I sat there in my cage watching as they all walked past, stumbling and groaning at each other. In a way they all looked so peaceful, so calm and free with the fact there were no more obligations: no more system, no rent and no more zoo fee to pay. That’s right, let me introduce myself, I’m Greg. In this zoo of zombies I’m the main attraction, which actually isn’t too hard since the rest have either been eaten or zombified, but I’ll save you the gory details.
Most of my time is spent watching these corpses bounce into each other, but they’re not just mindless bodies, they have names. Walking in front of my cage just now there’s Derek and Lucy. Around the time when the sunlight hits the bottom on my cage they walk past each other and Derek tries to pluck up the courage to ask her out, but instead he just groans in her face, tragic really. There he goes again.
‘Arrrrhhhh’ Derek pauses awkwardly.
Lucy stares gawping at him then carries on walking… maybe tomorrow my friend. For now though I spread out my paws on the concrete ground and close my eyes. I don’t sleep, I just like to think and it’s hard to get your thoughts straight when your view isn’t so visually appealing. I mean, I’m only a bear, but at least all of my limbs are still attached. My fur is getting a bit crusty but that can’t be helped because I haven’t had a wash in two months, not since everyone started to bite each other. The sun’s rays hit my paws which meant it was feeding time. Waddling to the edge of my cage I looked out and there he was, Freddie. Dragging his left foot behind him he stopped in front of my cage with a bucket full of fish. Now I know this is weird, how and where did Freddie get the fish? I’m sorry but I don’t have the answers, it’s just something that happened and I was God damn lucky because of it. He would slowly tip the bucket into the cage and I would roar loudly at him to show him my appreciation, he seemed to like this because he would attempt roaring back but it would come out in splutters. After he gave me the fish he went be on his merry way, cradling his bucket he seemed happy.
Freddie was the last to turn, just slumped outside my cage after he had got bitten it took a long time. He rambled in his final minute.
‘Greg,’ he whispered, ‘these zombies have fucked everything up but it’s a good thing you’re locked inside…because there is no fucking way someone is going to stand a chance against a zombie bear I can tell you that’
Smiling that was the last thing Freddie ever said: now he just occasionally spits out syllables when he attempts to roar. I think about Freddie and how he used to wash me down with bucket and sponge, telling me about all of his secrets because he didn’t know I was listening. I was. Everything from his affair to his daughter dying, it poured out of him quietly and on two occasions he started to weep, weep so hard that it would attract people. The manager offered him a retirement plan a few times but every time he refused, shouting that ‘only the dead should retire and every other old crony is a waste of space!’ This seemed to quite his higher ups for a few months.
After eating my fish I close my eyes and start to fall asleep; thinking about the irony of Freddie’s ability to cheat retirement.
Yawning I raise my head to the sky, mouth open wide with my paws sticking out as I stand. The humans used to love watching me wake up for some bizarre reason, applauding as if it were some great trick when I was just trying to wake up properly. Seriously you would think that they thought we were dim pets, merely living up to our roles to give affection and entertain. This is why I feel sorry for cats knowing that they are forced to be squished by the greedy hands of children. My cat friend tells me all about what his life used to be like in a house, which makes me mighty happy that I’m living my life in a locked cage. He calls himself Bernard and he comes to see me occasionally, not so much since every animal who isn’t locked safely in a cage is decapitated by teeth. It seems like I slept in a bit because the sun is close to the bottom of my cage. I stretch a bit and lick clean my bare hands. Ha! Bear hands. I sometimes wish the humans here were still intelligent enough to realise how funny I am. Well here comes Lucy and Derek should be close by, maybe they can share this moment with me. She drags herself in front of my cage and her limped step stops, Derek doesn’t show. Her dead eyes look sad as only the overgrown moss and weeds on the cages reflect in them, and not Derek’s awkwardly hanging face. Stunned, but not stopped, she carries on with her routine. Feeling a bit uneasy I try to think of the reasons why Derek wouldn’t appear when it’s been an everyday occurrence for two months. Maybe he fell and broke his legs? Maybe he found a new love interest? No, none of them make sense. When the sun hits my cage Derek does his thing and groans at Lucy. Everyday things have stayed the same and I didn’t expect them to start changing.
‘Hey Derek, are you going to turn around and realise that I’ve been staring at you or do I have to start hissing?’
Turning round bewildered I stare at the tree behind the back of my cage, and there on the first branch sits Barnard.
‘Are you too busy skin puppet watching to come have a chat?’ Bernard says sarcastically.
Skin Puppets is the term he uses for the zombies. Too belittling for me, I don’t mind them but Bernard doesn’t really like anyone.
‘I’m coming,’ I say dropping to all fours. ‘It’s been about a dozen times that the sun has hit my cage since you’ve came to see me,’ I say reaching him.
‘I’ve been about, but those dead sacks seem even stupider today, maybe they’re slowing down’.
‘They’ve been walking none stop for two months, can’t blame them. So what makes you risk your life to come check up on me?’
‘I’ve noticed something weird recently, I think some of them are talking again,’ Bernard says in a tone that seems he’s questioning what he’s saying.
‘Wait, what makes you think this?’ I reply rapidly with genuine interest.
‘One have them fell down the lion pit. Quite funny actually, I watched him for a good hour walking in circles, bumping into the walls. Then all of a sudden he starts groaning, more than they usually so, and occasional words would start to make their way to the surface’
‘I think there were three. Please, trapped and Lucy. He repeated them for about a minute then went back to quietly bashing himself into rocks.’
‘It had to be him, it had to be Derek who was trapped inside this pit. Thinking about it made me sad but kind of happy at the same time, maybe now he could finally pluck up the courage to ask out Lucy. Without thinking much I made up my mind. ‘Barnard,’ I pronounced proudly. ‘We have a rescue mission on our hands.’
‘You’re foolish,’ he said instantly.
‘Aren’t you even curious why I want to save my zombie friend?’
‘You want to save that zombie, you’ve became sentimental towards them. I’ve seen the way you watch as they go about bumping into each other, and the names you give them. They used to be the ones watching you but now it’s the other way around. Their ignorance towards you has made you sentimental.’
Stunned I thought about this. Was it true? My ambition to go save Derek made me instantly disregard and dangers that might occur if I leave this cage. Nobody had paid me any attention since the attack but maybe they know I’m locked in, once I’m outside they might catch on. Yet the idea of doing something other than staring outside these bars and occasionally licking my bare hands and balls made me excited.
‘Bernard my feline friend, we’re going on an adventure. Has to be better than tottering about by yourself.’
‘Fine,’ he sighed. ‘But if he bites me you’re the first thing I’m coming for. Also, by the way, we have company.’
Turning round there was Freddie, trying but failing to tip the bucket of fish into my cage.
‘Barnard,’ I said hurriedly. ‘This man has a bunch of keys on his belt. Whilst he’s focused I want you to grab them. It’s important so that I can get out of here, you need to do it right now’
Sighing, but without pausing, Bernard jumps from the branch and slowly makes his way around the cage. Quickly with a jump he grabs the keys and squeezes himself through the bars, Freddie tried to swipe him which causes him to drop his now empty bucket of fish. He looks confused but a moment, but then, like always, he grabs his bucket and drags himself away: all the time hugging the bucket tightly.
‘You’re a beauty Bernard. Now help me enjoy these fish, because when the sun hits the tree behind us are mission starts’
By the time the sun hit the tree most of the zombies were scarce and off at some other part of the zoo, and miraculously we got to the lion pit safely. So far so good. There he was still banging about, Derek. Bernard had the bright idea of checking through one of the abandoned offices, where we found some rope. So throwing it down we waited for Derek to notice, but he just kept walking into things not paying attention.
‘Hey you down there. Come grab this rope and stop wasting our time you eroding lump of flesh,’ Bernard shouted.
This seemed to grab his attention, he trotted over and stared at the rope, and then all of a sudden he bit. I looked at Bernard and our eyes said one thing: pull. Biting the rope I pulled, each paw digging into the ground as I dragged myself away from the pit. My cat friend just sat there, knowing his fluffiness wouldn’t have made the least bit of difference. Finally he was out of the pit and picking himself up from the floor, limply he turned towards me and croaked:
‘You go make your move my friend. I have a good feeling it’ll work this time.’
So then we went, off into the zoo to test out his old literary skills on Lucy. Hell, maybe all of them would start talking again, which meant maybe soon Freddie would be telling me his tales. I would like that.
‘Come on Bernard, let’s head back. On the way I have a cracking’ joke to tell you about my bear hands. Ha!’