Life has been pleasant and strange, scarcely one or the other. It may have been similar to this before civilization was brought down a peg, but that is difficult to recall. Concrete facts have been a debacle among the remaining humans. Was it an epidemic? The cure for the common cold gone wrong? An elaborate conspiracy? A voo-doo curse? All you trust are the rants from your neighbor, but his outward interest in end times was always his defining characteristic. All that’s changed since is his pot helmet. You don’t give a plant’s root about how it happened, only of the Zombies that won’t get off your lawn and your garden.
The beginning was terrifying.
You stayed in your house with conflicting shreds of news reports until they were gone altogether. The TV screen became blue, emitting a BEEEEEEEEEEEP like the end of life support.
The Zombies are coming…
This increased your habit of staying indoors at all times.
Your most trustworthy information came from peeking between the curtains in the living room, watching as your neighbors stepped out the doors long enough for their plants to die. On your property the plants you raised, your only friends, were also withering. They surrounded the house, their faces always looking at you through the glass. Color drying out of the bright pedals of the flowers. Heads sinking down. You’ve been described as an “avid gardener” by your peers. You should have known ow out of hand the hobby had become. The sight of their faces saddened you, but the thought they wouldn’t survive anyway, too big a risk to go out there convinced you to turn away.
The doors were locked. So was the garage. And windows, pulling out the air conditioner for good measure. The threat of the sweltering sun passing overhead was the least of your worries. Armed with all you could find (and your family said gardening tools were a waste of money!) home base became the inside of your living room.
They could arrive at any moment. It fell silent, far from the outside quiet of nature but a still, stale, uninterrupted nothing. It is after a long period of time there comes an unnatural noise outside the house. A knock at the gate, not the front door (yet). The sound grows and will not stop. Heart hammering, you peeked outside the curtain again, to witness what is going on.
There it stood. Its appearance startles your brain before comprehending what the thing is doing. You imagined how grotesque they could be but guessed it resembled more a sickness than roadkill. The skin decayed somewhere in the middle of mostly dead and all dead (there’s a difference) to a green mush. The hair was frayed away but small parts like the nose, upper lip, and eyelids were gone completely. One of the eyes had puffed up to the size of a baseball compared to the other. It shuffled with both knees buckled inward. The only clue to the Zombie’s former personhood was a disheveled suit, like it was the one headed for the funeral.
The remainder of its teeth gnashed together grunts and few words from the unhinged jaw. “Brains…”
You did what any rational human would do: back away as far as the walls would allow. Prayed it would find interest in something somewhere else. But it doesn’t, because this is the only house on the block with fresh meat in it.
It opened the gate. It closed the gate. Creek. BAM. Creeeeeeeek. BAM BAM. The silence returned. You gripped onto a gardening hoe, wishing for the first time you owned a gun. Curiosity convinced you to open the door.
Upon taking a step outside the plants bounced up and down at the joy of seeing you again. A Zombie’s torso laid faced-down on the grass. The head and other limbs fell off closer to the road. On careful examination, the giant peas smashed on the body hinted at what brought it to the ground.
You glanced at the faces of the plants; the peas, walnuts, sunflowers, squash, mushrooms, and many more to count. They were more than your garden. They were your army.
Each plant possessed a skill and personality expressed without words. You bestowed names onto them. Peashooter was a natural-grown leader. Wall-Nut was as afraid as you, you could tell, but hid this by standing tall with a hardened exterior. Squash seemed more determined, strong and dependable inside and out. The Sunflowers gave every ounce of energy in their support. Along the way even the seaweed clogging your pool became of use in battle.
The army was prepared, but no matter the size of the battlefield there will be casualties in war. The end of each hoard added to the pile torn roots and ripped stems in your backyard. A give and take system was developed. Zombies trespass, kill plants. Plants retaliate, kill Zombies. And so on. So far not one Zombie has entered your house.
Dinner seems safe outside tonight. In taking care of the plants they repay you with food. Lately you’ve been voyaging around town to gather more seeds, fertilizer and lawn mowers to give them an advantage. The garages of your former neighbors become excellent resources. Watching over the garden, there is a sense you’ve overcome the difficulty of what has become your life. You are safe, for now.