Size / / /

I sighed and stared down my sights at the zombie.
How many more could I claim with my shotgun?
I played games, pretending each was some Buddha
making his way up the road to stalk
me and drag me to Nirvana.
I pulled my trigger. Another one fell.

I admit: in my youth I pulled the trigger for more fell
purposes than killing zombies.
Life on the South Side was no Nirvana.
I had only one friend, my shotgun,
but I held no anger. I stalked
and killed for money with the peace of a Buddha.

I should have had a statue: the Murdering Buddha.
They could have told my legend, how my supplicants fell
at my feet, their bodies shed like stalks
of corn in the field, as though they were zombies
and my freeing words a shotgun
sending them straight to Nirvana.

But there is no Nirvana.
He's a liar, that goddamn Buddha.
If I ever met him, I'd heft my shotgun
and deal him a fell
blow like any other zombie.
There is only Hell on earth, where the dead stalk

the streets by day and stalk
your sleep by night to drag you to their anti-Nirvana.
Then you join the zombies
and feast and gorge until you have a Buddha
belly. Your character long gone, it fell
by the wayside like a spent shell casing from a shotgun.

I pull a beer from my backpack and shotgun
it. It no longer matters who stalks
whom. Perhaps it's time I fell
for the lie, bought into Nirvana.
Maybe then the Buddha
would come and save me from the zombies.

My world has shrunk to zombies and a shotgun.
Perhaps I am the Buddha, and I stalk
Nirvana to begin the cycle of life again. They'll thank me, those who fell.




Look for the Conjure Man’s first novel The Patron Saint of Necromancers. Stefon Mears also has eight more novels to his credit, along with an MFA in Creative Writing and a BA in Religious Studies. Look for him online at www.stefonmears.com, @stefonmears on Twitter and Google+. Monthly newsletter at stefonmears.com/join.
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23 Jan 2023

Strange Horizons is looking to add a social media editor to our editorial collective. 
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