Free Fiction Friday: Gluttony by Jesse Orr

GLUTTONY

by Jesse Orr

It had made it through security, only by an amazing stroke of good luck. A razor blade is just the kind of thing which all TSA agents are supposed to be on the lookout. But, some stupid crackhead in the line ahead of me tried smuggling a few kilos of what looked like powdered sugar out of town. He should have tried harder. A lot of people in wherever were going to be very disappointed. Anyway, while they were busy screwing with him, I calmly walked through the metal detector, not flinching as it beeped in protest. I held my arms up and assumed the position, so to speak. The lady with the wand was distracted by the ensuing drama and probably more than a little pissed off that she was the one who had to scan people who set off the stupid alarm with their watches and necklaces. I said, “It’s the bracelet,” and pointed to my right arm where a chain link bracelet was welded on. She ran the wand over it, it beeped, and she waved me through, satisfied. Her attention was already back with the smuggler while I walked through security with a razor blade.

You may ask, why exactly did I risk bringing a razor blade on board a commercial jetliner? Mostly to see if I could. A little for the thrill. For the sheer joy of it. Who cares? Stop asking stupid questions.

I stopped at the bar for a few shots of Cognac to take the edge off the hopeless flock mentality that was beginning to set in, and made my way to the gate, sparsely populated an hour before boarding. Finding an out-of-the-way looking row of chairs, I sat down and began the new Zhane Brock novel. Better than most bestsellers out today, many of the inspirations for my work come from Mr Brock’s twisted mind.

I was jolted from a seedy bathroom in Queens by a man sitting down two seats from me, yakking on a cell phone and oblivious to all but what was right in front of him.

Surely, I reasoned, the terminal had filled up rapidly while I was reading Mr Brock’s words, and this was the best place to sit? But no. There were two people sitting in the terminal, their numbers dwarfed by the empty seats surrounding them.

My attention turned back to this man, taking in details. He fairly reeked of yuppie. His khaki shorts had been out of the packaging less than a day, the creases so sharp they could slice elephant steaks. I could smell them, the steaks, along with the new clothes smell emanating from his green polo shirt. His cell phone was the latest model, a tablet-smart phone hybrid. Probably did everything but talk for him, and as soon as they came out with a model that did, he’d be the first one in line to buy it.

Gary [it was stitched on his carryon] continued talking without a care in the world, oblivious to my scrutiny. He blathered on about golf, bars and bikini clubs, punctuating sentences with phrases reeking of irritating enthusiasm and shifting constantly in his chair, swaying the row of chairs. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. He was truly one of the most repulsive individuals I had ever laid eyes upon.

As soon as he was done talking and bouncing around, Gary brought a takeout box seemingly from nowhere. The second that box came into my eyesight, the stench of cheap curry hit me square in the nostrils, almost before my eyesight told me it was a box. My eyes beheld a green lumpy mess, which Gary proceeded to shovel into his mouth at a terrific rate, unhindered as he was by napkin or paper towel.

I knew once he finished his aromatic feast he’d be heading for the bathroom. Sure enough, once Gary the Yuppy finished licking green slime off his fingers, he crammed the box into a trash can and headed off down the terminal. I gave him a minute, stretched, and followed him. Luck stayed with me. Gary brought out a card, swiped it through a slot in the wall, and disappeared through a door saying MVP Platinum Members Only.” Hastening my footsteps, I stopped the door surreptitiously with my foot and made a show of fumbling in my jacket. Bringing out my wallet, I pulled out, swiped and replaced my imaginary card, then let myself in the door.

Again, luck was with me and nobody else was in that exclusive bathroom, save Gary and his fancy phone, which were both in a stall together. I knew luck wouldn’t keep the bathroom empty for long. Slipping off my shoe and sock, I slid the sock over my hand and grabbed the razor blade hidden inside the shoe.

Kicking Gary’s stall door in, I wasted no time. Before Gary could say a word, I lashed out with the razor blade, catching him across the throat, parting the layers of skin and tissue almost to the point of death. He would live, but would never again be able to speak above a gravelly whisper. For now, he sat partially on the toilet seat, pants around his ankles, grasping at his throat while making the first of many years worth of wheezing gasps. I put on my sock and my shoe, and dropped the razor in his lap. Maybe they would think it was a suicide attempt. I didn’t care. It was almost time to board.

 

There was a scream. Taking my boarding pass back from the attendant, I looked over my shoulder across the terminal. One of airport security was attempting to comfort a hysterical woman by the MVP Platinum Members Only door, another was coming out of it, his shoes red and his face green. I shook my head and padded down the jetway to my seat.

I was just about to open Mr Brock’s book again when I was distracted by a large someone clambering into the seat next to me. I blinked. There should be no one sitting there. I always bought two seats side by side, just so no one sat next to me. And yet, here was someone…sitting next to me. I bit my tongue. Maybe the rest of the plane was full and he was one of those lucky ones who gets an empty seat ten minutes before departure.

No…I watched and plenty of people were still getting on. There were plenty of open seats. This was getting to be routine. Meanwhile, the man to my right [I always get a window seat] was settling in, putting his laptop away, getting comfortable. He put his arms on the armrest, sat back and sighed.

My eye twitched. To avoid touching this man, I was sitting against the wall, practically on the wing of the plane, and had my elbows on the top of my hips. That’s when I noticed a lady’s pointed shoe under my window, considerably detracting from my arm space. The approximately three square feet the airline had allotted me was being invaded with extreme prejudice. The man to my left shifted, getting comfortabler, which I know is not a real word, and elbowed me in the side. The elbow stayed in my side. The shoe on my right nudged my arm.

That was enough. I opened Mr Brock’s book and began thumbing through it for inspiration, even committing my own faux pas and looking past the part  to which I had read, seeking key words. I was so absorbed in my study that we had been pushed back, taxied, took off, and were cruising at 36,000 feet, before my seatmate’s standing to go to the bathroom roused me.

The bathroom?

Well why not.

Once again, I gave him time to make his way back and inside the stall before sliding past the man in the aisle seat and heading to the lavatories. Miraculously, only one of them was occupied. This was almost too easy.

Quickly and quietly, I jimmied the bolt with the second razor blade which I had tucked into my wallet and slid in with him, locking the door and knocking him silly with a slap to the brains before he really comprehended that something out of the ordinary was happening. As he reeled back, dazed, I took his left arm and slit first his wrist, then his inner forearm, then his upper inner arm, and stuffed as much of his fist as would fit into his mouth. The blood flew from his slashed arm, spattering the walls as he fought to free both his arm and his fist. It wasn’t hard to hold his fist and arm in place until his twitching subsided and his eyes glazed over.

Once he was dead, I wadded up a bunch of toilet paper over the gashes and put the razor blade in his right hand, after taking the fist out of his mouth, and left him sitting there with his pants around his ankles holding a razor blade. The next day’s paper would record it as a man who wanted to make a statement by snuffing himself in an airplane bathroom but had second thoughts and used TP to dam the red river, unsuccessfully. But by then I was in Europe and could have cared less.

The man in the aisle seat had ordered a Bloody Mary in my absence, the smell of which was enough to make me gag, and I was entertaining the possibility that the lady with the shoe had epilepsy, but only in the foot that kept kicking me. However, the luck had shifted from me to them, because I had left my last razor blade in the bathroom.

**********

Jesse Orr was born and raised in Alaska and has no idea, nor do his parents, when or how he began reading and writing; as is the case with so many things, they just are. Moving to Seattle in 2007, he settled down to a life of recording and performing music as well as writing whatever caught his fancy. He has a dog named Mr Dog and lives in West Seattle.

https://www.facebook.com/murd3rweapon5

Free Fiction Friday: Mould and Blood

 

Mould & Blood

By DJ Tyrer

 

Black & RedThe estate echoed to the sounds of anger. Locals had gathered to protest against the closure of the Sure Start Centre and, in no time at all, they’d been joined by black-hooded anarchists who’d taken the opportunity to stage a generalised riot. With an ironic twist, the shattering of the Centre’s windows would mean it would be closed a while regardless.

Malcolm turned away from the sight of a masked and hooded figure waving a black-and-red bicolour flag in the midst of the glass fragments, and headed away as quickly as possible, back to his flat.

He wondered what the country was coming to: overwhelming immigration, war, cutbacks, riots – it was worse than the ‘80s. The whole country was collapsing into anarchy! What it needed was an old-fashioned dictatorship to sort things out. He spat in disgust when he saw the large graffito that covered the wall beside the door to his block, a sinuous design in red and black: obviously the work of those anarchist yobs, marking their territory in their battle with the police. Bring back the birch, he said. Bring back hanging! Even hanging was too good for them!

Inside, the block was no better than the rest of the estate. The stairwell stank of stale urine and was scattered with rubbish. It was crumbling and vandalised. It was just typical of the system that he was stuck here, in this waking nightmare of poverty and broken dreams, whilst some foreigner was milking it and living in some mansion, pumping out dozens of kids! He kicked a half-empty can of bitter down the stairs in frustration.

Malcolm’s own single-bedroom flat was just as bad. Tiny and cramped with walls caked with mould. He’d been onto his landlord repeatedly about the blight, but nothing had been done. It was like smacking his head against a brick wall trying to get something done about it and he’d more or less given up on it, accepting the smell and constant chestiness that went with it. On the news, the Housing Association had even attempted to blame the tenants for the mould in their own homes, as if they were all to blame for leaks and condensation. That was typical!

A loud bang made him jump. Some idiot had detonated a firework in the undercroft of the building. Loud noises and bright flashes seemed to satisfy simple minds.

He’d just settled down to watch the telly – not that there was really anything worth watching despite all the extra digital channels – when there was a knock on his door. He ignored it, but the knock was repeated. Probably idiot kids. The knock was repeated for a third time.

With a sigh, Malcolm hauled himself up and out of the tired old beige sofa and made the short walk to the door.

Looking through the peephole, he could see a youth in a black hoodie. It looked like one of the yobs he’d seen earlier. He wondered what he wanted. He couldn’t see his face and that made him nervous. There seemed to be a badge, maybe a gang emblem, like the head of a court jester, on the chest of his hoodie.

Fitting the door chain, he opened the door a crack and asked what he wanted. The figure raised his head to look at him and Malcolm saw that it was Steve, a kid from down the passage. A bit of a berk, like all the kids these days, but not too bad, and, being from his floor, owed a certain measure of neighbourly respect.

“I need to come in, Malc,” Steve said.

“What?”

Steve looked kind of agitated and sounded sort of strange, like he was high on something; hardly an uncommon occurrence around here, although he’d never known Steve to go on a drug-fuelled rampage like some of his peers.

“I need to come in, Malc. I gotta come in, right now; gotta show you summit.”

“Show me what?”

With an inarticulate cry of frustration, Steve slammed into the door, the security chain ripping easily away from the damp-rotted wood of the doorframe. The door slammed into Malcolm, staggering him backwards into the flat.

Steve burst in, shouting something about laughing that made no sense to Malcolm but sounded exactly like the crazed ramblings of a druggie. Malcolm recoiled in fear; he could see a knife in Steve’s hand. He’d read about youths flipping out on drugs and going on a killing spree. Or, maybe this was a gang initiation. Maybe it was both.

Malcolm looked wildly around for a weapon with which to defend himself, but there was nothing. It was in that moment that Steve’s knife found him, plunging into his side, once, twice, then a slash across his throat. The last thing he saw before darkness engulfed his vision was a swirl of red upon black as blood sprayed across the mould-caked wall. The last words he heard were “The joke’s on you!” None of it made any sense.

Ends

 

DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines in the UK, USA and elsewhere, including State of Horror: Illinois (Charon Coin Press), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), Tales of the Dark Arts (Hazardous Press), Cosmic Horror (Dark Hall Press), and Sorcery & Sanctity: A Homage to Arthur Machen (Hieroglyphics Press), and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor). This story previously appeared in the collection Black & Red, available from Atlantean Publishing.

 

DJ Tyrer’s website is at http://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/

 

The Atlantean Publishing website is at http://atlanteanpublishing.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Free Fiction Friday: Dead Babies

Dead Babies

By Alex S. Johnson

 

A familiar absence, and the location of dread.

They were saying things that made no sense. The baby couldn’t be dead. Not her valiant Tommy. She’d seen the sonogram, the ultrasound, the brave little boy kicking through waves of rippled blue.

When they received the news of her pregnancy, Sarah Loveman and her husband James celebrated a miracle. The doctors had told them she couldn’t conceive, not at her age, but they’d been proven wrong.

Stillborn. What did that mean? Sarah batted at the iron rails of the hospital bed and glanced around: sterile whites, shining steel, the smells of antiseptic solution. The nurse hovered over her and put a damp cloth to her forehead.

“I’m so very sorry, Mrs. Loveman. We did everything we could. His heart just stopped beating.”

And how could she have been missing through the delivery? Sarah wanted to be fully awake and aware, to greet her newborn infant, to cradle Tommy to her breast. Anticipated the sweet smell of the clean little boy.

James came to her side. He looked worn. He passed his fingers through his thinning grey hair. “Honey…”

“Just hold me,” said Sarah. “Hold me close.”

“After this, I’m afraid…”

“I know.” The tears began to course slowly down her cheeks. “Could you get me a tissue, please? I don’t want you to see me like this.”

“You’ve experienced a trauma, Mrs. Loveman. It’s very natural to feel strong emotions after all you’ve been through,” said the nurse. Her voice was warm, but there was a calculated professionalism behind it. Sarah wondered how they kept their cool. Maybe they didn’t, maybe it was all a façade. Like the blue wallpaper, the mobiles, the baroque music she’d played for the developing fetus. She had nursed fantasies of Little League and soccer practice for him, teaching him the rudiments of math—the rest she would leave to her husband, who didn’t panic when equations became knotty and complex.

“Let’s go home, dear.”

She leaned on him, on his strength, on his patient assurances, as they made their way to the van. Behind the wheel, James was quiet, glancing over at his wife from time to time to check how she was taking it.

Rather than the freeway, he took side streets, which added about half an hour to the ride. He pulled into their driveway, cut the engine and placed the van in Park. Then he went to the passenger side and slid open the door.

“I can walk on my own, thanks darling,” said Sarah in muted tones.

***

The doctor’s orders were for bed rest with plenty of fluids and a liquid protein diet. In a few weeks, Sarah felt stronger, strangely stronger than she had after the miracle happened. She began to take walks in the park, phoned her friends and eventually summoned the will to begin work again. Her boss at the agency was sympathetic and told her she didn’t have to plunge back into the fray so soon, but she told him she wanted to, needed to consume herself in productive labor.

Then one night she heard a voice. It wasn’t audible outside, but seemed to emerge from within her belly and send sonic tendrils to her brain.

“Mommy? Why did you leave me here in this place? I’m scared.”

She shook herself awake. James stirred beside her and returned to his dreams.

Carefully, so as not to wake him, she made her way down the stairs on tiptoe and brewed a pot of Earl Grey. She sipped the hot tea slowly and watched the sugar cubes melt in the cup.

The voice began again. Sarah caught glimpses of a warehouse with a corrugated aluminum façade and high, rectangular casement windows on three sides. It was as though she were downloading a thought stream, a current directed to her drowsy brain. She recognized this place.

It lay across the railroad tracks that bisected the industrial section of Howard Heights, which predated even the old Latino neighborhood. The building was twenty minutes away.

Should she leave a note? Sure. Your wife is receiving telepathic messages from her dead son, and following up on them. Perfectly reasonable.

Then what would she write?

“Honey, I’m taking the van for a drive. I need to get my thoughts in order.”

That might work. Especially in the early days of their marriage, she’d gone off on little early morning expeditions. James had written this eccentric behavior off to her need for independence—unlike him, Sarah was introverted and had to recharge her psychic batteries on occasion, not so much isolate herself as focus her energy to meet the challenges of her life.

Moving down the hallway of their two bedroom house at the base of Mt. Jefferson, she slipped out of her nightgown and grabbed an old, comfortable grey sweatshirt from the closet, black denim jeans and ankle boots. She draped the nightgown across the back of the rattan chair in the dining room, along with the note.

And caught a glimpse of herself in the full-length mirror at the end of the hallway. A pale, auburn-haired, slightly frumpy woman in early middle age, hell-bent on some crazy plan to rescue Tommy, her son, who was dead at birth.

Maybe she was losing the plot altogether. She’d heard about women like her who began to mentally disintegrate around her age, never to fully recoup their marbles. She had visions of men in white coats with soft, soothing voices and sharp syringes.

Locking the door behind her, Sarah pressed the button on her key chain and the van let out a brief yelp. Then she was driving, down past the perennially dry river with its concrete abutments and ugly gang graffiti, past the colorful markets advertising dry goods and hot chiles and varieties of ice cream unknown to the gringo palate, across the tracks and into the heart of the industrial section where something—a phantasm, a neural hurricane, a hormonally induced nightmare—awaited her. But she had to know, one way or another.

She parked at the end of the alley across from the warehouse and looked up. Pale rays of sunlight touched the top windows. The air was cool but she knew it would be simmering in a few hours. The sky was a washed-out, milky blue haze.

“Please, hurry…”

Sarah went up the back steps to the door that for some reason she knew was unlocked, even though it refused to budge when she jiggled the doorknob. She tried it again and it burst open, nearly causing her to stumble.

The air inside the long, cramped corridor smelled like machinery and dry rot. Guiding herself by touch, she found a switch in the wall and thumbed it. A battery of fluorescent tubes shuddered to life and insects swarmed around them, ink blots with wings. She walked towards the service elevator and pushed the button, but though the UP triangle blinked, there was no movement. To the right were the stairs that led to the loft space that had formerly been a sweatshop, now abandoned, as far as she knew.

She took a deep breath, then began to climb the stairs. The whitewashed walls seemed to seep, dribbling liquid pictures that coalesced and vanished when she tried to examine them.

The voice in her head escalated to a scream.

Then, without any discernible transition from the darkness of the stairwell, Sarah suddenly found herself in a cavernous, high-ceiling room flooded with light so bright she had to squeeze her eyes shut for a moment, adjusting to the glare. When she opened her eyes, she saw steel girders supporting row upon row, stack upon stack of tiny cages, in which hung suspended forms covered in membranous sacks. At the foot of the cages ran a strip of metal with plates identifying the contents of the cages.

“Mommy!”

“I’m coming, Tommy, I’m coming!” Her heart battered against her chest. She then saw the cords and tubes emerging from the sacks, the tubes coursing with some kind of blue gel.

When she saw a ramp leading to the tiers of cages, she ascended it, boots clacking against the steel, and paused at the first level.

Her child was somewhere in here, somewhere among the cocoons.

And then she was standing in front of WXB-12, and the scream in her head disappeared into a black space.

The sack wriggled.

She tried to push a hand through the bars, but there wasn’t enough room. Applying pressure, she found that the bars were made of some soft metal she could easily bend. Inside the cage, she reached up and felt the side of the sac.

“Hold on, Tommy, Mommy’s here.”

Standing on tiptoe, she could just reach high enough to pull the sack down from the bottom. It pulsed in her hands—her son, alive.

Finally she had him in her arms. Gently, she began to peel away the membrane, which came off in her hands like pieces of caked-in soap.

The form inside was grey, with blue lips and closed eyes. A tube attached to its umbilicus appeared to be feeding it the gel.

“Tommy?”

Her son was still.

She pulled at the nozzle at his navel, and the tube came out with a wet plop. The blue gel began to squeeze out onto the floor of the cage like toothpaste.

Then Tommy opened his eyes.

He smiled, the toothless, sinister grin of the neverborn.

And the rottenness inside her miracle child poured forth.

************************************************************************************************

Alex S. Johnson is the author of two novels, Bad Sunset and Jason X IV: Death Moon, the collections Wicked Candy and Doctor Flesh: Director’s Cut,the co-author of Fucked Up Shit! with Berti Walker, as well as numerous Bizarro, horror, science fiction and experimental literary stories, including works published in Full-Metal Orgasm, Bizarro Central, Gone Lawn, Ugly Babies Volume 2, Master/slave, +Noirotica III, Cthulhu Sex, The Surreal Grotesque, Cease, Cows, and many other venues. He is the creator/editor of the Axes of Evil heavy metal horror anthology series He has also been a music journalist for such magazines as Metal Hammer, Metal Maniacs and Zero Tolerance and he is a college and university English professor. Johnson currently lives in Sacramento, California.

HorrorAddicts.net – KIDNAPPED!

halogokidnappedIt’s that time of year again when all the little Horror Addicts here at the home office travel to BayCon to see those of you in person that can attend. We always have a wonderful time and we encourage you to join us this year especially for our Horror Addicts Guide to Life release party! Check the program for details.

For those of you left behind, don’t worry, we didn’t forget about you! From May 10th – June 6th, you will not go horror-free. OH NO! We have a group of horror aficionados here to entertain you.

May 10-16 = Michele Roger

micheleMichele Roger is the author of “Dark Matter” and “The Conservatory”; both horror novels.  She also hosts her own podcast of short stories called “Something Wicked This Way Strums”.  When Michele isn’t writing, she is performing as a solo harpist as well as in the ensemble “Bellissima Musica”.  You can find both her writing and her music at https://www.facebook.com/michele.roger.5

May 17-23 = Selah JanelselahWhen Selah isn’t on her soapbox about genre, she’s usually trying to write it, hoping someone will take her seriously. Check out her blog, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

 May 24-25 = Jaq D. Hawkins

229085_6404925951_5488_nJaq D. Hawkins was originally traditionally published in the Mind, Body, Spirit genre, but moved to indie publishing soon after releasing her first Fantasy fiction novel. She currently has five novels released which include the Goblin Series (Dark Fantasy) and The Wake of the Dragon (Steampunk Adventure). A dark science fiction novel is in progress, as well as further writings in occult subjects, some of which continue to be traditionally published while others are destined for the indie market.

May 26-30 = Rebecca Besser
Rebecca BesserRebecca Besser resides in Ohio with her wonderful husband and amazing son. They’ve come to accept her quirks as normal while she writes anything and everything that makes her inner demons squeal with delight. She’s best known for her work in adult horror, but has been published in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for a variety of age groups and genres. Find out more about her: www.rebeccabesser.com
May 31-Jun 6 = C. A. Milson

Picture of me 7C.A.Milson grew up in Brisbane, Australia. He is the author of 5 books; Indie Film Director/Producer; Publisher; and Marketing Consultant. His books include; “Rise Of The Darkness”; “Bloodline Of Darkness”; “Pick Up The Phone” (Under his real name of Chris Jackson); Izbranny (Russian version); and “Not So Ordinary Girl” (which he co-wrote with well-known sports entertainment writer, J.D.Rebel).

Zombie Barbecue by Dean Farnell

Zombie Barbecue

by Dean Farnell

Lots of strange things happened,

At the zombie barbecue,

There’s steaks of human flesh,

Pinched from a grave or two.

The drinks were made from stagnant blood,

All blended with a mixer,

The stench of rotting bodies,

Add flavor to the mixture.

The zombies start to dance and sing,

The DJ was dead good,

He stuck on Jackson’s thriller,

Like a living person would.

The party then turns nasty,

When a zombie rival lingers,

It turned into a bloodbath,

When he munched somebody’s fingers.

The guts and bones start flying,

It’s survival of the dead,

The winners prize awaits them,

Dead flesh and moldy bread.

The barbecue has ended,

In death and mass destruction,

For me, I won’t be going,

To another zombie function.

*************************

deanDean Farnell writes quirky songs, & poetry, mainly paranormal / horror themed as a bit of fun. The songs are recorded in one single take so are raw demos in affect but have still been played on over 600 various radio stations and podcasts all over the world. He currently has 8 tracks In the TuneVibe Top 1000 Indie Chart top 10 including a number one record which has been there for over a year. His poems have been published in Paranormal /Horror mags which include: SCREAM MAGAZINE, TREMBLES MAGAZINE, THE WHITE CROW MAGAZINE, SNM POETRY, DAILY DOSE OF HORROR, SPOOK CITY, GHOST VOICES MAGAZINE, HEARSE-SAY MAGAZINE, BLACK PETAL, and DEAD OF NIGHT TALES. One of his songs titled “Ghost On The Stairs” is mentioned in the book “Rock & Roll Ghost Stories”. One Track “Friday The 13th” has been played on BBC Radio. Angie Bowie (David Bowies Wife) , & Karl Beattie of Living TV & Most Haunted , have all commented how much they have enjoyed his songs. The songs are available on itunes, Tesco, amazon, and Songcast.

Zombie Fiction: Numantia by Patricia Court

Numantia

by Patricia Court 

Scipio’s siege on our city will end today.  We are all in agreement, even as Roman ballista balls and crossbow bolts continue to smash the last of the thatched roofs of our houses, to pound Numantia into dust.  No more starvation.  No more disease.  No more humiliation.

I find my best friend kneeling in front of her house, eyes turned toward the sky, watching for a winged goddess who will never come.  As I open my mouth to call out, she lifts her husband’s falchion to her throat.  The blade slices.  I race down the rubble-filled street and reach her just as her body stops convulsing.  I kneel, cradle her head in my arms, whisper her name.  Will we meet again?  Will our souls be together even if my body still walks?

The pebble facade of her house cracks in the heat of a fire inside.  The bodies of her husband and child lie in the flames.  She belongs there, too, but I’m so weak I can’t even drag her emaciated remains to the pyre.

I know I should cry, but most of my friends are dying this way today.  And I envy them.  They’ve chosen freedom.  And if the Numantine curse strikes them, and their corpses walk…  There’s nothing to be done about that.

Nothing to be done.

Except to get their bodies to the fire.  Ashes cannot walk.

The first corpse walked shortly after Avarus’ ill-advised attempt to make peace with Scipio, the Roman general.  We killed Avarus and his party for their treachery.  And we did not burn their remains.  And that night, the body of his younger brother rose, hungry for our flesh.  The curse of the Numantines had returned after so many generations.

My husband appears at the corner.  His tunic is in tatters, and the bite on his shoulder festers.  He holds out a piece of raw flesh.

Another volley of stones and darts rains down.  I abandon my best friend and run through the onslaught to the cobbled step where my husband stands.  I don’t ask him whose liver it is.  I take it and sink my teeth in.

It’s rotten.  My stomach tries to retch.  I haven’t eaten in a week.  My body longs for the meat, even as my mind and throat rebel.

The traitorous ambassador wasn’t the only one to rise.  The curse spread soon after, when hunger forced some in our powerful city to eat our fallen brothers and sisters.  There is no way to know who carries the curse, until the corpse rises.  And if you’ve eaten the tainted flesh, your corpse will rise, too.

I had always resisted eating human flesh until now.  I had preferred starvation.

The first bite stays down.  I look at my husband, and nod.  He wraps his arm around me, and we walk together toward the gate.  I throw away the rest of the liver.

More fires burn now.  That’s good.  Perhaps they will cremate our dead.  Perhaps those who died today will be spared.

During the siege, we successfully herded five of our walking dead outside our walls.  I was there for the last one.  He chased me up the central street.  He bit my husband, who was trying to keep him on course for the city gate.  I climbed through a window into a house by the gate and the dead man I had admired as a great warrior shambled outside our wall, inside the wall that Scipio built to surround our city.  And then, he just circled between the walls until the Roman crossbows sliced him to pieces.  Five cursed corpses, and not a single one managed to bite a Roman.  Not one.

There are only a few hundred of us assembled by the gate, all dressed in rags, most bloody.  We smell like the dead.

The gate opens.  Beyond, the Roman wall blocks the view of our precious, rolling landscape.  The towers go silent.  We stagger outside and assemble.

An old Roman with an entourage strides up to us.  Is this Scipio?  Is this the man who so feared us that he burned our fields, slaughtered our goats, planted spikes in our river, and walled us inside our own city to starve instead of facing our woefully outnumbered warriors honorably on the field of battle?

Scipio looks into our eyes, and hesitates.  What does he see?  Does he somehow sense our plan?

Scipio speaks to a man beside him.  I never learned their language.  They nod, and look back at us.  Other Roman soldiers laugh and cheer, but Scipio and his lieutenant — there is fear behind their eyes.

Does Scipio know?  Can this depraved man sense that this is not a surrender, but an attack?

Everyone here has either been bitten or has consumed the tainted flesh.  We all carry the curse.  And now, we will inflict the curse of the Numantines on the Romans.

When we die, our corpses will rise.  We will be scattered behind Roman walls.  We will be inside their cities.  Some of us will be in Rome itself.

Roman captives and slaves don’t live very long.

And when we die, Numantia will rise again, devouring Rome from the inside.

END

Patricia Court lives in Fresno, California, with several bottles of good merlot.

Free Fiction Friday: Mick Farren

1101963For this weeks Free Fiction Friday, we have two vampire books up for grabs. These books are two parts of a four part series and are written by  punk rock singer/Journalist/Author: Mick Farren.  These are the first two novels in the Victor Renquist series. Victor was born in the 12th century and now lives with a colony of  four other vampires.

The first book is The Time of Feasting and it originally came out in 1996. Tired of living in hiding and feelingimages contemptuous of humanity, the young vampires in Victor’s coven have challenged him for supremacy.  To make matters worse, a city cop and an ex-priest have uncovered the secrets of the coven, putting all vampires in danger.  Its up to Victor to squash the rebellion and stop the two humans before they inform others.

The second book of the series is Darklost and was published in 2000. Victor has moved his vampire colony  to Los Angeles but not all is well. Victor has an uneasy feeling that someone is messing with dark magic that can destroy all of civilization. He finds out that there is a religious cult is trying to summon Cthulhu and bring an end to mankind. Humanity’s only hope rests with a small group of vampires that have to overcome their differences to save us all.

The reviews that I’ve read for The Time Of Feasting and Darklost all say that they are great vampire novels and some of the author’s best work. Not only is Mick Farren author of several horror, cyberpunk and sci fi novels he is also the lead singer of the punk rock group: The Deviants. If you want to get your hands on these two books all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog and while your at it tell me about your favorite vampire novel. First comment gets the book. Good Luck!!!