I was still staring into Rebecca’s dead, frosted over eyes, when the shovel caved in the back of her skull and exploded out of her face. I saw vividly the shards of her once blue eyes now spraying in all directions. Bits of something dark and thick spattered onto the window and stuck there. One of the frayed, faded ribbons was caught in the sludge on the window. It stayed there, and I knew it would freeze there and remain a grisly memento until some spring rainstorm washed it away
Jason stomped away from the window, never noticing me staring at the girl whose dead eyes had been staring back at me. Suddenly I wondered when it would end, when I wouldn’t have to mutilate and destroy the corpses of people I loved anymore, when there would be no more running over toddlers, caving in teachers’ skulls and no more stench of death and decay.
I couldn’t do it anymore; I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I simply could not erase the remnants of one more person I knew. Yet my body got up, without my permission, and went about saying good morning and eating breakfast. My mouth went over plans and crude city maps all while my brain screamed for surcease.
I must have pulled it off because the others never said anything or even gave me any odd looks as we set out to the mall, the town could have been keeping their attention I guess. There were thousands of those things, almost all frozen solid, I was grateful for the snow. Every plow blade full of snow we swept aside revealed bits and pieces of people I’d once known, though the snow was merciful in hiding most of it. I watched familiar hands and faces churned up and fractured and knew I couldn’t stay here anymore.
I started to get slightly obsessed with this project; I drove all of us too hard. We worked for 14 hours straight every day for almost two weeks before we were done. But after two weeks we had cleared most of the town and built some rather respectable walls with the help of the junkyard and a car smashing machine of some sort. We had even managed to clear out the only grocery store and most of the restaurants. We had caches of food, improvised weapons, and survival gear all over town by the time we were done.
The mall had been the worst. So many people had been there when it all started. And it looked like a few had tried to survive there after the dead walked. From all appearances they hadn’t lasted long. The only non-risen corpses we found were those of seventeen children, each with a bullet hole in their little foreheads. There was one other, a teenage boy. I didn’t know who he was because he’d blown his own face off. They were barricaded in a storage room behind Pier One.
But our amazing progress came at a price, at the price of any friendship and respect I’d ever earned from Molly and Jason. I nagged, and yelled and criticized. I was demanding and pedantic, and I started to hate myself too, I certainly didn’t blame them for doing it.
But I had to get it finished. I had to get it done so I could leave, so I wouldn’t have to look at the walking remains of friends and family and people that weren’t friends or family, but I recognized all the same. I simply could not do it anymore. We were hauling bodies into a pottery store we planned on burning and stacking them like gruesome displays when I realized I had just tossed an infant about Annie’s age onto a eight foot high pile of corpses. I finally lost it, screaming and crying and breaking things.
I didn’t even notice what I was sitting on when I ended up collapsing on the slowly thawing corpse of the caddy from the yacht club. Molly wrapped me in her arms and let me cry. By the time I looked up, it was dark again and Jason was picking off the few zombies I’d attracted with my rather noisy tantrum.
Jason finished off the last two stragglers with his shovel and turned to Molly, gesturing for her to get me into the truck. He was just opening his mouth to speak when blood burst from his shoulder and sprayed onto my face.