June 19

International Sauntering Day

 

Merritt kept guard from the porch of the farmhouse he and a small band of survivors had commandeered after the apocalypse.  He kept a shotgun nearby, ready to blast the head off any zombie that ventured too close to their home.

He used to watch a lot of zombie movies, and that aim-for-the-head advice turned out to be pretty useful.  Common sense really — which was why most filmmakers agreed on the point.

They couldn’t seem to agree on anything else.  In some movies, zombies were created by a voodoo curse; in others, a virus from space or a secret government lab caused the outbreak.  In some movies, a person bit by a zombie would simply bleed; in others, they became a zombie instantly, an hour, a day or a week later.  Some movie zombies could talk, calling for brains; others could only groan.

The biggest split, among zombie movies fans, was debates over whether fast zombies or slow zombies were more accurate, or “better,” or scarier.  Merritt had been of the opinion that slow zombies might have been more realistic, but they’d be too easy to avoid — and thus, not as scary.

He’d revised his opinion, of late.  The real-life zombie apocalypse — whatever caused it — created zombies who didn’t exactly run or walk.

They…sauntered.

A group of them sauntered by the barn.  Their steps were casual, almost jaunty.  Their eyes, which shouldn’t even function, scanned the field as if admiring the stretch of green grass.  Their hollowed noses breathed in, enjoying floral scents.

One of them broke off from the group, sauntering towards the main house.  Merritt grabbed the shotgun, lifted it.

A bird whistled from a nearby tree, and the stray zombie paused and tilted his head in that direction, to better hear nature’s song.

These sauntering zombies were the worst.  They paused to enjoy life, even as everything had fallen apart.  So many family dead, so many friends transformed — by whatever means — into these awful, sauntering things.  And survivors left to struggle for food and shelter…the endless, recurring burdens of life.

And the sauntering zombies enjoyed it.

You wanted to shoot them.  You wanted to join them.

Merritt wondered what the method of transmission was, what rules applied in the zombie movie he now lived in.  A viral transmission?  A bite on the arm from his strangely cheerful visitor?

He aimed the shotgun at the smiling, decaying face as the zombie sauntered closer.