Grandma got run over by a Zombie: A Zombie Christmas Part 6

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Here comes zombies right down Santa Claus lane: A Zombie Christmas Part 5

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You’re a Mean One, Mr. Zombie: A Zombie Christmas Part 4

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Walking in a Zombie Wonderland: A Zombie Christmas Part 3

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Jingle Bells, Zombies Smell: A Zombie Christmas Part 2

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It’s beginning to look like zombies: A Zombie Christmas Part 1

Are we really back to this short story today? Yep. I am once again dusting this one off for the blog and each day this week will bring a new installment of this story. But this year it won’t be something you read. It will be something you listen to. I recently recorded this short story for the Nightlight Tales Podcast. It was six episodes worth of material – so for the next six days you can get a chance to hear my voice reading you this tale. Episode 1 drops today. Thanks for listening. Have a great Christmas. And if you want to support me you can find this short story everywhere from Amazon, to Nook, to Apple, wherever you get your ebooks it should be there.

Short Story: The Dead of Winter

I guess you guys have noticed that I have been a bit hit or miss lately in this blog. Busy time of year with the family and the Poetry hasn’t been flowing like I like it to. Anyway, I thought I would fill in a few days of empty blogging by posting a few of my short stories that fit the holiday season. I know this is a departure from the normal blog activity, but I thought you might enjoy something a bit different and if you enjoy them feel free to support my self-published efforts by buying a couple of them. Might be a nice treat to fill up some of those new Kindles and E-Readers. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!

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A short story about an apocalyptic nightmare in a crisp frozen landscape filled with winter and living corpses.Two men try to find safety in this dead world. Hoping to ride out the night. Hoping to find warmth and shelter. Hoping not to become food for the zombies.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CR9BLB8?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01CR9BLB8?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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Eric surveyed the road ahead and behind him. The world was filled with death. The highway was littered with silent, rusting cars sitting on rotting tires, waiting on drivers who were never going to drive them again. Ripped apart, torn open and partially eaten corpses littered the ground in various forms of decay. The corpses ranged from children to elderly adults. The zombies had done a number on them when they went into their “feeding frenzy.” The bodies that weren’t on the ground or pulled from their cars were still seated, and most of them still strapped into their seat belts, like they were still driving to whatever destination they had been going to before the world fell into death’s harsh embrace.

Eric breathed in deep and felt the cold air settle into his lungs. Bitter winter winds whipped at his face and tore at his clothes, trying to get inside the protective layers. Flakes of snow fell from the sky, nothing more than flurries.

“It’s something,” Eric replied, looking down at the white and grey cat in its carrier. He then put his eyes back on the man sitting with his back against a car.

Eric stood about six feet tall, with a long beard, and long hair. He had been alone for quite some time, so his appearance would be enough to frighten most people. He wasn’t emaciated or thin, actually quite muscular, but the lack of a good shower was starting to catch up with him. Dirt now clung to anything and everything it could attach itself to. He did his best to stay clean, but without hot soapy water there was only so much he could do.

“I guess we should go check him out. It’d be nice to have a conversation again. However -” Eric took out his pistol and checked the chambers. Six bullets accounted for, waiting for launch, locked and loaded. “- we will have this little guy just in case, just in case that guy isn’t what he appears to be.” He began to walk, carrier in his left hand, gun in his right.

Ten minutes later, they were almost up to the spot where the man was sitting with his back against a car. The dead person behind the wheel was still strapped in. The zombie or zombies that had attacked her had torn a gigantic hole in her neck, eaten her left arm, her left ear, and most of her left leg.

Eric approached the man with cautious steps as he sat the carrier down. He moved, and Eric stopped. He pointed the gun at the man dressed only in jeans, tee-shirt, and tennis shoes. The song “The Trees” sprung into Eric’s head as he looked at the RUSH shirt the man was wearing, flapping in the wind, the fibers barely able to keep in any warmth.

The man was doing his best to stay warm, but even holding himself with his arms crossed over his chest wasn’t working.

Eric moved closer to the guy – grip on the gun tight, trigger finger ready in case it wasn’t human. “Hey buddy? You okay?” Gun still pointed down at the guy just in case this was a zombie who had learned a new attack technique.

“I’m cold. You wouldn’t have something I could wear?” The man asked, finally noticing Eric and the gun in his face. His teeth chattered like tapping skeletal fingers as he sat there, trying not to freeze to death.

Eric put the gun back in its holster when he realized it was human and not zombie. He took the backpack from his back and dropped it onto the ground. He rummaged around inside and produced a dirty, well-worn sweatshirt. Eric handed the sweat shirt to the guy. “Put this on. It’ll keep you warm.”

The man took the sweatshirt and did as he was requested. He sat there a moment and collected his thoughts, the fibers blocking out the cold, warmth like a slow drip returning to his body.

“Thirsty?” Eric asked, taking a seat beside him.

“Yeah,” the man replied.

“How did you get out here without a coat?” Eric asked, handing the guy a bottle of water.

“Got in a nasty fight with a swarm of corpses,” the man replied, and then chugged the bottle of water. “Lost my coat, weapons, everything but my life. When I was running I had no idea how cold it was or how cold I was. Just collapsed against this car. Not sure what to do next when you showed up. Thanks again.”

“Sure.” Eric let the cat out of its cage and the animal placed its purring frame on Eric’s lap. He stroked the cat and talked. “Name’s Eric Holt. You got one I could call you?”

“Sorry. Bobby Johnson.”

They shook hands.

“Are we safe out here?” Bobby asked, concerned.

“I think we’re okay for now. I haven’t seen any corpses for a while. We should find some shelter soon though. There’s a big storm rolling in.”

“How can you tell?”

“I’ve got a nose for weather.” Eric tapped his nose after he said that, and smiled.

The two sat there a moment in silence. The cat’s purr and the cold bitter wind the only sounds in this silent world. The snow flurries had ended, and now it was starting to snow – small flakes, quickly growing larger. The snow was in attack mode, and it wouldn’t be long before the ground was covered.

Bobby turned his face up to the snow and let the coolness land on it. At first, the flakes melted and ran down his cheeks. Then they started to congeal and coat. Bobby shook his head free from the white invaders.

“We should get moving.”

“Where to?”

“Forward,” Eric replied, standing up. The cat leapt off his lap and started pouncing after the snow as it fell.

“Where’s forward?”

Eric leaned down and helped Bobby up. “I don’t know. I don’t really have a plan. I’ve just been walking and hoping to find some place to call home for a while.”

“No family.”

“Zero,” Eric replied, without saying anymore on the subject.

Bobby didn’t try to pry and just left it alone. When a man wants to talk, he’ll talk. Until then, you have to just give him space.

Eric slung the backpack over his left shoulder and put the gun in his right hand, finger inches from the trigger. He picked up the cat carrier and started to move. Bobby as well as the cat followed after him.

*

Dusk was settling in the world around them, the snow falling as heavy as it’d fallen all day, and little did they know, zombies were starting to move in.

“Eric, can you stop? My feet feel weird,” Bobby replied, as he leaned against a car. The four occupants inside of the car were partially eaten and frozen.

Eric stopped and put the carrier down. The cat let out a soft meow as it sat there and watched the scene unfold. In the dim light, Eric knelt down and looked at Bobby’s feet. He’d given Bobby some extra clothes for the walk – a warm hat for his head and ears, gloves, and another sweat shirt. They’d gotten his body warm, but forgot about his feet. The tennis shoes Bobby was wearing were soaked through, and it was obvious that the feet needed some immediate warmth. It would be hard to contend with frost bite in a world like this.

“How long has it been?”

“A while.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want to slow us down.”

From somewhere out in the growing darkness they heard a moan. It was distant, but it was still a sound they didn’t need to hear. The cat arched his back and let out a screech.

“Shit,” Eric replied, as his eyes looked into the gloom, searching between the heavy snow flakes, zombie instincts on high alert.

“What?” Bobby asked, as another moan erupted.

Both moans were close, too close for comfort.

“One moan we can handle. Two moans and we have trouble.”

“Zombies?” Bobby asked with growing concern in his voice.

“Yep,” Eric replied, taking out his gun.

Another moan.

Closer this time.

“We need to get inside.” Eric could see movement in the distance, dark shadows shambling forward, pushing slowly through the snow; and they were closing in. Eyes shifted from the zombies to the world at large. No shelter as far as he could see, just a long road full of dead snow-covered bodies and cars, neither of which would keep them safe. “I wish I was a vampire. You know, one of those Ann Rice ones, the ones who could see for miles and miles in the dark,” Eric replied, as the cat screeched again.

Another moan.

Much closer now.

“They sound like they’re right on top of us.”

“Got it!” Eric locked eyes on what they needed. It was dark and square, larger than the cars around it.

“Got what?”

“Come on.”

They picked up their feet and hurried through the thick snow. It was tough going, but fear made their muscles move. The moaning sounds faded into the distance as they moved as quickly as they had moved all day. Bobby could see something looming, growing closer. It was an oasis of safety, a big hulking dark mass.

What they were moving towards was a package delivery truck that looked like an armored vehicle from a Road Warrior movie, parked long ways across the fast and slow lanes. It looked like it’d been barreling through the cars before it came to a sudden and sliding halt. The front had a big spike sticking out of it with at least ten dead zombies hanging from it. Bullet holes to the head of each of them had stopped their moaning and taste for flesh. Zombies, as we all know, won’t stop until you stop them. The doors on either side of the cab had a gigantic spike welded to them with more zombies hanging around, dead, dark holes in the center of their foreheads. There was nothing on the sides of the truck, beyond the doors. It was smooth and flat like it was the day it rolled off the factory line, but dinged and severely scratched, covered in blood, as if this truck had been through a war zone.

They reached the truck and stopped.

Eric motioned to Bobby to stay put, handing the cat carrier to him as he cocked the gun and approached the truck. He tried the cab doors first, but they were both locked. A loud moan erupted from the dark, but this time it wasn’t behind them. It came from somewhere in front of them. It, like the moans behind them, was too close for comfort.

Bobby watched as Eric made his way down the side of the truck, stopping just before he reached the back. Like a cop in an old TV show, he leaned against the wall of the truck, raised the gun, took in a breath, and then stepped forward, dropping the gun to a shooting position as he did. There was no one there, human or zombie.

Eric tried the double doors, and he found them not just locked, but welded together. The moans erupted in the back ground like they enjoyed this latest fiasco.

Eric went back to the driver’s side door. He gripped the barrel of the gun and slammed the handle down into the window. It smashed on impact.

Eric grabbed a shoulder of one of the dead zombies hanging from the spike on the door, and hoisted himself up to the window. He hung there a moment with one hand, cleaning out the glass with the other. When he was sure it was clean, he dropped back down to the ground. He motioned to Bobby that it was safe to come over.

“Everything okay,” Bobby asked, as he stopped in front of Eric.

“I don’t hear anyone inside so I’m going to climb in and hoist you in after.”

“You mean, get up close to those things on the spike.”

Another moan, followed by more.

They were really close now.

“Do you want to stay out here?”

Bobby looked back into the dark. Night had decided to finally cast its veil upon the world, and it was pitch black for miles. He wasn’t sure how the zombies could see them or if they needed to see them, but he was sure of this – he couldn’t see anything. He could only hear those moans; and, now that the zombies were closer, he could also hear their shuffling feet as they pushed through the snow.

Bobby turned back to Eric, who was waiting for a response. “What are you waiting on man, go for it,” Bobby replied, anxious to be inside.

Eric said nothing as he grabbed the shoulder of a dead zombie on the spike and hoisted himself up to the window. The zombie had died with its mouth open and eyes wide. Bobby could see the whites of those eyes as they stared off into nothingness. He also noticed that the mouth was pointing in the direction of Eric’s now dangling legs. Would this be worth mentioning to him, or should he just let it go? He wasn’t sure about that; but, by the time he’d made his decision, Eric was already inside.

“Hand me the carrier.”

“What about me?”

The cat screeched, and nearby something metal banged. The sound came from a vehicle that couldn’t have been more than three or four cars away.

“You’re next,” Eric replied, leaning out of the truck.

Bobby grabbed hold of the zombie Eric had used to climb up with –those eyes staring at him – and hoisted himself up enough to get the carrier into Eric’s hands. Eric grabbed it and disappeared inside. He didn’t return for a moment or two.

Bobby scanned the dark as he heard a side mirror snap from a vehicle that couldn’t have been more than two cars away. Then the moans erupted. A chorus of them, and it sounded like they had formed a circle around the truck. A snapping of fingers pulled Bobby out of his trance. He looked up, and saw Eric leaning out, holding two hands down to him. Bobby scrambled up and grabbed Eric’s hands, and then was pulled upward with relative ease. He fell into the cab (empty – not even a frozen corpse) and landed on the driver’s seat as Eric scrambled to get out of the way. They were inside and safe, just as a zombie appeared beside the truck.

Bobby scrambled off the seat and looked around for Eric, who was standing in front of the door that led to the back of the truck, gun poised and ready. He grabbed the handle and slid the door open quickly.

The room was dark and empty, no signs of movement, living or dead.

“Is everything okay?” Bobby asked, peering over Eric’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” Eric replied, turning on a flashlight and holstering the gun. He took a moment to shine the light around as Bobby waited. “Found something.” Light flooded the room as Eric turned on a kerosene lamp. It was hanging off a hook in the center of the ceiling.

What the guys could see in the light was that the back of the truck was hollowed out and stripped down to its bare walls. There were no shelves in here or anything that would tell you it was the inside of a delivery truck.

In one corner there lay a couple of sleeping bags with plush pillows that had the pillowcase of a local hotel. In another corner there was a small fridge, like the kind you would find in a dorm room. There were also a couple of hammocks, some canned food, and a wood burning stove. The stove was at the back of the truck, near the double doors. A pipe to let out fumes ran from the top of the stove to the top of the truck. The hole looked like it had been cut with precision hands and sealed professionally. There was a box for wood beside the stove. Eric leaned down and pulled up the door to the cabinet. Empty.

He moved from there to the fridge and when he opened the door, the smell of rancid meat nearly tore off his nose. He closed the door quick before the smell got out and made itself home in the small room.

He let out a breath of frustration as his eyes scanned the walls. On them were hooks, and on a few of these hooks were weapons, hanging from straps. There was a club with spikes on the end of it, a bat with razors attached to it, a shotgun, and a sharpened garden hoe. Several hooks were empty, which led Eric to believe that whoever crafted the truck was either dead or long gone.

He checked the shot-gun to see if it was loaded. It was. He rummaged around for bullets and found several boxes inside a small cabinet, where he also found, bottled water, warm beer, an old cassette player, a cassette carrying case, and a very small TV.

Eric turned to face Bobby, who had taken off his shoes and placed his wet feet under one of the sleeping bags. He was rubbing his feet together, using the bags to help them warm up.

“How are they?” Eric asked, concerned.

“Red, but I don’t think there was any damage done.”

Eric went over to check on his friend’s feet. They were indeed bright red, but they were warming up fast, and any chance frostbite had of getting a hold of them was dying with each bit of warmth. “They’re looking good.”

A loud moan close by caught their attention, followed by several more. They both turned towards the sound.

“Are we safe in here?” Bobby asked.

Eric looked around as he let the cat out of the carrier. It stretched and purred as it explored its new home. “I think so, but we need wood to burn; and we need to get warm or we’ll probably freeze to death inside here tonight.”

Another moan, and then a chorus of the damned erupted outside, coming from all directions. It sounded like they were surrounded.

“Sounds like a lot of them,” Bobby replied.

“A regular feeding frenzy if they had food to frenzy on.”

“Do you need help getting wood?”

“You can’t move like you are. Plus, I don’t have shoes for you. We need to dry the ones you have; and then maybe tomorrow, or whenever we get out of here, we can find you some boots. There might be something in here if we look hard enough, probably not though. I would wager to bet the last occupant either died with them on or is hoofing it in them as we speak.”

“What about that hatch? Can we use that to get outside, since it sounds like we might not be able to use the doors right now?”

“What?” Eric looked up, and it was the one thing he hadn’t seen. There was a hatch leading to the roof of the truck. A small step-ladder, overlooked as well, lay against one of the walls. Eric took the ladder and placed it underneath the hatch. He climbed up; and, with cautious ease, opened the hatch. Small flakes of snow fell into the truck from the pile that had accumulated on top of the glass window.

He leaned down into the truck. “Can you boost me up?”

Bobby got up and pushed Eric upward. He scuttled through the hatch and out onto the flat roof, dodging flakes of snow as they fell on his face and clothes.

Once outside, Eric surveyed the roof with a flashlight, the beam somewhat distorted by the heavy falling snow. There was a generator, a satellite dish, and a large pile of meat, which was wrapped nice and neat, strapped down and frozen, almost covered by the snow.

Eric scrambled over to check the generator. It was out of gas, but it looked like all it was there for was to keep the fridge and TV going. It was so small; it couldn’t have been used for much more than that. The satellite, was of course, no concern, but the meat, the meat could still be good. It didn’t smell rotten or spoiled, so Eric took out his knife (the one he didn’t use to kill zombies with) and cut away enough for them to eat. He took the meat over to the hatch and handed it down to Bobby, who took it and placed it on the stove.

Eric started to drop back inside when he noticed something barely visible under the thick blanket of snow. He crawled over to investigate, and realized it was a ladder with a hook attached to it. There was also a place to hook the ladder into so it could hang over the side. He crawled back to the hatch.

“It looks like there’s a ladder over here that I can use. I’m going to scurry out to find some firewood.”

“What do you need me to do?”

“Be at this hatch when I get back. I’ll hand the wood down to you. I’m not getting much, just enough to get us through the night. If we need more tomorrow, we can scrounge for it in the daylight. Maybe this storm will have let up by then and maybe the zombies will have spread out as well.”

“Just be careful.”

“Will do,” Eric replied, standing up. He took a moment and let his ears come to him. He had been trying to train all of his senses to react to a zombie carcass. In this kind of storm and in the dark of night, his ears would serve him better than anything else. Also his nose, his nose could be a friend too. So he stood there with the snow falling, and he listened and he smelled. The zombies were hoarding, but they weren’t as close as he thought. He should be able to get out and back without much hassle.

Finished with his listening and smelling surveillance, he decided to use his eyes and check the side where the ladder had to go. He angled the flashlight down and let the spotlight show him the ground below. No zombies on that side, just fresh undisturbed white snow. He then checked the ground around the rest of the truck, and he found the snow was in his favor. The zombies were struggling to move. They were either stuck or confused as to how they would make their way through it. The need to feed was strong inside them, but that need could only take them so far. Their dead bodies would have to do the rest.

Eric hooked the ladder and dropped it over the side. He had to push on it in order for it to reach the ground below the snow. One rung disappeared into the white. “At least six inches,” he said, “maybe more.”

He took out his pistol, cocked it, and climbed down the ladder to the ground below, moving his legs for a moment in order to get a feel for how packed the snow was. It would be tough going, but not so tough that he couldn’t move in it. Satisfied, he gripped the gun tight, and made his way into the woods.

Zombie moans filled the air; they shuffled towards the smell of Eric’s warm human flesh, shambling through the thick snow on dead and decaying legs, partially frozen from their feet to their ankles.

Eric didn’t go too deep into the forest, staying close to the truck and keeping it in sight the whole time. He scrounged around for any kind of wood that would burn. It was impossible to find because the snow was falling so hard and the ground was covered so thickly. As luck would have it, he found a fallen tree that was thin and spindly. It would work perfect for firewood. He began to stomp on it in order to break it up into pieces big enough for him to carry.

A sound of swooshing, like skiers on snow, and something flapping, like it was in a heavy wind, caught his ears – thank God for that perfectly tuned sense.

He looked up through the trees and shone the flashlight in that direction. He saw nothing, but he could hear it, and it was getting closer.

“Couldn’t be. Impossible,” Eric replied, trying to ignore the sound, stomping on the wood as fast as he could.

When he finished breaking up the wood, he collected enough for the night. An arm loads worth that was heavy, but not so heavy he couldn’t carry it with one arm free. The swooshing flapping sound was now almost on top of him, but he thought he could make it back to the truck before whatever it was arrived. He took a quick survey of the scene to make sure his path was clear, flashlight shining bright through the snow and trees. He froze on the spot when he saw what was making those strange noises. It was four zombies, and they were all on skis.

That’s right folks. I just went there – zombies on skis.

They were coming at him fast, somehow dodging in and out of the trees, their sense of smell must have really been on high alert to be able to hone in on him so quickly, and to maneuver with such ease. They were all decked out in snow gear, complete with ski goggles, hats, and gloves. Their once white outfits now covered in dry and fresh blood, and everything, including their skin, was tattered, flapping in the breeze as they skied towards him.

“You got to be kidding me,” Eric replied, dropping the wood and flashlight at his feet, pulling out his gun just as the zombies arrived.

The undead skiers unlocked their skis from their feet and leapt off their boards without stopping – four zombies, flying through the air, gnashing their teeth, eyes wide, sailing right towards him.

Eric was able to get his gun up in time to kill two of them while they flew, flipping them end over end into the deep snow before they had a chance to land on him. The other two managed to miss the flying bullets, sliding to a stop just inches from Eric’s feet. When they finished their slide they started crawling towards him as he tried to get away, scrambling backwards through the snow, heavy flakes still falling.

He aimed his gun and hit one with a clean shot to the head. It stopped instantly; and now there was just one. He noticed that she had long blonde hair sticking out of her hat, and this gave him an image of who she might have been before – a ski bunny at a local lodge. He shook the image away as she opened her mouth to bite.

Eric aimed the gun, and the zombie stopped, looked up at him.

He fired.

Nothing.

He fired again.

Nothing.

She launched herself towards his leg, teeth reaching the fabric as he fired again. This time a bullet left the chamber. It made a direct shot into the left side of her temple and exited out on the right with a fresh spray of bright red blood, painting the pristine snow crimson.

Eric drew in a deep breath and let the moment pass. When he thought he was ready to move again, he got up, collected the wood, and made his way –quickly–back to the truck.

*

The deeper parts of the night fell on the world at large. The snow was still falling, but it had slowed from what it was earlier. If you were to take a measuring stick to the fresh snow fall amounts that fell, it would be over a foot.

The Black Sabbath song “The Wizard” was playing at full volume as the two guys sat inside the truck and jammed. They weren’t concerned about zombies or the weather or the fact that the previous owner of this truck might return. They were just happy to find an oasis of happiness in this current storm of chaos.

“They had on skis, gear, everything?” Bobby asked, trying to picture the skiing zombies that had nearly gotten the best of Eric.

“I kid you not.” Eric stoked the fire in the stove and settled back in his spot. He finished off another beer and crushed the can, letting the tasty dinner settle in his stomach. He hadn’t eaten like that in a while.

The meat that he’d found turned out not to be spoiled, and it had made a fine supper. From what they could tell, it was deer meat. They’d also found a bag of chips that weren’t open. Those things, along with the beer, really had taken a rotten day and made it so much better.

“These suckers are getting more and more creative every day. I almost expect one of them to ride in on a Zamboni,” Eric replied, smiling. He felt the laughter starting. Bobby was also on the edge of full-on laughter. “In full hockey gear.”

That did it. Both men, drunk and feeling good, were now rolling around like two teenagers at a slumber party laughing their butts off. When the laughter stopped, they both looked at each other and it began all over again. The cat sat in one corner licking itself, more concerned with its bath than their drunken antics.

“Stop, stop, stop, I can’t take it.” Bobby tried to catch his breath as Eric did the same. Both men came to a slow stop with tears in their eyes and aching sides.

While they drank and partied, the night passed, the wind blew, the snow stopped.

When the beer ran out, it was somewhere close to four in the morning – they were nursing it like Florence Nightingale. Both men were so wasted they didn’t notice the time. They each grabbed a sleeping bag and passed out into peaceful slumber.

The kerosene lamp burned out about an hour later. The fire in the stove dwindled down to embers and eventually went out.

*

Morning arrived – cloudless and sunny. Its warm rays shining on the new snow. The men were sound asleep inside the dark truck as a noise in the distance, faint enough not to wake them, stirred the world. It was the cat who responded to it first. He got up off the floor, stretched, scratched, and tried to find a way to look out. He wanted to see what was making that noise. He paced and moved, walking over Eric as he did. Eric stirred, but he was sleeping one off so he didn’t budge.

The cat walked over and sniffed the sealed double doors in the back and pawed at them to no avail. The cat made its way back across the small space to the door that led out of the room and into the cab, pawing at the door, but it didn’t move. He tried a few more times before finally giving up. The cat was really getting agitated now, but there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. He knew he had to wake the men, and he knew that if he didn’t this could spell trouble. He began to paw at Eric’s face as the noise got closer and closer. Eric didn’t stir so the cat started meowing. It was a last resort, but his instincts told him that was the thing to do.

Eric woke up slowly and shook the cobwebs free as the cat got quiet. “What the hell do you want?” Eric’s ears picked up on the noise. “What the hell is that?”

Eric turned towards the wall, and all he could see was metal. He got up and made his way to the door that led into the cab. He pushed it open and stepped inside. The cold air of the cab sent chills down his back, his breath white as he inhaled and exhaled.

He stood there a moment and listened. The noise was coming from the passenger’s side. He turned to look out the window, but it was covered with a heavy layer of snow. He climbed over the seat and tried to open it, but the snow was so heavy and thick against it that it wouldn’t budge. He tried the door handle, and he found the door unable to budge as well.

What Eric didn’t know was that the way the truck was positioned in the road allowed the wind to push a massive snow drift up against it. This snow drift stood tall enough that it covered the truck from the ground to the roofline on the passenger’s side.

Eric’s brain refused to work (still hung-over), and he was out of ideas as the noise kept drawing closer. It was then that he thought of the hatch.

He scrambled into the back and grabbed the ladder. He scurried up as quickly as his hung-over legs could climb. He popped the latch to the hatch and realized he would need a boost. In his current state, he had forgotten about that. Lucky for him, luck was on his side.

Bobby stirred. “Would someone turn off that damn leaf blower?”

Eric looked down at Bobby who had just woken himself up with that statement. Bobby looked up at Eric who was looking down at him.

“What the hell is that?” Bobby asked.

“I have no idea, but I know it’s bad, whatever it is. Can you boost me?”

Eric tried to open the hatch as Bobby got up on wobbly legs. He steadied himself and then went over to Eric who, at the moment, was in a bit of a jam. The snow had buried the hatch so deep that it was hard to budge. The buzzing sound was really getting loud now and very close. They needed to have eyes on the world outside.

“Shit! The snow’s too thick. Hand me something to jam it with, something to give me some leverage.” Bobby began to look around the room. The buzzing sound was so close now that it was almost making it hard to hear. Whatever was coming at them was coming fast, and it wasn’t stopping. Eric was getting impatient. “Hurry up, will you?”

Bobby did the best he could to hurry up, but he was very, hung over. In a zombie apocalypse – why did they drink so much?

Bobby stumbled onto a piece of wood they didn’t burn and handed it up to Eric. Eric grabbed it and started banging away on the hatch. The glass shattered as the wood went right through. Snow fell onto Eric and the floor below like a powder white waterfall. Eric shook the flakes free and then reached up and removed the shards of glass that were still left in the opening.

The buzzing sound was now echoing around the room, rattling things that were hanging on the walls, bouncing loose stuff lying on the floor, and scaring the cat, who was now on high alert.

Eric reached up and pushed some snow out of the way. The problem was, all he could see was more snow. He tried to dig a little more, but realized that the only way he was going to make it to the roof was by tunneling. He was glad he wasn’t claustrophobic.

Eric looked down at Bobby. “Okay, boost me now.”

Bobby did as he was asked, and Eric scrambled through the opening, tunneling upward until he was able to pop his head out and see the bright blue sky and sunlight. He used his arms to push the rest of the way through and climbed out onto the roof like a corpse crawling out of a fresh grave.

What he saw sent him immediately back into the room below, almost falling off the ladder, as he slipped and scrambled his way to the floor.

“What is it?” Bobby asked.

“We’re in trouble.”

“It’s a snow blower, right?”

“An industrial sized one. It probably cleared off entire parking lots in its other lifetime,” Eric paused, “The problem is -”

The snow blower crashed into the passenger side of the truck and the truck swayed from the impact, but didn’t roll over. The noise of the snow blower died.

Seconds later the truck started to get impacted, as bodies, one after another, slammed into it. The truck started to move off its spot and tilt. The bodies kept hitting the truck, thud, thud, thud, they went, more impacts, multiple impacts. The force of those bodies was going to push the truck over. It was inevitable

Eric finished his sentence. “The problem is this. The zombie running the snow blower has cleared a path. The path has allowed the zombies, who can’t figure out the snow, an easy walk to get to us. There must be hundreds out there, with more coming in the distance. All they have to do is get to the path.” The truck tilted and groaned. Eric started rounding up weapons and supplies, throwing them crudely in his backpack, and getting ready for the path into the snow. “We need to move and we need to go out the driver’s side door. Are you ready?”

“Yes,” Bobby replied.

Eric opened the carrier, and the cat ran inside. Most wouldn’t, but it knew better than to dilly dally. Eric scrambled into the cab as the truck groaned from the impacts and tilted, the springs screeching their disapproval.

Eric made his way to the door and dropped the carrier down into the snow. The truck tilted further, more impacts, the spike in the door was the only thing holding the truck up. Eric could hear the spike starting to separate, screeching softly as it pulled free from its weld.

Bobby appeared behind him, holding onto what he could for support as the truck continued to tilt further with each impact.

The cat meowed as it sat in the snow and waited to go.

“You sure you’re ready?” Eric asked, pistol in hand, backpack on his back.

“Sure,” Bobby replied, shotgun in hand.

Eric shimmied out the window and jumped down into the snow. Once on the ground, he fired a couple of clean shots into a few zombies who were treading their way ever so slowly towards them. He picked up the carrier and started making his way towards the woods.

Bobby jumped out the window and was about to move when the truck tilted for the last time. The spike broke free with a metallic rip, and the truck started to fall. Bobby froze on the spot as the truck came crashing down on its side in a cloud of snow and debris crushing him underneath.

Eric, who had lost so much already, couldn’t believe he had lost someone else in this world. He hung his head as the cat meowed in the carrier. “So long my friend.”

Eric watched the zombies moving towards him and decided he better move. He fired off the remaining bullets in his gun and took out about three of them. He then turned and ran, making his way deeper into the woods.

THE END

Short Story: A Zombie New Year’s Eve

I guess you guys have noticed that I have been a bit hit or miss lately in this blog. Busy time of year with the family and the Poetry hasn’t been flowing like I like it to. Anyway, I thought I would fill in a few days of empty blogging by posting a few of my short stories that fit the holiday season. I know this is a departure from the normal blog activity, but I thought you might enjoy something a bit different and if you enjoy them feel free to support my self-published efforts by buying a couple of them. Might be a nice treat to fill up some of those new Kindles and E-Readers. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!

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This short story is about Becky and Joe who are separated in a Zombie Apocalypse and risk life and limb in order to reunite for their New Year’s Eve kiss.

4 out of 5 stars: Short story of love and hope

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UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00N366QH4?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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The city of Raleigh stood dark and lifeless behind a small single-story home where a thriving family once lived.

Sleet was falling hard, and bouncing off the silent objects of this now-broken world.

Three men hurried their way up the porch steps of this house, as the sun started to approach the horizon, choked out by dark grey clouds. The men looked at each other, and then one of them reached down and tested the front door handle.

Unlocked.

He slipped open the door to the sounds of a roaring fire, and bright light that covered the room where the woman they were chasing slept on a couch, unarmed.

The three men had been traveling up I-40 when they saw the girl walk up one of the exit ramps, a ramp that used to lead into the busy city of Raleigh. They hadn’t seen a prize like this in a long time, so they were more than happy to track her through the city filled with some of the thickest zombie hordes they had ever seen. They had fought their way through, just like the girl on the couch, surviving on instincts and human determination.

The man who had opened the door, turned back to his friends and gave them the okay sign, as he stepped into the warmth and out of the cold. The other two guys slithered in behind him.

Once inside, the door now closed and locked, they eyed their sleeping prize as she slept in peaceful slumber on the couch.

Hormones began to race, as common sense slipped from their brains and into their pants. They had worked hard to get this one this time, and they were going to enjoy her.

“Should we do it now?” Darren Ivy asked, standing close to the couch, looking her over, almost bursting with excitement.

“Let her wake up first,” Ted Jensen replied.

“Why?”

“It’s more fun that way. More sporting. You have to let her fight for it, think she has a chance,” Greg replied, warming himself by the fire.

Darren looked down at the girl, and back to his traveling companions. “We’ll I can at least help her wake up,” he replied, and sat down beside her. The girl didn’t move or stir, exhaustion acting like a sleeping pill, putting her into a deep slumber, so deep that her danger instincts hadn’t gone off with the weight of the man inches from her side. Seeing that she wasn’t moving, Darren lifted her shirt above her bra, exposing soft white skin. He ran his hand over her smooth belly, as the other two guys turned to watch.

The girl stirred a bit from the touch, but then slipped back into that coma-like sleep.

Darren eyeballed her bra, and realized he caught a break this time. Her bra unsnapped in the front, and not the back. He looked over at the guys, who were looking at her, and then he turned back to the girl, unhooked the bra, and let her breasts fall free.

The fire popped and cracked, warmed the small room while the three men waited for the girl to wake up, so sure exposing her twenty-two-year-old breasts would do it. No luck. She was still in that coma-like sleep.

“Strip her down,” Greg replied, ready to see the rest of her. “That might wake her up.”

“You think?” Darren asked, looking down at the button that held her jeans closed. “I’ll give it a shot,” he replied, and reached down to unsnap her jeans.

Becky Carter stirred on the brown leather couch, and opened her eyes when the man unsnapped her jeans, letting the top of her underwear show.  Morning had arrived, and she realized a man with a heavy black beard and crew cut was sitting on the couch beside her. He looked like he was about fifty years old.

Their eyes locked. He smiled down at her with a “predator has caught his prey” smile.

“Boys, she’s awake,” Darren replied, allowing her to sit up.

Becky looked around the room, as she pushed her blonde hair out of her eyes, closed the bra, snapped up her jeans, and readjusted her shirt. The other two guys who were with the perv on the couch were decked out just like him in green camouflage, and heavy black combat boots. Becky noticed that they were all armed with all kinds of weapons. It looked like they not only knew how to survive, but they enjoyed it.

“So, where are we going to do this?” Greg asked, the youngest and tallest of the three, skinny, long hair in a ponytail, about twenty-five years old. He had moved from the fire, and was now standing by the window keeping watch.

“There are a few bedrooms in here. I figured any one would work,” Darren replied, looking at Becky, sexual hope in his eyes.

Becky tried to crawl into the couch, eyes darting for exits–none to be seen. She wanted to run. She wanted to hide. She wanted to be anywhere, but here.

“We haven’t checked the rooms; maybe we should before we get all crazy,” Greg replied, still eyeballing the yard and street. Zombies shuffled by, a lot of them, but none of them seemed to be interested in the four meals inside the house.

“I think the house is clean, Greg. We haven’t seen or heard anything since we got in here,” Darren replied.

“Greg’s right, be safer to check before we let our brains go for a bit,” Ted replied. He was the second oldest of the bunch, short and stocky, built strong. He had a pierced left ear, and a bald head.

“You guys just keep watch. I’m sure it’s okay,” Darren replied, standing up, taking Becky’s hand, and pulling her to her feet.

She stood up without a fight, as he looked directly at her. She met his eyes, tried to stay focused, and tried to think of Joe, who she had been dreaming about when she was woken up.

“Now, missy, we either we do this the easy way or the hard way. Your choice,” Darren replied.

“Better do as he says, girl,” Ted replied, and smiled. “Trust me on this one.”

Her eyes darted to Ted, back to Darren. “Just don’t hurt me, okay? You can have what you want. Free of charge,” Becky replied, terrified, but staying strong. All of this surviving had taught her how to fight, and she was sure she wasn’t going to let these guys have her without one. She just had to have a moment to game plan.

“Not going to hurt you girl, promise.” He smiled a serpent’s smile, and led her down the small hall by her hand.

Her weapon of choice, a very thick wooden baseball bat (splattered with dried blood), leaned against the wall next to her backpack and coat. She glanced at the bat without giving away its hiding spot, but it would do her no good right now. She had to think of something else. There was a knife in her boot, but she wouldn’t be able to get to it unless she could take her own boots off. This guy looked like the type who wouldn’t let her do that. Once they were in the room, it was his rules and not hers, she was sure of that. If she was going to make it out of here, unmolested and alive, she was going to have to think of something else besides that knife.

Darren stopped at the first door, which was a kid’s room in the world before the zombies. He listened for a moment, heard nothing, and decided it was safe. If he hadn’t been so jacked up on hormones, he might have heard the shuffles, but he was so focused on what he was about to do with Becky that this noise just passed right by him. He was thinking with his lower regions, making him sexually stupid.

Becky though, calm as could be, heard it. Zombies had caused her all kinds of trouble, might have even cost her the love of her life, but they were now about to save her. She was sure of that, so she started forming an escape plan in her head, running her thumb over the wedding ring on her left finger while she was thinking.

Black Sabbath came alive in the living room. The two guys waiting their turn had found a portable stereo and a stack of CDs. They jammed while they kept watch on the house.

Darren looked at them, back to Becky. He motioned for her to go in, as the zombies in the room thumped against the door. This thump was mixed with a loud drum beat, so Darren didn’t hear it; but Becky, keen on survival, jacked up on adrenaline, waiting on her chance to escape, did.

“No, after you,” Becky replied, hoping he would comply as “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” played loud in the living room.

“Probably best you go on in first. Don’t need you running away on me.”

“I’m not going to run away. Where would I go?” She threw him an “okay to have me the way you want me” glance, as she ran her hands over his shoulders, hoping to stroke his ego. Guys love to have their ego stroked, trust me on this one.

“Really not sure that is a good idea.”

“Go on in. Take your clothes off. Make sure the bed is all comfy for us,” she replied, not knowing where that kind of talk came from. It wasn’t like her at all. It was the voice of a much different woman, who was a college student before the zombies, and Ripley from the Alien series after.

Darren (the ego thing, told you it would work) ate up every line she was selling, as he reached down and turned the door handle, unlatching it from its hold. He started to pull the door forward, enjoying the music in the living room.

Shuffling from inside the room, drawing closer to them.

Becky tuned out the music, trained her ears on that zombie sound, and started inching towards her back pack and weapon. While she crept forward, she kept her eyes peered on the gloomy interior of the room, as it revealed itself in the ever widening crack of the door. Inch by inch the door opened, inch by inch she moved, seconds ticked like dripping honey, sweat formed a river.

Darren suddenly noticed how far she had moved away from him. He reached out for her, almost grabbed her shirt, and then the bedroom door opened wide. Three zombies (man, woman, teenage son–previous tenants of this house) shuffled out, pushing Darren up against the wall, knocking some pictures off of it–family portraits frozen in a happier time and place. He screamed, as the zombies started to tear apart his flesh, spraying blood, painting the walls and ceiling red.

His friends heard this scream over the music, and in the mad rush to save Darren, Greg and Ted Jensen paid no attention to Becky, who saw her chance, and bolted for the door.

She grabbed her gear, as she heard a gun go off behind her. She didn’t bother to turn around. She ripped open the front door, and let it go as two more shots rang out across the small house. The door slammed hard against the wall, knocking plaster free.

She hurried out onto the porch, and down the icy sidewalk. The zombies swarmed her when she reached the street. She managed to clear a path through them with her bat, busting heads open and knocking zombies sideways. When she found an opening in the zombie horde, she slipped on her coat, and moved towards the interior of the city. Hard sleet continued to rain down from the grey skies above, as Black Sabbath’s music trailed off behind her.

Back in the house, Ted realized their prize was gone.

“Where’d she go?” He asked, gun still smoking in his hand, as he looked from the three dead zombies on the floor to the wide-open front door. Zombies of all shapes and sizes were filling up the living room like a mosh pit. It wouldn’t be long before they started clogging up the hall.

A left hand reached up, and grabbed Greg’s leg before he could answer. Greg looked down at his friend sprawled out on the floor.

Darren was currently trying to hold part of his neck together, as the blood rushed through his fingers, and spilled out onto the floor. He was also ripped open on both arms, and the torso. “Just don’t let her get away. Give her a good one for me,” Darren replied, trying to be strong and brave, as he was bleeding out.

“We better get to stepping,” Ted replied, as he started to shoot the zombies that were now moving into the hall.

Greg took out his pistol; and, without even thinking about it, shot Darren in the head exploding his brains and blood all over the wall. No use letting his friend walk around as a corpse. He glanced around the place with quick eyes, sharp-shooter eyes. There was a door in the kitchen that led out into the back yard. He raced for it as Ted continued to make every shot count.

Greg reached the back door, and without hesitation kicked it open. He charged out into the icy morning with guns blazing, knocking off zombies with precision and skill. Ted joined him a second later, and they circled back to the front of the house, blasting their way through the zombies as they moved.

They saw Becky in the distance, and followed after her. In this weather and against this army of the walking dead, they were better equipped, stronger, and faster. As long as they kept her in sight, they would catch her in no time.

Becky ran into the city, which was cold and empty of human life. Only the dead made their home down here. They shuffled about, as she ran toward Cabarrus St., toward the place where the acorn dropped every New Year’s Eve in Raleigh, NC. She looked back over her shoulder. The men were gaining on her, and they were so close now that she could hear their crunching feet as they rushed across the sleet-covered ground. She had to find a place to hide, and quick.

On her left, an abandoned store with its windows and doors knocked out. She ran into it, into the darkness, into the depths of black. Zombies shuffled about too dumb to know they had a clear exit to the outside. Becky knocked her way through them, leaving busted heads in her wake, as she frantically tried to find a place to hide.

The men arrived minutes later and stopped in front of the building Becky ran into. They put their guns away (to save ammo) and started to game plan, knifing the few zombies in the head who dared to approach them.

Inside, Becky made her way deep into the store, out of breath, shoes damp, feet tired, and legs hurting. Mannequins, sporadically placed throughout the store, startled her, as she swatted a few of them thinking they were zombies. Their hollow heads flew off into the dark, bouncing and rolling across the cold tile floor.

Outside, Greg pulled his coat tight, and shook off the sleet.

“Maybe she’s not worth it, man,” Ted replied, shuffling about, trying to stay warm. He looked up and down the street. The zombies were a little thinner now, but it wouldn’t be long before they swarmed again.

“This isn’t about worth. This is about Darren. This is about making it right,” Greg replied, as he looked into the store. “Do you hear that girl? We going to make it right all over you! And the longer you make us wait, the worse it is going to be!”

Becky cringed back against a rack when she heard the voice, empty clothes hangers rattled like skeleton fingers causing her to jump. Zombies in the store honed in on the sound, and started moving in her direction.

“Okay, Greg, we better get inside,” Ted replied, looking up and down the street again. “Your big mouth is bringing out more of them.”

Greg turned to Ted. “Shut up!”

“Hey! Just because you’re trying to make good for Darren, doesn’t mean you have to get stupid about it. And besides, that little piece of ass inside there probably isn’t older than . . .”

“What, Ted? Just say it,” he replied, really getting up in his brother’s face, which he had been doing for most of his life. Ted was always the favorite with mom and dad. Ted was always the special one. Ted was always the good one and on and on it went. The one thing Ted hadn’t been good at was killing zombies. That had cost their mom and dad their lives, but Greg had stepped up when it counted. It was because of him that Ted was alive right now, and it was because of him that Ted knew everything he knew when it came to killing the undead shufflers who haunted this world.

“. . . your daughter. There, you happy? I fucking said it.”

Greg punched him, punched him hard. Ted went down on his butt, slid to a stop on the sleet filled ground. Greg looked down at him. “Don’t you ever, and I mean ever, bring her into this! Do you understand me! My family, may they rest in peace, is off limits! You got that? Brother!”

Ted realized he had gone too far. “Sorry,” he replied, spitting out blood. “Let’s just get inside, make this quick. I’m cold, I’m tired, and I don’t want to deal with what is coming our way.” Ted pointed back behind Greg. “It won’t take them long to get here.”

Greg helped Ted to his feet, and looked behind him. He knew they didn’t have enough man power or fire power for that kind of undead swarm. It was time to get inside, and get this job done before they were overrun. “All right, miss! We’re coming in! You can hide or not, your choice, but either way we are making this right!” Greg made his way inside the building after he said this. Ted followed.

Once inside, both men took out their flashlights and turned them on.

Becky watched the two lights for a moment. At first they were two beams side by side, and then those beams split–one went left and one went right. She decided it was time to get moving. While she moved towards the rear of the once popular clothes store, she could hear things being turned over, things smashing, and zombie bodies thudding to the floor. She could also hear cursing and inaudible dialogue between the men, as they tried desperately to find her.

When Becky reached the back of the store, she found a room concealed by a thick curtain. She held her bat high, reached out, and grabbed an edge of this curtain. She drew in a breath, as something shattered when it crashed to the floor. She jumped, and turned towards that sound. She heard this exchange of dialogue between the men a second later.

“Smooth move Ex-Lax!”

“Bite me! Now shut the fuck up and find her!”

The men fell back into their quite search mode, as Becky turned back to the velvet curtain still held in her hand. She bit her lip, pissed on fear, and yanked it back. No zombies shuffled out towards her, but the curtain had rattled when it ran across the bar. There was a momentary freeze on the advancing flashlight beams, and it sent a cold shiver up her spine. When the flashlight beams started moving again, maybe just a notch quicker than they were before, Becky hurried into the dark space, and hoped she would find a place to hide and not a bunch of zombies waiting to make her a meal.

Ted started pushing open the doors to the changing rooms, and stumbled upon a zombie while he was doing it. This zombie woman was currently trying on clothes. She turned towards him wearing a dress with a price tag still attached to it.

“That one looks great on you. Very slimming. Kind of hard to see in the dark though. Here’s some light,” he replied, smiling, shining the flash light in the zombie’s eyes. The zombie, now blinded, fumbled towards him. He gripped her around the neck in a head lock, her mouth biting, trying to get at his flesh. “I paid you a compliment. Couldn’t you at least say thank you?” Ted dropped her down onto the floor, put a knee into her back. She squirmed underneath him, but couldn’t slip free. He ended her shopping spree by putting a knife into the back of her skull. Her undead shopper days were over.

“Who are you talking to?” Greg asked.

“No one,” Ted replied, stepping out of the dressing room.

“Come on then. Stop screwing around.”

The two men moved towards the rear of the store, as Becky took a moment to check out the room she was in. She investigated it by inching her way around the room with her hands like she was blind. She was afraid to turn on her flashlight for fear of discovery.

In her blind search, she found that there was a table, chairs, coffee pot, microwave, fridge, and shelves with supplies. She also found a door that led out of this room, and a couple of vending machines, one for drinks, and the other for dry goods. She briefly turned on her flashlight, so she could scan the interior of the dry goods machine, which still had glass in the frame. She shut off the light, and looked back towards the noisy men. They weren’t moving any quicker because of her brief light, so she thought she was still hidden away in the dark. They would get back here eventually, she was sure of that, but for the moment she was still unfound.

She turned back to the machine. All the non-perishable junk food she could ever want was right there in front of her. But, and this was a big BUT, how was she going to get it unless she broke the glass? That noise would not only bring the guys to her, but probably the zombies still left alive in the store, if there were any still left alive.

“Think, Becky. Think. What would Joe do?” His name sent a momentary spike of pain across her heart. Joe, the man she had married right after High School, was out there somewhere either dead or looking for her. If he was dead–

“No. Don’t go there girl,” she replied to herself, as she turned the dark flashlight upside down in her hand, and held it like that for a moment. Joe was alive, end of discussion, and she just had to keep thinking that way whether she believed it or not.

She decided, once her brain cleared, that the best plan of action was to wait until one of the goons turned something over in the store, and try to synch up with that sound when she smashed the glass.

“Easier said than done,” she replied to herself, and that’s when she noticed a new problem–shuffling. Something was moving towards her. She could hear it as it lurched about in the dark; and, if she was right, it was very close to the break room.

“Food first,” she replied to herself, as she waited, shuffling getting closer.

After a few moments of waiting, she heard a loud crash in the store. She smashed out the vending machine glass, almost in sync. She scooped out anything that would fit into her backpack, and then smiled as she heard one of the guys cuss out the other one for being so loud.

Finished with her vending machine raid, she slipped her back pack on, and made her way over to the door she had found, which she wasn’t sure was locked or not. Shuffling again, one of the chairs slid a bit sideways, the table a second later. She gripped the door handle and turned it.

Unlocked.

She opened the door, and jumped into the room, swinging her bat in the dark like a crazy person, aiming for any zombies that came after her. There were none, so she closed the door, locked it, and found a hiding spot just as something thumped against the frame.

Greg and Ted stopped their search when they reached the breakroom, taking a brief pause for a moment at its entrance. Greg peered into the black, shined the flashlight around. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, at first, and was about to leave when he saw the busted vending machine and the door that was closed. He also saw the zombie who had stumbled into this room after Becky. The creature shambled up to Greg who quickly put a knife into its skull, and dropped it to the floor. He motioned for Ted to follow him into the break room, and both men eased their way in.

The first thing Ted did was step over to the busted vending machine. His boots crunched on the broken glass, as his stomach rumbled.

Greg spun around with one finger up to his mouth. It was the middle finger, signaling to Ted several things at once.

Ted rubbed his belly, and flipped Greg off.

In the office, which was the room behind the door Becky had found, she heard the crunching glass of Ted’s boots, and her ears perked up. She slid out from underneath the desk, and walked over to the door. She put her ear against the shiny fake wood, and listened. She could hear the men shuffling about. “What to do?” ran through her head, as she walked back to her hiding spot, realizing there was only one way out and one way into this room. She was trapped, and knew it was time to get out the thing she hated to use. She grabbed her backpack, and very carefully unzipped it. Inside it there was a gun, which she kept for just in case situations such as this. She took it out, and made sure it was ready to fire. It was. She gripped the gun tight, prayed, slid underneath the desk, and waited.

Inside the breakroom, Ted finished his candy treat, and turned his light towards the sound he had just heard. A zombie appeared in the light, rotting flesh, shuffling slowly. This zombie had been a portly man at some point in time.

Ted scanned the room for Greg, who was now standing by the locked office door. Ted put his light back on the portly zombie, and that’s when he saw another one appear behind it–a woman this time, wearing a softball uniform, half her face was gone. Behind this woman zombie another zombie appeared, and then another, and then another.

Ted made his way over to Greg, as the zombies sauntered into the breakroom like employees on a break.

“We got to move,” Ted replied, softly in Greg’s ear.

Greg looked at him with annoyance. “Personal space man.”

“Go. We better start doing it,” Ted replied, turning Greg around so he could see what they were now facing.

Greg grunted, so close to getting his revenge for Darren; but no matter how bad he wanted that revenge he couldn’t give up his life for it. He had to leave, and he had to follow Ted who was now knifing his way towards the exit of the room.

Greg cocked his head sideways, and yelled this at the closed door before he left. “These zombies are going to feast nicely on you. You’d had a lot more fun with us. Good luck. Happy New Year!” He laughed, and followed after Ted.

In the office, Becky jumped when she heard Greg screaming at her. The gun held tight in her sweaty nervous hands almost went off because of it. She prayed again, and thought of Joe, thought of the day when they had been separated.

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, the day it had happened. The group she and Joe were surviving with had decided to investigate this town for food and supplies, which just happened to be overrun with zombies; and when the zombies saw them, they did what zombies always do, go on the attack. In the mad rush that followed, Joe had tried his best to keep them together. It didn’t happen. Like an ocean tide pulling them apart, their hands unlocked, Becky went one way with half the group, Joe went with the other half. The last thing she heard him say, as he drifted off into the distance was this–“Acorn Drop–New Year’s Eve.” Then he was gone, and she hadn’t seen him since.

She pushed the painful thoughts away, found her courage, and slid out from underneath the desk. She walked over to the door, leaned her head against it, and listened.

Outside of the breakroom, Ted and Greg paused for a moment. The store was now overrun with zombies, so they couldn’t leave the way they came in, too packed. They had to head towards the door that led into the stockroom.

Ted reached it first, and opened it. He rushed into the darkness of the warehouse, which was somehow zombie free, and found his way to the door once used to let delivery drivers and employees into the back of the building. Without hesitation, he opened the door and ran out into the sleet-filled day. He took out his gun as he ran, and started shooting anything undead heading in his direction.

Greg stopped for just a second before he entered the warehouse. He looked towards the breakroom, and found a little bit of comfort knowing the girl they were chasing would probably not make it out alive. Maybe the zombies could do what he couldn’t do. Maybe the zombies would have his revenge. While he stood there, a zombie came in for the attack, mouth open, rotting lips colored with dried blood. Greg grabbed this zombie by the neck, felt the flesh of the creature melt away in his hand, as the creature snapped at him like a shark. Greg put a knife into the zombie’s head, dropped it to the floor, and then followed after Ted.

In the office, Becky’s heart sank. She could hear zombies beyond the thin brown door, shuffling about, knocking things over; but, good news for her, they hadn’t found her yet. This gave her a few extra moments to think, as she walked back to the desk, grabbed her bat and slid the backpack over her shoulders. She tried to plan her next move while she stood there, and all she could come up with was this. Open the door, empty the gun, and start swinging until she escaped or she became food for the zombies. She wasn’t a fan of that plan, but she had no other options.

Becky grabbed the bat with her left hand, held the gun tightly in her right. She prayed again, thought of Joe, and then walked over to the door. She opened it the best she could with her hands full, stepped out into the break room, and started blasting her way forward, holding the flashlight in her teeth, spotlighting zombies, and popping them in the head.

Pop!

Pow!

Bang!

Each time the flashlight showed her a zombie skull she blasted it open. Somehow she managed to get out of the breakroom in one piece, but the gun was now fresh out of bullets. She stashed it away, and tightened her grip on the bat. She scanned the store, which was filled with zombies. The same scene Ted and Greg had seen moments ago.

“Where to go?” She asked herself, as a zombie came at her from the right. She whacked it with her bat, and that zombie fell to the floor with a thump. She decided to make her way out of the store by the way she came in. She fought her way through the horde, ducking here and there, diving into and out of clothes racks, turning things over, bobbing and weaving like a running back, busting heads open with her bat; and when the bat didn’t work, she used whatever she could find to clear a path to the front of the store.

Finally, she emerged onto the sidewalk, and into the grey sleet filled day. She took a pause to think, and another issue presented itself. The two thugs chasing her were coming in her direction, blocking the way she needed to go. A zombie came up on her while she stood there thinking, she tripped it, and then stomped in its brains. She decided to duck back into the store until the men passed.

She found a round rack still filled with clothes, and slipped into the dark interior. She sat there a moment, too afraid to reload her gun for fear of being heard, either by the zombies or the men chasing her. Her ears would have to be her eyes as she waited in the dark, waited, and waited, and waited, until the sound of the men’s boots were a memory in her head.

When she thought the coast was clear, she slipped out from her hiding spot, and surveyed the scene. Most of the zombies had moved out of the store, and were now off to do their zombie thing.

She made her way back to the sidewalk, and stood there a moment. The men chasing her were gone, her ears hadn’t deceived her. It was now just her, and the zombies shuffling close by. Feeling a bit safe, she started to make her way towards the place where the Acorn dropped every year around this time.

It was a long tough walk, ducking into and out of buildings, re-loading when she could, arms growing tired from all the gunfire and swinging bat action; but finally, finally she made it to a large parking deck. She ran into it, and climbed the smooth ramps until she reached LEVEL 3, which she thought would be a good safe place to rest, recharge, and reload.

She found an empty car that was unlocked, and dropped into the back seat. She locked the doors, took out a blanket from her backpack, curled up like a baby, put her head down, and fell instantly asleep.

*

The afternoon sky hung dark and grey, and a soft snow had replaced the sleet that had been falling for most of the day, as Joe Carter fired a couple of shots into the crowd of zombies who were shambling after him. He saw one of them go down hard; and, even though he had missed the head shot on this zombie, its rotten left leg had no problem separating itself from its body when the bullet passed through it. The creature fell over with a thump, and seconds later started to crawl, instincts set so strong to feed that it had to keep going no matter what. The rest of the zombies were unfazed, and were still moving towards him, so he had to find shelter, quick. He saw a street, turned left down it, and ran past two large posts with black gargoyles sitting on top them. They had fake red ruby eyes set deep into the eye sockets, and they watched Joe as he ran by.

About half down this street, Joe turned to check on his pursuer’s progress. The zombies converged, and started to shamble down this single-lane asphalt road, which Joe realized was once a private drive. He looked to his left and right, pine trees dotted either side of this driveway, covered in a heavy white coating from this late December winter storm. He turned forward and eyeballed his destination.

The house he was moving towards stood all alone at the very end of this driveway. It was silent and dark, empty and fortress strong, at least three stories tall with an attic and basement (the kind of attic and basement where there was always something going bump in the night). It was Victorian in design with a wrap-around porch, circle driveway complete with fountain, and a three car garage. Two cars sat outside of this house, one a Porsche SUV, the other some kind of Range Rover. Several bodies lay on the ground close to these cars, partially eaten and frozen. Joe ignored the bodies as he moved up the porch steps, and turned his shoulder towards the front door. He hit the door hard, but it didn’t budge. Instead, the thick wood, rich man’s wood, held its ground, and planted him firmly on his butt. He looked around the porch, two windows on either side of him, shuttered up tight, impossible to penetrate. The zombies reached the circle part of the driveway and started coming towards him, some going left, some going right. They might have been dumb slow creatures, but when they horded together like this they were almost impossible to beat.

Joe got up and fired a few shots at them. A couple of heads exploded, but the rest of the zombies kept coming. He now had a decision to make–race through them, kill what he could in hand to hand combat, pray he didn’t get bitten, or find some way to get into this house even if that meant breaking a part of his body to do it.

A zombie shambled up onto the porch–an elderly woman with cat eye glasses, rotting from head to toe. Joe shot her right through the eye, shattering the glasses, and sending her sprawling back into the other zombies. This delayed their progress for a moment, as they had to find a way around the dead granny now laying across the porch steps.

Joe decided it was time to find a way inside and that hand to hand combat wouldn’t work against this massive horde of zombies. He took off towards the back, but somehow managed to trip over one of the expensive chairs on the porch. This sent him sprawling into the swing, which he fell into, and then off of. He lay on his back for a moment, as the swing moved wildly above him. He put his hand up to stop it, just as he heard a thump on the porch. He looked past his feet and he saw a couple of zombies heading in his direction–one a policeman in uniform with one eye gone, badge still on his chest, and the other a young woman dressed like a cheerleader. She had one arm missing, and her leg had been nastily chewed on.

He shot them both in the head, got up, and headed for the back of the house. He was moving fast when he saw the window which led into a mud room. This window had no shutter covering it, so he closed his eyes, shielded his face, and dove through. The window was strong, again rich people with rich windows lived here, but it did what it was supposed to. It broke into a thousand jagged pieces, as Joe flew through it like a stunt man in a Hollywood movie. He slammed into the floor hard, and rolled to a stop against the wall with a loud thud. Shards of glass and what was left of the window rained down on him, as he covered himself again. When he was sure the last bit of debris had fallen and that he wasn’t cut or bleeding, he got up onto his feet and dusted himself off.

“That was a bad idea,” he replied to the empty room, as he walked over to the door that led into the mud room from the outside. He turned the handle, and smiled when he realized it was unlocked. He locked the door, turned around, and tried the door that led into the house. It also wasn’t locked. He made his way inside and slammed the door closed. He clicked the dead bolt, and caught his breath for a moment.

While he stood there, he pulled a flashlight out of his backpack and studied the room he was in. It was a kitchen, a big kitchen, full of stainless steel appliances, stainless steel sinks and faucets, and granite counter tops. He walked over to the gas stove, tried it, didn’t work–this one needed electricity to make it function. He checked the cabinets and found plenty of dry food, canned stuff, pots and pans, dishes, cleaning supplies, and other kitchen items.

Slap!

Thump!

He heard noises inside the mud room and turned to face it. The zombies had arrived and were now finding their way in through the open window. It sounded like slabs of beef dropping onto the floor, as they fell into the room one by one. Seconds later, they started to paw at the door that led into the kitchen.

Joe decided he better get on with the exploration of the house, because he wasn’t sure how much time he really had. Something momentarily stopped him, caused him to freeze in mid-movement. He turned towards the sound. It was a rattle of silverware in one of the drawers, like someone was shuffling through them trying to find the right one to use for their meal.

He walked over to this drawer, opened it, and shined the light down. In the gloom of the room, he could see everything was in place, and as it should be. He closed the drawer (soft close), stepped out of the kitchen, and into a hallway.

He paused again when he heard the silverware rattle.

It was a bit louder this time.

“Happy thoughts Joe, happy thoughts,” he replied to himself, as he tried to make his brain think that the rattle was caused by the zombies in the mud room shaking the floors of the house, and not something else. Hard to do in a place this dark and spooky, but he managed to do it as he went back to his exploration.

The hallway he was in ran left and right. It wasn’t as far down to the end of the hall on the left, so he went in that direction. He found a half bath and a door leading out to the garage. He remembered the garage doors had been shut when he first saw them, so he opened up the door hoping to find another car.

The garage was massive, probably bigger than most people’s homes. He walked down the small set of brick steps and stopped when he reached the concrete floor. He scanned the place with his flashlight, cutting the dark with a single yellow beam. Nothing much in this garage except for typical garage stuff, shelves full of tools, paint in pails, yard equipment, and on and on it went. However, there was one thing that did spark an interest in him. It was a car, a small sporty convertible, Maserati, very expensive.

Joe ran his hands over its polished grey exterior and opened the car door. He slipped into the driver’s seat. With its leathered-up interior, it looked and smelled rich. He searched the car for a set of keys, but he had no luck. They weren’t there. He then looked into the mirror, towards the closed garage door directly behind this car. He thought about an escape plan–fling up the garage door, dive into the idling car, and race out of the garage before the zombie horde surrounded him. How far would he get in a car like this with the weather like it was? He wasn’t sure, but it was a solid plan.

Joe slid out of the car and closed the door. Something caught his attention. He spun the light up to the open door that led into this garage. He felt like he was being watched, but there was nothing there. Only a dark square opening that led back into the house.

“Shake it off, man,” he told himself, and then that Taylor Swift song popped into his head. “Great, I’m going to have to live with that song for a while.” He smiled, and made his way back inside.

He walked across the hall towards the half bath, and about halfway there, something stopped him for a second. He shined the light down the long hallway. He thought he saw something or someone there, but the end of the hall was empty when his light reached it. He listened in the dark, but he heard no footsteps, no noises that would tell him someone else was in this house with him.

He shook the scary thoughts free and made his way into the half bath. As luck would have it, there was a small kerosene lamp sitting on the sink. He turned off the flashlight and put it away. He grabbed the lamp, found a way to turn it on, and then the small square room flooded with light.

He checked himself in the mirror. His face looked haggard and worn, far removed from what a twenty-three year-old’s face should look like. His black hair was dirty, needed a washing, glasses needed cleaning. His clothes were filthy from the boots upward. Jeans, tee shirt, coat, all of it just needed to be trashed.

“What I wouldn’t give for a good shower,” he replied, turning on the faucet out of habit.

Nothing, of course, but there was a case of bottled water beside the sink. He grabbed one, drank some deep gulps, and then rinsed off his face with what was left. He used one of the fancy hand towels to dry himself, and then replaced his glasses. He stepped over and took a whiz in the commode, zipped up, and then leaned back against the wall.

He thought of Becky. He wondered how she was doing out there. She was in college before all this just like him, and neither one of them knew much about surviving until they were forced into it. It was sheer luck that they were both still alive–

“If she’s still alive,” that little voice inside his replied. That was a thought that haunted him each day. Alive or dead, he wished he knew, but in his heart he knew she was. It was just his brain that wouldn’t let him live with that answer.

A thump pulled him out of his thoughts. It came from somewhere deep inside the house. This didn’t sound like a zombie thump. This sounded like something else, something with more of a coordinated skill. He decided it might be time to check things out, to make sure the house was safe for him to be in for just a little while. He shouldered his backpack and loaded his gun. He grabbed the kerosene lamp and stepped out of the bathroom, which was covered in a white wallpaper.

He turned right and made his way back toward the kitchen. While he walked, he noticed the walls were filled with all kinds of family pictures. He shined his light over these images that were sitting in a cold house in dusty frames. He could trace this family through the years by looking at these photographs. It made him sad to see what this Zombie Apocalypse had destroyed, so he stopped looking and focused in on the exploration.

He stopped when he reached a small passageway that joined two rooms. The room on his right was the kitchen; the one on his left was a large dining room. He shined the light around the dining room for a moment, big table, lots of plush chairs, chandelier in the center of the ceiling, mirror on the wall, and a large window that was currently shuttered up. He turned to leave, and that’s when he heard it. He turned around, held the light up so he could see the chandelier. It sparkled and gleamed, and it was moving. Not wildly back and forth, but enough to make it clink and rattle.

A zombie thumped against the house causing Joe to jump. He took one last look at the chandelier, and then made his way back into the hall. He walked to the end of it and stopped. He shined the light in either direction. This new passageway went left to a front door and right into a large living room. In front of him was a large office, complete with all the necessary home office equipment.

He walked into the living room and explored there for a moment. The walls were white like the hallway and bathroom. A ceiling fan sat silent above him. The furniture was leathery cold. The solid glass coffee table showed a healthy abundance of dust.

Joe walked over to the wood-burning fireplace and put the kerosene lamp down. There was plenty of firewood stacked up on the floor, so he grabbed a bit and decided to kill the cold. It took him several tries; but, when he got the fire going, it gave him not only heat but light as well.

He warmed himself for a moment or two–thoughts again raced back to Becky. Where was she right now? Was she cold, tired, all alone, with a new group? Then the big question hit him again. The one that had stalked him since they separated–was she still alive? He pushed that last question quickly away and concentrated on getting warm.

When he was feeling thawed, he decided to raid the kitchen. He wanted to see if he could find a pot or pan that would withstand fire, maybe an old cast iron, best thing to cook with. If he could find something like that then he could have a hot meal again. How long had it been since he felt the warmth of food or tasted something that wasn’t processed with a thousand chemicals? How about a hot cup of coffee? All of it had been gone for too long now, and Joe missed it, missed it almost as much as he missed a hot shower or a warm safe bed.

A large bang upstairs interrupted his current cooking plans.

He looked upwards towards the direction of that sound. He would have to wait to raid the kitchen, because something was stirring, and he was almost certain it wasn’t a mouse.

He grabbed his pistol and the kerosene lamp, started to walk towards the exit of the room. That’s when his eyes spotted something, something once hidden in darkness now revealed with the firelight. He walked over and knelt down in front of a cardboard box. Two weapons were lying on top of it. A shotgun and a pistol. Beside this box was a case of bottled water. Five bottles were missing from the 24-pack.

He set the guns to the side, and popped open the box. Inside, he found toiletries and dry goods–enough to last him and Becky for days maybe weeks if they rationed them right. He rummaged through the box and found a pack of pop-tarts. He pulled out one of the pastries of death, and started to munch. He was about to close the box when he stumbled onto the note. He picked it up and took it over to the fireplace.

The note read:

If you find this, and we are nowhere to be seen, we are probably dead. Take the food, take the water, take what you can and get out! We stumbled onto this house, squatted for a bit, but then something went wrong. I decided to write this note while my buddies are trying to get the cars outside started, because I wanted to warn anyone who finds this box. Something lives in this house now, something brought up from the very depths of hell, something we managed to conjure simply by accident. Never play with Ouija Boards. We know that now, and are attempting to leave, but the zombies have us surrounded. Which one is worse, demon or zombie–I pray I never have to find that out.

Sincerely, AW

P.S. We think the family who once lived here is still in the Master Bedroom. We dared not open that door, but we did hear a lot of thumping coming from that room before we conjured up the demon. If you don’t leave, and try to seek shelter here, at least leave that door alone. Good Luck.

Joe looked up from the note when he heard another bang upstairs. He walked over to the box, and dropped the note back inside. He put a pistol into his waist band, and put the other one into the box. He made sure the knife he carried was easily accessible from the pocket of his coat. He grabbed the shotgun, and checked to see if it was loaded. It was. He then walked out of the room to the foot of the carpeted stairs.

He held the kerosene lamp up. No good. He couldn’t see all the way to the top with its light. He could only see about half of the steep stairs, the other half disappeared into the darkness beyond the reach of his light. He tried not to think about what could be lurking at the top, maybe it was looking down at him now with unseen eyes.

Joe shivered, pushed away the cold thoughts, found his nerve, said a silent prayer, and started to climb with his pulse pounding and his body breaking out in a frozen sweat. Every noise, every thump, every bang, caused him to stop, pause, and listen; but nothing ever came down on him from the top or up at him from below. He remained all alone while he climbed, and climbed, and climbed.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he stopped and shined the kerosene lamp around. The wall to his left was solid and unbroken, no doors, white wallpaper, and more pictures in frames. To his right there were three doors, all standing open looking like dark toothless mouths ready to swallow him up.

He shined his light around in the first room, which held bunk beds, kid’s furniture and toys, and posters on the wall. He walked into this room and over to the non-shuttered window. From here he could look out onto the circled area in front of the house, the fountain, and the driveway that led back out to the main road. The zombies were still shuffling about, thicker now than when they were before. He also noticed the snow had stopped falling, and it was sleeting again.

Joe sighed, because he knew the sporty number in the garage was his only option. That car wasn’t equipped for weather like this. The vehicles sitting outside would be better for this kind of weather, but hording zombies and opened SUV doors meant those cars were a no go. For one, he didn’t have the man power to fight off the zombies in order to get to one of the vehicles; and two, the batteries inside each vehicle were probably dead, drained of their energy as they fought to keep the lights inside the vehicles burning or the headlights on.

“They’re probably out of gas as well,” Joe thought, and sighed again. He tried not to think of Becky as he stood there, but he couldn’t help it. His thoughts drug him back to Myrtle Beach, and their quick warm weekend honeymoon.

The closet door banged open, causing him to jump, and turn towards it. Something rushed out of the interior dark, rattling coat hangers as it moved. This something brushed past him ending his rambling train of thought. It was cold whatever this something was. Then the door to the room slammed closed, and the thing that had come out of the closet let out a sinister laugh.

Joe swung the lamp around, shotgun pointed forward, ready to fire on the intruder, but the room as well as the hallway beyond the closed door were silent. He tried to collect himself, as he stood there. It was hard to do with his heart pounding like a jackhammer.

When he was calm, he walked over to the bedroom door and thought about the story of Gideon in the bible. That was a story he always went back to when he felt the impossible odds stacked against him. He reached down for the handle, and didn’t hesitate. He turned it, held it for a moment, quick breath, and then flung the door open so hard that a couple of pictures fell off the wall. There was nothing in front of him but the empty hallway now crawling with night’s oncoming darkness.

He bit his lip, leaned out, and set the lamp down on the hallway floor. He jumped back into the room, before anything could reach out of the dim dark and grab him. He let the lamp stand there a minute and give off some light. He heard the zombies shuffling about outside, the tink tink tink of sleet on the glass, the fire cracking and popping below, as he steadied his nerves and gripped the shotgun with both hands.

“Would a shotgun kill a demon?” Joe for some stupid reason, asked himself. He tried not to think of the answer, but he knew that the answer was no. However, it gave him comfort to be armed, so he kept the gun pointed forward as he stepped out into the hallway, trigger finger itching to fire on the first sign of movement.

There was nothing there.

Nothing at all.

He spun around a couple of times, standing in the spotlight of the kerosene lamp. He was all alone, and whatever had come out of that closet was gone.

He lifted up the kerosene lamp with the barrel of the gun, let it dangle off the end, as he checked out the next two rooms.

One was another kid’s room that he spent only moments looking around in, and the next a bathroom. The shower curtain was closed, pulled tight.

He sighed, and crept over to it.

“All right Joe. One, Two, Three, Go,” he replied, and yanked it open. Nothing was there but expensive tile, shampoo, soap, and a soap dish. He let his pulse calm a bit before stepping back out into the hall. When he reached the end of the hall, he stopped at the edge of another hallway.

Bam!

Went the bathroom door.

Bam!

Went one bedroom door.

Bam!

Went the other bedroom door.

The sound of the slamming doors echoed around the open house for a moment followed by more laughter, evil sinister laughter, as Joe dropped the gun, and planted himself against the wall, knocking a few pictures free. He could feel icy sweat run down his back, as goose bumps rose up on his arms.

He closed his eyes, found his calm, and pulled his body off the wall. He picked up the lamp and the gun, and stepped out into the unexplored hallway. He spun the light left and right, eyes darting about the place, ready to shoot on a moment’s notice; but there was nothing there to shoot. He was all alone.

Joe decided to go left where there was only one open door to check. He leaned into this room and saw that it was a library. There were shelves full of books, a couple of tables filled with books (some open and some closed), reading chairs, and dead reading lights. He could also see a spiral staircase that wound its way up to dark dingy shadows. He didn’t know what was up there, but he really didn’t care to know. Probably just a kooky reading area on a metal platform.

He turned around and walked in the other direction. First door he came upon was a large closet that was large enough to hide an army. He stepped into this closet and looked around. It was a typical closet with typical closet stuff, hanging clothes and coats, bed sheets, towels, stored holiday decorations–most of it Christmas based, and on and on it went.

Joe made his way back out into the hallway. He walked down to the last door on this level which was closed tight. He leaned against the wood, rich man’s wood, and tried not to think about the note or its warning about the Master Bedroom. He heard nothing shuffling in the room, so he drew in a breath, reached down, and turned the handle.

He pushed the door open, and it creaked inward, slowly, until it banged into the wall.

“Hello,” he asked, not sure why he did it. There was, of course, no answer.

He inched into the room, gun pointed forward, lamp dangling from the end of the barrel. He saw no shufflers, no activity of any kind. The room was empty except for typical bedroom material, which in this house was in the form of a gigantic king-sized bed that could hold five to six adults laying side by side, a place to sit and read by the window, dressers for clothes, nightstands, a huge TV, and not one, but two doors. One open, and one closed. He eyeballed the closed door for a moment, which he assumed was a large walk in closet.

Did he hear something moving in there?

He thought he did.

“Best to leave that one alone,” he told himself, and then made his way over to the open door. He shined his light around inside the room this door was attached to. It was a gigantic Master Bathroom filled with three sinks, a rain shower (no curtain, solid glass, thank goodness), a gigantic spa tub, rich looking floors, mirrors, faucets, and commode.

He stepped out of the bathroom a second later, and stood in the Master Bedroom for a moment listening to the tink, tink, tink sound of the sleet on the unshuttered window. He looked over at that closed door, and this time he was sure he heard something moving behind it. Joe ignored it, even though it was hard to do, and rummaged around the room for a moment. He found no keys to the car in the garage, but he did find a lot of expensive clothes and jewelry. One piece of jewelry, he thought, would fit Becky perfectly. It was not only her size, but the style she liked. He slipped it into his pants pocket, and started to leave. That’s when the closed door flung open, and that sinister evil laugh blasted into the room. It permeated the darkness, as Joe turned in time to see not one, but four zombies shuffle out of the closet.

He aimed the shotgun, as the bedroom door slammed closed. That sinister laugh erupted again, but Joe ignored it as he fired. The shotgun let out a blast of sound, and lit up the room for a moment in red light. The kerosene lamp on the end of the barrel swung wildly back and forth, dancing light all over the room in crazy patterns, as one zombie head exploded. It was the tallest of the bunch, probably the dad.

Joe aimed for the head of another walking corpse.

Something grabbed the shotgun, and then this something ripped the gun out of Joe’s hands, and flung it across the room. The kerosene lamp dangling off the end of the barrel, flew off as well. Thankfully, it didn’t break when it hit the carpet and rolled to a stop against the wall. While it lay on its side, it cast weird angles and patches of light across the room.

Joe pulled out his pistol, and popped two more zombies in the head–red flashes of light, perfect aim each time, heads splattered and exploded.

Now, there was only one zombie left.

He aimed, ready to send this room back to safety, and that’s when the demon pulled his aim away. The zombie went in for the fatal bite with Joe’s arm now exposed, stretched out and held tight by the invisible force.

Joe thought quickly, and it saved his life.

He balled his left hand into a fist, and punched the zombie as hard as he could with it. The zombie, the smallest of them all, was knocked sideways with a sickening crack. Its jawbone hung askew and disjointed, as the zombie found its center of balance, and went on the attack again.

Joe shook the demon free, and aimed.

The demon put a vice grip on his right arm, but he held his aim.

Veins bulged.

Muscles tightened.

Joe kept his aim strong, as the demon tried with all its might to expose Joe’s arm again, an arm that felt like a thousand hot needles were being pushed into his skin all at once.

Joe wasn’t about to give in this time.

He fired.

The zombie’s head popped like an exploding watermelon, and it fell over dead.

The demon vanished.

Once the room was silent, Joe grabbed the light and checked himself over. No bites, nothing, but his right arm was sore and it had a big bruise on it. He grabbed the shotgun, and made his way ever so carefully down to the living room. He stopped in front of the half-burnt fire, and let it warm him for a moment.

When he was feeling warm and calm, he grabbed his backpack and took out his bible. He read a few passages, and soothed his rattled nerves. He may not have been the best at being a Christian, but he tried to keep his faith strong, because in a world like this you needed it just to get you through each difficult day. When he was finished reading, he listened for the demon, but he didn’t hear it. All he could hear was the tink, tink, tink sound of the sleet, and an occasional thump coming from the mud room. The zombies trapped in there hadn’t found a way into the house, and it sounded like they hadn’t found a way out either.

Joe packed away his bible, and got his feet moving. He made sure all three weapons were loaded, and then took the box of supplies and the case of water down to the car. He packed up the car, grabbed the shotgun and lamp, and then made his way back into the house. It was time to look for the car keys, which he hoped were downstairs somewhere, because they weren’t upstairs. He was sure of that.

Joe made his way into the kitchen, figuring it would be the best place to start his search. He put the lamp and gun on the counter, and turned the lamp up to full power. The fire popped and creaked in the fireplace beyond, as he stood in the kitchen for a moment, and asked himself, where would keys be if they were indeed in here?

He walked over to a drawer and opened it up. It was mostly cooking utensils, rich looking, powerfully built, clean and polished, but not good for starting a car.

Bang!

Something crashed above his head.

Joe, on instinct, ducked out of the way, and looked down at his feet. He saw part of a broken coffee cup lying there. He picked up a piece of it, stood up, and looked at it a moment. He turned around to see where it might have come from, and that’s when he saw a cabinet door standing open with ten to fifteen more coffee cups sitting on a shelf, like missiles ready to launch.

One of the cups lifted up, and while he watched, mesmerized as if in a trance, it came flying at his head. He managed to duck out of the way as another one lifted up into the air.

The demon wasn’t finished with him yet.

Joe knew now that he had to be quick, so he started flinging open drawers, and rummaging through them as fast as he could. Through the kitchen he went, frantically searching for the keys, dodging coffee cup debris.

When the demon threw the last coffee cup, it moved onto the coffee pot, then to the dishes, the silverware. Whatever it could make into a weapon, it did.

Joe did his best to dodge and weave through every weapon launched. He took a few hard hits on the back, a couple of nasty shots to the head (one that actually produced momentary stars), but through it all he stayed true to his course and was rewarded for his efforts when he ripped open a drawer and found the keys. He saw the Maserati symbol on the key chain, so he knew it was them. He snatched up the keys and took off for the garage, grabbing the gun and lantern as he went.

The demon flung the microwave at him, and it barely missed Joe’s head. That machine crashed into a glass cabinet, and destroyed itself along with tons of fancy china.

Joe could hear the racket behind him as he opened the door that led into the garage, and hurried down the steps. He made his way over to the car, and for some reason the demon didn’t follow. He was thankful for that.

“Okay, Joe, here we go. Let’s hope she still has gas,” he replied, as he climbed in and pushed the key into the ignition.

He turned the key, the car sputtered, and came to life.

He turned on the headlights, and they lit up the room.

He let the car idle for a moment, and the sports car purred like a pedigree kitten. It was anxious to be driven.

He climbed out and walked over to the metal garage door, pistol in hand. He thought of Gideon again, and how he had defeated an entire army with just 300 men. It gave him hope, and it gave him power. One more second, just a quick breath, hand on the garage door handle, ready to lift–he paused, something occurred to him.

He walked over and rummaged around near the lawnmower. He found a small red gas can, which was still full. He took the lawnmower and the gas can over to the garage door that was furthest away from the idling car. He searched himself, but he had no matches.

He walked over to the car and searched the box of supplies, no luck.

He sighed, cussed under his breath, because he knew he had to make one quick trip into the house to retrieve the matches by the fireplace.

He raced into the living room so fast that he almost tripped over the couch, but he didn’t. This trip would have sent him sprawling into the glass coffee table. Who knows what kind of damage that would have done?

He grabbed the box of matches, and paused when he heard a door open. It was the door that led into the house from the mud room.

That evil sinister laugh again followed by thumping and bumping moving into the kitchen, stepping on broken debris.

Joe watched in horror as the zombies started shuffling into the living room, blocking his exit.

He had no gun on him, but he had his knife and he had the matches. He took out his knife, and stabbed one of the zombies in the head when it came at him. He then fought the zombies until he reached the hall, but he couldn’t move forward. He backed into the office, and got cornered. He flung things at them, but it was no use. They were packing in tight.

Joe knifed a couple more zombies in the head, and then lit a match. The zombies backed up from it, as he tossed the match into the hair of a former male dressed in a dirty business suit. Its head lit up like a makeshift torch, and Joe raced up to it, pushing it forward like a burning battering ram. The other zombies, startled by this fire, scattered, as Joe pushed the dirty business suit zombie backwards down the hall with its teeth gnashing at him.

When Joe reached the door that led into the garage, he shoved the zombie into the back wall. He lit another match, and tossed it onto the zombie, who caught fire and started to burn. He smiled when he saw the wall catch, and the flames race up to the roof.

Joe made his way down the steps, and raced over to the lawnmower. He doused it in gasoline, and tossed the can away. He flung up the garage door, and the zombies outside noticed him instantly.

Joe struck a match.

“Come and get some,” he replied, and dropped it.

The lawnmower exploded with fire and started to burn. He pushed it out into the cold, as far as he dared to venture. The zombies retreated, of course.

He slip-slided back into the garage, ran over and flung up the garage door behind the car, jumped into the machine, slammed the car door closed, and threw the gear shift into reverse as flaming zombies started to come out of the interior of the house.

The tires left black marks on the concrete floor as the car sailed backwards. Joe knew he was moving too fast for the weather conditions, but when he realized this it was too late. He was now a passenger in the car he was driving.

The car slid sideways for a bit, collecting zombies that couldn’t get out of its way. Joe could see their miserable rotten faces smashed into the glass, jaws still moving, trying to get at his precious flesh. Then the car came to a sudden stop when it collected so many zombies they stopped the car’s sideways progress.

Joe was shoved into the passenger seat, and as he lay on his side, he heard a crack. He looked up, and saw the glass on the passenger window starting to fracture. He gathered himself, slipped back into the driver’s seat, as the window caved in.

One zombie managed to crawl about halfway in (a creature that looked to be in its early twenties when it was born into the zombie world, female, probably just a day-to-day office worker).

Joe kept his cool as he threw the car into first gear, but the wheels started spinning. The car wasn’t moving forward.

“Come on! Come on!” Joe screamed at the machine, as the woman zombie grabbed his arm. He shook her free, just as the wheels caught and the car rocketed forward.

The zombies started to fall away, all but that one who was about half way in and half way out. She grabbed his arm again, and started to go in for the fatal bite.

Joe took his left hand off the wheel, and let the car drive forward without his guidance. He shook his right arm free again, and the zombie tipped forward into the seat. This gave him enough time to grab his knife, and lift the zombie up by its hair. They were eye-to-eye for a moment, and then Joe shoved the knife into and out of the zombie’s skull. He gave her a push, and the creature fell off.  He looked back to the front of the car, and he was heading straight for a tree. He turned the wheel to avoid a head on collision, which worked, but the car started sliding sideways. Again, he was a passenger in the car, as the machine slid until it made hard contact with the tree, shaking loose frozen debris from the lifeless limbs above.

The car sputtered and died.

Joe could see the zombies shuffling towards him as he tried to get the car started, and then he looked into the garage. Zombies on fire where now coming out of the house, and heading in his direction.

Joe kept trying to start the car, and it kept sputtering, not wanting to start.

“Please, please, please,” he replied, as the engine caught.

He pushed the car into first gear, and zoomed forward up the driveway, leaving the zombies, and the haunted house behind.

At the end of the driveway, he turned towards downtown Raleigh, as the lawnmower exploded in the distance. The house was now burning inside and out. It wouldn’t be long before it was embers.

*

Becky woke up hours later, and noticed that the day had drifted into the night.

She checked her watch.

It read 10 P.M.

She couldn’t believe she had slept for so long, but it had been a tough day. If anyone deserved to sleep like this, she did.

She opened up her backpack, trying to keep the blanket on her the best she could. It was cold inside the car, and her breath rushed out of her in a frozen white cloud. She took out a stick of deodorant, a clean towel, a bottle of water, bag of chips, tooth brush, tooth paste, liquid soap, mirror, clean underwear, and a clean shirt. She ate the bag of chips while she scanned the dark parking garage. There was no sign of anything or anyone lurking. That was good. That was hopeful.

She finished the chips, and washed out the artificial cheese taste with some of the water. She took what was left of the water and cleaned herself up. It wasn’t a hot shower or a thorough cleaning, but it was enough to make herself feel somewhat fresh.

She put on her coat and tied up her boots, sat there a moment, and collected herself. She prayed, and hoped Joe would arrive safely by midnight, which was now just a few hours away. Feeling ready, she slipped out of the car, slid her backpack onto her back, and gripped the baseball bat tight in her right hand.

She walked over to the edge of the building, and scanned the ground below with her flashlight. It wasn’t overrun with zombies as she had feared it would be. That was hopeful, but there was enough of them to cause a problem if she wasn’t careful.

She looked back towards the way she had entered this structure, the long circular ramp that wound its way up to each level of this place, it was clear and free of –

A zombie appeared in her light, then another, and another behind it. They were coming, and it looked like the once-empty deck was going to be full of walking corpses very soon.

She knew that she would have to use the stairwell to escape, which was the one place she hadn’t wanted to use, because the lights were off and inside that place it would be as black as night. She would be blind, alone, and terrified when confined within its concrete walls. Nevertheless, that was her only safe exit option, as the zombies continued to file into this parking structure like they were looking for their car.

She walked over to the stairwell door, and stood there a moment in front of its hard grey metal surface. She held her bat high, drew in a breath, exhaled, and then opened the door. Pitch black greeted her. The flashlight cut the dark the best it could, but that little yellow beam could only go do so much in darkness as thick as this.

Becky walked out onto the platform and over to the shiny metal rail. She leaned over it, and shined the light down. The beam didn’t reveal too much, but it revealed enough to let her know this small space appeared to be silent and empty. That was good enough for her.

“Okay, girl. Feet better start a moving,” she replied, as she closed the door and entombed herself.

She crossed the small platform, and then started to descend. The concrete stairs made a slapping sound when her boots dropped onto each one of them, as she moved quickly to the second floor landing.

She stopped there a moment, deep breaths, and again she leaned over the rail for a quick scan. There was nothing coming up at her from below, and it eased her mind a bit when she realized she could see the bottom floor much better from this vantage point.

A thump from above.

She jumped, turned the light in that direction. The door didn’t fall down even though it was a hard thump, but she knew she better get moving, and quick. She turned back to the stairs, deep breath, exhaled, and then slap, slap, slap went the boots as she made it to the first floor.

She raced over to the exit door and stopped. She put her ear up to the shiny metal object that led to the outside world. Her heart was racing, as she listened for zombies shuffling nearby, listened for cars, for people, for anything at all that disturbed the silence, but there was nothing to be heard. The world was dead.

She breathed in and breathed out, opened the door, and stepped out onto the sidewalk with her bat held high, ready to swing at anything coming at her. She wasn’t swarmed or attacked, and mercifully the bad weather had passed leaving behind an icy mess that only a North Carolina winter storm can leave.

She pulled up her coat, and made her way over to where the Acorn dropped every New Year’s Eve. When she arrived at the spot, Joe was nowhere to be seen. Her heart sank. It dropped down into the pit of her stomach and drowned.

“Get it together, girl. You know Joe; he wouldn’t just be out here waiting with the zombies. Where would he hide if he was hiding?” She asked herself, glancing around.

The place was filled with empty buildings and cars, along with a healthy abundance of zombies. She spied a place not far away from where she was standing. It looked like a place Joe would hide in. It was an easy in and easy out kind of building with windowless frames and busted out doors. She rushed over to this building, and peered into the dark interior with her light. Nothing much in there, but remnants of a world that use to exist. That world was gone now, but the litter of the human race still remained.

“Joe!” She quietly screamed, trying not to be too loud about it. “You in there?”

No Joe, but there was something moving on her right, and she turned in time to see a zombie shuffling and sliding towards her. It slipped on the ice, and she heard its left arm shatter when it fell. It tried to squirm towards her, as she stepped up, and smashed in its head with the baseball bat.

She turned from the now non-moving zombie to the buildings around her. She walked the sidewalk for a bit, peering into the black of each building, going inside when she could; and she tried really hard not to raise her voice when she called out his name. She also tried several of the cars, in case he was asleep in one of them (he was a deep sleeper); but all she found was emptiness, and no Joe.

She searched for a bit more, and then just gave up. Joe was just not here no matter how badly she wanted him to be. He was either dead, or he wasn’t going to make it before the midnight hour.

She found a bench and sat down, not minding the wet cold settling into her legs through the fabric of her jeans. Being quiet didn’t attract zombies, so she tried to remain that way even as the tears started to flow. The noises of her sobbing eventually attracted the shufflers nearby. They started to notice her, and she thought about not getting up, just giving in and letting them have her. At least as a walking corpse she would be in the majority and not the minority. The thought of that comforted her at first, but then it became too much to bear. She had no intention of becoming a mindless corpse drifting through the days like a sailboat with no breeze, so she got up off the bench, and went into a store nearby. She found a place to hide, to keep watch, and she told herself, as she sat there shivering and fighting back tears, that if Joe wasn’t there by the morning, somehow she would force herself to leave.

*

Joe searched the city, once, twice, and a third time. The storm moved from sleet to freezing rain, and then it stopped completely as he watched the clock on the dash click off the hours. New Year’s Eve was drawing closer, and there were no signs of Becky.

He had reached the outer limits of the city again, the residential section, and was about to turn back when the zombie stepped in front of the car. He swerved to avoid it, out of instinct, and the car started to slide. He tapped the brakes, tried to turn into the skid, but nothing worked. He was heading down a hill and picking up speed. A passenger once again in the car he was driving.

The car looped around a couple of times, and righted itself just as it slammed head on into the back of a pickup truck. Clothes and furniture from the bed of the truck covered the car, as the Maserati came to rest, smoldering and crumpled.

Joe, slammed into the air bag with his face (should have worn a seat belt even though it was a Zombie Apocalypse), and bounced back into the leather seat. He was temporarily dazed, as he sat there a moment and looked at the dashboard clock. There was still enough time to race back on foot to the spot where the acorn dropped each year at this time, but he would be cutting it close if he left right now.

He scanned for zombies. They were lurking, stalking his way, but he thought he had enough time to get out of the car before they arrived. He grabbed the shotgun, and opened up the box. He put a pistol into each pocket of his coat, zipped up, slid on his winter gloves and hat, and then stepped out of the car.

A zombie shuffled towards him. He stepped up to it, took out his knife, and slammed the blade right between the accountant style glasses it was wearing. He pulled out the knife, and dropped the zombie to the ground. He wiped off the blade, and turned back to the city.

“Need some help?”

Joe turned around, knife up, ready to slash and kill.

“I mean you no harm.”

Joe could see a man in the shadows with a flashlight, probably armed heavily. “I’m okay,” he replied to the man.

“Name’s Mike, Mike Beem. I saw the accident. I thought I could help.”

“Not really a good place for a chit chat, is it?” Joe asked.

“No, it isn’t,” Mike replied.

“I’m okay. Just got to get into the city by midnight.”

“It’s packed tight in there. Good luck.”

“Thanks.”

“Happy New Year,” Mike replied, as he left.

“Good night and Happy New Year to you,” Joe replied, and Mike was gone. Like so many things in this world, he was gone.

Joe’s thoughts turned back to Becky. Where would she be if she was waiting on him? He had no answer for that, as he heard three gunshots go off in the distance. They echoed out of the city, and disturbed the silence of this dead world. They came from the direction of the Acorn Drop, which was a lot closer than he thought it was. He knew inside it was her, fighting for her life, so he hurried off in that direction; and he hoped he would be able to save her in time.

*

Through tears and prayers, through hopes and fears, through anxiety and nervousness, Becky waited for Joe in the once-bustling store, as time slipped forward, drew closer to midnight. Through the big display window, she watched the street, and the bright white world, as she hunkered in the dark and waited.

A couple of zombies shuffled by, but they paid no attention to her. They just went about their zombie way.

While she sat there, arms wrapped tight, shivering, her mind drifted back to her wedding day. This was now her happy place, where she returned to when she was stressed out or in need of some relief. She had worn a soft white dress that day, sleeveless, cut low at the neck. The veil was made of an Italian lace, and her hair was pulled back into a braided pony tail. Joe and the groomsman had worn the traditional tux and tails. Her bridesmaids were in black to offset her virginal white. There were flowers, several rows of seats on the beach, family and friends spread throughout–most of them dead and gone now. She could see Joe smiling, as she walked down the makeshift aisle in bare feet. It was morning, the day was warm, and it was perfect.

She recited the vows in her head, hers and his, and thought about how “till death do you part” meant so much more in a Zombie Apocalypse. Her mind then found the memory of the reception after the wedding. The dancing, music, booze, the tent, the people, joy was there in that long ago place that now didn’t exist.

Around 11:20, she heard a car. Becky opened her eyes, stood up and looked. She saw lights breaking up the night. These lights also illuminated a zombie who was shambling close to the store. She made a mental note of it, and then put her eyes back on the car. It was obvious to her that with the speed the car was traveling, and the way the light was flashing out of the driver’s window, that someone inside this vehicle was looking for someone. Carefully, she made her way to the door, and pushed it open. The zombie (a rotten half decayed man in a business suit) lumbered towards her when she stepped outside. A quick whack of the bat, a busted open head, and the zombie shuffled no more. Becky quickly made her way to a spot where Joe could see her.

The car with the search light slid to a stop, inches from where she stood on the sidewalk. Moments passed as the person (or persons) moved around inside. She shielded her eyes and tried to look into the vehicle, but the car lights were blinding her.

The driver’s door opened, and Becky stepped up towards it, nearly bouncing with glee. She was just about to see –

Greg stepped out of the car, and eyeballed her. “Would you look at what I’ve found?” He then leaned back into the car. “You were right Ted. It was her coming out of that parking garage. You still got your eyesight even though you look like shit,” he smiled, and then leaned back out.

Becky took a step back. Her happiness spread into fear so quick that she almost fainted.

“Now, girl, I’m really going to make this right. You’ve cost us a lot of time, a lot of bullets, and a lot of effort.”

“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” Becky spit the words out like she was a trapped animal, unable to escape, and in this case, she was.

“I have a debt to settle. You have to understand that, plus you got me so hot and bothered that I have to take care of it. So – ” He left the door open and walked towards her. “ – If you climb on into the back seat this will go down real easy. I’ll get what I need, slit your throat, and then I will put a knife into your brain. You’ll be dead, no chance of turning. If you make me work for it, like you have for most of this miserable fucking day, then I will do my business, slit your throat, and let you turn. Your choice,” he replied, aiming the gun behind her. Three quick shots echoed out across the silent city, and three zombies were now without a head. “What’s it going to be?”

“You can have me. Just let me live, okay?”

“I can’t do that. It’s just a debt I have to settle. It’s nothing personal. You just have to die in order to make it all right. Okay?”

“Please. There’s no one to tell, no one to report you to. Why do I have die?”

“You just don’t get it, do you stupid? You killed a good friend of mine back there. I have to have an eye for an eye. So, come on now, what will it be?”

Becky stood there a moment–tried to tap into that survivor instinct. She really saw no hope here, and no matter how strong she could be or how much of a fight she could give, this guy simply outweighed her and outmuscled her. She would be no good in a one-on-one fight. He would have his way whether she wanted it or not.

A thump on the passenger side of the car, interior and not exterior. Greg turned towards the sound, and then walked around to the other side of the car. He gripped the handle, and pointed the gun towards the door. He opened it slowly.

Becky should have run for it then, but she was so caught up in what was about to transpire that she couldn’t move. For some reason she had to know what was beyond that passenger door.

A second later, the door opened, and Ted fell out onto the pavement with a thump. His entire left arm was gone, severed with an unskilled hand, stump burnt and black from a quick disinfection. Greg backed up, as Ted got up off the ground, and zombie shuffled towards him.

“I thought I caught it in time,” Greg replied, aiming the gun. “Guess I didn’t. Sorry to let you turn like this.” Ted stumbled into Greg’s arms, and Greg held him for a moment while his brother gnashed those teeth near his neck. He thought of the good times they had when they were kids. The good times they had throughout life. He couldn’t believe it was about to end like this. Becky watched, as Greg put the gun up to Ted’s skull. “I love you – ” Greg’s voice trailed off, as a trash can hit him from behind knocking the gun free. This sent him sprawling to the ground with Ted on top of him. Becky turned away, as Ted ripped open the flesh of his brother’s throat sending a geyser of blood into the air.

Bang!

Bang!

Two shots rang out, and the heads of Ted and Greg exploded into brain bits, as Becky turned towards the gunshots that echoed around the city, and stirred up the zombies.

She squinted her eyes into the dark, and she saw Joe racing towards her.

They embraced, kissed, let the tears flow. Life was good once again, because they were back together.

“Are you okay?” Joe asked, looking her over.

“Somewhat, a couple of close calls, but I survived.” She paused. “How are you?”

“We can catch up later. Too many zombies about. We need to start moving.”

“Damn walking corpses. I’m sick of them,” Becky replied, disappointed that their kiss would not happen at this spot, but understanding why it couldn’t eased the pain a bit.

“I couldn’t agree more, but we need to get out of town. It’s smarter and safer. At midnight we will stop. Celebrate together. Does that sound okay? I’m sorry it can’t be here. I wanted it to be too,” Joe replied, pulling out his pistol and firing at a couple of zombies nearby. The shots echoed out through the streets, as their zombie heads exploded.

“Sure. Let’s just go.”

“Promise, I will make it up to you,” Joe replied, as he made his way over to the car the two thugs had left idling. It was an all-wheel drive Subaru, perfect for this kind of weather. He was thankful these guys at least had good sense when it came to cars, maybe not about life choices, but at least with vehicles they were A-Okay with him. He moved Ted and Greg’s dead bodies out of the way, and helped Becky into the car. He closed the car door, and climbed into the driver’s seat. “How about some tunes?”

“Sure,” Becky replied, smiling, afraid to be happy, but knowing deep down where it counted that she could be. He was here, and he was safe–they were safe together again, and that was all that mattered.

Joe rummaged around in the CD holder for a moment–mostly metal stuff, Testament, Tesla, Megadeth, Five Finger Death Punch, DragonForce.

“Here we go. This should put us in a beach mood.” Joe took out the CD and slid it into the CD player. The sounds of Kenny Chesney filled the interior of the car, as Joe pushed the window down, and aimed the gun towards the front of the car. While “When The Sun Goes Down” played, he shot a couple of zombies in the head who were almost in front of the car. Once their heads were dead, he put the car into gear and drove over to the Maserati. He put the box of supplies, and his back pack into the Subaru. He then climbed back into the driver’s seat.

“Nice car. Where did you find it?” Becky asked.

“Long story,” Joe replied, pushing the Subaru into drive and pointing the vehicle towards what use to be a very busy I-40.

“So, where do we go Joe?”

“How about the Outer Banks? It could be safe.”

“Could be a lot of things, but sure, let’s go. It might be nice to see the ocean again.”

Joe took her hand, and kissed it. They drove without talking, listening to the music, until it was almost midnight. They stopped on the side of the road, and watched the clock on Joe’s watch, which had seconds ticking down on it.

It was 11:59 P.M.

Joe took out something from his pocket, and held it in his hand.

“What are you up to?”

“You’ll see. By the way, it’s going to be super cheesy when I do it. Just be prepared,” Joe replied, smiling, as Kenny played on.

He counted down, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. They kissed at the stroke of midnight, right on schedule.

“I love you, Becky,” Joe replied, opening his hand. An acorn lay on his palm. He picked it up, broke it open, and revealed what it held. There was a small ring inside it, perfect size for her finger. “Just a little something I found on the way.”

She smiled, and cried. They kissed again, and Joe reached into the back seat for his pack. From it, he pulled out a bottle of champagne and two glasses (individually wrapped in bubble wrap) along with crackers and chocolate.

“Joe.”

“Might as well start the year off in a good way, right?”

He popped the cork. They drank and ate. Joe started the car a little bit later, and put it into gear. It was time to get back to the ocean; and maybe, just maybe, find a little happiness in this crazy zombie world.

THE END

HOPE YOU HAVE A HAPPY ZOMBIE NEW YEAR!

Short Story: A Zombie Christmas 2

I guess you guys have noticed that I have been a bit hit or miss lately in this blog. Busy time of year with the family and the Poetry hasn’t been flowing like I like it to. Anyway, I thought I would fill in a few days of empty blogging by posting a few of my short stories that fit the holiday season. I know this is a departure from the normal blog activity, but I thought you might enjoy something a bit different and if you enjoy them feel free to support my self-published efforts by buying a couple of them. Might be a nice treat to fill up some of those new Kindles and E-Readers. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!

+

A boy lost. A family desperate. It’s Christmas in a Zombie Apocalypse and Mike Beem is once again aiming for another Holiday miracle. His goal this year isn’t toys for the kids in the neighborhood. His goal this time is trying to save one small life so another family doesn’t have to suffer the way he suffered.

“5 Stars out of 5: I dearly love this author’s short stories, and these 3 were great.”

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MF4WHII

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MF4WHII

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01MF4WHII

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01MF4WHII

December the 23rd

Mike Beem lowered his rifle, put his right eye on the scope, and closed his left. The zombie he was about to shoot was an ugly sucker. He stood about five feet tall, and was currently surrounded by 10 other zombies – all of them dead, rotten, and ugly. They were currently trying to kill a frantic man standing on top of a closed dumpster. He was waving a dying flare at them, firing an empty pistol over and over again in hopes that magic bullets would appear in the chamber the longer he kept firing.

Bam!

The five foot tall zombie lost his head. Blood and maggot filled brains splattered a nearby wall and part of the dumpster. Mike aimed again, and another zombie lost its head, then another and another and another until all of them lay splattered on the ground in front of the dumpster.

The man on top of the trash bin looked up at the top of the building as the flare died out, and waved to his savior, who was currently in the shadows. Mike waved back as another zombie shambled down the alley towards the man. Mike slung the gun over his shoulder and shimmied down the escape ladder, landing on the ground inches behind the zombie – a woman with dirty entrails dragging out behind her. She turned to bite, and Mike shoved a knife into her skull. He pulled the blade out, wiping it off as he let her drop to the ground, and made his way over to the man on the dumpster.

The man was just climbing down when Mike reached him.

“Hell of a night to be out,” Mike replied, as snow began to fall.

The man fell into Mike’s arms, and the two strangers embraced like long lost friends. Mike pulled the guy back and looked him in the face. He was at least in his mid-thirties, dirty, and dehydrated. His brown hair was matted to his skull, and his eyes were red from fatigue and worry. Mike felt a pang of sadness race across his heart when he looked into those red eyes. They were his eyes the night he lost his entire family. The first night of the zombies. The first night he ceased to be Mike Beem. The first night he became this new guy he was now.

“Thank you,” the man gravely spit the words out on a raspy voice.

“Name’s Mike.”

“Donny.” They shook hands. “We got trapped down here. We couldn’t go anywhere. We just -” He fell into a fit of tears, leaning against the side of the dumpster for support.

“We?” Mike asked, as the dumpster lid opened and the haggard face of a woman in her late twenties popped out of it.

Looking worse than the man, she shimmied out of the can and into the safety of her husband’s arms. They embraced – happy and safe until they realized something. A storm of worry simultaneously raced across both their faces.

The man rushed over to a nearby trash can, and ripped open the lid. He flung out all kinds of debris in his desperation to find whatever it was he was looking for.

“Donny. Where is he?”

“He’s not here.”

“How can he not be there,” Lisa Conswello replied to her husband of fifteen years as she went to the same trash can and peered inside. She then turned over a few more cans, but found nothing but emptiness inside them.

“He’s not. I told you.”

“Who’s not there?”

Donny and Lisa turned to Mike as a baby’s cries echoed around inside the dumpster.

“Our son, Tommy.”

“He couldn’t have gone far,” Mike replied, trying to remain calm as Lisa took the car carrier out of the interior darkness of the dumpster. Mike looked down at the dirty baby girl who couldn’t have been more than 4 months old, and then back to the man.

“He’s only six years old. He doesn’t know how to survive on his own,” Donny replied, about to cry again.

“Do you?” Mike asked, realizing too late that he had crossed the line.

Donny got up in his face. “What are you saying? I can take care of my family.”

“Sorry, I overstepped. All I’m saying is that you guys just don’t seem like you’ve been out here all that much.”

Lisa pushed Donny back and approached Mike with a much calmer head, the baby in her arms wrapped tight in a dirty blue blanket. The child had gone from crying to sucking its thumb, which was good, Mike thought to himself. Zombies like sound, and a baby is like the Holy Grail of sound.

“We were part of a group holed up in a building downtown. We got over run and had to split. We were there a while, kind of just got stuck,” Lisa replied, softly bouncing the baby with a mother’s touch.

“Time goes by fast even in a Zombie Apocalypse,” Mike replied, unable to believe that it had been almost a year since he had made that toy run to the mall. He had hoped things would be getting back to normal by now, but a year later and they weren’t getting better, they were getting worse.

“Can you help us find him?” Lisa asked.

“I will, but first I have to get you somewhere safe. I live in a neighborhood that’s fortified and strong.”

“Is that the light we’ve been seeing in the distance?” Donny asked.

“So, you’ve seen the star on top of my Christmas tree?” Mike smiled, glad the beacon had worked. “Come on. Let’s get you back to the Refugee Center. Hot food, clean clothes, formula, showers, and then we can find your boy.”

Mike watched as Donny took out a duffel bag from the dumpster. It was barely large enough for one person, let alone two people and two kids, one of whom was just a baby.

Donny put the bag inside the car carrier, picked it all up, and then ushered everyone forward. They started to walk towards the end of the alley, trudging slowly through the snow.

Lisa stopped about half way down, baby girl now resting and almost asleep in her arms. “I can’t.” They looked at her. “He’s out here, cold, alone, and afraid. I can’t go back to comfort until he’s with us.”

Mike stepped up to her. “You’ll do him no good out here in your current condition. The neighborhood I live in is just a couple of miles away. I’ll go look for him as soon as we get you guys settled.”

“But –”

“Lisa, he’s right, we have to get ourselves straight first,” Donny replied, trying to put the worry out of his voice, trying to stand strong for his wife and daughter.

Mike looked up and down the alley. He saw no zombies lurking about. He hated to do it, but he knew what she needed to do. “What’s your son’s name again?”

“Tommy,” Lisa replied.

“I wouldn’t normally advise this because noise attracts attention, but would it help to call out his name a few times before heading back?”

“Do you think it’s safe?” Donny asked, eyes scanning the world around him. It was spooky quiet, but he knew that could change in a moment’s notice if you made too much noise.

“No, it’s not,” Mike replied. “Who’s the one he responds to the most?”

“Me,” Lisa replied. “Since this started he’s been attached to me more than Donny.”

Mike took out a gun and handed it to Donny. “Do you know the basics?”

“I do.”

Mike looked him over. He was pretty sure Donny was lying, but he needed someone to be his zombie wing-man in case the corpses started popping out once Lisa started yelling. He had no choice, and no other options.

“Don’t shoot unless you have to.” Mike looked from Donny to Lisa. “Start walking. Call as you move. Now go. We’ll be behind you the whole time.”

Lisa bit her lip, looked around at the buildings, silent windows staring back at them, like empty soulless eyes. What was lurking behind those windows? What was waiting in the shadows? She had no clue, but she had to find her boy. So, she drew in a breath and yelled his name. “Tommy!”

Mike looked at her, and then at his surroundings as her voice echoed like it was running around inside a canyon. The alley was still quiet, no shufflers anywhere or any signs of movement in the heavy falling snow.

“You can be a bit louder. If he’s deep inside one of these buildings he may not hear you unless you do,” Mike replied.

She looked at Mike, and then to her husband Donny. He nodded his head that it was okay as he gripped the gun a little bit tighter, hoping he wouldn’t be put to the test.

Lisa looked around, and then just a bit louder screamed – “TOMMY!”

Movement, as Lisa’s reply echoed around them.

Mike’s eyes saw the zombie shuffle out of a nearby door. This walking corpse had an arm ripped off, and was wearing a bus driver’s uniform, hat hanging askew.

Mike holstered his gun and took out his knife. He approached the zombie with caution, caught it at the right spot, and as its teeth gnashed and bashed near his precious flesh, he put an end to it with a knife to the skull. He dropped the zombie to the ground and looked back at Donny and Lisa. They were frozen in awe and fear. Mike ushered them to the end of the alley. Once there, he stopped them from moving forward with his hands.

While they were paused, Mike stepped out onto the sidewalk and scanned the area. He saw a few shufflers moving about, but they were not alerted to their presence by Lisa’s screams. Mike leaned back into the alley.

“I think we’re safe to move.” Mike paused, and looked at Lisa.

She was strung out and worried, as any mother would be in this situation. “What about Tommy? I really can’t leave him out here,” Lisa replied, teeth chattering in the cold, tears streaking her face, baby somehow still quiet.

“Is there any place he might go?” Mike asked.

“Home or what used to be home,” Donny replied. “Before we went on the run, and got stuck, that’s all he’d ever known. I honestly think that’s the place he would go.”

“Where?”

“The Ritz Apartments. We lived in apartment 222,” Lisa replied.

“How about this? We go back and get re-charged and re-freshed. Then I’ll head over to The Ritz. I’ll see if he’s there. Deal?”

Lisa nodded her head.

“I want to go with you when you go look for him,” Donny replied, as a zombie dressed in a business suit shuffled towards them, slip-sliding in the snow.

“Can you handle yourself?”

“I guess so.”

“Then kill this one.”

Donny looked at the corpse moving towards them. He lifted up his gun, and aimed it.

Mike stopped his hand. “First mistake. When it’s quiet like this you have to use a sharp blade or something that won’t draw attention,” Mike replied, as he stepped up to the zombie and grabbed it by the shirt. He tossed the shuffler down to the ground, and put a knee into its chest. The male zombie reached and grabbed for Mike, teeth chomping away, ready to get at his flesh. Mike handed the blade to Donny, and motioned for him to try.

Donny put the gun away and got down on his knees in the cold wet snow. He gripped the handle with two hands and raised the steel above the zombie’s head. He brought the blade down and missed, destroying the face. Donny drew in a breath, looked at his worried wife, his child in her arms, and tried again. This time he got it right. The blade slipped into the skull with relative ease, and the zombie stopped moving.

“Good work,” Mike replied, standing up and helping Donny to his feet. “Sloppy but efficient. You’ll have to be sharper than that if we go out together.”

“You know you can’t stop me from looking for him.”

“Donny, please, he’s only trying to help. Don’t let your temper write a check your ass can’t cash.”

“Look, enough of that for now. We can grunt like apes when we get somewhere safe. It’s getting late. We need to get back.” Mike turned his attention to Lisa. “I promise. I will find your son if he’s still alive. I won’t stop until he’s safe.” Mike glanced back to the streets. Still quiet. “Now, time to move. Follow me or stay behind. It’s up to you.” He hurried on, leaving Donny and Lisa behind.

They looked at each other, then took one last look down the alley. They didn’t want to do it, but they followed Mike as quickly as they could.

December the 24th

Midnight arrived, and the snow reached a fever pitch. It fell down out of the sky at an inch or two an hour, blanketing the world in white.

Mike, Donny, and Lisa hurried through the frozen mess, slipping and sliding down a covered asphalt road toward a shut metal gate. The gate was connected to a metal wall that ran from the left and right, evaporating into the snowy distance in either direction. The wall, as well as the gate, stood at least fifteen feet tall, looming high and shimmery above them as they made their way towards it.

Mike took out a small walkie talkie and spoke into it when they were almost at the gate. “Cuckoo bird has come back to the nest. Three fledglings in tow. Immediate preparations are needed.”

“Copy that cuckoo bird,” a voice replied from out of nowhere, and then a second later the gate slid open, inviting all three of them into a world of safety.

Donny looked left and right, as they moved past burned out houses and cars. Through the darkness, he thought he saw something black moving fast, keeping pace with them. Donny turned back to the front when the black thing disappeared behind a house, and followed Mike into an absolute Utopia.

Once inside, Lisa turned around and watched the dead and decaying world disappear behind a solid gate of silver metal. Attached to the gate was a large green Christmas wreath, sparkling with silver and red tinsel. She turned back to the front, and looked at each home (though hard to see clearly in the snow) decorated in muted decorations. Doors and lawns and roofs all displayed some kind of Christmas cheer, and in the center of this peaceful oasis sat the largest Christmas tree she had ever seen. It was kept upright with wooden spikes and strings, and sitting atop of it was a large yellow star spinning like a lighthouse beacon. She looked from the tree to their path, and saw small bags depicting Christmas scenes lining their way. Inside each bag was a small candle, flickering bright in the snow and cold. She flicked her eyes from the candles to the baby carrier and the baby asleep inside of it, kept warm and safe by Mike’s coat draped over her, thankful Mike had given it up so her baby could rest comfortably.

They reached the Refugee Center that was just behind the massive evergreen. It was a small building with two windows and a door, all decorated with Christmas cheer. Lisa thought it was probably a club house or sales center before the zombies took over the world.

Mike ushered them up to the door, opened it, and hurried them inside.

Once out of the cold and chill, they shook the snow free from their bodies and tried to get warm. The room they were now in was square and small. It held a few couches, chairs, and a roaring fire in the fireplace.

Mike led them over to the couch closest to the fire. “Take a seat. I’ll see who’s around,” he replied, leaving Donny and Lisa in warmth and wonder as he made his way through a door set into a nearby wall.

They heard chatter, and then a small elderly woman appeared from behind the door Mike had disappeared into moments ago.  She held a small tray of cookies and cold water in front of herself as she walked over, set the tray down in front of Donny and Lisa, and made her way back to the kitchen.

Mike emerged a second later with a couple of mugs of egg nog, and made his way over to the couch. He set the mugs down in front of Donny and Lisa, who were currently devouring the cookies and water while their baby girl slept comfortably in the car carrier.

“What is this place?” Donny asked, mouth full of a sugar cookie that once resembled Santa holding a pack on his back.

“Home,” Mike replied, as the kitchen door opened. “Excuse me.”

Mike walked over to the older woman and stopped her forward progress. He kept his back to Donny and Lisa as he took out a small pack of powder. Tearing it open, he dusted its contents over their vegetables, mixing it together with a spoon, making sure the green beans looked green and not white.

The older woman scowled at him, but she knew Mike had done all this before. Newbies had a tendency to go a bit nuts when a loved one was still beyond the wall. Giving them a chance to sleep it off while he searched was always a help more than a hindrance.

Mike took the tray from the old lady and carried it over to Donny and Lisa. He sat it down in front of them, and they quickly moved from the cookies to the sandwiches and vegetables.

Mike took a seat in a nearby chair, and watched the fire for a moment. Finally, breaking the silence when he thought they were almost full, “Does she need formula?”

Lisa looked up at Mike. “Breast fed, but bottles work in a pinch.”

“Anything special? Any allergies?”

“No, regular formula works just fine,” Lisa replied, as she finished up her sandwich.

“Is she on a schedule?”

“She was.”

“Was?”

“Since we had to go on the run, schedules are kind of out the window,” Lisa replied, leaning back, watching the fire, letting the food settle.

“Best meal I’ve had in a while,” Donny replied, getting up and taking out a pack of cigarettes. “Mind if I step out and smoke?”

“Go ahead,” Mike replied, and turned back to Lisa.

Donny kissed his wife, and then made his exit.

“I wish he’d quit those things.”

“I guess he doesn’t see the point with all that’s going on.”

“His point exactly,” she replied.

“So, schedule?”

“Right.” Lisa gave it some thought, as Mike reached over and grabbed a pen and paper. He handed it to her. She started to write while she talked. “Her morning starts at 6. Then she eats every 3 hours after that. Usually she and her brother –” She paused, Mike let her linger. She shook the tears loose and continued. “– go to bed at 7. She needs a night cap around 10 or so, then she’s good till the next morning.”

“Naps?”

“Lots of questions tonight, Mike.”

“I like to have my ducks in a row. You also might need help while you get adjusted, so I will probably get you some help. Better to have all this down on paper so your help can just slide right in.”

“Makes sense,” Lisa replied, finishing up, handing the paper to Mike.

He took it and folded. “I also know of one pack n’play that I can get you if that’s okay.”

She nodded her approval as Donny stepped back inside, shaking off the cold and snow.

“You said this was home,” Lisa replied, as her husband took a seat beside her.

“This is where I was when it all went down. Living the dream, making a routine, you know the drill.” Mike got up and walked over to the fireplace. He warmed his front and kept his back to them. “Once it all went down, I stayed put even after I lost my family. It was hard to do, lots of memories in my home, but I stayed for them. I knew they would have wanted me to do that.”

“I’m sorry,” Lisa replied.

“It’s okay. I’ve danced with the demons so long that I’ve almost gotten used to the pain.”

“Who put up the wall?” Donny asked.

“We all did. It was a group effort. Lost a few souls in the process, but we managed to secure this place nice and tight. We built the wall in a square, not a circle. That way we can protect this place from the north, south, east, and west. We post guards on each wall, and they pace it for their assigned hours. It is strictly voluntary.”

“Can I help?”

“In time,” Mike replied, as the door to the outside world opened.

Wendy Jen slipped out of her coat, and dusted off the snow from her feet. She looked to be in her early twenties and in pretty decent shape.

Mike walked over to talk to her.

“How’s it going?”

“Three newbies. We need to help get them settled, and we need that pack n’play.”

“Way ahead of you. Greg’s on the way.”

“Awesome. You’re always one step ahead of me.”

“Somebody has to be.”

He handed her the piece of paper. “This is all you need to know about their daughter. I think Donna Jenkins would be best to help out.”

“Did you?”

“I had to. I had no choice. Donny wanted to go back out with me when I go look for his son.”

She took a breath. “Oh, that’s awful. Do you think he’s okay?”

“I don’t know. They were swarmed pretty badly when I found them. Lucky any of them made it through.”

“I guess you want the standard.”

“Clean bed, shower, clothes, you know the drill. If they work out we might be able to find them something permanent, but I have a feeling that’s going to depend on how it goes with their son. Liable to flip out if he’s no longer with us.”

“I’ll take care of them. You go back and get some rest. You look beat.”

“No more than usual.” Mike turned from her to the new couple. “Donny, Lisa.” They turned towards him. “Wendy is going to make sure you get settled. I’m heading home for a bit.”

“What about my son?” Donny asked.

“Once we rest up we’ll go look for him.”

“I don’t want to delay.”

“I don’t either, but this snow is going to make moving tough. Better to have some rest before heading back out. Let the storm clear, okay? See you in a bit,” Mike replied, making his exit, not waiting on a response.

Wendy took a seat in front of them with a clipboard in her hands. She took out a pen and looked them over. “What I have here are a basic set of entry questions we ask everyone who arrives. Just some things like what is your skill set, what can you do to help us if you stay, how long you’ve been out and about, can you shoot, how many zombies or humans have you killed, those sorts of things.”

“That sounds kind of rigid,” Lisa replied, shocked.

“It really isn’t. We’ve worked hard to make this neighborhood what it is, so we want to make sure whoever is allowed in will be a functioning part of our society.”

“We may not be staying long,” Donny replied.

“I understand. You are under no obligation to do so, but Mike wants you to have a good shower, clean clothes, and a place to regroup before you decide on staying or not. These questions are just a part of all that.”

“Is he the leader here?”

Wendy chuckled. “No, and he’ll be the first one to tell you that. He is just the guy with the ideas. We just help him see them through. He helped my kids have a proper Christmas last year with his toy run to the mall. I’m forever in his debt for it.”

“Toy run?” Lisa asked.

“He, along with a couple of the guys in the neighborhood, decided to try and save Christmas last year the best they could. Their efforts went a long way to erase some bad times, at least for that one morning. It was the spring when we decided to put Mike’s wall idea into place, and by the summer we had it built. Thanks to Mike, we’ve been able to have a Fourth again, Memorial Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.”

“Now you guys are onto Christmas.”

“A bit overkill out there, I get it, but we’re just trying to spread a little joy around. Mike had us put up the tree with the light so he could bring in anyone that might need a soft place to fall.”

The door opened and two small petite frames walked into the room, dressed all in black from their combat boots to their ski masks. They dusted off the snow and stripped off their protective layers revealing youthful features and long jet black hair. Donny and Lisa turned to face the twin girls who couldn’t have been more than sixteen years old.

“Mike’s angels have returned safe again,” Wendy replied.

“Mike’s angels?” Lisa asked.

“He found these girls out and about, parents gone, no sense of survival, just barely hanging on. They were among the first group of refugees. They are sort of the secret everyone knows about, except for Mike, we think. We all kind of suspect he knows, but just doesn’t say anything about it.”

“Hi, I’m Double,” she replied, offering her hand out.

Donny and Lisa shook her hand.

“And I’m Trouble,” the other replied.

“I saw one of you when we were coming here,” Donny replied, feeling a bit groggy, but still able to pull up that recent memory.

“Double Trouble hang close to Mike while he scours the city for survivors and supplies. He won’t let anyone go out with him, even though he insists the others do when they go out for their runs. He likes to go at it alone, so we make sure he has help just in case.”

“You know, make sure he doesn’t get cornered or trapped,” Trouble replied, munching on a cookie that looked like a stocking.

“Has he ever?” Lisa asked.

“No. He’s pretty sharp, but we like to be there for him if he needs us. It’s the least we can do for all of his training and hospitality,” Double replied, warming herself by the fire.

“All right. Why don’t you guys run along now. Donny and Lisa need to get some rest.”

“Cool. Just wanted to pop in and say hey to the newbies,” Double replied, slipping on her coat and making her exit. Trouble followed after.

“Double Trouble?”

“Kind of silly, but the girls won’t tell us their names. They just go by that, so we allow it.”

Lisa yawned.

Wendy took notice. “How about we skip the Q&A tonight? If you decide to stay we’ll go over it later,” she replied, putting down the clipboard. She pointed behind them to a door. They turned to look at it. “Inside that room is a hot shower, clean clothes, and several beds. No one is in there tonight, so the room is yours. Donny, you can sleep until you have to leave. Mike will swing by and get you when its time. Lisa can sleep it off, if she wants to, until Mike and Donny get back.”

“I’m not sure I can. Having both my boys out there,” Lisa replied.

“Come on. A hot shower will be nice for a change,” Donny replied, taking her hand, yawning and helping her up.

“Five minutes a piece. Water goes cold after that,” Wendy replied, as a tall guy arrived with the pack n’ play. She walked over to him. “That goes in the room with them, Greg.”

He took the bed into the room, set it down, and walked into the kitchen.

“Thanks.” Lisa replied. “I really mean that.”

“Sure, and don’t worry, Mike will find your son. He’s got a nose for tracking, and a knack for surviving.”

Donny picked up the carrier and led Lisa to the open door, which led into a room that looked like a small hotel room with a double bed, beach pictures on the walls, TV/DVD combo, and a bathroom complete with shower and chemical toilet.

Lisa followed Donny into the room, and a second later he closed the door.

Wendy smiled and hoped they would get some rest, hoped they wouldn’t be too upset with Mike when they finally woke up.

+

Mike lay in restless slumber, haunted by this world, haunted by the memories of those who had fallen, haunted by the ghosts of his past.

Donna Marie snuggled in close to him and stroked his long grey hair, trying to soothe him, trying to help him sleep. As she looked at him, lying there, she couldn’t believe she had fallen for a man who was just past 40-years-of-age.

Mike stirred, and opened his eyes. He turned his face to meet her eyes. She might have been 32, but her eyes carried the worry and trouble of so many who now lived in this world. “Couldn’t sleep?” He asked.

“I worry about you when you’re out there,” she replied, as Mike held her close. “We’re working clogs operating in a broken clock.”

“Are you worried about me going back out for that kid, Tommy?”

“Not just that. Every time you go out I worry about you. I wish you could just stay here and let everyone else do the running. Lord knows you’ve done more than most in this world. Building this place alone qualifies you for that,” Donna Marie replied, rolling over and sitting up. She slipped out of bed and covered her topless body with a house robe. She walked over to the window and looked outside. The snow was no longer falling, but the ground was covered in a heavy layer of white. Somewhere close to a foot, maybe a bit more, she guessed.

Mike watched her for a moment, and let the cool air of the room settle in on top of his bare chest.

“In the world before all this, Christmas Eve morning was full of so much hope and promise. So many of us just couldn’t wait for this night and the next morning.”

“Is it morning, already?”

“Yes.”

“I better get dressed,” he replied, climbing out of bed naked.

“Do you have to go?” She asked, turning away from the window, looking his lean body over. Mike didn’t answer her, so she dropped the conversation. She knew him, and she knew there was no changing his mind. He was as stubborn as they come when he wanted something.

Mike suited up. He put on his thick wick-away sweat wool socks, water proof black combat boots with steel toes, long thick black pants with a winter lining inside of them, heavy long sleeve wick-away sweat shirt, a vest with many pockets, a hat, and gloves. He loaded two pistols and put them in holsters that rested on a gun belt. He loaded the rifle, and put smoke bombs into several pockets on his vest. He also packed a couple of snacks, bottled water, extra ammunition, silencers, hand sanitizer, and a small flashlight into a small white bag, easily carried over a shoulder or on your back. The last item he grabbed was a large knife. The knife was large enough to look like a small sword in a young child’s hands. He attached it to his gun belt.

Finished, he looked from the mirror to her. “When I get back we’ll have either a nice Christmas Eve Dinner or a nice Christmas Morning Breakfast,” Mike replied, leading her out of the bedroom and into the hallway, walking its length until they reached the front door. They stopped and turned to face one another. He looked into her eyes, and felt ashamed that he had allowed himself to fall in love after what had happened to his wife and kids. He was still alive though, so survival not only meant staying alive, but falling in love again as well.

“Do you think you’ll be out all night?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Mike replied, looking at their Christmas tree in the living room.

“Just take care of yourself, okay?”

“Will do. Be back soon, promise. I love you,” he replied, and opened the door. Cold air and piled up snow crawled into the house. Mike looked out across the lawn and could barely see his Christmas decorations.

“Hey, love you too,” she replied, turning his face to hers. “Don’t forget that.”

They kissed, and Mike made his exit. He glanced back at the house when he heard the front door close, and then made his way over to the Refugee Center.

Wendy was asleep on the couch, but didn’t stir when Mike entered the room. He walked over and checked in on Donny and Lisa. They were tucked away in slumber inside their beds. Mike smiled, the sleeping powder had been known to knock people out for a day or more sometimes. What he’d found out was that survivors who had been out for a bit were not only exhausted, but battle fatigued. A good long rest always helped to get them through, and gave them a much clearer head.

“Sleep tight,” he replied, as he looked down at the baby, sound asleep in the pack n’ play. “I’ll bring Tommy back, promise.”

He closed the door, made his exit, and walked down to the gate. He stopped when he reached it.

Fred Walg looked down from atop the wall. He punched the walkie attached to his arm. “Going out?”

“Yep,” Mike replied, after punching the button on his walkie.

“How long?”

“Not sure. I have to try and find that kid of the newbies who arrived last night.”

“Which part of town?”

“The Ritz Apartments,” Mike replied.

“Heavily infected over there. Be careful. I’ll make a note of it in case you aren’t back by tomorrow. We’ll send out a search party.”

“Good to know,” Mike replied, thinking of his angels, knowing they would be there if he needed them. They weren’t as secret to him as they thought.

As the gate slid open, Mike watched the green Christmas wreath move slowly to the left. When the gate clicked into its open position, he looked out onto an undisturbed snow covered landscape with no zombies shuffling about. The destruction of homes and vehicles now buried under a calming layer of white.

“Merry Christmas, Fred.”

“Merry Christmas, Mike. Hurry back.”

“Will do.”

Mike made his way forward on the snow covered road, and just beyond the walls of safety, he stopped. His eyes shifted to the right as the gates slid slowly closed behind him. He thought of Jim Wells for a moment, looking at the spot where he was swarmed while working on the wall. Mike had tried to save him, but the three zombies had already sunk their teeth in by the time he got there. A ghostly boom suddenly echoed throughout Mike’s mind. The final gun shot to Jim’s head just before he turned, eyes pleading for mercy, eyes not ready to be inside a dead man. It was Mike’s fault for letting his guard down, and he swore from that day forward to never do it again. He said a prayer for Jim, for peace, for safety, and then got moving.

Fred watched Mike move on down the road, and then tuned his walkie to another frequency. He punched the button. “You there?”

A second later a woman’s voice came on the line. “This is Double.”

“Cuckoo bird has left the nest.”

“Where’s he flying to today?”

“Heading towards the Ritz Apartments to look for that kid of the newbies.”

“Roger that. Me and Trouble will get right on it. Thanks, Fred.”

“Anytime. Just keep my boy safe. He’s one of the good ones.”

“Yes sir,” Double replied, giving the thumbs up to her sister, who was just getting up from her twin bed on the other side of the room.

Fred took his finger off the button and let the silence take over. He paced atop the wall, breathed in and breathed out cool white breaths of air, and watched Mike fade further and further into the distance.

+

Mike stopped when he reached the alley where he’d first encountered Donny and Lisa. He peered into the darkness between the buildings, half expecting to see Tommy shamble out after him, but he didn’t see him, or any movement at all for that matter, coming from the tight confined space. The snow was undisturbed, no signs that anything human or zombie had been down here in a while.

Mike took out his knife, and with a cautious ease slipped into the alley where dark shadows seemed to be lurking wherever he looked, despite the bright morning sun.

He started flipping through the same stuff Donny and Lisa had flipped through in their frantic search the day before, though not as noisily as they had. Finding no signs of Tommy, he stopped, and stood there a moment, looking at a door that had three steps leading up to it. He decided to see what was lurking on the other side.

He kicked away the snow, and made a path for himself through it as he climbed the three steps. When he reached the landing, he cleared it off the best he could, making sure he had enough footing to fight off anything that might come out of the building. He drew a breath, exhaled it in a white cloud, reached down for the handle, held the knife tight, and grabbed the knob.

He turned it.

Click, click, click, seconds ticked, ticked, ticked.

The unlocked door popped open, and three zombies shambled out of the darkness onto the landing, which was caged off by two rails attached to the wall, with one way up and one way down.

Mike (thinking quickly) stepped sideways, and tripped the first zombie, who stumbled and tumbled down the steps, cracking and breaking all sorts of things in its fall. The second zombie (a lady that once wore a shapely dark dress that was now covered in filth) pushed Mike up against the rail and pinned him there. Mike managed to get the blade up in time to push it easily into her soft skull. He pulled the blade out, and lots of plump maggots oozed out of the wound, along with a healthy dose of blood. The zombie fell towards him, and he used her light dead body as a battering ram against the third zombie, who was currently trying to attack Mike from behind the woman. He shoved her into the male zombie (wearing construction clothes), and with all of his strength managed to dump both zombies over the rail. They crashed hard onto the ground in a puff of white powdery snow.

Mike quickly moved down to the zombie he had tossed down the steps. It (dressed in shorts and a “We have fun at the funhouse t-shirt”) moved and clawed at him, but with a busted body all it could do was reach out. Mike quickly pushed the blade into its skull, as the construction worker zombie came up on him. They tumbled to the ground. Mike underneath, the zombie on top, gnashing and mashing those discolored broken teeth inches from his flesh.

Mike reached for his knife, which had fallen out of his hand during the attack. Inches away seemed like miles as he clawed for it. Finally, after what seemed like hours, he grabbed it, and as his strength was about to go, he pushed the blade into the zombie’s skull. He removed the blade, and dropped the lifeless body to the ground beside him. He looked at the creature that had almost taken his life. He then looked up at the sun and blue sky. Tranquility in the midst of chaos.

Mike stood up a few minutes later, and did a quick scan of the area.

Nothing was lurking, not even a mouse.

He made his way up the steps, and with knife held high, entered the building, closing the door and locking it once he was inside. He took a momentary pause, used a bit of hand sanitizer on his hands, and then had a small meal.

When he was rested, he took out his light and scanned the place over. He noticed he was now inside a place they used to call “The Funhouse.” There were all kinds of arcade games and pin ball machines around him, just sitting there, silent and dark, collecting dust, waiting to be played again.

Mike walked up to one of his favorites, a game he used to play all the time as a kid. He grabbed the plastic joystick and pretended he could see the frog on the screen hopping its way through traffic. That’s when he heard the shuffling. But it wasn’t like normal zombie shuffling. It sounded more rhythmic in nature, almost coordinated, like the zombies making the noise were in sync.

He walked over to the spot where it was coming from, and found himself standing at the entranceway to a large round circle. He shined his light on one of the walls, and saw a phrase written there in bright neon green letters: WE HAVE FUN AT THE FUNHOUSE.

Mike shined his light from the phrase to the center of the circle, where two zombies were currently doing some kind of disco dancing, standing under the big silvery ball, acting like it was spinning brightly to their favorite Bee-Gees tune.

“I’m so glad I’m a metal head,” he replied to himself. Then to the zombies. “Excuse me guys, disco sucks, and its dead.”

The two zombies stopped doing the hustle, and started to move towards him.

Mike readied his blade, and managed to decapitate both of them before they could leave the dance floor. Their heads made a thump, as their bodies walked a few feet before crumbling to the floor.

Finished with the disco zombies, he made his way to the back of the building, where there were a few bathrooms, a sitting area filled with cheap tables and chairs, a small booth for ordering food, and an office.

He pushed open the half closed office door, and shined his light around inside of it. Typical office, desk, chair, filing cabinets, pictures on the wall, and dust. A year’s worth of dust at least. It looked like the place hadn’t been touched since this whole zombie thing started.

Mike walked over to the bathrooms, and peaked into each one of them. Again, the dust on the sinks and the mirrors and everywhere else told him no one had been here for quite a while. He took a whizz in one of the urinals, and then made his way back out to the small eating area.

He scanned the tables (yes, more dust), and then walked up to the concession area. He peered over the counter, scanning the small space behind it with his light. He saw no signs of Tommy, but he did see something a bit strange. He walked over to the door that led into and out of the small room. He turned the handle and pushed the door inward, knife tight in his hand, light shining forward. The door came to rest against the wall, and Mike slipped inside the tight space.

He stopped when he reached the white cabinet, kneeled down, and shined his light around inside it. Cups, chips, bottles of water, and a few things in cans were all that he found hiding in its shadows. He stood up, and shined his light onto the empty bags of chips, and bottles of water on the floor.

“Could have been him, but it also could have been anyone,” he replied, returning to the cabinet, reaching in for a few bags of chips and a couple of bottles of water. He closed the door that led into the room, and sat down for a moment munching away.

After he finished, he decided it was best to check out the upstairs and get moving. The day was quickly going from morning to noon, and he knew that if he didn’t hustle, night would be upon him before he realized it. He didn’t mind being out alone. But he did mind being out in the dark because it was a lot harder to see your surroundings via a flashlight than the sun.

The upstairs proved to be nothing but a gigantic storage area filled with old broken equipment, files, and lots of stuff in boxes. Mike didn’t see any signs of Tommy, and, thankfully, no zombies either.

He made his way outside, and stopped on the landing for a moment. He looked across the alley to the other building. A large high rise apartment complex with lots and lots of cold dark windows. Mike didn’t want to venture into such a spooky place alone, and he figured that if he didn’t want to, then a six year old boy wouldn’t want to either.

He made his way down the steps and moved up the alley, pausing at the spot where it led out onto the street. He scanned the downtown area, and tried to game plan his next move. He saw a lot of shufflers moving about, pushing their way ever so slowly through the thick white snow. There were enough of them that he would need his guns instead of his blade. He un-holstered his pistols, screwed a silencer onto each one of them, and with a gun in each hand made his way onto the sidewalk. He picked up his pace and headed towards the Ritz Apartments, popping zombie heads, silently, in the now mid-day sun.

+

Mike reached the Ritz Apartments somewhere in the later part of the afternoon, and now stood on a hill overlooking the parking lot in front of the building.

It was an absolute nightmare. One filled with lots and lots of zombies, shambling and shuffling about, clearing the parking lot of snow by just moving around in random patterns.

“Not good,” Mike replied, as he looked from the parking lot to the two story apartment complex. He sighed and sat down with his back against a thick Oak tree. He rested for a moment, and munched on a quick snack while drinking some much needed water, talking out loud to himself.

“First, you don’t even know if Tommy is in there. You could be risking your life in order to save no one.”

He thought on that for a moment as he looked back at the building. That’s when he saw something he hadn’t seen before, something tied to one of the lobby door handles. It looked like a white shirt, flapping in the soft cold breeze.

“Sure, it’s a shirt, but it could mean anything,” Mike replied to himself, as he leaned back against the tree and tried to think about his next move. That little voice inside his head kept telling him to trust his instincts, instincts that were telling him the kid was inside, and that he needed help.

“Dammit, Mike. Why do you always have to be a hero? It’s going to get you killed.”

He stood up and dusted the snow off of his clothes. He looked around to see if his angels were anywhere in sight. He didn’t see them, but if they’d been there, he wouldn’t have seen them anyway. They liked to stay hidden.

“Double Trouble, if you’re around, I might really need you this time,” he replied to the trees, hoping maybe they were up in one of them, watching over him. He stared hard at the trees until his eyes nearly split from the strain. Not seeing or hearing anyone above him, he turned back to the task at hand.

“Okay, Mike, here’s how it’s going to go,” he replied to himself, as he made sure both pistols were securely strapped and snapped in place inside their holsters, fully loaded, no silencers. He made sure his rifle was held tight to his back, also fully loaded. He tightened his pack, and then said a little prayer. He stepped out of the trees and descended down the hill, thinking back to his old High School Football days as a Fuquay-Varina Bengal Tiger. He was a star running back way back then, and he hoped that athletic skill would come in handy today.

He took his stance when he reached the edge of the asphalt, held the knife tight in one hand, and then blasted out across the parking lot after counting to three. He stiff armed one zombie, rotten tendons in its neck snapping as he pushed it to the ground. He lowered his shoulder and hit another zombie head on, knocking it into four others. They all stumbled, tripped and slipped, scattering out of his way. His path opened up then, just a couple of zombies between him and the open door. He grabbed one of them by its dirty red hair, jammed the blade home into its skull, and then slung the corpse into the last zombie in his way. Both tumbled and fumbled into the snow as he reached the lobby doors and ran inside, stopping for just a second to game plan.

He quickly scanned the dark lobby. Zombies were everywhere, and they started to swarm.

“Exit, where’s the damn exit onto the stairs,” he replied to himself, as he grabbed a zombie by the hair and slung it over the lobby desk. Whatever was behind the desk crashed to the floor when the zombie tumbled over it.

Two more came at him on his right.

He whipped out one of his guns and splattered their heads across the nearest wall, showering a picture of a tranquil beach in blood and brain matter.

This gave him a brief second to reach into his vest pocket and pull out a smoke bomb. He exploded two more zombie skulls with the gun, popped the ring on the smoke bomb with his teeth, and then rolled it to the left. He pulled out the other smoke bomb and did the same thing, rolling it to his right this time.

The zombies scattered, and this gave Mike just enough time to grab his flash light and shine it around. The light caught the silver EXIT letters on the door that led into the stairs.

He put the light in his mouth and ran towards the stairs, firing off every round in the gun in his hand. He holstered the empty weapon and pulled out the other one. Heads exploded and limbs shredded as he moved towards safety.

Mike reached the door, and flung it open without any thought of a zombie lurking behind it. He ran into the dark, and didn’t hesitate or slow down as he mounted the stairs one by one and two by two and sometimes three by three.

He reached the first floor landing and didn’t pause as he turned and hurried up the stairs to the second floor landing, flashlight now in his hand trying to show him the way in the thick black darkness where anything or anyone could be lurking.

He paused when he reached the second floor landing, inches in front of the door that lead into the hallway. He holstered his empty pistol and slung the rifle over his shoulder. He grabbed the brass door knob and turned it slowly. When the door was ready, he pushed it open, gun held tight with one hand, flashlight in the other. He stepped out into the hallway and quickly scanned his surroundings with the stairwell door hanging slightly ajar behind him.

The hall was silent, cold, and empty. A window at the end of the hall let in just enough of the late afternoon sun to show Mike the floral pattern on the floor, pictures on the wall, and apartment doors. Some were open and some were closed. There wasn’t a zombie to be seen up on this level.

He started scanning the doors for room numbers, careful and mindful of the open doors and the dark spaces they were revealing.

Apartment 222 appeared on his left.

He stopped, and reached down for the door knob.

Locked.

“Tommy, if you’re in there, can you open up?” Mike asked the locked door, and waited for a moment. No one arrived to let him in, so he put his ear to the door and listened. There was no sound coming from inside the apartment, he was sure of it.

He started to think about his next move when he heard a door slam against a wall. He shone his flashlight back the way he’d come, towards the direction of the sound, and what he saw froze him in place for a moment. The zombies were coming out of the stairwell like ants out of an ant hill. They were clogging up the hall, heading directly towards him. A tidal wave of corpses.

Mike pulled up his shotgun, stepped away from the door that led into Apartment 222, aimed, and blasted the door knob off the door. He then hurried inside, pausing for a second in a small living room area.

He quickly scanned the place with his light, and found one room that had to be Tommy’s. He made his way into it as the zombies started to pile in, choking up the living room like an undead party.

He slammed the bedroom door closed and locked it just as the zombie surge crashed into it. The door and wall shook, but no shuffler broke through.

He scanned the room with his flashlight, and saw no signs of Tommy. There was a closed closet door. He hurried over to it, opened it up, and slipped inside. He took a seat on the floor and listened to the zombies trying to get into the room. He caught his breath and tried to relax. It was time to game plan.

A flashlight popped on beside him revealing a six year old blonde haired kid dressed in jeans, tee shirt, and jacket. He was covered in dirt, but looked to be unharmed as he sat in front of a stack of comic books, empty bottles of water, and junk food wrappers.

The kid looked up at Mike. “Got you cornered?”

“Yeah,” Mike replied.

“What brings you out?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“I’m here to rescue you,” Mike replied, smiling, as the door to the room busted open. “Your parents sent me. I’m supposed to bring you back.”

“Are they mad?”

“Just scared and worried.”

The zombies started pawing at the closet door.

“How do we get out?” Tommy asked, brave and terrified at the same time.

“We stay quiet, and keep the lights off. Eventually they should go away. Once they’re gone we’ll find a way out,” Mike replied, putting his back to the wall, bracing the door with both boots.

Tommy turned off the flashlight and set his back against the door.

The zombies pawed and clawed.

The doors held.

The night passed.

Christmas arrived.

DECEMBER the 25th

On Christmas morning, Mike woke up, slumped over, Tommy’s head resting on his legs. He yawned and stretched, and that’s when he realized the building was quiet. He was slightly puzzled, thinking he was still in the dream world – a world where he’d been thinking about all the wonderful Christmas Eve nights and Christmas Mornings he’d had with his family before this new world set in.

Mike laid Tommy down on the floor and placed his coat over him. The kid stirred, but didn’t wake. Mike took out a pistol and gently loaded it (he didn’t do it the night before because he was afraid of making too much noise). Gun loaded, he gripped the door handle, stood up, and turned the silver knob until it clicked open. He pushed forward, gun aimed, ready to fire. What he saw sent him into momentary shock.

Every zombie in the room had been slaughtered while they slept. He stepped over the bodies and made his way to the door. He peered out. Every zombie he could see in the living room area was also dead. He looked back at the closet, and then ventured over to the front door of the apartment. He peered out into the hallway, and again there were no zombies alive. He holstered his gun when he felt Tommy step up beside him.

“What happened?” The kid asked, looking around. Blood coated the walls, the floors, the ceiling, and undead body parts were strewn about everywhere he looked.

“Don’t know,” Mike replied, as a sound rose up in the still air.

They both looked up towards the roof, trying to place the sound.

“Santa,” Tommy replied, half joking, but a bit unsure.

Mike looked down at the boy, and then up to the roof again. He had a brief moment in his head where he pictured Santa in full combat gear, and an army of lethal elves laying waste to this place while he and Tommy slept. He pushed that thought aside with a smile, and turned to face the boy. “Anything’s possible, kid. Let’s get our stuff and get out of here.”

“Can I take my family something? We left in kind of a hurry,” Tommy replied.

“Do you guys have wrapping paper?”

“We do.”

“And a couple of boxes?”

“Probably.”

“Okay, let’s wrap up something for your sister and something for your parents. You can deliver it to them when you get back,” Mike replied, trying to wash away the scene around them with a little holiday cheer. It was Christmas morning after all.

About thirty minutes later, they ventured out of the apartment with a little happiness in their souls, and fully stocked weapons. Every zombie they encountered on their trek to the lobby was slaughtered, every zombie in the lobby was slaughtered, and when they reached the doors that led outside, every zombie they could see in the parking lot was also slaughtered, dead and drying in the bright morning sun.

There was a fresh eight inches of snow on the ground, so Mike boosted Tommy onto his back and together they made the journey back to his neighborhood.

+

Afternoon was settling into the world when Mike radioed ahead to the guard on duty.

“Cuckoo bird is on his way back with a baby fledgling this time,” Mike replied.

“Glad to hear your voice. Merry Christmas,” Fred replied.

“Still on duty?”

“I couldn’t leave until my boy got home,” Fred replied.

“Thanks, and Merry Christmas to you. Can you tell Tommy’s parents he’s safe and sound?”

“Will do,” Fred replied.

“See you soon,” Mike replied, letting their conversation drop.

Five minutes later, the gate slid open and Mike and Tommy walked into the safety of the neighborhood.

Instantly, Donny and Lisa rushed up to their son.

Tommy hugged them, and kissed them back while Mike held the presents in his hands. When the family moment was over, Mike handed Tommy the presents and he in turn handed them to his parents. Lisa took them, and ushered her son back to the Refugee Center. Donny took a moment to glare at Mike, who stood there with his fists clenched, ready for what may be coming because it had happened before. Donny decided to let it drop though, plenty of time for that later, and followed after his family.

Mike ventured back to his home and when he was close, he looked up at it.

Donna-Marie was standing there in the doorway, wearing a robe he had found for her not long ago, Twister Sister’s version of “I’ll be home for Christmas” blaring out of the open door. She looked left and right and not seeing anyone, dropped the robe, revealing her naked body underneath.

Mike picked up the pace.

THE END

HAPPY ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS!

Short Story: A Zombie Christmas

I guess you guys have noticed that I have been a bit hit or miss lately in this blog. Busy time of year with the family and the Poetry hasn’t been flowing like I like it to. Anyway, I thought I would fill in a few days of empty blogging by posting a few of my short stories that fit the holiday season. I know this is a departure from the normal blog activity, but I thought you might enjoy something a bit different and if you enjoy them feel free to support my self-published efforts by buying a couple of them. Might be a nice treat to fill up some of those new Kindles and E-Readers. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!

+

This short story is about three men who risk life and limb in a Zombie Apocalypse in order to bring happiness to surviving kids on Christmas Morning.

5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

December the 21st

Mike Beem lowered his rifle, put his right eye on the scope, and closed his left eye. The zombie he was about to shoot was an ugly sucker. From what Mike could tell, this zombie used to be a man around five foot five or six, maybe seven. Hell, he couldn’t tell the exact height from just a tiny scope. Its suit was disheveled, full of dirt and blood (it looked fresh, a recent feast perhaps), and half of his face was gone. This zombie was currently investigating Mike’s Santa Claus and reindeer display. The zombie was studying it like he knew what it was or remembered what it was.

“Don’t pick up Rudolf. Don’t,” Mike replied to himself.

The zombie leaned over and picked up Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.

That did it.

You see, the biggest problem was this. When you messed with Rudolph, you screwed up the whole display. All the reindeer were attached by string; and that string led into the hands of Santa, who was glued by his butt to the sleigh he was sitting in. When the zombie picked up Rudolph, the rest of the display just went into disarray.

Mike didn’t want to shoot the zombie just yet, because if he fell forward then it would crush the display all together. Mike waited until the zombie was trying to walk away with Rudolph, shambling off, munching on the plastic reindeer, and the display dragging behind him.

Bam!

Perfect head shot, display still safe.

Mike was on the balcony of the house when he made the kill, so he took the rope ladder and dropped it over the side. He put the rifle down and grabbed a couple of pistols nearby. He checked their chambers, full, locked, and loaded. He put the guns in their holsters and climbed down to the ground.

Mike walked across the lawn, eyes back and forth, looking for zombies.

He stopped, got down on one knee, took out a pistol, and aimed this pistol with the light reflecting off the metal.

Bam!

It was another perfect head shot. The zombie hit the pavement, and he didn’t move. The noise from the gun had stirred up more of them, so Mike had to get to his display, fix it, and then get back.

So, Mike grabbed Rudolph out of the dead zombie’s hands, and put the display back in order. He quickly made his way back to the house, where nothing was stirring, not even a mouse. He shot a few zombies with his pistol as he ran across the yard, climbed back up the rope ladder and found his place on the balcony.

He turned on his boom box.

Perry Como flooded the air with Christmas cheer.

The zombies were getting restless, so Mike decided it was time to even out the herd. It was pretty easy shooting.

He stopped his rampage when something white hit his nose. He looked up into the sky as flakes of snow began to fall. It was the first snow fall of the year.

December the 22nd

Mike was sitting in his living room reading a Stephen King novel when he heard someone knock on the door. He grabbed his gun and walked over to answer it.

Mike stood about five foot eight, not too pudgy, not to lean. He was a runner before the world turned to chaos, a brick layer as his trade. He had brown eyes, a shaggy beard, and graying hair that needed to be cut. To be 40-years-old though, he was still looking great, could pass for a 30-year-old most days. He had learned a lot about hunting before all this happened, and had become a great shot because of it.

Mike leaned down, and looked out the peep hole as a zombie shambled down off the porch. There were four of them out there. All zombied up, rotting, bloody, fresh from death, and they were all dressed like carolers and holding caroling books. One had his book upside down, two of them had theirs sideways, and the smart one, the one who knocked, had his right side up.

Mike didn’t put up anything with lights in it or on it. There were no lights around the house. He had muted decorations so they wouldn’t attract attention. He didn’t know why or how the carolers had found him, but they did.

Mike began to smile, as the zombies grunted out Jingle Bells and moved on to Silent Night. He didn’t know if he should shoot them or let them be. He stood there a moment and thought about it, listening to the comical tune coming from the mouths of those zombies. He went over to the window and looked out onto the lawn. Their singing was attracting other zombies, so he knew he had to take them out, funny as it was, he had to do it.

He put on his cold weather gear and ventured back upstairs. He walked into the master bedroom and walked over to the balcony doors. He stepped outside and into the cold grey light of dusk.

Mike checked his lawn decorations to see if they were unharmed. His Santa Claus and reindeer display with Rudolph leading the team, the cross on the front lawn, the elves and Santa’s work shop, the nativity scene, and various candy canes he had spread throughout the yard were all still safe.

Now, most people would ask, why? Why worry about lawn decorations when the rest of the world was suffering through a Zombie Apocalypse?

It made Mike feel good inside, and he hoped that whoever saw it would feel a bit of that joy as well. That is why he did it. It might be a zombie-filled world, but he still hoped a lawn full of Christmas decorations would bring some kind of cheer to this dreary holiday season. It was the first Christmas since the zombie invasion. It was the first Christmas without his family. It was the least he could do.

Mike looked down at the four caroling zombies, as they went into a rendition of Frosty the Snowman, the year’s first snow only a couple of inches underneath their feet. The group, of course, was led by that one smart zombie. He was leading them and pointing to their books even though none of them turned a single page. He was the one that started grunting out the tune to Frosty just like the songs before, and the other zombies just sort of harmonized with his lead.

Mike aimed his gun at the leader, but had to stop because he couldn’t aim. His smile had turned into full-fledged laughter. He let the laughter pass, wiped the tears from his eyes, calmed himself, focused, and then started shooting.

By the time he was finished, fifteen zombies lay littered across the lawn, bleeding red into the snow, the four carolers included.

He went back inside, but didn’t feel up to the clean up just yet. He turned on the Christmas tree and watched the white and colored lights dance a blinking happy tune across the walls and ceiling of his room. He stoked the fire with more wood, turned on Christmas music, sat back in his chair, and closed his eyes. The last image he saw (which was on purpose mind you) was of the picture on his mantel. Smiles frozen forever, Christmas outfits never to be worn again.

December the 23rd

Mike woke up the next morning to a knock at the door and a quiet house. The Christmas tree was still sparkling and doing its thing, the ornaments hanging here and there with a precision touch, neat and organized, as he grabbed a pistol nearby, shook the bad dream cobwebs free, and walked over to the peephole.

He peered through, and then reached down and unlocked the door after putting his pistol away.

“I was wondering if you were going to let us in or not,” Jim Wells replied, as he stepped into the house. He turned around to see where Fred was. He was still standing guard on the top step, so intent on watching the area that he didn’t even know the door was open or that two people were talking. “He’s good Mike, too good sometimes.” Jim tapped the man on the shoulder. “Fred. It’s safe. We can go inside.”

Fred Walg didn’t jump or move in any spastic manner when he was tapped on the shoulder, he just turned and followed after them.

“Can I get you guys something to drink?” Mike asked, closing and locking the door.

The three guys meandered into the living room. Jim and Fred took a seat on opposite ends of the couch while Mike worked on getting a fire started.

“What do you have?” Jim asked.

“I have cold, homemade eggnog, beer, wine, and water.”

“Any soda?”

“Don’t drink it.”

“Water will be fine,” Jim replied, eyeing the Christmas tree. It felt so much like the holidays inside this house. It made him home sick for days gone by.

“Fred, you want anything?” Mike asked, finishing up with the fire, which was now burning hot in the fireplace.

Fred stared at the fire, lost in thought, wrestling with his own demons. “Beer me, if you got it?”

“All I got is Corona. No lime.”

“Sounds good,” Fred replied, and then turned back to his thoughts. He couldn’t stop thinking of his girlfriend. She haunted him daily. Could he have done more? Should he have done more? What could he have done, though, in a horde of zombies? She was already partially eaten before he got to her. He could still see her reaching out to him, could still see the hope in her eyes, the fear as he pulled out his gun, the realization that dawned on her when the gun was aimed at her head. He could still hear the gunshot that had ended her life. It rattled around in his brain like a ghost unable to find its rest. He hoped this Christmas run Mike had planned would take away some of his grief. That’s why he was sitting here right now, because he had to do something before he went insane or tasted the metal of a barrel.

Mike went into the kitchen and came back with a cold beer and bottled water. He handed the men their respective drinks.

Fred was still seated, still lost in thought, so Mike just put the beer down beside him and left him alone.

Jim had moved over to the table, and he was staring at several rough and crude blueprints when Mike joined him.

The first blueprint was a design of the neighborhood and a wall surrounding it. The other blueprint showed a crude, but effective way to obtain water and store it when it rained.

“These are pretty good. Were you an architect before all this?”

“No. I’m just a man with ideas and time,” Mike replied, looking down at his work.

Jim took a sip of his water and found pleasure in the cold. He scanned the neighborhood plan once again. “I like this concept, but is it even possible? We have zombies crawling up and down this street every day. It would take an army to make it happen.”

“I figured we could have posted guards while the rest of us worked. I know there are plenty of people here who wouldn’t mind helping out if it meant we could be safe again.” Mike paused and sipped on his water. “If we put up a wall, get guards posted at all times, we can come out of our homes and enjoy life again. We can build a community garden. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we can bring in some livestock, raise a small farm. Just get back to normal the best we can.”

“I like that way of thinking, but this is a big project that will take a lot of work.”

“Anything in this time and place is going to be a lot of work, but if we’re going to survive, then we have to think like this. We have to think big. We have to think beyond our limits. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing to celebrate Christmas this year. I want the kids in this neighborhood to wake up Christmas morning and find a present at their door. I want them to feel like Santa is still here, and he is one mean zombie-killing machine that won’t let Christmas die, no matter what the odds or the situation. I want them to have hope. I want them to know that, yes times are bad, and there are horrible things everywhere, but they don’t always have to be. You can still have happiness in a world filled with death.”

“You don’t need to sell me or Fred on it. That’s why we’re here.”

“I know, but I need you and Fred to understand why. So if it gets bad at the mall, you will know that what we were doing was for a good cause,” Mike replied, eyes popping to the picture on the mantel, and back to Jim.

“Let’s just go over the details. Hammer this thing out once and for all,” Jim replied, as he scanned the picture Mike had been looking at moments ago. That picture made him think about his life before the zombies. Single and working a dead-end job, but he was somewhat happy even if his life was routine. He longed for those days now. He longed for the weekends. He longed for normal, and he hoped Mike’s plans about Christmas would go a long way to help him restore some of it. If the three of them could just get Christmas right, then at least normal would be back if only momentarily.

Fred (freed from his thoughts) got up and walked over to the table to join the conversation, which he had been half listening to. He was one of those guys, the ones that just seem to know how to survive. He was a tall fifty-year-old man with a lanky build and graying hair. In his life before this, he was an accountant by day, hunter by weekend. You wouldn’t think an accountant would know so much about surviving, but trust me, he did.

Jim was more of a following kind of guy with a big heart and big ideas. He was a teacher before the world turned to crap, and Mike hoped that one day he would lead a school in this neighborhood. Jim was about average height, somewhere in his mid-thirties, still youthful, but mature beyond his years with dark eyes, black hair, and soft features. It looked like he pushed a pencil every day of the week; but he didn’t shoot like it, and he certainly didn’t survive like it.

“The details are like this.” Mike grabbed a nearby binder, and in this binder were three separate folders with each of their names on it. Inside each folder was a map of the route they were to cover when delivering the toys, a map of the mall (where to go in, where to meet if separated), and stuff they would need to take with them (weapons, snacks, a couple bottles of water, things like that).

Mike handed Jim and Fred their folders, and all three of them found a seat in front of the fireplace.

“Silly question, but how do you keep the tree lights on?” Jim asked, curious, as he watched the tree blink. It had no idea of the world it was in. It just did what it was supposed to do, bring Christmas cheer.

“A generator out back.”

“This is pretty elaborate, Mike,” Fred replied, as he studied the maps. “How did you get so much info?”

“I started thinking about all of this back in early November just after it all went to hell. I had lost some . . .” He looked up at the mantel and the picture. “. . . important things in my life. It was hot. I was trying to survive. I was suffering. I was miserable. For some reason, I started thinking of Christmas, and what it meant to me and my family. Christmas meant everything to us. It was our time of year. We lived for it, and I was determined not to let it die because of a few flesh eaters. It was mid-November before I made it to the mall for the first time, but I managed to get my plan –”

“You’ve been as far as the mall? I wasn’t brave enough to go that far alone. Thank God for hardware stores and grocery stores nearby. I don’t know what I would have done if we didn’t have them,” Jim replied, flipping through his folder.

“Me either. I consider myself a pretty tough survivor, but even I haven’t been brave enough to go that far. And I assume, from the look of this folder, that you’ve been there more than once.” Fred chimed in again.

“Four times actually.”

“Wow. My hat is off to you,” Fred replied.

“It wasn’t as hard as you might think. Zombies are pretty stupid unless you rile them up. Most of the time, if you just have patience, take the right shots, and keep your wits about you, zombies aren’t all that hard to maneuver around.”

“How did you find out what the kids in the neighborhood wanted?” Jim asked, looking up at Mike.

“I went door to door. That’s how I found out about you two guys.”

“That’s what you were doing the day we met?” Fred asked.

“Out of all the homes I went to, you two were the only single guys left in the neighborhood. Everyone else either had one, two, or three kids, and every one of those families was struggling. It broke my heart talking to each father. They wanted to help so badly, but I refused. I wasn’t about to have their blood on my hands or a grieving widow to worry about.”

“So here we sit. Chosen because we’re single,” Jim replied, picking up a box filled with paper of all shapes, sizes, and colors that was sitting on the coffee table. He grabbed a red piece of paper sitting on top of the pile. He unfolded it, and read to himself what was written on it in bright blue crayon.

Dear Mike,

Zombies stink. Can you bring me something Star Wars? Thanks.

“That box contains what the kid’s want?” Fred asked, pointing to the box Jim was holding.

“Yeah. I went door to door again and told the parents to leave a note on their door for a toy each of their kids would want. Make it small, easy to carry. I told them I would be back to collect the notes in a week or so, give them time to think. So on each piece of paper is something that will give each kid in this neighborhood a little hope. I plan to deliver on that promise.”

Fred stood up from the couch and stretched. He took out his pistol and made sure it was loaded. It was time to get home and do a little drinking. “Tomorrow morning, right?” He asked, looking at Mike.

“Yep.”

“Okay, see you then.” He collected his things, and made his way to the door.

Mike followed him, and opened the door, letting cold air into the house. “Be careful, we need you, and thanks for doing this. I can’t say that enough.”

Fred looked out at the road and the neighborhood. A few zombies shambled back and forth. “There doesn’t seem to be as many these days. Does it?”

“Maybe that is something in our favor.”

“Hey, wait up Fred. Strength in numbers, remember.” Jim put the note back in the box, and put the box back on the table. He collected his things, and put on his coat. He walked over to the door, as Fred made his exit.

“See you tomorrow, Mike,” Jim replied, as he shook Mike’s hand, and followed after Fred.

“Bright and early,” Mike replied.

Jim caught up to Fred, as Mike closed and locked the door. He heard several gun shots echoing across the neighborhood as Fred and Jim hurried home. He went out onto the back porch, and filled up the generator then went back inside.

He turned off the tree to save power, stoked the fire, and then pulled out a small portable DVD player. He turned on one of his favorite TV shows – Wings – and fell asleep watching it. His dreams this time were peaceful and full of hope.

December the 24th

The three men sat huddled in the cold, waiting and watching the mall parking lot, back packs on their back, guns ready to kill.

It looked like a hopeless nightmare.

There were a lot of zombies shuffling around the open ground, some going into the mall, some coming out. Many of them coming out of the mall were carrying shopping bags as if they had spent this day doing last minute Christmas shopping.

“Dawn of the Dead much,” Fred replied.

“Original or remake?” Mike asked.

“Original, of course.”

“I don’t think I can do this.” Jim gripped his shotgun a little tighter to his chest. Fear ran across him like a freight train. Panic set in. He had avoided situations like this, and now he was about to throw all of that away for a few kids he didn’t even know. “This was a noble idea, Mike, sounded better before I got here; but I think I better get on back home.”

Mike grabbed Jim by the shirt, as he started to stand up. Jim landed on his butt on the cold snowy ground a second later. “This is no time to be backing out! We need you here. We need you now.”

“Why do you need me?”

“What do you mean?”

“You and Fred can handle it. I’ve seen you shoot. I would just get in your way. I can promise you that.”

Mike looked Jim in the eye, while Fred waited anxiously to go.

“Are you really going to go back to our neighborhood and face those kids? Can you live with yourself if you do that? I know I couldn’t,” Mike replied, turning away from Jim feeling a bit disgusted at his sudden cowardice. “Okay, Fred, are you ready to go?”

Fred gripped his gun tight, tried not to think of his girlfriend, tried to keep his mind on the task at hand. “Just give me the word,” he replied, muscles twitching with adrenaline.

“Just a second longer,” Mike replied, turning from Fred to face Jim. “Are you still leaving?”

Jim looked out at the parking lot, back to Mike and Fred. He thought of the note he had read back at Mike’s place. That note gave him the courage he needed. “I guess it’s like dancing with an electric chair. You’re never ready, but sometimes you have no choice,” Jim replied, gripping his gun a bit tighter, gearing himself up to go just like Fred.

Mike patted Jim on the shoulder. “Glad you’re back on board. Three is always better than two.”

“So, are we going or are we going to sit here and have a tea party? My toes are cold, my knees are numb, and I’m so hopped up on adrenaline I think I might burst out of my clothes,” Fred replied, eyes big and alive like a junky on a high.

“Okay, we’re going now, follow my lead. And remember, we want these zombies to pack in tight around us so we can get as many as we possibly can at one time. No matter how tight they swarm, no one shoots until I say so. Got that?”

Mike looked at Jim.

He nodded.

Mike looked at Fred.

He gave Mike the thumbs up without looking at him, eyes still focused on the parking lot and the shuffling zombies.

“Let’s do it then. Good luck guys and be safe,” Mike replied, and stepped out of his hiding spot, saying a silent prayer to himself as he did it.

Fred and Jim followed closely behind.

The zombies shuffled about. They were just doing their zombie thing, unaware of the danger lurking nearby.

Mike, Fred, and Jim inched closer to the mall, eyes alive, and guns ready to fire.

The zombies noticed them and began to shuffle in their direction.

The men held their pace – slow and steady, as the zombies started to horde together.

A soft snow was falling.

The ground was turning white.

The zombies bunched in tighter, started to surround the men on all sides.

Fred looked at Mike, waiting for the go ahead.

Mike held up his hand, as the zombies moved closer, packed in tighter.

Jim bit his lip, scared beyond belief, but trying hard to hang in there.

The zombies were now so full and thick around the men that they were almost hard to see through.

Mike glanced at his two friends, and then screamed: “Shoot! Light up and let ‘em fall!”

Fred smiled, and then started shooting. Mike followed a second later. Jim kind of just stood there a moment before getting in on the action. Their shots echoed out into the day like thunder and blasted out across the Raleigh city streets, as zombie heads started to explode, and blood started to splatter.

When Mike saw an opening in the horde, he screamed: “Go!”

All three of the men made their way as fast as they could through the horde of zombies, dodging grabbing hands and deadly bites. Across the parking lot towards the broken entrance doors of the mall they ran, still shooting, still firing, still exploding zombie heads, and splattering blood.

The men rushed into the mall, and paused instantly, a synchronized stop. Mike had left a kerosene lamp sitting on one of the tables nearest the door. He grabbed it, and turned it on, flooding the food court with light.

“Holy shit, mike. You didn’t say it was this bad,” Fred replied, trying not to draw attention to them.

“It wasn’t the last time I was here,” Mike replied, keeping his voice low.

Jim gulped hard, and thought about making a run for it, back to his home, back to his comfort zone. He looked behind him. Zombies were starting to come in through the broken doors, and then he looked forward again. The food court was stuffed with zombies, shambling about, and they were now coming in their direction.

“This was a noble idea, Mike, but maybe – ”

“Maybe shit. We all have to die sometime,” Jim replied, cutting Fred off in mid-sentence. He raised his shotgun, and took off running towards the crowd of zombies coming in their direction. He blasted five of them in the face, splattering blood and brains, and then continued shooting his way into the mall.

Mike and Fred didn’t hesitate, as they took off behind him, blasting their way through just like Jim.

“Upstairs!” Mike screamed.

Jim turned and ran towards the dead escalator with Mike and Fred close behind. He tossed away his shot gun, and as he climbed he started to knife the zombies filling up the metal stairs.

Mike and Fred reached the escalator, as Jim reached the second level. He looked down at Mike and Fred, as they kept firing off rounds, splattering the walls and floor with fresh zombie blood.

Mike and Fred climbed quick, jumping and leaping over the dead zombies clogging up the escalator, as they continued to move forward.

Mike pulled out a key from his pocket when he reached the second level. He raced over to the toy store doors, as Fred and Jim took aim, back to back. Zombies came from all directions as the men blew out brains and scattered pieces of flesh.

Mike unlocked the glass door, and slid it open.

“Come on! It’s open!” Mike screamed, as he popped a few zombies in the head that were too close for comfort.

The men hurried inside.

Mike slid the glass door closed, and locked it tight.

The zombies huddled up against the glass, but couldn’t get in.

The men, now tired, caught their breath and tried to relax.

“Did anyone get bit?” Mike checked himself with the light and then the other men. Everyone was somehow okay.

That was insane,” Jim replied.

“You did real good out there. Thanks for helping us get here,” Mike replied, putting the kerosene lamp down so he could see what he was doing.

“I just kept the kids in mind. That got me through it,” Jim replied, dropping his back pack on the floor. He took a seat in a nearby chair, and then he asked himself – Why was there a camping chair just sitting in the middle of a mall toy store? He looked around at his surroundings. “Been busy, Mike?”

Mike turned on several small kerosene lamps and lit up the kerosene heater – the mall had been without power or heat for some time now, so it felt like the inside of a freezer in their small confined space. The kerosene heater was sitting in the middle of a circle of camp chairs, so each guy could sit around it and warm themselves. Nearest to the chairs were sleeping bags, and a cooler that was stocked with nonperishable food and water.

“When did you do all this?” Fred asked, dropping his back pack, and taking a seat.

“I had the bags at home because we use to go camping all the time, the chairs as well. The only real problem I had was the heater and the lamps. I was able to find them close by in the back of a grocery store.”

“I guess nobody would think to look for those items there,” Fred replied, as he watched the zombies press up against the glass. “Do you think we’re safe in here?””

“For as long as we need to be here, I think so,” Mike replied.

“It still seems amazing to me that it has all come to this,” Jim replied, watching the zombies just like Fred.

“Like I said before, it’s a lot worse now than it was when I first started coming out here,” Mike replied, as he got up and walked over to the cooler. He slid it in front of the guys, and popped it open. “It’s not much, but it’ll keep us going until we leave.”

The men ate and drank for a moment, as they watched the zombies press against the glass and shuffle about. One of them shuffled by with the Salvation Army stand draped over his neck. It looked like he had walked right through it and then continued on without realizing the obstruction. He jingled and jangled, spilled change, as he moved about in his zombie-filled world.

The men smiled.

It broke the tension and fear of the day.

“I guess they started early this year,” Mike replied. “Usually I don’t see them ringing bells and asking for change until after Thanksgiving.”

“I saw the Salvation Army out in front of a few Department stores before all this started. I thought it was kind of early for them, but I guess with how bad the jobs were before the zombies more people just needed their help,” Jim replied, as he opened up some hard beef encased in plastic. “Looking back now, tough economic times have nothing on a Zombie Apocalypse. Seems kind of silly we were even concerned about it with the way the world has turned out.”

“It really does, but a lot of things seem that way now,” Mike replied.

The men took a momentary pause, and ate in silence. Their bodies warming by the heater, their nerves returning to normal.

“What about guns and ammunition?” Fred asked. “I’m about empty.”

Mike, without saying a word, got up, and made his way to the back of the store.

A few moments later, Jim and Fred heard wheels rolling across the tile, and looked towards that direction. Mike appeared in the light pushing a large cabinet on wheels. It was red all over except for the lid which was black, and the handles that were silver. Mike propped open the lid, as Jim and Fred came over to investigate.

What they saw amazed them.

“Gotcha covered,” Mike replied, sitting down in a chair.

“How in the world did you amass such a stock pile?” Jim asked, as he reached in and pulled out a brand new double barrel shotgun. He checked the chamber. It was loaded.

“You out did yourself,” Fred replied, as he picked up a machine gun with a loaded clip.

“I’m not sure we can carry all of them, but there is plenty of ammunition and plenty of weapons to choose from,” Mike replied. “I scavenged most of them from my trips back and forth to the mall. You would be surprised what people leave behind when they get killed by a zombie.”

Fred picked up a set of throwing stars, and a couple of knives. “Crazy haul Mike.”

“I honestly just found, grabbed, and tossed them into the cabinet when I got up here. I’m not even sure what is in there anymore.”

“How did you get the cabinet upstairs?” Jim asked taking a seat and warming himself by the kerosene heater. He lay the shotgun over his lap, and watched the zombies pressing up against the glass. Did he hear it crack or was it just his imagination? He figured it was just the nerves talking, and focused in on his conversation with Mike, but his eyes kept watching and his ears kept listening. If the glass did show the slightest signs of breaking, he would know it in an instant.

“The elevators were still working at the time. I rolled it into one of them, and to the second level I went.”

“A lucky break,” Fred replied, as he took a seat, and put his head back.

“Sometimes a little bit of luck is all we need, especially in this world,” Mike replied, eyeballing the zombies pressed against the glass. “How about we rest a bit? Then collect the kid’s toys, pack up for the morning, and then we’ll take turns on guard duty.”

“Sure,” Jim replied, as Fred let out a long snore. They both looked over at him. “I’ll watch, you rest, Mike.”

“You sure?”

“Sure.”

“Wake me in an hour or so,” Mike replied, closing his eyes.

“Will do,” Jim replied, and then pumped the shotgun. He eyeballed the zombies and listened for cracking glass.

Time passed, and once they were up and rested, they rounded up the kid’s toys, and packed everything up for the morning.

Once finished, they drank and ate, relaxed, and just tried to get their mind focused for Christmas morning.

Zombies shuffled outside, and one jingled and jangled, still spilling change while he shuffled about.

December the 25th

Around dawn, Mike’s watch alarm went off. He had been napping on guard duty while the others slept. He stretched, got the men stirring with an easy breakfast, and then it was time, time to get back to their neighborhood and deliver the presents.

They suited up in their cold-weather gear, loaded up with as many weapons as they could carry, and then made their way to the back of the store.

“Okay guys,” Mike replied, a hand on the door handle that use to let employees and delivery guys enter and leave this store. “I haven’t been out back before, just the front. I don’t know what is lurking; so, when I open this door, be ready to shoot first and ask questions later.”

Fred nodded, so did Jim.

“Here we go,” Mike replied, and then turned the handle. He pushed the door open, and the cold morning light greeted their face.

In front of them was a metal landing, black and shiny, covered in snow.

No zombies.

Mike stepped outside, and turned to face the stairs that led down to the ground with his gun pointed forward. He motioned for the guys to follow after him. One by one they stepped out into the cold, and onto the snowy landing.

“So far, so good,” Mike replied, and then looked out across the back parking lot where trucks use to load and unload.

There were no zombies out and about on this Christmas morning, at least not back here.

“Why didn’t we come this way the first time?” Jim asked, looking around.

“We would still have to come through the front parking lot in order to get here. I figured it was best to just come in the way we did instead of risking everything to get back here,” Mike replied, breath white in front of him.

“Makes sense,” Fred replied.

“If the zombies hadn’t been so packed against the glass this morning, we would have left the way we came in. That’s the one part of my plan that hasn’t worked out, but I always have a Plan B,” Mike replied.

“Let’s quit talking and go. My feet are cold, and my body’s numb. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready to get done so I get home,” Fred replied, and with his gun in front of him, he made his way down the icy, snow-covered metal stairs.

“After you,” Jim replied, ushering Mike forward.

Mike followed Fred, and when both men reached the ground they stopped. Jim joined them a second later.

“Still zombie clear,” Fred replied.

“But when we turn the corner of this building, all hell is going to break loose,” Jim replied.

“So be it. Let’s just get to stepping,” Mike replied, and started moving forward taking the lead once again.

The men made their way to the end of the building, turned the corner, and left the mall in the same way that they had come in, shooting and popping zombie heads, clearing a path as they ran. The going was slower this time because of the toys they were carrying in their back packs, but the men were able to keep their hands free, so that made the shooting a lot easier.

Once they were back in the neighborhood, they split up and followed their delivery routes. They made their deliveries with a tap on the door, a drop off of the presents, and a “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!” for good measure. It wasn’t an easy job; and it wasn’t a lot of fun either, but they were able to make it work because they knew they needed to.

Oh, I almost forgot.

I didn’t mention this.

This is the best part.

Ready for it.

Okay, here we go.

Each man was wearing a Santa suit when they delivered their presents, complete with fake white beard and fake white hair. They all had stopped off at a local gas station a little more than half-way back to the neighborhood. This place was set up like the toy store with food, water, weapons, and the three Santa suits. No one was forced to wear them, but they all went along without complaint.

I wonder what it would be like to see three, gun-toting, zombie-killing Santas running down the street popping off zombies as they made their deliveries. I am sure; it would be a sight to be seen.

When the men finished their delivery run, they made their way back home, and their Christmas day went like this.

Jim stripped naked, checked himself to make sure he wasn’t bitten, cleaned up, and then downed a full bottle of whiskey. After finishing the bottle, he pulled a blanket over himself and slept deep into the next day on the couch in his living room.

Fred didn’t bother with checking himself for bites. He instead went into his living room and turned on some loud Heavy Metal Christmas music. He left the Santa suit on as he drank beer, head banged around the room, and just got wasted. At some point, he just passed out, sleeping most of the night and into the morning flat on his stomach, beers littering the living room floor.

Mike crashed down in front of a roaring fire and fell asleep with the picture from the mantel in his hand (he left the suit on as well). The Christmas tree was splashing and sparkling all over the room as he slept the peace of a man who had just done a great task. His dreams were filled with Christmases gone by, happier times and happier days.

December the 26th

In the afternoon, a knock on the door woke Mike up. He went to answer it, and when he opened the door Jim was standing there holding a shoe box with Jim’s name across the top of it. Another box was lying at Jim’s feet with Mike’s name across the top of it. Mike leaned down, and picked it up.

“Thank you notes,” Jim replied.

“What?”

“Somehow they gave us all thank you notes.”

Jim and Mike went in and took a seat. They began to go through the boxes.

“How did they do this? They didn’t have time. Did they?”

“I guess it’s a Christmas miracle, Mike, or maybe Santa really is hanging on just like the rest of us.”

Both men froze and looked up at the ceiling, towards the sky. They both then looked at each other. They didn’t speak, but their looks said this.

“Did I just hear bells jingling above the house? Did I hear what sounded like a sleigh sliding off the roof?”

It couldn’t be, they thought at the same time, and shook the impossibility away.

The men turned back to their boxes and began to look at the notes. Most of them were scribbles, drawings, and thank yous all done by a child’s hand. It brought tears to their eyes. This was a true Christmas miracle and a Christmas that none of them would soon forget.

THE END

Ho, Ho, Ho, A Zombie Merry Christmas to you!

 

Haiku – 10/25/2019

Down in the damp crypt

Rotten flesh resurrecting

Lusting for warm blood

+

If you like this or need a bit of fright check out my collection of scary poems and haiku.

Available on Amazon:

Nightlight Poetry: Spine-Tingling Lines and Rhymes.

Link:

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KSF5Q5H

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KSF5Q5H

25 Days of A Zombie Christmas – 12/25/2018

December the 26th

In the afternoon, a knock on the door woke Mike up. He went to answer it, and when he opened the door Jim was standing there holding a shoe box with Jim’s name across the top of it. Another box was lying at Jim’s feet with Mike’s name across the top of it. Mike leaned down, and picked it up.

“Thank you notes,” Jim replied.

“What?”

“Somehow they gave us all thank you notes.”

Jim and Mike went in and took a seat. They began to go through the boxes.

“How did they do this? They didn’t have time. Did they?”

“I guess it’s a Christmas miracle, Mike, or maybe Santa really is hanging on just like the rest of us.”

Both men froze and looked up at the ceiling, towards the sky. They both then looked at each other. They didn’t speak, but their looks said this.

“Did I just hear bells jingling above the house? Did I hear what sounded like a sleigh sliding off the roof?”

It couldn’t be, they thought at the same time, and shook the impossibility away.

The men turned back to their boxes and began to look at the notes. Most of them were scribbles, drawings, and thank yous all done by a child’s hand. It brought tears to their eyes. This was a true Christmas miracle and a Christmas that none of them would soon forget.

THE END

Ho, Ho, Ho, A Zombie Merry Christmas to you!

+

5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

 

25 Days of A Zombie Christmas – 12/24/2018

Oh, I almost forgot.

I didn’t mention this.

This is the best part.

Ready for it.

Okay, here we go.

Each man was wearing a Santa suit when they delivered their presents, complete with fake white beard and fake white hair. They all had stopped off at a local gas station a little more than half-way back to the neighborhood. This place was set up like the toy store with food, water, weapons, and the three Santa suits. No one was forced to wear them, but they all went along without complaint.

I wonder what it would be like to see three, gun-toting, zombie-killing Santas running down the street popping off zombies as they made their deliveries. I am sure; it would be a sight to be seen.

When the men finished their delivery run, they made their way back home, and their Christmas day went like this.

Jim stripped naked, checked himself to make sure he wasn’t bitten, cleaned up, and then downed a full bottle of whiskey. After finishing the bottle, he pulled a blanket over himself and slept deep into the next day on the couch in his living room.

Fred didn’t bother with checking himself for bites. He instead went into his living room and turned on some loud Heavy Metal Christmas music. He left the Santa suit on as he drank beer, head banged around the room, and just got wasted. At some point, he just passed out, sleeping most of the night and into the morning flat on his stomach, beers littering the living room floor.

Mike crashed down in front of a roaring fire and fell asleep with the picture from the mantel in his hand (he left the suit on as well). The Christmas tree was splashing and sparkling all over the room as he slept the peace of a man who had just done a great task. His dreams were filled with Christmases gone by, happier times and happier days.

+

5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

25 Days of A Zombie Christmas – 12/23/2018

“After you,” Jim replied, ushering Mike forward.

Mike followed Fred, and when both men reached the ground they stopped. Jim joined them a second later.

“Still zombie clear,” Fred replied.

“But when we turn the corner of this building, all hell is going to break loose,” Jim replied.

“So be it. Let’s just get to stepping,” Mike replied, and started moving forward taking the lead once again.

The men made their way to the end of the building, turned the corner, and left the mall in the same way that they had come in, shooting and popping zombie heads, clearing a path as they ran. The going was slower this time because of the toys they were carrying in their back packs, but the men were able to keep their hands free, so that made the shooting a lot easier.

Once they were back in the neighborhood, they split up and followed their delivery routes. They made their deliveries with a tap on the door, a drop off of the presents, and a “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!” for good measure. It wasn’t an easy job; and it wasn’t a lot of fun either, but they were able to make it work because they knew they needed to.

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5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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25 Days of A Zombie Christmas – 12/22/2018

No zombies.

Mike stepped outside, and turned to face the stairs that led down to the ground with his gun pointed forward. He motioned for the guys to follow after him. One by one they stepped out into the cold, and onto the snowy landing.

“So far, so good,” Mike replied, and then looked out across the back parking lot where trucks use to load and unload.

There were no zombies out and about on this Christmas morning, at least not back here.

“Why didn’t we come this way the first time?” Jim asked, looking around.

“We would still have to come through the front parking lot in order to get here. I figured it was best to just come in the way we did instead of risking everything to get back here,” Mike replied, breath white in front of him.

“Makes sense,” Fred replied.

“If the zombies hadn’t been so packed against the glass this morning, we would have left the way we came in. That’s the one part of my plan that hasn’t worked out, but I always have a Plan B,” Mike replied.

“Let’s quit talking and go. My feet are cold, and my body’s numb. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready to get done so I get home,” Fred replied, and with his gun in front of him, he made his way down the icy, snow-covered metal stairs.

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5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

25 Days of A Zombie Christmas – 12/21/2018

December the 25th

Around dawn, Mike’s watch alarm went off. He had been napping on guard duty while the others slept. He stretched, got the men stirring with an easy breakfast, and then it was time, time to get back to their neighborhood and deliver the presents.

They suited up in their cold-weather gear, loaded up with as many weapons as they could carry, and then made their way to the back of the store.

“Okay guys,” Mike replied, a hand on the door handle that use to let employees and delivery guys enter and leave this store. “I haven’t been out back before, just the front. I don’t know what is lurking; so, when I open this door, be ready to shoot first and ask questions later.”

Fred nodded, so did Jim.

“Here we go,” Mike replied, and then turned the handle. He pushed the door open, and the cold morning light greeted their face.

In front of them was a metal landing, black and shiny, covered in snow.

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5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

25 Days of A Zombie Christmas – 12/20/2018

“Will do,” Jim replied, and then pumped the shotgun. He eyeballed the zombies and listened for cracking glass.

Time passed, and once they were up and rested, they rounded up the kid’s toys, and packed everything up for the morning.

Once finished, they drank and ate, relaxed, and just tried to get their mind focused for Christmas morning.

Zombies shuffled outside, and one jingled and jangled, still spilling change while he shuffled about.

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5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

25 Days of A Zombie Christmas – 12/19/2018

“I honestly just found, grabbed, and tossed them into the cabinet when I got up here. I’m not even sure what is in there anymore.”

“How did you get the cabinet upstairs?” Jim asked taking a seat and warming himself by the kerosene heater. He lay the shotgun over his lap, and watched the zombies pressing up against the glass. Did he hear it crack or was it just his imagination? He figured it was just the nerves talking, and focused in on his conversation with Mike, but his eyes kept watching and his ears kept listening. If the glass did show the slightest signs of breaking, he would know it in an instant.

“The elevators were still working at the time. I rolled it into one of them, and to the second level I went.”

“A lucky break,” Fred replied, as he took a seat, and put his head back.

“Sometimes a little bit of luck is all we need, especially in this world,” Mike replied, eyeballing the zombies pressed against the glass. “How about we rest a bit? Then collect the kid’s toys, pack up for the morning, and then we’ll take turns on guard duty.”

“Sure,” Jim replied, as Fred let out a long snore. They both looked over at him. “I’ll watch, you rest, Mike.”

“You sure?”

“Sure.”

“Wake me in an hour or so,” Mike replied, closing his eyes.

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5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

25 Days of A Zombie Christmas – 12/18/2018

A few moments later, Jim and Fred heard wheels rolling across the tile, and looked towards that direction. Mike appeared in the light pushing a large cabinet on wheels. It was red all over except for the lid which was black, and the handles that were silver. Mike propped open the lid, as Jim and Fred came over to investigate.

What they saw amazed them.

“Gotcha covered,” Mike replied, sitting down in a chair.

“How in the world did you amass such a stock pile?” Jim asked, as he reached in and pulled out a brand new double barrel shotgun. He checked the chamber. It was loaded.

“You out did yourself,” Fred replied, as he picked up a machine gun with a loaded clip.

“I’m not sure we can carry all of them, but there is plenty of ammunition and plenty of weapons to choose from,” Mike replied. “I scavenged most of them from my trips back and forth to the mall. You would be surprised what people leave behind when they get killed by a zombie.”

Fred picked up a set of throwing stars, and a couple of knives. “Crazy haul Mike.”

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5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

25 Days of A Zombie Christmas – 12/17/2018

“I guess they started early this year,” Mike replied. “Usually I don’t see them ringing bells and asking for change until after Thanksgiving.”

“I saw the Salvation Army out in front of a few Department stores before all this started. I thought it was kind of early for them, but I guess with how bad the jobs were before the zombies more people just needed their help,” Jim replied, as he opened up some hard beef encased in plastic. “Looking back now, tough economic times have nothing on a Zombie Apocalypse. Seems kind of silly we were even concerned about it with the way the world has turned out.”

“It really does, but a lot of things seem that way now,” Mike replied.

The men took a momentary pause, and ate in silence. Their bodies warming by the heater, their nerves returning to normal.

“What about guns and ammunition?” Fred asked. “I’m about empty.”

Mike, without saying a word, got up, and made his way to the back of the store.

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5 out of 5 stars – I love zombies and I love Christmas ~ A winner!

5 out of 5 stars – A Cute Little Holiday Horror Story.

5 out of 5 stars – In a zombie world, there is a Christmas miracle.

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B004GUS7WS?*Version*=1&*entries*=0