Last week I came across a post from Chuck Wendig. He was proposing a flash fiction challenge. The idea was to write 1000 words on the words “irregular creature”. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have any ideas until this morning, and the challenge ended at noon EST. I finished it just before 10 CST, but since I was at work I couldn’t post it until my lunch break – after the contest was over. But since I went through all the trouble of writing the damn thing, I thought that SOMEONE should read it. That’s where you lucky people come in.
Here it is. Please comment and let me know what you think.
ZOMBIE GUINEA PIG
By Scott Steele
My guinea pig started the zombie apocalypse. I know, you would never expect that something so cute and fuzzy could cause the end of the world. But it’s true. Here’s how it happened.
I decided to do something special for my wife on Valentine’s Day. She loves animals, but we live in an apartment and so we can’t have a dog or cat. They do allow fish and hamsters, but larger animals aren’t allowed. We have a hamster, a cute little short hair, dark gray with a white beard and white paws, but she isn’t very cuddly. She doesn’t like to sit still and is always jumping around whenever we get her out of her cage. We also have a tank full of fish that we keep over the television, but they don’t like it when we get them out either.
So last Valentine’s Day I decided we would go out to eat. We went to a Culvers restaurant near our house, and had a nice meal. The restaurant is near the pet store where we got our hamster, and I thought maybe we could stop in and get some supplies for the little critter.
We perused the aisles for about fifteen minutes, trying to decide what sorts of things we could get for our little furball. I was considering getting her a new cage, thinking that maybe we could connect it with the one we have so that she would have more room to run around. But the cages were kind of expensive, and we decided to look around while we thought about it.
We went into the room where they have the small animals and there he was. Mostly dark brown, he has a white stripe down his nose and a large white patch on his left side. He was so cute! There was also a completely white guinea pig in the cage with him, but we barely looked at that one.
My wife knew right away that she had to have him. It turned out to be a lot more expensive than the hamster cage we had been considering, because we had to get a new, larger cage just for him, and all the supplies to go with it. But at least my wife was happy.
We got home and got our new pet settled in to his new home. We set up the cage in front of our television so we could keep an eye on him. It was also the only place we had to put it.
Things went well for several weeks. He was nervous at first, and I found it was best to talk softly to him to calm him down before reaching in his cage to pick him up. But we kept it up, getting him out at least once a day. We would hold him in our laps, petting him gently and feeding him parsley. Eventually, he got used to us and calmed down a bit, allowing us to pick him up without struggling.
Then he got sick. I don’t know if it was something in the hay or radiation from the television. But one day we noticed that he wasn’t eating as much. The next day he didn’t move at all when we went to pick him up, and I noticed a greenish pus leaking from the corners of his eyes.
We made an appointment to take him to the vet, but the next day he was stiff and cold in his cage. My wife was devastated. I had to take off of work to stay with her. Even though we had only had him for a few months he was a part of the family.
We decided to dispose of the body in the afternoon. I found an old shoe box, and we sadly lined it with paper towels. I opened the cage to lift him out, and was shocked when he twitched. It was only a small movement, and I thought that maybe I had just imagined it, but then he moved again. I watched in amazement as he slowly rolled into his normal position, looking at me with his beady little eyes.
I should have looked closer before reaching into the cage. I should have noticed that his eyes were no longer the dark brown that we were used to. They had turned a deep, blood red. I should have seen that his fur was falling off in clumps. But I didn’t.
I reached into the cage and he raced around, avoiding my hand like he had when we had first brought him home. I tried talking softly to him, attempting to calm him down, then reached in again. I finally managed to corner him so that I could pick him up. I pulled him out and gently cradled him in my arms. His little body was still cold, and felt oddly softer than normal. I suddenly remembered when our last hamster had died, and how her body had lost its normal firmness when I pulled her out of her cage. But by then it was too late.
As I stood up to move to the couch where I could sit down and pet him, he suddenly thrashed in my arms, and before I knew it he had taken a bite out of my hand. I yelled in pain and surprise, and tried to pull my hand away. That’s when I noticed his bloody eyes.
I pried his teeth off my hand and quickly put him back into his cage. I washed the wound and bandaged it, but the damage was already done. I quickly got sick, and before I knew it I had joined the ranks of the damned. My wife was the first to join me, followed by the neighbors, members of my church, and my coworkers. By then we had achieved a critical mass, and the infection spread across the world.
So that’s the story of how my guinea pig started the zombie apocalypse.