Thursday, December 18, 2014

More from BLEEDING KANSAS: “In the Night Kitchen” Part II

This series of excerpts from Bleeding Kansas begins shortly after the last one ended. The Dark Resurrection is in full effect and nowhere outside this downtown Kansas City hotel is safe. Derek Grace has already lost his wife. His children are 600 miles away in Colorado Springs. He has no weapons, and his one companion is a smug, manipulative corporate hustler who nearly allowed Grace to be overcome by an undead woman, just to watch him struggle. 

Derek Grace has much to think about, and much more to do. First and foremost on the list: a transformation. From desperate middle-aged job seeker into the DEAD SILENCER.

“This is a monster’s face”

Cool, air-conditioned stench washes over me. God only knows how bad this would be if the power was out. I listen for movement while my eyes adjust to the darkness. I notice the curious dead have left the windows and doors about the hotel. Most of the traffic is concentrated on the streets and sidewalks. Our fountain-centered plaza outside of the front doors provides a wide buffer.

I hear noises ahead. I spare a glance at the bodies on the floor so I can step around them. The old man in the boxers is on his back, his junk still hanging out the flap. Mercifully, all I see of the woman whose face I’d ruined are her pale, blood-and shit-streaked legs. I walk past the front desk and Angie’s still on the floor. Poor Angie. I step behind the desk, stop short when I see her face.

There’s no way Angie could have made a face like that when she was alive. Not on tequila, not on angel dust, not on a dare. Her teeth are dry like her eyes; they don’t glisten so much as glow with menace. This is a monster’s face. I realize now the worst wasn’t leaving her on the floor like a pair of dirty socks. It was letting this dutiful, sweet daughter of the paved-over prairies turn into this.

The light outside is fading. I edge around the front desk to the lounge area. The TV is still on. The screen shows a stock loop of landmark shots from around the world, implying that the SOS is going out to all the powers that matter, so remain calm (and feel free to join in the prayers if you need something to do while cowering in your shelters-in-place). 

There is no news on what is happening in the individual countries, let alone here in town. Just shots of large congregations, close-ups of supplicants on their knees, mumbling into their clasped hands. I’d try the other channels but that noise in the kitchen….

With the mmmm! and hnnnnn! sounds over the slurping and smacking there’s no doubt as to what it is. The question is, who is that thing eating? Did Tanner come down ahead of me and get caught?

(Goddamnit I don’t want to do this I don’t want to do this I don’t want to do this!)

I push through the swinging doors.

I see the dark mass on the floor before me. The creature—Jesus, what do we call these things?—doesn’t look up until I turn on the light. She was a woman once, younger and somewhat more attractive than the scrawny cougar I defaced earlier. She looks up at me from where she sits carelessly on the floor, like a toddler plopped on her butt to play with something. She doesn’t see me, of course, but she knows I’m there. She sniffs. Smell must be a major factor in how they register living flesh.

This lady’s problem is she’s got a scabby Van Dyke beard from feasting on the cooling remains of Officer Dalton. Registering new scent is difficult with her current meal literally under her nose.

I stand as still as possible. After a while she resumes noshing from a rip she’s torn through Officer Dalton’s exposed man-boob. I take a step back.

With a triumphant roar she rises quickly, facing me as if she really sees me. Her arms thrust forward, fingers clawing. I swing the floor lamp stand and she grabs it with blood-freezing force, the metal support pole warping in her grip.

I let go of the stand and duck behind the hot table. She slings the stand away, stumbling over Dalton’s body as she comes for me. 

NEXT: Part III: “Her flesh-clotted teeth bared to her blue-black gums”

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.