I'm writing this post, as I have done before, from the top of a building. I can't help it; I enjoy watching the scenery in between words and paragraphs.
Right now that scenery is, in the immortal lyrics of Man Man, trying to eat me alive. We're taking our time getting home for several reasons, including but not limited to the serious repercussions at the end of this trip. I can't imagine a world where we don't get thrown in irons. I look out at the zombies in front of me down in the parking lot and I know it could be worse.
Pat is alive. Damaged and hurt, maybe broken so badly he can't heal straight, but alive. He's here to at least make the effort. He asked about his daughter almost at once. Not hard to see him finding a damn good reason to overcome the horrors in his recent past.
Whatever punishment comes is worth it. Put me in a cell, make me work the fields, cut off my own hand. I don't care at this point. We risked a lot to get this far and I won't apologize for it. And if we hadn't come on this trip I might not be so close to the undead. I might not be seeing what I'm seeing.
These ones here? They're starving. I've watched the New Breed among them prowl the edges as the old school zombies that make up more than half the crowd expend their last stores of energy. The dead can walk, can survive trauma no living thing could tolerate, but even with their altered biology and ability to store up a tremendous amount of excess food and to use it efficiently, there is no free ride. Years of natural selection did its job; the wild animal population seems to be only the strongest, fittest survivors. No easy source of fuel there. What people are left haven't been easy meals since right after The Fall.
And so I glance up now and then to see a New Breed pounce on the twitching body of an old school zombie that ran out of juice. The strange hibernation they fall into in winter apparently happens when their energy reserves get too low. Not death in the strictest sense, but something enough like it to make no difference. When the New Breed strike they send their weaker brethren to whatever waits Beyond, tearing at their flesh to sustain a better and more capable predator.
Not that the New Breed look exactly healthy, either. Many of them are showing signs of wear. Too many months spent damaging the tissues of their bodies out in the woods and in cities. Their feet are mangled, the tough tissue under their human skin showing through when they walk. It's the same all over their bodies; without proper healing they just sort of...erode. Disturbing but fascinating.
I've been sitting here for more than an hour in the hot sun, sweat beading on my forehead and running down my face, but I can't bring myself to stop watching them. The weak fall, the stronger devour them, but in the end I can finally see that dead things, no matter how evolved, can never truly take the place of the living. In time all of them will starve and die out. It's just our job to outlast them. Hard to imagine that world, but given the crystal skies and warm rays right now, signs are looking good.
They fall slowly, but the dead do fall. It's up to people to stand against them until the last is gone. Preferably together when possible.