#unZombieTales Flash Fiction Fan Favorite Election
Say it five times fast!
Welcome to #unZombieTales fan favorite election, sponsored by BigFishGames.com!
One fan favorite will be crowned winner by popular vote and win GLORY, FAME, and RICHES! OK, maybe not so much, but at least you get to rub it in the Judge’s face that the crowd likes you bestest. Plus you get a PR-boosting spotlight interview on the ZombieMechanics blog plugging any project you like to thousands of fans.
Did I say thousands? *cough cough*
Enter your votes for your favorite tales as a comment below this post. You get to pick two tales as favs, and you can’t vote for your own tale. I’m shocked that I even have to mention that. Jeez, what a bunch of narcissists we writers are. In the interest of anonymity, all votes/comments will be held for moderation, so no one will see who you voted for until after the contest ends. Please include the #’s and twitter handles of the entries you’re voting for. Voting ends Monday, August 6th at 9pm CST. Results will be announced shortly after.
All entries are listed below in order of submission in this post. I apologize in advance if some of the formatting is off…let’s just call it quirky, and move one with our lives, shall we?
“They know we’re in here now.”
His voice sounded in her mind as if he had spoken aloud. Forgetting who she was, she opened her mouth to respond. A gut wrenching shriek filled the room.
“SHUT UP!” His hands, once gentle and caressing, now ripped at her flesh in anger.
“Stop it,” she thought. “Stop it; stop it; stop it…” Her mind repeated the words until they lost meaning. It was all she wanted – to stop it.
Her body moved away from him; moved on it’s own. It was ruled by forces she no longer understood. But her mind – her mind was still her own. She remembered it all. Everything was seared into her brain. A waking dream she could not shake. She watched in horror as her hand plunged into the chest of the dead body her lover had killed upon entering the room. She pulled out a lung. Her body ate. Her mind shivered. “What have we become,” he asked. Fresh blood sprayed across the floor. “Something wrong.” She prayed they would break in soon. She was losing her mind. And it was all she had left.
The body she was eating no longer resembled a human when they finally arrived. They rushed in, bats and axes raised only to kill. Gratefulness flashed in her lover’s eyes as one of them bashed in his skull. She felt her mind slip with the first blow to her own head. Finally, a way to stop it. Stop it all.
“They’re coming for you Barbara.”
Billy and Ashleigh Mortimer did not like it one little bit when their mother called a sitter for the evening.
They did everything possible to make the night as unpleasant as possible so that said sitter would decline a return visit.
They figured that eventually there would be no one left for their mother to call on and she would have to stay home with them.
At nine years old they were not beyond going to extremes on the practical joke front.
So this evening, when the sixty year old neighbour arrived, knitting tucked under one arm and a book in the other hand, they looked at each other and smiled.
This would be so easy. They would scare her shitless.
At ten thirty, bed time was announced, and without a word of complaint, they bid the old lady goodnight and climbed the stairs, stifling their giggles as they reached their rooms.
Half an hour later Billy called out for water and waited. He pulled the horrid rubber mask from the joke shop over his face and held his torch just below his chin.
Ashleigh did the same and waited behind the door.
As the door creaked inwards they both let out blood curdling screams and jumped up and down in the dark room. “They’re coming for you Barbara.” They yelled in unison.
The light flicked on and before them stood the most grotesque thing they had ever seen.
“Too late kids. They already came. And they’re hungry.”
She knew it was dangerous to be walking the streets at that hour, yet there she was. She had no dillusions that this wasn’t Zombie season and Zombie weather. One girl against the masses, she would gladly trade in her current society.
She wanted to make it about science, but she knew that she craved the power, the lack of responsibility for her actions, she just knew it would be fun. She would have friends and revenge.
She had asked her one friend in the world, Anne, to join her. Anne had declined saying “We may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn’t going to solve anything.” Repeatedly missing Anne would be the hardest part.
The smell was noxious. It was over before it began, she remembered thinking that nothing she had read warned or promised her of the speed of the hoard. That would be useful.
If only she survived.
The hordes of undead began to swarm around us. I looked over at my partner and he was beginning to struggle. He looked back and shouted “This was not expected.” We had gone out to look for supplies when we became overrun with the swarms of undead. “What were you expecting! This is no Sunday school picnic!”
I smashed another zombies head in as what appeared to be the large zombie overlord approached. He charged at us and as he drew near I slid underneath him and came up behind him. I swung my axe straight toward his head.
The axe make contact with a sickening clang. Wait zombies don’t go clang when you hit them!??! I then noticed a small zipper on the back of the zombie. This wasn’t a zombie at all. I pulled the zipper down to reveal a man. I yanked him out and all the zombies just froze where they were. I tied him up and he explained he was a scientist who created a robot army of zombies to try and take over the world. He looked at me and said “I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling zombie hunters!” The police arrived shortly later and took him off to jail. Me and my partner cleaned up all the robots and went back to our normal lives.
The lunch Mum had packed lay strewn across the floor. I suppose it might have been appealing at some stage, but the banana was now browning and not even the biscuits looked tasty. I watched an ant crawl across a biscuit and wondered what we were going to do now. My stomach gurgled.
The carers hadn’t lasted long. Zombie babies are pretty fast and we finished the adults off within minutes of turning. A feasting frenzy ensued – body to baby, there was plenty to go around. And yet, “This is no Sunday school picnic!” Ralph had declared, or would have if he could speak. I knew what he meant, but had any adults been present (and alive), they probably would have heard “Gomnigah!”
“We don’t have time to lie around gorging ourselves on the flesh of our captors,” Ralph had continued. “Without the adults how will we escape?” He had a point. Stiff limbs aside, there was no way any of us could reach the door handle.
Amelia, the brightest of our pre-school group attempted to build a ramp out of blocks. It was an unbridled failure. Lego just wasn’t built for the needs of post-apocalyptic babies.
Half an hour later, we were all still sitting and staring at the door, contemplating that insurmountable distance between toddler and door handle.
I took a bite out of my finger. It tasted ok, I suppose – better than brown banana.
A thick carrion stench wafted in off the balcony, ironic counterpoint to the posh tea service Barker arranged. Beyond the French doors, Rostovic calmly withstood Jefferson’s angry gesticulations as Barker surreptitiously listened to their heated discussion.
“They know we’re in here now,” Jefferson hissed, gesturing to the view.
Barker had seen the gathering horde of decayed, hungry flesh that surrounded the walls of Arkham Castle, two hundred bodies deep and deepening every hour.
“A simple self-limiting rabies mutation. It’ll run through the population within a single generation.” Rostovic returned to the sitting room, his face serene.
Jefferson followed, red eyes glowing and canines lengthening in anger. “We can’t drink … zombie blood!”
“The Clans will survive. The finest human blood is within these walls.”
Barker hurried to close the doors behind them, shutting out the perpetual moaning from below.
“Finest blood? Like this servant? He reeks of animal!” Jefferson snagged Barker’s collar and shook him.
“He’s just a shepherd, Jefferson. Would you care to do his job yourself?”
Jefferson eyed the manure-crusted shoes as he shoved Barker away. “Don’t be disgusting.”
Rostovic sipped crimson liquid through pale lips. “The plan is perfect. Like Noah, we’ll survive this “flood” that will purge our world of those blasted lycanthropes once and for all. No more mongrels!”
Barker retreated from the room. Enraged, he resisted Changing by sheer willpower. That Rostovic had loosed this just to kill the Pack was insane. That they were now stowaways on his proverbial ark was justice.
She really couldn’t stand the site of him anymore, but then the feeling was mutual. The thought of having to spend one more night under the same roof as him was making her sick, but since the outbreak they’d been confined together; she’d had no choice. No one did. She studied him while she filled her backpack with bottles of water and dried food; just sitting in his favourite chair, the awful fake leather lazy boy she hated. Since this all started he had made no attempt to be the man she thought she had married; he refused to accept the current situation and had left all the planning to her. She took a breath and almost gagged at the stench that had filled the air in the past few seconds. It was time. Looking out the window she saw them stumbling up the path towards the door. ‘Right, I’m ready’ she said ‘They know we’re here and that front door won’t hold them for long, you know leaving is the only answer’. He finally looked up at her, ‘Our best chance is to wait it out, going outside is suicide. We may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn’t going to solve anything’, he whispered as he followed her into the hall. She smiled, ‘I’ve no intention of dying with you. Don’t you get it? Your my decoy’, with that she unlatched the front door and made a dash for the back as they pushed their way in.
“This is no Sunday school picnic!” I shouted as we shuffled away as fast as we can. We could hear the sound of their voices getting closer.
They got to Jimmy first. I didn’t turn around to look but I knew they got him. I heard him screaming even after we were two blocks away. That gave us a bit more time to escape.
I felt Annie’s hand grasped mine. I turned to look at her and saw hopelessness in her eye.
“The safe house is not far. We’ll make it,” I assured her. She gave a nod.
That was when I realized I’ve spoken too soon. The doors of the houses on either side of us burst open and the humans stepped out. We turned around to run but the mob that was chasing us had blocked off our exit. We found ourselves surrounded.
The human nearest us broke off into a sprint. He grabbed Annie. I tried pulling her away but I felt hands grab me.
I watched as they injected Annie with the antidote. The green hue of her skin vanished. The empty socket in her face regenerated a new eye. Her moans turned into words. I watched as she slowly turned human.
The humans pinned me down and injected me with the antidote as well. I felt myself changing. I thrashed and I cried and I moaned but by the time I felt my heart starting to beat, I knew it was useless to fight.
My sister Rosie, preposterous, pompous, picky and unreasonable in life, is preposterous, pompous, picky and unreasonable after her death. She sits in a cage lined with pastel floral curtains in our living room, whilst others like her run amok, scooping out people’s brains in the streets outside. Despite the drama and the changes, she’s still very much her irritating self. I see it in her face, the disdain and the disgust at the fresh corpse I provide.
‘This is no Sunday school picnic!’ I shout, ‘Just fucking eat it!’
She primly sinks her pinkie finger into the ripped apart abdomen, pulls it out and tastes it. Her nose wrinkles, as usual. She holds out a string of intestine and looks at me, a flash of anger dances across her eyes.
‘No way, Rosie, I’m not cooking it.’
Honestly, if she had her way I’d be roasting it with vegetables and tarragon or whatever. She drops it to the floor and refuses to eat it.
She hits her hands on the bars of the cage. I sigh, and give in. I return with a plate, cutlery, and herbs. I toss them through the gaps, except the plate which I tentatively poke through. The little bitch almost bit me last time.
I roll my eyes at the ludicrous scene. She actually sprinkles parsley on the sinewy mess, takes a bite and dabs her bloody lips on a cotton napkin.
My sister Rosie, preposterous, pompous, picky and unreasonable.
Everybody understood that Ondrej never got over the day when, at the age of ten, he discovered his beloved grandfather hanging from a rafter in the barn.
When the boy began to claim that he saw his grandfather walking at night the claims surprised no one and were accepted for what they were.
His sisters made a game of it.
“Where is dedushka now?” they’d ask him in a tone that was teasing without being cruel.
Ondrej would answer them. By the barn. In the orchard.
“Has he come near the house?” asked his father.
“No, papa. He never comes close.”
“Ondrej, I know you loved your dedushka but you must never let him into the house.”
“The dead… they know we’re in here now.”
“He’s my dedushka!”
“No, he’s not. Not anymore.”
“You’re wrong, papa. He’ll always be my dedushka.”
Twelve years later Ondrej was traveling alone when he was attacked by brigands on a dark forest path. He fought but was no match for four armed men. They were about to run him through when they heard movement in the underbrush. Ondrej saw it first. “Dedushka!” It was true. What had once been Ondrej’s dedushka rushed out of the woods and tore the brigands apart. When it was over it turned its blood-spattered face to Ondrej and nodded before disappearing into the darkness. Ondrej prayed for his beloved grandfather’s soul and then continued down the road.
The Monster You Know
The last handful of humans in town, we were holed up in the attic of the Hog’s Breath Bar and hoping for salvation when the scraping of fingernails beneath us sealed our fate.
One of the men said to me, “They know we’re in here now. So either your boyfriend reveals his nature or we’re gonna become a zombie buffet.”
Avoiding my gaze, Nicolas said, “Remember the night we met, Elena? I told you there’d come a time when I’d need you to trust me. No questions asked. This is that moment. Go to the far corner, close your eyes and wait for me.”
Though not what I’d expected, I hurried to carry out his instructions.
The screams curdled my blood, but I stood still, even when the last shriek was cut painfully short. The ensuing silence ratcheted my terror and I wondered how long I was expected to remain here.
When the slow shuffling steps started across the room, every cell in my brain screamed ‘run’ but my obstinate feet remained planted and my eyes stayed screwed shut.
As the steps drew closer, a chill swept through me and the sick scent of carrion assaulted me. And then a hand grabbed my hair, wrenched my head back to expose my skull, and teeth sank into … my throat?
The moment his need was slaked, his mouth gentled, and I thought, ‘Funny how the monster you know is the last one you’d suspect.’
Zombie School ain’t what it used to be and I heard that applications are down this year. Kids nowadays just hang around street corners, doing their ‘Thriller’ routines and putting on a show in the evenings, busking in subway stations. And who can blame ‘em? They make enough money to keep ‘em going for months and maybe even triple at Halloween when they ‘Trick or Eat’ and don’t have to think about tuition fees or where the next meal is coming from. I blame the ‘Head’ too; he’s no role model, too busy with paperwork or chasing skirt. Anyway, it’s all about ‘vampires’ and ‘magic’ these days; not seen any hit Zombie films in a long time. Me, I’m happy hanging out at the undertakers. Coffins get prepared and relatives grieve the remains of their loved ones; I’m not greedy, I always save enough to keep the weight just right but it is hard to stop sometimes. The other night I nearly got busted; some smartass kid trying to knuckle in on my territory, well I showed him! ‘This is no Sunday school picnic!’ I moaned but he ignored me even when I said I’d have his ‘guts for garters’. And I did. Got that expression from some British film, don’t remember which now. Yeah, I know its cannibalism but I’ve always been a rebel and he needed to learn some respect for his elders. And I can tell you this much, they don’t teach that in school no more.
Doin’ Needful Things
Favoring speed over gentility, Jake rolled the body off the lowered tailgate of the truck, stepping back as it fell. The boy’s head struck the blacktop with a meaty thud that made Celia cry out.
“Jeez, Jake, ya gotta be so rough? T’ain’t as if he gonna run off.”
“Hells bells, woman, this is no Sunday school picnic! If’n this goes off like we planned, whether he got a con-cushun gonna be a real moot point come sundown.”
She looked away and whispered, “’Bout that, Jake….Ain’t there no other way? Once’t we ring this bell, ain’t no unringin’ it. Do we really wanna be the kinda folks survived this way?”
“Aww hell, Celia, ain’t the time nor the place fer debatin’. Ya know if’n his kin had holdta our Junie, they’d be doin’ the same blasted thing. What we doin’ here is what’s called ‘needful’ and ain’t no two ways ‘bout it.”
“Okay ya made yer point, dammit. Let’s jest git this done an’ back ta camp. I got me no more stomach fer this.”
Jake nodded and bent over the unmoving body. His Bowie traced deep furrows in the boy’s cheeks, blood welling up at once.
Stepping back, he pulled the radio from his belt, “Frank, this here’s Jake. The bait be out…the bait be out. Ya’ll best git set up afore them critters commence ta swarmin’.”
He and Celia drove slowly away as the makeshift attack force opened up on the undead abominations shambling out of the treeline.
Embry nestled further into her concave of damp earth, rotting leaves crusting off the surface like sad strips of old wallpaper.
First they’d eaten her mother, then her brother. They ate her neighbor, Mr. Sanders, and the boy who brought the newspaper. She didn’t mind that last so much – he’d kicked her shin once.
She’d run for three nights now, but could run no further. So she dug, through black earth oozing with worms and chill decay. She tried to keep her tunnel entrance tiny, packing the dirt in around her, bricking herself up into the darkest place.
“They know we’re in here now, Gus. “
A mahogany curl feathered over her cheek, a slash of red in the dimness. She pillowed her head against a knobby root.
Gus’ nose burrowed into her hand, his tongue giving sandpaper comfort but no warmth.
“I’m glad I’ve got you,” Embry said to the deer, charcoal eyes slitting to tiny half-crescents as they drooped.
Gus started following her on the second day, a silent shadow to her steps. The woods were empty; the birds and squirrels were the first to go.
As it darkened, the embers of her hair muted to faintly glowing ash.
Footsteps shuffled closer, thumping over her pitifully thin layer of dirt. In the world above, they were coming. She was too tired to care.
“Stay with me till the end, Gus?”
Everyone needs an imaginary friend at the end of the world.
It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut. Jake stood at the window armed with his air rifle. I crouched beneath the sill holding Scott close in one arm whilst struggling to cling on to Beth with the other. Scott released a piercing wail and I clamped my hand hard across his mouth. He began to cry and my own tears slipped down my cheeks wetting his head. “Well, that’s done it, they know we’re in here now…” Jake’s rifle hit the floor as he dropped beside me. “He’s only a baby…what did you expect!” I hissed. Beth squirmed out of my grip and crawled wildly across the floor. “Get back here sweetheart!” The moaning behind the window had reached an insistent whine and Jake didn’t dare move. We both stared at Beth standing alone pointing at the window. “Bethy…” began Jake, his voice an octave higher, “Chrissie, where did she get that cut on her arm…” My tears streamed faster. I couldn’t have left her there…outside, I couldn’t have done it. He’d let go when I’d pulled her hard enough. Beth growled and Jake let out a moan. Her pale skin was now insipid and blue veins stood out on her white gangrenous arms. Her sunken eyes gazed at us and spittle dribbled out of her loose mouth. “Chrissie…” Jake murmured, “Out the back door…save our family.” I ran with Scott and heard the shot that told me Bethy was no longer part of our family.
“There’s no such thing!” Jude spat as he crouched in the dusty corner, peering out of the wooden slats. “Quit whining before you give us all up.” “I’m telling you. He’ll be here” Damon continued, not in the least bit frightened of his predicament, like everyone else, not even whispering. “In fact, I bet if we were breathing our last breath, he’d show.” “Well you’re putting us all in danger so why don’t you put your theory to the test and give the rest of us a chance.” There was a unanimous murmur and Damon knew he had no choice but to venture outside where the undead roamed. . Damon was only outside for a few minutes before the smell of his flesh, the sound of his beating heart, the blood pumping through his veins attracted the attention of the undead. Out they came, moaning deeply as they dragged their decaying bodies towards the prize. Damon didn’t panic such was his belief and as he was surrounded, he sat quietly on the floor; trying to ignore the stench of the weeping rotting flesh as it reached out towards him. With a sudden crack, a dark stranger stood next to Damon; head to toe in black looking down at Damon who was now grinning wildly. He was right! “This is no Sunday school picnic. Get off your ass!” Damon obeyed the Zombie Slayer and watched as each zombie was decapitated swiftly by the new superhero in town. Zombie Slayer was real!
By Lisa McCourt Hollar
“They’re coming for you Barbara.”
“What the fuck George! What do you mean they’re coming for me?” Barbara Dunn glared at her husband, ignoring the rattling at the door to their cellar. “You’re flesh is just as edible as mine…more so apparently after the way Dorothy Tummel was going down on you the other night. What, you didn’t think I knew? That the wife is always the last to know? Well I knew George, I just didn’t care. Better she swallow your worthless dick than me.” Outside the moans got louder and the door buckled a little beneath the weight of the hungry creatures. Zombies! Who the fuck would have thought it?
“They know we’re in here now,” George said, backing away from the door.
“Great,” Barbara laughed, digging into the cupboards looking for a Twinkie. If it were good enough for that guy from Cheers, it was good enough for her.
“What the hell… Barbara, this is no Sunday school picnic!”
Deciding there weren’t any Twinkies, Barbara reached for a cupcake instead, un-wrapping the plastic and stuffing the chocolate goodness into her mouth.
“Dammit, Barbara, we may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn’t going to solve anything.”
“Oh but George, it does. It ends our miserable existence together.”
The door buckled and broke free of the frame. Grabbing a pool stick, George shoved it through the eye of the first zombie to reach him. Barbara continued to eat cupcakes, wondering if she would enjoy being a zombie.
“Run!” My scream rang through the woods. It would let my pursuers know there were more of us, but it couldn’t be helped. I yelled another warning, not breaking my stride. Thank God, we were faster. Stronger. “Go, go, go!”
My little pack of survivors obeyed without hesitation.
“How did they find us?” Helene fell into pace beside me, her arms and legs pumping.
“Michael got caught. They brought him down in seconds.”
“Damned fool,” Helene swore. “Can’t we take them?”
“Too many,” I said. “We need to find a place to hide.”
“The old warehouse on Lincoln?”
I nodded once. “They’ll follow, but at least we won’t be out in the open.” I shifted direction, knowing the others would follow. We used our speed to put some distance between us and Michael’s killers.
The main warehouse provided scant protection, so we holed up in the basement level.
“Block the door. We can at least keep them bottlenecked,” I said.
“Maybe they won’t find us,” Helene said.
The thud of footsteps and indistinct voices from above made us all tense.
“Just leave us be,” Helene whispered. “Please.”
We’d died, but only for a little while. I wished it’d been a more permanent sort of thing. Wished we weren’t so easy to spot. We couldn’t help the cravings, and nothing gave us away faster.
“They know we’re in here now. They won’t leave until we’re dead again.”
Something rammed against the door.
“Brains for dinner?”
Helene smiled. “Sounds delicious.”
Title: Brother’s Picnic
“This is no Sunday school picnic!” “Well I won’t be blessing anything, if that’s what you mean.” I rubbed my eyes to remove what seemed like black ink leaking from my pupils. “This can’t be happening.” Panic rose in her voice. “Would you have rather I let you be food for my brother?” The thought had crossed my mind to let him have her but then I had this nagging ache in my belly. It just proceeded to worsen as the seconds wore on. Phasing took a lot out of this body but I was gaining more control and becoming stronger. “Food…?” “Vyllerei’s food isn’t just eating. It’s overindulgence of anything and everything including your flesh.” I knew my brother wouldn’t be satisfied unless she had died while eating the body he was wearing. He’s done it before with the pretty ones. So beautiful he could eat them up and he wanted them to think he was just as beautiful. Part of me was angry that he had the option of discarding his body and finding another and another part of me was angry for the wrong reasons. It was sick to think I would be so upset if he had used Elsa that way. Something was wrong with me. “You’re eyes are black.” Elsa stepped forward and touched my cheek. I don’t feel like the demon I was months ago. “You’re safe.” I held her hand to my face then pulled her close. I won’t let him have her.
based on the characters of Wrath on Earth (my WIP)
She Could Do This
The minivan is a blur as it hurtles past the graffiti covered monoliths of Cadillac Ranch. If the driver noticed that old Route 66 landmark, its nostalgia was lost on her. Nostalgia has a whole new time-frame now; not decades or centuries, but days and weeks.
This is no Sunday school picnic! Freshly torn flesh on her leg ached, her head ached, everything ached, but she kept the gas pedal to the floor. She’d been bitten 20 miles back while siphoning gas. No matter. She’s almost to safety. She could do this.
Squinting ahead in the late afternoon sun, she made out the high fence, its rolled razor wire glinting in the day’s last light. A faded American flag was hanging impotently from a pole by the gate. Her foot never left the gas as the minivan ripped it from its hinges.
They came quickly, men in fatigues, weapons raised. She brought the vehicle to a dusty, lurching halt. Stepping from the minivan a final hazy thought repeated, “I can do this. I can do this…” Ignoring their shouted warnings, she limped toward them.
Later, they reported she’d smiled at them kindly as their bullets ripped through her. Her soulless body crumpled to the dirt, and they turned to the minivan behind her, its engine still idling. Inside, a toddler slept unharmed in his car seat.
She had done it.
© 2012 A Daddy Blog™
A PROMISE KEPT
I’d sworn to retrieve her if all Hell broke loose. Why did we have those conversations? They seemed so silly at the time.
Hell had arrived.
July 4th, 2014: Like fireworks, reports started slowly, growing to a HUGE big bang finale. An infection, that lead to death, then grotesque rebirth was spreading from the Southern Border of America. Zombies?
Mayhem following the catastrophic epidemic took communications down. I looked to the sky and said, “I’m coming for you, Barbara,” in hopes that the universe would deliver.
Memories of her gentle touch, sweet taste, warm heart, and intoxicating smell were the rose-colored glasses needed to push through the tsunami of death.
In my limited experience, I’ve learned to quietly sneak by while they were preoccupied. If they noticed me? I had to be quicker. If they caught me? I had to trust my bat for that.
I’ll never forget the first encounter. The sound of an exploding watermelon will remain in my memory forever.
As I passed a feeding frenzy thinking, “This is no Sunday school picnic!” my pocket buzzed. My Phone? A message? But HOW?? “Steve, it’s me. I’m scared. Please hurry! I love…” the line went dead. HER VOICE! She’s alive!!
My urgency grew. I forged on.
After days of nightmarish travel, I saw the house. It seemed peaceful, like nothing ominous could penetrate it.
As I rushed forward to embrace the form that was the object of my quest, there was only one thing left to do…
Will laughed as he twisted the top off another beer. Damn, it felt good to be able to just relax for an evening. Next to him, his friend didn’t look so complacent.
“Coop – I tell ya, if someone had told me we’d both be dads of twins, I’d have told them to stop smoking so much. You’re in for some fun times, bud.”
Coop smirked. “Yeah, I’ve heard. I’m glad you guys will be around to laugh at us when we’re in up to our eyeballs. I’m just sorry we weren’t able to be around for you last year. That job offer Abby had in Edinburgh was just too good to pass up.”
“No worries. We’ll help you. I mean, this is no Sunday school picnic, but you’ll survive.”
“Speaking of – you never told me how you guys survived the zombie outbreak last October. We couldn’t believe the news – our home town, besieged by zombies! Thank goodness it was contained quickly.”
“Uhh, zombie outbreak? I have no idea what you’re talking about. We didn’t see any zombies here.”
“No? It was all over the news. They would stop at each house, eating the brains of anyone there who wasn’t already a zombie.”
“We did have a bunch of salesmen stop by, now that you mention it, but they all just walked away…”
The sound of a sprinkler in the distance filled the air during quite a pregnant pause.
“Oh yeah.” Will laughed, deep and long. “You guys are screwed!”
Like an unreachable itch, they were scrabbling at the edge of my conscious, waiting to get in. Soft moans and hard nails echoed through my bones. The EMT, a pretty blond woman, hustled around the room. The leather straps anchored me into place, keeping me from my kin.
No! Not my kin! They’re monsters!
My ravaged forearm throbbed, my last sensation of life. Already the skin was starting to rot. Blood oozed out of the wound, with it my mortality. The scrabbling claws, seeking a way out of my brain and into my dying heart. They called out to me, my rotting family. My vision blurred and shifted as the EMT stuck a needle into my arm. Her scent was intoxicating, like a turkey dinner at Thanksgiving.
No! She is not a meal! She is a living human being!
My duality conflicted; I focused on the shiny nametag on her shirt.
I ignored the heady aroma of her flesh, and watched her pump fluids into my good arm, and cinch a tourniquet onto my other. There was no searing pain as she sawed off my infected arm.
The rotting legion found a weakness, and tinkling glass echoing in my skull. I felt the darkness overtake my mind, my heart, and my soul. They would come for me soon. I shook my head.
“I’m sorry.” I murmured.
Her head whipped around. “Why?”
I felt the thumping footsteps, the harbinger of her doom and my release.
“They’re coming for you, Barbara.”
Even the smoke of Mr. Blackbrier’s famous barbeque couldn’t overcome the rotting stench of the shuffling dead. Ridiculous gasps and groans emanated from the decaying mob, unable to properly handle lungfuls of air they no longer required.
Nathan usually loved being invited to Louise’s parents’ home because it was such a regal old estate with history and secrets to discover around every bend and over every hill. Up a tree serving as an island haven in a sea of undeath, Nathan privately wished he hadn’t accepted his friend’s invitation this time.
Louise emerged from the shambling crowd in her best Sunday dress carrying a cheeseburger hot from the grill.
“Aren’t you going to get any food?” Louise called up the tree. “You always complain there isn’t enough.”
“This is no Sunday school picnic!” The boy retorted, “I’m staying away from those zombies!”
“You’re being silly!” His friend rolled her hazel eyes, “It’s not like they bite!”
Instead of speaking, Nathan simply pointed to the putrid old woman snapping her jaws and trying to corner the sheep dog.
“Okay, well stay away from Grandma. Haven’t you ever been to a reunion before?”
Nathan shook his head, “My folks are laborers, and we don’t belong to the Cult.”
“Please come down,” Louise beckoned, “The dead aren’t really any different than the rest of us, they’re just further along the journey we all go through. You wouldn’t avoid someone for being old, would you?”
Nathan frowned, “How old?”
#25 (not eligible)
His baggy cardigan swiped the wet sink again. “Grandad!” I moaned. He swivelled his head around to look at me. “Sorry, petal?” A piece of his lip fell into the washing up.
“Oh here, let me do that,” I said as I tried to barge him out of the way. I found myself holding a corner of his face, which I kissed and tried to stick back. Our spit is very glutinous – you can usually get something to stick back with it.
“Sorry Ellie – were you doing something?” He wavers with the knife in his hand. I look at the body on the floor.
“Naaah – s’alright Gramps, I can wait. I was just going to make a cup of tea. You’re busy aren’t you?”
He smiles contendedly at himself … “Yes, bit busy, your Gran and I are working things out.”
I leave him to it – you can’t interefere in family matters.