Teraphobia – The part with Gary

Erik sings parts of a song long past it’s prime. He recalled his life as the music flowed through his ears… but he brushed it away and swallowed the rest of the whiskey he found.

“The world was different,” he thought as a zombie stumbled through the aisles of an abandoned grocery. “At least it’s the only zombie in here.”

Erik stood, he stared through grime-covered glass at an abandoned grocery he had been calling home for two months.

“Gary!” Erik shouted, opening the glass doors of a defunct refrigerator.

Startled, the zombie leapt. It turned its grotesque head then returned to it’s aimless search for the living.

“You freak”, he shouted. “The only other creature here and I still can’t get attention.”

Erik reached for a gallon of solidified milk, he opened the door wide and threw the jug at the zombie.

“Hey, stink-face. Eat me.”

The solidified milk burst from the jug, covering the zombie in white.

Erik laughed… coughed… then laughed again.

The zombie turned and growled. It then marched toward Erik.

“Gary is mad.. Gary is mad…” Erik taunted between fits of laughter. “Ha…”

A noise within the dark store warehouse changed his mood.

Did he lock the back door? Did someone figure out his traps and walk inside?

A crash. Several human voices. A curse followed by several others. The noise within the darkness confirms Erik’s fear. He attempts the close the glass refrigerator door but it will not move.

Erik stared into the pale, dead eyes of a mid-sized zombified human. The creature grasp the glass door. His right arm outstretched. His hand holding the glass door. Erik moved his hand backward. The zombie took in a deep breath to reveal it’s perfect teeth. Erik paused. The zombie had teeth polished and healthy.

“What the hell,” Erik said to himself as he withdrew his hand. Gary, the zombie, shoved the door and the glass shattered. The creature squared it’s body with the frame of the open doorway, bared it’s teeth and stepped forward.

“Gary!” Erik shouted. “Gary, have you been brushing your teeth? I lost my teeth six months ago and you have thirty-some tighty-whities. What the hell… I thought we were friends. You know we can’t be friends anymore.”

Erik stepped back. A shelf of empty bottles of liquor fell. They crashed upon the dirty floor. Gary pushed through the doorway and into the disabled refrigeration unit. Gary snapped.

Erik grabbed the left side of the zombie’s head. Attempted to push it sideways. Gary turned it’s face and Erik’s left arm came within inches of those perfect teeth.

Erik shook with fear. He withdrew his arm, held the zombie, with his right and shoved the zombie backward. Erik stepped forward shoved Gary backward with his right foot. The zombie fell out into the store. Tripped and fell into a store shelf. The dusty products cascaded to the floor.

“Christ,” shouted the human stranger. “Who has time to string up all this rope.”

“It sounds to me like someone else, non dead, is here.”

“Get out of my home!” Erik shouted.

“Listen dude,” said one of the men. “We need shelter. You look to be smart. We don’t mean to cause any issue.”

“I don’t have time for this,” Erik growled.

Erik looked to his left. He found Gary struggling to stand with a long piece of aluminum thrust through his thin chest. He stumbled into the darkness of the warehouse, hoping to hide from the stranger’s.

A new scent waft within the darkness. The whiskey left his feet huge and heavy. The invading zombie growled. It’s heavy breath coming closer.

“Light switch… Light switch.. where did I put you,” Erik sang.

The zombie approached. A string struck Erik’s face. He paused, smiled and pulled. A sheet of aluminum fell from the ceiling. Erik leapt forward. His shoulder struck a large steel shelf. Pain screamed from his shoulder to his hands. The sheet of aluminum rocked within the stale air of the warehouse. Light from a skylight flooded a small section of the darkness.

Erik rolled to his back, holding his shoulder. He watched as the thin silver sheet struck the black steel shelf, causing it to ring. The sheet then fell forward and into a small zombie woman approaching.

The aluminum sheet sliced into the soft tissue just above the zombie’s rotten shoulder. It fell forward forcing the sheet of aluminum through its rotten arteries, severing any life the zombie had in it. The creature fell into Erik. Its black putrid blood drenched Erik’s twice washed shirt. Erik screams.

“God, please don’t let me touch the blood… dont… no… please God.”

Erik twisted and turned to free himself. The creature bled a thick putrid liquid. Erik shoved the creature up and away. The sheet of aluminum slipped from the wound and thundered to the ground.

Erik stumbled backward. He removed his shirt and pants. He skirted back and hid within the darkness. He fell asleep.

The sound of hammers, multiple hammers woke Erik from his sleep. The voices echo through the warehouse-sized back room.

“This is a stupid place to hide. Have you seen the large picture windows. Dude, find some large sheets of wood or something.”

“Shut up yo.. This is the only thing close we could find. Don’t criticize.”

Erik grumbled. He stood and the room spun.

“Get out!” He shouted from the darkness.

“What the hell was that,” said one of the voices.

“There is someone in here, you idiot.” Replied the other. “It’s likely a survivor.”

“Get out!” Erik repeated. Stepped forward and stumbled over several boxes of back stock. He fell and the crash echoed through the room.

“What if he is a zombie?”

“He is not, Sean. Zombies don’t talk.”

“How am I supposed to know that Anthony. We have been here thirty minutes.”

“Just hold on.”

“We are not here to harm you, brother. We are here for shelter. We were captured and tossed into the walls of the city. This is the closest safe shelter, replied the voice.

“You’ll see how safe it is when you fall into my traps,” Erik replied.

“What traps,” replied one of others. “Those stupid-ass wires we cut with the weights?”

Erik stood, shoved a sheet of plywood forward. It slipped under the metal shelves, then slid into his ankles. He swore and found himself trapped against the back wall.

The human intruders approached with flashlights searching.

“Sir, don’t be frightened we will not hurt you,” a voice added.

“I’m not frightened you idiot. I don’t want you here in my shelter.” Erik shot back.

“Maybe we should just leave him… no then he would bitch too much. Let’s just kill him.”

“No Sean,” said Andrew.

Erik’s attempted to lift the plywood trap but the space between him and the wall restricted his movements. Erik watched as the light came closer. The light highlighted an image of Erik within a nearby mirror.

“You know they are after you,” said his doppleganger. They are hunters. They are looking for Erik, the horrible.”

“I did not do what they accused me of,” Erik shouted. The image disappeared.

“Hey, bro… We ain’t judging you,” said Sean. “They got us too. Hell if it was trumped up.”

“Ha…” laughed Andrew.

“Just help me,” Erik pleaded.

The lights converged on Erik revealing a fifty year old disheveled man. Half of Erik’s face was covered in curly black and grey hair.

“Just help me out.” Erik snapped.

Andrew and Sean begin to pull wood and debris to free Erik.

Teraphobia

As children, the world is terrifying? Shadows in a dark corner, noises in the kitchen or the tall dark stranger that approaches you and your mother in the parking lot of a shopping mall.

As a child I had teraphobia, the fear of monsters. A condition prominent during childhood. The condition normally resolves itself in time. Imagine a world where this is an everyday occurrence. Not the fear of monster that are not there. The fear of the ones that are real and everyone knows they exist. There is no hiding.

Vampires, zombies and more

Notice of intent: A promise to myself and my reader. I intend to rebuild my blog. Reshape my stories into an interconnected world.

Due: Build a character list

Day 1 – Healing the relationship – COz

So I’ve been discussing the relationship with my novel COz and there has been some more progress during the reconciliation. Thoughts of reworking and organizing bring back excitement and thoughts of grandiose.

One issue was character introduction. I initially introduced my protagonist and a small group of supporting characters. I tried to make it about the protagonist but the other characters carried the story. This was a mistake caused by lack of planning. The story jumps from place to place with no clear path.

The solution to lack of planning? Plan.

So later in the novel I introduce multiple interesting creature/characters. Why can’t I introduce them at the beginning? Spend the entire novel building these threads.

The Sirens, the Minotaur, Ambrosia- the spider woman

Erik, Sean, Andrew and the Baker brothers.

Jean Luke and Gabriel

That is eleven characters

So here is the tough part. I have eleven characters, each with some good and bad. None fleshed out completely except for my protagonist Erik. So what do I do?

Make a decision… so let’s do that. So my to-do will be to add the characters and build a new intro. I need to research that too. Researching everything this time.

Reconciliation- C.O.z

So, as with most relationships, I’ve had consistent thoughts about reconciliation with my ex-novel City of Zombies. Don’t tell him though, this is between you and me.

The issue is I am working off a flawed idea. A path for the new novel that I never fleshed out. City of Zombies was maybe 50% completed and contained huge gaps that I could not fill. large sections of the novel that exceeded 5000 words. (One I turned into a short story for WPAD collection on Facebook)

This work I’ve done on the novel makes it very hard to drop the work all together. There is a lot of content I really like but it needs small edits and support characters.

The new novel has a solid idea but it’s lacking the ability to move forward. It has no momentum. Is it due to lack of imagination or lack of something else? Likely. This isn’t unusual when writing anything. It’s part of the challenge. It’s why I like it …but it’s disheartening. It’s another swing and miss with the novel writing.

I’ve been trying this for 10+ years. Honestly, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I used to look at other authors like me and quietly scoff till it happened to me. Ten years = nothing (mostly)

I started painting in 2016 and it paid for itself in 1 year. It’s far from profitable. My wife would prefer I drop it too but it has made me money and I like it.

The way forward?

Plow ahead like I’ve been doing up to this point. Keep refining, rearing and reimagining. C.O.z will not be going away. It will not be the same either. The structure is semi solid. I need an iron clad structure.

Soul Eater – The Jackal

“Here is the frightening truth, my friend,” the strange creature said with a slight smile, “there is life after death. This world… the here and now. Is your truth.”

The creature smiled as he thought for a second. He shucked some of the dust from his large dark feathers and stepped forward. “Listen to me, tall, dark and mute. You can sit there in your life-long stupor and mourn the life you had in that other world. The world that, coincidentally, crapped you into this one, or you can get off your ass and do something awesome with us. Narcissus has something special planned for the soul eater. That being you.”

The stranger looked up and stared at the creature. He looked him over. His hair-covered face and head. His bright, colorful clothing and finally the wings. The stranger stood and stared into the dark eyes of this meta-human. He raised his hands and clapped them multiple times in rhythm. The stranger’s face stared forward, unimpressed. The other passengers in the car, most of them now fully formed humans, stared silently waiting for the creatures reaction.

“Ah, I get it.” He said. “You are one of those funny men. The rebel assholes that don’t follow the rules. I get you, trust me. I get you completely cause… you know I have experience.” The creature then thrust his right hand up and twisted his wrist. He turned and continued to look over the railroad car that had now become full of flesh and blood humans.

“The engineer is not going to be happy with all this going on. Remanifesting dead humans is so illegal in these woods. Eww… he is going to be pissed and there is going to be blood everywhere.”

Above the car, upon the roof was the sound of hooves marching toward them. The creature began to speak but his voice stumbled. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Speaking of the engineer… that sounds like him.”

Another few steps and the other winged men began to stir. “Mr. Jackal, sir. We need to go now.” Whimpered another winged humanoid.

“You guys are such…” The Jackal began but stopped when a snake-like monster peered from the large hole in the passenger train. He motioned for the cabin to be quiet. Then instructed his men to grab the stranger and restrain him with a roll of plastic wrap.

They grasp the stranger and dragged him backward toward the rear door. The Jackal reached over and grasp a long wire that was strung along the top corner of the car and pulled. The breaks scream and the car slowed. Anyone standing, fell forward and that included whatever was on the roof. The snake-like creature disappeared from the hole in the ceiling. The Jackal leapt through the hole and onto the roof followed by his feathered friends. The stranger was wrapped in plastic from the shoulders down and carried upward by a sixth creature.

Once upon the roof the engineer lie on top of the car in front of them. He had four hooves and six snake-like heads all connected at the base of the horse. He struggled to stand with his snake-like heads trying to lift the 400lb creature. The Jackal and his gang spread their wings and lifted from the train.

Soul Eater – The Spirit of the Dead – All aboard!!

Rain fell upon the stranger’s head. Thunder grumbled in the distance. The new world he stood in was dark, dank and full of sadness. The stranger looked around to see a decomposing shack behind him. It’s rain soaked planked walls weighed down by years of neglect. Words, painted in white, spell out mysterious destinations.

-Artemisia

-Obsidian

-Deuterium

-Ambrosia

Beside the names was a small rain-soaked sheet. White splashes if paint drip down the right-side. Painted on the sheet is a dark train. Followed with the words:

“Missing

Train of Light

Taken by the Darkness -1863”

A sharp gust of wind shoved past him and struck the rain-soaked sheet. Something grasp the sheet and ripped it from the wall. The sheet fell to the wooden floor. The stranger watched as a human form stood in the rain for a moment then disappeared. The wooden planks below his feet shook. The stranger turned. A plume of white smoke stalked through the dark trees. The Spirit of the Dead pushed through the dark of night toward the stranger.

A large articulated locomotive, painted black, stretched eighty-five foot from cowcatcher to cab. The engineer stood behind black iron windows and is shackled to an iron loop in the floor. The fireman faded into the darkness, then reappeared. He shoveled a substance into the firebox then flickered out of existence. The engineer stood with his long left arm upon the whistle and waiting till the station appears.

The black train runs on the essence of life.  The molecular essence of every living being on the train, collected within a steel-walled tender. Upon the tender is a set of ledges, one on top and the second two feet above the train wheels.  The ledge on the top was merely decorative but the one on the bottom was two foot wide, barely enough room to walk across.  Aluminum hand holds are placed at body length along both sides of the car.  In the center of the car, painted on both sides, is ‘Spirit of the Dead’.

The engineer pulled and the whistle released a scream from above the train.  The scream pierced the darkness and started the stranger. He watched as the large train approached the wooden deck. He saw beside him another figure, feminine but ghostlike. Another, then several more. They appeared with a suddenness. From ghostlike to human, bone and muscle. They all appeared fully clothed but dressed in period clothing. Almost like a Western on the television back when he was a child. He stared down upon his dress to find himself wearing a pair of faded jeans and a t-shirt stained in large dark patches.

The whistle blew a second time.

The Spirit of the Dead approached the wooden deck of the train station.  The engineer pulled the brake. Forced air pushed the thick rain soaked air out of the way as the brakes squealed. The stranger watched as the engine passed the station.  Followed by passenger cars.

The engineer pulled hard upon the brakes forcing the cars to jostle and jam into each other. When the train came to a stop the engineer disappeared from the engine and reappeared upon the side of the engine and then reappeared upon the wooden station deck.  He disappeared again and reappeared near the front corner of the engine.  He seemed to be inspecting the train.  From Benin’s the tender car a large man appeared.  He meticulously walked along the side of the car holding the handles as he went.  A chain danging from both ankles.  He then disappeared within the cab.  Several large wooden doors opened within the passenger cars behind the engine.  

Several men stepped from the cars and jumped to the wooden deck. They then turned and folded down a set of steel stairs built within the bottom of the cars.  The men, dressed in black, stood and waited as ghost-like figures stepped from the cars. The figures mingled with some of the ghost on the station then the station began to clear.

“All aboard!”

The stranger

So many things going on. Such anger, so completely obvious and in your face. It’s too much. I miss the days when we were limited to the 6:00 news and maybe a rumor that the neighbors lost their dog and we had to help find him. I grew up afraid of a few logical things. Strangers, drunk drivers and dogs. Now we all talk and spread fear through social media. We spread all our anxiety and nutty ideas. Others agree and spread it. Soon it’s posted in 24 hour news cycle and posted 50 times a day as true.

I need to escape into my world of storytelling but what story do I tell? Relevant to the world around me or making something up. I am building a world of taur creatures in my art world at www.brokenstick.com. Can connect these worlds?

There is an artist connected to a great show called Tales from the Loop. Where Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag brings his artwork to life. It’s amazing to see his work on the screen. Simon attaches a story to his work. I would love to do the same but all the work I have up to now lives in semi-separate worlds.

It’s certainly on my mind and as I move through this new (minus City of Zombie) world it will effect it.

The Minotaurs

So, this starts my new attempt to write everyday. It’s partially free writing with minimal edits. I want to get words on screen. It will not be eloquent or perfect but hope it will be fun.

I just happen to be doing it in the bathroom of the church next to my house.

There is a story in this situation I am currently in… huge… well maybe not huge. What happened you ask?

First, I should mention that we are Minotaur. Huge bi-pedal creatures with bovine heads. Big muscular thighs to hold our oversized heads. (Just to note something irrelevant) The women are larger then the men, so imagine my fright when she stormed into the bathroom when I was brushing my facial hair.

“Daniel,” she boomed. “Who is this?”

She thrust the picture of a very attractive cow in my face. She had a thick brown color with strips of black along the right-side of her face.

I stepped back and fell into the toilet. The poor ceramic thing burst with my sudden weight… but wait there’s more…

She laughed. A riotous laughter. She thought frightening me was the funniest thing. That was until I skillfully trip her causing her to tumble into the sink and the tub.

So, now I type this from a strangers toilet

Killing Barbara

Featured Story

Preface

The stones fell from the sky. There was no storm, no burning trails in the sky. Nothing to prepare the world for the impact of three stones dropped by God. Each stone granted the user the ability to create life in exchange for a life. A cruel test for a human race with a violent imagination. Each stone decorated its own sphere of influence in its own way. The story below relates to the New York stone only.

The New York stone was dropped somewhere in Central Park. The first, vampire, began as a reluctant cryptid. Prowling at night, careful to patrol and terrorize the forgotten population. With every bite it grew in population till the forgotten could hide no more. The human population in New York struggled to contain the epidemic but ultimately succeeded. The stone continued to grant life for a life and other strange creatures began to appear. The other creatures were destroyed as effectively as they could be by a human race that felt threatened. The stone continued to migrate through the city, state and East coast till landing in the lap of a distressed government worker. His wife, lost to Cancer, rose to her feet and began the infection that would destroy North America. The stone was lost in the chaos.

Jacob and Michael

Five years after the Vampire wars. Zombie extermination turned into zombie containment. Large cities turned into giant prisons that contain the zombie hordes and other undesirables. Jacob and Michael are a pair of unlucky original occupants of the city of Cleary. Both men, desperate to escape their zombie wives, hide in the unattached garage.

—————————————

“We can head back into my house. We can lock Sharon and Barbara in a room. At least we have some food in the house.” Jacob said as he 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. There are only a few zombie outside the garage door. The back door is unlocked.”

“No Jacob… What are we going to do? Lock them in the bedroom and listen to them scratch at the door for the rest of our lives? What if they escape? We would still have to kill them.” Michael shot back.

“I know.  We have to do something!  We can’t stay here any longer.  It’s been two days. I am starving.”  Jacob stumbled from the crates.

“We screwed up and left them in the house. What if they were still alive,” Michael snapped. “What if they are dead because we left?”

“Michael they were both bitten and we left them in the house for two days.  They are not alive. They tried to attack us multiple times. Our wives are dead.”

“Miracles happen,” Michael replied.

“Are you from this world?  When is the last time you saw a miracle?  Zombie apocalypse kind of killed any hope of miracles.  Look, I had to strangle Sharon with a metal close hanger. Do you want me to describe what that looked like! Zombie skin, putrid… Barbara is the only one left in the house.  We just need to get to the house, put her down and find something in the cabinets. We still have the girl’s rations.”

“Put her down? She is not a dog. I’m not even hungry,” Michael replied.

“Liar!  You would rather wallow out here in grief till we die of hunger then run into Barbara and face the fact that she is dead. I should just go out this door without you.”

Jacob rattled the garage door handle and banged loud enough to attract the nearest zombie.  Soon the blank stare and pale, naked eyes of a monster stared back’

“Look Michael it’s my neighbor John.  Hi John,” Jacob waved at the creature in the window.  When it didn’t respond he banged on the glass. “Hi John!”

“Stop,” Micheal said.  “You will attract more.”

“Do you think about her? Sharon?  The wife you strangled to death?”  

“Do you wonder if maybe she’s trapped inside her body?  Maybe they would find a cure and you just killed her?”

“She’s not,” Jacob snapped.  “I swear…Michael”. Jacob paused.  “Sharon tried to kill me. She slammed my head against a damn cabinet. Look at their eyes.  No human in there. They’re all dead. Everyone. Sharon is dead.  Barbara is dead.”

Michael walked into the darkness of the garage. He stood at a window at the side of the garage and looked outside.

“Morning should be appearing shortly.  We could wait till morning then go?” He offered.

“Why?  The zombies will hear us in the day and night.  No difference.”

“Fine… What’s your plan?

“I don’t have a plan.  All I know is we can’t stay here.”.

“Fine, I’ll get the door. You bang on the walls near the back of the garage to draw them away from the door.” Michael pushed past Jacob and grabbed the door handle.  Jacob growled but did as he was told. He banged on the back of the garage. When Michael was satisfied enough of the zombies were away from the door. He opened the door.

Jacob followed Michael from the garage.  They followed the house toward the back of the home.  At the first window Jacob stopped and looked inside. Michael continued to the next window and looked inside.

“She was in there.  Her perfect hair drenched in dark clumps of blood.”  He searched till he found Barbara. Her face long and drawn down. Her jaw slack and her arms to her side. She stood staring at a dining room wall.

Jacob watched the other zombies as Michael daydreamed. The zombie were blind, at least that was the assumption. The eyes were pale with a large cancerous colored orb in one or the other. The zombie hearing hadn’t changed from when they were human. Some heard better than others.

Michael watched within the window.  “Barbara,” he whispered.

She moved.  She brought up her right hand and brushed the hair from her face.  The outside world disappeared instantly. Barbara began to dance. She turned.  Her face was hidden behind long beautiful dark hair. She turned and turned again.  For a short time Barbara was alive, till Jacob stepped onto the heel of Michael’s shoe causing pain. Micheal lurched forward and banged his fist upon the glass window.

“My god, why did you have to do that,” Michael shouted. 

“Sorry, we need to go now, my pants are full of crap. I have a really bad feeling.”

“You crapped you’re pants?” Michael asked.

A large zombie approached from the front of the garage. Two more 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.

Jacob opened the back door and stepped inside.

“I don’t want to do this,” Michael insisted.

“This or die?” Jacob replied.

Michael closed the porch 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. Jacob disappeared within the doorway followed by Michael. Michael closed the door and locked it. and they both stepped into the kitchen. He turned the security bolt and added 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.

“I forgot we still had the baby gate, nice.” Michael said. “I do not want to kill Barbara, Jacob. I can’t do it.”

“You are going to have too. That gate is not going to stop her and she will kill us both.” Jacob replied.

“I am more worried about the Incredible Hulk right now than I am about Barbara. We need to block this door.”

“We got nothing to block the door,” Jacob replied.

“Are you joking? You talked me into jumping back into this house and you have nothing to block the back door.”

“I have a duffel in the walk in. I will fill that up with food and we can find a way out.” Jacob disappeared into the walk-in. Michael stared forward. His foot still wedged against the door. Barbara stepped forward and growled when she ran into the baby gate. Michael wanted to confront her. Talk to her. Reason with her.

“Who are you reasoning with,” he asked himself. “Barbara or some animal that wants to tear you to pieces.”

“Animal?” He asked. “An animal, at least has some animalistic instinct. It has some sense of intellect. This creature is just out to kill for what? Pleasure, doesn’t seem likely. Look at her face,” Micheal continued to ponder. “It’s blank, emotionless, dead… puppet-like.”

“A puppet? For who? God and his infinite cruelty? Is this some sort of omnipresent revenge plot…”

He watched as Barbara leapt forward almost tumbling over the knee-length gate. The back door shook and pain shot up through his ankle.

“Damn it,” Michael cursed. “Cursed world.”

He turned, grabbed a mop handle. Threw it through the window in the door. The glass shattered. The mop handle struck the zombie in the throat causing it to stumble backward and over the wooden porch railing. Michael growled. He grabbed what was left of the mop and tossed it through the porch. He found the toaster and threw it through the door. The coffee maker…

“Stop,” Jacob said standing nearby. “That coffee maker was a gift.”

“I don’t care,” Michael shouted and the coffee maker shattered when it missed the window and struck the kitchen wall. Michael paced the floor. The porch creaked as zombies, attracted by the noise, begin to step onto the porch.

“Do you really need to have a mental break, Michael… now!” Jacob shouted. “I think you woke up the whole neighborhood. Look there is John.”

“You always have jokes,” Michael shot back as he limped away from the door. “My wife is dead, your wife is dead. Our children long dead and this door is going to break and the neighbor is going to kill us.”

“Why are you not broken up over this? You killed your wife. I am staring at the rotten face of my wife.”

“Right now, you want to ask me that now? We spent three days in a garage alone and you ask me this, now when the world is crashing down on us. You’re an ass Michael.” Jacob frowned. “You think I’m not broken. I haven’t cried over anything since Gregory died. I killed my wife easily with a metal clothes hanger. If that’s not broken I don’t know what else I could be. Can you suck up your crap for a couple moments so we can get out of here. If you will not kill Barbara I will take care if it. We need to get out of this room.

“Touch here I will kill you with a clothes hanger!” Micheal replied, his voice shaking.

“That would require you moving past Barbara and going to the bedroom to get a hanger. At least we would be doing something other than arguing here with John staring at us from the doorway.”

“Your a mad man,” Micheal replied then approached his wife.

Barbara stood at the entrance to the kitchen reaching forward.

“She would be so pissed. She hated this baby gate.”

Micheal stood just outside her reach and stared at her. Her opaque brown eyes stared forward. Her thin face growled as she strained to reach over the gate.

“In the head, Micheal. From the side is the easiest,” Jacob offered. “Hurry up, they are getting this back door open because someone broke the window.”

Micheal pulled a kitchen knife from his pocket and stood with the blade up. He stretched his right hand forward. Barbara grabbed the blade and pulled it from his grip. Micheal struggled to free the knife from Barbara’s hand as the creature growled and swung her arms. Blood trickled down her thin hands as he attempted to free the knife from her grip. She gripped the blade tighter. Blood traced dark lines down the chrome blade. Michael grabbed Barbara’s arm and she drew him closer to her open mouth. Michael let her arm go and stumbled back. He grabbed her arm again and released it.

“Are you going to stab her or dance with her,” Jacob commented. “She has my knife,” Michael replied.

“If she draws your blood you will be without a wife and a friend.” Jacob said then shoved Michael to the side.  He struck Barbara with a kitchen chair, digging a corner leg into the infected woman’s left shoulder. The weight of the chair melted quickly through the rotting muscle.  Barbara fell backward taking the chair with her. Jacob leapt over the baby gate and knelt on the chair.

Barbara pushed upward on the chair with her free right hand. Jacob set his feet on her left side and pushed back.

“Michael please…”

The back door opened with a crash. John and the other zombies stood for a moment then roared forward. Michael leapt over the gate. He stared at his wife trapped beneath the chair. Michael watched as Barbara seemed too care little about the chair in her shoulder and more about attempting to bite his brother Jacob.

Jacob leapt from the chair and grabbed the large living room couch. He pulled and pushed the furniture till it blocked the kitchen doorway. Michael knelt upon the chair and stared down at his wife.

“Twenty years, Barbara. Fifteen of those years locked in marital warfare. Now, look at us. Some creature staring at me from under a chair.”

“Christ, Micheal this isn’t that hard.” Jacob shouted. “This couch is not doing crap. They just knocked over the baby gate.”

“Kill her!” He shouted. “Brother, I am running really short of patience and time.”

Michael stepped from the chair and Barbara attempted to sit up. She lunged in his direction. Michael fell backward. Stood and pressed her to the floor with his boot. He pressed the knife into her soft flesh and waited for her to stop moving.”

“They are moving around the couch,” Jacob said.

Michael stood and faced the mob. Jacob handed him an aluminum bat. Michael swung at the closest zombie and connected with the bat.  The zombie stumbled to the side and knocked over a second.

A zombie pushed through the crowd.  He struck the couch and fell. The couch moved but it held the others back.

“Remember those… fun little movies we used to watch from this couch 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,” Jacob said.

Michael squelched when thin boney fingers dug into his left arm. The daggers had reached upward from the corner of the couch. 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. A second zombie pushed forward and reached toward Michael.  Jacob swung. He struck the zombie and the zombie collapsed.

Michael grasp his arm. Blood traced trails down his pale wrist. Something grabbed his left ankle and Michael froze. He looked down and shouted. “Jacob, she has my legs. “Barbara, her face unrecognizable had a hold of his right leg.

“Get her off my leg!!”

Jacob watched as Barbara sat motionless on the floor three feet from Michael. “She’s not on your leg. She is dead,” Jacob shot back.  “She’s not moving.”

Michael pulled the sharp fingers from his forearm.  He retrieved the bat from the floor.  He shoved the couch against the wall. Jerked his ankle from Barbara’s perceived grasp. Jacob grabbed Barbara’s blood soaked dress and pulled her away.

“Michael, you’re losing it,” Jacob stated. “Seriously thought I would be having the problems in this house.”

The couch slid upon the floor. The zombies began to filter through.

“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.

The front door was on the other side of the room but it led to a certain death 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 far wall.

”Maybe, we should hide in the closet.”  Michael smiled.

“Dude, not that.  Not now. Let’s block this doorway of the bedroom,” 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.

The men flipped up the frame and pushed it against the bedding.  Jacob grabbed a towel from the closet in the right rear of the room.

Michael stood with his back against the mattress and frame. 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.

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.  Jacob struggled to manage his end and Michael’s end fell. Zombies fell over the bed and tumbled into the room.  Jacob glared at Michael. Michael attempted to readjust the wall but the damage was done.

Jacob wrestled with the bed frame to keep the other pair out.  He watched as the two zombies cleared their heads 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 pointed the bat.  A zombie 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.  Jacob struggled to contain the other with the faltering mattress wall. The room constricted as the pair approached. One on the right and the other near the center of the room.

“The window, we can go out the window!” Jacob shouted.

“No way, it will attract more from outside. We will never make it through without being mauled,” Michael replied.

Jacob shoved the mattress a final time followed by Micheal. The men then peered out the window, into the darkness.

“I can’t see a damn thing, it’s still dark.”

“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, 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 and slid 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 we’re 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.”

“Now what!”

“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.”

“Yeah, in memory of the state. Now it is part of the Northeast territory.”

Michael struck another zombie with his fist. The zombie stared forward, as the right side of its head collapsed. 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 its body forward. Its rubbery arms flailed. Jacob and the zombie collided. The zombie’s head snapped forward. It’s right eye hid behind its boney socket. Its 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 ears. 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 lifted the body and moved it.

“Dammit Michael your not the only one that’s done with this crap. My god how much can I put up with. I’m done Michael!” Jacob replied.

“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. We just gotten live.”

Jacob shoved Michael’s hands away but his knees sank. Michael grabbed Jacob before he fell. “Jacob don’t be an idiot, 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.

“The closet…”

“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. 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. A zombie stepped forward and screamed. A guttural noise full of anger. Jacob felt hopeless as the creature lunged forward. Its 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 clothing into the zombie. He pushed the creature and it tumbled backward. Jacob grabbed the closet door and closed it.

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 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. Its shaded, murderous jaws chomped at the air. Micheal pushed the rod into the zombie’s face pushed it 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 that 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. 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 screamed, 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.

Jacob woke up first, half buried in dirt and with his brother’s feet in his face. His face felt as if someone has superglued half of it together with rocks and other crap. He looked up at the bottom of the house. The jagged escape hole was covered in debris. Jacob could hear movement above the debris.

“Wake up, Michael.” Jacob said as he shoved his brother. “We made it. Wake the hell up!”

Jacob shoved Michael again. Michael growled.

“Get the hell up, you lazy, fat tart.”

Michael growled again and Jacob began to shake from the inside out.

“No… no.. no. Michael you stupid ass. You will get the hell up. You will not be dead. Get up!”

Jacob shoved Michael again. Michael stood on his hands and attempted to stand slamming his head upon the floor of the house. Jacob slid backward as fast as he could. Michael turned his head. His face pale and contorted in anger. Michael’s grey eyes turned to Jacob and he begin to crawl.