Sorry there won’t be a short story today, will be back on Monday as usual, until then hope everyone has a good weekend!
Sorry there won’t be a short story today, will be back on Monday as usual, until then hope everyone has a good weekend!
Bobby knocked on the door, “House keeping!” He chuckled to himself as there was a loud thud inside, he heard someone stumble to the door and start banging on it. “No dude, turn the handle. The handle!” there was a loud moan from the other side of the door. Sighing Bobby grabbed the handle and gave it a quick shake, nothing. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his lock picking kit. Out on the road he could hear more moaning, though he wasn’t too concerned. To his left someone was thudding down the corridor, he glanced at the shambling corpse and dismissed her. She looked to have been about eighty, with wrinkled, sagging skin. She wore a stained and torn housecoat and a few scraps of a nightie beneath it. Her legs were criss-crossed with dark veins, she was missing her left ear and had deep gouges around her cheeks. Bobby stood and opened the door, pushing against it hard. The thing inside stumbled backwards then came forwards again. Bobby stepped to the side, allowing the zombie to stumble past him. This one was a surprise, business man in a soiled suit, the business man looked at him then went off towards the old woman. Bobby stepped into the room and closed the door over behind himself. Bobby walked past the bed and ripped open the curtains, flooding the light with room. He turned and got a good look at the place. It had faired well, the bed was messy and there were questionable stains on the floor but beyond that there was no real damage. He pulled a small notebook from his pocket and quickly jotted down the room number and a rough list of the contents, one suitcase filled with business attire, a small baggie of what he assumed to be cocaine, some toiletries and a surprisingly well stocked mini-bar. Bobby left the room, not bothering to take anything, he closed the door over and drew an X on it with a red sharpie and moved to the next door.
When he finally finished searching through the motel the sun was setting, more zombies had filled the parking lot, milling around and bumping into one another. Bobby looked down at the crowd and felt his stomach clench, he knew he wasn’t in any real danger but his instincts screamed at him to run and never stop. It had been about two months (really, who was keeping track these days?) since the dead came back to life and started chowing down. Bobby had been one of the lucky ones, completely immune, as was his mother though she had died in the mass panic. At first Bobby didn’t know what was happening, he didn’t understand why the zombies didn’t seem to see him. He thought that maybe it was just a case of there being so many people around but time and time again they ignored him. He’d stumbled across the group about a month back, others who were immune who were organising. They’d carved out a nice little space for themselves in one of the suburbs and now they were looking to expand. Once they’d completed inventory sweeper teams would clear the most valuable areas and so far there had been no casualties.
Bobby climbed down the stairs and started slowly making his way through the crowd, he was about half way through when he spotted her. He froze, his breath catching in his throat. It couldn’t be, but it was. Lizzy from next door, all of seven years old and still wearing her dirty and torn school uniform and her now grubby pink backpack. His stomach clenched and he felt bile rising at the back of his throat. Bobby looked away from her and the gory remains of her throat and face but it didn’t stop the memory. He’d been running, at the time he had no real plan, no idea where to run too and he almost ran past his own building. Around him people were screaming, the stench of blood and shit was heavy in the air mingling with acrid smoke. He stood outside the glass doors and punched the access code in, entering it wrong before finally, mercifully, it buzzed and unlocked. Bobby ripped the door open and dashed inside, pulling it shut behind him. A second later Maria was at the door, Lizzy’s hand gripped tightly as she banged on the glass. “Hey! Hey! Let us in! Bobby!” He had stood there, frozen in terror, then he took a step forward, reaching for the door. As his hand closed around the handle he saw the zombie running towards Maria, he knew if he opened the door they’d all be doomed. The thing dove on her, dragging her to the ground Lizzy screamed as the creature ripped at her mothers face. Bobby didn’t stay to watch anymore, instead he turned and ran deeper into the building. He burst into the stairwell and took the stairs two at a time until he reached his own apartment, he’d opened the door which shaking hands, the key missing the lock again and again, until finally it was open. He burst through and slammed it behind himself, collapsing against the closed door and panting heavily.
Bobby kept moving through the crowd, his eyes on the ground as he went. He couldn’t look at poor Lizzy. He’d ask someone else to come back here for the clean up, he’d tell them it was one of his family members, his little sister or something. They’d understand, it wouldn’t be the first time it happened after all. He walked slowly, head down, at least he managed to clear the entire building. He glanced behind at the crowd, half expecting to see the little girl following, but the road behind him held nothing but a few stragglers.
Hope everyone had a good weekend!
I went to visit my Sister, BIL and Neice. It was awesome, my neice is coming on so fast, she’s already crawling and she’s flying around the place! I didn’t get up to much, just some babysitting and going out for breakfast. I also got some General Tso’s, which I absolutely love, the only Chinese take-aways that I’ve found doing it have been in Galway so it makes it that much better when I do finally get some!
Mandy weaved her way through the crowd standing around the bus stops and ducked into her office. The ground rumbled slightly as a bus pulled up and Mandy felt a short pang of anxiety then the door behind her closed blocking out the dull roar of the streets. She walked through the lobby, high heels click-clacking as she went. Today was the day she was getting that promotion, she still had a presentation to give but she knew she had the promotion in the bag. Mandy pressed the button for the elevator and waited, behind her there was another blast of noise from the streets, then the door closed again. The elevator doors slid open and she stepped inside, “Mandy, good morning.” “Morning Jeremy, how was the dinner?”
“Oh it was wonderful, Patricia and myself absolutely loved the restaurant, thank you so much again for the recommendation.”
Mandy smiled, “No problem, it’s always been one of my favourite places.”
“You all set for today?”
Mandy nodded, “Yeah I think so.”
The doors opened again and they stepped out, “I’ll see you later, good luck with the presentation!”
Mandy smiled as she walked between the cubicles, she liked Jeremy, he had mentored her when she first arrived about a year back and he had always been so patient and kindly. When she arrived at her cubicle Mandy put down her bag and had a quick look at the photos on the desk, with any luck this would be the last time she’d be in this cubicle. She glanced up at office door, the name had been taken off it the night before and, hopefully, in a few hours her name would replace it. She sat and opened her bag, pulling out her laptop and a folder stuffed with paper. She briefly rubbed her finger over her small metal locket, then got to work.
Mandy stepped into the large meeting room, on one side there was a pull down screen and projector, in the middle was a large rectangular table made from a deep, dark wood that gleamed in the light of the overheads. She had a few minutes to prepare before everyone arrived and she wanted everything to be perfect. She started plugging cables into her laptop, as she was fiddling with them people started to arrive, chatting amongst themselves, they greeted her and sat, Mandy felt a surge of adrenaline and started moving faster. There was a faint rumble, Mandy froze and the room fell silent, after a second it passed and everyone relaxed a little, someone was laughing though Mandy couldn’t see who it was. Her hands were shaking slightly, there had been a tremor the week before and it had caused that awful bus crash, the driver lost control and all twenty on board died. She slotted the cable into its place and took a slow, deep breath. She couldn’t let the tremor throw her off her game, she was prepared, she was ready and she was going to crush this presentation. Her desktop filled the projector screen and she felt her shoulders relax a little more everything was going great. The last few people filed into the room and took their seats, Mandy pulled sheets of paper from her folder and passed them around, “Does everyone have a copy? Great.” she pulled up her presentation took one final deep breath “I’d like to-” Mandy stumbled into the table as another tremor hit, this one stronger than before, she gripped the table tightly, waiting for it to be over but the shaking just became worse. Her laptop dropped to the ground with a crash, the screen behind her going blank, there was a deep groaning noise from within the building, Mandy felt a strange pressure on her, like when a car sped up suddenly and you were pushed back into the seat. The pressure was replaced by pain, sudden and intense, she collapsed to the floor, around the table people fell from their chairs screaming, some gripped their heads, others simply writhed.
Howard carefully climbed the stairs, his gun drawn and his heart thumping. Dispatch had received an almost incomprehensible phone call from a receptionist, she had been shrieking about something on the third floor but it wasn’t clear what it was. When he had entered the building the lobby had been empty with no sign of the receptionist. Howard knew why he was being sent inside, he was the one who dealt with the bus crash. Everyone knew how fucked up that had been but he had been one of the first to see it. He and the other guys had to sign non-disclosure agreements afterwards. The bus had looked like a massacre had taken place, like all the passengers went crazy and just started slaughtering each other. There had been other things too, long stretches of flesh coloured tubing that oozed blood, weird protrusions from the bodies which had been twisted into almost inhuman shapes. Howard had told himself it had just been injuries from the crash, but he had never seen any car crash victims looking like that. He stood outside the door to the third floor and listened. He could hear something, very faintly, it sounded like someone wheezing heavily. He eased the door open and quickly stepped through. His mind flashed back to the bus, the gouges in the bodies, the woman with the ballpoint pen jammed into her eye. He moved deeper into the office, past the empty cubicles. He could hear moaning but it was faint, a heavy stench filled the air, the stink of shit and blood, it reminded him of when his father had taught him how to gut a deer and he’d knicked the intestines on his first try. He reached the end of the cubicles and stopped. At the wall there was a strange, flesh coloured mass. It looked almost as though it was coming through the wall. Howard gasped as he spotted a mouth, it opened revealing a row of white teeth, there was a faint whimper then the mouth closed again. There was another noise now, above the moaning, like a group of people whispering amongst themselves. He eased himself along the wall, he didn’t want to look, he wanted to turn and just leave the building, burn the entire place to the ground, but he had to see. He stopped, his gun falling from his limp fingers. In front of him was a huge mound of flesh, eyes, mouths dotted it and arms and legs all protruded from random points, some of the mouths were whispering, others were moaning lightly, one or two seemed to be open in silent screams. Wide eyes stared at him, around the mass he spotted scraps of clothing, a sleeve here, a flash of underwear there. He took a step closer and realised the thing was coming through the wall. He saw a mouth near a door frame, it was talking though he couldn’t make out what it was saying, something about promoting, he saw a glimpse of wall through the open mouth, it was like the wall had fused with it, flesh and masonry becoming one. Howard turned and stumbled from the sight, he rounded the corner and threw up, the sweet stink of vomit joined the stench. Howard stumbled from the office, not looking back, not bothering to pick up his gun. Howard walked past his partner who stood at the stairwell, shaking his head in response to the questions. He couldn’t talk about it, couldn’t think about it. He walked down the brightly lit stairwell and out into the lobby, EMT’s stood around with gurneys waiting to be let upstairs, outside cops were setting up a perimeter and pushing people back. Howard walked out of the glass doors and into the afternoon sunshine. He walked past the perimeter being set up and just kept walking, ignoring the calls from the people behind him as he went.
In the distance Lance could hear the rumbling crash of a collapsing building, he looked up from his desk and out the window, he could see a plume of dust rising into the air. Sue shook her head “Demolition or decay?”
Lance shrugged, Who could tell these days. “I didn’t see any demolitions scheduled, but I just glanced over it.”
Sue squinted into the distance, “Was that the old Smithson building?”
“Yeah I think it was. Jesus.”
“That was the oldest building in the city.”
“Not any more it isn’t.”
Sue looked at Lance, “doesn’t it scare you?”
“No, why should it?”
“What if this building collapses? Or your apartment building?”
“That won’t happen.”
“This building is occupied, it’s kept to standards.”
“The Smithson building was occupied. Bottom six floors were a shopping complex, everything above was housing.”
Lance shrugged, “can’t have been that full. I bet you that less than ten people died.”
He started typing and brought up the news feed, he grinned at Sue as he turned the screen towards her. The screen showed the remains of the building, people stumbled around covered in grey dust, their eyes wide and staring, in the corner of the frame a man tore at the rubble, his mouth open, without sound Sue couldn’t hear the screams, she didn’t need to though, she’d heard them before. The scrolling text at the bottom of the screen said there had been five deaths and almost two hundred injuries. Lance spun the screen back towards himself, “See? Barely anyone died. That train crash a month ago was worse.”
“You wouldn’t be saying that if it was your building that collapsed, if you’d just lost everything you owned.”
“Don’t be so dramatic. They’ll get vouchers to replace anything they need and they’ll be moved to a vacant apartment, there’s plenty of them.”
“That isn’t the point.”
“Isn’t it though?”
There was a loud cough from behind them, Sue glanced back to see Camilla glaring at both of them, Sue sighed then turned back to her computer screen, god forbid they chatted about anything during work hours.
Sue brought the news up on her own screen, the death toll had already risen to twelve and she expected the number to keep rising. People only ever seemed to look at the number when it first happened, when the bodies hadn’t been pulled from the rubble. The last building collapse, almost three months ago at this point, had killed three hundred when the final numbers were tallied up and released. Ask anyone on the street how many died and they’d frown, think for a moment then tell you it was thirteen, the number that was heavily reported in the first few days. Sue wasn’t sure if everyone was just content to ignore it, or if they truly couldn’t see what was right in front of them. The whole city was falling apart and it was getting smaller all the time, between building collapses, the low birth rate and nature reclaiming the edges of the city for herself. Sue didn’t know how much time the city had left, a hundred years, two hundred, but she knew it was only a matter of time before there was nothing left but piles of rubble and corpses.
Hope everyone is having a good week!
Yesterday was Pancake Tuesday and, as usual, it was delicious. I made some buttermilk pancakes and streaky rashers. Didn’t have any with lemon and sugar, which I usually do, instead I opted for rashers and maple syrup, then one with Nutella and some sliced banana. So good. I tried making bacon pancakes but I found them underwhelming, a little bit doughy and not as flavourful as I hoped so I stuck to the traditional pancake making method! What did everyone else have on their pancakes?
Margaret was in the basement, loading up the dryer. She grabbed a handful of wet clothes from the washing machine and threw them in, her back twinging as she leaned over. She closed the lid and turned on the dryer, the dull roar and clanging filling the basement. She leaned on it for a moment, one hand resting on its cold, metal. She took a slow breath then straightened up and went to the stairs.
Upstairs in the kitchen she went to the cupboard and grabbed a glass, she turned and went around the kitchen island, at the sink she turned on the tap and let it run for a few seconds before filling the glass. She took a sip of the cool water as she turned off the tap, she glanced around the kitchen and cocked her head as if listening, grinning to herself she grabbed out the footstool from the utility room. She placed the footstool in front of the cupboard with the glasses and quickly climbed. She opened the high cupboard and pushed aside a few of the odds and ends she had strategically placed, a few spare foil turkey pans, a box of straws, a half used packet of paper napkins. Behind it all was a bright purple salad spinner, still grinning she pulled it towards herself and took off the lid, gazing at the chocolate inside. This was her secret stash, the true secret stash, not the one at the back of the cutlery drawer that Henry sometimes nibbled at. She pulled out a bar of Milk Chocolate Crunch, her favourite, and put the salad spinner back, carefully moving everything around so it was hidden right at the back. She climbed down from the step stool and put it back in the utility room. No one would be home for another few hours but still, it was a risk. She didn’t like the kids or Henry seeing her eat sweets, it set a bad example for them, they needed to eat healthy and make healthy choices and well if that meant hiding her sweet tooth so be it. It wasn’t like they’d know any other way either, she kept herself trim and in shape, the chocolate bar in front of her meant she’d have to really push herself during her exercise routine. And if that didn’t work there was always the stash of laxatives she kept to hand to shift those few stubborn pounds that never quite seemed to come off. She opened the paper wrapping slowly, almost sensually, like a lover slowly pulling off an item of clothing and revealing what was underneath. She pulled at the foil, feeling the familiar thrill and faint spike of anxiety at the noise. She broke off a square and popped it into her mouth, allowing the chocolate to melt slightly before she began to chew slowly, enjoying the flavour of the chocolate, the crunch of the little biscuit pieces, the sweet, faint tang of caramel. She swallowed the chocolate, then with one swift motion she raised the bar to her mouth and started devouring it intensely, biting and chomping, almost choking herself in her desperation. She sighed when it was gone and licked at her fingers delicately. The salad spinner in the cupboard called to her, whispering promises of sweetness and happiness. She went back into the utility and grabbed the step stool, she placed it in the usual spot and quickly climbed, grabbing the salad spinner, she ripped the top off and flung it to the side, she didn’t hear the loud clatter as it hit the tile floor below. She stepped down backwards off the foot stool and then she was at the island, hands ripping through wrappers unable to stop herself.
When she was done she felt uncomfortably full, the chocolate sat in her stomach like a lead weight. She gathered the wrappers and scrunched them up into a ball, then she carefully dug deep into the bin and buried them there, where no one else would find them. She cleaned her hands and washed off her mouth to get rid of the flecks and smears of chocolate. She climbed the step stool slowly and replaced the now empty salad spinner. She climbed down and replaced the stool, she glanced at the clock, still plenty of time before anyone got home. Margaret climbed the stairs and went into the main bathroom, there opened the cupboard underneath the sink, then she reached up into the short ledge just underneath the sink, she groped blindly for a few seconds before her fingers hit the cardboard box, she pulled the box of laxatives out and popped out a couple from the foil packet. The ground shook slightly, she glanced at the window for a second, it felt like a large truck speeding by, someone on the road must be getting some work done. She’d have to ask Donna about that later, she knew all the local gossip. Margaret popped the pills then turned on the tap, leaning over to gulp straight from the tap. She filled her mouth with cold water then stood up, swallowing the pills. She reached out for the tap and froze, black water was running from the tap, as the thought to make herself throw up occurred Margaret collapsed, landing heavily on the floor. Her body started to shake, her limbs beating a steady rhythm on the floor as she seized. Her body arched up, a strangled gasp, then she fell back again. Blood flecked foam appeared at her lips, her eyes rolling wildly. Inside it felt like her body was one fire, a deep, impossibly bright pain that was searing away everything. Margaret could feel it working its way through her mind, dragging her down, she struggled against it, but she could feel things slipping away. The birth of her children, the marriage to Henry, the way Henry had looked at her when they first started dating and they couldn’t stop screwing. The way she liked her coffee, how to speak, how to move. Margaret, or the shreds of her still left tried to fight with one last dying push and then she was gone in one screaming flash of sizzling agony. Margaret lay on the floor, skin pale, panting. The thing inside her needed a minute to catch its breath, it had been a while since it had possessed anyone. It stretched out, feeling the way the muscles stretched and pulled, getting used to the feel of her, how she moved, how she connected together. After a moment Margaret stood and looked at herself in the mirror. She examined herself slowly, the way she had applied her make up, the wrinkles in the corners of her mouth when she smiled. According to her memories she was fifty, as of a month ago. Something Margaret had not-so-secretly loathed. The thought of getting old, becoming infirm terrified her. If only she knew what had been really waiting for her. The thing that was now Margaret went downstairs and had a look around, sure it had the memories but there was a difference between seeing it yourself and seeing it through someone else’s memories. It was shocking the amount of luxury this woman took for granted, what they all took for granted. After having a look Margaret stopped and went onto autopilot, the thing stepped back. It had all of Margaret’s memories and thoughts, it knew everything about her intimately and as such it could just let the old synapses fire off and do what they were supposed to. Sure her soul wasn’t there any more but no one would be able to tell the difference and if they could they’d just do what humans always did, they’d dismiss it, at worst they’d just think she was just a little under the weather.
Hope everyone had a good weekend! Mine was fun enough, watched some movies with a friend. I didn’t get around to making sourdough bread but the starter is still going so hopefully I’ll make some in the next few days.
Watched What Happened to Monday? I have to say it was a really good film and much, much better than I expected based on the premise. Would definitely recommend giving it a go!
Jorge pushed at the door, even through the gloves he could feel it pulsating. He absent-mindedly wiped his hands on his jeans as he stepped inside. He quickly scanned the room, it was just like the others. Dome shaped, about fifteen feet wide, the walls were made of organic, vine-like material which gently pulsated to an unknown rhythm. The floor was covered in what looked to be carpet, but Jorge knew that each of those little fibres was alive. He had touched it only once, on a dare, it had been luxuriously soft and seemed to contour itself to the shape of his hand, it was warm and swayed gently despite there being no breeze to move it. There was a pile of fabric on the far side of the room, something they’d been assuming were beds. Jorge left the room, it was empty, just like all the others. Outside there was a gentle breeze, it carried with it strange scents that tickled at his nose, floral but with a hard, sharp edge of burning plastic. Jorge hated searching through the ghost towns, they were always empty, the whole planet was empty but still, they insisted people check each house one by one. At least they thought they were houses, no one was quite sure what any of the structures were for or who they were built by. The natives of the planet were obviously intelligent, they’d managed to create living buildings that existed long after they were all gone, but little else was known about them. There had been no writings, no paintings, even the rooms held few answers. The houses had various functions and strange devices would open down from the ceiling but no one had managed to make any of them work. Jorge stretched, only six more houses to check before they were done with this village. It was hard to think of the small cluster of buildings as anything else, not when they’d come across vast cities made of towering domes and what seemed to be apartment blocks. There was no visible infrastructure, but vines ran through the ground connecting everything, fulfilling some arcane purpose.
Together Jorge and his group trudged back to the ATV’s with nothing to report, as usual. He had expected a life of excitement when he signed up to be a planet explorer, seeing strange and beautiful creatures, maybe even meeting intelligent life but so far there was nothing. They’d found two planets that had once been inhabited but there was little left behind to tell them anything about the beings that lived on them. Jorge knew that was making some of the bigwigs nervous, it was putting them all on edge, two reasonably advanced civilisations just gone without any trace. Jorge would have felt much better if there was some evidence of an internal war or natural disasters, but with both it looked as though the people just decided to leave and never return. Perhaps one day they’d come across another spaceship, stuffed full of the people that once inhabited the planets. He got onto his vehicle and started it up.
As they drove back Jorge ignored the scenery, at first the strange plants were fascinating but now they were just part of the background. When he first stepped foot onto the planet he didn’t think he’d ever be bored of it, that was six months ago and before the endless drudgery of the day to day searches. They hadn’t even come across any large animals, so far the largest had been about the size of a frog, a strange looking thing, purple skin, five legs, several eyes and it moved in a quick, jerky strides that reminded Jorge of spiders.
When they got back to HQ, about an hour later give or take a few minutes as one of the men needed to stop and take a piss, it was abuzz with the news. They’d found a third planet with evidence of civilisation, this planet was deserted but there were writings left behind along with painting and there were rumours of video. By the time Jorge got back to his room he’d been reassigned and given an hour to pack up his stuff and say goodbye.
An hour later he sat on the ship, feeling the rumble of the engines through his body, a ball of nerves sat in his stomach and a thin sheen of sweat coated his forehead. He always hated take off and landing, they were the most nerve racking moments. The rumble grew to a roar that felt as though it was trying to shake his insides loose, then it was over. The assistants moved along the aisle, passing out pills. Jorge took his and dry swallowed it, one pill and he’d wake up billions of miles away, somewhere new, somewhere better. He closed his eyes and felt himself relax, warmth enveloping him like a hug. He fell asleep smiling, dreaming of what they’d find on this new world.
Woo! It’s the weekend!
I’m gonna try to make a loaf of sourdough bread, not entirely sure how it’ll go but fingers crossed!
Hope everyone has a great weekend!
The crowd was silent as they watched the parade trudge past, occasionally a ripple of whispers moved ahead of the parade as people recognised celebrities, local or otherwise. The rotting corpses moved steadily, looking straight ahead the entire time, giving no indication that they saw or heard the crowd. Despite the various states of decay there was no smell, no rancid, foetid odour wafting from their bodies. Sometimes a parent would cover the eyes of their child as a particularly gruesome corpse walked past, with flayed skin draped over their shoulders like a coat, or spilt tangles of intestines dragging behind them. As people spotted their loved ones they blessed themselves, then said a quick, silent prayer before detaching from the crowd and walking home. Occasionally a corpse would stop suddenly, those around them would keep going, the corpse trembled then shattered into a spray of light, a small gasp rippled through the crowd followed by faint, polite applause. By the time the parade was coming to a close only a few people remained watching the dead on their eternal walk. It would take them a year, give or take a day, before they returned to the city again. Once the street was clear of the dead the cleaners came out, mopping up the gore and fluids the dead had left behind, street cleaners drove up and down the wide roads washing away the bulk of it. As always the bars filled quickly, people drank and shared memories of their loved ones, told each other how well they looked. Others toasted to the absence of relatives, glad that their hundred year march had finally finished and they were free to move on to the next world. Through it all there was a grim undertone, a silent acknowledgement that someday they too would have to undergo the hundred year march. The march had begun centuries before, no one was quite sure how long ago it started, punishment for atrocities committed by humans, so perverse and grotesque that they were wiped from all human memory, the shuffling corpses a reminder that the Gods were watching and that punishment would come to the wicked, no matter their station in life.