Thursday, February 3, 2011
Zombie Snowpocalypse Part III: Breaking the Ice
by Brendan Cavanagh
Brief shots of the faces of each member of the Classic Brian team fade in and out of view. Faint screams are heard. Scenes from the previous two movies similarly fade in and out in silence- Zombie Brian and Zombie Chief Illiniwek simultaneously sprinting in slow motion...a bullet-ridden Birdndan (half-Brendan, half-bird) somersaulting into a field from the skies...the remains of Eliot and Mada's cannibalistic frenzy- what looks like a small pile of ground meat with an outstretched hand, its extended fingers positioned in the style of a perfect Gb dim chord...
"Eliot, wake up, damn it!"
With one final powerful backhand, Brendan managed to revive Eliot from his feverish slumber. Eliot slowly regained consciousness and struggling, was able to sit upright and face Brendan and Mada. Eliot saw the concerned, loving look in Mada's tear-strewn eyes and knew immediately something had gone wrong. Brendan saw that look, too. He felt awkward continually being involved in situations like this. It was always weird to be around those two.
"What happened?" he asked hastily. "How are you alive, Brendan? I shot you out of the sky the other day!"
Brendan and Mada exchanged quick looks of bemused surprise and smirked. Brendan turned back to face Eliot, who by now had pulled out his phone to check something.
"Eliot, if you're looking for NFL updates again, I'm going to have to take your phone away from you...though I don't know why you still have it. The zombie outbreak was worse than we thought. It's already broken out of the U.S. and into surrounding countries. Eliot, I'm sorry, but...there isn't going to be a Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers have nothing left but a couple third string tackles. They're zombies though. You've been out of it ever since we ran into Cory. Do you remember when he gave us that 'serum?'"
"Of course," Eliot replied. "That was right before we moved on and fought those zombie cows...and you turned into a bird and I killed you!...and we went back to U of I and I fought off Chief Illiniwek and Zombie Brian...and Mada killed Conor with a katana...and we ate him...." His voice began to fade as he realized how cartoonish and overtly metaphoric it all seemed now in hindsight.
"Eliot, you tripped balls," Brendan interjected with a laugh. "Cory forgot that he put a bunch of acid in his PBR. You lost it, man! I think you must have had too much for your build- the rest of us just laid on tree branches and listened to Animal Collective for a few hours."
"So...so none of that actually happened? Eliot couldn't believe it. "But it all seemed so real..."
"Hey man, don't worry about it. At least you didn't ride off naked on a fixed-gear bicycle like Cory did. It's just the three of us now. But I'm glad you're better. We couldn't go on without you." Brendan placed his hand on Eliot's shoulder and the two shared a knowing look. They both knew how much they needed each other in these desperate times.
"When you two queers are done having a moment, maybe you'd like to take a look up there." They turned to see Mada pointing at the sun, which until now had remained invisible for a number of weeks. As they looked around them, they realized the layers of ice on the trees and ground, once inches thick, were beginning to melt. With exclamations of relief, the three exchanged high fives and hugs. When it came time for Eliot and Mada to share their joy, they stopped and stared intently into each others' eyes.
"I'm really glad you were there for me. I...I don't know how I could face these zombies and bitter temperatures without you." Mada could tell Eliot wasn't feigning appreciation for her like he normally would.
She responded to his words with a hint of teeth and said, "Yeah you're pretty useless on your own." She chuckled.
Eliot guffawed at her joke perhaps a little louder than he should have, looked down at his feet and then back to Mada, and uttered a somewhat lame, "Yeah."
Brendan's eyes darted back and forth. He wasn't sure the other two realized he was still present. This was, without a doubt, the most awkward situation in which he had ever been involved. He wanted to clear his throat, or even leave them alone- somehow break the unbelievably tortuous tension, but he was frozen on the spot in awe of what transpired next.
Eliot closed his eyes and craned his head just slightly to the side as if to signal that he was going to kiss Mada, finally manifesting the unspoken attraction between the two, though he stood no less than three feet away from her. She instantly picked up on his intentions though, and began to lean in to kiss him. It was a far lean though, being three feet away. As her lips sailed slowly towards his, Eliot began sort of wetly writhing his lips in a mixture of anticipation and expectation- Brendan had a feeling that Eliot thought that he was already kissing Mada. She soon found her way there though, and the two began to make strange, albeit passionate grunting sounds. Their feet planted firmly on the ground, their arms held tight to their sides, the two kissed for several minutes, all the while still grunting, with the occasional intermittent "Yeah" from Eliot. Brendan knew this moment was a special one, for the film-goers and for the other two, but he couldn't help but wonder if either of them had ever been kissed before.
He soon could take no more of this awkward situation, so he pointed his gun towards the horizon and fired a couple rounds. "Oh sorry guys, I thought I just saw a zombie. My bad. We should probably get going before it gets too late." At this, Eliot and Mada promptly ended their make out session and joined him on the now muddy road. Eliot held back for a moment to walk beside his buddy, letting Mada go ahead without him.
"Brendan. Hey. Mada and I just had sex." Brendan could see the enthusiastic naivete and pride in Eliot's countenance and didn't have the heart to correct him. He gave Eliot a halfhearted pat on the back and said, "Congratulations, man. I'm real proud of you." He then proceeded to roll his eyes upon turning away, thoroughly aware of the fact that the fate of the three remaining members of the Classic Brian team was in his hands now. His thoughts wandered and soon settled upon his recently brief foray into anti-zombie gang life back in Springfield, and he began to get overly sentimental.
Damn, he thought, I never should have left those guys for this. I mean, they were all essentially bandwagon-jumpers the way they so conventionally killed those zombies and listened to Dave Matthews Band. And I was always unhappy, but...I sort of miss being unhappy in Springfield.
But he trudged on nonetheless. Eliot and Mada may have been sexually misguided, but they were his good friends, and he knew he was safe as long as he remained with them.
Just as he started to get sentimental about his current situation, a blood-curdling, high-pitched scream broke out ahead. It was Eliot. He was jumping up and down and waving frantically towards a patch of nearby woods, from which an enormous pack of zombies emerged. He grabbed Mada's hand and placed it in his, and they and Brendan fled from the mob down the road into a quaint, dilapidated chapel. Brendan left Eliot and Mada to barricade all points of entry while he scaled the adjacent bell tower, at the top of which he would hole up and pick off the advancing horde.
The zombies quickly surrounded the chapel in snarling and drooling unison. Brendan noted how similar this situation was to his daily experiences in the cafeteria at his old high school. He placed the earphones of his iPod in his ears, turned on "Gimme Shelter" to get him pumped, picked up his sniper rifle and took aim. He singled out a rather surly looking adolescent pounding on the frail stained glass. He located the zombie's head in his cross hairs. Through the scope he could see the boy was wearing blue and orange braces, probably a fan of the Illini. He took aim and muttered, "Smile, you son of a bitch" before blowing the boy's head clean off his body. A few of the surrounding zombies lunged at the headless corpse and fought over the meatiest bits. Brendan saw one fending off another from its meal with a severed hand. Locating the second zombie in his sights, Brendan said, "Need a hand?" and shot him in the head. For good measure, he decided he should kill the first zombie, who was now triumphantly pounding his chest while also eating the hand he had just used to beat off his friend. "You can't always get what you want," said Brendan (he was on a Rolling Stones kick) before he shot the zombie in the head.
Meanwhile, Eliot and Mada were having less success. They had two bullets left in their sole revolver and tens of zombies thrusting their hands and heads through the makeshift barricades. Eliot turned to Mada with tears in his eyes. "Mada," he said solemnly, "I don't think we're gonna make it like this. There's no way Brendan can take out all these zombies, and they're gonna break in here anyway and kill us. I think we should-"
"No! Eliot, I won't let you," interjected Mada. "I won't let you shoot yourself. I love you too much to have to watch that happen. I'll...I'll do it first. That way I don't have to see your beautiful brains spurt out of the side of your skull and onto this organ."
"No! Mada, no, that's not what I was going to say at all," replied Eliot. "No, I was going to suggest we go through that door and join Brendan up in the bell tower. He's got more ammo. And possibly grenades."
"Oh," replied Mada. "Yeah that's a good idea."
And the pair of them ascended the adjacent bell tower, where they found Brendan pretending his rifle was a guitar, jamming out to some Bob Dylan song. They could tell it was Bob Dylan because the sound of harmonica was blasting from his ears. He clearly did not hear them enter the room, what with his hearing impairment. They watched for a couple minutes as he alternated air-guitaring and picking off zombies, repeatedly uttering the cheesiest puns every time he successfully killed one. For instance, after he blew one's head off, he pompously yelled out, "You may have been an A student in life, but as a zombie, you got NO BRAINS! AHAHAHAHA!"
Eventually, Eliot and Mada could take no more of this low form of humor, so they cautiously approached their friend and tapped him on the shoulder to signal his attention. Shocked by the appearance of his friends, Brendan tripped over his iPod cord and accidentally dropped his rifle out the window, but not before it went off and shot Eliot in the foot. Mada screamed and rushed to see what she could do about to stop the blood. Fighting back tears, she turned to Brendan and yelled accusingly, "You idiot! Look what you did!"
Eliot winced as she took his shoe and sock off his injured foot. He looked up at Brendan, and then looked back to Mada and said calmly, "It's alright Ma, I'm only bleeding." Brendan, in actuality the only person in that bell tower who knew that that was the title of a Bob Dylan song, began to laugh raucously. He was joined by Eliot, who in fact didn't realize he just made a great reference, but he laughed uproariously anyway. It turns out that he thought now, as he broke the tension between his friends, was the appropriate time to break out his pet name for his new unspoken girlfriend.
"Well, I guess we're screwed now guys," said Brendan rather gravely after he finished laughing. He looked out at the setting sun in deep contemplation. He realized this was the first sunset he had seen in weeks. Although the sun was fading out of view, he knew that he could depend on seeing it again in only a few hours. Unfortunately he couldn't say the same for his Classic Brian brethren. He thought of each of his fallen comrades: Conor- His Friday murder by Mada's hand really set the tone for the weekend. Nick, who's usually there to pull things together after the weekend, died tragically the following Monday. Then there was that one weekend when Brian and Robert decided to double team a pack of advancing zombies, sacrificing themselves to save the others. Brendan would miss them. But sooner rather than later, it seemed, he and the other two survivors would probably meet similar demises.
He turned around and watched Mada lovingly tend to Eliot. It was comforting to know there was still some humanity left in a world driven upside down by zombies and a freak ice storm. Yet, what place did love have in this world? It was useless! Love would never defeat these zombies. They may be stupid, but there was simply too many of them to even hope for survival. Brendan picked up Eliot's revolver which lay on the floor next to him and check its contents. Two bullets. Just enough. He cocked the gun and pointed it at his friends.
"Thursdays were never good for me."
But just before he could pull the trigger, Mada sprung off the ground like a cat and attached herself to Brendan's arm, where she bit him fiercely. Howling in pain, he dropped the gun on the floor and struggled with Mada. She overtook him and he began to tip over the edge. He could rely on his exceptional balance no longer, and his friends weren't going to help him, and he tipped over backwards. Luckily his hand swiped out and caught hold of the bell's clapper, and he clung to it with all his might.
"What do you think you were doing?!" screamed Mada, who had taken control of the revolver and was now pointing it at the rope suspending the bell in the air. "I could shoot this rope right now and you and the bell would come crashing down the tower."
Brendan, scared back to his senses after nearly dying, looked incredulously at Mada. "Mada, that's it! There's not too many of them left. We wait til they crowd in here and try to climb the ladder. When they do, we shoot the rope and it crushes them! I'm sorry I tried to kill you guys. I don't know what I was thinking. I became delirious with hopelessness. I just didn't know how to resolve our situation. I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" He began to sob.
Eliot reached out and touched Mada's leg. "Ma, it's okay. He just made a mistake. Let's get him back to safety."
At this, Mada lowered the revolver and put her hand out to grab Brendan's. He caught hold, lunged and managed to get back across safely. There he and the others waited for another hour, when the zombies broke through the barricades in the chapel and made their way to the connected bell tower. Once they crashed through the door and entered the tower, a pair of them started attempting to climb the ladder. At this moment, Mada shot the rope and the bell fell to the ground with a resonating clang, crushing every zombie under it.
Eliot, Mada and Brendan made their way down the ladder and walked into the chapel, which was torn apart by the bloodthirsty zombies. As Brendan aided a hobbling Eliot, Mada sprinted over to the organ and proclaimed that she knew how to play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" on the piano, but she could probably play it on the organ because how difficult of a transition could it be? After her impromptu recital, Eliot looked at both his friends and said cautiously he knew the right hand's chords for the first verse of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," so their departure was delayed another few minutes as they belted out the lyrics together and decided that the song really was very good, despite its ubiquitous nature and cheesiness. Not to be outdone before they left, Brendan sat down to casually play Pachabel's "Canon in D." But the other two had already played and they pretended to listen for a little bit before they decided to start making their way to the door. Brendan yelled, "Guys, this is the good part!" He kept playing and said to himself, "I'm definitely finishing this song," but halfway through the "good part" he felt like the other two weren't going to wait for him so he got up and joined them outside.
The sky was turning a faint gray-blue, signaling an all-too-rare sunrise, once Brendan caught up with the other two. Through the sparse fog he could make out a sign that said "Champaign-Urbana 10 miles." He didn't know what "Chambana" or as people were referring to it these days, "Zombana," held in store for the three of them, but he was excited at the prospect of starting over and maybe living one single day without any stress. He looked at Eliot, who walked with his arm around Mada. Her head rested on his shoulder and her hand was placed in his back pocket. Brendan hoped there were some cute single, college girls there- living ones, that is. Also a good sandwich place.