Lord Love A Zombie: Dead Inside: Welcome Sample
Lord Love A Zombie: Dead Inside: Welcome
Written By Nina Hobson
An Electronic Publication written and owned by,
All Rights Reserved.
© Copyright Nina Hobson, 2015.
This e-book may not be reproduced in whole or in part by email forwarding, copying, fax, or any other mode of communication without the author’s written permission.
First Printing: 2015
Edited by Nina Hobson
On a dimly lit, tree-lined street sits a worn-out home. In the living room of said home, a television softly plays the nightly news. A report on a bomb exploding in a factory somewhere in the state has just ended.
Dead newscasters cue up the next report: “Rager Zombies Up in Number in the Midwest.”
A room away, a family of zombies sit down to dinner, their heads bowed in prayer around a platter of steaming, raw entrails. Fifty-two year old, Ernest Menison, former architect, offers blessing.
“...and we give thanks to the Almighty above for our bountiful feast. Amen.”
Ernest spoons organs onto his dad's plate then passes it to him. His dad begins to eat with his hands. Abner Menison has always enjoyed his food.
Ernest chuckles and continues to pass filled plates until all are served. Ernest’s wife, Anna, throws her father-in-law a disgusted look.
“Dad, where are your manners? Your grandchild is at the table!”
Abner snorts and stuffs more food into his decayed mouth. A bit of colon extrudes through his cheek. Jackson, aka Jackie, used-to-be girl’s high school basketball star player (now an official member of the walking dead) laughs at her grandfather’s antics. She digs into her own meal – using her utensils correctly under her mother’s stern eye – adjusting the scarf around the deep hole in her throat after each forkful.
Outside a police car drives by lights flashing, a zombie in uniform behind the wheel. A handcuffed, hysterical human writhes around in the backseat, kicking the door with zip-tied feet, half his bottom lip gone.
In an abandoned apartment house, not far away, four humans hide in the boarded-up attic, their only light…a single candle. A noise comes from below. Everyone freezes momentarily except preteen Jules who lies sick and asleep on a cot in the corner.
Faint scratching on the door prompts them into action as a pair of lips blow out the flame.
Henry gasps, moving deeper into the darkness. Connor tiptoes toward the door. He presses his ear hard against it and waits to hear the word “toodles” repeated twice – once frontwards and once backwards.
Un-blocking the door and stepping back, he makes way for two people to hurry in. They all help re-barricade the door while Henry relights the candle. He steps forward, fear and anger battling for dominance.
Anger wins with him every time nowadays.
“Who’s that? We agreed not to bring anyone else into the group. How do we know he hasn’t been bitten? Whose blood is that on you?”
Dirty and tired with a bloody smear running from his right ear to the corner of his mouth, Marshall can barely restrain himself from punching the man in the face. He drops the duffle bag from his shoulder but holds onto the sawed-off shotgun.
A young boy, equally grimy, holds tight his right hand.
“It’s my blood and I know we agreed but he’s just a little kid. His name is Jeff and I couldn’t just leave him out there.” Henry opens his mouth to continue his rant but Marshall soldiers on, “Besides, he passed the test...he didn’t try to eat me first chance he got.”
Henry gets up in Marshall’s face. “Yeah?! Well, so did Gin and you saw what happened with that – she tried to eat us the second chance she got!”
Narrowing his eyes at the man, he gets closer still. “So be honest, are you bit?”
Marshall grabs him by the shirt, drags him close. “Listen, you asshole, I’ve more than had it with you. It was all fine when we helped you out and if you’re still waiting for me to apologize for how it went down, then put us both out of our miseries and just hold your breath. But say one more word to me and those zombies will be eating on you for days, got it?” He pushes Henry away causing him to stumble.
Frightened, Jeff barrels toward the door. Connor grabs him as he scrabbles at the thick pieces of wood. “It’s okay, Jeff. Don’t listen to that piece of crap, you’re welcome here.”
Henry glares but shuts up, moving back toward the candle.
Cynthia, Henry’s cousin, flaps her hand to get the boy’s attention. “Hello, Jeff. Are you hungry?” She holds out a small packet of crackers. The boy nods, moves toward the girl and takes the food, making short work of it.
Something scurries softly along the hallway and Henry hovers his cupped palms just over the candle, effectively dimming it. No one speaks. The noise repeats itself, slightly louder, stopping outside the door. Everyone tenses, ready to fight or run. The sound moves away, silence perseveres as the minutes pass.
Henry pulls his hands away, rubbing his hands up and down his torn jeans until he finds Cynthia observing Marshall. He darts a hateful glare the man’s way which Marshall tolerates as par for the course – given the two would probably hate each other in a normal world.
Connor blows out a soft breath, speaks softly, “That was close. You weren’t followed were you?” Marshall shakes his head. “No, I was careful.”
“So, how did you meet?” The older man asks, still pressed up against the door. He jerks his chin toward Jeff, sitting on the floor.
“I was down by the packing plant. Two men were in the middle of the street fighting...can you believe that? It was like they didn’t even care. But when the zombie police came driving up they took off and ran right into a pack of dead plant workers. One of the men swung on the cop, had a chunk bitten out of his arm and was thrown into the car. The other was dragged screaming into the plant. When I turned to leave, I bumped right into Jeff – almost knocked him down – he was standing behind me watching, too. I grabbed him and we hightailed it out of there before they started searching around for more humans. I– ”
From the other side of the door comes yelling and screaming. Jeff visibly shakes, calming when Cynthia pulls him into a hurried hug. Henry, Connor and Marshall grip their weapons.
BANG! Something hits the door hard. BANG! Ripping sounds and growls accompany howls of agony. Connor jumps back.
Marshall insists, “We have to help him.” He moves toward the door but Henry intercepts him, hissing in his face, “Are you insane? We don’t know how many zombies are out there. Hell, it could be more of those crazy people you saw earlier.” With his hand on the doorknob, Marshall replies, “Well, I’m going to do something.”
The noise stops. A faint tapping breaks the stillness. A male’s voice grunts out a weak, “Help me. You gotta help me. Please.”
Connor places his ear to the stained wood and listens. Nothing. Looking back at the others, he makes up his mind. “Are you alright out there?” Henry scoffs, rolls his eyes.
The voice pleads, “Oh, please, please I’m hurt. Please, just open the door.” Connor looks at Marshall. Marshall looks at Cynthia. Cynthia looks at Henry. Henry shakes his head no.
The older man moves away from the door, stage whispers, “Three to one. We take a chance and let him in.” He gestures for Marshall’s help. They take down the barricade; inch open the door – a zombie pushes in, smiling.
The stench of it envelopes the room almost immediately, it’s slightly hunched stance menacing. It doesn’t move in for the kill but simply stands its ground despite several weapons aimed at it. The decomposing man speaks.
“Hello, Food. Looks like we’re in for a treat. Live meat. Oooweee! We’re gonna eat good tonight.”
Connor swings his machete, lops off the zombie’s hand. Marshall cuts into a leg. The zombie plops to the floor unceremoniously, blowing out puffs of air as he laughs. His breath gives his body stank a run for its money.
“I hope y’all don’t think I’m the only one who knows y’all are holed up in here. Hell, when we followed you two we thought it was only you two, not a whole room full of y’all.”
Raising his weapon once more Connor beheads it. Cynthia and Henry re-barricade the door. He opens his mouth to speak then closes it tuned in to the noises coming from downstairs. Everyone freezes.
“We gotta get outta here.” Marshall, first to break out of his panic, points in the direction of the cot and says to Henry, “Get Jules.”
Henry sputters. “What? We can’t take her, she’ll only slow us down. Plus, she stinks.”
Marshall picks up Jeff. A zombie bangs on the door. Then another. And another. The blocked door shudders but holds steady against the battering.
As the unspoken leader, Connor rises to the situation. “We have to leave, get to that support house Jules’ father was talking about.” He toes at the permanently dead thing, turns it on its side revealing a patch: a blue rectangle with a gold bullet inside it. “This zombie is a poacher. See the insignia on its arm?”
More banging. Harder. Faster. Louder. There’s shouting; the clamor of pounding feet. The group grabs ammo and pre-packed bags from a corner. Connor orders Henry to get Jules this time. Instead, Henry hoists his gear onto his shoulder. He pulls out a big Bowie knife and a gun then takes a couple of steps backward.
“Did you not hear me the first time? She’s just gonna slow me...us down.”
Marshall, who has been staring out a slit in the wall, turns around. Readjusting his hold on Jeff, he goes over and tries to pick the young girl up. “Alright, then you can fight the zombies coming up.” Henry looks through the slit, sees the dead streaming into the apartment house. More banging and yelling comes from the hallway.
The door buckles slightly.
Henry secures both his weapons. “Fine!” He takes Jules from Marshall as Connor takes Jeff. All make toward the back door which opens onto a weakly lit, short, narrow hall. With an armed Cynthia’s in front, Henry – with Jules – go next. Connor and his charge follow. Marshall trails, locking the door behind him. They hear a splintering noise along with snarling and shouting.
Jules fidgets in her sleep much to Henry’s annoyance. “Be still or I’ll let you go,” he quietly growls in her ear. The girl stills then puts her thumb into her mouth.
The humans move rapidly, making their way onto the building’s low roof. They move unto the short ladder hanging along the side of the building; taking it to the rooftop next door. As they hurry through the unlocked rooftop door, the zombies have just discovered their escape route. Marshall finds a bent metal chair leg and wedges it tight under the fire door. He throws his weight against it to test it.
They hump cautiously down the dark staircase and out the entrance door, disappearing into the night.
Two young zombies wind their way down the street, laughing and jostling each other, sharing a bag of human fingers. Behind a vacant gutted home, the bunch observe them until they are out of sight. Connor points across the street, the dawn of a new day offering a misty view.
“There. Right there...that’s the house. There’s the fake bronze sun hanging on the wall. Ronald said we have to go through the shed in the backyard.”
Gun at the ready, Cynthia acts as lookout while the other cross the street. Entering the shed, Cynthia and Marshall pull out and flip on their flashlights. They see an arrow pointing toward a wooden staircase and take it, flashing their lights about.
One beam lands on a teenaged zombie girl with multicolored hair playing a handheld video game. It pings and zaps as her fingers fly across the buttons, the glow of the LED illuminating her chalky skin.
Henry screams nearly dropping Jules. Cynthia points her gun at the zombie; cocks it.
Startled, the teenaged corpse drops the electronic, holding up her hands in surrender. “Wait! Wait! I’m here to help you. I’m Jackson Menison. Everyone calls me Jackie, though. You want the support house, right? This is it.”
The group looks doubtful as a whole, except Jules who’s fast asleep. They look around, relieved that she seems to be alone. Cynthia keeps her gun trained on the talking dead girl.
“Where are the humans that live here? Did you eat them?” Connor asks.
Jackie rolls her eyes. Typical teenager. “My family and I don’t eat Food we help them to safety.”
Henry grouses. “We can’t trust you...you’re a zombie!”
Jackie slightly irritated throws back, “Well, you all are Food – same can be said about you.” To the rest she asks politely, “Is anybody hungry? My mom’s gonna start cooking everything under the sun as soon as she sees we have company.”
She walks – more like lumbers – toward a different set of stairs against a wall stopping and turning back when she hears no one following her, her smile gone. Though Cynthia has lowered her gun, the tired mass is still leery, glancing around nervously.
The zombie’s shoulders slump as she readjusts her neck scarf. “Look, you all are gonna have to trust me and my family if you want to make it to the Human Survivor Camp. Besides, my parents don’t take to guns and long sharp blades much, okay?” Jackie looks pointedly at their exposed weapons. “The kids can sleep in my room. We’re not going to hurt you. I promise.”
They huddle up. Jackie waits respectfully, leaning against the wall.
“I don’t believe that thing. We should just kill it, ransack the house and get away with whatever we can.” Henry shifts nervously from foot-to-foot, carelessly jostling the sleeping girl.
“Well, she sounds like she’s telling the truth to me. I’m staying.” Marshall glances about at the others hoping for agreement.
Henry sneers. “Yeah, we all know just how good your judgment calls are. Or did you forget what happened earlier?”
Marshall seethes. Henry stares at him angrily and readjusts Jules in his arms. Connor intervenes. “What’s done is done. We’re here now. Henry, you can leave if you want. Myself, I’m with Marshall. I think Jules is in too since her father was the one to tell us about this place, although he left out a few precious details. Cynthia?”
Marshall smiled at her then turned to Jeff. “What about you, Jeff? You wanna stay or go?”
“I’m staying with you.” The boy inches closer to Marshall.
Everyone looks at Henry, including Jackie. He mutters, “Whatever.”
Jackie grins. “We all okay now?”
Connor and Marshall nod. The excited dead teenager gestures with a dark forefinger. “Good, let’s go. You’re gonna love my family.” She escorts the group up the stairs into the house.
Three zombies out hiking hear sounds that are definitely not from nature. They slow their steps then stop. When they stop the sounds follow suite. Standing a few long seconds they glance uneasily around the heavily wooded area trying to determine the direction from which it came.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if it was a human?”
Only the steady chirp of crickets and the occasional bird call greets them in the lull. Feeling foolish, the friends grin sheepishly at one another (as much as their mutilated mouths will allow) and set off once more.
The sounds start up again.
The zombies stop again as does all the noise. This time the air feels stagnant and the silence seems ominous.
The zombies plow on, giving up the pretense of being unafraid. Moving faster this time as the noise follows them – louder, creeping closer. In silent agreement, they break out into a full on run, keeping pace with one another until the slowest one – a girl dragging her damaged leg – is snatched behind a tree.
A decomposed hand grips the back of her head and slams her face against the thick trunk until it implodes. Grey matter slops the wood, clings to the rough bark.
“Ragers!” The panicked zombie yells, opening the distance between himself and his friend.
And a Rager does appear – to drag the lagging zombie into the bushes. His head rolls out from underneath the bush to enthusiastic sounds of tearing, chewing, thrashing and long, quivering howls of soul-searing torment.
The racket mercifully comes to an end as the last dead standing stumbles headlong about the dense woods off course – overcome by something so beyond fear, it literally aches.
Minutes later, the lone zombie stumbles from the woods, holding its hand over the gaping hole in its thigh, blackish blood dripping from between rotted fingers.
The walking dead instantly turns into a Rager.
It takes off – snarling and drooling – back into the woods.
In Jackie’s bedroom, Jules and Jeff are conked out on the double bed. All the adults are awake, on guard, weapons at the ready. Henry’s eyes never leave Jackie. Conner carefully peers out between sheer, pink curtains as he watches zombie garbage men collect trash.
Jackie leans quietly against her closet door, watching all the humans reluctantly succumb to exhaustion, one-by-one.
Anna and Abner are preparing lunch when a rapid knock on the back door and a call of, “Anybody home?” announces their next-door-neighbor, Orlando Simmons, just before he enters without permission and seats himself.
Being the nosy, oppressively civil-duty minded zombie that he is, he has somehow failed to see his own villainy. His very teeth black, skin peeling around the eyes and missing hair do nothing to discourage his obnoxiousness and lack of appeal.
“Hey there, Menisons. I’ve come to borrow a bit of meat.”
Anna sighs, trying to hide her annoyance. “I have not been to the store yet, Orlando. You will have to wait until Ernest gets home.”
Orlando snorts. “Come now, Anna, I know for a fact you have plenty of meat. I’ve seen Ernest out with his stun gun. We all know poaching is illegal. I sure hope the Committee doesn’t find out.”
Abner huffs and goes to the freezer. He takes out five brown paper-sealed packages and bags them, hands it to Orlando.
“That’s all we can spare.”
“This is all I need...for now. Tell Ernest and that pretty little Jackson I said hello.” Orlando stands and hugs the bag to his hollowed-out chest. He salutes then leaves. Anna and Abner share a meaningful look, go back to preparing the food.
Out hunting, Ernest comes across a “dead” zombie, torn apart. He slides his machete from its sheath, stepping backward in the direction from which he’d come, eyes continually darting around.
The shades are drawn against the bright sunlight, the humans having just finished eating a real meal. Zombie and human foodstuff and supplies are in bags around the kitchen. Extra weapons are clean and lined up by the door. The zombie family and most of the humans are talking, making plans around a map on the table.
Henry stays to himself, his mind still reeling from the fact that he’s in such close proximity to the walking dead without having to fight for his life. Thin-haired, sunken veiny eyed, pasty-skinned and grotesque – a couple of the old man’s discolored teeth are exposed through a ragged hole in his cheek, precariously disintegrating from his diseased gums.
Zombies are a nightmare come true. They are a world beyond enemies – there’s no word for them, no way to rationalize them and as far as he knew, they couldn’t be reasoned with – yet his group (his people) were strategizing with them like they’re all brothers in arms.
Like these things could be trusted.
He keeps his hand on his weapon and his eyes on everyone.
“…I didn’t see anybody, just the body parts and shredded clothes but I got myself out of there as fast as I could. So we are gonna have to be extra–”
Someone knocks on the door. The humans run toward Jackie’s bedroom – but not fast enough. Orlando barges in uninvited, again. He sees the humans and gasps.
“I KNEW IT! I knew you all were helping the Food.”
Anna replies, disgusted. “Come on, Orlando. Even you have to see that the way we, as a society, treat Food is wrong. Eating them. Breeding them. Raping them!” Anna gets angrier as she speaks. Abner pats her wrist to calm her as Jackie guards Jeff.
“But you eat Food just like the rest of us. I’ve seen you,” Orlando reiterates. “Ernest poaches them.”
The father shakes his head, toying with a kitchen knife lying on top of the map. “I don’t exactly “poach” them. I drug them and take them out of the city to safe places. And by the way, my family and I only eat animals. You, you extortionist, have been eating a lot of groundhog meat mixed with a little decayed zombie flesh,” Ernest states.
“You’ve been poisoning me? You’re all sick! We need to eat. We need to create more Food not help them escape!”
Orlando edges toward the door too late – Marshall blocks it. Baring his rotted teeth, the dead man lurches at the living. It’s been a while since he’s had fresh flesh. Ernest knocks him off balance with a shrewd elbow to the temple. Tilting the zombie’s head back gives the knife perfect clearance…he slits his neighbor’s throat down to the spinal cord – thick, blackish blood spurting everywhere. Yanking out the vertebrae is like threading a needle.
Blood covers Ernest, sprays the floor. A few droplets hit Marshall’s skin.
Anna immediately rushes to the man to check his eyes and mouth. He flinches back only to catch himself and allow her near. The mother pays no heed to the slight; instead, questions him about open sores. She appears satisfied with his negative answers.
Henry bends at the waist, vomiting, while pointing his gun around the room indiscriminately. “OH MY GOD!”
“Cut it dude,” Jackie insists, dryly. “We’re still not gonna hurt you.” Jeff begins to cry so Jackie bends down to hug him, he stiffens awaiting the bite. When none comes, the scared little boy leans into the deceased youth’s discolored arms. She smiles at Jeff. “Come help me check on your friend.” Jeff hasn’t even met the sick girl but he doesn’t correct her. Instead he just follows the zombie out of the kitchen.
Conner and Marshall don plastic gloves to help Ernest dispose of Orlando’s body. Slapping on her own pair of latex, Cynthia partnered with Anna, cleans up Orlando’s leftover blood and bits.
Henry sits on a kitchen chair, unhelpful, shaken and assessing.
Later that evening finds the Menison’s living room still tidy and empty. The television once again plays low. A timed table lamp along with the front and back porch light all turn together at their appointed time.
Ernest drives down a nearly empty road, Abner riding shotgun. The humans and the rest are in the back. Ernest smiles as he queues up the CD player with his favorite Motown songs.
At the same moment the humans were meeting the Menisons for the very first time, two zombies burst through the door of a government packing plant and run off toward the gate. One stops to spray paint an ‘X’ on the “Cosmos Food Processing” sign on the way to an idling car. Behind them a high-powered bomb explodes, destroying the entire building and all in it as the vehicle shoots away.
That afternoon at a random house a Rager breaks down the door, attacking and eating a zombie child snacking on a bowl of eyeballs.
During a formal meeting later the same day the Committee argues around a long, rectangle table.
Hours on outside the police parking lot, police, hunter and poacher zombies load their cars as they joke, smoke and drink. Some even pretend they are Food and laugh hysterically when their companions mock shoot them with what’s left of their fingers.
In front of the Human Survivor Camp in Tennessee, the night shift guards shoot three stray, slow-moving zombies shuffling toward the gate.
At exactly midnight with Anna driving and Cynthia sitting low between the two front seats, the camper breezes by a sign declaring: “You Are Now Leaving Mississippi…‘The Magnolia State.’”