Aphelion Issue 274, Volume 26
July 2022
 
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Fast Food Zombies

by Eric Krause


I knew it was going to be a long day when I heard a lady scream. She could have seen a rat, got her purse snatched, or witnessed someone getting sideswiped by a car, but I knew better. The zombies had finally decided to show themselves during the day.

Now wasn't the time to be working for a fast food joint, not with those four and five hundred pound horrors walking around. But what choice did I have? I needed to pay for college, and I needed college to stop working in fast food shops. The never ending cycle of youth, my grandpa might say. Anyway, since Buster's Cheeseburger Hut issued me paychecks, I stood behind the counter that day.

Last week's midnight hit on the 24-hour McDonald's on the other side of town had resulted in no injuries, just the devouring of everything edible, and some things that weren't. The hit on the Burger King earlier this week, though, saw the dismemberment and digestion of an employee along with everything else. That was the story that plastered itself in my brain as the humongous zombies waddled towards the front door.

I hadn't actually seen them before. Sure, I'd seen pictures and videos, but laying eyes on them in person almost made my heart stop. The first one had to weigh upwards of 500 pounds. I could tell right away it wasn't going to fit through the door. It pressed up against it, breaking the glass, and then knocked the metal frame to the ground in a crash. It still went no further, and by that time a gaggle of zombies, all about the same size, pushed up behind it. Its huge girth still wouldn't pass through the portal. They all kept pushing until the pressure was too much and his decomposing fat exploded into the dining room. None of the customers got splattered with the guts since they'd already evacuated out the back door. I looked to be the last living person in the front area of the restaurant, and though I wanted to get out, I couldn't tear my eyes from the scene.

Two more huge zombies pressed themselves into the doorway, and there was no way they were going to get in like that. I started to laugh, thinking they'd all destroy themselves, but my laughter stopped cold as some of the zombies broke the front window and found that they could fit through. They had to climb over, but they managed.

As I jogged back to the kitchen to get to the back door, I saw the kitchen staff had tossed the food all around and opened the pantries and refrigerators. The news had advised all fast food places to do this to make it easier for the zombies to get at the food. The easier it was for them, the less likely they were to attack a person. Also, the longer they were in the kitchen chowing down, the more time the authorities had to get the situation under control.

I had a clear shot at the back door when I realized I'd left one of my textbooks under the front counter. I zipped back to get it. I wasn't going to chance losing my hardcover history book that had cost me over a hundred bucks--I hated when there were no used texts left. Plus, I hadn't finished my homework yet. The zombies, I reasoned, wouldn't harass me when there was so much food and fat for them to consume. Looking back, I should have just left it.

As I grabbed my book, I saw the zombies, all as big as or bigger than the first, had chosen either the shattered front window or the broken door. The window slowed them up a bit since they had to climb over the three foot high wall to make it through. Many had decided the door was the easier passageway, even though most couldn't squeeze their girth through. It looked like more than the first had exploded in, as the pile of wriggling intestines and broken flesh inside the door had grown larger.

I turned and hightailed it to the back door, ready to spill my tale to any media types who had shown up. Before I could get there, though, the door slammed shut, and I heard things being piled up on the outside to block the zombies from getting through. My only guess was that they figured I was already out. Jon, the chicken shit manager on duty, had probably been too frightened to make one final sweep of the store. I'd have words with him, for sure, when this was all said and done. Assuming, of course, I made it out alive.

My best chance was hiding until all the zombies had pushed into the kitchen, and then running out in their wake. I cursed my luck that there was only one door into the restaurant, but then realized if there were more, they'd be blocked up, too. I didn't know where I could go--under the counter seemed the best choice, but I'd be trapped if any decided to look under there--so I held my ground. That was when the crash rocked the store. The door frame broke under the weight of all those fat zombies, bringing metal and bricks down into the dining room. They flooded in, at least a dozen, all squishing the entrails and limbs of their fallen comrades. I ducked under the table furthest from the door and window, which was still being scaled by some of the zombies, and held my breath.

They stormed the kitchen and began their feeding frenzy. Now that they could get in through the doorway, the window wasn't crammed with zombies. I could sprint to it and leap between any of the remaining lards of the dead.

Now or never. Before long the entire dining room would be filled, and the last few might get impatient. I had no wish to become lunch. I stood up, made sure my path was clear, and ran. I'd have made it, too, if it weren't for the arm of one of the exploded tubs of goo. As I leaped, it grabbed onto my shoelace and threw me off balance. Instead of sailing through the window, clear of any monsters, I slammed into one of the few zombies still climbing through. It felt like crashing into dozens of feather-down pillows, but it smelled like falling into a well-used outhouse. Before I had time to puke, my head smashed down onto the windowsill. Luckily, I missed the jagged glass jutting up from where it had broken, but there were still loose shards laying about, and a couple of those tore my forehead open. As I landed in a heap on the concrete right outside the window, I couldn't see because of the blood dripping into my eyes.

The inhuman grunts and groans above me proved I needed to get up and keep moving. I pushed to my feet, right into the oversized hands of the zombie I had crashed into. I'm guessing the smell of the grease on my clothes mixed with my free-flowing blood was too much for it to pass up. It lifted me up towards its mouth, and I almost had my forehead munched off.

Luck, though, was on my side. One of the other zombies smelled my goodness and grabbed me before the first took a bite. I swung my leg up and kicked one of them in the gut. It didn't notice, but it gave me an idea. I brought both legs up, and this time, instead of kicking, I braced my feet on the huge belly. They were still wrestling with me, but the flesh in their hands and arms had enough padding so it didn't hurt much. I used the belly as a trampoline of sorts and started bouncing. I just prayed the skin of the oversized gut would hold, or I'd have a foot full of zombie guts. I doubt it would even notice, but I'd probably puke, driving their frenzy even higher.

My bounces continued unimpeded, and instead of ripping the zombie flesh, I bounced right out of their grip. I still couldn't see very well, and the stench and blood loss had me dizzy and near fainting, but I managed to keep my wits about me. I sprang to my feet, fought through some tunnel vision, and headed to the back parking lot of the store.

The screams and gasps told me I'd made it back to the living. The look of horror and embarrassment on Jon's face brought a smile to my face. He knew he'd done wrong, and I had a feeling I'd win a lawsuit if I chose to. At least I'd get some sort of cash settlement out of the corporation. And right before I passed out, I realized I needed it. Sometime during my escape I'd dropped my goddamn history book.

THE END


© 2010 Eric Krause

Bio: Eric J. Krause pens stories from Orange County, California, just minutes away from Disneyland. He's been published in Trail of Indiscretion and online in The Absent Willow Review, Allegory, and Nocturnal Ooze, just to name a few. His story The Village of the Dragons appeared in the October 2008 Aphelion. You can visit his blog on writing at Eric J. Krause's Writing Spot.

E-mail: Eric Krause

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