Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Short fiction: On An Empty Shore V

Under the Radar

I mentioned there were the warmbloods who had guns, right? They were the ones who’d always been a bit twitchy even before the zombies arrived. Some were your average Afrikaners who’d always kept a stockpile of weapons despite the change in gun laws. A few others were the opportunists who grabbed what guns they could when the shit went down.

I didn’t like guns. I knew a bullet to the brain would kill me just like the next person―or a zombie, for that matter. A shot gun made a very big mess. While I didn’t need antibiotics or bandages, and my body healed pretty good once I’d had a dose of blood to speed up things, it still hurt like shit.

Also, if I was down and trying to heal up, it also meant that some lucky bastard could get closer to deliver that killing blow. I didn’t want to take that chance, so I generally stayed the hell away from warmbloods who pointed guns at me. I may not be alive in the true sense of the word, but I wasn’t stupid.

A gun often meant the difference between life and death after the zombies came. Once ammo ran out, it definitely levelled the playing field, if you catch my drift. And ammo wasn’t always easy to come by, since those who had sources protected them fiercely. After all, it wasn’t like there were factories producing the stuff anymore.

But ja, there was still more than enough live ammo in circulation to keep guns in action for years to come and I wasn’t about to take my chances. One man armed with a rifle could take pot shots and thin out a mob of zombies without breaking a sweat. Or flatten a lone vampire.

So I was always a bit more careful to go into territories where known gunmen lived. It was almost like the Wild West, Clint Eastwood and all. Unarmed vampires like me had to be careful.

I considered finding me a gun but I never did learn to shoot one. Something about handling a lump of metal that looked dangerous made me uneasy. Guns just scared me.

The gun people were total nutters. There’s this crazy dude who’d taken over the Castle of Good Hope. He kept himself a harem of wives and some animals in the place. Gates were locked almost the whole time. It took me three attempts to convince him that I was there to trade and bring news.

Gerrit Smuts almost squeezed in a head shot that first time. Bullet grazed my cheekbone and clipped my ear. Like getting burned. The next time he got me in the chest. Smack! Punched me right over and I lay there for about five minutes trying to figure out how to make my body work again.

Can you imagine his amazement when I got up again? But I had a letter from a woman who lived in Sea Point. She’d spoken to someone who’d heard they’d seen her sister near the Castle and she wanted to tell her she was still alive.

And it was worth the effort for me to be in as many good books as possible. Supply and demand, and all that. It’s not like I had any competition for my services, and payment in blood was a necessary evil, as far as the warmbloods were concerned.

There were also gangs. Fucking tsotsis who went about taking what they wanted from other people who couldn’t defend themselves. Fucking rapists made me angry enough to go after them.

People can point fingers at me and say I’m a monster, but I wasn't like these beasts who hurt others just because it made them hard. Waving a gun around in the air didn’t make you a man.

These assholes thought that just because they had guns they were safe. But a gun didn’t help against a death that could move silently and see better than you in the dark.

They raided a bit too close to home one night. Two of Estelle’s friends were raped, the one beaten so badly she died the next morning. I was near enough to hear the screams when it happened. Five guys were too many for me to take on but I followed them.

They made so much noise it was impossible to miss them. Their kicked litter and joked and laughed all the way back to where they stayed. What zombies they saw they shot. Overconfident stinking bastards. I got the first one when he went off by himself to take a slash. His buddies made the mistake of splitting into pairs to track me down.

Thing is, those guns did no good once I got close enough to rip out their throats. I didn’t feel bad about taking my fill of their blood. Scum didn’t deserve to breathe.

I’m no fucking Lone Ranger, but for once in my existence I’d got something to be proud of. It’s just a run-down city but it’s mine. No one told me what to do and the same went for the warmbloods under my care.

Granted, the day Estelle and her neighbour, a grumpy old sod who kept chickens, almost came to blows, I did tell them to cool it. For fuck’s sake, it’s chickens, damn it. There were worse things to fight about than worry about the price of eggs.

The zombies, man. They don’t just go away. It’s like that whole suspended animation vibe. If they didn’t have fresh meat they sort of went to sleep, lay there pretending to be a piece of furniture. I expected they could last almost forever like that.

I’d seen it with my own eyes and the damn things could move so quickly when the promise of fresh meat was near. One minute the dude just walked then next long rotted arms reached out from under a car to grab his ankles. Next he was dragged under and you didn’t want to think about what it sounded like. The crunching carried on long after he’d stopped screaming.

I hated hearing about new horror stories. Just like we South Africans used to complain about the crime in the old days, now it was zombie stories. The problem was there weren’t enough new warmbloods being born. Or they got sick and died because doctors were hard to come by or too expensive. It’s sad, man, and it broke my fucking heart because they’re so fragile.

I gotta look after them. Who else was gonna look out for them? My life depended on their survival.

1 comment:

  1. Dependent on your food to survive is a complicated situation. Enjoyable add.