It came upon the midnight clear

Do you miss Christmas? Not enough dead brains and zombies in your life? This piece is inspired by a terrific anthology project run by Lyle Perez

It came upon the midnight clear

“It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror,
nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for.
He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face”
"The Gift of the Magy”
O. Henry

There was a series of concurrent knocks on his door that remained unanswered. Eagerness of the visitors met an equally strong contender in Adam's lack of interest to greet whoever ventured into this snowed-in suburban cul de sac on the Christmas night.

Inside, Adam kept monitoring the rows of little red Santas passed out flat in the oven.

He wiped his hands, stained with red food coloring, against his old Grateful Dead t-shirt and scratched his 3 day old shadow of an unkempt beard, ultimately leaving red streaks all over his chin.

Five more minutes and he will be ready to satisfy his craving.  

He took a drag off a hand rolled cigarette; the smell of marijuana suddenly matching strengths with the aroma of freshly baked goods. As he was scanning the kitchen for an oven glove, he heard the thud outside. Perhaps the visitors knocked his door wreath down. The ex-girlfriend’s Christmas present from a year ago; they could even take the damn thing, for all he cared.

As he was taking the cookies out of the oven, he had an idea. In lieu of money, he could offer cookies to the carolers or donation seekers. Perhaps this meager offering should discourage the intruding visitors from hanging out at his porch.

Adam stuffed a piping hot cookie into his mouth and proceeded to the entry hall. He shuffled through piles of packaging boxes; holidays were the only time when he was actually busy with his gag toys online business.
He opened the door with his free hand and immediately dropped the baking tray. A row of dead eyes slowly followed cookies landing at their half rotten feet.

The visitors,  relatively quickly for zombies, proceeded to stomp on the baked goods, moving forward with their arms stretched wide like a drunkard ready for a hug.
Slowed by marijuana,  Adam was leafing through pages of his memory, unable to find some self-preserving strategies. In no time did their teeth begin strangling his neck and pulling away at limps; the sharp claws digging into the flesh of his mouth and tongue.

Strangely enough, the attack brought memories of his teenage years when a stray dog assailed him. Like then, he peed himself and while his urine soaked body was still drowning in the sea of half dead flesh, it appeared to slow down the eagerness of the zombies’ piranhas like mouths.

The hall of his house smelled now like an old hospital: mix of body fluids, blood and ammonia. Perhaps even zombies could not stand the stench. The attack stalling, Adam crawled backwards into his house, attempting to close the door with his legs. 

But more than some toes missing, he was surprised to see his legs so hairy that it looked as he was wearing pants made out of bear hide. His remaining toenails poked out like little daggers. His transformation startled and surprised the intruders; the zombies began moving away like a horror movie played backwards.
Adam turned to face them on all fours; growling and raising the hair on his arched back.

“What was going on? Was it a marijuana…?” He felt like a drunk and fell on his back as if he was one. He curled into a ball and started licking his wounds.

“If it was not a dream, what has been happening?”
All the zombie movies he had watched in his young life seemed now like a PSA or a documentary. There was always some external catalyst for the situation: microbes, cosmic rays, curses. Was it then time of the year; was it something about winter or Christmas? Wouldn't make sense that zombies would raise from dead around Easter?

Adam rubbed his eyes with the claws of his hands, happy to see despite the blood on his face the eyes were relatively intact. As a matter of fact, he felt like his vision actually improved. He surveyed the cul de sac. Some of the zombies lingered by, ready to return to his house at any time had he turned back into a human form. The snowflakes began its parachuting fall, transforming the lingering corpses into hobbling snowmen.
He noticed that one of the zombies was actually carried some human flash (brain?) in a Salvation Army donation bucket. He made an attempt at snickering and was happy to see that unlike some parts of his body, his sense of humor was not missing.

“And if indeed, it was a time of the year, why has it happened before? Once again, how was this Christmas time different?”

He could not possibly figure why it was happening, but he sure hoped he was the cure. Like a child running through a heap of leaves, he energetically darted through the fleeing pack of the undead. He headed  to save the world by transforming humanity into werewolves or whatever it was that he became.He decided to make a first stop at his ex girlfriend. He figured because of the past relationship he owned her to be the first one to be saved. And if she has already been turned into a zombie meal, he could always use the mayhem as an excuse to perhaps snoop around  to see what exactly she's been up to post their break up.

Looking at his house, the boxes and newspapers he used to pack the fake fangs, dog poo or plastic guts he came to a realization that his new state, although allowing him to retain his own - Adam's - consciousness, stripped him of some strictly human skills. For example he was unable to read. Although he knew Caroline's address, for the life of him he could not choose the directions.

He hoped to pick up the scent. He sniffed the half shredded wreath and began to run.

It felt good. He sure put some pounds since he was let go from his last job, but it did not prevent him from covering long distances of streets with an occasional obstacle of a  swirling or speeding car.
At one point he had to jump and hang onto the car’s overhead compartment in order to get further without being a road kill.
He could not be run over now...God knows if by being killed he was to turn into zombie…

His nose was picking up a faint smell that made him kept going until he had to rest, curled down in a ball, weary but on guard.

Suddenly he saw a torpedo of a car driving erratically towards the bushes he was using for a temporary shelter. The vehicle crushed into a nearby tree.
He saw a passenger; a woman slumped on a pillow of an airbag. She looked like Goth Sleeping Beauty, covered in blood, hair burned dashboard fire.  

As the car’s dying sounds were ebbing into the silence of the night, the victim suddenly flinched as if pulled by strings. He blank eyes scanned the area in search of help or …brains?

Adam could see her disorientated face clearly, but once again the new identity prevented him from confirming if it was indeed Caroline. She sure smelled like her, but could he be sure?

On his way here, for one, he saw some beautiful colors in the sky, which might have been fires or just super strong marihuana still lingering in his body.

There was no time to ponder. Adam went for her throat; a kind gesture to end her suffering.

When he sunk his teeth in her neck, the catnip of made him drink and drink  until he could not...

He let go of her throat, allowing her body to fall on the ground. Adam was panting heavily; his tongue dripping blood on the snowy ground, trying to comprehend the sudden and gentle moves of the creature in front of him.

The woman stretched towards the curtain of the night sky, her eyes were beaming faint red light.She smiled at him exposing her fangs.

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