Monday, June 7, 2010

Top of the World

Anyone who knows me (and that number is pretty low) knows that my idea of a short story is 2000 words minimum.

I've never tried flash fiction, but I decided to do it this week, simply because of the challenge -- that is, the challenge of not getting on CJ's bad side (and becoming a victim in a future "Vampire Vacation" novel).

Seriously, though, my flash fiction deals with a subject I have never written about before, in all my years of doing science fiction and horror. I won't spoil it, so you'll just have to read it:

Top of the World

Frank stood tall, stretched out his arms and let the cool breeze wash over him. It felt so wonderful against his skin. Even better was the sun’s rays as they warmed his face and he felt as if he had been born again.

He opened his eyes, gazed out over the horizon and smiled.

The sky was blue, interrupted every now and then by wispy white clouds. The sun shone brightly, the first time he had seen it in at least a month.

Somewhere a bird chirped. He turned his head and watched a red-tailed hawk soaring gracefully to the west. Wow, he thought to himself. How long had it been since he’d seen a bird?

His ears picked up the wailing. He knew he could not block it out forever. His smile faded a bit and he stepped forward, leaned out and gazed down.

They were still there. The hordes. Ashen-faced, stumbling.

Once they had been his neighbors, his friends, his co-workers. Now, they had become the living dead.

Frank didn’t know how it happened. Maybe something had come with the storm systems that had blackened the skies for the last month.

He really didn’t care. All he knew was that it had happened.

The wind picked up and he knew he was done.

But, he glanced back over his shoulder, through the valley between the mountains and saw the helicopters circling around the main airport. He knew they were dropping off the hundreds of people they had airlifted out of his town.

Frank knew it because he had been the decoy. He didn’t know why he had volunteered. Maybe because he felt he hadn’t been carrying his weight lately. Not at the job. Not in his community. He was never going to get to the top, so why not?

He had driven the truck full of rotting meat slowly through the streets to attract the living dead, who rushed after him, reaching for his cargo like dope addicts.

He had lured them all into the old National Guard armory. Had blown their brains out, even as he retched at taking the lives of so many people he had known in better times.

He had volunteered to do it, so that National Guard helicopters could fly in during a break in the rain and take his fellow uninfected citizens to safety.

Now, he was on top of the roof of the power plant, barricaded in, unable to get out, feeling the wind picking up and knowing that meant that no helicopter could risk the updrafts cycling through the mountains to get him.

He patted the pistol in his shoulder holster. He still had the one bullet left and he knew how he would use it.

Not just yet, though.

He sat down on the roof, crossed his legs, closed his eyes and let the sun warm him and the cool breeze wash over him again.

Top of the world, he thought. Top of the world.


  1. Gulp... I have to follow that? (Nice one, Greg) Well, its back to my writing tablet to pen my first piece of flash fiction!

  2. Thanks. Thanks to the plethora of hacks poorly copying George Romero, I'd gotten turned off by the modern zombie genre (except for "Return of the Living Dead"). So, it was a challenge to come up with something that fit the mode but wasn't totally apocalyptic.

  3. Sorry about that. I thought that since it was my first zombie piece, that it would be average at best.

    Good luck with the rewrite.

  4. You sure packed a lot of information in such a short piece. I loved it!

  5. Thanks. That's what happens when you have to cut way back to get down to 500 words.