say that I am sorry for this,” the disembodied voice over the intercom drawled. It had a funny accent that I couldn’t place. Russian, maybe? Norwegian? For all I knew this was suddenly the return of the Teutonic Knights and Prussia and we were all screwed. “But in war there is no apologies. You are all here to witness something grand, and you are the most lucky of all.”
I dove behind the glass counter as I heard the first screams. They were distant, all coming from downstairs. I poked my head up over the counter just in time to see the cages on the front of the stores all roll down and thud into place. All except my store. It jammed halfway down and kept trying to retract on itself, like a garage door. That was lucky.
Behind the screaming I heard something that I knew deep down meant that the reports in Atlanta weren’t fakes.
Shit shit shit.
I looked around the store. I had all the weapons and ammo I could want, but I settled on only one. I found the ammo for it quickly and I hefted it onto my shoulder. I slipped my remaining shoe under the door, leaving it there just in case the jam resolved itself and hoped it would be enough to hold the cage open.
I padded barefoot back to the main entry. I stood at the top of the escalators and winced. The carnage below mixed with the screaming made my headache worse and I had to fight back the urge to throw up. People were eating each other, and blood splattered everywhere. It was a killing floor, just like you see in slaughterhouses. It just reminded me that I was very likely gonna die here.
I really wished that I would have stopped to grab some Aspirin.
I clicked the safety off of the automatic weapon in my hand and I shouted, “Yippee-ki-yay you undead motherfuckers!”