This is another in my October Saturday series of short stories I've written. This one involves everyone's favorite--zombies. P.S. Julie from Above-The-Norm and I are hitting major Halloween stuff today and spending the night in a haunted hotel tonight. Expect that I will probably post from the hotel and expect a lot of goofy vids and funny antics in the coming days...
Only four hours had passed and yet Donna McClintock’s life had changed in a way that was irreparable. She stood at the foot of the bed watching her Cousin Joe struggling in the damp sheets. For the past two hours he made seizure-like movements as he panted like a dog on a hot summer day. She turned away, feeling guilty. It would almost be humane if the last breath came soon and the room turned to silence rather than the tension that existed right now.
Donna’s brother Carl and her Uncle Tim had gone for help an hour ago, but the cabin was a good 20 miles from the nearest town. Then, there was still the return trip back with help, traveling down the difficult lumber road.
Joe had tried to rescue the raccoon trapped inside the trash can. Uncle Tim proceeded to mock him and tell him to kill the creature instead of rescuing it. Joe continued with his efforts, only to be bitten as the raccoon scrambled from the can. His father, as usual, just snorted and told him he got what he deserved. How could an animal bite affect someone so quickly? Even if it were rabid, would it cause symptoms within minutes?
In fact, her uncle’s last words were another bullying taunt, “Men are killers. We eat meat. You eat meat. Are you a man?”
Uncle Tim never gave up trying to push his macho hunting mentality on his tender-hearted gay son. It was a reality the man would never accept. Every autumn he dragged the family back to the cabin. This year, with Joe graduating from high school, the family was fed up with the usual drama and refused to come. That left Donna and Carl tagging along for moral support. Without them there to referee, it would have been a bloody battleground.
Joe’s pale gray eyes met hers and Donna gasped. The pupils were strangely dilated and black against his anemic eyes.
“Joe?” She leaned forward.
He began another round of thrashing about, his head twisted upward, the long corded muscles of his neck jutting. He screamed out in an agonizing cry, followed by gurgling and then complete silence.
Donna leaned over her cousin’s body in its strangely epileptic posture. She pressed her fingers to his taut neck to find no pulse. His chest was still, as well. She turned away, took a deep breath and stalked from the room, desperate to leave the scene.
“I’m sorry.” Sandy, her brother’s girlfriend, murmured as she followed her into the living room.
Donna went over to the sofa and slumped down onto it in a boneless heap. For some reason, the tears wouldn’t come. The reality hadn’t quite set in.
A crash and splintering of wood had Donna springing to her feet. Sandy rushed to her side and both women stared into the hazy hallway where Joe stumbled forward from the debris.
“Joe?” Donna called out and stepped forward but stopped herself.
Something was not right about his posture and motions. He seemed robotically driven and mechanically challenged as he unfolded himself to a semi-erect position and then lurched one more time to ratchet himself to his full 6-feet 4 inches.
Donna backed up, pushing Sandy further into the living room area. Then, something inside her split into two parts; the one who wanted to rush forward and help him, and the other who felt an imminent unexplainable threat as she studied his fixed stare and dilated pupils.
The door to the cabin swung open and Carl bounded inside, their Uncle Tim shoving him aside with a meaty hand. Uncle Tim stopped and swayed on his sturdy legs.
“Jesus! Will you look at that? He’s up and around already. I told you he was faking it. He just wanted to get out of hunting. It won’t work this time, Joe!” He lumbered forward.
Joe’s head tilted to the side, his complexion waxy and pale gray, his mouth twisted open, drool dribbling from one corner.
“He’s in no shape to hunt, Uncle Tim.” Carl warned him. “Don’t worry, Joe. We called for an ambulance. They’ll be here soon.”
“You’re not getting out of this. Today, you become a man. You’re gonna come out of those woods having killed!” Uncle Tim vowed.
Just then, Joe’s head swung around and all at once he lunged at his father with a snarl. The two fell with a thud to the floor. Carl stepped forward to offer assistance, but their cousin was atop of their uncle, growling menacingly as he held the big man down. Their slender cousin suddenly had the strength of a lion predator upon its prey. His head lowered and his father cried out as Joe sunk his teeth into the man’s shoulder. Uncle Tim’s legs thrashed wildly as he tried to pitch his son from him, but Joe’s hold on him was rigid and iron-like.
Carl leaned over the pair, trying to pry Joe from their uncle, but his hold was vice-like.
“Donna, help me get him off!”
Donna came over behind Joe, trying not to pay attention to the pleading screams of her uncle and the distinct sounds of hungry feasting. The metallic smell of blood filled the air and Donna fought back a desire to vomit. Joe’s body was rock hard, completely stiff and locked in position. Their uncle quit screaming, his body limp beneath Joe as their cousin began to tear at the tender flesh of his father’s throat.
Carl grabbed up Donna and pulled her away from the grisly scene. The pool of glistening dark blood followed the ancient wooden floorboards, filling the grooves, racing towards their feet. The pair leapt away from the seepage and Carl backed her towards the door and away from the scene. The last things Donna noted as they exited the cabin were the distinct crunching and chewing sounds of her cousin Joe digesting his father’s flesh in a killing frenzy.