Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Zombie Story: 140 Characters At A Time

A Zombie Story: 140 Characters At A Time
Originally published on Twitter, 1/28/2009

ACT ONE: Babes In Manger

You know that place out on the edge of the High Desert, where the big cargo planes come in loud and low over the hard pan? Yeah, you know it.

It's the bitter edge of nowhere.Where they bring back the war dead from distant lands,coffins draped with flags we're never supposed to see.

We were sitting in the diner, mouthful of cold eggs and black coffee, when we heard the dull roar resolve into sputtering engines. Not good.

Gotta hand it to the pilot. Laid it down like a babe in a manger. Well, you all know how that story ended.

When the dust cleared, all we could see was a tangle of brush and barbed wire wrapped around a grey green fuselage. Engines dead. Silence.

Jace was the first one to open the door. I saw him cover his face and grimace. Then the stench hit me. Part slaughterhouse, part roadkill.

It was like watching a bad B movie. He disappeared into darkness and all I heard was the screaming. And the crunching of flesh and bone.

ACT TWO: Potter's Field

We fell back in horror just as the sun crested the ridge. Daybreak in Mojave is hard & cold. Backlit through dust & smoke, the dead emerged.

Grady muttered something about the 12 gauge in his pickup. Magda crossed herself. I dug out my cell and tried to focus enough to dial 911.

The field between the wreckage and the diner was pockmarked with gopher holes and rusted out hulks of old metal. Chevy, Kubota, Evinrude.

Grady had the right idea. The rest of us stood like dumb cattle waiting for the hammer. The blast from his shotgun woke us from our stupor.

The air rushed back in and sound with it. Someone was still screaming but the sound was muted by the grating chorus of their rotted throats.

We fell back, stumbling and crawling, thinking, like Custer must have, only of the safety of retreat. The diner. Phones. The myth of sanity.

My ears were ringing. Almost there when I heard Grady curse a blue streak. The shuck shuck of the shotgun was followed by a hollow click.

I could see them. Burnt flesh, shattered ends of ribs sticking out through their BDUs. Morning light glinting off their gore slicked skulls.

The doors wouldn't lock. It's a 24hr diner. The doors NEVER lock. Grady braced them with a chair. A hand broke the glass, tore out his throat.

ACT THREE: Battle of Grady's Griddle

Someone grabbed my shoulders, pulled me back behind the counter. Gus, the cook, said something about helicopters. They'd seen the smoke. Help.

Fading tempera painted reindeers on the diner's front windows only distorted the shadows of their forms as they battered against the glass.

"Three wisemen," Magda pointed. Three black Apache choppers coming in low and fast. She was feeding rounds down the throat of the 12 gauge.

Gus shrieked, pounding his shoulder into the back door. No lock there. Skeletal hands, flesh hanging like spanish moss, clawed at his face.

I watched transfixed as a finger fish-hooked him.I saw him scream.Eyeless sockets over a lipless grin, teeth crushing the back of his skull.

Dead weight was the only thing holding the door. I ripped the gas line away from the wall and sparked it. My flesh cooked slower than theirs

Magda was behind me, scattergun thundering in concert with the guttural roar of the flame."There's too many of them!" "I hear the choppers!"

3 wisemen followed their phosphorus white star down to our personal hell. Whatever it was hit the propane tank outside like God's own fist.

Can't tell you what hppnd next.We fell back to the freezer, praying the thick steel door held.I touched my ear and my hand came away bloody.

Light seeped in every gap in the rickety old freezer. Light so bright it burned my skin. The metal began to glow red. Magda kept praying.

Piadosa Virgen María de Guadalupe, dale clemencia, amor y compasión a aquellos que te quieren. Like the sweet fragrance of roses, pleasegod

Check the papers. They call it a training accident. The town of Mojave, population 2000, wiped off the map by an ill-fated dummy nuke.

Go out at dawn and watch the planes come in, low and slow over the hard pan. You watch the fighter escorts and ask yourself why.

END ACT THREE, A ZOMBIE STORY TOLD IN TWITTER SIZE BITES. Thank you and remember, keep your powder dry and always aim for the brain stem.

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