“All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.”
“The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they are okay, then it’s you.”
Rita Mae Brown
The undead shuffled steadily down the streets of the small town from every direction. A pale crowd that merged and flowed forward sweeping between the long abandoned cars and trucks drawn by the sound of a running motor and music that some instinct told them meant food. .
The outriders of the horde reached a ramp that vibrated under their feet as they staggered up towards the music and into the doorway at the top, instantly the mechanical noise changed, and a deep ripping sound filled the air.
Amos stood at the window watching the red gore and that erupted from the Chute that stuck up into the air behind the box . Bathing the area behind his trap in an ocean of blood, bone and scraps of meat. It had taken him a week to set up this trap, most of the time was spent hiding while undead wandered through. . But it was paying off, he thought as watched the zombies climb up into the box that covered the industrial wood chipper.
Zombie after zombie staggered up and into the box, minutes ticked by, the crowd hadn’t really started to thin when the spinning blades stopped with a squeal and the chipper overloaded and shut down.
Damn it’ he thought annoyed at the situation, must have gotten jammed. I’m going to have to wait till those things wander off to go unjam it and start it back up. Probably have to wait till next week. Maybe my steam roller plan would be better, assuming I can find a steam roller. Which was the biggest flaw in an otherwise brilliant plan.
“last weeks safe dropping and bowling for zombies event was fun but it just didn’t kill enough of them at once.” He said aloud. And it takes to long to wench a safe back up and into position to drop it more than two or three times. At least I didn’t go for the piano that would have sucked to wench into position.
“What I need is a better and safer way to kill those things in large numbers, or Ill never get this town cleared” he said aloud. That there was no one to listen didn’t seem to register with him.
I’m hungry and a can of soup sounds good. Maybe once I’ve eaten I can come up with a better plan. . The wood chipper idea had taken a while to build, and screwing the box together by hand had been a long and laborious job and the chipper should have run longer before jamming, but I think I might have gotten a hundred maybe even two hundred of the things today, which leaves only 1900 or so more in town.
That he was going insane wasn’t really a question, he was pretty sure he was a few bats short of a belfry. But he had always been a tinkerer with a twisted sense of humor and a touch of OCD that drove friends and family nuts.
So when he had decided to rid the town of his undead neighbors his OCD pushed him to complete that task and that brought his other two dubious assets into play. his tastes for dispatching zombies did tend to turn towards the ACME school of zombie and Road Runner slaying, when he wasn’t stealing ideas from old movies.
He wandered into the kitchen lost in thought, “maybe Ill run across another survivor” he said as he opened the can of soup and looked up to see his buddy sitting on the fridge watching him. “no you don’t think so, well to be honest neither do I. or if I do it will be another guy” Ratty was probably the largest Rat he had ever seen, and Ratty had a fixation with Oreos. Which is how they had met, Amos had chased Ratty around a store trying get the package of Oreos the rat was dragging.
Ratty had escaped of course, but had left behind the package of cookies since they wouldn’t fit in the hole, an over sized hole granted, but still to small for a package of Oreo’s. “if you had liked Little Debbie snack cakes, we would never have met” Amos told Ratty who only sat there washing his paws, his beady eyes never leaving Amos. His disgust at the thought of Little Debbie was pretty obvious.
“And you could have told me that acting like one of them wouldn’t work, Im still pissed you let me look like an idiot and almost got me killed. Staggering around, bumping into shit like that Drunk Walter Chisom what a waste of time.” Amos said as he opened the can that held the cookies and tossed one up to Ratty who grabbed it off the top of the fridge and started eating, holding the cookie in its little rat hands.
That particular experiment had been inspired by a movie he had once seen, some british guy and his friends had pretended to be zombies to get to a Bar, It had been pretty funny but it hadn’t worked in real life. Maybe Im not just that good of an actor, they had an actor show them how to do it in the movie.
Well what ever the reason, it hadn’t worked and his strapping chainsaws to the front of his old truck hadn’t worked either. He had tried just running the undead down after that, but ended up with a zombie stuck in the wheel well half wrapped around the swing arm, and had to leave his truck on the side of the road. The zombie was still stuck there actually. I guess one day I will have to go back and kill it and so I can cut it out of the wheel well.
I wonder if people that had OCD in life still have it now that they are zombies, he asked himself switching topics, and then chuckled at the thought of irritated zombies following a horde trying to straighten pictures, neatly arrange trash and tapping posts to keep count. Maybe they refuse to eat people with out symmetrical features or cant attack people in homes with odd numbered addresses. He sat there for almost an hour amusing himself with all the ways a Zombie with OCD would act, ignoring the fact he was constantly doing a triple tap on the table with his finger.
For as long as he could remember he’d had a thing for three’s he never had figured out why, but he did, his compulsions weren’t usually as bad as those of other people, usually he could control his compulsion to straighten stuff to get it into just that right order.
He could stop the tapping when outside, and danger seemed to help him control it. But there were times odd things would set him off even when zombies were around, like that sword he had seen last week, after he had seen it laying on the street. he had seen it in his dreams, even day dreams constantly, feeling the need to go get it.
There had been that book, the monster encyclopedia that had driven him nuts till he had finally risked life and limb to get it out of the book store near the hospital.
But his compulsion for threes was almost different, he would, when safe constantly tap his finger in patterns of threes, or his foot. He would draw three number threes on paper, or sometimes he would find himself doodling a sword, a book and a pen, over and over. He woke up at 3 am every night and be unable to go back to sleep till 4.
Sometimes he would find himself placing three things together on shelves or the table. And most weirdly and not really his doing he had woken up one night at 3 am and found three zombies standing outside his house just staring up at the moon.
“You think its funny don’t you, I bet rats don’t have OCD, unless its for cheese and Oreo’s” Amos said looking up but Ratty was gone from the fridge top. Probably has a family to get home to. Maybe little Ratty Jr. has football practice. He Knew Ratty would return he always did.
“lucky for you I don’t have a Cat,” Amos said to the empty room.
He spent the rest of the day checking his defenses and then sat down to work on a new plan to rid the town of zombies.
The sun was barely over the rim of the world casting golden dawn light across the town, when Amos woke and found Ratty laying on the pillow beside him. “Guess Mrs. Ratty tossed you out huh” Amos said as he sat up and yawned. Ratty opened a beady eye and watched him for a moment then went back to sleep.
“you had better not have licked my lips while I was asleep or I swear I will get a cat” Amos said then climbed out of bed and walked yawning to the bathroom. By the time he returned, Ratty was gone. “I bet he is waiting on top of the fridge” Amos muttered as he headed to the kitchen to fix breakfast which this morning was going to be stale hard bagel, a can of tomato soup and crackers, which may or may not be stale.
He was almost done heating the soup on the camp stove when Ratty appeared on top of the fridge. Amos tossed him a cookie and went back to stirring.
“you know with out you being around I would have really gone nuts, not just the minor nuts I am now, but really nuts like talking to soccer balls named Wilson and trying to figure out how to build a rocket to get to the moon to get some moon cheese kinda of nuts.” Amos said.
He poured the soup into a bowl and placed it on the tray with the rest of his breakfast and carried it into the living room where he sat down in front of the TV. A picture of Jennifer Love Hewitt in a skimpy dress had been taped on the screen.
“best Tv show around and no commercial breaks” Amos said smiling, he occasionally changed the picture, there was one picture he really liked with her in a bra and panties, she had such an awesome body and looked so sweet. Probably got eaten too, but I refuse to consider that. Other people might worry that he was or is a stalker he wasn’t, truth was if he had ever met her he would have turned and walked away, to shy to actually say a word and would have avoided her like the plague afterwards feeling stupid for running away. But that would only happen to Jennifer, with regular women that had never been a problem, till the dead had shown up, he hadn’t done to bad in that department.
“Hell I’m 36, got a full head of brown hair, Im handsome and in shape. Well mostly. The beer gut is almost gone so Im technically in better shape then I have been since I was a kid. Except I’m nuts now. Which really sucks Ratty.” Amos said. They used to say the insane didn’t know they were insane, well he was here to tell them sometimes you do know your nuts, you just cant seem to stop it. .
He finished eating and cleaned up then decided to see if he could slip out, he felt like heading outside of town to the farm to do a bit of shopping he knew where an excellent garden was, even gone wild there was always strawberries and a bunch of other Veggies he liked growing there. His one attempt at gardening had ended when he couldn’t get the rows to be perfectly straight.
He dressed in his going out clothes, jeans, boots, a tshirt, chaps and a welders coat. Zombies couldn’t bite through the chaps or the welders coat so he liked to wear them even though they were hot as hell this time of year. He left Mr. Ratty two cookies in case he didn’t make it back tonight. “If I don’t come back Ratty, I leave everything to you.”
He climbed up to the roof, and then being very careful not to be seen or heard he crossed to the next roof. The nice thing about living downtown or in the center of town really since this wasn’t a big city, was that you could walk a whole block by using the roofs and never have to touch the ground till you reached the street between blocks. .
At the street he peeked over the roof edge and saw very few zombies here, most of the zombies in town were still around the wood chipper, just standing around hoping the music would start back up again so they could march to their mulchy doom.
He waited till there were no zombie close by, or looking his way then slid down the pole beside the building to the street where he grabbed the scooter he kept there. As soon as it started the little two cycle motor drew attention but he was already speeding away, the scooter reaching its top speed of fifty quickly as he wove around the undead keeping just out of arms reach.
Soon he was riding down a tree lined street on the edge of town, passing scattered mobile homes and squat sixties style brick homes, the smell of grass and gas in the air. Passing the last trailer, he drove the scooter into the brush and parked it. Then stood there watching as the chubby zombie kids that had been playing in the dirt crawled towards him. he waved then started walking through the woods.
Reaching the creek that he had dubbed Amos’s creek, he followed the rocky bed for three miles before climbing out of the tree shaded channel where a willow leaned over the creek.
The Bulbinger house, what the hell kind of name was Bulbinger anyway he asked himself sat in the middle of sixty acres, the family garden had once covered only an acre or so, but now it had actually spread to cover almost three.
Mrs. Bulbringer was inside, and she always came to the window when he visited the garden. He had met her a couple of times when she had been alive, and she had been a hard faced woman who rarely smiled but was always well dressed, now she didn’t have much of a face and her clothes were ruined. At least she still didn’t smile that probably made her happy. He waved then grimaced he really shouldn’t tease her, I wonder if it’s a rule that the food cant play with the eater.
He got a basket out of the small barn and then walked through the garden picking what he wanted and placing it in the basket. His mind already plotting his next big Kill the town project. He rose from picking strawberry’s and froze seeing the massive Combine that Mr. Bulbringer had used around the land he grew cash crops and hay on.
The idea that sprang into his mind was no more preposterous than the wood chipper, but would it actually work, still carrying the basket he walked over to the combine and walked around it. Like most Farmers Bulbringer had his own gas tank for his farm equipment, and the combine though dusty looked to be in working order.
He started grinning at his plan, others might call it madness. Most would call it sick, but he loved it. He began to hum “farmer in the Dale” as he worked out the details in his mind.
By the time he made it home, parked his scooter and climbed the rope ladder to the roof, most of the undead had left the area. Which was fine by him he didn’t feel like dealing with them today anyway. He had far to much to do to get ready and the undead were only going to be a pain in the ass if he had to deal with them while he was working.
He ate a quick dinner, making sure he left out a cookie for Mr. Ratty then went to bed to tired to stay up and watch Jennifer or read. Apparently Mr. Ratty was having serious martial problems since he was on the pillow again in the morning.
“take my advice Mr. Ratty, pay attention to her hair, and new clothes, well you guys run around naked but you know what I mean, Take her out for a pedicure or something.” Amos said as he put on his going out clothes then went and fixed himself some breakfast, preferring to eat some stale count chocula cereal this morning. “ need to find a goat for some milk.” He muttered as he turned and saw Mr. Ratty sitting on the table.
“you really shouldn’t be up there Mr. Ratty, but what the hell I haven’t had company for breakfast in a while” Amos said as he dug out a cookie then sat down and held out the cookie. Mr. Ratty stared at it for a moment then snatched it out of his hand and ran to the far side of the table and started eating watching Amos in case he decided to take the cookie back. Amos ate his cereal quickly eager to get about his tasks, not really paying Mr. Ratty much attention.
When he was finished with breakfast he rose and picked up the old back pack he had found laying in the road and a CD player. Today’s zombie mix will be Earth, Wind and Fire. He decided slipping the disk into the player.
Getting off the roof was pretty easy today, not a zombie was in sight. That might last or it might not, he thought as he jogged down main street then turned and took a side street. the undead seemed to congregate on main streets who knew why but they did. Maybe they missed shopping. Finally when he was a good two miles from main street, he tied a rope to the handle of the CD player. Then tossed the rope over a power line he hitting the play button then pulled the cd player up till it was high above the street and tied off the rope a pole.
He managed to get back to Main street and into Warrens Shop Mart, an old stone building with wide and tall display windows. “We have the best Bargains in the county” a sign in the window read. Not any more he thought, every shop is offering free things these days.
He ducked into the store and hid where he could look out the windows. It took a few minutes but soon a flood of dead flesh poured past the front of the store heading towards the sound of Disco music.
He wasn’t really worried about being in the store, a zombie would have to figure out how to turn a door knob to get inside and so far they couldn’t even figure out how to change pants. Warrens was as safe a place as any, since he had cleared it of undead last years. as long as he didn’t get trapped inside life was good.
This was his favorite place to shop, there was very little here that he couldn’t use, well okay I cant use condoms right now, at least not for what they are made for, he thought sadly.
He had a couple of hours before the music stopped so he wasn’t too worried, but even still he planned on being done in here in an hour.
First he gathered more canned goods, when the cart was filled he pushed it to the door, then checked to make sure that no undead were outside before he pulled the cart out and ran down the road to his Home. his apartment was over what had once been a clothing store. The store had closed over ten years ago, the owners, now dead, had rented him the apartment for next to nothing in exchange he had acted as a security guard.
He shoved the cart into the old store, closed the door and raced back to Warrens where he gathered speaker wire, speakers, solder, electrical connectors tape, and propane tanks for hand torches. He had strapped one to a zombie once and shot it, just to see what would happen, it had turned out to not be a great zombie killing weapon. But the boom was pretty satisfying.
He scooped up a handful of CDS, two new CD players he was running low, and Batterys which were running low. “ I need to get rid of the neighbors before I run out of batteries.” He said aloud.
With the second Cart full, he pushed it down the road and got it hidden inside the store below his apartment with the first. . But as he came out the door, he saw a zombie standing in the middle of the street, the skin had been peeled off its face and arms, leaving behind only muscle,
“ I do not have time for this” Amos said as he pulled out a large stainless steel spatula that had come with a BBq pit he had scavenged last fall, there was even a serrated edge on side of the thing, it was the size of one of those military shovels soldiers carried and heavy.
He smacked skinless upside the head rocking the zombie to one side, then smacked it again. Noting that skinless had a name tag on that read Hi Im chuck. A cold hand grasped his shoulder, like a martial arts master he twisted around and even flipped breaking free of skinless, then he kicked the zombie in the nuts before slamming the spatula down on the top of its head, Skinless staggered then slowly toppled over.
“got more where that came from, Chucky. Don’t mess with a man and his spatula.” Amos said then ran on up the road to the store still amazed that he had flipped. How cool was that.
Inside he leaned against the counter and took a deep shuddering breathes then decided to get a limb trimmer from the garden section, it was just big enough to fit around most zombies necks.
Like a handsaw only better, I can hold them at a distance and still cut off their heads, well hopefully. It beat a chainsaw, not only were they loud, but heavy too. No way those sissy actors could have swung chain saws around like that in real life. Not more than once or twice before they switched to Steak knifes.
He finished his shopping quickly then grabbed a package of oatmeal raisin cookies that Mr. Ratty might like, since apparently he was moving in. Beggar rats cant be choosy, he thought as he headed for the door. Then stopped seeing four zombies standing on the side walk staring through the large windows into the store.
Sneaky bastards aren’t you, Amos thought as he left the cart where it was at and headed for the hardware section.
He eyed the sledge hammers which would be good against one zombie, the axes were better but still only good for one or two zombies at a time. His gaze fell on a Nail gun the kind that used a CO2 tank and grinned. That’s it, right there, he thought as he pulled the nail gun off the rack, picked up a tank and fitted it to the connector, then hunted around till he found nail strips.
Hardware for the win he thought as he strode towards the door, the zombies moved with him filling the doorway. He looked out the window and saw the street was still empty, so these four must have been late to the party and saw him go into the store, he decided.
He stared through the door glass at the first zombie, and realized he knew him. Mr. Winslow his first boss, “you know when you laid me off with that crap about how I should go back to school and get me an education, I bet you didn’t expect get eaten alive two weeks later.” Amos said all friendly like as he reached for the door handle.
Winslow was even slower as a Zombie than he had been in life. He stumbled into the store and Amos shoved the nail gun against Winslows forehead with a wild grin and pulled the trigger. With a clack and burst of air, the heavy nail blew through Winslows forehead. Amos danced back, thinking that this would make a great commercial, this is your brain on construction Tools.
The next zombie in was another overweight zombie, this one had been chewed on all over, and there was a lot of all over Amos thought as he pushed the nail gun up against its forehead, ignoring the hands that grasped his arm and tried to pull it down. He pulled the trigger and held it down for a second putting ten nails into the things head before it crashed to the ground.
He danced back and frowned as he saw the next zombie, Mrs. Cornnel, the hot seventh grade school teacher, Amos had actually score with her one night. Of course she had been drunk, but he still carried a couple of the pictures he had taken that night in his wallet. “hate to do this to you, but its got to be done” he muttered as he plugged her head with nails
“at least you get my point” he said then laughed, all the heroes in the movies he liked said stuff like that. Damn he thought as he realized a better line. “Nailed you again” it just wasn’t all that funny now, timing its all in the timing.
The last zombie wasn’t any one he knew in fact the dead man looked like a city guy, with his Gucci loafers and slacks, probably got eaten at the rest stop just outside of town. Amos decided as he pushed the nail gun against its forehead and pulled the trigger. Damn out of nails he said dropping the nail gun and ran back to his cart where he grabbed the limb trimmer, he pulled the lever spreading the jaws of the trimmer then ran up and shoved it around the zombies throat. The jaws closed and locked in place and as the he fought to hold the zombie in place he began to work the saw blade. .
Five minutes later he decided the trimmer wasn’t working like he had thought, every time he tried to cut he didn’t get more then two or three passes with the blade before the thing almost ripped the limb trimmer pole from his hands.
“okay have it your way,” he said as he pulled the zombie along behind him heading deeper into the store towards the hardware section and pulled out a sledge.
“try to be original, try to do something with a bit of flash but nooooooo. The dead man doesn’t want to cooperate.” Amos said as he dropped the trimmer pole and lifted the sledge hammer with both hands, he swung it with all his strength grunting at the exertion. The sledge crushed the side of the zombies skull and sent it crashing into the screw and nail section to lay still.
Amos grabbed the pole and dragged the thing back to the door way, then one by one dumped the bodies outside. “next time I go shopping, your not invited.” He said as he grabbed the cart and pushed it outside then closed the door to the store.
That night he sat playing poker with himself getting annoyed because he caught himself cheating, but decided not to push the issue, he was nuts after all. Mr. Ratty sat on the place mat beside him munching an oatmeal Raisin cookie.
“Want me to deal you in” He asked Ratty who declined with a swish of his tail.
“don’t blame you , I cheat a lot” Amos told Ratty who finished his cookie then began to clean his tail.
“tomorrow I need to get Oil, Lube, Hydraulic fluid, and a bunch of other shit” Amos told Ratty who didn’t stop cleaning his tail. “unless of course you want to run over there and push all the stuff right up to the door so all I have to do is open the door and grab it. I can write you a list” the Rat ignored him.
“someday you need to start helping me with stuff, I mean I know you’re a rat but still.” Amos said as he yawned and stood up. “ at least wash the dishes once a week”
“I bet a dog would wash Dishes” Amos said but Mr. Ratty was unmoved, no doubt he knew dogs just wiggled and drooled a lot then pissed on your favorite blanket at bedtime.
Kind of like one of my ex girlfriends that girl needed help, well I guess not any more, I doubt she gets to laughing so hard she pees her pants these days zombies don’t laugh much. He had even thought he saw her going into the chipper the other day but couldn’t be sure. Well doesn’t matter if she did or not, he decided as he yawned again. He stumbled into his room and fell into the bed, asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.
It took him a week to get things ready, He had to ferry everything out to the combine, then mount the speakers to the outside, mount the CD player, run wire, lubing parts, changing oil and doing as much as he could to make sure the combine would run fine once he started it.
Amos had already decided that he would first test the combine in the area around the Bulbringer farm, before trying to drive it into town, the last thing he wanted was to have it get jammed like the wood chipper and have to jump out in a crowd of his flesh eating neighbors to fix it.
It was early Saturday morning when the quiet countryside was disturbed by the sound of a diesel engine staring up. Undead for two miles began to head for the noise, Amos sat in the cab enjoying the air conditioning with Mr. Ratty sitting on his shoulder. “Ready, get your seat belt on” Amos said as he put the combine into gear and drove it across the field, experimenting with the controls as he went. Finally the blades began their work and he grinned as he shut them off and drove down the long driveway and out onto the road.
His smile turned into a frown as he found the road empty, “this just aint right, I cant run them down if they aren’t here.” he grumbled. well I can fix that he thought as he turned on the cd player and Tim McGraw singing “Down on the Farm“ began blare from the speakers mounted outside the cab. Amos drove for almost a mile before he spotted a rather large crowd of undead in a pasture heading towards him. He yanked the wheel and put the machine into a tight swaying turn. The combine bounced and swayed as he drove through the ditch and plowed through the fence.
“Yes, watch this Mr. Ratty” he sang out as he engaged the combine blades and aimed for the crowd of undead who began to fall like wheat before the behemoth.
He made two passes fairly happy with his work and as he was heading back for the road, leaving red ruin and gore behind him he spotted a tubby zombie in a flowery dress in the middle of the road, only parts of her three chins still dangled and her hair looked like a badger had been denning in it.
He was singing along to the music really enjoying old Tim, who was probably one of the walking dead too, he hoped not the man could sing. He aimed the combine straight at Tubby who came towards him her arms reaching out to embrace the combine.
Tubby vanished under the snapping blades. “Yes, take that” he said then chortled as he turned back towards the Bulbringer farm. Turning into the driveway he dug an Oreo out and passed it to Mr. Ratty who didn’t seem to impressed with the days work.
“ I think tomorrow we are going to try out the hay bailer.” Amos said as he parked the Combine beside the fuel tank.