THE KNIGHTS FROM OLDEN MEDIEVAL DAYS • by James Zahardis

Shadows danced in the light of smoldering fires. A sooty girl stood up from behind a heap of cinderblocks and tiptoed to a patch of dandelions growing amid the rubble. She skimmed the palm of one hand across the flowers; in the other she held a photograph:

miss Mommy and miss Daddy and miss Billy and miss the beach with the sand hot like barbeque coals and even miss mean kids laughed HA HA at Billy’s sandcastle teasing it looks like melted ice cream Mommy said oh ignore them but Billy always gets mad and wants to fight and Daddy said boys will be boys and

There was the clatter of teeth. The girl crouched; her eyes scanned the horizon. The bricks behind her began to topple. She started forward, but a hand reached out and grabbed her ankle. An infected woman squirmed, freeing her crushed body from the rubble. Her mouth snapped inches from the girl’s calf. The girl screamed and struggled, dropping the photograph.

There was a clip-clopping sound. A black horse leapt through the smoke. Its rider was a knight in dull and dented armor. He wielded a wooden lance affixed with a metallic blade, which he drove into the infected woman’s cadaverous mouth. The woman became still, releasing her grip from the girl’s ankle.

Another horse and knight vaulted forward. The knight pleaded, “Hurry. A horde’s comin’, Lancer — too many — ”

“ — I know, Jay — Christ, I know.”

Lancer dismounted and knelt down to pick up the girl. He passed her to Jay, who placed her in front of him on his steed.

Lancer espied the photograph. He smiled, looking at its depiction of a family posing by a lopsided sandcastle, and then placed it in the pommel bag on his horse’s saddle.

The knights rode forth, steering their horses through the wreckage. Infected men and women staggered toward the galloping horses, but were left in their wake.

The riders rounded a corner surrounded by firebombed shops. The girl recalled being at a similar corner days before:

the army will drop bombs Daddy said and Mommy said crying we got to leave the city we’ll be A-OK at Grandma’s and catch fish and grow veggies in the garden and hide in trees but we couldn’t drive no more cause sick people’s bloody bodies stopping traffic biting at cars and tires twisted twitching bodies biting at people running from cars always biting

why always biting

At an intersection leading to a causeway an undraped mannequin was sprawled out, its body covered with bite marks. The girl looked at the bricks and twisted metal that seemed to line a pathway. She looked forward — the sky was blue ahead — and there were spires bearing blustering golden-and-crimson flags.

A castle was on the horizon.

“Old-en Middy-Evil Days!” the girl exclaimed.

Mommy and Daddy surrounded and Daddy shouted RUN to the castle kids you’ll be safe disappearing under sick biting people STOP SCREAMING STOP SCREAMING Billy grabbed Daddy’s axe off ground Billy was so fast always so angry swinging Daddy’s axe like his baseball bat in Little League shouting RUN for the castle I’ll catch up I’ll hold them off RUN for the castle I was scared but ran could see castle not far

got chased got lost hide with fuzzy mice and creepy spiders all live together scared under big pile of rocks

At the castle, bowmen emerged from behind crenellations, waving in broad arcs. The castle was surrounded by a makeshift cinderblock wall, with murder holes that revealed the glitter of chain-mailed guards. There was a gap in the wall, just wide enough for a horse, blocked by a pickup truck. Someone shouted ‘Clear!’ and the pickup rolled forward. The riders trotted their steeds onto the green lining the front of the castle gate. Two boys ran over and took the reins of the horses. A young woman reached up toward the girl and helped her dismount.

Three guards stood by the gateway passage. They bumped fists with the knights, and opened the gate. Floodlights lit the passageway and from down the hall came the hum of generators. Midway down the passage was a room with a sign that read “RESERVATIONS ONLY” and Lancer, with the girl behind him, entered, as Jay continued down the hall.

A woman with punkish spiked hair sat at a table by an open window overlooking a courtyard. She was juggling tennis balls and (without dropping a ball) asked, “What up, Lance-man? Hey, brought back a friend — any others?”

Lancer removed his helmet and dreadlocks billowed out. “Just one this time, Abby.”

“What’s your name, dear?” Abby asked the girl.

“Sydney.”

“Cool, reminds me of Australia — shrimp on the bar-bee, mate — you know… Shoot, I’d always wanted to go there,” Abby replied.

Sydney pointed at a painting near the window and asked Lance, “Do you still joost like in the picture? We came here on my brother’s birthday and you joosted.”

Lancer smiled at Abby and turned to Sydney, “Sorry, no more jousts. We can’t be pretend knights anymore.”

Lancer looked out the window at a sturdily-built middle-aged woman thrusting a wooden sword at the duct-tape X in the middle of a punching bag.

“Hey, Myra, know where Phil’s new page is?”

“He’s probably with the other greenhorns knee-deep in shit in the stables, hon. Want me to go see?”

“Yeah, and bring him up if you find him. Thanks.”

A few minutes passed and Myra entered the room followed by a wiry preteen boy wearing chainmail over a boiled leather tunic. He handed Myra his axe as Sydney rushed towards him.

Outside, the snapping riposte of flags heralded the winds of evening.


The most recent stories of James Zahardis have appeared in Every Day Fiction, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Deimos eZine, 365 Tomorrows, and Thrills, Kills ‘n’ Chaos. James holds a PhD in Chemistry and enjoys writing fiction, fishing, and birdwatching in his spare time.


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 average 5 stars • 2 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Not generally a zombie fan, but you got me with this one. Nice work.

  • Not generally a zombie fan, but you got me with this one. Nice work.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    A group of survivors that have gone medieval. I like it.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    A group of survivors that have gone medieval. I like it.

  • Of the three stories written by Mr. Zahardis, here at EDF, this one is a downgrade from the fantastic’s of Basilisk, and the imaginative Kallikantzaroi. That said, Medieval Days is not without its own lure (not sure about Hip-Hop Abby, but a tourist playland attraction turned the real deal is a pretty cool tale. The family reunion just right.

  • Of the three stories written by Mr. Zahardis, here at EDF, this one is a downgrade from the fantastic’s of Basilisk, and the imaginative Kallikantzaroi. That said, Medieval Days is not without its own lure (not sure about Hip-Hop Abby, but a tourist playland attraction turned the real deal is a pretty cool tale. The family reunion just right.

  • S Conroy

    I’m a huge fan of Basilsk and Kallikantzaroi, but this one didn’t quite work for me. The language in the first paragraph sucked me in, but ultimately the hilarious zombies (Sorry, I can’t take them seriously. — That’s probably the root of my problem here.), the quirky modern medieval knights and the little girl’s sadness didn’t add up for me. 3 stars and would love to see more of your stories here in the future.

  • S Conroy

    I’m a huge fan of Basilsk and Kallikantzaroi, but this one didn’t quite work for me. The language in the first paragraph sucked me in, but ultimately the hilarious zombies (Sorry, I can’t take them seriously. — That’s probably the root of my problem here.), the quirky modern medieval knights and the little girl’s sadness didn’t add up for me. 3 stars and would love to see more of your stories here in the future.

  • MPmcgurty

    Zombie stories always please me. I crawled through the comments here and saw some ratings of Mr. Zahardis’ stories. I like this one less than The Basilisk but more than Kallikantzaroi. I had to read it a couple of times before enjoying it; I’m not a huge fan of the memory passages. It’s an intriguing idea and I can see it leading to a successful young adult series, but did I miss where the world doesn’t have guns? It appears that they had cars up until recently. I can tell you from watching The Walking Dead, they are going to need guns.

    • James Z

      Thanks for commenting on my story. In regards to the lack of guns: I was adhering to the idea that loud noises, like gunshots, would attract zombies. The survivors had ample bows and crossbows in the Medieval-themed attraction, plus training in how to use them, because they were performers, so the were the weapon of choice for projectile weapons. Of course, this is a flash–I am not discounting that they wouldn’t of gone out and secured some guns–maybe they had them and only used them as the last resort.

      I think this type of sensibility is evoked in many episodes of TWD, when they opt for knives, bludgeoning weapons, and Daryl’s cross-bow, over guns.

      • MPmcgurty

        Good point about TWD. They do use “silent” weaponry often, but we both know Darryl’s crossbow is by choice. 🙂 I think perhaps the whole medieval thing caught me off guard.

        • James Z

          I recall going to a Medieval-themed attraction in Florida and thinking, ‘Wow, this castle would actually be a pretty good defensive position in case of….’ (At the time, I believe I was thinking more about a Red Dawn type scenario, as opposed to WWZ.) And then I saw the impressive weapons display….

          In this work, one theme I was trying to convey was how people could transform from a simulacrum to the corresponding genuine article: theme-park knights into real knights; a hot-headed Little Leaguer into a boy who ‘swings away’ at the horde, allowing his sister escape.

          The mash-up? Probably a result, in part, of having re-read Le Morte d’Arthur while intermittently watching marathons of Netflixed TWD….

  • MPmcgurty

    Zombie stories always please me. I crawled through the comments here and saw some ratings of Mr. Zahardis’ stories. I like this one less than The Basilisk but more than Kallikantzaroi. I had to read it a couple of times before enjoying it; I’m not a huge fan of the memory passages. It’s an intriguing idea and I can see it leading to a successful young adult series, but did I miss where the world doesn’t have guns? It appears that they had cars up until recently. I can tell you from watching The Walking Dead, they are going to need guns.

    • James Z

      Thanks for commenting on my story. In regards to the lack of guns: I was adhering to the idea that loud noises, like gunshots, would attract zombies. The survivors had ample bows and crossbows in the Medieval-themed attraction, plus training in how to use them, because they were performers, so they were the weapon of choice for projectile weapons. Of course, this is a flash–I am not discounting that they wouldn’t of gone out and secured some guns–maybe they had them and only used them as the last resort.

      I think this type of sensibility is evoked in many episodes of TWD, when they opt for knives, bludgeoning weapons, and Daryl’s cross-bow, over guns.

      • MPmcgurty

        Good point about TWD. They do use “silent” weaponry often, but we both know Darryl’s crossbow is by choice. 🙂 I think perhaps the whole medieval thing caught me off guard.

        • James Z

          I recall going to a Medieval-themed attraction in Florida and thinking, ‘Wow, this castle would actually be a pretty good defensive position in case of….’ (At the time, I believe I was thinking more about a Red Dawn type scenario, as opposed to WWZ.) And then I saw the impressive weapons display….

          In this work, one theme I was trying to convey was how people could transform from a simulacrum to the corresponding genuine article: theme-park knights into real knights; a hot-headed Little Leaguer into a boy who ‘swings away’ at the horde, allowing his sister escape.

          The mash-up? Probably a result, in part, of having re-read Le Morte d’Arthur while intermittently watching marathons of Netflixed TWD….

  • This is good imaginative stuff. Zombies eh? They get everywhere don’t they.

  • This is good imaginative stuff. Zombies eh? They get everywhere don’t they.