Daddy’s voice sounded in my ear, just like he was here with me, not dead outside the shelter.
One of the Others had followed me into the apartment building.
I thought I’d lost him but when I tripped and fell he heard me.
Boots echo in the stairwell.
I can’t outrun him. He is a full grown adult, a big one, faster than me.
And now he knows I’m here he’ll just keep coming.
The Others always do.
Closer now. Footsteps in the hallway. Just outside the rooms I’d ducked into.
I creep out onto the balcony. The handrail is gone in places and the wind whistles an eerie tune through its missing teeth.
I squeeze behind the rusting air conditioner.
The Other shuffles slowly, cautiously, onto the balcony.
I can smell him.
That’s what gives them away, Daddy said, even when they try to be quiet.
He turns, peering over the edge. Yeah, like I’d have hidden there.
I charge him. My shoulder squishes into his back. He teeters briefly on the edge before toppling over.
Turning away I hear a groan. He’s grabbed the railing as he fell and is swinging, one handed, like a leaf deciding whether to fall.
If he falls from thirty floors up, his body won’t be a leaf, like all the others, he’ll be mulch.
What do I do, Daddy?
‘Save him, Millie.’
But he wants to kill me.
‘Remember, Cupcake, there’s value in everyone’.
I move, but not too near.
‘Always pay attention, Sweetheart, despite their limitations the Others can be quite dangerous if you’re not careful.’
Daddy said that when the epidemic started. He was a scientist before the chaos. That’s how we survived. Daddy knew how the Others would behave.
I lie down, scraping my belly against the balcony’s concrete floor. I lean out over the edge, reach down.
In the Other’s eyes I can see, deep within in whatever passes for his brain, he’s figuring a way to kill me, even now.
He hates me.
Why do they hate us? I never understood. Daddy never said.
The Other swings an arm up sharply, tries to grab me.
I swat it aside and grab him around the neck.
His eyes bulge and he scrabbles at my fingers with his free hand.
Finally, desperate, frightened, he lets go of the balcony.
Too late. I have a good grip on him now, and, with his falling weight and the twist and claw movement Daddy taught me, I rip his head clean off.
‘Good Girl, Millie. You need brain food if you want to grow up to be big and strong’.
I must get out of here, more Others will come.
The smell is even stronger now, and I’m hungry.
But I must wait until I reach the shelter.
I skip, swinging the head by the hair, splattering fresh blood around the stairwell, like a finger painting.
Daddy was right.
The Others do have value.
This story was written for the 2014 zombie apocalypse flash fiction contest, hosted by J Whitworth Hazzard, author of the brilliant post apocalyptic 'Dead Sea Games' series and judged by the most excellent short fiction writer Miranda Kate
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