Do Unto Others
… Before they do unto you.
By Jeffrey Bishop
Tell Time: 4 minutes
Scare Rating: 4 of 5 Ghosts
Axom’s rooftop perch offered the perfect vantage The setting sun warmed his back and illuminated the kill zone of the town square below. Long after the alleys had succumbed to the darkness of the increasing twilight, he’d be able to see — and pick off — any ghouls that witlessly ventured into the cross-hairs of his sights.
“Round,” he whispered. Bandit silently lifted a bullet from the canvas satchel on the ground at his feet and slipped it into his father’s hand. The man gingerly placed it into the chamber of the rifle and moved the bolt home. The smooth action of the well-oiled mechanism silently placed the high-explosive shell into the starting chocks of its final path.
Bandit leaned forward and peered over the low wall of their building’s roof. He’d learned long ago how to move stealthily, to see without being seen, and to fully assist his father without distracting him or detracting from his work. Anything less put their livelihood — or their lives — at risk
As savvy as the 12-year-old was, he had a lot to learn from his dad. He peered deep into the shadows surrounding the square, but didn’t find what his father was hunting. The boy softened his gaze from a narrow aperture to a wide, relaxed view. Instead of looking for a tell-tale shape, he waited for motion.
There it was. In his left-side peripheral vision, he saw the familiar shuffling motion; picked out the subtlety of the green-grey flesh ambling against a blue-grey shadowy background. The undead emerged into the square, also scanning for prey, but with a more primitive, but equally deadly weapon set.
As the zombie shuffled across the square, Dad stiffened, and his breathing became shallow and slow. Bandit knew what happened next. He’d seen it many times before. He wanted to watch again, to revel in his Dad’s well-honed skill, but he had his own job to do. The boy eased back from the brick barricade and silently but swiftly crawled across the still-hot asphalt roof toward the steel door of the stairwell tower erupting from the center of the building.
When he got to the door — well out of sight of the street scene below — he stood and quietly slid a full magazine into his automatic. His machete remained strapped to his back, and as he cautiously sprinted down the interior stairwell to the ground level six floors below, he just as quickly ran his hands across his waistline to confirm the presence of the three grenades stored there. There had been four only the week prior, but he’d exchanged one of them for his life after a zob mob ambush.
As he reached the ground floor, a single shot rang and echoed across the square. With nervous apprehension, he scanned the lobby, and finding it clear, strode across the mosaic tile floor and through the double-glass doors to the street. Crumpled in the intersection lay the zombie. No longer fretful, the boy confidently closed the distance between the building and their prey. He glanced up at the tenement-crows nest where he knew his dad was perched, his father’s role had changed from hunter to over watch.
Bandit got to the corpse and looked over its fallen form. Dad’s signature was clear; a single hole beneath the left eye and through the head — into the brain for an instant system shut-down. The boy holstered his handgun and drew the blade from his back. A quick glance to the rooftop allowed him to catch a curt nod from Dad. With that assent, swiftly and without emotion, he lowered the blade onto, then through, the neck of the undead menace.
The glow of the fire posed some risk, but the roof was a castle keep against the slow and clumsy onslaught of the other zombies out there. They’d be safe overnight, and could enjoy the luxury of the heat and light and the warm food it would provide.
Dad stirred the hash in the pan and served it up into their mess pans. The smell was rich, and entered Bandit’s nostrils to fill his head and tease his stomach. The boy eagerly raised a heavy spoonful to his mouth and savored the rich, warm meal as he chewed it.
His pace stopped cold, however, as his bite closed onto something hard. He sifted the nugget from the warm mash and pushed it toward his lips, then out and into his open palm. There, a small, heavy lead slug glinted dully in the fire light.
“I got the wish bullet,” he called out to his dad across the fire.
“Nice. Make a wish, son.”
Bandit closed his eyes, muttered his wish, then tossed the round into the eye socket of the new, empty skull set with so many others in the rooftop corner.
“I wish that we’ll always do unto them, before they do unto us.”