The Woes of the Zombie Man – Chapter IV
Contemporary Short Fiction
Regarding our heroes stay in the little shack
Months passed but the washcloths never did.
As the sky warped from a drizzling gray to a sunny blue, it was unaware of how desperate the dumpster diving duo beneath it had become. It had been a tough few days for the two rejects and things weren’t looking up. After dining on a plentitude of assorted condiment packets, Boris and Bugger were less than satisfied, but not for long. When they had almost surrendered their hope and quit their search empty-handed, they stumbled upon a good deal of raw dough that had semi-baked in a sun-scorched aluminum garbage can and really turned out to be quite palatable. Having some packets left over, Boris spread relish on the bread he relished as he fed.
Feeling full and finding the future less foreboding than they customarily found it, Boris and Bugger took a walk. A long one, out of town, following a path towards the trees, with no destination and no worries. They felt the breeze and the sunlight on their faces as Boonesville faded from view behind them, its alienating judgments seeping away with it. They looked up at the clouds and the lack thereof. Bugger ran around chasing nothing while Boris chased him. Tall grass tickled their scabby legs as they ran through it, laughing. Making his way back to the path, Boris watched the blue sky melt into orange, appreciating the tranquility. Thinking he’d rather taken a liking to the act of breathing, Boris’s disgustingly chapped lips were almost tempted to smile. He thought he might have been feeling happy, but he had nothing to use for reference. Without disturbing the calm, Boris and Bugger followed the path quietly, keeping their eyes to the front, and in no time they saw themselves nearing the trees.
Passing into the woods, the path threaded through the thick, living columns. Leafy branches rattled and shook around them as they took it in. Shadows jumped forward and retreated back again as the sun broke through the trees’ extremities. The woody, waving fingers of the forest welcomed Boris and Bugger in as the breeze blew by, making them feel as at home there as they did anywhere, for reasons that should be evident. They walked respectfully among the commotion, mesmerized by the motioning greenery, captivated by it all.
Still following the weaving path into a sparsely wooded area, the trees dissolved and they entered a clearing. They saw in front of them, not far off, a little shack. It stood alone, encircled by the forest. The front door was open, creaking back and forth in the wind. Exploring his curiosity, Boris approached it slowly. The closer he got to the place the emptier it seemed.
Advancing from the side, they reached the building and crept around to the front. Boris stopped and put his ear to a window, keeping himself from view. He heard nothing but the creaking door. Guessing it safe, they poked their heads in through the open doorway, with their bodies waiting outside for the time being as they scanned the small, one-room domicile. If outwardly it had appeared to be abandoned, inwardly it appeared even more so. Stepping in all the way, they took a leisurely look around the place, and after discovering a stash of canned foods in a drawer, they instantly took a liking to it, and didn’t plan on leaving it unattended for the foreseeable future, deciding that squatting was the proper thing to do in such an establishment.
Boris finally got his hands on an elusive can opener, and life was good. Living as lavish as lords, they enjoyed home-style beans, chili, and tuna. The whole nine. With each mouthful their spirits soared higher. In a dreamlike stupor, they pigged out nonstop, force feeding their haggard frames, nodding off into inevitable food-comas, waking from one dream and falling into another. They kept this up for what felt like an eternity. Then the seemingly never-ending supply of food ran out. It had only been three days.
previous: The Woes of the Zombie Man – Chapter III
more by S.P. REILLY
photograph by Alexander Shustov