#FridayFlash: Truly, Deeply, Endlessly

Truly, Deeply, Endlessly

by Tony Noland

He stood as she approached. Bundled against the cold, carrying her hat in her left hand rather than wearing it, she came closer, a slightly hesitant look on her face.

"Richard?" she said.

"Yes, it's me, Richard Tollofson, although maybe I should call myself ZombieFanBoi."

Her face split into a wide smile. She laughed as she shook her head.

"Thank God! I had this image of walking around asking guys in the park, 'Excuse me, I'm FleshBiterMama...are you ZombieFanBoi?'. I guess I should introduce myself properly. I'm Melinda, Melinda Jackson."

They shook hands, and then stood, awkward in a sudden silence. Across Lake Shore Drive, a few hardcore joggers and walkers moved along the paths near the frozen beach. Lincoln Park itself was pretty empty.

"Um, so..." she said, "should we go get a coffee or something? I'll be honest, this is the first time I've ever met one of my online friends in real life for a... you know, a get-together." She blushed slightly. He looked at the ground.

"Yeah, it's a new one for me, too. Actually, I thought maybe we could just walk, you know? Talk a bit?"

She looked around the park, at the ice on the shore, the joggers, the stilled and silent tourist booths by the marina.


"We could go somewhere with more people around. I don't mean to make you uncomfortable. I just would rather be outside on a day like this. Do you want to go to the zoo?"

"Are you kidding? It's freezing out here!" She laughed again, pulled her hat on. "This isn't going to be much of a lunch date if we're incompatible right off the bat!"

He smiled slightly. "The cold doesn't bother me much. Tell you what, I think I saw a lunch vendor up on Lincoln. I'll buy you a cup of coffee. Between that and the walk, it'll be almost as warm as being inside."

Her eyes glanced over his shoulder, at the Starbucks sign on Clark Street, across from the park. His sunglasses were the wrap-around kind, mirrored. Her own face, stretched and distorted, was reflected back at her.

"Well... OK. But let's get moving, Richard, it really is kind of harsh out here. It smells like it's going to snow."

"Does it?" He drew in a long, deep breath, let it out. "Hmm, I'm not getting anything. What does impending snow smell like? Like impending rain, only colder?"

She laughed, her breath a fog between them.

"You goon." She dug her hands into her pockets and they set off, faces into the wind.

"So, you live north of the Loop?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said, "I live over in Wicker Park, not too far from here."

"How do you like it? I hear it's getting pretty gentrified these days."

"Yeah, but it kind of goes through cycles, you know? Bad, then good, then bad again."

"How long have you lived there?"

He didn't answer right away. For more than a minute, they walked in silence.

"A long time. A real long time. Look, Melinda, I guess that kind of brings me to what I really wanted to say."

"Uh... OK."

"The fact is... well, I don't meet many people. In real life, I mean. The internet is great, lets me have lots of friends online, but real life is a whole different matter."

She didn't respond, but only dug her hands deeper into her pockets as they continued to walk.

"It's not that I'm shy or antisocial or anything. I like people, like to be around people. It's just that I have a ... condition that keeps me kind of isolated. Very isolated, actually. It's not a medical thing," he said quickly. "I mean it's not a disease or a sickness or anything. It's just ... part of who I am."

They walked in silence.

"Jeez," he said, "this is hard. I didn't think it would be this hard to, you know, to tell you. It's just that... well, look, I like you. I mean I've come to like you a lot, and I just don't think it's fair to you for us to keep chatting and sending e.mails and tweets back and forth without you... knowing."

She stopped, turned to face him.

"Without me knowing what, Richard?"

He stood, looking at the ground. After a moment, he reached up and removed his sunglasses. Dead gray eyes, rimmed with bruised purple flesh stared out at her.

She took two steps back, her body rigid.

"I can dye my hair," he said, "and rub tanning solution onto my skin. I can even paint my nails a normal flesh tone. But my skin is always cold and I can't do anything about my eyes. They just don't make contact lenses for zombies, Melinda. I ... I'm sorry." He looked back down at the ground. "I was hoping you might... I'm sorry, I shouldn't have tried this. It was stupid, and I'm sorry. Christ, I'd weep if I could. I should know by now not to... I'm sorry. How could I hope that you'd understand when -"


He stopped, looked at her.

"I do understand. I've suspected this for awhile. Now that I know for sure... I just wanted you to know that I think it was a brave thing you did, coming out like this."

At her words, his expression of despair slowly turned into one of rising hope. She drew her hands from her pockets and held them out to him.

Twin cracks erupted from the HK 9mm pistols she held, small flashes licking from the barrel shrouds. Richard's head exploded, sending a spray of dried flesh backwards in a gray cloud. His body dropped to the ground.

She leaned into the button mic on her collar.

"Got him," she said.

Comments and constructive criticisms welcome. Other #FridayFlash pieces can be found here


  1. Cool. I like zombie hunters and with those pesky zombies using the internet these days, just gotta get with the times.

    Nice transition from lunch date into secret revelations into zombie killer. Smooth, fun presentation.
    -David G Shrock

  2. Very interesting build up and twist on zombie lore.

  3. Smooth as the silk on that dame's dress, Tony. You win again. Nice ending. Terrific depiction of a simple walk, no stone unturned.


  4. Oh, fantastic, brilliant, wonderful! Thoroughly enjoyed this story. You really had me going up to the reveal, I was thinking normal human...no wait...immortal...no, no...demon...couldn't be a vampire, could he? Then BANG! Aha! Zombie! And what an ending!

    Absolutely loved it. :)

  5. "Christ, I'd weep if I could. " Nice!

    A coming out story, lovely parallel. It's true, we can hide behind whatever identity we make for ourselves online. Her withheld secret was far more duplicitous than his.

    marc nash

  6. Really cool zombie story. I thought she would reveal something unusual about herself...and I guess she did!

    Thumbs up!

  7. Wow, I though he'd get her. n ice work here Tony!

  8. Aww! Bless him! That's cooold! He seemed like a really sweet zombie...didn't try to eat her brain or anything! Poor Richard! :P
    Cool story, Tony, you make me laugh!

  9. Thanks for all the terrific comments, guys! In the first draft of this story, he came out with a very different sort of lifestyle secret. I like this way better. 8-)

    On the internet, nobody knows you're a zombie. Or so you hope.

  10. "...They just don't make contact lenses for zombies, Melinda."

    M(elinda) Jackson... I wonder?! This made me laugh into my soup - very entertaining! And a gratifying head explosion too. Great story.

  11. Bwahahaha! I guessed he was zombie early on but had no idea where you were going with it.

    Well written and a great bait-and-switch with your tone.

  12. I want to say something witty and erudite, but I am too busy shivering with that all over shudder I get when I read something that I really, truly love.

    Loved it loved it loved it!

    (stands up, applauds) Bravo!

  13. HA! PERFECT! I'm waiting for the zombie to eat her or she turns into a monster. . . but not this.

    "Got him," she says. . . ah, I love it.

    Nothing like good zombie hunting!

    Great job Tony!


  14. Haha! Nicely done Tony.
    Makes one feel a little sorry for the poor, harmless, hunted zombies though... (I always tend to side with the underdog...)

  15. Good stuff and a great take on the zombie idea

  16. Okay, let me untwist my brain! Didn't see that coming, and then didn't see that coming...lol. Wow, very sneaky. Perfection, loved it!

  17. Hi Tony,

    So Excellent! I did guess he was a zombie early in the story by his online name and hints about no feeling - But wow that was fun when she became a Zombie hunter, right when I was beginning to feel sorry for her impending doom!

    I really saw that head explosion - eeww!

    Now you have scared all us, I mean, other zombies from coming out!

    Well done!

  18. Aww! I didn't see that ending. Well-told story.

  19. Gotta say I love it, but really? Zombies? That's so over done. :P http://ow.ly/UiOl

  20. I'm glad you liked it, everyone! Zombie stories can get into a rut, where the surprise is no surprise at all. It sounds like I got the jump on just about everybody. As you guys are all well versed in plot twists, that makes the response doubly satisfying!

    In particular, I blush and bow at your effusive responses, Carrie, Sam, Emma & Jim W. I'll try to keep hitting that same mark!

    Heh, I know, Jesse, it looks like we have the same muse on speed-dial. 8-)

  21. Brilliant surprise ending. I never thought I'd enjoy a zombie story, but I loved this one.

  22. I object to Jesse because he isn't really a zombie. He's undead, but if he doesn't shamble, can talk, think and write, can be near her without attacking - not a zombie. Perhaps one of Capcom's Not-Zombies! Of course he'd say he was because any undead individual to appear in this world would have that word affixed to them.

    That said, I sort of saw the end coming. When I read I often create splinter possibilities that, if they aren't realized in the text, become my own ideas that I can write about later. I didn't think this would become about a zombie reaching out and getting snagged, but the idea rose out of this. Then you went and did it, Tony. The idea is yours and you did well with it.

  23. Fantastic twist! I was lulled into it, even after he admitted what he was.
    At one point in the middle you called her 'Michelle' instead of Melinda.

  24. Fun, fun, fun... didn't see the end coming, though I should've guessed. Wicked twisted fun. Peace, Linda

  25. Awww, poor zombie! Seems like he wasn't trying to get her, either. I was thinking today that I'm so over zombies, but I really enjoyed your story.


  26. No fair! Totally didn't see the end coming. Was really holding out hope for a zombie/human connection. ;) Great story--great dialogue. And very smooth, as someone else pointed out. :)

  27. Great use of dialogue to move this stroy through its genre shifts. Brilliant twist and I can't help but feel sorry for poor Richard.

  28. I think it's terrific that this story is giving David, Cecilia, et al. the chance to find something new in the zombie story. On behalf of the entire genre, I'm glad I could help!

    John Wiswell raises a good point about the difference between zombies, undead, immortals, etc. This guy is clearly not like the mindless shamblers, screaming sprinters, or rage-filled horrors we're used to. He calls himself a zombie because that is what society would call him. Whether that's kind, accurate, or even fair is irrelevant.

    I can't say that I was trying to be especially overt about this with respect to the nomenclature, but the entire structure of the story (even before the gunfire) makes it clear that he and his kind have to hide, for their own protection. Pejorative names are the least of the social ills he has to suffer.

    Thanks, Laura, glad you liked it! If fixed the gaff. I hate it when I let mistokes slip into a pots.

    Ah, Melissa & Dan, that's the thing about this kind of story ... the innocent victim is always surprised when the monster drops the pretense and shows itself in a murderous rage.

  29. I don't know a lot about zombies, but I have no trouble believing I have talked to them online. ;-)

  30. I must admit I don't usually enjoy zombie stories, but you have completely turned that around for me Tony. Fantastic dialogue, and a great twisted ending that I didn't see coming at all. Super stuff!

  31. Excellent, excellent. I felt bad for poor zombiefanboi. Can't a zombie just get some love?

    Very cool story, Tony.

  32. I have to admit, when I realised it was yet another zombie story, I didn't expect much, but the description of the zombie's head being blown off was brilliant. Excellent!

  33. Somehow, you made me feel sorry for the zombie! Great story.

  34. Wonderful pacing to this story. The zombie killer twist was done nicely. Now, I'm wondering what the life of a zombie killer would be like?

  35. Like David, don't really go for zombie/vampire/werewolf stories. But this really grabbed me & I loved the twist at the end. What a meanie...

  36. Very cool. There's one less zombie we need to worry about. Great story.

  37. I appreciate the comments, guys, thanks!

    I continue to be especially gratified by folks like Virginia, Petherin, et al. who don't much care for zombie stories, but who like this one. There's a greater degree of satisfaction in overcoming a "reluctant reader", isn't there?

  38. No zombie like a dead zombie. If she hadn't blown him away he would have offered a sheepish apology for eating her brains.

  39. Hi Tony! I love this one! Great ending.

  40. Mark & Elaine - I'm glad you liked the ending. I like finishing a story with a bang.


  41. Hi Tony,
    That was fun. I never saw the ending coming and I too like the twist you made of zombie lore. Sometimes I feel like a zombie on the internet ;)


  42. Ohh, you grabbed my attention so hard from the beginning that I'd never suspect the ending. Fantastic!

    What a cold hearted woman... heh


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