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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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

 

Shannon parked her car with the rear facing the diner’s entrance. Helfron and Kelsey arrived as she was shutting the engine off. Both were terrified and Rance’s crying drowned out all other sounds. The bullet holes in the side of Helfron’s cruiser gave reason to why they were in the state they were. Someone had decided to take a few shots at them at some point in time. The sight of the damaged cruiser rattled Shannon though she couldn’t say why. The combination of her fear along with others began to annoy her more than ever before.

Kelsey ran into the diner, screaming bloody murder. Shannon felt aggravation mixed with annoyance begin to blossom. One look at Rance’s bloody arm made the feelings disappear. The boy had taken a round in the arm. His cries of agony made Shannon’s heart go out to him. “What in hell happened,” she yelled, running to a first aid kit.

“Don’t worry about that,” Helfron yelled, putting the boy on a table. “I’ve got one from my car.”

“What happened?” shrieked Rose, joining them.

“Dirty bastards shot him!” Kelsey was in a panic. Any anger she had at their attackers was overshadowed by her concern for Rance.

“Dumb assholes at a checkpoint fired on us,” grunted Helfron, tearing open Rance’s sleeve.

Rance shrieked louder as the fabric tore away from the clotted wound. Damn thing wasn’t there when we rolled through, going to get the kid, but on the way back… Ohhhh, yeah! Fuckers were military and sure weren’t interested in helping folks.”

They’re shooting people now?” Greg didn’t look at Rance or Kelsey. It was obvious his concern was for Greg Fender alone. “Are they gonna come here and shoot us? Fuck, Dennis. If you’ve led them here, I swear to God I’m gonna…”

Helfron launched himself to his feet and punched Greg in the throat. The blow wasn’t hard enough to crush Greg’s windpipe, but it was enough to make it difficult to speak or breath.

“Be silent, bitch,” warned Helfron, returning to Rance. He grabbed a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from his first aid kit and poured it on Rance’s wound. With practiced hands he wiped the crimson stained fluid from the injured arm. “It’s a flesh wound,” he announced, sounding relieved. “It’s only a graze, but it still needs to be it cleaned out.”

“He’s going to be okay,” asked Kelsey. Her terror fell away like the tears falling from her eyes.

“Yeah, he’ll be fine. Once it’s cleaned, we’ll need to watch it for the next three of four days, changing that bandage often. If not, infection could kill him as soon as any bullet.”

Helfron worked diligently. The further the wrapping process went the calmer Rance became. Finally, Helfron stood and looked around. Through the whole ordeal the only person that hadn’t rushed to Kelsey and Rance was Greene.

Greene sat quietly through everything, staring out of the window. Greene’s attitude worried Helfron. He hoped that his friend wasn’t slipping into depression.

“What in God’s name happened out there, Dennis?” Shannon grabbed Helfron’s arm, turning him to face her.

“I’ll tell all of you about it in a minute.” He jerked his head to Greene. “What’s wrong with Steve?”

“He’s been acting weird since you guys left. He’s all sullen and morose and crap. He acted like I was deserting when I went to pull my car to the front.”

“Guy’s been through a lot. He had to kill a kid five days ago. He’s been brooding on it ever since. Shit, Shannon. It wasn’t even what you could call a kid any more. Damn thing tried to take a bite out of him.

‘Killing a kid is hard, but if it’s you or someone already dead then the choice is easy,’ was what she wanted to say. Instead she said, “What are we going to do then?”

“I don’t know.”

They looked at Greene while they spoke. At one point, Greene turned his attention not to them, but through them.

Greene’s gaze broke after a few seconds and then he approached them. His face was no livelier than the zombies he’d previously encountered. “So what’s the dill, pickle?” His attempt at humor was as weak as his enthusiasm.

“Everyone to me,” said Helfron, waving everyone to him. All moved toward him with the exception of Greene. “That means you too, buddy. School circle here.” Helfron leaned over to Rance, who was sleeping in Kelsey’s arms. He gave a gentle kiss on the boy’s forehead before speaking.

He waited till everyone’s eyes, including Greene’s blank ones were on him. “The situation is as follows. As you’ve guessed the shit has hit the proverbial fan. Rance took a round from a checkpoint that I believe was rogue. As much as it pains me to say this, from here on out we are on our own. Just because someone is wearing US military uniforms doesn’t mean we can trust them.”

“You can’t judge all by one,” Rose said, arms crossed defiantly. “Just ‘cause one shot at you don’t mean all are bad. You could’ve made a wrong move on them.” Rose’s belief that all military personnel were good guys had gotten to Helfron.

“Shut up, Rose. What I saw was a rogue unit. Protecting people doesn’t include pulling families out of a vehicle, shooting the males and children while putting the women aside. I saw it with my own two eyes and I swore to God I wasn’t going to let anyone do that to me and those under my watch. You want to believe that all soldiers are knights in shining armor, you go ahead. But do it on your own time, not mine.”

Helfron’s retort snapped Greene out of his stupor. “You’re shitting me, Dennis. No way that happened.” Unlike Rose, his words were more from disbelief than a that-would-never-happen stance.

“It happened, Steve,” Kelsey said in soft tones, cradling Rance. “There were some trucks blocking the road and some more came out of nowhere, blocking the rear once you got there. They tried to block us in, but we got away. We saw…” Kelsey’s breath hitched in her throat. She regained her composure. “They pulled a man out of the driver’s seat and shot him, and two little boys. One boy was no older than Rance, and those soldiers dragged them all out of the car and shot them. It happened, Steve. It happened.” She slammed a fist on the table and Rance whimpered.

“We ran like our asses were on fire. We got the hell out of there, and they started shooting at us. They must have winged Rance while we were making our turn around.”

“So what’s your plan,” asked Shannon matter of factly.

“We’re getting the fuck out of here,” said Greg in a raspy voice. He hadn’t bothered rising from where he’d fallen. “That’s what we’re gonna fucking do.”

“Shut up, dumbass or I swear to God I’ll punch you until you can’t speak ever again.” Deidre had been listening carefully to what was being said. She didn’t want her intelligence gathering to be interrupted by Greg’s whining.

Helfron spared a disgusted glance to Greg. “Lady’s right. Shut up, nut sack.” He looked one by one to the others. “I figure we can hole up here for a couple of days. Let things cool down outside. Best case is that order will be restored. I doubt it will be, but who knows. Worst case is we stay here till the power goes out, and all information services go dark. We can fortify this place in case of raiders or zombie freaks. Not like we’re hurting for food or anything.”

“When do we start on this plan of yours,” asked Greene.

“Now. If you have weapons, I suggest you get them. We’ll turn the back part of the kitchen into a fallback area slash armory. Greene, plan’s changed so let’s bring those cases inside.”

“Yeah, okay,” answered Greene, shrugging. “I feel safer staying with Shannon anyway.”

Helfron looked quizzically between Shannon and his partner. He had no idea how to take what he said. “Whatever. Just help me move the weapons and munitions inside. Hoo-ah?”

“Ooh-rah, boss.” Greene’s Marine grunt wasn’t motivating at the least.

“Be right back,” said Greene to Shannon.

“I’m going to lay Rance down in the office,” said Kelsey. She carefully picked Rance up and moved to the office in the back of the diner.

“What was that all about,” asked Deidre as she walked up beside Shannon.

“I don’t know,” Shannon answered, knowing what the question really meant. “If we have our soldiers shooting at us we’re in it deep.”

“Not that. What Greene said. Maybe your little show of strength scared him.”

“What strength?” Shannon tried to look shocked at Deidre’s statement.

“You know, the strength you used to pop that slide back. Very impressive, girl.”

“It wasn’t that hard. Rose is just old is all.” Shannon would’ve normally looked for an escape from that kind of conversation or a way to redirect it. Now, she felt an odd inescapable pinch to share her secret.

“Modest, aren’t you? That slide was damn near rusted to the frame. There’s been a time or two that I’ve even tried racking it back. Maybe you just had some leverage, yeah?”

“Maybe.” Discomfort replaced the urge to tell on herself. Shannon was beginning to look for anyway to escape from Deidre. She began to hope for shots to shatter the diner’s front windows to distract Deidre.

“Yeah, maybe.”

“Look, why don’t you unload whatever you have in your trunk. The way you parked says you’ve got something you want inside so you’d better get on that.” Deidre winked at Shannon before disappearing into the kitchen. Moments later Shannon smelled the sharp tang of the Marlboro cigarettes Deidre smoked.

Shannon looked at her car, trying to decide how best to get her weapons stash into the diner. There was no denying that the end of secrets was at hand.

 

This work is copyrighted and may not be copied in whole or in part without the written permission of the author, Jason McKinney.

 

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For Old Ways Die/Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Nine

Happy New Year, one and all! 2015 had been a good year, and 2016 looks to be better. A lot of us have made great gains in life, while others have stagnated, or have regressed in some way or on something. I fit into all three, as I’m sure a lot of people do. As we make our resolutions to try to better ourselves and our situations, I have vowed to write more than I have for the past couple of months, to eat less and healthier, to exercise more, and to write more than I have in the past couple of months. Thanksgiving is usually where most people stumble and fall when it comes to everything that is good for us, and I am no exception. And that exception was my writing, hence why I said that twice. I’m doing good on the eating and exercise thing, but writing… However, I will do better, gentle readers and fans. I promise you that 2016 will be a better year and that Werewolves of the Dead will be finished, and finished right. I swear it will be done. Until then, Happy New Year, may your dreams and wishes come true in this new year, and know that I love each and every one of you.

 

Chapter Nine

 

The news was filled with more of the usual fluff pieces of celebrity mishaps and wrong doings. To Shannon that was ridiculous. She lamented America’s need for celebrity news every other day, but it had been two days since her asylum encounter. Two days of explaining the cuts way to coworkers, but not Helfron and Greene. Neither had made a visit the diner.

She thought of that as good thing as she finished dressing for work. It was the news that held her attention. She wasn’t surprised to see that nothing was aired about the asylum or unusual, unexplainable killings. The dead police were reported as an ambush by a crazed ex-husband in a suburb but little more was said about how many were killed.

What got her attention was a report of the simultaneous failure of the major social media outlets. All those sites where you could let people know about the bowel movement you just took or that Kyle was seen cheating on Sally with Janet had crashed. It was the work of North Korean hackers working with the Chinese was what the journalists cried. Shannon knew better. The social network crashes was almost unheard of. The United States had developed a culture where the loss of one social networking site was a goddamned travesty, but to lose all of them at the same time… Shannon filed the tidbit away in her mental warehouse while listening to the news as she prepared for work.

At last a report about the flu appeared on the television. Shannon sat on the bed to watch the report. She cared not for being a little late for work even though the diner had been unusually busy the day before.

It was no coincidence to Shannon that the Stork Flu, that’s what officials were calling it, appeared right before half eaten people started to sample non-half eaten people.

A fiftyish-trying-to-look-thirtyish female network anchor talked about the government wanting everyone to be inoculated against the new, potentially deadly flu. “Potentially deadly for whom?” she mused.

The anchor discussed the recent flu related deaths in a it’s-not-that-bad tone that didn’t fool Shannon. She knew, and if she knew the truth then the others outside the government had to have known too. It was just a matter of time before everyone knew.

She scoffed at the reporting until a commercial for a bridal show aired. Fact gathering time was over. She had work to do and money to earn for 9mm ammo. She still had the police weapons in her car and she was sure that before she knew it she’d be able to find 9mm lying around in the streets. That fact didn’t give her comfort and in the days that followed she made several trips to various Wal-Mart’s and gun stores, buying up as much 9mm as she could without looking suspicious.

She stepped out that morning, happy to be alive for a change. The mood shifted once she stepped onto the sidewalk leading to the diner’s door.

A line of military vehicles, loaded with soldiers and accompanied by tanks, barreled down the distant interstate. Overhead a score of military helicopters flew in the direction of Tucson. She knew enough to see that the missile racks were fully armed.

Her heart grew cold at the sight. It grew colder still when she found out that their regular law enforcement clientele was absent.

Greene and Helfron never came for breakfast the next morning either.

Neither did they come in the next day, the day after or even the following seven days. Other members of the highway patrol stopped in for a quick coffee or bathroom break. None would, or maybe couldn’t, comment on Steve Greene or Douglas Helfron’s whereabouts.

Their absence was welcome. They had a soft spot for the diner’s staff. They would have been sure to ask where the cuts on her face had come from. It would’ve been more out of who-roughed-you-up concern than did-you-get-that-jumping-out-of-a-third-floor-window style questioning.

Helfron wasn’t above stepping out of his law enforcement roll to take down someone that hurt a friend. She’d often gathered from him that he was of the law, but not above doing what the court system wouldn’t. Shannon didn’t think that movement away from serve and protect included vigilante style killing.

Still, neither officer appeared for days. More and more Shannon became worried about their safety. The memories of what she’d seen in the asylum didn’t help ease her mind.

Even two weeks in the past the memory of the asylum stung. Her fear from that time had almost been replaced by total paranoia. The paranoia always came with the thought of moving on to another state. She cast that aside. It didn’t sit well with her and she couldn’t help but wonder why she couldn’t bring herself to leave for new killing grounds. Were they friends? It had been years since she’d had anything like that. Maybe, she thought, it’s because you don’t have to worry about that John Law has its sights set solely on finding you. For the first time she knew that law enforcement had bigger things to deal with than her killing hobby. All in all though one worry was forgotten and replace with one far worse. She was stunned to find that herself examining every patron closer than ever.

On a day threatening rain relief exploded into her mind as she saw Greene and Helfron’s cruiser pull into the parking lot. But not parking in their usual spot in front of the diner. To Shannon it seemed like they were intentionally trying to avoid having their presence detected.

They entered the diner, surveying everyone as they went along. The only clients in the diner were a couple in their mid forties, and two young college aged women. Both groups had stopped off for a bite to eat and had planned on being on the road after filling their stomachs.

Both Greene and Helfron kept a hand near their pistols as they studied the two couples. Neither of them acted like they wanted them to get close. Maintain the perimeter was the saying, and they might as well have been screaming it.

Shannon wondered that if trouble were to come from the diner, who would bring it.

Neither officer was happy. Neither spoke of their absence. Both men were reticent to discuss anything as they sat absentmindedly picking at their food.

They chose a table that allowed them to survey the entire diner. It was far and away from their usual table. The usually talkative Greene sat sullenly before his breakfast. He picked at it, eating a bit of scrambled egg here and there. He left the majority untouched. Shannon wasn’t the only one to notice that his face looked gaunt. He’d lost weight as had Helfron.

Rose broached the subject but was brushed off by them. Both men were on edge and kept looking nervously at their watches.

Their attitude worried Shannon. Worry gave way to fear once Shannon realized that aside from the jukebox, the diner was quiet. Neither Helfron nor Greene’s police radio’s were turned on.

Shannon’s right hand itched for her 1911 pistol. Worse was that her left was itching more in anticipation of the change. Fear crept into her heart; it was fear of the blatantly, obviously, wrong.

Deidre approached the table, engaging the officers in conversation. Both were short but not rude. They dismissed her with a wave and short excuses of they were just tired.

She approached Shannon to discuss what was happening when three military Humm-Vee’s stopped in the parking lot. “What the fracking hell is that,” Shannon asked, dismayed to see more troops at their little eatery. “More soldiers?”

“They’re Marines,” answered Deidre in a curious tone. “Up-armored Humm-Vees sporting fifties. They’re not playing.” She looked to the Helfron and Greene and back to the gathered military vehicles. Both men were noticeably edgy. They stared at the vehicles with trepidation. Helfron’s hand went to his pistol in a subtle motion. Somehow Shannon knew that if Helfron started a fight with the new arrivals he’d lose in a big way.

Greene reached across the table for Helfron’s arm and nodded slightly. Helfron pulled his hand from his pistol but continued staring at the Marines.

The military vehicles kept their formation, and stayed parked parallel to the diner. The gunners in the lead and last vehicles kept their machine guns trained on the left and right respectively while the middle vehicle watched the road. A single Marine climbed out of each vehicle. They gathered together, conferring while glancing around and at the highway patrol cruiser before entering the diner.

The three Marines, two men and one woman, stopped and looked around. They saw Helfron and Greene and made their way to the table. The five talked quietly before leaving the table.

Shannon, Deidre, Kelsey and Rose went to the door. Greg kept his place in behind the cook’s window. His eyes were wide with awe and worry. He loved guns, but never had the guts to own one. To see big ones was a rare treat for him.

Shannon and the others watched as the Marines talked with Greene and Helfron. None spoke. They stared quietly at the meeting before them.

Helfron walked to the back of the dinner. Greened remained, talking easily to the Marines. He gave a laugh, which loosened his face but for a moment. The paranoid look in his eyes never really disappeared.

Helfron brought the cruiser the military column. The trunk popped open and Helfron joined Greene and the Marines.

The female opened the back of the second Humm-Vee and began removing ammo cans. Helfron took the cans. He took care to store them in the trunk before helping her remove a large, OD green plastic case. Two smaller cases were removed and placed into the trunk also.

Greene talked more with the Marines before taking a walkie-talkie from one of them. He shook hands with all of them before the three climbed back into their vehicles and pulled away.

Greene and Helfron looked to the windows. In dim daylight they could see the diner employees watching them. They talked between themselves and then moved toward the doors.

Shannon and the others backed away from the door. Worry racked them all. They’d just seen the military give weapons, military weapons, to two state cops like it was an everyday occurrence. Like the old saying went, inquiring minds wanted to know.

Shannon stood at the head of the diner crew as Greene and Helfron entered.

The two stood in the middle of the floor, six feet from the entrance. An elderly couple entered the diner, as Helfron was about to speak. He eyeballed them before whispering into Greene’s ear. Both men looked at the couple as they took a booth. Helfron nodded to Greene, and then Greene spoke.

“Rose, Shannon, everyone,” Greene addressed the diner with his hands akimbo. “Helfron and I are deserters. We left our posts five days ago and been on the run ever since.”

Rose gasped, clasping a hand over her mouth. To her desertion was still a hanging offense. “How could you? Get out of my restaurant,” She bellowed. “Now!”

Helfron held his hands out. “Rose, calm down. You gotta hear us out, okay? Go on, Steve.”

Greene took off his hat and brushed his hand through his sweat damp hair. “Tucson was overrun five days ago. It was all Denny and I could do to get out alive. It’s a damned sight worse than you think. We know you guys don’t go into town much so we had to come here and stock up and let you all know what’s going on.”

Helfron was blunter in telling what was going on. “Everything south, east and most of west of here is overrun. The Marine base outside San Diego is on the verge of being overrun. Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the border of north of Tijuana are gone. The new outlets are lying, and if you’ve believed it then you’re a fool.”

Helfron’s words confirmed the unusually heavy traffic of the past two weeks. Numerous families had stopped in, grabbed a hurried meal in what seemed like paranoid silence, and then quietly left. A mental fire had been lit to the rear ends of those people, and it had made Shannon and the others uncomfortable. The men’s’ words added a narrative Shannon could have done without.

“What are you talking about,” asked Greg. Shannon smelled marijuana and fear all over him. It turned her stomach when his odors mixed with the troopers’ anxiety entered her scent cone.

“Zombies , perv,” answered Helfron. “Now shut up. I really don’t want to hear any more from you. The rules have changed, and I ain’t of the mind to be civil to your ass.”

“Zombies? You boys been spiking your morning coffee?” asked Rose. Her hands drifted to her mouth. Her face fit the scene of a horrific accident than a mom and pop diner.

“He’s telling you the truth, Rose.” Greene spoke up in a hushed voice. “If you’re smart you’ll pack up and head for the hills. Things are falling apart.” Greene spoke in low tones. His face looked tired and his expression was sad.

“You guys need this,” Shannon said, handing them cups of coffee fixed how they liked it. “What’s going on, Dennis?” She took a seat, intent on listening to anything they had to say.

Greene stared out of the window, into the dusty street for any stumbling stranger, or strangers on the road. “Let me tell her, Denny. Please.” Greene didn’t take his eyes from the expanse outside.

Helfron looked at his partner and clapped him on the shoulder before telling him to go ahead. He joined Shannon in the booth, dropping his sweat stained hat on the tabletop. He rubbed his face with hands that trembled from a severe lack of sleep.

Greene sat at a table beside Shannon and Helfron’s. He popped his neck and knuckles before speaking. “We were on a checkpoint at the Rosedale city limits, screening for anyone sick to make sure they could get care. It started out okay, no fuss, no crying from people being pulled out by the military.” He gulped down the coffee, ignoring its scalding nature. “By day four our checkpoint was augmented by Bradley Fighting Vehicles from Fort Shelby, and an Army major informed us that the flu was getting worse, and that the feds were going to begin doing a town by town clearing for contagion. ‘It’s still your show, Officers,’ that prick had said. Yeah, as long as we did things their way. Next thing you know our medical personnel was being sent back to the rear and we’re turning everyone back. Sick, well, young, old, didn’t matter. ‘We’ve instituting quarantine and will be setting up a combat support hospital’ or some bullshit was what we were told next. Day five turned to day seven, and no doctors or medical folks showed up, and soldiers began patrolling the streets, pointing their guns at anyone moving around in the open. Like they were keeping folks in for the soldiers’ protection, and not the civilians, you know? On day eight the Army dogs told us what we already knew; the town was officially cordoned off, and at that moment we were under DOD authority. First time I ever reported to an officer without wearing digicams. Anyway, day nine was worse…”

Helfron picked up the story. Greene was rubbing palms into his face; tears could be seen between his fingers as he rubbed. “That was the day they came at us. Full force, hundreds of them.”

“Who came at you, Dennis?” said Deidre, scoffing. “The military? You make it sound like we’re under attack or been invaded. It doesn’t sound like zombies to me.”

“A zombie invasion is what it is, Dee. I swear to God.” Helfron drank greedily from his coffee. “It seemed like most of the damn town came shambling to us. ‘You may want to get the hell out of here,’ one tanker said to me before he buttoned up. Next thing you know the infantry started popping off some warning shots, actually killing shots, into the head of the mass, but it had no effect. Oh you could tell a few had taken the hits for all the good it did. That’s when the Bradleys’ Bushmasters opened up, shredding the ones in the way like cheese. It’s not pleasant in any sense of the word once 25mm rounds hit a tightly packed group of people. It was a slaughter at first. Rosedale had a population of around twenty thousand, and it felt like all of them were coming down on us. The Bradleys couldn’t maintain sustained fire, and the grunts are only trained in center mass kills. They might as well have been throwing rocks.”

Rose was incredulous. She couldn’t believe any of what she as hearing. “You fired on Americans? Oh, Steve, Dennis, how could you?”             “They were already dead, Rose,” said, Greene, looking out the window. “Yeah, they’re Americans, but their undead Americans, and they wanted to eat us. We ran like hell, so did the Army. Some of the armor waded into them. I guess they were trying to run them down. All I know is the zombie bastards swarmed the ones that didn’t run. And the infantry that stood their ground, stupid brave dumbasses to a man. Those Americans swarmed them too, and I swear to fucking God that they were eating them.”

Kelsey had been silent till that moment. “Why aren’t we being told about this? Oh my God, Rance is at daycare. I gotta go get him.” She bolted for the door, but Helfron rushed to her and took her arm.

“I’m coming with you,” he said, fixing her with a firm look. “We’ll take my car. Things haven’t fallen apart so much that the light bar is useless.” He looked at Greene. “Be back in thirty, Steve. Mind the store.” He opened the door for Kelsey and then paused. “Steve, tell them our plan.”

Helfron left, peeling out of the parking lot, siren wailing, lights flashing.

“We’re getting the hell out of here,” began Greene. “We figure we’ll…”

Rose interrupted him. “Where did you go after Rosedale?”

“We reported in at our command center, got debriefed and told not to say anything about what we saw, and then got sent back out. Syrus was our next assigne checkpoint.” He drained his cup and asked Shannon for a refill.

Shannon knew that Rose was displeased with their desertion, but she didn’t care. She brought Greene another cup and took a seat to hear the rest of his tale.

“A couple of the tanks from Checkpoint Rosedale got reassed to Checkpoint Syrus. Thos boys were just as shook up as us. Two days after we showed up we were joined by Marines from Camp Pendleton. They weren’t in any better frame of mind than us. That’s when we learned that San Diego had been considered lost and LA was on the verge of being overrun. It was around then that the news media stopped broadcasting contagion info. The day Checkpoint Syrus fell we took off. We rallied with Marines still in the fight. Those were the ones you saw giving us the weapons.”

Rose was spoke before anyone could ask any questions. She was blunt in telling Greene that he needed to leave. Shannon and Deidre came to his defense, insisting that neither man would run unless there was a damn good reason.

“I don’t care,” rebutted Rose. “He’s a coward and I’m not gonna have those types in Herb’s place. You leave, now, or I’ll shoot you like a dog, Steve.” Rose went behind the counter to pull down her late husband’s pistol. Shannon followed her and put her hands on her shoulders in an attempt to calm her down.

“Please, Rose. Don’t. Steve and Dennis had a good reason to run. I’d have run too if it were me.” Shannon’s words had no affect on the angry woman. “Please, Rose.”

Rose refused to listen.

“Damn it, Rose.” Deidre growled, joining Shannon. “What’s shooting him going to do? Prove that he’s lying? Look at him! He’s a wreak. He’s not a chickenshit and neither is Helfron and you know it!”

“You can leave with him, then! I expected better from you, Lieutenant!” Rose had the pistol in her elderly hands, trying to chamber a round. Years of disuse and not being cleaned internally had rusted it to the rails. The weapon refused her intentions. It was as if God was saying that Greene wouldn’t die at her hands.

Greg yelped from the kitchen. His voice sound like a wounded dog as he dropped to the ground knocking a set of pans to the floor.

Angry, Shannon jerked the pistol from Rose’s hands. It took very little of her augmented strength to pull it back. Rust particles flew into the air and the slide squealed in protest to the force of it being pulled back. Furiously she thrust it back into Rose’s startled, trembling hands. “Shoot, then,” Shannon said, raising Rose’s arms, aiming at Greene. “Freaking shot, then, Rose. Only thing worse than a coward is a murderer, right? Haven’t you said that more than once?” Shannon knew she was taking a big risk. At the least the old ammo wouldn’t fire; at worst it would explode in Rose’s hands due to lack of maintenance. “Go on now, pull the trigger.”

Greene eyed Shannon and not the pistol aimed at him. It was her he was afraid of, not the old woman with the gun. He took note of her strength, and the inferno in her voice and will, and discovered that something wasn’t right about her.

“Go, on shoot,” Shannon said, her fury abating. She pushed Rose’s shoulder lightly.

“Give me the gun, Rose,” said Deidre, holding a hand out from across the counter. “Be a dear, and hand it over.” Her words had a soothing effect on Rose. Rose trembled and then wept as she lowered the pistol. In her heart Rose knew that Greene and Helfron had been telling the truth. She didn’t want to believe it. “It can’t be true. Zombies? No, it can’t be.”

“Why not? Herb believed in werewolves. He went to his grave knowing they were real even when everyone brushed him off as a delusional old man. Why can’t zombies exist? Frankly, I know for a fact that both exist.” For one brief moment Shannon was certain that she would unconsciously share her story. She regained control over her emotions. Should’ve left a week ago, she thought. This why I don’t stick around in one place.

Rose walked from behind the counter to Greene. Still crying she hugged him while she cried for his forgiveness.

“It’s okay, Rose. It’s a lot to take in.” Greene stared at Shannon while he and Rose embraced each other. Steve Greene knew what he’d seen Shannon do was unusual and he wanted an explanation.

Deidre went to the kitchen. Another yelp came after the sound of something soft being kicked. “Get up you pansy. Can’t believe you’re hiding under the sink like a pussy. Come on, get up.” Another thump and yelp came from Greg in between his pleading for Deidre to stop kicking him. He stood, rubbing his left side, and he and Deidre joined the others in the dining area.

The two couples had moved under their tables as they watched the spectacle. The husband had been gallant enough to have his wife under the table behind him. The college girls sat pressed against the booth’s seat, holding each other’s hand. “Fuck this, man,” said the blonder of the two. “Tracey, we’re getting the hell out of here and we’re never coming back to Arizona! This people are fucking nuts!”

The girls slid out of their booth, moving cautiously around or between the diner staff and Greene.

“We’re with you!” said the husband, crawling from beneath the table. He held his wife’s shaking hand as they made the proverbial beeline for the door.

No one insisted that they pay for their food. The only person to speak to them was Greene. He insisted that they stay. It was more begging than insisting. He warned them that they should stay. He got a string of obscenities from the college girls and a mixed look of pity and scorn from the married couple. He didn’t care about their reactions. Greene had learned from combat that you couldn’t save everyone. He just as much counted the four as lost.

For the next forty-two minutes they sat around exchanging glances between each other and the deserted landscape outside. No cars went by; no commercial jets left contrails in the sky. Birds were absent and so were insects. Even though the desert sun and heat naturally drove most creatures to shelter, the stillness was unusual.

In the time they sat silent, Shannon thought she heard the dull thrumming of heavy machine gun fire in the distance followed by the crumping sound of explosions. She wasn’t the only one that thought she’d heard the sounds. Greene also heard the unmistakable sounds of battle. He commented on them as well. Greg and Deidre claimed ignorance in hearing it. Rose was too distracted by guilt at what she had almost done to be concerned with battle noises. What all shared was the anxiety of waiting for Helfron and Kelsey to come back.

Fighter jets roared overhead, making everyone jump in their seats. Deidre, Greene and Shannon went outside and looked up. Four Air Force F-16’s split off into two directions before rejoining each other. Moments later the sound of ripping canvas came across the sand, brush, and asphalt. The three knew a gun run when they heard it. Greene grew edgier, and Shannon shared his feelings.

Shannon was confident that everyone could agree that what they were hearing was a fight. She knew that everyone’s worry over Helfron and Kelsey’s mission had just grown exponentially. She tapped her nails against her lips as she pondered her next move. Finally, she decided to err on the side of caution. “I’m moving my car closer,” she announced to the others. “I won’t be long.”

“If you run, make sure you get a full tank first,” advised Greene from behind the counter. He’d found Rose’s stash of Jameson’s and was helping himself to a sip. “Not normally a drinking man, but now…” He took a bigger gulp. “Personally I think we should stay together, but if you want to hightail it out of here I’m sure not gonna hold it against you. I’ve always thought you were smarter than morons like those,” he said, jerking a thumb to the door. He spoke of the four people that had left an hour earlier. He remained convinced that they wouldn’t make it.

“I’m not running, Steve. I’m getting my car closer in case we all have to run.”

“Sure, uh-huh, right.” He took another drink and replaced the bottle where he’d found it.

Shannon threw her hands into the air before walking out. If she didn’t know any better she would’ve sworn that Greene had given up.

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Eight

I’ve gotten a few Facebook messages and emails asking if I’m still writing and if I ever plan on releasing anything in the near future. The answer to those questions is yes. I do write as often as I can, which is usually on my lunch at work, and on Sundays at home. Wife, three kids, honey-do list, regular obligations related to family eats a lot of time much to my chagrin. Please know that I am writing if you’re a fan, and if you’re not, then please know that I’m still writing anyway.

With that said, here’s Werewolves of the Dead: Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

Shannon found the room though she wished she hadn’t. By all indications all the children were dead. What bodies she found, or more aptly what parts were found, were still limp; rigor hadn’t set in. She didn’t waste time concerning herself with the what if’s of having arrived earlier. By indications if she had, she’d be dead too.

The bodies had been ripped apart as thoroughly as the three cops she’d found. Adult body parts, some in SWAT black, officer blue and plain clothes, were mixed in with the children’s. Shannon didn’t want to sift through the mess. If anything she wanted to cry.

She’d never seen anything like it. Lycans could be, and were most of the time, vicious but this was worse.

A scrapping noise against the room’s dilapidated doorframe refocused her attention. She turned to see two children shuffle in. To her, they were obviously undead. They stank and were coated in gelled, bloody matter.

It was something out of movie. They shuffled to her; one was minus a jaw and the other a throat and stomach. Both looked no more than ten and their glazed eyes looked at her with an otherworldly greed. “Please,” she pleaded. “Please get back. I don’t want to kill you again.” It sounded stupid but what else could she say. At that moment she longed for the boring routine of taking orders and enduring Greg’s loose hands. “Please,” she said again. “Please don’t.” She’d never killed children, lycan or otherwise and in her heart she knew these weren’t children. But they were. They were children from some eighth, unknown layer of Hell that wanted nothing more than to get to her.

She knew that they had to have been dead. They didn’t recoil or look afraid at her appearance. It was like the fur didn’t matter. What mattered was the meat underneath and she knew it. “Stop. Just leave, okay?” She felt foolish talking to them, but her closely guarded humanity forced her to ask over and over.

Still they advanced on her. She raised her pistol and took aim. Closing her eyes, a thing she knew better than to do, she fired at the first, a little girl. The back of the girl’s head disappeared. It would forever match the missing jaw thanks to Shannon.

The boy looked at the fallen girl, confused. He turned uncertain, questioning eyes to Shannon. It felt to her that he was asking her why. It was like that before he snarled at her and shuffled faster to her. Shannon felt compassion for him. It was an emotion that almost got her killed. The boy got three feet away before she fired a shot into his head. She held her eyes open that time. Mentally she cursed herself for thinking how easy it was the second time.

More shuffling came from the hallway. She listened to it, working the number of scratching footfalls and echoes in her head. It sounded like it was more than a couple.

Mentally she checked the ammo in the pistol before rushing to the door. She exited so fast that she knocked an armless SWAT officer to the ground. She paused, stupidly she knew, to gaze at him trying to right himself.

Her position was already compromised so she fired into his head. He grew still instantly. The other six advancing on her showed no hesitation in their approach. She had four rounds left and she made good use of them. The remaining two took the gunshots as a dinner bell and advanced at a quicker shuffle.

She ran to the stairs, making it half way down before three others, all police, turned the corner. “Mother fucker, mother fucker, mother fucker!” she screamed. Panic was setting in as she made a retreat back to the third floor.

Four new zombies greeted her at the top. “Mother fucking mother fucker! What the fuck is this? International House of Zombies or something!” She yelled, kicking the closest in the chest and rushing past the last three. “Our special today is werewolf on the run!” She had no idea why she said it but it felt right.

She turned left instead of going back to the right. She knew what was there so she decided on using blind luck for once. Blind luck didn’t serve her well.

She turned a corner to an exit but ran into four children feeding on a still moving lycan. The downed werewolf held out its hand to her. There was nothing she could do except end the poor beasts misery. It was a kind gesture except for the fact she was out of ammo and hadn’t reloaded.

It wasn’t like the movies; there was no click to signal an empty magazine. It was just the stiff resistance of a trigger refusing to be moved and a slide that taunted her with its empty chamber.

“Mother fucking fuck me!” She dropped the magazine and reloaded. One clattered to the floor after the other. “Fucky fuck fuckity fuck!” The f-bomb was a word she didn’t normally use but the situation merited it. She scrambled to get the magazine, cursing herself as she kicked the unloaded one across the floor. She grabbed the loaded one and took aim at the lycan. He wasn’t moving and the children were no longer paying attention to her.

She fired into its head, and then looked over her shoulder. What she saw pissed her off and made her heart leap to her throat. In the stairway and hall the zombies were closing in on her. Looking back she saw the children were paying attention to her. It was obvious that they preferred their meals to still have a pulse. “Fuck this!” she yelled, running into a room.

Shannon ran to a window then turned to the door. She would’ve given her left ovary to have a door. “Why the fuck did they remove the doors on this abandoned piece of shit?” she thought aloud. The doorway was crammed with zombies shuffling in. In a movie it would’ve been comical to see them wrestling against each other for entry. Now it was frightening. She considered fighting her way through but settled instead on a risky, if not stupid, move.

Taking a deep breath she jumped through the window. Shards of glass bit into her muzzle and hands as she jumped. She’d never attempted a jump from so high up but she was confident she could make it…mostly confident.

She rolled on the tall grass, astonished that she was uninjured aside from the glass in her face and hands. She looked around; no zombies approached. Her pursuers gazed blankly at her and two followed her out. They landed with dull, mushy thuds. One appeared to have tried landing on its feet but broke its legs instead. The second tried a roll but sounded like it had broken its hips or something equally important.

Against her fight or get the hell out better judgment she ran to them, shooting both in the head. If she were English she would have considered the night a giant cock up, but facts were it was just a plain old cluster fuck in her mind.

Shannon ran into the night, scared out of her mind at what she’d just been through. Once she’d made it back to her car she considered a career change. Maybe hunting lycans wasn’t for her any more than hunting zombies. At that moment she was finished with both.

That idea disappeared once she drove up to the police roadblock with the abandoned SWAT armored car. The inescapable conclusion that this wasn’t isolated occurred to her. She needed weapons and where better to get them than a military base. Since a military base was unavailable she settled on the police vehicles.

The sun was showing faint light, a warning that her time was coming to an end. She gave thought to what she was about to do and went ahead anyway. All she could think of was how stupid she was as she rifled through the squad cars trunks for anything useful. She got lucky and discovered two 12-gauge riot guns and plenty of ammo.

The armored car bore more fruit. Inside she found two M4’s and an HK MP5. She grabbed the weapons and hurriedly stored them in her trunk. Plenty of ammo for the M4’s was available but no 9mm for the MP5. The ammo was cheap so she kept it anyway.

She snatched radios from the armored car for some unknown reason but she knew better than to question her intuition.

She paused as she finished up her looting. Humans would’ve never heard it but she did, sirens and a lot of them. “Shit fucky fuck!” she yelled to no one, slamming the trunk closed.

Shannon was three blocks away and driving seventy in a thirty-five zone by the time the police cruisers arrived. She was thankful that she hadn’t changed back to human. Lycans didn’t leave fingerprints and she was okay with that. Even with new weapons the night was a bust and an eye opener. She wanted to cry in frustration. It was an emotion that stemmed from the dead children and that she’d never be able to tell anyone what had happened or warn anyone. What a pain in the ass the night had been.

This post is copyrighted and reproducing any content, in whole or in part is prohibited unless permission has been given by me, Jason McKinney.

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My muses are children. Is that a problem?

Where to begin with this? I suppose I should explain that my muse was originally an eight year old girl. Or maybe she was nine at the time. It’s been so long since I first started Werewolves of the Dead that I don’t even remember when I began the manuscript. I do remember it started with Sarah saying, “You should do a book on zombie werewolves. It shall be called (pause for dramatic effect) Werewolves of the Dead. Now here’s what should happen…” She’s talked like that for years now. I blame the spate of infomercials she used to watch one after another. She would end every other sentence with, “But wait, there’s more.” God bless you, Sarah Kathleen.

Sarah was the one who came up with that and the twist in “The Ripper’s Doll”. She’s bloody brilliant for a tweenager, or just out of her gourd like her father. And mother. We’re both a little off mentally as far as parents go.

I sing my children’s praises left and right. I’m a parent that works a 40 hour a week job, comes home to cook dinner for the family, and I deal with the obstacles life has a tendency to throw at us all. And I sing the kids’ praises long and hard. To the point that I “offend” some parents over my choice of child rearing tendencies. I took my son to The Tilted Kilt because he heard the food was good and he was a twelve year-old boy with burgeoning hormones. I let Sarah watch Magic Mike because she was curious about “those hunky boys” as one female family member put. “This movie sucks,” she declared before abruptly leaving the living room. She refused to come down until “that abomination to filmmaking was destroyed and removed from this house”. She’s a very dramatic young lady when she wants to be. And Emily? Well, Emily is a HUGE fane of The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and just about everything zombie.

My kids are diverse in their desires, hobbies, and interests. Chris is a member of the National Honor Society, and has a 3.74 unweighted GPA, and a 4.27 weighted GPA at the magnet school he attends. He volunteers at the Nashville Cat Rescue, and at The Pet Community Center. He “works” six days a week between school and his volunteer activities. He has more moral character than most adults, and his ability to hold himself at a higher standard than we, his parents, do makes him one of my heroes.

DSCN3142

Emily wants to be a “hair stylist for dogs” and has overcome much in her fight against her phonological dyslexia. Two years ago she wasn’t even reading at a 1st grade level and she was a third grader. Now she’s almost at her fourth grade level. She’s the hardest working kid I know. She has her moments of getting frustrated with her words, but she pushes through it one her own or sometimes with us prodding her. But she doesn’t quit even when she wants to. We all struggle to be understood in life, and for Emily, it’s a constant minute to minute activity in the most literal of things we take for granted; speech. She is an inspiration to me, and to most that meet her.

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And then there’s Sarah. Sarah is taking Algebra 1 in the 7th grade and is making straight A’s across the board. She wants to be a crypto zoologist.  Why? There’s no money it, granted, but she wants to prove that werewolves exist. As much as I love the idea of werewolves, I’m not totally ready to buy into my own fiction. But as she said, “just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And science is constantly discovering dinosaurs, and other life forms that they never knew existed until now.” She’s painfully smart, and when she’s not watching Markiplier on YouTube, she’s read the news sites. Not bad for a 12 year old.

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My kids are constantly giving me ideas, and inspiration, to write down. I always used to say that I do this for them. Now, I think I do this because of them. And it’s because of them that I persevere as a husband, father, and writer.

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Why’d I get out of bed again?

Joker

I need to be reminded of why I got out of bed at all this week. It’s been a week that has tried our patience and our budget. On the way into work Tuesday, my battery light, and all open door indicator lights along with the emergency brake light comes on. It stayed on for 10 seconds and then went out. Oh great, I thought. Alternator’s crapping out.

I took it to my mechanic , and the alternator and battery tested fine. Wednesday it comes on again, on the way to work naturally, and stayed on until I got three blocks from the mechanic’s where it promptly went out. I dropped it off, stuck and around and found out the belt tensioner was bad. I shelled out $260 to get it fixed. It was actually $259.80, but who’s quibbling over twenty cents?

Thursday it came on again, while on the way to work naturally, and so I got a battery. The battery I traded in was 3 1/2 years old so yeah, I probably needed a new one. The light stay off all day up until the time I was going through downtown Nashville, during rush hour. We have to go home, I told Chris. I was taking him to his bi-weekly seminar at Belmont University. We made it home, I parked the minivan, and took him in his car. Why didn’t he just drive himself? I’ll get to that in a moment.

The minivan sat in the driveway all day Friday, and I picked up a new alternator. Cost: $246.74. Work cost: 4 hours of personal leave and a lot of scrambling to make up 5 hours so as to not effect my vacation time I’m taking in October. Mental cost: Incalculable. Physical cost: 9 hours because I had to remove the power steering reservoir to get the old alternator out. I still have some air in the system. Needless to say I feel very much like Mr. Joe Curr. Very unpredictable mentally. That’s been my week.

As to why Chris didn’t drive himself to his seminar; he’s 16 and only has a learners permit. He takes his test for the full license on Tuesday, the first of September. Yay! More worry and stress I suppose. I know he’ll do fine, but right now, I’m just very, very tired. And my back hurts.

So, with no further venting, I give you Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Eight.

Chapter Eight

Shannon found the room though she wished she hadn’t. By all indications all the children were dead. What bodies she found, or more aptly what parts were found, were still limp; rigor hadn’t set in. She didn’t waste time concerning herself with the what if’s of having arrived earlier. By indications if she had, she’d be dead too.

The bodies had been ripped apart as thoroughly as the three cops she’d found. Adult parts, some in SWAT black, officer blue and plain clothes, were mixed in with the children’s. Shannon didn’t want to sift through the mess. If anything she wanted to cry.

She’d never seen anything like it. Lycans could be, and were most of the time, vicious but this was worse.

A scrapping noise across the room’s dilapidated doorframe refocused her attention. She turned to see two children shuffle in. To her, they were obviously undead. They stank and were coated in gelled, bloody matter.

It was something out of movie. They shuffled to her; one was minus a jaw and the other a throat and stomach. Both looked no more than ten and their glazed eyes looked at her with an otherworldly greed. “Please,” she pleaded. “Please get back. I don’t want to kill you again.” It sounded stupid but what else could she say. At that moment she longed for the boring routine of taking orders and enduring Greg’s loose hands. “Please,” she said again. “Please don’t.” She’d never killed children, lycan or otherwise and in her heart she knew these weren’t children. But they were. They were children from some eighth, unknown layer of Hell that wanted nothing more than to get to her.

She knew that they had to have been dead. They didn’t recoil or look afraid at her appearance. It was like the fur didn’t matter. What mattered was the meat underneath and she knew it. “Stop. Just leave, okay?” She felt foolish talking to them but her closely guarded humanity forced her to ask over and over.

Still they advanced on her. She raised her pistol and took aim. Closing her eyes, a thing she knew better than to do, she fired at the first, a little girl. The back of the girl’s head disappeared. It would forever match the missing jaw thanks to Shannon.

The boy looked at the fallen girl, confused. He turned uncertain, questioning eyes to Shannon. It felt to her that he was asking her why. It was like that before he snarled at her and shuffled faster to her. Shannon felt compassion for him. It was an emotion that almost got her killed. The boy got three feet away before she fired a shot into his head. She held her eyes open that time. Mentally she cursed herself for thinking how easy it was the second time.

More shuffling came from the hallway. She listened to it, working the number of scratching footfalls and echoes in her head. It sounded like it was more than a couple.

Mentally she checked the ammo in the pistol before rushing to the door. She exited so fast that she knocked an armless SWAT officer to the ground. She paused, stupidly she knew, to gaze at him trying to right himself.

Her position was already compromised so she fired into his head. He grew still instantly. The other six advancing on her showed no hesitation in their approach. She had four rounds left and she made good use of them. The remaining two took the gunshots as a dinner bell and advanced at a quicker shuffle.

She ran to the stairs, making it half way down before three others, all police, turned the corner. “Mother fucker, mother fucker, mother fucker!” she screamed. Panic was setting in as she made a retreat back to the third floor.

Four new zombies greeted her at the top. “Mother fucking mother fucker! What the fuck is this? International House of Zombies or something!” She yelled, kicking the closest in the chest and rushing past the last three. “Our special today is werewolf on the run!” She had no idea why she said it but it felt right.

She turned left instead of going back to the right. She knew what was there so she decided on using blind luck for once. Blind luck didn’t serve her well.

She turned a corner to an exit but ran into four children feeding on a still moving lycan. The downed werewolf held out its hand to her. There was nothing she could do except end the poor beasts misery. It was a kind gesture except for the fact she was out of ammo and hadn’t reloaded.

It wasn’t like the movies; there was no click to signal an empty magazine. It was just the stiff resistance of a trigger refusing to be moved and a slide that taunted her with its empty chamber.

“Mother fucking fuck me!” She dropped the magazine and reloaded. One clattered to the floor after the other. “Fucky fuck fuckity fuck!” The f-bomb was a word she didn’t normally use but the situation merited it. She scrambled to get the magazine, cursing herself as she kicked the unloaded one across the floor. She grabbed the loaded one and took aim at the lycan. He wasn’t moving and the children were no longer paying attention to her.

She fired into its head, and then looked over her shoulder. What she saw pissed her off and made her heart leap to her throat. In the stairway and hall the zombies were closing in on her. Looking back she saw the children were paying attention to her. It was obvious that they preferred their meals to still have a pulse. “Fuck this!” she yelled, running into a room.

Shannon ran to a window then turned to the door. She would’ve given her left ovary to have a door. “Why the fuck did they remove the doors on this abandoned piece of shit?” she thought aloud. The doorway was crammed with zombies shuffling in. In a movie it would’ve been comical to see them wrestling against each other for entry. Now it was frightening. She considered fighting her way through but settled instead on a risky, if not stupid, move.

Taking a deep breath she jumped through the window. Shards of glass bit into her muzzle and hands as she jumped. She’d never attempted a jump from so high up but she was confident she could make it…mostly confident.

She rolled on the tall grass, astonished that she was uninjured aside from the glass in her face and hands. She looked around; no zombies approached. Her pursuers gazed blankly at her and two followed her out. They landed with dull, mushy thuds. One appeared to have tried landing on its feet but broke its legs instead. The second tried a roll but sounded like it had broken its hips or something equally important.

Against her fight or get the hell out better judgment she ran to them, shooting both in the head. If she were English she would have considered the night a giant cock up, but facts were it was just a plain old cluster fuck in her mind.

Shannon ran into the night, scared out of her mind at what she’d just been through. Once she’d made it back to her car she considered a career change. Maybe hunting lycans wasn’t for her any more than hunting zombies. At that moment she was finished with both.

That idea disappeared once she drove up to the police roadblock with the abandoned SWAT armored car. The inescapable conclusion that this wasn’t isolated occurred to her. She needed weapons and where better to get them than a military base. Since a military base was unavailable she settled on the police vehicles.

The sun was showing faint light, a warning that her time was coming to an end. She gave thought to what she was about to do and went ahead anyway. All she could think of was how stupid she was as she rifled through the squad cars trunks for anything useful. She got lucky and discovered two 12-gauge riot guns and plenty of ammo.

The armored car bore more fruit. Inside she found two M4’s and a HK MP5. She grabbed the weapons and hurriedly stored them in her trunk. Plenty of ammo for the M4’s was available but no 9mm for the MP5. The ammo was cheap so she kept it anyway.

She snatched radios from the armored car for some unknown reason but she knew better than to question her intuition.

She paused as she finished up her looting. Humans would’ve never heard it but she did, sirens and a lot of them. “Shit fucky fuck!” she yelled to no one, slamming the trunk closed.

Shannon was three blocks away and driving seventy in a thirty-five zone by the time the police cruisers arrived. She was thankful that she hadn’t changed back to human. Lycans didn’t leave fingerprints and she was okay with that. Even with new weapons the night was a bust and an eye opener. She wanted to cry in frustration. It was an emotion that stemmed from the dead children and that she’d never be able to tell anyone what had happened or warn anyone. What a pain in the ass the night had been.

This shit is copyrighted 2015, so ask first before printing it off to fuck with someone’s life.

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Seven

What’s up world! It’s been too long since I posted anything and I’m a sad sorry excuse for a person for doing that. We’ve been gearing up for the kids going back to school (Chris is a Junior this year!), our upcoming vacation to the Smokey Mountains, Sarah’s ice skating lessons, Emily’s tennis lessons, Chris’ paperwork to apply for an appointment to the US Military Academy, work, etc., etc., etc. This parenting and real life thing is a pain in the ass. But we do it out of love for the kids and we all have this damnable eating and housing habit to support.

One of these days I’m going to blog about a day in the life of us, but be ready for either sheer boredom, hilarity, horror, or all of the above. I’m kind of smiling now. Kind of.

But anyway. Here’s chapter seven of Werewolves of the Dead, which I am still working on in my free time. Out of 115 originally typed pages, I’ve re-read it to page 137 out of 154. Yep, I added an extra almost 40 pages to the manuscript thus far. Well, I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter Seven

Shannon gagged on the odor that overtook the first floor. She resisted the urge to cover her mouth and nose with her guide hand instead keeping both hands firmly gripped on the pistol.

Edging up the stairs the smell turned harsher. She’d never smelled anything like it. Logically, tactically she knew she should take the basement first but the smell was stronger from the second floor.

Arriving at the landing between the second and third floors she found scattered pistol and assault rifle cases along with various empty pistol magazines. She thought the police had to have come with all the fire that must have happened, but with the walls so thick and the building so secluded there was no chance that any would hear the fire fight that took place.

Coming into town she had noticed that the streets weren’t as deserted as they should have been. Vagrants were out in what appeared to be force, roaming the streets in groups of three or four. Occasionally she saw one or two straggling alone but paid them no mind.

She cruised past two deserted police checkpoints three and four blocks away. Each had two sets of two cars blocking an intersection, their lights flashing the darkness aside. The sight an equally abandoned SWAT vehicle at the second checkpoint had sent chills along her back and arms. The scene was surreal and bloated with portents she didn’t care for.

She thought of those intersections now as she bent down to examine the spent brass. The first she picked up was a 5.56mm casing from the M16 family. She knew it well having been shot by one several years before in a previous hunt. Having an opponent that knew her way around a weapon then was as harrowing as now. It was never fun to have someone shot back at you; especially one bent on maintaining their status quo.

Touching the 9mm casings gave her greater dread. There were more of them than the thinner, longer assault rifle shells. That could mean more targets for her.

The littered landing, with its bullet riddled graffiti proclaiming that Sheila gave good head or Bobby loved Joannie and her tits, gave way to a shell strewn second floor landing.

The dark hall did little to hide its secrets or even the dead bodies from Shannon’s night vision.

The first three bodies she came to were police officers. Only one had held unto its pistol in death. Even after the arm had been ripped from the shoulder, it held unto the emptied pistol.

The first officer had been torn apart in ways she’d never seen before. Her blood froze in her veins. Werewolves were greedy animals when hungry but the officer had been torn apart by more than three determined assailants. Bloody foot prints, most bare, were streaked around the upper body. The lower lay in two pieces three feet way. His legs had been torn apart at the groin. It looked more like a Lovecraftian version of a wishbone than a dead man’s lower parts.

The leather pistol belt sat still buckled to a portion of the waist. She was about to move away to the other bodies when something about the remaining flesh caught her attention. She couldn’t tell what it was immediately but she forced herself to look closer anyway. The condition of the body made her fearful in ways she hadn’t been in ten years.

She pulled an ink pen from the floor. There was no way she was about to touch this mess. Poking and prodding the destroyed flesh she realized why the flesh had looked odd. There was no way that human teeth could’ve done damage like she examined unless it was morbidly famished. Her mind pushed the thought aside but still she saw the unmistakable human teeth marks. A human, and at least three at that, had torn the dead cop apart and devoured him. Two of the teeth marks were small, like children’s. One set was smaller than the other.

Run, girl! Get the hell out of here! The kids are dead so call it day, her mind yelled. She forced the thought aside as she dropped the pen on the torn leg. It bounced off and made a loud, melodic tink on the floor. The sound was like a sonic boom in her ears.

Holding the 1911 out, at the ready, she scanned the dark. Nothing moved. Feeling confident that she hadn’t given her presence away she rose up and moved forward.

Stepping over the third and final body parts almost caused her to scream. She swore that the mouth moved and the eyes flittered for a moment. She looked down at the head, stared at it. The eyes didn’t move and the mouth stayed gaped. She knew it had to have been her nerves but still… it looked like they had moved.

One after another she moved swiftly to the doorways of two patient rooms, one left and one right, hands trembling slightly. Nothing jumped out at her and no bodies could be seen. Her nerves were fraught and she was sure that she wasn’t alone. She knew she wasn’t alone. She was moving to the second door on the right when something rushed her from her left, knocking her to the ground.

Her pistol skittered from her hands, sliding across the floor to the opposite wall. Shannon fought back, wrestling her way onto her back to face a drooling, snarling lycan. It wasn’t as strong as it should have been but it was enough to overpower her in her human form.

It was a male, and dressed in a blood smeared hospital gown that lunged its foaming muzzle at her throat. Its breath was hot and smelled of diseased, old death. The things that never turned off for lycans in human form were smell and hearing. The smell was unbearable as it continued making snapping attacks at her throat and face.

Shannon was quick enough to avoid the bites. She started her change. The BDUs and tank stop strained against the growing skin. The clothes popped at the seams, giving up its fight to contain her rising bulk. Her vision blurred with her transformative pain but still held the beast at bay.

Shannon gripped its wrists as it reached for her throat. Her growing strength allowed her to fight its tightening grip. She kneed it in the groin but it did nothing. No grunt, no scream of pain or anger. The attacking lycan seemed intent on doing nothing but trying to eat her. It didn’t speak and the foaming dripping from its mouth made her think rabies even though the disease was comparable to a lycan getting the sniffles.

Finally her change was completed. She expected that alone to surprise the lycan but it didn’t even register it as a curious event. Shannon now had the strength to kick it off her, sending it crashing into the wall by her pistol. The impact cracked the plaster and made the wood underneath groan but it didn’t faze her opponent.

It rushed at her in clumsy gates, snarling and grunting with each step.

Shannon stood to her fullest height and noticed the lycan’s right leg below the knee and been ripped open and turned impossibly to the rear. She lost her concentration on what to do next as she finally looked into its eyes.

It’s eyes are what caused her to hesitate. The eyes were dull and milky white. No color flashed from them and no light was absorbed by them. The lycan virus made human paraplegics walk and the blind see; it could make the dumb talk and the mentally handicapped smart. The virus could do all this but only during transformation and nothing more. She knew the male lycan was dead. It looked dead, smelled dead and could be nothing short of just dead.

It was dead and still hungry. “I don’t want to hurt you any more than I have to so just back up.” Even with the natural growl she still sounded scared.

It charged her and she used its momentum to send it into the wall behind her. The impact broke bones in its muzzle and sent teeth to the floor but still it whirled on her. Bloody foam flew from its mouth as it roared at the ceiling.

“Fuck this,” she moaned, diving for her pistol. She lunged for it, snatching it up then turned and slammed her back into the wall. The magazine was loaded with silver rounds, for which she was happy to have loaded first. It got half way to her before she squeezed the trigger four times, sending it to the floor in a sliding heap.

Shannon pushed herself away from it, never allowing the muzzle of her weapon to leave the body.

She watched in horror and fascination as it returned to human form. Once she was sure it was dead she stood. The naked human form didn’t move. It lay on the floor like a perverse store window mannequin. He’d appeared to have been in his early twenties and Shannon got the sneaking feeling that it hadn’t been a lycan for long at all.

The fur had been matted and looked like the hairs had been diseased. Everything about it told her that it had never been a normal lycan. She couldn’t understand why she felt that; she just knew.

She mustered the courage to approach the naked male when it moaned. It flopped around uselessly, groaning its disapproval at being unable to stand right off. With effort and determination it rolled its way to sitting up. Looking at Shannon it moaned with great desire and reached its arms toward her.

Her mind raced for the answer. She kept coming back to zombie but she knew that was impossible. Even after what she had said to Rose and Deidre earlier it seemed improbable that this was one of the walking dead.

It made to stand up but the twist leg felled it. It settled on clawing its way to her.

Shannon stepped back against the wall, pistol aimed at the monstrosity. “What am I supposed to do now,” She pleaded to someone not there for an answer she already knew.

Instinctively she decided to see if the movies were correct. She took careful aim at its head and fired. The gooey, drying brain scattered across the back of the hospital gown; it slumped face first into the floor dead.

No more moans, no more movement came from it. Finally it was dead.

“Fuck this, fuck this, fuck this,” Shannon groaned pitifully. “I’m a lycan killer, not a zombie killer.” She was about to run for the door when she remembered the kids. She couldn’t leave them to this, not if there was a chance they were alive.

She didn’t know what to do. For the first time in her crusade she was without an idea on how to proceed. Her sense of smell was useless because of the death stink. The only thing left was her hearing and she heard nothing.

Instead of doing a room-by-room check she walked down the middle of the hallways listening for any noise. There was no way she was going to change back to human. She was smart enough to know that the added strength and speed were needed more than ever.

Moving up the third floor stairway she was attacked yet again. A wounded, scared lycan dropped from the landing’s railing onto her. She kept her pistol in her hand this time around but made a mental note of actually attaching a lanyard to the pistols lanyard ring. Then lanyard ring went from aesthetic nicety to tactical need in the space of five minutes. The further prospect of loosing her weapon again held no appeal for her.

She was able to shrug her new attacker off, sending him rolling down the stairs to the landing below. It stopped immediately when it saw her eyes and the pistol she held. Shannon held her fire likewise once she saw his eyes.

“Don’t shoot,” he whimpered. “Please for the love of all that’s holy, don’t,” it whimpered. “You have to help me. Please, you have to help me. They’re everywhere.”

“Who’s everywhere,” Shannon said, padding down the stairs. “What happened here?”

“Zombies,” he said, holding his left side while holding the other hand out. “I’m serious, zombies. They tore through us like we weren’t even there. When the cops came we thought they were after us. It wasn’t until they started shooting behind themselves that we knew they weren’t. Normally we wouldn’t even consider banding with humans. We were just going to let them kill each other but when we saw…” it paused, gulped and looked around trying to find the words before sending paranoid glances down the stairs. “They grabbed a cop who was reloading and started eating him. I’ve eaten humans before but none of them screamed like that poor bastard. I’d never had pity on a hum before now.” He stared at the floor while lowering hand. “You’ve gotta get me out of here. I can make it worth your while.”

“Where are the kids,” demanded Shannon.

“They’re gone. I swear to you they’re gone. I tried to protect them. I swear I did but they got them. Those fucking things got them and…” he paused before continuing on in a small voice. “Before I could do the same to them.” The lycan started to cry. Not crocodile tears but a tear of revelation at what he was. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry about all I’ve done but you’ve gotta save me. Please.”

“The bodies,” Shannon said, swallowing her revulsion at the late epiphany. “Where are the kids’ bodies? I want to see them myself.”

“Up there,” he said, pointing to the third floor. Turn right, last door on the left. They’re all dead but I didn’t do it. I swear to God.”

Shannon sniffed him. She could smell no children’s blood on him. All she could smell was the stagnant stink of the zombies. “And these…zombies? Where are they? Are they still here?

“I don’t think so. They wandered off after they were finished. I hid after that. I thought you were one of them at first.”

“A zombie? Looking like this?” She waved at herself with her free hand.

“They change after they’ve eaten us and those of us that were bitten change like that too.”

“Are you hurt,” she asked, pointing at his side.

“I was shot by a cop in the fight. That’s all. Just a gunshot wound. I’ll be okay.”

Shannon had her doubts. Lycans shot while in transformation healed quickly. This lycan’s wound still oozed blood. “What’s your name?”

“Ronald.” He eased up like he was out of the woods and bonding with Shannon.

“Ronald. Okay, Ronald, have you been bitten?”

“What? No. No, no, no. I’m just shot. I promise.” The hope in his eyes faded. He knew what was coming.

“Let me see.”

“What,” Ronald said, standing. Shannon knew he was getting ready to attack. “Look, I haven’t been bitten.” Panic was giving way to defiance. Shannon knew she had to put a stop to this exchange. It was all the same for her; she was going to kill him anyway,

“Let me be the judge of that.” She kept the pistol on him while giving him one last chance to prove her wrong.

“I said I’m…”

BAM! Shannon shot Ronald in the head. The mess was fresher than the last as Ronald fell down. His body began its change back, starting with the head and working its way below.

Shannon stepped off the last step and placed two more rounds into Ronald’s heart. She’d heard the move was called failure to stop or something like that. It was a military term and she rather liked the thought of it. And after what she’d seen, she didn’t think it unwise to feel that ammo was cheap.

The slide was locked back. Shannon dropped the empty into a magazine pouch and reloaded a new one.

Sending the slide forward made her feel better, but only slightly. She still had to check on the room Ronald had told her about.

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Six

Hey everyone. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve meant to post something last Thursday, but…well, life keeps happening, and time waits for no one. My time has been eaten up by home renovations, work, working with my son to get his required time in to take his driving test, and work. As an aside, anyone that has gone through teaching a teenager to drive I’m certain would consider that activity cardio exercise. I do because you fight for breath as your heart races along with the car as it seems to accelerate toward a red light. This has happened a time or two, and I’ve earned every extra silver hair on my head.

Nevertheless, it’s the 239th birthday of the US and I certainly hope every American is having a good holiday.

With the backdrop of grill-outs and fireworks in my neighborhood, I’m posting chapter six of Werewolves of the Dead. Enjoy!

Chapter Six

After making it back to her car Shannon figured out that she had four hours of night left and she knew that she needed to make the most of it. Daylight very seldom brought relief in her world. Moving in the day light would leave her lycan abilities exposed and add hours of pain and despair to the children. She couldn’t leave them alone any longer just so she could plan. When she told Deakins that she’d like to wing it in the execution of her operations wasn’t her being a total smartass. She could actually do it pretty well, but this time had been a case of hurry up, time’s a-wasting.

She hurried back to the hotel, staying within the gray area that constituted being in a hurry and flat out speeding.

Shannon rushed into her room, going straight to where her secret inventory. Her belongs were well hidden and she knew exactly what her inventory consisted of. She had ten magazines filled with silver jacketed rounds in reserve and another ten in copper jacketed hollow points.

The M1911A1 was a sleek, yet heavy weapon. It had good stopping power but more importantly it had cheap, plentiful parts. When she’d decided on using a firearm she spent hours looking into 9mm, .40 caliber and even the small quieter .22 calibers. She found at the end of her search that most people enjoyed the .45 caliber power of the military style 1911.

Parts were easy to find and more important so were the magazines. She stocked up on good eight round jobs that were more costly but well worth it for their dependability. Never before that moment had she been thankful that she had twenty-five magazines at her disposal.

Hidden in a false bottom of a dresser were her precious magazines, ammo and an old World War 2 issue deep tanned leather military holster on a newer model nylon war belt. She liked the leather look, which among women and some men made her weird as far as weapon accessories went. She could live with that. She was weirder in so many more important ways.

The nylon belt was adorned with magazine pouches from the same era as the holster. Hurriedly she tossed her war gear onto the bed. She’d bought a set of black BDU trousers with a black BDU jacket years before on a whim. She’d never used it and didn’t think she ever would. Life was funny in how you did things that never made sense until months or years later. She was grateful to have them now.

She pulled on her combat boots, blousing the pants and donning the jacket over a black tank top then put on the war belt. She felt odd satisfaction in tying the holsters’ retaining lanyard around her leg.

Shannon checked her magazine pouches to make sure that all were filled. Four on her right were silver loaded while the others were regular. She did her final equipment check on the run.

Pausing at the doorframe she sniffed the air. The night was hers to do with as she further pleased. Forty minutes later she was parking out of sight of the main road to the abandoned insane asylum.

The night was stiller than she cared for. Nothing moved. No insects, animals or even air currents dared to brush her face or fill her ears. It was the stillness of that much-overused adjective…tomb.

The closer she moved to the building the more gothic it looked. She liked it. The building pleased her aesthetically. The smell that met her nose however, did not. It was the smell of fear, battle and long dead things.

Her heart pounded as she approached. Had she been too late? Deakins had acted like the children were still alive yet the smell said otherwise. It didn’t take a werewolf to smell the rot of flesh and tang of fear or the bitterness of new death. A human could have smelled it if they ventured close enough. But none would dare.

The hospital was almost one and a half miles off a main road and sat on eight hundred acres. No one wanted to buy it and none wanted to renovate it. What it was and how it looked was enough to keep all but the stupid or evil away.

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Five… and I’m tired, Mommy.

Animal+Kitten+Exhausted

I am so tired that I can’t even come up with a witty descriptive phrase. It’s been a busy past month or maybe six weeks. Time seems to have very little meaning these days. The girls have been doing extracurricular activities like pottery classes, tennis classes, ice skating classes on top of school work and being taken back and forth to TCAP tests, awards ceremonies and just the everyday things that girls between the ages of 8 and 12 do. It’s my fault; I wanted a daughter and I ended up with two.

And don’t get me started on Christopher. In the last three weeks of May alone he’s been a participant in numerous concerts for his high school concert band (he plays trumpet), numerous award ceremonies to acknowledge his academic achievements, and up until Memorial Day weekend, numerous Young Marines ceremonies and functions. It’s a mixed blessing that he’s no longer a Young Marine. He resigned in the last week of May due to moral differences between him/us and his new commanding officer. His morals were good to go; the CO and young adult leaders’ morals were found to be severely lacking. He resigned and we supported him in it. It was a good three years and he got what he needed.

So yeah, we’ve had a very busy month, and I’m terrible in the regards of keeping you faithful reader in the loop. I’m sorry about that.

To make up for that lack of communication on my part I’m posting a draft of the next chapter of Werewolves of the Dead. I’m still working on that book, and I think it’s coming along pretty well. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it so far.

Chapter Five

Two nights later Shannon was readying for her next and last hunt in that state. The television was on and a local news station was droning on about a drive-by shooting. The shooting made for a nice change from flu reporting. It wasn’t until a report about another violent kidnapping that Shannon sat down on the bed to watch.

The Kizenski family had been paid a visit the night before, and the youngest, six year old Rebekah Kizenski, had been snatched from her bedroom. The family dog, a Siberian husky named Puddles, had been torn to shreds and dumped on the front lawn as a form of taunt. Shannon knew in her heart that the dog was killed out of malice more than to keep the family from being warned of the killer’s presence. More than half of the lycan community hated canines. Shannon wasn’t one of those. She loved dogs, and they loved her. Well, most of the time they did.

Shannon gripped her blue jeaned knees hard enough for her nails to cut through the fabric. The killer was abducting children with an audacity that made even the most protective of parents edgy. The fact that the kidnappings happened during the day as well as at night, along with the frequency meant something to Shannon. Faulder, a small community outside Tucson, had fourteen children abducted. Twelve of the fourteen had been snatched from bedrooms, yards and playgrounds in as many days. The age range was grisly; all the children were between the ages of six and ten.

Tucson PD, the local police department and even the FBI were working as best as they could to catch the child killer. Of the fourteen, three had been found dead, violated and heavily mutilated. Each of the three was missing their jawbones. Shannon had visited the first crime scene and the lycan scent was overwhelming. The next four scenes confirmed what she already knew.

She located her prey nine days ago. His scent had led to a brokerage firm in downtown Tucson. His name was Randall Deakins, aged thirty-four but probably much older. He was a nice looking, well kept white male who probably fancied himself a lady’s man but loved children the most. He drove a BMW 300i that still held California plates with renewal tags from two months earlier. The license plate told her that he was a new arrival to the state, hence the forceful string of surprise kidnappings and killings.

He lived on the opposite side of Tucson and was smart enough to do his hunting away from home, but arrogant enough to not worry about leaving his scent trail. This one urinated on some part of the abduction site. Somewhere the police wouldn’t look. She was sure there were lycan law enforcement; lycans like her. The trick was getting human bosses to listen and presenting the evidence the right way. Those were the lycans she avoided. They were true goodie-two-shoes that would jail her for murder…or worse.

Her prey did his urination for no other reason than to say I did this. I did this; you can’t touch me, so piss off. Shannon hated puns.

Unfortunately for her prey he was predictable. He kept to a schedule. Every Thursday and Friday it was a trip to a strip club where he’d pick up a prostitute either coming or going. Those women always disappeared.  Which is another way of saying dead and devoured. Saturdays he feasted on the remains and on Sunday he had the occasional hunt. The other days he did his work.

Shannon watched him leave this Thursday night. She’d always put a lot of thought into each hunt and this one was no different. The down side to this current one was the makeup, streetwalker dress and human female pheromones she’d had to douse herself with. Her hunting attire was always bought a thrift stores and she made it a point to never wash them or reuse them. She needed the scent of the previous owners to mask her own and more often than not it worked.

She drove to the area he perused hookers. Parked her non-descript Chevy Nova and waited for him. She knew his type and unfortunately, blond wasn’t it. She dyed her hair a temporary red in the hopes that he’d pick her. If he didn’t, then she’d have to follow and put the target female under wraps first. Involving a third party was always risky… and sometimes messy.

Deakins arrived on time and slowly drove around the seedy part of Tucson looking the girls over. Showing skin had always been beneath Shannon, but for this she swallowed her pride and showed more than her usual amount of cleavage to Deakins. Her strap bag banged heavily against her right hip. The 1911 and two spare magazines gave it more weight than she would have liked.

Deakins made three revolutions before stopping a hundred feet from Shannon to talk to another prostitute. Her heart beat fast in anticipation and anger but she calmed as he pulled away from the other one to stop in front of her.

“Hey. How’s hanging,” he asked, leaning into the passenger seat. The smell of rage and death ebbed and flowed from his mouth. Shannon was sure she would gag but she kept it together. Deakins was a man who was filled with hate that boiled out of every millimeter of his skin.

“You tell me, baby. How is it hanging?” She knew how hookers talked, and she truly hated having the phrases spill from her mouth.

“It’s lonely for sure. How’d you like to make a little extra coin?”

“Doin’ what? Surely you’re not looking for day labor? Or maybe a cop, looking to pick up an illegal or two.” She hoped she was pulling this off well enough. She normally met guys like this in clubs and bars, never on the street.

Deakins laughed. It might’ve been a laugh touched with wry kindness but she knew better. “Nah, looking for night labor actually, and what we’re doing ain’t illegal in any sense. It’s all free market. Supply and demand.” He gave her a wink that curdled her intestines and stoked her anger. “How much for all three?”

“Don’t do backdoor, baby. But a hundred for the other two.” She considered letting him pull it out only to break it off. She’d probably scrub her hand red afterwards though.

“Not even for an extra five hundred? I can be very generous.” He said leering at her. She wanted to pull out her 1911 and pop him on the spot. She couldn’t though. The regular girls had eyed her with caution and swung wide of her position. For them it was a certainty she was a cop.

She stood still for a moment giving Deakins the impression she was considering it. Finally she agreed and got into his BMW.

They drove around aimlessly while Deakins talked about how rough he’d like to be with her. Shannon blanched mentally at his words and hoped to God that normal males didn’t think like he did.

Finally they pulled into a series of six dilapidated shacks ten miles outside of town. Two had been burned down years before and the smell of charred wood, blood and carnal feasting hung around the air. She knew the area. She knew almost every inch of her territory. What Deakins didn’t know was that Shannon had two primary escape routes planned out and two secondary routes in case those failed.

“All right, let’s get to work.” Deakins said pulling off his suit jacket. Shannon was thankful that he wasn’t being clichéd by going for his pants. “You may want to run now. Oh, and be sure to scream as loud as you can. No one’ll hear you and if they do… well, you’re just another whore in distress.”

Internally Shannon laughed. Externally she played along. “Look. You don’t want to do anything stupid. I’m known there. My pimp’ll fuck you up.”

“Sure you are, sweetie.” Deakins said wrestling himself out of his polo shirt next. He was confident that Shannon was stalling for time. He never bothered to notice that her fear scent was almost nonexistent. “You’re new there and not a cop. Economy’s tough. I get that.” He folded his shirt, placing it on top of the jacket that lay in the back seat. “You probably thought all you’d have to do it choke down some dick and act like you enjoy dirty old men fucking you. I can appreciate that too. Trouble is,” he said pulling off his shoes, “I’m not interested in sex. Yeah, I’m going to eat you but not in that way.”

Deakins angled his upper half toward Shannon. She leaned back, watching him grip the wheel with his left hand. He had begun his change and wanted her to know it. He bent forward, grunting with the pain of the newly growing flesh and muscle. “Better… run…honey. This is going… to hurt you more…than me.”             Should’ve gone into acting instead of this shit, she thought as she feigned panic in looking for the door handle. She threw the door open, taking a moment to fall onto the ground. She needed him to be overconfident in feeling that he’d made her afraid.

A hill stood one hundred yards away from the passenger side of the car. She ran away, letting her high heels fall away from her feet. She wanted them to be found easily afterwards. She liked those shoes enough to wear in her real off hours.

Topping the small hill she heard Deakins painful howl. He was close to beginning his chase. She took cover before removing her own dress. She peered through the weeds and watched him steep from the vehicle. He was at his full seven-foot tall height. He gripped the car’s roof and thrust forward as the change’s pain subsided.

Calmly she pulled out the 1911, pulling the slide back with ease. Aside from her bikini underwear and lacy bra she was naked. She tucked the two spare magazines into her bra cups and began flanking Deakins as he sniffed the night air, looking for her. He got her inside of his scent cone and followed her trail.

“There’s something different about you, baby,” he called in his guttural voice. “Whatever it is, it won’t be enough. I’ve killed dozens like you and more than that not like you. I’m getting the feeling that you’re not gonna beg. That’s fine, I hate it when you all beg.”

He made his way up the hill, sweeping brush aside with his massive hands. He paused, looking around before pulling Shannon’s dress from the brush. “What the fuck is this?” He looked at it curiously before casting it down. “Do you really think this delaying tactic will save you?” He tossed it aside before moving along, following in Shannon’s wake.

Shannon allowed her own transformation to come. Slowly to protect her feet and knees from the rocky, glass strewn landscape. She held the pistol to her side as she watched him stop to scan for any movement.

Something ran off through the brush; Deakins leaped off, giving chase. Shannon was thankful for the distraction and gave a brief thanks to the animal that gave her time to get into position.

She ran to one of the buildings, her legs burning with the change, her chest crying out to finish what she had willed to start.

With ease Shannon leapt through a glassless window. She positioned herself near a window with some glass still intact because it gave her a reflection to track by. Nothing moved outside. That caused her concern. She raised her head to look out when the ceiling exploded above her.

Deakins landed on the harsh wooden floor, dust and debris drifted around him. “There you are. You’re proving to be more fun…”

BAM, BAM! Shannon whirled around, firing before Deakins could finish his taunt. Being a lycan gave her an edge on even the most accomplished professional shooters. Both silver jacketed .45 caliber rounds slammed into Deakins kneecaps. He cried out in pain and surprise as he slumped to the ground.

“You got a gun!” he bellowed. “You got a mother fucking gun?” When did fucking whores start carrying hand cannons?”

She didn’t know how to take his words. It was a serious question from him and a plea to God to explain how things could go so bad for him.

Deakins tried to stand but fell back down. He looked at his legs. Through the blood and ruined bone, human skin started to appear around the wounds. In places around the bullet holes, the transformation back to human was more than apparent. Rage pushed him to drag himself across the floor toward her. “Tear your fucking heart out, bitch!”

Shannon watched, almost in a detached way as she raised her gun hand and fired into Deakins’ left shoulder. He slumped back to floor, howling louder than before at the pain from the newly destroyed limb.

“Hurts, right?” she said, up righting a table and placing her pistol on it. “Now, you and I are going to talk about some things.” She doubled over and threw herself back as she rushed the change. Deakins was down but could still be a threat.

He tried to pull himself over with his lone good arm but couldn’t manage anything more than a dreadfully slow, bloody crawl. When he looked up he saw Shannon in all her lycanthropic glory. “Now tell me what I want and I won’t tear your fucking heart out, bitch.”

“Clever… aren’t you? Turning my…words…against me.” He was in pain and Shannon loved it. He spat a bloody silver tinged wad on her foot. She growled deep at his fiery defiance. The silver in the blood meant that she’d hit a vein. The silver was coursing through his system faster than she wanted. Shannon knew she’d have to work faster than she thought.

“Well,” she said, kicking him onto his back. Shannon bent down. “I am clever. I got you here didn’t I? Have to admit that I do wing it a lot though. Now, where are the children? I smell them on you. I know you’re wanting to make sure those little lambs get back to their parents.” She picked up her pistol, ejecting an unfired round then poked it into his wounded in his left leg halfway down the silver casing. The blood around the wound boiled at the newly introduced silver. His body was trying to reform itself but was loosing the battle against the precious metal.

Deakins made to howl in pain but Shannon gripped his muzzle closed. The force she held on it was more powerful than her grip on the pistol. He growled, tears flowing from his eyes. “Well,” she said, sounding more patient than she was. “Where are they? Now don’t act defiant or brave or that you don’t deserve this. You do. At the risk of sounding obvious, you are a murdering asshole after all.”

“Fuck you!” he cried through her furry fingers.

“Wrong,” she said, driving the mainspring housing’s lanyard onto the round. The force set the round off. It exploded under her fingers, singing her fur while exploding Deakins’ leg wound further. The smell of her singed fur and skin aroused her blood lust. Sadism was her dirty little secret when dealing with lycans like Deakins.

More tears poured from Deakin’s eyes. The silver poisoning was creeping to his face. Little strains of human skin appeared and flashed away in little more than the blink of an eye. She knew it was only a matter of time before the poisoning met his brain, making interrogation useless. “I know about your brother. Don’t think that by not telling me that I won’t do the same to him.” It was a bluff and she knew it. Deakins did have a brother and by all accounts he loved him.

The younger Deakins was lycan but harmless. He preferred a life of literature and solitude to eating humans and their offspring. At the end of the day, Shannon would leave the junior Deakins alone. She hoped the elder wouldn’t feel that way.

“You bitch! You…” he grunted, trying to get past his pain… “wouldn’t!”

“Tell me where the kids are and I won’t. You lie and I’ll kill him. I don’t care how gentle he is. He’ll be just as dead because of you.”

Deakins considered her proposal for a few seconds before telling her that he kept them at an abandoned mental hospital outside of the city. “You’ll… have a fucking bitch…” he moaned, his body spasmed as the silver worked faster to his brain. His chest shown great patches of tanned skin. The silver was at his heart. It was a matter of time before the real pain began. “You’ll have… a bitch of a time… getting to them though. I’m not alone.”

In all her surveillance she’d never seen him meet with anyone. If it was bluff she wasn’t going to take it lightly. “How many?” She ejected another round, placed it into his shoulder and held the pistol over her head as a hammer again.

“TWO! ONLY TWO! WE’RE SAVING THEM! THEY”RE NOT DEAD YET! I SWEAR!” His eyes told her that he was telling the truth. Their human appearance was returning and fear of more torture filled them. “”Please no more, I beg you, please don’t hurt me any more.”

“Wonder how many times you heard that.” Shannon stood up, dropping the magazine and replacing the unspent round. She looked around until she found what she was looking for, a broken, rusted bit of metal pole. “Can’t say that this will hurt me more than you but it’ll make me feel a damn site better.”

Shannon raised the pole over her head. She drove into his chest, missing his heart. Wrenching it back and forth, forcing Deakins’ chest cavity open. The blood roiled out of his chest, the silver more than easy to see. He gripped the pole in a weak attempt to stop her but it was for naught.

Once the chest was exposed she saw the still beating heart. It beat erratically but still it beat. She forced the pole into the floor, nailing Deakins in place so she could retrieve gas from the car’s gas tank. “Now don’t go away. You’ll love this.”

Silver tinged blood flew from Deakins’ mouth as he tried to speak. He coughed before getting the words out. “Please, don’t. Please…I won’t hurt…humans again. Please. Why are… you… even doing this?” His poisoned life fluids sprayed from his mouth with effort. Shannon had done this for so long that she couldn’t even feel pleasure at the kill any longer.

“You know why,” she said, leaving for the car.

Shannon looked into the glove box and was surprised to see a small roll of hundred dollar bills. Sometimes hunting could be profitable. She could make use of the cash he had in his wallet also. The credit cards meant nothing to her but the Zippo lighter he carried did. Checking his jacket pockets she found the cigarettes that went with the lighter. She always marveled at why lycans smoked and drank. Neither addictive substance took with werewolves yet somehow a few insisted on making the habits theirs. She tucked the cigarettes into her bra strap. She didn’t want to leave Deakins without a final comfort.

She moved on to the trunk. There was nothing there for her to salvage. The hard work was finding pans to catch the gasoline from the tank. Once she did find three old cooking pots, she tore through the plastic wall of the gas tank.  Making sure not to loose the precious combustible fluid was hard.

Deakins had been nice enough to have three quarters of a tank for her to use. She poured half all over the cars interior. The other half was meant for Deakins himself.

She set Deakins’ suit jacket aflame, touching off the gas. She paid no attention to the flames as she calmly walked into the shack.

Deakins was barely breathing. He’d pulled the pole inches from his chest before collapsing from the exertion.  He’d past out from the work. It displeased her only slightly that he was unconscious.

“Hey. Wake up”, she said kicking his human right foot. The left was still lycan but showed evidence of turning. “Come one, wake up. You’re going to miss all the fun.” She poured gas on his face, waking him up but only just.

He screamed an all too human scream as she dumped more into his open chest. “Hey. Hey, you. Got a match?” she said bending down to him. Deakins said nothing as he stared blankly at her. “No? Well what good are you then. Fucking smoke and don’t have a match. Luckily you do have a lighter. A nice one too. What is this? Silver? Now that’s pretty messed up. You keep a silver lighter and you’re a werewolf.”

She stuck a cigarette between his weakened lips then tossed the unused pack unto the opened chest. She took great care to cover his entire body with the remaining gas. “Let me light that for you.” She bent down one last time, lighting his cigarette. It dropped onto his throat and rolled off, failing to set off the gas. The gas hadn’t been sitting long enough to leave combustible fumes. “Oh look. You dropped your smoke. Here let me help you.”

She dropped the still burning lighter into the chest wound. Shannon never tired of hearing the whoosh that came from touching gasoline off. She enjoyed it and realized that she enjoyed the taunting she gave in the murderous lycan’s last moments also. The joy hadn’t totally left her heart as much as she’d thought.

With his last remaining strength, Deakins thrashed against the pole and the flames. His breath grew in renewed strength as he yelled at the flames.

Shannon let him burn for two minutes before putting a final silver jacketed round into his head. Deakins’ screams and movements ceased abruptly.

Watching the flames, she allowed herself to return to human form. Her mind whirled as the rest of the shack began to burn. Even as she dressed herself she planned feverishly quickly at how to infiltrate and save the missing children.

She knew the hospital but she’d never visited it. It had been built in the mid nineteenth century for the clinically insane and like all of its time it dealt in almost medieval solutions to the problems of human insanity. Like most from that time it had a dark past even though when it was operating ‘dark’ was normal SOP.

She needed to return to her room and dress appropriately. She didn’t want the kids, if they were alive, to ID their savior as a warrior prostitute. Dress for the occasion meant something to her.

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