Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Fouteen

Chapter Fourteen

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The others followed as soon as the television clicked on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He bit me,” cried the agent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Crazy bitch’s crying,” scoffed Deidre.

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

“I’m fucked,” Tan said instead.

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

“Shut up,” said Greene sulkily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Any kids?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Werewolves of the Dead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A departure from the usual. Creepypasta

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

Life is but a Dream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The ‘dream’? Or the hatred?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s a dumb thing to say, Dee.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*******

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not this time.”

“What’s it like, being a werewolf?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Naked?”

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Werewolves of the Dead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s a dumb thing to say, Dee.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*******

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not this time.”

“What’s it like, being a werewolf?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Naked?”

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted in Werewolves of the Dead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

Posted in Werewolves of the Dead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

Posted in Werewolves of the Dead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

Posted in Werewolves of the Dead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Werewolves of the Dead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

DSCN3154

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.

DSCN3151

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.

Posted in Misc., Werewolves of the Dead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment