Thursday, April 10, 2014

NEW! Short story by Cathy Herbert

Cathy Herbert


I wait, hopefully, for the zombie apocalypse. When I’m packed sardine-close on the commuter bus, I wonder if it has already consumed me. Sitting with mom in the living room that smells of old age and stale cigarettes, I catch a whiff of zombie in the air. She can’t hold a thought in her head. The image on the TV freezes into a patch of pastel squares.

“Picture’s gone,” she states once again, as if it has never happened before. 

“The zombies did it.”

“The neighbors?”

“Yes. They’re not very nice.”

I guess I shouldn’t have invited them for tea.

I feel the signs of the apocalypse in my cold bones, in the cicada-like hum of the fluorescents in my cubicle at the end of the factory floor. I imagine the papers on my desk have scattered on the wind, relics of a time before the zombies.

They say dogs can smell cancer. Perhaps that’s why Clancy no longer wants to lick mom’s face. She coos to him and offers him treats. He takes them, warily, his spindly old-dog tail tucked. When she tries to pick him up, he twists away. She forgets all of this in a heartbeat and believes that she has spent the last hour cradling him, still a puppy, his wiry fur pressed against her multiple chins.

I hear the tea kettle whine, happy that she’s remembered to heat the water. She used to tell me stories, now forgotten, about biscuits called scones, served with a paste made of real fruit and a heavy sweet cream that tastes like heaven. I sense the muted, shuffling footsteps in the kitchen. I know that the zombies are packed tightly against one another. Finally, I will join them. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very moving and intensely raw. Invite me over for tea.