Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Short fiction: On An Empty Shore I

For Once We Weren’t the Greater Evil

Where were you when the zombiepocalypse happened? Nasty piece of work wasn’t it? They didn’t see it coming, the dumb fucks. One moment everyone went on like the world wasn’t going to come to an end, chasing their daily lemming-grind. The next boom! neighbour ate neighbour and everything just ground to a standstill.

Me? I noticed the shit was going down when I came out at night to see the streets were all but deserted. Lots of sirens. More than usual for Cape Town by night. And, of course, the other weird factor. No street people. Doorway after doorway was empty of bodies wrapped in blankets or makeshift cardboard shelters. No easy snacks for nocturnal lurkers like me.

At the time I was doing what any self-respecting vampire would do at night—prowling and keeping an eye out. For what I wasn’t quite sure. No acting like the big dude like those snooty bastards in their penthouses, who got their food brought up to them all discreet like.

Being all high and mighty didn’t help them when things turned to shit. By the time the warmbloods called in the army, it was too late. Damn zombies pretty much chewed their way through everyone who put up a struggle. What a waste of perfectly good blood. Zombies were only after one thing: meat. And they weren’t too picky about the condition they found it in, so long as it filled the gap.

This kinda left us vamps at a loose end. The clever warmbloods who survived were armed to the teeth and extra freaked out, which made it tricksy for the rest of us to get a meal. In the end vampire turned on vampire, and this is where it was better to be streetwise.

No one ever paid me―Joost Brink―any attention when I was alive. They paid me even less once I was undead. Small, skinny ex-junkie. Not important in the grander scheme of things, hey? This saved my bacon when the almighty papaya hit the proverbial fan. The old ones at the top were the first to go, if they weren’t clever enough to go into hiding. Which they weren’t.

They expected their loyal lieutenants to keep them safe. The lieutenants did what any self-serving creature of night would. They looked after number one, and number one wasn’t the boss man. Who knew?

The things I saw during those first nights of fire, blood and terror I don’t want to remember. I am glad vampires don’t dream because if that were the case I’d have daymares. Or whatever you’d call it. Dunno.

It’s kinda twisted that a monster like me would want to puke after seeing stuff like kidlets all ripped into bits, the horrible gnashing mouths chomping onto tender flesh. Lips blue in death smacked as fat dribbled between the gaps where teeth had been knocked out. Even I never killed kids, okay.

An old man made his last stand, cornered in his driveway. Armed with only a nine-millimetre pistol, he fought off a mob of walking dead. He took out one with a head shot at almost point blank range but by then it was too late―too many of the rotting things clawed and moaned at him.

The truly fucking hysterical thing about this whole drama was that the zombies simply weren’t interested in other undead. Not that I claimed any relations to the shambling rotten things. As far as they were concerned, we belonged among their ranks.

The night I discovered this I would have pissed myself if I could. I’d walked straight into a pack of the beasts, and bumped into a creature that may once have been a secretary or a sales rep, had half her skin not hung off her in loose sheets. Grey meat gleamed in the low light. We bounced into each other and I staggered back half a step then froze, half expecting her and all the rest to fall upon me the same way they’d dismember warmbloods.

To my fucking disbelief they shoved past me, as though I were just a lamp post or some other obstacle in their path. They did not even pause to sniff in the air. Bully for me. I should have smelled them but there were parts of the city where the overall stench of rotted meat was so strong I sometimes overlooked the obvious. I tended to go on sight rather than smell. I wouldn’t make that mistake again.

It still didn’t help that my food was in short supply. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to turn to zombies for a Happy Meal. Their blood, such as it was, was viscous and black, and smelled like they looked―days-old road kill.

I preyed on the lost, the hopeless, much as I had before the zombies took over, but somehow now, despite my hunger, I simply lacked the taste for the kill. I used to see myself as an angel of death, wouldn’t drag out the inescapable shit. The warmbloods who cowered in their nooks and hidey-holes were even more pitiful than the dregs I used to cull. I just couldn’t do it. They clung to life like kittens drowning in a bucket. Often, I slunk back to my lair hungrier than when I awoke.

Mind you, a starving vampire was about as frightening as a horde of zombies. I stalked the deserted streets, stepped around cars discarded like oversized toys. I stooped to feeding off feral dogs, of which there were many and, besides, the infernal things tried to hunt me of occasion. I may have been the runt among the vampires, but I wouldn’t allow mere dogs to make me roll and show my neck.

Cape Town was weird without the cheery bright lights or the low rumble of traffic. From time to time I’d see the flicker of candles from some of the high-rise buildings, tenacious warmbloods barricaded from the gore-fest in the streets below. For the most I let them be. It’s almost as if for once, they deserved a break, the poor bastards.

Warmblood or vampire, we were in this mess together. I didn’t know where those zombies came from any more than the warmbloods. We were equally fucked.

The silence was louder than a siren.

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  1. Really look forward to watching this saga unfold. Sweet intro.

  2. Great start, Nerine! Wow, captures you with it's real possibility. Can't wait for the next episodes.

  3. Very nice Nerine. Really puts Cape Town into a new light. And I like the mix of vampires and zombies. Look forward reading more.

    And thanks for stopping by and reading my unicorn story!

  4. I suspect we'll be seeing some serious contending for position on the food pyramid in the following episodes. My money is on the guy with the biggest gun and pointiest stake.