Cora and Belinda sat on the hot concrete and swung their legs in the air below. Together they perched along the beveled edge of an elevated sidewalk. Its rusty steel legs gripped the street below and supported its beige carapace as it snaked through the city like a Brutalist millipede.
"I sure am thirsty," Cora said. It was hot. Very hot - summer in the city meant a vast battery of thermal storage in the cubes of civilization.
"The water's run out. The pumps have finally gone. The water pressure is as dead as the rest of the city," Belinda replied.
A loud crunch echoed up from the streets below. Neither Cora nor Belinda flinched. They were used to it by now.
When zombies happened to the city, Cora and Belinda were surprised that they caught on like a new fad. Cora had done mathematical calculations that indicated that the lack of a period of time when the carrier was both asymptomatic while also contagious meant that zombies would be a flash in the brainpan. But all of her spreadsheets had been nullified by a set of quirks.
One, the infection spread faster than Cora had predicted as waves of nerds hurled their feeble, ill-equipped bodies at the zombies in a heroic and moronic attempt to stem the infection. The fit nerds who got to the scene first were crushed between two opposing walls: one of movie critics tripping over the belts to their black trenchcoats and the other of zombies.
Two, shooting a zombie in the head did nothing but aerosolize highly-contagious grey matter.
Three, zombies continued to board and operate the city buses. In fact, after the first day, none of the zombies walked anywhere. They all rode buses.
The last one threw Cora and Belinda off the most, and proved to be the defining factor in the worldwide outbreak.
The army came to set up a perimeter, hours after several Greyhounds full of zombie tourists had hit the roadways and driven to New York City, Chicago, even down to Los Angeles.
The zombies, however capable of operating the buses that they were, could not master operating them safely. Although the zombies obeyed traffic laws - more concientiously than their living counterparts - their poor manual dexterity meant that every turn was an adventure.
"Well, we're going to die of thirst," Cora said. "I wondered how I would die." She watched between her sneakers as a bus hurtled down the street below. The bus slowed at the red light, waited patiently for the light to turn, and then merrily slammed into a telephone pole.
"Always something stupid and uncool," Belinda said.
Cora had an idea.
"Grab our beds," she said to Belinda.
"What do you need cardboard for?"
"Just do it," Cora said.
Belinda handed over the flat, wide sheets of cardboard that they slept on. Cora snagged a fat, stinky marker that she enjoyed huffing, took a whiff and then set to writing. Soon she held up a big sign.
"It may be dehydration delirium setting in, but I'll bet you a glass of water that this works well enough for us to hit the convenience store below us," she said.
She ran down the stairs. A bus was coming at her. She could see through the wide, rectangular windows that the zombies had gotten up from their seats and queued up near the door, anticipating a meal.
Then she brandished her sign at the driver. She'd never seen a zombie look sad before. The bus sailed by, full of disappointed faces.
"I'll be damned," Cora said. She went into the convenience store, grabbed water and tape, then exited. She taped the sign up to a lamp post. Just to prove a point to herself, she stood next to the sign while she drank the water. Bus after bus sailed past her.
Belinda climbed down the stairs.
"That's all it took? A sign that said 'NO UNLOADING OF PASSENGERS?'"
The Moral: zombies can queue