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Meat Coma Copyright © 2013 by Craig Jones All rights reserved. No part of this story (e-book) may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or book reviews. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidences are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Edited by Terry Wright Cover Art by Terry Wright ISBN 978-1-936991-58-7


By Craig Jones My name is Martin Dade, and I want everyone to know the zombie apocalypse was not my fault. I didn’t start it. I didn’t end it. But I did take advantage of it. Talk about bad karma. How was I to know it would come back to bite me? I’d heard the virus spread through saliva, or so the government had told us in the aftermath of the chaos, the carnage, and the death. The bite was just the conduit through which the disease was transferred and not the actual cause of the horrific symptoms. If one of the infected even spat on us, the virus could permeate our skin, get into our bloodstream, and burrow itself in the most primitive part of our brains. And that was the reason contaminated people were driven to bite, because the infection stripped human beings back to their ancestral instincts: feeding and surviving. Lucky for us, survival was built into us all, not just the zombies. Zombies. It became the word everyone used for what the people we knew and loved morphed into, but in truth, this wasn’t a case of the dead coming back to life. It was more that they refused to die. The shuffling walk, the arthritic gait, the groaning matched up with what


we’d all experienced in movies, books, and comics for generations, and it was easier to call them zombies instead of the labels they’d held before. Brother. Sister. Father. Wife. Of course, they had something in common with Romero’s cinematic undead and the hand-drawn horde Rick Grimes fought beyond simple choreography. They bit. They fed. Like carnivorous locusts when the urge, when the instinct, took over, they seemed insatiable. But they had their limits. It was like the difference between dogs and cats. The zombies from fiction would feed and feed and feed, doglike, never sated, always looking for one more treat from the table that served up mankind. In reality, the infected that roamed our streets were more feline. They’d eat when they were hungry, and when replete, they’d stop. They’d turn away from even the weakest of victims. The change in their behaviour from deadly to docile could be instantaneous. Faster mood swings than a woman with PMS. I had heard one story about a kid who’d watched his entire family get devoured by a dozen of those ravenous ex-humans, and then afterwards, when they transformed to their listless waltz, he was able to walk through the lot of them without drawing attention. I wonder if his nightmares have gone away yet. That trance-like state


they slipped into after feeding became known as the Meat Coma. A safe time to get the fuck out of harm’s way. The Meat Coma phenomenon had saved many lives, but there was guilt among the survivors, a shadow that painted itself on their faces because maybe, just maybe, their own unique survival instinct had kicked in, and they’d been prepared to go that one extra step to preserve their own life by making sure the zombies had lost interest in hunting because they’d properly fed on others. A kind of blood sacrifice. But hey, shit happens, right? Nearly a year had passed since the military rounded up the last of the zombies. Because of the Meat Coma, we humans were never in danger of being wiped out; we were never going to lose the war for survival. A couple of hundred thousand dead, half a million infected, the toll was high, but the prisoners of this war couldn’t just be shot or euthanized like the animals they’d become, because they still had rights. It wasn’t that they had been vomited out of Hell; it was that thousands upon thousands of people had simply gotten sick. And there was no cure. I found it bizarre that, in the time it took to erect the fences and silo the infected into massive open prisons, family members had shifted their perspective from trying to kill their ill relatives into claiming their captivity was unjust, and that the government should pay out compensation to the families. In response, there were reports of mass executions. The


government claimed soldiers were losing the plot. Unable to take the throaty growls or those blank stares any longer, the guards just opened fire on their charges. And they could be killed, not just in the traditional, zombie fiction, smash-the-brain-in manner, but if they took a shot to any major organ, then down they’d go. Problem solved. However, major injuries that would floor a regular human had no effect on the zombies. Like the bites in the first place. Half the sick bastards walking around had at least one chomp mark as their identification badge: missing ears, lips, noses, chunks of muscle, abdomens ripped open, guts hanging out. Some were missing all or part of a limb. The worst injury I saw, some guy didn’t have a jaw bone. Saliva and blood spilt from his exposed palate, and his tongue protruded like a slimy antennae, licking the arm he had torn from a victim but unable to bite off a chunk of meat. At the time, I hadn’t realized that I’d seen the most pointless zombie in history. I laughed afterwards, though. Oh man, did I laugh. No Meat Coma for him. I’d not seen my neighbours, Peter and Claire, since the virus had been successfully quarantined. They’d suffered the terrible loss of their daughter, Jayne, and had become insular, shunning even me, their closest neighbour, but then, out here in the boonies, it wasn’t uncommon to go weeks without seeing each other. Our farm houses were separated by over a mile of open fields where my wife, Katie, used to ride her horses. Jayne often joined her, and we came to an arrangement with Peter and Claire that if their


daughter helped muck out the stables, she’d be welcome to ride on our property whenever she wanted. Jayne was delighted, of course, and so was I. She was a pleasure to have around. Twenty-one and easy on the eye. It made for a delightful change to have someone vivacious and beautiful come visit me. Katie was on the wrong side of menopause and couldn’t excite me with a twenty volt battery hooked up straight to my groin, so to engage in sex with someone youthful and eager to please was liberating. Such a waste of sweet flesh had gone down the zombies’ gullets. Peter had been a proper farmer, not like us, but as I drove along the lane between our homes, I could see that his fields were untended, barren and sparse. The fences had long since fallen in disrepair. Jayne’s death had hit them hard, and until this week they’d only had minimal interaction with the outside world. And then the phone rang, and Peter invited me over for dinner, taking me so much by surprise that I was struck dumb. “It’s time for us to move on,” he’d said. I rushed a reply that I’d very much like to, that it would be nice to see them again. “We’re not the only ones who were affected. We need to realise that,” he’d concluded. And I began to dread that the night would simply be us sitting around, morbidly recalling our favourite memories of our lost loved ones.


That would be one heck of a one-sided little chit chat! I would be happy to join in and tell him how much I missed Jayne too, but that wasn’t what they wanted to hear, not the reasons why I missed her, anyway, and why she was the one I thought about late at night when I was alone and feeling horny. Not exactly appropriate banter with after dinner coffee, for sure. I swung my Mercedes into their driveway and killed the engine. The sun was setting behind the distant hills, and the bare trees were silhouetted against the orange glow of the sky. Autumn had taken hold of the land, and the evening was already chilly. A shiver ran down my spine. I wished for a brief second that Jayne would be inside, waiting to warm me up. But she wasn’t, so perhaps Claire would do.

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About the Author

Originally from South Wales, I have held a wide range of jobs from tennis player to gym manager to health service worker. I turned 42 in October, am married to Claire, and we have an 18-month-old boy called Shane who keeps me up at night more than any horror movie I might watch. I went to school with Catherine Zeta-Jones, have played tennis with Jamie Redknapp, and coached Great Britain’s first ever World Number One tennis player. I have always loved horror stories, having grown up with Jason Voorhees and his slasher friends, and I love writing them even more. The thought of taking normal people and putting them in terrifying situations gives me a fantastic buzz. I hope to convey that buzz to my readers in every story I write.

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