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                        The Tao of Tony
                                             By D.M. Anderson


The day Tony had been preparing for his entire life was finally here…

The dead were rising.

As Slipknot blasted from his stereo speakers, he stared in slack-jawed
amazement at the TV in his tiny living room, the news showing legions of
zombies slowly shambling up Main Street, less than a mile from his house.  
The words at the bottom of the screen told him everything: The Dead Walk.

Tony didn’t bother looking for the remote to turn the sound up.  He knew
what was going down and he was ready.  

After grabbing a nearly-empty Jack Daniels bottle off the coffee table and
downing the last few swigs, he threw it to the floor and bolted into his
bedroom.  Tony ripped off the food-stained Red Robin Polo shirt he’d been
wearing since being fired two days ago, then kicked off his tennis shoes.  

“Here we go,” he excitedly whispered as he grabbed a pair of black hiking
boots from his closet, plopped his butt on the bed and slid his feet into them.  
“It’s game time.”

After lacing-up, ready to stomp some skulls, Tony fished keys from his
pocket and rushed to the footlocker on the closet floor.  He dropped to his
knees, removed the padlock and tossed it away before checking his watch.  
Precious seconds were ticking away!  The undead hordes could be at his
doorstep any minute!

Throwing the lid open, Tony proudly gazed in awe at the cache of guns,
knives, ammo, grenades and homemade body armor he’d collected over the
years.  Janice, his ex-wife, once warned him either the weapons go, or she
goes.  Although he missed her from time to time in the weeks since, today he
felt vindicated.  That bitch, along with the douchebag she shacked up with,
were undoubtedly singing a different tune right now.

Throwing on the black flack jacket he got on sale from an Army surplus
store, Tony grinned as he pictured Janice’s horrified face, she and Mr.
Douche cowering in the corner of his apartment living room, surrounded by
the hungry dead.  Stuffing grenades into easy-to-access pockets, he
imagined her reaction when he showed up at the last second to save her
from being eaten alive: You were right, Tony!  I’m sorry!  You were right!

The armbands were next.  Tony was especially proud of these because he
made them himself.  Welded from sheet metal and shaped to fit his forearms,
they would provide some protection when fighting up close.  After squeezing
his arms into them, he strapped on a pair of shin guards left over from his
college baseball days, when he was a promising young catcher with major
league potential - Christ, how many years ago was that?  Seems like a
lifetime.

Next were the weapons…two Smith & Wesson handguns and bandoliers
loaded with .38 Special cartridges; a 9mm Uzi with six extra magazines of
ammunition; a fake (but still deadly) Samurai sword he found in an import
store at the mall.  Finally, there was his trusty old Louisville Slugger baseball
bat, another relic from better time, now bloodstained from a recent encounter
with his neighbor’s dog.  A crude weapon, perhaps, but it came in handy
when putting a stop to that stupid little Pomeranian shitting on his lawn.  It
would be equally useful during those times when gunfire would alert more
zombies to his presence.

As Slipknot continued to roar from the living room, Tony methodically armed
himself…handguns in holsters, swords in sheathes, bandoliers crossing his
chest, Uzi slung over the shoulder, extra magazines stuffed in every
remaining pocket.  Clutching the bat in his fist, he checked himself out in the
mirror and grinned.

I’m one bad-ass motherfucker.

Weighted by extra pounds of guns and ammo, Tony lumbered as fast as he
could from the bedroom, through the kitchen and into the garage, where he
had backed-in Black Betty just a week ago after filling the tank.

Black Betty was once a pretty sexy set of wheels, Tony’s pride and joy all
through high school, a cherry-red Charger which once impressed Janice
enough to hook-up with him during their senior year.  Since then, Tony made
improvements…reinforcing the radiator grill and front fenders with iron bars
stolen from a local playground, welding metal fencing over every window and
painting the entire vehicle flat black.  It was no longer a chick magnet, but
definitely an ideal vehicle for the zombie war, one which Janice undoubtedly
wished she were sitting in right now.

Tony smiled, proud of the foresight his parents claimed he never had.  The
gas tank was full, and in the trunk were extra weapons, batteries, camping
gear, flashlights, first aid and ample supplies of canned food.  He couldn’t
wait to see Mom and Dad’s sudden change-of-heart when their “good-for-
nothing” son burst into the house and commenced cutting down their
attackers.  

Giggling hysterically, he climbed into the car and started her up.  The Hemi
engine roared to life.  He gunned the engine several times, RPMs roaring like
an angry pride of lions.

While Black Betty rumbled in anticipation, Tony gripped the wheel and stared
forward.  This is it.  You’re about to drive out into a new world…a world where
every one you once knew and loved is either dead or waiting for you…you’re
world!  Are you ready?

Pulling the visor down and slapping the remote to open the garage door, he
sneered, “Hell, yeah.”

The rickety old door slowly lifted. Tony flicked on the stereo.  Adele’s
smooth, sultry voice assaulted his ears…one of Janice’s old CDs.

This was no soundtrack to the apocalypse!

He hit eject, hurled the disc into the backseat and flipped through his CD
wallet until he found something more suitable…Reign in Blood, by Slayer.

Perfect.

He shoved it into the stereo and cranked up the volume.  The opening riffs of
“Angel of Death” blasted from his speakers as the garage door finished lifting.

It was a deceptively beautiful day.  The afternoon sun shone as always; its
light bounced off the windshields of cars parked in the street; a gentle breeze
kicked a few leaves across his driveway; a boy pedaled past on his bicycle,
oblivious to the world’s impending demise.  If Tony didn’t know better, today
looked like any other day.

Gritting his teeth, he punched the gas.  Black Betty’s rear tires squealed,
laying-down a strip of rubber as the car rocketed forward.  Tony turned north,
toward Main Street, where everything was going down.  Speeding down the
road, not bothering to stop at intersections, he loaded a clip into his Uzi and
set the gun on the passenger‘s seat.

As he rapidly approached the Main Street intersection, he saw them…row
upon row of the living dead, mindlessly shambling forward.  With Black Betty’s
reinforced front end, he didn’t hesitate, plowing into the crowd like a hot knife
through butter.  Bodies flew through the air, blood and body parts splattered
his windshield.  Black Betty’s hood buckled, blocking his view.  The car struck
a telephone pole head-on; Tony’s face smacked the steering wheel, breaking
his nose.

Ignoring the pain, he clutched the Uzi and leaped out of the car.  Over the
sounds of Slayer still thundering from his speakers, he heard terrified
screams as the surrounding zombie hordes started running away.  Tony
clicked-off the safety and sprayed gunfire, cutting down dozens of the fleeing
undead.  After emptying one clip, he expertly ejected it, slapped another in
place and continued shooting, dropping a few more who were trying to get
away.  Once it looked like he wasn’t in immediate danger, Tony stopped
shooting to assess Black Betty’s damage.

Despite his efforts to reinforce the front end, she was history.  Water bled
from the hissing radiator and one of the front tires was flat, cut-open by a
crumpled fender.  He  obviously needed to secure another working vehicle,
and transfer all of his supplies, before any rescue of Janice or his parents
was possible.  This wasn’t part of the plan.

As he scanned the area in search of a suitable replacement vehicle, still
clutching the Uzi, he heard approaching sirens.

Too little, too late, he bitterly thought.  Where were you when the outbreak
started?

Tony spotted an unattended Dodge Durango parked nearby, a 2004 model,
which could be easily hot-wired.  He ducked back into Black Betty, tugged the
keys from the ignition and trotted to the trunk to get his supplies.

“Freeze!” roared a mega-phoned voice behind him.

Knowing the dead don’t talk, he did as instructed, raising his hands high
above his head.

“Drop the weapon!” the voice continued.

Tony complied, unslinging the Uzi from his shoulder and letting it drop to the
ground.

“Hey, man,” he calmly said, knowing full-well he’d encounter people like this,
paranoid survivalists willing to do anything to stay alive.  “Take it easy.  I’m
just a guy trying to survive…just like you.  No need to get jumpy.  Just let me
get my shit and I’ll be on my way.”

“Shut up, you fucking psycho!  Make one move and I’ll blow your fucking
head off!  Now…turn around!”

Tony complied, his jaw dropping open when he saw countless guns with
laser sighting trained on his forehead.  Behind them were a dozen squad
cars, lights flashing.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Tony yelled.  “Don’t you know what’s going
on?  The dead are walking the Earth!  We gotta put ‘em down!”

“You stupid asshole!” the mega-phoned voice said.  “This was the annual
Dead Walk for charity!  You just murdered dozens of people trying to raise
money to help sick children!”

In Tony's head, Janice, his parents and former boss began to laugh.
About D.M. Anderson

My name is Dave
Anderson, and have had
two young adult novels
published by Echelon
Press (Killer Cows &
Shaken) under the name
of D.M Anderson.  I also
have a third book, With
the Wicked, a collection
of dark adult tales, due
to be published in 2014.  
In addition, my short
stories have appeared
(or soon will appear) in
69 Flavors of Paranoia,
Night Terrors, Trembles,
Perpetual Motion
Machine, Hello Horror,
Infernal Ink, Encounters
and the StrangeHouse
Books anthology,
Strange Fucking Stories..