Zombie Horror Short 'PRETEND GIRLFRIEND' by JONATHAN WOOD
By Jonathan Wood
I’m in love with a zombie. Her name is Sarah Jay. She wasn’t always a zombie; she was a normal person once, in another time, a time that seems to be only just a dream now, a daydream of the way things used to be. That is, before the dead starting rising and killing the living mercilessly, relentless in their charge to devour unchanged humans until we are extinct and only they remain. I wonder what they will do if they kill every human on the planet, will hunger eventually drive them to turn on each other or will they just wander around until they drop down from decay and can walk no more.
My name is Robert, my friends call me Robbie, at least they did but I think most of them are dead now. I tried calling them when the world first started turning to shit until the phone networks finally failed, but they never picked up or called me back. My mobile phone has been dead for many months now, the electricity went off three weeks ago in the apartment, just as well it’s summer time and the weather is warm although the prospect of autumn and winter does scare me I have to admit. Sometimes I don’t even want to think about still being in this apartment when the coldness of winter bites and I have no heating.
Holed up in our third floor council flat in North London, I watch the activity on the streets most days from our bay window. The fact that I live on the third floor is probably the reason I am still alive, the height being my saviour from the foul horde of shambling bodies that roam around aimlessly in the car park and streets below. Months ago, when Dad was here, he and Ralph, our next door neighbour across the hall and the only other person still alive in our building barricaded the main communal doors downstairs and so far they have held firm. Sometimes, the walking corpses below congregate around the front doors and bang on them, the thumping and thudding echoing in the hallways and sending shivers down my spine when I hear the moaning. Sometimes I dream about them getting through, I see those doors come crashing down and the un-dead spill inside, toward the stairs, toward me.
I don’t know when Sarah Jay was claimed by the dead, she just turned up shambling around in the street below some weeks ago, her once pretty and long straight jet black hair now matted and frizzy, her once beautiful olive skin cracked and grey, those once hypnotic hazel eyes sunken deep into her skull and as lifeless and cold, her mouth covered in dry looking crimson. Sarah had lived in the apartment block across the street, on the third floor like me, and her bedroom window was virtually level with mine, some one hundred feet away. I had known Sarah since the beginning of school, she was the same age as me, seventeen, and we had shared many of the same classes at our local school, even so far as an A’ level English Literature class. I had had a crush on Sarah for as long as I could remember and wish I could say the feeling was mutual. I doubted Sarah had even given me a second thought over the years, perhaps she didn’t even know my name. She and I didn’t exactly move in the same social circles, she being the pretty and popular girl next door type and me the spotty awkward looking teenager in a nirvana sweater and misunderstood attitude that went with it.
I remember when I was fifteen and seeing Sarah in the gym for sports lesson. Her breasts were already pert and I watched them bobbing neatly inside her sports bra as she chased the ball around in hockey. Legs slender but athletic and hugging the cycling shorts that covered her perfect rump and small lily white socks shining brightly around her ankles. I remember sitting on the bench waiting to play and feeling self conscious about the stirring in my shorts going on as a result of watching her. I would watch her walk home in front of me most afternoons from school, we walked the same route, and I often daydreamed about having the courage to join her, talk with her and even make friends. Maybe if she had gotten to know me she would have liked me and who knows what might have happened. But my mouth would always go dry at the point of plucking up enough courage to approach her and my heart would start pounding in my chest like a bass drum just enough to make me lose my nerve as I got within twenty feet of her.
I watch her now with sadness but also curiosity, as she shuffles aimlessly around with the moving mass of others, moaning as they bump into overturned cars, lampposts and buildings, whatever crosses their paths. What a waste of such beauty. I had dreamed sometimes that Sarah and I were going out and even had dreams and fantasies of us together at the cinema, picnics in the park, walks along the river and endless kisses.
I remember one day using the cheap telescope my Dad had bought me for Christmas one year to spy on her as she undressed in her bedroom. I was lucky enough to get a short glimpse of her pink knickers as she changed and her matching bra, before she quickly drew the blinds and my view evaporated away into blank whiteness. Sarah Jay, my crush, my fantasy, my pretend girlfriend.
My Dad and Ralph have been gone for a month now; they had gone out to look for supplies and food, something they had been doing once a week since we had gotten trapped in our building. There had been little warning for the un-dead apocalypse, bodies rising from the grave and killing the living and what they killed also got up and killed. A wildfire of chaos and panic that took London by storm, the ever increasing numbers of dead swarming through towns and villages, a tidal wave of death and destruction, a plague of animated corpses that could not be reasoned with, bargained with or stopped by virtue of their sheer numbers.
My father’s promise that he would ‘be back in a few hours’ was something I knew was not a promise he was ever going to deliver on now and I had accepted the fact, after many days crying and shaking late at night when I felt most alone in the solitude of the dark apartment, that my Dad and Ralph were either now dead or had joined the mass of un-dead bodies wandering around somewhere close by to the apartment block. Sometimes I wondered when I looked out of the window if I would see my own father and Ralph shambling around down there, maybe some distant part of their memory drawing them back to the place that they had lived, in search of food. I could only hope that that they were at peace now and their passing had not been as horrific as I imagined.
The week before I lost my father both he and Ralph had found an old rifle with a telescopic sight in amongst the carnage of the rubbish, looted goods and bags of people’s possessions that now littered the streets of London like an obstacle course. The panic and chaos that had followed the zombie outbreak had been on an epic scale, the television before it went down showing images of people looting, traffic jams on the motorways as people tried desperately to escape the city whilst the news reported the dead rising as some kind of plague of pandemic proportions that the authorities could not understand treat nor contain. That night my father had adapted my tripod stand for the telescope and mounted the rifle on it, and after cleaning it up we had spent the next few days learning how to use and reload it by simple trial and error. There had only been one pack of bullets for the rifle lying next to it amongst the rubbish bags and my Dad had stationed the rifle at our lounge window overlooking the street and tower blocks like a sentry. He frequently would be looking down using the telescopic sight and watching the hordes below, sometimes remarking at the smell that rose up from the street when the windows were open, the decay of rotten flesh pungent and overpoweringly strong. The rifle was for ‘observation and protection’, he said and not to be used unless in an ‘absolute emergency’.
Every now and then we had seen people running through the streets, screaming as they tried to avoid the rotten hands and fingers grabbing at them as they swerved and twisted, like a game of British Bulldog only with your life at stake. Those screams still haunt me now, as they were finally overwhelmed by the mass of un-dead and all we could do was watch powerlessly from the window as they disappeared under a mass of grey bodies piling in and were torn apart. My Dad would hug me into his chest and cover my ears from the sounds below so all I could hear was his own heart beat and him gently saying a prayer under his breath.
I have enough tinned food for maybe the next two weeks if I live sparingly but my stomach turns at what I do when the bottled water runs low. The taps stopped working weeks ago. But here, in my apartment, my prison and safe house, I sit through the seconds, the minutes, hours and days of my existence falling deeper into the fantasy of Sarah Jay and what might have been.
Sometimes I wonder if I opened my door to her when she is shuffling around by the entrance way if she would kiss me before she sank her teeth into my face and started to feed. Could I maybe close my eyes and just steal one kiss from the girl I had always fantasized about and maybe in some part of her rotten decomposed brain she would remember me and grant me that soft embrace before her instinct takes over and she takes my flesh in her teeth and tears it away?
As I look at her shambling around by the car park through the sights of the gun for a split second I see her eyes roll down and she looks up at me directly. I think I see a flash of the girl I had once known, her face suddenly not the vile concoction of rot and decay that it has become. I cannot remove my gaze, transfixed and in an instant, decide to end her suffering, and mine, once and for all. My Dad had warned me that the noise of the gun would attract more of the corpses, so not to use it unless my life was threatened, those were his last words to me as he and Ralph vanished off into the night never to return. But I didn’t think about that and as I opened the window outwards, the squeak of the hinges alerted Sarah and a few others that were shuffling close by to the building. A chorus of moans and outstretched hands reached up towards me and part of me suddenly felt like just jumping out to my doom below. I would be dead from the fall before any one of them managed to get to me anyway.
Moving back to the rifle I take aim with shaking hands and find Sarah some fifty feet below staring up at me, her hands out to the heavens, moaning and gurgling almost like she’s inviting her own death this time around. I cock back the rifle and it clicks slickly, I hear the bullet in the chamber sitting patiently, waiting for instruction. With tears in my eyes I line up the sights until Sarah’s head is in the crosshairs. Breathing out slowly I place my finger over the trigger and hold it, quivering. Again for that split second I see her gaze, almost feel that she is in there somewhere, in amongst the wreckage of her own rotten corpse and the image of her walking home from school in tight jeans and a summery blouse on a sunny Friday afternoon, her mane of black hair shining is the last thing I think about as I squeeze the trigger to a deafening crack. I see a puff of crimson spray and Sarah falls from view. She is still as I pull the window shut, my vision of the carnage below now obscured by my own tears.
Sarah Jay, my crush, my fantasy, my pretend girlfriend.