Tali: Hey all! I decided to try something new: a zombie story! Yes, it's odd. Yes, the chapters are short. But, on the upside, they're all written. The entire story is around 60k words and I broke it up into a ridiculous number of chapters to keep some of the cliff hangers that came out naturally. I wrote it as my own story, so I'm going back and Twilighting it. Please forgive stuff I miss in the flipflop.
Let me know what you think!
Zombie movies were shit, pure and simple. They got so much of the reality wrong. For one thing, zombies are fast fuckers. You practically have to be a track and field star to get away from some of them. That or really fucking lucky.
For another, they talk. There's nothing creepier than a little kid zombie, let me tell you. That little kid voice asking for help suckers lots of people in. Thankfully, there's not many of those. Little kids don't have enough meat on them to last long enough to become zeds. The adults are still pretty bad. They're very persuasive and they are very good at coaxing you into stupid shit. You have to really focus on ignoring them or they can talk you into just about anything.
They're also pretty smart. Well, at least as smart as they were before they became the walking talking undead. It's not like they gain any kind of super intelligence or anything after they turn. They retain what they had before, except with, you know, an uncontrollable blood lust. Or brain lust. They want to eat you.
One advantage movies got wrong is they're blind. They can't see worth shit, which you'd think would be huge. Just stand still and they'll walk right past you, right? Wrong. They've got crazy good hearing and sense of smell. To survive, it's best if you don't bathe often. Gross, but there you go.
I had been 16 when the first zed's started making their appearance. The only reason I was alive now was because I'd snuck out with my boyfriend and a bunch of our high school friends to drink and smoke and party at the quarry. I know, I know, how cliché. What the fuck ever. It kept me alive. When I got home, my parents and siblings were dead. Dead dead, not zed dead. At least I was saved the horror of having to kill my own family. I packed up a bag of shit and got the hell out of there. Just because the zeds had been there didn't mean they wouldn't come back.
Our small group traveled together for a while, learning some tricks along the way. Among them was the odor thing. The first to go in our group were the other girls who insisted on bathing as often as possible. It's hard to stay clean when fighting off zeds on a daily basis and since it was getting colder, I wasn't terribly inclined to strip down to my birthday suit and bathe in cold water. Amazingly, the water systems were still working in a lot of places that the electricity had cut off. Being a tomboy really turned out to be an advantage for me. The vain bitches with their body sprays and scented soaps always attracted zeds and they went down pretty quickly. I wasn't too upset by that. I hadn't liked any of them that much anyway. They were more my boyfriend's friends than mine.
Our group's habit became to find a place, create some kind of stronghold base of operations, and hole up there until we ran out of supplies. My favorite had to be Wal-Marts. Sure, they took a long ass time to lock down, but once they were, they were epic. Lots of books, cd players with batteries and music, sometimes even portable DVD players. Plus, clean clothes, occasionally showers (when it was warm enough) blankets, pillows, and enough first aid shit to restock our packs. We found a van that we kept stocked with shit we could trade when we needed something we couldn't get and we always made sure to stock it up before we headed out again. Wal-Marts were great because in the Southwest, where we lived, they sold guns and ammunition.
We moved around, not really having any end destination in mind, for a few years. Our numbers started around ten and by the time I turned 18, it was down to four, three guys and me. I never felt scared around them, never felt threatened in any way. Not until the last time I saw them.
We were somewhere in what used to be known as Phoenix, Arizona and were desperately in need of some gas. Siphoning would only get you so much and fuel was a high priced commodity. It was hot and I remembered wondering why the hell anyone would live here. Surely anywhere was cooler, away from the heat and bustle of a city. In spite of the heat, though, I was wearing my black cargo pants and a leather jacket, zipped up, with leather gloves. It was better if not much skin was exposed. I might melt into a puddle on the pavement, but I wouldn't get bitten.
"How much longer do we wait?" asked Ben anxiously, looking around from his position next to me on the hood of the van.
"Until 2, dickweed," I yawned.
He shoved me lightly, nearly knocking me off the hood. "I know that, what time is it now?"
I lifted my wrist and pushed my sleeve up a bit. "Almost that." I pulled myself up into a sitting position and looked around me. The heat was rising off the hot pavement in shimmering waves and my hair was sticking to the back of my neck. It was time for another haircut. I picked at my nails and wondered idly if there was a battery operated shaver somewhere nearby we could use.
I looked up then and felt a wave of relief wash over me. Mike and Eric were making their way back across the pavement towards us. The relief was short lived when I saw that there were several large men behind them. Large men with guns.
I slid off the hood of the van and automatically twisted my hair up tightly, securing it with the last clip I had. I'd have to stock up next time we hit a Wal-Mart. Ben was standing next to me, tensed and balanced on the balls of his feet. We didn't often run into other survivors but we all had a bit of a sixth sense about them. These fuckers were no good.
Mike and Eric nodded to us as they stopped in front of the van. They held up two large gas cans each.
"We had to barter," muttered Mike. "They're here to collect their goods."
"Sure. What is it?" I moved towards the back of the van automatically, ready to pull out the liquor and bullets, the most frequently sought items. "Jack? Jim? Johnny?"
"That's not really their style," Eric said, rubbing the back of his neck evasively. "They pretty much run Phoenix so they've got all the alcohol they need."
He shook his head again, not looking at me. I frowned. "You gave them food? Shit, Eric, we're nearly out as it is."
"They don't need food, either. They've got everything they need."
I turned to look at Mike then. He wouldn't meet my eyes either. "So we gave them something they want." He nodded. "What?" I felt sick at my stomach before he even opened his mouth.
"We gave them you."
I stared at him, horrified. "Me."
He nodded. "The majority of the women and children have moved onto the ranches outside of Phoenix. It's safer there. These guys are basically here to collect supplies. It takes a while because of how many stores and buildings there are to go through. They haven't been...with women...in a while."
I took a step back from the guys. "You sold me for gasoline."
"You always said nothing was off limits," Mike finally looked me in the eye then, pleading with me.
"I didn't think you'd sell ME," I spat back. "Fuck, Mike, you say you love me."
"I do," he looked pained. "Fuck, if I was their taste, I'd volunteer, but I'm not. If they wanted to fuck dudes, they'd fuck each other."
I looked past him at the group of men who'd escorted them in. "And if I refuse?"
Mike and Eric exchanged a glance. "Then they kill us, rape and kill you, and take everything we've got."
I kept looking past them towards the group. "Just those five?"
"No, I think the whole group. I don't really know, though. Maybe they'll have a lottery?"
I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples. "You sold me into a gang bang for some fucking gasoline. What if they kill me anyway? Did you assholes think of that?"
They shifted uncomfortably. "No," Eric said softly. "We have to trust sometimes."
"And these fuckers scream reliable and trustworthy?" I demanded. "How do you know they won't just kill us all anyway? Shit." My anger and terror and horror were all starting to clash and cause a headache.
"Guys, what's going on? These hicks are starting to make me nervous." Ben looked over his shoulder anxiously.
"I'm what was bartered," I said dully.
Ben stared at me, then Eric and Mike in shock. "Are you out of your fucking minds?"
"It's all we had that they wanted."
"Why was she even mentioned?" he demanded. "I know we said nothing was off limits, but I figured you dumb fucks wouldn't throw her out there."
"They asked how many of us there were and we made the mistake of telling them we had a woman traveling with us. After that, nothing we offered was even interesting to them. All they want is her."
Mike looked at me, pleading with me to understand. I did, in a way. Rarely did anyone take the time to have sex anymore, at least no one we'd met. You lost too much awareness of your surroundings and there was virtually no privacy anywhere for anyone. Mike and I would sneak off once in a while, careful about using our stash of condoms. Occasionally we'd find a settlement of some kind and condoms were in high demand there. No one ever thought to raid the prophylactic section of a pharmacy or store, but we had. Ovulation tests, condoms, foam, whatever they sold to prevent pregnancy, we had and it was almost as highly coveted as gas, water, and bullets were, especially in settlements.
"We can take these guys out, seriously," Ben was saying in a low voice. "There's what, five of them and four of us? We can do this."
"There's more hanging back in case we get stupid and try anything," muttered Eric. "We'll be dead before the first guy hits the ground."
I took a deep breath and straightened my spine. "Fine. I'll go. But we're through after this, Mike. You don't fucking look at me or touch me or even think about me. Next settlement we get to, we're parting ways." I shot a look at Eric. "Same goes for you."
They both looked guilty and hurt...depressed even. And so they should. Fuckers. I pulled Ben into a tight hug.
"Stay safe," I whispered. "I'll come back as soon as I can, ok?"
He nodded. "How long do we wait?"
I shook my head, my temples throbbing. "I have no idea."
He kissed my forehead firmly, holding his lips in place longer than was necessary. "Be safe."
I nodded and pulled back, heading to the van and rummaging around until I found the box with the condoms in it. I stared at it for a long moment before taking it and turning around. I didn't look at Mike or Eric as I walked past them and towards my current renters. That's what I had to view them as to get through this: men who were renting my body.
I crossed the hot pavement, my bravado wavering with every step. The men were even more horrifying up close. Deliverance had probably used them as an example.
"I hear you've requested my presence for the evening."
The man in front licked his lips, looking me up and down. It was all I could do to stand there and not run screaming or throw up. "For a while, yeah."
"No, for the evening. I have a couple of conditions."
He raised a bushy eyebrow at me. "Conditions? Whores don't get conditions."
"I'm not a whore," I countered. "If I were, you'd be paying a fuckton more for me than you are."
A slow smile crossed his face. "Feisty."
"I'll comply. That means no screaming, no fighting, no trying to get away as long as you follow my conditions."
"What are these fancy conditions?" demanded one man, shifting slightly.
They all started guffawing. I wasn't sure if they were really amused or just laughing at the word anal and the images it brought up.
"Also, everyone wears a condom. I don't want to get some skeezy disease or pregnant." I held up the box.
"Anything else?" asked the spokesman sarcastically.
I narrowed my eyes at him. "Not at the moment."
The last time I saw my friends was when I started walking away with the men. I glanced over my shoulder just once, a look of reassurance that we would be together again, before everything changed irrevocably.