(A Zombie Story on the Zombie Apocalypse)
It was eight o’clock at night. Singapore’s Orchard Road was buzzing. It looked like business as usual – except for the unusually thick shroud of fog that coated the sky. The fog was much thicker than usual. But nobody seemed to notice anything amiss. They all presumed it to be the haze problem, an annual “present” from its neighbour, Indonesia.
Until the thick, acrid smoky smell reached their noses. This smell was much stronger than usual. It caused some people to sneeze and others began to cough. Something was definitely amiss in Singapore’s usually peaceful skies.
But when people realised that there was indeed something happening, it was already too late for some. For the invasion had begun.
Vernice shuddered. She was walking along the footpath of Orchard Road on her way towards the MRT station when the horrible, acrid smell gradually seeped into her nostrils.
She wrinkled her nose. The smell had been weak at the beginning, but now the scent had become so strong that her instincts were screaming at her to run for cover.
Despite already having an N95 mask wrapped snugly around her nose and mouth, the weird smell was still somehow diffusing through it.
But surely, that smell was nothing more than the annual haze problem in Singapore, right? It was always hazy in Singapore during this time. She knew the PSI reading was rather high tonight. When she last checked, it had stood at 280. Even though it was screaming towards the hazardous level, there was no real reason to be scared of the haze though. So why did she suddenly feel so uneasy?
“Scared, Vern? Come on, I’ll calm you down.” Her boyfriend Daniel, who was walking alongside her, wrapped his arm around her shoulder. Like hers, a mask also protected his face. Vernice smiled gratefully. His presence was always calming and welcoming to her. She could snuggle up to him forever, she thought, happy thoughts floating through her head.
Vernice thought that something was strange was in the air though. Her gut was telling her so. Something wasn’t normal tonight. But she didn’t know what, though.
The smell grew even stronger. Safe under her N95 mask, Vernice wrinkled her nose. The horrible smell was really getting to her. She could barely breathe, but she kept the mask on, with the knowledge that it was protecting her against this harmful smog.
The next minute, Vernice heard coughing sounds coming from all around her. They lasted for what seemed like eternity to her. They became louder and louder and sounded as though people were coughing their lungs out.
She squinted. Was blood being coughed out?
Vernice was completely rooted to the spot. She was totally motionless and unable to put her thoughts together now. What was happening?
She looked over at Daniel. He seemed just as aghast and shocked as she felt. Why were so many people coughing out blood? Had a mass viral infection suddenly hit Singapore?
Before Vernice realised what was happening, bloody bodies completely surrounded her.
She was frozen to the spot and forced her confused mind to start thinking. Was it possible… that biological warfare was just unleashed onto Singapore? That was the only logical explanation for the gory and completely bloody scene surrounding her right now.
Then she heard the first few moans. The coughing sounds became weaker, and these gave rise to the groaning noises.
Moaning? But dead people don’t moan… do they? What was happening now? Still frozen, Vernice clutched Daniel even more tightly out of fear.
Apparently the people weren’t dead anymore. For they were all getting up… but the only difference now, was that everyone had a dead and vacant expression on their faces.
Vernice didn’t know what to think now. Her mind was completely confused and nothing was making any sense to her.
As she stared at the blood and bodies on the floor, the completely vacant expression and glassy eyes on the faces of her fellow Singaporeans, she began to wonder whether those horror movies were true. The latest movie she had caught was World War Z and the story seemed to be materialising, right before her eyes. But Vernice pinched her arm and told herself that Zombies were just a figment of fiction stories, not real creatures. There were only zombie stories.
She forced her frozen legs into action. She knew only one thing: She just had to run.
“Daniel! Run!” she screamed, and together, they both darted into the nearest shopping mall – which was full of ignorant shoppers who didn’t have the slightest clue of the drama that had just unfolded outside.
“Oi! Hurry for what? Young couples these days ah. Tsk.” The elderly grandma shook her head in disgust as she picked herself off the ground of the Takashimaya department store. A young couple, both in their twenties, had just collided into her and she was furious now. Where were the manners of these young people?
The old lady looked up at her adult son, who was standing beside her and exclaimed, “Young people so rude ah! You make sure you don’t teach your daughter until like that hor.”
“Sorry auntie!” Vernice squeaked. She was clearly out of breath. “Come on, let me help you up.”
The elderly lady cursed in Hokkien.
“I don’t think my mother wants your help,” the son told Vernice and Daniel, “But why were you two running so fast anyway?”
Vernice opened her mouth to speak. But she and Daniel didn’t need to answer that question. For that very moment, there was a mass groaning sound and a huge stampede.
The undead had entered the shopping mall.
The old lady and her son looked up, startled. They froze on the spot, in complete terror.
Other shoppers also froze in their tracks, not sure what to expect.
But when the zombies came closer, the crowds were jolted into action. People began to flee. There were loud screams as zombies seized people and mercilessly bit into them.
After several moments, the son eventually soon found his feet and tried to pull his petrified mother to safety.
But it was too late. One of the zombies suddenly seized the poor elderly lady – and then there was a loud chomping sound.
The elderly mother had been bitten on her left arm.
The old lady cursed a few words in Hokkien at the zombie and she mumbled something about young people being so rude and violent these days.
But she soon developed a racking cough and started spewing out blood.
Vernice and Daniel knew exactly what that meant. They had seen it before.
“Run, uncle! Your mother can’t be saved,” Vernice screamed at the top of her voice, calling out to the son.
But he wasn’t listening. He rocked his mother lovingly in his arms – until she eventually collapsed onto the ground, reanimated as a zombie – and then bit him too.
Vernice knew exactly what would happen if she stayed put.
So, grabbing Daniel’s hand with all the might she could muster, she bolted through the shopping mall. The mask was making it hard to breathe, but she kept it on for protection. The young couple pushed their way through the rapidly fleeing bodies and the slowly reanimating corpses, fervently trying to find a safe place.
Why were there so many zombies around? Vernice was cursing herself for not listening to her instincts. But then again, what could she have done? Even if she had ducked into a mall, she would still come face-to-face with the living dead eventually.
Vernice and Daniel scrambled onto the escalator indicating “down” and in the direction of the Takashimaya food hall. Maybe the food might distract the zombies she hoped, even though she didn’t actually quite believe so.
She began to ask herself why this had happened to Singapore, and who had created these zombies. Was it really just the haze out there? Or had other chemicals been injected into the air to create this terrifying zombie apocalypse?
The N95 masks had initially protected her and Daniel from breathing in the harmful smog particles that was turning everyone around them into zombies, but Vernice realised that she wouldn’t be safe from the second wave of attack, the zombie bites.
So she yanked off her mask and threw it on the floor behind her. And out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Daniel doing likewise.
But where could she and Daniel go, Vernice wondered. The entire Orchard Road was becoming a land of the living dead now and completely choked with both deadly haze and zombies. Moreover, these undead creatures would soon be all over Singapore. Right now, she was ducking them to the best of her abilities, but they were still multiplying like crazy.
Vernice turned the corner. She didn’t know where she was running anymore, or in which direction the zombies were coming from.
She only knew that she had to simply run – even though her lungs were completely bursting from the heavy exertion. She’d used to be a school sprinter, not a marathon runner.
Vernice wheezed, gulped in some more precious oxygen and then prepared to sprint for her life again.
But at that very moment, she suddenly felt something being pulled rapidly from her grasp. Her boyfriend’s grip on her was slowly loosening.
She cursed herself for stopping to take in some air.
Vernice started to panic. At that point, she stopped moving. She couldn’t think. She groped around for Daniel’s hand, but to no avail.
“Daniel!” she screamed.
She turned around – only to see Daniel completely disappearing into a herd of zombies. She stood on tiptoes and craned her neck upwards to look for him.
Could she save him, she wondered. Her heart was racing by now. The chance was extremely slim, but was there still hope for him?
Big, fatal mistake.
For slowing down and stopping had allowed the zombies to catch up to her.
She felt an intense stab of pain clamping down on her right arm as though someone was biting her. She winced.
And before her muddled mind could register what was happening, she noticed a huge zombie bite on her right arm, out of the corner of her eye. It was about the size of a ping-pong ball.
Moreover, a gruesome zombie, with one eye and blood smeared all over its face, had her left arm firmly planted inside its mouth. The other eye had been brutally gorged out, leaving a black socket behind, totally dripping with blood.
Looking at her hungrily, she thought. Staring at her as though she was its supper.
Vernice was completely revolted. She squeezed her eyes tight in sheer terror. She didn’t want to look anymore.
She felt her brain slowly going to sleep as the zombie saliva made its way through her bloodstream.
After a while, she felt her left arm slowly being released. By now, her mind was woozy and she slowly sensed herself losing consciousness.
So that’s what it feels like to turn into a zombie, Vernice thought, as she blacked out, completely lose consciousness and prepared to reanimate into a member of the living dead…