Groundhog Day Of The Dead

Read Time: 50 min

By all appearances, George is a mild-mannered, somewhat stodgy, plaid-sweater wearing librarian, but for the better part of forever, he has been trapped in what can only be described as a zombie-infested nightmare, fighting tooth-and-nail for his life. Over and over (and over) again.

Options for enjoying this story:

  • Read it straight from here (just scroll down)
  • Prefer your eReader? Download in ePub or Mobi / Kindle format below.

Being eaten alive by a zombie is a terrible way to die.


I should know, because it’s happened to me more times than I can count. In fact, that’s how almost every day has ended for me for what feels like an eternity.




By all appearances I’m a mild mannered, somewhat stodgy, plaid-sweater wearing librarian, but for the better part of forever, I’ve been trapped in what can only be described as a zombie infested nightmare, fighting tooth-and-nail for my life.


That’s right, little old me. George. I’ve killed more of the miserable wretches than you’ve seen in any movie, with everything from pie tins, to polearms, to my bare hands (don’t ask, it’s messy…). But believe me, when you’re caught in between a rock and a zombie’s waiting bite, you’ll use whatever you have within reach.


Of course, these last few decades I’ve kept busy with work, and my hobbies. As an amateur birder, my eyes are always searching for the most elusive winged warblers in Tillamook county. Of course, most days I’m helping the living track down whatever book or periodical that they may be searching for in this humble old library of mine. Sometimes we do get lucky, and find what we’re looking for straightaway. Other times the visitors and I have to search together, digging through the carts of books that need to be returned to their proper places; books that are constantly being put in the wrong place by the children that scamper about.


My library is terribly old, one of the oldest buildings in town actually. It was originally used as a church, during the town’s founding in the early 1800’s. For a while it was converted into a frontier army barracks during the westward expansion, probably due to the sturdy, stone-walled church-style construction. A watchtower was added, and years later, after Oregon became a State and the army moved on, it was converted back into a church and modernized for the times.


Then after the new St. Nicodemus’ church was built, the city council almost tore this place down, but the Bayport Historical Society did their thing, and they managed to get it converted to a library and preserved as a historical monument. The church’s old main hall served as the library proper, with two massive oak doors at the entrance. There were rows of bookshelves instead of pews, and informational posters and more bookshelves lined the walls.


The old barracks and mess hall were made into conference rooms, and the converted watchtower connects to the main building via my office, which at one point in time also served as the old frontier army officers’ quarters. The antiquated belfry doubles as a great place to do some birdwatching, and the original timberwork remains as part of the historical preservation. All it needed was a curator.


I try to keep it as neat and tidy as I can, but I’m the only one who works here full time. The county commissioner keeps saying that they’re working on hiring an assistant for me, but I’ll believe that when I see it.


At any rate, I’m not here to talk about my future replacement, I’m here because… well, I can’t really say for sure why I’m here. Who knows? I’ve wondered if I’m dead or in purgatory so many times that maybe it’s all in my head at this point.


Maybe it would just be better if I started when this whole thing started. Like it always starts… every day, the exact same Tuesday. Clear and sunny and unseasonably warm for early October. A few wispy clouds in the sky …with me sitting and eating a banana and a granola bar at my desk.




When I was young, breakfast was either cream of wheat with bananas, or cereal with banana slices. These days, granola bars are packaged in nice, tidy wrappers, contained just as cleanly and neatly as bananas have always been, so now I can skip the inconvenience of milk altogether.


And I do consider milk to be rather inconvenient. It’s always expiring for one thing, and when it does expire, the results are disastrous. And for some reason, ever since I was a small child, the image of someone juicing a cow or a goat always stuck with me as very off-putting.


Usually I alternate bites. Granola bar, banana. Chew.


Granola bar, banana, drink of tea. Swallow. Repeat.


That’s my morning. Well, brunch really.


The very first time I heard the telltale rapping on the office window, it was the library’s semi-adopted pet squirrel, Sandy Andy, so I naturally assumed the same this morning. I decided on the name because I can’t get hold of the rascal to figure out whether it’s a “Sandy”, like the blond girl from Grease, or “Andy”, like Andy Griffith.


Either way, the little scamp comes to the window every morning for a few unroasted peanuts, because unless I decide to fill it, the squirrel feeder is always empty at the beginning of every day.


Today something was different though. For the first time, the knocking wasn’t steady or faint at all. At first I figured Sandy Andy had been out getting frisky and was coming back to grab a midday snack.


But when I approached the window that morning, what I saw shook me to the core.


Two figures stood there. One of them: expressionless, staring vacantly at me with cold, dead eyes. The other … it had it’s arm outstretched, reaching for the window again. When I drew the curtain back further, it immediately locked eyes with me and seemed to smile faintly, as if it sensed my fear.


There was something otherworldly about the way she looked at me then, almost commanding me to open the window, and fling it wide. But I couldn’t move; I was frozen in place, staring at her gray pleated dress.


There they were. Two, real life Jehovah’s Witnesses.




After my initial startlement had faded, I began to formulate a plan.


Zombies are tenacious, but the Jehovites and the Krishnas give them a run for their money.


The Witnesses are friendly people when encountered out in the wild, but if you open the door to them, it’s like inviting a friendly vampire into your home. At first it seems like a good idea, and they’re charming enough at first, but before you know it, you find out that your odds of eternal damnation in fire and brimstone are pretty darn high.


I can actually imagine having a vampire make a meal of me, but actively inviting a pair of judgmental schoolmarm-types into your home? To dismantle your prospects of an afterlife? No thank you.


So when I realized it was sisters Emily and Agnes at the window, I was sure I knew what they wanted, and I was terrified. I had always smiled and taken their pamphlet, day after day, without giving it a second glance (mistake number one), and I had almost always kept my language suitable for my own grandmother. To their dismay I always informed them that I wasn’t interested, but wished them “good luck” with their conversion rate.


Wishing them luck today was my second mistake, because here they were, unexpectedly, at my library office window, still in dogged pursuit. There would be no stopping these two today for some reason, and my very soul was at stake.


At that moment, I decided that I wouldn’t give Emily (or her homespun-wool bonnet) the satisfaction of a proper snub, so I nodded to myself, and gazed out toward the treeline across the street as if pondering something more pressing than my unlikely visitors.


In actuality, I was looking to see if the zombies were coming yet.


After a suitably awkward amount of time had passed, I nodded with finality and closed the curtain in their faces. I figured they could use a dose of passive aggression in their lives, considering how they spent their time harassing me every morning, and I decided that I was just the librarian to provide it.


I knew the zombies would come from the treeline any moment. It was almost like clockwork, with only a minute or two of variation.


To be fair, I’d tried to stop the zombie invasion for years, a few different times already; every day racing out of bed, searching for patient zero before the plague spread. Sometimes I was able to save the high school football team before their morning practice/massacre. But like some nightmarish game of whack a mole, it always popped up wherever I wasn’t and eventually I stopped trying.


So I turned my back on the semi-opaque curtain, and prepared a cup of tea, pointedly NOT looking at the sisters. I could actually feel their grace slipping, even as I reached for my second lump of sugar. I sipped with satisfaction, but shook my head absently at the tea, and added a desultory third lump.


I already knew they looked down on me for indulging in sinful mouth-pleasure, but when I decided to go full-glutton with a fourth lump and then added some cream with a flourish, something snapped inside them.




I could feel something was different about today; in all of the previous years and incarnations, I had been doing almost all of the zombie slaying on my own, mostly here at the library.


Sure, some days there were anomalies; a stranger might wander in looking for a copy of “80 Shades of Grey: Granny Edition” or something. Or someone would come in and work at their laptop for an hour or two, and then leave. Sometimes they’d stick around for a bloody battle, and could maybe hold their own, but usually people ran or got eaten straight away.


Every day had been repeating itself for so long that I stopped counting things, and that included being stopped daily by two women in homespun wool dresses who invariably harangued me and tried handing me their leaflet, which I had still never read.


Once I noticed the aberrations though, I thought I was on to something; some kind of trick to escape my zombie-infested purgatory. I treated each one like a break in the case, or a clue from a detective novel, wondering what it all meant, and I learned quickly that taking notes was no good because the next morning, the notes themselves would be gone.


Right now, I’m constantly surprised at the variety of locations of birds I’ve been trying to get confirmation on with my birdwatching. One would think that birds follow a daily routine, but so far their habits are the most varied and irrational of anything in this purgatorial hellscape -which is one of the reasons I’m enjoying the hunt so much- it’s not easy, and it’s not predictable.


The anomalies weigh on my mind often as a possible way out. A few years ago someone in a black suit and glasses showed up with an iridescent copy of “The HItchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. He placed it on the “Non Fiction/History” shelf and left without a word. That book has been there every morning since, even with the daily time-reset. I still haven’t touched that one.


At any rate, it was already a bit strange; to have Emily and Agnes actually follow me to the library instead of just harassing me on my way in like usual, but I’d given up trying to change anything major about how the day progressed long ago.


I tried to change my route a few times way back when, to avoid the small talk loop with the wayward Witnesses. But there are only so many different routes to work (and different ways to die or hide), and every route has its own particular set of annoyances.


Bruno the bull-terrier had about a 1 in 10 chance of getting over the fence on any given day, and his bark was annoying even when he didn’t make it over. Mrs. Grainger always had those foul scones on offer, and would get mad at you if you refused them, or said anything other than how great they were. And I never even tried “Elm Street”. It has a reputation and the last thing I needed was to tempt horror-movie fate and drag Freddy Krueger into this mess.


So I gave up looking for a different way to work, and settled on a daily dose of “just take the pamphlet, no pressure, it’s a way to a better life” from the Sisters.




At first, I thought the two women of God had become suddenly animated and enraged by all the sugar I was adding to my tea, since I was, in fact, doing it to spite them. But after a quick moment I realized their flurry of movement was just an indication that the daily zombie attack was beginning again. I actually yawned, because for me, unlike the appearance of the Sisters, the zombie horde’s arrival was utterly expected.


It was then that I also realized that Agnes and Emily weren’t your average missionaries.


They both stood poised and ready, in athletic stances like professional rugby players. They seemed ready to spring in any direction, and they weren’t holding their usual stack of pamphlets, either.


Agnes held what appeared to be a sharpened stake in one hand, and a burlap sack in the other. Emily was rifling through the bag as if looking for something, but she kept glancing anxiously over at the treeline, at the exact spot where the zombies usually emerged. Clearly she knew they were coming just as well as I did.


“Less than a minute,” came a muffled voice through the glass, “get out the Holy Roller or we’re done for, Em!”


“I’m ready,” said Emily grimly, as her hand closed around one of the two ivory colored grips. When her arm emerged from the sack, she produced the most divine utensil the world has ever known.


At twenty-two inches in length, with a weight of nearly 5 pounds, and a barrel made of polished marble, it was already a sight to behold. But when the light from my office glinted off of the inlaid silver lettering, my breath caught in my chest.


“Interfectorem ad Condemnabitur”; it said.


Slayer of the Damned; a rolling pin.


As if on cue, the groaning and moaning of the coming zombie horde became audible. The plain wooden fence that usually kept the deer off the lawn buckled and snapped under the weight of the thirty or so undead, who continued shambling their way towards the library, like clockwork.




I was transfixed at the window, almost unable to comprehend what was unfolding in front of me. The Sisters had known this was coming! Emily looked back at me with that same cold smile and reached out to knock once more, but I was already moving to open the window.


“I told you he had something to do with this…” Agnes admonished Emily as they clambered into my office, “and this old place used to be a church, remember?”.


“Well don’t rub it in!” came the reply as Emily latched the window, and pushed a high backed chair up against the glass. “It’s just like everything else we do…”


“You never know unless you give it a go!” The sisters intoned together cheerfully, while continuing to take stock of their surroundings.


Emily stroked the Condemnabitur as she glanced at me, and then back out the window at the advancing throng of undead.


“Ahem,” I cleared my throat, “Hello again ladies, obviously you know what you’re all about,” they both looked at me anxiously and exchanged a knowing look. “Very well, very well. No time for small talk now. Quick, ladies, to the attic! They’ll be inside the library in less than five minutes!”

“No, no, the attic won’t do! We’ll be trapped in there. We might as well just start over right now if we do that.” Emily pleaded, looking at her friend for support. “That’s right,” echoed Agnes, “we’d be trapped again. Not today. We’re here to end this, once and for all.”


A number of questions came to mind, but there was no time.


“Then a diversion,” I croaked out, trying to gulp down the last of my tea, “to pull the monsters away. And buy us some time to talk alone and uninterrupted.”


They exchanged anxious glances again, and nodded.


I pulled open the top drawer of my desk and produced my own cudgel, nearly the spiritual opposite of their Holy Roller, but no less deadly. The Oosik. An ivory walrus penis, given to me as a gift during my sailing expedition through the Northwest Passage in my youth.


Okay, let me explain… killing zombies with the same hammer day after day gets boring, and even getting creative loses its appeal when you realize that there are no permanent consequences to being bitten. I was feeling a little saucy looking for weapons one day and pulled the Oosik off it’s wall mount for a chuckle, but I’m not ashamed to admit: it’s been my go-to blunt weapon ever since.


Don’t judge me. The weight and the balance is just right, and it fits my hand perfectly. I’ve racked up thousands of kills over the years with Oosik, and I wasn’t about to stop today.


“I’ll get their attention, you two get all of the people out of here, and tell them to get back to their homes and lock the doors! Meet back here when everyone is safely… ” I trailed off as I ran toward the back door toward the zombie horde.


The ladies had already turned their attention toward the adjoining main room, as if they already understood what I was up to. As I left, I cringed inwardly, thinking of all the books that might be snatched in a panic without someone to check them out, but this was no time for proper protocol.


After all these years, I’m still a librarian at heart. But, if today is the last zombie invasion, a few missing books will be a small price to pay. With any luck, that glowing Hitchhiker’s Guide will be among them.


Emily and Agnes exchanged a last, long glance before nodding to each other, and they briskly walked out of my office to make an announcement to the patrons.




I had to think fast. Normally when the attack comes, I just retire to the old tower and keep learning my yearly instrument or do some birdwatching, but today was a major deviation, so that wouldn’t do at all. So many scenarios and routes from over the years were jumbling together in my mind as I struggled to develop a strategy. But a strategy for what?


Should I head over to the Home Depot and grab some weapons to arm the people at St. Nicodemus’ before their daily massacre? Maybe I could convince them to join up, and we could defend the place for long enough to.. to…


I didn’t know what to do, other than go with what I knew best; mass zombicide.


With so much zombie-battle under my belt, “fight” is my default in any “fight-or-flight” situation. I could normally take the first wave by myself without breaking a sweat, but unlikely as it seemed, I was feeling a bit fuddled by the change of circumstances, and felt momentarily unsure of my close-combat skills, even with Oosik in hand.


I struggled to recall my zen breathing techniques from section 294.88 (Adult, religious, non-fiction), and I focused all of my chi.


Almost instantly I felt a calm wash over me, as I transcended reality and re-lived the thousands of hours of training I had subjected myself to, all over again, right then and there.


I had spent years sweating in the sun, learning and practicing on the peaked roof of that old graystone library. Over time, my invariably fat-marbled muscles learned to smoothly perform every kind of killing blow with a blunt or bladed weapon. I had practiced day in and day out, until I was death incarnate. I’m proud to say I’ve even mastered the famous “One-Inch Punch” that killed Bruce Lee.




I released my pent-up chi (avoiding my Sutra outlet), and re-evaluated the field, figuratively and literally. It was still the same cast of brain-hungry characters, shambling and bumbling their way toward the library, as usual. There was nothing new really, but the stakes were higher.


Many of the rotters I killed regularly were complete strangers, who I’d never met in human form. But some of them I knew from before, like my friend Willis. He had been way into crossfit, maybe too much, and the zombified version was no different. He was always the first zombie across the field, moving at almost a jog. There were only five or six that moved as quickly as that in the whole town, and the only other one I knew by name was “Jumpin’ Jimmy” Eggers, former high school track champion.


I’ve made up nicknames for most of my zombie pals at this point. Meatface, Barry the Cable Guy, Matilda the Hun, and The Toothless Slurper come to mind as a few of the more colorful characters. Boring Jim… well, he’s not really worth mentioning.


You have to be careful with the fast ones; I don’t know how many times Jumpin’ Jimmy or one of the others has come out of seemingly nowhere and taken a chunk out of my neck. Granted, there are worse places to be bitten (or have bitten off), but if a zombie gets to your jugular, it’s lights-out within just a few seconds.


Even if you’re in a semi-immortal state as I seem to be, it still spoils one’s day – bleeding out unexpectedly in the middle of something like a nice bird watching session.


And no, that’s not anecdotal. I’m still trying to get non-zombie confirmation on a lone Purple Sandpiper that has been eluding me for many years. I’ve seen her at roost only a handful times myself, but the rub is that I need another living human to confirm it officially. And since she usually only shows up around sunset when most everyone in town is already dead, zombified, or in hiding, I doubt I’ll ever earn my Master Birdwatcher’s pin. It’s really all I have left to look forward to anymore; that or the sweet release of death. Oh well.




My mind made up, I advanced on the throng as I had so many times before; with Oosik in hand, scanning the undead to see which ones were extra peppy. As they ambled toward the library I could always tell the difference between the zombies who had a Red Bull for breakfast had the ones who had decaf.


And of course there was my buddy Willis, leading the pack as always.


Taking out the most nimble zombies right away is a good strategy if you’re going to tussle with a whole group at once. But I had something different in mind. I wasn’t planning on wiping out the field in some gruesome recreation of Braveheart, at least not today.


Sure, I could skip-dance my way into the throng, nimbly dodging away from the snapping jaws, and gazing into the dead-fish eyes of my Aunt Iris (some days) or a dozen others, while whirling and whacking craniums in a blur of ivory-penised fury. But skull-popping wasn’t in the cards, at least not yet.


“For the Alamo!”, I roared at random (I could’ve yelled “hopscotch”, or “mint julep” with equal effect) while waving my arms wildly, and I stalked further forward into the open field. I had to make sure I had Willis’ attention right away, since I was going to use his aggression to draw the crowd away.




Over time I’ve learned that if a zombie can’t see you, it will follow other zombies instead. So I occasionally used one of the quicker zombies as a rotting, pale pied-piper.


Personally I think of it as a leash of sorts, and the zombie horde a pack of rabid dogs.


During the Lost Years when I dabbled in black magic and the occult arts, I used to walk around at the head of the zombie pack, dressed in a full-length black fur coat and a horned viking helmet. I led Meatface and the horde on daily killing sprees all over town, hoping that maybe if I infected or killed every last human I could find, this endless loop would finally be over. But it just kept getting worse.


I’m a gentle man, but pressure and time can drive even the kindest man to depravity and desperation. Eventually madness. I don’t know how long I spent lost in that darkness, and thankfully I don’t remember much of it.


At any rate, I got Willis’ attention, so he would steer the pack my way instead of toward the library. I needed time to talk to the sisters and figure out how long they’d known about all this.


Once Willis had his death stare locked in on me, I quickened my pace and hurried over to some nearby garbage cans, which I proceeded to bludgeon with Oosik.


“Weird Al Yankovic WAS funny!” I screamed defiantly, assailing the plastic bin from all sides as trash went flying in every direction.


A half-finished pint of liquor skittered from the trash can, out of it’s brown paper bag and onto the pavement in front of me. In one deft move I uncapped it, filled my cheeks to bursting, pulled out my handy zippo and blew a gout of flame six feet into the air, like a Cirque du Soleil fire dancer. The rotters stood mesmerized for a short moment. Mission accomplished. Between the added ruckus of the trash bin, and the fire-spout, I was certain I had their full attention.




As I continued to move away from the library and toward the industrial park, the undead were focused on just one meal: me. Which meant that they weren’t simply wandering the town indiscriminately and randomly attacking people. If today was going to somehow lead me out of this toothy purgatory, I’d like as many of my fellow townsfolk to be alive tomorrow as possible.


The sun was high in the sky and it was a nice day, zombies notwithstanding. Right about now people all over Bayport would be going out to grab lunch, or take a stroll. Most of them wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, whether they were sitting in a fast food drive-thru, or out walking their dog.

But depending on how many zombies scattered at random after munching down on Tuesday morning’s varsity football practice, some unfortunate residents of Bayport found themselves firing their guns for the first time ever right about now. Many of them were quite unimpressed and found themselves wondering, “How can an entire magazine to the chest not stop Mr. Carouthers? And where’s his arm? …and why does he keep saying, “Braiiins!”?”. In just a couple more hours, most of them will be dead, or undead.


I knew I couldn’t save them all, having spent well over a decade trying, and honestly I couldn’t be too bothered by the loss of a few of them for actual good, based on some of the things I got to know about them. I won’t get into the details, other than to say that people aren’t always what they seem (and also, during my sleuthing days I cut quite a figure in my black fedora and six-button paisley vest as “George the Detective”).


I could hardly look at the zombies anymore without thinking of the various seedy escapades and deeds they were part of when they were alive.


It’s amazing, the things that people cough up before being eaten alive; confessions, accusations, revelations, and regrets. I knew the extramarital and illegal happenings of half the town or more. What comes out most though? Their lunch, unfortunately for me.


I’ll never forget the time I happened upon a queasy Mrs. Pinochet (all 340 pounds of her) in her son’s treehouse, seeking zombie refuge. How she had gotten up there, I’ll never know, but she’d been looking through her son’s prized “Juggs” magazine in Oedipal disgust, when I bounded up the rope ladder with a pack of the undead in hot pursuit.


She took one look out that treehouse window, saw a few bloody arm stumps and entrails, and then proceeded to vomit up a jar of fully intact, unchewed sweet pickles onto the plywood floor in front of me, juice and all.


For a long time after that, anytime I saw Mrs. Pinochet, all I could think of was the smell of sweet pickles, and wonder what other foods she ate in that manner.


In fact, one day my curiosity got the better of me, and I broke into her house and went through her pantry! Sure enough: cans upon cans of Vienna Sausage, baby corn, and pickles. I almost felt bad on the days when I found her as a zombie, knowing that she must have traded one of those “strange addictions” for an addiction to human flesh.




I broke into a slow jog from time to time on the way to the cement mixing plant, mostly trying to maintain a safe strolling distance without getting too far ahead. After about a mile or so, the most elderly and obese zombies were trailing well behind and needed some time to catch up.


Fortunately, I had considered all of this when choosing my route, and ducked into the local park and playground area to buy some time for the ankle-draggers in the back of the pack. All of the school-aged children were in class, and unoccupied playground equipment doubles as a great obstacle course when you’re trying to dodge zombies. During my “ironic ways to commit suicide” phase, I spent a whole week using every piece of playground equipment at least once, right until the bitter end. The monkey bars were bad for that fiasco as well; trying to get across to the other side and back while zombies are trying to pull you down is definitely a challenge, especially when you can’t build your upper body strength from day to day because it’s always repeating.


The teeter-totter was definitely the trickiest one to get right, considering the logistics of wrangling a zombie onto a teeter totter, but it was a glorious ending: my rotting companion and I managed seven full teeters before I was finally overwhelmed.


While I was busy reminiscing about the good old days, Willis and some of the other faster zombies had plans of their own, and were just a few yards away when they startled me out of my reverie. Before I had even made a conscious decision, with a quick flick of my wrist with Oosik in hand, Willis was in a crumpled pile on the wood chips in front of me. The others didn’t miss a beat and continued their hungry advance.


“Dagnabbit!” I muttered, leaving the other two relatively fast-moving zombies alive as I spun away toward the Big Toy. Loping up the blue wavy-slide was a breeze in my boat shoes; the rubberized bottoms are perfect for getting traction, and they’re light enough to run a decent distance in before blisters start to form.


Knowing how zombies behave in groups is a major key to staying alive, and I didn’t stay on any one piece of playground equipment for too long except for (maybe) the big metal hexagonal climbing metal-dome-thingy; it never gets old watching zombies try to get up at you, get stuck, fall in, and end up stuck inside.


After a couple minutes of playing “catch the warm meal”, I had the whole pack, minus Willis, back in formation, and we marched relatively uneventfully the rest of the way to my favorite zombie-killing grounds: the industrial park.




For the rest of the nearby townsfolk, it was the first time they had ever seen a zombie marching, let alone a pack of them. Some people screamed in horror, which got the zombies’ attention and threatened to derail the procession, but I doggedly moved the throng forward, undeterred. One fellow and his friends laughed and mimed being zombies, assuming they were in some kind of impromptu movie shoot. After a minute of looking around for the cameras and seeing none, they turned as pale zombies themselves, and walked quietly away. Smart kids.


Don Roper, self proclaimed “Tire King of Bayport”, decided it would be a good idea to honk at us impatiently. I happen to know that he was a serial wife beater and I suspected he had something to do with the missing cats around town, so I decided to let him honk. Zombies do what zombies do, and I can’t save everyone, right?


The strangest thing was the people who simply didn’t react at alI. Bicyclists would see us coming, cross to the other side of the street, and just keep on riding without a second glance. Same with some of the joggers and faster-walking pedestrians. It reminded me of the stories of the Native Americans being unable to see the Spanish ships appearing on the horizon because they simply couldn’t imagine such things.




Once we got to the industrial park it was smooth sailing. I had led so many hordes there for extermination that getting the factory up and running was a breeze. I grabbed the handy pair of bolt cutters from the back of a nearby cable installation truck, popped the cover off of the main power breaker, and threw the massive switch with both hands.


So many things lose their magic over time, but the feeling of flipping that big old circuit breaker handle always does it for me. The telltale whirring and clicking of that machinery coming to life was a sound I hadn’t heard in ages and electricity was in the air. Even the zombies seemed to become more animated and energized.


I went through the necessary steps, fired up all the conveyors and the giant mixing paddle, turned on the water main, and got the concrete slurry started in the giant 450,000 gallon mixing drum, which was the heart and soul of the place.


If the undead can be frustrated, I’m the one to do it. I’m sure I look like I’d make an easy meal, all portly and relaxed, like a pickled pig’s foot in a sweater. Today I wasn’t feeling as cavalier though; something was significantly different. I needed to get back to my library, and to the two enigmas who waited for me there: Agnes and Emily.


Every couple of minutes I banged on one of the giant metal roll-up doors to get the attention of any adventurous zombies who were wandering away looking for a better meal than a dodgy librarian. Once I could be sure that no wayward delivery driver was drawing the horde away, I got into position.




I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that section 620.1 to 624.8 has four titles on concrete factories, and I’ve read all four, so now I’m the town expert at that too I suppose. This particular factory had the bags of lime and gypsum fed onto conveyors from the freight dock floor, where they were fed along more conveyors, sliced open by a machine, and dumped down into the slurry pit.


I hopped onto the conveyor-turned-escalator and watched the zombies’ eyes follow me upward. There was always this look of disappointment in their eyes when a meal was getting away from them, like the deadening of an already dull gleam. At first I thought I was imagining it, but after so long spending time around them, and being eaten by them, I honestly believe that zombies have feelings.


I also think some zombies prefer different body types, and even different body parts; some go for the face, some for the legs. Pleasantly plump zombies seem to go after other chubby prey most of the time, and the less attractive male zombies still seem to gravitate toward attractive females as meals.


But they all really seem to enjoy eating ears. Yes, I said ears. So many earless zombies it makes me imagine … how many people had their ears bitten off and got away in terror, only to turn into one a few hours later?


At any rate, I reached the top of the conveyor, alongside a few more bags of pre-mix, and began whooping and hollering to rekindle the zombies’ flesh-eating passions. I had been counting on Willis to lead the procession of flesh-eaters up onto the knee-high conveyor belt, but with his untimely demise at the playground, I just had to be patient.




Usually time was on my side when it came to things like wholesale zombicide, but with the sisters waiting on my arrival back at the library, I felt a little antsy, and I was anxious that the filthy rotters wouldn’t chase me onto the belt for once. But after I saw that they were finally on their way as expected, I hopped over the safety railing and relaxed a little bit, as my mind began to go over the things that needed discussing when I returned to the library.


I had so many questions. How long had they known about all this? Obviously they had known about it today, but what about this “Condemnabitur whatever-matorium” they had with them? Slayer of the Damned, indeed. Surely that wasn’t new to them, what with the inscription and all. And they had been talking like zombie slaying was old-hat for them by now.


What role did they play in all this? I mused to myself. My inner monologue whispered something back that I didn’t want to consider, so I turned my attention back to the zombies again.


Yep, still coming.


At this point I knew the lemming effect was at work, with one zombie simply following the one in front of it, and unless another meal appeared to disturb things, I could’ve crept quietly away. They probably would’ve still fallen one-by-one into the mixing vat, until the very last one followed suit. But I decided to stick it out for the extra ten minutes, just to be sure, and boy I’m glad I did.


Mrs. McTavish was one of the last zombies to mantle the conveyor in her attempt to reach me, but in her flailing bloodlust she managed to work her prosthetic leg off it’s stump and onto the rollers.


There was no issue at first, but once the artificial limb reached the top of the ramp, the fleshy plastic toes somehow became lodged between the belting and one of the crankshafts, right in front of me.


The friction immediately heated the lower leg and ankle to the point of deforming and melting. It was pulled and stretched, over-and-under the rollers, like some nightmarish taffy puller, until it started smoking. Eventually the metal was torn free from the silicone, and the black-smoke-billowing mess continued down the line for a few calm moments before the prosthetic’s mounting socket got stuck again at the next 90-degree turn.


Then everything went off the rails, literally.


With a shrill squeal and a pop, the giant conveyor belt buckled, folded over on itself and continued barrelling along, no longer squarely on the track. Unfortunately, with the addition of that unforeseen mechanical failure, the engineers had also overbuilt the drive motors that moved the belt along it’s way. So when the conveyor refused to turn properly, the motor kept torquing on it anyway, like a giant winch.


The double-thick belt eventually jumped its track completely, and wrapped itself around anything it could, as it constricted around the railings, walkways, and anything else it made contact with, like a giant serpentine tourniquet.




It takes some real doing, for me to feel helpless after everything I’ve seen and done, but that was my sentiment as the metal grating beneath my feet began to shift and the scaffolding beneath it began to buckle. I frantically looked around for something to hang onto but all I could see was the industrial light fixture hanging over the control panel from the rafters. There was a screeching noise and another snap. Not a moment too soon, I leapt for it.


Sure, most people would panic if they found themselves dangling from an industrial light fixture twenty feet in the air, but I just can’t be bothered with panic anymore. Call me crazy, but as I swung to-and-fro above the fray, I rather enjoyed the novelty of the scene below.


I’ve done some pretty out-there things at that mixing plant, not the least of which was the time I decided to give the zombies a bath with ten pallets of laundry soap in the giant mixing vat. Two pallets would’ve been plenty of suds; I used ten, and I’ll leave it at that.


I looked down just in time to see the giant conveyor belt tense up one last time, and heard a twang like a huge rubber band as it snapped. One end shot out, whipped around a cement pillar and pinwheeled back into the mangled pile of metal beneath my feet. With that final punctuation, the massive machine went silent.


The crankshaft that drove the gigantic cement-mixing paddle ground to a halt, and instead of machinery, all I could hear was the gagging and sloshing noises of twoscore zombies coming from the mixing vessel. The yellowed-whites of their eyes and their bright white teeth stood out in stark relief of the wet statue-gray cement.


If I’m being honest, I have to admit: that moment was the first time zombies have seemed really menacing to me in ages.




I spent a good minute hanging up there before I steeled myself to the fact that I was likely going to break one or both of my ankles when I dropped to the factory floor. I’ve mastered a few martial arts over my life, from books, practice, and training with a couple local masters. Of course, they never remembered me from one lesson to the next, and we were always cut short by zombie invasion, but I eventually earned my Ikkyu Belt in Judo. I knew how to hit the ground properly, and this one was going to hurt.


There was simply no way to avoid it. Even if I were able to climb up the thin cables that suspended the light from the rafters I’d only be at a more dangerous height, with nowhere to go.


I didn’t want to be impaled or mangled from falling onto the twisted metal, I knew that for sure. Some of the worst deaths I’ve experienced have involved blunt trauma and mangling injuries. It really doesn’t get worse than the grating of bone on nerve; it’s disheartening, being broken all over, but somehow not going into the warm bliss of shock. It’s something I don’t even wish on zombies, and that’s saying something.


So even though it might have saved me a bit of height, falling straight onto the collapsed machinery wasn’t worth the risk. I got the fixture moving again, shifting my momentum from side to side until I was sure I could clear the wreckage, and at the last moment I gave a masterful tug that shifted my inertia so I remained nearly upright, gliding through the air perpendicular to the concrete floor rising below.


I couldn’t have done it any better. My weight came down on the side of my right ankle as I hit the ground, started pinwheeling, and began my lateral roll. I barely even contacted the ground with my feet; it was more of a sliding impact, like a paraglider. The force spread smoothly up my calf as it rolled along the ground absorbing the shock, and sent the energy into my hips and back as I rolled with it.


I unwound in a blur, my momentum sliding me along the concrete floor an extra couple of feet before I came to a stop. I lay in a crumpled pile like a crash test dummy, and I took mental stock of my body parts.


Pain in some places. That was good; not shock then. I opened my eyes and looked down at my legs, expecting to see bone and blood and things bent unnaturally, but training and luck were with me.


I wasn’t entirely injury free, but the remarkable forces of fate, combined with years of mostly accidental falls, led to little more than a painful gash on my right knee, a knotty contusion on my left shin, and bloodied elbows. On the plus side, my usually stiff neck felt great.


So with my head held high, I stood up, dusted myself off, and began my trek back to the library, fully focused on the implications of the sisters’ apparent zombie-savvy, and the repetitive nature of the day itself. Could this really be it?




There was no sign of the sisters as I walked through the library’s giant double-doors toward my office. The blinds had been drawn to filter the morning sun, but now that it was late afternoon the library was dark, and it was eerily quiet. The lights were off, and when it was dim like this, I always got that old-church vibe. The shelves of books loomed eerily, casting deeper shadows between the aisles as I walked. There was a faint smell of burnt hair that seemed to be coming from inside the library.


I banged on one of the tables with Oosik, trying to get the attention of any zombies who might be wandering around the horror section, but there was only muffled conversation coming from my office. As I approached, the light filtering around the door flickered, like firelight, and the odor of burnt hair intensified.


I had approached the room fully expecting to find Emily and Agnes doing something mild, like knitting, or drinking some of the tea I had left on from this morning in my hasty departure.


Or I thought maybe they’d be doing something more in line with their appearance at my window this morning, patrolling the surrounding area with their Holy Roller, whacking any freshly-turned zombies that I may have missed during the initial round-up.


But Agnes and Emily were nowhere to be seen in the dim flickering light as I slowly entered my office.


What I saw instead… A small fire, on some kind of altar. Sandy Andy on a tiny crucifix… occult runes, ritualistic symbols and black candles. Incense mixed with the smell of burnt hair. Blood.


Before I could even shed a tear for my eviscerated pet squirrel, or wonder at the sanguine spectacle in front of me, I intuitively felt the deadly Interfectorem ad Condemnabitur coming toward my skull, and ducked away. Too late to fully deflect it with Oosik, what would’ve been a killing blow merely glanced off the side of my head, leaving me momentarily stunned.


The marble rolling pin flattened my ear against my skull and I felt the cartilage pop as it folded limp and stayed that way. The ringing noise in my ear was dizzying all by itself, and if it weren’t for the bare knuckle boxing lessons from ol’ “Fingers” McGee (an old hobo I met down by the Bayport trainyard), I would’ve been knocked out cold.


Instead of drunken Irish boxing though, my advanced Krav Maga techniques kicked in: it was killing time.


I had less than half a second to deflect and redirect the next blow from Agnes, who seemed to have grown in stature by about a foot and a half compared to the woman I was so used to passing on the street every morning. I tried to disarm my opponent with a simple maneuver, but somehow instead of her grip coming loose from the Condemnabitur, she twisted and articulated her wrist, and the handle itself pulled out of the rolling pin, revealing a long, stiletto blade that had been secreted inside the barrel.


The razor-sharp shank remained in her hand, but the rest of the Condemnabitur came away in mine. We locked eyes, and in that moment, we both knew this would be the end. I felt Agnes drive the blade home, just as the curved barrel of Oosik connected with her temple, and we both crumpled to the ground.




While I had been in mortal combat with Agnes, Emily had been over confidently looking on, her hands poised to clap like a child, and she was frozen in horror. She knew I’d been stuck in this day forever too, but she never expected me to best her companion Agnes.


I’d been stuck in the gut pretty good before, and there was still Emily to deal with. But my momentary pause to consider my wound gave her an opening.


Emily had already snatched the steaming ceramic teapot from its hotplate, and blindsided me before I could rise to my feet. The teapot struck the side of my face like a gigantic fist, and shattered, slicing and splashing boiling water across my face, neck, and shoulders.


Pain. Still no shock, but I was down an eye, and my head was spinning. Where was I again? The side of my face felt like it was on fire and I struggled to understand the words coming at me. Blood and boiling water dripped from my head and I tried to clear my head. I clambered backwards slowly, away from the advancing Jehovites.


“…sorry to do all this, we have to try everything you see…” Emily said with earnest regret in her voice.


I understood what they thought had to be done – what they were doing. I had been there before, during the Lost Years. Through the pain, the half blindness, and the confusion, I actually relaxed. It all made sense at least. They were going to kill everyone in town as an evil sacrifice.


“You know, the dark arts won’t stop any of this. I’ve tried…” I trailed off and suddenly coughed, “…nothing works. I’ve read the books. I’ve killed them all before! Even you two! Surely you know that?!”


I felt spittle on my lips and then tasted iron. Agnes had nicked my lung.


Emily continued muttering, “…don’t know how we managed to forget … it was always right in front of us, wasn’t it, Ag?” Emily helped her dazed companion to her feet, as I skittered backwards toward the attic steps.


“You know, it was probably his kind demeanor that let him slip our mind for so long… “.


Agnes bent down and grabbed the still-deadly rolling pin by it’s one remaining handle, and wiped a thin layer of blood off of it with her thumb. She regarded it curiously for a moment, and then smeared a thin vermillion layer beneath her left eye. She nodded with a look of finality and turned her attention on me. They were advancing side-by-side now, determined to end it.


I felt another dose of adrenaline kick in; my body’s last ditch effort at survival. It was funny, no matter how sure I was that tomorrow would never come, my body always kept fighting until the very end. I knew that when that last kick of energy wore off, I would be less than useless to defend myself.


But it would be enough. The old watchtower door was at my back now.


With a burst of speed that belied my injured and scalded visage, I clambered into the tiny stairwell, slammed the door shut, and engaged the humble sliding chain-lock that had saved me from being eaten by zombies so many times before.




The library was old, relatively speaking, and it was mostly refinished in the old Victorian style. One of the novelties I had always enjoyed was the tower attic, mainly for its windows and the birdwatching they provided. It was also an ideal place to read by oil lamp while hiding out from the horde at night.


Most days the power went out across town near dusk, when the infection reached critical mass. On rare occasions a fair number of us Bayporters actually manage to hole up in large numbers, usually at the lighthouse or the church, and the lights do stay on. But most nights are dark, and the zombies prevail, leaving me as one of the few meals left after midnight, surrounded.


A muffled female voice came from the other side of the door, “George, it must be you. You keep having the same day. Like us. You have to want out too, right? It must be you! Please, make it easy on yourself… on all of us,” said Emily with a plaintive sigh. A familiar trifold pamphlet with the words “way” and “life” made a dry, papery sound as it was slowly fed through a gap in the doorjamb. “You can still be saved!”.


I eyed the pamphlet skeptically, and let out a gurgling laugh, “My dear ladies, as I’ve already told you a thousand times before, I’m not interested. Especially not after what you’ve done to my Sandy Andy…” I gazed out the window with my one working eye and blinked away a hot, salty tear. I tried to clear my vision again, when something colorful caught my attention in the rays of setting sunlight.


I blinked madly to clear my sight, looking out the window again, and I caught a second, clearer glimpse. Even with only one eye, there was no doubt. There she was. I gasped with excitement, which sent me into a fit of violent, bloody coughing. “I… I…look! Purpgh…” I coughed even harder, and stopped trying to speak.


“Let’s just do it now, Em. You know he’s telling the truth, and we can’t save everyone. Besides, what makes you think he’d believe us now?” I heard Agnes tapping against the door with the rolling pin, pacing back and forth.


I steeled myself and took a slow shallow breath.


“I.. I… I’m willing to believe you, really!” I countered. “Just, just look …out the window across the street! On the top of that old dead willow tree! It’s a sign! It’s a …heavenly sign. I’ll try to believe!” I heard Emily’s footsteps rush over to the window while Agnes continued lightly tapping around the hasp of the lock.


“You don’t think we’re going to fall for that old song-and-dance do you now George?”, Agnes asked, sounding more than a bit agitated.


I heard Emily speak from near the window in the office, “Well, if it’s a sign, then maybe…” she trailed off again, “No, it’s just a trick to buy more time. There’s nothing on top of that old tree except for a Purple Sandpiper sitting on a branch. You’re right Ag, let’s just get it over with and finish the ritual.”


“The Sandpiper…”, I cackled, “you see it? You see… it.”


Agnes’ voice boomed, “Okay Georgie. Last chance. Are you going to come out, or are we going to have to break the door down?”

“George, can you hear us? George?” Emily pleaded.


Oblivious to the last question, tears of joy welled up in my remaining eye, and I let the warmth take me away.


I was finally a Master Birdwatcher.



How About a Happy Ending?

Show me some love by donating and I'll make sure the next story treats you real nice.

eReader Format Options

Please select your preferred format.

Having trouble downloading on your mobile device? Make sure you are using Google Chrome or Safari.
newsletter icon

Wise Choice
My Friend.