by Peter M. Ball
We kicked the kit off with the usual basics, right off the CDC website: a few litres of purified water for each of us, sixteen tins of baked beans in ham sauce. Sanitation supplies: bleach and soap. A utility knife and duct tape, spare batteries for the flashlight. We stored everything in a couple of plastic crates, stacked right beside the door leading out into the garage.
It started as a joke, I think. You know how these things go. One of you says “lets start a zombie survival kit,” and the other says, “brilliant, we should totally do that,” and the next thing you know it's become your thing, and it binds you together as a couple. I mean, that's how it started with me and Nat, right after we started cohabitating.
And it's not all bad, having that thing you share. It got us through the messy months, right at the beginning. That rough patch when you first discover that one of you snores like a lumberjack, and the other is okay with a pile of festering dishes and clips their toenails into the bathroom sink.
It was rough, is what I'm saying, those first months with Nat. But every time we doubted we could go the long haul, we'd think of the kit and remember why we loved each other.
Nat used the kit as a talking point. She kept showing it off to visitors, seeing how they would react. If they started explaining that zombies weren't real, she took them off the list of friends we willingly hung out with.
Even better, it made shopping easy at the holidays. When Christmas came round, she gave me an expensive Swiss army knife and a twenty-pack of glow sticks. I gave her a personal water filter and two packs of water-proof matches. We did it as a joke at first, but it became a tradition. Every holiday became an opportunity. Every birthday, another thin added: signal flares; a repelling kit; two weeks training at a wilderness survival camp.
Then, on the day I turned thirty-six, Nat brought out the chainsaw. Twenty-five Ccs of cutting power, a full complement of chipper teeth to maintain the edge a little longer.
It was a beautiful bit of kit, but I had to make a joke, you know? The kit was our thing. It bound us together.
“So tell me,” I said, “what happens when it runs out of fuel?”
We'd fought before, me and Nat, but the chainsaw debate got ugly. Three days of point, and counter-point, before we hit an impasse. Then I apologised for being a jerk. She agreed to stop sleeping on the couch.
Life went back to normal for a while.
And I thought it was over, I swear to god. I thought it was safe to tease her about it. That's why I bought the axe, and wrote the crack about not needing fuel into her thirty-fourth birthday card.
It's been three weeks since Nat walked out. And, man, you have to love the timing. The woman you love leaves, the dead start to rise. There's nothing like an apocalypse to kick you while you're down.
I broke out the kit on the first night, loaded things into the car and prepared to get out. We'd talked about it a dozen times, when we put together contingency plans. First thing to do is to get out of the city limits. Put some distance between you and the dense population. Make sure you're away from infection vectors when the virus starts going around.
But sometimes the smart thing isn't what's right. I figure, she knows the kit is here, the one we built together. She's gotta know I won't leave without her.
So I wait, all kitted up, doing my best to discourage the zombies. Me and the axe and the goddamn chainsaw I got for my thirty-sixth. The chainsaw goes through dead flesh like it's cutting through liquorish, and still hasn't run out of fuel. It's too late to say sorry, I know that now, but it doesn't mean I'm going to stop waiting.
I'll express my love with the chainsaw's wine until Nat finds her way home.
“Love is the Roar of a Chainsaw, Cutting Flesh in the Night” copyright © 2014 by Peter M. Ball.