Thursday, June 30, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: all the old haunts

This week's Flash Fiction Friday prompt was to be happy, write a positive story.

The following scribblings may not comprise a very conventional happy story, but I like to think it ends with a happily ever (and ever and ever) after.


***
All the Old Haunts

He was so hungry.

He was also scared and confused and lonely as he crouched behind the counter of the abandoned 7-11, waiting for night to fall. But mostly Brian was hungry.

He had a vague memory of the Before time, when food was so plentiful and seemed so much less important. Not like the gnawing hunger that always possessed him now. A residual spark from some lone surviving neuron in his atrophying hippocampus conjured up a memory of bags of chips, strips of beef jerky, chocolate bars, lining the shelves. But the weak memory soon fizzled out and was extinguished.

It really had no meaning for him now anyway. There was just the incessant hunger, and the hazy understanding that there just weren't as many living to feast on as when he had first turned.

The others were feeling it too. He could hear them becoming louder by the day as they shuffled past the ravaged convenience store, the collective moan of the horde becoming more plaintive and desperate with each passing day. Each time one of them called out for brains, he swiveled what was left of his head toward the sound, thinking that they were calling him. Until he remembered - not brains, Brian, he was Brian.

It was this continual reminder that he had once had a name that kept him inside the 7-11, desperately trying to hold onto the rapidly depleting memory fragments of when he had stood behind the counter, selling lottery tickets and cigarettes. The memory of a name and the blurry recollection of the woman in the polka dot dress who had been with him when everything changed.

He had loved her, of this he was certain. His last thought, as the ravenous horde had broken through the barricaded windows and had descended upon them, was of her. It was her terrified face calling out for him that was his final memory before the gaping slobbering mouths ripped at his flesh. It was her final cry that burned his own name into the remnants of his brain.

And now he was so hungry. Although he was incapable of appreciating the irony, his final remaining vestiges of reason told Brian that he could not feed himself if he stayed inside the store, that the only place he would find the sustenance he needed to quell the agony of his empty gut was out there, in the ravages of the plundered streets. But he hated leaving, fearful each time that he would never find his way back to his only remaining link to his life before.

He moaned loudly, his decaying vocal chords giving voice to his anguish and his confusion and his fear.

The lone creature stumbling past the shattered store windows stopped abruptly at the sound and gave a small cry, then lurched unsteadily into the darkened shell of the building toward him. Brian swayed to his feet from where he had been crouched behind the lottery counter, ready to defend himself and his sanctuary. And then he saw the tattered clothing that the creature was wearing, the soiled and ripped remains of a polka dot dress that she had worn on the last day of her life.

They stared at each other. He staggered toward her, salty tears from long dried up ducts trickling from cavernous eye sockets. She reached out and touched his ravaged face, her gnawed fingers gently stroking where his cheek used to be. "Brains," she moaned, the parody of a smile stretching across her half-eaten face. She shook her head then, the motion jarring loose a couple of teeth, sending them scattering across the debris-strewn tiles. "Not brains ..." she gasped triumphantly, "Brian!" And before he could wrap his arms around her, she lifted a surprisingly intact arm and extended a freshly-killed and meaty thigh toward him.

And then he remembered. "Eleanor," he croaked, and they were home.

16 comments:

Toccata said...

Oh wow. I really don't know what to say except wow. Wow in a good way. Man you do leave me breathless sometimes.

umbrellalady said...

Ah! True love...zombie style! I enjoyed this one, Barb, good job on the happy ending.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Garsh, thanks, Toccata! I'm so thrilled that you enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun to write.

I'm still not sure if this qualifies as the happy and positive story we were charged to write, Kathy, but I think there's something a little uplifting in the ending.

Glen said...

I do love a good old fashioned zombie love story :-) nice work - I'm smiling

Beach Bum said...

I serious dig zombie stories and this one was simply great!

Mike Williams said...

If zombies can be happy you managed it Barbara. nicely done

Barbara Bruederlin said...

If you are smiling, my work is done, Glen. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Hey thanks, Beach Bum! I really appreciate the props. I dig zombie stories too.

Thanks! I like to think that zombies carry some primal memory, Mike, giving them some capacity for happiness.

Thomas Pluck said...

True love never dies. Nice one!

Sue H said...

I was just a little worried that Eleanor's reunion with Brian would see her feasting on his brains!

One night in zombie love-land - nice to know they had a happy ending :-)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Thanks, Thomas! It was fun to write this one.

Oooh, I didn't consider that possibility, Sue. In that case, I guess the happy ending only applies to Eleanor.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw said...

Ohh... a zombie love story? Darn it... now you've gone and made me cry!

What a truly wonderful story, Barbara... beautifully written. Left me a little breathless too!

Thanks for bringing a little more joy to this happy heart!

:=)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That's so sweet of you to say, Veronica Marie! I'm so pleased that my story had an impact, most gratifying that you weren't bothered by the ick factor.

Jenny said...

A zombie love story! Brilliant! Very creative (: I enjoyed this so much!!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Thanks, Jenny! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it, it really was fun to write.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw said...

The ick factor didn't bother me at all... and, when true love wins, I can't help it... hand me the tissues! :)

I LOVE a good zombie story, and yours is AWESOME! It answers the question I've often fancied zombies ask of themselves... "do I love?"

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'e always wondered how much of their former psyches zombies maintain, Veronica. It's what drove me to write this from the zombie's perspective.