Well, it’s been a while. The place is a little dusty, but I see everything is just where I left it.
So, yeah, guess I took a bit of an unintended hiatus there. Not really sure what to say about that. It’s been a pretty wild year for me. Lot’s of ups and downs. A lot more ups than downs, now that I think about it, but the down’s have been of such prodigious depth that it kind of tips the scales. To be honest I’m in kind of a bad place in my life right now. I’m trying to work through it, but it’s…well I’m trying to work through it. And one way I’m doing that is by trying to write again.
Our story this time is quite appropriate for the first post after a long absence–it deals with animating the dead. That’s right folks, Zombie Love Story Time! That’s….that’s not the title. I don’t actually know what the title should be, but it won’t be that.
So, yeah, as far as feedback, I obviously am looking for pretty much anything I can get. If you notice the tense slipping between past and present please tell me (I changed it halfway through and might have missed some changes). I like where the story ends, but I still think the end is the weakest part. Maybe I got tired and just wanted to get it over with. I dunno. But I’d love to hear some ideas on how to improve it. Other than that I’ll just let you read it without me trying to direct you too much one way or the other.
As always, thanks, and hopefully I’m back for good. Fingers crossed
By E W Morrow
I knock. I do it quietly. Slowly. Just a few raps at a nice, regular rhythm. The door is big and thick. The kind of door you normally think of as needing a pounding just to transmit any sound through it, but I know better. I know there’s be someone waiting just inside listening patiently for me to announce myself.
And I know they didn’t want me to do it loudly.
I hear a deadbolt slide out of the door jam and then the door cracks open a few silent inches. I can see three separate chains securing it from the inside. The room beyond is blocked from view by a shadow with an eye ball up near the lintel. It narrows as it glares down at me.
“What do you want?” it asks, its voice like a distant avalanche.
“I’m here to make a deposit,” I reply calmly.
“How large?” it rumbles.
“I was told size doesn’t matter.” The figure behind the door grunts in amusement.
The door shuts briefly and I can hear the chains being undone. Then it opens again and the shadow steps aside to let me in. The shadow turns out to be a giant of a man with short, dark hair and a scar on lantern like jaw. The gun in his hand, a 9 mil if I had to guess, looks like a toy, but it’s not hard to dispel the illusion. It isn’t that the gun was small. It’s just that his hands are the size of my head. Everything about the man radiates danger. I give him a wan smile. So far, so good.
“Arms up,” he said.
The pat down goes pretty much as expected. First he checks the arms, if only briefly, then he goes for my mid section and chest. His hands linger around my waist, probing under my love handles and prodding my lower ribs. Then he kneels for the legs. He starts at the bottom, checking around the ankles for anything tucked in a sock or strapped to a calf. Not finding anything, he goes higher. In my opinion he spends a little longer than necessary inspecting my groinal region. Maybe squeezes a little too firmly. I’d say he’s just being thorough, but after he stops fondling me he gives the rest of the inspection only minimal attention. In doing so, he almost misses the bulge in my pocket. Almost.
“What is this?” There’s menace in the voice now, like thunder before a storm. He moves behind me and I feel the barrel of the gun against my head and he said, “Take it out. Slowly.”
I do as I’m told without remark. Silence has gotten me this far, and it should get me further still. I slip my hand gently into my pocket, just the first three fingers. My other hand I keep out to my side, fingers splayed. My pants are baggy, comfortable, with big pockets. It isn’t hard to pull out. We hear it first, the giant and I. The soft, crisp crinkle of thin plastic. I breathe easier when I sense him relax.
“It’s just a water bottle,” I say “See? Thought I might need one.” I hold it out for his inspection. He doesn’t take it from me, but I feel him lean over to inspect it. He sees exactly what there is to see, nothing more than a simple water bottle, half full of clear liquid, the label nothing more than a distant memory.
I don’t even think he notices my hand shaking.
“Okay,” He says after a long moment’s pause. “Follow me.”
The hallway he leads me down is long and dimly lit by overhead fluorescents. Maybe one of out of every three has a tube, and half of those blink and strobe uncomfortably. The walls had probably been clean and bright, once, but the passage of too much time and too many people has stained them various putrid hues. Too many hand prints. Too many burst pipes and vermine in the walls. Too much entropy. I know the place’s past, know that it used to be clean to the point of sterile by necessity, but now I am unable to recognize it beneath the filth.
“So,” The giant say, almost conversationally , “how did you hear about us?” I sigh, spotting the clumsy trap almost before it is laid.
“I didn’t,” I say coldly. The giant laughs like an earthquake.
It’s the first lie I’ve told tonight. It was one I had planned on telling, and one my hosts had probably expected me to tell, but it’s a lie nevertheless, and it makes me feel uneasy. Just giving it voice makes the bottle in my pocket feel heavier. Colder. More dangerous.
If I’d been stupid, I would have said that I’d heard about this place on the internet. No, not facebook or reddit. You can’t find this place on google. I found it on the dark side of the internet. The deep web. The place child pornographers congregate and professional hit men ply their trade. The kind of labyrinth that only takes you where you already know how to go and never leads to the same place twice. Where you can spend exorbitant amounts of money fulfilling your darkest dreams, or make a fortune fulfilling someone else’s. Just name your price.
If I’d been suicidal, I would have said that Hey Tony had told me. Everyone this side of the law knows Tony, and Tony knows everyone. That’s why they call him Hey Tony. All you have to do was say “Hey, Tony told me…”, and everyone knows who you meant. What everyone doesn’t know was that I’d pulled Tony out of a hole in the ice one winter when we were kids. He owes me, would sell out any of the people who know and trust him with their darkest secrets just to square things between us. And I’ve never once called that debt in. Not for nothing. Until now. So when she went missing, when some dumb fuck made the only girl I’d ever loved disappear, I didn’t bother asking around, didn’t bother making threats or scratching backs. I just called Tony and asked her where she was. In trouble, that’s where. He gave me names, and both of us knew there was nothing I could do. Get in bad with the wrong guys and nobody can save you. Get in that deep, and there’s only one thing you can hope for.
The giant leads me down a flight of stairs and around a corner into another hallway. This one is shorter, but wider, and ends at a pair of battered swinging doors with circular plexiglass windows and steel panels bolted on the bottom half. I know, even before I see it, what’s waiting beyond those doors.
It is a rare thing when imagination synchs up so perfectly with reality. It’s as if someone had plucked the image of the room from my mind and placed it there just for me. I’m sure if it was a gift or a warning, not sure if I should laugh or cry. Three quarters of the room is dominated by a set of autopsy bays lined against the far wall. Each one consists of a metal table in the center ringed on three sides by counters, cabinets and carts laden with medical equipment of the most brutal kind. Scalpels. Drills. Saws. Forceps. All of them glinting and clean. The rest of the room is crammed with a half dozen people, all neatly dressed in slacks and ties, and their equipment: two video cameras, several high end digitals, a pair of soft box lights pointed at the center autopsy bay, and a few other lights of varying types and sizes. Oh, and guns, one for everyone.
Those people are the only unexpected thing about this situation. I’d known that there would be people, that there must be people, but in all my hours thinking about this moment, I had never actually stopped to think about them. They would be there, and they would be dealt with. That was all I had needed to know. The truth is…worse.
Something about them frightens me, makes me sick to my stomach. Maybe it’s the way they look, all clean and professional, in the face of what they are doing. Maybe it’s just a trick of the light. The overheads are off and the only source of illumination comes from the lamps scattered throughout the room and those two huge, but relatively dim, softbox lights set up in the corners. The angles are wrong, different from the norm, and the colors cold and unnatural. Every face in the room has an unhealthy pallor and a few harsh, under lit shadows. It’s almost demonic. But even that isn’t it. Not really. It isn’t how they look but the WAY they look. The way they stare at me. Half amused, half hungry. These are people who make a living from the dead, and who get their kicks from the discomfort of the living. I can already tell that they hope I don’t go through with it. That they’ll laugh if they have to force me.
But they’ve already forced me.
A fat man with a bad comb over and worse teeth extracts himself clumsily from an honest to God director’s and waddles over to me. The smell of his cologne almost overwhelms the scent of antiseptic and astroglide already stinking up the place, but not entirely. He holds out a pudgy hand and gives me a lurid smile as I shake it.
“Know what you have to do?” He asks. I nod, but he doesn’t let go of my hand. It’s clear that he won’t until he’s heard me say it.
“Yeah, I know.” The man’s smile fades at little when he hears how steady my voice is. It’s not going to be as fun as he’d like.
“Eh, good,” he grumbles. “Yeah, good. Well, pick a spot and get naked. Give us a minute to do some final checks and then we’ll let you have at it.” He turns to leave but stops. He wants to have one more go at unsettling me. “Just, don’t pop the nut too early, kay? You gotta fuck it long enough that we can use the footage or the boss is gonna get mad. Got it?”
I nod again and he waves me away. I make my way to an empty bay and start to disrobe. I put the water bottle gently on the counter and throw my clothes in a heap in a random corner. It’s probably poetic, on some level. Me being naked. Thinking something about everything being laid bare would probably be appropriate at this point, but I don’t. Or maybe something about me leaving the world the same way I entered it. Naked and bloody. But I don’t think that either. I’m completely calm. Empty. The only thing that makes my heart beat faster is when I pick up the bottle. So much danger in such a tiny package. I don’t even know where it came from. I didn’t even see the face of the man who delivered it. I just told Tony what I needed, and he made the call.
I guess he really does know everybody.
The fat man yells at me and tells me they’re ready. The lights are on, the stage is set, and it’s showtime. I can feel them watch me as I step up to the table. I feel half a dozen pairs of eyes on my naked skin. I can see their leers without turning to look. But I don’t care, because there she is, laid out on the slab in front of me. I’ve found her.
Her body is just is naked as mine. So naked that I can see all the damage. Especially around her private areas. Teeth marks around the nipples. Strings of finger shaped bruises along her arms and inner thighs. The red, angry ruin around what used to be her vagina. They hadn’t even bothered to clean up the blood. It’s caked on, ruddy brown around every opening. They’d taken her, punished her, killed her, and now they are using her. For money. That’s why they are filming. Necro-porn probably doesn’t have a large market, but it’s expensive. And the men at the top can always use the video to send a message. Punishment doesn’t stop at death.
There I go, being poetic again.
I lean down and kiss her on the lips. I stroke her cheek. I want to tell her I’m sorry. That I’m sorry for being jealous, for blaming her for everything. Sorry that I pushed her away when she needed me the most. But I don’t. She can’t hear me, and I won’t let these bastards hear it either. I can hear them, rustling. Uneasy. By now surely one of them must have noticed that I’m still flaccid. It won’t be long before they realize I didn’t come her to indulge a fetish. But I don’t need long.
I take the bottle and twist off the cap. It’s good to know that, even after everything that has happened, I still know on some level what I’m doing, what it will mean, and that my hands still have the decency to shake as I pour the water into her mouth. I spill a little, but the rest slides down with surprising ease, slithering past busted lips and broken teeth as though it is alive. I guess it is, in a way.
And then I step back. The men on the other side of the lights scream. First they scream in anger, wanting me to get back in the shot, to climb up on the table and fuck the dead girl like I paid to do. I ignore them and lean up against a metal cabinet. Then, they’re screams go from angry, to confused, to terrified as the corpse on the table twitches, convulses, and then sits up. The men may be armed, but none of them appear to be trained, and unluckily for them the giant seems to have disappeared, back to his post. She makes it to the first one before anyone even pulls their gun. It’s the fat man. I grin a little as she tears out his throat. Bastards probably wish they hadn’t broken her teeth. I bet it just makes them sharper.
The others keep screaming. Two start to cry, one throws up, and the last two grow a pair and pull out their guns. But it’s too late. With inhuman strength she hurls the body of the fat man across the room, and with everyone crammed so close together it doesn’t take luck for her to bowl a strike.
About the time she bites in to the third one I close my eyes. It shouldn’t be long before the broken, bloody bodies in the room become corpses. Stop moving. Then start again. For all I know this could be the end of the world, but I don’t feel like watching it. I don’t mind. Not about the end of the world. I couldn’t care less about the world as a whole. I just don’t care that she didn’t seem to recognize me. But I know she did. Sure, she went after the others first, but she always does that. She likes to flirt, to spread her attention around the room. But I’ve learned something.
In the end, she always comes back to me.