Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Final Chapter

So here it is. The day before Halloween. All Hallow's Eve...Eve? And with it comes the final installment of my contribution to the zombie craze. I hope you have enjoyed this little month long departure from the everyday life on the Coast of Illinois. Watch out for those little ghouls and goblins tomorrow night and come back on Friday November 1 when the Coast returns to normal...

Part Nine
                          Part One   Part Two   Part Three   Part Four   Part Five 

                                             Part Six  Part Seven   Part Eight
The infant took a tiny breath, coughed and began to cry. Mary and Debra joined in. Downstairs, Jake heard the crying and gave one last look outdoors. The female zombies jumped up and down excitedly with each cry.

In the bedroom, Deb hurriedly rubbed the crying baby dry. Ordinarily a newborn’s skin begins to pink as it is rubbed dry. This baby seemed to turn grey. Debra leaned in closer. Its breathing was deep and even with no sounds of obstruction. Its cry was healthy. She felt certain the color was not due to lack of oxygen. As she handed the baby to Mary it opened its eyes. They were flat and lifeless yet seemed to look directly at her. Debra shuddered. The baby was so cold.

Mary took her baby and held it close. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she moved the blanket. Its tiny grey body shivered. “It’s a boy! Oh Jake, come quick. Our son is here!” Mary called out as she placed the infant to her breast. In a whisper she said, "It's just as Jenna said." She looked to Debra and nodded.

With a deep breath, Deb returned the nod. A wave of nausea hit her and she stepped back. It was too much to take in. Mary sat curled on the bed, the tiny grey infant with blank eyes open and staring around the room gave a final cry and began to suckle gently its grey flesh dry and peeling like the paper of an old letter. He closed his eyes and in the dim light of the bedroom Debra could see how much Mary loved her son.

Crashing outside the bedroom window brought her back to reality. Jake raced into the room as Debra moved the curtain. The two females from downstairs were peering into the bedroom window. They had climbed up the downspout. Neither touched the wired window nor did they make any attempt to push closer than necessary to see inside. Their heads dipped back and forth as Mary swayed with her nursing infant.
“They want to see him. Mary, hold the baby up. Let them see him,” Deb spoke quietly. Births had a way of changing people. The females looked concerned almost hopeful. Debra had seen that look many times …on the faces of worried grandmothers standing outside the nursery windows.

“God, no! Mary…” Jake stopped at the bedside as he saw the baby for the first time. His face went pale as horror washed over him. The baby fixed its lifeless eyes on Jake and began to scream.

Debra stepped back, away from the window. The zombies stopped swaying as Mary held the baby up for them to see. She pushed the bedroom door shut as Mary announced to the room and those beyond it, “His name is Adam.”

“Deb, help us.” Tears welled in Jake’s eyes as he reached out to stroke the crying infant’s head. It lunged towards him; tiny white teeth glimmered in the darkened room.

Debra nodded her head as she slipped her hand into her sweater pocket, her fingers closed around the handle of the small gun she carried with her ever since the sickness began. These people had been her friends for so long. They had waited for this baby for so long. Her eyes began to tear as she moved towards the terrifying family but the infants screams brought her into focus. She had to do this.
“Give me the baby Mary,” Jake said as he held out his hands. Mary looked up, smiling.

“No Jake.” Debra answered as she raised the pistol to the base of Jake’s neck and squeezed the trigger.

Jake fell to the floor. His eyes rolled up in his skull, a mass of bone, blood and brains spattered the wall and his body collapsed. The baby fell silent for a few seconds before returning to its hungry cry. Mary slid off the bed, baby held tight in her arms. She propped herself on the floor, leaning back against the bed next to her husband.

“Oh Jake. I knew you would always take care of us,” she cooed as she scooped a tiny bit of grey matter from the side of his skull and placed her fingers with the bits of brain into Adam’s mouth. The baby gurgled contentedly as he began to feed.

Outside, the females hummed and slowly slid back down the drainpipe to the ground below. Debra watched from the bedroom window as they joined the group. The witnesses gestured wildly towards the upstairs window and the group pulsated excitedly. As they moved away from the house, Deb pulled the curtains.

From downstairs Dave called out, “Deb? Deb, are you okay?”
Mary looked up at her friend as the baby began to doze. “Go on, we will be fine,” she said. She looked at her husband's body. “We can freeze him later.”

On shaking legs, Debra went downstairs to her husband. Dave remained on the couch, head propped up on his right arm. “Man, my head is killing me. Did I hear crying? And a gunshot?”

Deb smiled as she told Dave that mother and baby were doing fine. “His name is Adam.”

“That’s perfect,” Dave smiled and patted Debra’s rounded belly. “Maybe in another month we can introduce him to Eve. Do you think you're ready?

“Yes,” Debra answered. "Of course. A new mom knows exactly what to do the minute her child is born." She leaned forward and kissed Dave on his left temple and pressing her hand deep into her sweater pocket never releasing its grasp on the handle of the pistol hidden within.

                                                                               The End.........?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This is exactly what would happen if I were an OB nurse...

It's almost Halloween! Have you been keeping up with poor Deb and Dave and Jake and Mary? And remember – if zombies aren't your thing check out some of the favorite posts and my favorite blogs in the column on the right. Coast of Illinois will return to normal on November 1!

Part Eight

Jake looked from Debra's back to Dave’s body, laid out on the couch and shook his head. Outside, the zombies muttered and milled around in groups of twos and threes as Mary groaned.

For the next hour, Jake split his time between the front and back of the house. He found it odd that the creatures made no attempt to enter but even odder that their groups were divided by sex. The females hovered close to the windows, kitchen and back laundry. The males grouped a little further away. In the back of the house, Dave slept the sleep of a minor head trauma. He stirred now and then, moaning in tune to those outside. An older female with long hair on half her head looked into the back living room, watched Dave’s nearly motionless figure but when Mary cried out from the upstairs bedroom, the creature moved away stopping several feet away from the house with its head tipped back, vacant eyes staring towards second story.

“Deb, things okay up there…with Mary and stuff?” he called up the stairs before moving to the front of the house.

“We’re good Jake. I’ll holler when it’s time.” Deb called back.

Mary sat propped up on the bed. Deb had covered the mattress with plastic and then padded the entire thing with old blankets. The contractions were coming fast and Mary was beginning to feel overwhelmed. She gripped the blanket with white knuckles. Through clenched teeth she said, "Are we going to be able to do...what we need to?"

Deb peeked out the window, on the ground stood two females. They held hands, swaying back and forth, never letting their gaze move from the upstairs window. With each of Mary’s moans, they swayed faster. "I guess we'll find out...when the time comes. Jenna in Denver managed and last check in she and the baby were just fine."

“God, Deb…I…think this is it…” Mary gasped as a second flood of liquid flowed onto the sheets. Mary grabbed her knees as Deb instructed her to push.

“Jake, it’s time…” Debra shouted as she moved to the end of the bed. She grabbed a dry towel and began to slip it under her friend’s hips to protect her from the wetness of the birth fluids but something was wrong. The fluid, normally clear to slightly cloudy and pink was grey. The pattern of drying liquid on the sheets looked horribly similar to the puddle the dying zombie had left on the snow. Doubt formed a tiny shadow over Deb's eyes. They had to do this. No matter what.

“Deb…I can’t do this.” Mary began to twist on the bed as the baby moved down the birth canal.
Debra had delivered hundreds of babies over her career. This was nothing new. As delivery got closer most moms began to panic. It was best to give them something to do. “Push Mary.” She said and hoped her voice was stronger than it sounded in her head.

Mary pushed and Deb could see the baby’s head. Mary cried out and immediately pushed again. The baby slipped out and onto the bed in another puddle of grey fluid. Debra rapidly assessed the infant – ten fingers, ten toes, umbilical cord intact. She tied the cord in two places and with a sharp knife left upstairs for just this task, she cut the cord.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Maybe They Just Want Tiny Candy Bars...

It's beginning to feel like Autumn here on the Coast of Illinois. Chilly wind whipping leaves into the kitchen window, entire pumpkins taunting me in the grocery store begging to be turned into poor caricatures of Frankenstein's Monster and Johnny Depp, bags of tiny candy bars begging me to eat them while hiding under an afghan where those creepy twin girls from the Overlook Hotel will never think to look...

Have you got your afghan and tiny candy bars ready???

Part Seven

Dave ran to the kitchen window to assess the damage. “What are they doing out there?” The zombies had huddled around the wounded creature. Mumbled noises could barely be heard through the glass. The wounded zombie waved its injured arm back and forth as if to keep the others away. A larger male reached around the victim from behind and wrapped its arms around the torso of the wounded one. It held the restraint as the others began to feed, at first taking bites here and there then ripping large hunks of flesh and bone. The victim continued to shriek until at last the large male leaned forward and took a deadly bite at the back of the victim’s neck. It's head tilted forward, mouth open but silent at last. Dave stood frozen as he watched the scene unfold. In all it took less than a minute for the group to devour its weakened member.

Mary moaned again, louder this time. Outside, two of the zombies stood up, sighting on the house. Nervously, they returned and peered in the kitchen window staying well clear of the grating which still held bits of sizzling flesh. With each of Mary’s moans, the creatures muttered and teetered back and forth. None made any attempt to enter the house.

"They’re responding to Mary. Deb, get her upstairs.” Jake began to flip switches on the control panel, shutting down all but a few lights at the baseboards of the kitchen. “ I think they're women." He leaned closer to the window. One of the creatures was wearing a tattered uniform dress – yellow and red – Denny's, he guessed to himself. "Dave, you keep watch in here. I’ll watch the front of the house.”

Dave hurriedly walked towards the living room. The television glowed brightly, check in was over and the light from the screen illuminated the house too well. His concentration was on the back door. He took two quick steps before his stocking foot hit the amniotic fluid which remained puddled on the kitchen floor. His feet slid forward as he teetered and fell back, smacking his head on the kitchen table before landing with a thud on the floor.

“Dave!” Debra cried as she steadied Mary at the steps and ran back to the kitchen. Her husband lay flat on his back, unconscious but breathing. “Jake, help me. Dave’s out cold.”

Mary moaned again, this time through clenched teeth. Her sounds were quieter but the zombie women continued to rustle in response. “Deb, I need to lie down.”

“I’ll be right there Mary.” Deb gasped the words as she and Jake hefted Dave onto the couch. “Hand me a flashlight.”

Jake pulled a small light from his back pocket. He crouched quietly as Deb went to work. She carefully opened each of Dave’s eyelids, shining the light into his deep brown eyes. The pupils dilated and with the light quickly contracted again. Satisfied, she felt the back of his head for swelling and bleeding. A small knot had formed in the center of his skull but there was no laceration. She listened carefully to his breathing. It was shallow but regular. Still grasping the flashlight in one hand, she formed her other hand into a fist and harshly rubbed Dave’s chest on the sternum where the bone was unprotected by even a thin layer of fat. Dave grimaced in response to the pain and Deb smiled.

“He’s going to have one heck of a headache but he’ll be okay,” Deb said as she stood. “Keep an eye on him. If he begins to breath weird call me. I’ll be upstairs greeting your child.”

Come back on Sunday for the next to last installment! And, if zombies aren't your thing please check out the favorite blog posts and my list of favorite bloggers to the right. The Coast of Illinois will return to its much less scary self on November 1!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

When we last left the Zombies...

It has been a wild couple of weeks here on the Coast. Actually Coasts – plural. As this posts I am returning from a trip to California where our beautiful niece and her darling man got married. Thankfully, there were no Zombies.

Part Six

“Mary! Your water broke!” Deb grabbed the counter with one hand to steady herself, her legs suddenly weak with all the excitement and now, relief. If labor hadn’t progressed she would have had to break it. “How are the contractions?”

Mary moaned in answer. “Wow, that was a big one.” As the contraction lessened, she stood and caressed her belly. “I could actually see it tighten.”

“Yup, that’s what labor does. Come on. If you feel up to it, how ‘bout walking around while I start some dinner. The rest of us are going to need to keep up our strength. I’ll fix you some soup if you’re hungry.” The pot full, Deb placed it on the gas burner.

The slam of the back door made both women jump as the men returned. Their stomping sounded more violent than was necessary.“What the fuck were you doing out there alone?” Dave was pissed. They had specific actions for attack. “You put us all at danger Jake.”

“I had the chance. I had to take it. That Zom was acting really weird. It was almost as though it were observing, stalking us. I am pretty sure it had been at the kitchen window and those dragging prints were by the back door too.”

Both men continued to argue as they pulled off their wet shoes and placed the shotguns in the rack. Mary completed her first lap around the living room as Deb browned some sausage and stirred in tomato sauce. Jake was the first to notice Mary’s parade.
“Um, babe? What ya doin’?”

“Training for the marathon. Aaa…what’s it look like?” Mary gasped as another contraction hit but her smile covered up the pain. “Of course, Deb won’t let me do any carbo loading. Guess she’s afraid I’ll puke on her!”

“Yes, that is exactly right. You know what they say: puke on me once, shame on you. Puke on me twice…” Deb began to laugh but choked as a scream replaced her momentary mirth. A grey face with flat eyes peered into the kitchen window.

“Shit!” Dave grabbed his gun and ran to the back door. “There’s another one on the porch.”

Jake sprinted from the kitchen to check the other windows only to return with disheartening news. “There are at least twelve of them. It’s bizarre. They are just standing there, staring inside.”

Mary moaned and grabbed her belly. Deb turned the burners off and hustled to her side. Outside the kitchen window the zombie shifted its weight and moaned in response. Its withered hand grasped the wire frame work outside the window as the electricity made its surge. The creature shrieked as its hand exploded, spattering grey flesh on the window. Both women screamed.

The face at the back door disappeared. 

Come back on Wednesday October 23 to see what happens next! 
And - if Zombies aren't your thing, please check out some of the more popular posts and some of my favorite blogs to the right. Coast of Illinois will return to reality no November 1!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

There's something out there...

Am I the only one who sees things in the shadows....

Part Five

Deb could hear the hum of electricity as it pulsed through her window outpost. “There by the trashcan…wait, there’s... two?”
A shadow fell over the trashcan, stretching long limbed up the garage wall. Abruptly, the trashcan fell to its side, a puff of snow cushioned the clatter as what was left of a middle-aged man – grey, tattered, with teeth glinting – lunged towards the shadow’s origin. Snow covered its head and shoulders. Its stumbling gait left brush-like footprints in the drifts. The shadow shortened as it moved away from the source of its illumination. A black form briefly covered the kitchen window.
“God damn it! Its Jake!”
Dave scrambled away from the window and towards the back door. He pushed the door open as he raised the shotgun to his shoulder; the growl of the zombie fell flat on the snowy evening air. Jake huddled close to the house, partially hidden by bare branched shrubs but as the zombie turned to take sight of Dave and the open door, he let go a guttural yell and made a sprint toward the staggering undead figure.
The zombie pivoted unsure which human was most vulnerable. The creature’s uncertainty came at great cost. Jake, shotgun shouldered and aim clear, fired. The boom silenced the outside noises, gone unnoticed until they were absent. The zombie pivoted once again and collapsed in a heap; a macabre snowman oozing grey fluid onto the pristine ground cover. Jake walked closer and fired once more into the creature's head.
Shaking from cold and adrenaline, Dave stood on the back porch, both women behind him. Deb watched, fascinated as the zombie’s lifeblood oozed in a widening pool of grey. Spasms caused its extremities to flutter randomly and she felt a thrill with each movement unsure if it would rise again in some sort of bizarre resurrection. But the creature remained a pile of rotting flesh.
“Anybody we know?” Mary asked her voice thin, the memory of their elderly neighbors the Schwartzes still too fresh.
“Nope. Stray. Dave, we need to bag it. Can’t leave the remains here to bait others.” Jake was by the body's side now. “Deb, get Mary back inside and start some dinner. And open that bottle of Cab. I don't think a nice glass of wine is going to do any of us harm tonight.”
Deb and Mary returned to the kitchen. “Do you think there are more?” Deb blindly filled a large pot with water as she watched the men heft the remains into a trash bag. It would be dumped into the incinerator. She was glad it was winter and the windows were closed. The smell would be unbearable.
“Um, Deb?” Mary grasped the kitchen table, her knuckles and her face as white as the snow. Between her feet, on the kitchen’s tile floor, was a small puddle of fluid, cloudy with a pink tinge.

Come back on Sunday October 20 for another installment! Or, if zombies aren't your thing - check out some of the favorite posts and blogs on the right. Coast of Illinois returns to the ridiculous life of a middle aged beach bum on November 1!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October...da da dum...THIRTHEENTH

October 13. Thirteen. It even sounds scary. In my day job – nursing- we have many superstitions. Full moons – bring out craziness, speaking the word 'quiet'- causes it to be anything but, never passing up the chance to eat a snack -because you may never get a chance to eat again.
Do I actually believe these things?
What happens when you comment on how quiet the department is when you forget your lunch one Friday the 13th midnight shift with a full moon? Well let's see – killer pimp, lice epidemic, three cardiac arrests and someone who actually chewed through a restraint.
Now do you believe?

And now it's check in time in Wisconsin...

                                        Part One                        Part Two                   Part Three

Part Four

“Welcome Spring Green." Tony wiped his face with both hands, pushing his trademark hat off kilter. "Have we enlarged our ranks?” The entire Underground was anxious for Mary to be delivered. The Underground had yet to log a successful birth, but there was always hope.
“No, just us four at present. But Deb says tomorrow will be the big day. What’s the word on burn-out?” Dave leaned closer to the screen.
“Bad man. Let’s leave it at that.” Tony looked around, distracted. “Keep a weather eye man. They’ll be coming your way tonight.” Noises could now be heard off camera. Hammering.
“We’re ready. Generator is fueled up, windows wired, wine chilled.” Jake squeezed his face closer to Dave, into the webcam's view.“What’s going on over there Tony? Sounds like you guys are rebuilding already.”
“What? Oh, that’s nothing.” Tony looked over his shoulder and then back at the camera. “Shit’s A-okay here boss.” He leaned into the camera and smiled. Both Dave and Jake leaned closer. There was something not quite right in the way his pupils were dilated. His mouth twitched just barely, at the lower lip.
“You sure things are fine?” Dave put his hand up to the screen, as though Tony could feel his touch and Tony placed his left palm to Dave’s in response.
“No man, its not."He looked away from the screen for a second. "Give the newest member a kiss on the noggin’ for me boys.” Palm still on the screen he raised a bottle of whiskey and toasted the camera before draining the bottle dry. “My time is up.” Tony pulled his hand away, dropped the whiskey bottle to the ground and turned his back on the camera. The pounding had grown louder and more frantic. In the background of the camera’s shot a window blew out and three grey arms in tattered clothing reached through. The leading arm snagged on the jagged glass leaving a bit of fabric and a chunk of oozing flesh. Dave and Jake leaned back and gasped. And then they watched as, in slow motion, Tony lifted his arm and raised a pistol.
The blast was amplified by the microphone clipped to his shirt. It took less than a second for the fedora to flip backwards and cover the screen, stopping all but a thin slip of blood from hitting the screen.
“Oh!” Debra cried out and buried her face in her hands. Both men looked from the television to each other in disbelief.
“Deb, can I eat? All at once, I am starving.” Mary waddled into the kitchen, her voice loosening the grasp death had on the others in the room. “Did I just miss something?”
“No, nothing. Madison is having trouble signing in. Are you okay to be down here?” Jake didn’t move from his place in front of the screen but it was clear that his concern had shifted across the room to his wife and unborn child.
“I’m fine. Let’s fix spaghetti. Deb? You sure everything’s okay?” Mary placed a hand on the counter to steady herself as she looked out the kitchen window.“Still snowing a ... Hey!" Her shout made everyone jump. "Something is out there."
Everyone scrambled. Jake began flipping switches on a control panel on the interior wall of the kitchen. Electricity hummed through the wired window frames. The system was set to pulsate every ten seconds through windows both upstairs and down in a random sequence. A large spot light flooded the area outside the kitchen window. Dave grabbed the shotgun beside the door and Deb lifted the one lying on the island. Mary remained at the window. "Oh wait, I think it was just that stupid bush." She turned to see her three friends freeze mid movement, glancing warily at one another.
"That does it. I am cutting that stupid shrubbery down first thing tomorrow." Jake deflated with a heavy sigh.
"Not the ...shrubbery!" Mary said in her best falsetto, English voice. When no one laughed she gave Jake a questioning look and he crossed the kitchen in three large steps, wrapping his wife in flannel clad arms.
"Madison had some trouble." His voice caught in his throat. There was no mention of Tony. Too many gone. It just wasn't done.
The room was silent save for the alternating hum of electrons and the rapid sequence of city names logging through the television. Each face that appeared gave a sign – crossed fingers or hearts, peace signs, open palm to the screen – in acknowledgment of the red light on Spring Green’s screen, the light which indicated a possible attack.
“There, beside the garage…” Dave’s whisper spread through the room. “Footprints.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

That's Not a Baby!!!

Saw my first on the way home last night. She was dressed in a full length black dress, her face was powdered bright white and she was holding a baby doll as though it were real. Dear Lord, I certainly hope she was dressed for Halloween...

If you are new to Coast of Illinois – the month of October is Serial Story time. Click HERE for part one, and THERE for part two. And, if you aren't really into scary stories please check out the favorite posts at the right for more typical Coastal discussions or page down for some of my favorite bloggers.

And now....

Part Three

"You can’t call other human beings a liability.” Debra stopped in the doorway. Jake’s tough words and hard jaw did nothing to offset the fear in his eyes as he turned from the counter. Outside an early winter wind rattled the now bare lilac branches near the kitchen window.
“You know what I mean Deb. We can’t save everyone.” His jaw softened a little as he spoke and began brushing the broken saucer into the trash can under the sink. Jake had helped burn out Madison. It took two treacherous weeks of prep but he had returned safe and sound. Deb herself had inspected his stripped down body for signs of bites or scratches. He had returned clean.
"Let me do this." She hugged him as she pushed him aside. "You'll just wind up cutting yourself. Now be a good little boy and pour me some coffee."
“What are you doing down here, anyway.” Dave raised his head from the maps and met his wife straight on. “You are supposed to be on Mary duty.”
“I know. She is awake but resting for just a little more. I think the baby will be here by this time tomorrow.” She kissed him on the top of the head and turning to Jake said, “You’re almost a Daddy.”
"Nooooo..." Jake slapped his hands to his face in his best Macaully Caulkin impersonation before pushing the steaming mug of coffee towards Deb.
Dave stood, stretched. "It's almost time for check-in." He walked to the television set and punched the on button. Various wires laced back and forth between the television and a computer whose screen saver depicted a blue bottle of window cleaner with the scrolling phrase 'Put Some Windex On It." Static and grey fuzz filled the screen. Log in would start in about five minutes. The Underground transmitted nightly at six, or as close to six as possible. First each state logged in and then counties and then each individual safe house, depending on the rolling electricity. With the burnout of Chicago and Madison, the local log-in would be first. The surviving zombies tended to take flight so outlying areas were at risk.
Live feed was both reassuring and terrifying. Over the past month the number of log-ins had dropped by about one third. Static on the television, this waiting, bothered Deb and she turned to look outside. Snow was piled high against the garage in wave-like drifts and frost formed a delicate frame. She leaned closer to the window and subconsciously reached out to steady herself on the windowpane.
“Deb!” Jake shouted and Debra jumped. Like the upstairs windows, it too was equipped with a makeshift electric fence. “Shit Deb. Please don't cook yourself. Who would fix us dinner tonight?” Deb gave him a smirk and cautiously rubbed her arms. She would never get used to being held hostage at home. “Speaking get anything out of that humongous freezer? Like, I don't know, hamburger, sausage...a body?”
Deb laughed and shook her fist. At present it was half full with chicken, hamburger and a deer the guys shot. Jake scared the crap out of Mary just yesterday morning by stuffing himself into the empty space. "You know you are the reason she's in labor now."
"I should hope so." He laughed and joined Dave on the couch.
“Sign in folks.” Dave leaned over the web cam which sat on top of the television. Deb perched on the couch arm and Dave absentmindedly rubbed her thigh. The clock over the fireplace struck the first of six tones and instantly the static on the television shimmied into the image of a man in his early thirties. Worn fedora, scruffy beard, Tony’s face; another Survivor.
The three let out one collective sigh of relief.

Come back on Sunday October 13 for part four....

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nothing Personal Wisconsin

I love Wisconsin. It is the first place, probably the only place, I will ever see fields of dandelions for wine. We named our first cat after a circus town there – Baraboo. I have even been to Spring Green. It's a real place. And nothing resembling this installment story happened there. Really...

Part Two

Now, sitting in the quiet house, Debra could almost hear the station attendant's screams and the echo of what remained of his humanity. But they were only memories and as she listened harder she could hear muted voices, floating up from the kitchen below, through the vent to Mary’s room. The voices were familiar and Debra felt a small comfort which grew as the aroma of fresh brewed coffee rode the wave of voices from the kitchen.
She looked around the bedroom, so different from the one in Chicago she shared with Dave. Everything was so different. Ever since Dave had burst into that bedroom, waking her from a dead sleep. He gave her fifteen minutes to throw everything she could into four rubbermaid tubs which were stuffed into the back of their car, already half filled with guns and ammunition. She never asked where the weapons came from. Dave worked in tech support. The only guns he had ever handled were made by Nintendo. They stopped at her hospital, Dave in the driver's seat. He gave her specific instructions of what to take and how long to spend. He would leave after fifteen minutes. With or without her. The hollow desperation which filled his dark blue eyes made it clear he wasn't kidding.
In the huge four poster bed in the center of the room, Mary continued to sleep, curled on her left side. Debra pulled the afghan over her friend’s shoulders and for a brief second placed her hand on Mary’s midsection. Under cover of the afghan, the huge pregnant belly resembled a beach ball and it was hard to associate the fullness with Mary’s normally slender shape. Debra smiled as Mary’s warmth permeated her hand and the baby underneath gave a tiny kick which was slowly pushed away by the tightening of uterine muscles. Mary had been in the beginning stages of labor for nearly twelve hours. It had not been too bad yet, but Debra feared that if things didn’t begin to progress more quickly both baby and mamma would be in trouble.
As if hearing her thoughts, Mary turned and opened her eyes. “It will be okay Deb. That one was only about five minutes after the one before. I just want to rest here a little longer and then I’ll walk some more.”
Debra smiled. “You rest as long as you want Momma. Does the coffee smell good? I’ll yell down for the guys to bring us some up.”
“No, I don’t want any. But, you go on down and get a cup. You’ve been up here all day. I would be ready to pull the flowers off this wallpaper from the sheer boredom.”
Debra began to protest. They had all decided. No one was to be alone. Ever. Not even in the house. Mary gave a mighty heave and sat up. “Look, unless those freaks have learned to be quiet there is no way they could climb up here and sneak in. Especially through these.” Mary motioned to the windows directly across from the bed. Hidden behind the partially closed blinds the windows were covered with two layers of barbed wire. An electric cord dangled down one side of the window where it was plugged into the outlet. The opposite end of the cord had been stripped and the red and yellow wires were wrapped around various barbs. Anyone daring to grab the wire would be greeted with a nice firm 2-20 handshake courtesy of Thomas Edison. Assuming the generator was working...
“Fine. I’ll go suffer through a cup of Jake’s coffee. You rest for another thirty minutes and then come down. We’ll fix a nice dinner. Your last as a childless woman!” Debra patted her friends belly again before walking from the room.
The generator lights of the kitchen and the warmth from the stove were a welcome respite from the chilly bedroom. Two months into the sickness, the Underground had begun its takeover of the utilities. Electricity was rationed county by county for four hours a day. Gas powered generators were still functional as long as gasoline was available but it was more and more difficult to get supplies. Jake had laid in a winter's supply of wood for use in the wood stove which filled half the living room wall. Winter in the middle of Wisconsin was not the time to trust utilities. That had not changed.
“The trend looks to be a slow die out as long as the food source is removed.” Jake was leaning against the counter. Debra’s husband Dave sat at the kitchen table. Several maps and various documents were scattered about.
“So, Chicago and Madison are gone?” Dave spoke without looking up. His finger traced a thin line along the map.
“Yup, shock and awe buddy. Shock and freakin’ awe! It was amazing. Flames twenty feet high.” Smoke from a single cigarette resting on a saucer illustrated his words.
Dave shook his head. “What about the people that were clean. The ones not infected yet?”
“That’s the key. Not-infected-yet. The Underground did all it could to get the word out. Those who stayed behind were too much of a liability. They were given every chance.” Jake grabbed the smoldering cigarette and ground it into the saucer center. With a grating crack the bone china broke into two pieces. “Shit,”Jake said as he turned away from his friend and elbows on the counter, placed his head in his hands.

Not sure what is happening here? Click HERE for part one. Come back on Wednesday October 9 for part three.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

And now for something a Little Different

So, I watched World War Z the other night. It terrified me and as I predicted, I had creepy, survivalist dreams the entire night. I never figured myself for a zombie-holic. Sure, I saw Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Sean of the Dead and Micheal Jackson's Thriller. But it wasn't until Walking Dead that I was forced to face my addiction.

I suppose we could learn something from Zombies. Just watch one of the examples above. They seem content milling around by themselves but will happily congregate in groups and share dinner. (Nearly every scene if all of those examples.) They work together to reach a common goal. (The zombie ladder/waterfall in WWZ.) They are not particularly fond of guns, or deep wells, or swords,or hillbillies. (Walking Dead) They like to go to malls. (Sean of the Dead) They can dance. (Really? I need to point out where this example comes from?)

But there is something about the scenario – not being chased by rotting undead people who dress badly – but the bigger, more cosmic scenario – what would I do? what could I do? in that situation. It totally freaks me out.

So, as it is Halloween month and as I am spending the better part of October off on some adventures which should result in more blogs typical of me, I thought it might be fun to re-institute an old tradition: The Installment Story.

At the end of this blog you will get the first installment of my take on a zombie story. Come back on Sundays and Wednesdays in October for a new installment. I will link each new entry to the previous ones in case you want to re-read or share.

Now it's time for the disclaimer. This is a real honest to goodness horror story. Its a little gory. I hope a little creepy and a lot scary. And there are zombies.

So now, without further adieu I give you:


Snow. It billowed around her in swirls, making delicate spirals, changing into tiny puffs. She moved further into the darkness, headlights illuminating the way as the snow became a vortex for her to pass through. Swirling shapes formed, random at first and then faces. Tiny features – eyes, a nose, and a laughing mouth. One, then more until a choir of snow faces, mouths open in song, surrounded her. The path of light changed suddenly, making a sharp turn and the faces dissolved. The snow parted briefly only to return thicker and heavier. She pressed her face against the cold glass of the car window hoping to find the beautiful snow choir.
But, as the moon broke through the clouds, the choir was devoured by a larger face. This one with blank eyes lit by flames, elongated jaw, a slack mouth and teeth, glinting silver snow teeth …and one large drop of blood.

In her mind she screamed but the sound was muffled by sleep and instead, Debra awoke gasping. She raised head, neck stiff and arms tingly from resting on the desk of Mary’s room. Late afternoon sunlight filtered in through the partially closed blinds. Debra sat still, listening. It was important to listen these days. The silence of the room was not reassuring. Instead, it hung over her like a pall, pushing her mood deeper down allowing the dream to stay too near the surface of her consciousness.

She closed her eyes in an attempt to collect herself but the snow face was lying in wait behind her eyelids. There was no sanctuary anywhere, not even in sleep. The horror of the drive up to Spring Green, the whirling snowstorm and the face of the man, the real man in the overalls and Sinclair Gas cap chewing nonchalantly on the bit of human remains had invaded every neuron.

She and David left Chicago as soon as Jake called. They drove without stopping, keeping daylight with them, until the storm began to blow harder. There were no signs of the sickness. No signs of the previous humans – Zoms – as the Underground had taken to calling them. Who would have thought all that zombie nonsense would turn out to be true.

The trip began to feel like ones taken back in college, driving all night to stay at the lodge, to ski and hike and commune with friends. No sign until David had stopped just outside Spring Green to fill up the car. The gas station displayed the safe house flag of the day – orange background with a green number four. The Underground had devised a series of signals to use for travel. It was a flawed system – members overtaken shortly after hanging their flags – but it was all they had.

The man in the Sinclair cap had remained seated behind the counter until Debra reached the door. His sudden twisting motion caught her off guard and as she pulled open the door he lurched from his seat, knocking over a display of Hostess cupcakes in his attempt to attack. She screamed for David as she ran to the car, slamming the door as the man crashed into the window, blood dripping from his mouth. In his raised hand he held what may have been an arm, or maybe a lower leg. It didn’t matter. All that mattered at that moment was escape. David jumped into the driver’s seat as Debra slammed her door shut. Pressing the gas pedal to the floor, the car fishtailed from the snowy lot. The pump handle ripped from the tank, still pumping; spraying the man in the cap and his lunch with gasoline. As they reached the road, David slowed the vehicle and opening his door threw a road flare towards the station. Debra watched in the rear view mirror as sparks from the flare ignited the fuel. She was surprised to see that the flame was translucent at first, chasing the fumes towards the pump handle. Even as the flames crossed the first pools of gas, they remained wispy, lighting the falling snow with flickering sparks. She was mesmerized, watching the beauty of the fire until at last, it exploded and the man in the Sinclair cap ran towards their car as it drove away. He made it five full steps until his body, wrapped in a blanket of red and yellow flames, collapsed in the snow.

Click here  for Part 2...if you dare...