Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen

 

The feeling of darkness enveloped Shannon in ways she’d never experienced. There were no words for what it felt like. Her mind felt alert; she felt alert, but the black was all that there was. She tried to reason why there was nothingness around her. She wanted to yell into the blackness to search for something. It’s Purgatory, she reasoned. A lifetime of good, over a decade of bringing justice wasted. It was her fear of the blanketing dark that filled her head with those thoughts. She wished she could claw that part of her soul out with a spoon then.

Shannon thought she had dispensed justice during her crusade. She had no doubts there, but was that moment, encased in an abysmal void, the right moment to use justice when pondering about current events. If she lived by the mantra of certain religious dogmas, and she didn’t, then her last living moments had damned her. She regretted her actions, and if called upon by some higher power would give an explanation. Anything more than that and God might come away disappointed. Shannon didn’t feel up to spending her last unpained moments of awareness dwelling on the past no matter how recent. She’d done the proverbial do, and she’d take the consequences.

She still had the feeling that the so-called cosmic scales might find her in deficient. She knew she’d done much good. She knew it. The lycans she’d killed had never felt like personal revenge. No. She had always taken revenge for the innocent. Taken it for those no longer able to speak for themselves. Hadn’t she? Or had she been kidding herself with self-righteous, pious bullshit in order to avenger her own turning? She’d always had that doubt, and had always pushed it away. In a moment of fear she began to worry about that Hell place that the majority of religions warned of.

“What should we do with her?” said a distant, ethereal voice.

“Why the hell are you asking me? You know how I feel about this. Send to her Hell,” answered a second.

The voices were distant, but familiar. To Shannon it sounded like Deidre and Kelsey. Now, Shannon knew she was screwed. If her eternal fate was sealed then there were none better than the two survivors of her rage and the undead infection.

“She’s a child of God. We can’t arbitrarily…

“Hell yeah we can. You saw what she did to the others.”             Just come to a decision already, she screamed into the dark. I don’t have eternity.

A small voice beside her said she did.

“You saw Dennis’ body. A gunshot did him, and you said yourself that her gun hadn’t been fired.”

“Yeah. I concede that she couldn’t have done Dennis. But Rose and Steve… Bitch did ‘em. Far as I’m concerned our friendly neighborhood stray is gone. All that remains is putting this meat sack, dog puppet down.” The Deidre voice sounded more disgusted. “I can’t believe you talked me into tying her up. Should’ve finish her is what I should do. Cut off her head and be done with it.”

“I’m not going to be a party to murder, Dee. I’ve got Rance to think of.”

“Our time at Lofty Morals Elementary School is over. We’ve graduated to Survival University.”             Shannon heard a gun’s hammer being pulled back. A crushing sensation in her chest jerked her consciousness from the blackness.

“Wait,” said Kelsey’s voice. “Look. She’s healing.”

“Shit fuck. Now I have to do it.”

Shannon couldn’t see or physically feel the pressure of a weapon’s barrel, but she could tell one was being pushed against her forehead. A sigh was heard before the pressure disappeared. “Oh fuck it all. All right. I want to know why she did it.” A pause. “It’s the lawyer in me, I guess.”

Something seemed to pull Shannon to the surface away from the black. She saw dim grey light at first, nothing more than a pinpoint at first, but then it grew in size and intensity. She reasoned that it must be similar to what deep sea exploration subs must see as they surface. Instead of relief though, she felt that whatever awaited her wasn’t related to any vast legions of angels.

Faster her consciousness was being pulled to the light. There was a sense of great speed, and if she had breath, it would have been caught in her throat. The speed was so fast that it felt a catastrophic collision was imminent. The light wrapped itself burst suddenly around her. She felt heatless light on her face. It was bright and she reflexively clamped her eyes shut against it.

“Open ‘em,” commanded Deidre. A fierce slap accompanied her order. “Come on, dog. Open your eyes.”             Shannon did and found the light shining in her eyes.

“You awake now?”

“She can’t see with that flashlight in her face. Take it off her,” urged Kelsey.             “Fine. She’d better be grateful she ain’t seeing another light filled with demons and all manners of gruesome shit.”

Deidre clicked the light off. As her vision cleared she saw she had been moved to the back of the kitchen. She went to rob her eyes, and discovered that her hands had been securely tied to a corner support beam. She doubted that she could change to get loose. She tried, but didn’t have the energy or will to do it. She scanned her surroundings. The kitchen was being kept dark and the shudders had been drawn to prevent light from escaping. The women, more likely Deidre, had thought of everything to keep from being detected by the undead or anyone living.

Deidre stood over her, holding the semi auto shotgun close to her right temple. Deidre was making it clear that she planned to make it messy in putting Shannon down.

Shannon’s eyes went to a mounted flashlight on the grip. She laughed at how she mistook a shotgun’s light for something bad. What it was attached too that was the main worry.

“See, she’s crazy. She wakes up and the first thing she does is laugh. I’m starting to feel that we should grease the rat fuck bitch right now.” The barrel grew slightly bigger inside Shannon’s vision. She looked down at her chest as she heard a dull, wet popping noise. Her body had finished healing. It had rejected the bullet Rance had put into her. Against her will a smile came across her face. Rance’s first shot ever had been a technical kill shot. Deidre had to have been proud. Shannon wasn’t. The kid had the makings of being a good werewolf killer. All he needed was silver to go with his will.

“Okay,” Deidre said calmly. “Now explain to me why I shouldn’t just kill you. I figure if this 12 gauge doesn’t do it then one of those silver jacketed rounds ought to do it. Now, why did you kill Rose and Steve?”

“Bloodlust,” answered Shannon. Her head hung against her chest and she focused on the floor. “I’ve heard of it affecting lycans, but I’ve never experienced it until now. It mostly comes at times of great emotional or mental stress. A few can call it up at will, but I’m not one of those. I never meant to kill anyone.”

“I can understand that.” Kelsey spoke up before Deidre. She clearly was more inclined to let Shannon live than put her down. “If she wanted us dead, she could’ve done it long before now.”

“Or maybe she was waiting for her perfect moment. Wolves do that you know. Believe it or not there’s a saying somewhere about sheep’s clothing.” Deidre sounded unconvinced about Kelsey’s observation.

Shannon sensed Deidre’s urgency to kill her laced with doubt. Whether Deidre wanted to feel doubt was immaterial if she spur-of-the-moment pulled the trigger.

“It doesn’t count for anything, but I am sorry. I’m going to get emo about it, but I am truly sorry.” Shannon’s eyes rose to Kelsey and then Deidre. No tears were present. Though she was remorseful she didn’t feel the need to weep.

“I’m betting you’re sorry that you didn’t succeed.” Uncertainty rang through Deidre’s voice even as her anger bubbled to the surface once more.

“This is Shannon we’re talking about here,” pleaded Kelsey. “I liked Rose, too, but dammit Dee, she wouldn’t… she couldn’t do this willingly.”

“I wasn’t in control, Deidre. I wish I could tell you what it was like, but all I can say is that it was awful.”

“Yeah, I bet.” Sarcasm soaked anger was a reaction that suited Deidre well. “I’m going to do her.” Deidre racked the shotgun again. An unspent round flew out of the chamber, hitting Shannon’s ruptured shoes.

“No, please, Deidre. There’s been enough killing.” Kelsey put her hand on the shotgun’s barrel. Deidre pushed her away.

“Just do it, Dee. You want to and it’ll get me out of this.”

Deidre lowered the muzzle slightly and thought it over. “Okay. We’ll let Rance decide. You’re his kill to begin with. Whatever he says, I’ll go with. Agreed?”

Deidre looked to Kelsey first, and then to Shannon. Kelsey nodded agreement. Shannon shrugged.

Deidre called to Rance. The freezer door slid open, and the boy emerged. He wore an adult parka that covered his entire body. With the freezer running full again, it seemed that the decision to dig in at the diner had been made. Rance ran over to Kelsey and anxiously hugged her leg.

“Rance, honey. Kelsey spoke in eerily calm tones as she stooped to look her son in the eye. “What should we do with Shannon? Should we let her go or do something else?”

Rance whispered so low into Kelsey’s ear that Shannon couldn’t even hear his soft murmuring.

“Rance, you need to say that out loud. I know you’re scared, but let everyone else hear what you just said.”

Shannon’s breath caught in her throat. Maybe she did care which way the axe swung. For the first time in her life she really was flying by the seat of her pants.

When Rance spoke he did so more like an adult than a child. “Don’t shoot her. Just let her go. She didn’t mean to hurt us. Did you, Shannon?”

It was her human side’s turn to act on its own. Before she could think on her own her mouth was moving. What I did, I did without forethought, Rance. I didn’t plan this or even give it consideration. I never wanted to hurt anyone in the diner.

“Great, fine, wonderful.” Deidre broke in, pissed at herself at having made the deal in the first place, much less that a child was making the judgment call on their safety. “All right. Fine. A deal’s a deal. You live for the time being.”

Shannon recoiled from the look in Deidre’s eyes and the tone in her voice. She’d never seen such animosity from a human in her life.

Kelsey urged Rance back into the freezer. The door slid silently shut and relief filled Shannon. Had her life really come down to the word of a child? It seemed ludicrous, but it had happened. Even moments later it felt like a fleeting dream.

Her thoughts went to the freezer refuge. Could the cold protect Rance’s scent from the undead? She could still smell him, but did the formerly living have olfactory senses that still worked. She hoped not.

Deidre stared at Shannon for a few moments. “Well? Start talking. I want to hear what caused it all. What the whole emotional or mental distress was that caused her to snap.” Deidre pulled up a chair and sat facing Shannon.

Shannon glanced at Deidre’s hands. She flicked the safety from fire to safe and back again. She resisted the urge to squirm as Deidre stared at her. Shannon wasn’t accustomed to being this type of nervous.

“I’m going to get some coffee,” Kelsey said, moving to a pot of brewing coffee. “I bet this is going to be another long night.”

Deidre kept her gaze and the shotgun focused on Shannon. At the counter, Kelsey kept glancing over her shoulder as she pulled down two mugs.

At that moment the aroma was exotic, and Shannon wished she could have a cup.             Deidre spoke like she had read Shannon’s mind. Shannon knew that it was her face that was easily read. “You can’t have any so stop thinking about it. The coffee’s for us normal people on watch tonight. Seems like we have three problems to watch for tonight.”

“Have we… you been attacked again? More dead guys walking?” The semi joke was empty and Shannon knew it.

Deidre wasn’t receptive to it anyway. “Thanks to you going on a spree and my shooting at your ass we had a few dozen of those things show up. No hairy’s like you, thank God, but we’ve had our share of deaders put in an appearance. It was too many to take on so we sat still and waited them out. Seems they have the attention span of a cat so thank God for small favors. They hung around for a couple of hours and then started moving off a few at a time. Been two or so hours since the last one left. I’ll let you have a laugh on guessing who that last one was.”

“Greg.” Shannon thought the answer was easy.

“Yep.” Deidre chuckled. It was uneasy, but real, sound. “Kel was right. Naked as the day he was born and missing his meat stick. Honestly, I don’t really want to know how that one played out.”

Shannon laughed nervously too. It would be another girl bonding moment if it weren’t for the shotgun pointing at her and the restraints. “Guess he got what he deserved.”

“I bet. Surely the undead girl or whatever didn’t bite off more than she could chew.”

Both laughed. It was a horrible, but funny joke.

“You two should be ashamed of yourselves.” Kelsey handed a steaming cup to Deidre.

Deidre placed the shotgun across her lap before taking the cup. Shannon relaxed. It was true; the muzzle was always huge when pointed at you.

The light fell upon a mouse creeping across the room. Kelsey and Deidre laughed at it, remarking that it didn’t take long for the rodents of the world to find a way in. The double meaning then fell upon them, and they stopped laugh almost simultaneously. They knew that women, even well-armed and determined women, were in more danger now than ever before.

Deidre drained half her mug before speaking again. “Now back to the strain that made you snap.” Her voice was even. It was the voice of both judge and executioner. Deidre had no more use for juries. In the new shit smear of God’s world juries took too much precious time in deciding anything.

Shannon told the story of the father and mother she and Helfron had encountered, and of the deaths that occurred. The tale of the children’s lack of motivation to eat the parents was enlightening and disturbing. Deidre and Kelsey didn’t know how to react to the parents delivering the children’s second death. Both understood the reasoning, and neither envied the toughest of decisions.

Once Shannon’s story was finished, the thirst for revenge for the killings returned, but was tempered with compassion for Shannon’s ordeal. Deidre tried convincing herself that she would’ve reacted differently. The thought was always followed by a mental reminder that she didn’t have a lycanthropic virus running through her system.

In the meantime Kelsey did what Kelsey was prone to do; she cried. Deidre and Shannon would’ve joined her if they hadn’t experienced too much personal pain. Both wanted to, but couldn’t. “I’m sorry, at least Steven and Rose don’t have to worry about this anymore,” said Kelsey in between blowing her nose.

“Maybe so,” grumbled Deidre. She rose and paced began pacing back and forth. “This still leaves us two gun hands short, and I cry more about that than their deaths. We’re also short four people to trust. As it stands now, it’s just us, Kelsey. And before you say anything, I’m counting Shannon here among the dead. It’s in doubt whether we can trust her or not.”

“But Rance said…” Kelsey was sure once again that Shannon’s death was inevitable.

“I know what he said, and I’m going with it. I never promised that she would travel with us.” Deidre sighed and sat down again. She let the shotgun rest between her legs. She weighed the pros against the cons of having Shannon accompany them on their imminent survival trek. Killing Shannon was still an option, but no longer the only option.

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen

 

The parking lot was nearly empty. Only three vehicles sat against the curb. Helfron peered into each one, checking the level of fuel. Only one had a non-electronic tank and it read only less than a quarter full.

Shannon kept watch. The day was growing hotter fraying her already stretched nerves. This is what it feels like to be exposed, she thought. Mentally she chided Helfron for his task. It may have been needed, but her concern was the guests. Any people still alive might not approve of anyone, cops included, of looking through their car. If wasn’t even a certainty that any survivors would want to join their little group

“Come on, Dennis. Shit. You’re taking all day.”

“Almost done,” he said, opening the rear hatch to the last vehicle, an older Jeep Grand Cherokee. He shut the hatch carefully, bumping it with a hip to latch it fully. “Nothing worth squat in any of these. If the owners are dead or… whatever,” he paused, taking precious moments Shannon felt like they didn’t have in thinking how to phrase his words. “If they’re dead,” he said finally. “We can use the gas or the vehicles themselves to get the hell out of here.” He jogged to Shannon, looking over his shoulder.

“Not thinking this’ll blow over any more?”

“The way I see it, we need to start thinking like this is it; the end of civilization. Time to start thinking about minute to minute survival. Let’s start the sweep, room by room.”

Shannon didn’t feel the need to respond. He was right. What she worried most of all was that if lycans she normally hunted were operating in the light of day then the end was certainly more permanent than transitory.

The first five rooms were empty, three of which had been abandoned in such a hurry as the occupants had left the doors standing open. The sixth was where they found the scattered luggage for a family. A handmade blue and white-checkered bear lay on a bed next to a stuffed Scooby Doo holding an equally stuffed box of Scooby Snacks. It was logical to assume that the animals belonged to the zombie children Deidre had seen earlier.

Shannon didn’t know whether she should feel relieved by the small amount of blood in the room.

“Looks like these people bugged out pretty quick,” said Shannon.

“Got smart; took the kids and hit the road.”

“Not according to Deidre.” Shannon told a condensed version of Deidre’s story. Helfron wasn’t surprised to hear about Greg. He laughed at that, but he found the kids interesting; more so with the lack of accompanying zed-head parents. She finished holding the stuffed bear, wondering what the children had been like.

“Nothing we can do here,” Helfron said, tossing an empty 9mm ammunition box aside. Under the tossed blankets on the other bed was an empty box for .45 ACP ammo. “One of them liked your caliber,” he muttered, turning to the door.

Shannon heard Helfron’s breath catch and she spun around. A wild-eyed man stood in the doorway, pointing his own M1911A1 at them. “Put the bear down,” he said, teeth gritted. “Now! And then back away, weapons on the ground, and hands up. I’m being nice just by not shooting you both.”             Helfron stood his ground even as Shannon told him to do as he was told. She placed her pistol on the floor and backed up. She could see the man’s unblinking eyes and his finger start to squeeze the trigger. It was clear the guy had the will, the training, and maybe even the experience.

“Do what he says, Dennis. He’s not screwing around.”

Shannon urged the man not to shoot, and ordered Helfron to do what he’d been told. The man’s finger squeezed a bit more. She could hear the pistol’s sear move. He was about to put the last few ounces on the trigger to fire.

Helfron finally did as he was told. Shannon didn’t know if she should be relieved or more worried. Under the right circumstances she could heal quickly from a gunshot wound while Helfron would just be dead. She didn’t think the man would execute them both, but it was hard to tell with people’s state of mind in the current world.

Shannon could smell the man’s determination mixed with fear. Lingering close by was the scent of a woman in the worst kind of pain.

“Take it easy, okay?” She hoped to get the man to relax his trigger finger. He’d eased up some, but not much. He was in his mid thirties and kept his hair cropped at the scalp. She was sure that if he had hair it would be standing on end. “No one wants to hurt you. Are you lost? Maybe looking for somewhere to go?” Shannon realized that the man was concentrating on Helfron, but on her. Instinct or training, the man knew the real threat was Shannon. Or maybe the bear meant the world to him. He kept his pistol focused one her, even after she laid it back on the bed like a priceless, fragile heirloom.

“What are you doing here?” asked Helfron.

The man, presumably the father, walked in, keeping distance between him and Helfron. He gripped his 1911 with practiced hands. Though he was afraid, his hands did not shake.

“I asked you a question.” Helfron sounded annoyed.

The man adjusted his aim to Helfron. “Normally I’d answer a cop, but there’s no government anywhere so piss on you.” He aimed the pistol at Shannon. “You, move away from the bed. I haven’t killed either of you yet because you haven’t done anything stupid. Don’t change that.”

“Buddy, if you point that gun at me again…” Helfron took a half step toward the man.

“Yeah, you’ll make me sorry. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not worried about that shit anymore.” The man moved closer to the bed once Shannon complied. Shannon briefly looked into his eyes. They were red and puffy.

“All I want is Checkers, the Scooby, and the Pooh Bear my kids left behind. That’s all, nothing more. I don’t care what you do after that. I just want those stuffed animals.”

“The kids, two girls between five and eight, and a boy around eleven or twelve, are they yours?” Shannon’s mind was clearer than Helfron’s. All Helfron saw was a gun being pointed at him. Shannon saw a man in pain that had just caught two looters in his room.

“They were. They’re dead now.”

The father collected the two toys and moved through the blankets looking for the stuffed yellow bear. Helfron made a move to the father to take him down, but the father’s foot became caught in a blanket and he fell. Helfron’s chance at being macho evaporated.

The father fell onto his back and fired. Helfron’s chest took two rounds in the chest. His bulletproof vest stopped them, but not the third follow-up shot to the face. The father had fallen into the perfect position to kill Helfron.

Shannon lunged toward the father, but her forehead met the steel slide of his weapon. The blow sent her reeling to the foot of the bed. Shannon cursed her stupidity at being taken by a human as the father placed the hot muzzle of his .45 against her left temple.

He climbed on top of her, but there was nothing sexual about his intentions. His left arm hugged the two found stuffed animals close to his chest. “All I wanted was the animals. Damned if I wasn’t right when I said people were stupid. Do you want to die, too?” His eyes were cold and his teeth clenched. He pressed the muzzle harder into her forehead.

“You’re going to kill me too, aren’t you?” The sizzle of hot metal against her warm flesh stood out against the pulse pounding in her ears. Her future was unsure and Shannon saw no harm in asking a simple question, even if it was her last and a very stupid one.

“No. No, I’m not that far gone. You just tried to help your friend even if you might be looters. I don’t care either way, but I’m not going to kill you. I should though. I can’t begin to tell you how easy it is to kill someone once you’ve killed your own children.”

His statement caught Shannon off guard. She didn’t know how to react to what he’d said. “You killed your kids? Are you out of your fucking mind?” Her voice rose and she fought to keep an uncontrolled change from occurring.

“They were undead, but yeah, I killed them. They didn’t come after us once they turned but…” His eyes finally blinked to hold back tears. “They killed two other people. Ate them like wild fucking animals. I couldn’t let them do it again. Somebody had to do something and it might as well be a parent, right?” A tear rolled down his left cheek. “I’m going to get the Pooh Bear, and then I’m going to leave, all right? And you, you’re not going to do anything stupid, right? I’m not going to have to kill you, too, am I?”

Fear coursed through Shannon for the umpteenth time in the past twenty-four hours. The father couldn’t have known that she was a werewolf, but like humans a head shot, even with regular ammo, would put a lycan down for good. And she had no doubt that he would do it. He showed that killing somebody, even a cop, had been very easy for him. Finally she forced words from her mouth. The air that came with them was dry and it seemed as if the desert had taken refuge in her throat. “Yes,” she said, trembling. “You’ll get no trouble from me. Take them and go. I’m just going to stay here a while.”

“Thanks,” the father said, rising from her chest. He located the missing stuffed bear and left without saying anything further. He ran through the doorway, clutching the toys tightly to his chest, pistol still in hand, but held at his side.

Shannon didn’t move for almost a minute. Then she stood, and walked to the door. She was surprised to see the father and a redheaded woman sitting together in a minivan. The mother held the toys to her face as the he held her. The woman’s body shook with her sobbing. The father was crying with her.

She watched the parents, saddened for their loss, and for her own. She swallowed a sudden lump in her throat, and realized that she too was crying. The father looked up at her, and then the mother. The father nodded to Shannon, put the vehicle into gear, and left. Shannon simultaneously wished them luck while cursing the father for killing Helfron.

Her tears did nothing to vent the anger, and her complete of helplessness. With a rage filled howl she let the change take her over. At the last minute she unbuckled her gun belt. Her already ruined waitress uniform barely held on thanks to a few strained stitches.

Shannon went about destroying the room in a fit of lycanthropic rage. A nightstand, followed by the television shattered against a wall. Great holes, made by furniture and her fists, were made in the drywall. She utilized strength she normally never used. The sink fixed to a wall alcove gave with no resistance as she wrenched it free. She launched it through a window. It landed through the windshield of an abandoned Chevy Chevette. The impact pushed the car back three feet as it landed in the back seat.

Her rage went unabated until she lifted Helfron’s cold body to her face. She stared at his listless head, and then at the blood trickle congealing from the entry wound around the now nonexistent left eye. Though he was dead she still felt his presence, and she began to yearn for his company. She loathed the feeling. This was why she tried her damnedest not to make attachments and broke any she made quickly before moving on.

A startled gasp echoed from the door. Still clutching Helfron’s body she turned to see Rose and Greene. She almost flew back into her rage. Again someone had been able to get physically close to her. Instead she started staring at their horrified faces with a snarl etched on hers. Greene recovered faster than Rose.

“What the fuck did you do?” he said in a low voice, pulling his weapon free of its holster. “What did you do, Shannon?” He yelled it that time. Fear, anger, confusion, and shock energized him into facing her.

“I did nothing,” Shannon said in muted defiance. “I didn’t kill him.” She looked closely at Greene’s hands. His finger started squeezing the trigger. She hadn’t had to dodge a bullet in several years. She felt that she could do it again.

“What did you do to him?” said Greene. He was starting to annoy Shannon.

Rose remained silent behind the hands clasped to her mouth. She stood her ground as Greene inched into the room, pistol aimed at Shannon’s head. Shannon knew her chances of dodging at least four of his shots were excellent, but she knew he’d dumpt the entire fifteen at her. If he got too close she would try to disarm him, and hopefully she wouldn’t kill him. Still her mind formed killing plans on its own. She could easily kill him along with the old lady that had taken her in. All that mattered now was her annoyance with them was growing, and with it the dark red pall of the killing lust.

“I didn’t kill him,” growled Shannon, mind still forming its plans. No, she screamed to herself, fighting against it. “Keep back, both of you. And you, Greene. If you keep pointing that at me I swear to God I’ll fucking kill you.” The bloodlust was reaching a critical point. The smell of blood and released bodily functions acted like an invigorating aphrodisiac. The stink of spill blood and loosed bowels and bladder made her conscious head spin. Never before had she threatened an innocent. Doing so was a mixture of delicious release and despicable revulsion.

“You’re a fucking dog,” yelled Greene. “Nothing but a fucking rabid mutt!” He repeatedly jerked the trigger. He had fifteen rounds, and out of the ten fired, none but one made contact.

Rose screamed with hands held to her ears as Shannon jinked left, right, and low in a flurry of moves that were hard to follow.

A hot round creased her left temple. The shot was mostly near good luck on Greene’s part, and dumb luck on Shannon’s. She ignored the sting and closed with Greene. She witnessed everything, but was helpless to stop her actions. Instinct was in control now, and Greene and Rose were totally fucked.

Without any thought Shannon knocked Greene’s gun out of his hand and grabbed him by the throat. At her tallest in lycan form she could easily hold a six and a half foot tall human nearly two feet off the floor. She was well over seven feet tall, and raising the startled trooper off his feet was painfully easy. Without effort she whipped him back first into the ceiling. Shattered ceiling tiles and aluminum bracing fell to the floor. She did this five more times, destroying a new section each time. She released him in mid throw on the sixth time.

She stepped away, watching him fall face first to the ground. The thump Greene made from landing gratified her seething hatred.

“Filthy meat!” Shannon cried, kicking him into the mirror that hung over the bathroom sink’s empty cavity. “I should fucking kill all of you! Free you from your useless, pitiful lives and this horror movie you think you’re in!” She leaped to his body, lifted him to her face, and sniffed him for any signs of life. He had none. Shannon relished the feeling of her dead prey even though her trapped humanity begged for her to stop.

Rose tried to run, but she didn’t get far. Shannon jumped on her back, breaking it in several places. “You’ll never survive this mess any way! You’re just too goddamned old!” Shannon howled angrily as she bent Rose backwards and then snapped her neck. The sound and feeling the shattering bones made was satisfying. Shannon grasped Rose’s neck. Her fingertips met and she smiled as the older woman’s heart beat slowed, and then stopped.

Shannon was standing back up when a locomotive slammed into her neck. Three inches up and Shannon might not have had to contend with the vengeful pain accompanying the hit. The impact sent her flailing back into the demolished hotel room. Hissing noises filled the air as two more burning sensations lit up her lower abdomen and her left thigh. Shannon remembered someone saying that a hiss means a shot is close while a snap means a shot is farther off. Someone was shooting at her, and coming danger close to ending Shannon’s life. Would it be so bad if it did, she pondered as the pain announced itself to her nervous system.

“Should’ve known,” screamed Deidre from the parking lot of the diner. She was over eighty feet from Shannon and armed with a US military M16A3 with scope.

Shannon peeked over the Rose’s body and saw the woman she dared to call friend, advancing on her with a purpose. Shannon didn’t waste much time in counting her lucky stars that she hadn’t been killed. Deidre was pissed and that counted for sloppy marksmanship that wouldn’t last.

She fought through her new found panic, fear, and pain as she launched herself off the pavement, grabbing the railing to the second floor above and swinging herself up.

5.56mm rounds hit the base of the concrete walkway as. Shannon burst through a door not caring if the room was empty or not.

Relief filled Shannon as she scanned the room for trouble. It was empty, and she was grateful for that. She low crawled to the door and slammed it shut, ashamed at her cowering position. “I’m a fucking werewolf,” she snarled aloud. “I shouldn’t be hiding. I should be hunting.” She shook her head at the thought that she sounded like a James Bond villain from the sixties.

She took a deep breath and then examined her wounds. The wounds were healing, but they hurt like that son of a bitch Greg always referred to when he got stupid with a knife. The neck wound had stopped bleeding thanks to the hair around it, and blood dribbled from her stomach and leg wounds. The thigh wound wasn’t that bad. It was a deep graze and had nothing on the stomach wound. She tried not to look at that one. The wound sucked itself in and out in slight pulses as her body pushed the foreign object to the surface. It would be another twenty or thirty minutes before she was healed, and time wasn’t someone she was on good terms with at that moment.

Deidre was coming. She was coming, and checking her weapon’s ammo as she ran up the stairs. Shannon could hear Deidre’s approaching footsteps, and smell her sweat and anger even through the death that surrounded them. She was simultaneously proud and pissed off at Deidre’s determination. Deidre was the type that engaged a target until it was dead. Running was never a first resort in her life and Shannon knew that. She knew she had a minute, maybe less, before Deidre found her.

Shannon looked around the room, kicking herself mentally for letting herself get boxed in. That had been the human overruling the lycan in a bad way. A wolf of any stripe would never have made such a stupid move. It was a given that Deidre had time and extra magazines on her side. Deidre also had multiple fall back points if things became too much while Shannon’s exit strategy was limited to breaking down a wall, which would leave her back exposed, or trying to go through a pissed human female with a fully automatic weapon. Like it or Shannon had a fight only situation.

Shannon could hear Deidre moving down the open air concrete and steel pathway, kicking in doors one at a time. Each crash/boom of the doors flying open had a different timing to it as the noise came closer. She listened and breathed in the rank fear and rage that Deidre now cloaked herself in.

Deidre’s odors brought Shannon back fully to the reality of her actions. Remorse would only go so far in getting past what she’d done. The situation made her face that fact that she’d have to do something to Deidre, and not about her.

Deidre was at the last room before Shannon’s refuge. Shannon winced in pain as she crouched on the other side of the broken, hinged barrier. She heard Deidre pause. She’s looking the frame over, thought Shannon. Deidre knew she had Shannon; she just had to devise a quick and decisive plan to engage the rogue lycan.

Shannon didn’t give her that chance. She burst through the door and leapt over the railing before sprinting on all fours toward the diner. Deidre hadn’t been on the other side of the door. She’d moved to the adjoining room, intent on ambushing Shannon through a false-walled side door that joined the two rooms. Shannon had forgotten about the doors that joined a few rooms together on that floor. Was it luck or God that had made her move before Deidre could catch her? Shannon didn’t know either way. She muttered a prayer of thanks anyway, wondering why God would even spare her after what she’d done.

Deidre appeared through the door Shannon had fled through. She fired at Shannon, using the scope this time. A round hit Shannon in her right calf. She dove through the diner’s doors shattering one of them. Tears of pain filled her eyes and shards of glass glistened brightly on her coat.

More shots greeted her as she slid across the checkered floor. Kelsey was behind the cook’s window, firing wildly. She looked scared; her aim was wilder than her eyes. Rance was crying, begging for his mother to stop.

Shannon heard the clack of a semiautomatic pistol slide locking back. She was confident that Kelsey was out of ammo, and didn’t know how to reload. Shannon stood, panting heavily and the wont to kill rose in her once more. Her lupine jowls parted in a sneer of hatred hunger, and bloodlust. She watched the single mother try to fit a new magazine into the 9mm Beretta she held.

“Learn how to shoot and reload that thing before using it, bitch!” Shannon’s conscious mind screamed for her wolf ego to stop. She couldn’t. She charged at Kelsey, unheeding the wound in her leg. Her leap over the counter was clumsy and poorly thought out. She failed to clear the obstacle, and her left shin hit the steel counter edge facing her. She slid over the counter and landed forcefully onto the floor. It gave Kelsey and Rance a short reprieve from the Shannon’s promise of pain.

Pushing herself up, Shannon got a glimpse of the bullet peeking out from the calf wound. The body was healing as it should, but Shannon didn’t know how much more of the pain she could take. Her calf screeched in protest as she flipped over to examine the wound more closely. Her body worked at the projectile, and blood seeped from jagged hole. It was the stomach wound that gave her the most trouble. She’d never been gut shot before. She’d been told that it sucked, but this was totally unexpected. She was still bleeding profusely from that hit.

Shannon breathed in deeply. It was a reflex against the pain, and she swore as she felt the lump of metal twist its way back toward the entry hole. She was running out of time if the werewolf DNA wanted Kelsey and Rance dead. Sooner or later she would run out of the needed juice to continue pursuit or she’d pass out from the pain and blood loss. Being a werewolf didn’t mean she was totally unstoppable.

The diner’s door opened almost silently. Shannon heard it and knew that a cooler, more collected killer was closing.

“I think I just shot Shannon,” Kelsey screamed from the back. “What do I do? I think it was Shannon. Oh my, God! I’m so sorry! I think I shot Shannon!”

“Shut up,” snapped Deidre. “Trust me when I say shooting Shannon wasn’t a bad thing.” Deidre’s feet made none of the usual squeaking noises on the linoleum floor. Shannon could still hear the air moving with the suction Deidre’s sneakers made with each cautious step. “Come on, Shannon. I don’t want to kill you. I just want to fuck you up really, really bad.”

Kelsey, whether out of naiveté or she didn’t hear Deidre, came from the kitchen toward Shannon. Shannon had moved closer to the counter’s edge in an attempt to somehow kill the three remaining survivors. She kept ordering herself to stop the madness, but the bloodlust urged her forward.

A tennis shoed foot stepped in front of Shannon. It belonged to Kelsey.

Shannon’s wounds joined her human consciousness in screaming for her to stop. Kelsey tried to utter something, but the sound was the equivalent to a cartoon mouse’s utterance at being surprised by a cat.

Shannon grabbed Kelsey by her ankle, and swung her like a bludgeon at Deidre before Deidre could fire her rifle. Neither made a sound as head met head with a responding comedic thonk sound.

Deidre fell backwards as her trigger finger jerked reflexively on the trigger. She collapsed in an unconscious heap. Shannon held Kelsey limp body over her head. Her intention was to repeatedly smash the woman against the linoleum covered concrete floor, relentlessly trying to destroy every bone and every muscle she could. Rance’s terrified cries stopped her.

She turned angrily toward the boy. The urge to pummel him with his mother until he stopped was upon her. The only thing that stopped her was the sight of him and his intentions.

There stood a five-year-old boy, holding a pistol with no hope of controlling it let alone hitting his target. There stood a brave boy who would do whatever it took to save his mother. The human Shannon asked her wolf self if she was willing to kill a child as brutally as she had killed Rose Jiller and Steve Greene.

She lowered Kelsey to the floor, unsure of what to do next. Never had she lost control in her lycan form to that extent. Now she had, and the repercussions were something she had to think clearly about.

Rance said nothing in between deep hitching sobs. His pistol wavered as he kept it aimed at Shannon. Any other time the object of destruction wouldn’t have been threatening to Shannon, but in his hands it might as well have been the grim reaper’s scythe.

“I’m sorry, Rance,” said Shannon, feeling the beginning of tears come to her clearing mind. “I’m so sorry. Please,” she said, approaching him with an outstretched hand. “I’m not going to hurt you.” Her words and voice were alien to her. She stepped toward him, both hands outstretched now, beseeching him for forgiveness as much as for him to lower the pistol.

She started changing back to human when something punched her in the chest. The room spun and darkness closed in on her. If this was death, then Shannon Morris welcomed it.

is work is copyrighted by Jason McKinney 2016. Any comment, suggestions, or recipes you want to share? Find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jason.mckinney.3766.

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Creepypasta: Closet Monster

My name is Dani. I’m 10 years old and there’s a monster living in my closet. The first time I noticed it was the day after I turned 10. It was the afternoon and mom had just served me my lunch. It was peanut butter and strawberry jelly with the crusts cut off. That’s how I like my sandwiches. And she served me chocolate milk too.

“So how do you feel about being ten?” asked mom.

“I feel older, and important,” I answered.

“You’re always important to me, sweetie.”

Mom usually kissed my forehead, asked if I needed anything else, and then left after she gave me my lunch, but this time she kind of stuck around.

“Am I always important to dad too?”

Mom cleared her throat. “Yes, sweetheart. You’ll always be important to him.”

Mom looked nervous, and she was sweating. Her face looked like it was filled with tiny diamonds shining in the sunlight that came through my window. I didn’t know then that she was scared, really scared. She cleared her throat again, wiped her face, and left.

She seemed in a hurry to leave. A moment later, dad came into my room.

“How’s my big girl?” he asked, opening the door.

“I’m okay, dad!” Dad was supposed to be at work, but he was home now. I ran to him and jumped into his arms. He kissed my forehead and put me down on my bed.

“Is mom okay?” he asked, sitting down on the floor next to the puzzle I was working on. “Mommy seemed… nervous I guess. Any idea why?”

“Nope. She seemed okay, but when I asked if I would always be important to you even though I’m getting older, she seemed, I dunno. Scared, maybe?”

Dad kissed my cheek and hugged me. “Sweetheart, I love you as much as Mom and vice versa.”

Dad left, and I got off the bed so I could go to my closet. That’s when something bumped inside of it.

I stopped and listened, watching the closet door. Nothing happened for a couple of moments so I went to open the door. I was about to open it when a voice said, “Your father hates you.”

I ran back to the bed and quickly pushed it against the closet. I didn’t know what it was, but it sounded like a can opener, like it was maybe running out of power. It didn’t sound friendly at all, and it was in my closet.

“Daddy hates you because you took mommy away from him. And he hates mommy for making him marry her. He hates you more though.” And then the door shook. It pushed against the bed, and the bed moved against me.

I don’t remember running from my room to downstairs, but I did. Dad was the one stopped me. He had heard the bed move and was on his way up to see what was wrong.

“What’s wrong, honey? What’s the matter?”

He bent down and brushed my hair away, and I felt that I was sweating. It had grown hot and now I wanted to run away but was too scared to move.

“In the closet,” I said. “There’s a monster in my closet.”

I thought Dad would laugh, but he didn’t.

He looked at me so seriously. “Baby? Are you that scared?”

I tried not to cry, but I felt tears leaking from my eyes. “There really is something up there. It said you hated me because I took Mom from you.”

Dad growled. It was an ugly noise. I’d never heard anything like that before from Dad.

“I’ve heard enough.” Dad went upstairs, angrier than I had ever seen him. “Honey, call the police!”

He stopped in front of the closet, breathing hard. His hands were in fists as he looked at the door.

“Daddy, please,” I said, trying not to cry even more. I couldn’t help it. I cried harder. “Please, Daddy. Please don’t open it.”

“I want him to open it,” said the voice.

Daddy opened the closet, and nothing happened. “Come out,” he screamed. “I don’t know why you’re doing this. Why-”

He had moved to my bed and was going to reach under it when there was a flash of metal from under the bed that made him scream and fall.

“What the fuck,” cried Daddy. He was lying on the floor clutching his bleeding ankle, and crying. “What the fucking hell-”

He didn’t get to finish his cry. A girl, a little older than me maybe, crawled from under the bed, punched me in the nose and, sat on top of my father. She was dressed in a black t-shirt that said ‘Sanity is a Full-time Job’, and her hair was blonde and dirty. It hung in front of her face, making it hard to see her features. What scared me the most though wasn’t the big black knife in her hand or what her shirt said. What scared me the most was that she was in my house wearing only that shirt and a pair of black panties, no pants, shoes or socks. And the way she was smiling.

“Die,” she said, stabbing daddy in the throat and then the face. The knife broke in Daddy’s eye. That made the girl laugh. I screamed, and she hit me again.

“Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up,” she whispered to me, dragging me to Daddy. She pushed me down beside him. I tried to fight her, but she was stronger than me. She made me lay in Daddy’s blood. It was sticky and still warm. I looked at my Daddy’s eyes. I didn’t know what to say except that I wanted my Mommy.

“Oh, I totally forgot about her. Here you go,” said the little monster of a girl. “You need to be comforted.” She giggled and dropped mom’s head beside me. I tried to scream, but couldn’t.

“Well, Mom’s calling me for diner. Time to go home,” said the monster of a girl, with a wave. I watched her go to the closet, then she turned to wink at me, and close the door behind her.

 

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Dear me

Dear Me of twenty years ago,

I write this at 10:48 PM (CST) on May 30, 2016 as a warning to you. Don’t give up is what I want to say, but I can’t. All I can say is try harder than you think you might be able to. Don’t get distracted, which I know is hard. You and I have always been magpies of a sort, and have always been so easily distracted by bright, pretty news blurbs and shiny tech tidbits we see in the course of our online research. Try harder to ignore those and push on with what you know needs to be done. Do your due diligence and research your subject matter, ignoring the fun that the internet brings. The ‘net is quicksand bog, and you know it as such.

And for the love of God write. Don’t get frustrated and discouraged if things don’t happen within the first two or three years. You know what hard work, and you know things don’t happen quickly. They happen with extended effort, so don’t lose sight of the future and that that future means more than a few pitiful years.

You love to write so do that and do it with the same lust and zeal you’ll use to pursue the other love of your life, Tabitha. You may not believe it, but you two will be married and will have a kid or three in your life. Do it for her as much as for yourself. She loves your stories as much as she loves you. And you love the stories too.

I would love to tell you that you’ve hit it big and people adore you and what you have to say, but if I did, I’d be lying. You’re an accountant still, and you’re not miserable, but you aren’t happy either. It takes a lot to admit this, but I, you, us, whatever, haven’t written anything in close to six months. A paragraph every other week isn’t writing and I know it. I’ve failed us, and though I’m sure I’ll be told I haven’t, I feel I have. This letter to you is a warning, no, it’s a confession more than anything. The fire that is the love of writing isn’t gone, but it’s not quite a bright ember either. Life has ground me down, and I’ve let it get there.

Life, death, birth, debt, hunger, rent, loss are a daily enemy that I have let wear me out. I look see you, so proud, happy, and full of hope smiling at me in a picture of old that had to write to you as a warning. I vaguely remember that kid, and yes, you are a kid, but I know you wanted so much to get your stories out that at times you told them in your sleep. I don’t talk much in my sleep these days. Usually I waste my nights in bed worrying about helping Chris pick the right college, or affording art classes for Emily or piano lessons for Sarah. I do this until I fall asleep only to wake up angry at the loss of restful sleep and resentful that I have to go to work at a job that hardly pays the bills.

Writing doesn’t pay the bills either, but it is wonderful, and I’ve misplaced that love. Don’t you misplace that love, and don’t let fear rule you. Fear will cause you to dodge opportunities that will help you hone your writing and make connections to be the writer you want to be. You’ll let fear do this to you because you’ll care to much about what people you’ll never meet might have to say to you. If might be good, but you’ll convince yourself it will be bad and you will sabotage yourself, your craft, and your love. You’ll set your jaw in that way that Tab finds cute and grunt that you don’t give a fuck what people think,  but you and I both know that’s a lie. You do care. You care and it scares the hell out of you. Ignore that fear, and move forward anyway. People won’t always like you and their disapproval and negative feedback, be it true or not, won’t kill you. Regret will, though. Regret will rob you of that love and fire for writing. Don’t fall to fear because fear will always bear a bastard child named Regret.

Well, I’ve said enough, and wasted enough time. I’ve told you a bit about your future, paradoxes and the like be damned. The important thing is stay determined, stay focused, and when someone offers you a partnership on a website or two, take it. Don’t be a magpie this time.

Yours,

41 years old Jason

 

 

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Fouteen

Chapter Fourteen

 

The day was clear, and the sun showed through the windows. Kelsey and Rance had come out of hiding in the fridge to set about making breakfast. Kelsey wasn’t sure how long the utilities would last but she intended to take advantage of it.

Shannon, having had the last watch, had an olfactory front row seat to the smells of breakfast cooking. Her stomach warred with her sense of preservation that the smell could attract any lingering zombies. All it took was for one to sound the call that breakfast was indeed being served.

She listened as the sleepers awoke one by one to the smell of coffee and a breakfast unlike any the diner had ever seen.

Helfron, still stewing over his confrontation with Deidre, relieved her. He had no appetite for food or Deidre’s company. Shannon wasn’t surprised to see that Helfron was the type to hold a grudge. She pushed his mental presence aside and moved to the kitchen.

Rose was doing better. She sat on a step stool, Rance in her lap, sharing bacon and toast with him. Between mouthfuls she commented on how she’d hired Kelsey for the wrong job and how she’d have replaced Greg if she’d known about her cooking abilities.

The morning held promise. There were no zombie sightings since Deidre’s encounter with undead Greg and the zombie kids. It was inevitable that the breakfast conversation would turn to the crisis maybe being over. None, not even Kelsey, held hope that that was true.

“How sick are those people, momma,” asked Rance. He worked the words around a mouth full of toasty and bacon.

No one spoke. The answer was a matter for Kelsey and not for Zombie Expert Greene or Werewolf Princess Shannon.

“Very sick, baby.” Kelsey scooped the last pancake off the griddle, set down the spatula and wiped her hands on her already grimy apron. “A doctor can’t help them. The only thing we can do is avoid them.”

“Oh, okay.” Rance went back to his shared food and then asked to see what was on Cartoon Network.

“I’d be surprised that anything’s playing anything past the Emergency Broadcast jam,” said Helfron walking in. “Nothing’s moving out there so I thought I’d get some coffee.” He avoided Deidre as he moved to the pot.

“Maybe there’ll be some news on,” said Rose hopefully.”

“But I wanna watch Adventure Time,” protested Rance.

“Later, baby.” Kelsey picked up Rance and walked as quickly as she could to the TV that hung over the counter.

The others followed as soon as the television clicked on.

Water and power weren’t the only things still going. Satellite was working normally in the aspect that it still broadcast stations albeit emptier than normal.

The first eight channels offered nothing more than the blaring EBS signal but the ninth, a national channel, showed something other than the ‘This is the Emergency Broadcast Station Please Stay Tuned’ screen.

An extremely tired anchorwoman spoke about the President’s coming address on the national crisis. The woman looked like she hadn’t bathed or eaten anything substantial in several days. For Shannon, this woman was the face of every American trying to survive.

Behind her someone groaned about a talking suit in a bunker God knew where bloviating on something he probably had no first-hand knowledge about. Shannon swore it was Greene, but wasn’t sure. It could’ve been Helfron too.

The anchors talked about how the situation was deteriorating at an alarming pace. Deidre’s no shit comment was followed by her staring out the window at zombies walking down the road without a care in the world. Shannon found herself shushing Deidre. She wanted as much information as she could take in.

Major cities like New York, Flagstaff, Houston, Oklahoma City, and Philadelphia were lost, along with the entire west coast. Fort Drum, Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, had been devastated. Military medical centers like the San Diego Naval Hospital, the naval hospital located at Beaufort, South Carolina, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and if reports were to be believed, Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii were no longer havens for the dead and dying.

Centers designed to study and combat infectious diseases like the CDC in Atlanta and USAMRIID at Fort Detrick, Maryland no longer offered a glimmer of hope. The dead and undead, lycan and otherwise, owned those locations now. The light of hope had been overtaken with grim where-do-we-go-now attitude. The military was effectively nonexistent to any survivors. No rescue was coming. The light at the end of the tunnel had really been us.

The news moved on to a list of Aid and Rescue Centers in the tri-county area, but the smart money was to avoid those at all costs.

Greene scoffed as the list scrolled across the screen. His fetish with horror movies was showing strong at that moment. “Well, I’m willing to bet we can take Fort Shelby off our list of vacation destinations.”

Shannon couldn’t tell if he was joking or being truthfully grim.

President Alec Gordon appeared suddenly on the screen. He appeared to be taking the news of the nation’s demise better than expected. At first he looked calm, as if the crisis was something that would be decisively dealt with within a few months. Then he opened his mouth to speak.

The situation was worse than what the news had reported. The contagion was worldwide with many cities, large and small, reporting deaders. No one knew if they should be relieved that it wasn’t just an American problem or fearful that there was nowhere to run.

President Gordon seemed to be wrapping the speech up when he announced that the situation had taken a turn for the worse. What remained of the CDC and military hierarchy reported that the reanimating contagion had mutated further. He detailed how reanimated dead were turning lycan before engaging the civilian populace and military personnel around the world.

“We’re asking for people to stay in their homes.” He paused and Shannon watched the sweat bead on his forehead. It rolled in thin trickles down his cheeks. “If you have an ill loved one, we’re asking that you contain them at least. Ideally…” He cleared his throat and continued. “Ideally we’re hoping the populace will do what is needed, which is to destroy the brain of a loved one. You cannot allow them to walk again. There is no way to tell who will turn into one of these…” President Gordon cleared his throat again, and then coughed. “There is no way to tell who will turn into a beast once they pass on.”

“Is there any connection to the undead and these reports of people turning into bipedal canines?” asked a reporter in the gallery.

“We don’t know.” The President ran an uncharacteristically shaking hand through his hair. His hand came away glistening.

“Can we depend on the military to curtail the undead and werewolves?” There, a reporter had let the genie out of the bottle. It was a woman and she stood with no small amount of pride. A reporter sitting on her left tried to pull her back down to her seat. She shrugged him off and continued standing. Even in those trying times the station showed her name as Gloria Tan and her connection to Hughes Media Group.

The image went back to President Gordon. “That’s not what we’re calling them.” The President tried to look stern, but came off as miserably uncomfortable.

“But that’s what they’re being called by citizens lucky enough to survive an encounter,” added a woman reporter. The camera swung accusingly to her and then back to President Gordon.

“We’re not calling them that,” said the President. “There’s no proof of that assertion.” His face grew ashen, and he rubbed the back of his neck. His hand came away crimson. He coughed and then slammed a fist down on the podium. “We’re not calling them that. Werewolves do not exist!” he roared before collapsing.

The camera zoomed in on the unmoving body of the President.

“Get back,’ bellowed the woman reporter who had asked the question. “I knew it. I could smell it. He’s been bitten. I smelled it! Get away from him!”

Uncoordinated choruses called for the feed to be cut. Someone else, it sounded like the female reporter, ordered the cameras to keep rolling. And the diner denizens kept watching.

The President lurched to his feet. Screams filled the television, and Shannon could hear the sound of automatic weapons actions being worked and pistols being pulled from holsters.

For a moment the air in the diner and at the press conference grew still. It felt to Shannon like there was no air in the room. Then the President attacked. Automatic weapons fire tore into President Gordon. The fusillade threw Gordon back and his body returned to the floor.

“Don’t do it,” advised Greene like he would with any horror movie. All he needed was a bucket of popcorn to complete his appearance. “Don’t move to the body. None of you idiots scored a headshot. Feckless morons”

The camera angle widened, showing three Secret Service agents and two Marines closing slowly on the fallen ex-President.

“He’s going to check for a pulse,” said Deidre in a voice barely above a whisper.

A Marine stretched a hand toward Gordon’s neck. The move was practiced and quick. Even quicker was Gordon reaching up and grabbing him, biting into his cheek. The Marine screamed and tried to bring his rifle up, but couldn’t. Gordon was fastened onto his face.

“Fire! Fire!” screamed an authoritative voice. The majority of the rounds impacted on the Marine’s body and body armor.

The automatic fire ended and only the sound of pistol fire could be heard over the screams of people trying to force their way out of the room. The ex-President took the poorly aimed center mass shots as he moved to the next man, a Secret Service agent who had finished reloading his MP5K. He fired into Gordon’s already ruined chest.

Gordon grabbed the agent by his lapel and drove his face into the man’s neck. The agent roared in pain and anger as he pushed Gordon away. Almost in panic he fired his machine pistol. The burst hit Gordon in the head. Gordon fell.

“He bit me,” cried the agent.

A female agent rushed by his side and consoled him. She unexpectedly raised her pistol and shot him behind his left ear. The round tore through her head as well. The act took even Shannon by surprise.

“Aw, shit,” shouted someone behind the camera. “That mother fucker’s getting up. Fuck this,” cried the voice. It was assumed the voice belonged to the camera man because the camera shook briefly and before spinning around to face Gloria Tan. She had her back to where the Marine had fallen. He’d already turned and was moving toward her.

“Today I’m going to show you something to make you believe.” Tan spoke through clenched teeth. Tan spasmed as she turned toward the shambling Marine.

“She forcing the change,” said Shannon. “That’s why it hurts like it does.” She cast her gaze around to everyone. All were rapt with attention. Kelsey was the exception. She held Rance close to her with his face buried into her chest. Disgust and anger raged through Shannon. She could understand wanting to protect your child, but the monsters had come out of the closest and no amount of hugging and reassurances would send them back.

Tan’s change was complete. She leapt through the air, landing on the Marine. She tore his body armor off in frenzy and before ripping the undead man in two.

Shannon watched, uneasy in the pleasure at finding out that chances were very much in her favor of being able to do the same thing. She’d never tried tearing anyone in two before, but now she had an urge to try it on someone at the diner. Maybe even Kelsey. Or Rance. Or perhaps both. She forced the urge aside and continued watching, even though nothing showed except the scattered remains of the dead Marine.

The background was filled with shrieks of terror and more gunfire. Finally, all that could be heard was a mix of sobbing voices, and heavy breathing mixed with wet deep growls.

Someone moved the camera around slowly, showing the carnage. Tan had torn through the few remaining servicemen and Secret Agents, and a few unarmed civilians for good measure. Then Tan stepped in front of the camera again. A group of six business dressed men and women sat behind her, huddled against a heavy steel door.

“More. After. This. Commercial. Break.” She spoke in between great heaving breaths. “Stay. Tuned.” She stepped out of view. Wet slurping sounds from off camera mingled with the the survivors’ whimpering.

“Is it over?” whined Kelsey. “Please tell me it’s over.”

“Shut up,” snapped Shannon, Deidre, and Helfron simultaneously. Only Shannon let slip, “Stupid bitch,” from her lips. Kelsey was fast wearing out her welcome with her.

Kelsey stared with a hurt expression from one to another. She scooped Rance up and ran crying to the freezer.

“I’m going to make sure she’s okay,” Rose said contemptuously to the three.

“You need to stay put,” said Shannon still looking at the TV. “She’s not going to last long with someone running after her to soothe her hurt feelings.”

“She’s gotta toughen up-,” started Deidre. She fell silent as Tan reappeared, moving toward the survivors with clawed handfuls of gore.

“You,” said Tan gruffly to a man in his late fifties. “Come here.”

“Oh hell no,” said Helfron. “I’m turning this shit off.” He stood, but Deidre spoke.

“Leave it. We need to see this.” Greene was more serious than normal in the face of Helfron’s sudden, unexpected lack of nerve.

“No, we don’t,” Rose answered defiantly. Rose stood so suddenly that her chair flipped back onto the floor. She stalked off toward where Kelsey and Rance had retreated.

“We need to witness and remember,” said Greene lowly. “As a group.” He looked in the direction of the walk-in before continuing. “Or at least of what’s left of a unified group.” He shook his head in disgust as he turned back to the television.

“Watch what, Steve? Barbarism at its best? No one needs to remember this.”

“Steve’s right. We need to witness this.” Shannon spoke calmly and evenly. “You leave if you’ve lost your scrot. The rest of us will watch, and learn.”

“To hell with you, Steve. I’m going to remember this. And fuck you, Shannon.” Helfron left.

“Yeah. See you in hell, Dennis,” muttered Greene.

Shannon wasn’t sure if she wanted to remember what they were watching for the sake of human posterity. For her it was more morbid, feral curiosity.

And Gloria Tan did what Helfron had feared, and Shannon and expected. Tan grabbed the unwilling newsman, and forced the mutilated mess into the man’s unwilling mouth. He tried to fight back, but couldn’t. A woman beat furiously on Tan, but she was batted away. The woman fell back against the wall with a yelp.

“All of you move over there,” Tan ordered, waving to somewhere behind the camera. She howled indignantly at them when none did as she commanded. “Watch,” she grunted turning her attention back to the camera. She moved away and the man came into gruesome focus.

The man gagged as the offal slid down his throat. He stayed on all fours as he gave a violent dry heave then went into convulsions.

It was difficult to watch the man’s seizure, but they watched. Suddenly he grew still. The camera remained on him and for five minutes so did everyone’s attention. Deidre broke away for a cigarette or ten, while Shannon exited for an overdue bathroom break. Might as well, she thought, as she walked through the door marked “Gals”. Not like the plumbing is going to be here long.

Shannon was wiping herself off when Deidre burst into the bathroom, excited.

“Get out here. The news guy’s coming to.”

Shannon rushed to the TV. It was as she feared. He was coming back, but as a disgruntled undead.

The undead reporter looked around the room, his posture almost straight. He turned toward the camera and appeared to drunkenly adjust his tie and pat his hair.

“See that?” said Tan. “Something remains after turning. Pompous ass in life, pompous ass in death.”

The undead reporter turned toward the sound of her voice. A growl seeped slowly from his throat as he tracked Tan’s move back into view and then out of frame again.

The camera angle changed and the view of the room view tripled, showing the undead man, and Tan reappearing.

“Come and have a go if you’re hard enough,” she said. She waved her hairy, clawed hand at him, urging him forward. “It’s a dog eat zombie world, Limey.”

The zombie lunged at Tan, but she stepped away, slashing at it with the claws of her left hand. Shreds of well-tailored suit and chunks of bone, and meat flew away from its ruined right shoulder.

Shannon watched intently, sure that Tan could have dodged it even without her werewolf abilities.

Tan didn’t give a chance to recover. Halfway through it’s turn to face her, she dropped kicked it in its upper chest. Before gravity could force her to fall, she sprang into a back flip. She landed in a flamenco dancer’s pose. The move was beautiful and graceful. And merely for show. Tan was playing with something that could have once been her food.

The zombie had been driven back into a skid across the floor. It rose on unsteady feet and shards of bloody bone and torn flesh poked through the ripped shirt and jacket. Its tie had been twisted around its neck and flapped over the shoulder.

Tan rushed it again, driving her fist through the shirt and into the wound. She wordlessly ripped his heart out while pushing it back with her free hand. The zombie feel on its butt with a comedic sounding thump. It wasn’t until later that Shannon would realize that people had been screaming in horror for almost the entire fight.

The zombie stood once again, but instead of returning to the fight, it appeared to be looking for an exit. It across the walls, hands searching for the door knob. It kept looking over its shoulder, but with unseeing eyes. Shattered cheek bones had lodged its shards into the eyes. It was afraid, and Tan laughed bitterly at the sight.

The laugh had the quality of broken, ungreased machinery grinding together. There was no true joy or mirth in the sound and it revolted Shannon.

“Party’s over when I say,” said Tan, springing onto the zombie. She grabbed its head and slammed it into the floor and wall until nothing but pulp remained. Tan howled triumphantly, and licked dead man from her palm. She howled again, pausing only to lick, and then she stopped.

Tan looked into the camera and slowly changed back into her human form. “Oh shit,” she whispered.

“Crazy bitch’s crying,” scoffed Deidre.

“Quiet,” snapped Greene. “She’s gonna say something like I’m sorry or some shit.”

“I’m fucked,” Tan said instead.

“Ha,” said Deidre. “She said something totally different.”

“Shut up,” said Greene sulkily.

Tan looked to the still, silent humans. “Run.”

They didn’t need to be told twice. They ran almost as one to the door, and cries of joy and amazement at finding it open emanated from the speakers. Six seconds later the reports of automatic gunfire and shrieks were heard.

“Oh fuck me,” said Tan, wiping tears from her eyes. “Nothing lasts forever.”

Overkill filled the scream as automatic gunfire ripped Tan apart. The last thing any of them saw before the TV went to static was Tan collapsing.

“No amount of lycan ability is bringing her back.” Shannon spoke in a low voice. She was suddenly very aware of her mortality. “She could withstand half of that, but…” she shrugged.

The image of the local news anchors returned. The silence shared between the anchorman and anchorwoman would have been inexcusable, and grounds for termination for lesser beings, on an average news day. History was being made, showing average had been redefined. With all they’d seen and reported, each tried to make sense of the madhouse the world had become.

Finally the male anchor looked at the woman and said, “Piss on this, Barbara. We have families.” The woman nodded her head slightly and the man left to the tune of panicked and furious protests in the background, ordering him to stay. Shots were heard in the background, but the sound did nothing to shake the woman, Barbara.

“My family was killed four days ago. One of the first, I think,” Barbara said flatly. My son was bitten first and he brought it home. I should’ve taken him to the hospital, but the military was taking the infected and killing them. I couldn’t do that to my baby. Dale, Marsha, Stevie. I’m coming home.” Without any hesitation, Barbara put a snub-nosed revolver to her right temp, and squeezed the trigger. Greene cried out. He clasped his hands to his mouth.

Greene’s move touched Shannon, though she couldn’t understand why. He was a cop and a Marine. Death and gunshots weren’t new to him, but Barbara’s suicide had rocked him. Shannon wanted to comfort him, but couldn’t.

The camera remained on the empty desk. Shannon was about to leave before a young twenty something walked into view and sat behind the desk. The young lady looked to be barely in her twenties and stoned. She looked like an intern that had dressed in a hurry or like she no longer gave two shits. “I own this fucker now, bitches,” she said, giggling. She straightened her posture and stared into the camera, trying to be serious. “This just in. My pussy’s pierced and wet, and I’m going to fuck all of you.”

“I can stomach watching the President die, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to witness fools and morons inherit the planet,” said Deidre, rising to turn off the TV.

“Leave it on, Dee. I want to see what she’ll do next. May be the last porn any guy sees. Ever.” Greene chuckled mirthlessly.

“Misogynistic asshole. Look, I’m going for another cup of coffee. And maybe to the roof. I need some practice. You want anything?” Greene nodded no. Deidre left with her sniper rifle, and headed toward the roof stairs.

Shannon pondered her options before realizing that the motel had guests that she hadn’t seen. She wondered if they were digging in until things blew over or had bugged out. Or maybe the worse had happened.

As she rose, Greene stopped her. “Where you going?” he asked, placing a gentle hand on her arm.

“We haven’t seen any guests since day before yesterday. Somebody should go check on them.”

“Any kids?”

“Don’t know. Could be.”             “If there aren’t any definites then forget about them.” He grinned humorously again and turned back to the screen. “The smart ones either ran off or would’ve joined us by now. The only other option is more than likely they were turned dead.”

On the television the young woman had launched into a profanity laced rant on global warming, gun control, abortion and why crime should be outlawed. She paused in mid sentence, struck a lighter, and took a long, deep toke from a small wooden pipe. Greene had first hand knowledge about some of the young woman’s rant, but couldn’t care about any of it. Her tirade might have made him listen out of curiosity a month earlier, but now he wasn’t interested. He wanted to see what physical not verbal stupidity she might produce next.

Shannon was stunned by Greene’s assessment. People’s lives, even strangers in her vicinity, meant something to her. No matter how much she wished she could simply forget about them, she couldn’t. “That doesn’t matter, Steve. Someone needs to check on them.”

Greene remained sitting, and looked up to her indignantly. “If there’s anyone left, and that’s a long shot, they paid for a complimentary breakfast hot and a cot, not to be babied. I say fuck ‘em. Effective yesterday, I’m no longer a cop. We’ve got our own shit to worry about.” He turned back to the TV, crossing his arms.

“Dennis was right. To hell with you. I’m going.” Shannon strapped on her gun belt. She stormed out just as furiously as she stormed into the motel check in area.

The area was as quiet as expected. Nothing moved except the cool air pushed by the over taxed air conditioning.

The check-in log lay open on the front desk. The corners of the first two pages moved lazily as the vent above hit them. Shannon didn’t know the day shift manager, a woman she knew in passing as Carol, well enough to wonder where she was. She guessed the woman was long gone and hopefully not the in the same way as Greg.

Rose and Herb were traditional in requiring a written check-in/check-out register for guests. Neither trusted computers enough to require one to do the job. Their distrust of them was compounded when Greg arrived one morning complaining about his crashing.

The log listed seven rooms out of eighteen filled. Three doubles and four singles were unaccounted for. Shannon started rethinking the gun as a primary weapon. “Might need lycan to do this.” She spoke to the empty room, testing to see if any zeds were lurking unseen nearby.

Something moved behind her. She heard the air move and a new heartbeat enter the lobby. It was Helfron, and his nervous heartbeat betrayed him. He really didn’t want to be there.

“Decide to be useful for once?” She turned to see him standing in the doorway, pistol in hand.

“I guess. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just here to keep you out of trouble.” He sounded stuffy still and the swelling hadn’t abated. “Steve told me what you were up to. I think it’s stupid.”

“Well, then either leave or try not to get yourself killed on my account.” Shannon was tired of saying things in a half joking way even though she was serious.

“Worry about yourself. I know what I’m doing.” He surveyed the room. “How many people do we have to find?”

“Ten from what the ledger says. Could be more. You know how people say one thing and can mean another.”

“Yeah. Let’s just get this over with. I’m feeling a bit exposed here.”

Shannon memorized the room numbers. It was now or never to begin what could be a wasted search mission.

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A departure from the usual. Creepypasta

My kids have been going on about Creepypasta for the past, I dunno, maybe year, and recently Tabitha has been going on about it as well. “Some of them are so bad that you could do better writing one, and Emily could narrate one immensely better.” At least that’s how I think that went when Tab was telling me about Creepypasta’s YouTube channel a couple weeks ago. I’m still not sure if it was a compliment, insult, challenge or all of the above. I don’t have a clue, but I wrote something anyway in answer to Tabitha’s whatever. It was written on the fly, with emotions running high and zero proofreading in the tradition, or so I’m told, of Creepypasta.

Life is but a Dream

What is life? You wake up, go to your job, work eight to ten hours a day and then go home to your empty apartment, or house, or maybe you have a pet like a dog or cat. Or maybe you have a family, and your kids are great and your wife is an angel. Or maybe your wife is a shrieking harpy and your kids are spoiled ingrates that love you, but only for the things you buy them.

Maybe life is good, and you have everything you’ve ever wanted, or maybe your life sucks because you get up every morning, and go to a job you barely tolerate because society tells you that you have to have it. Fish gotta swim, and man’s gotta slave so to speak.

So on an average morning I got up like I always did and got dressed for work. I watched my wife sleep as I pulled my clothes on, and thought of nothing as I watched her quiet breathing. I went to the kitchen and retrieved my lunch bag from the fridge as my teenage son trudge half-asleep toward the Keurig for his morning coffee.

“Morning, big guy,” I said as he passed again with his cup of Café Latte in hand. He only grunted to me as a response. He was never a morning person. I used to be, but that was years ago when I had a stupid thing called youthful hope in my life. It couldn’t have been that stupid because I had sometimes wished my son had it. He was seventeen and already a skeptic and in ways I could never hope to be. God, I hated life. Today was the day that was going to change.

I clocked in at work, logged into my workstation, and proceeded to run the same program testing that I had for the past eight months. I was part of a team tasked with creating an accounting software to merge three different systems to one, effectively making the perfect real-time accounting data and journal entry creating, and ledger keeping system ever developed. I never like accounting, and thanks to this project I knew more about it than I ever wanted to know. I hated being a programmer, but that was going to change today.

I went on break down to the smoking area. I’d been quite since I first became a “vaper” 18 months earlier, and was very nearly about to quit that. I did it because I was a smoker that wanted to quit; not someone that wanted to be “cool”. Somewhere along the way in the past eighteen months, vaping had gone from smoking cessation to being a popular “cool-kid” thing to do.

For the past seven or eight months a couple of them kept shadowing me, blowing their “clouds” in my direction. I never stood near anyone when I was on break. Making friends was never a part of me, and I never wanted to have friends. Work was some place I needed to be to feed myself, the wife, the kids, and to keep a roof over our heads. But that was going to change today. Right now.

I pulled out my phone, tapped execute on a program that I had running in the back ground for six months, and turned to the head “cool kid”. He was staring at me, blowing those annoying large clouds and grinning at me.

“Problem,” I said, after three or four seconds of staring at him.

He grinned and blew a cloud at me. I heard his two friends chuckle behind the vapor screen. I waited for it to clear enough for him and them to see my .40 caliber Beretta pointed at him. I waited that extra second for recognition to kick in on his face before I squeezed the trigger. I had the special ear plugs in that protected my hearing while allowing me to hear normal conversations. They worked to a certain degree. The guy’s body hadn’t even hit the ground before I squeezed off a second shot into one of his friend’s face. The third on managed to say, “Oh my-,” before I shot them as well. I saw quick movement to my left. Someone was trying to be a hero I guess by trying to tackle me. It didn’t work. The sound of his death actually registered. The round made a wet pop as it sped into the top of his head. The momentum of his running carried him flying across the blacktop. The sound of his face and clothes ripping across the ground sounded very much like wet canvas tearing.

I made my way back into the building as the few remaining smokers, vapers, whatever, ran away. I’m sure some were shakily calling the authorities. Let them.

I walked up to my floor, and found everything as it should be. People were working diligently at their desks on whatever project they were tasked with, and I walked by only a couple people that I knew only in passing. I grabbed one at random, spun him around, and fired my pistol into his eye socket. That was gratifying.

There were a couple screams of surprise, and a few voices asking in astonishment if that had been a gunshot. “It had certainly sounded like one,” was the popular reply. I rounded my corner and shot a self-professed Christian in the throat. He was a flabby sack of hypocrisy, always trying to flirt with some female twenty years younger than he. He had a daughter close to some of those women’s age, and I never could understand why he did what he did. I guess to give himself legitimacy in his holier-than-thou life. He sputtered wildly, blood shooting in mesmerizing sprays from his mouth. It was fascinating to watch.

I should’ve kept my wits together because someone was able to tackle me. I think he was screaming for someone to get my gun. My ears actually rang more from the tackled to the ground than the shots fired. He looked away just long enough for me to latch onto his right cheek with my teeth. He panicked and fought to pull away. All he did was assist me in tearing a swath of flesh and meat from his face. He screamed and screamed until someone shot him in the back. I think they were aiming for me. As luck would have it I had inadvertently moved in front of him as the employee with my pistol tried to take aim at me. She only did what I was planning to do. I never liked the guy. He was a smarmy yes-man who thought he was clever in his put downs of others. To be fair, I really didn’t like much of anyone.

In all honesty though, I did like the woman holding my .40 cal. She was twenty or twenty-five years older than me, and we’d had a pretty good rapport. “It’s okay,” I said, holding my hand out to her. “I’m not going to hurt you. Just give me the gun. It’s out of bullets anyway.”

She looked at it, angling the side of the pistol toward her face. The slide was forward, not back. That showed that there was a round in the chamber. I rushed forward, twisted the barrel of the pistol away from her, and heard the sharp snap of her figure breaking. She cried out for a moment, but that was silenced as I squeezed the trigger, firing the last round into her face. Now, it was out of ammunition.

I dropped the magazine and methodically went around putting “paid” to anyone still in the area. Did you get that? It was a kind of accounting joke. In all though, I had killed fifteen people in the ten minutes since I had started in the smoking area. I was keeping track of it all.

I moved to the fourth floor from the fifth, and shot two more people hiding there. Sixteen, seventeen. I passed by the door leading to the third floor and saw a police officer doing a sweep. We saw each other, and I briefly saw him speak into his radio. I made to look surprised and appeared to run. Instead I had dropped to the stairs, and waited. He opened the door, crouching low, and instantly took two rounds from my pistol. One round shattered his cheek bone while another punched through his throat. I cursed my sloppy trigger control. The spacing was too far apart. I rushed up the stairs, snatching at his AR15. I cursed louder than I had earlier at the realization that he’d had it secured to his person with a tactical sling. I tripped, as I tried to tug it free. I knew how the slings worked, but I acted stupidly anyway.

The stupid act bought me another ten to thirty seconds of life. Another officer had come through the door and taken several shots at me. I hadn’t heard them because they were so close to hitting me. A hiss means it’s close, a snap means it’s distant. I’d heard that a time or two in my life. I squeezed the AR15’s trigger repeatedly. Several shots took this female officer in her vest, while a few others fly by her. She stumbled back, and I took the initiative to end her as she had tried to with me. Two rounds in each of the areas where the groan meets the crotch. It was a definite hit on her left leg as the dark blood spurted out and her pallor began to grown ashen. I wanted to see what it looked like for a person to die that way. It was interesting I suppose. Nothing really to write home about.

In case anyone is curious; this wasn’t about revenge killing for perceived slights. No. A couple can be seen as that, yes, but mostly it was because I wanted to kill people in a very public, very personal way. I meant to kill people that I disliked, people I liked, and people that I was ambivalent toward. I had now done that, and I wanted to do more.

I don’t know when I fell, but I had. I don’t remember the shots that killed me, but that’s normal from what I’d read because gunshot survivors never remember the shots that felled them. I didn’t even feel any pain.

“Isn’t that interesting,” I mumbled, hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock. “I managed to get the second cop at the same time as she got me.”

“Still feeling that hatred, baby?” asked my wife as I swung my legs onto the floor.

“A little. It’s getting better though.”

“The ‘dream’? Or the hatred?”

“Both,” I answered, putting toothpaste onto my toothbrush.

“I think you’re getting addicted to the killing.” She smiled coyly at me.

I spat toothpaste into the sink. “Life’s a program.”

“That’s bullshit, and you know it.” She laughed and kissed my neck. “Well this time, you only managed to transfer a quarter of a million from the company,” she said, joining me at the bathroom door. Her voice sounded a little irritated. “How many more of these back and forth trips do you think you need to make before we can all leave and make a better life away from this? The kids and I are tired of waiting.”

“Baby, all of that is going to change today.”

This is copyrighted 2016, by Jason McKinney. You can’t use any of it with permission, shithead.

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

 

The rest of the night started off uneventful, but then took a strange turn.

Deidre took note of the increasing undead activity within the first hour of her watch. She had the 8 to midnight shift and as the night wore on she noticed the undead going from a single or duo shuffling to nowhere to packs of fifteen or more moving like they had a destination planned out.

A coyote howled close by. Deidre shuddered more at the throaty growl that answered it than the animal’s call. It wasn’t long before their came an animal growl followed by a fight. Deidre couldn’t tell the two apart until the coyote began whimpering in agony. Her body’s shuddering continued. It felt like she had stepped into one of those cold spots that ghost hunters always spoke about. In moments the sounded faded to nothing, which did nothing for Deidre’s hyper awareness jumpier than before.

After her watched ended, she woke Greene and gave him the run down on what she’d seen. Greene assured her that the time for her to be worried was over. His attitude sent her from annoyed to pissed off. He was being nonchalant about the whole thing. Earlier he had understood that mankind was no longer the dominate species. Now, it seemed like he couldn’t give two fucks about it all. She supposed that almost becoming a meal at least or joining the Club Maggot Monger had that effect on some people. She wasn’t going to argue with him. Being a dumbass was on him, not her.

Sharon had next watch and Deidre nodded at her as she moved to the roof access.

“You’re watch is over,” whispered Shannon, never taking her eyes off the street.

“It is. I can’t sleep. I’m thinking maybe the fresh air up top will make me tired.”

“Just don’t be seen or be loud. Strict noise and sound discipline.”

“Understood, grandmother,” whispered Shannon, sketching a mock salute.

Deidre opened the door adjacent to the roof ladder next to the kitchen, but paused.

“They seemed to be moving in a pack toward the northeast earlier.” She had to tell someone what she’d seen. Shannon seemed a natural for obvious reasons.

“I heard you mention that to Greene. You think they’re being drawn to something?”

“There’s that KOA park about fourteen miles down the road. They could be headed there.”

“Maybe. I haven’t heard any shots coming from that direction.”

“That doesn’t mean anything. Not everyone has a rifle or pistol these days.” Deidre knew that was a stupid assumption, and Shannon didn’t let it slide by.

“That’s a dumb thing to say, Dee.”

“Yeah. I guess it is. I’m heading topside.”

“Be careful up there.” Shannon looked at Deidre and smiled. The smile was empty and it did nothing to calm Deidre’s growing unease.

Deidre climbed the iron ladder, taking care to keep the access hatch from banging closed against the shingled roof.

She watched quietly as the zombies slowly walked by in groups of three or more. It was a long three hours. Not once did she have a cigarette even after the encounter with the naked walker an hour into her shift. It was the walker’s almost normal stroll that drew her scrutiny, not its lack of attire.

It was almost casually moving past when it stopped and turned toward her. She could feel its dead, milky eyes looking at her and through her.

She shouldered the shotgun Helfron had given her as her mind processed the sight. This must be what a deer feels like, she thought, forcing herself to remain still. She squeezed her eyes closed and remembered her childhood days of hiding under her blankets when she was afraid.

The naked zombie male had looked at her, of that she was sure. He craned his head left and right before moving closer to her. The closer he came the more Deidre’s attention went to where his genitals should have been. His penis had been forcefully removed. His body bore no other marks of possible infection so she supposed that it had been bitten off. She scrunched her face at the thought even as she stared at his ruined manhood. Dried blood stained the inside of his legs. “Asshole bleed out,” she whispered as he plodded closer. “Worst blowjob ever.” Once he reached within twenty feet of the front door she moved under a table and clicked the shotgun’s safety off.

Deidre considered waking the others as she waited for the deader to start banging on the glass. She dismissed the thought. Waking the others might cause a ruckus, which could conceivably draw more to the doors. Instead she watched him press his forehead against the glass as he peered inside.

Left and right he rubbed his head against the glass. With each movement it became smudged with desert dust and dirt. Deidre was sure that he’d seen her; ignorant that he’d seen her as a dim glow that merited investigation.

His rubbing took on a more insistent tone, and Deidre ducked back away from sight. The sound became more intense and wetter. Her mind played images of him rubbing his forehead skin off, exposing the possibly still wet tissue underneath. The sound kicked her already overactive imagination into warp speed.

I’ve gotta move. Find a new place away from that, she thought. Cautiously she climbed from under the table and made her way to one at the diner’s corner. She kept her teeth gritted, eyes narrowed in expectation of coming across a dirty pair of shoes with a set of mobile undead feet in them. The crawl was only seventy feet from here to there, but might as well have been a football field. Once she had made it to a far corner booth she realized she’d been holding her breath. She ventured a glimpse around the booth seating at the naked zombie.

Complete horror met her eyes. During her crawl a little girl had joined the male zombie. The girl was blonde, around seven years old, and wearing a purple night gown with polka dots and an embroidered flower on the chest. The front was completely soaked with blood. Two of her front teeth were missing and Deidre was unable to figure out if they had been ripped out in frenzied feeding or if they’d come out the old fashioned seven year-old way.

The little girl’s tongue ran across the glass in large loose circles. The tongue was bloated more than it should have been, but that didn’t deter the girl. She licked the glass back and forth. It was a curious thing to watch even in its morbidity. After five minutes of licking, the girl gave up and went about her way.

The male had ceased to be an object of curiosity. Seeing an undead adult was bad enough but to see a child was worse. It shook Deidre up in ways she would never be able to explain. She watched the little girl walk to the road and take the hand of another little girl. The second girl appeared to be five and had been cute once like the first. The younger zombie had brown hair, and full lips that at one time must have been filled with smiles of generosity and deviousness. The younger girl was dressed in an equally blood soaked t-shirt and boxer shorts. It was painful to see that once she had been a Scooby Doo fan that would’ve delighted in meeting the canine detective. Now she’d be interested in the gang for other reasons.

The two girls stood unmoving in the road. It was like they were waiting for someone else. A boy that looked like he had just entered his teens ambled briskly past the diner’s corner window. He took no notice of the diner or the naked zombie. His attention was solely on the girls. He too was dressed in nocturnal death clothes. Deidre was fairly certain that the front of his red and black plaid pajamas weren’t as caked as the girls.

The teenager reached the girls, and took the eldest girl’s hand into his. He became a little animated, as if he was chewing the girl out for something. He’d been the big brother in life and had remained so in death. He finished whatever grunting lecture he had in him before bending down and giving what looked like a stiff hug to the blonde girl. Both undead girls appeared to hug him in return.

Deidre’s heart froze, and then broke. Three children united in life and death. They released each other from their clumsy embrace before continuing on their journey.

Deidre watched them shuffle away before her mind snapped back to the male. He wasn’t there. Maybe he’d left for parts unknown while she watched the children or maybe he was looking for another entry point into the diner. She ducked back under the table and listened to the still night. Nothing clanged, banged, crashed, or even squeaked. After twenty minutes of sweating, fearful concentration, Deidre decided that the naked zombie had left to continue on his own personal mission. It wouldn’t be until later that she would realize that the male had been Greg.

For more than half an hour afterwards Deidre cried. She hadn’t cried so hard since she’d tendered her forced resignation. The world had suddenly become too much to bear.

After wishing Shannon an eventful watch, Deidre went to her sleeping space in the kitchen. She lay down, closed her eyes, and couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t because of the hard floor or even the male zombie, but because of the image of the undead children hugging each other. As much as her rational mind told her they weren’t kids any longer, she couldn’t help but to think of them as still as children. “Forever children,” she murmured to herself. It was indeed hard to deal with, the new world. Deidre wasn’t sure if she could survive the next day mentally let alone the rest of her natural life. She was sure that she wasn’t the first to contemplate suicide let alone go through with it if she went that way. It was all too much.

 

*******

 

Shannon listened to Deidre’s deep, thoughtful breathing. It was clear that Deidre didn’t have a problem with Shannon’s lycan nature. The real problem was dealing with the multitude of undead that waited on the other side of the glass and cinderblock walls.

Shannon was having her problems coming to terms with it as well. She’d never had to worry about being infected with lycan blood in her hunting. The lycan virus overran every other virus on the planet. While turning you into a human flesh craving beast it also cured whatever ailed you. At least it used to do that.

The virus forced the growth of new tissue with every turn. It even forced new growth when you were in human form. The virus merged with normal human DNA, overwriting genetic code before bringing the animal out of its long buried racial memory. Shannon wasn’t a scientist, but she felt the difference the morning after. She’d even felt different before her first change. Now, she had to worry about being infected with something she considered far worse than what she’d grown accustomed to.

And it wasn’t werewolves that scared Deidre. There was no fear from Deidre in that regard. It was the zombies, and Shannon knew it. Being a werewolf you could wrap your mind around. Dying, coming back and then eating friends, family or even strangers was hard to grapple with. As knowledgeable as Greene was with the storybook sweets stealing monster and the contemporary reanimated flesh eater, he never addressed whether anything of the past remained in the latter. Shannon wondered about that now. Her own insomnia rode in on that train of thought.

Shannon and Deidre were the only two still awake in the kitchen area as the sun came up. Helfron was supposed to take watch at 4AM, but Shannon let him sleep. She hadn’t smelled zombies or anything for that matter for almost an hour and a half. It was irresponsible to leave her post, but she felt they were safe for the time being.

She was about to make her way to Deidre before she realized that Deidre was making her way to her.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Deidre whispered, motioning for Shannon to sit. “How’re things out there?”

“Quiet. No movement or scents for an hour and half.” Shannon looked around the floor. “Where’s Kelsey and Rance?” She sniffed the air, confirming that they were close, but unseen.

“Freezer.” Deidre pointed quickly to the walk-in unit. “Rose turned it down so they won’t freeze to death. Bad news is the meat will thaw quicker.”

“It’s all good. We could always pop down to the Sav-Rite for more steaks when t he meat goes.” Shannon’s smile was weak, and Deidre knew it.

Shannon padded the conversation with something that didn’t reek of fear. Padding it with horrid grocery shopping jokes seemed like a safe, if not strange, way to go.

Deidre grunted. She was set on a collision course with talking about everything bad. “This is…,” she began. “You know… You know what? I don’t know what any of this is, but it’s something royally fucked up.”

Shannon looked at Deidre’s eyes, and understood that the woman she called her friend had been crying.

“I don’t know what to say about any of this, Deidre. I know you’re scared. We all are. Hell, girl, I’m scared shitless.”

Deidre scoffed. “You? Scared? You’re a lousy liar.” Deidre didn’t mean what she said. She knew that Shannon was scared but could think of nothing else to say. Shannon knew Deidre was at a loss but went with it anyway.

“I’m terrified, Dee. Being a werewolf is one thing, but being undead…that’s a horse of a different color.”

Deidre snorted a short laugh. “I love that movie. There’s no wizard to save us though, is there?”

“Not this time.”

“What’s it like, being a werewolf?”

Shannon had been expecting the question at sometime from someone, but Deidre’s timing was utter shit.

“Scary and exciting at the same time,” answered Shannon nervously. “It’s scary because you have all this power and hardly anything can stop you, but it’s exciting because you have all this power and hardly anything can stop you. It’s a gift and a curse.” She hoped the last statement would put Deidre at ease. It didn’t.

“Do you…” Deidre fought for a delicate way to ask her question. No solution came so she went with asking outright. “Do you remember everything after changing back to human?”

“Yeah.” Shannon picked at the laid out aprons she lay on. She didn’t like questions that inevitably led to what it was like to kill with your bare hands, claws, or teeth. That’s where she feared this was going. She knew the answer well enough and that was why she administered the final deed with a firearm. To Shannon it gave her the option of trying to fool hers conscious into believing her hands were clean.

“How do you deal with it? Killing your own kind I mean. How do you really feel about that?” Deidre’s question went in the opposite direction. She was thankful for that small mercy.

“I know what I’m doing is right. I kill those that deserve it. Some would call it murder, but is it murder if they’ve killed innocent people and I give them a chance to fight back? It’s sounds corny as hell, but it’s the way I look at it and how I feel.”

“No, not to me.” Deidre took out a cigarette and began tapping it on the floor. “Sounds like justice actually. It’s not like you’d be able to get them to trial anyway even before all of this.”

Shannon scoffed. “Yeah, exactly. No court would believe me or anyone else so it seemed easier to become the big three and do it myself.”

“Decisive; I like that. You make sure they’re guilty before you pull the trigger?”             “There’s never any doubt. You were a lawyer. You know about due diligence and all that. I’ve never killed an innocent lycan by mistake. Understand that there are those… of us that are passive, meaning they want nothing more than to be left alone. Those precious few live as hermits and save their appetite for cows and livestock. They’ve maybe eaten less than a dozen people and have given up the need to feed. You should know that there isn’t a werewolf alive that hasn’t eaten at least one person.”

Deidre’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. “Only one, huh? Wow.” She’d seen her share of horror movies and read a bit here and there on werewolf lore. Up until the past 24 hours she believed the full-moon-out-of-control legend like most people. Only a scant few pieces of media touched on there being a choice, but the majority of those reverted back to the no control at all message. “So you made up your mind to be what you are now? Just like that?”

Shannon was confident that Deidre wasn’t being sarcastic or making an unspoken accusation. “Just like that.” Shannon snapped her fingers. “First time I changed I wanted to kill my boyfriend more than somebody out walking their dog. My first change came occurred because of an overly heavy period. Talk about weird.”

Both women laughed heard enough to wake up Helfron. Groggily he rolled over and told them to be quiet, there were other people sleeping. Deidre flipped Helfron off as he fell back to sleep.

Shannon chuckled mirthlessly. “Everyone’s going to have to get up in less than an hour, so fuck him.”

“So everything about you remains?” Deidre spoke in a quieter voice. She’d lost her taste for being generally civil, but she refused to be rude.

“You retain both of your selves, Dee. Sometimes the dark wins out. Either way the real you comes out.”

“Something remains of them, Shannon.” What light there was in Deidre’s face had been extinguished.

“Something remains in who? Those?” Shannon motioned towards outside.

Deidre wasn’t reluctant to tell her story. The ending convinced Shannon that she didn’t want to do anything except keep the undead at the maximum range of a sniper rifle. She was scared more than before.

It was too much to digest. Shannon had fought to keep her humanity intact. She’d neglected telling Deidre that the more you killed the closer to pure beast you became. It was the second most important reason she used a pistol. It was a vital anchor to retaining her humanity.

The thought crossed her mind that maybe the undead could be anchored to their humanity too. It came and went in a flash. She realized that the kids, even though they were still looking out for one another, would’ve still treated any of them like a hot lunch.

“What of the man?” Shannon wanted to change the focus of the discussion, but was more intent to satisfy her curiosity. “Aside from being naked, did there seem to be anything evident remaining?”

Deidre went into a coughing fit. She butted the cigarette out as if it had gone up in flames. “Shit,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “That guy? Fuck, Shannon. The guy was Greg.” She answered like it was a grand realization. “I kid you not. It was mother-loving Greg.”

“Naked?”

“Bet your ass he was. And his little buddy was missing too.” Deidre giggled at the memory. It was funnier now than it had been then.

It took Shannon a few seconds to comprehend what Deidre was telling her. She’d never given any part of Greg any consideration, nor had she had any reason to think of any man’s in the past decade. “Oh,” she gasped, understanding what the term ‘little buddy’ meant. “Christ, you don’t think… I mean he wouldn’t do anything with a dead head. Would he?” Shannon felt like a little girl talking about the male anatomy.

“No shit, girlfriend,” Deidre said, pulling out another cigarette. She lit it up before continuing. The conversation made Shannon feel better. It was a grotesque little sleepover that more than likely would never end, but she was happy to have the camaraderie.

Shannon watched Deidre take a drag off her cigarette before speaking again. “You know, those things are going to kill you.”

“Fuck that. After today, smoking’s the least of my worries.” With that, Deidre took another drag and watched the smoke float away in lazy streams.

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

 

The rest of the night started off uneventful, but then took a strange turn.

Deidre took note of the increasing undead activity within the first hour of her watch. She had the eight to midnight shift and as the night wore on she noticed the undead going from a single or duo shuffling to nowhere to packs of fifteen or more moving like they had a destination planned out.

A coyote howled close by. Deidre shuddered more at the throaty growl that answered it than the animal’s call. It wasn’t long before their came an animal growl followed by a fight. Deidre couldn’t tell the two apart until the coyote began whimpering in agony. Her body’s shuddering continued. It felt like she had stepped into one of those cold spots that ghost hunters always spoke about. In moments the sounded faded to nothing, which did nothing for Deidre’s hyper awareness jumpier than before.

After her watched ended, she woke Greene and gave him the run down on what she’d seen. Greene assured her that the time for her to be worried was over. His attitude sent her from annoyed to pissed off. He was being nonchalant about the whole thing. Earlier he had understood that mankind was no longer the dominate species. Now, it seemed like he couldn’t give two fucks about it all. She supposed that almost becoming a meal at least or joining the Club Maggot Monger had that effect on some people. She wasn’t going to argue with him. Being a dumbass was on him, not her.

Sharon had next watch and Deidre nodded at her as she moved to the roof access.

“You’re watch is over,” whispered Shannon, never taking her eyes off the street.

“It is. I can’t sleep. I’m thinking maybe the fresh air up top will make me tired.”

“Just don’t be seen or be loud. Strict noise and sound discipline.”

“Understood, grandmother,” whispered Shannon, sketching a mock salute.

Deidre opened the door adjacent to the roof ladder next to the kitchen, but paused.

“They seemed to be moving in a pack toward the northeast earlier.” She had to tell someone what she’d seen. Shannon seemed a natural for obvious reasons.

“I heard you mention that to Greene. You think they’re being drawn to something?”

“There’s that KOA park about fourteen miles down the road. They could be headed there.”

“Maybe. I haven’t heard any shots coming from that direction.”

“That doesn’t mean anything. Not everyone has a rifle or pistol these days.” Deidre knew that was a stupid assumption, and Shannon didn’t let it slide by.

“That’s a dumb thing to say, Dee.”

“Yeah. I guess it is. I’m heading topside.”

“Be careful up there.” Shannon looked at Deidre and smiled. The smile was empty and it did nothing to calm Deidre’s growing unease.

Deidre climbed the iron ladder, taking care to keep the access hatch from banging closed against the shingled roof.

She watched quietly as the zombies slowly walked by in groups of three or more. It was a long three hours. Not once did she have a cigarette even after the encounter with the naked walker an hour into her shift. It was the walker’s almost normal stroll that drew her scrutiny, not its lack of attire.

It was almost casually moving past when it stopped and turned toward her. She could feel its dead, milky eyes looking at her and through her.

She shouldered the shotgun Helfron had given her as her mind processed the sight. This must be what a deer feels like, she thought, forcing herself to remain still. She squeezed her eyes closed and remembered her childhood days of hiding under her blankets when she was afraid.

The naked zombie male had looked at her, of that she was sure. He craned his head left and right before moving closer to her. The closer he came the more Deidre’s attention went to where his genitals should have been. His penis had been forcefully removed. His body bore no other marks of possible infection so she supposed that it had been bitten off. She scrunched her face at the thought even as she stared at his ruined manhood. Dried blood stained the inside of his legs. “Asshole bleed out,” she whispered as he plodded closer. “Worst blowjob ever.” Once he reached within twenty feet of the front door she moved under a table and clicked the shotgun’s safety off.

Deidre considered waking the others as she waited for the deader to start banging on the glass. She dismissed the thought. Waking the others might cause a ruckus, which could conceivably draw more to the doors. Instead she watched him press his forehead against the glass as he peered inside.

Left and right he rubbed his head against the glass. With each movement it became smudged with desert dust and dirt. Deidre was sure that he’d seen her; ignorant that he’d seen her as a dim glow that merited investigation.

His rubbing took on a more insistent tone, and Deidre ducked back away from sight. The sound became more intense and wetter. Her mind played images of him rubbing his forehead skin off, exposing the possibly still wet tissue underneath. The sound kicked her already overactive imagination into warp speed.

I’ve gotta move. Find a new place away from that, she thought. Cautiously she climbed from under the table and made her way to one at the diner’s corner. She kept her teeth gritted, eyes narrowed in expectation of coming across a dirty pair of shoes with a set of mobile undead feet in them. The crawl was only seventy feet from here to there, but might as well have been a football field. Once she had made it to a far corner booth she realized she’d been holding her breath. She ventured a glimpse around the booth seating at the naked zombie.

Complete horror met her eyes. During her crawl a little girl had joined the male zombie. The girl was blonde, around seven years old, and wearing a purple night gown with polka dots and an embroidered flower on the chest. The front was completely soaked with blood. Two of her front teeth were missing and Deidre was unable to figure out if they had been ripped out in frenzied feeding or if they’d come out the old fashioned seven year-old way.

The little girl’s tongue ran across the glass in large loose circles. The tongue was bloated more than it should have been, but that didn’t deter the girl. She licked the glass back and forth. It was a curious thing to watch even in its morbidity. After five minutes of licking, the girl gave up and went about her way.

The male had ceased to be an object of curiosity. Seeing an undead adult was bad enough but to see a child was worse. It shook Deidre up in ways she would never be able to explain. She watched the little girl walk to the road and take the hand of another little girl. The second girl appeared to be five and had been cute once like the first. The younger zombie had brown hair, and full lips that at one time must have been filled with smiles of generosity and deviousness. The younger girl was dressed in an equally blood soaked t-shirt and boxer shorts. It was painful to see that once she had been a Scooby Doo fan that would’ve delighted in meeting the canine detective. Now she’d be interested in the gang for other reasons.

The two girls stood unmoving in the road. It was like they were waiting for someone else. A boy that looked like he had just entered his teens ambled briskly past the diner’s corner window. He took no notice of the diner or the naked zombie. His attention was solely on the girls. He too was dressed in nocturnal death clothes. Deidre was fairly certain that the front of his red and black plaid pajamas weren’t as caked as the girls.

The teenager reached the girls, and took the eldest girl’s hand into his. He became a little animated, as if he was chewing the girl out for something. He’d been the big brother in life and had remained so in death. He finished whatever grunting lecture he had in him before bending down and giving what looked like a stiff hug to the blonde girl. Both undead girls appeared to hug him in return.

Deidre’s heart froze, and then broke. Three children united in life and death. They released each other from their clumsy embrace before continuing on their journey.

Deidre watched them shuffle away before her mind snapped back to the male. He wasn’t there. Maybe he’d left for parts unknown while she watched the children or maybe he was looking for another entry point into the diner. She ducked back under the table and listened to the still night. Nothing clanged, banged, crashed, or even squeaked. After twenty minutes of sweating, fearful concentration, Deidre decided that the naked zombie had left to continue on his own personal mission. It wouldn’t be until later that she would realize that the male had been Greg.

For more than half an hour afterwards Deidre cried. She hadn’t cried so hard since she’d tendered her forced resignation. The world had suddenly become too much to bear.

After wishing Shannon an eventful watch, Deidre went to her sleeping space in the kitchen. She lay down, closed her eyes, and couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t because of the hard floor or even the male zombie, but because of the image of the undead children hugging each other. As much as her rational mind told her they weren’t kids any longer, she couldn’t help but to think of them as still as children. “Forever children,” she murmured to herself. It was indeed hard to deal with, the new world. Deidre wasn’t sure if she could survive the next day mentally let alone the rest of her natural life. She was sure that she wasn’t the first to contemplate suicide let alone go through with it if she went that way. It was all too much.

 

*******

 

Shannon listened to Deidre’s deep, thoughtful breathing. It was clear that Deidre didn’t have a problem with Shannon’s lycan nature. The real problem was dealing with the multitude of undead that waited on the other side of the glass and cinderblock walls.

Shannon was having her problems coming to terms with it as well. She’d never had to worry about being infected with lycan blood in her hunting. The lycan virus overran every other virus on the planet. While turning you into a human flesh craving beast it also cured whatever ailed you. At least it used to do that.

The virus forced the growth of new tissue with every turn. It even forced new growth when you were in human form. The virus merged with normal human DNA, overwriting genetic code before bringing the animal out of its long buried racial memory. Shannon wasn’t a scientist, but she felt the difference the morning after. She’d even felt different before her first change. Now, she had to worry about being infected with something she considered far worse than what she’d grown accustomed to.

And it wasn’t werewolves that scared Deidre. There was no fear from Deidre in that regard. It was the zombies, and Shannon knew it. Being a werewolf you could wrap your mind around. Dying, coming back and then eating friends, family or even strangers was hard to grapple with. As knowledgeable as Greene was with the storybook sweets stealing monster and the contemporary reanimated flesh eater, he never addressed whether anything of the past remained in the latter. Shannon wondered about that now. Her own insomnia rode in on that train of thought.

Shannon and Deidre were the only two still awake in the kitchen area as the sun came up. Helfron was supposed to take watch at 4AM, but Shannon let him sleep. She hadn’t smelled zombies or anything for that matter for almost an hour and a half. It was irresponsible to leave her post, but she felt they were safe for the time being.

She was about to make her way to Deidre before she realized that Deidre was making her way to her.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Deidre whispered, motioning for Shannon to sit. “How’re things out there?”

“Quiet. No movement or scents for an hour and half.” Shannon looked around the floor. “Where’s Kelsey and Rance?” She sniffed the air, confirming that they were close, but unseen.

“Freezer.” Deidre pointed quickly to the walk-in unit. “Rose turned it down so they won’t freeze to death. Bad news is the meat will thaw quicker.”

“It’s all good. We could always pop down to the Sav-Rite for more steaks when t he meat goes.” Shannon’s smile was weak, and Deidre knew it.

Shannon padded the conversation with something that didn’t reek of fear. Padding it with horrid grocery shopping jokes seemed like a safe, if not strange, way to go.

Deidre grunted. She was set on a collision course with talking about everything bad. “This is…,” she began. “You know… You know what? I don’t know what any of this is, but it’s something royally fucked up.”

Shannon looked at Deidre’s eyes, and understood that the woman she called her friend had been crying.

“I don’t know what to say about any of this, Deidre. I know you’re scared. We all are. Hell, girl, I’m scared shitless.”

Deidre scoffed. “You? Scared? You’re a lousy liar.” Deidre didn’t mean what she said. She knew that Shannon was scared but could think of nothing else to say. Shannon knew Deidre was at a loss but went with it anyway.

“I’m terrified, Dee. Being a werewolf is one thing, but being undead…that’s a horse of a different color.”

Deidre snorted a short laugh. “I love that movie. There’s no wizard to save us though, is there?”

“Not this time.”

“What’s it like, being a werewolf?”

Shannon had been expecting the question at sometime from someone, but Deidre’s timing was utter shit.

“Scary and exciting at the same time,” answered Shannon nervously. “It’s scary because you have all this power and hardly anything can stop you, but it’s exciting because you have all this power and hardly anything can stop you. It’s a gift and a curse.” She hoped the last statement would put Deidre at ease. It didn’t.

“Do you…” Deidre fought for a delicate way to ask her question. No solution came so she went with asking outright. “Do you remember everything after changing back to human?”

“Yeah.” Shannon picked at the laid out aprons she lay on. She didn’t like questions that inevitably led to what it was like to kill with your bare hands, claws, or teeth. That’s where she feared this was going. She knew the answer well enough and that was why she administered the final deed with a firearm. To Shannon it gave her the option of trying to fool hers conscious into believing her hands were clean.

“How do you deal with it? Killing your own kind I mean. How do you really feel about that?” Deidre’s question went in the opposite direction. She was thankful for that small mercy.

“I know what I’m doing is right. I kill those that deserve it. Some would call it murder, but is it murder if they’ve killed innocent people and I give them a chance to fight back? It’s sounds corny as hell, but it’s the way I look at it and how I feel.”

“No, not to me.” Deidre took out a cigarette and began tapping it on the floor. “Sounds like justice actually. It’s not like you’d be able to get them to trial anyway even before all of this.”

Shannon scoffed. “Yeah, exactly. No court would believe me or anyone else so it seemed easier to become the big three and do it myself.”

“Decisive; I like that. You make sure they’re guilty before you pull the trigger?”             “There’s never any doubt. You were a lawyer. You know about due diligence and all that. I’ve never killed an innocent lycan by mistake. Understand that there are those… of us that are passive, meaning they want nothing more than to be left alone. Those precious few live as hermits and save their appetite for cows and livestock. They’ve maybe eaten less than a dozen people and have given up the need to feed. You should know that there isn’t a werewolf alive that hasn’t eaten at least one person.”

Deidre’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. “Only one, huh? Wow.” She’d seen her share of horror movies and read a bit here and there on werewolf lore. Up until the past 24 hours she believed the full-moon-out-of-control legend like most people. Only a scant few pieces of media touched on there being a choice, but the majority of those reverted back to the no control at all message. “So you made up your mind to be what you are now? Just like that?”

Shannon was confident that Deidre wasn’t being sarcastic or making an unspoken accusation. “Just like that.” Shannon snapped her fingers. “First time I changed I wanted to kill my boyfriend more than somebody out walking their dog. My first change came occurred because of an overly heavy period. Talk about weird.”

Both women laughed heard enough to wake up Helfron. Groggily he rolled over and told them to be quiet, there were other people sleeping. Deidre flipped Helfron off as he fell back to sleep.

Shannon chuckled mirthlessly. “Everyone’s going to have to get up in less than an hour, so fuck him.”

“So everything about you remains?” Deidre spoke in a quieter voice. She’d lost her taste for being generally civil, but she refused to be rude.

“You retain both of your selves, Dee. Sometimes the dark wins out. Either way the real you comes out.”

“Something remains of them, Shannon.” What light there was in Deidre’s face had been extinguished.

“Something remains in who? Those?” Shannon motioned towards outside.

Deidre wasn’t reluctant to tell her story. The ending convinced Shannon that she didn’t want to do anything except keep the undead at the maximum range of a sniper rifle. She was scared more than before.

It was too much to digest. Shannon had fought to keep her humanity intact. She’d neglected telling Deidre that the more you killed the closer to pure beast you became. It was the second most important reason she used a pistol. It was a vital anchor to retaining her humanity.

The thought crossed her mind that maybe the undead could be anchored to their humanity too. It came and went in a flash. She realized that the kids, even though they were still looking out for one another, would’ve still treated any of them like a hot lunch.

“What of the man?” Shannon wanted to change the focus of the discussion, but was more intent to satisfy her curiosity. “Aside from being naked, did there seem to be anything evident remaining?”

Deidre went into a coughing fit. She butted the cigarette out as if it had gone up in flames. “Shit,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “That guy? Fuck, Shannon. The guy was Greg.” She answered like it was a grand realization. “I kid you not. It was mother-loving Greg.”

“Naked?”

“Bet your ass he was. And his little buddy was missing too.” Deidre giggled at the memory. It was funnier now than it had been then.

It took Shannon a few seconds to comprehend what Deidre was telling her. She’d never given any part of Greg any consideration, nor had she had any reason to think of any man’s in the past decade. “Oh,” she gasped, understanding what the term ‘little buddy’ meant. “Christ, you don’t think… I mean he wouldn’t do anything with a dead head. Would he?” Shannon felt like a little girl talking about the male anatomy.

“No shit, girlfriend,” Deidre said, pulling out another cigarette. She lit it up before continuing. The conversation made Shannon feel better. It was a grotesque little sleepover that more than likely would never end, but she was happy to have the camaraderie.

Shannon watched Deidre take a drag off her cigarette before speaking again. “You know, those things are going to kill you.”

“Fuck that. After today, smoking’s the least of my worries.” With that, Deidre took another drag and watched the smoke float away in lazy streams.

 

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

 

Turning lycan had made the stench worst, not better. Shannon couldn’t help but winch at the smells. A moment later she caught Kelsey’s and Rance’s, and wasn’t surprised to find them back in the freezer. If they stayed there too long, Kelsey would be doing the undead werewolf’s work for them.

The sour bologna and strawberries reek became stronger. She edged closer to the diner counter. It came from behind there. She gave a fast look over her shoulder and wasn’t surprised to see Deidre and Helfron trailing eight feet behind her.

She scowled, motioning for them to go back to the office. Neither retreated. In fact, Deidre offered her middle finger as a rebuttal.

“Smart ass,” growled Shannon as she moved toward the counter. It was a terrible hiding place, behind the counter. With the odor being strong and the place an obvious choice to hide, Shannon felt bad for what she now assumed had been a newborn lycan before being infected with something worse.

She gave the hand sign to show that she found their quarry. Again, she held out her hand, showing that she wanted them to stay back. This time they obeyed.

She moved around the counter’s edge. The smell was stronger and seemed to take up the entire area. Shannon choked back a small burst of vomit in her throat. That had never happened to her before in lycan form, and she had grown past tired of experiencing new things while in her werewolf suit.

With uneasy nerves reverberating through her body, she rushed around to the back. Nothing. Shannon looked around in confusion. Her target should have been there; his scent was unmistakable.

She moved closer to the scent focal points. She found a patch of hairy skin, still glistening bloody red, plastered onto a plastic pitcher. Her eyes widened and she knew instantly that she had been led into a well-executed ambush.

Who’s the newbie now? Damn rook, she thought, turning to where she was certain the werezombie would be; on her right. To most lycanthropes she was a newborn, but she had more kills than werewolves three times her age. Still, she felt young and stupid. But it wasn’t there either.

Instead its two clawed hands exploded from the wall behind her. Splintered wood and drywall flew out, hitting her in the head and neck. “Come here, bitch!” it screamed in a harsh male voice.

She wanted to be clever and comment on his choice of clichéd monologue, but the element of surprise was his, and he wasn’t playing around.

He grabbed her wrist, wrenching her arm in a pain filled motion behind her back before lifting her over the counter. Shannon didn’t remember hitting Deidre or Helfron before bouncing off the floor and into the jukebox. She hit it so hard that The Man Comes Around began to blare from it.

She certainly heard the trumpets and pipers screaming in her head. If she didn’t act fast, everyone would be getting to know those fabled one hundred million singing angels.

The unmistakable sound of a .45 caliber pistol barked its intentions followed by the more annoying yap of a 9mm. Deidre and Helfron were giving everything they had.

Shannon heard and felt the shots’ impact mix with the brass casings tinkling musically on the checkered, Formica floor. And she heard the werezombie’s shrieks of pain.

Shannon found humor in being the bait for once instead of the closure. She didn’t mind it too much, but the pain in her arm kept her from laughing hysterically.

“Contact’s down,” Helfron yelled. “I think I got him!”

“Like hell. It was me. I dropped his ass,” said Deidre, inching forward. Her white tennis shoes squealed with each step. What she suspected was confirmed once she reached the wheezing werezombie.

“No offense, Dee, but I’ve been on the Highway Patrol Pistol Team for the past three years. I know I hit what I aim at.”

Deidre rolled her eyes before looking down at the wounded creature. Helfron was picking a hell of a time to have a pissing match. She decided to let the real her out to play.

“Shut the fuck up. Now’s not the time to beat your meat to the band. The wounds from your pansy ass nine are healing. I swear to God, you’re next to fucking useless, Denny.”

“If my gun had regular bullets in it, those wounds would be the same,” added Shannon, panting. She’d leaned against the wall and rubbed her face. She had never felt pain like this before. Of course, she’d never gone head to head with a lycan like this one before either.

Deidre’s head jerked up like she wanted to look at Shannon. Instead she muttered an annoyed shut up to Shannon.

Helfron stood beside her. The 9mm wounds were healing. The wounds from Shannon’s pistol stayed open. With each labored breath, blood threatened to spill out from the four holes in its chest before being sucked back inside.

Small black lines trailed away from the bullet holes, making their way along the body in all directions. The werezombie’s twisting face alternated between a human that looked to be in his fifties to a face whose skin was suffering necrosis to a face in between wanting to change into its lycan form. The body couldn’t decide which infection should overrun it if any infection at all.

The three silently watched the confused transformations. Someone had gotten a lucky head shot in. Shannon was grateful that neither of her friends was fighting to claim it.

The blood giving small spurts interested Shannon. She looked closer, taking note of the neatness around the hole. It was clear the head wound had come from Deidre’s sniper rifle. The head wounded was now doing as much damage as the silver coated bullets.

“Guess you’re my bitch,” Deidre said, taking aim with an empty pistol. “Shit. Well that won’t do at all.” She looked at the open slide and then to Helfron’s pistol. It was clear that he had ammo left. “I’ll give you the kill shot, cupcake.”

Helfron growled at the insult, but took the headshot anyway. Deidre stood nearby, scowling at what was coming next.

“Cunt, don’t you ever…” said Helfron enraged, turning to Deidre.

Deidre punched him full force, breaking his nose. “Next time you get the nerve to talk to me like you know me you’ll think twice.”

Shannon was stunned, Helfron was hurt and Deidre walked away to the office. She stopped and looked at them both. “I didn’t just give up my commission and walk away willy-nilly, buddy-boy. I resigned because I beat the crap out of my last client when I was JAG. He was a child-raping piece of shit that deserved the maladjusted face and twisted hands I gave him. And yeah, he was guilty. They couldn’t prove it was me in that alley, but goddamned right I did it. So don’t act like you fucking know me, because you don’t know dick.”

It was a day for revelations indeed. It was also a day that Shannon could’ve done without. Looking back, she was pretty sure that Greg was the smart one, not she. The Johnny Cash song played to the end. It was appropriate for the situation.

 

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Eleven

Hi everyone. I never realized chapter eleven was so long. Maybe it will need to be cut up. What do you think? Regardless, enjoy! And before I forget, special thanks to Teresa Lane for catching an error last week. Thanks, Teresa!

Chapter Eleven

Greene and Helfron brought large OD green cases inside. Shannon marveled that they had been able to close the car’s trunk considering how big they were.

Greene watched her closely as he moved the crates through the diner. Occasionally he would whisper something to Helfron. Helfron only nodded his head in disagreement or it’s opposite.

Shannon tried to ignore it, but caught snatches of their conversation. Greene was definitely suspicious of her, but had no idea of what. She finally grew tired of sitting on the fence. No better time was going to appear for her to bring in her wares.

“Got room for more?” she asked Helfron in between coming inside and going out.

“Sure,” answered Greene, ignoring anything Helfron would say. “What do you got to add?” He sat on a crate as Helfron eyed him warily.

“We’ve always got room for a shotgun or two,” said Helfron, rolling his eyes at his partner. “Bring ‘em in. I figure we’ll be here for a week, maybe two, and we could use some close-in stuff.”

“Got more than that,” Shannon said with a nervous smile.

Her pulse quickened as she walked to her car. Sweat rolled down her face, and into her eyes and mouth. It was more than just the heat. Why are you so goddamned nervous, she chided herself.

Everyone in the diner went to the window, watching her like the proverbial train wreck.

Shannon slung her pistol belt on her shoulder before loading her arms with the other weapons. She struggled to get through the diner door, but made it. Every single mouth hung open as she laid the stack of weapons onto the olive drab green cases. “Got more,” she said, feeling sheepish.

Shannon returned to the car and removed the ammo. Helfron came out to help her. It was more out of curiosity than being a gentleman that prompted him to join her. “You’ve got some interesting tools of the trade for a diner table jockey, Shannon.”

“I’ve been busy in my off hours,” she said, loading his hands with magazines and ammo. “Girl’s gotta be prepared, right?”             They dropped the magazines beside the weapons. Greene was going through the stack, racking actions, flipping selector switches and looking at serial numbers.

“We’ve got a problem here, Denny,” Greene said, unholstering his pistol. “Some of these were reported missing from those checkpoints some nights ago. I think we’ve might have a cop killer here.”

Helfron stood in front of Greene’s pistol. He hated the clichéd showdown that he found himself in. “Hey, hang on, Steve.” He reached out to push down Greene’s pistol. Greene wasn’t in the mood for taking a calm approach.

“You hang on. I read the report and more than a few of the serial numbers I memorized are here. Ask her how she came across them. ASK HER!”

“Now calm down, Steve,” said Deidre, joining Shannon and Helfron. “There’s a logical reason. There’s got to be. It’s Shannon after all.”

“I’m a werewolf,” said Shannon abruptly. There was no other way to get the situation to de-escalate. “I didn’t kill those cops or those kids. I came up against some biters, and I killed what I could.”

“No one said anything about kids,” said Helfron, turning to face her. His eyes narrowed as his own suspicions kicked in. He kept his hand on his own pistol as he moved to the weapons on the weapons case.

“I was there that night; at the abandoned asylum. I went through the checkpoints after everyone was killed.” Shannon went through her story of that night. The more she told the more everyone looked at her as if she were crazy. By the end, only Helfron and Greene stood close to her. Greene still had his pistol aimed at her, and Helfron still had his hand on his.

“So, does that mean you take it only doggy style,” asked Greg.

Shannon jerked her head into the air in frustration. Her hands went up as a sign of frustration and surrender. “I give up. Shoot me now. Please. I’m not staying here with that asshole.

Helfron pulled a napkin holder from a nearby table and hurled it at Greg, hitting him in the forehead. Greg stumbled back and fell against a wall. He was beyond weary of hurting Greg.

“Sorry about the interruption,” Helfron said, crossing his arms over his chest. “Please, enlighten us with your werewolf form.”

“My what?” Shannon hadn’t been as prepared for the challenge as she thought she was. “You want me to change?”

“Change or I shoot,” said Greene, adding his own challenge. He thumbed the Beretta’s hammer back, and took aim at her heart. “These may be regular hollow points, but I bet they’ll still hurt.”

Shannon didn’t smell fear from the small man. Instead she smelled excitement and anticipation. Any one of those emotions could move a person to shoot. It was a reaction she didn’t relish.

“Oh, they’ll hurt, little man,” Shannon said finally. “But they’ll only piss me off too.” Her fondness for Greene and his adoration of her had vanished. People you liked, pointing a weapon at you changed your opinion of them. “Fine, then. Prepare to be amazed. But if you shoot me, I swear to God I’m shoving that thing in your ear pistol grip first.”

Changing with fear coursing through her veins hurt more than changing under the influence of adrenaline. Usually she kept her eyes open in order to watch her surroundings, but she figured if she were to get shot she’d rather not see it coming.

Shannon heard their gasps of shock and fearful reactions over the straining and ripping clothing and the sound of her bones and muscles tearing and repairing faster than any human’s possibly could. She heard Deidre gasp, Helfron’s muttered expletive concerning fecal matter, and Rose’s muttered Catholic prayer pertaining to absolution. Greene’s “wow” gave her comfort, but only a little. Greg’s exclaimed “fuck me” didn’t surprise her. The saddest thing she heard was Kelsey’s muffled scream. Fear roiled off the woman as she gathered Rance up and ran into the walk-in freezer. Shannon heard the latch catch and something slide into the interior lock along with Rance’s renewed screaming. That would be a situation she knew she’d have to defuse.

Once the change was complete, she opened her eyes. “Hi,” she said with an almost shy growl. “This is who I am.”

“This… is…awesome,” said Greene in reverence. “You’re…gorgeous.” Greene’s pistol clattered to the floor. He was too awestruck to keep his grip on it. His reaction was nothing that Shannon expected.

“You’re sick,” said Rose to Greene. Not once did she take her eyes off Shannon as she clutched the gold rosary around her neck.

“So what now?” Deidre pulled out a new cigarette with a shaking hand. The flame from the lighter didn’t meet the cigarette, but instead burned her nose hairs. She squealed in pain as she dropped the lighter in amazement at her clumsiness.

Greg and Helfron were the only two with nothing to say. Both stood equally amazed, and equally scared.

Shannon padded her way around everyone to a water fountain. It was times like that that the change gave her cottonmouth, and a thirst that was near unquenchable.

The added height, and not mention muzzle, made drinking difficult. She lapped the water from the stream, wondering what type of stereotypical jokes was going through whose mind. She felt a hand against the fur on her back. She smelled Greene. He was more fascinated than fearful.

“Was it a bite? It was a bite, wasn’t it?”

“No, unprotected sex.” She lapped more water as he pulled his hand away. He replaced it just as quickly as he’d removed it.

“Wow, really? Was it…”

“No,” said Deidre from across the room. “It was consensual. That’s what it was. Her attitude and willingness to even mention it says it was consensual, not forced. Yeah, Shay?”

“That’s right,” said Shannon, turning around. “So much for the boy next door type. Can I change back or would you like to take a picture?” She hoped her smile would show, but a lycan’s muscles were vastly different from that of a human.

No one said anything either way, so she changed back. Her uniform and apron hung off her in limp tatters. She wondered if this was how She-Hulk felt in between forms. She was grateful that she had special made bras and panties that stretched with the changes.

“So, wolf-lady. What are you going to do next? Where does this leave you?” asked Rose with a still shaky voice.

“It leaves me in the same position as you; scared to death and cut off from help.”

“We’re safe with her,” announced Helfron. “She’s not going to hurt us, are you, Shannon? In fact, I’m willing to bet you’re the one that’s been hanging burning people from overpasses and shit.”

“Easy to figure out, huh?” She was glad that she wouldn’t have to tell that tale as well.

“It was the silver jacketed hollow points that made me think that. I always wondered why someone would use those in a murder, and now I know. They weren’t murders were they? You killed murderers that happened to be werewolves, right? You’re the atypical killer of killers.”

“That was you?” said Greg. His voice quivered. He clutched a butcher knife in his left hand. In his mind, all his sins were about to revisit him. “Look, I’m sorry, alright? I’m sorry I said all that shit, and I’m sorry I groped you and all that. I’m sorry, okay? Just please don’t kill me.”

“Pussy,” hissed Rose.

“This isn’t about you, Greg,” said Helfron. “She’s killing those that’ve been getting away with it for years, maybe longer. All the agencies knew it was a serial killer, but no one could figure out the connection between the victims.”

Greene left her side and sat in a booth. He snatched up an unfinished coffee, uncaring as to whose it was or if it was cold. “I did. Remember, Denny? I said werewolf, but you thought I’d been out in the desert too long.”

“I said you’d been watching too many Lon Chaney, Jr. movies is what I said.”

“Whatever. I was right. Ha!” Greene was taking Shannon’s revelation better than anyone else. In fact, it seemed to snap him out of his funk, and he reveled in the news. “She’s a damn lycanthrope. That alone almost makes this zombie shit worthwhile.”

“That’s good. Glad I could make you feel better and that the end of civilization if the least of your worries.” Shannon didn’t mean to snap at him like that. She regretted it immediately.

“Hey, whatever gets Capitol One off my back. I owe those a-holes too much.” He was smiling and that made her feel better, much to her own confusion over the reactions she was seeing. Most still didn’t approach, her but they all seemed okay with it all.

“I’ve got to talk Kelsey out of the freezer,” said Rose. “That boy’ll catch his death of cold in there.” She hustled to the freezer door and proceeded to bang on it. She spoke in gentle tones, attempting to usher Kelsey out. “It’s okay, baby,” she said to the surely freezing mother and child. “Shannon doesn’t mean us any harm.”

“She’s changed you! I know she has! Rance and I’ll be safe here until you kill each other! We’ve got plenty of food and a pot to do our business in! GO AWAY!” Her voice was clear through the door. Kelsey sounded scared to death and hell bent on remaining in her steel habitat. After everything that she’d been through it would’ve been odd if she had sounded calm.

“It’s also thirty degrees in there,” Deidre said, moving from the dining area. “You’ll both freeze to death before anything else happens. Hypothermia is a pleasant way to go, but don’t do this to Rance.” She moved closer to the door, hoping to coax her out. “Really, Kel, we’re fine. Shannon’s done nothing to us. We’re all okay.”

She and rose here Rance’s almost inaudible plaintiff cry of confusion and misery. “Please, momma. I’m cold and I don’t want to be cold while I sleep. Please. I’m tired and cold.”

Even though Rance was lucid his complaint of being cold and sleepy was a sign of hypothermia or shock. Either was enough to scare Rose, and cause Helfron and Greene to join the discussion.

“Come on, Kelsey,” pleaded Greene. “Rance says he’s cold and tired. If he goes into shock it’ll be your fault. His death will be on you.”

Deidre punched Green in the arm. “Good negotiating skills there, ace. She’s already scared enough.”

“Steve’s right,” protested Helfron. “She needs to hear this. If she doesn’t she’ll lose that boy, and how’s that going to affect everyone’s moral?”

Shannon pushed her way forward. Leaning her forehead against the door she spoke. “Kelsey, honey, its Shannon. I’m not going to hurt you or Rance. I promise. I’ve got silver bullets in my own gun. I use them to hunt other werewolves. You can have it or I can fix up Rose’s forty-five and load it with them. You can have either one if it’ll make you feel better.” Shannon hoped that giving Kelsey a means to protect Rance against werewolves and the undead would make Kelsey feel better. Shannon knew that Kelsey was hiding to protect Rance more than herself.

There was a long period of silence from the other side of the door. Finally, Kelsey spoke. “How many bullets can I have?”

“As many as you want.”

“Are you really going to give her ammo that can kill you,” asked Rose in surprise.

“Gutsy move,” said Deidre.

“I’ll give her all of it if she asks for it,” said Shannon. She hoped Kelsey heard that part.

A rasping noise came from the door handle and the door slid open. Rance lay shivering on the floor under Kelsey’s apron. Helfron made for him, but Kelsey held a five-pound box of hamburger patties over her head like a cudgel. “Get back!” Kelsey screamed. “Give me the gun first!”

“Okay, okay,” said Helfron, moving from the door. “Steve, get Shannon’s pistol.” He looked at Rance and then back. “Kelsey, Rance needs to be warm, and soon. He could slip into shock. Look, I’m not going to hurt him. I promise.”

“Here’s Shannon’s piece,” Greene said, thrusting it to Kelsey. “It’s good to go. Got a mag in it, too.”

Kelsey dropped the meat and grabbed the gun faster than Greene anticipated. Her speed surprised him. “Okay, she said, appearing calmer. “Get Rance, please.”

Helfron rushed forward, grabbed the boy, and ran to a kitchen workstation. He spoke gently to the child as he rubbed the boy’s body.

“I don’t trust you any more, Shannon” said Kelsey, squeezing the trigger.

Kelsey’s actions caused Shannon’s heart to stop, and her body clenched. She admired and liked the spirit Kelsey showed, but not as much as the pistol’s sharp click.

The lack of a bang caused panic to appear on Kelsey’s face. She racked the slide and became terrified by the slide locking open on an empty magazine.

“You lied me to,” Kelsey roared at Shannon. “You lied and tricked me!”

Shannon was just as surprised by the turn of events as Kelsey.

“Actually,” said Greene, trying not to grin, “it was all me. Shannon had nothing to do with it. Did you really expect for me to give you a loaded gun? Shannon may dig stupid promises, but I sure don’t. Don’t go blaming her. It was all me, baby.”

Kelsey dropped the pistol and ran to Rance’s side. “Will he be okay, Denny?”

Helfron nodded yes.

Greene picked up Shannon’s 1911. He stood staring at her, juggling the pistol from hand to hand. His mouth formed the words “I knew it” over and over.

“Steve! Steve, get your head outta your ass and get another blanket,” shouted someone nearby. He kept his focus solely on Shannon.

“I knew there was something special about you,” Greene said a little louder. He then strolled away to find another blanket for Rance.

Shannon turned around to find Rose, pointing the MP5 at her, oblivious to the lack of ammo in the submachine gun. “Herb was right all along. You werewolf freaks do exist.”

“Yes, Rose. Its kind like yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus, but with you and werewolves.” Shannon’s humor did little to make Rose lower the MP5. “It’s empty, Rose. You’re not going to do anything with that until it’s loaded.”

“Then you’d better load it for me. I’d feel better around you if I had something that went bang when I needed it.”

“Well, let’s not and say we did, okay, love?” retorted Shannon angrily. She’d had enough of friends pointing things that went bang at her. She wasn’t going to stand for it any longer.

Shannon walked by Rose, patting Rose’s weapon as she passed.

Rose, for the first time in Shannon’s knowing the woman, had harsh words for Shannon; mouthy dog bitch.

The muttered words made Shannon laugh. She stopped laughing once she got to the front door. She intended to close her still open trunk, but the four stumbling figures four hundred yards away stopped her.

“Steve, Dennis, Deidre, anybody. Come here, please.” She liked her squeaky tone of voice as much as she liked what appeared to be lazily ambling toward the diner over two hundred feet away.

“Yeah, what is it, wolfie?” said Deidre. She took a drag off her cigarette, and smiled at Shannon. The smile for her joke dissipated once she spotted the source of Shannon’s distress. “Fuck me. That can’t be what we think they are, can they?”

“I hope not, but they aren’t moving like normal people either.”

“Maybe they’re just dumbass stoners hitching a ride to some stonerpalooza or some shit. Maybe that’s all. Remember those potheads we had in her almost a year ago? So fucked up they forgot their gear at the campgrounds or something. Remember that?” Deidre’s voice held a tremor of uncharacteristic worry. Deidre Martin was fearless in Shannon’s eyes. Up until that moment she’d always been.

“They’re not stoners, Dee. They’re deaders. And before you ask,” Shannon turned her own worried eyes to Deidre. “I can smell the rot from here.”

“Your cute little muzzle’s going to come in handy.” Deidre turned to the two officers leaving the kitchen. “Either of you have any objections to me arming up? Shannon says we got undead coming down on us.”

“What? How many? Are they bearing down on us?”

Helfron, Greene, and Kelsey joined them at the window. Rance had stabilized and was peacefully resting.

“I only see three, but don’t they usually travel in packs?” Kelsey stared out the door at the unsteady, slow-moving figures.

“In fiction it’s normal for them to travel in groups of four or less,” answered Greene from the diner’s back office. Anything numbering five or more could be a problem.

“Anything number one could be a problem,” answered Shannon.

“And this ain’t no movie,” spat Rose, standing next to Shannon. Her hands gripped the MP5 even harder. “I need bullets now.”

Rose joined the five at the door. The undead were faster than any had anticipated. They’d closed on the diner by a hundred feet in the time the conversation had taken place.

To the surprise to some and not to others, Greg dashed across the parking lot and jumped into Helfron and Greene’s cruiser. He paused long enough to throw a shotgun and two assault rifles into the back seat.

“Stupid dick,” muttered Helfron. “He grabbed guns, but no ammo.”

“How do you know that?” Kelsey moved closer to Helfron. He looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“Steve and I haven’t had time to load anything yet. That’s how I know. Oh good. Dumbshit’s activated the light bar and siren.”

The idiot had started the siren and the lights, gaining the attention of the three clearly dead individuals.

“Oh my God,” she said breathlessly. “Are they gonna…”

Like the others, Kelsey watched Greg swerve to miss a zombie, but hit another instead while over correcting. The siren faded before the lights were lost in the distance. The still walking tried to follow the speeding car but for a moment. They stopped, looking between where the patrol car had gone to their fallen comrade before returning to their original path.

The loss of the patrol car didn’t bother Greene or Helfron. They lamented the loss of weapons more.

Greene scoffed at the fleeing fry cook. “Good thing we got another Benelli 12 gauge or we’d be stuck with useless ammo.”

Helfron grunted in agreement as the hit zombie try to push himself up. The zombies’ legs had been crushed with the impact. Pulling his broken lower half was the best he could do for movement.

“Yep. Welp, let’s go see about making these asshats deader…er,” said Deidre, trying to be witty on the term Shannon had used

Deidre walked to the back of the kitchen. She opened and closed cases, trying to find the right weapon. “Bitch wicked,” she announced, pulling a sleek military sniper rifle out of a bottom case. “You got rounds for this?”

“You know how to use that?” said Helfron, wiping his sweaty face from the kitchen doorway.

“It’s a bolt action so there can’t be that much to learn.”

“What’s she got?” asked Greene still at the diner entrance. He stared steadily at the three remaining ambulatory deaders.

“The classic, long distance killer. Your M40.”

“Shit no! That’s mine!” He broke away from the door intent on getting his rifle back.

“Hers now,” said Shannon, wondering what one of Deidre’s cigarettes would taste like. She began to understand now more than ever why people smoked. Some situations were hard to cope with and having a vice made things seemingly better.

Deidre went to the door, and took sight on one of the undead.

“Shooting will only bring more,” warned Greene, looking over her shoulder.

“If that were the case that siren would’ve brought more,” she retorted. “I’m pretty sure that according to your movies, any more would be following his dumb ass.”

“You think? Then go ahead and fire.”

Deidre’s first shot nailed the closest zombie on the left side of its forehead. The remaining two stopped and looked around confused. It was doubtful that the crawling one could see much of anything.

To everyone’s amazement the one that was shot thrashed around and then awkwardly stood. Its gait now gave it the appearance of having cerebral palsy. It suddenly stopped, looked at the other and then attacked.

“And now they’re fighting. That’s unheard of in zombie lore.” Greene pulled up a chair, turned it backwards and sat with his chin resting on his stacked fists. “That M40A3 holds five rounds, Dee. And a headshot’s not a guarantee. It has to be placed just right.”

“Bull,” argued Rose. Shoot a man in the head and he dies.”

“Totally untrue,” said Deidre, reloading the sniper rifle. “People catch all manner of crap in their heads and live. Nails from nail guns, 9mm rounds, bits of tree limbs, falling screws, chunks of glass bottles. All that can damage a person’s brain, sure, but they survive to live normal, sometimes happy lives.”

The atmosphere had turned into that of a study group or sewing circle and not a group of people bent on surviving the end of the civilization.

“Try again, but on the crawler this time,” suggested Shannon. She pulled a cigarette from Deidre’s pack and rolled it thoughtfully between her fingers.

The injured and uninjured grappled around on the ground. The injured had torn several chunks from the uninjured and showed no signs that the necrotized meat bothered him. The uninjured resisted only enough to attempt to escape.

Deidre snickered at how she’d become as morbidly fascinated as the others. “Go on, shoot it. Put ‘em out of its misery,” she urged, leaving to check on Rance and Kelsey.

“It’s a she and I wish I could,” Deidre said, peering through the scope. “They’re fighting around him too much. Shit,” she cursed. “Damn sun’s setting too. Wish I could get them to move away and her into some better light.”

Leaving the shot untaken was for the best. The headshot zombie began growling loudly in pain, and thrashed around on the ground. It kept the left leg of the other gripped tightly in hand.

A loud ripping sound reached the diner as the trapped zombie pulled its leg free at the hip.

The pain racked zombie’s filthy, ratted tee shirt and jeans split as stringy looking hair grew from his exposed skin. As the zombie flailed on the ground the ball joint of the other’s leg made teeth jarring clacking noises on the macadam.

Everyone watched as it stood to its full eight foot tall height with undead wounds healed and howled in rage as a fully realized werewolf.

“Fuckity fuck-fuck fucker,” whispered Shannon. The sun had set and the lycan paced around slowly, sniffing the nighttime world.

“Friend of yours,” asked Greene. A tremor of either fear or awe tinged his voice.

“Fuck you,” whispered Shannon. With alarm she hissed, “Get down before he sees us.”

It didn’t matter if they ducked out of sight nor not. The lycan dropped to its knees first, grasping its stomach. It howled in agony and clutched its head before collapsing totally to the ground. There was no mistaking the suffering in its cries.

The sounds echoed throughout the diner and the interior lights flickered into full life. To the inhabitants it signaled that the diner was open all night to feed anything with a hunger.

“This is going to get us killed,” spat Helfron. He, like the others, got lower still while trying to maintain a line of sight with the werezombie.

“I don’t know about all that,” answered Deidre. She and Shannon edged higher over the back of the booth, focused on the still thrashing creature. “It looks like he’s got other issues.”

The werezombie grew still, and then struggled to its feet. It shook itself violently, flinging something thick and viscous from its muzzle. It spotted the still crawling zombie as it dragged itself within fifty feet of the diner front door. The zombie ignored the hard footsteps behind it as it dragged itself toward the diner.

The werezombie howled once more in pained rage. It ran to the focal point of that rage, the crawler, and stomped its head until the zombie’s body ceased twitching.

“It’s grinning,” whispered Shannon. “It’s happy with its mess.”

None asked her how she could tell. It was clear by the canine smile on its face that it was pleased with its work.

The werezombie moved its head left, right, and back again, sampling the night scents carefully. It closed its scent cone on the diner. Shannon’s eyes grew wide as its eyes locked on hers. She knew for certain that it was staring at her, not Deidre. Deidre had been smart enough to duck back down to the floor, and started low crawling with her rifle to the back of the diner.

“Does it see you,” asked Deidre over her shoulder.

“Hell yeah it sees me.”

“Then get down,” urged Helfron, pulling out his pistol. He wished he’d gotten something bigger.

“Doesn’t matter,” snapped Sharon. “He knew we were here before he saw me.”

“Goddamn it,” said Greene, standing up. “Take a picture, numb nuts,” he yelled defiantly. “It’ll last longer!”

The werezombie charged, but fell after ten steps. It clutched its chest in a coughing fit. It rose again, holding its sternum, in more pain than before. It was past upset and clearly hungry.

It jogged toward them, and leapt onto the roof once it was twenty feet from the door. Everyone looked up at the dull thump from above. The werezombie’s heavy footsteps reverberated through the diner, then silence.

“What’s it doing?” whispered Kelsey. She held a butcher knife close to her chest.

“What it does best; hunting.” Shannon slunk over to her pistol. Greene had placed it back on the weapons cases, but had neglected to load a loaded magazine. It was an oversight that Shannon wouldn’t be repeating.

She looked to the ceiling, racking the slide as quietly as possible. She understood the lycan zombie had appeared undead before the change to a very healthy werewolf. It was then she understood the effects of lycan infection pre and post zombie infection. Just trying to sort out how it was possible hurt her head. To her way of thinking the two couldn’t possibly coexist, yet they did.

“Everyone fall back to the office,” Helfron said in a hushed voice. “Rose, Kelsey, stay close to Shannon, Greene and me.”

Kelsey scooted off to the office, not heeding Helfron’s words to stay close.

The remaining unarmed did as instructed. Deidre moved beside Shannon, knowing that she was the best to deal with the current problem. Deidre’s sniper rifle was potent, but useless at close range.

“You want my pistol?” Shannon held it out, grip first to Deidre. Deidre eyed it with a leering greed that was new to Shannon. “I can smell the want on you. I know you want it.”

“Damn right I do.” Deidre placed the rifle on the floor and took the pistol and three spare magazines. “No big guess as to what you’ll do in this fight.”

Shannon smiled wearily. She didn’t like the scent she was picking up from the area. The smell of fear and the stench of a lycanthrope mixed with death and rotted humanity was overwhelming. She couldn’t concentrate enough to get a location on their opponent. It was frustrating and Shannon hoped that going lycan would help her sort the scents and localize the werezombie.

Shannon began her change before anyone knew it. She doubled over at the office’s doorframe and with Deidre and Helfron’s help she made it into the office.

The office was empty. Kelsey and Rance nowhere to be seen and absent was the smell of fresh blood and their scents. Mother and son had simply vanished.

“Fucking hell!” spat Greene. “Where are they? He couldn’t have gotten past us to them, could he?”

“I would’ve heard him at the very least,” said Shannon, change completed.

“Can you hear him now?” Helfron, normally the bastion of calmness in any storm, was in a smart assy, fear fueled panic. His question was warranted though. Shannon couldn’t hear or smell the werezombie anywhere. The only odors she could pick up was the stench of rancid strawberries mingling with the odor of garlic bologna gone bad. The mixture was both odd and revolting. The diner didn’t serve garlic bologna.

She silently turned and held out a hand to the others, signaling for them to wait where they were. She crept out of the room, examining every square inch that came within sight, hearing, and smell.

 

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