Mrs. Zinnia Sweet recounts a childhood encounter with a zombie.
On the day Ranna was bit, my mother was alone on the homestead. Father had gone to Cass City that morning for supplies, taking the team and wagon with him. My sister, Ranna, and I were playing wose in the bushes by the creek, she being the native ready to leap out and attack, me being the pioneer passing by. We didn’t see the drag signs. We didn’t see the undead, for he was an old one, held together by strings of his flesh. I don’t know why we didn’t smell him.
Ranna squatted down in the brush, and she must have heard something rustling. “What are you doing, Zee?” she called out. “You’re the overlander, not the—”
And then she screamed.
I didn’t know what to do. I just sat down on the spot, screaming too, as she scrambled out and ran to me.
Mother must have heard us, for she came running, skirts hiked high, and saw at once what was about. She took out the knife she always had on her and slashed the bitten place on Sister’s leg and sucked out the blood. Then she took care of the creeper with it.
“Come along, Zinnia,” she said, snatching up my arm. I didn’t realize until then I was still screaming up a mess. “You listen to me, and come along now.”
So she carried Sister home, and I ran after. She rustled up our little brother, and seeing as we had no horse, Father having taken the team, she took us all by foot to our nearest neighbor’s. She carried Ranna the whole way, not wanting to stir the deading poison through her blood any more than it already was.
Mother left Little Ed and me at our neighbor’s and borrowed a horse. With Ranna secure, she started riding for the nearest city with a doctor, the one Father had left for that morning. She rode until her horse tired, then stopped at the next homestead to suck another mouthful of poisoned blood and change to a fresh horse.
When she reached the doctor, Sister was in a bad way. They tried an amputation, and for a while, it seemed like it might work. But a week later, she . . . Sister’s soul had to be passed onto the East. They took her home and buried her on the homestead.
To this day, we all check every brush we come across, with our knives drawn, and we can’t look at a creek without thinking about . . .
Mother tried, she tried, but once bit, there is no cure. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. We almost lost Mother too because of her sucking at the poison, but she got better. She got better.
She’s still living on that homestead, though she’s alone now, Father having joined his daughter years back. She doesn’t want to leave Ranna alone, though her soul is in the East with the Great Mother. I visit Mother near on every day. My sister’s grave too.
Never had another sister.
Don’t try to suck out the poison. It doesn’t work. You’ll just get sick; might even die of a heartache. But she was a brave woman, my mother, doing her best to save my sister’s life. She did her best.
Author’s Note: This is part of Jodi Ralston’s Zombie West world. This series is not set in our world but is inspired by 1800s-early 1900s America, because she loves that time period. It has zombies because everything is better with zombies.
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