I awake with a start. I’m laying on the carpeted floor next to the locked utility closet. Shit. I was up all last night and I’ve fallen asleep while I was talking to Zoey. I was supposed to stay awake, alert. Ready for when the time came.
I get up stiffly. Judging by the dim light coming through the windows, it looks to be late afternoon, maybe early evening. Shit. How could I fall asleep?
I stare at the utility room door. It stands before me, ominously silent. Tentatively, I place my ear against its surface. Silence.
“Zoey?” I say softly. Please, let her still be…
…then I hear it. Moaning. Dread and regret come crashing down on me as I back away from the door. That’s one last promise I made to this girl that I’ve now broken. I’m too late. She’s one of those things.
I draw the gun. Cock the hammer again. I’m no longer interested in being discrete, I just want to get the shot off the instant I open the door. The moaning is louder now. That thing in there is stirring. Now that I’m up, moving about, it’s become aware of my presence. It senses prey.
As softly as I can, I turn the key, unbolting the door. I have to be ready. I step to the left, outside the arc of the door in case it suddenly bursts open. I grasp the knob. More moaning from within. Firmly now. There can be no hesitation.
In one fluid movement I yank the door open, let go of the knob and wrap my right hand around my left for a two handed grip on the revolver. I see movement. Down below. I wasn’t expecting that. As I’m swinging my aim downward, it darts, catlike, back into the dark recess of the utility closet. I hear it drawing itself into a crouch back there, I hear it hiss. My eyes are still adjusting to the inky blackness inside the utility closet. I can’t fire blindly, or I’ll waste half my ammunition with a single shot.
I’m just thinking of stepping back, to put some distance, some reaction time between me and that thing, when it comes flying out of the darkness. I don’t even get the shot off. It batters me into the cubicle wall behind me. The revolver is knocked from my grasp and falls to the floor, bouncing off the carpet and out of reach. That thing is rising up, too close for me to land a solid blow. It comes up from below my chin, smashing into my lower jaw. I immediately taste blood in my mouth where I’ve bitten my tongue. My vision erupts in a bright flash and immediately starts going gray. I fight to maintain consciousness. I have to buy some time. Just a second or two.
I get both elbows in between us and butt it backwards. It raises its right hand, claw-like, for an overhand strike, but I’ve recovered a bit. Instinctively, I block it with my left forearm, stopping it mid swing. That’s the opening I need. I thrust my right hand below and behind it’s right arm and snake it back over it’s biceps, grasping my own left wrist firmly. I’ve got it in a hold now, temporarily incapacitating its right arm.
So it comes at me with its left. A fist smashes into my right ear, and I feel my knees begin to buckle. I lean into it, driving it into the closet door frame. Time to permanently incapacitate its right appendage, before it can land another blow. With its right limb still firmly locked in my intertwined arms, I rotate violently to my right. This move will do one of two things. First it usually dislocates the entrapped arm, because it bends the shoulder joint in a direction that is only possible if the humerus leaves its socket. Otherwise, the upper arm bone will fracture, catastrophically. Do it right and both happen simultaneously.
I performed this move maybe a dozen times when I did this for a living, but all my adversaries were men. Your opponent’s weight works to your advantage because it anchors the body in one spot, allowing the judicious application of force to do its job. But this thing has Zoey’s slight body mass, and it simply rotates in the direction I’m twisting.
Fine. I’ll anchor the body the old fashioned way. This wall should do nicely. I slam it chest first against the wall, pinning its opposite shoulder. It lets out another hiss. Now I simply apply force across its back and --
-- It screams. It screams at the very instant I’m looking at its left shoulder, the bite mark. Swollen, bright pink flesh. No sign of necrosis.
The only way to release her arm is to drop beneath her, which I’m doing anyway because I’m sinking to the floor. She comes sinking down with me, gasping and fighting for air.
I hear roaring in my throbbing right ear. Above the roar I hear her name in the distance, repeating again and again. Zoey Zoey Zoey Zoey Zoey Zoey. I realize I’m hearing my own voice. I’m kneeling on the carpet, my arms hanging limply at my sides, calling her name again and again and again.
She’s had the wind knocked out of her from being slammed into the wall. She’s crawling away from me, choking. Trying to get some distance. Trying to escape.
Zoey Zoey Zoey Zoey Zoey. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.
She rolls on to her back, sputtering. But she’s stopped moving away. She’s beckoning me. She knows I know its her now. Between ragged breaths, she’s waving me to come over. Stiffly, painfully I crawl to her side. She’s beckoning. Closer, come closer. I draw myself so my face is just above hers when the side of my head explodes from an unseen blow coming out of nowhere from my left. It drives me onto the carpet and as I recede from the world of consciousness, I hear, from across a great distance, Zoey’s voice:
“Take that, you old bastard! Next time you want to kill me, try asking first!”
* * * *
I must have come back to consciousness gradually, because I find I’m leaning up against the cubicle wall, across from the utility closet. I remember blacking out flat on the floor. Zoey is leaning up against the opposite wall, legs sprawled out, staring blankly into space. She’s cradling her right arm at the elbow.
I feel I’ve come full circle because my body feels remarkably similar to how it felt the first night I arrived here at this office building.
I spit out a plug of coagulated blood and lick my lips. More blood.
“Did I break it?” I ask, staring at the wall in front of me.
“Your arm. I was trying to break it, or at least dislocate it.”
Zoey releases her right elbow and tentatively, painfully, rolls it around her shoulder.
“Naw. Sorry Bill, it still works. Hurts like hell though. Where’d you learn a move like that?
“Special Forces. Camp Drake. Japan.”
“That's like some sort of super-duper soldier unit, isn't it? You didn't mention any of that when you were telling me about your Army days. How’s the jaw? Did I break that?”
I drop my lower jaw and swing it right and left.
“Stings, but seems OK. Sorry.”
“Huh. Too bad.”
“Where’d you learn to throw a punch like that?”
“Sixth grade. Tupper Lake. New York.”
“I’m not going to call you ‘sweetheart’ anymore.”
“I’d appreciate that, Bill. And Bill?”
“You’re a fucking prick, you know that?”
“Yeah. I surely do know that Zoey.”
“Good. Just so we’re clear on that.”
3 things I learned that day:
1) It is possible to have a natural immunity to the zombie virus.
2) Zoey moans in her sleep when she’s having a bad dream.
3) Do not disturb Zoey when she’s sleeping, because she‘s not herself when she first wakes up.
* * * * * *
Last edited by majorhavoc on Fri May 04, 2012 9:39 am, edited 10 times in total.