This is one of my very favorite shorts I’ve written. It was published in my collection: Twisted Tales vol. 2. Here it is for you to enjoy…I hope.
I had a talk with a coworker that thought it would be funny if one of our other coworkers, the local scavenger, was a zombie. He eats anything left out now, so what would happen if he was a zombie? This is what morphed from that thought.
When Dennis finally woke, he opened his eyes to a bright new day. The windows of his bedroom, having been left open all night, should have cleared the room of the awful stench that permiated the room. But it had done no such thing. Clearing his foggy head with some meditations he did every morning, Dennis was having a hard time recalling why he’d left those windows open in the first place. He could smell the stench of rot and decay, but couldn’t for the life of him, remember what had caused the stink. Taking in a deep breath to try to identify the smell, he realized his lungs had not inflated. And then it hit him. He remembered now. He was undead. As realization struck, he gave out a heavy sigh, which sounded remarkably like a moan from a movie zombie, and scratched at the scabs on his left arm. At least he still had his limbs.
Sitting up delicately, he checked the bandages that were holding in what was left of his internal organs. They were still intact, but bloody. He’d need to change them soon. He hated looking like this, but such was his life now. Standing up, he shuffled to the bathroom and was lifting the toilet seat before he remembered…he didn’t need to use the bathroom anymore. For some reason, he ate and ate and ate, but never had to go. Must be a zombie thing, he thought.
More than once over the past week since becoming undead, he’d wondered why he still had his memories. He remembered his life pre-zombie as clearly as he could see he still had all his fingers and toes. Dennis had been what could be called an uptight, vegen, tree-loving hipster prior to being infected. He had chosen the small, cottage-like home in which he lived, because it had been part of a community that believed in living off the land. The neighborhood had had a communal garden and each well appointed bungalow was equipped with the latest solar panels and a wind turbine was shared by the neighborhood to generate additional energy. His pale-yellow, single-story had been the envy of his neighbors, as it had immaculate woodworking at the gables, a private cutting garden in the front and was surrounded by a delicate white picked fence straight out of Mayberry. Glancing at that fence now, through the open window of his bedroom, made him shake his head in disgust. It had been broken in many places by wandering zombies after the spread. And that just wouldn’t do.
After a few moments adjusting to the new bandages he’d placed around his midsection, Dennis shuffled to the kitchen. It was always shuffling, he thought, because that’s what zombies do. No running, no walking, not even a skip or a trot. Just shuffling.
When he reached the refrigerator, he opened it and found that the shelves were bare. Next he checked the cabinets and the pantry…nothing. With another zombie-sounding sigh, he picked up the basket he carried to the local market before his zombification and headed for the door.
After securing the door, he walked up his path to the picket fence and unlatched the gate. At least that wasn’t broken, he thought. Closing it behind him, he started up the sidewalk. As he walked by the Miller’s home, his neighbor on his left, he noticed that Stanley Miller was eating the innards of someone he didn’t recognize. In the back of his mind, he knew that not everyone had succomed to the spread. After the first few nights as a zombie, he’d simply sit in the rocking chair on his front porch and watch as humanity ran by trying to same themselves. Dennis had no idea what had caused the spread, but it didn’t really matter. He was a zombie; what could he do?
Just past the Miller’s home, he noticed a body laying in his path. The organs were gone, as was the brain, obvious from the wound, but the rest of the body was still intact…well, maybe intact is the wrong word. The body was all still there. The arms and legs had been torn from the torso, but everything was still there. Looking around to see if anyone would claim the prize, he decided to put the arms and legs in his basket. No one was pitching a stink that he was taking them, and he hated to see a good limb go to waste.
Having what he needed in his basket, he turned back and headed home. Sitting down on that rocking chair, the basket next to him, he ate a leg. It was obviously tougher than organ meat, but he still had his teeth, and they worked. When he’d finished with the leg, he was about to throw the bones aside and stopped. Holding the tibia and fibula up vertically at arms length, he closed his left eye and sighted down his arm. Moving the bones back and forth, he came up with a great idea; a creepy zombie grin spread across his face.
Over the next few days Dennis went about his new business. He’d walk the streets picking up the arms and legs of victims wherever he found them. For some reason his fellow zombies just didn’t like the meat on the legs and arms. Dennis could stomach it, if he had a stomach, and hated the waste, but what he really wanted were the bones. Four days after the idea struck, Dennis stood in the street infront of his house admiring his new bone fence. His zombie neighbors soon joined him admiring his handywork. Some pointed and groaned at him. He knew what they wanted…they wanted a fence like his. After that, the neighbors brought him all the limbs he could handle, and in return, he’d set aside a couple days each to build them a nice bone fence. All in all, it was a great situation for a zombie. He got all the food he needed, he had a steady job, and he had found a way to repurpose all those bodies that were laying around. In time, he’d come up with ideas for the rest of the bones. Dennis hated to waste.