Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chapter 5 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Oyster Crackers” Part 4: “Dark Agnes Emergent”

From the ALL-NEW, Yet-To-Be Proofed and Published FINAL BOOK of the SAGA of the DEAD SILENCER

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Chapter 5.3: “When Elyssa Met Agnes”

It was dark and still outside, none of the usual sounds of traffic and nocturnal activity you don’t even notice until they’re gone. It would be the last quiet night Elyssa or anyone would know for a while. Still, she couldn’t sleep. She’s not sure anyone did. 

As the pale pre-dawn light bled into the windows, they peeled off their sweat-damp sheets to find Dylan still in his coma, but restless. Attempts to get pills into him resulted in soaked pajama fronts and sheets. Elyssa gasped as the water glass hit the floor. It didn’t break, but she realized as she picked it up that they would be in a very bad way if anyone needed stitches. She remembered how they turned away her father at the hospital the night before. 

Elyssa changed the sheets while Agnes sat on the floor, her back against the wall, cradling her boy in her arms. She brushed back the strands of hair on his forehead with the tips of her fingers, as if his skin was almost too hot to touch. Elyssa imagined it was. 

She looked on as Agnes took her time cleaning him up, changing his underwear, wiping him down with baby wipes. Dylan was very pale; he hardly seemed to breathe. When Agnes asked Elyssa to bring some towels from the linen closet to put on the bed she nearly tripped on the wet sheets spilling from her arms. She had wanted to run from the room and run back. She caught herself on the tall dresser, nearly splitting her own chin open. Elyssa thought of stitches again.

“Stop worrying about me,” Agnes said. “I’ll know when he’s gone. Now get the towels so I can put him back in bed.”

Elyssa gathered the wet sheets back in her arms and eased out the door. She dropped them off in the laundry nook before rushing back into the hall to find the linen closet. It took less than a minute to do, but for Elyssa it might as well have been an hour.

She came back into the bedroom to find Agnes standing by the bed, Dylan still in her arms. At five, he was nearly half the size of his mother, his legs dangling almost comically to one side as Agnes cradled him. Except these were the pale, still legs of a dying child. 

“The look in her eyes as I came in,” said Elyssa. “Like, ‘what took you so long,’ but she was glad I was there. I spread the towels on the bed. Agnes laid him down in his underwear and left the top sheet off of him. Poor Dylan was so hot you could feel it standing over the bed.” Elyssa’s face clouded. “Like Daddy.”

Agnes called A.J. into the room and they all, Elyssa included, kissed him one at a time on the forehead. “It was goodbye. I was going to hug Agnes but she put her arm out and said for me and A.J. to follow her. I closed the bedroom door behind me on the way out. I wanted to lock it, but I didn’t. I was getting scared again. What would we do when he came back?”

Elyssa and A.J. followed Agnes back to her bedroom, where she took a shoebox from the shelf over the clothes rack in the closet. Wrapped inside white gift box paper was a .45 pistol. It was the gun Dylan’s father had shot himself with shortly upon returning from his latest deployment to Afghanistan. 


“Goddamn it, Elyssa,” I said, “you go any further and I swear I’ll throw you out that door. Agnes already told me all she wants me to know about her husband’s suicide.”

“All she did was mention it was her ex-husband’s gun before she took the box to the breakfast table off of the kitchen. She told me to watch her while she cleaned it, to make sure she did everything she said she was doing as she did it. It hadn’t been cleaned since the police gave it back to her. She was talking herself through this because it had to be right.” 

Elyssa made as if to reach out for my hand again. She stopped herself. “Agnes understood,” she said. “I wasn’t sure up until then, but when she said what she said, and the way she said it, I knew we were going to live.”

Agnes was getting the last piece back on the .45 when there was a large thump from Dylan’s bedroom. “She stopped for maybe a split second. She put her finger to her lips, and we waited to see if Dylan was coming out.”

Agnes called her son’s name and heard the knob on the door turning. At that moment she slipped the .45 behind her into the waistband of her jeans. “I was like, Oh God, oh God, I thought she was smarter than this!” said Elyssa.

The door was yanked open. Dylan slapped a pale hand on the door jamb and steadied himself. Elyssa realized he’d been on his back for at least 48 hours, so, naturally, he’d be wobbly. The child made weird, hissing, slobbery noises in lieu of breathing, as if he was relearning that, too.

The thing that had once been a little boy moved its head up and down, and from side to side. He didn’t seem to actually see anything. But when he faced down the short hall, across the living room to the breakfast nook, he charged forward.

Agnes reached up and grabbed his arms before they could lock around her. Dylan’s little baby teeth seemed to be trying to stretch past his tiny lips to get at his mother’s flesh. Elyssa could think of nothing to do but whimper, but the sound caused Dylan to turn its head and hiss at Elyssa. Agnes got to her feet, still holding on her little boy’s arms. Elyssa whimpered louder as Agnes raised her left foot, planted her heel into her child’s chest—and, letting go of his arms, kicked out as hard as she could.

He made a pathetic, whining noise as he tumbled backwards across the floor. Whatever emotions this evoked were cut short as he pulled up to all fours, this time making a sound like something no child, human or otherwise, should make. 

“Dylan!” Agnes called out one last time.

The thing on the floor wearing Dylan’s underwear and a monster’s face gurgled promises of murder in the back of its throat. “Oh, who am I kidding?” Elyssa remembers Agnes saying. She slid the .45 from her waistband as the child-thing rose slowly from its knees.

“Mom?” A.J. called out from behind the master bedroom door. 

The little boy hissed and turned towards the sound.

“Oh, no,” cried Agnes. “You look right here, you little shit.”

But the thing didn’t look over until Agnes came down the hall after him, half-crouched in shooter’s stance, the barrel of her pistol straight up, and ready to drop. “It started coming towards her. She made sure to lead it away from the bedroom door. Almost all the way out of the hall. And then that huge explosion, and her little boy’s head…disappeared.”

Immediately after, through every side of the house, through the very ringing in their ears, an unearthly moan filled the room. Elyssa tried to imitate it for me. She didn’t have to. Everyone knows how the dead react to the sound of gunfire.

For the price of a happy hour drink you can enjoy many delirious hours slashing and shooting your way through the delightful hellscapes of my first two SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER books, available in Kindle and paperback from Severed Press. We commence the collapse of civilization in Bleeding Kansas, wherein our intrepid hero, Derek Grace, must survive a plane crash, combat with the undead at the local Wal-Mart, an exploding fire truck, a female hardbody assassin, and lots of walking dead people-things.

Book 1 has ONE exploding head
on its cover.

I’m told it reads even better in German. This edition from Luzifer Verlag also sports a hellacious one-of-a-kind cover courtesy of ace artist Michael Schubert:
You can buy this German version stateside here.
You know you wanna.

Book 2, Grace Among the Dead, steps up the game with a tale of love and redemption, the living dead, and a flame-throwing monster truck. We’ve got an arc going from decadence to...respectability?...for our hero. As close as it gets, anyway. You should savor this big book o’ hell while it lasts, because things are about to go completely to shit.
Book 2 has TWO exploding heads.
See the pattern here?

They’re also available in Canada and the UK.