DAY 26

I killed a man today.  Not a zombie; an actual living, breathing, thinking human being.  I’m not sure that the fact that he was going to kill me means all that much at the moment.  I am glad that I’m still here, but there are so few humans left that it seems a somewhat more heinous act now than it might have been before the pandemic.  I’ve seen TV shows and movies where someone, usually a cop or a soldier, kills someone for the first time and they break down, crying hysterically, full of remorse and guilt, and then they are generally completely worthless after that.

I’m upset, but I don’t think I feel like crying.  I’m sorry that the man is dead, but I don’t think that it’s remorse that I’m feeling.  It may be pity; the man didn’t have to die, but he made the choice to try to kill me, and he didn’t exactly give me a real chance to try to reason with him.  The city is basically fucking empty, and rather than go scavenge for whatever he wanted, he decided it would be a better idea to take what I have!  Hell, if he wanted help, we could have worked together.  But why make life easier and team up with someone when it would be so much simpler to just kill one of the few remaining people on the planet and take their shit?  Ah, now I know what I’m feeling, pissed the fuck off!

I went back out today to get two things:  more water barrels, and some books.  I went for the barrels first since I knew exactly where those were, and it would be a quick stop.  There is a Barnes & Noble near my building in the Pacific Place mall, and I figured I could find at least a couple of books that might help me out, but it would likely take longer to find them.  The mall takes up one small city block, and is four stories tall.  There is a big semi-circular skylight in the center of the roof, so there was plenty of light in the open central area of the mall to see by, but it was pretty dark inside the stores.

I brought the shotgun with me this time (I fired it once up on the roof of my building just so I would know what to expect if I ever needed to use it), and had tied a length of rope around the barrel and stock so that I could carry it slung over my shoulder.  There were a few zombies wandering around the mall, but I didn’t run into any inside.  The Barnes & Noble was on the first floor, and I spent an hour looking for books that would be useful.  I got two books on crafts and hobbies, one on basic survival, one on medicine, and two on guns.

Had I just left at this point, I never would have run into the man, but I paused outside the bookstore to look around, and spotted the GameStop on the concourse level.  Being alone all the time can be fairly boring, and I did have electricity and an Xbox.  Why not grab some games, and a Playstation too?  I ran up to the GameStop, grabbed a bag from behind the register, and filled it with games for both gaming systems and a Playstation.  Just as I was stepping out of the store, I heard someone enter the mall.

The slamming door echoed through the mall, and I heard a man shout, “Hah!  Bite this you piece of shit!”

I peeked over the railing and saw the man grabbing his crotch to taunt the three zombies scratching at the glass doors.  The last people I had run into had tried to kill me, so I stepped back from the railing, set my bags down, and took the shotgun off my shoulder.  While I was trying to decide what to do, hide or just go down and say hello, I heard his sneakers squeaking on the tile floor, and then pounding up the stairs.  The man froze at the top of the stairs when he saw me standing about 20 yards away with the shotgun in my hands.

“Hi,” I said, trying to sound cheerful, and not at all threatening, despite the gun in my hands.

The man had a pistol strapped to his thigh, and his hand went to it as he said, “Take it easy fella, I don’t want to have to shoot you.”

My gun wasn’t pointed at him, but I guess the fact that I was holding a shotgun, and had the tomahawks hanging on my hips, made him nervous.  I’m not sure if he was trying to scare me by implying he could draw and fire before I could get my gun pointed at him, so I told him as calmly as I could, “I don’t want to get shot again; I’m taking it easy.”

“What’s in the bags?” he demanded.

“Just some books and some video games,” I answered.  “There are plenty more in the stores.”

Then he asked me, “How you gonna play the games?”

“I’ve got electricity.  Look, if you want to…”

The guy interrupted me and questioned, “And what kind of books you got in there?”  I told him.  I watched his eyes narrow, and then he kind of smiles and says, “That’s a pretty good idea, getting them books.  Why don’t you just kick that bag over here and tell me where you’re living, and how you have power when the whole fuckin’ planet is dark?”

I was pretty scared at that point, but not panicky.  I guess after walking into strange apartments and other buildings, and dealing with the zombies, I was building up a sort of tolerance to fear, so I replied, “There are more books down in the Barnes & Noble.  If you want power, just find a building with solar panels on the roof.  There’s no need for you to take what I have.  And we could work together…”

I saw him jerk his gun and I jumped back a step, but it didn’t come out of the holster.  He turned his head to look down at his weapon and saw that he had forgotten to release the strap over the gun.  The man cursed as thumbed it off and started drawing the pistol.  By then I had my shotgun pointed at him, and I screamed, “Don’t do it!”

But he did.  His pistol went off before he had raised it fully, and I pulled my trigger at almost the same time.  I saw several red holes bloom across his face and chest, and then he fell backwards down the stairs.  I stepped over to the staircase and stared down at the man.  He had only fallen about a quarter of the way down, and he wasn’t moving or breathing.  I slung the shotgun back over my shoulder, and walked back to my bags.  There was a bullet hole in the bag with the books in it, but the bullet had passed through near the top and hadn’t hit the books.

I walked back to where the man lay on the staircase, took the man’s gun belt off of him, pulled the pistol out of his hand and dropped them both into the book bag.  When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I looked back up at him and wondered if he had been like me.  But some of the pellets from the shell I had fired had hit him in the head, so even if he had been like me, I was fairly certain he wasn’t going to be waking up.




(To read more about this world, and to find out how the pandemic began, check out my novel, The Immortal And The Dead on The Immortal And The Dead)


About scottamehlman

Scott A. Mehlman was born and (mostly) raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Having earned both a BS and an MBA, Scott has tried his hand at a variety of jobs without finding one that truly satisfied or engaged his creative impulses the way writing does. He has published his first novel, The Immortal and The Dead, which is the first book in The Immortal Virus trilogy and continues to work on the JAEGER e-book series.

Posted on November 3, 2013, in Fiction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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