Saturday, September 22, 2012


By Annie Evett

You grab Madge’s hand, realising that she was always the strong one in the family. She had been the one to teach you to ride a bike, pick you up, and put a band-aid on your scraped knee.  She’d beaten up the bullies in the school yard. Hell, her best friend had been your first conquest. You’d always suspected she had been behind that and, looking in to her eyes, you are now sure that she is the one who has been behind everything good in your life.

“Madge , You go. Get the unit over to the CDC. You’re the best one for the job. I belong here. I should never have been the president of this dumb company. You should have.  You would never have gotten us into all this.”

“Shit.” she smiled.  “No I wouldn't have, but them’s the breaks, huh?”

You fiddle with the unit and make some unnecessary adjustments, unsure of what to say. Sharing emotions had never been one of the family’s strong points. 

“Well?” Madge taps the table next to the control box of the unit. “You coming or what?”

“I’ll stay. The unit is good to go, as good as I can get it right now. I’ll keep making adjustments and try and work out how to speed up the process. Something. I dunno. You better go. The President is waiting for us. For you. Go and save what's left of humanity, huh?”  You flick on the security camera system and pan around the hallway.

“Looks like any of the zombies that were here have moved on,” you snigger, attempting to stifle your own bad joke, but then break down into fits of hysterical laughter.

Madge slaps you across the face—except it's an oversized mitt thumping your fishbowl face helmet.

 “Oh, grow up. What is it about shit and farts that boys never grow out of?”

You collapse with more laughter, gasping for air in your hazmat suit.

“Later. Keep your hazmat suit on. The place is contaminated. Lord knows when or if the cleanup will start. Keep on geeking.”

You knock ham sized fists together, repeating your childhood motto.

She saunters out of the lab door. You watch her till the suit disappears up the hallway. The silence buzzes in your ears as the light in the corner of the room continues to blink. You see her helicopter make its way across the sky. 

The hazmat suit is cumbersome as you attempt to perch on the lab stool. Your oversized fingers are clumsy, and it's not long before you consider taking the whole lot off so you can start to pull one of the Environauts apart and explore every component. You have no idea what else to do. Here seems as safe a place to hang out and wait until the shit storm  blows over. 

A buzzer sounds as the corner light slows its blink. You stare at it and as moments pass; the blink eventually fades to a continual beam. The buzzer stops and a door unlatches. You stand and go over to the door, not remembering having seen it before. As you approach you realise that it had been concealed within the texture of the wall, and only as it opens that the outline reveals its position. 

You flush with anger and indignation. This was your lab, damn it. Who the hell had hidden doors leading off into the unknown in your own lab?  You turn the door handle. The space behind it is lit with floor lights and appears to be a large storage room. As you step inside, general lighting is automatically turned on to reveal rows of cages of now deceased, rotting animals. You are glad you hadn’t taken the hazmat suit off, but gag at the thought of what the smell might be like.

Dogs, cats, rats and squirrels slump inside their cages. Most are surrounded by puke and shit. Your heart squeezes at the sight of these helpless creatures, who have obviously died in a great amount of pain and suffering.  Your head spins, wondering where in the process animal testing had a place in your facility. You sadly realise you have been disconnected from the research unit for over a year, and anything could have been passed by you to sign and you’d not really taken any notice—another reason Madge should have been the CEO and not you. She would never have allowed animal testing.

A rattle in the corner shakes you from your depression. Your heart skips. Something is still alive. Perhaps you can do some sort of good today.

Crouched in one of the larger cages sits an emaciated orangutan. Its orange hair sticks out at right angles from its bony body. It looks up at you with its intelligent, pleading eyes. He gingerly puts out his hand through the bars. You hold back a tear and reach over to touch it, entranced by the gentle moment of trust. 

The ape quickly grasps your wrist and pulls you toward the cage. Its other limbs thrust out of the cage and grab hold of your suit. Your feet scrap against the metal flooring, sliding and finding no purchase as you are pulled in.

The ape grins and peels your helmet off. You try to hold your breath, but are at last forced to take a deep breath, gagging at the putrid smell of death and feces. The orangutan's lips pucker towards you as a dribble of brown trickles down its face. Your struggle renews as you realise that it is dying from the same virus affecting all the zombies. It bares its teeth. You scream, “But you’re a vegetarian! Everyone knows that.” 

The orangutan's mouth covers your scream. A mixture of vomit and shit warmed by the body gushes from the ape's mouth into yours. You feel its arms and legs tighten around you and your are slowly crushed against the bars of the cage. You feel your organs bursting as blood pours from your ears and eyes. You die screaming, clutched in the strong arms of a giant orange ape.


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