In a world where George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead never enjoyed the popularity of our contemporary timeline, knowledge on what we would call Zombies is limited to a few tales of Haitian voodoo at best. Nevertheless that is exactly what our characters will be thrown into, their very own zombie apocalypse. Can they survive? Read and find out! First person, and past tense in writing style is required.
I pushed the door in with a scuff and walked into the McDonalds, my heavy work boots thudded on the beige tile floor. I paused at the second door for a second and studied my appearance in the glass: long jawline, clean-shaven face, green eyes and an unsmiling mouth, my shorn brown hair was half hidden under a black ballcap. The familiar Talon logo of a grasping Eagle’s claw was emblazoned across the front of the cap, as it was on the shoulders of my charcoal work shirt and the front of my black ballistic vest.
I pushed through the second door and continued towards the counter, breakfast the only thought on my mind. Two people made up the line between the cashier and me; an elderly lady who was stooped over the counter, painstakingly counting her nickels and dimes; and a rotund businessman, he looked flushed and agitated under his three piece suit and alternated between checking his watch and dabbing at his neck with a folded hankerchief.
I gave a little grin as he shifted the briefcase clutched in his off hand, really I should’ve been just as impatient. Technically I was on the clock too; Terry and Mitch were both waiting for me in the rig outside, both for breakfast and so that we could get on with our route today.
The businessman dabbed again and I wiped my forehead in sympathy, it was only quarter after ten and already it was eighty-five degrees, I groaned inside when I thought about what the temperature would be by noon. The sound of change scraping across the counter brought me back, the lady had finished counting her change and the clerk was eagerly dumping it into the till.
The elderly lady shuffled off to the side and the rotund gentleman waddled forward, I followed up behind him with a step. The businessman launched into his order with an indignant tone, his rapid gasps served as the only punctuation. I let my mind wander as he spoke; my sleeveless arms rested on the radio clipped to my belt and the Glock holstered at my hip.
A muted gasp drew my attention and I turned to look. In one of the corner booths a crowd of two boys and three girls sat, the one who had uttered the gasp had black hair and wore a yellow sundress. The other two girls wore similarly revealing clothing and were attractive enough to pull it off; the boys both wore varsity jackets and looked like they were doing their best not to sweat through them.
The group’s attention was riveted on one of the boys’ smartphones, his thumb swiped down and across on it. Whatever pictures he was showing them weren’t pleasant ones, the girl in the yellow dress looked like she’d had a glass of chunky milk.
“What did you say people were calling this again?” The disgust in her voice matched her face.
“Hashtag ‘bit me.’” The boy holding the phone replied.
“Hyuk hyuk hyuk!” The name sent his friend into a fit of obnoxious laughter. “Bit me? Like ‘bite me’ but afterwards!”
“Shut the fuck up Reggie,” the phone kid snapped. “It’s not funny, this shit could be serious! People don't just bite into other people for no reason!”
I doubted this kid was actually worried about anything but I was willing to bet Yellow Dress was. Sure enough, out of the corner of my eye I saw her lean into him a bit more.
Smooth kid, a smile curled a corner of my mouth. Smooth.
“Sir,” the cashier’s voice snapped me back to reality. “How can I help you sir?”
“Uh yeah.” I muttered as I took a step towards the counter. I hoped I didn’t look too embarrassed or guilty. “Sorry about that. Can I get six sausage and egg McMuffins, two without cheese, three coffees and three hashbrowns?”
“Certainly sir,” the cashier replied after a few seconds of furious tapping on the POS terminal. “That’ll be eighteen dollars and fifty-four cents plus tax.”
I handed her a twenty and gestured at her to keep the change. As the cashier turned around to begin the process of getting my order, I stole a glance back at the kids in the booth; their conversation about humans biting other humans had intrigued me.
They were still there and still focused on the one boy’s phone but were continuing their conversation in hushed tones, no longer willing to be overheard by nosy-parkers like myself. My efforts stymied; I returned my gaze to the counter and waited for the food to arrive.
“Hashtag ‘bit me’?” Mitch guffawed from the driver’s seat. “That’s hilarious!”
“What the hell’s a ‘hashtag’ anyway?” Terry grumbled from his place in the back, I could practically hear the air quotes in his voice.
“It’s no different than the pound symbol you use on a telephone,” I replied over my shoulder. “And you gotta admit, it is kinda weird hearing about how people are biting each other Mitch.”
“Sure,” Mitch replied as he kept his eyes on the road. “But you heard whatshername on the radio, the authorities don’t seem to think it’s anything like rabies or stuff like that.”
“Yeah but they did ask anyone who was bitten to report to their nearest police station or hospital as soon as possible,” I persisted. “Don’t you think that’s strange?”
“Probably just a precaution,” Mitch waved his hand dismissively. “I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“What I would worry about is the slaps upside the head I’m gonna give you if you don’t shut up with all this biting bullshit,” Terry growled from behind the mesh. “We’ve got a job to do, so shut up and call us in.”
“You’re no fun,” I muttered as I picked up the radio handset. “Either one of you. Truck two-eleven to central, we are driving in to the city now and are heading to our assigned route of nine for the day; estimated time to first stop is two-zero minutes.”
“Copy that truck two-eleven,” the bored tones of Talon central dispatch came back immediately. “On schedule to make the first stop of route nine; have a good one.”
“You too central,” I took my thumb off the talk button and jammed the set back in its cradle. Out of habit I glanced at the digital clock on the dash, the glowing numbers read 10:45.
Just another day at the office.