The end had come just as quick as the beginning had. Just a day before, the dead had risen. At first Bryan thought that somebody had to be pulling his chain. And who wouldn’t? There are no such things as zombies and the dead don’t come back to life to feed on the living.
It was the smell that indicated otherwise.
In the movies zombies are always covered in blood and usually have glazed-over eyes, but in the world of make-up artists and contact lenses, anybody can be made-up to look like a zombie, but nothing can be done to make you smell like a zombie.
And yet that is exactly how Bryan came to realize that what he was seeing, and what was happening – and happening to the whole town, apparently – was not an October 1 equivalent of an April fools joke. This was real!
Bryan had remembered thinking that Ms. Marsten was old – really old – the first time he had seen her when he moved into the neighborhood with his parents fifteen years before. But after all those years and waiving to Ms. Marsten everytime he turned the corner down which his house sat at the end of a culdasac, Bryan just figured that she would live forever.
What Bryan didn’t know is that forever ended on October 1 when Ms. Marsten woke-up early, like she did every morning, made some coffee and then sat down at a small wooden table in her kitchen where she could read the paper and watch the neighbors come and go on their way to work. No sooner had she sat down did she feel a sharp pain in her chest, almost as if a baby elephant had sat down on her only to sit immediately back up as the pain went away. When the pain repeated itself a moment later, she knew exactly what was going on.
Looking up towards the phone that hung on the wall at the other end of the kitchen, she stood up, trying to exert as little effort – and as little strain on her heart – as possible. But she didn’t make it. As her legs straightened and she was about to take that first step was when the elephant decided that it was going to sit down on her chest again, and this time for good.
Unable to take even a single breath, Ms. Marsten fell forward, the life snuffed out from her eyes even before she hit the floor, which was probably a good thing for her, because if she had managed to survive her heart attack, and if the paramedics got there quickly enough, she would have never survived the hit to the head as she hit the edge of the counter on her way down, tearing a large piece of her scalp off and putting a considerable dent in her forhead.
And there Ms. Marsten lay for about eight hours. And just as people started to get back home from work that evening, was when the event happened.
If Bryan could have seen her get up off the floor, first on one knee and then with the use of her hands to grab a hold of the counter – the same counter she hit her head on – to lift herself up, Bryan might have thought she was OK, and that the fall hadn’t really been that bad. But her eyes had already glazed over, forming a half-transparent curtain through which the world was barely discernible. Here eyes, however, would be the sense that came in the least handy for her now. Now her brain and her thoughts centered around her sense of smell and that sense of smell signaled the only part of her brain that was still functioning, the part that commander her to feed.