It’s only Tuesday and after a long day at the office Jessie’s brain is fried. At least rush hour is over and it will only take her 30 minutes to drive home. Grrreaaat! She can make it just in time to catch So You Think You Can Dance on TV. Ah! Nothing like shaking it by proxy to wind down the evening. Her escape from the city of insomniacs is imminent.
She pops out the Queens–Midtown tunnel, takes the L.I.E., and she’s on the home stretch…for about 3 minutes. Arrrgh! She drops the F-bomb and stares despondently at the zombies beating their dashboards in her rear view mirror. It’s parking lot ardmagedon…again! She’s trapped and her car is overheating.
“I should have taken that job in Toronto,” she mutters to yourself. “I hear it’s sort of like a small New York, and people actually sleep there.”
Indeed they do… with their eyes bulging and mouths drooling slumped at the steering wheel on the 401, the QEW, and the Don Valley Parkway. That’s because the zombie virus is airborne. Have you seen the immigration officers at the border? Eeech! Better run for the hills! But hang on. There are no hills. And it wouldn’t make a difference anyway.
You see, the virus is in the air, everywhere you look around. It doesn’t matter which city, which state or province or territory, which country, or which continent. Even the frozen non-continent, the arctic ice cap, can’t escape the PPM (poop per million) of zombie breath floating around the atmosphere. It falls to the surface as black zombie DNA particles.
That’s right. Just watch out for those bi-polar bears if you decide to paddle up to Santa’s workshop. The skinnier ones might tug at your heartstrings with those big sad deep dark brown eyes, but don’t be fooled. They float around as the undead on broken ice sheets and are very very very hungry!
Twenty minutes go by and Jessie realizes that she’s only traveled about one mile, but she doesn’t actually remember driving there. In fact, she doesn’t even remember what day it is.
She looks behind her again and sees cars lined up, still idling, all the way to the tunnel yet they are all empty. She looks to her right, empty, to her left, empty, to the thousands of cars idling ahead, all empty.
There is no one on this road but her! And she’s stuck inside a metal box of her own choosing.
In the HOV lane she sees a convoy of LIRR cars, each one filled with mangled sunken faces with their tongues glued to the windows, laughing and waving at her.
An odd tingling sensation starts behind her eyeballs and turns into intense itching all over her face, neck, and body. So she scratches and scratches and scratches but nothing satisfies the itch.
As she reaches over to the glove compartment looking for any cream or ointment that could give her relief, she catches a glimpse of herself in the rear view mirror and shrieks!
She’s infected! Only zombie eyes can see the black smoke converging on her from the idling zombie cars…and SHE sees it.
The message is clear. If she doesn’t get on that train, the virus will reach a tipping point for which there is no cure.
She grabs her purse and reaches for the door handle. Nothing happens.
She tugs at it over and over again. It holds fast.
And the zombies keep waving and laughing as they escape to safety inside the rail cars.
Despair chokes her.
She has waited too long to act!
While she was dreaming of places to escape to, places where she thought she could buy some time, or even retire to, the train left without her.
She beats the windows with her hands, she attacks the dashboard, she kicks, she screams, she cries…then suddenly, she stops. She points the side view mirrors to the ground, sits back in her seat, shifts into second gear and screeches into the cloud of zombie car exhaust as if it weren’t there.
It’s 6 am. Jessie bolts upright and gasps. She’s soaked.
“Geez, that same nightmare,” she moans. She pulls a hand mirror from her bedside table and slowly pulls it up to her face. “Phew! Just checking.”
Breakfast, shower, teeth, hair, makeup. Ready. Whoops! Clothes. Now ready.
She locks the front door with the left, wolfs down the bagel with the right, and wiggles her feet into the power pumps as she scurries to the car and gets in. The door shuts and she sits there tonging that rogue sesame seed with the key in the ignition.
Something feels wrong.
She looks at the driver’s side mirror and it’s angled down. She frowns, makes a mental note to discuss this with her delinquent teenage neighbour’s parents, starts the engine, and pulls into reverse.
But a different kind of shift happens.
She slides the stick back into park, turns off the engine, and takes a good hard look at herself through the rear view mirror. Rumbles approach in the distance. The door opens, a pair of heels hit the pavement, and off they run to the platform.
The train hasn’t left yet and she’s not waiting for the next one.