I step on the hover platform and we take off, buzzing around the mall.
My lab partner Nikki turns to me and asks, “So why’d you decide to help out with data-gathering, Kent?”
I shrug. “I’ve always been fascinated by feral yuppies. Old Navy sweaters and dad jokes one minute, tasers and meth-rage the next.”
She pushes her glasses up her nose and hugs her clipboard to her chest. “They sure are fascinating…let’s observe our specimens, shall we?” She turns the steering column and our hover plat zips over to the mall’s entrance. Hordes of yuppies are standing outside, chatting amiably with each other, drinking some variation of moccachinolattegrande whatever-the-hell. As we swoop in close, I catch snippets of cheery conversation.
“—so the loan officer said if I wanted a cash-out refi, I’d have to get a co-signer, because the amount we need for renovations is—”
“—I know I know…but I feel so SAFE in an SUV!”
“Hahaha! I would DIE without adderall! Stuff makes the world go ’round!”
“I LOVE that new ABC drama! Did you notice how the minorities in it are KIND OF edgy but not TOO edgy? It’s SO GOOD!”
A red light begins flashing through the mall. A robotic voice blares:
“NONESSENTIAL PERSONNEL MUST CLEAR THE MALL. ALL SPECIAL RESPONSE TEAMS TAKE YOUR POSITIONS AND PLACE YOUR WEAPONS IN CONDITION 3. DOORS OPENING IN 5…4…3…2…”
Black Friday has begun.
The doors swing open and the yuppies turn from sedate suburbanites into murderous rage-holes. It’s like World War Z on fucking steroids. A writhing blanket of ultra-aggressive soccer moms and emasculated dads rampage across the waxed floor, pouring into the mall like a swarm of killer bees. As soon as one of them stumbles, the rest tear that person apart with their bare hands. In a matter of seconds, the deck is covered with wet entrails and amputated limbs. The inhuman cries arising from the mob are like nothing I’ve ever heard; it’s as if T-rexes and Smeagols were engaging in the filthiest hate-sex you could ever imagine.
I turn to Nikki. “Um…are we safe here? Should we ascend a few more feet? I mean…ick!” I squint and sputter as blood flies up from below and gets in my eye.
Nikki laughs and wipes my face with a tissue. “Relax, Kent. We’ve done this a million times. There’s no way they can—”
Out of the corner of my vision, I see them stacking onto each other, rapidly forming a pile of yuppies that’s about to reach our hover plat.
“Nikki! They’re about to—”
She turns away from me and her gaze widens in horror. She grasps the altitude toggle and thrusts it forward. Our hover plat lurches…then stalls. She looks over the side and screams, “THEY’VE GRABBED OUR SKIDS!” She keys the comms and blurts, “This is Nikki Johnson, requesting immediate support! SOMEONE PLEASE—”
The special response teams open fire, blasting at the yuppie pile that’s dragging us down. Brains and viscera pop and snap, dotting the air like macabre confetti. A shot wings Nikki’s temple, and she goes staggering toward the rail. One of the yuppies reaches up and grabs her by her lab coat. She reaches toward me and screams, “OH GOD PLEASE—”
“NIKKI!” I lunge toward her but it’s too late; they’ve pulled her over.
Her screams turn into wet gurgles and I have to turn away; my last glimpse of Nikki is her on her back, surrounded by yuppies. They’re yanking out fistfuls of organs and jamming them into their bloody maws.
I start fiddling with the controls, trying to gain some more altitude. “OhgodohgodwhyisthishappeNING—”
Then I hear a snarl to my right and dive sideways, just in time to avoid a pair of grasping arms. At this point, I’m acting on pure instinct. I sprint across the hover plat, step on it’s rail and—
—leap off, bicycling my arms and legs to max out my distance. I crash into the top of the mall’s thirty-foot high Christmas tree, swaying dangerously back and forth. Down below, I see yuppies trying to climb it. The special response teams are cutting down my pursuers by the goddamn handful, but there’s too many of them. I’m done for.
I open my eReader to Echo, activating its reality distortion powers. Magic flash.
Santa Claus bursts through the skylight on his magic sleigh, accompanied by a fireteam of four elves. They’re all kitted out in festive body armor and load-bearing harnesses, blasting away with an assortment of sleigh-mounted guns, all colored candy-cane red. Santa’s firing a SCAR, gritting his teeth as he goes full auto. Maybe it ain’t great against thinking humans, but it’s the perfect answer to a yombie (yuppie zombie) horde. He slings the rifle across his back, shoulders a six-shot grenade launcher, and begins pummeling the mob with 40mm high explosive. Yombies go flying, marking the air with contrails of blood.
One of the yombies has climbed the tree and is pawing at my ankle. I kick, “GET—“ again, “—FUCKING—“ and again, “—OFF ME!” No use; a hand clamps firmly around my calf.
“KENT!” I look up. Santa high-ports his rifle and tosses me a sidearm.
I fumble with the pistol and headshot the yombie that’s grabbing my leg. Santa’s sleigh swoops in low and he shouts, “GRAB ONTO A SKID!”
I jump off the tree—oh SHIT—and grab onto the skid with my left hand, causing the sleigh to tilt precariously to the side. The elves continue shooting, cutting down wave after wave of yombies. Santa pulls up on the steering column and we fly toward a window, crashing through the glass into the cloudy gray. The whole time, I’m roaring like Jon Bernthal’s Punisher, firing my pistol one-handed.
Best Black Friday I’ve ever had. 😉
Have yombies attacked you while you’re trying to study their savage ways? Never fear! Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle #kindle #kindleunlimited #sciencefiction #scifi #books #novel #book