Imagine this… standing in the dark is the safest place in a world corrupted by the unimaginable.
The closet smelled of mold. Horrible creatures amassed outside the fragile doors. Michael stood at the left door. He held onto a thin aluminum handle that was screwed into the faux wood with two small screws. He took in long breaths and waited for their unavoidable fate.
“We are screwed.” Michael said after a long while. Jacob did not reply. Michael knew Jacob was on the right side of the closet, but he couldn’t see anything. He could only hear him working on something. An occasional grunt then a crash that shook the entire closet.
“What the hell,” Michael shouted as light crept through the bottom of the closet. Everything within the fragile shelter shuddered.
“I found it!” Jacob shouted.
“You found what, you’re dolly? Your teddy bear… you always break under pressure Jacob always. Remember that morning we went hunting with dad and you had a perfect shot. It was right there… you choked. Remember Joann your first girlfriend…”
Something grabbed Micheal by the throat and he gasp. Seconds ticked by as the darkness took in deep breaths. “Shut up Michael and listen to me,” Jacob said. “Your an adult and I’m an adult. I know you are under stress and you lash out but personally I have had too much death and complaining. Listen. I have a way out. I built a trap door in this closet when we were younger.. ie.. why I would hide in the closet for hours. I wasn’t here. I was with Joann. Do you get it?”
Michael shook himself from Jacob’s grip. “Dude, calm yourself. Fine.” He took a breath and continued. “You’ve had this hole in the floor here all this time. We’ve been adults for 15 years, parents died, you bought the house and you never filled in the hole in the closet?”
“Michael are you coming or what?”
“Yes, dude… get over yourself with this new sense of self… hell. How am I supposed to see anything?”
“Just head this way…” Jacob said followed by a curse. “The hole is too small.”
“Right, size of a twelve year old?” Michael snapped.
“Bend down here and pull up these planks,” Jacob instructed as both men tried to widen the hole within the floor of the closet.
Michael pulled up the first plank with significant effort tossed it to the side then a second. The closet door opened and the smell of death stole away any sort of hope that the two men would make their escape without any trouble.
“Jacob, you are going to have to squeeze that married tub of a body through that hole,” Micheal told him as he jerked on a closet rod. The clothes on the end of the metal rod tumbled into the darkness. The creature appeared within moments. It’s shaded, murderous jaws chomped at the air. Micheal pushed the rod into the zombie’s face collapsing its thin, skeletal face and pushing the rest of it’s body against the closet door. A second stepped into the darkness to reveal a perfect human face. It wasn’t gored or rotten. The only tell would be the blindness that cursed the creatures… if that was even a curse.
Michael stuck the creature in the face, right under the eye and it fell over the other.
“Micheal, I’m in let’s go,” Jacob shouted.
Michael dropped the curtain rod. Using the light from the door he found Jacob’s hand and arm waving from below the closet floor. The hole was just wide enough to fit his thinning waistline but not without some huge difficulties. He sat, with his back to the zombies. Michael leap to the dirt floor then stopped. A sharp pain erupted under his right breast. He looked down but couldn’t see a thing.
“Jacob, something just stabbed me,” he grunted.
Jacob crawled on his hands and looked up. There was barely enough light to make out the shape of a thin nail stretching outward and into Michael’s chest.
“It’s a nail Michael,” Jacob told him.
“Pull it out.”
“I can’t it’s pointed up. You will have to lift yourself back up,” Jacob reply.
Michael growled and cursed and struggled to stand. The distance to the ground was barely as long as he was tall and the effort felt herculean. He pushed his palms into the floor of the closet and pushed. Inch by painful inch he had risen till he could go no further.
“You got to go higher,” Jacob said.
Michael grunted and pushed till he realized that their undead pursuers were close behind him. “Damnit… do something Jacob,” Michael shouted.
“Do what Michael! You need to push up!”
“They are coming and I have my back to them.”
“Push, Michael! Push!”
“I can’t. I got nothing.”
“Damn it,” Jacob cursed and crawled under Michael’s feet.
“Stand on my chest, damnit!” He ordered.
Michael struggled to find Jacob’s chest but stood upon his ribs once he did. Jacob grabbed Michael’s feet and pushed up. He waited till Michael cleared the nail then instructed Michael to hold while Jacob pushed the nail downward.
Jacob barely finished when Michael fell. It was more of a crash as feet and legs tumbled over Jacob’s chest and head.
“Your closet is great and all. Who knows what you did in there… you spent a lot of time in there growing up but I ain’t getting eaten hiding in a closet,” Michael spat.
Jacob smiled, “dude, if you only knew.”
“I do not want to know what you did in the closet, by yourself when you were alone. Change of subject.”
The two zombies, that had tumbled over the bedding blockade, began to stir. They stood upon the mattress. Attempted to move and fell. Three more stepped forward into the bedroom and approached the blockade. The lead zombie paused causing the second to stop suddenly and step to the left. The third slowed then stood and seemed to be listening.
“IQ test,” Michael said while watching the trio attempt to navigate the obstacle.
“Idiot zombies,” Jacob added. The closest zombie snapped at Jacob. Lunging from its prone position.
“F-U Teeth mother–”
“Let’s hide in the closet,” Michael interrupted.
Both men skirted past the fallen zombies and the mess on the floor. Jacob opened the faux walnut closet door. Inside, an arms length of women’s clothing.
“It’s her clothes,” Jacob said. The color in his face disappeared.
“We have to move them,” Michael began to pull handfuls of the clothing from the closet and toss them behind him while Jacob watched.
“No! Not the dresses! You’ll get them all dirty. They will!” Jacob screamed and attempted to stop Michael.
“Jacob stop!” Michael replied. Zombies crawled over the mattress and approached the two men. They were a foot from Jacob when Michael grabbed his brother and threw him into the closet. Jacob inhaled Sharon’s scent as the material overwhelmed him. He fought back and more of the clothing tumbled in all directions. Michael joined his brother inside the cramped, dark room. He attempted to close the closet door but realized that the door was blocked by all the clothing. Michael listened as the closet door behind them rattled. The prone zombies used the closet door to help them stand. Michael tried to close the door a second time with the same results.
“Jacob, can you pause your psychotic break and clear the floor so WE DON’T DIE!” Michael screamed. The zombie’s outside the closet clawed at the closed door and began toward the open door. Jacob recovered and shoved the clothing on out of the way. The door, free of debris, was jerked from Jacob’s hands. The zombie stepped forward and screamed. A guttural noise full of anger. Jacob felt hopeless as the creature lunged forward. It’s hands raised, became trapped within the metal hangers that remained on the curtain rod. The zombie attempted to rip its hands from the trap but became more tangled. Jacob shoved the clothing he stood behind into the zombie. He pushed the creature off its feet and it tumbled backward. Jacob grabbed the closet door and closed it.
Your not going to win an Oscar for best Action scene punching a zombie. In fact it’s the most uncomfortable feeling as solid mass meets gelatin.
Michael swung first. He struck the zombie in the temple. The zombie stared forward, as the right side of its head collapsed. The bone under the rotten flesh stopped Michael’s blow. The pain of the impact forcing Michael’s hand open and he finished the blow with a slap.
The zombie stumbled to the right, opposite direction of Michael’s blow. It crashed into the bedroom wall. Hitting it hard with it’s fragile face. The profile of the creature’s face collapsed. Leaving a soft, gooey center and blood spread upon the wall as it slid down.
Jacob swung next and missed. His fist skated over the zombie’s nose, breaking it easily. Jacob’s elbow followed and struck the zombie in the right eye. The zombie’s head fell backward. The rest of it’s body forward. It’s rubbery arms flailed. The bones shattered from the first attempt with the bat. Jacob and the zombie collided. The zombie’s head snapped forward. It’s right eye hid behind its boney socket. It’s long grimy teeth struck Jacob in the shoulder. Jacob fell on his back. The zombie fell upon him but struck the hardwood floor with its forehead. The noise from the impact echoed through Jacob’s right ear drum. The zombie skull cracked with the first blow. It shattered with the second. Blood sprayed the floor and covered half of Jacob’s face. Jacob wanted to move but his body didn’t. His arms and legs wanted to lay under the creature and think about this a moment. Jacob screamed at Michael as warm, retched smelling liquid dripped upon his T-shirt and jeans. He tried to shove the zombie upward and right but the body didn’t move.
Michael slowly lifted the body and moved it. “Jacob! Shut the hell up.” Michael said in a forced whisper. “There are more and your going to bring them all in.”
“I’m done Michael!” Jacob replied a little more carefully. “I can’t do this shit anymore. My wife died twice everyone else wants to eat me. I’m going to just stop fighting.”
Michael grabbed his brother and lifted him from the ground. “Stand up, boy. We do not have time for this.”
Jacob shoved Michael’s hands away but his knees sank. Michael grabbed Jacob before he fell. “Jacob, now stand on your feet!”
“I’m trying dude.”
Footsteps approached the bedroom door and the blockade. A zombie fell forward the moment it attempted to step through it. A second appeared, paused and fell. A third set of footsteps.
The beginnings of a trap emerge. The room constricted as a pair of zombies approached. One on the right and the other near the center of the room. The two remaining zombies negotiated a pile of bedding in the doorway.
“Bust the window!” Jacob shouted.
“No way, it will attract more from outside. We will never make it through without being mauled,” Michael replied.
Michael peered out the window, into the darkness.
“I can’t see a damn thing.”
“Smash it!” Jacob insisted. He approached the zombie in the center of the room with the bat. He swung and struck the creature in the chest. It heaved a breath. It stumbled, stood for a moment then continued forward. Jacob swung a second time hitting the creature’s shoulder. The bat fell. Jacob’s hands shook.
Michael tapped the window with his own bat putting a small hole in the center of the lower pain. A second tap shattered the rest of the glass. Michael pushed out the outside screen and stuck his head out the window. A pair of arms wrapped themself around Michael’s waist and he took in a panicked breath. Pulled from the window Michael turned and shoved Jacob into the opposite wall. Jacob tumbled into the wall, stuck it and slide to the floor.
“Dude.. no!” Michael warned.
Jacob gasp then replied, “Ass… look.”
Michael turned to find a pair of swollen hands grabbing at the meal that was in the window for a moment.
“Damn…” Michael grumbled. “Frickn monsters. Five years Jacob! We have been in this crap five years. Monster invasion in New York City and now were are all in the soup. Brother…”. He said to Jacob. “We are done.”
Micheal squared up in front of a zombie. He swung at his face and stuck the zombie. It’s face twisted, the zombie didn’t hesitate and stepped forward.
Jacob stood and prepared to attack the other zombie but his bat lay on the floor beside the creature.
Michael swung again and his zombie fell. He banged the gore-covered bat on the floor. Moved to face zombie two, Michael swung and the bat became twisted in the rubbery arms of the reaching zombie. Michael watched the bat cartwheel into the wall. The zombie’s arms fell to its side at the elbow. It moved forward as if it hadn’t just walked into an aluminum fan.
“What the hell, dude?” Jacob grumbled.
“Hey, you did it first.”
“We go melee,” Michael said as his took a boxer stance.
“Like your cleric… what was it’s name Wisconsin. Remember that melee?” Jacob asked.
“This is not a remember D&D moment Jacob!” Michael warned, paused then laughed.
“Wisconsin was a good character name.”
Both men laughed then stood firm waiting for the inevitable.
Neither knew how to fight outside of an occasional scuffle. They managed to scrap out some life within the City of Monsters.
Michael screamed. Thin boney fingers dug into his left arm. Jacob prepared to swing the bat but stopped, afraid to strike Michael. The zombie dug it’s long, sharp nails further into Micheal’s arm. Michael twisted. He grasp the bone-like hand with his right hand and pulled. Pain radiated up his arm and into his shoulder. The nails tore large cuts into his forearm as the muscles in zombie’s hand stretched. The second zombie pushed forward and reached toward Michael. Jacob swung. He struck the zombie and the zombie collapsed.
“Jacob, she has my legs,” Michael shouted as he looked down. Barbara, her face unrecognizable had a hold of his right leg.
“Get her off my leg!!”
”She’s not on your leg. She is dead,” Jacob shot back. Barbara lay in a pool of a thick, dark goo. “She’s not moving.”
Michael pulled the thin fingers from his forearm. He retrieved the bat from the floor and pressed the larger end against the zombie’s chest. He pushed the zombie backward and jerked his ankle from Barbara’s perceived grasp. Jacob grabbed Barbara’s blood soaked dress and pulled her away.
“Michael, your losing it,” Jacob stated. “Seriously thought I would be having the problems in this house.”
The two remaining zombies stepped forward. The couch slid upon the floor. Michael and Jacob stepped back toward a bedroom. More zombies filed in through the back door.
“Michael calm down,” Jacob said. “It’s fine.”
”It’s not fine! This is NOT fine!”
“Take a breath… Barbara is dead. We have to figure out how to get out of this.”
“I felt her grab my ankles! We have to get out of this house,” Michael said while scanning the front room.
Four additional zombies had entered the house behind the two the were still roaming behind the leather divider that was a couch. The front door was on the other side of the room and the kitchen was a no go area. Behind the two men was the main bedroom. A large queen-sized bed sat in the center of the room. A window in the front wall and a closet against the wall right in front of them.
”Maybe, we should hide in the closet.” Michael smiled.
“Dude, not that. Not now. Let’s block this doorway,” Jacob replied.
Both men lifted the large queen mattress from the bed and stuffed it into the doorway.
“Why did you not add a door to your bedroom,” Michael asked.
“We have no kids. We don’t need it.” Jacob replied.
“Until I showed up and saw you two doing the nasty.” Michael laughed. His forearm painted in blood. The men flipped up the frame and pushed it against the doorway. Jacob grabbed a towel from the closet in the right rear of the room and attempted to hand it to Michael.
Michael stood with his back against the mattress and frame. Behind the bedding blockade were three zombies attempting to climb the flimsy wall of fabric and wood.
Jacob tossed the towel at Michael and stood beside him.
“Wrap that up the best you can. When we get out of here I will make you a proper dressing,” Jacob instructed.
“Ah, my brother the medic. It’s been ten years since you left the Army. You think you can still do a proper dressing?” Michael asked.
“Better than you.”
From above Michael’s head a thin, rotten hand reached up and over the wall. It ran its black goo covered hand over the side of Michael’s face. Michael stepped forward, turned and growled. “I am so tired of you monsters touching me! Stop touching me!”
The wall built from bedding began to fall forward. The zombies that managed to climb the mattress tumbled into the room. Jacob stood with his back to the bed frame. He glared at Michael. Michael attempted to readjust the wall but the damage was done and a pair of zombie began to claw their way into the room from the floor.
“There are two more out there!” Jacob screamed.
“It will not matter, if these two take us out,” Michael replied while wrestling with the bed frame to keep the other pair out. He watched the room as one of the two zombies cleared his head and stared forward. A simple sniff of the air alerted the zombie to the men’s presence and it started to move forward. The other zombie followed soon after.
Michael found the bat and held it, larger end farthest away. The zombie stepped forward. Stopped after meeting the resistance created by the bat then continued forward. The thin skin of the monster tore and gore began to cover the bat. The other zombie moved around to the left of the first one. The other zombies attempted to push through the mattress wall.
Excited about this one. Doesn’t look like much now but it is going to be a very busy piece. I will expand my skills with a half dozen subjects.
Did a major rework…
“Just push through it Michael. You can do this,” Jacob said as he sat upon a chair on top of Barbara.
Michael paced the floor. Mixing words of disbelief with cursing. Banging on the back door began to spread around the house as zombie brethren began to beat their way into the house..
“You need to do it, Michael… now!” Jacob shouted.
Michael walked around and stood at a window. He stared at the destruction of the once bright city.
“All these people…,” he said to no one. “They just stand in the failing daylight staring at a charcoal drawing that was once a city.”
“Could you ever imagine something like this happening?” He says too Jacob. “A catastrophic infection spreading from the center of the country. Trapping a whole city within its walled boundaries?”
“I don’t know what to tell you Michael!” Jacob replied, his voice shaking.
Barbara managed to grab the small man’s right leg. Jacob reached down and shoved her hand free but it returned and strangled his bare ankle.
“If she draws blood you will be without a wife and a friend.” Jacob struggled to stay a top Barbara. He manipulated the chair and dug a corner leg into the infected woman’s left shoulder. The weight of the chair melted quickly through the rotting muscle. Jacob moved his legs to the left.
Barbara pushed upward on the chair with her free right hand. Jacob set his feet on her left side and pushed back.
The back door opened with a crash. The large zombie stood in the kitchen and roared. Michael swung the bat. It struck the floor with a loud metallic boom and Jacob leapt from his chair. Michael swung again striking Barbara and collapsing her chest. The large zombie moved forward, followed by others. Barbara attempted to breath, her infected lungs compressed. Rotten air retched from her mouth. Her broken face stared forward, human feelings of sorrow and pain vacant from her grey face.
Jacob ran forward and pushed a large leather couch into the smaller doorway to the kitchen. Michael stared downward at what used to be his wife. The body of his wife, her face, attempted to take in a breath but it wouldn’t come. She stared at the ceiling. Michael began to cry. The pain in her face wasn’t there. Michael knelt next to his wife, her breath slowing.
“Barbara,” he whispered and watched. He reached forward.
Barbara turned, her eyes flashed. She snapped at Michael’s hand. Michael fell backward. He grabbed the bat and swung three times. Barbara took a final breath and finally left the world of the living.
“Help me, Michael,” Jacob pleaded.
Michael shot up from the floor, swung and connected with the bat. The zombie stumbled to the side and knocked over a second. It then straighten up and charged forward.
“Hold the couch,” Jacob ordered.
The large zombie stepped forward and charged. He struck the couch and fell forward. The couch moved forward but the two men held the other zombies behind it. Jacob grabbed another bat, and Michael his, and both men beat the zombie to death.
“Yea! buddy,” Jacob screamed. He continued, his voice escalating with every sentence, “Its like we’re in a movie. Remember those… fun little contraptions we could do before we had monsters attacking us every moment of the day. We were so lazy back then. Relaxing, watching stuff… doing nothing. Oh, and not killing our wives. Michael we had wives that hated us.”
“They didn’t hate us,” Micheal said. “They loved us.” He looked back at what remained of Barbara and was suddenly jerked forward.
Jacob and Micheal:
“The pungent smell of death was everywhere. It burned your nose, not like a flame but like a punch to your brain.”
“We can head into my house.” Jacob stared through a grimy window of the garage door. Standing on a pair of milk crates. “We should have enough room to run to the back door. It’s unlocked.”
“No Jacob… Sharon is in there and Barbara.” Michael shot back.
“Oh god! I know she’s in there. We have to do something!” Jacob stumbled from the crates.
“I’m sorry buddy but she has been dead for over a day.”
“I know this,” Jacob shouted. “I’m not some naive psychology case. I know what we did. We left the girls in the house to save ourselves now we are going to die.”
“We didn’t leave them by choice. We had no other option.” Michael replied.
“Choice! We could of died with them. Now we are going to die in this garage!”
“Keep your voice down,” Michael scolded. “You are not dying in that garage by yourself,” Michael whispered.
“Oh great,” Jacob replied, forced but quieter. “Now I will be responsible for killing my best friend too.”
“We are not staying here but I am not going back in there to see the remains of my wife and yours.”
Jacob looked at his friend. In two days Michael’s face had aged twenty years. His blue eyes hidden within the swelling of a black eye and lack of sleep.
“Do you think about her? Barbara?”
“Do you wonder what she’s thinking, maybe she’s trapped inside her body?”
“She’s not,” Michael snapped. “There all dead. Everyone.”
Michael stood at the window at the side of the garage and looked outside. “You see that women standing there, she’s dead. That kid standing over a family dog… dead. They are all dead.”
“Sure, ok. What’s your plan? We need food with any plan and I have a ton of food in the house.”
“I don’t have a plan. All I know is we can’t stay here and I’m NOT going in that house,” Michael replied.
“Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
“I’ll get the door,” Michael pushed past Jacob and grabbed the door handle. He turned the knob than stopped. He looked. He turned the handle till it clicked and opened the door.
Jacob followed Michael from the garage. They leapt over to the house and followed the outside wall. At the first window Jacob stopped and looked inside. Michael continued to the next window.
She was in there. Her perfect hair drenched in dark clumps of blood. “Screwed up face,” Michael thought cursing under his breath. Her face long and drawn down. Her jaw slack and her arms to her side. She stood staring at the dining room wall.
Jacob moved behind Michael watching the other undead as they stood waiting. He began to watch a single zombie in particular. It was moving, barely. Gnawing at its pale lips.
“Movement could be a sign it’s not completely asleep,” Jacob thought.
Michael watched within the window. “Barbara,” he whispered.
Barbara moved. She brought up her right hand and brushed the hair from her face. The outside world disappeared instantly. Michael watched as Barbara began to dance. She turned. Her face was hidden behind long beautiful dark hair. She turned and turned again. Jacob stepped onto the heel of Michael’s tennis shoe causing pain to shoot upward. Micheal lurched forward and banged his fist upon the glass window. The zombie with the pale lips woke immediately and searched for the source of the noise. Its eyes gray and fixed forward as it turned the gruesome head. Within the window Michael noticed the Barbara was gone. She had left the room.
Jacob apologized. He tried his best to make himself part of the outside wall of the house. Michael noticed the pale zombie lumber forward and turned from the window.
Three more zombies woke. Their gray eyes bursting with excitement.
“My god, why did you have to do that,” Michael shouted. The pale zombie approached from the left side. Two of the three zombies lumbered near them from the driveway. Michael turned and stared at a face in the window of the home. Barbara, her pale eyes staring hungrily out the window, scratched at the glass.
“Go.. go…” Jacob whispered and motioned for Michael to follow him toward the back of the house. Michael ripped his gaze from Barbara and followed. The two men walked toward the back of the house careful not to make any more noise. The rear door of the home was on the left and the garage door was on the right.
“Let’s go, Michael.” Jacob prodded. Michael hesitated and then followed. Jacob opened the back door and stepped inside.
“I don’t want to do this,” Michael insisted.
“This or die?” Jacob replied.
“Just go,” Michael pushed as both men entered the back porch
Michael closed the door behind him and searched for a lock.
“What are you doing? That door doesn’t have a lock.”
“What do you mean, doesn’t have a lock?” Micheal growled. The door was ripped from his grip and a large zombie stood at the entrance.
“Why doesn’t this door have a lock!”
Jacob struggled with the inside door knob. The large zombie stepped forward toward the men.
Michael shoved the zombie with his foot causing it to stumble backward.
“Get the door open!”
“I’m trying,” replied Jacob as the knob finally turned and the door opened.
The large zombie stepped forward again and entered the porch. Jacob disappeared within the doorway followed by Michael. Michael closed the door quickly and they both stepped into the kitchen. He found the door lock, the security bolt and the chain.
The large zombie began to bang on the back door. Michael braced himself against the door until she walked into the kitchen.
Barbara, her jaw broken and head disfigured stepped into the kitchen.
Michael shoved his right foot against the door and looked at Jacob. “What now, genius!”
“I got this Michael. I got this.” Jacob stepped forward with a baseball bat but didn’t swing it. He placed the end of the bat on Barbara’s chest and pushed her back into the dining room. Attached to the kitchen door was a baby gate. Jacob swung that closed and locked it.
“A baby gate, really?” Michael said. “We are going to have to kill them, you know.”
“No, we don’t,” Jacob replied.
— Next up — Jacob and Michael – The Wives