This story is for the Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: It’s ABC Meets XYZ.

The challenge was to take two pop culture stories and mash them together. An RNG gave me The Planet of the Apes and The Walking Dead. An interesting combination, but I decided to take it in a bit of a different direction.

Pretty happy with how it came out, though I could have used some more words. But when can I not?

Here it is.

 

Marcus and Lavoy stared at the visitor through the tinted window. He could not see them, and Lavoy greatly doubted if he could hear them even if the glass were absent. He peered around frightened and disoriented. Lavoy tapped his chin with a bony finger as he considered the seated man.

“Where did you pick him up?” Lavoy asked, for the second time.

Marcus’ gave no indication he had already answered this question, and did so again. “Out near The Fade. Right against the cliffs.”

“And he was all alone?”

“Quite,” Marcus replied.

It was not that Lavoy did not trust Marcus, quite the contrary, but he had to be sure. This person deserved it, and possibly a lot more besides.

“Where did he come from?” Lavoy asked.

It was not a question Marcus could answer, and so he remained silent.

After some further period of consideration, Lavoy finally shrugged his equally bony shoulders.

“There’s nothing for it then, let’s go talk to him.”

Marcus moved to the door beside the window, opened it, and the two of them stepped through.

The man was slumped in a chair at the center of the small stone room, his haggard face, covered in bits of a scruffy beard. His clothing, a uniform of some kind once, was torn. As they entered, he roused himself, and then roused himself further as he caught sight of them.

His eyes bulged, his jaw went slack for a moment, then fear tightened everything. He tried to bolt from chair, but the chains on his arms and legs prevented that. Even so he thrashed against the restraints before going very still like an animal in the presence of a predator, or a monster perhaps.

Lavoy waited through this period, carefully observing the man’s behavior. Such reactions in humans when they saw his kind were typical, as he remembered, but this time something was different. Something in the eyes perhaps. Not just fear, but confusion, incredulity even.

“Interesting.”

“Quite,” Marcus replied.

The man gave no indication he had heard the exchange. Lavoy nodded to himself, but sighed. Unfortunately they’d have to do this the other way.

The remains of a patch on the man’s shoulder, gave Lavoy a clue, he pursued it.

“You, urg, are Ameri, gak, can?” he asked in the best approximation of english he could manage.

This man’s eyes went even wider, his mouth dropped and stayed open this time. Also common as Lavoy recalled, but he’d gotten a reaction. He pressed on.

“Mr., hur, Tal, burt, bot is, it?” he asked, reading from a badge on his chest.

Further staring, further confusion. Very strange indeed. Lavoy pressed on, the words slippery and difficult to his dry tongue.

“Can you, urg, under, stak, and me, Mr., urk, Tal, burt, bot?”

The man managed to pull his mouth closed. His eyes darted between them as he licked his lips. Then he replied.

“Y– a … zombie,” the man hissed out.

Lavoy winced. For all the years since he’d heard that title it was no less pleasant or appropriate.

“We pre, ek, fer, Necro, oh, tics,” Lavoy said with a small, only slightly annoyed, smile.

It had been a long time since he’d made his cheeks smile. From the horrified expression on the man’s face he wasn’t doing a very good job of it.

Lavoy continued. “Where did you, urg, come from, Mr. Tal, burt, bot?”

“… how?” Talbot asked.

This all but confirmed his suspicions.

“There was a vi, erk, us. A pow, arg, ful one. We were the res, urk, ult.”

Talbot was still staring, lips flapping like a fish. Lavoy was about to continue when Talbot said, “You’re talking.”

Marcus released what for him was an annoyed grunt, stepped forward and slapped his hand down atop Talbot’s skull. Lavoy agreed this was taking far too long. They’d just have to risk the cranial damage.

Talbot twitched beneath Marcus’ hand then went very still as he heard Lavoy, much clearer now, inside his skull.

“We grow tired of making your primitive sounds. This will be much more efficient.”

Talbot was running out of shocked expressions, but somehow his face grew more bewildered.

“Where did you come from? Were you a soldier? A pilot perhaps?”

“A pilot? No, I was in the army,” he stammered.

“Did the simians send you?” Marcus interjected.

Those beasts had been troublesome. The virus had had unintended effects on them, but Lavoy didn’t think the man had come from those not so primitive primates. He got back to the question.

“What happened, Mr. Talbot?”

“There was a program, an experiment… There was a bright light… I don’t know…”

“You were alone?” Lavoy asked harshly?

The man nodded under Marcus’ fingers.

Lavoy cursed inwardly. He’d been right, but this wouldn’t help them at all. One man, no others. No craft.

“How?” Talbot asked, his voice a squeak beneath Lavoy’s hardening gaze.

Another stupid question. Lavoy made his decision.

“Did you not ever wonder, Mr. Talbot, why … ‘we’ always crave brains? It is not a simple hunger. We seek knowledge you see. The ‘zombies’ you think you know were only an initial state for us. With each mind consumed we gained some intelligence, some deeper understanding.

Talbot’s wild eyes shot to the swollen mass of Lavoy’s forehead.

“Our brains have evolved quite beyond yours, Mr. Talbot. Quite far beyond and we have evolved with them. Freed of the minor inconvenience of death, our society has proceeded down paths you could never imagine.”

Talbot licked his lips again. Eyes furtive in their sunken sockets. He risked speaking.

“Does that mean, you’re not going to kill me?” he asked, hope flickering in the space between his words. “Not going to eat my brains?”

Humans, so dull witted. This one was no different. A pity, truly.

“Of course I’m going to eat your brains, Mr. Talbot. It’s what we do, after all. I was only deciding when to do it. I think I’ve made up my mind.”