Zombie Stew in 4 Easy Steps…
If You Have To Eat The Wafer, You Might As Well Drink The Wine…
This mangy dog staggered down the alley towards us, gray and ragged like an old flannel shirt blowing in the wind. Paul picked up a rock and skipped it at the pooch out of boredom. The dog looked like a walking barbecued meat stick, the kind you’d find at WANG’S BEST (# 1) All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet, but I didn’t see no fortune cookies. I’d swear the sumbitch was dead, but he just kept staggering as if he were drunker’n hell. The rock pegged the poor sucker slap in the kisser, but the silly mongrel just kept coming anyways.
“What the hell?” Paul giggled.
“I’ve never seen such weirdness,” I said.
“Let’s get the fuck down the road.”
We turned and rolled out, the heat shining off the cracked pavement, weeds baking lazily in the hazy city sun.
“Where is everybody?” Paul squeaked, “Today is very strange.”
“Every day is strange.” I retorted.
“Got a point there…”
We turned back to look and the dog was still dragging along in the distance, a matted knot of fur and dripping saliva.
“If he keeps following us, we should catch him a buzz. He looks like he needs one anyway.” I offered.
We turned the corner and there stood three or four ragged souls hovering over a pair of disarrayed legs. One guy looked right at us. There is a crimson beard framing his mug. He looked like a deranged mascot from a slasher movie gone wild. Actually, I could see that there’s crimson splotches covering all the faces of these weirdos, all of whom were now staring at us.
“What the fuck?” Paul screamed. The limp, crusty dog had caught up to us and took a chunk out of Paul’s leg. “Holy Shit..!” he shrieked, all freaked out.
“Don’t worry,” I offered, stoned, as he shook said flapping dog to the street, “I know a cat studdying to be a doctor or a nurse or sumpin’. He peddles me some good drugs from time to time. He’ll fix you up.”
“J.” He called to me. Ghost like, he pointed a trembling finger in the other direction. All the ragged freak show dudes rose in a slow mass, shrugging towards us, all psycho Santa Clasue like in their crimson beards. The dog rose again, drops of blood stretching like ominous goober vines towards the pavement.
“Screw this!” I said, yanking my friend back through the alley, shrinking back the way we came. Paul was fading, turning all pale and blue like. He turned his shaking finger towards a little blonde boy crying in the alley who had just appeared in the street. The boy was a tattered angelic vision. Dirty, disheveled, and scared, he shrunk away from a stiff backed woman goofily chasing him from inside a row home.
“Save that boy.” Paul insisted in a gurgling voice. Paul always had a handle on things. I was usually too stoned.
This is where it gets all strange and dreamlike for me. I know I’m still hung-over from yesterday, and my brain is still spacey from the couple of morning tokes I inhaled to chase away my raging headache. Perhaps this whole thing is just a hallucination, which leads me to believe that perhaps all life is an illusion. But that’s way too Jean Paul Sartre like for this time of day. I never understood that philosophy crap when I had to read it in school anyway, and this ain’t school. This is Bibleific. It’s the end of shit I think, and it’s not even a cartoon on TV.
I feel like throwing up. Things that look like people are slumping towards us only feet away, and the bedeviled doggie is right on us too, licking chops that I now notice are falling off of his skull.
“Hurry…” Paul insisted.
“…And do what, exactly?” I asked.
“Mannnnn…” he gasped in a death burble. He fell on the yellowish cement in spastic fits and fatalistic convulsions. Not cool. His bulging eyes grew yellow and dull. I looked up and realized everything in one instant, his eyes were the same color as the dingy fiends limping towards us and that stupid dog’s eyes too. I kicked the pooch back, trying to help Paul.
“GGGHHOOOO!” He gurgled, twisting in knots of agony. Then his eyes turned back to normal for a second. “RUUUUNNNNN….”
Dog and fiends bubbled forth like maggots festering in the sun. I fell backwards up the hill, not knowing where to run. I found myself next to a church and decided that maybe I should get inside. I grabbed the boy, plucking him from the outstretched hands of his yellow eyed tormentor. I glanced back over my shoulder as the ragged troop descended on the husk of Paul, diving in as pups at chow or calfs to teat. They forgot about me long enough to consume their prey. I heard Paul’s last Godless screech as I entered the church.
The old stained glass lined building was cold and dark, quiet with its wicked dank library stink. I could hear my fear pounding in my heart. I smoked some radiator grown tea leaves from my secret home stash to calm my nerves, inhaling toxicity, exhaling relaxation…
The boy is tired and clingy, whimpering in the quiet, “Maw, oh, my mommy…” he cried, his whole world had been tossed about like a scared bird in an angry storm. One minute it’s nice and sunny, the next minute thunder and lightning are tickling your charred feathers. I spied a girl sitting on the steps, torn dress and beat, make-up spilled down her sad clown face in sticky tears. But she seemed human.
“Bring him to me.” she croaked. I handed her the distraught tot and she comforted him. I was unable to. How can you comfort someone else when you can’t comfort yourself? She whispered soothing words into his ear. Stoicism slowly leaked into his eyes. I patted his tiny head as she rocked him into blissful sleep. “Shhh…”
We are lost children, derailed by catastrophe, an instant family borne of necessity and fear.
I hear a noise off in the pews.
“Be careful.” she whispers, placing a single finger over her trembling lips. “There are zombies everywhere.”
Zombies. That’s what they are. I know this, stoned or not. I think I’ve known they were coming forever, or they were already here waiting for the right moment to attack, biding their time buried inside three piece suits and manicures. I’ve just hidden from it, waiting for the facts to confront me and back me into a corner. My buzz begins to fade and I can feel pain tingling all through my body.
For the first time, I notice a small wound on my leg. The dog must have got a piece of me in all the confusion. I am alone and alienated with nowhere left to turn and nothing left to hide. The zombies have been coming for me forever and I’ve known it. I’ve waited for it my whole life, and now that the time has come, but I have no desire to face it. Any of it. I guess I never did, but here I am anyway.
I tiptoe over to the doorway, peeking at another mass of people like things huddling over someone fallen before the lectern. I cannot see who it is they are preying on and I don’t believe there’s anything left that I can pray to. I want to feel their unbridled joy, the joy they exhibit as they feed. I want to feel anything but fear, which I’m consumed with. How bad can it hurt, and what kind of life will be left after all this end of the world shit shakes out anyway? I creep forward, out of the shadows and into the dim light. Perhaps I can feel safe once again. I am humbled by the ideals that this place once represented, this haven for reformed sinners, an oasis for lost souls in the bloody concrete and brick desert.
The priest, a young man before he looked at the world through zombie eyes, slowly ambles towards me, stagger, stagger, and slump. I see his white collar and smell his former grace. I see the zombie mass kneeling on the floor, writhing, praying, becoming one, and I want peace…
The father embraces me and takes a bite out of my neck as the other crimson masked faces see me and recognize me for the daily special that I have become, fresh meat ready for the taking.
“GHOOOO!” my voice screams outside of me.
I am tired, diggit? I always have been. Perhaps my sacrifice will buy the boy and the emo chick some time, because that’s all I can do for anyone. It’s probably all I was ever good for anyway. That is what Paul did for me. That’s the least I can do for them.
I relax and enjoy my fate, sucked into the pulpit like the rest of them.
I have found my peace in the pain of tearing flesh, my suffering is at journey’s end. I commiserate with my new brothers and sisters while they descend on me as one, delighting in the remains of my wasted earthly vessel. I’m sorry for everything I ever thought about doing, I was just born wrong, that’s all, full of bad intentions and desires from within the void.
At long last, I am finally going home…
Breaking The Vows, Day One….
We stepped into the limo, her white layered dress climbing ever so sultry like up her newlywed silky thigh. I wave to the people, family and friends I normally dote over at every opportunity, but today my hunger gets the best of me. I cannot wait to consummate my new life with my young sexy wife. I slam the car door with zest, forgetting our clan, focused on what’s next.
“Less-go!” I announce, leaning forward to tip the driver, spinning my hand clockwise impatiently. He smiles at me. The black divider rises between us and he disappears. I scoot back in the seat cozying up to my woman, my woman. She smiles coyly and we kiss. I cannot wait to get to our destination. I will not wait to get to our destination.
My hand slides slowly up the length of her thigh as we kiss. She gently pushes me away with a flirtatious shiver of those pouty lips.
“Oh, wait a bit, how’s about a drink?” she purrs.
Oh my, how hot I am and how good this sounds. I think we should get married once a week and forget about everything else that might ever happen. She pours herself some champagne and me a scotch, neat, just the way I like it.
Shriek of tires and road and world spins round and round, convulsing to a stop, shuddering like a body at climax. We smack off the front wall of the limo, landing in a puddle, me on top of her. Not what I’d had in mind, but she still felt pretty damned good against me.
“You okay?” I say in a creaky voice, scotch dripping from my hair. Yes, she nods, confusion in her darting eyes. I sit up and raise her up as well, brushing locks from her eyes.
I hear the driver scream from within a hell I cannot fathom.
“What the fuck?” I mutter. She clutches me in fear. I relax her and push open the creaky bent car door.
Half of the driver’s body is being dragged down the street like a hapless bug eyed rag doll.
“Don’t look.” I tell her, unable to avert my eyes from the thriving mass of insanity that is unraveling before me. There sits a wriggling throng of people and pale human like marionettes wrapped in carnage strewn out across the horizon. Small groups of yellow eyed, ghastly, hung-over looking mutants writhe, knotted up in the middle of the road feeding on blood and gore. The car door is cast aside like a child’s forgotten toy as two of these things chew away at the second half of what was once the driver.
I knew our honeymoon would end sooner or later, they all do, but I hadn’t figured it would end this quickly.
She pokes her sad angelic head outside the door in spite of my warnings, and I’m too oblivious to even notice her before she gets an eyeful of the horrific scenery. She swallows a panicked, deep breath and lets out a shriek reminiscent of the last sound made by our dead, torn in half driver.
I freeze in fear for one of the few times in my whole life, gripped by the image of what must now inevitably happen. I know they heard her. I know they know that we’re here and we’re alive. Therefore I know we’re dead, sooner rather than later, unless I think and act fast.
Slowly, the dead and dumb looking creatures turn those horrid yellow glares towards us, smearing bloody fingers on ravaged, torn and dirtied clothing. A glint of human recognition flickers in those dull eyes, one by one, reflecting their single minded thoughts at me like crocodile eyes reflecting light off of passing headlights from a Florida pond in the dead of night.
The icy hand of terror releases its hold on me. I snap into anxiety fueled action. I push my lovely back in the car abruptly, but with care, jumping in beside her and slamming the door shut, quick as a cat. I lock the door as shadows slowly surround the vehicle.
Think, man, THINK.
Instinct takes over. I remove the snub nose revolver from my ankle holster and spin the chamber, counting the shells. There are six bullets and a dozen silhouettes, not very good odds. I’m not even sure if a bullet will work. I slightly crack the window, stick the gun in the first face I see and pull the trigger. The thing goes down in a splatter of blood, slinking off of the car. I close the window before the first clumsy finger gets through the crack. The shadow disappears and does not return. It seems the bullets will work.
My sweetheart screams louder than the burst of fire from my thirty-eight. I forgot about her feelings. Women. I pet her hair and hold her hand as she rocks back and forth crying in crazy sobs and squeals.
“Oh – my – god oh my god – oh my godohmygodohmgod…”
“It’ll be okay, baby, just let me think for a minute.” I say, as soothingly as I can. I have no clue what we’re going to do. The swaying shadows slowly multiply around the car. There must be two dozen shadows encompassing the limousine now.
We are separated from the front of the car, no way to get to the wheel. Not sure if there are keys even if I can break the window, and the front door is gone. We are surrounded by these demon things from hell. If I never believed in the place before, I assuredly do now, and I see no way to fight past such a large, ever growing contingent of its dead eyed minions.
“We wait.” I announce. What else could we do?
She goes through a lifetime of emotions, from hysterical to shivering to mad to dependent to upset to vulnerable, and all the while she’s still beautiful to me. She tires after the shock wears off, She snuggles up inside my arms as I watch vigilantly, just like I used to do back during the wars when I was on point.
The wars taught me to know what a man’s thinking, what he’s lusting for and hiding from when he crawls around in the dark. I recognize the signs when a man, or multitudes of men, are coming to kill you. I’ve been paid well to play that game for as long as I can remember. I was born on the point, for the love of god.
But these are not men surrounding our casket on wheels.
She moans softly beneath my thoughts, rolling over in a comfortable way. I watch and I wait and I protect her as best I can. This was not the way I had intended to spend our honeymoon together, not in the darkest fantasy I could have envisioned, but at least we were together. I began pounding rum and cokes from the wet bar to relax my frazzled nerves, clutching my weapon like a baby with a ragged old stuffed bear.
I woke to simpering, before my eyes even cracked open.
My eyes blurred into focus in the mid morning heat. She meekly cried beside me. I could feel the car rocking gently to and fro, like it was swaying to the dead moans from outside. I looked out as the taste of a hangover sponged the saliva from my desolate lips. There were hundreds of sloppy figures surrounding the car now, not dozens, and I had 5 bullets left.
I kissed her wrinkled sweaty forehead. Her mascara dripped down her cheeks, my sorrowful angel.
“It’ll be okay.” I smiled.
I poured her a drink and she gulped it down, handing me the glass for more. I drank straight from the bottle. Now was not the time for etiquette. We drank greedily as the car rocked faster and faster.
It wouldn’t be long now.
I could feel the fuzzy warmth encompass me, and could tell she was drunk too. I began to hum softly, some song I’d heard when I was a child in that mysterious time before the wars. She laughed madly beside me, curling up next to me in the heat of the pubescent day. She laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed right up until the shot from my snub nosed thirty-eight ended our vows.
Four bullets left.
I aimed at the shadows of heads on the other side of the thin, dark glass.
One thing I could always do was shoot. Three shots, three direct hits.
I took a long hard drink off of the brown bottle, the last swirl of booze in the car, and then I stuck the barrel of the gun in my mouth.
At least those mother fuckers weren’t going to get warm fresh meat…
Not from me anyway…
The Perfect Score…
Clyde slithered up the downspout, almost falling when his weight bent the gutter, attached the bungee cord to the roof, and flipped himself up on top of the three story building. He dropped the slack end of the cord to the ground where Biggie fetched it in the shadows. He could feel the line tighten before he saw the gym bag emerge from the darkness and slowly crawl up the elastic rope towards him.
Clyde worked quickly, almost frantically, to maneuver the bag onto the roof. He wanted to get Biggie up top before the lights from the city came back on. He couldn’t believe their luck so far, getting a blackout an hour before they were going to score their biggest hit ever. He fetched the bag and rapidly retrieved the rope ladder, dispatching it down the side of the warehouse wall.
He could see Biggie’s super sized silhouette fighting its way up the ladder.
‘Hurry…Hurry…Hurry…’ he felt like shouting, but he swallowed the words down deep inside. Biggie was the man, Clyde was just a greenhorn, a lowly bitch. But even he knew this was going too easily. Biggie made it to the top, almost fell at the last second, and then hoisted his large frame onto the tar lined roof of the building. Still no lights.
They pulled up the ladder up and got to the door like a well oiled machine. Biggie damn near had the doorknob off of the door and the door open in less than a minute. He was sweating profusely in the moonlight, but Biggie was a pro.
Inside, they quickly fetched two flashlights, spilling light beams all around the inside of the pitch black building. They found the two dogs slumped on the floor in the dark. The gas they had injected into the vents had done its job.
They fumbled their way downstairs, locating three garbage cans that held countless pounds of cocaine, and there sat the safe, right in the spot it was supposed to be in.
“Holy shit, Bigs…” Clyde muttered. Biggie went right to the safe, bowing before it in reverence, unfurled his bag, and began working on the lock. Everything was going according to plan, even better, which gave them about forty-five minutes until the dogs would come to, and who knew how long until the blackout ended.
What a plan it was. Clyde knew a guy who worked in this plant, processing drugs, and they’d received the low down on the layout for a healthy fee, schedules and so forth. Their insider had told Clyde that there had to be a hundred grand in the safe or more at any given time. Biggie had assumed it was an exaggeration, but everything was as they’d been told. There were a lot of drugs there, so maybe there was a huge stash of cash too.
Clyde became giddy with excitement. He was so excited he was getting an erection, which wasn’t hard for Clyde to do. He needed to relax. He opened a garbage can packed with the sealed white bags of powder, ripped into one, and snorted a toot from his finger.
“Mmmmm…” He groaned.
“C, would you quit fucking around?” Biggie snapped, the booming voice coming from behind the bright light of his electric lantern. “Hold your fucking flashlight on the safe.” he commanded.
Clyde re-focused on the job at hand, steadying his light so that Biggie could get back to his work. Biggie picked through his tools like a surgeon digging through a new set of golf clubs.
A few tense, sticky, stiflingly silent moments passed until Biggie tapped a hammer and chisel on the safe’s door. A few jerks and the door popped open.
They couldn’t believe their eyes, maybe it was the cocaine, but Clyde swore the green cash had a heavenly glow about it.
“Holy shit…” Biggie croaked, “…there must be a quarter of a mil in here.”
Clyde almost shit his pants.
“What was that?” Biggie asked. They both stopped moving, almost stopped breathing too. Clyde didn’t hear anything. There was a slight rumble coming from outside.
“Sounds like thunder.” Clyde offered. A smile crept across Biggie’s face in the dim glow of the flashlight.
“We’re rich, C. Fucking rich…”
Clyde and Biggie hurriedly slapped all of the money into their duffel bag, helping themselves to a few baggies of cocaine for all their troubles. What the hell? It wasn’t like the cops were going to find out about this crime anyway, and who would cry to cops about missing powder? Drug dealing marks were the sweetest marks of all, unless they caught you.
They wrapped up their affairs and headed back up the stairs, noting that the rumbles were growing much, much louder.
“That’s one hell of a storm.” Clyde said as they trudged up the steps. Softly, cries and screams began to ring off of the metal walls, it sounded like a slaughter. Clyde thought maybe it was an earthquake, but the ground did not shake.
As they neared the top few steps and approached the slightly ajar door, the screams grew louder and more terrified; the rumbles grew closer and more distinct. Sporadic gunfire pierced the night with a rapid deadly echo.
“That ain’t no storm.” Biggie declared, his mammoth frame blocking out a faint glow coming from the roof.
They heard a helicopter off in the distance and were overtaken by the fear of being caught. Clyde began to tremble as they slunk onto the roof, but there were no spotlights and there was no five-o waiting for them. They crawled along the rooftop towards the glow that was emanating from behind the building.
They gazed out over Los Angeles and saw the city covered with pockets of flame. They saw choppers filling the night sky, searching the exploding horizon beneath them. It looked as though a war had broken out across the city.
“Must be a fucking riot…” Biggie mumbled.
Clyde silently nodded. “Splains’ the blackout.”
“Let’s get out of here.” Biggie announced. “This is too good to be true, covered by a blackout on the way in and a riot on the way out. Must be humpty fucking Christmas in July for hoes like us.”
They scurried to the front of the building, dropped the ladder into the night, and Biggie started down. He reached the ground and disappeared into the shadows. Clyde heard a screech that nearly made him piss himself.
“biggie….” he whispered.
“Biggie!” he said louder.
“BIGGIE…” he hollered, throwing caution to the wind.
…Nothing…Worse than nothing, nothing in pitch black darkness with a backdrop of violence and mayhem playing out behind it.
Clyde felt the rope ladder go tense.
“Biggie…” He called out once more in a loud whisper. He was scared.
Again, there was no response. The rope ladder went slack and he heard a thud like a dead bag of bones dropping in the night.
“BiGGie…” Clyde cried like a little child.
Again the ladder went taut and then slack, like a fishing line with a fish too small to pull the bobber under the water.
Clyde heard the dogs charging up the metal steps, barking and growling with rabid desires. He hiked over the wall and down the ladder, getting half way down in no time flat. He felt the ladder tighten again beneath him, and lost the bag of money and drugs, falling behind it himself. He felt the pain as he landed – splat – hard on the ground. His leg was broke, he could feel it.
“Ohhh….” He moaned. He saw Biggie’s massive shadow limp towards him.
“Biggie, you fucking cocksucker, why didn’t you answer me? I think I broke my fucking leg.” he cried, clutching his battered appendage in agony.
Behind Biggie’s limping shadow, he saw a few more silhouettes approach with the same crazy limp. Thoughts of betrayal began to race through Clyde’s mind as his heart beat louder and louder.
“No….No…Biggie…We hit it big….There’s plenty to go around…”
That’s when Biggie’s face shown in the light of the moon. That’s when Clyde noticed that Biggie was limping because bone was protruding from his leg. That was when Clyde realized that Biggie was chewing on his own intestines, entrails hanging from a hole in his side.
That was when Clyde saw the glowing yellow eyes that possessed the same sheen as the money when the safe had first swung open.
That was when Clyde began to pray, to any god that might listen.
That was when Clyde began to cry, but it was too little, too late.
That was when Clyde died the first time…