“So anyway folks, where to? I’ve got the meter running so you better make up your minds quick. You kids from outta town? Newlyweds on your honeymoon? Just a little taxicab character I’m doing there. A little humor in a dark time. Hey, remember that show taxi cab confessions?”
Ela keeps up a constant chatter as she drives aimlessly around Sueno Beach running over zombies with mucho gusto. To say she’s punchy would be putting it lightly, she’s too hurt, too tired, too mentally drained to stop talking. She’s worried if she does, she’ll pass out.
In the back, Duke and Martialla do more or less pass out, slumping down into a weird kind of half-sleep. Have you ever been so tired that you couldn’t fall asleep but you didn’t feel awake either? That’s the spot I’m talking about. They’re snapped out of their reverie toot sweet by something, that something being a zombie smashing through the windshield and into Ela’s lap at a high rate of speed. The car starts swerving wildly, Ela screaming her head off as the zombie chews into her stomach. Duke and Martialla do their level best to help, which isn’t much from the backseat, as the car fishtails and starts to spin wildly.
Between the three of them, they eventually manage to hurl the zombie out the broken driver’s side window. It slams into a light post and folds over backwards to such a degree that its heels slam into the back of its head with a loud coconut cracking noise. Seconds later, the back of the car crashes into a building and they end up all turned about in the lobby of a bank. After a beat, Duke and Martialla flop out of the car onto the ground moaning like zombies themselves. A moment after that, Ela steps out of the front and looks down at them.
“You see what I was saying before? Safety. You should have been wearing your seatbelts – driving is about three things, safety, safety, and safety.”
While Ela lectures them, Martialla and Duke recover enough to crawl to their feet and save Ela from a zombie bank teller coming up behind her. They bash its head in with one of them things that holds up the velvet rope for the bank maze. Afterwards Ela takes the revolver off the belt of the dead old bank security guy. And for good measure she swaps her ripped and bloody clownsuit for his uniform as well.
Martialla watches critically as Ela adjusts her new hat “Why do you get the gun?”
Ela sighs “Do we need to go through this again? I feel like we’ve had this same conversation six times tonight.”
Duke looks like he’s sizing Ela up to try and grab for the gun “Yes.”
Ela points at Martialla “You don’t get the gun because someone needs to shoot you if you can’t really fly a helicopter and I don’t trust you to kill yourself.” She points at Duke “And you don’t get the gun because I hate you.”
“I guess that’s fair.”
Martialla shuffles to the shattered front of the bank “How are we going to get there now? The car’s trashed.”
Ela points “Shouldn’t be too hard. The TV station is across the street.”
Luck? Or is there a method to Ela’s madness? The world will probably never know. I sure won’t anyhow. Martialla and Duke certainly don’t care either – against all odds it looks like they just might get out of Sueno Beach alive. They wait until the street is free of zombies and then make a mad yet not very fast dash across to the TV station – home of WSBF channel fourteen, the local NBC affiliate. In the lobby there are a couple of zombies, which Ela takes out with a quick succession of shots to the head.
Duke’s face drops “Jesus, you just went six for six!”
Ela tosses the spent revolver aside “Well that’s the end of that. I’m surprised the old man even had the thing loaded.”
Martialla points to a monitor in the lobby in amazement “Look, they’re still broadcasting.”
After a commercial for a new kind of fat-free muffin mix and it switches to a news graphic with the bold words “Zombiestorm 2002” on the screen, complete with a cartoon animation of a zombie chasing a sexy lady in a bikini with an “arrgh” sounds effect. They watch in utter disbelief as an anchorwoman in a lipstick red ladysuit reports from behind a blood-spattered desk. In the background a guy with a headset and a clipboard is struggling with a zombie, fighting for his life.
“Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the on-going zombie crisis in Sueno Beach, a channel fourteen news exclusive.” Behind her the struggling man goes down and blood sprays up in the air with a scream. “There seems to be no end in sight to the zombie hordes that began attacking our fair city several hours ago. Estimates put the arrival of the zombies at sometime between the hours of eleven and midnight. There is no way to know for sure how many zombies there are, but one reliable source has told channel fourteen that there sure seem to be a lot of them.” Behind her three guys with makeshift weapons run into frame and start clubbing the zombie devouring their friend. “We go now live to reporter Marcus Robinson at the governor’s mansion.”
Cut to a black man in a sharp suit clutching a microphone in one hand while clinging tightly yet impassively to a chandelier. Underneath him zombies stand on an extravagant diner table heedlessly stepping on an impressive dinner spread as they reach for him and groan hungrily.
“Thank you Susan. Here at the governor’s mansion things are not going well. The governor’s annual charity dinner, attended by some of Sueno Beach’s most outstanding citizens, has been crashed by some very uninvited guests. They arrived fashionably late around eleven thirty but there was nothing fashionable about these guests, Susan. They were zombies. And unlike their other guests, they weren’t hungry for crab cakes or shrimp cocktails, they had another menu item on their minds, human flesh.”
“How is the governor holding up in this time of crisis, Marcus?”
“Well Susan, right now he seems to be doing as well as you could expect at a time like this. A zombie is chewing on his thigh right now and most of his leg is gone, but despite that, sources close to the governor have told me he still thinks he has a good chance of getting away and surviving for at least a few more hours.”
“What’s the general mood down there, Marcus?”
“Well, I’d have to say it’s a pretty somber scene here right now, Susan. Not at all the night of merriment and networking that we were so looking forward to. People were especially disheartened just moments ago when the mayor’s much-loved wife was eaten alive before their very eyes. She had climbed the drapes to escape the zombies but then the zombies pulled the drapes down and she was at their mercy. Truly a tragic end to such a respected member of the community.”
“Yes, she was a great lady and will be sorely missed. Especially in a time of crisis like this. Marcus, can you tell me . . .”
“I’m sorry to interrupt you Susan, but the zombies seem to be forming a human pyramid of sorts to try and reach me. I’ll have to get back to you in a minute.”
“Marcus Robinson, live at the governor’s mansion. And now we’d like to take you to Professor Ramonovich from nearby Coral Gables University, a foremost scholar of the occult. Professor Ramonovich is going to give us some background on . . . oh, I’m sorry, I’ve just been informed that Professor Ramonovich is dead. Sorry folks, we’re doing our best here, things are a little chaotic in the station tonight. Let’s take a look at our interactive map of the city and where zombies have been reported as being sighted, which you can find on our website. As you can see, the reported incidents of zombie activity are quite widespread and . . .”
Lucien is gaping at the TV screen “Am I really seeing this?”
Ela barks a not-laugh “Let’s just go.”
They get on the elevator and push the button for the roof but between the fifth and sixth floor it grinds to a halt. Ela manages to pry the doors open and Martialla and Duke use her as a stepping stool to crawl out onto the sixth floor. They pull Ela up after them and they look for the stairs, but they have to duck into a room to avoid a few zombies shuffling down the hallway. It happens to be the very room where Susan is broadcasting from, bright smile plastered on her face as all around her, hapless interns are struggling with zombies.
“The word we’ve been getting from the national wires is . . .” She frowns as Ela rushes into the shot “Hey! I’m doing a newscast here!”
“How do we get to the helipad?!”
Susan leans to try and get back in frame “You’re blocking my shot, get out of the way! We’re the only station with coverage of this crisis and I’m not going to let you ruin our exclusive. This is my ticket out of this dump! Go on, get!”
Ela grabs for her across the news desk “You’re the only station with coverage because everyone at all the other stations is dead! Your exclusive doesn’t mean dick because no one is watching it – THEY’RE ALL DEAD!”
Susan slaps her hands away and tries to shove her out of the way “Get out of my shot!”
Ela grabs at her desperately “Just tell us how to get to the news copter and we can all get out of here together! We’ll take you with us, just tell us how to get there. We can all get away!”
“Look, this is the story of a lifetime, I could get a local Emmy for this! I’m not about to . . .”
A kid with a nose ring holding a clipboard wanders onto the set behind her, drinking a cup of coffee.
“Hey Susan, we lost the broadcast.”
She turns on him like a thundercloud “What?! What’s wrong, why did we lose the feed?!”
He takes a sip of coffee “Well, the camera guys are all dead, the people in the control room are dead, pretty much everyone on the crew is dead now except for me and you. And that guy over there. Okay, now it’s just me and you because that guy is dead now too.”
Ela leans in angrily “So how about that chopper?”
I’m placing the Ela-pocalypse story on hold for October so I can present a special Ela Halloween story. This idea tested very poorly with focus groups. Please note that his takes place in 2002 before zombies were gauche. That’s how writing works right, your work is judged by the standards of the era it’s set in?
We were so close to doing the whole thing in a clownsuit.