I could have continued hitting him in the eyes with my Vorpal Towel of Testicles Dryin’ (+3 to hit, no saving throw), but he’d eventually get serious. I can’t match a zombie for speed or strength, but I could get him on technique. If I disabled him—no one walks away on a broken knee—I’d have time to snag a weapon out of my tent.
My opponent came up off the asphalt with one hand over his bleeding eye and the other slashing the air in front of him. I got a decent look at him for the first time, and it made me sad to see he was even younger than me. I guessed him to be somewhere in his early 20’s, and it sucks that someone so young died in the first place. Of course, the larger suck is that he came back to life and ended up on my roof.
“Come on!” He screamed and charged me. Did he think that I’m an idiot?
I’d studied Aikido for most of my pre-College life, along with a few other martial arts, and an opponent running towards you is one of those, “Thank you, God! I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time,” opportunities. Far be it from me to not take the chance I’d been given to get a let up on this little shithead.
I blended with his forward motion, captured his outstretched hand, and performed a wet “kote gaeshi” (a deceptively simple, completely awful, wrist turn).
He went airborne around the center marked by our hands, and hit the roof on his back with a wet thud. I followed up the technique with something I would never have done in a dojo setting: I rotated his wrist in the opposite direction as he hit the ground…tearing the ligaments in his wrist, if not shredding his rotator cuff at the same time.
It was a good scream of pain, even if the thunder drowned it out. I left him rolling around with one arm flopping and the other clenched to his face, and ducked into my tent as quickly as I possibly could. There was only one weapon in easy reach, and it certainly wasn’t my favorite, but I didn’t have time to be choosy.
Sure, our zombies weren’t what we’d been raised to expect. Ours were smart, cunning, full of personality, and verbal. The one thing that did hold true from fiction to fact was the sure method of returning your attacker to the afterlife: take the head and expose the brain to the world.
I walked back to where he was, still flat on his back. He’d let go of his face so he could cradle his arm. Honest to god, he was pitiful—in that I felt pity for him experiencing so much pain—and pitiable, too. Most of the zombies I’d dealt with in the past would be swinging that loose arm at me, trying to beat me to death with it, rather than stay still.
He was a newbie, and lame.
He looked up at me with his good eye, and saw the axe I held above my head as it started to fall.
You can’t say he didn’t see it coming. Sadly, I think he saw the second strike coming down, too. I’m approaching ninety percent certain that he didn’t see the third one: it took the top of his skull off.
He was done, but I had to do his victim, too.
After I was finished, I dragged the bodies to the edge of the roof and kicked them off onto the sidewalk. Someone would make them go away by morning. Maybe.
It was still raining, so I grabbed my abused bar of soap and got back to what I’d been planning to do in the first place.
As I scrubbed, I looked around at the neighborhood. It was so much quieter than it was when I was a teenager…not that it had been a major hub of the suburban social world…but people used to chill at the diner over past Glebe Road. There was a lot of traffic, too, since this area was the point where the residential and business worlds collided.
Straight down Glebe, you’d cross over Route 66—one of two major commuter roads into metropolitan Washington, DC—and right into the Ballston area of Arlington. There were more office buildings in Ballston than in some midwestern cities, and worse traffic. Turn left on Wilson Boulevard, and it just got worse all the way down into Rosslyn.
When I was in college, I dabbled in a lot of disciplines. Sociology was one of them. I remember reading a book about the phenomenon they call “edge city”. It is the city that exists outside the city limits. Washington, DC was actually covered in that book, since it had so many perfect examples of the thesis.
Arlington. Rosslyn. Tyson’s Corner. Reston. Alexandria. All of them were bustling Virginian micro-cities in their own right, feeding and being fed by the Nation’s Capitol.
The last statistics I heard said that nearly 40% of the global population was infected with, or would be infected with, the unnamed contagion that brings the dead back to life. No one knew, or was telling us, exactly how the bug was transmitted. We just knew that some people were immune.
I was one of those people who appeared to be immune. I was lucky that way. Marvin and his wife hadn’t contracted the virus either. I considered myself lucky, there, too.
The night closed in, and the rain didn’t stop. It was fine by me. Sleeping in a nylon tent in 98% humidity sucked when opportunities to enjoy climate control were infrequent. A good, strong, storm would keep the temperature pleasantly cool over night and let me get some beauty sleep before attending to my job the following morning.
I wondered how Ms. Louise Malley, my client, spent her evening. Maybe, somewhere out there in the once-trendy Clarendon area, she spread her dim sum to the sky and enjoyed the rain? Crazy or not, I could have nibbled her Crab Rangoon, and rolled my face in her pork buns, all night long.
Laying on my sleeping bag as the rain came down, I couldn’t decide if it was Chinese food I was craving, female companionship, Chinese female companionship, or some fourth thing. Whatever it was, my imagination was snagged on it.
No choice but to sleep on it.
I woke up with horrible morning wood and a perverse craving for fried rice.
(Yeah, yeah. Copyright James Crawford 2012. Be nice or I’ll hit you with the wet end. @crawford4033 www.bloodsoakedandwriting.com)