By: Andrew Thomas Prenger
I loved the occasional zombie days Paradiso had. They were like snow days were for children. Being in California the former were actually more common than the latter.
Every so often there would be an outbreak of zombie infestation. There were multiple causes for it. The most common reason was the plot of some super-villain. He’d let the hordes out so they would be free to rob a bank. Other times it just happened. No reason ever discovered. The point was that the city was pretty well set up for it. The first few were devastating back when Paradiso was nothing but a settlement, but in modern times businesses and buildings had protection against the zombies. Now it was more of an annoyance for everyone else until some hero comes to save the day.
Not me. The moment The Damned Tinker called to tell me it was a zombie day I grabbed a rifle, a six-pack, my cowboy hat and headed up to the roof of my apartment building.
He was likewise set up on his roof. We were going to have a competition to see who could kill the most zombies before the problem was resolved. He had a remote control helicopter with a machine gun attached to it he could fly around. It seemed like he had the advantage but the weight of the gun and the ammunition made the helicopter sluggish. He had to constantly control it so that it wouldn’t dip low enough for a zombie to grab.
Meanwhile I had a .50 cal Barrett sniper rifle. It was a big, bulky bastard of a weapon designed more for assassinating vehicles than people so I don’t get many opportunities to use it.
There was an intersection we were both aiming for. Each of us were trying to steal kills from one another. He had the advantage of quick firing while my rounds could take out numerous targets at once. I would get a shot lined up perfectly, only for him to swoop down and steal my kill. He’d finally get his helicopter slowly turned around to take a shot only for me to mow down his target and five others.
I was lining up another shot when my scope went dark. I recoiled back in surprise. Automatically my right hand reached to the small of my back and wrapped around the handle of a pistol. I looked up at what was blocking my view.
It was a man with wings. Giant, feathered wings. He wore a plate armor breast piece and leather shorts. His legs were like eagle claws. He was perched on the edge of the roof, right in front of my rifle. Over his shoulder he had a brown leather satchel. For a helmet he had a turtle shell. He looked like some sort of rejected Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character.
We stared at each other in silence. He had bright golden eyes which peered at me. I stared right back at him, waiting for him to make the first move.
“Citizen!” he shouted at me, like I couldn’t hear him from five feet away, “what are you doing up here? Don’t you know it’s not safe! You should be inside!”
Oh, Christ, it was a superhero. Maybe I could have a little fun with this.
“Sir, I was just trying to help out. Doing my part to stop at least some of these zombies.”
“No need, citizen. We heroes have already banded together and discovered the cause of the outbreak. Right now some of our best are on their way to put an end to all this horror.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of you.”
“I’m not one for the limelight. My name is Turtle Hawk!” At the mention of his name the hero spread his legs wider and put his fists on his hips, posing for me. By this point my hand was back on my rifle. It wouldn’t take much to pull the trigger. From this distance there wouldn’t be much left of him.
“Yes, I have the ability to fly, obviously, but I also carry around a satchel of trick turtle shells to drop upon the heads of any villains unwise enough to try a life of crime!” he reached into his satchel and removed a turtle shell that was vaguely the shape of a V, “like this, the boomershell! Always returns to me.”
That was it. I was going to kill him. Normally I tried to avoid murdering heroes. It always turned out to be a bigger hassle than you would expect. Seeing one of their own killed drives them into a revenge frenzy causing them to come after the murderer harder than if that person killed a civilian. Turtle Hawk, though, I figured no one would really bother looking for his murderer.
Besides, once he landed on the ground the zombies would chew him up. The hero community would just chalk up his death to tragic accident and get on with their lives. Probably forget him unless he had a son or mentee to take over his mantle.
What would be the best way to kill him? Shooting him would be too simple. It was zombie day! A time to have fun.
That’s when I remembered Dana. She was out on the streets somewhere, thrashing through zombies with abandon. She had wanted to join D.T. on our little game, but it was too unfair for her to be on the streets. She always came in with an unfair score and made the game not fun. While Turtle Hawk was still digging through his satchel eagerly showing me gas shells and teleporting shells I spotted her at an intersection down the way.
She was about to move on. The intersection was filled with destroyed zombie corpses
“Look! A woman is trapped down there in the street!” I shouted.
Turtle Hawk took a quick glance, jammed his whatever-the-hell shell back in his satchel and took to the sky.
From this angle it really did look like some innocent woman trapped in a hell of the living dead. You couldn’t really tell that the woman was actually Dana Devastation, my girlfriend, and an eight-foot tall, nearly invincible brawler. Those zombies were no threat to her. They couldn’t hope to bite through her skin. With their rotting flesh she may as well have been punching marshmallows.
Turtle Hawk flew towards her. Dana was starting to march down the street towards a still mobile pack of zombies. I hefted the rifle up and perched it on the side of the roof. Through the scope I tracked him until he stopped soaring and hovered in place. After three beats of his wings I got into his rhythm.
I took my shot while he was still digging through his satchel for some stupid shell. The round hit him right where his left wing met his shoulder blade. I hit it at the perfect angle so it sheared through one wing then took the other one off as well. There was a comical moment where he seemed to stay in mid-air with a shocked look on his face before he suddenly realized he was no longer capable of flight and about to plummet to the ground.
I moved the scope down and watched as he fell into a crowd of zombies. They were on him immediately. I didn’t see what happened but I could see the gore flying out. His wings floated down to the ground like leaves falling from a tree. A zombie snatched one out of the air and started gnawing on it.
I moved the scope over and delighted in the puzzled look on Dana’s face. I couldn’t wait for her to get home so I could tell her the story.
My radio crackled in my ear, an impatient D.T.,” Shadow, you fall asleep up there? By my count I am winning by a large margin.”
“Just wondering, does killing a superhero count?”
“Was he a zombie?”