This week we are offering Joel A. Coughlin's tale "Sunday Afternoon In The Park Just After The Zombie Apocalypse" to satisfy your monster.
This is Joel A. Coughlin's first publication, which is what we strive to be a part of at Feed Your Monster.
Joel is a preschool teacher (who works with little monsters all day) from Buffalo New York and a part-time writer anytime he can get his hands on his keyboard.
Sunday Afternoon In The Park Just After The Zombie Apocalypse
By Joel A. Coughlin
Tyler and Gracie Jones had been married for over twenty-three years and tomorrow would mark their twenty-fourth. If things went they way they said it would, they would reach quarter century in another year and a day. They sat on a bench underneath a weeping willow tree watching the orange puffs that resembled clouds float by below the real clouds like a membrane. There was a chill in the air and both Tyler and Gracie snuggled together: a little for warmth - a little for love.
The dead zombies were being cleaned up quite quickly today. They had watched what had been became called “The meat wagon” really a huge truck, much like a trash compactor where the crew (there were always eight to a crew) threw the things in by hand or by shovel if they happened to be in pieces. Once full a lever was pulled and they were all compacted to the back. Of course blood and other innards or juices flowed over the front lip of the vehicle, that's when the highest paid four men took those to another truck a lot like a juicer, and poured them into the top funnel for disposal.
The men were wearing masks and suits, not for contamination reasons – I get this on me or I touch a zombie I turn into one – there was so much of the “solution” pumping through the air you could swim in their guts if you wanted (or had a mind) to. They wore clothing like any garbage collector might.
It had become Tyler and Gracie's tradition to come to the park on Sunday and watch the clean up. They also brought a nice Cabernet.
“He's a hunky man...” Gracie said, half eyeing Tyler.
Gracie pointed to a very muscular Hispanic fellow. “Maybe I'll run away with him.”
“You do I'll beat him up!” He smiled.
When the “zombie apocalypse” occurred about five years ago it was worse than any show or movie you could imagine. But then about two years ago scientists discovered a specific way to kill the things without harming one living human being. It was a simple compound when sprayed on them they dropped dead - again. At the latest count there were over a billion “zombies” or as CNN called them “Anti-People.” They also had an interesting expose on whether or not the “solution” (The press had dubbed the compound) would “harm” the zombies.
Tested on people who still had beating hearts it had no consequences at all! They were absolutely fine and in fact the compound was now sold in stores because it worked so well as an antihistamine. The compound - nay the “solution” was named compound FR after its inventor Fritz Rountree. The compound was clear. But the orange was added as an aroma factor a tangy smell to cover up the rotting flesh (and it had worked) quite nicely until people began complaining of the tangy smell. Tyler thought this was ridiculous. Would they rather smell the stench of death? So Congress passed the Aroma Act of 2017. Basically the smell of tangy would still be present but just in a weekly to monthly rotation of pineapple, rose, ginger, and even mint. That particular stench was pulled when it turned out over half the population across the country barfed after smelling the mint for a day and a half.
Tyler and Gracie watched the late afternoon Zombie pickup hand in hand on the bench drinking Chardonnay and getting very buzzed. They had brought two bottles and Tyler had just polished off the second one. He let it drop into the picnic basket. They looked out into the new reality. The orange compound FR, the fragrance of orange which was one of Gracie's favorites floated around them. Above the orange puffs and beyond the white clouds the sky was turning plumb color.
The truck lurched forward maybe fifty feet and stopped to pick up an arm and Gracie said, “Let's make a bet.”
“You're drunk my dear and our Uber will be here soon,” Tyler said.
She looked this way at him and smiled, even for sixty with her red-pink lipstick, crows feet and silver hair, she was still the most beautiful woman Tyler had ever met on this Earth.
“Seriously,” she said “If Hector picks up that arm and the arm separates from the wrist you owe me a steak dinner.”
Tyler chortled. “And if I win I get the ten pound burger with extra cheese from 'Cheeseburger Junction.'”
Gracie thought for a moment and then she looked at the hand Hector was now picking up. It was held on by a small sinewy piece of flesh and two tendons.
“You're on, old man,” Gracie said.
So both watched Hector slowly bring the arm to the truck.
“Break! Break, you bastard!” Gracie said.
The arm swayed and Gracie raised her fist yelling, “Come on, you bastard! Separate!”
Gingerly and about ten steps away from the truck Hector began swinging the arm by its hand.
“No!” Tyler said.
Then with a one two three he tossed the arm in the truck.
Both Gracie and Tyler watched the arm fly through the air, never separating and landing square in the back of the truck.
Tyler jumped up and yelled, “Winner!”
“Oh shut up,” she said. She smiled and Tyler sat and looked into her eyes; the setting sun catching their glow of brilliance.
A few moments passed between them.
Gracie said, “Did you ever think we would beat the zombie apocalypse?”
“Remember when I told you in the midst of it that everything would be okay? I did mean it. Really I did. I believed we would and we did.”
A tear rolled down Gracie's face and Tyler reached out and wiped it off when she cupped his wrist and kissed his hand. A bright moment passed between them.
“Where is the stupid Uber?” Tyler said. “It's getting dark. At this, as if his Uber driver read his thoughts, his cell buzzed and he fished it out of his back pocket. “One minute.” it read. In unison they turned around and saw the Ford trundling up past paths that passed for roads made out of the zombies.
The scream was explosive and blood curdling and one of the cleaners screamed, “Oh my God!”
Both Tyler and Gracie looked towards the clean up crew and one of the men, the one Gracie called 'Mr. Hunky-Man' was about ten feet in the air and falling fast. The rest of the crew scattered as the muscular man slammed into the roof of the make-shift garbage truck. Blood splattered in all directions. His head turned completely around and the impact on his right arm made it disengage from his body and hit the concrete. It sounded like a bowl of spaghetti hitting the floor in the kitchen.
It was then that about five vampires converged on the body and began to feast. Long cloaks, sharp cannibal teeth and eyes that looked as red as a rose-petal.
Tyler and Gracie got up quickly and moved to the car. Gracie got in first and Tyler watched as the vampires ate the worker up, ripping flesh and drinking blood. Tyler shook his head.
“Come on!” Gracie said. The panic in her voice was palpable.
“Now,” Tyler said, “if we can only lick this damn vampire problem.”
Tyler climbed in the car which zipped off down the make-shift road.
We hope this week's story has left your monster with a bloody muzzle and a happy stomach. Until next week, may your monster never go hungry.
*Sunday Afternoon In The Park Just After The Zombie Apocalypse © Joel A. Coughlin.