Ten years ago, everything stopped—corruption and progress both. Heck, for a lot of people, something more important stopped: their heartbeats. Unfortunately for some, halted heartbeats didn’t mean death. It meant there were going to be more of them.
The Undead, if we’re going to be politically correct. Then again, it isn’t like they’re going to be offended. It’s not like their brains are still functioning. Right?
We could only wish.
My story began ten years ago. When I was a child, orphaned when zombies took my family. Well, I say took, but I mean ate. And then they turned. And then I was next on the menu. And irony of all ironies, the closest place I could hide in was a food stall that used to sell greasy burgers.
Thank goodness for the smell of lard. Industrial strength. It masked my scent from the zombies. And it afforded me a whole night of sleep, however fitful.
Three people found me. But because of my age at the time, 6, I was given to Liz, a police woman. Well, she was wearing a police uniform, I assumed she was a police woman. She never really confirmed what she used to do prior to the outbreak. But she took me to Camp Crame. That’s where we holed up for four months, before the supplies ran out and people started going crazy.
Liz took me and we left the place. And we ran. And ran. And the whole thing was a blur. Mostly. I remember us breaking into homes for temporary shelter. Staying at the stronger forts for a week at most, and barely hours in the ones that Liz called death traps.
Somewhere along the way, I lost Liz.
And I was alone.
And then I found myself in this camp of survivors where I met Nina. She was 10, I was 9. And I was in love with her. The other survivors thought it was cute. Nina didn’t believe me.
For seven years, she didn’t believe me. She saw me as a friend, as a brother—never as anything more than that. She told me to like someone else. But it doesn’t work like that. You can’t teach the heart to love. It just does.
When Nina told me we were going to sneak out, I told her I would do anything for her. I thought I was finally going to prove to her how much I loved her. And I was right.
That night, as the group figured out who would take turns guarding the camp, Nina and I left. We knew no one would notice. At least, not yet. We were on guard duty the night before. They never put us on guard duty for two nights in a row. Not if we can help it.
So we left. And to make sure no one notices, we didn’t take any supplies.
That wasn’t a very smart thing to do, looking back on it now. Heck, sneaking out wasn’t a very smart thing to do. But you know what? It’s not like I died.
Oh, but I did.
Nina took me to a nearby cemetery. It was a special place for her, she mentioned before. It was where her father was buried. He died before the end of the world. He never turned. And here we were, paying our respects.
I was paying my respects to someone I never got to know.
Somewhere in Quezon City, my family was shambling about. If no one’s gotten to them yet. If no one has quieted them yet.
Cemeteries are creepy. They bring out all these morbid thoughts, as you’ve evidenced in what I remembered. But one more creepy thing about it? Is the fact that people still believed that you can bury the dead.
That the dead won’t rise anymore.
There was a freshly dug grave beside the one Nina’s father was buried in. The newly turned dirt was a big giveaway.
As Nina neared her father’s headstone, I realized how big a mistake we were making. The dirt beside Nina’s father wasn’t just freshly turned—it was freshly disturbed.
And as Nina leaned down to put flowers on her father’s grave, a hand shot up and grabbed her leg. And pulled.
Nina hit her head on her father’s headstone. The snap was loud enough for me to hear. And then the pulling stopped. The hand lost interest.
And I knew.
That night at the cemetery. As I picked up a slab of stone and approached the zombie that lay beside Nina’s father. I knew one thing.
I have lost the will to live.
Then I waited for Nina to stir and rise.