Ring Around the Rosie – A Short Story

20120820-Zombie-Car-Wash-2012-3325-HQRosemount Circle was a small island of houses in the centre of the city.  It was like living  inside of a postcard. All of the houses were different and some of them seemed to sprawl on forever. It was surrounded by a circle of roads that were normally full of cars or people walking their dogs or strolling with their children.

When we drove up to the road separating Rosemount Circle from the rest of the city, we saw a police woman, standing there in her yellow vest and black pants. She had sunglasses on and we could not see her eyes.

Standing in front of a road block, she motioned the cars in front of us to turn back. We couldn’t hear what she was saying. I turned to Mike in the drivers seat. “What’s going on?”

He shook his head, his face lined with confusion. “Fucked if I know.”

“Well, let’s see if we can get around, or they’ll let us through.” I said. I hadn’t hear anything about a road block and didn’t like this, not one bit. My intuition was sending spidey sense warning bells running down my spine.

The car in front of us tried to drive past the police woman and she yelled out: “Stop! Stop! Stop your fucking car!”

When the car did so, she withdrew her firearm and fired a shot through the window. The sound of the gun going off was like thunder. The inside of the car was covered in splatters of blood that looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.

I grabbed Mike’s arm. “Drive away, find another way out. There are other exits.” I tried to keep the panic out of my voice.

“Good idea.” His voice was low and tense. However, as he was driving away, we saw something move behind the police woman. It took a moment for me to realise that it was a mass of moving people. They were all running, whether towards or away from something I couldn’t tell; and I didn’t want to know.

Grabbing the wheel so hard that his knuckles turned white, Mike spun the wheel and drove slowly down the line of cars. One woman rolled down her window and waved at us. I rolled down my window and she did the same.

“You trying to find a way out?” She said. The same look of panic was in her eyes. It would be a look that I would come to see a lot in the days ahead, one that I’m sure I wore myself.

“Yes.” I said. “And as far away from that police woman as possible.”

“Don’t bother,” she said. “They have them posted at every exit to the rose circle.”

“What are they doing that for?” I asked her. “What are they trying to keep out?”

The woman rolled her eyes at me. “You should be asking what they’re keeping in.”

Mike grunted and made to drive away when the woman spoke again: “Oh my god.” She whispered this and we shouldn’t have been able to hear her, but the fear in her voice made it louder than it should have been.

I turned around and looked out the back windshield. The police woman had removed the roadblock and the runners began to flow into Rosemount Circle. They ignored the police woman and went straight to the other people in the cars.

The air became filled with the sound of screaming, of the jaw clenching sound of tearing metal.

“What the fuck are they?” The woman in the car next to us said. “What the hell?”

I undid my seat belt and turned around to get a closer look. They were runners, yes, but they didn’t look human. There was an animal quality to their movements that reminded me of something more primal, almost as if they were human once and had reduced to their base instincts.

I watched one of the runners reach into a car and pull the arm off of a bald man. He screamed and his voice sounded like an animal being slaughtered. In a way, that’s exactly what he was.

The runner began tearing strips of flesh from the man’s arm and the ground began to look like another abstract painting with drops of blood falling everywhere. There was the sound of more gun shots and the man screamed again as the Runner, done with his arm, reached into the car for the res of him.

The Runner pulled him out of the car and the man fell, cradling the place where his arm used to be. He screamed one final time as the Runner and a few of his friends, fell on the man and began to eat more of his flesh.

“Jesus fuck.” Mike said beside me.

There was a scream from the woman in the car beside us. I turned back to her to see another Runner, this one bigger than the one that had pulled the bald man from his car. This one was already reaching into the woman’s car and had her left wrist in his grasp.

She pulled off one of her high heels with her right hand and started hitting him with it. It lodged in his forehead, the heel buried to the hilt. Black blood oozed from the wound and he let out a menacing gutteral noise that sounded like lots of teeth clicking together all at once.

The woman looked at me, terror written in bold lines on her face. “What are you waiting for? Fucking drive! Drive away from here!”

I turned around in my seat and pulled on my seat belt as Mike rolled up the window. We were the only car facing the right way and we were able to get away quickly, the sound of screaming and more gun shots ringing out behind us.

As we drove, I put a hand on his leg. I could feel the muscle there, tense and taunt. “Where are we going to go? If they have the whole circle closed off, where can we go?”

Mike’s voice was grim when he answered me. “I don’t know.” He said.

We drove on into the darkness and wondered what the morning would bring.

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