So, posting twice a week hasn’t really worked out for me, but I’m back! A while back, my writing group used The Titles Have Been Chosen flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig’s blog terribleminds.com as our monthly writing prompt. I did not write this prompt in time to participate in the challenge on Mr. Wendig’s blog, but here it is for you now.
Those Shoes are Not Apocalypse Friendly, Francine
by Nikki Gladwell
Artie Jacobson sat behind the steering wheel of his newly commandeered black Hummer with the engine idling at the curb on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, California. At least it had been Beverly Hills, California. Artie looked out of the darkly tinted window to his left. The rotting corpse of a National Guard soldier sniffed around the edges of the window pane and then tentatively licked a spot of gray brain matter that stuck to the glass, a leftover from an encounter earlier in the day. This had been Beverly Hills once, Artie thought grimly.
Tapping the steering wheel impatiently with his thumbs, Artie stretched his neck out to the right, looking to see if he could still spy Francine. Scanning the Jimmy Choo boutique through the glass store front, Artie finally zeroed in on his wife’s platinum blond hair at the back of the store. He glanced down at his phone. Still no service. He’d never get her attention now.
Artie smiled to himself and shook his head. This was so like Francine. He thought back to the day six years ago when he, Artie Jacobson, CPA working at the accounting department for the Warner Brothers studio met waitress and aspiring actress Francine. She was all elbows and knees back then as a flat chested brunette. She was going to be a movie star. A dye job, a boob job, and ten pounds later, Francine with her doting husband at her side had been set to be this town’s next big thing until this happened. The news reports, before they stopped, had not been able to nail down exactly what happened, but whatever it was changed everything. People died in alarmingly vast numbers, and then the dead were convinced to get up and walk, feasting on human flesh every stumbling step of the way.
Artie shifted his weight around in the drivers seat. If he could just get Francine back in the Hummer, then they could head toward Brentwood where Artie knew of a bomb shelter installed in the backyard of his department’s head manager. Artie felt an uncomfortable twinge of guilt twist in his gut. The bomb shelter would be deserted and waiting for them because Artie had killed the manager for his Hummer as they tried to escape the hordes of flesh eating dead that had infiltrated the office this morning. Artie rubbed his thumbs over the horn symbol emblazoned on the leather steering wheel. He tried to tell himself it was survival of the fittest, that this manager died so Francine could live. His actions still weren’t sitting well in his conscience.
Staring longingly at the horn symbol, Artie knew he didn’t dare blow the horn to get Francine’s attention. Everyone of those grotesque walking freaking shows within ear shot would descend on Rodeo Drive like feeding time at the zoo. Artie would be fine in the Hummer in that event; he could just drive over the crowd and off into the sunset. Francine, however, still trying to find the perfect peep toe pump inside the boutique would be lost forever.
Inside the Jimmy Choo boutique, Francine Jacobson loaded up her bags carefully. She counted her items, checking each one off of her mental inventory list with smug satisfaction. When all of this blew over, she just knew that she, Francine Jacobson would be the most beautiful and trendy survivor to come out of Beverly Hills. Francine paused, surveyed her loot, and chose a pair of silver rhinestone platformed peep toe pumps. Stepping into the divinely sparkling shoes, Francine smiled her approval at her reflection. From here to the car and from the car to the bomb shelter, Francine knew she’d get along fine in these beautiful shoes. Picking up her bags again, she left her Old Navy $1 flip flops in the middle of store and headed for the door.
With four shopping bags of shoes in her left hand and three shopping bags of shoes in her right, Francine sauntered out onto the street, feeling like a million dollars. Artie motioned for her to hurry as he threw open the passenger side door of the Hummer. Taking one look at her, he sighed “Those shoes are not apocalypse friendly, Francine!”
Just then, what had once been a man shambled out from behind the Hummer toward Francine, his jaw hanging slack, his clothes ripped and caked with dirt and blood. Before Artie could call out to Francine, the ghoul lunged for her. In an instant,Francine dropped her shopping bags and grabbed the shoe off of her right foot. Wrapping her hand around the arch, Francine brought the platformed sole down on the dead man’s temple with all the force she had. Again and again, Francine beat the man with her shoe until he laid motionless on the pavement, his face and head mashed into an unrecognizable mess.
Artie stared at his wife in astonishment. Francine stepped back into her shoe as blood and bone and brains slid down into a puddle around her foot on the pavement. She carefully picked up her seven shopping bags which she then handed to Artie inside the Hummer. With a wink, Francine asked, “What were you saying about my shoes, honey?”