Fresh Faces :
Hi, I’m Seth. I’m writing this note, bottling it, and tossing it in the brook by my house. Writing helps me keep my sanity. Hopefully somebody who still reads will pick it up and come help me.
It started a month ago. I was down in my basement office on my computer watching old Mystery Science Theater 3000 reruns. The phone rang next to me, but I didn’t pay any attention to it. It was never for me; on the off occasion it was, it was usually my brother, and half the time we were on the phone my nephew would be trying to grab it and talk to me himself. Mom yelled down the stairs that the phone was for me. Yeah, I lived at home with my folks. Sue me. Anyway, I picked up.
“Hello?” I said, paying more attention to the antics of the robots on the screen.
“It’s begun.” The voice was little more than a whimper, a plea. I didn’t even recognize the voice.
“Excuse me?” I asked, wondering who on earth was calling.
“They’ve come, I don’t have much time, Jeff; you told me to call if what we did caused trouble.”
Now a little worried, I said, “I think you’ve got the wrong number, this is Seth, not Jeff.”
“DON’T GO OUTDOORS!” The person shrieked. Completely freaked out, I disconnected the call. Must’ve been some prank caller, but I wasn’t amused. Rattled, I put the matter behind me.
Much later, I finished watching videos and shut the lights off to head upstairs. It was pitch black, but I knew the way. The dark seemed a little more oppressive this time, though. I shrugged off the feeling and went upstairs. As I passed through the living room, I chanced a look out the window. There were people outside, on a walk or something; I checked my watch and it said 3:00 am. “That’s weird,” I muttered. I stumbled up to my upstairs room and drifted off to sleep.
I was a fool that first night. If I’d recognized what I’d seen, I would have saved myself the terror and just stepped outside.
The next morning, the news was on; odd, since my dad usually turned to the sports channel before we went off to work. I didn’t even glance at it as I threw on a tie and stumbled into the bathroom. An uneasy feeling crept into my gut as I did my morning routine. I usually had to fight for bathroom space, but today there wasn’t a sound. I peeked out of the room and saw that the front door was open, but the glass storm door wasn’t. There wasn’t a sound. Looking outdoors, I saw those same people as I’d seen the night before.
I opened the door.
Immediately their heads snapped towards me. I recoiled and leapt inside as quickly as I could, feeling something catch at my ankle as I did so. Their faces were fixed in expressionless gazes, their mouths slightly agape and dripping blood. I looked down and saw one right next to the porch, withdrawing its arm; it had tried to grab me. With a dizzying feeling of horror, I recognized my little brother. Slamming the door, I locked it tight and stumbled back into the living room. The television was reporting that a disease was spreading south from Canada across the U.S. I shut it off, and pointlessly called out to see if anyone else was in the house.
So began my solitary existence. The news ran for a few days, before they were caught. Kept making the stupidest mistake, going home every night. The electricity has stayed running; I guess someone left the switch on at the factory. Or maybe it’s just northern New England that’s been overrun, I dunno. The internet’s been out too, so that’s annoying.
While the news was running, they called them zombies, going back to that old standby. I guess it works. I mean, they don’t do a whole lot, and they’re definitely dead; they walk around until their legs rot out from under them, then they crawl until they literally fall to pieces. While they’ve got legs, though, they’re fast. That’s how they jumped my family, I suppose. And the police car that drove up to the house to see if there were any survivors. That wasn’t fun to look at every morning. They overturned my car while chasing him, so I’m stuck. Cops to the rescue again. They didn’t really need food, so they didn’t finish eating the poor guy. But they dismembered him; that’s why he couldn’t get up and join them. I could see him gnashing his teeth fruitlessly, though.
For about a week, a guy on the radio hopefully pointed out that they were falling to pieces, so all we needed to do was wait them out. Then he got impatient, went outdoors. Nobody’s been on the radio for two weeks.
I’m in trouble, though. You see, the house has no food left. I can’t wait for them to all to fall down dead all over again. I’ve made a couple expeditions to the general store. Lucky I had that sword collection upstairs. They’re all too slow to catch me when I run, but there are so many that I sometimes panic. Last time, they nearly got me. I broke the front door getting back in; now the cold seeps in every night, and I can see one standing out on the porch right now, not ten feet from where I’m writing this. You’re safe indoors. Don’t ask me why they abhor coming inside. Whatever the reason, it’s been my lifeline. Unfortunately, they seem to know that there’s someone alive in the house. Don’t ask me how; this fellow on the front step doesn’t even have eyes anymore. Maybe they can hear a heartbeat, or smell sweat. Or blood.
I spent a couple days naming them. Some of the faces I recognized, and gave their old names to them. The same old gang’s been hanging around here for the last few weeks, slowly dropping in number as they fall to pieces. They’ve never wandered off, though. There’re 79 who were once men and 63 who were once women out there. Once, just to see what would happen, I shot one in the head with our shotgun. You know, to see if the old “shoot a zombie in the head and they die for good” adage had any truth. So I’ve actually got 79 who were once men, 62 who were once women and 1 who was once a woman and decided to keep standing even after losing about 80% of its head. And I’m down one shotgun shell.
So they wait. And I’m losing it. I talk to myself constantly, and I ate a stuffed animal last night. The cotton went down hard, but it felt good to have something in my stomach again. There are no fruit trees around, and anyway, it’s November. Water has been getting scarcer. The tap water stopped working eight days ago; lucky I’d filled the bathtub and every bottle I could find before it stopped.
Oh, great. Now the lamp’s getting brighter and I hear a buzzing sound. I wonder if the power’s going ou
Well, that wasn’t fun. Total loss of power for four days. Ever try sleeping in the dark knowing that there are things just outside that’ll kill you and make you one of them the first chance they get? Probably, since these things are everywhere, as far as I can tell. Quick update: I mentioned Herschel, that guy on my porch? One of his legs fell off, so he’s sitting down, sniffing at it. Thank God they lose all higher brain functions. I’m pretty sure the soul isn’t held captive in these things, and that this is all the disease (or whatever) trying to spread itself as far as it can in the population.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, reader, but the animals just don’t seem affected. It’s a small comfort. Of course, they die if they eat the flesh, but they don’t get back up once they die. Weird, huh? I’m getting hungry, and desperate. Maybe, just maybe, I can load the old .22 and bag a squirrel from inside. But how will I go get it?
On one hand, I’m a bit more optimistic that you’re out there now, whoever you are. The power couldn’t have come back if there weren’t people out there working to restore order. I’m feeling lucky; time to grab a sword and go drop this in the brook. Maybe this whole thing is almost over.
Maybe. On the other hand, if it is almost over…
Why are there fresh faces outside today?