Zombies are for the birds

The following work is fiction, part of the May 2012 Absolute Write blog chain. To read more zombie apocalypse stories, go take a look at my fellow writers’ blogs at the end of this post.

two members of the Marauders

No one goes out alone anymore, ever. No joggers, no pit bull walkers, no mamas with baby strollers. This means you don’t see cutesie Facebook posts about squirrels and bird feeders, or rabbits hopping down the street in the Warehouse District. No one really monitored the urban wildlife. A whole new species appeared in the ecosphere, since that’s what zombies are, really – and we were a little too preoccupied with our own survival to really worry about how zombies interacted with animals not already marked as food or pet.

Because of this, no one in Minneapolis thought about the turkeys.

At some point before the zombies got loose – or the meth heads with the extra bad batch, who the hell knows? – some turkeys did not flock so much as they formed a tribe in Northeast Minneapolis. Joggers called them “the marauders.” Their status ranged from curiosity as they clustered in front of Foster’s funeral home, to annoyance when you wanted to parallel park on Johnson, to risk when one of the males went nuts and periodically assaulted a postal worker.

Someone, in a spare incongruous moment of panic probably did see it coming. But one way or the other, the theory didn’t get communicated until after it started happening.

I can’t myself remember the name for it – it’s not mimicry, but in that area. It was first observed in England, when some damn bird learned how to peck the foil off the cream covers on delivered milk. Within a month, every bird of its species was pecking its way to creaminess. Within a month, birds across the ocean in entirely different flocks got the memo. I wasn’t a biologist before all this happened so I don’t have a whole lot of memory retained for the details of how these things happen.
The Raptor Center stayed strong for awhile, because its caretakers really loved those birds. Eventually though, some zombies got out into the country-like parts of Saint Paul where bands of police officers don’t go shooting much. When the sanctuary went down, it went down hard. This left several large, hungry birds without regular food. Birds that hunted, like eagles, turkey vultures, and owls.

No one was that surprised when the vultures started in on the zombies. Carrion so fresh it was still moving, but dead? To a vulture, that had to be like self-delivering caviar.

Mike and I watched the Youtube clip of two vultures descending on a zombie, tearing it apart by biting into each shoulder. The birds were pretty rare before, especially this far north; no one has any idea what it will do the long-term vulture population.

The vultures became favored spirits with those of us who did neighborhood watch from the balconies in my apartment complex. If we saw them circling, sure enough a zombie would come shuffling. My neighbor the cop and I were seeing a lot of circling, and sometimes we had to make judgement calls about whether to shoot the zombie or leave it to our raptor friends.

Then on Thursday came the marauders.


The vultures had circled that day, as Joe the cop and I were chatting across our balconies between firing shots about how pigeons had disappeared but birds of prey were now everywhere. What used to be at most four or five turkeys sighted at once was becoming more like 20 or 30. “No real predators for them,” Joe opined. I shrugged and fired at a guy who was dragging his leg behind him. Even before the zombies, animals associated with distant wilderness would sometimes attempt the urban lifestyle. Bears wandered into Saint Paul from time to time, but not as much in Minneapolis. I’d actually seen a coyote the week before, but since it was smaller than the wild turkeys, my bets were still on the turkeys.

The zombie with the dragging foot paused, swaying in front of the red door of the old theater prop shop across the street. Joe and I both held off – we’d used enough bullets, and this one was not going down neatly. The next delivery of ammo and potting soil (we were growing our own food in small spaces now) from the mysterious guys in the Hazmat suits wasn’t due for a week, so we had reason to go easy. We also liked leaving a little something for our bird friends.

A swathe of turkeys circled the corner, coming down from 20th street as a fresh batch of vultures circled above them.  I counted twelve, thirteen, fourteen vultures in the sky and eighteen turkeys on the street below.

“I almost want to shoot one of ‘em for dinner!” Joe joked. He hadn’t taken well to involuntary vegetarianism. I had to wonder how many living things looked like drumsticks to him.

Bits of flesh were falling off the zombie, and he was flailing and moaning. Normally at that point the vultures descended, but something was different this time. They were waiting. One emitted what sounded almost like a wail – and the turkeys on the ground below struck.

A cloud of gobbling brown feathers formed around the zombie. Joe and I both tried to make out a bit of decaying head or foot from our four story overview.

In ten minutes, the noise died down and the turkeys gobbled on up Central Avenue en masse, a few pausing to vomit up bits of cloth before running to join the tribe.

The vultures descended in their place, gnawing at odd pieces of bone.

Joe and I stared at each other in silence, both of us with our hands still on our guns.

Damn.

Joe recovered first. “For the first time in six months, I am NOT fantasizing about KFC.”

 

Check out yet more Zombie Tales from my fellows at Absolute Write:

dclary – www.hardhobbittobreak.com
orion_mk3 – http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com
randi.lee – http://emotionalnovel.blogspot.com/
Ralph Pines – http://ralfast/wordpress.com/
writingismypassion – http://charityfaye.blogspot.com/
dclary – http://www.davidwclary.com/
SinisterCola – http://acgatesblog.wordpress.com/
PragmaticPimp – http://www.unfoldingmyth.com/
magicmint – http://www.loneswing.com/
SuzanneSeese – http://www.viewofsue.blogspot.com/
J.W.Alden – http://www.authoralden.com/
AFord – http://writeword.blog.com/
Nissie – http://www.paperheroes.net/
MonkeyQueen – http://www.mylifewithmonkeys.com/
areteus – http://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/
pyrosama – http://matrix-hole.blogspot.com/
pangalactic – http://sonofflash365.blogspot.co.uk/
Sweetwheat – http://gomezkarla.blogspot.com/
Penelope – http://poet-slash-writer.blogspot.com/
kimberlycreates – http://kimberlycreates.com/