The Tourist

October 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I’d never flown before. It was kind of peaceful, staring out of the little oval window to my right. It was the perfect time to think. I thought about the fight with my step father, and my mom begging me not to take this trip, siting news articles about missing and murdered locals. I thought about how I had pointed out that tourists hadn’t had any trouble. I thought about how I might find happiness and never come back.

We landed in Cardiff International around 9 pm, on time, and I decided to walk to my small hotel. After getting settled I wasn’t ready for sleep, so I decided to walk around for a bit. The streets surrounding my hotel were pretty, enough. Flower gardens along the sidewalk and clean streets.

But the streets just a little beyond were seedier than I had prepared for. The bums were out, occasionally trying to gain my attention, as walked by, in the hopes that the silly tourist had a little extra cash. The streets were lined with small shops, all them closed, and some for good, as well as unsavory looking bars, all wide open. As I was entertaining the thought of dipping into one, and charming an attractive Welsh man with false stories of my grandeur back in America, I heard a crash, ahead of me. It was the sound of a young man, 20, if not a teen, landing on top of a trash can. Trash bin? I made a mental note to ask someone. Behind him a young woman, wielding a wooden bat, and sporting enough tattoos and piercings to make my mother shake her head, was yelling at him in a thick Welsh accent, about attempting to steal, again. The man ran off into the night, the woman yelling after him. The woman abandoned her verbal assault, and began righting her trash can. Trash bin?

I think we both heard it, at the same time. A primal sound beneath a gurgle and the sound of feet pounding the damp cement. The young woman swung around, just in time, to catch the underside of the rabid, bloody man’s chin. His eyes rolled back, for a moment, before regaining his footing, and resuming his attack. I started yelling for help, and police. The girl started bashing the man’s head as he tried to claw and gnash at her. A few stepped out of the bar to catch the actions, and immediately jumped on their phones, calling cops, and taking pictures and videos. It wasn’t until the man laid still, his head like hamburger meat, that the lady backed off, bloodied, and shaking. I ran to her, and grabbed her arm to keep to her still. I asked if she was alright, and she yanked her arm from my grasp, muttering that she was fine. The local police arrived a moment later, and I was pulled several directions for witness statements. After a dizzying list of questions, I accepted a ride to my hotel, and only had enough reserved energy to shower and climb into bed.

My nightmares were dark and full of rabid, bloody people, trying to eat my flesh. I woke up feeling as if my energy was drained while I slept. I could only stomach coffee as I thought about the previous night, and the animalistic man. His dilated eyes and bloody mouth were enough to make me want to run home, but my curiosity about the young woman drug me out of my door. I wanted to see if she was okay, and if she had seen what I remember seeing. As I made my way through the old streets, I noticed they weren’t so intimidating during the day. The bars were closed, and the shops were open, a few people going in and out, little bells ringing. The bums were gone, likely run off by shop owners, and the street had been swept. I found the woman’s shop, open, luckily. I walked in and wasn’t quite expecting the scene. Deep colored walls, and a couple plush, dark, velvet couches, with a large skull-covered hookah perched on a small side table. Racks, everywhere, covered in clothes, purses, masks, and a lot of neon and dark furry things, unidentifiable by shape. Surrounding the check stand was a case full of movie replica weapons, and little racks of buttons and patches. I heard the young lady call, from the back, that she would be out in a moment, and I followed the sound of her voice. As i walked up the archway of the back room, I noticed a small apartment, before the view was blocked by the woman stepping through. Recognition loosened her smile, and she turned slightly sour at my appearance.

“Can I help you?” she asked. The tone in her voice suggested she didn’t care to help me. I wonder if I should ask her about the “trash can vs. trash bin” thing. Just to get the ball rolling. I decided, instead, to jump into it.

“That man, last night. Did you see his eyes and bloody mouth? Or did I imagine that”

“I saw it. Why?”

“Is that normal”

“Yes, all of us are born wild-eyed, and bloody mouthed. Most of us just hide it well” She rolled her eyes and began unpacking some boxes of clothing, behind the register. I think she was hoping I would leave after she made it obvious I was being ignored. I’m not normally so easily deterred, but my coffee filled stomach was starting to bother me, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t eaten in nearly 24 hours.

I left without another word and decided to try the cafe a block from my hotel. I still had so many questions about last night, but the boutique owner wasn’t the best conversationalist. I made a plan to talk to some of the bar patrons, tonight.

My plan was interrupted by a man screaming, just around the corner, ahead of me. Another man came running from the corner, ashen faced, and checking over his shoulder as he passed me. I ran to screams, and rounded the corner, only to get smacked in the face by the most horrific vision I had ever witnessed. A man and woman bent over a man’s body, holding him down and ripping pieces of flesh from his bones, shoving it in their mouths, while the living man screamed in terror and agony. I could feel my coffee coming up, and I let out a small cry. It was enough to gain the attention of the devourers, and they eyed me, for a moment, with curiosity and hunger. The woman went back to her meal, but the man wanted to move to greener pastures, as he lunged forward for me. I turned tail and ran, as fast as I could, back to the only place I knew.

The woman met me with a scowl.

“What the hell do you want, now?” she asked, as I slammed her door shut and spun the lock into place.

“What the feck do you think your doin’?” She shouted, grabbing her bat, and heading for me.

“NO! WAIT! There are more of those people out there! Please, I can’t go back out there, we have to lock the doors!” My defense was validated by immediate pounding and growling behind my back, which only intensified the woman’s aggressive stance.

“You brought them here? You twat! Are you trying to get us both killed?”

“They were EATING a man! Eating his skin while he was still alive! What are they?” I yelled, over the din of the beast just outside of the thick wood door. I couldn’t stop the tears brimming my eyes. The woman’s features softened, slightly, at the sight of my tears, but her voice held the same tone.

“Stop your sniveling, it’s not helping anyone. Throw the locks on those windows” She nodded to one side of the doors and she headed for the other, swinging down iron locks, and pulling the windows shut. I followed suit, and bit back my tears as I struggled a little with the awkward locks I’d never, before, encountered. Eventually, i got all of my windows locked and covered. When I turned around, the woman was back at her counter, hanging up and redialing the phone.

“I can’t get through to emergency services, the line is engaged. Looks like we’re on our own for the time being.”

I could feel the tears welling up, again, and my stomach felt like it was imploding. I couldn’t tell if it was from hunger, or anxiety, now. I went and sat on the purple, velvety couch, and regretted not being able to appreciate the sandalwood smell and soft cushion. I took a few deep breaths and tried to sort my thoughts. We needed a plan. I needed food. I decided to ask if she had food, when it occurred to me that I didn’t even know her name.

“My name is Deanna.” I volunteered, hoping she would return the response with her own name. She shot me an annoyed look, instead.

“That’s nice.” She didn’t look like it was nice.

“What’s your name?” I asked

She gave an exaggerated sigh. “Chloe” she said, obviously not wanting to have a conversation.

I sat in silence for a while, a little afraid to ask for anything. Chloe disappeared into the apartment, but I was afraid to follow. Surviving meant not pissing off my very edgy apocalypse partner. After a while, Chloe returned with two cups of tea, offering me one without speaking. I thanked her, quietly, and sipped it. I wasn’t about to tell her I didn’t like tea. I drank it, anyway, and it helped my stomach, a little. Chloe returned, again, with two bowls of chili, and some bread. I fought my urge to shove the food in my face as quickly as possible. I took great pains to eat normal sized spoonfuls of chili, and chew my bread. I thanked Chloe, and received a curt “Welcome” in return.

The banging had stopped, nearly an hour before, but the screams in the streets were still audible. I didn’t want to look.

“Could we turn on a radio, or something?” I asked, hoping to drown out the noise.

“You want us to draw attention to ourselves? Feck that. You can go outside and hold up a sign that says “Free Food”, but I’m staying quiet.”

I went back to shutting up, and pulled my legs to my chest, tucking my chin between my knees. I thought about the fight with my step-father, and about my mother’s warnings. I thought about my pursuit of happiness, and how I may never come back.

“Chloe? Do you think these things have anything to do with stories about disappeared and murdered people that have been popping up, lately?”

“Maybe. Those stories were in the countryside, though. Miles from here. We weren’t too worried about it.”

“Maybe they just discovered the city. It’s a much bigger…food source.” I cringed.

“You’re probably right. Doesn’t change much, though. We don’t know what’s going on, or why, so I guess we just sit here and wait for the military to roll through.”

“You think they’ll come?” I asked, hopeful

“They always do, in the movies. Only place I’ve seen this kind of thing, before.”

That was fair, I guessed, and warmth of the food in my stomach made my eyes heavy. As I drifted off, I asked “Chloe? Is it called a trash can or a trash bin, here?”

“Bin.” She replied, and I fell asleep.

I awoke, in the evening, to the sound of one of the windows shattering. I saw Chloe, to my left, leap off of her couch, shaking off sleep. She ran for her bat, and began battering the bodies pushing through the curtains. One slipped through the left edge of the curtain, and I recognized the woman from the street. More bloody than before, she ran at me, hands clawed, and mouth wide, emitting the same gurgling howl heard the night before. I ran, my eyes darting around for a weapon. I spotted a replica hatchet, from a movie i didn’t recognize the name of, and snatched it up. I was immediately thankful for how solid it felt. I buried the hatchet in the woman’s unblocked face, but she continued, unaffected. My arm, however, certainly noticed the impact and it took a second to regroup before yanking my ill-chosen weapon from her skull. I swung, again, but my aim wasn’t as true, as the blade slid past her cheek and hit her shoulder. I stumbled away, backing into the counter. There was statue to my right, some kind of Greek or Roman goddess. I didn’t have a lot of options. I could only hope it was heavy enough to damage. It was. I swung, as hard as I could manage, down on top of the cannibal’s head, and she stumbled. YES! I swung, again, and again, until she laid still, her skull cracked, and her brain looking much like this morning’s chili.

Chloe called for me from the window, struggling with the two men trying to push their way in. I jumped into the row, and we managed to beat them back. Chloe yelled for me to her, and grabbed a hold of a large painting on the wall. It was painted on wood, thankfully, and we put it up to the window. With limited resources, we had to wedge it in. but it would do for the moment.

A bloody Chloe, short of breath, stumbled back to her little apartment. This time I followed, feeling a bit more worthy. Chloe was leaned over the sink of her kitchenette, washing the blood from her arms. I noticed the gash in her arm.

“You’re bleeding!” I practically shouted, unsure of what else to do.

“Well spotted.” She bit, sarcastically, wincing a little as the water ran over her wound. “I think I cut myself on the glass, pushing the freaks out. Grab me the alcohol out of the cabinet, will you?” She nodded so a small separated room, which turned out to be the bathroom. I found the alcohol and some rags, and we made a makeshift bandage.

Chloe collapsed onto one of the couches, and reached into the drawer on the table, beside here. She pulled out a gun. The thing looked ancient, and too big. It had one of those chambers that spun around, and the little hammer in the back. It reminded me of something a cowboy would draw in a stand-off.

“It was my grandpa’s.” she said. “It shoot’s.” in answer to my look of doubt. “Here”, she said, handing me the piece, “I’m obviously no good, I can barely lift it. I need to rest, you man the fort.”
She snorted something, almost like a laugh, and with a labored breath, she drifted off. How much blood had she lost? When her breathing got heavy, I left her in peace. I figured I’d look around the shop, a bit, while I had time to myself. I found some matches and a pack of candles in a junk drawer, near the sink. It was a good thing, because the shop was nearly black with the curtains drawn and a window boarded up. I looked at the furry things first. There were vests, leg warmers, hats, and gloves. Some were glittery, and some lit up with rainbow LEDs. In a corner, there was a collection of latex clothing, with hints at BDSM. I decided to avoid that corner. One wall was adorned with gas masks, goggles, and masquerade masks. I tried on an elaborate white mask, covered in feathers and pearls. Who buys this stuff? It was obvious this wasn’t a Halloween shop. I guess I’ll never understand people.

I heard Chloe moan a bit, in the bedroom. I went to check on her. Before I made it to the dimly lit archway, leading into the apartment, I heard a familiar gurgling coming from inside. My stomach dropped. My pace slowed and I drew the gun, pulling back the hammer like they do on TV.
“Chloe?” I called quietly?
I hesitated at the doorway. I was rewarded with a response, but the one I hoped for, as a wild-eyed, bloody-mouthed Chloe jumped in front of me. I reacted by pulling the trigger on the heavy pistol. The impact knocked us both backward, but I was faster to recover, grabbing the door, and swinging it shut, on her. I grabbed a cushioned chair from nearby and wedged it beneath the handle. Chloe howled and screamed from the other side, banging, mercilessly, on the door. Unfortunately, her wild noises drew the attention of her beastly brethren in the streets and they began assemble at the front of the store, pounding on the windows, door, and painting-covered hole. As the board fell from the sill, it ripped the curtain down with it, revealing a few howling silhouettes, and an outline of street lights. I was trapped. I fired at the shadows, knocking one back, and only stumbling from the kick. I was feeling a bit more confident, now, and fired at another, barely losing my footing. I fired again, almost giggling as I hit one in the head, effectively exploding part of his skull, and dropping him. As I sent another bullet flying, it dawned on me that I had only one bullet left. Any hope of ammo was trapped in the apartment with my short-lived companion. As a handful more figures poured through the window, I ducked behind a rack, in the darkness. I had to make a decision. Do I fire my last bullet, and attempt to escape? Or save myself from a long and painful death? As I weighed my options, I heard the gurgling voices multiply. I made a decision. With iron resolve, I pulled my legs to my chest, and tucked my chin between my knees. I put the gun to my head. I thought about my step-father, and my mom. I thought about how I was never coming back.

Credit To – Amanda Lawrence

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Halloween’s End

October 14, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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The bitter cold of night’s sharp breath covered his grey skin in goosebumps, under the glow of the pale moonlight. He drew ragged breaths that were quickly expelled from his lungs, as if the air was poisoned. Every movement was heavy and his body ached. He reminded himself this was all temporary, and the discomfort of human life would soon end. After all, sustaining himself in this form was only for one purpose, and its time was swiftly coming.

He folded his great pearly wings close to his body and rose unsteadily to his feet, grimacing at the darkness of the deep alleyway around him. This was not the life he was used to, and he was always disgusted by the filth. He smelt the stench of life around him, rotting rubbish, human sweat— it was all overpowering. The many puddles around him helped explain the high humidity, and why the smell was far worse than he’d expected. The last time he’d walked the earth was long before this age.

The drone of air conditioning units hummed around him. He didn’t want to be there, but his mission was too important.

In the distance, he heard rock music and the cacophony of voices in crowds. Laughter, crying, and shrieks of pleasure reached his ears.

“Bless me, heavenly father, for I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil, for you are with me. I will not fail you,” he said through firm lips, bringing a clenched fist to his chest. He began to shiver.

Human life is so fragile, he thought.

Smiling, he felt his heart thump within his chest. He knew he was near mortal, at least for a while. It had been a long time since he’d ever risked living on earth, and it would usually be unnecessary as he could watch from a higher plane with no risk of dying a typical mortal’s death. This could mean the end of him, but if that were to happen, then he’d be reborn in a new, invigorated life.

His death would be a small price to pay if he could save her. The other six archangels had their own missions around the world, but through divine intervention, he was chosen for this task.

His smile vanished the second he heard cans rattle by a nearby industrial bin. He instinctively reached for the sword of light, strapped at his side, then suddenly remembered that he was naked. He knew this journey was fraught with danger. He longed for his ethereal armour, but it was not to be. At the very least, he knew he still had his razor sharp wings, which were stronger than any steel beheld by man.

Father, hear my prayer. Protect me and deliver me from evil, amen.

He heard a desperate, pleading voice cry out from the darkness ahead. “Whatever the hell you are, you’re not of this earth, are you? I saw you appear out of thin air, and I’ve not been drinking tonight. Who are you? What are you?”

“I am known as Barachiel, and from hell I’m not.”

A wizened old man, bent almost double, warily approached him. The man was completely covered in dirt and clutched a woollen, hooded coat.

Lucifer could’ve already seen me through this man’s eyes, in which case it’s only a matter of time. There’s one thing I can do.

He approached the old man, putting a hand on his shoulder, easing out his wings to provide them both with some cover. The man’s eyes widened and a toothless, open-mouthed grin stretched across his face. He held out his clasped hands. The many scars along his arms revealed a plethora of attempts at suicide.

“Oh my god. You’re an angel, aren’t you? I thought I’d heard your name in scripture. Please, I beg of you, take me out of this place. This life I lead isn’t worth living anymore.”

“The scriptures,” Barachiel said slowly, almost in contempt, his voice drifting away as he paused to remember the bibles worshipped in church. “Are the many books of men that don’t contain the truth, despite whatever they chose to believe. They were penned in the name of god, but make a mockery of god’s true self for their own gain. You’re not the one I’m here for, but the end is near, and the day of reckoning will come. Keep your faith, and you will join us in the afterlife.”

He wasn’t sure if he was reassuring the man, but he couldn’t tell him the whole truth. God’s selection for heaven was not judged by going to church, reciting the bible, or putting money in a collection plate. It was by ones heart and actions. This man would most likely be destined for the underworld.

Well, it’s never too late to hope.

“Barachiel, I wish I didn’t have to wait. What end are you talking about? I’ve not seen any signs.”

“The signs are everywhere. Ignore what you hear from preachers, and open your eyes. The great battle to end the war is looming, and this world is the battlefield.”

The chime of the nearby clock tower reminded him of his mission. Earth was not timeless, and the sands of the hourglass were slipping by. Barachiel began to shiver and his teeth started chattering. It was freezing and he needed to find some clothes, fast. He looked into the man’s eyes and concentrated.

A brilliant white light flashed from his eyes, and the old man stood as still as a statue. His face began to twist and turn. The old man’s bloodshot eyes and black pupils confirmed the worst.

A dark voice spilled from the possessed man’s lips. “Ahh Barachiel, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I don’t know if you’re brave or stupid to show your face on earth. Tell me, did you come here to die?”

Lucifer!

With one smooth movement, Barachiel launched from the ground with an enormous flap of his wings, pulling the coat off the old man and folded his wings as he landed near the bright end of the alley, toward the Main Street full of people. He covered himself and pulled the hood over his head as he ran through the shadows, heading toward the lights of the crowd. The hisses of the underworld lord dissipated as he blended in with the people around him, slowly regaining his bearings.

The warmth of the old coat was a welcomed change for his freezing body, but it wasn’t enough.

Staring at the clock tower as he fled down the main thoroughfare, he was nearly bowled over by a heavy set man dressed as a vampire, sneering at him. The sight of the man drenched in fake blood was confusing. The costumed vampire cried out, “You! Watch where you’re fucking going!”

The same incredulous vision haunted him, flashing again in his mind like some crazy nightmare he wished would end. He gripped his head and gritted his teeth as the scene played out in his mind. Gunfire was all around and the streets were piling up with dead bodies. The smell of rotting corpses and burnt gunpowder stained the air. Human cries of agony accompanied the symphony of spent shells hitting the ground, and the whistle and thump of every bullet landing in flesh, concrete, walls, everything. It was an orchestrated attack. The demons were everywhere, with bloodshot eyes under white hockey masks splattered with the blood of their victims.

Returning to reality and ignoring the man, Barachiel realised that he was in the city of Brisbane, in that far off land of Australia. He had followed the signs of the vision to appear here. People were everywhere. The sound of laughter filled his ears. The smell of coffee and hot food was a pleasantly contrasting aroma to the rotten stench of the alleyway. Many families and couples walked the streets, but almost everyone was dressed up for the occasion. He never understood this desire by humans to celebrate festivals of the living dead.

Such foolishness.

The smiling faces and joyful laughter of mortals parading the streets brought no happiness to his ears. Soon, they would be dead, every single last one of them, save one. He couldn’t save them all, as much as he would love to try. There’s only so much he could do when the bullets fly.

My mission and purpose is simple, and must be carried out. I can’t save them all, but I may just take some of the sinners with me.

Lucifer, that bastard, has his hand on anything bad that happens. Mass murders, corrupt politicians, pedophiles— the list was endless, all with the hand of the devil himself on their shoulder. The ridiculousness of the bible’s assumption that Lucifer can only be in one place at one time, was so far from the truth.

He could be anywhere and everywhere at the same time, but his influence depends on the weak minds of his victims. He capitalises on the moments where humans are susceptible to his evil. His formidable army of demons relished on played their part on his behalf. They were almost as cruel as Lucifer himself.

He continued racing toward the sign reading, ‘King George Square’, in the centre of the city. This is where it will all take place, and the sea of blood would flow through the streets, or so it was prophesied. Massacres like the one that was to occur that night, would be coordinated all over the world. Such other central locations as Red Square, Manhattan, Havana, New Delhi, Beijing, and Piccadilly Square would all fall under Lucifer’s coordinated and lethal purge. So many souls would soon be flooding into the afterlife.

Barachiel knew that Lucifer counted on his influence in shifting the balance of souls to his favour. They were on the cusp of the earth becoming a hellish battleground. The devil had been busy turning the world into a pool of true sinners. He had created cheats, murderers, rapists— just general degenerates. Some barely needed his influence, and yet he still spurred them on. Those who die violently will most likely end up in between worlds. He would do everything to see that the war is won, but at what cost?

A woman joyously calling over a loudspeaker interrupted his thoughts. “Welcome to the 2015 Brisbane Halloween Festival. Happy Halloween, everyone! The band you’ve all been waiting for is about to take the stage. This is a special performance before their concert tomorrow night at the Brisbane Entertainment Center. Please, give it up for, Metallica!”

The crowd cheered and whistled, holding up plastic lights in the shape of pumpkins and skulls. The sounds of a horrific warzone were slowly overshadowed by the chopped air of a helicopter as if it descended from above. His face paled as he looked around. Surely, it’s not time yet.

It’s the band.

Barachiel narrowed his eyes as he scanned through the crowd. He spotted the old man’s twisted face and bloodshot eyes, standing on a bench under a neon sign, pointing at him. A number of men, women, and children were suddenly possessed. Their heads snapped unnaturally to stare at him, and they charged at his position.

Damn you, Lucifer.

He moved quickly, fleeing through the crowd, dropping his coat to wrap around his waist, while leaning down to disappear from sight.

Some nearby children called out, “Hey man, that’s an awesome costume!”

Ignoring them and turning into a nearby Myer store, Barachiel ran past a security guard who was too busy watching a group of leggy teenage women, dressed as film characters, to notice him. However, people stared at him, a barefooted man with wings in the middle of a department store, but he cared not. He knew that not everyone was susceptible to Lucifer’s reach, and he had to risk it. He had to blend in, and fast.

When I find her, I can take her far away from this forsaken place. I must be vigilant and hurry.

He spotted the menswear section, running in between the aisles and dropping the homeless man’s coat. He grabbed a pair of black business trousers, much to the wide eyes of a nearby female shopper.

“Well, I never!” the woman said, watching him pull the pants on and rip the tag off a nearby belt. He smiled at her, and she stared with flushed cheeks as he quickly dressed.

Now I can move easier, but everyone will recognise these wings.

A security guard approached him and grabbed his arm. “Excuse me, sir, but you have to come with me.”

Barachiel’s eyes glowed, and with a flash of light, as with what had happened with the elderly man, the guard froze, his eyes revealing the terror that had seized him. He hated scaring people, but he had no time to allow anyone to detain him, or have to explain why his wings aren’t part of a costume. It would be seven o’clock soon, and the massacre will begin. The musical chimes of the clock tower would soon play its song of death.

Continuing his run through the store, he grabbed the largest black leather jacket he saw, groaning as he folded his wings as far as they could go to hide their bulk. The wings’ tips were past his buttocks, as he tried to fit into it. Once the jacket was on, the wings were nearly invisible, but now he had the slight problem of a hump on his back.

Perfection is unattainable; it will have to do, given my circumstances. Shoes, I need shoes.

Scanning his peripheral, he saw what he needed. He slipped on a decadent pair of black dress shoes. They were a tight fit of hard leather, but they’d serve well. Heading back toward Queen Street Mall, he picked up his old coat and held it in his left hand.

Everything in this world belonged to god, so it wasn’t a sin for him to take what humans believed to be theirs.

The security guard he’d seen earlier stared at him with a raised eyebrow, pressing the tip of his finger into his clear earpiece. Barachiel turned to him, flinging the coat over the guard as he fled through the security scanners, hearing the screaming siren coming from the alarm behind him.

The Square, I must get to the Square. That’s where I see her, when they all fall.

He turned right, disappearing into the thick crowd, ignoring the desperate shouting of the security guard far behind him. A smiling woman, dressed as an angel with plastic wings, handed him a balloon. She held out a handful of paper masks, and gratefully he reached out for one.

“Here you go, handsome. Happy Halloween!” the woman said.

“God bless your kind heart,” he replied.

He held the mask in his hands, staring at a painting of a devil, grimacing at the thought of wearing a depiction of lucifer. It was the best disguise he could think of, as the real devils would never suspect it. Slipping the mask over his head and adjusting the strap, he continued through the crowd, toward the lights emanating from the square.

The sound of the rock band was getting louder with each step he drew closer. He knew he was heading in the right direction. They were all converging in the same direction, and he stayed in the current-like flow of people.

He heard the hiss of a voice a short distance from him. “Find Barachiel, he couldn’t have gone far.”

It’s working.

The singer’s voice filled the air. “Now the world is gone, I’m just one. Oh God help me! Hold my breath as I wish for death.”

Most of the crowd raised their hands and chanted, “Oh please God, help me.”

Scanning the crowd, he still didn’t see her, but he knew he had to find her. He reminded himself to have faith and believe in his purpose. Many parents near him held their children, some carrying them on their shoulders, as they took them toward the surprisingly enjoyable music. He wanted to save them all, but if he induced panic, then he may never find her again. He had to stay focused.

He pushed through the crowd and caught sight of the stage, and the band’s musicians furiously belting the drums and slashing the guitar to their opening song. He remembered the song that was playing when the gunmen appeared in his vision, and this one wasn’t it. The clock tower was nearing seven o’clock, and he still hadn’t seen her. Straining his memory, he remembered that when he saw her bloodied body on the ground, she was wearing a brown jacket and jeans, and her jet-black hair was tied in a ponytail.

Come on, show yourself. Your salvation depends on it.

The crowd erupted in cheers and applause as the first song wrapped up. Barachiel pushed and shoved his way toward the edge of the Square. His heart raced as he frantically searched the crowd. There were just too many people for him to find her.

“Thank you, Brisbane! Are you ready for… Master of Puppets!”

The crowd went wild and the clock tower bells rang moments before the band’s guitarist began to play. Barachiel’s scream of, “Mary!” was drowned out by the fury of the song’s opening. His heart sank. They were all moments away from massacre.

His head sagged into his trembling hands. It dawned on him that this could be the first time he failed, and of that, he would never forgive himself. But it was not an option— he would not fail, he could not. To reveal his true self would change everything, and although the apocalypse would soon come, there were rules to be followed. His mind raced, and the rock music only loudened. There was no way that she would hear him, and he couldn’t see her.

Father, if you can hear me, now is the time for a sign. Help me find her, I beseech you.

He stood as tall as he could and scanned the crowd once more. The crowd chanted with pumped fists in the air. “Master, Master!”

“Where’s the dreams that I’ve been after,” the band sung.

As the crowd raised their hands and rhythmically clapped, he finally saw her. She was in the thick of the crowd, and he growled as he pushed his way through the crowd, but they pushed back, raising their fists at him. Violence would be a final solution, and he could not harm the innocent.

On the outskirts of the concert, men wearing hockey masks and trench coats surrounded them. They had climbed statues of King George, the lions, and the many benches scattered around the Square. A number of men, women, and children started to run from the crowd, determination clearly painted on their faces. One of them passed him and he saw clearly that they’d been possessed. It wasn’t the innocent that fled the massacre grounds.

The band played on, singing and playing louder. “Hell is worth all that, natural habitat. Just a rhyme without a reason. Never-ending maze, drift on numbered days. Now your life is out of season. I will occupy. I will help you die. I will run through you. Now I rule you too.”

Their ironic lyrics sent shivers down his spine. This was all from his vision, but he could not control what he’d seen. It would all begin at any moment, and he had to save her. It was no longer a choice of how. He never enjoyed spilling blood, but he had to protect his children.

Narrowing his eyes and gritting his teeth, he gripped his jacket and spat out his words. “Forgive me father, for I must sin.”

His eyes glowed as he ripped the jacket off of him, tearing its buttons in the process. He couched down and pounded his fist into the ground, The shockwave sent the nearest idiots flying backward into the bulk of the crowd. He extended his wings and locked his vision on the gunmen as they, in turn, threw off their coats, revealing their body armour. They held M4A1 Colt Carbine machine guns, and chests were full of taped magazines. He had to get their attention, now!

It has begun.

A nearby man cried, “Holy shit! That’s not a costume,” staring at him in disbelief, as others started followed his gaze.

“All of you, run. Save yourselves!” Barachiel said.

The old man suddenly appeared beside one of the gunmen, one again pointing at him frantically. As if time had slowed down, Barachiel launched himself from the ground with unnatural, but self-assured strength. He watched as the men around him took aim with their machine guns, but they were too slow. He suddenly swooped down and reached for the nearest gunman, grabbing him from behind and then rocketing into the sky. White bullet trails filled the star-speckled sky, and his hostage began to open fire randomly.

Barachiel leaned in so he could hear him. “Thou shalt not kill.”

“Fuck you…” the gunman screamed, as Barachiel let go of him, snatching the weapon from his hands. He plummeted through the air, dodging the bullets. The gunman’s eyes returned to normal and his screams continued as he realised his fate, crashing onto the roof of City Hall, his head splitting like a tomato. His lifeless body now a mass of broken bones and guts.

A stray bullet grazed Barachiel’s shoulder, and he cried out in shock, but continued his path toward the swarming and scattering crowd, hunting for his quarry.

She can’t have gone far.

Looking down, to his horror, he saw Lucifer pointing toward the crowd. Some of the gunmen were indiscriminately slaughtering police, and those who’d foolishly engaged them in any manner were swiftly executed. The rest opened fire on the crowd.

God, no!

Thankfully, he spotted her again; she was crouched on the ground, as close to the ground as she could press her body. Barachiel just couldn’t tell if it was either pain or fright.

An image flashed in his mind. She’d die there! He landed harshly on the ground beside her, cracking the ground beneath them. He pulled her close to him as he covered them both in his wings. He knew he could stop the bullets, but also knew his wings weren’t going to cover every angle.

She turned to him with quivering pink lips and a tear-soaked face.

“Am I dead?” she asked.

They must have turned their guns on him, as he groaned with the strength required to hold their position under a barrage of bullets. This was not the first time that he’d seen guns and the death that follows them, and he knew that they had to reload soon.

He looked deep into Mary’s aqua eyes, knowing full well how important she was. He didn’t have time to explain it all.

“Mary, you have to trust me. You’re not dead. Listen to what I say, let me guide you, and you’ll stay that way. Get ready to move.”

She nodded and swallowed hard, gritting her teeth. Barachiel realised that a pool of blood had built beside them and flowed under his wings. Lollies in plastic packets floated underneath their faces. The bullets slowed, and he grabbed her by the hand, walking her away from the Square as he kept his wings around them both. The sight before him was truly horrifying. Everyone in their nearest vicinity had been slaughtered. Women, children, and men were lying in ghastly, unnatural positions, covered in blood. They stepped over the bodies. This was a kind of horror that was truly disturbing to witness. The young were lying prone with bullet holes through their skulls; their insides were spilling to the ground. Some of them were still moaning as they bled out from chest and stomach wounds, calling out for their parents that were already dead beside them.

He could fly Mary out of there, but it would mean exposing their flesh to gunfire. They headed toward the Mall. Through a small gap in his wings, he saw some gunmen painting symbols on the smooth walls of nearby structures. They were painted with their victims’ blood; from the slit throats and slashed chests of the dead, to keep their supply going.

That could only mean they were doing one thing; the realms were merging. Dead souls would be kept here, unable to leave their bodies, but would become mindless flesh-eating creatures. This would be a forsaken place, and the time for the ultimate battle would come far sooner than he’d ever expected.

He crouched down as bullets danced around their feet. He wouldn’t be able to hold out like this for too much longer. His right arm was cradled around a trembling Mary, and his left held the machine gun. Listening hard, he heard the metallic clicks of a nearby gunman reloading, and the boots of others converging on his position.

Breathing deep, he folded his left wing and took aim at the reloading gunman, squeezing the trigger. His aim was terrible, but the bullets sewed their way up the man’s armour, until they tore through his neck and mask, blood and brain matter exploding in cloud behind the man’s head. He turned the gun to another that had drawn a machete and hissed at him as he ran over the bodies as if they were rubbish.

Barachiel narrowed his eyes and let go of Mary for a moment, pushing her down to the ground, keeping his wing over her. He threw the gun with all his strength, connecting with the gunman’s face. His move catapulted the man into the air, snapping his neck in the process, and the freed blade spun through the air.

Catching the machete by its hilt, he plunged it through the man’s skull and heard the popping of another round of gunfire, taking a bullet through his shin as he ripped the weapon from the man’s head, crouched beside Mary, and covered them once again.

He noticed a dying boy’s eyes, completely possessed, through another small gap in his wings. The boy spat his words out. “Barachiel… Do you really think you’ll survive this? You fucking maggot! You serve a god that’s forsaken all of us. This pitiful act of heroism won’t change what will come.”

Groaning, he held his shin, the searing pain making it difficult to concentrate. He began to lose too much blood from his wounds, and started to feel nauseous. There was only so much power he could use to heal himself, and he had to be careful with expending it.

His eyes and hands glowed as he held them over his wounds. A small scar remained as they closed up. Feeling better, he knew there were safe havens they could get to, and one was not too far from the Square, but to fly there would be a risk. It had to be timed right.

He heard the continual sounds of police sirens and the firing of guns throughout the city. Worse, the screams continued, just not right beside them. The entire city was falling, the world along with it. He would know when to send in the army of angels.

“Lucifer, the time has come for your actions to be judged by him. I am just the beginning,” Barachiel said.

“I was like you once, an angel. Hand over the girl and join me. Worship me, and your life will be glorious,” Lucifer said.

Barachiel’s face twisted as he growled, “You’re nothing like me, and I seek no glory.”

“Then die.”

Looking up, he saw that they were crouched below a bright light. The gunmen must have either run out of bullets, or realised that he wouldn’t be so easy to shoot. He heard the stomping of three men’s boots as they charged at him. He rose to his feet, with his right wing still draped over Mary.

One of them swung his blade toward Barachiel’s neck. This was combat he was used to. He expertly spun to his right, bringing his wing up to block the blade with a loud resounding clash. Spinning anti-clockwise, he decapitated the man with a clean swing of his right wing, and threw his blade high, shattering the glass as it smashed into the light. One man had almost reached Mary, and he barely brought up his wing fast enough to stop the blade from crashing into her skull, knocking it clear out of the man’s grip.

He moved faster than any of them could, and picked up the gunman by the neck, ignoring his body blows. With both arms, he swung him into the third attacker, their bodies colliding with a collective snapping of bones.

He looked around to realise that the gunmen were not stepping through the bodies anymore. The hundreds of bodies around him began to move, growling and groaning as if they were animals.

And the dead will walk the earth.

Then it was true, the realms had finally combined, and demons would soon dominate the lands.

The possessed boy had long died, but his cackling laughter was haunting as it echoed around him. “It’s too late for all of you. How will you feel when all of his children are dead?”

Not if I can help it.

He pulled Mary up and held her tight, flapping his wings as hard as he could, rising into the star speckled sky. No bullets followed him, and he suddenly realised why. Lucifer thought he’d already won and the world belonged to him. There was no longer any point of fighting an archangel when the end of days had come.

Time was short, and with Mary sobbing on his shoulder, he headed toward Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Every street in the city was full of death and the undead, people falling everywhere in a vein effort to fight back.

The moonlight reflected off a golden statue in front of him, and as he raced toward it, he saw the long line of Eurocopter Tigers flying below him in a classic “V” formation. As a mass of undead headed toward the nearby Story Bridge, most of the choppers each fired two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles into the bridge’s key structures, while three of their GIAT 30 Gatling guns whirred to life, mowing down the mass of undead in a rain of bullets.

As a squadron of F/A-18F Super Hornets flew over their heads, he spun through the air and quickly regained his bearings as he hovered with Mary, watching their AGM-65 Maverick missiles destroy the Pacific Motorway bridge in the distance. Large concrete chunks of the bridge fell into the river below with great cascades of water erupting skyward. A CityCat passenger hovercraft had been shattered in the wreckage.

The war had already begun.

Mary’s voice rose, matching her thumping heart, as she gripped him for dear life. “Holy shit! The world’s gone mad.”

“Don’t worry, you are safe and I will protect you.”

Explosions were going off around the city, and for a short moment, he believed that the people could win the war on their own. His hopes were suddenly shattered as a number of RPGs were fired at the Tigers, taking out two of them in the process, with a volley of gunfire erupting from the city streets. The undead won’t attack Lucifer’s demons.

“Why did you save me and leave everyone else to die? What makes me so special?”

Barachiel looked into her eyes and scrunched his eyebrows, amazed. “You don’t know?”

She shook her head and he realised she had been telling the truth. He placed a hand on her stomach.

“You’re carrying his son. Jesus will walk these lands once more, and you will lead the war against Lucifer. You play a great part in stopping all this madness.”

Her eyes widened as he flew toward the church ahead of them.

“What? But that’s impossible; I’ve never been with a man. I can’t be pregnant.”

“Worry not, as it will all be explained to you in time.”

“I could have taken care of myself, you know, but not with the slaughter that took place in The Square. Thank you for saving my life,” Mary said.

“I know, and you’re welcome. You will save far more lives in the years to come.”

Their moonlit reflection wavered far beneath them, glowing off the murky waters of the Brisbane River. As they neared the church, he saw that a long line of men were already waiting, wearing SERT police body armour and brandishing Steyr AUG machine guns. They were not at all surprised to see him as he landed in front of them, folding his wings.

“Welcome, Barachiel. We’ve been expecting you both. Mary, come with us.”

He pulled out a 9mm Glock, handing it to her by the hilt. “Do you know how to use a gun?”

Mary smiled, flicked the safety switch, grabbed the slide and pulled it back. The men’s eyes widened at the sight of her handling the weapon. “I wasn’t a weekend warrior for nothing.”

She approached Barachiel and laid a kiss on his cheek. “You don’t need to worry about me anymore.”

“The war for earth has come, sooner than we expected. I must return now, but know that we will return.”

The man approached him, extending his hand. Barachiel took it, shaking it warmly, now clearly understanding the customs of men, however strange they’ve always been.

“We’ve been preparing for this, for a long time now, wondering when the apocalypse would come…..we’ve always kept our faith.”

“And what of the people of this church?” Barachiel said.

The man gritted his teeth. “They understand, and with Mary, and you standing here, they know their faith was well served. We have a network in every city around the world. Lucifer will have his hands full.”

Barachiel nodded, placing a gentle hand on the man’s arm. As he was about to speak, they all turned toward the screams of the hordes of people lined up against the Kangaroo Point Cliff’s walls. As one, they were pointing to the Brisbane River below. Barachiel approached the walls, and saw the swarm of undead running across the Brisbane River as though it were not there, many of them already starting to emerge on the other side.

The soldiers of the Church grimaced and fired their rifles on the advancing horde below, two of them lobbing F1 frag grenades in the path of the unrelenting undead. They cried, “Grenades out, go go go!” then finally taking aim with their own machine guns and mowing down more of the mindless zombies chasing nearby civilians.

“Shit, I’m out!” yelled the nearest soldier, quickly catching another magazine, tapping it on his helmet and loading his weapon. One soldier yelled at the top of his lungs to the nearby crowd, “Get out of here, all of you! Find secure shelter.”

Mary ran up beside them, aiming her gun and shooting the zombies through the skull. “Spread out, we’ll get better coverage! Form a defensive perimeter and retreat to the church.”

The Church’s men were now heavily engaged. Barachiel wanted to help, but knew he was nearly past his allocated time on earth. He now realised that Mary truly no longer needed his protection and he’d succeeded.

“We need reinforcements!” one of the men yelled into a radio. A muffled response came from its speaker, “Roger that, Echo One, hold your position!”

Barachiel heard his voice in his mind once more. You’ve done well, my child. She will save them, and we’ll watch closely. It’s time for you to come home.

He raised his arms, and with a flash of brilliant white light, he disappeared from earth.

Credit To – Peter Koevari

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Backyard Zombie

September 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Gruesome University Presents: Backyard Zombie

This is a video pasta. If the embedded video is not loading for you, please click the link above to go directly to the video’s YouTube page and try watching it there.

Additionally, for the sake of impatient types and/or those who find long credits unnecessary because they read quickly: the opening credits last until about the four minute mark. While I’m not trying to tell you guys to ignore the credits, I just don’t want people to miss out on the actual story because they got bored and closed the window during the prolonged credit sequence.

Credit To – Truby Chiaviello

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Maternal Instinct

March 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I looked down at my children as they slept, the moonlight hitting their faces softly. They all looked so peaceful. They were my children, and I would do anything to protect them. That night I made a vow that I would never harm them, no matter what the circumstance. I was a good mother. A good mother never harms her children.

The days began to get more harried and more stressful, and my kids could see the dark circles that began to form under my eyes, and the wrinkles that creased my forehead. Work was getting harder and harder, and it had been difficult to work as a nurse on the late night shift to begin with.
My children remained blissfully unaware of the fact that we currently had a deadly pandemic sweeping the globe.

I never thought that the zombie apocalypse would actually happen. I was a rational and sensible person and the supernatural had never been a great concern of mine. However, when hospitals become flooded with corpses that have gone cold and suddenly start screaming again as they are wheeled to the morgue, what has occurred is a little difficult to ignore. The hardest part was seeing the children that were occasionally wheeled in, wailing in despair while trying to rip out the throats of the orderlies. As the doctors experimented and tried to find a cure, I sat with my fellow nurses as we plugged our ears and tried to block out the screaming. Only small patches of the world had been affected so far, so no extreme emergency measures had yet been taken. All we wanted was to return home and make sure our families were safe, but going home would lead to nothing but nightmares of grayed, decaying skin and white, pupilless eyes.

I tried desperately to keep up a semblance of normalcy around my children. I would come home, smile, tell them mommy had had another rough night at work. Yet I was terrified to sleep during the day, terrified that when I opened my eyes my own children would be staring at me with their jaws slack and white, unblinking eyes. When it came to work, the only thing that kept me awake anymore was the screaming. My stomach always turned over when I saw the children being wheeled to an incinerator. Surely a mother could never harm her children like that, even if she had lost all reason? Surely maternal instinct was stronger than whatever this disease was that had gripped our world like a vice?

In the morning light’s early rays, I got off the bus that sent me to and from work and collapsed onto my bed. It had been a long, hard night helping at the research lab. My husband fixed the covers over me and tucked me in more securely. I grunted in thanks. In the other room I could hear my children begin to wake. I wondered how long I could fool them into thinking that everyone was simply on a long holiday.

It had been obvious from the start that our little local hospital was doomed to fail. The bus no longer came for me. I simply stayed home and cared for my children, and admittedly I finally managed to sleep more comfortably when I could control my resting times. I couldn’t seem to shake my night owl habit though. Every night I would kiss my three year old goodnight, smooth back the hair from my nine year old’s forehead, and gently squeeze my ten year old’s hand. Then, I would softly close the door and go about doing some busywork, never taking my eyes off that door. I would ensure that my children slept safe tonight.

Soon the dead began shuffling to the door and pressing themselves against our windows. My children learned the truth the day my husband took out his rifle and shot two pallid, gray faces that had managed to stick their hands underneath the front door.

Something else was disturbing me. My right hand began to hurt something awful, and I started getting constant headaches. At the back of my mind a thread of doubt snaked out and whispered something truly chilling to me whilst I lay in bed trying to sleep, Maybe you were wrong.

I had offered to take part in an experiment which, if proven successful, could make me immune to the pathogen communicated by the undead. I was not entirely familiar with the plan that the doctors had described, but I realized that if this succeeded, I might be able to protect my family. If it failed, well, my incinerated ashes couldn’t do much to harm my family either. Obviously, in addition to injecting me with the serum the doctors had to see if it would actually work. I allowed myself to be bitten on my right hand, and when nothing happened, the feeling of relief overwhelmed me . The doctors were beside themselves with the euphoria of triumph. It was too bad that the very next day, one of the young doctor’s assistants got himself infected and destroyed the entire lab. I was the only person on the planet who could be bitten by this new adversary and survive.

Are you sure?

***

The next morning, I awoke. How strange. Instead of tucking the children into bed, I had opted for the first good night’s sleep in a while. I rolled over to look at my husband and gently tapped him on the shoulder. He turned on his side to look at me. White, pupilless eyes met hazel brown ones that swiftly widened in fear as I realized what had transpired.

My husband didn’t even have time to scream before I broke his neck and sank my teeth into his throat, feeling the warm gush of blood in my mouth. I feasted upon his innards, driven by an indescribable hunger and instinct akin to that of a tiger or a lion. Once my primal hunger was satisfied, I left his still-warm body on our bedroom floor and drunkenly shuffled into the room of my children. I looked upon all three of them as they stirred in their sleep. Strange. I felt no desire to break their bones or feast upon their flesh. Perhaps, no matter how primitive I became, I would not forget my children. Perhaps this restraint was maternal instinct.

After all, a good mother never harms her children.

I couldn’t say the same for their father, though, who had begun to stir from where I’d left him only minutes ago.

Credit To – Nini Li

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The McCarter House

December 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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The McCarter House in Greenburg, TN is fairly well-known by now, but at the time that my wife and I were looking to buy it, it was only infamous to the locals and we knew nothing about it. It is a pale, white farmhouse on a bald hill just off Baden’s Road in the Walnut Creek area of town. It might still be there, but hopefully it had been torn down by now. If you decide to go there, listen to this story as your word of warning first, and do not go
there during a full moon.

The house had been the scene of a horrific battle during the Zombie Apocalypse. Jim McCarter, his family and some of his neighbors had holed up there when the zombies rose up from the Walnut Creek cemetery. The attack was brutal. The McCarter clan were quickly surrounded by the living dead, and somehow the zombies were able to break open a door and get in. No one survived. The story behind this was particularly scandalous as there was a
church nearby where everyone else in the community was able to hide and successfully defend themselves from the zombies. Jim McCarter’s clan was banned from the church due to accusations made by Pastor Tom Olson claiming Jim had impregnated both of his twin daughters. Later, when everyone else was driving stakes through the brains of the dead in every graveyard they could find, Olson famously refused to do so, on the grounds that the
rising dead was part of God’s divine plan. God gave these men and women new life, and taking that away was nothing short of murder. That was the last straw for those who sided with Jim during the feud and they broke away from the church to fight at the McCarter house. They likely regretted that decision.

No one had been in the house since, except for a government cleanup crew that sanitized the property and fixed the broken door that lead to the massacre. It had stagnated in real estate listings until my wife and I decided to buy it. We were dirt poor, as the economy after the Apocalypse was still in the dumps, and the only thing we could afford was to either take this house or keep sneaking into motels at night. The real estate company was so desperate to get rid of it that they waived the down payment and processing fees. We were very thankful, because this house was considerably cheaper than our apartment back in Marron City. My wife was 6 months pregnant with twins, and this meant more money and space to raise our kids.

While the real estate company promised lightning speed processing to get us the deed, we made arrangements to stay with a neighbor, a retiree named Charlie Bunyon, until we got our house. We paid him a little money for room and board, and to borrow his truck and hands to get the furniture everyone was throwing out onto their curbs. He was happy to do it, and happy to see new people in the neighborhood here, but he warned us that the community was
still very superstitious and set in their ways, even after the Apocalypse. Taking that house might create some problems with them.

At the time, I noticed he seemed nervous about something else too, but he never told us what it was, and I paid it no attention.

While I was getting my new job set up at Ogle’s Lumberyard across town, my wife and Charlie went out to collect furniture from the curbs. The economy here was so bad that trash pickup was MONTHLY, but the residents around Walnut Creek were quite friendly to my wife and let her take what she wanted. Once they learned where she was moving into, though, like Charlie
said, their reactions ranged from restraint to religious paranoia. One lady even closed the door on my wife and had to explain herself through the mail slot, saying, “I’m sorry, but I was loyal to Pastor Olson and I still am today. I don’t care if he’s dead, I want nothin’ to do with Jim McCarter.”

Later in the day, the real estate company called her to pick up the deed and keys. By the time I got done from work, I had a new house to come home to and a bunch of crappy furniture all stacked up in my living room. My wife told me about how our neighbors reacted and proselytized, and even though we knew to expect it, I found it weird because my new co-workers did the same thing to me. This house had a wider reputation than we expected. We nearly forgot all about it as we got to work putting furniture in place and cleaning up the couch to sleep in… until we found a note under a couch cushion that Charlie had slipped in there.

It said very plainly, “I didn’t want to say anything while we were driving, but please do not stay in that house. You need to LEAVE before the full moon.” It seemed like he wanted to tell us more but ran out of room. I crumpled the note and tossed it immediately. You have to understand neither my wife or I are religious, particularly after what we suffered during the Zombie Apocalypse, and this old school superstition was more than a little irritating to us. If they want to think we’re blaspheming against some crazy, old preacher and his flock of sheep, then that’s their problem, not ours.

That night, and I thought nothing of it at the time, I woke up at about 3:30 in the morning just briefly because I thought I heard some furniture shuffling around. I figured it was just my wife getting up and navigating the darkness to the bathroom.

Two weeks from that night, we would be fleeing for our lives. In those two weeks, and I’ll condense the details down, we settled into a daily routine of trying to get set up at the house. I went to work all day and my wife would try to get more of what we needed. It was a struggle for her, because I wouldn’t get paid for two weeks and we didn’t want to bother with our ignorant neighbors. At first, she tried getting around on foot, but our twins were too much of a strain for her small body and she often couldn’t get much done most days. In the meantime, I was trying to rack up as many hours as I could at work so I could better afford what we needed.

To say we struggled barely describes how hard it was for us. I wasn’t getting any real sleep on that couch. I kept waking up hearing things, and later seeing things moving in the darkness. My wife did too, and it wrecked havoc on our sanity. We were both losing sight of reality and fighting at any chance we got. We broke our backs in the day, fought each other to tears at night, and slept for only a couple hours until we heard the sounds again. The first few nights it was just footsteps and something brushing against the furniture, then it soon evolved to louder footsteps and the sound of furniture moving.

Then I started to hear moaning, and it froze me from the inside out as I remembered the last time I heard that sound. It sounded just like the moaning I heard for three days being barricaded in a basement during the Zombie Apocalypse. I panicked, thinking a stray survivor zombie had gotten in (which, while rare, was not unheard of in those days), I jumped out of the couch and turned the lights on… only to find nothing but one irate,
pregnant wife who had finally just gotten to sleep.

I should have suspected more at that time, and things would be different today if I did, but I still rationalized it as the strain of our daily lives affecting us at night.

Two nights later, our bickering came to a boil and my wife stormed to the kitchen to leave the house. I grabbed her and tried to slap her, but I hit the bottle of Mr. Clean and spilled the entire contents on the floor instead. We decided to go to sleep right then. Again we heard noises, louder now than ever, saw thicker shadows moving in the darkness, and only got sleep near dawn.

Not long after dawn, my wife shook me awake in a panic and pointed to the Mr. Clean mess on the kitchen floor. There were footprints in it. Neither of us had been in the kitchen once we tried to go to bed. We then saw the furniture in the living room had been moved. Someone really WAS in our house that night.

Our day picked up a bit when Charlie dropped by with a (possibly) new king-sized mattress for us. We talked for a bit and he said he felt bad for the community “spooking” us or imposing any “nonsense” on us. He then left as quick as he could. We never saw him again.

We moved the mattress upstairs, and while it was definitely more comfortable, we still didn’t get any sleep. Every night the sounds and moaning got louder, the shadow outlines got thicker, and every morning the furniture would be moved or turned over. When the lights came on, there was nothing, but then I would feel something was staring at me, leering, like it didn’t know any other way to let me know it didn’t like me.

Then one night, it was too loud to mistake it for something else. Something was in our house. I took my gun with me as I got to the stairs, and the moonlight shining on the bald hill as it got closer to the full phase made it undeniable that someone was in our house… but this time he brought his friends too. I saw maybe a dozen and a half figures downstairs and I was prepared to open fire, but when I turned the light on to better see them, again, there was no one in there and the furniture had been moved even further than before. I thought I was going insane, I KNOW I saw people downstairs, but the light, the one truth left in the world, showed no one there.

I turned the light off again, and they came back like they never left, but this time they were slowly making their way up the stairs to me. In the bright moonlight, I could almost make out body parts and faces, but I chickened out and turned the light back on and kept it on overnight. I was still too stubborn to admit my house was apparently haunted, so I still
simply summed it up that the lack of sleep and our problems was taking its toll on me.

I ended up sleeping until mid-afternoon the next day. I missed nearly a full day of work and while my boss was understanding on the phone, he also laid it out straight for me that he could not afford to pay an employee who didn’t show up. My wife and I talked about going to a doctor, but we both realized there was nothing that could be done until I got my paycheck after work tomorrow. I just needed more sleep, and it wasn’t hard to knock back out later.

That night I dreamt that my wife and I were inside the Walnut Creek church. I was the Pastor there and my wife was giving birth to two girls on the narthex. The birth was a success and I kept wandering around the shrouded, cloudy church with all these random people filling the pews and hallways. When I went back to the narthex, my twins were already school-age. I kept changing my direction and attention to one thing after another, and every time I turned around to see my girls again, they got older and older. I wandered through the hallways again, but this time the parishioners were unhappy because something happened. I go back to the narthex and my girls, barely adult age now, were both pregnant.

Then the congregation started freaking out, but I didn’t know what it was until someone told me it was a zombie attack. We built defenses for the doors, but we couldn’t finish them because my wife appeared out of the misty hallway to tell me our daughters went out onto the fields. They were trying to get to the McCarter House. I went after them and got lost in the grey fog that was overwhelming everything.

The next thing I saw, I was in my bedroom and I was staring at a man sitting on my bed that I had never seen before. I felt like I was angry with him, but that I wasn’t in control either. He was cowering in the corner. I got on my knees to get closer to him, and when my face was close to his, he pulled a gun out of nowhere and shot me in the face. The gun rang out loud and I woke up.

But when I woke up, I could still hear the gun ringing in my ears. A real shot had been fired. Then I heard my wife scream “HONEY! HONEY!” while she was out on the stairs.

I ran to her… and there they were. Dozens of zombies, shuffling in the moonlight, disappearing in the shadows, moving the furniture, and slowly making their way up to us. She fired several more times, but none of them fell or even reacted. Before I knew it, one of them was trying to grab me, and I could feel a small push on my shoulders, but when my wife turned the lights on, they were gone. The room was as empty as it should’ve been and I
let out a mighty roar of frustration and lunacy.

Now we had no choice, we HAD to leave the house, but we still had no options until I got paid today. When morning came, I did my best to focus on just getting through the day so I could get my money and we could leave, but just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I ended up leaving the lumberyard with a pink slip instead of a paycheck. Again, I’ll spare you details, but let’s just say I listened to one too many haunted house jokes and I DEFINITELY deserved to get fired for what I did. In my desperation, I drove throughout the town and started begging door to door for money. It was pathetic, and I came home extremely late, empty handed.

That night was the last night before the full moon and the worst fight I’d ever had with my wife. It was almost midnight before we both calmed down and tried to come up with a plan. We were just going to leave the lights on everywhere, sleep as best we could, and pack the car in the morning.

But then, at the stroke of midnight, all the lights suddenly shut off. If you’re wondering why, its because I planned to pay the electric bill before I got home. We tried to just run for it, but we were already surrounded by zombies on the hill. The moonlight was almost sunlight and not only could I see every part of every corpse coming after us, I could see THROUGH them, and they all had bullet holes in their heads.

My spine turned to ice once it all finally dawned on me… We weren’t haunted with the ghosts of the McCarters, we were haunted with the ghosts of the zombies who died here.

We ran back inside and barricaded the doors behind us, but they just passed right through. In my madness, I tried to shoot them in the head again, but how do you kill something that had already died twice? The moonlight made them strong and we had nowhere to go but the master bedroom. We tried again to barricade the door, but it was no use. Nothing could stop them anymore, and I succumbed to darkness just before they swarmed over me.

Now here’s the part of the story that’s REALLY unbelievable. Obviously, I didn’t die,

instead I woke up the next morning without a scratch on me. I was ready to rejoice until I saw my wife was already up and crying hysterically. Without giving too much detail, she “informed” me that our unborn twins had died during the night… and it wasn’t for a physical or natural reason either.

We didn’t bother packing, we just left right then and there before we got to see what they were like at full strength.

That was three years ago. At this point, after an exhaustive amount of research, I THINK I figured out what happened. During the original zombie attack in Walnut Creek, Pastor Olson’s twins, still in love with Jim, had a dramatic change of heart and broke out of the church to be with him. No one knows whatever happened to them, and to Olson, this was the final straw in his feud with Jim. Olson went out onto the field and waded through the zombie horde to get to the McCarter House. HE was the one who broke the door and let the zombies in, and he became a zombie himself as a result. I also think he was the one leering at me in the darkness all those nights, and I think he was the one who took our daughters from us.

Maybe Olson was right, maybe zombies really were newly evolved creatures that deserved to live and feed as they naturally do just like everyone else. Who would’ve thought “ghost logic” could apply to the living dead?

You can go visit the house if you want, but do not go during the full moon. In fact, don’t go anywhere near a battle site anywhere. If it happened to us, it can happen to you. These zombies don’t eat flesh anymore, they eat souls.

Credit To – J.S. Lawhead

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3000 AD

September 27, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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“What’s your story?” berated the man. It was dark, and the boy couldn’t see the man’s face, yet he could still tell it had a twisted smirk on it.

“What does it matter now?” whimpered the boy. His weakened mind wandered to the thought of his struggles, a long and terrible tale. He couldn’t help but to recall his life before this misadventure, not that terribly long ago, and how greatly even he had changed. Always a skinny fellow, the boy seemed impossibly lean and malnourished, with his shoulders stooped over and a face covered in the grime of mud, dirt, dried blood, and shit. He felt like he was about to pass out from lack of sleep, yet the rocking of the boat never failed to foil his hope of falling asleep and never waking up.

“I’ve been doin’ this for a long time, boy. I’ve found that everyone has a story, no matter how ugly. ‘Specially when they’re in your shoes, tremmblin’ and cryin’. S’you’re gonna die soons boy, you know that, so you got notin’ to lose. Give me a good laugh before the fun,” the boat’s driver snickered through the holes in his rotten teeth as his hand found forgotten food within his teeth. Disgusted and horrified, the boy closed his eyes. If it would shut the man up, he would talk.

“It was, as we were told, the beginning of another cycle around the Sun,” the boy told, “The leaders specifically called it the year 3000. They tried to tell us a century has passed since fire rained from the skies from our enemies. A century since the giant mountains made of steal and glass were inhabited by millions of people. Since it was safe to roam at night. Or something like that, I never payed attention to their superstition,”

“I used to live in what the elders called the ANH of NY. I don’t know what it means, but the in the storytellers spin stories that it was a place of history. They worship the wax creatures and monumental building. It’s all bullshit of course, like most of the superstitious nonsense. Ever heard the one about Dogs having tales? Or how cockroaches used to be the size of bugs and have a craving for human flesh? Bullshit. Anyway, getting back to the story, the social structure of the safe zone was kept like a pyramid. At the top, the Head, our leader, and the elders. Then there are Sweepers, who are the hunters and scavengers. Then there are Creeks, those who don’t leave the safe zone. They cook, clean, and tell stories. At the bottom of the group there are Rubbles. The Rubble group searched the streets for rubble that can be used, since they can’t do anything else.”

“They used to call me Ray. Back in the day, I was respected for my traps. I was able to trick the prey into killing themselves, into tricking the hunter into the hunted. At this, I was a master. One day I even found a Dog, one I was able to befriend and train. I was deadest on becoming a sweep, that is, until it was my turn to kill. I had always been the one leading the animals into traps, having another sweep or my dog kill the beast. However, when it was my turn…. It ended in a bloody mess with one elder and a handful of sweeps dead…. I was demoted to a Rubble. It was an act of grace that I wasn’t executed right there and then.”

The driver burst with laughter at this remark, only to spit up a heavy hairball of mucus and blood.

“My story begins on a cold night after I had just came home from searching the grounds. We had lost three new boys to the rads; a nickname for the monsters. We were already in deep trouble; we shouldn’t have left those boys behind. And the supplies they were carrying. That is when it happened. I was going for a walk with my dog, Hunter, near the town gate trying to get some fresh air when I noticed some Sweeps playing on the gate. I tried to walk by, but it was to no avail. They taunted me, asking how many kills I got today, and threw bottles at me. I tried to run, but I felt a sharp pain on my temple and I collapsed into the mud and bushes near the gate. The last thing I heard was laughter, the sound of someone falling, and mechanical gears. Then it all went dark.”

“I don’t know how long I was asleep for. However, I wish it was longer. When I woke up a horrific sight greeted me. Blood and bodies littered the courtyard, painting the walls and ground a deep shade of red. I couldn’t help the feeling of burning pain in my stomach, and I added my own shades of yellow to the already red ground. The smell, dear god the smell. I have never seen so many dead. Then I heard it. I deep roar coming from within the building, and screaming. Tearing of flesh. A cackle of a howl. Splinters. A pack of splinters, they had found their way in. My greatest fear was coming true! For right in the middle of the dead was a bloodied and battered splinter, looking like any normal oversized dog with two heads. If it wasn’t covered in blood. I knew I had to escape. It was to late for the Creeks, for the Rubbles, even for the splinters. I grabbed the nearest weapon I could find; a small metal rod with barbed wire laced on the top, and ran. I was glad to know Hunter had waited for me outside the gate, and we bolted, never to return home again.”

“I don’t know how long I ran. It was the middle of the night, and the sounds of rads surrounded me. Every here and there I stopped, only to hear the soft skittle of a cockroach, or the slight growl of another splinter. Once I swore I heard a sound coming from a hole in the street, a sound that sounded like a man choking on his own blood. The days passed and I ended on the outskirts of the wasteland. I was attempting to sleep, cuddled up with Hunter’s warm body, when I heard a scuttle noise in the dark. I kept my eyes closed, hoping it would go away. But it got louder. I opened my eyes a little, the curiosity killing me, and what I saw almost had me fait. Ten feet away from Hunter and I was a cockroach, one of the biggest I had ever seen. It was larger then Hunter, its mouth like tendrils dripping with foam and blood. Hunter reacted faster then I did, jumping from the ground and onto the roach. Before I knew what was what there was slimy blood everywhere, and the two of us had something to eat.”

“The smell of blood and food over a warm fire attracted another, a skinny wanderer. The man promised to repay me for some food, which was fine with me. The man was heavily armed and reeked of sweat and blood, and I did not want to offend him in any way. Or piss him off.”

“Well we ate and chatted, turns out the old man is a traveling merchant. Been round to many of the settlements around here. However, there was one place in particular he talked about. His speech went like this:

“… And that’s the settlement of black marsh. Dangerous, seedy, and rat infested. My favorite town to do business!” laughed the the old man, only to start up again with a cough, “However, there is a place that would suit you. It might not be far from here but not even of this same world. I call this place “The Lady!”” I couldn’t help but notice the old man’s gaze harden and glow with the light of the fire. “The Lady is an oasis in this sea of nuclear waste. During the scar of long ago, the storytellers say, it was protected against the raining fire. Life survives on the island, surviving off the Lady’s mighty fire that protects them. Some human life has survived there; suckling the milk from the Lady’s bosom to survive.” It was now I noticed the old man’s gaze turned to one of sadness, even with his wonderful tale. “This area is an island off the coast of the city. Many good men have tried to swim across the treacherous water, but the creatures living there are many. None of them have made it.” The old man coughed again.

I couldn’t help but be amazed by the thought of the Lady. “Is there any other way across? Hopefully a way less painful,” I asked the man.

“There is only one way. Some have found mechanisms from long ago, relics from the old ones. I don’t believe in such nonsense, I think they made them. Either way they can carry you across the bay to the island safely. They require a fee, and I call them boat runners,” the old man pointed in the direction of the wind as he yelled with a booming voice, “Go to the Lady. Her light shines the way. Follow the setting sun and you to can live off the Lady’s milk like a lamb!””

“So that is what you call us, boat runners!” laughed the man, amused at his nickname. He thought of how he should start calling himself that for now on. It was a good name after all.

The boy, irritated by the interruption, started up again, “For two days we traveled until we arrived at a wooden structure stretching out onto the water. Its wood was rotten, creaky, and broken, and attached to it was a machine of the likes I had never seen before. It was brown and green, obviously worn from its long period of use, and cracking. It was magnificent, a magical sight almost enough to make me believe in the religion of the Elders. I guess this was what the old man called a boat runner. I was so stunned by the floating wonder that I didn’t notice a man walked onto the deck of the ship. He was a short and stocky, with small, groggy eyes that seem to follow you, fast hands for picking pockets, stale breath, and wearing an old, dirty white suit. The man snarled and called out to me; “What do you want? Beggars aren’t welcome here,” he sounded like a mad dog waiting for its next meal

“I want a ride to The Lady,” I replied, Hunter’s stumpy tail wagging as I said “Lady.”

“You want a ride to The Lady? Well! I would say we have business, but look at you! What would a pipsqueak like you have to offer me for a ride!” The boat runner laughed, stroking his beard.

“I can give you my weapon,” I said, pulling out my batting stick, still clean and unused.

“You got nothing!” he slapped me with the back of his hand, “Then leave…. unless you’re willing to trade that mutt of yours, little boy!” The captain claimed, hungrily eyeballing Hunter. Why I did what I did next was out of complete fear. The splinters could be heard howling from even at the docks, and night was fast approaching. It was the last time I ever saw Hunter. I traded him away…” Ray broke off into a deep trance of sadness.

“You don’t have much longer, scrub. Hurry up already,” the boat runner of the present said, waking Ray, who sighed at the struggle of speaking.

“The ride was long, the boat couldn’t move that fast. The waves were large and salty, and I got nauseous standing on the deck. The worst part was yet to come, for on the center of the boat was a large glass bottom. At first, I was mesmerized. Magnificent creatures were swimming under the boat. They were in every color, in every shape and size. Some had long arm like tentacles, some had large dishes, and some had teeth the size of my head. I couldn’t help but to think what if I fell in…”

“It took a long while before we made it to the island. At my first glance at The Lady I was brought to tears! It was a giant statue of a woman! The boat runner, unfazed and uncaring of my stature, dropped me off at another wooden structure, but it wasn’t like the one I had encountered earlier. It was obviously well kept after, with the wood looking like a newly cut brown and the nails being silver and shiny. This was the first un-rusted metal I had ever seen. The only thing that remained from the world I had just departed from was an old sign. It was yellow from age, but its large white letters were still legible. It read “Welcome to the Statue of Liberty.” What a weird sign. Yet I continued onward, to amazed by the green and false sense of safety. I wandered the island as yet even more tears came to my eyes, but before I could do anything I noticed someone walking over to me. He was tall, well built, with dark hair that seemed to match his dark skin. He wore a robe, one of those that don’t have a hood. I turned towards over to him, but before I could say a word a strong hand covered my mouth. Two more grabbed my arms, and aggressively pulled me into a dark bag.”

“The bag smelled like guts, sweat, and vomit. I was afraid. So terribly afraid. I wished Hunter was there to save me… but I sacrificed him one last time to save myself.. “Don’t think,” I told myself, “That will only make things worse. Don’t think!””

“The bag was soon held upside down and I fell on my head. Everything was fuzzy again, but I was able to make out a few lines. They said;

“Don’t kill him, he could be entertainment!”

“Entertainment! I’m hungry. Besides, look how tender he is,” a heavy boot hit my side, I screamed.

“The Night Stalkers like tender. They will feed slowly this time. Besides, I like to watch those girly screamers get their guts ripped out,”

“Look, hese fine. Get up kid, we got a surprise for you,” one of the men chuckled. I was grabbed and pulled onto my feet, wherever they were. I was still too dizzy to determine if I was dead or alive. Slowly my vision came back, and in focus was a man. He was smaller than the first robbed figure, with white skin and brown hair. He had a facial expression that made him look like he was constantly snarling. Maybe because he was. His eyes looked like he was looking at a fine cooked Splinter, all his for the taking. When he talked spit foamed in the corners of his mouth. I named this man Spittle.”

“Spittle dragged me into a large room full of windows. The other man followed us in here also, and he began to stare out of one of the windows. After a deep breath the darker-skinned guy turned toward me and dismissed Spittle.

“I am the almighty, the leader of the crowned lands. Explain why you are here,” The robed man said, with a voice that sounded like it was being yelled from the heavens.

“I am Ray. I’m here, to, uh, um, I lost the word…” I stuttered.

“You came here to settle? A pathetic, skinny, weakling such as yourself? Well, we aren’t here to take on the unfit. We, as the predecessor of the Unites States of America, will only take the fit. Yet you don’t even know what this is do you?” The almighty laughed. “We still need food, so maybe you could be the perfect candidate,” the almighty circled around me. Then he walked over to the window. “Or, you could venture into there.” I peered past his shoulder, and saw what he was pointing at. It was another island, not far from here where a castle lies, surrounded by a fence. It was the opposite of this island, being run down, yellow, and dead. There was subtle movement in the dark windows, to slight to see. “That is the island of Elis, or what we call “Elistement.” We send who we don’t eat or initiate into the building; if they survive to dawn they are one of us, or they are Night Stalker food, the creatures that reside in that building. It is fun to watch people get ripped apart.” The almighty began licking his lips, and the two guards in the back of the room, who I haven’t noticed until now, began to advance towards me. “Harry did send a fat man here the other day. We are still feasting on his nice, delicious belly. How bout we have a little fun!” The almighty walked towards a window and slid it open. : We have enough food, he shall be Elistement!” His announcement brought a cheer from below, and I was dragged away. By nightfall I was brought onto a slow boat, where I was asked by an ugly old boat runner to tell my story.”

“That’s it! That’s your story! I’ve heard better stories by old men! I can’t wait to see you get ripped to shreds! I already bet a leg that you die,” the boat runner greedily said, his eyes glowing in hunger.

The boat slowed to a stop, and Ray stepped onto the island where Spittle walked up to him, and, with a twisted laugh, and his usual sneer, brought him to the giant door. With a booming voice he yelled,

“And in this corner is, um, this kid!” a few sarcastic cheers could be heard, “Probably a hundred pounds of tender meat ready to be ripped apart,” this time, a loud chorus of cheers could be heard. “In the other corner, the mysterious Night Stalkers!”

The crowd boomed at this announcement, for the death sentence of Ray. And with a screech, the creatures inside of the building begged for their food. Six men with lights walked up to the doors, and with a loud rattle six more opened it. Ray looked into the darkness of the building, and, with no regrets, thought about his misadventure. He missed his family, Hunter, and his home but had no reason to think about that now. That could come later, if there was one. With one step after another he walked forward, his boots making a crunching sound on the dead sand below. He remembered how he hid from the Splinters, and how those things would seem like pillows compared to the beasts inside. Still, he did not run. He was no longer scared but happy to see what was coming, as if it was always planned this way. He used to be the trapper, now he was the defenseless prey. He had finally been trapped in a deliberate and thoughtful mechanism with no way out. His brain screamed at him to stop, told him to remember how some of the animals had escaped, so maybe he could slip out of this trap. After all, he still had his batting stick hidden under his shirt. But could he even use it? Without Hunter would he be defenseless? Those beasts inside could tear him limb for limb, can he fight back? “Just don’t think, everything will be ok if I don’t think.” He whispered as he walked into the darkness as the doors shut and the lights went out. The crowd cheered even louder.

Credit To – Sobellium69

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