“Don’t Shoot the Zombies” & “My Paper Man” (cont. next tabs)

Don’t Shoot the Zombies
By Z. A. Crum

The Day the World Went to Shit

Outside, the world slumped under a depressingly determined gray sky. The twenty story apartment, of which Terrance owned one unit of, remained unperturbed by the weather outside. To Terrance, who sat in his underwear on a threadbare couch, the temperature remained at a constant eighty-eight degrees.
The window fan he had bought four years ago in a futile attempt to cool down the apartment lay in a rusted heap near the window. It now held his dirty laundry. He pulled himself off the couch and headed over to the window. The air could do him good, he thought, and seeing Amy would make it even better.
Amy lived directly across from Terrance in an adjacent apartment building. Once Terrance had stretched a tape measure across the gap.
“Twenty feet.” He’d told her, laughing. He thought it might be illegal. It seemed like the kind of thing a building inspection should have noticed. One Saturday he decided to go give the city’s building department a piece of his mind about the whole thing. Amy went with him to the building department, only to find that the city didn’t work on the weekends.
Fortunately the day ended up not being a total wash. The movie theater stood across from the city hall and they saw a rousing comedy which left them in stitches.
He leaned on his own window sill, trying to get a better vantage of Amy’s apartment, when he saw the creep crawling down the wall.
“Holy shit. Hey, hey, Amy!” He yelled, grabbing his brother’s hockey stick from the corner. He twirled it once, then stretched out the window to knock the man off the wall. “Hey, Asshole!”
The man twitched, looked out towards Terrance and screeched “Fattoad!” before launching himself across the gap between apartments.
The man, who, now that he stood in Terrance’s apartment, looked more like a car wreck victim than anything. “Dude. Dude, are you okay?”
“Brains!” The man moaned. Terrance raised the hockey stick. He understood what that meant.
“Fucking zombies! In my goddamn apartment!” With one good kick and a swipe of the hockey stick, he shoved the zombie out of his window.
As it fell it yelled, “Fattoad!”
It landed with a sickening thud. Voices began yelling. Terrance closed his window. He wasn’t sure if the cops would believe his story of a zombie attack. Yet, he kind of felt obligated to tell someone. The phone sat on the kitchen counter, an old rotary dial phone. Unfortunately it rarely worked, so he dialed Amy on his cellphone.
Ring! Ring!
“Hello? Christ Terrance, is that you?”
“Amy! Thank God I got ahold of you.”
“Terrance, I’m trying to sleep. Was that you making all that noise outside.”
“No. Well, yes. But listen, I just killed a zombie!”
“Wonderful. Don’t you kill zombies like every weekend?”
“Come on Amy, I mean a real life fucking zombie. It jumped through my window.”
“Right, listen I’m going to go back to sleep. Thanks for being an asshole.”
Click. Silence. Buzz.
“Shit.” Downstairs, the voices had dropped to a low drone. In the distance came the sound of a police siren. “Oh man, this isn’t good.”
Terrance realized that today might be a good day to go to work. He grabbed his pants and, hopping on one leg as he pulled them on, headed towards the front door.

The bell rang as he stumbled into the movie rental store. In the back, two customers blubbered on about the fine nuances of Season Two versus Season Three.
“Get the Fuck out, bitches!” They looked around, confused, their civilized barrier suddenly popped like a sixteen year old cherry. They zeroed in on Terrance, giving him a simultaneously hurt and critical look. “Christ, there’s goddamn zombies running around. Get out!”
“Stevie, hey Stevie.” Stevie, Terrance’s best friend in the whole world, looked at him skeptically between a messy mop of hair. He was Jewish, a point he made to fight with his parents over every other day.
“Terrance, thanks for scaring away the yuppies. I almost lost my mind. I swear, it’s the twenty-first century and these morons wait until they get to the store before realizing they have no goddamn idea what movie they want to watch. It’s called the goddamn internet, for Christ’s sake.”
“Yeah, yeah. Thanks for the synopsis. But seriously, there was a zombie in my apartment.”
Stevie gave him a critical look, furrowed his brow and opened his mouth to chastise his friend. Just as quickly he closed his mouth, shrugged and said, “Okay. Let’s go.”

The police had surrounded the twenty foot entrance to the five hundred foot alley with yellow caution tape. A small crowd had grown around the scene of the crime. Terrance noticed the gay couple from down the hall. No one noticed as Terrance and Stevie mingled into the crowd. Two police officers were pointing at the two two buildings.
“Seriously, how does one get a permit to build two apartment complexes twenty feet across from each other.” The handsome one said. Terrance looked over at Stevie.
“See, that’s what I’ve been saying.” Said Terrance.
“It can’t be that big of a deal, Mike.” This came from the fat cop. He was eating a donut as he scanned from one building to the other, then back again. Neither one paid any attention to the body, now hidden under a tasteful florescent yellow tarp. “I mean, it’s the economy, right?”
“No, Bill, it’s not.” Behind the cops, the tarp began to stir. A couple of the bystanders began moving slowly away.
“See, jackass, I told you it was a zombie.” Terrance whispered. The tarp moves a little more, revealing a bruised hand. Finger nails tapped silently on the asphalt. “Son, I think it’s time to get going.”
“No shit, bro, this place is about to get all kinds of fucked up.” As they slid towards the entrance to Terrance’’s apartment building, he noticed their superintendant, Spencer.
“Spencer, hey dude.” Terrance whispered, grabbing the guy by the coat sleeve. He dragged him along as he spoke. “You do not want to be here. Seriously.”

On the walls of Spencer’s office hung over a dozen awards, mostly for things Spencer had “accomplished” before middle school. As Terrance shoved him into his office, he brushed off his coat and grabbed a can of polishing spray and a rag.
“I’m not sure what the big deal is, guys.” He said as he sprayed the tops of his awards. “It’s just a dead guy. We get one, what, every two weeks or so.”
Terrance rolled his eyes at Spencer’s exaggeration. They got a dead once a month, tops. Spencer continued his award cleaning, taking the time to bend over slightly and eye the level on each one.
“Listen, that guy twitching on the ground. He crawled across the fucking wall before jumping into my window. You don’t learn that shit in continuation school, bro.”
“I think you should listen to Terrance, Spencer, he’s a smart guy.” Stevie said. Terrance nodded happily, not noticing the subtle layer of sarcasm. Spencer sighed, dropped the can halfway as though he might stop polishing his trophies. Terrance didn’t buy it.
“Okay. There’s one zombie in the parking lot. I mean, that’s not that big of a deal. We’ve got two police officers outside with weapons. What’s the worse that could-”
“Ahhhhhh!!!” Came the scream from outside the office window.
“Oh God Mike, where’s your leg?” Even Terrance could tell this was the fat cop freaking out.
“Ugh, oh man. Bill? Bill!”
“Yeah boss?”
“Go get my goddamn leg from that goddamn zombie!”
Terrance jumped up and yelled, “He’s back!”

Copywrite 2012 Z.A. Crum

My Paper Man

Z. A. Crum

Chapter 1

He sat in the lobby, nervous, like a little kid in the Principal’s office. Time passed, an assistant walked out with a boxed lunch in her hands. Robbie gave her an awkward smile. She returned a genuine smile before disappearing through the exit. His mother stood at the counter discussing one of the forms she had been given.
He flipped through a magazine on traveling, intrigued at the many places he had never heard of. He tapped at one article, noticed a mountain retreat his family had once visited.
The door opened and the head of the facility smiled, nodding for him to come in. He glanced at his mother, who merely shooed him on. The lady led him down a narrow hallway and through one of a series of doors. Inside, the lights had been dimmed. A wall sized window looked into a sterile chamber. A bench, the kind one might lie on to get an exam, sat squarely in the center of the chamber. Sitting calmly on the bench was his paper man.
The creature rustled slightly, fidgeted for a second before returning to his calm posture. The head of the facility patted him on the shoulder before entering the chamber. Robbie assumed the window was one way glass, and his paper man saw only his reflection.
On the other side of the window she had entered and begun speaking softly to the creature. She knelt on one knee and softly cradled its thin hands in hers. She asked him several questions, watching intently as the paper man responded.
Various displays stood on a table in the corner, showing readings, graphs and an outline of the paper man.
An orderly stepped in, saw him standing there, and gave him a pitying smile. He was used to it. Had been for more than a year now.
His paper man nodded once at the nurse and then turned towards the window, as though he saw Ronnie in the dark observation room. The creature, its head made of a flat rectangular coarse paper-like material, looked out with semi human expressions. Two eyes, flat, draw on. One nose and one mouth, flat. Stylized hair at the top, like a quick doodle done with a calligraphy pen.
Once his paper man could keep his balance, he walked slowly into the room.
“Robbie, meet your paper man. We’ve been talking and he seems ready to shadow you now.” She gave him a profession smile, while his paper man stood near the door, watching him warily.
Robert nodded, bowed to the exit.
His paper man smiled, thin and without teeth, almost like a cartoon.
“Would you like to open the door?” She asked. Her question was for his paper man, obviously. It nodded, wavered slightly, still unused to walking. It paused as it neared the door. One of it’s hands came up, a flat simple shape like a cooking mitten. With a slight rustle it grasped the handle and turned, opening the door.
They met his mother in the lobby. She was sitting in a lobby chair with a book held indifferently in her lap. At first, she ignored them, lost in whatever world she had created for herself to get her through these tough times. Seconds past before her eyes flickered in Robbie’s direction. She gave him a half smile, probably the best she could manage, then saw his paper man. Her smile faded, replaced by a mild revulsion.
She hid it quickly, but Robbie saw his paper man slump slightly. Not a good sign, in his own opinion.
“Let’s go Robbie.” She glanced over at his paper man. “And bring your paper man with you.”