13 July 2012

"The Rule of Three"

By Curtis C. Chen

"Reload!" Janelle reached behind her and grasped empty air. "Reload, dammit!"

"No more speedloaders!" Traci shouted. "Use the shotgun!"

Janelle cursed, holstered the revolver, and swung the Remington off her shoulder and forward into both hands. She leveled the barrel at the abomination that was shambling toward them.

Thick, syrupy blood oozed from its neck and face, where four of the revolver rounds had torn through the gray flesh. At least one of those bullets must have gone through the brain—what was left of it, anyway.

So why is it still walking?

"There's only one," Janelle said. "This is a waste of ammo!"

"Seriously?" Traci said.

The zombie raised one skeletal arm toward their barricade. Janelle fired the shotgun, and the skull disintegrated with a sickening noise.

She lowered her weapon. "We need to get out of here."

"Finally, we agree—WHAT THE FUCK!"

Two clawlike hands appeared on top of the barricade and pulled up the rest of the undead body. The neck was a gray-red stump, leaking blood in weak spurts. The zombie drew itself up on top of the barricade.

Janelle fired again, and again, taking off both of the zombie's hands at the wrists. But it had already levered itself over the barricade, and tumbled onto the floor.

"It's still moving!" Traci said. "Why the fuck is it still moving?"

The zombie dragged itself to its wrists and knees and began crawling toward them. Janelle backed up, pressing herself against the wall next to Traci. We don't have enough ammo for this.

Something buzzed loudly from the doorway, and all the lights in the building went out. Janelle cursed and aimed the shotgun at where she hoped the zombie was.

But the shuffling had stopped. She heard clicking noises.

"Flashlight's dead," Traci said. Something snapped, and then a yellow light appeared.

She tossed the glowstick onto the floor, where the zombie lay sprawled, motionless.

"The hell?" Traci said, kneeling.

"Don't get too close," Janelle said.

"No worries, it's off now," came a voice from the doorway.

Janelle brought the shotgun up just as a flashlight went on, pointed at the ceiling, revealing a tall woman wearing police body armor. Both her hands were raised above her head.

"We're all friends here, now," the stranger said.

"That buzzing noise," Janelle said. "You did something to the zombie?"

"EMP. And it's not a zombie. That's why it didn't stop after you decapitated it."

"So what the hell is it?"

"It's a robot."

Janelle grimaced. "I'm not in the mood for jokes."

"No joke," the stranger said. "Nanotechnology gone wrong. Real bad news."

"That seems... implausible," Traci said.

"That ain't even the weird part," the stranger said.

"So what is the weird part?" Janelle asked.

"You know about the aliens, right?"

Janelle gaped. "Aliens."

"Yup," the stranger said. "Honest-to-gosh, invasion-from-outer-space, flying-saucer aliens. Seen 'em with my own eyes."

"I do not believe this," Janelle grumbled.

"Well," Traci said, "they do say that bad news comes in threes."

"Please shut up now."


Image: Zombie by Nathan Rupert, July, 2009