4 of 5 stars.
Included in Extreme Zombies edited by Paula Guran, this short story would make for a great episode of The Twilight Zone. Told in the first person, present tense POV, the tale resounded strongly with a great pace. The narrator, being just a couple hours from home, thinks back on his 23-day journey to get back this far to his house and his Georgie. With everything that he’s seen, he has no delusions that Georgie might have survived whatever befell society. He has not seen a living human in those 23 days. Not a one.
This is not just a survivor’s story, but a survivalist story and the tale of a journey with a known destination–home. When “it” all started, EVERYONE collapsed in agonizing pain. All at once. Within minutes, the populous is dead. The narrator freaks, holes up in his hotel room, eventually decides to drive the 80+ miles to home, to no avail. The roads are impassable with wrecked cars effectively barricading the roads, so the journey proceeds on foot. On the third day, the dead rise–and totter and stumble drunkenly. Over days, the dead pick up their pace, becoming surer footed and moving with purpose. They sense things again. They feel threatened by his presence and lash out; they are all fight and no flight. The narrator learns to stay in the shadows, move at night, keep the quiet. If they get too close, he puts them down with a machete to the head. He keeps track of the bodies he’s downed, more sure of those numbers than that of the passing days.
Much of this story is the journey, and appropriately so. Some of this story is what he finds when he gets home. He both does and does not know what he will find when he gets there. If Georgie is not at the house, then his search will have to continue–because he needs to know. Of course he does. As a bonus, we get a glimpse of what comes next for the narrator. This story is highly recommended.
[Check out my other reviews here.]