618 words / 3 minutes Zombie Mart

Part 5: Hoe Down

Jacques stood hunched over, breathing hard, a pickaxe in his hands. A grotesque figure lay collapsed between him and his girlfriend. Its rotted brain oozing onto the polished cement floor.

“What did you do, Jacques?”

“You saw it. It attacked us, Jillian. I was… I was just defending myself,” he trailed off, sounding like he was trying to convince himself as much as her.

“By smashing his head in? You killed him. Him, not it.” Jillian hugged herself, still recovering from the violence she just witnessed.

“Personally, I’d say it was an it,” Dusty said as he walked into the gardening section. Gun and Octavia followed behind him.

“Yeah, me too. These things definitely aren’t human anymore,” Gun said. “You should’ve seen the little runt that attacked me.” He glanced at Octavia. “Er, giant, massive, mutant zombie. It was terrifying.” He cleared his throat. “Really, really big.”

“Uh-huh,” Octavia smirked. “Alright, I see you two have been introduced to our Abercrombie and Dead friends. So grab some kit, and let’s get to clearing out this shop.”

Jillian blinked. “What?”

Octavia sighed. “OK, looks like we’ll have to take this a little slower.” She introduced herself, Dusty, and Gun. Almost patiently, she explained that they were being attacked by monsters and needed to use gardening tools as weapons to defend themselves.

“You see, Jillian? I was right. It wasn’t a person, I just put down a monster.”

“Doesn’t look like a monster. It, he, looks human,” Jillian looked at the twitching creature at her feet. “Mostly. What if they can be reasoned with, or cured?”

“Well, you’re welcome to try to debate, or diagnose, the next one,” Jacques shook the gore off of his pickaxe, “but I’m not.”

Jillian frowned and held herself tighter.

Octavia tossed aside her make-do cudgel—the hard drive enclosure box—and picked up a shovel with a long narrow spade. Then she nabbed a pair of long rose cutting gloves, they looked like they might be bite-proof.

Dusty walked over to a tall rack with gardening supplies. “OK, we need to stick together and work our way to the front of the store. Once there, we’ll lower the security cage, then do a thorough sweep to the back of the store.” Happy with his well-used shovel, he grabbed some plant ties off the shelf and put them in his pocket.

“Wait!” Gun picked up a double-edge loop hoe, then reached down and snagged a machete. He looked at it for a moment. Then he put it in his belt and grabbed another one. “Now I’m ready.”

Octavia cocked an eyebrow.

Gun smiled. “You can never have too many machetes.”