I don’t know if I’ll get in trouble for telling my story. I was never warned against it by the doctors or the nurses or the cops, but I was called mentally unstable. Gaslighted. Tricked into believing my memories were fantasies. But I know what I went through. I know the truth being hid to keep America clueless. So here it goes…
It was Halloween of 2015, so when I saw people stumbling around the street, blood stretched over their shirts, I didn’t think anything of it.
I was sitting on the stoop, slouched over in a scarecrow costume, waiting for them to reach into my bowl of candy so I could jump up and scare the ever-living shit out of them. But they didn’t. They just wobbled past, groaning like they had a stomachache that no amount of sweets could fix.
The group, which must have contained at least thirty people, went by without a glance in my direction. Then a car zoomed past (way too fast on a day when kids were lining the block) and the group changed direction. Probably drunk off their asses, looking for a ride.
Thinking nothing of it, I ignored them and waited for the next group to show.
Around dinnertime, a thirteen-year-old girl, who I swore showed up earlier that morning dressed as Ariel, wobbled up to me. This time, she was dressed as some sort of zombie mermaid, her skirt torn and fake blood dripping from her cavity ridden teeth.
I hated when tweens changed their costume and returned to squeeze more candy out of me. So when she walked up, I said, “Listen kid, you don’t need another Ring Pop that badly. You’re not…”
I trailed off when she kept walking, a little too close to me. Or maybe it was when I noticed that she wasn’t holding a pillowcase or plastic pumpkin. She was just staring emptily at me, like she was sleepwalking.
“Umm, okay, where do you live? Are you close by?” I asked, reaching out to grab her shoulder. I thought someone might’ve slipped something into her candy. Drugged her. I was going to help her.
But then the little bitch bit me. Right on my wrist. At first, I thought it would leave faint teeth marks that would fade in an hour, but she actually sunk in. Deep. Too deep. She pulled at my veins. Ripped a chunk of flesh the size of a golf ball out of me. If I wanted to, I could have touched the bone.
I had to shove her–shove a 100 pound tween girl–to get her to back off. My skin was hanging from her goddamn mouth and the piece was getting smaller by the second. She was chewing on it. Swallowing it.
I stumbled into the house, bolted the door, and called the cops. Busy signal. Didn’t matter how many times I tried. It was always busy.
A couple of minutes later, after wrapping my wound with beach towels and climbing into my car, I realized why.
Zombies. Everywhere. It sounds cartoonish, a silly word to describe a fantasy monster, but I don’t have a better word for it. They all looked like the girl that bit me. White skinned and dead eyed and drenched with blood. I could hear them groaning, even with my windows shut tight. And I could see a few of them, trailing after my car, as slow as slugs.
And, as I got closer to the hospital, I could hear gunfire.
I didn’t see them at first. The men and women dressed in riot gear. Holding automatic weapons. Driving fucking tanks.
I didn’t see one until he stood in front of my car, arm out, ordering me to stop. He peeked around my Toyota Camry, shot a few zombies that were flanking me, and walked up to my window. I thought he would help. I really thought he would.
But when I opened my car door, he knocked me in the head with the butt of his gun, and darkness swallowed me.
I woke up in a heaven-bright hospital, drugs pouring into my veins through see-through tubes. My vision was screwy, grey dots hovering over my irises like little ghosts, but when they cleared, I noticed the call button. I reached my hand out to press it–at least I thought I did—until I realized it was nonexistent.
My entire arm, the arm that had been bitten, was missing. Cut off a few inches above the elbow. The stub was wrapped up in white bandages soaked with red.
When the doctor strolled in, he didn’t mention anything about monsters or zombies or cannibalism. He told me there was a flood that wiped out my entire town, but I was lucky enough to survive—on a rooftop that peaked out from the water—for four days until rescue came. That I must’ve gotten my arm crushed when the water first flooded in and by the time they got to me it was so rotten that they couldn’t do anything except remove it.
He claimed that the emotional distress and physical fatigue caused whatever hallucinations I was having about the undead. But whenever I asked him questions about the supposed flood, he kept changing the facts. Bullshitting, I could tell.
After they released me, I ended up living with my aunt across the country, who treated my mind like a blackboard with erasable memories. But even though I was trained to never talk about what really happened, I always thought about it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately…
I went back to my hometown once, just to see it, and everything was destroyed. Houses uprooted. Trees torn to splinters. The men in riot gear must have bombed the place. Or at least roughed it up enough to destroy the evidence of what really happened.
Well, there’s not much else to say… But Halloween is coming up again and I don’t know how the undead work IRL. I don’t know if they rise once per year. If a straggler got loose from my hometown and will eventually stumble into yours. So, please, be careful. Be smart. Be skeptical. You never know when a costume isn’t a costume.