Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chapter 5 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Oyster Crackers” Part 5: “Eat the Neighbors”

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

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Chapter 5.4: “Dark Agnes Emergent”

This was Bad Friday. While Agnes and Elyssa and A.J. were preoccupied with Dylan’s last hours, they had missed the mass burials broadcast on local TV. They had missed the screaming and gunfire as all the Final Flu victims kicked out of their winding sheets at once. 

They were well away from the nearest park accepting interments. They didn’t hear the police and National Guard use up their rounds as the newly risen pressed in on all sides. They were (so far) out of the way of the nearest horde.

However, they were still in a densely populated, single-family home neighborhood. Every one of these homes had lost one or more to the Flu. Many had gone to the city parks.

Many, like Agnes, still had sick to tend to. A few had gotten loose into the streets.

One of them was pounding at the front door.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God!” Elyssa ran through the house, turning off the lights. Agnes jumped over her son’s remains and called out to A.J. to unlock the bedroom door.

The pounding continued. Elyssa crept forward to the picture window and looked through the edge of the curtains. It was a large man, his huge white gut hanging over his soiled underwear. A woman with large chunks of flesh ripped from her shoulders and upper arms staggered up from the street, attracted to the sound of the man’s fists on the door. Two more emerged in the pool of the streetlight, following the woman.

Elyssa could hear Agnes arguing with A.J. in the back bedroom. A.J. wanted to see what was left of her brother. Agnes was having none of it. Told A.J. it wasn’t her brother. 

“I know,” said A.J. “I could hear it all through the door. I just want to see him.”

Elyssa wanted to cry out that the noise was aggravating the man at the door to pound harder, won’t they please be quiet?

A loud popping of gunfire erupted close by, maybe a street over. Tires screeched, a car crashed into something. A woman screamed. More gunfire. A man yelling. A woman screaming. The screams and yells got louder, shriller, and wouldn’t stop.

The man in the underwear backed off the front stoop. Elyssa thought he might fall backwards but he compensated by lurching forward to the sound of the crash. The chewed-up woman and her followers were already shuffling away down the street as fast as their dead feet could carry them.

Elyssa rose and turned to see Agnes and A.J. standing behind her in the thin blue light of the streetlight as it shone through the part in the curtains. “Did you see what happened?” Agnes said, whispering at last.

“No. But noise attracts them. We’ve got to be quiet.”

“We can’t stay here.”

“People are shooting at each other. These—what used to be people are out in the street.”

Agnes went to the edge of the window and peeked behind the curtain. There was gunfire from another street, more yelling, and yet another curious sound. 

Like the sound Dylan made when he got to his feet. But many voices at once.

“She stood there for what seemed like forever. She’d look back at me, or A.J. Behind the sofa, just before the hall, her son lay bleeding out on the floor. Her eyes would settle on that from time to time. Then she’d look back outside.”

The corners of Elyssa’s mouth trembled upwards. “I could see her figuring it out. She was going to get us through this. I knew because she hadn’t forgotten. She wasn’t blocking out the bad stuff, like her son dead behind the sofa. Most people would have turned that gun on themselves after having to shoot their own child. I would have.”

I glanced out the window, looked towards the main house. It stood still and dark, the lights off so what solar power collected could go to the furnace. God, I missed her.

I was startled by the touch of one slender finger on my hand. “She loves you, too, Derek. She doesn’t want you getting used to being alone.”

“I’ve been used to it for a long time, Elyssa. Sometimes I was never so alone as when I had a wife, two children, and three cats in the house.”

Elyssa hazards a second finger. “What happened last May was a terrible thing. It brought out the worst in everyone. But for some people I know, it brought out their best. Agnes is one. I met your son before I met you, and he was one.” 

Her entire hand lay over mine. “I think back on everything, how lonely it was, looking after my parents day after day, and dealing with my brother. It was over so fast, it was like it never even mattered. Now I’ve got Agnes, I’ve got A.J. I’ve got you. Agnes will have your baby, and I’ll love that child like my very own.” Elyssa’s hand squeezed. “Do you get it now?”


“Everything we’ve been through, all the terrible things we’ve seen…it’s okay now. You notice they’ve stopped making so much noise at night now it’s cold?”

“Well, there’s that.”

Elyssa rose from her chair. Her hand upon my shoulder, she settled into my lap. As her long fingers brushed the back of my neck, I looked into clear blue eyes and saw yet another Elyssa, apart from the personalities I’d seen before. One she had brought out especially for me. I glanced towards the window, half-expecting Agnes to be looking in.

“Stop that,” Elyssa says. “I’m supposed to be here.”

“Elyssa, I’ve never cheated on my wife before. Any wife. Ever.”

“This isn’t cheating. Agnes said I can be your wife, too.”

“Dammit, this is getting weird.”

“People coming back from the dead to eat other people has been the new normal for a while now.”

“That doesn’t change—oh, hell!”

I’ll never forget the look on her face as I leaned in to kiss the bride. As the wood crackled in the stove, as the snow deepened across the vast, abandoned mountain estate, I somehow managed not to burp clam chowder into her mouth. I regard this as one of the more heroic things I have ever done, or will do.

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.