18 Dec March of the Undead (a short story)
March of the Undead is featured in my short story series “We Are All Lost”. Part One and Two are now available for download on Amazon Kindle Store. It features 14 stories with twists and turns that guarantee to make the reader think. You can download the full collection here –
March of the Undead
I haven’t been spotted yet. Their dead eyes, betraying their soulless existence, stare straight ahead, right through me, as they mindlessly shuffle onwards in the gloomy twilight. An inhuman swarm travelling to an instinctive destination, an undead march silently trooping ever forward, everywhere around me.
They say the disease spreads simply by exposure to the infected, so I’ve hidden away over the last few months, bunkering down and avoiding leaving my shelter, trying to avoid contamination. Watching everyone around me cease to be human, minds numb, consumed by an unquenchable thirst. I’ve seen friends and family fall victim, but I’m determined to hold out.
Now with resources running thin, I need to venture back out and face the world again. This version of the world anyway. As far removed from the utopian existence we all grew up imagining as it is.
A smarter plan would have been to avoid dusk and dawn, when a much greater congregation of them tends to roam the streets, but my need for sustenance now outweighs my fear of contamination, and I have no real choice. I stepped out a few days ago for the first time in months, full of fear, consciously mirroring them with my own mindless shuffle and lifeless eyes acting as some sort of camouflage, enabling me to move freely amongst them.
I’m more comfortable now, and move almost freely amongst them each day. Stepping out into the gloomy silence after my final customary time check is always unnerving, and I can’t help but instinctively glance upwards each time, to pray I make it through another day.
So far they haven’t detected that my mind, unlike theirs, is still intact from the endless thirst that compels them forwards, as they walk the streets, migrating to feed, during these grotesque witching hours. I feel my senses dull every time I am amongst them however, and I feel a growing fear that I too am contaminated, and have perhaps developed that same thirst that compels them onwards.
The silence roars around me, punctuated only by the occasional barely audible groan from one of the herd, as I follow them into an old dilapidated underground building. This is dangerous territory, and a claustrophobic panic never fails to rise within me as I walk the rabbit warrens alongside them, passing through the tunnels, packed in with the undead army all around me, the smells of their bodies invading the air all around me.
In some cases, the fresh entrails of their last meal hang around the mouth, a sign of the frantic feeding on the move that occurs if a brief window of time and opportunity presents itself.
Numbed by their greed for flesh, they barrel into each other, the empathy that once made them human lost to a more innocent time, the pressure building as they reach a dead end, bodies piling up, made worse by the determination of those behind to keep pressing forward, whether there is space ahead or not, their minds no longer able to process such things, driven on by the greed.
Just as the pressure is building to a dangerous level, a gap opens up in the wall and the seething horde pour through it, a mass of tangled bodies, pulling and pushing, moving forward as one. Brute strength is vital, as man and woman, young and old, are all treated indiscriminately. Just fair game to be treated as competition, in the battle to get to the head of the march. I let myself be taken by them, carried forwards by the surge of their energy, into an even tighter space, the oxygen even more sparse, the smells of the undead mass even more overpowering.
It is moments like these, when I am making one of my now regular missions to feed my family, whilst mixing with these mindless animals, that I wonder if there is any future in this godforsaken world. There surely cannot be a divine power that would allow the world to come to this, herds of mindless shells, wandering the streets pushed on by their insatiable need, unaware of the never ending hell they were living in, and what they had all become.
Every day I wonder, would it be possible to start over again somewhere, away from all this? The same thought moving through my mind on every single mission. Maybe if I can stockpile enough I can make a break for it and take my loved ones with me, somewhere far away, where these monsters are a rare breed, not the dominant species. Perhaps an island somewhere, hidden away and protected by the sea from the ravenous greed-driven hordes, which seem to multiply daily.
As I have these thoughts, I try to keep my head down to avoid detection, somehow worrying that the fact I am using my brain might alert them to my existence, and they would set upon me as one, tearing at the imposter in their midst. They stare mindlessly ahead, however, their senses dulled and unable to register anything but the constant, relentless march forwards.
Just then, a voice booms throughout the underground chamber, and the undead crane their necks skyward, waiting for instruction from this faceless god.
Severe delays on the Northern Line again this morning.
More audible groans from the horde as they push on regardless