Friday, December 12, 2014

As the Dead Begin to Rise in BLEEDING KANSAS, Part III

THE SETUP: Two men sit at the bar in a luxury hotel in a city on lockdown. Most of the hotel’s guests left while it was still possible to travel, but there are a few still in their rooms, many of them too sick to move. One of them has bitten Angie, the desk manager, and she’s reacted badly to it. 

The narrator is one Mr. Derek Grace, who will, in time, go from middle-aged job seeker to the Dead Silencer. For now, he’s fuming over the recent death of his wife, who died with all the other victims of the Final Flu, while the job that was going to save his family literally perished before he could take that final interview. 

It’s difficult taking in the end of the world as a whole when your personal life has already crashed and burned. Now he’s stuck at a bar 600 miles from his surviving children, as the dead rise to attack the living. He may be locked inside...but the menace isn’t all outside in Bleeding Kansas. Who knew?


“She wasn’t dead all that long”



God knows what took them so long to switch back to the studio. It’s just one man at the news desk, no spiffed-up female counterpart. He eventually looks at the camera, his forehead creased as if weighing what he’s about to say next. 


Finally:

“Homeland Security told us to make sure no one was frightened or otherwise led to believe that this situation was out of control. Well, you all saw what we saw. If you have Flu sufferers in your house, you have a decision to make. You can either finish it now and put your loved ones out of their misery—or you can try and finish it while fighting for your life. Fighting against what has to be the devil’s cruelest trick on humanity since—”

The anchor swallows hard. “For our viewers, however many are left out there, please stay indoors like they’re telling everyone now—but don’t trust the authorities to get this under control anytime soon, if ever. Not only are people still dying from the Final Flu, a lot have died already—and not all of those bodies made it to those burial sites. As you could see from the live feed we had earlier, most of these wandered in from—”


The screen goes to a generic blue “Loss of Satellite Feed” page.


“I can’t believe it took them that long to cut him off,” Tanner says. “This is looking to be much worse than anyone thought.”


“The people you talked to knew about all of this and thought they could contain it?”


“How hard could it be? One in every three caught the Final Flu. Not everyone died at once. Even if they did, it’s still two-to-one. You’ll notice they don’t move very fast, either…oh, and speaking of which, could you get off your chair and move behind me as fast as possible?”


I look over in time to see Angie. Her eyes are dry and unfocused but I’m sitting closest to her and she’s stumbling straight towards me. I jump away from my chair and Tanner bangs a slug between her eyes. She falls, her arms still reaching out to take me. Her teeth are still showing from under her lips as she sprawls across the floor.

Tanner slides off from his chair to stand over her. “Look at the color of her skin,” he says. “She wasn’t dead all that long. Her lividity would have changed over time but looking at her you’d think she was just fine, if a little pale. Feel her skin, though!”


“Er, no thanks. Her eyes were all I needed.”


“Hmm…well, yes. They can’t produce tears or blink anymore. Good catch. Hadn’t considered that one.”


“Goddamn it, it’s obvious this has been going on everywhere else. Why aren’t people being warned about this?”


“Actually, the reanimation phenomenon started just last night Stateside. People have been dying of the Flu in Europe and Asia all last week but this business with walking, flesh-eating cadavers is a new development. I must admit, though, I’m curious. How would you explain this?”


“How about we start with the truth?”


“Who would believe it? That’s why they were encouraging people to see it for themselves on their local channels. People can deal with it that way. Or so they thought. The National Guard here certainly wasn’t ready for it. They didn’t fill in that trench like they were supposed to once those things started stirring.” Tanner glances towards the plate glass entrance.  “We might want to get out of sight of the doors.”


The first shadows are stumbling forth into the street from between the buildings across the avenue. They’re far enough away; we’re buffered by a wide, brick plaza anchored by a center fountain. Still….


“We should kill the lights,” I say, but Tanner has them off before I’m halfway through saying it.


Just as I’m turned to walk back to the desk the elevator door dings and opens. The light in the elevator is blocked by one, two, now five figures stumbling hesitantly into the lobby.


“Tanner!” I spring for the front desk.


“Nnnnh-waaaaah!” They key in on my voice and movement and shuffle in my general direction.



NEXT: “Goddamn it, shoot the bitch!”


There's more where this came from in BLEEDING KANSAS, from SEVERED PRESS.


And THAT story continues in GRACE AMONG THE DEAD.

US Kindle and Paperback
UK Kindle and Paperback
Canadian Kindle and Paperback

Coming in 2017: THE WRONG KIND OF DEAD.