A while back, in celebration of my blog's 1000th post, I decided to have a contest/challenge. The challenge was to write a 500 word or less short story explaining what happened at the end of the 1978 version of 'Dawn of the Dead.'
The initial prize was the Ultimate Version of 'Dawn of the Dead.' Along the way up to the deadline (10/20/12), more prizes were added to the loot pile. Our grand prize winner is Robert Benjamin aka The Living Dark. He has his own blog, here.
Here is his winning selection, titled, "The Day After Dawn":
The air in the helicopter was still the only sound is the beat of the whirling blades overhead. It seems the pair of survivors doesn’t have much to say at the moment. Each just bears the weight of the end of days on their shoulders alone. Even the natural inclination of looking down on the landscape when flying is defeated. Below them the endless miles of early autumn countryside is punctuated with scenes of chaos. Open patches of land team with the undead. They come from everywhere where at times one walks about aimlessly a few beats of the copters blades later dozens bumble about like maggots appearing randomly on a carcass left festering in the sun. Where before there were four of them fleeing the outbreak there now sits two. Unless you count the unborn child in Fran’s belly.
“We are making better mileage on gas …..” She breaks the silence through the cockpit mic. Peter cast a glance into Fran’s tired red rimmed eyes past the mic boom obscuring her mouth. From a physical and emotional standpoint, he knows they are both spent. “Why do you think that is?” the big man asks. “We have less people Peter isn’t it obvious?” she responds curtly. Peter sighs deeply as if he contemplating what he is about to say. “Why Fran? Why fight at all? The only thing we are doing is fighting to live today so we can repeat the same insanity tomorrow.” Fran’s eyes betray her as wordless tears drop from her eyes. “About half an hour ago I considered just flying us out over Lake Erie and seeing how we got before the fuel ran out.” She stares blankly ahead as her words sink in slowly. “Fran look I’m so …..” static interrupts the conversation over the cockpit radio. Each of them touches their headsets instinctively. “Come in….” a muffled mans voice crackles. “Hello …. Hello!” shouts Fran. “We’re here ….. Where are you, who are you?” Peter and Fran gaze at each other and then she nods to Peter. “Hey man my name is Peter I’m a cop and my friend is Fran she’s pregnant.” He waits for a response “Ok alright ….we are a small encampment about sixty miles Northwest of Monroeville. There are cops, military and some civilians here.” Fran’s eyes light up “We are about twenty miles East of them Peter. We might have fuel to make it half way there. Do we try for it?” Peter holds out his thick gloved hand. “Any hope is better than no hope Flygirl.” She smiles finally placing her hand in his. “Say man we are in a traffic helicopter. We have just enough fuel to make about ten miles to your East can you help us?” There is no immediate response they both fear they’ve lost contact with the encampment. “Yeah buddy we got a few vehicles but the East is thick with those damn zombies. Tell you what there’s an empty field out that way put down there. We have the local Sheriff with us he knows area. Can you hold out if you beat us there?” Fran bobs her head “yes” and Peter agrees. “Yeah brother see you there.” With than Fran points the bird east and Peter begins a run down of their supplies, he also checks his weapons.
Half an Hour later they are coming in hard. The golden field of overgrown wheat cushions their impact slightly. Peter tosses his headset off. “Come on girl I saw a bunch of them as few flew over. Tight muscles ache from the impact as Peter takes long strides around the down traffic copter. He pops the hatch in the rear compartment pulling two satchels free. He grabs Fran’s rifle as well. The pregnant woman climbs down from the cockpit clumsily. “Peter I saw a barn over there…” she point to the south. He takes her hand “let’s go girl!” The urgency in his voice is crystal clear. The pair plods through the chest high growth as the first shuffling zombie reaches the crash site behind them. They burst from the field and they notice they are not alone. Zombies are coming from all sides now “The door girl ..... get to the door!” Fran’s bounces to the dilapidated weather red barn as fast as she can waddle. While Peter backs down from the tightening circle of zombies. Sighting the nearest threat he puts a bullet through the ragged forehead of a farmer. “Peter the door is locked!” Fran screams. Peter moves forward cautiously patting the corpse down finding a ring of rusty keys. Snatching the ring from the belt loop he tosses the keys to the panicking woman. “Hurry girl we’re running out of time.” A hand seizes his shoulder Peter lashes out blindly his rifle butt caves a female zombies skull in. With no time to aim the husky SWAT officer clubs anything that moves. “Got it!” exclaims Fran pulling the rickety door open. The first zombie from inside grabs her collar but she doesn’t give up. Yanking her pistol from her thigh holster Fran places the gun barrel under the zombies chin pulling the trigger. She steps to the side as the corpse falls. Leveling the pistol she fires twice more dropping the two remaining zombies. “Peter come on!” she implores. The big man draws in from the advancing horde. He pulls on the barn door but a zombie wedges it’s self between the door. Peter undeterred drives a glove covered fist squarely into the flailing zombies face driving it backwards. He slams the door shut and drops a bar across the back of the door as pounding starts. “Alright ......get up to the hay loft girl!” he spins about bringing his rifle to bear motioning upwards. “I think we cleared them out Peter.” The plump woman says climbing the wooden ladder. “Stay focused anyway Fran.” Peter orders placing his back to the ladder. “I’m up Peter and it’s clear.” Peter peaks up over his head “cover me Flygirl.” He beings to ascend the ladder with much effort weighed down by the packs on his back. Fran helps him the last of the way up and they collapse into the small hayloft.
Remembering the scene at the mall Peter pulls the ladder up before sitting down next to Fran. “What now?” She quizzes him. “Well Flygirl Frannie we wait.” He winks at her relived to see her glowing with hope once more. “We’re good at that part.” She tells him settling back into the soft yet prickly hay. They doze softly learning to ignore the pounding at the barns doors. Several hours later they hear the first gunshots. Soon the air is filled with them “Hello! Peter…. Fran. ” A man calls out. “In here.” Peter hollers back “we’re in the hayloft.” Mumbling voices come from the group outside “alright step back from the doors.” With that command the center of the door splinters outwards. In strides men in the center of the pack is a lanky man in a rawhide coat and square glasses. “Sheriff Romero of New Castle Pennsylvania.” he announces with a tip of the hat. “Pleasure to meet you fine folks now let’s get you down and get home.” He says with a broad genuine smile.
For his winning selection, here's what Mr. Benjamin is now the proud owner of: Dawn of the Dead Ultimate Edition, Zombie Cell Phone Holder, Awaken the Dead DVD, I Am Omega DVD, Last of the Living DVD, Santa Claus vs the Zombies DVD, Grave Mistake DVD, Pop Punk Zombies DVD, SFX Zombies Magazine, A Zombie Clock, and last but not least, a $250 Amazon Gift Card!
Congratulations to Our Grand Prize Winner!!