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Published by Adam Goldman
A zombie awakens to find himself slowly turning human. What becomes of the grey when they return?
A zombie awakens to find himself slowly turning human. What becomes of the grey when they return?

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Published by: Adam Goldman on Dec 24, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/11/2011

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Reversion
 by Adam Goldman
Jack sat up quickly, banging his head on a walnut table long past its prime. Hequizzically touched the large dent on his forehead, stood up, and looked around: thedresser he had placed in front of the door was still there, and his footlocker wasuntouched. Jack couldn’t remember 
when
he had found this cabin, but he did remember the fight with the previous owner. It was a meal he remembered fondly; thinking about itcaused hunger to speak through his stomach. Stumbling towards the footlocker, he put ahand on the walnut table to steady himself, and, looking down, he froze.Jack stared at his left hand: where bones and dried blood vessels had previously been visible, fresh skin had begun to grow. He scanned up his arm, noting that the fleshappeared halfway to his elbow. He limped over to a window (tripping on the cellar door implanted in the decaying wooden floor boards, which had become something of a habit)and gazed analytically at his reflection. His cheekbones still peeked out from behindgrey flaps of skin, but the skin no longer held a leathery texture: the tips had begun toturn a light peach color, and small hairs dotted the surface. Twisting his head this wayand that, he was relieved to find the back of his skull to be the same dark caramel color,devoid of a scalp. At least part of him was intact.Confused, Jack knocked over the small table next to the window, watching as thewooden legs fell apart. Kicking splinters of wood, he shambled over to the footlocker,opened it, and picked up one of the severed arms. Crouching down, he took a bite and began to thoughtfully chew. He didn’t remember seeing anything remotely like the color invading his face, arm, and hand...except on the Food. Despite any intelligence the Foodhad, it was still nothing but sustenance. The thought of becoming one of those
things
terrified him; besides their physical vulnerability, they moved quickly and without effort.Surely no creature that moved so effortlessly should be allowed to do so; the world wasmeant to be a slow moving place, where an hour's walk would yield little distancetraveled. Time had no meaning in this isolated forest, yet the Food acted as though itwould perish unless it traversed the landscape at breakneck speed. To be fair, there wasthe possibility of being eaten by someone such as himself, but still…Suddenly, he spat out the chunk of arm and started to retch. He stared down at thehalf-chewed gore, giving it a questioning glance. His withered eyes slid an incredulouslook in the footlocker, which solidified a decision for his restless instincts: It was time tohunt. He moved across the creaking floorboards of the cabin, pushed aside the dresser hehad placed in front of the decrepit door, and stepped outside onto the porch.The night was cool, the full moon shining down in shafts of ivory light throughthe trees. He surveyed the forest that enveloped the cabin, taking auditory note of thenocturnal animals that were out. Although he could hold his own, there were nasty thingsin these woods…an insatiable hunger such as his was no match for claws and fangs suchas theirs. Stepping down off the porch, he took a light-blue knitted cap that hung on a peg, and fumbled it on his head. He always wore this cap when hunting; it helpedconfuse the Food, making them easier to take down. Satisfied with the placement andcomfort of the cap, he began the arduous trek around to the back side of the cabin, the path littered with evidence of seasonal changes. He knocked into an old shovel, sendingit tumbling into the yard, taking a few acorns and sticks along with it. He froze
 
motionless at the sound, and began scanning the edge of the trees, looking for signs of movement. When he was satisfied he wasn’t about to be mauled by some unseenmonstrosity, he continued his journey to the back side of the cabin. As he rounded thecorner of the cabin, something caught his eye: a glimmer of red and yellow, in theopposite direction of where the moss grows. A fire! This could mean only one thing:Food was nearby. Two of the creatures had decided to nest near the river that ran throughthis desolate place. He was always surprised to find Food showing up in these woods:they went on for miles, with the river providing the only reliable way to navigate theextensive labyrinth of trees.It was common for Jack to find Food nesting by the river, but never had a nest been made so close to his cabin; it took him less than 30 minutes to reach them, a mereheartbeat for his kind. The Food, an aging one and a young one, were sitting next to afire roasting some kind of animal. The Food’s ingenuity never ceased to amaze Jack; hefelt most of their activities were wasted efforts (especially the cooking of their Food prior to consuming it), but he was nevertheless impressed by their varied abilities (includingthe ability to build “his” cabin, whose previous owner had been especially tasty. Perhapstheir flavor was proportional to their intelligence?) He stood in the shadows, watching asthey began devouring the roasted meat.Surveying the ground between himself and them, he noticed the path was coveredwith dead leaves and sticks...despite the constant noise generated by the river, the leavesand sticks were more than enough for the Food to hear his scuffling feet. His gait wassmooth for his kind, but even he had trouble moving silently. This way was no good; hewould have to find an alternate route. He was preparing to move, when the younger onestood up and started walking towards the shadow Jack was hiding in. It made an archingmotion to the older Food, which nodded and pointed. The young one turned back towards Jack - still shrouded in darkness - and began walking forward again. Jack shiftedhis weight, and prepared to pounce.***The young one had given him no trouble (he snapped its neck effortlessly), but theolder Food put up quite a fight. In the end, Jack had to tear into the Food’s throat to puthim down. Still, he got at least one of them, and that’s what mattered. The older onewould surely be picked off by one of the many screeching creatures that patrolled thewoods, so he left it behind. Besides, the meat had been spoiled by his bloodshed; itwouldn’t have tasted good anyway. Dragging the now-lifeless (and still tasty) body of the young Food back through the forest, Jack took a moment to look up at the moon peaking through the forest canopy. Its pure light caused the tree trunks to glow withethereal warmth, reminding him of how much life there was surrounding him. Knowinghe was one of the predators in this place of muted vivaciousness brought peace to hisshriveled mind, as he completed the rest of his journey in a tranquil state of animalisticcontentment.The sun was nearly up by the time Jack reached the front door of the cabin. Hismouth (red, fleshy lips had begun to appear) and stomach (now almost completelycovered with the peach-colored skin) trembled in anticipation of the coming meal.
 
Pulling the body of the young Food into the cabin, he grumbled as he pinched the top of the cap on his head and awkwardly flung it on the floor. He set about the laborious task of quartering the body, removing the organs he didn’t like, and processed what would beleft over so it would stay fresh. His work finished, he sat down with his back against therefrigerator (which had long since been rendered useless by a shotgun blast from the previous owner), put one of the legs in his mouth, and ripped off a chunk of meat…onlyto spit it out after chewing a single time. The same rancid feeling came rushing back,stronger this time. He stood, and once more limped over to one of the windows to look athis reflection.Half of one cheek was now covered in the peach-colored flesh, as was a portion of his skull. The cheekbones and skull that were still visible no longer bore a dark caramelcolor: they instead shone a ghastly white. All the way up to his shoulder, he found hisleft arm was now covered in the same peach flesh as his face, and dark hairs had begun togrow. All of the fingers on his right hand were peach, as were his kneecaps.Uncontrollably, he raised his newly-living left arm upwards to his mouth, and bitdown. The taste was exquisite, better than any Food he had ever caught. He bit off hisleft pinky finger with a satisfying crunch, and chewed. Surveying the rest of the peach-colored flesh spreading across his dead frame, he had to actively stop himself from takinganother bite. Lowering his arms, he sat down on the rotting wood floor of the cabin. Hewould either become Food, or consume himself entirely. Autosarcophagy was not theanswer, and he’d never allow himself to become one of 
them.
Looking down at his legs, he saw the peach-colored skin growing rapidly: hewatched his left ankle go from bony to completely covered in flesh within minutes. Botharms were now almost covered in living skin, and the skin had begun to creep up the back of his thighs. As he examined every part of his body closely, he began to feel somethinghe couldn’t remember ever experiencing: pain. It wasn’t only skin that was growing now, but nerve endings as well. Just as quickly as it started, it was no longer just his body thatwas on fire: his very soul now burned as memories came flooding back. There was atime when he was Food, and he lived here in the forest, right here in this very cabin...butnot alone.Jack stood up, ran as best he could towards one of the aging walls, and began pounding on it with his fist. Getting desperate, he turned towards one of the windows.With the pain now enveloping his entire being, he smashed the window, and crumpled onthe floor. Not alone.He glanced sideways, only to see the light-blue knitted cap staring directly at him,taunting him with its frayed ends and forgotten memories. Laughing. Playing.Chopping wood. Eating.
Talking.
 Not alone.Surveying the cabin, more memories came back to him, memories that burneddeep within his reality. Twisting his head back towards the window, he spied a sharp piece of glass that remained in the frame. Slowly standing up, Jack agonizingly turnedhis body to face the window, and sent himself on a collision course with the upright glassshard.Peace at last.

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