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WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

AVENUE F by Tom Hamilton
July 2, 2007  Short stories   Tags:   

As I sped down the carcass littered street, the gray asphalt blending with the hue of the exposed skulls, I thought about my first order of business. Well, the only business of any sort that I had left at this harrowing juncture, was to save Regina. I had thought about her a lot after the electricity went out inside my barricaded apartment. About her sitting in that sweet, pink bedroom, in her very pleasant upscale house off Avenue F, all the way across town from my lowbrow cubicle. Her blonde hair flowing out the windows, over the porch, until their strands spliced with the golden yellow sunflowers in her spacious garden.

Me and my crass buddies had always gotten a kick out of those ridiculous, well, at least they seemed ridiculous at the time, grade B zombie movies. We used to scoff at the stupidity of the remaining humans. Why didn’t they do this? or why didn’t they do that? I would blow those bags of puss away. I would find the most brilliant hideout, with the most scrumptious snacks and rations, reinforced like an army fortress. With the most beautiful damsel whom I had rescued. And, since there would only be a few men left in the world, she would have little choice but to…

But when a similar epidemic actually manifested itself onto society, the practical reality was very different. Sure, you could speed around town in some souped up hotrod all day. I even had the hotrod: An oak green, 1971 Camaro. But you had to stop for gas sometime, and, I had yet to run across a fuel pump which was not heavily chained. This is assuming that, even if the handle weren’t bound, you would have ten seconds to both reset the pump and distribute the gas before the hordes overwhelmed you.

I had no gun.

The gun shops were quickly converged upon by panicked citizens once it became obvious that the disease was there to stay. Some store owners had to blow away paying customers once they realized that the supply could not possibly withstand the demand. Then the gun shops disappeared altogether like everything else, not a cartridge left on their barren shelves. Furthermore, I had never fired a gun in my entire life.

Suddenly, I could no longer think of one ‘Safe as a bug in a rug’ hideout. Me and my asshole buddies had listed so many. The skating rink, ( The skating rink? ) the snack shop at the drive-in, ( Ted added, that shooting zombies from that little window which housed the projector would be ideal.) the mall, ( I wonder where we came up with that idea? ) But these areas, although perfect from a fictional standpoint, presented some real challenges in real life.

First of all; you needed manpower, both to clear and secure the area, since walking through any dark, zombie infested, building solo without a gun did not seem like a viable option, and, I had not seen any of my brave, brash talking friends in weeks. Well, I did see Joe over on Avenue A Main, he was sitting on the seat of his pants on the curb, with his face inches from an open and streaming fire hydrant, his features inseparable from the raging water, which blasted out from a freezing sewer world as cold as his dead skin.

Second; you needed guns, which I’ve already discussed.

Third; you needed a healthy food and water supply. Which was totally moot if you hadn’t taken care of the first two problems, yet that final hurtle was even more difficult to solve.

And our zombies were cunning. They were not the mindless masses of flesh which slobbered across the big screen. No one knew where they came from or how the pandemonium had begun. They did not look too much different than the living, save for the blood shot, blue in the whites of their eyes and the varicose veins which covered their entire body, so it was not a challenge for them to get within striking distance of people, especially at the outset. Though they did not bite or eat anyone, their method of transferring the virus was almost as unsettling; The syringe was their contaminant of choice.

At the start they would even pose as doctors and nurses. Sneaking into hospital rooms, giving surprised patients a lethal dose of their violet blood. Even if someone pushed them away or punched them after the shot, the damage was already done. Though most times people just looked stunned as the disguised zombies in their white coats and blank skirts filed out of the room mutely, their ghastly mission accomplished. Others dressed up in business suits, acting like they knew someone on the street, but, after offering their hand to shake, they would prick the victim’s hand, arm or wrist with the syringe. In the early going some were even arrested for this, and hauled off to jail or to hospitals. ( Where it was discovered that their blood pressure was 00 over 00. ) But no one knew what to make of the madness, and before they had time to figure it out, their captors were converted by the free zombies, who promptly took out their jangling keys and unlocked the cells. Releasing those who were never to be sentenced by a deceased judge anyway, since the courts no longer existed.

They could drive a little bit, and even perform other rudimentary tasks like working with tools or the most frightening of all; solving locks. They could talk. Although they would only broach one subject: To try and persuade you to take the Satanic serum. ( That is, if you had the drop on one and they couldn’t force you to take it. ) They would come up with weak sci-fi stock phrases like: “You’ll feel so much better after you take your medicine.” Or, “Once you’ve taken it, you’ll wonder why you resisted.” Attempts to question them or to talk about anything other than taking their fatal formula proved futile. Although you were much better off breaking into a run then you were standing around and chatting with one. The whole thing came off like a bad sales pitch or an obvious scam. There were disturbing assaults where the dead raped the living, passing on the infection with their violet semen. Although, thank Christ, no pregnancies were reported.

It took several weeks for these dead to rot on their feet, and by that time three quarters of the population were already infected. They did not turn violent or aggressive until they had the numbers in their favor. Then wholesale waves of them would overwhelm small pockets of the living. I saw one man absorb so many shots from at least twenty syringes that the violet blue gook ran from his eyes and his ears.

The electricity was one thing, but once the water went off, I had to abandon my modest, three room apartment. I thought it best to wait for the soul of the neon deprived night, figuring that it would be better if I arrived at the house on Avenue F around midnight, since evening seemed to satiate our sanguinary zombies. It was during the day when their shot lust aspired to a crucial Defcon.

When I thought the calm was right, I just bolted out the front door, as simple as that, like a quarterback being chased out of the pocket. The surprise tactic worked, and I was at the door of my Camaro before most of the cadavers even had a chance to turn their heads. A maggot faced boy in a ‘Dr. Pepper’ T-shirt quickly strode towards my front hood as I fumbled to get the key to fit into the ignition.

“Hey man.” It said in a gone voice. “Wouldn’t you like to be a pepper too?” And with this it fired a ‘Dr. Pepper’ can which was full of the blue substance onto the windshield. The can exploded and covered the glass, the color of wiper fluid. I stomped into reverse, running over and severing the arms of a tiny zombie boy, who looked to be about seven or eight years old when he was given the shot. Still, I couldn’t feel too guilty about it since the little dick weed was holding a pocket knife. Its evil plan to puncture my tires thwarted. Like I said, these deceased were smart, even if they were wearing worms like that was the latest fashion craze from Paris.

You would have thought that it would have been exhilarating: flying down the riot ripped streets. Running over whomever you pleased, not observing any speed limits or traffic ordnance. But this lawlessness had a catch. One wrong move, one flat tire, one stalled engine, if your car became disabled in any manner. you were dead. Or at least undead. So, in a sense this could not be called lawlessness at all, since the zombies were the law.

Christ, they were everywhere. I hadn’t been able to pick out one live person yet. The last time I was out, which was right before the last radio station passed away, there were still a few straggling survivors. Running from alley to alley like soldiers looking for cover. Now I saw only those infected by a plague blacker even then the black plague itself.

Coming up on my right I saw the corpse of a National Guardsmen aiming a long rifle. And, for one fear filled second I thought that he would shoot out my front tires. But as I got closer, I could see that he was using the eyeballs of his fallen brothers in arms as ammunition. Forcing the sloppy rounds of the detached orbs into the barrel, then firing at a brick wall. Although the fodder went in white, what came out the chute and stained the wall looked like a dirty maroon buckshot. Then I was mercifully past his post.

As I approached Avenue C South, I spied a religious zealot who frequented that corner. He was usually standing, preaching the word, a pointed finger tracing the will of an angry God. But now he only sat, quiescently on the curb, his long black, Apache feathered, hair splashed onto his shoulders. He was still alive, and though there were several zombies around who were not particularly busy, none attempted to molest him or even seemed to notice him. His hand written sign was propped against a nearby ‘STOP’ sign. Only, the lettering had been altered slightly. Instead of the familiar ‘THE END IS NEAR’ the final word had been crossed out, and replaced by the new slogan: ‘THE END IS HERE!”

There were a variety of roadblocks throughout the torn city, ravaged tractor trailers, piles of bodies, burning furniture. I tried to take the long way around to Avenue F, through the triangles of residential blocks, their kelly green lawns now strewn with trash and butchered by tire tracks. I looked down at the gas needle. A quarter of a tank between me and the syringe. I had better find a way around to Regina’s block pretty soon. Perhaps she would have a couple of gas cans in her garage.

I thought of her cobalt eyes, hiding, waiting. So luminous, like the beauty of the omniscient Ocean, condensed down into two shining, powder blue irises. Her curves as carved as porcelain. Her cheeks as white and fresh as the last deep snow of the Winter, shocking the oak yards outside your window, glowing in the sharp panoramic surprise of an early Spring morning.

I realized that this rescue would not come off like a Hollywood script. Still, I could not suppress the notion that if I could pluck her up somehow. Maybe we could escape to the East, or to the South, or to the North. I know she’d always spurned my advances before, I know. But this time it would be different, there was definitely a process of elimination working in my favor.

A process which was interrupted by a zombie in a canoe. That’s right, a canoe, even though there was not any body of water around for miles. He even wore that little hardhat helmet preferred by those types of rafters. He was forcing the paddles to skate the boat across the asphalt. Without pausing, he aimed for the side of my car. The road was too narrow to avoid him and I did not even try to find the breaks. I felt a tough bump as he went underneath the wheels. The front axles spun his craft around, then the rear tires cut the boat in half while severing both of his legs. It seemed to me that the flesh of the infected was weak, and that their limbs would amputate when met with minimal resistance. The ridiculous cap came off and bounced down the street like a ping pong ball. I dragged him for maybe fifty feet, then the Camaro blazed on as he came to a rest, still sitting in the shattered canoe without his feet or calves. Another zombie walked up to him and they began chatting casually, like two people having dinner in a restaurant. I could only pray that the splinters of wood from the canoe had not punctured one of my tires. After all, it was not like I could stop at your friendly neighborhood service station.

By the time I wound through the blue flaming streets, past faded houses, their windows as black as the blood flooded fingernails of the dead, I really didn’t have very much gas left at all. Avenue F was the next street over. If only I could find an uncluttered passage or spared thoroughfare. I squealed down a side road which looked that part, but I must have missed the ‘NO OUTLET’ sign. ( Although in this instance, I feel that the archaic ‘DEAD END’ would have been more accurate. ) for I soon found myself in the big eighty feet head of an asphalt cul-de-sac.

A man in a red silk robe stood on his lawn near a pile of yellowing news papers. So many of the blue veins throbbed on his head that you could scarcely even see his face anymore. He was waving like a father would at a departing school bus, holding a front page which shouted the headline: “A.C.V.” (Abbreviation for ‘Animated Corpse Virus’ ) His soulless mind lodged in some funky neutral.

There was a tipped over mail truck, which looked like it had been the in the center of yet another fire, tipped over in the middle of the circle. Its location made the turnaround hard for the Camaro to negotiate, and I made the snap decision to mow over a mailbox. It turned out to be a dreadful choice when the wooden pole snapped in half, the top part with the box cracking back and busting out my driver’s side window. The car momentarily stopped, as I sat there stunned with a lap full of glass. Almost simultaneously, a dead mail man leapt out from nowhere, his pinstriped shorts doing little to cover the blue veins, which grew like vines from the turquoise scabs on his legs, those ulcers were as velvet and round the center of a flower. He was at my window before my numbed mind had an instant to react. “…Here…” He snorted in a voice which was both hollow and friendly at the same time. “…Let… …me… …buy… …you… …a… …shot…” He took the ever present syringe and attempted to inject me with its foul contents. For a flash second, I could see something swimming around inside the plastic dispenser. Something that looked like a worm with a man’s face and a bushy patch of hair on the head. I found the gas and stepped on it, before the living ghost could drop the plunger, and the Camaro smoked forward. The hypodermic needle left a long scratch down a bluish trail on my forearm, as the car’s spinning tires locked onto the blacktop and rushed the vehicle ahead, pulling me away from my attacker, abandoning the reflection of his blue and gray face in the tiny rearview. “…Absolutely… ….positively… ….guaranteed… … …to.. …get… …you… …there… …overnight…” He shouted, as the distance turned him into a blurry shadow.

I was nearly on two wheels, but the Camaro held the corner as I rose out from the cul-de-sac near the ‘NO OUTLET’ sign. I looked down at my scraped arm, and prayed that none of the putrid substance had infiltrated the plasma stream. I took an old ‘Dog & Suds’ napkin which I found under the seat and tried to wipe at it. Blue sludge and crimson blood blotting onto the white paper.

I’d been to the house on Avenue F dozens of times. But suddenly I couldn’t seem to concentrate. The letters on the street signs appeared to jumble, and I felt like I was looking at an eye chart, or as if I were dyslexic. My head felt slow and hot. Like an August engine low on motor oil. I began to wonder if Regina had any syringes at her house. I would probably have to give her a shot of something just to calm her down, once I got inside the residence.

Suddenly, the headlights from a second car shocked the night. They were headed towards me in the opposite lane, until I could see the raccoon eyes of a live woman behind the wheel of an aging, brown station wagon. But just before I put my hand up to wave, A zombie dropped seemingly from the sky. I realized that It had been hanging upside down, like a trapeze artist, from a phone wire, which crossed over the top of the road. It still wore the uniform of a phone company worker and a yellow hardhat which must have been strapped onto its chin. I’m assuming that its plan was to drop itself through the woman’s windshield. Therefore putting itself in position to administer a lethal dose. But it miscalculated gravely and spilled itself onto the station wagon’s grill instead. In an instant it was under the wheels. Its perverted head exploding like a pumpkin sucked under a steamroller. I doubt that the woman even noticed, as she obliviously passed me and drove on into the aimless night.

The spectacle of the zombie’s twisted body lying in the street was so grizzly, that I almost passed Regina’s house, which had jumped up out of nowhere on my left. I screeched to a halt as the car slid sideways, coming to a rest almost on the parched blades Regina’s formally kelly lawn. There were several destroyed bodies lying in the yard, and I recognized one right away: It was Danny, Regina’s ponytailed, sometimes boyfriend. He was doubled over in the flower bed. A discarded cummerbund was laying near his decomposing body. Seeing Danny cold and stiff was the highlight of my horrifying day, and I pointed at the ground in Thanks. Much like the sports heros ( Of whom 98 percent were probably dead now. ) I used to watch on TV, had pointed to the Heavens after scoring a touchdown or striking out an opposing batter.

I got out of the Camaro and walked over to a pile of bodies. Arms, legs, faces doused in the terror of their final, brain burning, visions. Thousands of syringes lay on the ground, and suddenly an idea came to me: Using a used syringe, I slowly drew some of the blue substance out of the arm of one the bodies. Something was telling me that this was a love potion. All I would have to do was inject Regina with the aphrodisiac and she would love me forever, and ever and ever.

The were several zombies in the area, canvassing the street. Yet suddenly, none seemed to notice me. Until one loquacious corpse with an azure stained bluish work suit walked up to me. The veins had created the design of a star on his yellow face. He was telling me about the blonde girl and her mother who were locked inside the abode. He said that they had been trying to find a way in for days with no success.

“She’s mine!!.” I barked suddenly and marched over to my car with a purpose. I jumped behind the wheel and twisted three quarters of a sheriff’s turn, until the front of the vehicle was lined up directly with Regina’s living room window. I hit the gas so hard that, for a moment, the Camaro only sat still, the balding tires spinning in place. Then the rubber caught asphalt and we took off with a jerk. I rutted a route through the grass and flew over the hedges with out even slowing down, crashing into the house with a brick breaking impact. It was the loudest sound I had ever heard in my death. Before I even knew my head was through the windshield, it was resting on the hood, my entire body sprawled prostate near the hot grill. I spit out a mouthful of violet teeth, but when I went to push myself up, I realized that my left arm was had been amputated by the impact.

Regina’s mother lay with me on the hood. Though it looked as if she’d been dead for several days. Her gray skin a challenge even for the most expensive face cream. Her departed eyes staring at a Moon that they could no longer see. Yet this was also good; since I’d always hated the old bitch’s attitude anyway.

Regina ran out from the crumbling kitchen. I don’t think that any woman or girl in history ever looked as beauteous as she did at that instant. She was wearing a pearl hued wedding dress, fine lace covering her cleavage all the way up to her throat, which sported a pearl choker joined by a ruby red costume jewel. Her blonde hair riveted down like curly cue macaroni. Pink and purple mascara was brushed across her eyelids like God painting the Aurora Borealis. Her earth blue eyes, brightened by the shock, were the color of a peaceful tropical lake, far from all this carnage.

The syringe was still clutched in my remaining hand as I dragged myself up to a sitting position. “Regina.” I said, scooting across the hood as good as I could in my ruined condition. She took and step back and said my name as if she were shocked to see me. “Good. ” I said, “Good, you’re still alive.” But she only stared at me, or rather, the syringe in my hand. “No, No,” I pleaded. “You don’t understand. This isn’t what you think. It’s a love potion.” She continued staring. “If you just let me inject you, you’ll wonder why you resisted in the first place. You don’t understand… you don’t…”

She cut me off in mid sentence. Explaining calmly that she hadn’t even been interested in me when I was alive.

When…I….was…alive… (Our Father ) “No.” I shook my head. “You don’t know. Once I inject you we’ll go out to the desert, and we’ll… “( Who art in Heaven ) Without saying another word, she lifted the barrel of a long rifle which had been hidden behind the hoop skirt. ( Hallowed be thy name ) It was an antique, as if it had been dug out of the attic. The weapon looked much too heavy in her pretty fingers, which were as slender as the stems of flowers. ( Thy Kingdom come ) I lifted my hand in protest and started to say something else when she pressured the trigger. ( Thy will be done ) The long, large bullet blew off two of my fingers before grazing the side of my head. ( On Earth, as it is in Hell ) I felt the side of my scalp with the three remaining digits, only to discover a JFK assassination sized flap of skin which the projectile had mined. ( Give us this stay ) “Wow!!” I quipped. “Now that’s what I call rejection.” ( Our daily bread ) The shine of her wedding dress, blinded my mind, and I suddenly remembered and wondered about the tuxedo pants which the deceased Danny had been wearing. ( And forgive us our trespasses ) “Dang!” I said, as the blue ran down my neck, soaking my shirt. ( As we forgive those ) Regina calmly stuck two shells into the ancient shaft. I looked around dimly as ( Who trespass against us ) she raised the barrel again, but I was paralyzed by my confusion. ( Lead us not into Temptation ) My pretty Regina made the fire boom again. ( But deliver us from evil ) Blasting the Sunbeams out of my head permanently, as if someone had just switched off a television set. ( Amen. )



  1. Hey Tommy it’s your ol’ cousin Bubby, couldn’t sleep so I went looking for some of your poetry and came across this happy lil tome…lol Disturbing in the extreme kid but certainly entertaining, I’ll ring promptly…

    Comment by Patrick Hamilton on January 17, 2008 @ 1:56 am

  2. I really loved this piece. I hope you write more stories about this universe. The mechanics of the zombies and the virus were so interesting to me.

    Comment by Ray on May 2, 2008 @ 12:31 am

  3. Very interesting take on zombies, I loved how you put the prayer into the ending was a very enjoyable read. Great job!

    Comment by sin 08 on May 31, 2008 @ 11:56 pm

  4. One of the best you have here. It was really hard to get into highly functional, talking, syringe-wielding zombies but by the end you had me there and I was totally with ol’ boy as he turned. Now, tell Regina’s story…and make it good. She’s definetly a bad bitch in the best way!

    Comment by Cherry Darling on December 4, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

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