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Consumable Goods

Consumable Goods

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Published by Brian Fatah Steele
Being a zombie sucks. Ask Erik Allens... he'll tell you. A short story that appears in the collection "Fragments Of Ruin" by Brian Fatah Steele.
Being a zombie sucks. Ask Erik Allens... he'll tell you. A short story that appears in the collection "Fragments Of Ruin" by Brian Fatah Steele.

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Published by: Brian Fatah Steele on Jan 09, 2011
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04/21/2011

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CONSUMABLE GOODS by Brian Fatah Steele
This short story appears in the collection
 Fragments Of Ruin
I don’t even know what day it is anymore. I lost track quite a while ago, and I’m notentirely sure if there are even any means left to determine such things. I suppose if I foundsomeone with a wristwatch that was still working, I could ask them. I doubt that little situationwould end up quite in the manner anyone would desire.My name is Erik Allens. I was the guy behind Allens Technology Institute. We madevery precise, specialized computer parts. Most of the items were… nevermind. It’s not like youcare about any of that. Actually, it’s not like any of you would care about me at all. I’m not oneof you any more, I’m one of them; but not fully, never fully for some reason.Obviously I’ve given a lot of thought to this. It’s one of the many reasons that when Ifound this silly little notebook covered with cartoon kittens, I kept it. I keep it in my backpack along with a few other things I’ve decided are dear to me. You know, stuff like photographs. Idon’t know, perhaps if I fill this one up then I’ll start another. I suppose it’s better to talk tomyself than go completely insane. And it’s not like
they
are good for any conversation. At leastthey leave me alone for the most part, I guess that’s something.I can just picture the shock on the face of one of those SUV goons if they saw me sittinghere under this tree right now. Backpack sat out beside me, my baseball cap pulled low withsunglasses on. Here I am, writing away in a journal on a pleasant spring morning. Hell, the poor  bastard might think he’d traveled back in time a few months and was simply staring at some gradstudent doing homework. Granted, the pistol and large caliber shotgun laying on top my pack might give him pause, but it might make him think I’m like him.Well, at least until the imaginary dude saw that I’m missing my left arm from below theelbow.I have a few other physical signs. My skin has turned a pale, almost grayish cast and mygums have receded badly. My eyes are horribly jaundiced and my hair has almost all fallen out.I’ve got a few other scrapes and wounds, but nothing that bothers me. I don’t really feel physicalsensation like I used to. No, the only thing I feel anymore is hungry. No cold, no pain, justhunger.It wells up in the stomach, but aches throughout the body. It rattles in my skull, like myhead is hollow and only if I eat does it subside for a short time. I need to eat about everyday, or Istart to get aggressive. The longer I go without food, it’s like the faster and more angry I get.After I eat, or if I eat too much I get sluggish. That’s how I almost got blasted two days ago.Right after I ate that little girl.Sorry, I had to stop there for a bit. Emotionally, mentally, I’m still fully myself. Can youfathom being so hungry, feeling so empty inside and knowing that only the warm flesh of livinghumans can ease it? If my tear ducks hadn’t dried up and cracked open, I would still weep after every meal. Even now after I have my fill, I crawl away apologizing to the remains. It’s pathetic, but what else am I to do? Trying to fight it off makes it worse and eventually I start to lose whatlittle control…It’s evening now. I’m shacked up in a large office building. There are a few othersroaming about mindlessly here. Good. That will hopefully keep the living away. I just want torest.I came upon a bad scene today. A young couple had found themselves trapped in anunderground carport. The husband or boyfriend was trying to fight the others off and I managed
 
to stay in control long enough to keep to the back. I didn’t really feel such remorse this time;they were food for about a dozen no matter what. The guy went down quick, but the woman had just her legs ripped off. Her man had been relatively large and the others were already feeling theeffects.She was dragging herself away, making little hiccup noises. Her shredded stumps keptmaking small stamp marks of red on the cement. She was seething with infection but it wouldn’tregister for about forty-eight hours. She’d be quite dead by then. Dead and legless. By this pointI just felt bad. I chewed off her head through the neck completely. I ate a little of her entrails,too, but that came later. She wouldn’t be coming back.I was already slinging my backpack on again when the rest fell in and started playingwith her guts. I hadn’t made it a full mile before I heard the gunshots. So much for mycomrades.I don’t know why I’m like this, why I’m an anomaly. I retain all my memories andintellect, almost all of my motor skills and senses. Hell, my sense of smell has increased ten fold.I can smell a refuse fire burning a mile away in the wind is right. I can smell out the living in thesame manner.Considering all the possibilities, only two could make any sense. Either I possess somefreak bit of DNA, some unique genetic marker that allowed me to stay functional after thechange, or… or God simply hates me. Never being much of a religious man, I really try to leantowards the former. That’s another reason why I’m writing this. Shit, I’d be more than happy toallow some few remaining scientists poke me about to try and figure this all out. I know that willnever happen, however. I would never survive long enough to make it into their hands. TheSUV goons are fanatical in their pursuits and not that I really blame them. No, the best I can do is write it all down. Write about the sensations of hunger and of thedull throb where my left forearm should be. Maybe someday it will get into the hands of brilliantmen and they’ll discover something that will end this all. I guess now you know why I don’t just put a bullet in my own head. Well, that and because I’m a coward. I’ve eaten the remains of something like fifty people now. And while God may not hate me, I don’t think any shiny, bearded man is going to welcome me into heaven.It’s been a few days. I became quite depressed after my last entry in this thing, but Iknow I have certain pieces of information that I have to pass on. It’s the only thing way I canattempt to make amends.Those first few days were bad as most will remember. Boston was where it started, andwithin thirty-six hours, the infection was spreading up and down the east coast. From Vermont toSouth Carolina, everything turned into a mad by the fifth day. On the sixth day, they tried to setup quarantine east of the Mississippi. Pointless, and by the seventh day we had it in California.Here in Cleveland, we got hit mostly on those fifth and sixth days. It was the seventh day that the barricades outside of manufacturing facility broke and they got in.I remember my head foreman trying to burn the others out. They just climbed in throughthe far end and got us in the rear as we tried to make an escape. All I recall were fires andscreams and blood everywhere.I woke up with an arm in my lap. It wasn’t mine. Oh, mine was gone, but whoever 
else
had lost a limb that day, I wound up with it. It was hard to breath, but my lungs didn’t really hurt, per say. It almost felt like there was fluid in them. At the time I contributed it to smokeinhalation. I couldn’t figure out why my arm wasn’t killing me, though. Collapsed there in theopen doorway of the second garage, I could see a bright, beautiful morning rising outside.Behind me? The charred carnage of my dreams and employees.Staggering out from the wreckage of the facility, I saw the remains of my secretary. Shehad been torn in half and her face was fully eaten off. I could only tell it was her by her 
 
ridiculous bright pink suit. I screamed, I cried, I wanted to vomit but I couldn’t. That was whenthe door to the machine shop open and I heard my name.“Mr. Allens? Erik… is that you?”It was my inventory clerk, Susan Godfry and her assistant Juli Hathaway, terrified butvery much alive.“Oh God, Susan…” I began.Then something changed.Something changed in me, something penetrating and full.I felt it in my balls and in my stomach. It pounded behind my eyeballs and I realized itwas a smell. It was the scent of meat, of living flesh, it was Susan and Juli.Rocking back on my feet, I almost fell over. I stumbled and grabbed at my face, like Ithought I could cover the scent or something. I don’t know. I know my inventory clerks thoughtI was in shock, thought I was losing it. They came rushing up to me, to their boss, to who theythought was another one of the living to console my pain and grief.Before I even knew what I was doing, I had grabbed Juli with my good arm and wrappedmy battered limb around Susan, drawing her in close. I ripped out a good portion of Susan’scheek with one thrust of my teeth. She stumbled away creaming as I brought Juli down to theground hard and tore open her exposed belly with two bites. I beat Juli with my fists, screamingand crying the whole time, beating her into a pulp while I buried my face into her lower torso andfed. Susan ran off shrieking, clutching her face. I never saw her again, but she had undoubtedly become infected.Between sobs I kept eating Juli. Occasionally I would vomit, but within moments Iwould return to my food. She had been a small woman, but even still, I ate almost all of her skin,muscles and organs. I fell back in the grass outside the smoking ruins of my manufacturingfacility and wanted to die. But I didn’t and eventually I got up. I got up and started searching.A day later. A ate one of those SVU goons today, the local thugs hired as mercenaries to pop off my kind. I didn’t really care about it much, mostly because they’re top notch assholes.All survivalist freaks and gun wackos of the highest order. I lured him in an apartment complex,took an easy bullet in the gut and tore into his throat. Shit, I had already munched my full andhigh-tailed it out of there before his fuckbuddies got inside to investigate the shot.Anyhow…Let me make this perfectly clear; there is no weird social or cultural hierarchy going onwith my kind. They seem to basically follow the most simple of instincts, and that’s to feed.They don’t smell me as one of the living, so they pretty much wander past me. If I try to talk tothem, they perk up for a minute, but quickly return to whatever roaming they were doing before.I think they have a rudimentary understanding that speech might lead them to dinner, but thesense of smell is the most acute way they track down their prey.As you are probably fully aware, you can only kill the others by destroying the brain or  by severing the head. A nice big burning works, too. These are also the only methods to keepvictims from rising back up once infected. I’ve watched this process. It’s all about the saliva.Whether a single bite on the finger or the entire lower portion eaten, a person
will 
die from theinfection with thirty-six to forty-eight hours. Quicker if the wound is more severe. Once theydie, they seem to reanimate within about four to six hours.It’s always the same, the body starts to twitch and eventually awakens. There’s nothingthere behind those eyes, no intelligence and no regard. Just a machine now, with its only purpose but to eat. I’ve watched others spawn new, and I’ve done it, too. Those who return from myinfection are no different than the others.I wonder… I wonder about that day I got infected. It was only my left forearm, not muchat all considering. Did I taste bad? Did something about my DNA, my genetic code deep down

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