It seemed like a cruel irony.
I had survived the brutal end of civilization and watched our world fall from grace; I had stood by helplessly while all of my friends and family died, or were reduced to the walking dead, one by one. I lived on and yet now, a decade later, my salvation lay behind a worn, old movie poster for a film named Zombieland.
Crouched between a dumpster and a stack of decaying boxes, I stared at the faded, ruined poster, wondering at life’s morbid sense of humour. I remembered that movie. It had been a few years old at the point when the world ended, so it seemed strange to have it hanging in the window, but places like this backwater little town tended to be behind the times. I used to enjoy that kind of thing, back when I was a teenager and the world was still whole. The zombie fad had been so popular in 2013 – there were copies of The Walking Dead in the window, too.
If only we had known what was to come.
The virus that struck us down was nothing like any of those movies. There was to be no Dawn of the Dead for us, no 28 Days Later. I was eternally grateful for that fact, actually. My reality was very different to the fantasies dreamed up by Hollywood.
There was one of them in the DVD store across the road from me: An old man. I could just see him past the tatty photograph of Jesse Eisenberg, shuffling back and forth between the shelves. He wandered tirelessly, trying to organise his stock with hands no longer capable of gripping.
Some of the undead were still dangerous, but most of them were slow and heart-wrenchingly pathetic, like the little old man in the store. I’d take him over a fast-moving, angry movie zombie any day, even if it did break my heart to look at him. The difference came down to which one was more likely to eat my brain. Frankly, I liked my brain right where it was. The real undead weren’t interested in brains – or anything else, really.
There was nothing left on the shelves now; the old man had knocked all the videos to the ground long ago with his limp-fingered efforts, and then crushed them beneath his wandering feet. He was far gone after all these years. His flesh was half-rotted, and his eyes were unseeing. Only instinct kept him moving in his relentless, unattainable quest for perfection.
A lot of the infected seemed to retain the basic memories of their lives, but only the things that they had repeated so often that the action ended up deeply ingrained within their subconscious. The core of their personalities seemed to linger as well, but it was just an echo of the person they used to be.
That made them unpredictable.
Genre - Post-Apocalyptic Survival
Rating - PG-13