AUTHOR'S NOTE: This doomed love/horror story is set in a post apocalyptic world overrun by zombies. Ralph, the narrator, has just watched a zombie bite his girlfriend, Viola. The story is called The Changing.
* * *
He bites her.
Her eyes widen and she clutches her neck, fingering the shredded tissue with disbelief. This can’t be happening, I think. Not to her. She’s a survivor.
The culprit darts behind an old pipe, eying me wearily. He’s a zombie Hollywood never prepared the world for. Agile, with peeling, paper-thin skin, he runs on four legs like an animal. Only he’s human, and worst of all, conscious.
I snap, and the gun my father bought, my brother used, and my sister died carrying goes off in my hands. I don’t flinch when his wet, sticky blood sprays my face.
Her voice is barely a whisper. I run to her, skidding though puddles of blood on the warehouse floor. She’s curled on her side, her chest rising and falling with each shallow breath.
“Viola. Oh my god. Keep breathing.”
I brush her dark hair behind her ear so I can survey the bite. It’s deep. Too deep. I’ve lived in this post apocalyptic hell long enough to know when a wound is beyond repair. In a few precious minutes, the Changing will begin and she’ll become one of them.
“Ralph.” Her voice is the dry whisper of bones. “You need to leave now. You won’t be safe.”
“I’d rather live dangerously,” I say, which is possibly the cheesiest line ever, but I mean it. She wheezes a laugh, looks into my eyes, and just like that, she’s gone.
It’s quiet. Impossibly quiet. They say it’s always like this in the moments before a Changing, like the quiet before a storm. However, when the painful process begins, they say the air grows thick with the sounds of screaming.
I raise my gun. There’s only one bullet left. I need to fulfill this last promise to Viola if I am to ever forgive myself.
Her body twitches and jolts to life, as if probed by electricity. The inevitable screaming begins. It’s the worst sound I’ve ever heard, because it holds so much pain and there’s almost nothing I can do to relieve it.
“I love you, Viola,” I say, and I hate it so much I can’t stand it. Acrid fumes rise from her skin as it melts away, revealing the shiny layer beneath. And the screaming, the endless screaming.
“I’m sorry, Viola! I’m so sorry!” I cry, and I pull the trigger.
And blow myself away.