In September, I announced a contest for writers of Zombie fiction and poetry, challenging them to come up with something that involved zombies eating memories. I had few entries, but they were all very good, making it difficult to choose which one was the best.
It came down to two, both well written and well told. But I still had to pick only one. The winner is: L. A. Hamilton. Below is her story. Congrats goes out to you and a big thank you to all the participants in the contest.
And now Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:
Eternal Sunshine Of An Undead Mind
By L. A. Hamilton
Artwork by Blackfire Ink
All work by L. A. Hamilton and Blackfire Ink is copyrighted. Any use of images and/or story without the permission of either writer or artist is strictly prohibited.
My name is Annie. I am one of the intact. There aren’t many of us left. I live with twenty others crammed in a penthouse apartment on the Isle of Dogs. But live isn’t quite the right word. Survive seems more fitting. There is no running water, no electricity, no gas. We scavenge and we hide. We make it through each day and that is enough.
It’s strange what you miss when the world goes all to hell. I miss the music. There is no music anymore and no one wants to sing. Sometimes I try but my voice sounds so sad I have to stop. I like to steal books. They are stacked around the small space in which I sleep. They are my refuge.
We can’t be the only survivors, can we? Surely London isn’t the last place on the mainland where people still exist? I say people because those things out there aren’t people anymore. They still look human, but that’s it. You just have to look in their eyes to know that there is nothing human left.
It happened about a year ago. It was hard to keep time especially at the beginning but I felt the seasons change. Now it is autumn. The leaves fall but there is no one to brush them away. They are orange, gold and brown and they crunch underfoot. I used to love running through them and kicking great sprays of rust into the air. Now I avoid the leaves, they unnecessary noise that might bring them to me.
It was a dirty bomb, filled with chemicals stolen from the MOD lab in Porton Down, designed to destabilise enemy populations. It did that alright. It affected the memory. Once you’re infected you lose every memory you’ve ever had. You lose your humanity. Worse than that it leaves you with a hunger, and not your typical zombie-lusting-for-brains-hunger either. They steal your memories and leave you like one of them: Incapable of feeling, the living dead, spectres.
Some nights I dream of my own death, of escape from this wasteland. Then at dawn I stand in front of the grimy glass doors which lead to the balcony and wish I had the courage to hurl myself over. I wouldn’t be the first. What do I have to live for any more? Everyone I cared about is dead, or worse. But I don’t have the strength. Instead I force myself to go outside to look for him.
I had been waiting for some time. I don’t how long. Time is meaningless. Sometimes it’s dark, other times the light hurts my eyes. I don’t feel heat or cold. I don’t feel anything. Except when I feed on them, then I feel alive. Then I feel everything just for a few seconds, then it fades and I am so hungry again.
It is light now. The street I wait on is deserted. The occasional gust of wind stirs the detritus around me. There is a reflection in the glass that sticks jaggedly out from the remains of a window. I don’t know who it is. The face I see in the faint reflection could be anyone’s.
There are some symbols scratched into my left arm. The wounds have barely healed and they are smeared with dirt. They mean nothing to me. I cannot read them though sometimes I stare at them for hours. Is it my name?
In the glass I notice again that I’m wearing a stupid hat. It’s filthy. I haven’t taken it off. I won’t. I must have put it on for a reason when I was still alive. Technically I am alive. I breathe. I walk. Sometimes I sleep. But I subsist on memories that are not my own.
I know I wasn’t always like this. I was one of them, one of the afraid. That’s how we all started. But they are less whilst we are many, others like me. We are all looking for the same thing. I cannot describe the hunger. It pervades everything. It drives me to kill. I do not want to hurt them, only take from them what I have lost, but they struggle so much. They kick and scream and fight me. I wonder did I cry and beg for mercy or did I welcome the end when it finally came? I don’t know. Is it better to feel everything, or only the hunger?
It’s one of them that I wait for now. She often walks this way but she is careful and I have never been able to catch her. I think she is beautiful even though she is always sad. Today she is distracted. She does not see me watching her. She thinks the street is deserted. She forces open the door to an old bookshop and lets herself inside. I wait until she is out of sight and cross the road some distance further down. I retrace her steps and wait outside the shop until I can hear her returning. My heart beats faster. I am so hungry.
I am on her before she knows what is happening. She screams and shouts just like all the others before her. I want her to stop. I don’t want to hurt her. I want to comfort her and tell her it will be better when she is one of us, but I don’t have the words. She claws at my arms scratching away the message that I cannot decipher. Blood runs down my arm thick and red but I feel nothing. I close my lips around hers and am lost in an ecstasy of memory. There is a rush of colour, the smell of baking bread fills my head, I am kicking leaves, I can hear music, I am on a swing, I am dancing, I am in love. There is one face over and over. I have seen him before. He wears a stupid hat.