Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Choice

Once again, a 1000 word story in response to a prompt on Chuck Wendig's blog.  Choose two of twenty subgenres and mash 'em up.

I used a random number generator and got 11 (vampires) and 17 (zombies), so here you have it a vampire-zombie mash-up.. sort of.  Okay, it's totally a dystopian story that involves vampires and zombies, but really would you expect anything else from me?

The Choice

                I sit in the doctor’s office, waiting.  Always waiting.  This time it will certainly be different.  This time he’ll tell me I’ve been cured.  I listen to the clock ticking the seconds, growing less patient with each little tick.  And then he appears.

                “I’m sorry, Patrick.  It’s getting worse.”

                I slump over, defeated.  “What do I have to do to treat it this time?”

                The doctor shakes his head.  “There is nothing left to do.  You have a couple of weeks, a month left at most.”

                “To do what?”

                “To live.”

                “I’m dying?”

                “I’m so sorry, Patrick.”

                “What am I supposed to do with that?”

                “You are blessed really; you get a choice.”

                “About what?”

                “About how to spend your afterlife.”

                I get it now. I’m hallucinating.  Or perhaps I’ve drifted off waiting for the doctor.

                “Patrick, listen to me.”

                “Fine. I choose to spend my afterlife partying with all the girls I could never get when I was alive.”

                “That’s not an option.  You have two choices.  You can come back as a vampire or a zombie.”

I freeze.  I must be hearing things because there is no way that my doctor just told me I need to choose whether I want to be a vampire or a zombie.  I look around for a hidden camera, but there is none.  “I’m sorry, Doc, but either I’m crazy or you are.”

“If you don’t decide before you die, your body will decide for you.  Choose wisely.  It will affect the rest of your eternity.”

I slowly lumber down the hall, sad, shaken, and frankly, utterly bewildered.  I consider stopping by the psych ward and checking myself in, but knowing that I may actually only have a couple of weeks to live, I decide it isn’t worth it.  I would rather be with my family, even if I am losing my mind.

My wife greets me at the door.  I hug her tightly, not wanting to ever let her go.  “What’s wrong, Patrick? Was it bad news?”

“I’m fine.”

“Patrick, I’ve been your wife for thirty-two years, and I know when something is wrong.  Now, was it bad news?”

“There’s nothing left to do. I’m dying.”

She collapses into my arms, sobbing.  I hate feeling the weight of her in my arms.  I hate listening to her sob.  Today, I hate everything.

She lifts her head just enough to speak.  “You should choose vampire.”

I take a step back causing her to stumble forward.  “I should choose what?”

“Vampire.  Choose vampire.”

“What are you talking about?”

“When you die.  You can live aware of who you are and those you love or you can live completely unaware.  We can still be together if you’re a vampire.”

“How do you know about my choice?”

Now she looks confused.  What have I said wrong?  She’s tilting her head to the side.  I feel her eyes boring through me.  I feel like she’s trying to see through my eyes, so I close them.

“Patrick, everyone makes the choice at the end of their lives.  We all know about it.”

“Why am I just now learning about it?”

“You really don’t remember?”

“Remember what?”

She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, opens her eyes, and begins.  “Maybe you should sit down for this.”  I sit, feeling like I’m in a dream.  “About twenty years ago there was a plague.  No one knew where it came from or how it started.  We were losing thousands of people a day.  Some speculated that it was the earth’s way of dealing with human overpopulation.  It went on for months until finally a scientist formulated an antidote.”

I lean forward in my seat.  My wife has always been so passionate.  I will miss that about her.

“But there was a catch.  It triggered two genes in all of us – those that turn us into vampires and zombies.  At first, we didn’t understand what was happening to people when they died, but then the scientist found a way to let us choose.  If someone knows in advance that they will die, they pick one, and a simple shot deactivates the one they opted out of.”

I realize she is talking nonsense, but it seems familiar somehow.  And it doesn’t make sense. “If we can deactivate them, why not just deactivate both genes in everyone?”

“It doesn’t work that way.  They tried it on a couple of people and it just reactivated both genes.  You either choose one, or the vampire and zombie inside of you will fight until one breaks out.  It’s horribly painful to live through that.  So now we give everyone a choice.”

“And you think I should choose vampire?”

She nods. “I do.”

“Why doesn’t everyone?  If you get to stay with your family, why not choose that?”

“Some people can’t live with the knowledge that they are feeding on the blood of the innocent.  They would rather be a zombie, not know how many people they may hurt, and hope they will get their brains smashed quickly, and be done forever.”

“Maybe it would have been better to let the plague run its course.  These are not choices anyone should have to make.”

“Many felt that way, but by the time we discovered the side effect of the antidote, it was too late.  It had been administered to everyone.”

“What did they do to the scientist?”

“They killed her.”

“What did she choose?”


“I’m sorry, what?”

“I chose to stay with you.”

“I’m sorry. I’m still not getting it.” I am overtaken by flashes of memory.  The plague.  My wife, creating the antidote. The discovery of the side effect. My wife’s murder. My wife coming back as a vampire. And now it is my turn to decide.  “I choose neither.  I will not kill the innocent.”

I run to my room and remove the gun from my nightstand.  I put it in my mouth and pull the trigger.  Everything goes black.


  1. You did a really good job with the 1st Person Present. Generally, I can't stand present tense. But, I hardly noticed it, which means everyone was flowing, and moving at a good speed.

    Does make me wonder, though. Why didn't he remember? Hmmm.

    1. Thank you for the feedback! Originally, I was planning for him to have saome sort of brain tumor, which is why he was seeing a doctor, but at only 1,000 words, there just wasn't time. So now I leave it up to my lovely readers to decide what was killing him and causing memory loss.