Zombie Suicide — The Rescue

“This little girl had blue eyes and fear on her face. For the moment, Erik’s desire to end his life stopped. All thoughts of that disappeared till he could figure out how to get this girl out and why she sat in the car to begin with.”

 The zombies banged on the driver’s-side windows till the window in the front burst.  The zombie scrambled to fit through the window.  It was halfway through the window when Erik suddenly opened the passenger front door. Erik  screamed to get their attention.  Both zombies stopped, for a moment then the zombie in the back of the Prius lept forward toward Erik.  Erik closed the door and opened the back door.  He grabbed the girl by the shirt and pulled her out of the car.  

“Run,” he said to the stunned girl as she fell behind him but she sat like a stone.  

“What is wrong with you.”  A zombie grabbed his shoulder.  The grip was overwhelming.  The muscles in his shoulder screamed.  To look into the eyes of a zombie is to look into hell itself, he thought as this beast opened his extended jaw.  Erik spun and broke the grip of the zombie and grabbed the girl by the hand.  He circled around the zombie as it watched.  Erik headed for the Mustang but it sat on the other side of the Prius.  The zombie that had busted the window would be there.  The girl saw it first and stopped immediately.  Erik crept forward not realizing he had lost her behind him.  This zombie stood a foot taller then him and was dressed in a suit and pink tie.  

“A pink tie?”  He thought as father’s day gifts ran quickly through his head.  Erik crept slowly around a burned out truck and watched as the zombie followed.  He crept a little further then realized the girl was gone.  He looked behind him and she stood like a statue in the middle of Michigan avenue.  The other zombie, the one with the death grip, walked slowly up to her.  

“What are you doing, you stupid girl?”  I really don’t give a damn if your scared move!”  The girl stood, her eyes shifting wildly.  “Its going to get you, move!” Erik pleaded.  The girl’s eyes suddenly got bigger and Erik spun around. The zombie with the pink tie stood within a foot of him.  Erik ran toward the Mustang.  Leapt for the pistol in the passenger seat.  He turned.  He fired and missed.  The girl screamed. Ran toward Erik as he fired another shot.  The shot hit the zombie just over its left eye.  It fell immediately.  The girl sobbed.  Erik ran to her, grabbed her and placed her into the passenger seat of the Mustang.  The girl screamed but she stayed in the car.  Erik raced to the drivers seat, shooting the other Prius zombie in the head as he did so.  The Mustang roared as Erik hit the gas and turned the car around.  This girl didn’t need to be here, he thought and was determined to take her to the gate. 

Zombie Suicide — The Road Ahead

Erik stopped in the center of what used to be Michigan Avenue and turned off the engine. The road ahead was unkept after six years of neglect.  The designers of the wall around South Kingsboro ensured that a mile stood between the kaleidoscope of destruction and the large city center of South Kingsboro.  Before the infection, the city held around 500,000 residents.  Now, the city is a dumping ground for the infected.  Of course, occasional idiots that want to kill them self are also welcome.

Erik stared out the front window of the Mustang.  The city sits quietly in front of him.  Cars litter the road ahead. Erik assumes the cars have stopped where the beasts feed on them.

nothing moved anywhere within hearing distance.  No animal life or birds.  The wind seemed to even skirt around the city.  A scene from a disaster movie sat in front of him.  Two rows of cars heading toward him and another two heading away from him.  Each row a jagged line of empty metal shells.  There was no clear way to stay on the avenue if he wanted to drive to the center of Kingboro.  Erik stared in front of him then at his bag of belongings.  The first thought, “should I eat before I end my life?”

“Of course you should,” shouted that familier voice within his head, “you dope.  If you are going to kill yourself you might as well have the strength to fight off a couple of them.”

No argument there, Erik thought.  The left-overs would have to be first but when he opened the aged meat and potatoes they showed their age.  Erik tossed the whole container out onto the grass scribbled road.  The smell of the rotten meat pinced his nose before it left his hands.  He searched the bag and found a pair of less-then-frozen pot pies.  Eating them cold would suck but he didn’t exactly have a microwave available.  A fork sat on the bottom of the bag and he grabbed it and ate the pies.  When he finished he tossed the trash out onto the road.  Thats when he noticed the first zombie.  A woman, her arms holding her head and partial torso above the broken asphalt.  She dragged what Erik could only guess was entrails behind her though they were blackened and dirty.  She stood over the discarded meat and potatoes eying it like a famine-laden child.  Erik hadn’t expected to attract attention so quickly.  He was still half mile outside the entrance of Kingsboro.

“Gut-check time,” he thought as he searched the area around the Mustang for more but all was quiet.  He seemed to only attract this one disabled zombie.

The questions were all there, “Where did she come from?”   “How long has she been waiting for food?”  “What did she do before she was a zombie?”  This creature was to be Erik’s nemisis till death.  A creature that scavenged for food desperately while struggling to stand on two hands.   Her face and hair was remarkably preserved.  She was an attractive woman in her time.  Her clothes, presumably a blue blouse, was ripped open and draped over her shoulders.  It revealed a belly that was thin but scarred.  The scars followed down her belly to her partial waist then ended in a black mass of congealed blood.  Her body ended with a long rope-like black mass with items hung upon it like grapes on a vine.  It was a disgusting showing of the power wielded by the Creator, how possibly this creature could still be alive.

Erik placed the fork, he had used to eat the cold pies, into his bag and zipped it up.  He started the Mustang and the powerful 271 horse-power engine startled the zombie while she ate.  She stared at Erik as a chill tickled his spine.

“What if he just woke up a dozen other zombies?”  He thought.  “What if this was now his time to fight to end his life?”  Erik slowly placed the Mustang in reverse and rolled away from the partial zombie and found a clearing that allowed him to go around the pile up of cars that blocked his way.  Beyond the pile up was a quarter-mile stretch of road unblocked by a mass of cars.  Erik exited the grass median and drove slowly down the broken road.  Cars sat quietly on one side of the road or the other none blocking his slow progress.  It wasn’t until he stopped the Mustang to clear some debris from his path when he realized the zombies were trapped in the cars.  A pair of zombies, one in the front seat and one in the back, banged on the glass windows of a Prius that sat next to him.  They screamed, muffled by the glass.  Erik tossed the debris off the road when he noticed something strange within the back seat of the car.

A small girl, no older then 10 sat perfectly still in the back seat.  Erik could see the fear in her eyes through the filthy windows.  She wasn’t frothing at the mouth to get at him.  She sat still staring at him.

“This is not real,” he thought and walked around the Prius to the other side.  He looked in the window, careful not to attract the attention of the zombies that still banged on the windows.  The little girl still sat staring out the other window and Erik was about to walk away with the assumption that she was truly dead when she moved her head.  Slowly, she turned toward him keeping her body perfectly still.  When her eyes met his he saw life.  Not the dead white orbs that the partial zombie had or the ones on the other side had.  This little girl had blue eyes and fear on her face.  For the moment, Erik’s desire to end his life stopped.  All thoughts of that disappeared till he could figure out how to get this girl out and why she sat in the car to begin with.

Suicide by Zombie — The Wall

The worst feeling in the world is watching your wife leave to visit her new boyfriend.  Erik thought he’d done a good job standing beside his wife as she struggled to fit into what he believed was an awesome marriage.  The scene played out vivid and loud till she was finally gone.  Erik decided he’d had enough.  He packed up a small gym bag with a couple days clothes and all the food from the refrigerator.  Even the mustard, mayonnaise and last weeks Wednesday dinner sat uncomfortably within the bag.  When he finished with the food he grabbed the bottle of Southern Comfort saved for this occasion and took a swallow.  The syrup-colored liquid paused near the center of his throat and burned.  Erik relished the burn as it finally sank down into his depressed organs.

His car, an impressive 1965 Mustang, sat in the driveway waiting to take him to the end of the world.  No one polished their cars anymore, even the classics.  They had far bigger things to worry about but Erik spent three days scrounging for wax and soap from the busted shops and home around West Lincoln Rd.  He didn’t care that a city of horror sat behind a tall stone wall on the south-side of Kingsboro.  Nor, did he care what horror would breach the wall as he drove closer to it.

“That’s right,” he told his terrified conscious, “I’m going to walk through the gate, and stand in the center of hell and let them take me.”  He then swallowed another mouthful of Southern Comfort and sat in the driver’s seat.  The whiskey swirled through his body as he navigated through the wreckage of Kingsboro till he approached the wall.  It was a 15- foot high megalith of a barrier.  Made quickly of stone and concrete, anything that could be found to build it.  It was like a kaleidoscope of disastrous prevention.  He turned the wheel left and followed the wall.  Brown, Green and red paint mixed with stones.  The memories of a previous time secured into a barrier.  On the top of the wall sat automated weapons that moved occasionally with the slightest of movement on the other-side of the wall.  Suddenly, from within his conscious screamed.  It had enough and was attempting to stop him.  Erik stopped the Mustang, the entrance appeared a short distance away.  He sat quietly negotiating with an obnoxious voice of reason.  “It may be crazy, what he’s doing,” he reasoned, “but it had to be done.”

With his conscious quiet he moved the Mustang forward, hitting the gas a little hard and almost thrusting the right-side of the car against the wall.  Luckily, he recovered but sadly this attracted the attention of the guards at the gate and they began to approach.

“Well, it had to happen , eventually,” he reasoned.

He did have a plan B, sitting under the drivers seat.  The .45 was polished, cleaned and loaded like everything else.

The first guard walked up to the beautiful machine admiring it like an attractive woman.  “What are you doing?” He asked, his tone jealous.

“I want to go inside,” Erik said with a terse smile. The guard smiled back.  His companion, standing by the gate, quickly flipped up a cellphone and started dialing.

“Sargent..” the companion began but the first guard waved him off and he ended the call.

The first guard began to negotiate a settlement.

“I will let you in if you give me your car.”

“Really,” said Erik. “No”.

“That is my best and final offer,” said the guard smiling.

“I have 200 dollars for entrance to the other side of the wall,” said Erik

The guard thought quietly and discussed it with a set of telling looks to his companion.  Erik could tell that this was not going to end well.  He pushed the .45 from under the front seat.  He leaned to pick it up but the guard interrupted him.

“Ok, we will let you in for $200 dollars.”

Erik smiled and handed the guard a wallet.  “Credit cards too, take them and spend what you want, I don’t care,” he added.

The guard smiled and stepped away.  Erik eyed them carefully as he pulled up to the gate.  The guards followed.  The guard’s companion had joined him as he discussed the situation.  Erik grabbed the .45.  It sat at his side while the guards talked behind him.  The first guard approached.  His footsteps heavy in the loose stone below them.  Erik leaned to the right as a rifle blow just missed his head.  Quickly, he grabbed the .45 and fired a round that took half the guard’s ear off.  The guard fell away.  Erik quickly opened the driver’s door, but stumbled as the whiskey settled into his knees.  He grabbed the young guard by his blue uniform and put the .45 into his open mouth.

The other guard stood motionless.  “Likely crapping his pants,” Erik thought.  “Open the goddamn, gate you punk kid,” Erik threatened.  The guard’s companion complied. 

“Didn’t think I could move that fast, did you,” Erik said to the first guard.  He then stepped back into the Mustang with the first guard bent toward him bleeding onto the steering wheel and floor.  “Your bleeding on my car,” Erik growled and pulled the Mustang forward.  The guard struggled to shuffle sideways but Erik didn’t care.  He past the guard’s companion and entered the gate.  He released the guard and hit the gas.  The Mustang roared to life.  Erik expected to dodge bullets but none came.  He had finally fulfilled part one of suicide by zombie.

New Approach to Finish this beast..Part 1

Erik Sears is a veteran of Iraq. While in Iraq he discovers the Creator’s stone. The stone saves his life and he packs it away in his pocket. A month later, limping and home Erik discovers that his wife was killed just hours before. Distraught Erik applies the stone to his wife’s body but something goes wrong. Erik’s wife wakes but is not alive. She hungers for the life force of the living. Erik runs, escaping the carnage that he started. The plague kills thousands but Erik escapes with his life. The Army steps in and surrounds Kingsboro. They put up a fence around the city which eventually becomes a ten foot tall automated, weaponized wall. Erik leaves part 1 a broken man living on the street.

8 foot tall and Undead Proof

The first indication that you are approaching a zombie-infested area in the city is not the smell but the birds.  The monstrous,  black vultures hover over the city like guards patrolling a prison.  Kingboro always had these birds.  You could catch one or two circling around above the tall office buildings but they never did a thing but circle.  The city did a pretty good job of cleaning up after itself when something died.

November 11th changed everything.  The city of Kingsboro, a large metropolis of life, wouldn’t but knocked to its knees it would be destroyed by the very people that used to live in it.  The city known for its Indian casinos, sports stadiums and medical research firms would be left to rot while the rest of the world ran from it.  It began in a small research facility.  Rising from the epic center of the event the undead multiplied at an overwhelming rate.  They took over the small research firm within hours.  The doors of the firm were locked down but the windows were not.  The undead threw themselves out the windows and wandered outward toward the city.  An unsuspecting delivery man was the next victim while also leaving the gate to the compound open.  In the next 24 hours the population of the city shrank as people fled the city.  The undead population grew until only the unfortunate were left.  The city itself, the office buildings and local restaurants contained only 25% of the city population but the casualties were high.  Nearly 5,000 people lost their lives and another several hundred were trapped and hiding.

Two years later the city is surrounded by two 8 foot razor-wire fences and guards posted at every entrance.  Staked every 20  feet is a remote controlled machine gun that can cut a man in half in a second.  It took the federal government 2 weeks to build and guard the fence around the city of Kingsboro.  An amazing feat of muscle from a government known to delay everything.  While the fence went up the remaining residents outside the city pulled all night vigils to keep the undead within the proposed border and away from the rest of the city.  All that time residents were fighting for their lives as undead residents fought to take their life.

The city counsel split the city in two naming the fenced-in part of the city New Kingsboro.  Due to chaos in other parts of the country Kingsboro and its new neighbor were left to fend for itself and developed new rules to take advantage of less space and more crime.  New Kingsboro became a prison and habitat for the unwanted residents.  Deputized and updeputized crews of men patrolled the city for undesirables and threw them into the gates of New Kingsboro. Any sort of advances in human rights disappeared.  Thousands of people dealing with the pain of losing whole family’s took it out on those that fell too the bottom rungs of society.

Midnight Snack

“Outside, Kali suddenly heard movement. This was not the shuffle-shuffle of zombies. It was a single individual with quiet steps.”
The quiet steps were then followed by several others, they seemed to appear from nowhere. Like they had jumped from outside of ear-shot to in front of the garage. Kali could hear the muffled whispers of people talking.
“Where did they go,” said one voice, sounding like a boy slightly older then Kali.
“We have to find them, Aaron is already pissed we wasted another day getting off on zombie blood, said another.
Kali’s heart jumped when the young boy mentioned the garage but the others, sounded like four others, dismissed it and then leapt onto the house. The windows on the second-story were unblocked and Kali heard the windows breaking and laughter followed by screaming. Kali stood, her eyes barely reaching the high windows on the garage door, could see several figures with wings walking around upon the house. It was likely the vampire-looking creatures they had came across earlier but they sounded and looked very much unsure of themselves unlike the vampires in movies. They paced outside the busted second-story windows as women screamed inside the house. Kali looked over, with hopes that Erik heard the commotion but he was still asleep and the nurse still lay bloody on the concrete floor. Kali looked out the window again only to crouch quickly when a figure leapt up to look in from the other side. “Hopefully,” she thought, “he didn’t see her.”
“Hey, guys I think I found her,” said the young voice to the others on the roof.
“Doesn’t matter, ” said one of the others, “we have fresh meals all in this house. Tony says its a safe house. Let’s go.”
“..but guys,” the young voice protested.
“Come on, dumbass. If you did find her they won’t go very far. Their stuck in a garage.”
“Fine but its your ass.” Kali watched as a young man, not too much older then her leapt from the ground and onto the first-story roof of the house. He then disappeared threw the broken window. The others followed and Kali had to wake Erik.

History lesson

The banging eventually stopped when the zombies outside finally realized that a midmight snack was not going to be easy to gobble up.  Kali sat quietly against the cold aluminun garage door while Erik snored loudly in the corner next to her.  She was sure several of the nasal fits from Erik would of alerted the zombies outside but they didn’t.  The zombie nurse lay in the center of the garage the moonlight lit her face in an earie glow so that it looked as if her glazed over eyes were peering right at Kali.  At this point though, she was too frightened to move.  As bad, as her parents had been she missed them terribly.  The constant battles with the law, the excitement of the next big scam.  It was a life that left little time for reflection and Kali was often the one that was left to move quickly without thinking.  She being the youngest of the family she was told last and at the very worst moment.  She knew how to deal with a crisis and this one was no different. 

The last thing her parents choose to do was the most exciting of all the things they had done in the past.  They stole a small stone from a house on Mccain Rd, in downtown Kingsboro.  Apparently, it was the very thing that started the problem with the zombies.  From what she was told the stone had mystical properties it could create life or destroy it apparently.  The story, as told by her late sister was that a soldier found the stone in Iraq.  When he returned from Iraq he found his wife had been murdered only two hours before he arrived back in the city.  He took the stone with him to the viewing of the body and woke her from the dead.  After that the infection spread through the morgue then the hospital around it.  The rumors stated it was a research mistake but they were wrong. 

Outside, Kali suddenly heard movement.  This was not the shuffle-shuffle of zombies.  It was a single individual with quiet steps.

Introductions

Erik ran over to the open door and noticed four zombies all wandering toward the garage.  He closed the door hard and luckily it had a lock that worked.  With the door shut and the evening light fading it was difficult to see anything inside the garage.  “They are going to bust they door down,” Eric said to noone in particular, “I need to find something to brace the door so we can at least be safe for the night.  He looked at Kali, who stood unmoving against the garage door.  He followed her gaze back to the zombie nurse who laid dead on the concrete floor.  “I’m afraid we are stuck with nurse Betty for the night.”  He smiled and Kali smiled back for a short while then walked toward the far end of the garage door. 

“There has got to be some tools in here and something to block the door.”  Erik started at the back of the garage and moved toward the garage door.  He could only see faint shadows but he managed to find a hammer and a large sheet of plywood.  While searching for a box of nails Erik found a half empty bottle of Kentucky whiskey.  He picked up the bottle and opened it, took a swallow and shook of the sting as it slide down his parched throat.  Behind the bottle he found the box of nails.  “Alright kid we are going to be alright, tonight,” he said confidently as he walked over to the garage door and laid the plywood against it.  He jumped back, almost lossing his new bottle of whiskey when the door knob began to move but the door held tight.  “We have to do better then this,” Erik thought and remembered the ax buried in the nurse zombie.  Kali cringed as Erik wriggled the ax from the zombies shoulder till finally freeing it with a stomach churning pop.  Erik cleaned off the ax, on what was left of the nurses blouse, and picked up the plywood against the door. 

After a few swings and a few more swigs of whiskey Erik slid the plywood behind the door handle and nailed it down.  The whiskey began to take hold of his motor functions after about 30 minutes and Kali watched as he struggled to smash in the last few nails.  Kali had seen all this before.  Her father was no saint.  Twice convicted of driving under the influence her father had a reputation of being the worse of the worse.  “He had robbed every bank in Kingsboro twice,” he bragged once to her.  The problem was her father was a good father but a terrible person.  She knew that her rescuer was just as out of touch with reality as her father.  An alchoholic, completely obvious with how quickly he finished off the whiskey, but also not a bad guy when it came to protecting her.  Erik finished nailing up the door, while zombies continued to try and open the door.  He walked, with a slight kant over to her and sat on the floor next to a broom which promptly hit him in the head.  Kali smiled a bit larger then before and slid to the floor. 

“So, little girl,” said Erik, “What is your name?”

“Kali,” she said quietly.

“Nice name, My name is Erik…sorry you have to be stuck with an old drunk in a garage surrounded by zombies.”

“Its ok,” Kali said then jumped when the zombie’s began pounding on the door.

“Stomp pounding on the door you idiots,” shouted Erik, the whiskey bending each sylable so that it sounded like he spoke in a bubble.

“You can’t get in..when Erik Sears makes a door he frickn makes a door that you can’t use.”  Erik laughed and Kali smiled politely still uneasy with her new companion but glad to be alive.

The house the zombie’s built

–“Shit,” Erik said as Kali began to scream.  Erik quickly freed his arm and covered her mouth but one of the winged creatures had heard her shorten cry and began to approach the Prius.  Luckily, a zombie breached the perimeter and distracted him.  “We have to get out of here,”  Eric said quietly.–

Beginning of Chapter 2 —

Erik watched as the winged creature fought with the zombie.  The zombie, a large pale man, (likely a steel worker of someone of a simular occupation) actually seemed to have the upper-hand.  With all the over-powering strength the winged creatures seemed to have over the zombies this zombie seemed to have it matched.  The zombie managed to perry a swing from the winged creature and grab ahold of the thin membrane that allowed it to fly.  The steel worker zombie tore the thin membrane and then grabbed hold of the winged creatures hand when it was slow to fight back.  The steel worker zombie bit hard on the forearm and the winged creature screamed in pain.   The other winged creatures, seeing that one of them had been attacked,  left the zombie victims wriggling on the concrete and collected around the large steel worker zombie. Collectively, their combined strength overwhelmed the zombie and he fell away from the Prius.   

“Let’s go now!” Erik said as he pushed Kali to the door.  Kali fumbled with the door handle and Erik reached over her and opened the door for her.  He pushed the door outward and both crawled slowly out of the Prius.  The commotion out in front of the car seemed to keep the creatures distracted.  A few zombies stumbled past Erik and Kali but they seemed too focused on the commotion to notice.  Ahead of them was a patch of green grass, a fence and then a house.  

Erik and Kali ran from the Prius, leaving the commotion and death behind.  The fence in front of them was up but to the right it had been knocked over.  They headed that way.  A zombie, frail and old stood in their way.  Erik planted his foot on the zombie’s chest and pushed knocking it down a small incline into a drainage ditch.  He and Kali began over the fence when he looked back.

“My beer, I frigg’n left my beer in the Mustang,” the thought of going back that way was fleeting though and he climbed over the fallen fence after Kali.  On the other side of the fence they both stopped and took a breath.  A few zombies roamed around oblivious to the new meal staring at them.  They seemed to be blind for the most part using the other senses to find food.  Erik took Kali by the hand and they walked quietly toward the two story house across the street. 

The house was a small duplex.  It had dirty, white shingles and an over-grown lawn but the first-floor windows and doors were boarded up.  It was a sure sign that someone had at least lived there recently.  Maybe they still lived there.  Erik and Kali approached the house cautiously, aware that a zombie could appear from behind any corner.  Erik tugged at the large piece of plywood covering the front doors and windows but they didn’t budge.  “Whoever put these up put them up well,” he said to himself.  Erik took Kali by the hand and lead her toward the back of the house looking for a way to enter.  Every window was covered but the windows on the second floor and the basement windows.  The second floor windows were too high and the basement windows were too small.  “You think you could fit in those windows?”  Erik asked quietly.  Kali quietly shrugged and Erik dropped the subject.  A garage, with an open side door stood beside the house.  “Maybe we can find a ladder,” Erik said.  Erik kept Kali behind him ready for any zombie to met them at the door but nothing happened.  The garage was dark and the lights did not work.  A zombie or two could still be hiding somewhere inside but in order to get into the house they needed a ladder.  A ladder tall enough to reach the roof of the front porch stood against a dark wall.  Erik warned Kali to stay against the large metal garage door and tell him if she saw anything.  She did as she was told and Erik approached the ladder.  An ax stood in front of the ladder and Erik moved it quietly, taking note so he would remember to come back for it.  The ladder seemed to be attached to the wall by bungie so Erik unhooked one then the other.  The ladder jerked forward and fell hard to the ground.  Erik jumped back and cringed when the aluminum crashed onto the concrete floor of the garage. 

“Son of a bitch,” Erik swore as he picked it up and set it back against the wall.  Once he placed it on the wall Kali screamed and Erik’s knees fell out from under him.  “Damnit,” Erik looked and a zombie shuffled from the opposite side of the garage.  It headed right for Kali.  Erik grabbed the ax and stood in front of Kali ready to strike.  Through the dim light of the garage door windows Erik could see that this zombie was dressed as a nurse.  It’s blue blouse tore around the breast.  “An attractive sight if it were alive,” thought Erik but of course it wasn’t and Erik had to kill it to protect himself and his new kid.  Erik heaved the ax and brought it down right across the right shoulder and into the spine severing several important arteries to the brain.  The zombie fell dead in the center of the garage and Erik quickly heard shuffling from outside the garage.

Charlie updated

The sun stood staring down from its mid-day perch. Larry walked across his small yard with a fishing pole on his shoulder and two smaller ones in his left hand. Erica, a blond explosion of energy bounded around him while Robert moped several feet behind both of them.

“Why do we have to do this again,” Robert said.

“Because I don’t get to take much time off anymore. This new job takes a lot out of me.”

“Are we going to catch Charlie today, Daddy?” Asked Erica as she raced ahead.

“I think we are, darling. Today is the day.”

“You say that every time, Dad.” Said Robert as he reluctantly took one of the smaller poles from his father.

“I say it everyday because one of these days I’m going to be right.” Larry smiled widely. He beamed down at his son and watched as his young daughter danced around the small pond behind his house.

Robert reluctantly threw out his line and waited impatiently. Something tugged on his pole bringing it inches from the water. Larry dropped his pole and grabbed Robert’s pole. They both pulled with everything they had till finally the fabled fish leapt from the pond.

“Oh my God, ” said Robert as he flashed a smile and watched. Larry quickly grabbed the fish and looked it over. Two long blue lines ran along the sides of the fish. Its remaining scales glistened in the sunlight. It was a beautiful beast. Larry unhooked the fish and threw it back in the water.

Several years later Larry Price sat staring at the telephone. He was wishing for it to ring. Wishing for someone to tell him where his daughter was. His life had taken a turn for the outrageous. He wife left him after 15 years. His son left with her and his daughter went missing three months ago. She would of been sixteen-years old today. She had been out fishing behind the house when she went missing. When Catherine, his wife, left Larry began drinking heavily. Erica took care of him dispite of her mother’s opinion on the matter. She left their only daughter in the hands of an irresponsible wreck of a man. “He should of been out there with her,” he thought as he downed the rest of glass of whiskey and filled it again.

Larry was still the authorities prime suspect for the disappearance. They approached Larry’s small trailer and opened the door. Larry looked at them and passed out. He woke up in a cell. The police had laid him out upon the small bed within it. Around 10 o’clock they woke him and lead him to an interrogation room. They interviewed him and screamed at him. They knew Larry had done something to his daughter. They assumed this downtrodden man would confess to everything but Larry was too lost in himself. Lost in grief he didn’t care what they did to him. He almost confessed when his son stepped in to declare his father innocent. Robert hired a lawyer and got his father released from custody. He drove him home and helped him into bed.
“Dad, ” Robert said sadly. “You need to straighten up. You almost confessed to murder. Are you that ready to give up on Erica?”
“I am,” Larry paused.
“You can’t give up on Erica,” Robert pleaded but Larry told him it was over.
Robert stayed for several more hours then left. Larry concluded, before he slept, that he would wake up in the morning and decide what to do to end his life.

Something crashed loudly outside Larry’s house. He woke up with a start and sat up in bed. He could clearly hear something moving through his yard. The likelihood of a stray dog in this neighborhood was extremely high so Larry ignored it and went back to sleep.

Morning came very early. A column of light burned Larry’s face as he laid in bed. He opened his eyes and realized glass from his bedroom window was thrown all over the end of his bed. The blanket, that served as a curtain, sat on the floor. The first thought to enter his mind was neighbor kids but it wasn’t likely. They avoided his house like the plague. He carefully moved his feet off the bed. He got up and carefully looked out the window.

Something had made a mess of his yard. It looked like an animal of some sort. Large claw marks under torn gray siding told him that. The ground was moist from a recent rain and Larry noticed a human-sized trail of mud leading to the marsh. It looked-as-if someone had been dragged. Larry got dressed and almost fell from his front door. Something had shoved his stairs from the door and it laid against his truck. Larry jumped from his trailer and pulled the stairs back under his door. Larry found the trail of mud beside his house and followed it till it disappeared into the pond.

Expecting to see a body Larry approached the water carefully. The pond was deeper then it looked. Larry had fallen in it several times over the years. Nothing stirred within the water. Larry stared into the mysterious pond for several more minutes when nothing showed up he left.

It was Sunday and God was waiting. Larry got dressed, left his house and slowly crept into his truck. He stared again at the pond and caught a glimpse of something swimming near the surface. A little bit of hope, and a slight smile surfaced. Charlie was back, he thought as his stepped out of his truck. He grabbed his fishing pole and worms and walked back to the pond.

Larry strung up the worm and cast the pole into the center of the pond. Immediately, Charlie took the bait and Larry braced himself against a tree. Charlie pulled. Larry pulled but neither would give. Larry pulled hard, conscious that he may snap the line. He was going to win this fight. Charlie pulled back and nearly tore the pole from Larry’s hands. His arthritis ached and his back screamed but Larry held his ground. There was little chance Charlie was getting away this time.

That was until Charlie leapt from the pond and Larry dropped the pole. It wasn’t the Charlie he’s seen years ago. It had a long cylindrical body and a large tail, fanned out like a peacock’s plume. It had a human head which disappeared behind a long crop of black hair. It reentered the pond and sank into its depths. Larry’s fishing pole began to slide toward the water. He grabbed the pole and walked around the biggest tree he could find. If he was going to lose his line it wouldn’t be without a fight.

He went around the tree three times. He held the pole as hard as the arthritis in his joints would let him. He waited and he waited but nothing pulled on the line. It sat limp in the water. Again life and hope drained from his face as he realized that his magnificent catch disappeared.

Larry left the pole lying against the tree, he hung his head and went to church.

Larry returned a couple hours later. He had started drinking after church and continued until dark. He woke up on the couch in the middle of the night because of a crash outside the house. He sat up slowly, his head full of marbles. He stood only to sit again. Another crash started him and then the distinctive sound of someone crushing his metal trash cans.

“Get out of here!” He shouted loudly the noise echoing between his ears. He stood and shuffled to the door. He opened the door and began to shout again but stopped. The beast from the pond sat upon his trash cans. Its long black hair covering its face.

“What the hell are you?” He asked not expecting it to respond. The beast flipped its black mane from its face to reveal someone familiar.

“Erica?”

The beast turned and sped back to the pond. It slithered like a snake holding a human, up and in its grasp. Larry stepped from his trailer and fell hard to the ground. He woke up late Monday morning with a welt over his left temple and dried blood pasted to his face.

“I saw Erica last night.” Larry said confidently as he stepped into work.

“I’m sure you did.” Laughed the foreman. A greased up, pig of a man. ” You were likely wasted again like you always are…” He laughed again. “…but your the best damn worker I got. I don’t know how you do it.”

“I’m sure I could answer that”, Larry thought but declined to sink back into his familiar stupor. He felt good today, even with the noticeable lump on his face. He happily fielded questions about it with a reply including he had found his daughter. Most were happy for him until he included what had happened to him last night.

Larry fought with the foreman to let him leave after eight hours. Larry hadn’t worked less then ten in 6 months. Finally, the foreman took him aside and asked if he was alright. “The men are all taking about you and this fish story of yours. They say you have finally lost your mind.”

“I haven’t lost my mind,” Larry said with a smile.

“My God, Lawrence I haven’t seen you smile so brightly in seven years. Why don’t you take a few days off.”

“I would be happy to.” Larry said confidently and left.

It was ten o’clock and dark as sin. The old headlights on his truck barely illuminated the road ahead but Larry was wide awake and more alert then he’d ever been.

The drive home went quickly. He passed the bar that he frequented every night and pulled the truck into his driveway. He scanned his yard like a kid at Christmas but didn’t see a thing. He had a super-bright flashlight in the back of his truck. He reached into the bed and found it. He turned it on and again scanned the yard. Still nothing but he shouted into the stale marsh air.

“Erica!”

He walked toward the pond. The bright yellow light encircling a small patch of the still water.

“Erica!”

Something stirred and Larry swept the light toward it. The beast crawled slowly from the right-side of the pond. Larry walked toward it a little too recklessly and it reared up like a frightened rattler.

It was too late when he realized that Erica was not in that beast. It was an animal like the feral dogs that roamed around the neighborhood. Larry stepped back slowly but the beast moved fast and grabbed his left arm. It pulled him closer and revealed a large set of predator teeth.

Desperate, Larry said the only thing that came to mind, “Erica, please. Please don’t kill me.”

The beast settled for a second and it lightened its grip. Larry saw for the slightest of that second his little girl glistening in the reflection of the beast’s black eyes. He recalled Christmas when she was four. Erica sat in front of the tree as he and Catherine watched smiling. She opened her presents with such innocence, such gleeful enthusiasm. The beast then dropped Larry hard upon the wet marsh ground. Several smaller circles of light danced around him. Larry knew what it was and what was coming. He stood quickly, but carefully and turned his back to the beast.

“Don’t you think about shooting this beast. I will haunt you for the rest of your damn lives if you kill it.”

Robert stood, pale-faced behind his flashlight watching the beast stand quietly behind his father. Two police officers stood on each side of him and one walked toward Larry and the beast. Larry turned to face the beast again and ducked a vicious swing from its long, sharp claws. The officer that approached took the blow and collapsed. The beast tore into the officer as his partner stood in shock. Robert fired the first shot which grazed the beasts head. The other officer fired the remaining shots and the beast fell upon its back. Larry stared at the beast. Two long blue lines traced the sides of the tail. He looked up upon the human body and realized it had changed. It’s hair was short, inches from the scalp, and it’s face was masculine. It had taken the officers life. It had taken his face. Grief erupted from every pore. Charlie had taken his daughter from him. Charlie had destroyed his life. Charlie had done the worse. Larry stared at his mud-covered knees and his worn-arthritic hands till a warmth struck his chest. He then collapsed and everything disappeared.

Larry woke up several days later. Tubes, in his nose, and machinery thumping along side him. Robert was sitting, asleep in a small hospital chair in the corner of the room. He thought about everything that had happened to him. He thought about Erica, Charlie and his life. He questioned his methods and why he had chosen this path. He realized that he had given his life to Charlie, a fantasy. A fish that took away his life. Charlie was now gone. Erica was gone but Robert was still here. Larry’s life wasn’t completely destroyed and he could still recover. It was time to start again.