From Zombies?! Zombies!!
A new member to the group occupied the seat closest to the exit. He looked to be in his thirties dressed in an orange track suit and running shoes. A workout bag sat on the floor at his feet. His spare tire revealed a man that once had been in shape but had let other things get in the way as he got older. He occupied himself with a sugary glazed crueller eying the pastry obsessively while washing it down with a cup of Folgers. Debbie gave him a moment to finish before addressing him.
“And you sir, what’s your name?” She asked. The man snapped awake suddenly realizing his participation was expected.
“Me?” He said. “Oh yeah, I’m Phil.”
“Nice to meet you, Phil.” She said. “And how did you hear about our little group?”
“Um…a guy at work told me about it. I thought I’d check it out.” He said as he gulped down some more coffee.
“Of course, thanks for coming.” She said. “And feel free to participate as much as you like. No pressure.”
“Sure, thanks.” He responded as he headed back to the table for seconds.
“So now that we all know each other, why don’t we get started? Who wants to be first tonight?” Debbie glanced around the room for a volunteer. “Okay, as usual I’m just going to have to pick someone.” She turned to Mark. “Mark, would you like to get the conversation going?” He looked at her like she had a vendetta against him.
“Not really.” He replied.
“Please Mark. You should give it a chance. It might help.” She said biting her tongue. “Why don’t you tell us what you remember about what happened.”
The over-confident, dismissive adolescent attitude disappeared as he responded.
“I don’t really remember much.”
Mark had spent the summer before his senior year doing what most prospective seniors do before they start their final year, packing in as many parties as possible. Unfortunately, he chose to end the summer at the one party he should have skipped. The chosen site for the parents-out-of-town-raid-the-liquor-cabinet bash had been packed with a hundred or so drunken, horny teenagers each doing their fair share of damage to the unsuspecting home.
To avoid the long lines to the bathroom, Mark decided to take the easy way out and water the lawn instead. He was alone, drunk and stumbling around in the back yard as mom and dad’s new Panasonic blasted the neighbors. He found a suitable spot near the tool shed to handle his affairs. The far end of the yard stayed dark beyond the reach of the lights of the back deck. Mark had just relieved himself of the last five beers when someone emerged from behind the shed. A woman, if you could call her that, staggered completely naked into the back yard with one utterly primal instinct driving her…hunger, a hunger that drove her to kill. The medical community called her diseased; everyone else called her a zombie.
The living zombie stumbled towards him muffled by the blaring beats from the house and masked by Mark’s lack of sobriety. She slammed clumsily into Mark and grabbed hold of his arm. The two toppled over to the ground as she tore off a massive hunk of muscle with her teeth. Mark screamed frantically not feeling the pain, only the utter fear and surprise. His sobriety quickly returned as the adrenaline shot to his brain like a bullet. The smell of the woman sickened him, like piss and rotting meat brewing in a trash can for days in an August heat. His arm spouted a geyser of blood raining down on the leaves around the scuffle. He managed to yank his arm from her mouth but nothing more. Once he denied her, she fought harder.
“Holy shit! It’s a Reviver! She’s got Mark!” Mark could hear someone yelling but couldn’t recognize the voice. Seconds later, he heard screams as half of the party spilled out into the back yard.
“What do we do?!” He heard.
“Get her off him!” A female partygoer screamed in response.
Mark was losing the strength in his arms. She was small, but relentless. Suddenly, someone grabbed the woman and flung her off him. He barely looked up to see who had saved him and lay dazed and drunk in the grass staring up at a starry sky. The screams quieted as he managed to lift himself out of the dirt. No one offered to help.
“Oh shit, he’s bit!” A fellow reveler stood five feet from him breathing heavily and clutching a rake like a broadsword. A drunken gang of teenagers pelted the zombie with rocks as she shuffled back into the woods. Mark looked down at his arm. It was soaking wet with blood and dripping down his leg. His pants were drenched where he had wet himself unable to finish his business before the attack. The entire party stood in the yard gawking like they were waiting on orders to turn the rocks on him. Mark clutched his wound and walked to the street not saying a word. Still, no one attempted to help. In their eyes, he was already dead.
That summer marked the end of the epidemic, or so the authorities claimed. Rumors of random attacks circulated nonetheless. As time went on, the media coverage lessened. Theorists say that the government had something to do with the drop-off, but in reality, the public was simply tired of death. People wanted the disease to go away and just forget about what had happened. Denial can sometimes be an effective coping mechanism.
Mark stared at his forearm and shook his head. “As soon as everyone saw that I was bitten they looked at me like I was some kind of freak.” An air of sympathy fell over the group that had not been there before.
“After about a week I came back as one of them. It’s weird how there’s still a part of you that is aware of who you were. I went after a girl that I had had a huge crush on for forever. I ended up at her house…why would I go to her house?” He pondered aloud.
Scientists never had an explanation for what caused the memory overlap. There had been scattered reports of infected hosts wandering to their workplaces, schools, or locations that they frequented in their normal life. It was not uncommon for friends or family members in neighboring towns to be attacked.
“So, who was she?” Beth asked. Mark looked at her a moment before responding.
“Her name was Jennifer Lane…and I killed her.”
Read the rest of the story and more in Zombies!? Zombies!?