Untied a Zombie Adventure
Cover Art by: Steven
Thinking about the end of days, the apocalypse, I used to think about how I would make sure I was paired with a solid team to survive whatever epidemic hit the earth. Whether it be aliens, the supernatural, or a weird flu strain. I used to think that zombies were a damn Science Fiction joke. Something to laugh at on the T.V. Times have changed. I’m living in a zombie infested world, and it's much worse than I thought it could be. My name is Xia, and this is my story on surviving T-zombies.
“Fuck, I’m two seconds from cutting off my hair,” Xia said, she tugged another bloodstained feather from her pink braids. Arnold winced as he pointed to another feather caught in her hair.
“I think your hair is great…if that means anything to you?” he said nervously as he smiled. Xia rolled her eyes, of course, the man with a frazzled pompadour liked her pink braids. What did he know of protective hairstyles in zombie apocalypses? She continued plucking away bits and pieces out of her hair. She missed showers, and the ability to deep condition her roots. Once she finished attending to her hair, she looked at the mess of a bird Arnold had shot for breakfast. Seeing its body, and gaping holes she decided that maybe, she wasn’t so hungry after all.
“You can eat that…I think I lost my appetite cleaning it out of my hair”. Xia confessed. Arnold shrugged and began cleaning the bird up. Xia looked around hoping no scavengers or chaotic apocalypse groups were in sight. She doubted people would wander this far out from the settlements or the city, but she was still very wary. Her eyes scanned the forest, and her ears were attentive to the sounds of the woods.
“Hey uh, Xia?” Arnold asked startling her from her vigilance. She looked at him, and he pointed to her boots. She looked and saw one was untied, and nodded as she tied it back up again.
“Thanks,” she said.
“Anytime!” He chirped. A solemn look crossed his face as his smile faded, “Do you think we will have time to find food before sunset?” he asked, he stirred the bird bits in his broth. Xia frowned, “Of course, why?” she answered feeling assured.
"I guess I'm just worried, you only have a few more puff on your inhaler, and we have to run..." He began, Xia sighed.
"If we have to run, then run...my lungs won't give out just yet." Xia finished for him. Arnold frowned and went back to stirring the steaming broth. Xia could understand his concerns, but she didn't want to panic. She was already nervous about surviving like this. She hated that the apocalypse started before there was a cure for asthma developed...and well before she could change her hair to something a little less flamboyant. She rolled her eyes at her stupid aesthetic making her a damn zombie bait neon sign in cute but bloody boots.
While Arnold was cooking, Xia decided to check their camp. She walked a little further in the woods taking in the green and peace of this earthy place. Her hand rubbed over a broken branch, where a red lace intertwined among the hole-ridden leaves. It was going to be a rough night if they didn't get supplies. Her heart thundered in her chest as she kept walking. She pulled out her inhaler and looked at the amount on the counter. The counter read, "006". She tucked it back away, as she bit her lip.
“Fuck” she mumbled. She wasn’t going to make it after maybe 3 supply runs. She had three more nights to get through before her asthma got the best of her. A whistle rang in the distance, and Xia turned back. Arnold had signaled that something was wrong. All she could think about was her the counter on her inhaler telling her how much time she had to live.
3 Days Later:
Arnold and Xia were quietly looking through an old department store. The Mall had a lot of exciting stores, but deserted it felt like a retail wasteland. Every now and again lights would flicker and reveal a horrible, tragic remnant from a failed fight with the T-Zombies. Tattered clothing would be scattered, and dry blood would decorate naked mannequins. This wasn’t a mall that delighted them to be in. Arnold looked at Xia as she sorted through some leftover jewelry…he looked at her twisted backpack strap and her untied shoes. He wondered if he should say something. She seemed very on edge. He looked back at her shoes. It bothered him, he wanted to reach down and tie them back up. Was that too forward? Xia looked down at her watch.
“Damn it, Arnold, we are almost out of time, we need to head back, get to the higher ground soon it's almost sunset.”
Arnold snapped out of the daze of his thoughts and reached to grab the watch he was eyeing.
“I know, we have enough let's head back” He agreed. She nodded and grabbed her spiked bat. They walked out of the store and headed to the exit. Arnold sighed.
“What is it?” Xia asked.
“It's your strap and your shoelaces…here let me” Arnold reached to straighten her strap and was about to go tie her shoe.
“Arnold…stop look…” Xia said. He looked up and saw that the sun was setting. Xia looked at him panicking.
“I thought we had time,” He said, he pulled her back into the mall. Xia looked at her watch again.
“Damn it, my hello kitty watch must have had the battery die…maybe an hour ago.” She explained.
“We have to find high ground…how many stories does this mall have?” Arnold asked, he looked around for a directory but saw it was covered in blood.
“Three I think…no its 4 including the sub level…” Xia answered.
“We need to move up and out of sight…how do we get to the roof,” Arnold asked. Xia’s eyes lit up.
“There’s a water tank on the roof! I know the way.” She grabbed his hand, and they ran to the administrative offices on the top floor.
The mall was getting darker. The red-orange hues of fading light a dying beacon as they quickly rushed past stores. Large bumps started sounding from the lower levels. Their hearts pounded, and Xia gripped his hand tighter. Her lungs felt on fire, but she had to keep going. Arnold gripped his machete tightly. They reached the head janitors office. Arnold kicked the door open, and the door fell off awkwardly. A vile scent hit their noses. Lights from broken tv monitors buzzed as a recently deceased body was revealed to be sitting in the chair. His head slunk on the desk, and his hand gripped a gun. Arnold stepped carefully towards the body.
“He shot himself…” Arnold whispered as he began searching. Light flickered again revealing the hole in his head. Xia, held back a gag as she looked frantically for a key to the roof.
“Damn it…where the fuck is it.” She muttered. Arnold looked around the body and reached into the dead man’s shirt pocket.
“It’s here” He tossed the key to her, and Xia opened the back door. They rushed through and climbed up the ladder to the roof. Xia pushed open the doors and quickly scanned looking for the water tank. The sun was almost gone. Arnold pointed to the southeast.
“Xia its there….come on,” He said. They started to run, and Xia felt her chest constrict. She couldn’t breathe. She reached in the backpack side pocket for her inhaler. She took a look at the counter. Only one puff left. She took a quick puff. She was wheezing less, but she needed another. They kept running, but she was feeling light-headed. The stench of the T-zombies was rising and the loud bumping was escalating in noise. Clumsy bastards, Xia thought.
They arrived at the ladder of the water tank and began climbing up. Arnold opened the hatch, and they climbed in. Breathless Xia fumbled looking for her small lantern. She clicked it on. They looked around the ample open space, noting there was no water in it. A gaping hole at the top let in the little moonlight there was.
“We made it…” Arnold said.
Arnold looked over at Xia, thinking she would be just as relieved. He was startled to see her chest heaved with her labored breathing. She was struggling to breathe.
“Xia where is your inhaler” He asked. She pointed to the ground and he picked it up. He looked at the counter and cursed. She smiled weakly. He placed his stuff down and went over to her. He awkwardly sat next to her.
“Xia, come closer, try to match your breathing to mine…”He said. She frowned but leaned on his chest. Her wheezing gradually softened as she breathed along side him. Arnold felt relief that this worked. His eyes wandered past the top of her head to her boots, and he saw one was untied again. He thought to himself, he couldn’t let her die.