The worst part about the apocalypse isn’t the zombies.
Sure, it’s moderately awful to see people you know, sometimes even love, mindlessly wandering about looking for more people to attack, but it isn’t as though they’re difficult to avoid. The zombies we see nearly every day are more like the ambling groaning creatures of my parents’ generation than the insanely fast ones you see on TV today. Or did, before the living dead invaded our lives, anyway.
Most of the casualties happened in the first few weeks of the apocalypse, before we knew what was going on; before we knew to avoid the bitten. You’d think, after growing up on a diet of ‘28 Days Later’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Z-Nation’, we’d be pretty clued in to what was happening. But we weren’t, not really. After all, who really expects their fictional nightmares to become reality? Even if your neighbour was zombified right in front of you, even as a part of your mind was screaming ‘Fuck, it’s a zombie!’, another part would be sarcastically sneering at you ‘Don’t be a fucking idiot. This isn’t a bloody movie. There must be something else wrong. Some new disease, escaped from a military lab somewhere or something.’
It wasn’t too long before we had to accept what was going on, though. That was when we learned to avoid the dead. And they’re damned easy to avoid, like I said. The only way anyone gets bitten these days is if they come across a stray Zombie unexpectedly, or if a swarm comes through and they don’t get to the shelters in time.
Anyway, as I was saying, there are plenty of worse things than Zombies. Medicine, for instance. There isn’t a lot of it left, and what we do have is kept for the worst of emergencies. People are dying from shit that was nothing more than a minor inconvenience Pre-Z. Colds that develop into pneumonia, cuts that turn septic, that sort of thing.. That old wives tale about catching your death of cold? Turns out old wives sometimes got it right. That still isn’t the worst of it, though.
Another threat, worse than the Zombies, are the dogs. Some were always strays, some are wild dogs. Most, though, used to be pets. You see, the Zombies don’t attack other animals, not even other mammals. Humans, chimps, apes, these are the only animals in danger of attack — and if that’s not an argument for evolution, I don’t know what is. I’m getting off-track. Dogs.
When this whole thing began, loads of people were bitten in a short period of time and when they were bitten, they left behind beloved pets. Some were secured so well that they slowly wasted away until they died of starvation or a broken heart. Most escaped, jumping gates, digging under fences, walking out doors left open by the people who left them behind.
Eventually the hungry dogs formed groups and now we can’t even forage for food without encountering these packs of starving dogs who aren’t afraid of humans. There have been deaths, usually children but sometimes lone adults. They’ve been getting bolder recently, too. Attacking larger and larger groups of foragers. They’re harder to escape than the zombies and even if you escape with just a bite, it often turns septic and kills you anyway. That still isn’t the worst of it, though.
Pirates. That’s what we call them, even though we aren’t at sea. They travel in packs, just like the dogs, and they’re infinitely more dangerous. Some of them were good men once, before anarchy descended upon the world. Or maybe they weren’t. Maybe they behaved because there were police and courts and prisons to keep them in line. I don’t know.
A lot of them were bad even then. Murderers, rapists, paedophiles; the worst of the worst. It didn’t take long for them to gravitate towards each other. Like attracts like, after all. It didn’t take long for them to decide they like this brave new world. They go where they want. They take what they want. They take who they want. They sweep through like a tornado, leaving devastation in their wake. There’s no stopping them. It’s death to even try. They took my Betty not long ago. I nearly lost my life getting her back. It was too late, though. She killed herself not two weeks later.
I heard they completely decimated a community up North. Took the women and girls, made their menfolk watch before locking them all into a building and burning it to the ground. Bastards.
No, the worst part of the apocalypse isn’t the living dead. It’s the living.
There was no particular prompt for this week’s story. It’s just an idea I had.
Categories: Fiction Friday