I began to make plans. There was a convenience store a few blocks away that would be a good first stop. Beyond that there was a superstore that had to be overflowing with supplies. But first I had to deal with a problem closer to home.
It had been more than a week, almost two weeks, I had lost track of the days, since my roommate had left to find her father. When I moved into the apartment, my roommate and I had split the cabinet and refrigerator space. Since the power went out, I had eaten all of my perishable food but hadn’t touched hers. Out of obligation to the roommate code I had respected her food rights, even as I piled her mattress against a window. I had believed she would be coming back after finding her father but now I doubted that I would ever hear from her again. I wished I had eaten her food. It was starting to smell.
Sorting through the leftover food I realized none of it was salvageable. I briefly argued with myself over a block of mold-spotted cheese but decided against taking the risk. I repeated the process with the freezer. All the spoiled food went in a trash bag that I tied shut.
I moved the sofas and I armed myself with my baseball bat. I looked out the peephole watching for a few minutes before opening the deadbolts. They scraped and squeaked as I twisted the knobs to open them. Had they always been that loud? I made a note to get oil for them. With the trash bag in one hand and the bat in the other I slipped out of the apartment.
Fresh air blew across my face for the first time in over a week. I took a deep breath and looked around. Most of my neighbor’s cars were gone. A few cars remained, not that they were any good to me without keys. The neighbor’s door was busted in. The door was dented but still on its hinges. The frame, however, was cracked and split around the deadbolt and knob. I turned away, glad that I had remained undetected. I closed the door but didn’t lock it behind me, I wouldn’t be going far or for very long.
The garbage cans were in the ally between my building and the next. I kept watch on the deserted complex during the walk. Once around back I quickly dropped the bag in a garbage can. Four cans sat in a row, one for each apartment in my building. The one for our–my apartment was almost empty. Two women just don’t make a lot of garbage, especially if they recycle like we did. The other three were covered so I couldn’t tell how full they were. It would only take a second to peek but I didn’t have that much interest. I didn’t want to spend more time out here than I needed to.
I turned around and started to walk back to my apartment. As I rounded the corner, I saw a person walk through the entrance to the complex. I recognized the dark blue of the city’s police uniform. I should have ducked back and watched, instead I walked further into the open. Gut instinct said “don’t hide, suspicious people hide from police” and when you’re not white suspicious usually means guilty to the police. After hearing numerous horror stories, I had no desire to find out first hand what happens to trans women in jail, so I had always tried to not be suspicious.
He saw me and began walking in my direction. He seemed to be trying to run but his left leg seemed too short and hobbled him. Then I noticed his leg wasn’t too short, he was missing his foot. It wasn’t a man. It was a zombie. In only a few seconds, it had nearly closed the distance between us. With no more time to think, I gripped the bat in both hands and as he–it got close, I swung at its head.
Its head flew to the side and it stumbled from the impact. I froze for a second, watching it regain its balance until it turned and lunged at me. I raised my bat high and brought the bat down on its head. It cracked and crunched but the zombie didn’t fall. It staggered back for a second but renewed it’s single-minded attack. I swung to knock it off balance one more time before running away.
I ran between the apartment buildings and turned the corner behind my own. Behind me, I heard the shuffle-thump of it following. Looking back I saw it stumbling along faster than a person missing a foot should be able. It will follow me until I can’t run anymore, I realized. It won’t get out of breath or tired or hungry. I could make it back to the apartment but then what? I have to kill it. I can do this, I told myself. It’s hobbled and off balance.
I turned, grabbed the bat in both hands again, and swung as it reached me It stumbled but this time I didn’t give it time to recover and smashed my bat down on its head again. It doubled over from the impact so I hit it across the back sending it to the ground. I circled around to it’s head and began smashing its skull before it could get up. After a few minutes my bat began to ring out as it hit concrete more often than flesh. The zombie wasn’t moving any more, it hadn’t been moving for a couple of minutes now that I thought about it.
I snapped out of my killing frenzy. My heart was pounding and I was breathing hard. Looking down at the now mostly headless corpse made me feel ill. I swallowed back my nausea, then I noticed the black gore coating my bat, my arms, splattered on my clothes, and presumable on my face as well. I took a few steps away and wretched.
Taking deep breaths, I forced myself to concentrate on what had just happened. I had smashed in a zombie’s head. Should I move to body? Obviously I didn’t need to hide it from the police but just leaving it to rot didn’t seem like the best idea. Would it rot? These things didn’t seem to be really alive. Beside the grayish pallor to the skin it didn’t look like it had been rotting and it didn’t smell like rotting meat either. It obvious didn’t need or have much blood judging by the missing foot.
What did people in movies do with dead zombies? Leave them laying around? If I wasn’t behind my apartment building that might have been an option. But I didn’t want dead bodies lying all around.
So, I needed to move it, but where? I needed to at least move it away from my apartment building. The apartment complex was four buildings, two buildings on a side facing inward. Parking spaces in front of the building with extra against the back fence. The zombie had chased me between two of the buildings until we reached the back of the buildings where I had stood my ground. The wooden fence around the complex meant I was mostly hidden from prying eyes. Ideally I should remove it from the complex but I had no way to move it other than dragging the body. I decided to drag it to the back corner of the complex near the fence. It would be out of sight and hopefully far enough away that if it did start to rot I wouldn’t have to smell it.
I walked back to the body and stood over it. I avoided looking too hard at the ruined mess that was left of the head. Its arms were bare meaning I had to touch its flesh. Grabbing one of its wrists, I grimaced at the cold flesh. No, not cold, just not warm like a person. It was firm and dry, not squishy and wet like the rotting meat I thought the zombies were made of. With a wrist in each hand I began pulling against the body’s weight.
It didn’t move, at first. I threw my weight back and managed to jerk the body forward a few inches. Again I put my weight into pulling the body and dragged it a few feet before its foot snagged on a crack in the concrete. Slowly, I jerkily dragged it past the apartment buildings to the fence.
My first zombie kill. It had been a lot messier than movies made it out to be. I was covered in stuff that I really didn’t want to think too hard about. If I didn’t know these zombies weren’t infectious, that you had to actually die to become one, I might have been worried instead of just disgusted. I walked back to the scene of the crime and picked up my bat from where I had left it while dragging the body. What if another one of those things had come along? Trying to fight without a weapon was not something I wanted to think about. I needed to keep my weapons close at all times.
Wait, I thought, it was a cop. I walked back to the body and checked its belt. Empty holster, a couple magazines? clips? of bullets for the missing gun, pepper spray, a small flashlight, and handcuffs. Would pepper spray work on zombies? Probably not but it would work on other humans. I took it and the flashlight.
Once back in the apartment, I locked the door and walked straight to the bathroom.