Asphalt, Ash, and Adrenaline Fumes
You wouldn't believe half the stuff I've seen. If I told you, you’d probably think I’m pulling your leg. But I've seen it all.
Take for example the time I came across a transvestite zombie wearing a far too tight blue Tommy Hilfiger one piece, bright red heels, and a frizzy yellow wig which in no way matched the four a.m. stubble on his face. Or the time I ran across an army of undead clowns, escaped from a circus gone to hell and back again. If clowns unnerve you, try a whole army of blood soaked, twice mutilated, murky painted mimes with red grinning faces and even redder teeth and an appetite for flesh.
Now, today was another one of those kind of days. Hell, it's embarrassing to even talk about it. Cutting across town, and tired of taking the long way around, I decided to take a shortcut through the old abandoned postal office. Only, I had made a horrible mistake. You see, it wasn't the postal office I had wondered into. Rather, it was an inner city primary school.
Imagine my horror when I entered into the den of a pack of starving cannibal tots, all of them falling into the aforementioned category of D-biters. For some reason the little one’s don’t get stiff. They’re fast. Vicious. And most certainly lethal.
So there I was, sprinting like I was gunning for that red tape, hurdling desks and tables and what not, until I made it to the large windows and, well, let's just say it wasn't my most graceful moment. Desperate to get out alive, I cannon-balled through the glass window, getting lacerated in the process. To make matters worse, I overshot the goddamn fire escape. It didn't help I was on the sixth floor either.
Six stories and half a second later, I hit the pavement with a bone shattering thud. The air was knocked out of me and the only thing I heard were my own bones crunching under the weight of my body. Immobilized, I waited for my body to heal itself. That’s one of the perks of being immune to the Resurrection virus. Instead of getting undead we get better. An ironic twist of fate in what many consider to be an unthinkable curse. A curse of being destined to forever be alive in a world of living dead.
It doesn't mean we can’t die. Take our heads off or put a bullet between our eyes and we drop like any regular ole zombie. Not being immortal is a huge relief, believe you me, but we’re pretty damn impervious to most anything else you might throw at us.
But don’t think being immune is all sunshine and walks in the park. I may be immune to the virus but that doesn't mean it’s not inside me. I am contaminated, tainted by the Resurrection virus, and I can still infect others. I'm a carrier. Instead of turning into the undead however, the virus somehow speeds up my immune system, including my metabolism, and my ability to heal. The hard part is ignoring all the goddamn pain. I might heal fast, but I still feel every sharp twinge and every bone shattering blow. Sometimes the pain is so intense that I feel like puking out my fucking guts. Ever experience pain like that?
But here’s my dirty little secret … I relish it. The pain is real. It’s the ever constant reminder that I’m still kicking. Alive.
So there I was, lying dazed and confused amid a smattering of broken glass. Suddenly it started raining children. Many of them splattered. Their entire bodies exploding like wet water balloons. Others felt the crunch, like I did. The problem was this, the ones that didn't pop didn't die, and so here I was, dragging my paraplegic ass across sharp asphalt. My legs got shredded in the process. By the time I made it half a block my thighs looked like hamburger meat.
Behind me, inching toward me at an aggravatingly persistent pace, the hungry mouths of a dozen or so undead primary schoolers. And don’t you dare think about giving up. If one of them latches on, they’re harder to shake off than a goddamn leach.
Once, about two years ago, I was pinned down by an sniper trying to collect on a hit put out by a rival gang. The only way I could get out was by blowing through the floor and falling down to the room directly beneath. I had landed in a daycare for preschoolers and emerging from the rubble, I suddenly discovered I had three of the leaches draining the life from me. The poor things were too small to chew, as they were turned before their jaw muscles could fully develop, so they bit in and just began suckling the crimson stuff from my veins. I tried to pry them off, but weakened by the blast and the subsequent blood loss, I had no choice but to dispatch with the creatures.
Some days I pity the parents who are still out there looking for their lost children, hoping against hope they are, somehow, alive and well. But whatever remains of this world, one thing is for certain, such hopes amount to little more than pipe-dreams. Sometimes you have to wake up and face reality head on.
Which brings me back to the pain. The pain of living. The pain of life pulsing through your veins. Every throbbing reminder telling you that the moment the pain ceases so does your existence. And if you’re one of the lucky ones, you stay dead.
In the fallout of the Resurrection virus, many opted out of the living nightmare by taking their own lives. I'd be lying if I said I didn't envy them. See, the thing with pain is, if it doesn't go away you wish for nothing more than death. You wish for escape. At some point the pain has to let up. It just has to, because if it doesn't then it’s no longer a state of pain—it’s a state of existence--one of perpetual misery.
Truthfully, I don’t blame those who opted to take the easy way out. How could I? When things get tough and it doesn't seem like there's any way out, just like earlier today when my legs were shot, and I’m scraping along the pavement leaving a blood trail so that everything within a two block radius could smell that delectable copper scent of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, those are the times where a quick and easy out seems like a good call.
By about a block, yeah, one measly block, I realized there was no way in hell I was going to be able to fend off the growing numbers of undead I was attracting. Not in my condition. So I looked for a way out. Easy. Hard. It didn't matter.
That's when I looked up and there it was!
About three meters away sat a larger tanker truck. So I crawled my way to it, but my kneecaps had turned to mush, so using the sheath of my sword as a makeshift crutch, I was able to prop myself up just high enough to undo the cap. Then, I crashed back down under the pouring waterfall of gasoline, leaned against the massive tire, and lit myself a cigarette.
I don’t need to tell you how shocked I was when I woke up. Two white eyes looking out of the charcoal cinder of what used to be a human being. Gasping for air I sat up, brushed the ash off my face, and looked around at the destruction I had left in my wake. It was a miracle I hadn't blown myself into smithereens, but apparently it has something to do with being at the epicenter of a rather large explosion. The oxygen gets sucked out as the plumes of flame expand out all around you, creating a nice little nucleus to hide inside. But that brief moment at the epicenter of the blast seems like an eternity in hell—and then there is that unfathomable pain which registers just after you become aware that your skin and muscles are melting right off your bones. It’s not the sort of pain I’d wish on anyone.
I don’t know how long I was out for, but when I came to the horde which was slowly creeping up on me had been completely decimated. Burnt up. Nothing of them remained but the blackened residue of their bodies—ghostly shadows singed onto the surrounding scenery. It would almost be tragic if it wasn't for that fact that they were mindless monsters without souls.
A flood of adrenaline rushed over me and I sprang to my feet. Luckily, the blast pushed me back onto my sword, and my body shielded it from the bulk of the blast. It’s one of the few times I've felt… I dunno… like something or someone was watching out for me.
At any rate, I picked up my sword and took a few wobbly steps before finding my legs. My muscles burned as they continued to heel, but a few minutes of getting my heart rate up and suddenly the dark charcoal began to fall off me in large black flakes. Shedding my scorched husk I emerged a pristine white figure. I also happened to be stark naked.
Now, to be completely honest, on a typical day I wouldn't be caught dead strolling around in my birthday suit, but on that day it didn't bother me that I didn't have a thread to bare. I felt right at home in my skin. Probably for the first time in my whole bloddy life. But I knew I would have to find something in the way of clothing, and so I strolled up the empty street for several blocks looking for a department store. That’s when I came across the student outlet store, one of the many places in this sprawling city that sells school uniforms for high school kids. Or, at least they used to. Now they’re just stockpiles for countless unused uniforms, and seeing as how I go through one per day on average, I had no choice but to use my katana to cut the chain off of the door.
Picking out a navy blue and green plaid skirt, a white blouse, and a sash with a matching clip-on ribbon, I used a handkerchief to wipe away any unwanted soot and then dressed. It felt good to be back in my trademark look, and I couldn't help but stop to gaze at myself in the dressing room mirror.
It’s a strange thing. One day you’re starving, and looking for anything you can get your hands on to eat, and the next day you’re worried about whether or not your fat ass will still fit into your old schoolgirl uniform. Sometimes I think I’m losing my mind. But I guess surviving the zombie apocalypse does that to a girl.
You’ll be pleased to know that this twenty-one year old still fits into her old high school uniform. Sure, it probably sounds silly to you, but I literally let out a huge sigh of relief. I know what you must be thinking, who entertains worries about watching weight at the end of the world? Little victories like this count though. Especially when it seems you’re losing the war on every other front. Besides this, what can I say, old habits die hard, and certain ones stubbornly stick with you. Which reminds me, I’m out of cigarettes.
My name is Saeko Sakaguchi, but the world knows me as Princess Gangster. Some people pray to me thinking I’ll be their salvation while others flee from my sight as if I was the devil incarnate. But regardless of whether you think I’m a tyrant or a saint, everyone can agree on one thing, I’m not to be trifled with.
If you’re reading this, count yourself among the lucky ones. If I'm alive next week, I'll do my best to find the time to write another entry. This whole keeping a diary thing is starting to grow on me.
***September 5, 2019 (Z.E.)
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Tristan Vick is the author of the Bitten Resurrection virus saga as well as the quirky pulp novel The Scarecrow & Lady Kingston: Rough Justice. Princess Gangster is his Resurrection virus spin-off webserial based on the lead character from Bitten 2: Land of the Rising Dead.