Ray braced his elbow against the cold stone of the sill outside of the open window as he lined up the sight of the sniper rifle. He centered the shot with his two eyes first, and then squinted through the scope to see how far off he was. Not by much this time. Practice makes perfect. The figure in the courtyard walked slowly toward a beat-up park bench, shuffling stiffly. It looked like a rail thin man, not so much wearing clothes as draped in them. Ray liked the distance of the rifle. He liked to be able to take his time and not have to aim and shoot while looking into their faces. When he finally had the shot lined up perfectly, or as perfect as he was able, he inhaled, held it, and gave the trigger a squeeze.
The hollow crack of the rifle echoed off of the cluster of buildings in the complex, a crisp snap, and Ray watched as his target’s head exploded. The figure stumbled forward onto its knees, then rose, and lurched away clumsily.
“God I hate zombies.”
“Yeah.” Virgil agreed, leaning out of the window on the other side of the room, watching the figure shamble away. They only had the one rifle between them, so Virgil was left with the high-powered handgun, which he kept tucked into his belt. His eyes were covered in mirrored shades, and through them Ray could see the convex reflection of the courtyard.
“You know? Y’know what I mean? I mean it’s so derivative.” Ray said, wiping a sweaty palm across his thigh. He eased the rifle down. Virgil didn’t move.
“I know, like, man at his most base. No more logic, no more speech, no more society…”
“…and, like, no more animal drive even. Right? I mean these guys out here aren’t even passionate about their hunger. We’ve been in here for months and they haven’t even tried to break in to get us. They’re just, y’know…”
Virgil spotted something down in the courtyard, squinted and pulled the handgun from his jeans.
“Hungry.” Ray shrugged.
“Hungry. Modern mankind at its most evolved. Like they’re just doing their job, eating people or whatever.”
Virgil aimed down his right arm, held straight with his palm bracing the butt of the pistol, read for the kick of the heavy handgun. He squeezed the trigger; the pistol erupted loudly in the small room. Neither man winced. A shambling creature dragging a dog’s carcass spun like a top as the lead slug drove into its knee, shattering bone.
“Nice shot.” Ray admitted. Virgil was getting very good with the handguns.
“Thanks. Let’s see how long it takes to get to the grassy patch. It’s just so easy. Zombies.”
“Yeah, I know! Let’s get creative here! Zombies get so old, y’know? And you know why, right? Why all zombies?”
“Because it’s so easy. So derivative. Yeah, I know, we get it. It’s an apocalypse survival thing, a power trip where you get to beat heads and loot the world. Even as a joke it’s hardly funny anymore.”
“I’m not laughing…”
“Why not do something like, uhm, like all vampires, or were…”
“Matheson did that…”
“Y’know, that guy who wrote all of those Twilight Zone episodes? Matheson. Richard? He did a book where it was all vampires and, like, one guy. They made a few movies based on it.”
“Really? See, that’s cool! Zombies man…tedious…”
The two men sat there, both staring out of their windows in mute agreement, tracking various shapes as they dragged their stiffly reanimated bodies around, searching for food. Even grey cloud cover hid the sun but its dim light filtered into the room, illuminating stacks of cardboard boxes filled with supplies. They had food, canned goods, ammunition, water, everything. All crammed into a small storage room at the top of their fortress condominium.
“Maybe we can hop over to the bookstore later, see if that book is still over there. If these retards haven’t eaten all the books yet.”
“Yeah. I’d like to check that out. You’d have to be clever to survive around all vampires. Or, y’know what else? Werewolves!”
“Nahh, you think?”
Ray animatedly stood up, making sure the rifle stayed secure against the windowsill.
“Yeah! It would be like this big mystery because of the moon, right? You’d know you weren’t a werewolf, so maybe other people aren’t either, right? So you’d be just counting those days until a full moon. Hoarding all your silver, trying not to be out on the street after dark.”
“Can’t trust anyone…” Virgil nodded. “Yeah, that’d be freaky.”
Ray, pleased with his idea, settled back down against the window. He looked at the sky, a filthy sheet of gauze, but not terrible, if one ignored the piles of writhing undead that littered the ground. Ray shook his head.
“We were fuckin’ lied to, too, man.”
Virgil looked over at Ray, “By who? The zombies?”
“No, all those movies and books and comics and shit. They were all so optimistic, y’know?”
“Optimistic? You think?” Virgil squinted, trying to figure out Ray’s angle.
“Yeah! In those you like, chop off their head, or shoot ‘em through the brain, or whatever, and they stop. Y’know? Stop moving, stop making noise.”
“Ohhh, yeah…” Virgil nodded slowly, realizing what Ray was getting at. Ray listened closely and could hear the moans of the creatures in the courtyard. After a while it faded into the background, the constant noise rising up around the city. A crescendo of sadness, pain, and loss. The uninterrupted moaning, clacking of teeth, and wailing.
“They shut up at least, in those books. They don’t keep screaming like these fuckers do.”
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