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The last bite

heartbeat

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Tomorrow morning, I am going to be bitten by a zombie. How do I know this? Because that is the deal that I have made. Said zombie is, at this very moment, in the guest bedroom, a wall away from me. I can hear the ragged wheeze of her undead body gearing up for another moan.

From what I’ve observed, in the short time I’ve known Alice up close, (4 hours to be precise) she needs to moan. It’s a release. Like a sneeze that’s been building. Or a cough that’s been tickling her throat.

Right now, it could also be her ‘talking’ in her sleep? If that’s the case, I hope she’s having good dreams, and not a nightmare caused by me.

Would you think me a bad person if I told you that I’ve actually been watching her, from more of a distance, for the last three days? You see, she’s been wandering around the deserted council estate where I live, sleeping in a different house every night, like some shambling Goldilocks, trying out beds. By the fourth day, today… all I could think about was inviting her in.

So I left the door wide open this evening, to make it easy on her shaking hands and jerking body. And I watched her through my bedroom window, ready to duck down if she looked up. She never did. She was fixed on fumbling with gates and rattling doors, her clumpy blonde hair swinging across her pale face.

When she got to my gate, and spied the open door, she groaned, like a drain clearing. She lurched her way up the path, faster than I’d ever seen her move. I hid behind my bedroom door and listened…to the clambering rhythm of her dragging herself up the stairs, and then shuffling across the landing carpet and into the guest bedroom. This was it. Time to trap my own personal zombie.

Desperate times, my friend.

I sprung out of my room, clocked her sat on the end of the end of the guest bed, and slammed the door shut, then roped the handle to the landing banister, so it wouldn’t budge.

“It’s OK!” I yelled through the door. “It’s OK. I’m Cassie. I’m not going to kill you. I swear. I’m Cassie. What’s your name?”

“Aaaaaaagh.”

“Aaaabigail?”

“Aaaaagh.”

“Aaaalisha?”

“AAAAAGHHH!”

“Alice? Shall we go with Alice for now?”

Silence.

I’m not a monster, I swear. So I ran straight downstairs, out the door, and to the shed. I hauled out the ladder that Dad used to use to clean the windows, and levered it up until it was resting against the wall by the guest bedroom window. I climbed up slowly, like the most cautious of burglars, tensing every time the ladder shifted. I could have used someone at the bottom to keep it in place. But that’s the thing about a Zo-pocalypse. It leaves you stripped of everything you want, at every moment. Including people to hold your ladder, and talk to you at night when it goes dark and there is literally nothing to do.

“Hello?” I called gently through the window. “It’s me Cassie. I have a deal for you. But I would like to know if you are on board. Can you hear me ok? Through this glass?” I rapped lightly on the window.

Alice stood up from the guest bed and shuffled over, like someone who’s had a double hip operation. (Hopefully without the pain). Then she slowly pressed her half a nose to the glass.

“AAAAGH!” she moaned.

I would say that her eyes looked more pissed off than undead. Blue and glaring. They matched her stained long-sleeved t-shirt. I made a note to offer her a change of shirt as a kind of payment, for the bite.

“Can you nod for yes and shake your head for no?” I asked.

She nodded and her nose left a disturbing smear of rust-red on the glass.

“You might need to take a step back?” I said. “So you’ve got space to nod.”

The ladder wobbled as my body tried to demonstrate the moving back sentiment, and I grabbed for the window frame, heart pumping hard. I steadied myself, and then got another nice shot of fear, from the thought that I had a limited number of heartbeats left.

What followed was a very uncomfortable hour – physically and emotionally.

The lowest point was when I explained for the sixth time why I wanted her to bite me. Just once. Just enough to turn me. She rolled her eyes back so far into her head that I could practically see the attachments straining. Then she looked right at me and made a sawing motion with her hand across her own neck.

“I’m not ready to die completely. I just want out of…this….” I gestured around me. Like it could sum up the crushing void of pointlessness in my head. In the movies they always showed the fight for food, the starvation. But Dad had planned well for the two of us, and I was only eating half. It wasn’t lack of food that was killing me right now.

Alice slapped her hand against her chest so hard that another rusty-red mark appeared, on her t-shirt. Then she lolled her head back, and made the sawing motion again, across her crusty neck.

Oh. Oh no. Was she really asking me to decapitate her?

We locked eyes.

Difficult, like I said.

But I was born persistent. And nothing that Alice could try could throw me off. Not now. Not peeling her lips back and showing me the state of her semi-missing teeth. (There were still enough to bite with.) Not pantomiming how bad she smelt. (This one took a while for me to get. But like I said, hey for persistence.)

I didn’t stop until we mimed shaking hands, through the glass, and she collapsed back onto the spare bed. Now I am sat safely on mine, finishing up my last thoughts. One more night to feel my heart beating, and then a strategic bite from Alice. It’s what I want. Don’t judge me for tapping out. Persistent….to a point.

Week 12

The halfway mark! Twelve stories written out of my twenty-four week challenge. This week I had a tighter window of time than the usual 2 hours, so I started with a question, and then typed like the wind. The question was:

What would a zombie bite be like, compared to a vampire bite? (Not at all sexy!)

I really had fun thinking about this, and have a bunch of notes for ideas I’d like to develop. (I really wanted to write a gross-sweet scene where Cassie washes zombie Alice’s hair!)

Halfway in, I am still so grateful to my Dalnaglar Writing Retreat instructors for suggesting this practice of writing a weekly story!

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