Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Nineteen

 

Deidre had to use the stairs to get to the basement. She had opted for the elevator at first, but someone had locked off the basement. That in and of itself was enough to set her Deidre-sense off. She pondered whether going below was a good idea, but she went ahead anyway.

As if she needed another clue to stay out, the double doors were barred shut with a 12 gauge riot gun. She pulled the shotgun out from the handles and examined it. It looked functional, but someone had left it for a reason. “I’ll worry about you later,” she muttered, leaning it against the door frame.

Deidre flipped the switch at the head of the stairs. Nothing happened. She flipped it off and on again. No change.

“This is a bad idea, she said, stepping down onto the first step. She switched on the tactical flashlight on the shotguns handguard. The set of winding stairs were lit by emergency lighting that was well on its way to going out. She played her tactical flashlight on a hastily scrawled message. Armory empty. All Dead Below. The three foot tall message was scrawled on a beige painted cinder block wall at the bottom of the first turn of the stairwell. Deidre absentmindedly chambered a round into her own shot gun. The unspent round flew out and tumbled down the stairs.

She turned and put a foot on the step on the step above. She froze, thinking of the unspent round. “Waste not, want not.” The reminder came unwanted even as a voice told her that phrase didn’t necessarily apply to that situation. She walked down anyway.

The hallways were dark and only illuminated by the dying light of the emergency lighting. She cursed the buildings former occupants for destroying the overhead lights.

“We’re underground. No point in killing the lights. Stupid monkeys,” she muttered. She paused at a corner, took a breath and quickly stepped into the intersection. The shotgun’s flashlight illuminated empty hallways. She looked around the walls. There were no signs indicating the armory’s location. Figures, she thought, moving down a hallway picked at random.

Deidre moved cautiously from hallway to hallway, slowly opening doors. She found nothing, but storage spaces, broom closets and assorted offices.

“Where’s the fucking armory,” she said with more bitterness and loudness than she’d wanted. Her mind heard a groan, or she was sure it was her mind.

She spun around, letting the beam of light fill every suspect and non-suspect space it could reach.

She heard the groan again.

This is stupid, her mind said with growing anger. Turn back. You can get the hell out now and you know the way’s clear.

Could be a newly turned zed. I could run into it on the way back, she argued.

Or-

“Now I’m arguing with myself,” she hissed moving back down the hall where she’d come.

She took the only turn she hadn’t taken and came across a pock-marked wall facing a hallway with even more bullet holes.

Bodies lay on the floor and congealed blood was pooled everywhere. You’re right, she said to her better sense. This is a bad idea. She went ahead anyway.

Every still body she came across was most certainly dead. And they had been wholly and richly alive when they’d died. Dead bodies don’t bleed, and Deidre was very happy to remember that tidbit. The group she inspected had numbered a dozen, with some police, but mostly civilians in their numbers. It appeared that they had tried to take the armory. It didn’t make sense to Deidre, especially when she saw the woman clutching the months old baby. She was one of only two people who had fallen facing the opposite direction.

She stepped gingerly over the woman and her child. Reflexively, and with no small amount of revulsion, the touched the child. He, or she, was dead. She rose and then a black clad figure stepped from around the corner, startling her. She meant to lean into the shotgun and order the person to back up but she never had a chance. She slipped on the woman and baby’s blood and fell backwards as the figure squeezed the trigger of their MP5 submachine gun. The rounds buzzed madly over her face and Deidre accidently squeezed the trigger of her tactical shotgun.

She swore later that she could see the startled eyes behind the gasmask change to anger right before the 12 gauge slug tore through their head. The SWAT dressed person crumpled, their finger stuck on the trigger firing the weapon once more. The round landed between Deidre’s splayed legs.

Deidre scooted backwards on the bloody floor though not far. Her jeans rubbed against the nearly drying mess as she collided with a wall. The abrupt stop was enough for her to rap her head hard against the gray painted, cemented cinder blocks.

Her heart beat fast and she forced her breathe to a normal pace which also helped slow her heart down. “You tried to kill me,” she said in astonishment. “Why did you try to kill me?”

“What we have, we keep,” wheezed a voice from down the hall. “Goddamned…looter.” The last part was spoken in the middle of a wet cough. The defiance and certainty that the voice’s owner was in charge reignited Deidre’s rage. “You tried to kill me,” she screamed. “Who do you think you are?”

She stood and hoisted the shotgun to her shoulder. She was about to charge around the corner, which led to the armory, but stopped in time, saving herself the hassle of being shot. Chunks of the corner scratched and her face. She closed her eyes in time, avoiding most of the dust.

“What we have, we keep,” said the voice again. This time it sounded weaker and the cough was louder.

Deidre quickly stepped around the corner, taking a fraction of a moment to judge the distance to the speaker. He, she, whatever, wasn’t but sixty feet away and laying on the ground, peeking from behind a barricade of overturned tables adorned with bullet resistant vests. She could see the faceplate of a riot helmet, peeking out from behind the barricade.

The speaker raised their pistol, and squeezed the trigger once more. The shot missed. Deidre swore she could have seen the air part as it passed her. She might have found that interesting if it were on TV, but this little shit heel was trying to kill her in real life. She sprinted down the hall. Two more poorly aimed shots streaked in her general direction. It wasn’t until later that she realized she had pissed herself.

She rounded a corner and discovered another cop propped against a steel door, staring up at her. “You’re fast,” the officer said between gasps. Deidre did a quick assessment. It was a woman, and she was bleeding out from her right armpit behind her body armor. “Stupid asses,” she paused and drew in a sharp breathe. Her voice was muffled through the gasmask she wore. “Stupid asses tried to get in, steal our stash. What’s ours, we keep.” The cop flipped up her face plate, and moved to take her mask off. “Si vis pacem parabellum.” She struggled and then finally pulled it off. The chubby face underneath the mask was sweaty and dirty and her complexion was only five minutes ahead of a zombie’s. She gasped and then chuckled weakly.

“You tried to kill me. Fuck those people out there. You tried to kill me.” The baby flashed through Deidre’s mind. She regretted the fuck those people remark instantly. The time to be emotional for others wasn’t then, and she knew it. Dead was dead and she wasn’t.

“Si vis pacem parabellum, bi-”

The female cop didn’t get the opportunity to finish. Deidre raised the shotgun and squeezed the trigger. The face disappeared in gush of skull, teeth, skin, hair and gore.

The shotgun’s magazine had been staggered with buckshot and slugs, and a pellet the size of a .32 caliber round ricocheted into Deidre’s thigh. Her pumping adrenaline allowed her to ignore the pain, but she knew she’d taken a hit.

“If you want peace, prepare for war. But you weren’t prepared for me, were you?”

Deidre turned to the bodies down the hall. “What’s this world coming to?”

The armory was mostly cleaned out of weaponry. The cops that had defended it had stocked up on food and water. They had been smart enough to keep their communications going along with centralizing what ammo and weapons remained. Securing food and water had been paramount to them.

Deidre was inventorying their stores when a noise from the hallway reached her. It could have been a dragging foot or a muted moan. It could have been anything, and anything these days usually entailed trouble.

She ducked into a corner behind a stack of boxes laden with SPAM. She waited and then a dark figure stepped into the room. The figure had a Mossberg police shotgun and it scanned the room before moving toward the dead female cop. The figure kicked the feet, making sure the body was no longer a threat. Nothing happened.

“I know you’re in here,” said a female voice, trying to sound convivial. “I’m not going to hurt you if you give up now.”

“What you have, you keep, right?” responded Deidre.

“Only if you’re male,” answered the female officer.

“And what if you’re an armed woman?” Stop trying to dialogue with them, screamed Deidre’s more cautious mind. They’re only going to kill you anyway.

“I’m not going to kill you, unless you come at me intent on killing me like you did Dalton. No loss though. Marjorie was a pain the ass brown-noser.

Deidre could feel the woman stealthily closing on her position. Before she knew it the woman was almost in front of her. Deidre leapt up and stuck her shotgun in the woman’s jaw. “Don’t,” she said, pressing harder. The new arrival ceased movement.

“You’re not going to shoot,” she said, moving her hand down to her thigh holstered pistol.

Deidre swung the butt of her shotgun into the back of the woman’s head. The cop’s helmet took the brunt of the hit, but she still fell to the floor.

A sound of something soft and heavy hitting something hard and unyielding caused Deidre to look over her shoulder.

The female cop took advantage of Deidre’s lapse in attention and sprang from the floor, grabbing Deidre’s shotgun. Deidre pushed the woman forward and kneed her in the stomach as hard as she could. Her knee connected with the solid flak jacket the female cop wore.

The female cop raised an elbow to bring it down on Deidre’s collar bone, but froze with the elbow raised beside her ear.

“Fuck me,” screamed the cop. Instead of an elbow, the cop kicked Deidre in the crotch. The woman had her pistol raised toward the doorway before Deidre hit the floor.

Shannon stepped further into the room and flung another SWAT garbed figure at the cop. The limp figure collided with the woman sending her tumbling backwards into the reinforced wire cage of the armory.

Shannon was in full werewolf form and on top of the woman before she could recover. Deftly she cut through the chin strap and removed the helmet. “Don’t you know how to treat guests,” raved Shannon as she brought the helmet down against the woman’s head. Three blows and the female cop was unconscious.

She dropped the helmet and moved to Deidre.

“I’m okay,” said Deidre, forcing herself to her feet. “Did you kill her?”

Shannon picked up the shotgun and handed it to Deidre. “She’s alive, but she’ll probably wish she wasn’t come the morning.”

“You should’ve killed her.” Deidre motioned toward the other unconscious officer. “Her friend dead?”

“No,” grunted Shannon. She returned to human. The pain was intense and Deidre looked away. The sound of ripping flesh during the change was what she imagined she’d hear as zombies tore into her. It made her want to cry and then shoot Shannon, or vice versa.

“Can you pick another time to do that other than around me? That’s creepy and not to mention gross.” She gave the naked Shannon a disgusted look. “And you’re naked. Why are you naked?”

“It’s easier to hunt this way sometimes. Plus I was in the shower. They have hot water still.”

“Hate to get you bloody again, but you need to kill them.”

“Really?” Shannon looked quizzically at Diedre. “I mean…really?”

They tried to kill me. They would have tried to kill you too. As well as Kelsey and Rance. If we let them live they’ll just kill the next person that stumbles into here. Heaven forbid they run low on consumables.” Deidre sighed. “Jesus, I can’t believe I’m explaining this to you of all people. Just kill them.”

Shannon smiled, pulled one of the cops up by her throat, and twisted her neck sharply. The sound of the vertebrae giving way made Deidre’s stomach involuntarily clench.

“I totally agree with you. I just was surprised to hear you say it so readily.” Shannon paused halfway down to the next one. “What if they have friends out there?” Shannon said haltingly. “It’s possible.”

“Possible.” Deidre shrugged. “It’s even probable. If anything else we’ll leave them here as a message.”

“I think we need to interrogate this one. Keep her alive for that much anyway.”

Deidre thought it over a moment and then answered in agreement. “Where’s Kelsey and Rance? They good?”

“They’re fine. When do we begin?”

“Right after you get some clothes on.”

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A Game Called Wick by Sarah McKinney

Hey there, everyone! Today I have a guest post by my oldest daughter, Sarah McKinney. Saturday, Sarah turns the magical age of 13. That’s right, she becomes a full fledged teenager. I thought I would celebrate her day in advance by showcasing a story she came up with for her 8th grade English Language Arts class. She based it on a horror game on Steam called Wick. Her writing prompt was to write it in the present tense so it’s a little different than what most readers are used to reading. I hope you all enjoy it as much as she enjoyed writing it.

Wick_Greenlight_screenshot_FE_Title-1024x640.png

A Game of “Wick”

Sarah McKinney

HR: Smallcomb

Narrative Writing Essay

9/1/2016

The pine needles that cover the forest floor crunch under your feet. You hear the loud creak of the old park gate as it opens slowly. You and your friends have decided to play a game called Wick. One person will be blindfolded and sent into the woods with a single light source, a candle, and will stay there until morning comes. Supposedly, dead children haunt the woods and if you go after hours, you can see the children by the light of a candle, and, supposedly, they will try to kill you. You all had drawn straws to see who would be left in the woods, and you were the losing party.

“Are you guys sure about this?” one of your friends asks.

“Yeah! There is no way that stupid little legend is true!” another replies. You hear a flare of a match and someone lighting a candle.

“But what if it is?” the third calls.

“Then we wouldn’t be doing it!” the other said enthusiastically.

“Well, we’ll see you at six! Don’t die!”

You wait until the sound of their footsteps have faded to remove the blindfold. The forest is black as pitch, save a glowing candle on the ground. You pick up the candle and look around. You could have sworn that you saw a small figure, but surely it was your eyes playing tricks on you. You begin to walk, glancing around occasionally. You know for a fact there have been children that have died here, but there is no way that legend is true, right?

Not so far after you begin this unrealistic game, you come across a small line of gravestones. You approach them cautiously, feeling a malevolent presence close by. Next to one of the gravestones is a candle. You light it with the one you are carrying and pick it up. As you look up, for a spit second, you see a young boy with a mask on. Your eyes are playing tricks on you, or you must be really tired, right? You shake your head to clear it and move on.

By now you have been in this forest for what feels like hours. You tilt you head up to look at the sky, but sure enough, you can’t see it through the cluster of branches above you. Instead of focusing on something that you cannot see, you focus on the path. A young boy comes from out of the trees and runs across your path. It appears to be the same boy you saw last time, but surely your sleep deprived brain is messing with you, right? You become more suspicious. Your tired brain making assumptions that are certainly wrong. That legend isn’t true! It is just an old wives’ tale to keep people from going into the forest at night!

You continue down the path, but not for long. There he is, that hallucination you have seen twice now. He drops from a tree and is running straight at you. You didn’t have time to think; you only run. You didn’t care if he is a hallucination at this point; you want to run, to escape what is surely a grizzly fate. You hold the candle in front of you, covering the flame from the wind that is rushing past you to keep it lit. Then, a strong gust of wind blows by you; the candle goes out.

You throw the candle on the ground and strain your muscles to run faster. You can hear him chasing you, but you don’t think to turn around. You just run. Your whole body hurts, but you keep running. You won’t risk slowing down. You feel a hand tighten around your wrist, and you turn around. The boy is there. He punches you and pain shoots through your body. You fall onto your back, and he punches you again. Your vison blurs. Another hit, your vision is darkening. Hit again, you can hardly see anything or move. Through your blurred vision, you see him looking at you with his smirking mask and a tilt of his head. You can tell he is taunting you, and you want to rip his mask off and destroy his smug face…but you can’t. He throws his head back and head-butts you. Everything goes black.

This is a work of fiction and Wick is the creation of Steam, and the story is the sole property of Sarah McKinney and reproduced her with her permission. Copyright September 2016.

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Eighteen

 

They piled their weapons and the remainder of Shannon’s clothes into Shannon’s restored Chevy Nova. Shannon was ordered to drive, which was fine by her; it was her car. The march of the undead had dwindled to almost a sporadic single or due. When they pulled out the parking lot those nearest lurched hurriedly toward them.

Shannon, feeling cockier than the situation called for, aimed for one and missed. Instead it latched onto the rearview mirror and hung on until Deidre rolled down the window and shot it in the head.

“Don’t be such a wildcat,” ordered Deidre, replacing the spent round from the shotgun.

“And maybe you shouldn’t waste ammo or fire so close to the interior,” retorted Shannon.

“Touché.” Deidre searched the glove box. She was rewarded with a handful of McDonald’s napkins, which she used to wipe down the shotgun’s muzzle.

The first ten miles afterwards were uneventful. They only encountered two deadheads, and those two had somehow taken down a coyote and were feasting on it. They were in the middle of the road, and paid no attention to their approach. Without a word Shannon accelerated, hitting the one closest to their path. She suppressed a laugh as the zombie bounced from bumper to hood to roof. As she watched it roll across the blacktop she thought they were lucky that it hadn’t hit the windshield.

“We need to eat,” said Deidre, breaking the hours long silence. “And we need to plan our next move.”

“Wow. Food and planning. You’re just now coming around to that train of thought?” asked Shannon caustically. She was hungry; tired of the silence and well past being tolerant of the silent treatment she had been getting for several hours.

“Shut up, smart ass. That’s been on my mind since we left the diner. We need to get out of Arizona. I’m thinking we should head north.”

The Nova, with its dark green paint, was an easy target from the air, but on the ground it looked like a one of the few desert plants from a distance. They stopped three miles from the road and ate cold sandwiches and drank warm water as the temperature rose. Shannon and Kelsey kept watch on the car’s roof as Deidre tried to teach Rance correct pistol operation. Even though Shannon ate and stared into the distant horizon, the memory of Greene’s face in the mirror haunted her. She tried brushing it off to stress once more before the sound of a far off helicopter captured her full attention.

Kelsey saw Shannon’s head go up and she followed Shannon’s gaze. Her eyes focused on nothing aside from clear sky. “What is it?” asked Kelsey around her chewing a piece of bacon sandwich.

“I thought I heard a jet.”

”Civilian or military?” asked Deidre, urging Rance into the car. She pulled a pair of binoculars from her duffle bag and stood on one of the car’s doorframes.

“I don’t know,” answered Shannon. “I’m not even sure it was a jet. It sounded far off enough to be dubious to even my ears.”

“I don’t hear anything,” said Kelsey. She clicked the safety off on her M4. She looked around, hoping that Shannon was wrong. Still she heard and saw nothing. “Maybe it left or it could’ve been the wind or something like that.”

“Just because you can’t see it or hear it doesn’t mean it’s not there,” answered Deidre. “Military snipers and scouts are trained to not be seen or heard. Civilians spend a month or two a year gearing up to hunt animals and they can be just as good. You’d better get back down. You’re enough of a target just sitting there.”

Shannon said nothing during their exchange. She hadn’t heard the wind or been mistaken in what she’d heard.

“Do you hear that?” asked Shannon, looking from one to the other.

An angry roar came and went with the light breeze that was blowing. Only Shannon looked into the direction from where the sound emanated.

“There,” announced Shannon, helping to give them a focal point to the east. A splotch appeared on the horizon, but then it became separate dark, fast moving dots. The dots became F/A18 Hornet fighters that zoomed overhead before turning to the northeast.

“Their racks are filled with bombs not missiles. Guess it’s not a dogfight,” Deidre commented, her finger following them as they zoomed by.

The fighters flew several hundred feet from the ground, as if they were trying to avoid radar. One of them peeled off from the others and did a fly over on Shannon and the others. The pilot waggled its wings, signaling that it had seen them. The fighter flew to rejoin the others, taking the vengeful howls of their engines with him. Inside the car and unheard by the others Rance was screaming himself hoarse at the noise. He cupped his ears. The sound was too much for him.

A minute later, faint distant explosions could be heard. They were too far off to see any fire or smoke, but Shannon felt the ground rumble underneath her.

“Did you see that?” screamed Kelsey, referring to the jets. “They’re still in the fight,” she screamed, feeling hopefulness vindicated by the sight of military jets.

“They’re Marines,” said Deidre. “Heading into the fight to empty everything they have before hitting a FARP for another run, I bet. Chances are that FARP isn’t too far off from here. The battle is farther east than the one I saw the other night. I thought we were moving away from it, but it’s going to catch up with us. We’re boned if it does. We need to leave. Now.”

“Why,” asked Shannon. She couldn’t contain the hope Kelsey certainly felt. “That FARP thing is good, right? If we find it, we can find out where everything stands. We just follow the jets to wherever that might be. It seems like a good idea to me.”

Deidre became irritated. Not at being questioned but at the time it took to explain. She’d rather be on the move. “First off, no it’s not a good thing. Not for us anyway. A FARP is an anagram for Forward Arming and Refueling Point. It’s for combat ops, not for refugees. Secondly, if they take us in, they’re going to take our guns and ask questions. A lot of them. Worst case scenario is there are some opportunists with an eye for the ladies. Personally, I don’t think the world’s that far gone yet. Humor my paranoia for a change. We need to lay low off everyone’s radar and see where everything goes from here.”

“You’re right. You are paranoid.” Shannon spoke with certainty that Deidre wanted to move for reasons other than safety.

Shannon could see the anger lingering behind Deidre’s eyes. Her scent was changing for the worst as well. She could tell that Deidre was fighting against the angry, profanity riddled diatribe fighting to free itself from Deidre’s mouth. It was Rance’s presence was stopping her.

“Godd-,” started Deidre. “Yes, I am paranoid. Think woman! The dead are walking around and eating the living. Some of your buddies have joined them and that’s double trouble far as I’m concerned. And where there’s large groups of people making large amounts of noise there’s less chances to live. Greene’s not the only one who’s watched a few horror movies. I won’t get eaten, and I won’t allow any of you to get eaten! Damn Shannon! I’d expect you to know fucking better! Sorry about the language, Rance.”

Shannon didn’t know how to respond. There was more than truth in Deidre’s argument. A refugee camp, if any were still in could potentially be a guaranteed meal, or made into one. Shannon shuddered under the hot desert air at the former. “Then what are your orders, Captain?” She sketched a salute in an attempt to be funny.

“I was a Navy lieutenant, not a Marine captain.” Deidre smiled briefly. “Honestly…” Deidre bit her lip, searching for words. “My gut tells me to back off and go around, but on the other hand I want to check out what’s going on. Whatever’s going on up there could conceivably give us a leg up on the situation. It’s dangerous, sure, but we’ll know what’s what. I could be wrong, but it may mean that humanity’s winning. It’s in the general direction anyway.”

“You do know that it’s heading back toward Tucson? But hey, whatever you decide, we’ll do.” Kelsey peered into the backseat. Rance lay on the floorboard clutching his favorite teddy bear.

“Uh-uh. You’re not putting this off on me. We’re taking a vote. Mob rule is better than no rule. Those in favor of checking out the action, raise your hand.” Deidre raised her hand.

Shannon raised her hand more out of curiosity than any in any hope of safety. Kelsey raised hers also. The decision had been made.

“Fine. Get in. We’re going to see what’s going on.” Deidre tossed the binoculars into the passenger seat. “Hoo-yah, going to town.”

She climbed into the driver’s seat, and turned to the others before starting the engine. “There’s a small town in between here and there. It’s an ink spot on the map and kind of out of the way. I think we should detour through there and see if we can get shelter for the night. We need to let things cool down at that battle space first.” She looked to Shannon.

“Sounds good to me. If whatever those Marines were shooting at isn’t taken care of, then the boogeymen will have moved off after a while. Sounds prudent to me.”

“But we could-” started Kelsey. Deidre interrupted her before she could finish.

“What? Miss the soldiers or whatever is there? Damn right we could. That’s what you were going to say, right?”

Rance stirred uneasy on the seat. Kelsey absent-mindedly started to brush his hair. “Not necessarily.”

“Uh-huh. Look, if the military is losing over there then we need to steer clear until the literal heat dies off.”

“But we could miss them if they’re winning,” argued Kelsey.

“Trust me; they aren’t,” retorted Deidre.

“Close air support is for when the ground forces are in heavy contact, losing, or both. My guess is both.” Deidre looked to Shannon and gave her a glance that said back me up.

Shannon did. “I think Deidre’s right. Let’s wait overnight and see what happens. There’s three or four hours of daylight left. It won’t kill us to wait. We’ve been on the road most of the day and haven’t seen anyone. That doesn’t mean our lucks gonna remain that good, Kel.”

Kelsey looked to be sulking now. “Okay,” she answered, stroking Rance’s hair even more. “I think it’s wrong, but we’ll see.”

“Settled,” said Deidre, starting the engine.

They returned to the road, eyes keenly kept on the area for any kind of trouble. The signs of battle showed up an hour later beyond a quarter of a mile from a sign saying, Welcome to Woodrow. Tranquility Realized. Population 11,432. The town was certainly living up to its name. Nothing was on the streets. Neither man nor beast could be seen moving about.

Deidre drove through what was the main street slowly. All three women looked into the windows of the businesses lining the streets. The windows gave good views inside and what they saw scared each of them. The peace coupled with empty shops and the odd car sitting in a parking space like normal was unsettling. The sun was setting and the coming dark added more creepiness that each could have done without.

“Where are we,” said Rance, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.

“Somewhere we can maybe spend the night,” said Kelsey.

“You smell anything unusual, Shannon,” asked Deidre, circumventing a sheriff’s cruiser that had crashed into a Town and Country station wagon. The station wagon had seen better days before the accident and the driver’s door of the sheriff’s patrol car stood open, showing the blood adorning the interior.

“That’s creepy.” Shannon ignored the question and spoke in low tones as if she were afraid of recalling the people involved. Only one accident in the whole town. If the people left then they did it in an orderly fashion.”

“Or they’re still here and hiding. Do you smell anything unusual?” Deidre asked the question with more force.

“No. I smell things that are in the past. Maybe a day old. If there’s still people here they’re hiding better than werewolf I’ve ever hunted. This place is almost deserted.”

“Almost?” asked Kelsey and Deidre simultaneously.

“Werewolf and dog noses aren’t infallible. If I say that it is totally deserted and we get jumped, then you’ll both be pissed at me. Nope. I’m not giving a definite when I have doubts.”

“You’re no help,” mumbled Deidre.

“You asked,” said Shannon. But she had smelled something, however faint for just a moment. She didn’t know what it was exactly, but it stank of sickness and lycanthropic anger. The sickness had to have been the zeds in the town, but this distinct reek of werewolf was something she’d never encountered before. She was going to keep that to herself until she could catch it again, and she hoped that she wouldn’t.

They drove around the town once more before deciding to stop for the night. The sun was halfway down and being caught in the open under any circumstance was not an option.

“This looks good. What do you think,” asked Deidre, pulling the car into the back parking lot of the Tranquility Sheriff’s Department. “It should be secure enough for the night, and maybe we can scrounge something from inside.”

“Always said I’d end up in jail,” said Shannon, opening the Nova’s door. She stepped out and looked around. Her nose followed her vision and scanned for anything that might pose a problem. “Clear,” she announced. “Nothing within the past day has been here.”

“Outstanding,” answered Deidre. She exited the vehicle and looked around herself. Good field of view for us to see trouble coming, and have time to get out quick if we need to.”

“Also a good line of sight for some enterprising sniper to take a shot at us,” answered Shannon. She opened the door for Kelsey and Rance.

“You said there was nothing to worry about,” said Kelsey stepping out with Rance in her arms.

“Yeah, but someone could come along and surprise us.”

“Now who’s paranoid?” said Deidre, joking.

“Just being practical.”

“Shannon, you hit the door first, if there’s anyone in there, you’ll catch them first. Kelsey will be in the middle and I’ll be rear guard.”

Shannon cocked her head in disbelief. “Are you kidding? The place is empty. No one’s here or been here in a day or so. Really?”

“Humor me.”

“For the love of God,” spat Kelsey moving up the handicapped ramp of the back entrance.

“Wait,” hissed Deidre. “The door could be booby trapped.”

Shannon rolled her eyes. “Get a grip, Dee.” She followed Kelsey up the ramp.

“Door’s locked,” said Kelsey, trying the handle.

Shannon moved Kelsey aside and looked through the reinforced glass. “I can break through the glass and maybe get to the lock, but it’ll leave our back door open.”

Deidre took a breath. “I’m not getting it in the back door.” She chuckled.

Shannon stared intensely at Deidre while Kelsey gave her a quizzical look.

“You told me to get a grip. I was trying to be funny.”

“That’s…not funny,” said Kelsey hesitantly.

“Be right back,” said Shannon, handing Deidre her M4.

“And you’re going where?” inquired Deidre.

“To see if I can find another way in. Give me five minutes.”

“Wait,” said Deidre, but Shannon had vaulted over the railing and taken off at a run around the right side of the building.

After ten minutes Deidre was about to call a retreat to the car and leave Shannon on her own. Just as she opened her mouth to give the order, Shannon appeared at the back door in werewolf form.

Locks clicked, and the door swung open.

Deidre ushered Kelsey in first and Shannon quietly shut and relocked the door after Deidre entered.

“There’s a kitchen down the hall. First left and then two doors down. Take Rance there,” advised Shannon.

Kelsey looked to Deidre, and Deidre nodded her approval.

Kelsey cautiously side stepped Shannon, never once taking her eyes off Shannon’s towering form.

“Give me a moment,” said Shannon lowly. “Could you… you know, turn around. This is gonna be disturbing to hear, and much worse to witness.”

Deidre hesitantly turned away and the sound of wet canvas ripping and flesh groaning in wet high-pitch squeals filled the hall. It made Deidre’s flesh crawl, and the roots of her teeth ache while she resisted the urge to both look and scream at the sounds.

“I’m good,” said Shannon, breath ragged after a moment of silence.

“That was anything but good,” said Deidre turning to face Shannon. “And your clothes are fucked up. Again.”

“Occupational hazard. Listen. This place wasn’t all that empty. I found three deaders stumbling around-”

“You said this place was good to go,” hissed Deidre angrily.

“There’s a hint of death everywhere, and the air-conditioning is still on so it hid the scent a bit. It was nothing I could deal with.” Shannon subconsciously took a step forward. “Keep your damn voice down. You’re not whispering as much as you think. This place was used as a rescue center before the townsfolk moved off. Those that remained got infected somehow and turned on the cops inside. The second floor is lousy with bodies. They tried to fight off the zombies, but failed. We can’t let Kelsey and Rance get to the-”

A scream came from above them.

“Right on cue,” said Shannon with more spite than she wanted.

They ran up the stairs and Deidre was stunned to see the failed barricade mid-way down the main hall. One side had been moved to allow entry, and that was when Deidre saw that the barricade had been solid on only one side. Dark crimson pulp was everywhere. Deidre didn’t stop for a moment to wonder where the bodies had gone.

“Sonuvabitch,” murmured Deidre, entering the only set of double doors on the floor. The room was worse than the barricade. Bodies were almost everywhere, and pressed against the wall next to the doors was Kelsey. The room had been used as a place to house everyone that had come to the Sheriff’s office. When the bitten or infected had turned, they’d attacked those inside. The infection had spread quickly and no one had been safe.

“This is what I was trying to warn you about” remarked Shannon, moving past Deidre. “It’s a damned slaughterhouse.” She moved to Kelsey and was beginning to reassure her when she realized Rance was missing.

“Downstairs in that kitchen area,” answered Kelsey. “Hiding in a cabinet.”

They moved the sobbing woman downstairs and was approaching the kitchen when a shot rang out.

Kelsey cried out louder and broke away from Shannon and Deidre.

“She left him with a gun?” exclaimed Deidre in disbelief.

The two women rounded a corner and found Kelsey hugging Rance tightly. Rance was crying with Deidre, and several feet away laid a 9mm Glock. Nearby a cooling shell casing caught the light and glinted like an evil eye at the women.

“Is he injured,” asked Deidre, dropping to her knees beside them. She fought Kelsey for Rance and quickly check him. The boy was uninjured.

“I got scared. I…I thought I saw a dead person,” said Rance with a hitching voice.

“It’s okay, baby. I’m here. It’s okay.”

Deidre stepped forward. Ferocious rage radiated from her face. “Kelsey,” she said sharply.

Kelsey ignored her. She began to sing Once Upon a Dream to Rance. The song seemed to slow and then stop his hitching voice. Kelsey continued to sing.

“Goddammit, Kelsey,” said Deidre. She reached for Kelsey, but Shannon grasped her wrist. She locked eyes with Shannon.

Shannon’s grip tightened and she shook her head no. “Hallway, now” said Shannon.

Deidre’s scowl deepened and she went to pull away. Shannon tightened her grip and whispered, “I can break it like a breadstick if I wanted. Don’t make me do it just to get my point across.”

Deidre gave no sign of giving in. Shannon squeezed harder and she could feel the bones groan under the pressure.

“Fine,” relented Deidre.

“What the hell was that,” asked Deidre, rubbing her wrist as they closed the door to the kitchen behind them. “I don’t care if she’s comforting Rance. That was goddamned good and well stupid on her part. Who the fuck gives a gun to a child that doesn’t have a clue how to use it? And just who the fuck do you think you are talking to me like that. Keep in mind you’re no more than our guard dog.”

Shannon brushed her dirty blonde hair back in exasperation. “First off, it’s pretty clear you don’t care right now. Secondly, in her mind she could’ve walked in to find Rance dead because of her carelessness. Trust me, I’m willing to bet she won’t be making that mistake again. And third, I’m no one’s guard dog. Do you understand? You may think you got me on a chain, but the more I see it,” she stepped closer to Deidre. “The way I see it, you need me more than I need you. And that is the goddamned truth.”

Deidre sighed. Shannon could smell Deidre’s anger turning itself down. “All right. You’re not my dog, and I don’t control you. Yeah, we need you more than you need us, but make no mistake on this; me and her aren’t done on this matter.”

“No surprise there.”

Deidre momentarily covered her face. “If he’d sh-”

“He said he saw a dead person. His words. If he had we’d have seen him, her, or it and then dealt with whatever. As it stands, I can’t sense any danger near us.”

“Shit, it was probably his overactive imagination. We’re all tired, and this shit is bananas.”

“B-A-N-A-N-A-S. I’ll take first watch tonight. This building is cleared so we don’t have to be worried about anything already being here. The roof’s got a good vantage point so that’s where I’ll be for the first three hours.”

“Is that how you got in? The roof?”

“Fire escape on the left side of the building. Almost did a complete circle around before I found it. It was hellacious jump up to get it. Around ten feet I figure.”

“Did you pull it up or whatever after you got up?”

“Best your ass I did. Momma Morris didn’t raise a moron.”

Deidre chuckled. “We done here?”

“Almost. Hey, listen. Give Kel her space right now. She literally saw her life flash before her eyes. If you’re needing busy work I found their armory. Not sure if there’s anything left that’s worth a damn, but it’s worth a look. It’s in the basement. Well, more like it is the basement. You can’t miss it.”

“I’ll poke around there in a moment. Right now, I just want to look around. This shit… Well, this is shit.

“Girl, you ain’t never lied.”

 

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

 

As the night progressed, more undead than previously seen made their journey past the diner. At first watching the staggering duos or trio only unnerved Kelsey. As their pack sizes increased, so did Kelsey’s uneasiness with being trapped in a building with large windows. She sat perfectly still, watching them pass with wide unwavering eyes. Being on first watch, and alone for it, allowed her mind to run free.

What unnerved her more was the lone zombie stopping and then turning to the window as zombie-Greg had. She was sure they could see her. Like Greg they ventured to the window for a look, and like Deidre had, she hid. Sometimes she could hear the zombies’ light scratching at the glass and off times not so light, banging on the windows. Those times she was certain they had seen her. After fifteen minutes or half an hour of useless trying to get in they would wander off.

What scared her most were the ones that would try opening the door. Like any human thinking a locked door was a mistake, they would shake it back and forth. More than once an undead performed the human ritual of attempting to enter a domicile. None gained entrance.

Kelsey waited out her shift leaning against the counter. The longer she spent on guard the more she was sure that the main wave of the zombie exodus had once been residents of Zellar. She wasn’t ready to test her assumption. An assumption was good enough for her.

She sat, watching the zombies file past, wondering where she and Rance could go or what they should do. She knew she couldn’t make her way through the world on her own. She’d been living with her parents, and even that relationship had been strained. They only tolerated her because she was of their blood and nothing more. She’d been foolish enough to get pregnant by a man that didn’t stick around like so many other women. And like so many other women she was dealing with the consequences alone. Well, mostly. Mom and dad had once been devout Mormons, and they believed that unwed sex was evil, and out of wedlock pregnancy was worse. They broke with the church because of her and Rance, and Shannon had the feeling that they held a simmering grudge because of it.

Unconsciously she wiped away tears. “I’m always crying,” she mumbled. “I’m tired of crying.”

Kelsey hadn’t thought of her parents since it all started. Now she wondered how they were faring or if they were even still alive. She pushed the thought of them from her mind and focused on the future.

“Better learn how to use this thing,” she said, examining the US military M4.

After a few moments of fumbling around she found the magazine release button. The magazine fell to the floor. Anger flooded her awareness as she examined it. Had Deidre purposefully given her an unloaded rifle? It certainly looked like she had. Someone like Deidre wouldn’t so easily forget to load a weapon. She angrily tossed the useless magazine across the room. It clattered loudly as it bounced of the wall and hit the floor. “That explains the knife she put on the end of this thing.” Kelsey was so mad that she spoke louder than she had intended. That made Deidre stir where the magazine through hadn’t.

Kelsey’s mind then turned to learning everything she could about firearms. If Deidre treated her like this when things were precarious at best, what would she do if she went from being a single-mom friend to dead weight that Deidre would always have to worry about? With the act of handing over a useless weapon Deidre proved that she was trust only slightly more than Shannon.

“Fucking bitch,” whispered Kelsey through clenched teeth. And then Kelsey wept for the last time.

Four hours later, Kelsey angrily woke Deidre to take her place by kicking her in the butt.

“What the fuck,” groused Deidre, snapping to awareness. “Why’d you do that?”

“Thanks for the empty fucking gun, Deidre.”

Deidre gave a start. The kick alone was surprising, and the foul language was all out shocking.

“What? What are you-”

Kelsey tossed the empty magazine to the floor beside Deidre. “Were you afraid I’d shoot myself, or you by accident? That was a lousy thing to do. It explains the knife on the end. I’m surprised you let me have it. I might have accidently cut my own throat with it.”

“It’s a bayonet,” answered Deidre in a low voice. “Look, Kel,” she started, regaining her composure.

“Don’t you dare ‘Kel’ me. Don’t you fucking dare. You untrusting cow. Screw you and burn in hell.”

Kelsey turned toward where Rance was sleeping, but stopped suddenly. Deidre was watching her, and then her sight went to what she had stopped her. Both women were stunned to find Shannon still awake. Shannon said nothing as she returned their stares.

Kelsey walked silently by Shannon, and Deidre moved to get her shoes on to take her post. Neither felt a need to communicate with Shannon or untie her.

Great, thought Shannon. Here I am with a full bladder and an empty stomach while those two go through their trust issues with each other. What a world, what a world.

Shannon lowered her head and tried to sleep. She had surmised that the M4 Deidre had given Kelsey had been empty. It was the way Deidre had turned away from Kelsey when she pulled the bolt back. It was like she didn’t want Kelsey to see something. With an empty magazine the bolt would have been locked back once pulled. Shannon hated that she was right. Kelsey needed Deidre more than Deidre needed her, but Kelsey could be taught. Now, Deidre had pissed on Kelsey’s trust. It didn’t matter what Deidre’s intentions had been, she’d set Kelsey up for failure, and Kelsey wasn’t about to forget that lack of trust.

Shannon’s mind kept her body from reaching a state of relaxation. Her ears were automatically attuned to any approaching shuffling sounds from outside. The varying degrees of sporadic pounding during Deidre’s watch did nothing for her desire to sleep. And her current situation was most unhelpful as well. In a breech situation she couldn’t count on either woman to cut her free.

She tried to steady her paranoid, hyperaware mind with watching Kelsey and Rance sleep. Shannon watched Rance and his newly aware mother with growing admiration. Something akin to jealousy entered Shannon’s mind in regards to Kelsey and Rance’s bond. At least Kelsey had something to live for past self-imposed vengeance. She had a child born from her body. What did Shannon have? Nothing but hate from what she could tell. That hate and her mission kept her… What? She had no idea at that moment, but she was determined to find out.

Shannon spent the night into the predawn hours waiting, watching, and listening. As the night approached dawn, Shannon fell asleep. Against her will her body shut down for rest.

The rest was brief and useless. If anything it made her feel worse.

“Hey. Wake up. Come on. Wake up. I don’t have all day to coddle you. Wake your ass up,” said Deidre, shaking her.

Deidre tried harder and harder until Shannon’s eyes opened. She was sitting Indian style in front of Shannon, hands folded in over the shotgun in her lap. Deidre had been poking Shannon’s forehead with her right index finger, knocking Shannon’s head against the post.

“I dozed off,” Shannon mumbled, blinking against the morning glare pouring into the kitchen.

“Like hell. You’ve been asleep for three hours. I made it a point to check on you every thirty minutes until I was sure you were asleep. I didn’t need you choking to death on your drool. God forbid that shit should be my fault somehow. Something’s happened since you were down. Listen…”

While Shannon slept the zombie march had increased from a handful her and there to several dozen at any given time. Deidre had watched them from the roof, hoping for a clue to their reasoning and destination. The roof had served as a better observation spot for that than the diner’s interior. Aside from better line of sight, sound traveled better.

“Go figure, right?” said Deidre in a near conversational tone. It was the only time Deidre had halfway smiled at Shannon since Shannon’s rampage. “Anyway, cupcake.” Shannon wasn’t sure if she meant it as her term of endearment or insult. Deidre used the word both ways, and sometimes it was hard to discern one meaning from the other. “I heard something big going down more than a few miles down the road. I heard gunfire, both automatic and semi. And what’s more, I heard what I’m sure was tanks. It was all far off and the wind made it sound faint, but I know what I heard. It doesn’t hurt that I saw what I appeared to be muzzle flashes from big guns too. Could be the military has regrouped and is making a stand.”

“Could be scavengers in Army vehicles, too.” Shannon cleared her throat. She was thirsty. Her throat was had turned into an outpost of the Mojave; a sign that bad news was on the horizon. Growing up she knew trouble was on the way when she became inexplicably parched. “Not all guys who know their way around a tank are still in the service, Deidre. Could be scavengers fighting the military with their own gear. The sounds of battle doesn’t necessarily mean help’s coming.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” roared Kelsey from the corner. Although she was smarter than she had been hours earlier her mind was still strained and grabbing at any straw of hope.

“Language, mommy!” howled Rance in protest. He was his mother’s watchdog with the very bad words.

“Sorry, baby,” answered Kelsey, her eyes never leaving Shannon. “What do mean by all that? Don’t you have any positive thoughts? See, that’s how you got infected to begin with. That negative attitude of yours.”

Shannon chuckled in spite of herself. “I’m just trying to be a realist, Kelsey. That’s all. Besides, after yesterday, I don’t have much reason to be that positive.”

“Hey, I agree with you, believe it or not. I took the same track as you, but Sally Sunshine here wants to check it out. Frankly, so do I, but fuck if we don’t know what’s waiting down the road a mile away, let alone thirty miles from here.”

“Language, Aunt Deidre,” interjected Rance again. His face was pouty. He was tiring of hearing words he couldn’t say.

“That’s getting old quick,” Deidre whispered to herself. She looked at Rance. “Sorry, doll. Look, Shannon, against my better judgment, Kelsey and I have decided to make you the tiebreaker. I trust you about as far as I can throw you these days, but my gut tells me that you didn’t mean to do what you did.”

“So what then? You’re taking me along with you? Just like that. You decide that I’m a good enough dog to have around, but you’ll kick me if I show a moment of getting out of line?”

“Something like that, though not so nicely put from my line of thought.” Deidre unfolded her hands to wave Shannon’s pistol in her face. “See, I’ve got your gun.” She waved it again, left to right before Shannon’s eyes. “Not afraid to use it neither, but I think you know that. Get out of line and I’ll put you down, capeche?”

“Yeah, I get it.” Shannon felt dejected. She was fairly sure that she was going to be the point woman for every iffy turn of the corner. She was relieved to be free, she really had to pee plus the freedom of movement was an added plus. “Can I use the bathroom?”

“You can do it right there for all I care.” Without a further word, Deidre cut her free. “You know where the Jane is. If you run, I won’t be that heartbroken or even come looking for you.”

The ropes fell free and Shannon made for the bathroom.

Lifting her skirt and lowering her underwear, every horror film that had a bathroom scene flooded her mental movie screen. Reluctantly, she drew her legs up in preparation for a bite or a body to come slithering under the stall door. Neither occurred as Shannon had the most nervous urination of her life.

She washed her hands, appalled at her own fear. She lowered her face to the sink, and splashed cold water to rouse her fully. It helped to clear away some of the dirt clinging to her. She righted herself and wiped her face with paper towels. She opened her eyes and shrieked in terror at the sight of Greene’s face overlapping her own.

“Hell of a night, huh? Did you sleep okay? I bet you didn’t, being all tied up like that.” His image spoke with clarity, not from inside her head, but from in front of her. The calm in his voice unnerved her even further. She shrieked again and tried to step away from the sink. Her feet tangled together and she fell, landing on her ass. She scooted hurriedly from the sink and backed into the door opening.

Deidre burst through, armed with the 12 gauge. “What is it? What’s going on?” She swept the area before rushing to the window overlooking the graveled rear parking lot. “What’d you see? Was a zed at the window? What?” She looked excitedly to Shannon and then around the bathroom.

Shannon’s began to rise on its own to point at the mirror. Her mind overroded the knee-jerk reaction and stopped the movement. “Nothing. I, uh, I saw a rat. That’s all. A rat ran by me. That’s all. I saw a rat.”

Deidre looked at her crossways before looking to the floor and under the stall. “The longer this goes on the more I think you’re worth more dead than alive.” She gave another suspicious look to Shannon, shook her head, and then left.

Shannon cautiously approached the mirror. She nervously ran her fingers across the silver surface. She half expected to see a hand grab hers, but nothing happened. Greene’s face didn’t appear either. She chalked the image up to nerves, lack of sleep, and a guilty conscious. With hands shaking more than ever, she finished her impromptu cleansing never taking her gaze away from her reflection. Greene’s face didn’t reappear, but her mind couldn’t escape the sight of his image.

Shannon walked into the kitchen and found Kelsey and Deidre stripping out of their work clothes. On the counter by the griddle were two stacks of clothes that looked familiar. After a few seconds of close scrutiny Shannon realized they were hers.

“Deidre, you’re taller than me. Why wear my stuff? I get Kelsey. She’s shorter. But you?”

Both women ignored her as they continued undressing.

Rance sat six feet away on a chair, hands over his eyes. He was still at the cute stage where seeing girls naked was yucky. His attitude endeared him more to Shannon than ever before. Regardless of what had happened, Shannon knew she would do what it took to protect the boy.

Turning her attention back to the two women, Shannon appraised their under garments. It was true that you could judge a person by the undies they wore on a day-to-day basis. Deidre was strictly a Victoria’s Secret gal and was built like an Amazon super model more than a waitress.

Kelsey had the body of a mother that worked to keep weight off. She was in good shape though not as toned as her taller compatriot. Her under garments were utilitarian; whatever it took to get the job done. Hers were new, bought from a Wal-Mart or K-Mart. It was clear Kelsey didn’t spend her money on unnecessary frivolities.

Deidre pulled on a pair of Shannon’s male cut jeans. The jeans fit her better in the legs than Shannon as Shannon always wore bigger than needed. On the other hand a similar pair hung off Kelsey, and needed to be rolled up at the bottom.

Kelsey blushed when she looked up, and saw Shannon’s stare.

Deidre looked up as well, and offered Shannon a wry smile. “Sorry about raiding your stuff, but we needed clothes. Good thing you buy big or I’d be dazzling the undead.” She reached into one of Shannon’s bags and pulled out another pair of jeans. “Here, get changed. We leave in twenty.”

Shannon stripped down to her underwear and instantly became self-conscious. She hadn’t been in any state of undress in front of anyone since she’d been infected. “Wow,” said Rance’s little voice. Shannon looked up in time to see him cover his eyes with his fingers.

Deidre was lacing up her tennis shoes as Kelsey slipped on one of Shannon’s t-shirts. Both looked over to Shannon. “Got yourself a six-pack, don’t you? I know that doesn’t come natural.” Deidre appeared envious but appreciative toward Shannon’s physique. Kelsey’s face reddened once more, though Shannon suspected it wasn’t because she was being modest.

“Everyone lives with what they’re given,” said Shannon, refusing to meet their eyes.

“Not all of us were given that.” Kelsey turned away to tie up her shoes.

“Not all of us were porked by a werewolf and then blessed with Supergirl’s body.” Deidre was straight faced as she buckled on an Arizona State Trooper’s issued gun belt.

“Fuck you, Martin,” murmured Kelsey. “This from the bitch with the Wonder Woman body.”

“Mooooom!” urged Rance.

“Quiet, Rance. All rules are off. We get to say what we want for now on.

“Look, we’re not going to fight over who’s got the hottest body, are we?” said Deidre. She adjusted the belt to her hips. “That shit is soooooo ten days ago. Case in point: society has fallen. There is only survival, now, and not what someone else dictates what we should look like. Frankly, you have a great figure for a woman with a kid and besides, I’d trade my body for a kid any day.” Deidre’s face went red at the admission. She quickly looked down to check the police issued gear to cover the blood that rushed to her face. Regret had a smell, and it wafted off Deidre in waves.

Deidre’s words had a positive impact on Kelsey. Her face brightened. “Really? I’d never thought I’d hear that from you.”

“You’re going to hear a lot of weird shit from me from now on. Come on, time to load up and get the hell out of Dodge.”

 

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A small voice beside her said she did.

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

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

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

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

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

“Shit fuck. Now I have to do it.”

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

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

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

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

“You awake now?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Greg.” Shannon thought the answer was easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are you doing here?” asked Helfron.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They were. They’re dead now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Creepypasta: Closet Monster

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

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

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

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

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

“Am I always important to dad too?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Dear me

Dear Me of twenty years ago,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours,

41 years old Jason

 

 

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter Fourteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Crazy bitch’s crying,” scoffed Deidre.

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

“I’m fucked,” Tan said instead.

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

“Shut up,” said Greene sulkily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Any kids?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A departure from the usual. Creepypasta

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

Life is but a Dream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The ‘dream’? Or the hatred?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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