Midnight Forever: Zombies 3
The Last Funeral
by Brandon Henry
Tina looked down the scope of the rifle she hugged to her shoulder at the man who had taught her how to use it. Or, what had once been her father. Now, it was just a zombie wearing his clothes, his face. Tina thought of how he’d put his hand on her shoulder and whispered in her ear to slow her heart beat. In her mind, she put her finger on the trigger and downed a 12-point buck. She had fed her family for a month on all that meat. Now, as she stood on a wreck-covered city overpass, looking down the same scope, she felt her heart drop.
“Protect yourself! No matter what happens! Protect yourself, Tina!” Those were his last words as they fled the looted grocery store. They were separated by the horde as soon as they got outside. So she scampered up to the top of the store and ran along the roofs of the old city to escape the horde. Tina waited until the undead thinned out to begin her search for him, only finding his pack, and his old hunting rifle. She was walking out of the city when she’d noticed a familiar shirt she knew. And the size of the thing wearing it. Tina stopped, shouldered her rifle, and looked down the scope.
Looking for a wind indicator, she looked at an American flag lying flat on its pole. Even the flag knew this country was dead. Tina scoped in on the thing wearing her father’s body. She pulled the trigger. The bullet crossed the road and into the middle of the parking lot, where It stood within mere milliseconds. The back of its head exploded, as the zombie’s brains flew out and splattered onto the asphalt. The sound of the shot seemed to carry on forever across the muted city and down the highway. Slowly, Tina lowered herself onto the sunbaked highway asphalt. As tears began to run down her face, she noticed a zombie shambling towards her. ‘Protect yourself, Tina’, her father had told her. Bringing up her sidearm, she blew the bastard’s head off. The body stood for a second and crumpled to the ground in a wet thud. Her gaze went back to the body of her father. ‘We bury our own,’ she thought.
Tina returned to the city and spent a few hours looking for a running truck. Finally she found one. It was in a dinky little local garage, with the keys in a plastic baggie on the hood next door. Next door, was a used car lot that had caught fire, along with all of its vehicles. Somehow the truck was unscathed, and met her needs.
The sun was throwing shadows as she turned into the lot where her father’s body lay. The lot was empty say for two zombies that were outside the fence, feeding on what may have been a dog. Stepping out of the cab next to the corpse, she caught a whiff of his stink. Tina nearly blacked out. Covering her mouth with her hand, she went and let the tailgate down. She walked back around to the front of the bed. Tucked up under the toolbox was a folded up tarp. “Perfect,” Tina said, as she pulled it out and began unfolding it. Checking her surroundings and the deepening shadows, Tina laid the tarp next her father’s body like a body bag. Starting with his legs, she pulled him onto the plastic tarp. His upper body was harder to get on the tarp, but when she finally got him centered, she noticed she noticed growling. ‘They’ had noticed her.
She wrapped his body, pulled him to the back of the truck, and in a surprising feat, she picked him up in her arms and gently laid him in the truck bed. “Damn, old man, you been working out?” She asked him. Suddenly, behind her, she heard the fence around the lot give way and fall in. Tina peered in the direction of the sound. There were more of them than she’d thought. Carefully she pushed his body further into the bed, climbed out, and closed the tailgate. As she drove off, just for fun, Tina peeled out of the parking lot.
She drove straight through the night and cried for a quite a while, as the rolled tarp flapped in the wind. Just as the full summer moon started to dim on the horizon, she noticed this damaged sign. All that was visible was the word, ‘Graveyard’. Turning onto the road, she saw some lengths of rope and some bungee cords hanging on a fence. She grabbed them. The graveyard was clean and quiet. The grass needed trimming though. As she lowered the tailgate, she saw his eyes. They were still blue, but there was a red ring around the edges. Pulling the plastic over his face, she kissed his cheek over the tarp.
As morning came, Tina secured her father’s body with tarp and rope. There was an old tool shed a few yards away, with a shovel inside. Once he was securely wrapped, she dug him a deep grave in the soft dirt. He’d lay next to a soldier and his wife, she knew he would love that. ‘A great conversationalist!’ her father always claimed to be. Lowering him to the ground, she found she’d lost most of her energy she had the day before. She would eat after he was in the ground, to gain some strength. The hole he lay next to was just long enough, wide enough for him and deep enough for her liking. Tina knelt down and said a prayer.
‘Lord, please take him and keep him safe. Never one for violence and never took to drink. Never raised a hand or his voice to my mother or me. He raised me well and right. Tell him I’ll fight to my last breath. Amen.’
Tina lowered him into the ground and covered him in dirt. She found a wooden plank in the shed and wrote his name and date of birth. She wasn’t sure of the current date. The sun came out from behind the trees, and pulling out of the graveyard, she felt an instant warmth through her whole body. She pulled up to the graveyard sign and spotted some highway signs, and a burned out wrecked car in the ditch. There was a zombie still inside, with no arms but a biting mouth still working. She wasn’t far from the ocean, according to the signs. She could use a dip in the salty water. Tina turned and looked over her shoulder and yelled, “Hey Dad! I’m going to the beach!”
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