Short Story: A Zombie Christmas

I guess you guys have noticed that I have been a bit hit or miss lately in this blog. Busy time of year with the family and the Poetry hasn’t been flowing like I like it to. Anyway, I thought I would fill in a few days of empty blogging by posting a few of my short stories that fit the holiday season. I know this is a departure from the normal blog activity, but I thought you might enjoy something a bit different and if you enjoy them feel free to support my self-published efforts by buying a couple of them. Might be a nice treat to fill up some of those new Kindles and E-Readers. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!

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This short story is about three men who risk life and limb in a Zombie Apocalypse in order to bring happiness to surviving kids on Christmas Morning.

5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

December the 21st

Mike Beem lowered his rifle, put his right eye on the scope, and closed his left eye. The zombie he was about to shoot was an ugly sucker. From what Mike could tell, this zombie used to be a man around five foot five or six, maybe seven. Hell, he couldn’t tell the exact height from just a tiny scope. Its suit was disheveled, full of dirt and blood (it looked fresh, a recent feast perhaps), and half of his face was gone. This zombie was currently investigating Mike’s Santa Claus and reindeer display. The zombie was studying it like he knew what it was or remembered what it was.

“Don’t pick up Rudolf. Don’t,” Mike replied to himself.

The zombie leaned over and picked up Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.

That did it.

You see, the biggest problem was this. When you messed with Rudolph, you screwed up the whole display. All the reindeer were attached by string; and that string led into the hands of Santa, who was glued by his butt to the sleigh he was sitting in. When the zombie picked up Rudolph, the rest of the display just went into disarray.

Mike didn’t want to shoot the zombie just yet, because if he fell forward then it would crush the display all together. Mike waited until the zombie was trying to walk away with Rudolph, shambling off, munching on the plastic reindeer, and the display dragging behind him.

Bam!

Perfect head shot, display still safe.

Mike was on the balcony of the house when he made the kill, so he took the rope ladder and dropped it over the side. He put the rifle down and grabbed a couple of pistols nearby. He checked their chambers, full, locked, and loaded. He put the guns in their holsters and climbed down to the ground.

Mike walked across the lawn, eyes back and forth, looking for zombies.

He stopped, got down on one knee, took out a pistol, and aimed this pistol with the light reflecting off the metal.

Bam!

It was another perfect head shot. The zombie hit the pavement, and he didn’t move. The noise from the gun had stirred up more of them, so Mike had to get to his display, fix it, and then get back.

So, Mike grabbed Rudolph out of the dead zombie’s hands, and put the display back in order. He quickly made his way back to the house, where nothing was stirring, not even a mouse. He shot a few zombies with his pistol as he ran across the yard, climbed back up the rope ladder and found his place on the balcony.

He turned on his boom box.

Perry Como flooded the air with Christmas cheer.

The zombies were getting restless, so Mike decided it was time to even out the herd. It was pretty easy shooting.

He stopped his rampage when something white hit his nose. He looked up into the sky as flakes of snow began to fall. It was the first snow fall of the year.

December the 22nd

Mike was sitting in his living room reading a Stephen King novel when he heard someone knock on the door. He grabbed his gun and walked over to answer it.

Mike stood about five foot eight, not too pudgy, not to lean. He was a runner before the world turned to chaos, a brick layer as his trade. He had brown eyes, a shaggy beard, and graying hair that needed to be cut. To be 40-years-old though, he was still looking great, could pass for a 30-year-old most days. He had learned a lot about hunting before all this happened, and had become a great shot because of it.

Mike leaned down, and looked out the peep hole as a zombie shambled down off the porch. There were four of them out there. All zombied up, rotting, bloody, fresh from death, and they were all dressed like carolers and holding caroling books. One had his book upside down, two of them had theirs sideways, and the smart one, the one who knocked, had his right side up.

Mike didn’t put up anything with lights in it or on it. There were no lights around the house. He had muted decorations so they wouldn’t attract attention. He didn’t know why or how the carolers had found him, but they did.

Mike began to smile, as the zombies grunted out Jingle Bells and moved on to Silent Night. He didn’t know if he should shoot them or let them be. He stood there a moment and thought about it, listening to the comical tune coming from the mouths of those zombies. He went over to the window and looked out onto the lawn. Their singing was attracting other zombies, so he knew he had to take them out, funny as it was, he had to do it.

He put on his cold weather gear and ventured back upstairs. He walked into the master bedroom and walked over to the balcony doors. He stepped outside and into the cold grey light of dusk.

Mike checked his lawn decorations to see if they were unharmed. His Santa Claus and reindeer display with Rudolph leading the team, the cross on the front lawn, the elves and Santa’s work shop, the nativity scene, and various candy canes he had spread throughout the yard were all still safe.

Now, most people would ask, why? Why worry about lawn decorations when the rest of the world was suffering through a Zombie Apocalypse?

It made Mike feel good inside, and he hoped that whoever saw it would feel a bit of that joy as well. That is why he did it. It might be a zombie-filled world, but he still hoped a lawn full of Christmas decorations would bring some kind of cheer to this dreary holiday season. It was the first Christmas since the zombie invasion. It was the first Christmas without his family. It was the least he could do.

Mike looked down at the four caroling zombies, as they went into a rendition of Frosty the Snowman, the year’s first snow only a couple of inches underneath their feet. The group, of course, was led by that one smart zombie. He was leading them and pointing to their books even though none of them turned a single page. He was the one that started grunting out the tune to Frosty just like the songs before, and the other zombies just sort of harmonized with his lead.

Mike aimed his gun at the leader, but had to stop because he couldn’t aim. His smile had turned into full-fledged laughter. He let the laughter pass, wiped the tears from his eyes, calmed himself, focused, and then started shooting.

By the time he was finished, fifteen zombies lay littered across the lawn, bleeding red into the snow, the four carolers included.

He went back inside, but didn’t feel up to the clean up just yet. He turned on the Christmas tree and watched the white and colored lights dance a blinking happy tune across the walls and ceiling of his room. He stoked the fire with more wood, turned on Christmas music, sat back in his chair, and closed his eyes. The last image he saw (which was on purpose mind you) was of the picture on his mantel. Smiles frozen forever, Christmas outfits never to be worn again.

December the 23rd

Mike woke up the next morning to a knock at the door and a quiet house. The Christmas tree was still sparkling and doing its thing, the ornaments hanging here and there with a precision touch, neat and organized, as he grabbed a pistol nearby, shook the bad dream cobwebs free, and walked over to the peephole.

He peered through, and then reached down and unlocked the door after putting his pistol away.

“I was wondering if you were going to let us in or not,” Jim Wells replied, as he stepped into the house. He turned around to see where Fred was. He was still standing guard on the top step, so intent on watching the area that he didn’t even know the door was open or that two people were talking. “He’s good Mike, too good sometimes.” Jim tapped the man on the shoulder. “Fred. It’s safe. We can go inside.”

Fred Walg didn’t jump or move in any spastic manner when he was tapped on the shoulder, he just turned and followed after them.

“Can I get you guys something to drink?” Mike asked, closing and locking the door.

The three guys meandered into the living room. Jim and Fred took a seat on opposite ends of the couch while Mike worked on getting a fire started.

“What do you have?” Jim asked.

“I have cold, homemade eggnog, beer, wine, and water.”

“Any soda?”

“Don’t drink it.”

“Water will be fine,” Jim replied, eyeing the Christmas tree. It felt so much like the holidays inside this house. It made him home sick for days gone by.

“Fred, you want anything?” Mike asked, finishing up with the fire, which was now burning hot in the fireplace.

Fred stared at the fire, lost in thought, wrestling with his own demons. “Beer me, if you got it?”

“All I got is Corona. No lime.”

“Sounds good,” Fred replied, and then turned back to his thoughts. He couldn’t stop thinking of his girlfriend. She haunted him daily. Could he have done more? Should he have done more? What could he have done, though, in a horde of zombies? She was already partially eaten before he got to her. He could still see her reaching out to him, could still see the hope in her eyes, the fear as he pulled out his gun, the realization that dawned on her when the gun was aimed at her head. He could still hear the gunshot that had ended her life. It rattled around in his brain like a ghost unable to find its rest. He hoped this Christmas run Mike had planned would take away some of his grief. That’s why he was sitting here right now, because he had to do something before he went insane or tasted the metal of a barrel.

Mike went into the kitchen and came back with a cold beer and bottled water. He handed the men their respective drinks.

Fred was still seated, still lost in thought, so Mike just put the beer down beside him and left him alone.

Jim had moved over to the table, and he was staring at several rough and crude blueprints when Mike joined him.

The first blueprint was a design of the neighborhood and a wall surrounding it. The other blueprint showed a crude, but effective way to obtain water and store it when it rained.

“These are pretty good. Were you an architect before all this?”

“No. I’m just a man with ideas and time,” Mike replied, looking down at his work.

Jim took a sip of his water and found pleasure in the cold. He scanned the neighborhood plan once again. “I like this concept, but is it even possible? We have zombies crawling up and down this street every day. It would take an army to make it happen.”

“I figured we could have posted guards while the rest of us worked. I know there are plenty of people here who wouldn’t mind helping out if it meant we could be safe again.” Mike paused and sipped on his water. “If we put up a wall, get guards posted at all times, we can come out of our homes and enjoy life again. We can build a community garden. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we can bring in some livestock, raise a small farm. Just get back to normal the best we can.”

“I like that way of thinking, but this is a big project that will take a lot of work.”

“Anything in this time and place is going to be a lot of work, but if we’re going to survive, then we have to think like this. We have to think big. We have to think beyond our limits. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing to celebrate Christmas this year. I want the kids in this neighborhood to wake up Christmas morning and find a present at their door. I want them to feel like Santa is still here, and he is one mean zombie-killing machine that won’t let Christmas die, no matter what the odds or the situation. I want them to have hope. I want them to know that, yes times are bad, and there are horrible things everywhere, but they don’t always have to be. You can still have happiness in a world filled with death.”

“You don’t need to sell me or Fred on it. That’s why we’re here.”

“I know, but I need you and Fred to understand why. So if it gets bad at the mall, you will know that what we were doing was for a good cause,” Mike replied, eyes popping to the picture on the mantel, and back to Jim.

“Let’s just go over the details. Hammer this thing out once and for all,” Jim replied, as he scanned the picture Mike had been looking at moments ago. That picture made him think about his life before the zombies. Single and working a dead-end job, but he was somewhat happy even if his life was routine. He longed for those days now. He longed for the weekends. He longed for normal, and he hoped Mike’s plans about Christmas would go a long way to help him restore some of it. If the three of them could just get Christmas right, then at least normal would be back if only momentarily.

Fred (freed from his thoughts) got up and walked over to the table to join the conversation, which he had been half listening to. He was one of those guys, the ones that just seem to know how to survive. He was a tall fifty-year-old man with a lanky build and graying hair. In his life before this, he was an accountant by day, hunter by weekend. You wouldn’t think an accountant would know so much about surviving, but trust me, he did.

Jim was more of a following kind of guy with a big heart and big ideas. He was a teacher before the world turned to crap, and Mike hoped that one day he would lead a school in this neighborhood. Jim was about average height, somewhere in his mid-thirties, still youthful, but mature beyond his years with dark eyes, black hair, and soft features. It looked like he pushed a pencil every day of the week; but he didn’t shoot like it, and he certainly didn’t survive like it.

“The details are like this.” Mike grabbed a nearby binder, and in this binder were three separate folders with each of their names on it. Inside each folder was a map of the route they were to cover when delivering the toys, a map of the mall (where to go in, where to meet if separated), and stuff they would need to take with them (weapons, snacks, a couple bottles of water, things like that).

Mike handed Jim and Fred their folders, and all three of them found a seat in front of the fireplace.

“Silly question, but how do you keep the tree lights on?” Jim asked, curious, as he watched the tree blink. It had no idea of the world it was in. It just did what it was supposed to do, bring Christmas cheer.

“A generator out back.”

“This is pretty elaborate, Mike,” Fred replied, as he studied the maps. “How did you get so much info?”

“I started thinking about all of this back in early November just after it all went to hell. I had lost some . . .” He looked up at the mantel and the picture. “. . . important things in my life. It was hot. I was trying to survive. I was suffering. I was miserable. For some reason, I started thinking of Christmas, and what it meant to me and my family. Christmas meant everything to us. It was our time of year. We lived for it, and I was determined not to let it die because of a few flesh eaters. It was mid-November before I made it to the mall for the first time, but I managed to get my plan –”

“You’ve been as far as the mall? I wasn’t brave enough to go that far alone. Thank God for hardware stores and grocery stores nearby. I don’t know what I would have done if we didn’t have them,” Jim replied, flipping through his folder.

“Me either. I consider myself a pretty tough survivor, but even I haven’t been brave enough to go that far. And I assume, from the look of this folder, that you’ve been there more than once.” Fred chimed in again.

“Four times actually.”

“Wow. My hat is off to you,” Fred replied.

“It wasn’t as hard as you might think. Zombies are pretty stupid unless you rile them up. Most of the time, if you just have patience, take the right shots, and keep your wits about you, zombies aren’t all that hard to maneuver around.”

“How did you find out what the kids in the neighborhood wanted?” Jim asked, looking up at Mike.

“I went door to door. That’s how I found out about you two guys.”

“That’s what you were doing the day we met?” Fred asked.

“Out of all the homes I went to, you two were the only single guys left in the neighborhood. Everyone else either had one, two, or three kids, and every one of those families was struggling. It broke my heart talking to each father. They wanted to help so badly, but I refused. I wasn’t about to have their blood on my hands or a grieving widow to worry about.”

“So here we sit. Chosen because we’re single,” Jim replied, picking up a box filled with paper of all shapes, sizes, and colors that was sitting on the coffee table. He grabbed a red piece of paper sitting on top of the pile. He unfolded it, and read to himself what was written on it in bright blue crayon.

Dear Mike,

Zombies stink. Can you bring me something Star Wars? Thanks.

“That box contains what the kid’s want?” Fred asked, pointing to the box Jim was holding.

“Yeah. I went door to door again and told the parents to leave a note on their door for a toy each of their kids would want. Make it small, easy to carry. I told them I would be back to collect the notes in a week or so, give them time to think. So on each piece of paper is something that will give each kid in this neighborhood a little hope. I plan to deliver on that promise.”

Fred stood up from the couch and stretched. He took out his pistol and made sure it was loaded. It was time to get home and do a little drinking. “Tomorrow morning, right?” He asked, looking at Mike.

“Yep.”

“Okay, see you then.” He collected his things, and made his way to the door.

Mike followed him, and opened the door, letting cold air into the house. “Be careful, we need you, and thanks for doing this. I can’t say that enough.”

Fred looked out at the road and the neighborhood. A few zombies shambled back and forth. “There doesn’t seem to be as many these days. Does it?”

“Maybe that is something in our favor.”

“Hey, wait up Fred. Strength in numbers, remember.” Jim put the note back in the box, and put the box back on the table. He collected his things, and put on his coat. He walked over to the door, as Fred made his exit.

“See you tomorrow, Mike,” Jim replied, as he shook Mike’s hand, and followed after Fred.

“Bright and early,” Mike replied.

Jim caught up to Fred, as Mike closed and locked the door. He heard several gun shots echoing across the neighborhood as Fred and Jim hurried home. He went out onto the back porch, and filled up the generator then went back inside.

He turned off the tree to save power, stoked the fire, and then pulled out a small portable DVD player. He turned on one of his favorite TV shows – Wings – and fell asleep watching it. His dreams this time were peaceful and full of hope.

December the 24th

The three men sat huddled in the cold, waiting and watching the mall parking lot, back packs on their back, guns ready to kill.

It looked like a hopeless nightmare.

There were a lot of zombies shuffling around the open ground, some going into the mall, some coming out. Many of them coming out of the mall were carrying shopping bags as if they had spent this day doing last minute Christmas shopping.

“Dawn of the Dead much,” Fred replied.

“Original or remake?” Mike asked.

“Original, of course.”

“I don’t think I can do this.” Jim gripped his shotgun a little tighter to his chest. Fear ran across him like a freight train. Panic set in. He had avoided situations like this, and now he was about to throw all of that away for a few kids he didn’t even know. “This was a noble idea, Mike, sounded better before I got here; but I think I better get on back home.”

Mike grabbed Jim by the shirt, as he started to stand up. Jim landed on his butt on the cold snowy ground a second later. “This is no time to be backing out! We need you here. We need you now.”

“Why do you need me?”

“What do you mean?”

“You and Fred can handle it. I’ve seen you shoot. I would just get in your way. I can promise you that.”

Mike looked Jim in the eye, while Fred waited anxiously to go.

“Are you really going to go back to our neighborhood and face those kids? Can you live with yourself if you do that? I know I couldn’t,” Mike replied, turning away from Jim feeling a bit disgusted at his sudden cowardice. “Okay, Fred, are you ready to go?”

Fred gripped his gun tight, tried not to think of his girlfriend, tried to keep his mind on the task at hand. “Just give me the word,” he replied, muscles twitching with adrenaline.

“Just a second longer,” Mike replied, turning from Fred to face Jim. “Are you still leaving?”

Jim looked out at the parking lot, back to Mike and Fred. He thought of the note he had read back at Mike’s place. That note gave him the courage he needed. “I guess it’s like dancing with an electric chair. You’re never ready, but sometimes you have no choice,” Jim replied, gripping his gun a bit tighter, gearing himself up to go just like Fred.

Mike patted Jim on the shoulder. “Glad you’re back on board. Three is always better than two.”

“So, are we going or are we going to sit here and have a tea party? My toes are cold, my knees are numb, and I’m so hopped up on adrenaline I think I might burst out of my clothes,” Fred replied, eyes big and alive like a junky on a high.

“Okay, we’re going now, follow my lead. And remember, we want these zombies to pack in tight around us so we can get as many as we possibly can at one time. No matter how tight they swarm, no one shoots until I say so. Got that?”

Mike looked at Jim.

He nodded.

Mike looked at Fred.

He gave Mike the thumbs up without looking at him, eyes still focused on the parking lot and the shuffling zombies.

“Let’s do it then. Good luck guys and be safe,” Mike replied, and stepped out of his hiding spot, saying a silent prayer to himself as he did it.

Fred and Jim followed closely behind.

The zombies shuffled about. They were just doing their zombie thing, unaware of the danger lurking nearby.

Mike, Fred, and Jim inched closer to the mall, eyes alive, and guns ready to fire.

The zombies noticed them and began to shuffle in their direction.

The men held their pace – slow and steady, as the zombies started to horde together.

A soft snow was falling.

The ground was turning white.

The zombies bunched in tighter, started to surround the men on all sides.

Fred looked at Mike, waiting for the go ahead.

Mike held up his hand, as the zombies moved closer, packed in tighter.

Jim bit his lip, scared beyond belief, but trying hard to hang in there.

The zombies were now so full and thick around the men that they were almost hard to see through.

Mike glanced at his two friends, and then screamed: “Shoot! Light up and let ‘em fall!”

Fred smiled, and then started shooting. Mike followed a second later. Jim kind of just stood there a moment before getting in on the action. Their shots echoed out into the day like thunder and blasted out across the Raleigh city streets, as zombie heads started to explode, and blood started to splatter.

When Mike saw an opening in the horde, he screamed: “Go!”

All three of the men made their way as fast as they could through the horde of zombies, dodging grabbing hands and deadly bites. Across the parking lot towards the broken entrance doors of the mall they ran, still shooting, still firing, still exploding zombie heads, and splattering blood.

The men rushed into the mall, and paused instantly, a synchronized stop. Mike had left a kerosene lamp sitting on one of the tables nearest the door. He grabbed it, and turned it on, flooding the food court with light.

“Holy shit, mike. You didn’t say it was this bad,” Fred replied, trying not to draw attention to them.

“It wasn’t the last time I was here,” Mike replied, keeping his voice low.

Jim gulped hard, and thought about making a run for it, back to his home, back to his comfort zone. He looked behind him. Zombies were starting to come in through the broken doors, and then he looked forward again. The food court was stuffed with zombies, shambling about, and they were now coming in their direction.

“This was a noble idea, Mike, but maybe – ”

“Maybe shit. We all have to die sometime,” Jim replied, cutting Fred off in mid-sentence. He raised his shotgun, and took off running towards the crowd of zombies coming in their direction. He blasted five of them in the face, splattering blood and brains, and then continued shooting his way into the mall.

Mike and Fred didn’t hesitate, as they took off behind him, blasting their way through just like Jim.

“Upstairs!” Mike screamed.

Jim turned and ran towards the dead escalator with Mike and Fred close behind. He tossed away his shot gun, and as he climbed he started to knife the zombies filling up the metal stairs.

Mike and Fred reached the escalator, as Jim reached the second level. He looked down at Mike and Fred, as they kept firing off rounds, splattering the walls and floor with fresh zombie blood.

Mike and Fred climbed quick, jumping and leaping over the dead zombies clogging up the escalator, as they continued to move forward.

Mike pulled out a key from his pocket when he reached the second level. He raced over to the toy store doors, as Fred and Jim took aim, back to back. Zombies came from all directions as the men blew out brains and scattered pieces of flesh.

Mike unlocked the glass door, and slid it open.

“Come on! It’s open!” Mike screamed, as he popped a few zombies in the head that were too close for comfort.

The men hurried inside.

Mike slid the glass door closed, and locked it tight.

The zombies huddled up against the glass, but couldn’t get in.

The men, now tired, caught their breath and tried to relax.

“Did anyone get bit?” Mike checked himself with the light and then the other men. Everyone was somehow okay.

That was insane,” Jim replied.

“You did real good out there. Thanks for helping us get here,” Mike replied, putting the kerosene lamp down so he could see what he was doing.

“I just kept the kids in mind. That got me through it,” Jim replied, dropping his back pack on the floor. He took a seat in a nearby chair, and then he asked himself – Why was there a camping chair just sitting in the middle of a mall toy store? He looked around at his surroundings. “Been busy, Mike?”

Mike turned on several small kerosene lamps and lit up the kerosene heater – the mall had been without power or heat for some time now, so it felt like the inside of a freezer in their small confined space. The kerosene heater was sitting in the middle of a circle of camp chairs, so each guy could sit around it and warm themselves. Nearest to the chairs were sleeping bags, and a cooler that was stocked with nonperishable food and water.

“When did you do all this?” Fred asked, dropping his back pack, and taking a seat.

“I had the bags at home because we use to go camping all the time, the chairs as well. The only real problem I had was the heater and the lamps. I was able to find them close by in the back of a grocery store.”

“I guess nobody would think to look for those items there,” Fred replied, as he watched the zombies press up against the glass. “Do you think we’re safe in here?””

“For as long as we need to be here, I think so,” Mike replied.

“It still seems amazing to me that it has all come to this,” Jim replied, watching the zombies just like Fred.

“Like I said before, it’s a lot worse now than it was when I first started coming out here,” Mike replied, as he got up and walked over to the cooler. He slid it in front of the guys, and popped it open. “It’s not much, but it’ll keep us going until we leave.”

The men ate and drank for a moment, as they watched the zombies press against the glass and shuffle about. One of them shuffled by with the Salvation Army stand draped over his neck. It looked like he had walked right through it and then continued on without realizing the obstruction. He jingled and jangled, spilled change, as he moved about in his zombie-filled world.

The men smiled.

It broke the tension and fear of the day.

“I guess they started early this year,” Mike replied. “Usually I don’t see them ringing bells and asking for change until after Thanksgiving.”

“I saw the Salvation Army out in front of a few Department stores before all this started. I thought it was kind of early for them, but I guess with how bad the jobs were before the zombies more people just needed their help,” Jim replied, as he opened up some hard beef encased in plastic. “Looking back now, tough economic times have nothing on a Zombie Apocalypse. Seems kind of silly we were even concerned about it with the way the world has turned out.”

“It really does, but a lot of things seem that way now,” Mike replied.

The men took a momentary pause, and ate in silence. Their bodies warming by the heater, their nerves returning to normal.

“What about guns and ammunition?” Fred asked. “I’m about empty.”

Mike, without saying a word, got up, and made his way to the back of the store.

A few moments later, Jim and Fred heard wheels rolling across the tile, and looked towards that direction. Mike appeared in the light pushing a large cabinet on wheels. It was red all over except for the lid which was black, and the handles that were silver. Mike propped open the lid, as Jim and Fred came over to investigate.

What they saw amazed them.

“Gotcha covered,” Mike replied, sitting down in a chair.

“How in the world did you amass such a stock pile?” Jim asked, as he reached in and pulled out a brand new double barrel shotgun. He checked the chamber. It was loaded.

“You out did yourself,” Fred replied, as he picked up a machine gun with a loaded clip.

“I’m not sure we can carry all of them, but there is plenty of ammunition and plenty of weapons to choose from,” Mike replied. “I scavenged most of them from my trips back and forth to the mall. You would be surprised what people leave behind when they get killed by a zombie.”

Fred picked up a set of throwing stars, and a couple of knives. “Crazy haul Mike.”

“I honestly just found, grabbed, and tossed them into the cabinet when I got up here. I’m not even sure what is in there anymore.”

“How did you get the cabinet upstairs?” Jim asked taking a seat and warming himself by the kerosene heater. He lay the shotgun over his lap, and watched the zombies pressing up against the glass. Did he hear it crack or was it just his imagination? He figured it was just the nerves talking, and focused in on his conversation with Mike, but his eyes kept watching and his ears kept listening. If the glass did show the slightest signs of breaking, he would know it in an instant.

“The elevators were still working at the time. I rolled it into one of them, and to the second level I went.”

“A lucky break,” Fred replied, as he took a seat, and put his head back.

“Sometimes a little bit of luck is all we need, especially in this world,” Mike replied, eyeballing the zombies pressed against the glass. “How about we rest a bit? Then collect the kid’s toys, pack up for the morning, and then we’ll take turns on guard duty.”

“Sure,” Jim replied, as Fred let out a long snore. They both looked over at him. “I’ll watch, you rest, Mike.”

“You sure?”

“Sure.”

“Wake me in an hour or so,” Mike replied, closing his eyes.

“Will do,” Jim replied, and then pumped the shotgun. He eyeballed the zombies and listened for cracking glass.

Time passed, and once they were up and rested, they rounded up the kid’s toys, and packed everything up for the morning.

Once finished, they drank and ate, relaxed, and just tried to get their mind focused for Christmas morning.

Zombies shuffled outside, and one jingled and jangled, still spilling change while he shuffled about.

December the 25th

Around dawn, Mike’s watch alarm went off. He had been napping on guard duty while the others slept. He stretched, got the men stirring with an easy breakfast, and then it was time, time to get back to their neighborhood and deliver the presents.

They suited up in their cold-weather gear, loaded up with as many weapons as they could carry, and then made their way to the back of the store.

“Okay guys,” Mike replied, a hand on the door handle that use to let employees and delivery guys enter and leave this store. “I haven’t been out back before, just the front. I don’t know what is lurking; so, when I open this door, be ready to shoot first and ask questions later.”

Fred nodded, so did Jim.

“Here we go,” Mike replied, and then turned the handle. He pushed the door open, and the cold morning light greeted their face.

In front of them was a metal landing, black and shiny, covered in snow.

No zombies.

Mike stepped outside, and turned to face the stairs that led down to the ground with his gun pointed forward. He motioned for the guys to follow after him. One by one they stepped out into the cold, and onto the snowy landing.

“So far, so good,” Mike replied, and then looked out across the back parking lot where trucks use to load and unload.

There were no zombies out and about on this Christmas morning, at least not back here.

“Why didn’t we come this way the first time?” Jim asked, looking around.

“We would still have to come through the front parking lot in order to get here. I figured it was best to just come in the way we did instead of risking everything to get back here,” Mike replied, breath white in front of him.

“Makes sense,” Fred replied.

“If the zombies hadn’t been so packed against the glass this morning, we would have left the way we came in. That’s the one part of my plan that hasn’t worked out, but I always have a Plan B,” Mike replied.

“Let’s quit talking and go. My feet are cold, and my body’s numb. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready to get done so I get home,” Fred replied, and with his gun in front of him, he made his way down the icy, snow-covered metal stairs.

“After you,” Jim replied, ushering Mike forward.

Mike followed Fred, and when both men reached the ground they stopped. Jim joined them a second later.

“Still zombie clear,” Fred replied.

“But when we turn the corner of this building, all hell is going to break loose,” Jim replied.

“So be it. Let’s just get to stepping,” Mike replied, and started moving forward taking the lead once again.

The men made their way to the end of the building, turned the corner, and left the mall in the same way that they had come in, shooting and popping zombie heads, clearing a path as they ran. The going was slower this time because of the toys they were carrying in their back packs, but the men were able to keep their hands free, so that made the shooting a lot easier.

Once they were back in the neighborhood, they split up and followed their delivery routes. They made their deliveries with a tap on the door, a drop off of the presents, and a “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!” for good measure. It wasn’t an easy job; and it wasn’t a lot of fun either, but they were able to make it work because they knew they needed to.

Oh, I almost forgot.

I didn’t mention this.

This is the best part.

Ready for it.

Okay, here we go.

Each man was wearing a Santa suit when they delivered their presents, complete with fake white beard and fake white hair. They all had stopped off at a local gas station a little more than half-way back to the neighborhood. This place was set up like the toy store with food, water, weapons, and the three Santa suits. No one was forced to wear them, but they all went along without complaint.

I wonder what it would be like to see three, gun-toting, zombie-killing Santas running down the street popping off zombies as they made their deliveries. I am sure; it would be a sight to be seen.

When the men finished their delivery run, they made their way back home, and their Christmas day went like this.

Jim stripped naked, checked himself to make sure he wasn’t bitten, cleaned up, and then downed a full bottle of whiskey. After finishing the bottle, he pulled a blanket over himself and slept deep into the next day on the couch in his living room.

Fred didn’t bother with checking himself for bites. He instead went into his living room and turned on some loud Heavy Metal Christmas music. He left the Santa suit on as he drank beer, head banged around the room, and just got wasted. At some point, he just passed out, sleeping most of the night and into the morning flat on his stomach, beers littering the living room floor.

Mike crashed down in front of a roaring fire and fell asleep with the picture from the mantel in his hand (he left the suit on as well). The Christmas tree was splashing and sparkling all over the room as he slept the peace of a man who had just done a great task. His dreams were filled with Christmases gone by, happier times and happier days.

December the 26th

In the afternoon, a knock on the door woke Mike up. He went to answer it, and when he opened the door Jim was standing there holding a shoe box with Jim’s name across the top of it. Another box was lying at Jim’s feet with Mike’s name across the top of it. Mike leaned down, and picked it up.

“Thank you notes,” Jim replied.

“What?”

“Somehow they gave us all thank you notes.”

Jim and Mike went in and took a seat. They began to go through the boxes.

“How did they do this? They didn’t have time. Did they?”

“I guess it’s a Christmas miracle, Mike, or maybe Santa really is hanging on just like the rest of us.”

Both men froze and looked up at the ceiling, towards the sky. They both then looked at each other. They didn’t speak, but their looks said this.

“Did I just hear bells jingling above the house? Did I hear what sounded like a sleigh sliding off the roof?”

It couldn’t be, they thought at the same time, and shook the impossibility away.

The men turned back to their boxes and began to look at the notes. Most of them were scribbles, drawings, and thank yous all done by a child’s hand. It brought tears to their eyes. This was a true Christmas miracle and a Christmas that none of them would soon forget.

THE END

Ho, Ho, Ho, A Zombie Merry Christmas to you!

 

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