by Chris McKenna
Gary woke sluggishly from his sleep and started up at sign that said, 'Be an artist,' in large bold letters. How long ago had he hung that up there he wondered? How many mornings had he woken up and ignored his past self? Enough was enough. With all the effort he could muster he stood up on his bed and yanked the flimsy paper from the ceiling, tossing it across the room and just missing the bin - he'd put it in when got back from work.
Grimly he pulled his shirt and trousers from around the room where they had been abandoned the day before and pulled his tie a little too tightly around his neck. He didn't look good. Why hadn't he gone to bed earlier he wondered, looking at the dark bags under his eyes. Why had he stayed up all night doing nothing? It was going to be another long day.
He made his way out the door pulling his jacket tightly around him. There were others out on the cold wet morning streets. He passed them without a greeting as always. His head forcing his reluctant legs onwards. The trains weren't far at least.
As always the station was crowded, lines of people shuffling through the gates like a herd of cows. Someone pushed against Gary more than necessary and without looking at the man he jolted him away to one side with his hip. The man gave out a loud unnatural groan and disappeared into the crowd. Passing the gate, another commuter pressed closely against his back, an automatic shove drove him back. People were always so eager to get to the trains. Didn't they realise that they left at the same time every day? Didn't they realise there wouldn’t be any seats anyway?
He made his way to the waiting carriage, being forced and nudged on all sides, the people closing into to a tight press. He heard another strange groan in the crowd and wondered if the same man who had been shoving him was somewhere nearby. It wouldn't matter; all people were faceless in the crowd. He wouldn't remember anyone and no one would remember him.
Getting on the train he grabbed on to one of the handles that hung from the carriage ceiling and rested his head against his hand; of course, all the seats had been taken already. He could never work out how people could get on the train so fast before everyone else.
More people crowded into the carriage until the bodies were so tightly packed that there was really no need for Gary to hold on any more, there was nowhere for him to fall. In the press the bodies smelled bad, they always did, but today much more than usual. There was a rotting smell somewhere in the carriage, it happened from time to time that you got stuck behind some overweight businessman who's shirt was already drenched in sweat by the time he got to the station, but today was much worse. He'd just have to deal with it.
As the train jolted to a start Gary began to wonder why he was doing it to himself. He was supposed to be a comic book artist, not some officer worker. When he had hung that sign on the ceiling above his bed he had promised himself the job was only to make enough so that he could take a year out, so that he could survive and get his first graphic novel finished. What had he been doing for the past three years? How had he become so caught up in it all? An energy rose up with in him that he had not felt in a long time and strength and determination he had forgotten he had. No longer, he thought to himself. He'd wasted enough time, he was getting off at the next station and never going back to an office again unless he was starving. He smiled to himself at his new freedom. The choice made him feel awake, made him feel excited, made him feel alive!
He looked around the carriage getting ready to make his way to the door, when he realised with dread that he was already too late. The faces around him were not those of the living. Their flesh and skin was rotten, their heads drooped and hanging, here and there they groaned in the sway of the carriage. Aware of Gary's new found life the closest of the zombies turned to him. Even with part of the creatures face missing, Gary could see the lust on his face. He turned tried to run, but there was nowhere to go, the doors were sealed the bodies packed too tightly to escape. Effortlessly the creature bit into his neck, other zombies grabbing at him yanking and tearing his skin with inhuman strength. In minutes he was torn apart, his life ripped from him, but truly he had already died long ago.
If you liked this story, look out for my new book 'Paradigms'. Available December 2010 via http://www.gypsyshadow.com/
Check out my website: www.McKennastories.co.cc