I could feel my heart, pounding, threatening to break free from under my ribcage. Adrenalin began coursing through my system and I shook all over. I knew I needed to calm down, and quick. I felt the effects of tunnel vision and auditory exclusion creeping in on me as the stress mounted. I closed my eyes and began to breath deep. “Calm down, dumbass.” I told myself, “Panic will get you killed.” I opened my eyes and from where I stood I could only see the left side of the entryway, the long thin glass panel flanking the front door. It was smeared with a dark crimson fluid. “Blood?” “From what?” I pondered. Another sharp crack outside and the droaning sound got louder. Fortunately the blinds had been closed, as was part of my evening house securing ritual. I looked back at the blood or whatever it was and another crack rang out. I glanced at the Smith 351C gripped tightly in my now profusely sweating hand and decided seven shots of 22 magnum, while a favorite of mine, was no match for whatever was happening outside. I recalled the 12 ga shotgun under my bed, a Remington 870 HD model, prepped and ready for exactly this kind of home defense type problem. I figured if that was blood and those were in fact gunshots maybe a gang or something had attacked one of our neighbors. “But why was Jake so spooked by that? He’s heard gunfire before.” Anyway, I wasn’t going to face whatever it was out there with my 22 magnum despite my fondness for the little gun. I began to turn and head back up the stairs to retrieve the shotgun and as I did something caught my attention in the sitting room.
A shadow passed over the window closest to the door. I paused, looking quizzically at what appeared to be a short figure on the other side of the window. The blinds were closed and it was hard to make out by just a silhouette, but something was definitely moving. I waited a moment and the figure began to move toward the door. Suddenly it became visible in the glass panel where the blood was smeared. I caught a brief glimpse as the figure passed by the window and slowly drifted toward the steps. “Was that Scotty?” I thought, suddenly alarmed and concerned. Jake let out a weak, terrified whimper, and scurried in a low crawl, tail set deeply under him, out of the sitting room, somewhere out of view. I ignored the dog. “Scotty must be hurt.” I thought. I abandoned thoughts of the shotgun, rushing down the stairs to get to the door. Scotty was my next door neighbors 7 year old boy. He was a mischievous little kid, but he had a good personality and was always friendly and playful. His mother, Sarah was a younger woman who was a stay at home mom. Scotty’s dad, Dave, was a traveling salesman and was often out of town. If I remembered correctly he was out of town right now. As I approached the door I began to wonder where Sarah was, but I thought maybe she had been hurt and Scotty had run over to get help. I reached the door and peered out through the glass. It was Scotty on the porch, one foot resting on the porch the other on the first step. He was looking away from the house and just sort of hung there a moment quartering away from me.
I looked down to grab the door knob and my eyes passed over the crimson stain on the glass. It was blood. Scotty or his mom or both were hurt. “Damn gang members shooting up the neighborhood! Where were the cops?” I whipped open the door and whispered through gritted teeth, “Scotty!” “Are you alright?” The figure’s head snapped upward in a violent jerk. Slowly his head turned, oddly led by his chin. As his face came into full view, my breath caught in my throat and I coughed trying to recover it. I froze. Scotty’s head turned in my general direction but it was as if he couldn’t see me, just searched around for the sound I was making. His once young and bright face, full of color and always wearing a smile was gray and gaunt. His lips were unnaturally drawn back away from his teeth and something that looked like skin hung from his lower canines. His head snapped about in jerking motions. I gasped again, trying to breath, to suck some air into my strained lungs. My chest felt so tight, constricted so much I couldn’t breath. I stepped back into the house just inside the doorway and stared. Scotty was wearing his pajamas, not an unusual practice for him even late into the day. The cartoon character images adorning the faded blue flannel were smeared in blood. The shirt around his midsection was torn away and a gaping wound on the right side of his abdomen was visible, caked with congealed blood matted into the shirt. His turn toward me was complete and he faced me full on now. My eyes drifted up his small frame. His hands held out at his sides in a claw like fashion, blood staining his fingertips. Finally my eyes met what were once his. They appeared enlarged, as the skin of his face had been drawn away. Grayish, white film covered the entirety of his eyes and in the middle, deep, dark, black pupils glared back at me. They were just voids, empty of life and filled with what seemed like evil. I have never seen that much blackness before. Whatever was happening wasn’t a gang related shooting. He let forth a low, throaty, expiration of air, not consistent with his chest cavity. It scratched the air and tore through it like a knife would tear at canvas. He then lurched forward, mouth gaping, hands outstretched. I wasn’t sure what was going on but I knew I didn’t want Scotty, or the thing that had been Scotty in the house. He was not moving fast, awkward lunging moves as if he were pulling himself out of wet sand. He approached to within about three feet and I was frozen, those dark eyes locked on mine, sucking me in, holding me fast. My body trembled with fear, and horror and my breath would simply not return. A sharp crack, louder, now that the door was open snapped me out of my fixation on Scotty. Suddenly my flight or fight response kicked in, and I set my feet and abruptly threw a hard front kick with my right leg striking the approaching Scotty square in the chest. His body, light with his age was thrust back, off the porch and landed hard at the bottom of the steps. His head smacking the concrete beneath him with a deep thunk.
I stepped out onto the porch and stared at him for several seconds and he didn’t move. Another crack and my eyes snapped up in the direction of the sound. Across the street, about 70 yards away, my neighbor, Alan was perched on top of the small roof above his front door entryway. He was holding a handgun and pointing it down over the edge of the roof. His wife was leaning out the adjacent window, crying violently and screaming at him. She clung to his right arm and pulled at him, pleading for him to get back in the house. I couldn’t make out all she was saying, as she was screaming incoherently. Alan was trying to shrug his arm free and he fired another round over the edge of the porch. My eyes followed his gaze to see a large mass of people milling about in his yard, reaching up for him. “What were they doing?” They were all dressed in nightgowns, and pajamas. “This sure as hell aint any kind of gang violence!” I exclaimed under my breath. “Zombies! They’re Zombies, dammit! What the hell? Freakin’ Zombies!” That was all I could hear Alan yelling at his wife. “Zombies? Really?” I thought. Just then out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. I dropped my eyes to see Scotty writhing on the ground in a weak effort to right himself. He slowly rolled and awkwardly thrust his body upward and flung his legs under himself.
Over to my right I saw Sarah, his mother. She stood, motionless in the her front yard. I hadn’t noticed her there before and she may have only just gotten there. She stood still, blood dripping off her left arm. She swayed gently like a branch in a summer breeze, staring blankly into the overcast morning sky. Scotty was back up now. His back was to me and he began to jerk his way around as if to find me once again. His head was snapping in a frantic motion in all directions, his eyes unable to fixate, to see as they once had. He began to turn and almost fell as he moved his head and upper body faster than his legs. He began to groan deep in his throat again. At this Sarah, snapped her head toward him and began to lurch toward our location. I could see her face was drawn as his and her eyes, those once beautiful, brown, doe like eyes were filmy gray and right in their once mahogany center were those black, hellish orbs. She had some kind of wound on her left shoulder no doubt the source of the blood dripping slowly down her arm. Her pajama pants were in tact, but her top was torn around where the wound was and it was twisted on her torso so the bottom of the shirt was pulled upward and her stomach was exposed. Scotty drew my attention back to him again as he had finally turned to face me and his mouth gaped as he began dragging his feet towards me. As I stared at him, I abruptly realized I was still clinging to the Smith 351C. I looked down at it and back at Scotty who was now at the foot of the 3 steps leading up to our porch. He paused and his head sort of fell back as he “looked” up at me. I gazed down at him, his teeth bared and that throaty, airy crackle emanated from his mouth once again. “OK, Zombies it is.” I said as I raised the Smith and sent a single round into Scotty’s forehead.