28 Minutes Later

I have a friend that we all call Q-Ball. We call him that because his last name is Quintoriano, and he shaves his head so he looks like a cue ball. So we call him

Q-Ball.

Anyway, Q-Ball and I are fans of horror movies, and during the summer at night, we’d stay up into the wee hours of the morning thinking up all sorts of creepy things that would be awesome to see in a movie. Of course we’d do this out in my backyard where it was all dark and creepy and full of things rustling in the bushes to make sudden noises, so more often than not we just spent the night freaking ourselves out.

At the time, I lived in Fresno. Now Fresno is a pretty large city (Second largest in the state, actually.), but the part of town we lived on was on the very far northern fringe of the city, so that we were on the bleeding edge of urban sprawl encroaching into agricultural areas. Take a two-minute drive, and you’d find yourself out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by foothills and trees, miles away from civilization with nary even a street lamp to illuminate your way.

One night we were going down one of these anonymous roads in Q-Ball’s dad’s truck, and we were doing our usual routine of fine-tuning our hypothetical horror movie that would never see the light of day. We were coming up with some pretty creepy stuff, as usual, but it was OK as long as the light from the headlights kept the creepy crawly darkness away.

So of course that’s the perfect time for the truck to die.

The truck was a pile of crap, so this sort of thing wasn’t that unusual. Sometimes it just needed to sit a bit before trying to start it again, sometimes you needed to pop the hood and tinker a bit. Unfortunately neither of us were very good with cars.

Fortunately though, we had our breakdown near a cow palace.

Now for those that are wondering, out in these isolated areas surrounding Fresno, there were a scattering of really huge mansions owned by cattle barons and the like. So we called them “cow palaces.”

This particular one was an imposing looking specimen, surrounded by a veritable forest of trees, so all you could see was the very top most parts of the house peeking out over a swath of darkness.

“C’mon,” said Q-Ball, “let’s go up there and see if we can use the phone.” (Neither of us had cell phones, and even then they wouldn’t work out in the middle of nowhere like that.)

“Dude, are you kidding me?” I said. “This place is swarming with zombies.”

He just stared at me for a moment.

“What?”

“C’mon, we’ve seen enough horror movies and played enough survival horror video games to know that this is how they always start. Suckers stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a spooky mansion that’s crawling with zombies.”

“Man, you’re smoking crack.”

“Oh yeah? Let’s pop open the camper shell of your dad’s truck and see what we’ve got.”

So he did, and rummaged through it. “Let’s see… We’ve got a shovel, a flashlight, some road flares, a gun with three rounds, some medical herbs, a few typewriter ribbons, and an eagle crest.”

“See? This is the perfect set up for a zombie attack.”

“God man, you are out of your gourd.”

“Oh yeah? Well then tell me what we’re going to use an eagle crest for if not to solve some sort of puzzle to unlock a door to the secret biochemical lab underneath the mansion?”

“You’re just being an idiot. Let’s just cut through the trees here and use their damned phone, there’s no such thing as zombies.”

“That’s what people always say before they’re eaten by zombies.”

“Oh get real and let’s get going.” A snapping branch resounded through the air, followed by dead silence… “On the second thought, grab the gun and I’ll take the shovel…”

So we picked our way through the forest towards the house, me with the gun and flashlight, him with the shovel. Except for the crunching of twigs and leaves underfoot, it was as silent as a tomb out there.

“Watch out for the zombies,” I muttered.

“Dude! There are no zombies!”

“Yes there are… We probably will have to get into the mansion itself before they come out though.”

“Have I mentioned you’re smoking to much crack lately?”

There was a snapping of a branch somewhere in the darkness.

“What was that?” Q-Ball said in a hoarse whisper.

I pointed the flashlight this way and that, trying to locate the source of the noise.

“I don’t hear any–” I didn’t get the rest of my sentence out because there was the sound another snapping branch in front of us.

“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!” yelped Q-Ball.

“AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” I yelled.

“BLAM!” went the gun.

“THUMP!” went whatever I shot.

“Holy hell,” I said, “I shot a zombie!”

“No, but you certainly shot SOMEthing…”

So we went to where we heard the noise, and gazed down at what turned out to be a freshly minted corpse. A corpse wearing a cape and cowl, a cowl with a smoldering hole between the eyes.

Oh god, I just shot and killed BATMAN…

“Dude…” said Q-Ball, “You just killed Batman!”

“Yeah, I see that,” I mumbled.

“What do we do now?”

“The only thing we can do.”

So yeah, we took the shovel and dug a shallow grave, then hauled Batcorpse into the hole, then started to cover it up. That’s when Q-Ball’s stomach started grumbling.

“Hey, when was the last time you ate?” I asked.

“What? I thought that was you?”

There was another groan. We wheeled around on the spot, and as we watched with the beam of the flashlight playing over the grave, we saw a gloved hand break through the earth, grasping towards us as though it were a hand from hell reaching for our souls.

My blood went cold… All we could do was stare as Batman started to emerge from the grave. He was about halfway out when Q-Ball snapped.

“HOLY SHIT! THERE ARE ZOMBIES!” he screamed, and swung the shovel with all his might at Batman’s head.

The blade of the shovel ricocheted off Batman’s head with a resounding “CLANG!* and Batman slumped over again, but started to stir a moment later.

Knowing that we could never truly destroy a zombie by hitting him in the head with a shovel, we both tore through the woods screaming at the top of our lungs. We reached the truck, threw everything inside, jumped in the cab and prayed to the voodoo gods to protect us from zombie Batman.

Lucky for us, the car sprung to life with a turn of the ignition, and we got out of there as fast as we could.

The next day, the whole thing seemed like some sort of terrible dream or something. Surely I hadn’t killed Batman the night before. Surely I hadn’t then buried said dead Batman. Surely he didn’t come back to life, and most surely he didn’t get cracked in the head with a shovel…

The more the day went on, the surer I was that it had all just been part of some sort of horrible dream. It wasn’t until I was going to bed that night that I saw Batman again.

He was lurking in my closet

He does that sometimes.

“Uh, Batman? Shouldn’t you be out fighting crime or something?” I put forward timidly, hoping he wasn’t here to kill me.

“Nah, tonight I’m just going to take the night off and go through your porn collection here in the closet.”

“Dude, not so loud…”

“Sorry. But yeah, I had a rough night last night, so I need to recover a bit.

“Really… What happened?”

“Well I was facing down an international drug cartel and fighting at least a dozen men, and one of them got lucky and got a shot off that I didn’t avoid. Thankfully my cowl is bullet proof, so it just gave me a mild concussion.”

“So… shooting you in the head wouldn’t kill you?”

“Nope.”

“And… you say you got hurt while fighting a dozen men with guns.”

“Yep.”

“Did any of them hit with you a shovel by any chance?”

His eyes narrowed… “Why, what have you heard?”

“Nothing! Nothing! G’night Batman.”

“G’night. Shut the door, would you?”

 

LEGENDS OF BATMAN!