How To Become a Zombie
She woke not knowing where she was, who she was, or even what she was. The only thing she could say for sure was how she was. As to that: stiff and sore.
First order of business: Open her eyes.
Her lids felt heavy and stuck together as if they’d been sewn shut. She might have lifted her hand and pried them apart—Did she have hands? She thought she did—but that required the complex act of remembering how to manipulate her fingers. Assuming she had fingers. She thought she did.
In the dark behind her eyelids, she took stock. This was what she knew: She was lying down. She was cold. And she was hungry.
As if that thought had sprung an invisible catch, her eyes popped open. Literally; they made a popping sound. So she had ears, then.
White and filmy—that’s how everything looked. Like someone just poured milk in her eyes. But who would pour milk in her eyes? Did she have an enemy? What if her enemy was still nearby, lurking out of sight with an eyedropper and a plastic half-gallon container? If she got her hands on him, assuming she had hands, she’d beat that container right out of his grip. She’d tie his intestines in a knot for pouring milk in her eyes. She’d rip his head off and eat his—
Second order of business: Make a fist.
There’s a lot you can do with a fist: Knock on a door. Play Rock Paper Scissors. Make a rude gesture. Beat a milk carton out of your enemy’s hand. Punch a hole in his chest.
Not really expecting her fingers to respond, she was surprised to find she already had two clenched fists.
That was easy.
Third order of business: Sit up.
This would prove much harder than her first two endeavors.
She spent a full two minutes commanding herself to rise into a sitting position. Not a single muscle twitched, except maybe a big toe. Which meant she had a foot. She grew increasingly frustrated with her body’s lack of response. A surge of rage gripped her so hard, red swam before her eyes—mixed with the milk, shouldn’t it have been pink?—and she had to fight the urge to tear off her own legs. Or the one, at least.
It should have been a natural thing, a simple contraction of the abdominal muscles. She lifted one of her newly discovered fists, not sure yet what she planned on doing with it, and probed the area where she thought her abdominal muscles would be.
She didn’t have abdominal muscles.
Fourth order of business: Scream.
The tongue. Oh, the tongue. That meaty, squirmy piece of flesh that’s meant to wrap itself around the air and shape it into words. She could have done without it. All it did was fill her mouth like an apple in the jaws of a feast pig.
Which didn’t end up mattering much, because her vocal cords were thick as cheese and what little air she managed to push through them came out with no sound other than a low uuuuuuuuunnnnh.
Oh well. Screaming never did anyone any good anyway.
Fifth order of business: Get the hell out of here.
She quickly found another use for her fists: Drag herself across the ground until she could reach an object low enough to help her leverage herself into a standing position. It turned out to be the bumper of a car. She noticed through her milky vision that the windshield had been shattered and the driver hung halfway out of it, a gaping hole in his head.
She steadied herself on the hood and attempted a few shaky strides. It seemed she had two feet after all. They didn’t want to bend quite right, so the best she could do was propel herself forward with stiff, shuffling jerks. It would do.
A figure moved into view and she froze. Was this her enemy? He didn’t have any milk in his hands, which were caked with blood. One side of his cheek had been torn away, exposing a half-grin of gums and teeth. One eyeball hung out of its socket. He looked familiar; she vaguely remembered him gnawing on her intestines. He regarded her with his good eye before shambling away.
A sudden breeze carried a tantalizing scent to her nose, which she’d forgotten entirely. If she’d had a stomach, it would have growled.
Sixth order of business: Lunch.
A man crouched in the space behind a convenience store counter. If her vocal cords worked properly, she would have told him it was a stupid place to hide.
His face contorted. His mouth emitted horrible sounds. She watched him for a moment, enjoying his antics. Then hunger got the best of her.
She thought she remembered how her jaws worked.
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Portland Fiction Project
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