This short story was written as part of Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge. For this challenge, we were asked to use a randomly selected trope from tvtropes. I got What Measure Is a Non-Human?. I hope this story does the trope justice.
Today I found this blank notepad amidst a heap of garbage. From this day forth, it shall record my exploits in this bleak world. I don’t know what day it is. Hell, i don’t think anyone is keeping track anymore. Not since the dead became restless. How long has it been? Weeks? Months? I can’t remember. I’m not sure anyone can. I’ll record all dates as AJ, After the Journal.
O’Hara is calling. Dinner is ready. Good, I’m STARVING.
Today, we got another Zed. It took a bloody long time, but the beast never really stood a chance. The Zed chased Piers across an open bear trap. With its leg stuck, he was no match for our guns. After a couple of shots, Mike had an even better idea to conserve ammo. He got a really long stick, attached an army knife to its end and started hitting the Zed. It took a long time, but he eventually severed the Zed’s limbs, and eventually, its head. Blood and guts everywhere, it was GLORIOUS.
Well, there goes my plan to write daily. Yesterday was kind of uneventful. Not a Zed in sight. To be honest, that scared the heck out of me. It’s one thing to run away from something you can see. It’s another to spend all bloody day expecting a Zed to pop out of every corner.
But enough about yesterday. Today was a really good day. O’Hara found a stash of wine. Not just any wine, though. It was a cellar full with those fancy French wines. I’m on my way to a terrible headache in the morning. Bottoms up!
Something strange happened today. We were traveling through a narrow street, when suddenly a pink ball is thrown from behind a corner. We stopped and watched silently as a black dog ran after the ball, and brought it back around the corner. This happened several times. Someone was playing with the dog as we watched silently. Across the corner, O’Hara spotted a lone Zed in the middle of the street. With lightning reflexes, Mike threw a grenade into the beast. The creature was projected a good 20 meters or so. We couldn’t find the survivor, or the dog. They probably fled the scene when the Zed approached. If they hadn’t by then, they surely fled after hearing the explosion. Nonetheless, it is good to know that other people survived.
I’m not feeling too good. Our food store has been dwindling and O’Hara has slashed rations … again. But that’s not it. We got another Zed today. Actually, a whole family of Zeds. They were around an old trailer. Mike set the poor bastards on fire with a well placed Molotov cocktail. As they were squirming under the fire, he started bludgeoning them with his baseball bat. He kept pounding long after they stopped moving. In these troubled times, you have to be sure, as Mike says. One of the Zeds was a little girl. But that’s not what disturbed me. The kid was dead long before we found her. Mike just put her out of her misery. What sent shivers down my spine was inside the old trailer. The walls were filled with drawings from a child. Most were the ones you’d expect from any small child: a smiling sun, a blue cloud, a green line as the ground. However, when I close my eyes, all I can see are the other drawings. The ones where the squiggly lines of a mother, a father and a little girl walk hand in hand. The drawings where, first the mother, then the mother and father, are horribly disfigured. This little girl saw both her parents be turned into these beasts. I can’t imagine what she went through. At least she is not suffering anymore.
Damn! Damn! Damn!
I lost my father’s pocket watch! I always carry it with me. It must have fallen off my pocket. It belonged to my father, and to his father before him. It didn’t even work anymore. I don’t think it has ever worked since my grandfather passed away. It was all that I had to remember my family.
And I’m still hungry!
Things keep getting worse. A horde of Zeds found our home. We had to leave everything behind and run through a maze of twisting dark alleys. I don’t think I can retrace my steps even if wanted to. Every street looks the same in the dark, and it is hard to focus when you are pursued by howls and growls. The group got separated in the confusion. Thankfully, we were able to regroup close to a dilapidated warehouse. All of us are here. All except for O’Hara, but I’m not too worried. After all, the guy was with the Special Forces before things went south.
Our new home is … disappointing. It is damp, drafty, moldy, and I’m pretty sure it’s infested with rats. It will have to do for tonight.
And to top it off, I’m hungry.
Still no sign of O’Hara. I’m getting worried. And hungry. Did I already tell that I’m hungry?
This is disturbing. Mike had just finished beating a lone Zed when I heard a ticking sound. It came from the Zed’s pocket. It was a pocket watch. Not just a pocket watch, but my father’s pocket watch. There is no doubt about it. The silver monogram, the small scratch on the lid, this is my father’s watch. But it is working. It even shows the correct time. How can a Zed have my father’s watch? How can the watch be working perfectly?
Surely, the watch must have been fixed by a survivor, who then turned into the Zed. Surely, it must be it. It has to be. There is no other explanation. There can’t be.
I can’t really think on an empty stomach. And O’Hara is still missing.