The year is 2017. An outbreak of zombies has decimated populated areas, while the governments of the world have vowed to set aside their differences to develop a cure, or at least, a weapon. The top strategists from around the globe have detected swarm like behavior from the zombies, and deduced the zombies are likely a hivemind being controlled by a queen. One brave man has the resolve to infiltrate zombie stronghold and take out the hivemind. That man is…

(Over radio): “Jack, this is Director Steel. R&D has put together a weapon that should be strong enough to take out that hivemind. We need to you infiltrate their ranks, plant the weapon, and get out before it goes off. We aren’t sure what will happen to the zombies when the hivemind is destroyed, but we’re assuming the worst. Good luck, Jack. Director Steel, out.”

Jack sat near the open door of the helicopter, then wind blowing past his chiseled, handsome face. The glare from the midday sun glinted off his aviator sunglasses. “It’s time to end this thing… For all the friends I’ve lost. Brandon, Shelley, Steve, Martha…” he said to himself.

“Jack!” the pilot said over their radio. “We’re approaching the drop zone, are you ready to deploy?”

“Let’s do this thing,” Jack said with a grim smile. He stood, holding tight to the door. In his right arm, he held the backpack housing the secret weapon. He had an M-16 slung over his shoulder, a 1911 .45 holstered on his waist, and a parachute strapped to his back.

“Jack, wait!” came a voice behind him. He turned around, now face to face with a beautiful woman. “I can’t bear the thought of losing you! Promise you’ll return to me, won’t you, Jack?”

“Don’t worry Dolly, these zombies’ll never know what hit them. Then you and me, we’ll be someplace far away, drinking champagne on the beach.”
“Oh, Jack! I… I love you!” the woman yelled.

“I know…” He stepped forward toward her. They share a passionate kiss, then he steps backward toward the open door. “I’ll see you in Cancun, baby.” He turned, and jumped from the open door.

Pulling his parachute at the last minute, Jack Manson landed in front of the Mall of America, now the place with the highest concentration of zombies in the world. Plowing through zombies, Jack reached the front entrance, kicking open the double doors and spraying down a group of zombies in front of him.

(Through his earpiece): “Jack, this is Director Steel again. Our intel says the hivemind is located on the top floor. You’ll have to fight your way up there, then plant the weapon as close as you can get it. We’ve detected a large heat signature up there, so it’s likely a large mass.”
“What’s the range on this weapon?”
“Probably only a couple meters in radius. You’ll have to get it pretty close to the center of the creature. Be careful, Jack. Steel, out.”

Jack took off sprinting, vaulting over zombies, taking the stairs, 2, 3, 4, at a time. After several minutes of impressive flips, kicks, and impossibly well aimed shots with his rifle and pistol, Jack had arrived at the mass.

The hivemind looked like a pile of rotting flesh, squirming and squelching in place. Jack stared at it for just a moment, looking for a weak spot in the grotesque mass. He saw what looked like a large, human head on the top of the pile, eyes darting about wildly. “That where the bomb has to go, take out the hivemind at its head.”

There was no way up, and the zombies were approaching quickly. A large appendage stretched out of the mass like a veiny tentacle. It swung toward Jack, grabbing him around the waist. It lifted him toward the head atop the mass, its teeth gnashing as Jack approached. He tried to squirm free, struggling enough to reach his pistol. He fired the entire magazine at the tentacle holding him above the violently thrashing head. The tentacle recoiled in pain, and Jack fell, aimed directly at the hivemind’s head.

Acting quickly, Jack pulled the weapon from his backpack, arming it with the buttons on the outside of the chrome box. “Director… tell Dolly that… I love her,” Jack said into his ear piece. He fell directly into the hivemind’s mouth. Suddenly the mass exploded in a flash of blue light and rotting flesh. The hivemind destroyed, the zombies across the world collapsed.

“THE END” showed on big, yellow letters on the screen, followed by quick moving credits.

“I can’t believe you guys made me come watch this movie,” Sean said, standing from his theater seat, brushing the remains of unbuttered popcorn kernels from his lap.

“Oh come on, it wasn’t that bad! At least the special effects were decent,” said Conner.

“Shit guys, I dropped my phone, hold up,” Kyler said, kneeling in front of his seat, scanning the ground.

“Hurry up man, I need to get home and take a shower. Wash that awful writing off me,” Sean said with a laugh.

“You’re too critical, man! You gotta learn how to enjoy yourself,” Conner said, leaning down to help look for Kyler’s phone.

“They didn’t even touch on the fact that the zombies who had turned recently got their consciousness back after the hivemind was blown up. Now that could’ve had some interesting character development.” Sean said. “A couple of guys trying to help their friend adjust to life as a zombie? Finding ways to feed him, keep him hidden from the authorities, trying to keep his body from rotting? Now that would be a compelling plot.”

“I’d watch that,” Kyler grunted from the floor. “Ah ha!” Kyler exclaimed, holding up his phone.

The three exited the theater, Sean still ranting about the movie.

“It’s over now man,” said Kyler. “It’s gone! The movie can’t hurt you anymore.”

Conner laughed. “It’s time to start the healing process, bud.”

“Speaking of ‘healing process’, you guys coming to Calvin’s party tonight?” Asked Kyler.

“What does that have to do with healing?” Sean asked, chuckling.

“It’s how I self medicate: too much alcohol and striking out with attractive women I’ve never met before. I need you guys to be there to make sure I don’t throw up on his carpet. He won’t let me come back if I do that again.”

“Yeah man, we’ll meet you there.” Conner said. Sean threw up a half-hearted thumbs up, still muttering to himself about the total lack of direction in vital scenes.

The three met up outside Calvin’s house, music thumping through the door. “Alright, I do have to work tomorrow, so don’t let me get too crazy tonight,” Kyler said, as they walked in the door. “Ooh, Carlos is pouring shots!” Kyler rushed in, kicked off his shoes clumsily, and ran inside.

Conner sighed, audibly. “So much for that.” He sat down, untied his shoes, and placed them neatly by the door, then hurried after Kyler.

“Calvin repainted, huh? Typical rich boy,” Sean said as he walked in, inspecting the walls. “Wish I could just drop 20 bucks on paint at the drop of a hat.” The wood floor creaked under his heavy boots as he walked over to Carlos. Kyler handed him a shot of something brown, they hit their glasses together, tapped the table with the bottoms, then threw them back.

After a couple drinks, Sean sat on the couch next to Conner, playing a video game on Calvin’s Playstation. Sean pulled out his phone, slowly sipping a can of beer.

“Damn it, I can’t get past this part!” Conner set the controller down. “I’m gonna go call my wife. You wanna play?”

“Uh, sure.” Sean said, setting the beer down gently in front of the couch and picking up the controller.

Conner walked toward the door, put on his shoes, and headed out into the brisk night air. He pulled out his phone, saw 2 missed calls from his wife, and winced. “She’s gonna be mad…” He took a deep breath and unlocked his phone.

Around the side of the house, Conner heard groaning and rustling. He walked a bit closer to investigate. “Kyler? Is that you? Did you come outside to throw up?” He walked closer and the groaning got louder. “You know we invented toilets for a…. reason…” he trailed off.

What he saw wasn’t Kyler narrowly avoiding another bout of alcohol poisoning, but a zombie. From the looks of it, the zombie had been turned some time ago. Chunks of flesh hung from exposed bones and saliva dripped from its gaping jaw as is stumbled around.

In a panic, Conner threw his phone at the creature, and turned to run. He ran up to the door, only to find it locked. The zombie rounded the corner, shambling after Conner. He pounded on the door, screaming for help. He looked in through the window on the side of the door, saw Kyler standing the hallway, laughing and stumbling toward the door. He saw Conner through the window and waved at him, smiling broadly. Conner slammed his palm against the glass, screaming “Open the door!” Kyler walked up, fumbled with the lock, and pulled the door open slowly.

Conner tried to push past him, but Kyler crumpled with the slightest shove. He reached out, grabbed Conner’s shirt in an attempt to steady himself, and pulled them both down to the floor as he fell. The zombie walked to the doorway, and jumped on top of Conner and Kyler as they tried to get up off the floor. The zombie grabbed Conner around the ankle, tripping him as he tried to get up. He smashed his head on the ground as Kyler found his feet and ran into the living room. Conner felt sleep coming on suddenly, then a sharp, burning pain in his leg just before he passed out.

When Conner woke up, he was in a bright, white room. His leg hurt. He looked down and saw it was tightly wrapped with clean bandages. He saw his phone on a table in the middle of the room. He went to grab it, but was stopped by a chain wrapped around his waist, tethering him to the wall. Other than his leg, he felt relatively fine. His stomach rumbled loudly. “Hungry…” Conner said to himself. “Hey!” he said aloud. “Anyone here? Where am I?” he yelled.

Kyler came running from around a corner. “Shh! Shh shh shhhhhh!” he hushed. “I’ll explain, we just can’t draw attention to ourselves.”

“But, where are we? How did I get here? Why am I chained up? Ugh, and why am I so hungry?”

Sean walked in, eating something out of a tupperware bowl. “Mortuary, we brought you, you’re a zombie, and… you’re a zombie!” Sean said through a mouthful of food, smiling nonchalantly.

“I’m a… a zombie? What do you mean? And… why are you two wearing lab coats?”

“Oh, yeah. Sean and I are coroners now, for the police.”

Sean nodded, proudly. “You got bit by a zombie at a party a few days ago. Not sure where it came from, but it knocked you out and bit your leg there.”

“Then Calvin shot it in the head. Pretty gross.” Kyler said, frowning. “Got all over the walls, you know.”

“Bet he’ll just paint it again,” Sean said with a sneer. “Anyway, we took you to a hospital and told them it was a dog that got you. Zombie bite victims usually get hauled away to a secret government facility or something to be experimented on. Now we’re gonna keep you here and treat you with formaldehyde and have you sleep in the freezers so you don’t decay.”

“Pretty smart, right?” Kyler said, grinning.

“H-How…” Conner paused, processing. “How did you guys get jobs as coroners?”

“LinkedIn,” Sean said, shoving more noodles into his mouth.

Conner furrowed his brow. “So, I just have to live here now? What am I gonna eat?”

“What do you think, Zonner?” Kyler said, walking toward one of the freezers on the wall. He opened it to reveal chunks of raw, frozen meat. “It’s a neat arrangement. We’re gonna autopsy victims for the PD, and then you can eat the parts they don’t need when we send the bodies to families for burial. And, when we get a drifter or something that no one wants to pick up, instead of cremating it, you can have the whole thing! How’s that sound?”

“You think I’m gonna eat dead people? You’ve lost your minds!”

“Well, you are a zombie now, man,” Sean said, putting his food in a different empty freezer. “Better than you killing innocent people, right? These ones are already dead.”

“Wha- Sean! You’re a vegan!” Conner said, appalled. “How can you be okay with this?”

“Look man, I’m a vegan by choice. My body is meant to be omnivorous. When the zombie virus takes over, it’s gonna change your biology. The acidity of your stomach acid will increase, your iron needs will skyrocket, and you aren’t going to produce enough cholesterol anymore. You’re going to have to eat mostly meat or you won’t get the nutrition you’ll need. And, if we don’t control this thing with a steady stream of meat, you’re gonna get crazy cravings and end up hurting somebody.”

“Yeah,” Kyler chimed in.” The kind of supplements you’d need would be stupidly expensive, and the zombie virus really makes people crave human meat specifically. We’ve thought it all through, man.”

Conner closed his eyes, trying to wrap his head around all this information. “You guys really have thought this through, huh… Wait, how long did this take to set up? How long have I been out?””
“Uh,” Kyler counted on his fingers. “About… 9 days?”

“9 days?!” Conner bellowed.

“Shhhhh! Not so loud!” Kyler hissed.

“Sorry. But, nine days! Why?”

“Well, we had to keep you sedated for a while, to see how quickly you were zombifying.” Sean said. “Then we had to start working here, buy some chain in case you went crazy when you woke up, et cetera.”

Conner breathed deeply. “Okay, so what, we just keep me locked up in forever? What’s our endgame, here? What about my… wife… Oh god, what did you guys tell Haley??”

“That we’re camping for a bit, not gonna have cell service.” Kyler said. “Look, we only have to keep you here until we find a cure, and we’ll tell Haley the truth once we know that you’re not gonna go nuts and try to kill her when she visits.”

“And, don’t think of it as being locked up, man. We’ll take that chain off when we know everything is cool, and you’ll get to live here! We’ll bring your TV and your Xbox, we’ll host D&D nights here after hours, and we can pick up anything else you want,” Sean said, attempting to be reassuring. “We’ll make it fun!”

“Now,” Kyler said, standing up. He walked to another freezer and pulled it open. There was a pale body inside with a small cooler at its feet. He opened it and pulled out 3 beers. “Who wants a cold one?”

Sometimes I write because I’m motivated, sometimes I write because I have nothing else left please read it please oh god I’m so lonely