“You want in on this?” the Asian zombie dude asks, lifting his blood covered face from the carcass of what looks like a small child.
“No, thanks,” I tell him, forcing a smile. “I’m a vegan.”
The number of times I’ve had to say that… I get it, we’re zombies, we need to feed, we’re evil, blah, blah, blah…
But come on! We can eat animals! I don’t want to sound like a hippie bitch or anything, but we can eat cows and shit. Hell, I’ve eaten dogs. I don’t feel good about it, but I have.
These guys act like it’s no big deal. I can’t bring myself to do it.
“Hippie bitch,” Asian zombie grunts, turning back to his carcass. I roll my eyes, making way back to the streets.
My house is half a mile away. Shouldn’t take me more than two hours to get there.
Zombie fact number one: being a zombie is slow. I can’t run. I can’t even walk, I have to do this silly penguin walk everywhere I go.
It’s exhausting, really.
I bobble my way down Hollywood Boulevard, brushing past other zombies, turned over cars and torn apart billboards of old TV shows and all that crap, scanning the streets for food one last, hopeless time.
Nothing. No pigeons, no stray cats, no unlucky squirrels. Nada.
Turning right on the alleyway and cross the side door, I climb the narrow staircase to apartment 015.
“Jeff. Jeff. Jeff!”
“I’m coming, I’m coming, don’t knock the door down.”
Jeff greets me with a grumpy expression on his face, stepping aside to let me in.
“Any food out there?”
I step in and throw myself on the ripped couch, tired. “Some Asian dude offered me baby meat.”
“Did you take it?”
I don’t answer.
“You didn’t take it, did you?” Jeff asks, closing the door. “You could have brought some for us, at least.”
Zombie fact number two: The reason I can’t bring myself to eat a baby is I’m still me. You’d think this asshole virus would take away my mental faculties, but no. It just gives you terrible skin, red eyes and the uncontrollable urge for raw meat and blood.
Well, almost uncontrollable.
“You gotta eat, Eve,” Kathy tells me, crossing her bedroom door and making way for the mirror. “You look like shit.”
“It’s true, you do look a little too skinny,” Toby contributes from his mattress on the corner of the room. “Still hot, though.”
“I’m not eating people,” I say, folding my arms. “And shut up, Toby.”
“Eve, you can only survive on animal meat for so long,” Jeff says, pouring himself a glass of blood. By his side, a limbless, pale human carcass rests on an old metal desk, its chest and abdomen carved here and there from a week’s worth of Toby, Kathy and Jeff’s meals.
It’s tempting, I’ll be honest. The urge is so strong most people can’t (or won’t even try to) fight it. But I won’t do it. I’ve got constant headaches, difficulty concentrating and sore muscles all the time. I don’t care.
I’m not eating anything with a face.
Well, no. I’ll eat stuff with a face. But not a face that talked and walked and made jokes about the government. Not a face that watched the X Factor.
Maybe a face that watched the X Factor. But you get my point.
“I had a friend who tried the whole vegan thing,” Kathy continues, putting on earrings, still on the mirror. “Went crazy from the hunger. Couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk straight. It was pretty sad.”
“What happened to him?” Jeff asks.
“Well, he wasn’t exactly alive before, was he?” I argue.
Getting up from his mattress, Toby makes way past me to the body on the table. “If Eve doesn’t want to eat, fine. More for us. Heey!”
Toby pulls his hand away from Jeff’s slap.
“You’ve had more than your share last night, Toby,” Jeff says. “This has to last us all week.”
“But I’m hungry!”
Pulling a dirty sheet over the body, Jeff turns to Toby. “Then call Domino’s. This is for me and Kathy.”
On the mirror, Kathy’s trying out different dresses, posing them in front of her body and looking at herself from all different angles.
I close my eyes so I don’t have to roll them.
I gotta find some food.
And new roommates.
Zombie fact number three: What sounds like grunts and incoherent babble to normal people is actually conversation. Zombies talk.
A group of zombies in Abercrombie and Fitch ripped shirts watches me from the front of an abandoned McDonalds.
“Where are you limping off to?”
I keep penguining, ignoring the douchezombies. I step into what I think is what’s left of the Hollywood and Highland Mall.
“Come on, princess! Come back! We’re just having fun, here!”
Their voices fade as I go past a huge sign reading ‘OMINGDALES’.
Jesus, it’s boring, walking like this.
I look around. Does this place have a food court? A pet store? Anything I can eat that doesn’t think?
Bouncing my way deeper and deeper inside the mall, I scan left and right. Nothing.
Dear God, I’m so hungry I think I might —
I look to my left. Just under the escalator, a half-open door reads ‘STORAGE ROOM’. It’s dark inside.
“I said back off!”
Squinting, I’m able to make out a human figure. A bit out of shape.
The figure steps forward, and a young man, not more than seventeen, comes to light, holding a .22 pistol like Miss America would hold an Erlenmeyer flask.
“Don’t take another step!”
Dude, I wouldn’t have even seen you if you hadn’t said anything.
“I’m serious, I’ll shoot!”
He’s got a piece of cloth tied around his forehead and the smell of someone who hasn’t showered since Y2K was a thing.
Then again, the smell might be me.
I roll my eyes and resume my penguin walk towards the food court.
“Yeah, that’s right!” I hear his voice. “Freaking zombies all –”
“Hey, there’s a dude in there!”
I turn back. A few steps away from me, Douchezombie Squad is making way inside the mall, heading straight for the fat dude.
You know what? This is not my problem.
I keep walking, trying to ignore the sound of approaching zombie steps behind me.
“Oh, he’s fat. He’ll last a good week.”
“Not if it’s up to me, he won’t.”
“Back you devils!” I hear the zombie nerd’s scream, behind me.
I stop, and I close my eyes.
Shit. A Lord of the Ring quote. This kid is going to die.
The sound of the gun clicking reaches my ear. That’s right, he has a gun. He can defend himself.
Then it clicks again. And again.
“Oh, man, I forgot the bullets!”
“Get him, get him!”
Hating myself for giving a shit, I turn back. Douchezombies have the boy cornered against his sad little storage room, their hands raised and ready to charge.
“Grab the legs. Grab his legs!”
“I’m trying, would you –”
“All right, leave the fatty alone.”
Backstreet Zombies turn around. I stop in front of them, exuding a confidence I’m not really feeling as the leader’s eyes stop at me.
“Look, it’s Princess Darkness.”
“Shut up, Aberzombie and Fitch,” I retort, taking a step closer to him.
“Aberzombie,” one of the others chuckle, smiling at me. “Good one.”
“Shut up.” Leader zombie smacks his friend in the head. “You had dibs on the fat ball? We can share.”
“No,” I say, and I notice the fat kid’s eyes going from one zombie to the other, widening with each pause. “Just… leave him.”
“Yeah. Come on, he’s not hurting you.”
Main zombie looks at his friends, then back at me. “Well, no. It’s not personal, or anything. We’re just going to eat him.”
‘Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. Could you not?”
“I think she’s one of those vegans,” one of the zombies whispers.
With the corner of my eyes, I notice fat boy is pulling himself up, his back so hard against the wall he’s starting to look like street art.
“You don’t like eating people, huh?” Zombie leader grunts, with a semi-smile. “I can respect that.”
Fat boy is up on his feet. His eyes stop on mine, and I try to say ‘Make a run for it while I’m distracting them, you fat idiot’ with a blink.
It doesn’t work.
“She doesn’t have to eat it if she doesn’t want it,” the other zombie says, turning around to the fat kid. “More for us.”
“No, but wait!” I say, pulling the zombie’s arm. He looks back. “Maybe I can talk to you a bit about zombie veganism? You know, it’s so much more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle, really.”
The three zombies stop, and a full five-seconds silence takes over.
Come on, kid. Run away.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” zombie leader says, finally. “We’re eating the pigboy, ok? You want some, I can save you a – OH, GOD!”
Fat idiot took his time, but he finally charged. With the blow of a piece of half cinderblock to the head, zombie leader falls to the ground, rubbing his temple furiously. The other two look confused like blindfolded mice on a roller coaster.
“Run, fat idiot, run!” I yell, before the kid grabs the cinderblock again and throws it…
… at me.
That stupid fat fuck, is what I think, as the fat boy pushes the two zombies away and makes a run for it.
My head hurts.