The New Endangered Species, A Horror Short Story
Story by Tamara Wilhite
"It's blocking your path to the kitchen." Carla whispered. The ceiling rafters creaked as she peered through the drywall hole from attic down into the living room. The zombie that had been Mr. Ramirez ambled about slowly.
Its slack face turned the glazed gray eyes to look at every shifting of the dishes that banged against its search for the house’s occupants. Just their luck the guys had finally decided to do dishes when the population control squad was unleashed in their sector.
"How long until clean up?" Carlos whispered. The military cordon around their neighborhood would prevent zombies from getting out, and then kill all but a few “seeders” at the “clean up” phase, the newly dead who turned and were in better shape than the zombies let loose for this neighborhood's killing spree.
Then they’d move on for the next strike. Population control and survival of the fittest, it was called. Kill the slow, the lazy, the stupid, the literally too stoned to live. Maybe a few kids or old people. No animals harmed in the process, no massive wars, hardly any property damage except broken windows and doors and a few bullet holes in walls – far less than most football riots, win or lose.
Matthew shifted his weight across the rafters slowly, seeking a better view of the clock while desperately trying not to fall through the exposed dry wall to the floor below. God, he wished he’d finished the reinforced attic floor up here. "Fourteen hours until the military comes in. Plus whatever time spent cleaning up converted neighbors."
“Damn, I wish we could kill it,” Carla muttered. “But my gun’s in the dresser by the bed.” The zombie heard her and looked up. It couldn’t see her, or the peephole, but it had a fix on their location. It began moaning louder, as if that would bring Carla to it. To their dismay, answering moans joined it outside.
“Well, we’re not going to get past it to the kitchen for more supplies,” Matthew snorted. “Or knives for self defense. We might have killed Ramirez – what was Ramirez, had been him once – and gotten more food and water before others saw us and came in. But now, with more of them coming –“. Matthew shut up as broken glass crinkled and fell to the floor, with a dragging crash in the living room. When the military arrived for the clean up, they’d be concentrating fire on his house. “Taking on a horde, even if we had the weapons, wouldn’t be allowed – even if we survived it. We can act in self defense but not attack.”
“So we just lay down and die?” Carla asked.
Carlos shuddered and checked the crowbars that kept anything from pulling down the attic access hatch. “No, we lay low UP here and live. It’s just a day or so without food or water.”
Carla shook her head. “God I wish we could eat them instead of the other way around. But they’re an endangered species, the law says, so limits on when we can kill it.”
“They’re an endangered species, because that’s the law that protects them and our rights and everything else. And we’re not allowed to kill them except self defense. It’s the law. It’s like killing a panda bear. You get a death penalty for it, these days, when killing a person is just a few years hard labor or giving up a kidney.”
"The idiots who passed those laws are mostly those things now, anyway, like the family members they sought to protect in the hopes of recovering … and now the voluntary extinction movement keeps the laws in place, converting anybody who tries to side with humans into the new protected “endangered” class. Christ, wouldn’t a war to kill a couple billion people be more humane than living like this? And that’s hoping that the government’s control doesn’t get out of control and lead to everybody being a zombie."
At least a dozen zombies were now milling around the living room. They were all looking up and around at the ceiling, clustered around the vicinity below where Carlos and Carla were hiding. Then they began to reach up toward the ceiling, a few now climbing over others to get to their prey.
“Just 13 more hours,” Carlos tried to reassure her.
Carla took his hand across a dark space of insulation. “Take the crowbar, if they get up here. Kill me if they get too close. You’ll have less jail time than if you kill a bunch of them.”
Matthew nodded grimly. “I’ll do you both in. It’s the least a friend can do.”