Necroambulists; A Story Of Discriminating Tastes, by Lori Fetters Lopez
“All I wanted was a hot dog,” Leesa wailed. She looked at the mound of ingredients; mac-n-cheese, cooked bananas, cashews, pineapple, sprouts, on an oversized bun, searching for a meat-filled tube. She then turned to the boy beside her. “Is there a hot dog anywhere in this?” After sliding the orange jacket sleeve up, she poked a finger at the cheesy mess.
“’Course there is.” The boy beamed and brushed dirty-blonde hair out of his eyes. “They’re called Zombiedogs. Aren’t they spastic?”
Zombies. Leesa shivered
“I’m Michael.” He wiped his right hand on the leg of his jeans and stuck it out. “Call me Mikie. My paw said you ain’t been here but a few days.”
Seventy-one hours ago, Leesa had escaped the Zombie infestation, coming to this promised asylum. She envisioned the hordes of undead stumbling through the streets, heard the yowl of hunger that came when they’d cornered a meal, and smelled the putrid scent of fecal matter as perforated bowels evacuated onto the piss covered heated asphalt. Steam rose. Blinking away the horror, she looked at Mikie before turning her attention back to the hot dog.
“I could eat these every day,” Mikie said. “I think it’d be cool to see zombie up close. You know, live. Don’t you?”
Mikie’s words were about to earn him a reprimand when Leesa saw child-like eyes hidden beneath the bill of a brown ball cap, the team name long faded.
He couldn’t be more than 12, she thought probably never left this town.
The bright orange backpack he’d slung over his shoulder in a rush to show her the school playground and where to get the world’s best hot dogs, looked new. His shoes were well worn. He wasn’t thin or obese. His chin, devoid of facial hair.
“You’ve got to see the new video game they just released. ‘Shoot ‘em Dead, in the Head.’ Kinda rhymes, right? If they come out this far, I’m gonna be ready. My paw bought me a six-shooter and my maw shown me how to wield a meat cleaver like they do on the pig farm.”
His face turned serious and Leesa saw worry on his face.
“Think they’ll come out this far?”
This far? She lifted an eyebrow. What would stop them?
The epidemic remained sequestered to a few large cities. So the government claimed. Leesa knew it was only a matter of time before those hopes were smashed along with a few political zombie heads.
“’Couple guys who useda live in the city came up with the idea for these.” Mikie lifted the bun. “Hot dogs covered in stuff that looks like it coulda fallin off a body. This one’s called Chewed Heart. Yours is Carnivorous Flesh. They have humus and pineapples on some of them. A few have sauerkraut and spinach. Next time I’m gonna try one with Vienna sausages. They look like gnarled fingers.”
Bile burned Leesa’s throat as she swallowed. Stepping away from the food-truck hearse, she tripped over the curb, walked toward the schoolyard, and sat hard on a swing. The stench of overcooked meat filled the area accompanied by the sound of the swing eerily screeching.
“Ever seen a real zombie?” Mikie asked with the enthusiasm only a novice could muster.
He stuffed the entire dog, massive mound of disgust, into his mouth smearing the bloody sauce across his arm.
Leesa felt her color drain.
“Too many.” She looked to an angry scratch on her thumb, unsure of when or how she’d acquired it. Three days ago, it was almost healed.
“Have you seen anyone turn?” A twinkle glistened in his eyes. He put his fingers, one by one, in his mouth and sucked the clinging ooze left from his Chewed Heart, pulling each out with a sharp pop. Mixed with the pink of a strawberry and the yellowish mush of banana was the green string from celery.
Averting her eyes, Leesa focused on his red shoes. Her Papi’s face went from red, to green, to grey as the virus claimed host. The image brought her to her feet. Leesa pressed the Carnivorous Flesh at Mikie and crammed her hands deep into the front pocket of her jeans. Feeling the rush of adrenalin, she turned in circles searching for some place near. Safe. Somewhere to hide. She had been in their grasps before and was convinced she could sense the undead-approach of reanimated-hungry-humans fixated on a next meal.
Her stomach protested loudly.
“I saw one,” a voice yelled from across the street. “It was wearing jeans and an orange jacket.”
Leesa looked at Mikie’s backpack, then to the jacket, she’d “borrowed.”
A dog bawled at the end of a lead the man held. “Popeye can smell them a mile away.” He patted Popeye’s hind end as the dog pulled him forward, nose twitching as they came closer.
Mikie shifted foot to foot.
“What about the Brown’s ball cap. My cap.” A hunched old man a few feet behind leaned heavily on a cane clenched in his hand. “’Stole that cap from my truck.”
The sheriff Leesa met yesterday followed the two, man and dog. He carried a shotgun that looked like the Winchester her grandfather kept.
Mikie snatched the cap from his head and stuck it on Leesa’s blonde curls before she could stop him.
“I can’t be caught theif’n again,” he said.
He turned to run and the sheriff lifted the rifle, “Hold it right there.”
Leesa brushed cold sweet from her brow. When she pulled her hand down, in the encroaching darkness, it looked grey.
“We need you to come with us.” The old man tapped his cane in the direction of Leesa and Mikie. “No one wants you to get hurt.”
The dog barked frantically. The man reached for Mikie’s arm. Before Leesa could move, his words, “She woulda turned you boy,” hit. Less than a second later, pellets penetrated her skull and the blast of shotgun echoed into the night.
Lori Fetters Lopez is an author, military wife, mother of three, sister, dog owner, friend, and postal worker. Her completed works include a series of six young adult fantasy, one thriller and one Romantic suspense novel, as well a handful of short stories.
Posted on December 24, 2013, in Issue 11: The Day Zombies Ruled the Earth, Uncategorized and tagged e-zine, flash fiction, horror, monsters, The Were-Traveler, zombies. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.