Old Wives’ Tale
After the movie Jaws was release all the beaches across America emptied out of a newborn paranoia felt by people believing that every inch of shoreline had been infested by giant great white sharks. Old wives’ tales of sharks smelling the blood of menstruating young women began to circulate, and soon the beaches looked like something out of the desolate opening of Planet of the Apes—without a person in sight.
Now, I wasn’t even born yet when either of those movies came out, but I remember my dad watching them before the Zombie Era, and I know such stories can be extremely powerful. They tap into the darkest parts of our psyche and play our own fears against us. Most of the time, however, such wives’ tales prove to be nothing but farce and fiction, stories exaggerated and blown out of proportion, turned into urban legend as years of repetition have solidified only the most basic and potent elements of the myth. Most of the time you don’t even buy into them but simply go along with it all so that you can join in having a laugh at the expense of the gullible and the credulous. Later on we can all look back at such tall tales and laugh it all off as a bit of harmless naïveté.
But post Z.E., there is one wives’ tale that is deadly true—zombies do smell blood. And just my luck, I started my period.
Which sucks for me, seeing as I’m trapped up on this billboard with a throng of pallid faces looking up at me with whitewashed eyes. Their hungry moans betray their intent, and I can’t help but laugh at the fact that being a girl in today’s world is no easier than the last. Everyone still wants to chew you up and spit you out.
Lucky for you though, because being stuck up here gives me more than enough time to write in this diary. The problem is, now that I’ve begun, I don’t really know what to say. So I guess I’ll just start with today’s events so far.
It may not be lady like—whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean—but I’ve already taken a couple bloody pisses on the congregation of stupid moaning heads down below. It doesn’t seem to do much to quench their insatiable thirst for blood however. Still, it’s the thought that counts, right? Besides, when you gotta go, you gotta go. And it’s not like I can just climb down and find the nearest restroom.
Scrambling up here may not have been the wisest idea. But it was either this or take my chances cutting through downtown, with every biter in the city chasing after my ass. It makes one wonder, how many girls hid themselves away, only to be unaware of the fact that they were like a bright glowing flame to a moth, but instead of a moth, it was a mouth, and that mouth was attached to one of the living dead.
Somehow, being on the outskirts of town just seemed like a better choice for this time of month. Either that or stay holed up somewhere with a candles and incense. That usually masks the faint coppery scent of blood. But I can handle myself if push comes to shove, and well, I was doing just fine until this morning.
By noon I had sixty or so deadheads trailing after me. So I headed for the bridge I use when I want to cross the river, cut back to a secondary bridge, and ditch the whole lot of them, leaving them confused as they stumble to the other side while I back track around. The thing is though, the bridge I needed to use had unexpectedly been demolished. And I bet I know who I can thank for that—Takahiro and his band of little terrorists.
That’s politics for you. A bunch of treachery, lies, and strategic backstabbing. I know what Takahiro’s clan of Banjin are up to. They’re trying to bottleneck my organization by cutting off all access points to the city. If they can take out key bridges and tunnels, then they could effectively gain control over the main trade routes, and I’d have no choice but to deal with them. They could cripple my empire.
Today’s mission was simple enough. Head out and scout around for any signs of the rebels or any further misdeeds on their part. Of course, today’s incident began with the third bridge we’ve found out of service in just as many weeks. As you can imagine, I’m beginning to regret my choice of letting Takahiro run free. He’s proving to be a much more capable pain in my ass then I initially anticipated.
Not only that, my new tattoo itches like a son of a bitch. I got it on my inner left thigh. If I wear a mini-skirt it’s noticeable. I chose the kanji symbols for the praying mantis, or kamakiri in Japanese.
I don’t know why I chose the mantis, other than the fact that the female eats the male after sex, and something about that tickles me. Every male within her purview desires her, but every male fears her, knowing that if he is lucky enough to be the chosen one, he will have the best time of his life quickly followed by a gruesome and brutal death.
Speaking of gruesome deaths, I tell myself, Sae, you’ve taken on sixty monsters before. You can do it again. But then the other part of reminds me that last time I took on a large horde I had to lose in order to win, and that in losing, I had to endure the pain of being eaten alive. That’s not something you ever want to go through… twice. Once was more than enough, thank you very much.
So I’ve been sitting up here all afternoon considering my alternatives. But being stuck up on this billboard gives me very little in the way of possibilities with any chance of success. All chances of success are remote at best.
So far my best bet is to try and get down without injury, make my way through about thirty biters, then manage to outrun the rest as I head back toward what remains of the bridge. Once there, putting the river to my back, I could anchor down and fight off the oncoming flood of living dead. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about anything but the onslaught. Then it’s just a matter of fighting until every last one of those things has been thoroughly lobotomized and put down.
But with the gathering of undead below, such a bold plan seems fleeting not to mention overly optimistic. Lots of things could go wrong. Jumping off from this height I might land wrong, break my ankles or snap my shins. Then I’d be back in that situation I never want to be in again. Or maybe I get down, and fate willing, I make it to the bridge, but unbeknownst to me some of Takahiro’s people are waiting there for me, and then I’m at an even greater disadvantage, fighting of lethal threats from both sides.
Nah, for now I think I’ll just smoke a cigarette and watch the sun set. To be honest, I don’t do it enough. I guess with all the rot and ruin, all the dust and decay, surrounding you every moment of everyday, you sometimes forget how beautiful nature can really be.
It’s these little moments that really seem to put everything else into perspective.
Fortunately, I brought an extra pack of smokes along with me this morning. Didn’t think I’d need them, but here I am, and now I think I’ll enjoy taking my time smoking every last one of them. Well, maybe I’ll save one for breakfast. Hopefully, when I don’t check in tomorrow, someone will come looking for me and get me down off this bloody thing. If not, then I can start weighing my options.
My name is Saeko Sakaguchi. If you’re reading this, heed my advice. If you ever get run down by zombies, make sure you have an exit strategy; otherwise you might find yourself stuck up a goddamn pole with no way down.
***September 20, 2019 (Z.E.)
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.