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Mutagen
(© Jack Bantry)

Page 1

Bagley stepped from the doorway of the diner into the bright sunshine. It was mid morning and the day was already heating up. Today was going to be a scorcher. He looked up at the clear blue sky, then down to the dusty main high street which reminded Bagley of the old Wild West. The store fronts were dilapidated. The town was badly in need of investment.

Jobs in town were few and far between. If you wanted to earn a decent wage you had to escape and many headed for New York City. There was nothing in town to attract tourism but people visited the nearby Adirondack Park and mountain range. Mountaineers, hunters and fishermen staying in the cabins situated around the many lakes in the area.

Bagley was lucky. He worked at the local garage. His boss had sent him out for coffee and bacon rolls which he carried across the street heading back to work.

Ahead he could hear the screech of tires as a pickup veered onto the high street coming from the direction of the nearest lakes.

Engine revving, the vehicle drove at speed, swerving like the driver had been drinking. Suddenly it swung to one side and clipped the corner of another pickup parked at the side of the road. The driver lost control, the pickup swung back round the other way and crashed into a parking metre on the opposite side of the street.

Bagley walked towards the vehicle. Curiosity... well, we know where that can lead.

People closer to the incident had already gathered around the pickup, probably checking to see if the driver was okay. Bagley could see the driverís door open, then the crowd scattered. Bagley squinted against the glare of the sun, trying to get a look at the driver to see if he recognised him.

It was a small town after all.

People were running past Bagley, away from the driver, one woman banged into him, knocking the coffee out of his hand.

Bagley looked down at the spilled beverage, unsalvageable, then to the running woman. Something about the desperate way she ran, as though her life depended on it, made Bagley look back at the pickup. He stood shocked at what he saw before him, the woman already forgotten. The driver swayed like a drunk, but this wasnít what shocked Bagley, it was the appearance of the man. His hair was dishevelled, his greenish tinged skin seemed to be running off his face as though it was turning to liquid, and blood dripped from his mouth, over his chin and down the front of his previously white t-shirt.

"Zombie!" someone shouted as they backed away from the man. Not wanting to disappear, but finding a safe distance to observe.

Zombie<, thought Bagley quizzically, not immediately connecting what he saw with the fictional monster. There ainít such a thing as a fucking zombie!

The driver staggered, holding his arms out, imitating one of the walking dead.

Another woman screamed, and protectively gathered her daughter against her.

"A fucking zombie!" he heard another shout in alarm.

Bagley wasnít the brightest star in the sky, even he knew zombies only appeared in fiction, but this man in front of him sure looked like one.

Someone rushed into the street from Bagleyís right.

Robert Lister from the hardware store, rifle in hand.

He got in close, aimed, and put a bullet in the manís head.

The zombie dropped down dead.

The crowd gathered in once again for a closer look.



The town wasnít large enough to have a hospital, so the sheriff and a deputy - both wearing large winter storm coats, face masks like the ones used by carpenters to stop them breathing in dust, and latex crime scene gloves - covered the corpse in a sheet, carried it into a police cruiser, then took it to the police station until it could be collected by an ambulance and taken to the morgue at the hospital in the next town.

[ Continue to page 2 ]



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Genre:Living Dead
Type:Short story
Rating:5.63 / 10
Rated By:55 users
Comments: 4 users
Total Hits:6408

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