Above the Influence_sara_codair_1

Above the Influence 

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When I was young, zombies only came out on Halloween. Kids would dress up in rags and make their faces look dead. They’d walk around with their arms outstretched, muttering and moaning for brains.

Now, I see zombies all the time. They wash their hair before putting on clean clothes and strong perfume. They appear human, but I see through their illusions. They walk around with their heads down and their hands outstretched, oblivious to the world around them.

I spend hours on my bench in the common, just watching. They hardly notice me aside from absentmindedly tossing me a few singles or cursing about my lazy ass.

Yesterday, I watched a group of teeny-bopper girls marching silent circles through the park’s trails without looking up from their phones. Back in my day, young girls couldn’t stop talking if you paid them.

Afraid I might be hallucinating, I went looking for Bobby G. I wandered off the beaten paths, looking for the telltale gleam of sunlight hitting aluminum foil. I found it under a cluster of rhododendron.

“Bobby? Is that you?”

“Who’s there?” he shouted.

“Hal, your old wing man.”

“Get your ass inside, CIA got a missile that can track people’s DNA. They can blow you up without ever leaving their bunker.”

“Bobby, those things don’t exist. I need to show you something.”

“It’s not safe. They’ll find me.”

“Bobby, if they do have a DNA missile, that bush won’t protect you. Besides, who’d want to blow us up?”

“The government! We know stuff from secret missions back in ’Nam. Hell, we’re among the few still livin’ above the influence.”

I snorted. “You smell like a liquor store. You haven’t been above the influence in decades. I just need you to come out for a few minutes and tell me if I’m seeing something right.”

“I don’t know, Hal, there’s zombies and shit.”

“I’ll buy you a fifth.”

“I want whisky, not the cheap shit.”

“Fine, I’ll buy you good whisky, if you come out and look with me.”

The bushes rattled as a man mummified in aluminum foil clambered out.

“I’ll sue you if I get blown to bits,” murmured Bobby, brushing ants away.

“This way.” I led him over to the girls.

“They’re real all right,” he said glaring at the girls. “Zombies. Probably been infected since birth. I bet they don’t know what it’s like to live above the influence.”

“Shit. Poor things.”

“They get ’em young now.” Bobby frowned and began lumbering towards a clump of trees. “I’ll be in there, where they can’t see me, waiting for my whisky.

The lush green swallowed Bobby whole, obscuring his telltale gleam. I memorized the deep groves and letters carved into the Elm’s bark before heading to the package store. I didn’t have any money, but I found one of those business type zombies with his eyes glued to his phone. He didn’t notice my hands slip into his pocket and liberate a couple twenties.

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Sara has been writing fiction since she was in the first grade. One of her earliest works was in a journal she was required to keep for school. It was supposed to be about real things, so her teacher was not very happy to read about a boy who put on a cape, jumped off of a garage, and flew.

Now, Sara teaches writing at Northern Essex Community College. When she is not teaching or grading papers, she enjoys reading and writing Young Adult Fantasy and Flash Fiction. She is in the process of revising her novel.

She recently won 2nd place in the Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest. Her fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming several online publications such as 101Fiction, Foliate Oak, Sick Lit Magazine, Fantasy Crossing and Mash Stories. You can find her online at saracodair.com

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