A Dragging, Groaning Love
Andy gazed over at the crouched figure across the abandoned parking lot. His milky eyes focused with interest and his fingers twitched, hanging by his side like waiting spiders.
Vehicles were strewn around the area like toys but he could still see her clearly. The sun was high and bright and displayed her proudly beside a red minivan with shattered windows. She was facing him, hunched over an unrecognizable corpse and eagerly shoving handfuls of bloody flesh into her mouth. A gore spattered cardigan that used to be yellow flapped around her in the breeze as she ate. From this distance he could see dark streams running down her face and front and heard her frequent grunts of satisfaction.
She was picturesque against the backdrop of the deserted shopping mall and endless blue sky. He had never seen anything more beautiful.
Could he approach her? He shuffled his feet nervously on the hot asphalt.
Introducing himself to girls really wasn’t his strong point, even when he was human. He tended to mumble and blush. Not that he really remembered – ever since he woke up as a drooling zombie his memories were few and far between, scattered like old photographs in the wind. He was sure of two things; his name was Andy, and he was dead.
In the beginning the only thing that had scared him more than his own slowly decomposing body was his terrible desire for fresh human flesh. Brains in particular held an uncanny hold over him. They were all he thought about, at least before he learned to control himself. They practically danced in his head like bloody sugar plums. Until that time he was falling upon everything he came across, living or dead, and cracking heads like melons. It took a few weeks to get used to that - transitioning from burgers to brains was a pretty big leap.
After the city cleared out of living survivors, there wasn’t much left to do but amble around. Andy travelled aimlessly through empty suburbs until he had found her one day in a dumpster, drawn to the thuds within. She was gnawing on a dismembered arm and didn’t even notice him peering over the edge at her. His first thought was that she looked like sunlight streaming out from behind a dark cloud, pure and lovely. Sure, part of her skull was exposed and garbage was sticking out of her hair but Andy had been smitten. Her glazed blue eyes weren’t full of life exactly, but still held a vigor that he appreciated. She was just like him, alone and purposeless. From that day on he followed her like a lost dog.
Doubt and insecurity kept him at bay, though. Days of stumbling around the streets wearing the same faded t-shirt and jeans were unforgiving. The remains of his own previous meals were smeared down his chest and the smell coming off him was quite potent. However unlike most of the other undead around here he still had most of his skin and all of his limbs, which was a definite bonus. Actually his pretty pursuit didn’t seem to care about much at all. He had been following her for weeks and she had barely glanced at him. Her gait was as lackluster as his was, slow and dragging unless a human strayed in front of her or she came across something dead. Then she would become a little more animated.
Was it love? Andy didn’t think he could ever fall in love in the state he was in. All he did was shuffle around, tailing this girl like some kind of creep. Not exactly dating material. As he watched her chewing happily on those intestines from across the lot however, he began to have second thoughts. Maybe this was meant to be.
Without fully planning on what he was going to do, he clenched his fists and began moving forward. This was it. His split chucks dragged on the baking asphalt and he gritted his teeth. All he had to do was greet her in a non-threatening way and indicate he did not want to steal her corpse. Nothing was worse than having someone come up and try to drag your meal away. Andy wasn’t that kind of guy.
All ways of introducing oneself was flying through his maggot-riddled head. Name first, joke later? Or should he open with a funny one-liner and hope for the best? Maybe she wasn’t the kind of person who liked jokes. He just didn’t know. The sun suddenly seemed too hot and his collar felt tight. She now seemed to be at the far end of a tunnel that was steadily constricting.
As if she sensed his hesitation she suddenly jerked her head up. Strings of innards dangled from her chin and her eyes narrowed suspiciously. A feral whine rose from her throat.
Crap, she’s onto me, Andy thought wildly. Knowing he had nothing to lose now, he quickened his pace. His previous dragging gait turned into a clumsy sprint. This was about as romantic as he could get, throwing himself at a girl he had been shuffling after for days and he didn’t even know her name. He tried to make himself appear friendlier by smiling as he ran.
Alarm filled the girl’s face and she leapt up from the bloody pile. To Andy she was the picture of perfection; up to her elbows in blood, skin graying, bit of skull showing on one side, looking like some kind of gorgeous siren.
Her body was poised to flee.
Andy had almost reached her, bony arms outstretching happily, when she darted away with uncanny speed like a deer regaining its senses. She disappeared in a flash of faded yellow around a corner of the mall and Andy lumbered to a stop beside the body on the pavement.
Dismay filled him. His body was no longer affected by labor or activity; he could run for miles and feel nothing but hunger but his heart wasn’t so lucky. This had been his first real attempt at introducing himself and he had blown it. Possible mistakes flew through his mind; maybe he was too abrupt, or really should have opened with a joke. The defeat was bitter and he felt it sinking in his chest.
Without realizing it he had squatted beside the dead body and begun to eat from it. Maybe he would try again tomorrow if he could find her. His nerves and pride would probably have recovered by then and it gave him time to think of a better approach. He also had high hopes that after sleeping on it she would be forgiving and willing to hear him out. There was also the mall; if he could get in he might be able to clean himself up a bit and maybe find her a present. He wasn’t a total monster.
As he chewed thoughtfully on a nameless organ the sun began to set. It alighted on the tips of the trees that lined the perimeter of the parking lot, making them look like bright coals. Majestic rays filled the dying orange sky, giving just a glimpse of the immense breadth of it. Andy’s chest ached with disappointment but burned with hope for tomorrow. It was also being spattered with blood.
Unbeknownst to him as he gazed at the orange flare of last light, a familiar face peered around the corner of the mall. Her blue eyes were wary but curious as she saw Andy feasting on her corpse. She didn’t really mind. He was kind of cute.