The Last ZombiebyOldguy45©
The zombie had been walking for days. Perhaps walking wasn't the correct term. Shuffling or lurching was more accurate. He was dimly conscious of a tiredness as he moved. He barely lifted his feet anymore. When the catastrophe, the "zombie apocalypse" had occurred, when he had been stricken after his own attack, he had moved much more quickly. But that had been months ago, and victims had been more plentiful, and there had been more food, and more energy.
But now mankind had learned to cope with zombies. Mankind had learned how to hunt them down, destroy them, exterminate them. And so the number of zombies had dropped from overwhelmingly superior to fewer and fewer. Now there were more humans than zombies, and zombies were being destroyed every day.
It had been weeks since the zombie had walked with another of his kind. It used to be that one zombie walking alone would attract the attention of another, then those two would attract another, and so on until a zombie horde had formed. These hordes gravitated toward human dwellings where, more often than not, unarmed, frightened people had taken refuge. These victims were quickly overwhelmed and eaten by the mob. Afterwards, the hordes dispersed, the zombies wandering off in different directions to assimilate their meal.
The pattern had repeated itself countless times in the early days. Injured victims had inevitably died, to be reborn as zombies, and then had begun wandering the earth in search of food. At first, their numbers had been huge, but man had gradually gained the upper hand.
Now most zombies walked alone, rarely meeting another walking dead. Alone, most zombies couldn't overpower an adult human unless they caught them by surprise. Also, humans rarely went unarmed any more. Most humans carried a gun, an axe or other implement, or even a heavy stick. They had learned that cracking a zombie skull was just as effective as a bullet. Still, the zombie occasionally came upon a weak or defenseless human or animal. A couple of weeks ago, this zombie had stumbled onto a spotted faun in the woods, quickly broken its neck while it struggled, and eaten it hungrily. But it had been small, and a few days later the hunger returned.
It hadn't eaten since then. Once it had come upon an isolated farmhouse one evening at dusk. A young housewife was taking clothes off a line. Nearby, a small child ran and played. Leaning against the house was a rifle.
The zombie stood at the edge of the woods, concealed in shadow. It waited for the child to approach more closely. Sure enough, once the mother's attention shifted away from the child momentarily, the toddler began moving toward the woods. Towards the zombie.
What passed for excitement rose in the zombie's chest. For the walking dead, human flesh was preferable to animal flesh. The edge of the woods was about seventy-five feet from the farmhouse, and the child had covered about half that distance. She was blond, pudgy and moving swiftly on stout little legs. The mother was folding a sheet. She finished, laid the sheet in the basket, and looked up. When she saw how far the child was away, she cried out, alarm in her voice, "Carly! Come back here!"
The mother started walking quickly after the child, shouting "Stop!" Carly stopped and looked around at her mother, smiled, and began running away, straight toward the woods and the waiting monster. The mother shouted "Carly!" angrily this time, but the little girl ignored her and kept running away. The zombie could hear her childish laughter. Carly thought this was a game.
That was when the zombie stepped out of the woods to scoop the child up and carry her off. But the young mother saw him immediately, and her cries became terrified screams. "Carly! Carly! Stop! Stop!" Carly hesitated and turned around to see her mom sprinting after her. The zombie lurched forward, arms outstretched, ready to grab the child. "Oh God! My baby!" the mother shrieked.
The zombie, bloodlust upon him, could smell the child. Smell her flesh. He needed to eat, needed to feed and taste the soft tissue and warm blood. He opened his mouth and a guttural "Uh uh uh" issued as he grabbed for Carly.
At that moment there was a sharp crack and a bullet creased the zombie's skull. He stopped, stood upright, and stared. Standing beside the house, rifle to her shoulder, was a middle-aged woman. She had come outside upon hearing her daughter's screams, quickly grasped what was happening, and fired a shot at the zombie's head. Now another bullet zinged past the zombie. The older woman didn't say a word. She simply levered another round into the chamber and took aim.
The zombie knew about guns. He turned around and lurched clumsily into the darkness of the woods as another bullet whizzed by and the young mother caught up with her child and ran back toward the house.
The zombie lurched through the woods, hunger gnawing at him. Gradually he slowed down as his energy waned. Soon he was barely shuffling along. At about this time, something entered the zombie's tattered mind. It was like a darkness began to coalesce at the edge of his consciousness. It was in a place the zombie couldn't reach, couldn't quite grasp. This darkness stayed, and began to grow larger.
The zombie stopped, listened. At almost any other time he would be able to hear others like him shuffling through the brush around him. There would be crackles and crashes, occasional grunts, sometimes even a moan. But now, there was nothing except the faint soughing of the wind in the trees. Nothing at all. He realized that he was totally alone. From the rotted maw of the zombie's mouth came a soft keening sound. It was a call to others. It was not answered.
Then an image formed in the zombie's mind. It took its place with the darkness and stayed. It was a place. A place with people. A dark-haired woman and a blond-haired boy. He knew these people. They were part of a life that no longer existed for this solitary walking dead man. An impulse formed in his mind. He wanted to go to the place where those people were. He wanted to see them again, one more time, before he...
The zombie looked around. It was dark and nothing looked familiar. But then he heard a car go by on the road a quarter of a mile away. The roads, and cars, were something he knew, and associated with the place he remembered. He walked toward the road. To his right, a large full moon was rising. Gradually, the landscape before him became illuminated with the waxen lunar glow. The zombie stopped, looked around.
Many of his brain cells were long dead, so he no longer saw colors. But at night, in the dark, it mattered little. To his left and behind him, he saw the glow of a town. That was not right. He had not lived in a town before. Ahead, curving off to the right, was the road stretching into the darkness of the countryside. From his vantage point on a hill, the zombie saw the isolated lights of houses dotting the dark landscape. One of the lights was where he had come from, where he once belonged. Once again, a high faint keening could be heard coming from the zombie's mouth. The remnant of his mind held fragmented images: a back porch with a light, a swing set in the yard. A realization dawned on him. The town behind him was where he'd gone every day to work. The country in front of him was where he'd come to every day after work. He had lived in one of the houses, one of those lights. He started walking alongside the road, toward the lights.
He knew better than to walk close to the road. The road was where men with guns and dogs patrolled, looking for such as he. Se he stayed in the woods, shuffling along, hoping to find something—anything—to eat.
The night wore on. He came upon a small bird flopping on the ground. It had fallen from its nest in the darkness. He stooped and shoved it, feathers and all, into his mouth while the mother bird screeched at him. Not tasting it, he crunched it down hungrily. As it was absorbed, he felt a tiny bit of energy. He walked faster.
In the middle of the night, he saw a light and turned toward it. It was small frame house. All the windows were dark. The zombie stood still and listened. There was no sound except the crickets and the occasional hoot of a faraway owl. In the past, he would have heard the sounds of tens or even hundreds of others like him shuffling through the woods, advancing upon a house like this, then breaking in, overwhelming the occupants and eating them in an orgy of bloodlust. But tonight, nothing.
Suddenly, a dark, swift shadow detached itself from the house and raced at him. With a low growl, the dog launched itself at the zombie's legs, chomping down, ripping decayed flesh, jerking and pulling. The zombie almost went down, knowing that the dog would tear him to pieces if it got him on the ground. Man had begun to train his best friend to recognize and attack zombies. The dogs were almost always large: Rottweilers, Pit bulls, Shepherds, and always extremely aggressive. At least toward zombies.
The dog had loosened his grip on the zombie's leg and refastened upon his crotch. Although the zombie felt no pain, he knew that if the dog got leverage, he would fall. Falling would be very bad indeed. Fear entered his mind and the blackness inside grew a little.
With a desperate effort, the zombie struck at the dog. He struck again, and again. Finally the dog yelped and loosened his hold, and the zombie lurched away into the woods. Lights were coming on in the house. The back door opened. A man holding an assault rifle appeared. He had a powerful flashlight which he shone around. For just a second, he caught the zombie in its beam and let off a shot. The bulled zinged by the zombie's head, smacking into a tree ahead of him. Behind him, he heard a man's voice say, "Good girl, Greta, you're a good dog."
A few minutes later, the zombie was deep in the woods and out of sight of the house. The moon had passed its zenith, and gray light slanted through the trees. The zombie turned and headed off in his original direction, giving the house a wide berth. As he passed it in the woods, he could hear the dog barking, issuing a challenge. He hurried past.
He walked through the night, his steps becoming slower and slower. The baby bird had long since been completely absorbed, its energy spent. At dawn, the zombie stopped and rested, leaning against a tree. He was closer, he could sense it. If he could just keep on going for a while more.
The day was warm. As the temperature rose, he began to steam. What was left of the juices in his body began fermenting. He started to stink. After a while, a large turkey vulture landed near him. For a while, it regarded him. Then it advanced upon him and pecked at his foot. "Uh," the zombie grunted and looked down. He had long since walked out of his shoes. His feet were bare. The large ugly bird pecked again, and stepped away with something in its mouth. The zombie had felt no pain, but when he looked down at his foot, something was missing. The vulture had bitten off the pinkie toe from the zombie's right foot. The bird stood there with it in its mouth, a shred of gray tissue hanging from it. Then the bird ate the toe, just like that.
"Uh," the zombie said again, and then "Uh!" as he lurched toward the bird. The vulture, alarmed, spread enormous black wings and flew a few feet away, landing and looking at him, and waiting.
Over the next few hours, more birds landed. They surrounded him, about ten of them, and began harassing the zombie. One would peck at his feet while another came at his ear. One bird aimed directly at the zombie's eyes but he batted it away savagely.
Finally, the zombie could stand it no longer. He lurched away from the tree, stinking and steaming, and ran into the woods. After awhile, he stumbled across a dilapidated sharecropper's house. It was made of cement blocks, its roof had partially collapsed, and it had no doors or windows, but is might keep the vultures away. The zombie ducked inside under what was left of the roof. He waited there for nightfall.
He was so tired. All he wanted to do was close his eyes. But that was impossible. They had long since dried open. He waited in the house for the sun to go down and the moon to come up. While he waited, he remembered. He remembered a towheaded boy and a woman. And he remembered leaving. And he remembered being attacked by the undead, before he became one of them. And he remembered when victims were plentiful and he and his brother and sister zombies attacked and ate day after day. And then he remembered how fire had been used against them, and how his brothers and sisters had burned, and his narrow escape. And even then it had been all right. There were still plenty of zombies, and they attacked in droves.
But gradually the zombies' numbers had dwindled. He remembered attacking in a group once when a gun had begun firing. It hadn't even sounded like a gun, more like a long burp from a full zombie. And the zombies on either side of him had suddenly disappeared in a cloud of red-gray shredded flesh and blood. By some miracle he had been spared. And he and some others like him, not many at all, had turned and run away. And even then some of them had been caught in the deadly spray and had disintegrated into rotten stinking smears of blood and bone and flesh. That was when everything had changed. After that, humanity had the upper hand. Zombies became scarcer and scarcer. They became hunted things. Young boys began roaming the back roads in their pickup trucks, armed with deer rifles and 22s, looking for zombies to shoot. Some had begun torturing zombies: shooting them in the legs, crippling them, cutting off body parts before shooting the wretched, defenseless zombies in the head and ending their existence.
When the zombie had finished remembering, he looked around. The sun was down, the moon was rising. It was time to move. He didn't know what he'd find, or what would happen. He only knew that he must go back.
He walked all night though the woods. He could feel himself getting weaker and weaker with each step. Although the moon was just past full, and the woods fairly well lit, he still fell several times, tripping over roots or rocks because he could barely lift his feet. He could hear the road, beyond the trees to his left, so he knew he was going in the right direction.
The sky was lightening in the east when he crossed a streambed and floundered through some brush before arriving at a clearing.
In front of him was a one-story brick house. There was an oak tree in the front yard and a swing set in the side yard. There was one car parked beside the house. This was it. This was the place he'd come from. Standing there at the edge of the brush, the zombie was suddenly aware of a series of images in his mind. Images of a son he used to push in the swing, images of his wife's smiling face, images of trips in the car, meals taken together. The zombie moaned softly in his sadness and hunger.
The sun gradually came up. The lights in the house came on. He heard voice inside. It got brighter. Presently, the sun shone on the zombie. He began to steam again.
The zombie looked carefully around. No sign of a dog. That was good. A dog would have ruined everything. He didn't know what he was going to do when he saw the people in the house. He only knew that he wanted to see them again, see them before he...
The front door opened. First out was the little boy. He ran straight to the swing set and got on it. The dark haired, pretty woman said, "Barry! Get in the car! I've told you not to run away like that."
"Okay," the boy said, still swinging. The woman went to the car and began putting things inside: backpack, purse, lunchbox.
The zombie took a small step forward, almost afraid to move. A low, guttural grunt escaped him. There were the people he had come for. The boy and the woman.
The boy continued swinging. He looked over his shoulder at his mother and smiled.
"I'm counting to three, young man," she said. "One, two..."
The boy jumped off the swing. At that instant, the wind changed. A breeze wafted up, carrying the scent of the boy and the woman to the zombie. Suddenly, he realized how hungry, how unutterably hungry, he was. The images of his past life were swept from his mind. Overcome with bloodlust, he lurched into the clearing and went after the boy, arms outstretched.
The woman screamed, a loud, terrified, high-pitched wail. "Barry! Oh my God!" She dropped her packages and ran for the boy. "Bill! Bill!" she screamed frantically over her shoulder.
The screen door opened and a man carrying a rifle stepped out.
"Shoot! Shoot!" shouted the woman.
"I can't! He's too close to Barry!" the man shouted back.
With a sudden burst of speed, the woman swooped in, grabbed the child and darted away just as the zombie reached for him. Once she was clear, the zombie stood up straight and looked at her questioningly. In that instant, two bullets thudded into his chest. He was thrown backward by the impact, uttering a low grunt. Although he didn't fee pain, he felt the impact as a bad thing, and turned to run away.
"Oh my God Bill!" the woman screamed. I can't believe it! It's Frank! I recognize him!"
"Well, he's a zombie now, said the man raising the gun to his shoulder. This time the shot zinged past Frank the zombie's head.
Frank the zombie headed back into the woods, what was left of his mind a confused jumble. He had not initially meant to hurt the child, but hunger had overcome him. And then there was the man...
Back at the house, the woman said, "I'm glad you're here, Bill. I don't think I could have shot him."
"Well, as his friend, and yours, I owe it to him to go and finish it," Bill said.
"Poor Frank. He was a good husband. I wish we didn't have to," she said.
Bill looked at her. "It's better this way. This way he never has to know," he said.
"I'm glad I didn't have to tell him about us and ask for a divorce. It would have broken his heart," the woman said.
"Face it, Pam. This thing that used to be Frank doesn't have the faintest recollection of you or Bobby. Or of me, his best friend," Bill said. As he said this, Bill was looking out at the woods thinking: Take that Frankie boy, you asshole. He smiled a little but Pam didn't see.
"Well," Bill said, sighing, "it's time to finish this. Want to come along and say goodbye to your husband?"
"No. Barry can't be alone," Pam replied.
"Okay, this shouldn't take too long." Bill put his arm around her and kissed her intimately. She responded.
It was true that Frank the zombie had run into the woods. But he had not run very far. In fact, he was only about seventy-five feet in. He was leaning against a tree and watching Bill and his wife. He saw them talking, and then he saw them kiss.
A low moaning sound came from this throat. Bill said something to Pam and walked toward the woods, toward Frank. The wind brought the man's smell, and Frank felt the bloodlust rise in him, along with a murky, though potent rage.
When Bill entered the trees, the light level dropped, and he became more alert. His rifle, a short carbine, he held at the ready. Frank waited behind the tree as Bill's footsteps, crunching on pine straw, came closer. Bill, surrounded by trees, and in limited light, slowed down. Then he smelled the stench of decay. Frank was close by. He might even be dead, but he doubted it. Zombies were killed by headshots. He advanced more slowly, brought the gun up to his shoulder, ready to fire. As he came up abreast of the tree Frank was hiding behind, the zombie uttered a sound between a roar and a moan and lurched at Bill.
He got so far as to actually swipe at the gun, but Bill stepped back rapidly and loosed several shots into Frank's chest and abdomen. The tissue damage was so great that the zombie went to his knees, his arms outstretched. He moved forward on his knees toward Bill. Bill, more relaxed now, stepped closer to Frank, still staying out of reach. Bill leveled the gun at the zombie's head.