Evil Bird
Erich Alder via Creative Commons

Remember when Isla and I wandered around the promenade in the crystal rain?

Of course you don’t, we were the only ones alive that day.

We found a sliver of moss-covered glass,

Isla pretended it was a sword, whipping it through the tinkling droplets.

She danced in the empty fountain, engaged in other flights of fancy,

Wondering aloud if she were too old for such displays.

I set about to ease her mind, ended up convincing her to stop.

We ate fruit and laughed at birds,

Never expecting how personally those fowl would take our jests.

They swarmed and bobbed, eyes round and wide and attentive,

Hopping ever closer and we clutched at each other.

Fragile rose beads shattered into spun sugar granules on the black backs,

On the pink beaks, on the crests always moving, moving.

Is there anything worse than splashed crimson red over pink?

Bloody gums, sucking wounds, flecked and unblinking yellow eyes.

Tiny bones crackled under our fleeing feet, stamping songs,

Fans of tight wings battering future nightmares

And the pecks and claws sizzling with insistent rhythms

Saying, Get Away Get Away Get Away Get Away.

Flashing Red Light
Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons

The officers ignored the protests of innocence as they loaded the woman into the car. “Oh shit, here comes Knave,” one of them said as a slouching man moved from shadow into the dancing red light.

“Gentlemen,” said Jonah Knave, “a moment?”

“Make it quick.”

“How many bullets left in the gun?”

The officers exchanged glances. The smaller one volunteered, “Three.”

“And how many wounds in the victim?”

“One,” the larger said, impatience hanging around him like a stink.

“I see. Thank you, officers.” Knave moved up the walk. He stood in the door, staring past the cooling body just inside, beady eyes focused over the crouching medical examiner at the wide glass pane at the back of the room.

“You’re gonna catch hell if the captain finds you here, Knave,” the M.E. remarked.

Knave grinned but didn’t look down. “Perhaps the captain should be more concerned about finding the shooter.”

“How’s that?”

Knave looked at the door to his right, cocked his jaw and ran his gaze the length of the frame, squinting at last at a pair of small holes near the hinge. “The real perp shot from, and fled through, the backyard. You have the wrong woman.”

zombie 1
Petrina McDonald via Creative Commons

Theirs is the fear. Not just of me and the others, but of death and pain and screams and the unique agony of being eaten alive. If they knew it was the horror of those last moments we fed off, far more so than the flesh we consume, they might try to relax. It might even save them, though I doubt it. I’ve heard them say their fear keeps them sharp, helps them stay alive. If I had breath left to laugh, I would. It makes them stink, draws us to them. Blessed irony.

They scramble over fences, stopping to help the slower and weaker ones along. They fight back with axes and bullets and fire. We don’t care. There is no need to rush, no need to push our rotting bodies any faster to overtake their more slowly rotting bodies. Their time will come, as it always does: one by one; little by little; this hour or the next; today or tomorrow. We have the volume. We have the numbers, we have no need but the hunger and they have so many things to concern themselves with. They cling to their fear and we follow. Ours is the patience.