Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Short fiction: On An Empty Shore IV

The Essence of Survival

When I discovered the zombies didn’t pay vampires any special mind, I was pretty blown away. There I’d been slinking around all the time when I didn’t have to. It was a big relief. It’s funny that now I was a lot safer than I’d ever been before. I would have laughed about it but there wasn’t anyone there to share the joke.

Even a vampire can only go so long before talking to himself stops being fun. I remembered that movie with that Gollum thing that made noises at the back of his throat as he was looking for his Precious. It was a bit too close to the bone.

Since I couldn’t find any vampires, I decided to try talking to the people, because they were about, just hiding like mad, especially at night. After a year or two, walking dead weren’t the only things they had to worry about.

The dogs that survived ran in packs and were lank dangerous. Animals that had been in zoos roamed about. Lions, tigers. Hell, bears even. With all the livestock running around there was plenty of food for them.

It’s enough to say things weren’t safe for warmbloods and it was pretty obvious that if I planned to eat in the future, it would be a good idea for me to look after them.

Talking to my food was better than talking to myself, in any case.

The first human I made friends with was this dyke and her girlfriend who were hiding in what used to be De Waterkant. They’d holed up in the cellar of an old house. I met Estelle when she was headed back from a scavenge mission. She was carrying lots of stuff she’d found in some of the shops that was still good to eat. Problem was the zombies were moaning on her tail.

I’d been following her too but when I saw her stop, as if she couldn’t figure out if she wanted to dump her shit and run, or try to get the stuff home, something in me snapped. Hell, I hadn’t spoken to someone in more than a year.

“You need help?” I called to her. My voice sounded very strange. Like it belonged to someone else.

She gave a small shriek and looked like she was going to drop dead from fright. When she saw me―and really, I’m not much to look at, I look like a girl with my long hair―she chilled out right then. I told her to head back to her place. I knew where she stayed. I knew where all the warmbloods stayed. To prove my point I took her bags and told her to run.

“But they gonna eat you! They gonna eat you!” Estelle cried.

I laughed. “No man, it’s cool. They won’t eat me. You’ll see.”

She looked at me like I was on drugs or something but when the zombies rounded the corner, she ran. I waited for the zombies to pass. Not pretty. They shambled past me and I stood still, closed my eyes. No sudden movements. Didn’t want to look at them either.

You should have seen her face when I brought her things to her. Like total amazement.

Warmbloods were faster than zombies but there were more zombies than warmbloods. Zombies could lie still for weeks and months without moving but the minute they smelled a warmblood they would follow. Going underground or finding higher ground helped, usually. But it also paid putting as much distance between yourself and the zombies. I think the reason why they didn’t sense me was because I didn’t give off heat.

I decided to be upfront with the warmbloods. After all, if they could believe in zombies, they could believe in vampires. When they understood I didn’t mean to kill them, that I only wanted a little blood in exchange for running errands or carrying messages, we quickly worked out a deal that was cool for all of us.

It wasn’t so bad. It gave me something to do and I was in good company. They didn’t look at me like I was worse than a piece of dog shit they just found under their shoes. Not like before when I was still doing brown. Back then they’d look at the track marks in my arms and they’d un-see me. I’d simply cease to exist for them.

Not every surviving warmblood liked me, though. There were groups of people with guns, who also knew about vampires, that would shoot me on sight. I generally stayed away from them. But it was the other people I helped. I got them to connect with each other. That’s how they started the first proper little villages. Almost like the gated security villages in the old days.

You know what? I still get warm and fuzzy when I think about that. I may be a small dude, but I can run fast. I can slip by unnoticed. I’d like to think that I’ve been selfless and good but I’ll be honest. It’s also about making sure that I keep up a supply. It’s almost like being a farmer―who talks to his sheep and his cows.

Would I ever turn another warmblood into a vampire? I didn't know so much. It would mean I’d have more competition. I tried not to get too close, even if I couldn't help but liking some of them. Estelle was like an auntie to me. I loved the way she smelled, because she made soap that had me think of the veld. It was nice when she hugged me. She was warm and when she laughed, her skin crinkled at the corners of her eyes.

When I looked in a mirror at Estelle's home I saw a very pale, dead face. I tried to smile but it looked like I showed my teeth, like one of those feral dogs. If I made another vampire, I’d just make something like me that may end up hurting these warmbloods who were now my friends.

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  1. Oh I love this - such a unique take. A vampire protecting humans from zombies. Never seen that before. I really found myself rooting for that guy.

  2. I like how this guy has the makings of some kind of inhuman messiah. Whether he likes it or not the more he does for the 'warmbloods' the more they're going to become devoted. That is, of course, if he can keep his hunger at bay!