I will admit that I never really liked that dog. But while I’m pretty sure my wife will say I caused this, I assure you I had no plans for his demise.
Like many of my problems, it started with laziness. For three weeks I had neglected to write my weekly short story to be posted as part of the FridayFlash Internet meme. My goal is to contribute every week, so I was feeling a bit of self-inflicted pressure to create something this week.
“Your last several pieces have all been too melancholy. You should write something different from your normal stuff,” I told myself. In retrospect, I should have known something was wrong when I addressed myself in the second person.
I set out to create an action scene. The story was to combine clowns and zombies – but not zombie clowns, I still need to sleep at night. I started setting the scene in a post-apocalyptic small town overrun with zombies. Given that flash fiction is less than a thousand words, I reluctantly deleted some unnecessary description of the doughnut shop.
I included a few zombies ambling down Main Street. I decided to have one of them wear a red and green sweater given that in my home town Main Street intersects with Elm Street. I made sure to include gory details of severed limbs and rotting flesh. This made me hungry so I took a quick break as I chuckled about how difficult it would be to write internal monologue for a zombie. Or can they actually think, but they just can’t verbalize? That might explain why they seem so angry. Being a married man, I can empathize with having something to say but not being able to get a word in.
When I returned to my computer I started to introduce our non-zombie hero. I didn’t notice at the time that the lines about zombies were now missing.
I introduced Brad, as he sat before the mirror applying makeup. Starting with a white base, he then painted his lips into a permanent smile. He added dots on his cheeks and used black liner to draw exaggerated eyebrows above his eyes.
His girlfriend sat in the corner watching him. “Are you really going to do this?”
He tugged at his wig and brushed yellow and red curls away from his face. “I know this will work. The zombies are scared of clowns. You should have seen how they reacted to the signs out at the old fairgrounds.”
“But what if you’re not a very good clown? Or if some of them aren’t scared? What’s your escape plan?”
“Trust me. This will work. And then we’ll be able to walk the streets without fear. We can get our society back.”
“As long as everyone wears a clown costume?”
“Not all the time, just in nonsecure areas. We could have security clowns posted around to keep them out. Think of the possibilities.”
I was starting to enjoy the story at this point when our dogs started barking and growling. Barking is fairly common, but growling usually means something is there. As I neared the door I heard a screech followed by a pitiful whimper. Opening the door, I saw our golden retriever to my left, still barking as she backed away. Our other dog, a black and tan mixed breed, was being pulled apart by two strangers.
“What is going on?” I shouted as I pushed my way out the door. At that moment I noticed their decayed bodies. One was wearing a red and green sweater. The green was brighter than what I envisioned for my story, but I guess I hadn’t been very specific. Next time I’ll defy the adjective-haters and specify a dark green.
They ignored me as one of them bit my dog’s head. I couldn’t move. I knew I needed to do something, but I couldn’t figure out what. My mind raced to the video games my sons play, but I had no baseball bats or military weapons. I found myself wishing I had watched more zombie movies.
They dropped the limp remains on the ground and looked toward me. Suddenly, I had an idea. I should take a picture of this and tweet it! Fortunately, that idea vanished and a better one replaced it.
I closed the door, latched it and hurried to my laptop. I decided to rewrite the zombies into the story, but make them smaller. I figured a four inch tall zombie would be harmless enough. I looked out the window – nothing. It must have worked!
As I opened the door, I heard something fall in the kitchen. The kitchen window! Why didn’t I think to close it?
A peek around the corner showed my plan had failed. I hurried back to my laptop with one final hope. I highlighted the entire story and hesitated. This story had promise. Glancing over my shoulder I saw them stumbling into the room. I cringed and hit the delete key.
Nothing happened. Well, nothing except that the zombies kept ambling toward me. One of them grabbed my arm and I jerked it away. I turned toward my computer. I felt an arm around my neck as I typed. I cursed my slow Internet connection as the page slowly loaded. Finally, my screen filled with pictures of clowns. I twisted, still within the grasp of the first zombie, to where he could see my screen.
As his head slowly moved I could detect the moment he saw the screen. His movement stopped suddenly and he turned away, knocking his companion to the ground as he went. I held the laptop in front of me and the second zombie soon chased after him. We haven’t seen any sign of them since.
So use this as a warning not to leave your stories unattended. And please understand if my stories for the next few weeks are all about cuddly bunnies and teddy bears.