This is another older thing, but I had a lot of fun writing this. If anyone has read the book World War Z, we read it in my AP Literature class and then had to write our own chapter for it. So I wrote one and had a lot of fun doing it!
All credit for content/ideas goes to Max Brook.
If you are familiar with the book, it’s a reporter/narrator getting interviews with people after the Zombie Apocalypse and “G’s” are another name for zombie. [Bold] is actions, Bold outside those is the narrator, and plain text is the character.
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
[There’s a sweet smell in the air as a little girl leads me through the heavily planted path. I believe her name is Sadie, she’s the daughter of my next subject. I’m left alone in a small clearing, surrounded by white and red roses planted in perfect stripes. It’s quiet for a few minutes, a delicate bell chiming from a part of the rose wall. I don’t hear her arrive, but she smiles and invites me to sit, gesturing to a pair of cushioned chairs facing one another. Annemarie Hymer stares wistfully at the wall of flowers, the strange violet hue of her eyes dull as she starts speaking.]
I don’t much understand why you’d want my side of the story. It’s nothing grand. We never saved anyone, certainly didn’t discover an effective weapon… Couldn’t even fortify a house and remain there until help arrived. [She looks at me almost questioningly but talks before I can answer] Did we help the world or find a cure? Nah, we didn’t even save this poor little dog–I think it was a Jack Russel–that those G’s got ahold of.
G’s, Zacks, What are people even calling them? Hell, why didn’t we just call them Zombies. That would have made the whole thing pretty obvious. “The zombies are coming!” Seriously, didn’t we all grow up knowing what that word entailed? [She purses her lips and then laughs, but it’s so dry and detached that it doesn’t sound funny.]
Ignore my rant, sometimes things get to me. Never mind that, I guess you want to know something specific since you’ve requested someplace secluded, is this good enough? [She indicates the roses surrounding us]
It’s fine. I just want to know how it came about?
How it… Ah, I understand, then I suppose it would be best to start at the beginning. [Annemarie leans back against her chair, turning her head away.]
I was only seventeen when the first reports came out about the African rabies… You know, Phalanx popped out quick after that, my older brother made me get it pretty early. He was my guardian after our mother passed away from cancer. His name was Booker, poor kid, strange name and all. Well, yeah, we both took Phalanx early on, thought we were safe. [That detached look returns to her eyes and she scowls.] I could strangle that bastard who let us believe it would save everyone. I mean, we took it for years even after they learned that it had nothing to do with rabies. A sense of hope? Keep the people calm? You’ve got to be kidding. It made us ignorant. And ignorance wasn’t bliss this time around.
When did you leave the coast?
Quickly, when Booker heard that the zombies were sometimes in the water, or on ships, brought by planes. That sort of thing. Being in a heavily populated area didn’t seem the smartest idea. So, we left, packed things that he thought would help. I remember him pulling out his old throwing knives and a cross bow our uncle had lent him during high school which we’d forgot to return. It had a quiver of bolts, not that they were very sharp at the beginning, we were the ones that made them deadly.
Then, off we went. There had only been one or two encounters by that point, but people still began to panic. It wasn’t mass chaos at first, yet as we drove out of the city, the traffic was much heavier than what would have been considered normal back then.
Was that when you ended up in Georgia?
I suppose. It was a long… adventure? But we didn’t run into any zombies for the most part. People were catching onto the migration into Central America, so it was a bit of a trip. Gas was hard to find, we had to barter and trade food to get just a few gallons. Weeks would go by without moving anywhere. Booker slept with the doors locked and windows covered with black blankets and his knives tucked into the pillow case.
Georgia was probably the first time we stayed out of that little-cramped car in two years. So, I was nearing twenty by the time we’d reached Georgia, and the world was a slimy ball of shit. We parked in an abandoned house’s garage, and pulled it down, locking it to the cement, Booker fortified the house. It was small, with only a ground floor and a basement, so he just did the doors and windows, then we set up in the living room.
Didn’t you find it strange to be in an empty house?
It may have been early, but it was still the Great Panic. There were abandoned houses everywhere. So, no, not really. It had already been squatted in, one of the walls had writing painted sloppily on it. [She holds up five fingers on her left hand, and two on the right] It read, “Seven G’s in basement” Then below that, it read, “Seven corpses in basement.”
That was that. Then… [She quiets, bowing her head.]
Then it happened?
Yeah, maybe four or five weeks after we’d arrived. I woke up in the middle of the night. Had to relieve myself. The house’s plumbing was already useless, backed up. So I went out into the yard, it wasn’t fenced in, but I didn’t hear anything. I thought I was alone.
I think my ears must have been stuffed with cotton or something, because I was just zipping up when they… You know, appeared. I reacted like I’d been training for that moment my entire life, seeing the gleam of its eyes in the faint moonlight. I kicked, swinging hard, and I felt my calf collide with its midsection.
Its grunt and groan made me jerk away and then I was bolting back the house, slamming the glass sliding door and straight to Booker.
[Annemarie rubs her thumbs together for a long moment.]
I suppose you’ve heard all the horror stories about family members being killed. Well, I’ve heard them too, I heard them for years after that day. I never listened. I heard, [She brings her finger to her ears, then up against her forehead.] but never listened.
I turned on my flashlight… I know, Stupid, right? Still, with the beam I couldn’t see him, and all that stared back were dull, dead eyes. It was a child, probably about the same size and age as the one in the yard. Its teeth were clamped on my brother’s ear. His detached ear, mind you. Thin threads of flesh hanging from the corners of its bloody lips. It was crouched by his head, red pooling against its knees from two holes in his stomach. The child had dug her little bony fingers through his abdominal muscles and ripped sections of his intestines out.
They looked like worms burst from an apple’s skin. Pardon my bluntness, it seems all these years have dulled it for me.
In the past, I had to restrain my own dinner, as well as my scream, but mostly my tears. They burned behind my eyes like needles as I backed away. How did they get inside? How did it happen? Why him? Why me?
Do you know what I did?
Yes, but I’d like you to explain it.
Yes, yes, that’s why you’re here anyways. This tale of woe. I grabbed the crossbow, the knives. Luckily, Booker hadn’t tucked the knives in his pillowcase that night, and they were on the carpet beside him. They felt weird in my hands, but I knew how to use them, not that they’d do much against the zombies. So I grabbed and ran. Straight out the open front door. The child zombie stayed eating Booker, so I got out without worrying about her.
Things were different when I made it outside. It was a swarm. Children, between the ages of seven to ten, elementary school children. I learned after that there had been a school nearby, and it appeared like they’d escaped.
Instinct and fear drove me to scale the porch railings and drag myself onto the roof by the rain gutters. Lights had been turning on and human screams were joining the shuffling and grunting sounds from the houses on the street. I could hear them, but only over the racing thunder of my own heart. My temples pounded and now that I look back, I’m not sure how it worked the way it did. I laid down on that roof. I pulled the quiver and the cross brow up. I balanced it on the ledge and sighted the nearest one.
They were heading towards the house to the left of the one I was perched on. Its lights were on and I saw shadows flash across the drawn yellow curtains, followed by guttural shrieking.
Booker and my uncle had taught me to shoot years before, a long time ago. With only a number of refreshers while on the road, I was worried I’d be really inaccurate. But when that adrenaline kicked in and I saw that zombie lined over the point sight. I fired.
I had thirty-four arrows. There were many more than thirty-four zombies. Jerking, walking, groaning. I missed more times than I hit. Well, I suppose you could say I hit twenty or so, but only around ten were head-shots. Everything else harmlessly cranked from the bowstring and stuck into their limbs or stomachs, oozing black. It took longer than I care to say, not that my time calculation was accurate at that moment, but when I ran out of bolts, I froze, my hand groping in the quiver for something that wasn’t there.
I grappled down the wall again, picking up this rusty shovel that we’d left in front of the garage. I took it and I cracked their skulls. The children are not as terrifying as the full grown adults. They’re slower, they’re smaller, and their arms are shorter. I could swing that shovel, edge down and drive through the skull with ease.
As I killed them, this man came scrambling from one of the houses down the lane with a gun and he knelt, honing in on the last group. A small cluster of ten or twelve kids. His face was grave when he locked on and shot them. It was strange, compared to my animalistic method. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. [She mimics each sound slowly.] It was rhythmic, methodical, quick, over. I stood there holding that shovel dripping with black goo, my shoulders hunched, arms shaking, chest heaving.
The man looked at me when everything was over. He lowered the gun, and walked closer, slowly, like I might lunge at him. A rabid animal.
“You a’right?” He asked me gently.
I stared at the shovel. Then felt my stomach lurch, and I dropped it, bending fast and spewing baked beans all over the street. There was a hand holding my hair, another rubbing my back comfortingly, and finally my stomach was empty. Then the tears came. The stranger held me, patting me like a child and then put me at arm’s length, eyes scanning me, checking for wounds. When he saw I was fine, he asked. “You alone?”
I almost nodded, then shook my head and pointed back at the house. It was to the east, and the sun was slowly coming up behind it, lighting the scene enough that I could tell what I’d done. Children, dozens of children, missing pieces of flesh, heads deform by my attacks, lay strewn around.
[She pinches the bridge of her nose hard and closes her eyes tight, breathing in deeply.] I led him back to the house, and there we found the little girl still over my brother. She’d torn his stomach open completely, picking out organs like appetizers.
What did you do?
I didn’t do anything, I had nothing left in me. I’d love to say that I roared and avenged my brother by cracking her skull and dashing her brains across the pretty beige carpeting. But, in truth, I wailed like a baby and the man raised his gun to her head. She had turned towards us, her jaw still working the guts between her teeth. The back of her head blew out with the bang and she wobbled a moment before flopping on her side, groaning before falling silent.
Arthur Curtis, yeah, you’d know him from the same report. I’ve never read it, but I heard that he didn’t mention my name. How’d you learn about me? No, never mind, it doesn’t matter. What was it they ended up calling it? It was some somber title or something.
Sons and Daughters Massacre.
Such a humane name. Like we murdered human children. I suppose that’s why Arthur was kind enough to omit me from the report he gave to the military. They arrived in the small town just a few days after that night. We’d stayed in the house he’d been squatting in, his fortifications were stronger than ours, and he had ammo and guns stashed in each nook and cranny. When they showed up, Arthur told me to stay inside as he explained the situation. They said things like, “So many children,” or, “What kind of hell…?” and even, “I’m gonna be sick.”
They moved on as soon as they arrived, and then Arthur announced he was moving further west, I was welcome to join him.
And you did?
I had nowhere else to go. No family, no more crossbow bolts, no more tears. Nothing except my car, some food, and my throwing knives. We packed my car, raided the houses on the streets and left.
Was he unable to meet me? There was no information.
Would you like to see him? I’ll take you.
[Annemarie leads me from the enclosed rose garden and down a different flower lined tunnel. We walk for only a few minutes before she turns off and stops. There’s a blooming cherry tree planted in the center of the clearing, with a polished marble tombstone spearing from the ground below it. Carved into the stone was the name, Arthur Curtis, with the words, “Survived hell to fall to heaven” We walk back to the gates of her property and her daughter Sadie comes running over, smiling up at us with the same purple eyes of her mother. We say our good-byes, Annemarie wishes me good luck with the rest of my interviews and takes her daughter back inside.]