by Joe Murphy
“George Romero must be Jesus.” Hank clutched the twelve-gauge and peered between the window slats.
“Nostradamus.” My head shook. “That’s if you accept Night of the Living Dead as prophecy instead of entertainment.”
“You and that intellectual shit.” Hank hunkered down in his parka and glared at me. “Through his movies we’ll be saved.”
“There’s a difference between prophecy and salvation. We’ve got to save ourselves.” I tried to shrug with my hands in my armpits. Frost clung to the cabin walls. Ran out of firewood last night; we were burning chairs now. Didn’t dare go outside.
“You boys shut up,” Gramps groaned. “Let me die in peace.”
“Sorry.” Hank lifted the shotgun. “Shit, here they come again.”
We fired through the slats at the dark shambling shadows of the moan-filled night. Heads exploded, lit by muzzle flashes; brains and bowels splattered as zombies fell. Knock one down and the others jump ’em. Hungry suckers. I knew what that felt like after two days trapped in the cabin without food. My belly button was sucking on my backbone.
“Gramps is dead,” Hank murmured.
I looked down at the old man who’d raised us. His stomach glimmered wetly where a zombie’d bit him. Big red maw of a wound had finally killed him.
“Better get him outside.” Hank brushed blond hair from his eyes in a hopeless gesture. “He’ll be one soon.”
“Don’t know if I got the strength to stand, let alone drag him out.”
“Gotta do something. He’ll turn in an hour or so and try to eat us.”
“Maybe not.” I rubbed my stomach. “We could try something.”
“Let’s, uh… You as hungry as I am, Hank?”
“Jeez, you’re sick!”
“I’m starving. We both are.”
Hank’s stomach rumbled in the night’s silence. He stared at Gramps. “Won’t we turn into zombies?”
“Maybe not.” I shook my head. “We cook him first to kill zombie germs. And with garlic; that should fix things.”
“That’s for vampires.”
It felt weird, stripping off Gramp’s clothes. Bony old cuss, the hunting knife barely sawed through him. I put a chunk of his thigh over the fire; it crackled and spat, just like Gramps used to. The grease made the fire hotter; almost got us warm.
Something screamed outside. “Here they come again, Wilbur!”
“Let one in. I’ll open the door and you bash it.”
Hank whacked the zombie on the back of her head. I slammed the door and we fired a few rounds to shut the rest up.
“Hey, she’s warm.” Hank looked up from the slender body. “She ain’t no zombie!”
“Think she’ll live?”
“Better cut her up now then.”
“We’re out of garlic. We eat more zombies, you know what will happen?”
“Got to save ourselves, I guess.” Hank started pulling off the woman’s clothes. “I wouldn’t want to end up like those zombies. That’d be horrible.”
Joe sold fiction to: Age of Wonders, Altair, A Horror A Day: 365 Scary Stories, 100 Crafty Cat Crimes, Cthulhu’s Heirs, Demon Sex, Gothic.net, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Outside, On Spec, Silver Web, Space and Time, SpaceWays Weekly, Talebones, TransVersions, and many others. Twelve of his previously published stories are now on the Internet at Alexandria Digital Literature . He is a member of SFWA, HWA, a graduate of Clarion West ’95, and Clarion East 2000.