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Old March 7th, 2013 (02:37 AM).
Cutlerine Cutlerine is offline
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 21
Gender:
Nature: Impish
Posts: 1,030
Hey, doesn't this thread deserve more exclamation marks than that?

Anyway... I hear a distant sound: that of a ball beginning to roll. This is the beginning of something I've written in two different ways so far but am still not happy with. There's this - what I like to call the Kadabra Version - and another, the Parasect Version. One day, perhaps these will be continued. Until then... I suspect not.

I call it BRAAAIINS! I Mean, an Automortography. A silly conceit, but it appeals to me because, well, I am silly.


The first thing I was aware of when I woke up was I.

That probably doesn't mean all that much to you, I know, but bear with me. It's difficult for me to put it down in words – I'm still getting used to using them, I'm afraid. It hasn't been easy to adapt, but then again, it's been pretty damn far from easy for everyone.

All right... Let me try and explain. Before... all this, I wasn't I. I was part of a great big we. That's how it is for us, usually. The individual is nothing in our society, because our minds aren't separate like yours. We don't have those strange boundaries and defences you erect at the corners of your psyches; we flow through each other, sharing memories, feelings, thoughts – all with such total freedom that we often don't even notice we're separate organisms. It was an old saying of ours that God made just one of us, but gave us a thousand hands to work with.

You'll notice the past tense. Was. The thing is, it probably still is.

I just don't know any more, because I'm no longer part of the Great Mind. For the first time in my life, I'm me.

And that's the first thing I was aware of when I woke up.

I sat up – I, not one of our bodies but I – and looked around. I was sprawled on hard concrete near a wall – in an alleyway, by the look of things. Some bin bags had burst a short way away, scattering rubbish over the paving-stones. The sun shone brightly down on my little alley, and all around me the world was quiet and at peace.

I raised my hands and looked at them, watching them tremble. I was moving them, I thought. Of my own free will. I clenched them into fists and uncurled them again, watching the fur shift on my knuckles.

What happened to me?

Oddly, it didn't feel as lonely as I thought it should. After all, I was one mind alone in the psychic landscape; by rights I should have felt terrified. But no. Instead, I felt... calm. As if this were somehow something normal – and indeed I supposed it was. Most of the world's animals had their own minds. I had previously been in a minority.

Is this how humans feel?

I couldn't quite get over it. I was me, and... and that was not frightening, just unusual. The fact revolved in my mind like a gem in a display case, and I examined it from all sides with the dispassionate eye of a scientist. A slew of theories flashed through my mind – this calm was a reflex designed to protect me from madness in case of disconnection from the Great Mind; it was a by-product of insanity resulting from said disconnection; it was the feeling that was supposed to overcome one shortly before death – but I shut them out. Now was not the time for that kind of speculation; without the resources of the Great Mind at my disposal, I was only a few times more intelligent than the average human, and I had no idea what the limits of my consciousness were. I didn't want to damage it through overexertion.

All right, I said to myself. So I'm me, now. That's all right. I can deal with it. I am a creature of near-infinite understanding and sagacity.

I breathed deeply for a while, eyes closed. When I opened them again, I knew it was fine. There was no we, only I, and all was right with the world. Whatever the cause of my dislocation from the Great Mind, I was me, and for whatever reason that fact had not destroyed my mind.

Now I began to take stock of my situation a little. My psychic Eye didn't seem to be functioning – perhaps I had lost that ability too, I didn't know – but I still had a sharp sense of smell, good eyesight and excellent hearing, and those three senses combined gave me a fairly comprehensive picture of my surroundings. I smelled something rotting nearby, and heard the clatter of pigeon wings somewhere above me.

I frowned. That was all? Just pigeon wings? I listened harder, but there was nothing else – no footsteps, no cars, no music. The city was almost entirely silent.

A chill ran down my spine and I registered it with interest – personal fear was something new to me.

It only took me a second to decide I didn't like it.

Shivering, I stood up, preparing to leave the alley and investigate – but as I turned, my eye fell onto something red on the wall I had been sitting up against, and I froze.

A few feet from the ground was a dark red stain, and running down from it was a huge crimson smear, terminating in a large blot on the ground.

I did not need to sit back down to know that the stain was level with where my head had been. I also did not need to sniff the air to work out what the dark red substance was, but I did so anyway, and was answered by a sharp iron smell.

Swallowing – fear was potent stuff, I realised distantly – I reached up to the back of my head, and—

And then I remembered.

It all made sense. The head injury had shaken my memory up a little, of course – in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I'd shed a few hundred IQ points; I certainly seemed to be operating on a human level now – but I at least knew what had happened.

For you see, about three hours ago I had been cornered by a pack of ravening zombies, and together they had chewed through the back of my head and eaten part of my brain.

---

This did not surprise me. You have to realise this. Despite the fact that I had no memory of much before the incident – an occupational hazard of severe brain trauma, I understand – I did remember that much. I didn't know why zombies had attacked me, or where they had come from, or why they hadn't stayed to finish me off – but I knew that they were the cause of my unconsciousness.

Also, that I was presently undead.

All right, so I'm dead, I told myself, and waited for the panic.

None came.

This was a faint surprise, but given the circumstances, rather welcome. Becoming conscious of my own individuality, dying and coming back to life all in one day was enough to think about for now without a helping of shock to go with it.

I let out a long, shaky breath and leaned against the wall.

Well, well, well, I murmured. This is peculiar. Then again, I suppose the undead aren't generally too worried about their state of existence. Perhaps it's a side effect of the zombification process.

I stopped there. Unchecked speculation was foolish; after all, part of my brain had been eaten. I would have to take it easy on the thinking until I had some way of assessing my abilities in that area. Instead, I turned my thoughts to the problem of my next move.

Well, I said, what now?

I was in the middle of an unknown human city, apparently alone save for – if my sense of smell hadn't failed me – some older and more rotten undead somewhere in the distance; given my current condition, I probably didn't need to eat or drink, which simplified matters, but I had some questions that I felt demanded answers. 'Why are there zombies?' was a prominent one, and 'Where can I get some brains?' was another.

I paused. Wait. What was that last one?

Where can I get some brains?

I was certain that wasn't something I'd thought of consciously, but now that I did think of it, brains would be delightful right about now. Soft, delicious, melt-in-the-mouth brains, scooped fresh from the cranium and slurped from the braincase, picked apart and eaten piece by delicious piece: medulla, hypothalamus, cerebellum, amygdala...

Brains, I said aloud, beginning to salivate. Brains. Braaaaiins.

The idea took root. There was nothing in the world except me and the squidgy grey lump of flesh that lies between the ears. A thin mist descended on my vision, and I raised my muzzle and howled at the sky like my canine ancestors.

BRAAAIIINS!

The psychic shout split the air and sent pigeons scattering overhead. I snarled, imagining their tiny heads, the splodges of sweet sentient tissue within their skulls, and ran out into the street. Brains. Brains. I had to have brains. There were brains to be had somewhere, and they were destined for my mouth.

All around me were the silent husks of crashed cars and twisted bicycles; elegant houses rose on either side, but my nose told me they were devoid of living meat and so they might as well have not existed. I howled again, this time in fury – where were the ****ing brains? – and started off down the street, drawing in vast sniffs of air with every breath, searching for that magical scent, that glorious bloody organic odour—

There. There, behind those bins. Something was moving, and if it was moving it had to have a brain—

I dropped instinctively into the hunting position, on all fours, and charged them like a wolf, my back arching and flexing with more exercise than it had seen in years – in my entire life – and in a flash I was leaping a dead motorbike, and smashing a dustbin out of the way with my head, and now I was flying through the air, jaws wide, claws forward—

—and with a dull thump I smacked into decaying flesh, and the zombie I had leaped at fell to the pavement, wailing piteously in surprise and anguish.

I paused. Rational thought returned. What was I thinking? I, a civilised being, attacking an ambulatory human corpse with the sole idea of eating its brain? I regarded the necrotic creature beneath me with disgust. It (well, technically he, but I shuddered at the thought of treating it as an equal) was badly decayed, intellectually lower than a Sandshrew, and all in all not worth the effort.

Besides, I said to myself, his brain is all dead and disgusting.

This, more than anything else, broke the spell, and I got back to my feet, wiping my hands carefully on the zombie's ragged coat.

Good grief, I said, looking at him. You're a disgusting creature, aren't you? You haven't even kept your brain intact. That got me thinking about brains again, but I resisted. I was not some cannibalistic monster; I lived (when I had lived) on a diet of light meats, with the occasional apple or orange.

It was at this point that I realised the zombie was climbing to its feet, and that it looked rather upset. I became very aware that I was barely four feet tall, and that it was more than six; also that one could, with basic surgical training, have fit four of my biceps into a single one of its own.

Now, I said nervously, backing away into the street, raising my hands in what I hoped was a placatory manner. There's no need for hostilities. Seriously. I wasn't going to eat your brain. I don't even want to eat your brain, not any more. I'll just be on my way, and you—

“Braaah,” moaned the beast. I had a horrible feeling that I knew what it was trying to say.

Come again? I tripped over a broken bicycle, regained my balance and kept walking. The zombie maintained its steady advance, murder in its piggy little eyes.

“Bruuu-aaayns,” it rumbled.

Oh God. I'd been right.

No, I'm sorry, you're mistaken, I told it, as earnestly as I could. No brains here. You'll notice the hole in my head. Someone already got to them— aah!

The monster lunged for me, and I turned tail and fled.

---

Five minutes later, I was beginning to enjoy my new independence from air; I felt like I could run all day and not lose my breath. Then again, I thought, I would soon begin to rot, and that would probably put an end to any future sprinting.

As it turned out, I had easily been able to outpace the zombie: it had been dead for too long to be able to pursue me at any more than a slow shuffle, and I had lost it within two minutes of the start of the chase. I had kept running through the twisted streets to be sure, though, and had stopped only when I heard something that definitely did not belong in this dead city.

Engines.

I froze, and listened again. Yes. Definitely engines – and getting louder.

Now, who could that be? I wondered. Humans... living humans. With brains! I shook my head. Forget about the brains, dammit! As well as their brains – which are, I must concede, delicious – they may also have answers to those questions you had earlier. Such as 'Where can I get some brains?' I screwed my eyes shut and thumped myself on the head. No! Not that! For God's sake, you have such a one-track mind, and – and now you're talking to yourself, I concluded lamely. Well, this is an excellent turn of events...

The engines were very close now; just around the corner, from the sound of things.

Good grief, you sound like a human, I told myself. I guess that's what you get for a hole in the head... Well, perhaps it'll help put them at ease. Come on, now. Step out into the street, say hello. Be polite; they're the ones with the answers.

I stepped out onto the street, and waved my arms.

Hello! I cried, as a battered car appeared from around the corner. Hey! Over here!

The car was moving at alarming speed, I noticed. Easily fast enough to crush me, should it hit me – and, the prospect of being smashed flat not being one I relished, I decided to keep my distance.

Hey, I know you can hear me! I yelled. This is telepathy! You've got no excuse not to—

I broke off as I saw the reason for the car's haste.

Ah, I said. Aw, ****.

I have to say that I had not, prior to my death, been particularly knowledgeable in the zombie mythos. That was a human thing; my people had no need for entertainment beyond the contemplation of abstracts, and so I don't think I had ever read a book or watched a film. I knew a fact here and there – that they craved brains, as had been so forcibly made clear to me earlier; that they were necrotic and in consequence shuffled around at a careful shamble.

I also knew that they formed hordes.

And the thing pursuing the fast-moving car was most definitely one of those.

I felt the hunger for brains returning, rising in my empty belly like a waking tiger; these people in the car had brains, luscious, living brains, and I needed those; I needed to be with my brethren, with my brothers and sisters of the horde; I had to follow the car and find the brains—

The car veered off-course towards me, and I saw the door pop open.

“Grab my hand!” screamed someone's voice from inside. “We can't stop! Grab my hand—!”

It sped closer. I stared at the proffered hand. It looked... surprisingly juicy. God, had humans looked that way before? I'd never noticed. I could sink my fangs into that and...

I slapped myself, hard, and grabbed onto the hand with both claws.

For one brief moment, I was flying towards a wondrous sentient buffet—

—and then I was crumpled on the back seat of the car, concentrating hard on not splitting open my saviour's skull and sucking the sweet nectar out from within. It was a good thing, I thought, that my telekinesis appeared to have been generated from the part of my brain that had been eaten, or I would have probably splattered my newfound friends over the inside of their car in my eagerness to taste the inside of their heads.


That's all I've got of it, and potentially all I ever will. Huh. We'll see.

F.A.B.
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For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.
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