Tag Archives: zombies

Dead Inside


Chuck’s challenge this week: Random Song Title.

My song was off of Muse’s latest album, titled “Dead Inside”. The story is not particularly based on the song, just the title.

Anyway…

Picture by zarrion101 @ flickr.com

Picture by zarrion101 @ flickr.com

Dead Inside

The sound of a million shuffling feet and untold thousands of voices clanged back and forth between the skyscrapers like the streets themselves were coming to life. Hundreds of strangers jockeying for position, shoulders nudging her this way and that, shoes coming down on her cold feet, soundless shouting in her ear.

It was enough to make Lara wish she were dead for real. Soon enough, she thought, and immediately pushed the thought out of her head. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion. She could survive today. She wasn’t even sure she was actually dead. The disease was still young in Lara: she had none of the usual symptoms, she even still had a heartbeat. The disease affected everybody differently, and — and this was the important part — it mutated quickly. There were over four hundred categorized variations of ZuF2 already, and another hundred projected already for the next week. It had sprung up so quickly, they didn’t even have a proper name for it. Who’s to say one of those variations might not be non-lethal? Who’s to say you couldn’t learn to live with it?

Spurred by the crowd, Lara inched forward, trying not to imagine the taste of the big, beefy shoulder in front of her. Shoving her appetite down into her feet was not easy; the man wore a tank-top, and in the ninety-degree sun a thin sheen of sweat glistened just there, so inviting she could practically feel her teeth sinking into it… but no, take a bite out of a human and she’d be dead within seconds, and probably kick off a riot besides. She could master the hunger. She might pass by the scanners undetected. She might be all right, as long as she could keep from eating anybody. And if they didn’t look too closely at her skin. The long-sleeved, high-necked shirt she’d put on was a gamble: it hid the shapes but it  would draw attention. Only the dead could walk around fully covered up in this heat and not sweat like sweltering hogs.

“Next.”

The beefy-shouldered man stepped to the side for his scan and the man in full tactical gear beckoned to Lara, reaching his hand out for hers with all the care and concern of a bus driver holding the door open for you at the end of a thirteen hour shift.

“Next. Come on, sister. Let’s go.” The crowd at Lara’s back began jeering too; ordinary, living and breathing folks, who wanted to get their negative scans and go back to their televisions and air conditioning. She felt hands shoving her forward, into the grasp of the guard. She did her best to stand up straight. As he was inspecting her left hand for signs of rot, she noticed a dark shape flit across the back of her right, a bubble dancing up through ice cubes in a cool glass of tea. She shook her hand briefly and then clapped it to the back of her neck.

“Hot, isn’t it?” Lara smiled at the man, who just glared at her through his visor filmed with sweat and condensation.

“Hands are clean. Eyes wide.” He held up the scanner, a forked device attached to a tiny touchscreen which he thrust toward her face.

Lara bit back a mouthful of vomit. A subconscious part of her had, just for an instant, meant to douse the man and everybody around her in bile, and had nearly succeeded. She told herself she had just felt repulsed by the scanner, and forced herself to keep her face neutral. It wasn’t difficult, actually. The bile hadn’t tasted of bile, but rather like a mouthful of sand: tasteless and irritating, but harmless. She wondered if that was a good sign or not.

Beep beep. The iridescent green flash from the console lit up the man’s visor, and he was already motioning for the next person in the throng. “Next.”

Lara was clean. She laughed out loud and threw her hands in the air, suddenly thankful for the sun on her skin, even if she couldn’t feel its warmth.

“What the hell is that?” A panicked, female voice cried from behind her.

Lara whirled to see the man who’d just scanned her advancing toward her, shouldering his rifle.

“What did you see?” He barked.

The girl was just a kid, fifteen or so, sweating through a loose purple-striped halter top, but she was pointing at Lara with unmitigated revulsion and terror in her eyes. “I don’t know, it was her arm… something moved!”

Lara’s heart stopped. She actually felt it beat its last beat. So she was dead, after all. The sleeves of her shirt had fallen to her elbows when she raised her arms toward the sun, and there, squirming like a mass of leeches, was a bundle of shadowy shapes beneath her skin.

“Infected.” The man whispered it to himself, then he shouted it. “Infected!”

Like the tide going out before a tsunami, the crowd withdrew from her: she was standing all alone as eyes of all shapes and colors and guns of all sizes trained themselves on her. “Wait. He just scanned me, I’m not –” But the first bullet came quickly, tearing through her upheld hand and entering her head just below the eye. Others, which she did not feel, riddled her body in the space of a heartbeat.

But she didn’t die. Rather, it was like her consciousness passed through a prism. She suddenly felt like she had split into thousands, and each facet of herself rushed toward an onlooker with all the haste of a hawk in a prey-dive.

The body of Lara exploded like a bag of beef stew, and out of the gristle and gore leapt thousands of tiny dark blobs, wingless, legless roaches on the wind. They splattered into the crowd, squirming into noses and eyes and mouths as gunfire erupted throughout the throng and previously civil people began trampling each other in a panic.

Lara was the last mutation of ZuF2. Or at least, the last one that mattered.


Dead Obvious


Chuck’s challenge this week: the Subgenre Mash-up. My mixed up genre? Zombie Whodunit.

I can remember, once in my youth, reading an Agatha Christie book, and I am sure it was nothing like this.

Dead Obvious

It’s all anybody can hope for in this world, to leave it without knowing whence the end comes. A surprise, like breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day or something. Surprise! You’re dead. And in that way, I was fortunate, because I didn’t see it coming. Middle of a dinner party. Excused myself for two minutes, and then it was lights out.

But here I am. Dead. And Alive. Which means two things.

One, somebody I know is a zombie. And two, that somebody didn’t exactly do an outstanding job covering his tracks. Just a nibble, I’m sure he thought (or she, I guess, the virus doesn’t discriminate, but it just feels like a guy’s lack of consideration), and then a total failure to kill me properly. You know, to ensure I didn’t come back.

I can feel it now, the bite on my shoulder, burning like a brand, spreading out like a fiery web. My head could be splitting open for the pain I feel; somebody must’ve clubbed me but good, to try to kill me before I came back. Nice job, that. My heartbeat sounds like the thumping bass at a rave right inside my ears. The burn is spreading. Whole body on fire. On fire with hunger.

I find myself wondering: Why the shoulder? Seems like too much sinew and bone up there to really get a good bite. Somehow, I feel like an expert in anatomy. The thigh is what I’d target, lots of muscle and fat and blood, inches of it before you tangle up in bones. Nice and soft, too, chewy and moist and…

They’re staring at me. I know this because I can feel their heat, smell their blood, hear their hushed whispers and slightly panicked breathing. All of them shocked. How could this happen? At our dinner party, no less? Right before the dessert course? Well, guess what, idiots? I may be dead, but there’s another zombie out there waiting to get you, too. It could strike at any moment.

I open an eyelid with a tiny squishing sound and they all jump. Not astute enough to catch wise to the zombie in your midst, but you don’t miss me sneaking an eye open, do you? Bunch of short-sighted jerks.

Okay. Everybody’s here. The biter is hiding in plain sight.

Could it be James? The snot-nosed trust-fund baby who’s here in a suit that costs twice the average monthly salary for a blue collar worker? He’s clinging onto the waist of his date, Barbara, like he’s more scared than she is. And she, the daughter of a hotel empire, wearing more furs than a snowbound wolf, screaming vacuously into his ear, like I’m about to get up and eat her face. Actually, that sounds rather tempting. I try not to think about how her skin would disintegrate between my gnashing teeth, how her blood would cloy in my throat, how…

Man, the bug works fast. All of them look delicious, in fact, especially tubby Vera, who’s crammed herself into a dress three sizes too small to accentuate her curves for her date, a man she hopes to ensnare in order to rescue her from the one-bedroom flat she shares with her sisters. Too bad he’s gay. Tobias there, lending her his elbow in order to keep up the charade even though he keeps sneaking glances at Francis, stands to inherit millions if he’d only marry a nice girl like Vera and give his mother some grandchildren. Poor woman knows she’s got a better chance of being eaten by zombies now than of seeing her son breed — there’s not much hiding his condition with the spangly tie, the perfectly coordinated pocket square, and swooshing sashay of his walk — but it’s nice to hope. Much like I hope to suck the meat from his fingers, slurp slurp slurp like chicken wings, and…

I slam my eye closed again to shut out the visions of devouring my ex-friend, and collectively they sigh in relief. Dead after all, they say, and shuffle from the room. Francis, the one Tobias has been eyeing, comes over to check my pulse — I know it’s him because he reeks of his cologne, smelling like cut grass and musk and cognac and spinal fluid and… maybe I’m just daydreaming a little, but he smells intoxicating — and determines that I am, in fact, dead. He announces it to the rest of the guests and they sigh in relief and move the party to the parlor. No sense hanging around in here while I lie in a pool of my own blood, going bad like the hors de’ouvres, ruining the evening the way my murderer has ruined my three-piece suit and my skull.

But wait. Francis. He’s the internet dynamo who founded a dozen different companies before he was thirty, and has been married almost as many times. Could he be my killer? It’s almost too much to imagine: as much as he’s been in the tabloids for dating this or that supermodel, that he might be the country’s highest-profile zombie to boot. How salacious. Everybody knows you can’t tell if somebody’s a zombie by checking their pulse, after all. Well, everybody except the people at this party, apparently.

Or maybe it’s Carol, who, after everybody else leaves, stands in the door frame hugging herself tightly, like all the heat’s been sucked out of the room. That’s not the room, dearie, that’s me, going cold over here on the Spanish tile. She thinks she loves me — or rather, loved me — but everybody here knows she could have done better than a third-rate investments agent. I could have bought her the mansion and the yacht, sure, but not the vacation home on the coast that she really has her heart set on. But I don’t think she could have killed me. She’s too innocent, and sweet, and delectable, and her face just looks like it would melt in my mouth, and… And there she goes.

All of them gone. Maybe now I can sneak to my feet and…

Arnulfo. The butler, of course. Pretending not to speak English so that he can simply nod and serve our drinks without a word. That ever-so-subtle limp that we all assumed was a scar from his troubled life in the third-world country of… wherever he claimed to be from. He lingers by the door, his smarmy, faintly clouded eyes lingering on me, and wipes a drop of my blood from his lip. His lip falls off, and he quickly replaces it, tamping it into place with clumsy fingers. That sneaky son of a bitch. His face contorts like he’s trying to giggle at me, or maybe he’s just moaning with the eternal torment of the living dead; it’s hard to tell which. He slips out the door toward the others.

I have to stop him before he kills again.

Shit. Did my blood congeal into glue or something? My face is stuck to the floor with sticky crimson, my limbs feel like they’re strapped with lead sleeves. I haul myself to my feet, but I feel shaky, unstable, like my body is made of jenga blocks balanced on a rope bridge. I splay my legs unnaturally to better hold my balance, throw my arms out in front to counterbalance my ungainly torso. That works. I hobble to the next room, throw the door open —

They all gasp at the sight of me, even Arnulfo, that treacherous swine. In a flash, Carol collapses in the corner with Francis, Vera starts screaming at a high C with Barbara in perfect harmony, Tobias grabs a chair and brandishes it like a medieval greatsword and James draws a little pistol from his coat pocket quick as a cobra. But that’s okay, I’ve figured it out, and I can explain it all to them in an instant, and we can kill that prick Arnulfo together.

I hold up my arms, take a shaky step toward them, and state my case: “Grrraaaaaaaaaarrrgh. Uuuuuuuuhhhhh… HmmmMMMMMMMMaaaammmmfffff.”

That’s odd. I try again: “Rrrrroooooooooooorrrrrrzzz. Nnnaaaarrrrssssshhhhhhhhhhh. Ffflllllllleeeeeeeeeeeccchhhhhhh…”

Dammit, dammit, dammit. Out of the corner of one eye, I see Arnulfo’s hand fall off. I scream at them all to look (“Blaaarrrr, BLLAAAAAAARRRRRR”), but he grabs it and shuffles out of the room, unnoticed, while they’re all staring at me like I’m some kind of monster or something.

Everybody’s shouting at me now. The girls are crying, the guys are advancing on me with their weapons, and it’s all a big mess. Still, all I can think about is eating their brains to save them from their own stupidity. I figure it’s worth a shot, so I lunge at Francis, he of the sweet cologne and flesh smell, and that’s when I hear the meat of James’s finger tighten on the trigger.

I hope he hits my brain this time.


You’ll Join Eventually, Anyway


Chuck’s challenge for the week:  SpammerPunk Horror.  In short, mash up the horror genre with spam e-mail.

Here’s a goofy entry.  Inspiration drawn in part from “Re: Your Brains” by Johnathan Coulton.

 

You’ll Join Eventually, Anyway.

 

Congratulations!

You are receiving this message because we have determined that you are Horde material.  We are contacting you in the hopes that you’ll seriously consider joining our ORGANization — one of the fastest-growing in North America, and soon, the world!  Many of your friends are already a part of the movement.  Join now and see what all the buzz is about?  (Flies are only part of it!)

What is the Horde?

It’s a group of like-minded individuals who share similar interests, such as shambling around aimlessly, eating, hunting for food, and losing weight holistically (sometimes even losing entire limbs at once — name a weight-loss program that can boast that).  Members of the horde eat together, walk together, and hunt together, but what we really enjoy doing is recruiting new members to our ever-growing movement.  Sound like fun?  Contact a representative today!

Why should you join?

Because the Horde is inevitable.  Our numbers are growing daily, and the more members we have, the more we grow.  Soon there will be nobody left.  You will be one of us one day anyway — why not get in now and start enjoying the benefits of membership today?

What do you get for joining?

Life eternal, for one thing (as long as your body stays in one piece — or maybe two).  You’ll never need to sleep again once you’re exposed to our patented lifestyle secrets (many of our members report that they have literally stopped aging!).  And you will have a worldwide community to which you will always belong.

Still not convinced?  Here are some member success stories…

I lived alone my whole life.  When the Horde came and got me, I found myself instantly surrounded by friends.  Now I walk with them every day.  -Jim, former introvert

I can remember a time in my life when I was scared to break a nail.  Well, I lost three fingers the other day and most of my foot a week ago, and I didn’t feel a thing.  Thanks, Horde!  -Sally, former secretary

I never thought I’d acquire a taste for human flesh.  Now, I hardly eat anything else.  -Arthur, former vegetarian

What are you waiting for?

Contact one of our representatives today.  You can find us anywhere: we usually roam the streets or cluster in dark basements, looking dusty, sometimes moaning or drooling.  Don’t be alarmed — that’s just the Horde having fun!  If you’re lucky, there may be Horde members outside your door right now, just waiting to accept you into our ranks.

You can’t hold out forever.  There’s only so much food.

 

Do not respond to this e-mail, as zombies have difficulty navigating an inbox.


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