All Stories, Horror

Dear Survivor by Gary Opas

Dear Survivor,

I’ve always scoffed at the concept of a zombie apocalypse. That is, until now. It’s here. Think you already know everything about it? I bet there’s something you don’t know. Read on.

This part you probably know. In the stage of Novavirus-Z that we call “The turning,” the host’s cells just die. I don’t mean a bit at a time, either. It starts at some random point in the body, then spreads rapidly. You can actually see it race across their skin, like a pale wave washing over them. The scariest part are the expressions they get as their brains are dying. First, they get this content look, like they are reliving happy memories. Then, their expressions change. The best I can explain it is they look like they had a revelation; and it terrifies them. Finally, right before their faces go blank and their eyes face forward in an eternal stare, they give you what some of us call “the look.” They narrow their eyes and smirk at you, as if they’re saying “you’ll get yours, buddy!” If you’ve never seen it, you’re luckier than me. At least  it doesn’t take long for “the look” to become “the stare.”

My wife got out of bed a few minutes before she turned and started pacing around our bedroom; her eyes darting about nervously. After it was over, she mindlessly wandered about the house. I’d heard about those who turned during the first wave, so I knew there was no coming back. I called the CDC and they send a zombie squad to take her away. I figured there was no use keeping her here. The woman I loved was gone. It was surreal watching two men in hazmat suits holding her hands and gently guiding her into the truck. No violence. No attempts to eat anyone’s brain. Just a mindless submissiveness. It’s occurred to me that there are survivalists who might be extremely disappointed about this. I won’t shed a tear for them.

A couple of days later, I watched my ten-year-old daughter turn. When she gave me “the look”, my heart broke. When she started to stare, I left the room so she couldn’t see me cry.

With my wife already gone, I couldn’t bring myself to call the CDC to have her taken away. I don’t think I could bear that. I decided to do what millions of others must have already attempted without success. I tried to find something that was left of my daughter.

I led her back to her bed. She didn’t resist as I lay her down, rested her head on her pillow, and tucked her in. Her dull, lifeless eyes stared up at the ceiling. I tried reading her favorite books to her, but got no response. I talked about her favorite things. Nothing. I even tried waving a spoon of chocolate ice cream in front of her face. For the briefest moment, I found humor in the idea of the zombies hungering for chocolate ice cream. I guess I’m a sick fuck.

Anyhow, I then tried singing to her. I sang the songs we used to sing together as I’d push her on the swing in the backyard.

I Love You. A Bushel and a Peck… No response.

I’ve been working on the railroad… Nothing.

 Skinny Marinky Dinky Dink… Nope.

I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples. My efforts seemed to be futile. I decided to try one more thing.

As I had done more times than I can count, while putting my little girl to bed, I leaned over her with my face close to hers and gently slid the back of my index finger from her temple down her cheek while singing the lullaby that both my father, as well as my father’s mother, used to sing to me when I was little.

Here we float in a tiny boat.

Far away. Far away.

Here we float in a tiny boat.

Far away.

I sang the song several more times while continuing to stroke her cool, pale face with my finger. She blinked. I froze; not even daring to breathe. I waited, but she just lay there, staring at the ceiling. I figured that I must have imagined it. I went back to singing; but now my voice trembled. She blinked again. A moment later, she turned her head toward me with a look of horror on her face. She said three words and three words only as she looked straight into my eyes. “Daddy, Kill me.” Her expression once again went blank. “The stare” returned. I gently turned her head to face the ceiling, then got up and left the room; closing the door behind me. Yeah. You read that right. They can be reached, but don’t try it. I wish I hadn’t.

So here I sit; my back to my daughter’s bedroom door upon which this letter’s attached. I can hear what’s left of my daughter wandering around her room with the slow, plodding gait of the dead. If anyone finds this note, you will find the remains of my daughter, Hope Smith, as well as my own behind this door. If it is of any use to you, all of our cash and jewelry is on the floor beside me in a Ziplock bag. The pistol in my hand is a good one. There’s extra ammo for it in the hallway closet. If there’s any left, the bottle of 12-year-old scotch next to me is top notch. I was saving it for a special occasion. I guess I should have just enjoyed it when the times were good. Feel free to finish it. I’m immune, so it’s safe. All that I ask is that in exchange for what you take, or out of human decency, is that you wrap our bodies, place them in the graves that I’ve already dug in our backyard, then cover us well. If the graves have filled in over time, please deepen them. The shovel’s in the shed. If you know any prayers, it would be appreciated.


Sgt. Jacob C. Smith, USMC, retired.

Gary Opas

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay 

18 thoughts on “Dear Survivor by Gary Opas”

  1. This is superb. I love the subversion of the fact that we always expect zombies to be dangerous, but in this story they aren’t. It makes this piece all the more engaging and compelling. Of course, it’s an incredibly sad story as well, and written in a straightforward, unflowery style makes it all the more impactful. The name of the daughter as well is genius – ‘Hope Smith’ – one who forges hope as such. Great stuff!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. H Gary,
    I can’t tell you how much you were up against it with a Zombie story. I don’t think we have published many (If any!)
    For you to write something in a genre that we really dislike and have it accepted says so much about your imagination, individuality and writing skill!!!
    I thought the line that stated you can get through to them but maybe you shouldn’t was exceptional!
    All the very best.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a brilliant zombie story. “Daddy. Kill me.” These words will not leave me without a hundred questions in my mind. What was behind that pale exterior? Suffering that would never end but wasn’t visible? This is a sad but bravely narrated zombie tale with a lot of heart. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Odd that this would take me back by song. Does anyone else remember I love you a bushel and a peck, bet your pretty neck I do. At least that’s how I remember it. Mid or early 1950s. Touchpoint – not the same but for me it resonates with “Invasion Of the Body Snatchers” from the same time period.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I usually don’t read zombie stories anymore, but since this page is filled with wonderful writers I decided to read this and not pass it by. I am thrilled I gave it a chance because it is probably the best zombie story I have ever read. Fantastic 😁

    Liked by 1 person

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