Stay Inside

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic story that features zombies.... view prompt

145 comments

Science Fiction Sad

“They’re back.”

Mrs. Chandler sighed and swept the curtains closed. Every day, more visitors. None of them wanted. There they were, on her front lawn, milling about in their strange outfits and mumbling voices. They were the crazy ones, she decided. All those times her ‘friends,’ her neighbors, called her senile, expressing their so-called concerns for her and her husband. Being old did not make you crazy, she had said. Now look at all of them. The younger generations, huddled outside, out of their minds. And when was the last time she saw her neighbors? It was obvious what had happened, after that story on the news. She pitied them, truly, but that didn’t change the fact that they were loitering. At least she knew they wouldn’t come inside. They only wanted to trap her. 

“What did you say, darling?” Mr. Chandler sat in his armchair filling in a book of crossword puzzles. The newspaper had stopped delivering to their home.

“Oh, the zombies are back. Of course, they never left. I don’t know what I was expecting.”

“Don’t worry, darling. Things will work out eventually.” He reached his hand out for her to squeeze, the gentle wrinkles in his face creasing as he smiled. Mrs. Chandler smiled back, somewhat reassured, and went to fix herself breakfast. 

As she ate her buttered toast and hot tea, she peeked through the blinds. The zombies didn’t show any signs of leaving soon. They drove up in trucks and parked on her lawn. They didn’t sleep at night. They seemed afraid to enter the house yet couldn’t leave. Mrs. Chandler would ask why if she thought they could understand her; unfortunately, they seemed resigned to blank stares and shouting words she couldn’t quite understand. She sipped her tea. How many bags of chamomile did she have left? She’d have to go shopping soon, but how to explain that to the zombies?

“Sandra? Sandra?” 

Mrs. Chandler hurried to her husband’s side. 

“What do you need, dear?”

His eyes had gone wrong again. “Where are the kids? Are they in the backyard? At the pool? With their friends?”

“No, dear.”

“Well, they should be! It’s summer vacation! Isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s June. But the kids aren’t outside.”

“Where, then? Is Benjamin in his room? Tell him to get off that computer. We should play catch.” He began to stand. His wife gently pushed him back into the chair.

“I’ll get him for you. You stay here,” she said, picking up his crosswords from where they had fallen on the floor and placing it neatly on the coffee table. She walked upstairs, poked her head in Benjamin’s old room, just in case her husband was listening, and walked back downstairs, grabbing a game set from the shelf as she went. “Albert?”

“Yes, darling?” 

Sandra smiled. She sat down across from him. “Want to play a game?" 

His face brightened. “You be white, dear.” He carefully helped her align the chess pieces so that black and white mirrored each other, his fingers clumsy, hers patient and steady. They settled in to play. 

A few games later, the phone began to ring. Albert started, the calm spell cast by his favorite game broken. 

“I’ve got it, dear.” Sandra patted his shoulder and took the phone from its stand. “Hello?” she said, wandering into the kitchen. 

“Mom?”

“Benjamin!” Sandra’s face broke into a smile.

“Mom, I just found out. Why didn’t you call?”

“I did, but you never answered.”

“What number did you use? We got rid of the landline. I thought I told you.”

“Oh, I must have forgotten. But your father will be so happy to hear your voice! Let me get him-”

“Mom! Just- wait. Talk to me. How are you both feeling?” She’d never heard her son sound so worried before. His concern broke through his voice, though he strained to sound calm. Still, it warmed her heart to know he cared so much about them. 

“We’re feeling fine. How is your sister? How’s your wife?”

“We’re good. Everyone’s good. Uh,” Benjamin said. “How are you on supplies?”

“Supplies? Oh, right. Well, we haven’t left the house in a few days, but we have enough to last us another couple weeks. I’m just waiting for the zombies to leave.”

“The- the what?”

“Well, that’s just what I’ve been calling them. Last week, the news said that-”

“Mom… Mom… how much of the news have you been watching?”

“Um… not much, honey. Why?”

Silence. 

“Benjamin, why?”

“Mom, do you even know what’s happening?”

“Sandra?” a croaky voice called from the living room. “Sandra?”

“Oh, honey, I’ve got to go. Your dad’s been a bit under the weather, but don’t worry. Call soon!”

"Wait! Stay inside, okay, Mom? Please stay inside. I love you."

"Love you too, dear!"

She hung up and went to check on her husband, smiling. How nice to talk with her son. 


“She hung up on you?”

Benjamin bit his lip and stuffed the phone back into his pocket. “Yeah. My dad needed help with something.”

The soldier shook his head. “I know how you feel, buddy. My mom has dementia.”

“She always refused to let Dad go into a nursing home. I thought she was capable of taking care of him, but…” Benjamin stared at the house. “I didn’t realize she was starting to go, too.”

“And she thought we were…”

“Zombies. She didn’t notice what was happening. She said she saw something on the news once and didn’t even bother to keep watching.”

The soldier sighed. “Ironic. Well, we’ve tried communicating with a megaphone, but they wouldn’t even look outside. And we couldn’t safely get any closer.”

“Of course.” Benjamin covered his face with his hands and took a deep breath. The man clapped him on the shoulder and walked away. Other soldiers sat on the ground or on their trucks, talking and monitoring the house, their lumpy Haz-mat suits billowing around them. 

A face peeked around the curtains of the house, peering outside. Her skin was a sickly green, decay and rot peeling away at her body. Her fingers gripping the fabric were unnaturally gnarled. The blue in her veins had gone gray. 

Mrs. Chandler saw her son, smiled, and waved.

September 24, 2020 12:26

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145 comments

17:07 Jun 30, 2021

The perspective switch at the end was genius. Totally genius. It was that perfect, shocking twist that so many stories seem to be lacking, and you absolutely nailed it. I don't think I will forget that one in a hurry. :) I feel like this story could also use the tag "Sad", just because of the sad fate of Sandra and Albert. They have lost their connection to the world, and they are the real zombies, ironically. I feel so bad for Benjamin, having to bridge the gap between the real world and the world of his parents' minds. Fantastic jo...

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Kate Ulrich
22:31 Jun 30, 2021

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks for the idea about tagging it ‘Sad,’ and I’ll make the update.

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13:18 Jul 01, 2021

No problem! It was a pleasure to read. :)

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9 P🎈
14:15 Jun 21, 2021

Hi Kate, Fab imagination, specially the type of conversation between the couple..........clear and satisfying 'cause it mirrors their age (or more precisely, their generation) perfectly. And of course the most interesting thing apart from its title is its ending. Great Work👍 Would you like to read my stories? :)

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Kate Ulrich
18:32 Jun 21, 2021

Thank you so much for your feedback! I’d love to read your stories.

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15:42 May 27, 2021

Hey Kate, This was an amazing story and you did a wonderful job with it. I'd love it if you gave me some feedback on this story: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/95/submissions/68977/#comments

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Kate Ulrich
18:03 May 27, 2021

Thanks! :) I'll check out your story right now.

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Felicity Anne
16:29 Oct 19, 2020

Kate, Nice job! I love how you changed perspectives! You did a wonderful job with this! Keep up the good work!

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Kate Ulrich
17:24 Oct 19, 2020

Thank you! :)

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B. W.
15:04 Oct 10, 2020

Katieeeee. You there? i honestly have nothing else to do and i'm just really bored and i wanna talk to someone. have you checked out the thing?

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Kate Ulrich
15:49 Oct 11, 2020

Hey! I did, it's awesome. :)

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B. W.
16:24 Oct 11, 2020

Can we still talk? i'm very bored

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Kate Ulrich
16:58 Oct 11, 2020

I'm not sure how long I have before I need to leave, but sure.

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B. W.
17:12 Oct 11, 2020

Leave? Your not on here that much and i just want to talk to you, where are ya going if you don't mind me asking?

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Kate Ulrich
17:16 Oct 11, 2020

I don't know exactly when, but my family and I were going to go for a walk and then hang out, so I wanted to let you know I'm not ignoring you if I suddenly stop answering.

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Mustang Patty
09:07 Sep 28, 2020

Hi, Kate, Such an intereting twist there at the end. There was a bit of confusion for me - though when you switched the POV from that of the mother to that of her son, Benjamin. It wasn't really clear. Also, the fact that the mother is a zombie isn't immediately evident. Thank you for sharing, and keep writing, ~MP~

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Kate Ulrich
14:23 Sep 28, 2020

Thanks for the feedback, MP! :)

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Mustang Patty
14:25 Sep 28, 2020

You're welcome.

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B. W.
14:27 Oct 09, 2020

okay, it may seem that the prompts aren't that good, but i actually have an idea on which prompt you could use for the thing.

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Kate Ulrich
16:29 Oct 09, 2020

What are you thinking? :D

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B. W.
16:32 Oct 09, 2020

Well it's the one where it says the leaves are on fire, this could be literal because maybe your part could start with Arren in the underworld? The underworld is a bit strange so it would make sense. Then once you finish with that little part and arren and zio thing, it could cut back to the Harmony and Meg part and whatever else you were gonna do

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B. W.
23:40 Sep 30, 2020

So is it gonna be out tomorrow then? or maybe somewhere today?

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Kate Ulrich
23:58 Sep 30, 2020

Probably tomorrow. :)

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B. W.
00:12 Oct 01, 2020

Well alright ^^ i don't have anyone to talk to here at the moment- can we still talk?

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Kate Ulrich
02:02 Oct 01, 2020

Sorry but I have to go now :( Tomorrow though!

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B. W.
02:05 Oct 01, 2020

Aw well that's alright, night ^^

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Kate Ulrich
13:29 Oct 01, 2020

Hey, did you draw the picture on your profile?

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B. W.
15:12 Sep 27, 2020

Kate? i need some help

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Kate Ulrich
22:11 Sep 27, 2020

What's up?

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B. W.
22:12 Sep 27, 2020

Well i need help with a new story/novel so could i maybe tell ya about it? and there's something with a new character in the demi-god series that i also need some help with if its alright with you

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Kate Ulrich
22:26 Sep 27, 2020

Go ahead!

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B. W.
22:29 Sep 27, 2020

Okay so i'm not sure if you read "My older sister?" but basically Hero is another new character who is Harmony's younger brother now and i need some ideas for IF he was a demi-god and some ideas for if he WASNT a demi-god and was just a mortal. Think you could help with that? and with my other novel idea it's called "The guardian" which is about 4 characters, 2 girls and two boys. one of the girls is mute and the other is the 'guardian' which i need help with names and what she would exactly be because i first thought of being a guardian ang...

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Kate Ulrich
14:24 Sep 28, 2020

If he was not a demigod maybe he is jealous of his sister, or intimidated, or just in awe of her. I will keep thinking.

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B. W.
19:50 Sep 26, 2020

Katie :D go check out "My older sister?" and leave some feedback. it's something to do with the demi-god series

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B. W.
23:13 Sep 25, 2020

Kate ^^ could ya check out "Reunion? no thanks" and leave some feedback?

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B. W.
15:23 Sep 25, 2020

:D ya remember my Legend of Evie thing? i made a part 3 for it now. Go check out "Betrayed" and tell me what you think

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Kate Ulrich
16:07 Sep 25, 2020

OK!

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B. W.
16:08 Sep 25, 2020

:D

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The Cold Ice
05:08 Sep 25, 2020

I liked the story.Nice story.Wow!,This is so good.Great job keep it up.Keep writing.Well written. Would you mind to read my story “The dragon warrior part 2?”

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Kate Ulrich
13:38 Sep 25, 2020

Thank you for the kind words! :) Yes, I'll look at your story.

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B. W.
01:30 Sep 25, 2020

Gosh, i'm getting mad about something, are you there, i need someone to talk to.

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Kate Ulrich
13:37 Sep 25, 2020

What's up? Is it the downvoting situation again?

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B. W.
13:41 Sep 25, 2020

No, it's something different. I just wanna forget about the thing though so can we just talk? ya excited for the new prompts that come out soon? ^^ i hope theyre good

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Kate Ulrich
13:45 Sep 25, 2020

Okay. Yes, I'm excited! :) What are you thinking of writing?

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B. W.
13:51 Sep 25, 2020

hmm i dunno i have a lot of ideas though. Maybe something with Shifty and Aura or maybe a prequel type thing for one of my demi-god characters. Your doing part 4 to the crossover right?

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B. W.
13:57 Sep 25, 2020

The new prompts are out :D they're really good and i think i know which one ya could do to make the part 4 of the crossover

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Kate Ulrich
14:01 Sep 25, 2020

Which one??

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B. W.
00:41 Sep 25, 2020

ooo boy do you think the prompts tomorrow will be good?

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B. W.
21:12 Sep 24, 2020

i thought of a few things for the novel version of my demi-god series, ya wanna know? ^^

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B. W.
13:09 Sep 24, 2020

Oh boy, at the end of the story i honestly knew something like that would have happened. Not the exact type thing but i think ya know what i mean. This was really good like the other ones and i'm glad you were at least able to make a story with this weeks prompts. Since tomorrow the new prompts will be out then maybe those prompts will be better than these one's so we could continue the Demi-god crossover because you couldn't have done it. I don't think anything was wrong with this one tbh and ya know what? 10/10 :)

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Kate Ulrich
14:16 Sep 24, 2020

Thanks :) What did you mean by you knew something like that would have happened? You just knew there was going to be a twist?

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B. W.
14:24 Sep 24, 2020

no problem ^^ well i said that i thought they would both or one of them would die, and i guess i was sorta right with what happened to the old lady

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Kate Ulrich
17:24 Sep 24, 2020

Right, I forgot.

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B. W.
17:25 Sep 24, 2020

do ya plan on doing any other stand-alone stories like this?

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Kate Ulrich
18:05 Sep 24, 2020

I think so. But next week I'm going to work on the crossover! :)

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Kate Ulrich
22:13 Sep 29, 2020

Aw. If you need help, let me know...

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