Monday, May 11, 2009

Apocalypse Snippets #6 - Molly LeFleur, age 31

Honestly, it's not so bad. Sort of peaceful, really. And my god, the advantages you can take when most of the world doesn't care what you do.

Harold Smith next door had a riding mower. Tiny little garden like his, and he had a riding mower! Buzzing around on it, he looked like the king of the neighborhood. Now it's mine. It's raining this morning, and I just let the thing sit out in the yard, watching those shiny red flanks he liked to polish collect water. Hopefully it's not rust-proof. I'd love to see it go.

Tess and me, we're watching the dogs play around it from the back patio, under the sun umbrella I got off Hattie the Hag's property down the street. Yesterday was our weekly outing into London, and we made a day of it. No one locked Harrods before the dead came out to play, and its doors were wide open, just waiting for a couple of eager shoppers like ourselves. The streets were too choked with abandoned cars to drive there, so we had to stuff three floors' worth of shopping bags into the dog trailer chained to the back of Tess's bicycle.

"How's your drink, love?" she asks, tipping her glass at me. We got the fluted champagne glasses from the antique shop down the way, before the end of consumerism, and they're excellent for raspberry martinis.

"Nearly perfect." I give her a movie starlet smile to go with my movie starlet dress from Harrods. It's deep red silk with sparkling stones sewn around the neckline. Judging by the price tag that's still hanging from my armpit, they might be actual gemstones. Every time I remember that I get the urge to snip off its sleeves and wear it as a nightgown.

Tess spent a good hour yesterday searching for her outfit. It's a smart men's suit in warm gray, with a pinstriped shirt and fuschia tie. Armani, as she proudly pointed out. I set my drink down and roll my head against the lawn chair to take her in again. "You know, that getup really suits you."

She flashes me a grin and tips the brim of an imaginary hat. "Do I look like George Clooney?"

"The spitting image," I say, laughing, even though she looks nothing like. George Clooney doesn't have that long, curly red hair and pixie face. Or those tits. My god, Armani suits them.

Tess sloshes her drink about and sips it thoughtfully. "What d'you suppose happened to George Clooney?"

"What, you mean do I think he's still alive?"


"Doubt it. Some dead fangirl probably got him."

"Lucky girl."

She snorts into her glass, slightly less Clooney-esque.

Out in the garden, the dogs start yipping. On top of Kiefer, my Havanese, and Tess's brown terrier Sadie, we've now got the Topher family's fat black lab and Hattie the Hag's little inbred thing with its tongue hanging out all the time. I'd take in the neighborhood cats, but Tess is allergic. At any rate, four dogs is quite enough.

"Knock that off, will you?" I call to the pack, but they don't listen.

"What's he doing?" Tess asks, squinting across the lawn, and I spot Harold Smith - or rather, Harold Smith's evacuated husk - rolling himself over the low garden wall. He lands on one knee and pushes himself up, even more straight-backed than Smith was originally, if you can believe it. But if there was any doubt before, I'm sure now it isn't Smith in there - he walks right past his beloved riding mower and heads for the dogs.

"What the--" I start, standing up, but he startles me, lunging for the dogs. They scatter at his feet, he yells in a high-pitched, un-Smith voice--is that Russian?--and grabs for them again. The dogs begin to bark at him but don't run far, forming a lazy half-circle around the man.

"Hey, leave them alone!" I shout, grabbing the axe by the back shed. We took it from the hardware store two days ago, anticipating a winter of furniture burning.

"Mol," Tess warns, setting down her drink, "just leave it. You saw the news reports - nothing hurts those things. They're already dead."

I lower the axe to my side and pause, watching instead. She's right - if there was one thing the news hammered into us, it was that we are helpless against the dead. They are numerous, they are emotionless, and the fact that they're already dead means no one's able to kill them. Not army, not mercinaries, and certainly not a fat woman in a coctail dress.

But then un-Smith lurches forward and grabs Hattie the Hag's inbred little mutt by the ruff of its neck. The others bark and raise their hackles, Tess leans forward sharply, and my hand grips the axe handle tight, my insides gone hot.

"Drop that dog!" I shout.

un-Smith takes one look at me, sort of shrugs, and then begins walking off with the inbred little mutt, sniffing her and muttering as he walks, like he's assessing a chicken at the corner mart. Maybe that's what she is to him - dinner. I've hardly thought this before he moves his hands to her throat and begins to squeeze. The dog gives half a yipe before getting choked, and that drags me across the yard, my eyes blazing.

"OY!" I bellow, raising the axe.

"Mol, no!" Tess cries.

The thing inside Smith turns his head, and I swing the axe right into his shoulder. It feels good - and really, that's the point. I've seen people try this sort of thing on the news. He'll give me a bored look, maybe pluck the blade out of his shoulder, and move on, and I'll feel a little better because at least I tried defending the poor ugly creature against him.

But un-Smith doesn't look bored at all. When he turns toward me, his mouth hangs ajar and his eyes are wide like I'm the ghost, not him. He drops the dog, who summersaults on the grass, and gurgles slightly. That's when I notice the smoke - a thin stream of it, off-white, coming off the shoulder I hit.

un-Smith drops to the ground like a sack of beans, and the smoke rises out of him in a burst, then is gone. Then it's only Harold Smith's body lying lifeless in my garden, next to his beloved riding mower.

Tess is staring. "You--you--" she starts, and can't get any further.

I pluck the axe out of Smith's shoulder and assess it - nothing extraordinary, just the standard issue. Nothing that hasn't been tried against the dead by dozens of people before me. It clicks.

I start to laugh. Tess steps forward to bundle up Hattie the Hag's inbred little mutt in her arms, checking her over, and even though the dog's barely moving I keep laughing. I laugh until Tess lays a hand on my arm and shakes me.

"Molly," she says sharply.

I stop. I raise the axe slightly, looking down at the already congealed blood on its blade and the matching color of my ridiculous bejeweled dress-slash-future-nightgown, and I shrug helplessly at Tess, smiling. "It's me. I can kill them."

And Tess stares at me again for a second. Then she swallows and drops her hand. "I need a drink."

I sit down in the grass next to Harold Smith's body and say, "Make that two, will you?"

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