Decision Point

I saw them coming up the street, the shambling grey mass. I’d seen the news, until the broadcasts stopped. I still didn’t know exactly what I thought of it all. I opened my front door and peered out. I’d never seen a zombie close enough to make out its expression before. Their heads lolled, but the faces weren’t slack. They twitched, shifted, briefly smiled, frowned, gasped. Their eyes rolled and some blinked rapidly and unevenly in a way that reminded me eerily of Morse code. One rolled its head jerkily to look right at me and gave me a slow, lazy wink.

Then the truck pulled up, a beat-up F-150 with aluminum siding bolted to the hood to form a crude ram. Men poured out, in camo, in hunter’s orange, in wife-beaters and torn jeans. Most of them had at least two guns, and they formed a line and shot at the mass of zombies. I saw the head that had winked at me pop like a giant zit, and the bile rose in my throat.

“C’mon!” shouted a man in an orange vest, gesturing me towards the truck with a pump shotgun. “They’re still coming, hurry!”

I looked at him, at his neat crew-cut and messy stubble, at the flush of excitement in his face, and I made up my mind. I shook my head, and he shot me a look of contempt. He raised his shotgun toward me and then lowered it again. Cursing indiscernibly, he returned to the truck and jumped in the bed.

I waited until they were gone before I took another step. I left the false security of my home behind me, and walked toward the horde.

“Do you understand me?” I called to the twitching lips and fluttering eyelids. The mass began shifting toward me.

“What are you – any of you, all of you? Do you know what they say about you?” Mouths opened, revealing broken, rotting teeth.

“I want to understand.”

I reached out with my hand toward a sallow, strange cheek.

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