Wednesday February 13, 2013
No one saw this coming… this confluence of factors, both malignant and benign, a brutal twisting of honest intentions at the hands of the ignorant.
I used to be a big zombie buff. I had it all… the “survival guide”, comics, video games, novels, and “emergency” camping gear. It was all a fantasy, an escape, a joke, a parody of a mindless world. If someone told me then the things I have seen today, I’d die laughing… but really, it’s far from funny.
It was in a Winter Springs Starbucks, as I was grabbing my usual grande iced hazelnut latte with skim, when I first realized the impossible, was possible. It was there I stood, standing in line, wallet in hand, casually dressed in a pair of khakis, and a rolled up long sleeve button up, when I shit myself in fear at the sight of my first zombie.
“Your total comes to $6.95.” The clerk staring across from me with vacant eyes mumbles monotone… like droll robot, dressed in a people suit. I answer in kind with an automated swipe of the credit card, and earn but a flicker of a smile, one lip upturned almost in a snear as she offers the archetypal vocal receipt… “Thank you, have a good day.”
In my world, everyone is an actor. I muse on this as I give a curt nod of reciprocity and start lumbering over to the pickup line.
There are five people ahead of me, but I don’t mind. I’m half asleep… and all I can think about is the delicious aroma of fresh espresso wafting from the grinders and coffee presses. My stomach grumbles, and I begin to regret not adding that moist looking pumpkin loaf to my order. I should have followed my instincts with that one… they are rarely wrong. But I never learn. Doubt… it is as much a part of me as anything.
My reverie is interrupted by a low guttural swear from the man in front of me. He drags his meaty hands through his greasy bed of hair in aggravation and, holy shit, he reeks of pungent body odor.
I take a step back, not that space can help battle that choking stench and accidentally bump into a little old lady standing to close behind me. I turn around to apologize and answer her disconcerted, embarrassed look with a genuine smile that says, “really, I am sorry”, and I squeak out a pathetic “Excuse me”.
Suddenly body odor man in front reals around to face me, a face red and puffy with rage like someone just slapped him and he roars “what the fuck you sorry about?!”. I am a bit stunned by this turn of events, to say the least, and with a baffled grin I look around to see that everyone is gawking, the Starbucks din grinding to a halt, filling the room with vacuous silence broken only by the man’s ragged gasp as he prepares his rant anew.
All I can manage is a stutter as he rages on, spittle flying, “I’ve been standing in line three fucking hours and you’re fucking sorry!”
My nerves are on edge and I am stuttering some ineffectual apology but I have enough wits about me to know this one has gone over the edge… and then I notice the fact about this man… his roaring now falling on absent ears, the hairs on my arms and legs, hackles rising in instinctual fear as I realize his pupils are completely dilated.
Inside I see not a human, but a monster.
I turn and try to run as I see him reaching out, jaws wide as every semblance of humanity departs that stinking shell… It is not the teeth tearing my flesh that brings me down into this gut wrenching moment of visceral reality… I’m to much in shock to feel that burning pain. It’s the screams, blood curdling cacophony of screams as I draw my last breath.
The impossible is possible.