“Fuck you, asshole!” His breath was awful!
Unsurprisingly, he swung again. This time it was a side-to-side strike, rather than an overhead attack. Fine.
I studied a number of martial arts from childhood into my awkward college years. One of my loves was Aiki-Ken—the use of Nihonto (Japanese swords) combined with the techniques and methodology of Aikido. To sum up the art, it is inflicting insane amounts of damage to your opponent while they do most of the work for you.
My blade came free of the scabbard as I blended into his swing. I ended up beside him, cutting upwards, as his arm came into the arc of my blade. Most of his forearm, including the baton, dropped to the ground as his stump sprayed me with cool, thick, zombie blood, as it passed by.
I continued my natural motion, and brought the blade back down through his skull. When I pulled the blade free, his knees bent, and he came to rest in a kneeling position. Overjoyed at the perfection of the moment, I allowed the motion of pulling the sword out to reset my feet for a third strike.
I beheaded him. The halves of his head fell to the ground only a moment before his body collapsed into a twitching heap.
He didn’t even have time to scream.
The second zombie noticed how efficiently I de-animated his chum, and launched himself across the grass. He hit me like a ton of bricks, completely ignoring the razor-sharp blade between us, and drove me to the ground.
I got a face-full of screaming, bloody, former IT-geek, and the pommel of my sword in my stomach. He vomited sticky blood in my face while I threw up my squirrel stew.
Unfortunately for me, gravity left me holding the whole awful mess… including his writhing, angry ass, skewered on my sword. I thanked God when he fell over to one side and his weight wasn’t centered on a 1.25” long point in the middle of my abdomen.
This one hadn’t been revived long. A zombie who’d been around the block longer wouldn’t give physical damage much attention, unless it was a critical injury. This guy pawed at the sword blade, even more pale than normal for a reanimated dead person, and made useless noises.
“Sucks, doesn’t it?” I asked him, spitting blood and vomit out of my mouth.
“It… it hurts!”
“I’m sure.” I spat again. “I’m sure it does.”
I looked at this sad excuse for a walking dead man with a combination of surprise, horror, and pity. We were fighting for the continuance of our individual lives: it was hardly the time for philosophical discussions.
While he waited for an answer, I drew my .45 pistol, and blew his brains across the grass.
A few moments afterward, I managed to get to my knees. My abdomen hurt like hell, and I must have looked like shit—I could tell I smelled like shit. I put my gun back in the holster, and drew my blade from the body beside me.
“He who pulls the sword from the zombie shall be king of all the Croutons.” I would have chuckled at myself, but my tummy hurt.
Once the blade was wiped off, I resheathed it, and looked across the way at the person I’d been trying to save from being eaten by zombies. Most of his head was gone… it looked like the bullet I’d fired didn’t stop after making my opponent’s head go “poof”… it just changed direction.
It didn’t keep me down for long, because in that case, it answered my moral problem. I didn’t have to worry about decapitating the victim before he could return from the dead, or try to keep him alive long enough to delay the process. I was, and am still, unsure what the compassionate thing to do is in that situation.
An infectee didn’t have much “quality of life” if they survived an attack. Eventually, one of two things would happen: they’d be attacked again, and die; or they’d die from natural causes at some point in the fullness of time. If no one found the body to cremate it, the person would reanimate, start hunting for food, and bother people like me.
I guess, in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter. It was just something that kept me up at night, thinking, since I didn’t have the internet to lull me to sleep anymore.
(Find me on Twitter @crawford4033, or on my blog. Thanks! -J.)