by Joseph Mack
"So then, what's the measure of a man?" I was once asked. And I replied, "It's his heart."
|“You know, it's been said, the more insane a story sounds, the more insane the man who believes it to be true is. And the more insane he is, the more destined he is for a padded cell that only the grim reaper and his older brother can free him from. And if this, all of it, be the case, then I be that kind of a man who's traveling down that kind of a road because this be that kind of a tale that you're about to hear.
“A narration of the most particular of types that has to be told in order to demonstrate that this thing, that we all refer to as compassion, which has dwindled to a few tiny droplets in my humble opinion, can still be found, a tad here and a tad there, in a world that has fully embraced the idea, and a stupid one at that, that we are no more than a bunch of animals that don't need to be humane anymore. A callous society that's can't be redeemed for we, like those who have come before us, just keep adding our own fair share of indifference to what we ourselves inherited from our past, this being a self-centered, unloving attitude, then gleefully hand this fine gift over to the next generation and on and on this destructive behavior goes.
“And so then, keeping all of this in mind, I now give you my account of the dire event that yours truly was forced to participate in when the hunters, who come and go as they darn well please, decided to crawl out of the shadows and flood the misty streets of downtown Denver Colorado and its surrounding area with a darkness, a skin crawling, hair raising, fright inducing kind of black, that made even the most depraved of men look benevolent and full of mercy. And you've heard about these slayers correct? These ruthless trackers who are naturally relentless when it comes to pursuing a meal of any size or any type.
“Why, sure you have, and that's no fable either, but I bet there's still a ton of fascinating details that you don't know about these savage beings like for example they live on an icy world that has a thick layer of snow that has never had the pleasure of seeing the sun or feeling its warm touch. And also, these wretched, motherless souls, that has the eyes of a shark, are willing to eat the bones of a zombie but prefer to snack on the flesh of a man. A thing that I feared, above all else, was going to become my situation or fate as some might call it, if they, these deadly, no good, dirty rotten meanies, got a hold of me on that, lets just say, unique evening which was a thought that came to me right before he, the one who was falling apart by the minute, showed up anyhow.
“And you do remember that dreadful night don't you? The one that came to us three years ago. A horrible evening of which I'll never forget that had a sky that looked every bit like the Aurora Borealis except this sky, and I mean every part of it, was a deep purple in color that had a tinge of scarlet red mixed in with it.
“A quite strange looking atmospheric condition, it was, that caused the decomposed bodies, that eventually transformed into zombies, to stir within their places of rest. And I heard, with my very own ears, this awakening take place too. A sort of slowly developing, once in a lifetime kind of occurrence, or so I hope anyway, that first started out with a moan here and a groan there then over time, as they exited a graveyard that was no more than a block away, escalated into many such sounds. The same exact ones that echoed down the dimly lit alleyway that I use to call my home for over ten years but this all changed after that night and I'm sure that you can guess why it has.
“But this, however, is beside the point and that brings me back to those sounds of suffering that I was hearing while I was sitting on a slab of cold, hard pavement. An army of nonrhythmic noises that were so loud that I knew in an instant that these people, who shouldn't be making any kind of ruckus at all, were awful close to me which is the reason that I stopped eating a somewhat tainted hamburger that I, earlier in the day, had dug out of a pile of trash that was located on Eighth and Bixy. And the second that I ceased taking another bite I saw the first one, then another, and another, and they, who were violently twitching every so often, just kept-on-ah-coming in my direction. And this they were doing in what I deemed as being an unsteady casual manner of locomotion that seemed to me as though they, the undead folk of many, didn't have a care in the world but then this hunter, a creature who was at least seven foot tall or so I estimated, showed up and that's when these people, who looked nothing like the sort, wasn't walking in that way no more.
“In fact, these half-wits were running, if that's what you can call it, as fast as they could which caused me to get to my feet and run too but, as luck would have it, I couldn't scrape along as fast as they were scraping so these idiots overtook me before I could get out of that dang-gum alley.
“And when they did bum rush me I hit the ground so hard that I nearly busted up my hip bone in the process but this, as you can imagine, is hardly something to be worried about when you're surrounded by a swarm of killers that can rip you apart in a matter of seconds which, as it turned out, they obviously didn't do and that's because, or so I assume anyway, that they, these vile scavengers, didn't want to get caught by that hunter while trying to chow down and this reminds me of something else that's important to bring up.
“And that something, my friend, is this, and that is, on this night, while I was being trampled, I came to realize, rather quickly I should add, that these zombies can feel fear just like you and I can which came as a complete surprise to me for I, and thousands of others I surmise, have always believed that these flesh-eating creatures were nothing more than a walking pile of sewage who, due to their transformation, lost all of their emotions when they became the monsters that they are but this, as you can tell, was a wrong assumption on my part and I do acknowledge that. Dead wrong, to be exact, as was the case when I thought that my life was about to end.
“A reality that I would've had to face if it wasn't for this unusual intervention which is what I was lightly touching on at the start of my story when I brought up that man who was coming apart at the seams. And what, you ask, was this intercession that I speak of? And my answer to you, the only one that I have to give, is that I, while cowering in a corner as that hunter approached me, noticed, off to my right, a male creeper who, for no particular reason that I could think of, came and stood right over me as if I was a meal worth defending and this, my friend, I assure you that I wasn't for as I am now I was back then meaning that I, from skull to foot, was as thin as a ray of sunlight and as old as the solar system itself.
“And this, to my utter amazement, he did for a few seconds then bent down next to me and pointed to my leg which was gravely injured. The same leg that I was now staring at which was paining me something awful. And at first, I have to admit, that I didn't know what he was trying to tell me, but then, after I used the process of elimination, I finally narrowed it down to what I thought that he was most likely wanting to do which is why my heart began to thump faster and faster as the perspiration flowed with each and every beat. And that, to my horror, which I discovered was a correct guess was a taste.
“A sampling that I figured would be a rather large one at that if not the whole leg itself that I, as hard as this might be for you to believe, was willing to give to him at the time because it seemed, at least in my mind anyhow, that in the end, when all was said and done, it would be far better to sacrifice a body part than to forfeit a life which is why I, despite everything that I was feeling, uneasily, and with a hand that just wouldn't stop trembling, gestured to my wounded appendage and told him to have a go at it. And that's when he began to feast, and feast, and feast some more like it was turkey day or something. And while he went about doing this very thing I was screaming with everything that was in me.
“I even begged him to stop, if not for a second, but this he didn't do until the hunter came within a few feet of us then, this man of the grave, who I feel is a big part of me now, stood up and gave out a roar that a thousand lions couldn't match. He then charged the hunter and that's when an epic battle of prey versus predator erupted right before my unbelieving eyes.
“And as this hunter, with long claws, slashed and jabbed, the zombie, with an unquenchable hunger, bit and chewed and swallowed without a moment's pause as he fought to get control of his opponent. And this grotesque dance, that they were engaged in, moved up and down that alley with such speed that I thought for sure that one of them was going to stumble and pull the other to the ground but that sure didn't happen and neither did their passion to destroy the other dissipate which is why they, with such rage, such unbridled fury, just kept slamming one another as hard as they could into whatever brick wall was closest to them at the time. And I also must say, and I mean it too, that I was truly astonished how this zombie was able to endure the punishment that he was receiving.
“So much so, in fact, that I began to think about how he could. And the more that I did, the more I realized that my flesh and blood, that no doubt he enjoyed consuming, was surging through his body. That they, working together, were healing him somehow. That they were making him stronger and stronger by the second. A juggernaut, is what he was becoming, and that, right there, is what I needed him to be because he was fighting for us and I wanted him to win at all cost and that's precisely what he did. And because this is so, here I am, still alive, as you can clearly ascertain, and it's all thanks to this creature who, with a great amount of courage and willpower, had enough heart left in his chest to save an old man that's been cast aside by a world that wants nothing more to do with him.
“A bravery, I hope, that when the time comes, will compel me to act as he did and this brings a question to my mind, that being, if you had been that walking dead man then how would you have handled things huh? Would you have come to my rescue or would you have left me in that dark alley to die all alone I wonder. I truly do. A query, my friend, that needs an answer as they all do I suppose. An answer or two, that personally, I can't wait to hear.”