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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Zombie Luv Flash Fic Contest: Leaving Gary

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Leaving Gary

Gary knows how to make me smile. He crawls along the bottom of the pond. His arms, severed at the elbow, sink into the sediment with every inch. Sink, lift, sink, lift, sink… Funny. His leg-stumps flail, stirring up the algae. Gary isn't going anywhere; he's tethered to my ankle by a thick chain. I watch my husband squirm for a while, then I unhook him. Gary lurches forward and breaks the surface. I pull all the bricks out of my skirt and my body buoys.

It's Date Night.

Layers of muck separate as I crown. A duck quacks and flies away. I wring out my hair. It's not blond anymore, just a sickly yellow. I hate what the pond does to it, but the green film keeps us hidden during the day. And we look less dead in the moonlight.

Gary grunts and face-plants onto the cement. He lifts his head and gives a mournful cry, then face-plants again. He turns to me, his mouth agape. Gary doesn't have a jaw. Not anymore. I took care of that after lopping off his appendages. Now his tongue dangles like a frisky eel. Gary worms his way across the cement in his favorite overalls, leaving a trail behind him.

He spots the hole I'd dug before we went to sleep. It's filled with grayish-black rainwater now, and a shovel sits nearby. Gary blinks and stops moving.

"Not yet," I say reassuringly.

Gary's eyes shut. He's sad. But I can fix that. "How about a movie?" I ask him.

He shakes his head no. But I remember Gary's favorite saying when we were alive: "Every time you say no, you just make me hornier."

So I lift him off the ground and wear him like a backpack. I grab the clamps protruding from each of his arm-stumps (my doing, of course) and snap them into place over my chest.  His dangling tongue brushes the nape of my neck. It feels like cold bologna.

Damn it. I'm getting wistful again. He's bad for me. That's what momma always said. "Gary's bad."

I trudge along a path under the cover of trees. Gary flops and moans. With the pouring rain, we have the whole park to ourselves. I crawl through an opening in the chain-link fence and emerge into a field bordering the drive-in theater. Six screens are playing simultaneously, surrounding several parked cars. I find our favorite spot near the dumpster, unclip Gary and set him down in a puddle.

"I know how to cheer you up," I say. "Romantic comedy."

I rotate him so that he's facing the Katherine Heigl movie. We've already seen it four times, but I don't care. It's funny, and I know Gary likes it too. Death has changed everything about him. He enjoys spending time with me now. And he doesn't smell like beer anymore.

On the screen, a handsome man smiles at Katherine Heigl, and it makes me think of Steve. I can't help it.

Old Gary was always out drinking. He'd stumble into the house smelling of mixed perfume and sex. Not Steve, though. Steve made me feel sexy. Steve read books, recited poetry. So young! And I was his first lay—a married woman with experience. Steve had me pinned beneath him, my legs wrapped around his butt, when Gary came home from the strip-club. Gary didn't wait for an explanation. He just shot me in the face, then fired three bullets into Steve before turning the gun on himself. Then we all woke up in the morgue and ripped off our toe tags, confused. Gary and Steve didn't know what to do next.

But I did.

"Ooh, this is the best part." I peel Gary's eyelids open so he can watch Katherine Heigl do a pratfall. She giggles as the handsome man helps her to her feet. Their eyes lock. They kiss.

I sigh and stroke what's left of Gary's mullet. "Are you hungry? I'm hungry."

I find the remains of the homeless man I killed last night. Leftovers. He's rank, but edible. Drool falls from Gary's cavernous mouth. I pull off strips of meat and feed them to my husband, shoving them down his throat. His tongue waves in the air with every swallow and his eyes roll to the back of his head.

We eat. We watch the movie. We enjoy our last night together. And when the movie ends, it's time to go. I throw Gary over my back. We return to the pond where his grave awaits.

"I know what you're thinking," I say when we get there. I drop him into the wet hole. His eyes are frantic, looking past me at the sky, the remains of our dinner still fresh on his pale cheeks. For a moment he looks like old Gary—alive Gary—and I shudder. I don't like old Gary. I clamp his stumps behind his back so he can't dig his way out.

"You think I'll come back, right?" I shovel mud on top of him, filling the empty space. "I've come back four times already. So you're thinking, 'Why would this time be any different?' But you're wrong. I'm leaving you. For real."

I see the glimmer in Gary's eyes before the mud covers them. He knows the insincerity of my words. By now Gary knows the truth: I'm not in love with him; I'm in love with the act of leaving him.

I finish the job and pat the wet earth as the rain builds. The water soaks the bullet hole in my left eye and I think of Steve.

Oh, I hope Steve remembers that love poem, the one he wrote for me. He always says the most romantic things. I hope I can remember where I buried him.


This is my entry in the Zombie Luv Flash Fiction Contest. If you'd like to enter, here are the guidelines:
Contest Guidelines:
  • Word count: maximum 1.000
  • The story must be a romance between two zombies. Make it as horrific as you like. ;)
  • Stories containing animal cruelty, torture, graphic sex or violence, any form of exaltation of violence, racism or other forms of prejudice will be immediately disqualified.
  • Post your entry on your own blog, with a title resembling this:
Zombie Luv Flash Fic Contest: Story Title
  • Leave your story title and a link to the story entry post as a comment at mari's randomities:
  • Copy and paste the contest logo and the guidelinesat the end of your entry post.