Instant oatmeal is much better with milk than water; at least it was hot. I’m not sure where the nearest cow might be, or if any have even survived, but there are a lot of things I’m going to have to learn to live without; like my sanity, for instance. I’m going across the hall to shoot the nice old neighbor lady. Assuming I’m not already in hell, I’ll be visiting soon.
So, zombies are real. They’re not quite like they are in the movies, but holy shit. As if it wasn’t bad enough that most of the Earth’s population was wiped out in a pandemic, the fucking virus that did it has turned a bunch of them into zombies. I guess the good news is that getting bit by one of them won’t turn you into one yourself. Yes, I got bit again, on the hand this time. I really need to start getting better at this.
With my heart trying to hammer its way out of my chest, I went into Mrs. Olmstead’s apartment. I had the flashlight in my left hand, and the pistol, a Sig Sauer according to the name stamped on the side of it, in my right. I swung the light around, expecting Mrs. Olmstead to jump out at me, but didn’t see her. Whatever was wrong with her, I thought, made her unable to operate a simple doorknob. So I made my way down the hallway to her bedroom.
The door was still closed, and I knocked on it with the flashlight. As bad as this sounds, I was really hoping she had died; it would have made things so much simpler. I didn’t hear anything at first, so I knocked again, and immediately heard that disturbing moaning sound. The longer I waited, the less likely I was to go through with this, so I tucked the gun into my waistband to open the door. I twisted the doorknob, shoved the door open and grabbed for the gun. The door thumped off of something and started swinging closed again. I stuck my foot out in time to keep the door from closing all the way, and the gun snagged on my jeans.
It must be nice to get extra takes to make everything look so easy in the movies. I think I almost shot my own dick off trying to juggle the flashlight and the door and the gun. I finally got the pistol out and aimed in front of me, and then I gave the door a kick. It swung all the way open this time, and the flashlight caught Mrs. Olmstead sitting on her butt, struggling to get up.
I hadn’t actually been certain it even was Mrs. Olmstead in the room until the light showed me her face. It was more gaunt than it had been the last time I saw her; but it was definitely her. Her eyes, often rheumy and bloodshot before, were now a solid dark red surrounding the round black circle of her fully dilated pupils. She continued her effort to get to her feet, and I stood there staring at her, afraid to pull the trigger of the pistol I had pointed at her. She was just a sick old lady, likely driven mad by the fever the virus had induced, and by thirst.
“Mrs. Olmstead?” I croaked. My mouth had gone dry and it was hard to speak. “Would you like me to get you some water?” In hindsight, I can honestly say that I am a moron. But how the hell was I supposed to know?
Mrs. Olmstead made it to her feet and started towards me. She seemed to be completely oblivious to the gun pointed at her. Since it was the closest part of me to her, she grabbed for my gun hand and I had to take a step back.
I felt like I had to try to reason with her, so I said, “Mrs. Olmstead, you’re sick. Let me try to help you. Please,” I begged, “I don’t want to have to shoot you.”
She roared at me and lunged. The gun went off. I only vaguely recall pulling the trigger, but I did. Mrs. Olmstead staggered back a step, looked confused for a second, and then lunged forward again. I put another round in her chest, and she dropped to the floor in front of me. I stood there, just staring down at her back, for about five minutes. She didn’t move. She wasn’t breathing. She was dead. I finally knelt down, set the gun on the floor, and rolled her over.
I was on my knees, leaning over her head. I could see the two bullet wounds in her chest. I felt for a pulse in her neck; there wasn’t one. I pulled back one eyelid and shined the beam of the flashlight into it; her pupils remained fully dilated, I couldn’t even see any of the iris. I slid around to get a closer look at where I had shot her. The first round had hit her just above her left breast and would have gone through her lung. The second went right through the middle of her sternum; it had to have hit her heart. I put my hand over it to see if I could feel it beating, but there was nothing.
I figured I had been wrong about the woman in the street. It’s possible to shoot someone in the chest and not hit anything vital. It’s also possible to miss altogether from a couple feet away. Since she collapsed on top of me, I guessed that maybe I grazed her temple and just knocked her out; that would explain why she wasn’t there when I went back. I’m not sure how long I knelt there next to Mrs. Olmstead, trying to figure all this out, and hoping that what I did was just put a sick old lady out of her misery, but I’m guessing it wasn’t more than 30 minutes.
I set my flashlight down and scooped Mrs. Olmstead up in my arms, she was probably less than 100 pounds, and carried her to her bed. I laid her down and pulled the quilt up to her chin. I wasn’t sure exactly what religion she practiced, but I figured the Lord’s Prayer would be suitable for her. I closed my eyes and started reciting the prayer. I was halfway through it when I felt the bed shaking. My eyes snapped open. Mrs. Olmstead looked like she was having a seizure, which seemed impossible since I knew she was dead.
I don’t know why I reached out to her, maybe I thought I was going to try to hold her down so she wouldn’t hurt herself. Her eyes came open, saw my hand over her face, and she latched onto it with her teeth. Apparently I’m a screamer, I’m not proud of it, but God damn it, it hurt. I tried to pull away, but her teeth were sunk in deep. Of course, both the gun and the flashlight were somewhere on the floor behind me, and Mrs. Olmstead had my good hand in her mouth, so I swung my left fist around and punched her in the face. It connected, but she didn’t let go.
Mrs. Olmstead’s arms snaked out from underneath the quilt and grabbed a hold of my right arm. I could see her jaw working, and I could feel her teeth grating at the bones in my hand. I continued to scream and punch at her face, and I started dragging her out of the bed and towards the doorway. I felt the pressure of her jaw on my hand slacken as she tried to reposition for a better bite, and I jerked my hand free. I stumbled backwards. Mrs. Olmstead fell out of the bed, and I stepped on the flashlight, twisting my ankle and going down on my ass, onto the pistol.
Pain flared everywhere. I felt completely inept. And on top of all that, there was a dead woman crawling towards me. I inched back, got the gun out from underneath myself, and fired three rounds into Mrs. Olmstead’s face. My back was to the wall and I rested there, watching the bloody remains of the nice old lady who lives across the hall from me. I mumbled through the Lord’s Prayer again, hoping the bitch stayed dead this time. She did. Fucking zombies, that’s just super.