I am sharing this piece...negativity be damned. You can judge it any way you see fit. I no longer care. I wrote it. That is all. Opinions are welcome. Just know that if you tell me it's crap, I've already heard that and then some. It no longer matters. :)
Cirque Du Zombie
The cloying scent of rotting flesh hung in the air inside the circus tent like too much trapped cigarette smoke. The dimming lights signaled the start of the show. The ringmaster moved to the center. stage.
Gorm's small eyes and bulbous nose gave him a certain swine-like appearance. He'd pulled his long hair back earlier to avoid too much hassle when he vomited. Only white tufts floated around his face from the sideburns he wore. He knew with a sharp clarity that tonight with all it's meaning, he would over-indulge in spirits enough so that he could forget. Forget the sadness, forget the pain, forget his death. For later he was to be replaced with a younger less-rotten corpse, per the rules of the zombie social contract.
It was the only way the cleans allowed them to live. After so much rot, they were put out of their misery, or so the un-infected humans claimed. It was more of an excuse for clean humans to commit savage acts and claim it was for the zombies' own good.
Rotting flesh flapped and swayed with his disjointed movements. "Ladies and Gents, I would like to welcome you to Cirque Du Zombie." Gorm's gravelly voice echoed through the big top. The applause was thunderous and immediate.
"Tonight...", He continued, then paused, looking around at the audience. "Prepare to be astounded...amazed...entranced." His arms flung wide; bits of rotted skin spattering the audience with oily residue. The people in the front row roared their approval.
"Let the show begin!" He stepped back into the shadows and out of the spot light as a troupe of tumblers began their awkward routine. He slid the flask from an inner pocket inside his coat.
"Let the consuming begin." He twisted the lid before drawing it to his lips and taking a strong pull. The alcohol burned against the rotting flesh, and he reveled in the sensation. He took another swig before slipping the flask back into the hidden pocket. He stood watching his family move through the motions of a regular day. The troupe performed three shows a day, six days a week in the carnival, only given Sunday as a day of rest. They were not paid for their performance, it was just an amusement for the humans allowing zombies a way to survive.
When the outbreak originated back in the twenty-first century the humans used the outbreak as a means to an opportunity to push their revival agenda. The outbreak was portrayed as God punishing sinners. Since that time any and all atrocities against zombies were accepted as God's will. Now Sundays were a traditional day of church and rest only.
Every three months or so on the last Saturday evening of the month, the oldest most rotten were collared with an iron ring and given five feet of chain which ended staked into the ground. Cleans went wild and butchered as many as they wanted. The humans sold tickets to the events and they were a giant revenue generator. Some people paid for tickets to see the event and others paid for the chance to kill a few zombies.
Gorm accepted his fate, he'd watched many older than him. It was just the way things were in the world. The fear that swamped him occasionally in nightmares and in rare lucid moments was just something he worked through and then moved on.
The tumbling troupe was almost finished. He noticed the crowd howl with approval and was saddened to see that Chus one of the youngest members had just lost a rotting limb. She would now join him in the ranks of the sacrificed.
A zombie with a missing limb was unable to perform, and therefore useless. She was taken to the family tent, even as another zombie jumped in to fill her place. Gorm slid the flask out of his pocket once more. This time two swigs were necessary to combat the fear he felt creeping in.
He stepped into the center ring once more. "If you will all look over here," He signaled to his left as he continued, "The Flying Phantoms are ready to amaze." He once again stepped back from the spotlight and listened to the Phantoms music. He pulled out his pocket watch and glanced at the time. He knew he had at least twenty minutes before he had to step in again for closing ceremonies.
With a disjointed awkward gait, he hurried toward the family tent. He knew that Chus would need reassurance, and as the ringmaster this job fell to him whether he wanted to do it or not.
He grabbed the tent flap and moved it aside enough to slip inside. Just as he expected they had set a shocked Chus at the dining table, where everyone gathered for meals. She sat staring off into space, not making any fuss. It was almost as if she didn't realize her arm was missing, still lying in the circus tent where the humans could point and laugh.
He moved towards the unresponsive girl and tried to think of how to begin. She looked up at his approach without much recognition.
"You okay?" He asked. He moved to the bench and made sure it was behind his knees before folding his body into a sitting position. Chus still hadn't replied and he glanced at her. Shock was holding her tightly in its grasp. He raised a hand, and slapped her across the face. He watched as her head bobbled around before her face turned towards him.
"I'm no good now...right?"
He nodded knowing lying to her would serve no purpose. "That's right. You'll come with us to the festival tonight." The words hung between them needing no explanation. She simply nodded, returning to her vegetative state.
He hated her in that moment, even knowing she'd shut down to not break, he wanted to hurt her, to see some reaction, some hint of the panic he felt growing inside himself. "They're really going to enjoy you, a few sick cleans might even have a go at you, before they kill you." He spit the words out disgusted by his own perversion used mostly to wound her, but also because he would do exactly what he suggested.
He couldn't even detect a flinch from her. He slid the flask out and took another giant swig. The alcohol didn't seem to be able to burn away the panic creeping into the back of his mind. A dirty fleshy hand rubbed at his lips. He thought for a moment of his actions. There was no regret only shame that he'd acted out of cowardice. He couldn't bear the blank look she wore, and he left the family tent to return to the back of center stage.
He passed by family on his way. A nod here and shaking head there were the only acknowledgments, as ringmaster, that he received. The show was moving along nicely and the audience as usual was enjoying the zombies' antics. He moved into position for his last stage performance.
"Ladies and Gents, kind people, thank you for the opportunity you have given us to perform for your amusement." He felt a tear slipping from beyond his control. "We all hope you have enjoyed Cirque Du Zombie, and that you will tell your friends that they too should visit."
With a final wave of fanfare, Gorm signaled the end of the show. The lights dimmed and people began leaving the giant tent. He stood for a moment in the darkness thinking about all that he had seen from the center ring. He swallowed painfully against the sobs waiting, wanting to escape. His hand slipped into his coat once more. The cool metallic feel of the flask a momentary distraction. He popped the top, and took another swig. It burned his throat and he coughed harshly.
Hot tears found their way down his rotting cheeks only to drip into the mud below. He wouldn't allow himself to wipe them away, to pretend they didn't exist. He resealed the flask and slid it away. His thoughts were softly blurring from the alcohol. He felt the fear dissipate as acceptance moved to replace it. Every zombie knew the fate that awaited them, but knowing didn't make it any easier. He'd seen what was coming. The horror, the brutality, the gore. It wasn't something he could stomach, but it wasn't something he could fight either. It just was. Monday night when Cirque Du Zombie opened there would be a new ringmaster.