A Day Like Any Other by Craig J. Clark

Gary pulled up to his normal spot in front of the store. He was opening supervisor, so he could have the pick of any spot in the lot, but he always took one some distance from the door. “Because the good spots are for the paying customers,” he would tell any employee who parked closer than he did. Besides, a nice walk never hurt anybody.

As he got out of the car, he noticed he was not alone. Some early birds were stumbling around in front of the store. Strangely enough, none of them appeared to have driven there. Well, too bad for them, Gary thought, because they didn’t open for another hour.

“Hey, you know we open at ten, right?” he asked as he passed one of them. He didn’t see it turn and make a grab for him with a gnarled hand.

There were a few more of them congregated around the entrance. Gary had to brush past them to get to the front door. “Excuse me,” he hissed, key in hand. As he inserted it in the lock, he felt a hand on his shoulder. There was also a foul stench in the air, but he was used to customers with poor hygiene. He turned his head.

“We’ll be open in a little while,” he said. “First I have to--” That’s when he saw that these were no ordinary customers. They were, in fact, the walking dead.

“Holy crap!” he cried, quickly turning the key. He shook the hand off his shoulder just as one of them lunged at him. Gary swung his lunch bag, hitting it right in the face. The bag blew apart and the soup can and juice box he had in there went flying. This was enough of a distraction for him to get the door open, slip inside and lock the door behind him. It was made of glass, though, so he didn’t know how long it would withstand a zombie attack.

Gary unlocked the inner door, the one that set off the store’s alarm system, and went to the keypad to deactivate it. As soon as he did so, he realized what an idiot move that was. He hoped the phones still worked so he could call the police. There was just one thing he had to do before he checked, though. He had to clock in.

Living dead or no, Gary was going to get paid for his time.


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This, incidentally, is the start of what could possibly be a longer story. All I have to do is figure out where I want to go from here -- or whether this territory has already been adequately mined by films like Shaun of the Dead and the like.

Yeah, I love your stuff, but this just seems like Shaun of the Dead which is kind of the final word on realistic Zombie infestations.

I've not seen Shaun of the Dead or many other zombie movies, so I can't comment on apparent likenesses or originality, but I will offer this nugget: it's all point of view.

Without sounding too much like I'm some writing sage -- I'm certainly far from it, in fact -- it seems to me that great stories exist not in the plot or premise, but in the perspective of the author. Take the most mundane subject, the most cliche, retread story you can think of and inject your own original point of view on the subject and you've got something. Although not an author, David Lynch does this all the time. He takes some of the most basic story ideas and wraps them in an other-worldly cocoon of strange characters, bizarre settings and crazy events to make them seem new. Even if you're not Lynch fan, it's hard to ignore the man's ability to come at a story from a new angle. Could you imagine what a football movie done by David Lynch would look like?

Anyway, as usual, great stuff, Craig. The last line of your entry says everything in regards to the whole point-of-view thing I was mentioning. I actually think you could bring a fresh perspective to a nearly --ahem-- dead genre.

I'd like to see a longer exploration of this premise, actually. The last line is what makes me want to read more: the fact that the realities of work take precedence over any horror movie shenanigans. (I also love the fact that the protagonist's name is Gary. I was always using the name "Gary" in stories and plays because I found it funny. I think I can trace this back to an episode of "Taxi" in which Reverend Jim gets a racehorse named On Dancer and keeps it in his apartment. In a classic Reverend Jim moment, he says that "On Dancer" was the horse's slave name and re-names the animal Gary.)

I haven't seen "Sean of the Dead" and thus am not over-familiar with the "realistic zombie" genre. I'd love to read a story in which an army of the walking dead represented a customer-service problem at a retail store. Hey, a customer's a customer, right? They all have needs. These customers just happen to need brains.

If a zombie infestation happened in our workplace, the first question I'd get is: how do I charge this on my timesheet? And my answer would be something like: "If the attack lasts a half hour or more, charge it to departmental overhead with a note saying 'Zombie attack.' If we're able to subdue the zombies in less than half an hour, charge the time to whatever client's job you were working on before the dead rose from their graves to feast on the brains of the living."

The last line of your entry says everything in regards to the whole point-of-view thing I was mentioning.

Yeah, the last line of the story was pretty much the whole reason I wrote this. Because if I was attacked by zombies when I was opening my store, I would definitely clock in before doing anything else.

I might return to this after I've had some time to think about it. I'm thinking Gary will end up holing up at the store by himself, cursing himself for any of a number of things -- his decision to park far away from the door chief among them.

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