Hunter saw the so-called “Safe Zone” for what it was. The administrators had long stopped hiding the fact they were vampires, and the werewolves stalked among them. This was a pen for growing human cattle so the more powerful could feed. And Hunter was going to save them all. The zombies were manageable, though they were ruthless. But better to fend for oneself than to be fed off to these more sinister administrators. Hunter would help them see beyond their ignorance.
The people of the Safe Zone were gathered in the outdoor amphitheater, just after sunset, being addressed by Drek. Drek had on a long black cape, and occasionally would pick at his long sharp teeth between explaining the week’s upcoming activities, speaking loud enough to be heard over the drone of zombies moaning just beyond the walls.
“Tomorrow we’ll be playing Bingo. And Wednesday is Board Game night, where we’ll be playing games like the last copy of HEATED and a half-finished board of Monopoly,” Drek reported, reading off a page. “Thursday will be an activity day, keeping us in reasonable shape in these trying times…”
“I hate activity day,” Gerome mumbled next to Hunter. Hunter nodded to him, happy to see that others were tired of the reign of undead demons upon them. It gave him the valiance to speak up.
“What about Friday!? Is it feeding time?” Hunter challenged, standing on top of his chair.
“Oh, ummm,” Drek looked ahead in confusion, not usually interrupted during evening announcements. He flipped ahead in the pages a bit. “Looks like the watermelon is in good shape this season, so we’ll be having some slices made available this week. There is enough for everyone, but do let us know ahead of time if you aren’t a fan and we’ll try to supply a replacement.”
The audience murmured in appreciation. Watermelon was a rare treat in the Safe Zone.
“No!” Hunter looked around at the audience with open arms, imploring them to understand. “When do the vampires intend to feed? When will we all be consumed?”
The audience looked at him in a mix of confusion and horror.
“Consume us?” Gerome asked.
“How do you think the vampires live day to day? They have to drink blood pretty often!” Hunter explained.
The audience turned to Drek, who sighed, upset that it seemed his groove of delivering the announcements was completely broken.
“We don’t typically go over our feeding schedules,” Drek replied.
“Stop avoiding the question!” Hunter pointed. “Do you eat humans or not?”
Drek scratched the back of his head, packing his pages of announcements behind his back.
“Yeah, we eat humans—”
“Aha!!” Hunter bellowed, pointing even further, losing balance on his chair and wobbling.
“But we don’t eat anyone in the Safe Zone,” Drek continued, unperturbed.
Hunter deflated and fell entirely out of the chair.
“What? What do you eat?” Hunter asked from the floor.
“There are still plenty of humans living beyond the Safe Zone. We invite them here, but on the occasion they disagree, we wait until they are overrun by the zombies and take them before the zombies do,” Drek answered patiently.
“See!” Hunter jumped up and quickly pointed before he lost his ground again.
“Serves them right!” someone called from the audience.
“What?” Hunter asked.
“They shoulda joined the Safe Zone!”
“Whatever it takes to feed our great administrators!” Gerome called.
Hunter looked around the crowd, seeing how he lost the narrative so quickly.
“Oh yeah? Well, what if that was true then why are we trapped in here?” Hunter called. “What if we tried to escape, what would you do to me then?”
“Escape?” Drek quickly lost his cool as he suppressed a laugh. “You’re free to leave. You can be out within the next ten minutes. Just make a request and you’re out.”
“Make a request!” Hunter pointed out, standing atop his chair once more. “Why can’t I just leave? Why do you need to know the whereabouts and timing of my exit?”
“We need to open the doors. We treat it like an airlock so no Zombies can get in. But I didn’t realize you wanted to leave so badly, Hunter. We can organize this right away,” Drek offered amiably.
The audience turned to Hunter, awaiting his response. His eyes widened as the silence of the audience was quickly filled with the symphony of groans of the decaying creatures, desperately clawing at the powerful walls keeping them out.
“Well,” Hunter swallowed hard, trying to regain ground once more. “What about when you run out of people outside? How will you eat then?”
“We only have tentative plans right now, but we intend to have an opt-in program where people passing from terminal diseases and old age would donate their body in the moment before death,” Drek replied.
Hunter finally grinned, the analogy to cattle fitting perfectly now, but before he could point that out to the crowd, they quickly replied.
“I will donate my life!” one called.
“My body for the cause!” Gerome exploded, fist high in the sky.
“I won’t need the body anyway,” another claimed.
The audience began thundering applause, already accepting the plans that had not been solidified by the administrators. The applause turned to a standing ovation, during which Hunter slinked away from the crowd before he was asked once again if he wanted to be among the world of the zombies, when the inside was a lot cushier than he gave it credit for.