Hey. Hey, you, dummy. You over there with the maggots in your shoulder. Goddammit, zombie, turn around! You're about to walk into a lake, and I'm pretty sure the fish aren't picky eaters.


That's right! Theeeeere we go. Now come back this way. I think there's a town back this way, if you want some brains.


Brains, yeah! I forgot to mention, there's a pack of coyotes about a mile back, so you'll be wanting to really haul ass, if you mean to make it to the brains before the carrion-eaters make it to you.

The ragged corpse that used to belong to me, when I still animated her, shambles back from the side of the water where her own reflection had held her transfixed. I'd been very careful to scare away they ravens when they got too close to her, so she's still got both eyeballs and seems to have pretty good binocular colour vision at this point. My zombie moves with as much urgency as she can manage, with her poor balance and proprioception, toward the nearest inhabited town. You might think ill of me for leading a confirmed man-eater into a town full of innocent people, but I was a bit of a man-eater when I was alive, anyway... and we're hardly the first to the banquet; we're only arriving early enough to beat the less athletic body types to this particular rural small town. Turkey vultures and coyotes have picked off most of the stragglers by now, so evolution has certainly played a part in the advancement of some zombies over others.

Humanity was pretty decently prepared for some manner of zombie apocalypse, but they hadn't been counting on the fact that when the corpse converts, it produces a ghost as well as a zombie. Humanity certainly had not been prepared for a zombie force piloted by spectral dead people who can pass through walls to provide reconnaissance, poltergeists who can sneak into homes and unlock the doors and unload the firearms while the family sleeps (we can move very small objects, but it's difficult, and anything heavier than a single car key is too heavy). The thing about dead people is, we don't really have anything left to lose, and we're bored as fuck. Maybe some third component of us has an 'other side' or afterlife to retire to, contentedly or reluctantly. When the lights go out in one of the infected, however, two somebodies stay 'home,' with little else to do other than sick our detached and only vaguely-conscious physical components on those who are still living. Most of us ghostly types have already figured out we're functionally immortal; if our corpse goes down to scavengers and the forces of nature, the shade remains and retains all memories and personality from life. This tends to result in the more proactive among us- or the more homicidal, if you wanna' view it that way- to seek out the people we especially adore, and zombify them. Others seek out the people they hate, using minor telekinesis or coordination of efforts with their corpses to make sure those particular people die by non-zombie methods first, since apparently that type of death doesn't always yield a shade, and one can generally be rid of the victim for good.

Suffice to say, the dead are inheriting the Earth. No doubt the corpses will all fall to bits eventually, so some of us are collaboratively on a mission to use them while they're still functional. We're having them open every door, every drawer, every window, giving us access to the handful of places where walking through walls isn't adequate. The only places we lock up tight are libraries, and in them, we are careful to cut off the electrical and water supplies, board up the windows, seal them against all elements for as long as possible. It's likely that as a global culture of intangible immortals, we'll be reverting back to oral history as our main form of media, so every last book has become precious, as a thing that may never be created again. I used to be that girl, the one who never took her nose out of a book for longer that it took to shower and sleep. I'm gonna' miss the ability to smell the pages and feel them with my fingertips as I turn them.

I'm starting to wonder if my body ever actually belonged to me. I hope she doesn't resent the lifetime of me driving her around from behind her eyes. This is a really weird duality, and ownership is increasingly a dubious matter with each day that passes. I notice she has mannerisms still, idiosyncrasies and postures and gestures that I thought were unique to me as an individual, and now it's clear that they were her quirks, her minute and largely unappreciated gestures of self-expression in an existential format which limited such things until fate conspired to infect us. I'm going to miss her, too, when she finally falls apart on me. I've known her all my life, but I feel now like I barely knew her at all, and I always took her for granted. She was a nice body; never said one bad thing about me. She even tolerated all the unclever demands I made of her and the unhealthy things I fed her.

Anyway, enough rambling from this vagrant spirit. I figure if you're one of the people I like, you'll be hearing it again soon enough, and I ought to let you get back to your business. Just... appreciate the corpse you're in, while you're still in it, okay? Life is short, and forever is an awfully long time to live with no body to love.

Iron Noder Challenge 2014, 30/30

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