bedtime stories

Serial Short Fiction: What We Talk About When We Talk About Zombies, Part 1.

My friend Karl was shooting zombies. Karl Kaiser’s mother got eaten by zombies, so nobody denies he’s got the right.

The four of us were sitting around his heated tree-house drinking hot chocolate. The grey light of another post-apocalyptic day filtered in through the tree-stand door. There were Karl and I and his current girlfriend,  Joyce, and my wife, Paula.  We lived in New Hampshire then, but we were all from somewhere else.

There was a space heater in the middle, with a hot plate and a kettle. The hot chocolate packets kept getting passed around, and we got, unsurprisingly, on the subject of zombies.  Karl thought zombies were some sort of walking metaphor for spiritual emptiness come home to roost. Karl spent five years working as a corporate lawyer before he quit and joined the Marine Corps, and he said he saw the same look in the eyes of the senior partners that we all saw in the eyes of zombies now.

We were all pretty glad he had joined the Marines now, as he put another .50 caliber sniper rifle round between a zombie’s eyes a half-mile down the road.  I watched its head explode through the spotter scope as I sipped my Swiss Miss.

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bedtime stories

The Ides.

After a long, nasty, cruel, heartless winter, here we are, the lion still gnawing at us and an hour of sleep lost to daylight savings.

For various reasons I couldn’t sleep last night. I sat up and stared out at the squatting cinderblock boxes with tarpaper roofs that pass for garages in this town, lining our alley in Siamese-twin pairs, and the false gloaming of the city lights diffused through the low-hanging clouds. And I cursed the grey night and laid back down, trying to block the alley street light’s amber glare with a wedged pillow.

I’ll be glad when this winter is dead and gone. The snow has finally thawed away from the shadows under the relentless rain, and the storm drains are clogged with urban jetsam and runoff with no place else to go, but there are still places where grey icebergs stand like Lot’s wife at street corners, like they’re waiting for the crossing light to change before they give up and melt into mud.

I know now why Brutus did in Caesar on the Ides. The goddamned Ides. It was the waiting for a change that drove him to do it. Something has to break, and let things start again.

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