Olivia tiredly trudged down the steep, rocky walk toward the village. It had been a disappointing journey for the most part. She hoped this wouldn’t be another town that enforced masks. She always kept one handy, but it frequently smudged the pasty pancake makeup liberally applied on her face. Didn’t do much for her black lipstick and heavy mascara either.
She was barely an adult, not quite twenty. Yet it seemed like she had been searching forever. The scene before her was almost antithetical to both herself and her quest. It could have been a town out of her great-grandma’s favorite movie, the “Sound of Music.” High clock tower, quaint houses and buildings, a study in pastels. And she was a girl of stark blacks and whites punctuated by multiple piercings. For her, goth was not a passing fancy.
Hoisting the straps of her backpack higher on her shoulders, she continued the descent. Unlike that crappy movie she’d been made to endlessly watch when she was little, there was no music from the hamlet, no church bells, not even birds singing. Maybe everyone was dead. The thought sent a thrill up her spine, putting a smile on her face.
She stubbed her toe on the first cobblestone, but heavy walking boots shielded her from the pain, not that she minded pain. Of course, she was more expert at delivering than receiving, which was a lesson her last boyfriend learned all too well. Olivia’s ash lips trembled just a moment remembering Darrell’s nude corpse. He’d been such a fine boy, but his heart just wasn’t in it, and stopped at the most inopportune moment.
She started at a sudden sound, but it was just the wind blowing a loose shutter, slamming it shut against one of the high windows to her right.
She walked on, a rumbling in her stomach reminding her she hadn’t eaten since yesterday. Maybe one of the local cafes could serve a bearable avocado toast. She made for the patio of what looked like a small eatery and noticed a patron asleep at a table sitting on a wooden platform.
“Excuse me,” she called. “Can you tell me if they’re open yet?”
At first there was no response. He could have been homeless, or dead, or both. She walked a little closer and a lot slower. “Hey, I’m talking to you.” Still nothing. Wait. Did he move his arm? No, just the breeze fluttering his sleeve. The wind off of the lake was cold.
“I did see you move. You’re faking being sleep.”
And move he did. His bones creaked as he sat up. The circles around his sunken eyes were darker than hers. Hair long, stringy, filthy. Clothing was rags, and his skin sagged like his trousers when he stood. Seeing her for the first time, he grinned, crooked, yellow teeth jutting outward. There was something hanging between two of them. It could have been flesh.
“I knew it! Finally!” Olivia jumped up and down with the glee of an excited toddler.
More of them began to emerge from around corners, out of doorways, upward from the docks.
“That’s the kind of virus I’m talking about. I wanted zombies and they gave me face masks and social distancing. Now I’ve found zombies.”
They crowded her, welcoming Olivia home as one of their own.
Every week, Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo sets forth a Thursday Photo Prompt or #writephoto. The idea is to use an original photo on Sue’s blog as the prompt for crafting a short story, poem, or other creative work.
I haven’t participated in one of these in a long time, but my writing desire has waned and I need a boost. Plus it’s nice to visit old companions again.
Sue’s prompt said “fantasy,” but 2020 has been more of a horror show.
I got the idea for this tale from various memes I’ve seen on social media. You’ve probably seen them.
Click HERE to find out more and to read other stories based on the prompt.