Tag Archives: Vera

Fire (Revision of “Blood,” part 2)

Josh and Theo drove in amidst a shrieking stampede of people and zombies. Given the overwhelming mass of flesh in the streets, it got to the point where they couldn’t tell whether they were running over people or avoiding zombies. A horde of people stood on the car, trying to break their way inside.

“Just step on it!” Theo screamed. Josh closed his eyes and did as he was told.

Vera stumbled out of Tobias’s reach, jumping from the table and running for the car. She was lost in the sea of people. Tobias, his father’s revolver in hand, aimed his sights into the crowd. He inhaled deep to keep from trembling. These were people. Tobias could try to shoot to maim, but then they’d be dead anyway. Zombie chow. Either way, they were going to trample Vera.

“Damn it!” he growled, squeezing the trigger. Something grabbed Tobias’s leg, ‘causing his shot to fire high. He hammered his foot against the creature’s face, not sure if it was among the living or dead. Face bloodied the thing let go of his foot. He stumbled back up to locate Vera in the crowd. No sign of her. Or Theo.

Tobias’s heart seemed to slow. Vera’s body was lost in the stampede. Theo, who had flung his door open to save her, was quickly taken by the crowd, which seeped into Josh’s car. Josh was thrown out and crush under the wheel as the car crushed everyone in its way, driven by a hysterical creature bent on safety. Vera was dead. Josh was dead. Maybe not this second, but it hardly mattered whether they were dead or dying. Tobias fired off a few rounds into the crowd around Theo, but he was too late. A wave of bodies crashed in like the ocean tide. He aimed at Theo’s head to save him the pain of being eaten alive, but a crashed into Tobias, throwing him from his perch, his gun flying from his hands. The wind was crushed out of his lungs out of him, but he managed to keep his footing and keep from being trampled. Somehow, he was able to pick out Theo’s dying cries.

Tobias ran with the crowd to keep himself from being crushed under frantic heels. They were trying to break into the Rapturist compound, a place where they could get cover from the horde. He crouched low and covered his head. Gunfire was spraying the spearhead of this phalanx. The guards were making a futile stand to keep the populace from entering the cathedral. The gunfire quickly died out as the unstoppable wave of people and zombies crashed through the windows and doors like a storm hammering against a crag. Tobias’s clothes were torn, bruises smashed all over his arms and middle. He gained a reprieve when the large lobby fanned out and he was crushed a little less. The crowd dispersed and Tobias went with where his section of the flood carried him.

Tobias remembered Raj saying that zombies could fall down stairs, but they had trouble climbing up. Still, Tobias was just as afraid of the people as he was the zombies. There were fewer people that trickled downstairs. He pushed his way down, following this tributary of lost souls into the basement. The hallway ended in a locked door: “employees only.” The people at the door were ramming into it with their shoulders, trying to push it down.

“Out of the way! You!” Tobias grabbed the arm of the largest man at the door, a man he vaguely recognized from his time in the militia. The man was built like a linebacker, weighted down with almost as much fat as muscle. He’d do fine. “On the count of three, we kick at the same time! Okay?” The man nodded, panting from exertion.

“One. Two~! Three!” They took their rear legs and shoved them into the door. For a second, Tobias thought it was going to give. “Again!” They kicked again and hinges began to give way. A final time  and the door cracked partway off its hinges, ready to be tossed down by the mob.

“Let’s go! Let’s go!”

The place they entered was pitch black and reeked of piss and blood. “Light switch! Find it!” The fluorescent lighting flickered on. Tobias almost wished someone would turn it off. People were pinned or chained to the walls, dying or dead. It was some kind of dungeon. The crowd walked through the room, dazed and fearful. Tobias spied a young woman in fair condition, if a little shaken up. Though her hair covered her face, he thought he recognized her.

“Sarah!” She writhed, as if the name gave her pain. “You’re Sarah Scarborough, ain’t you?”

“She won’t talk. She’s been raped too many times to respond to anyone anymore.” Tobias jumped at the croak of a man’s voice; he couldn’t have been sure that the man hanging there on the wall was actually alive or not.

“I was hired by Sarah’s husband…” Tobias started to say. It sounded strange now, as if it had happened to him in another life and he was just remembering. “To find…” His friends were all dead. He paused, staring into space, remembering that sound that could have been Theo. No. It had unmistakably been Theo screaming for death.

“What’s your name?” the man asked.

“Toby.”

“I’m Hermann. Dr. Hermann Schulz.”

This brought Tobias from his more painful memories. “You’re Dr. Z.”

His chuckle sounded like sandpaper. “Not by birth, I assure you.”

“Let me try to get you two out of those chains.”

“It won’t matter,” Hermann said. “The guards will be down here. They’ll kill us all.”

“The guards are dead. The city’s being attacked by zombies.”

“You act like that’s a better way to die.” Sarah began wailing. Dr. Schulz lowered his head.

“Somebody shut her up!” a man yelled and pounced on Sarah’s throat.

“Brady!” Tobias remembered the big man’s name. “Help me out!” Tobias tried to pull the man off Sarah. Brady took his hair and cracked his head against the wall next to Sarah’s head. This didn’t help her screeching. “Help me get them free, Brady!” He wasn’t sure if the man was dead or not, but it didn’t matter, as long as they could control the crowd.

The crowd, suddenly aware of themselves and their safety, began freeing the prisoners as well. Whether they were remembering their humanity or whether they just needed something to do to fight the fear, it didn’t matter. They all tried their best to break or pry the chains from the walls. Some worked on the barricades, stacking shelves and the shattered door up before the zombies arrived. There were many loud and strange noises, but no zombies. Instead, a thick smoke began crawling along the ceiling.

“Stay low!” Tobias yelled. “Stay! Low! The smoke won’t reach us down here!”

“Hell it won’t!” someone yelled.

“You want to run up there and die, go ahead! If you’re gonna stay here, just shut up! We need the air!”

They squatted down, staying silent for a good twenty or thirty minutes before Tobias noticed that the man was right. The smoke was still getting thicker.

“I’m going to go scout it out! Stay low!” He wrapped his coat around his face. Brady helped him clear part of barricade. “Thanks, Brady. I’ll be back.”

“Live and let die, brother.” It was one of the mottoes the militia spouted off to get themselves pumped up for raiding homes.

“Live and let die.” He clasped Brady’s hand and slipped out.

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Outside (revision)

I waited outside, cig slack in my jaw, glancing above the headlines of the Juneau Empire: “Zombie casualties record low,” it read. The politicians must be getting better at hiding the bodies.

At least the Dr. Z kidnapping story has finally gotten off the front page. The Rapturists have the media diddling their front pockets. Who even knows if that “Micah” is right about Sarah being  alive? They’d have no reason to keep her in there as far as Tobias could figure. Then again, why would Dr. Z be alive and kicking? Maybe I’m being used, but I was hired to see this through. Hired by a man who wants to see his wife again and see his first child born. Doesn’t sound so unreasonable to me.

I wasn’t part of the group that cleared out the Rapturist building, so I can’t say where they would likely be held. They say the old Sealaska building used to be a heritage center for the natives Indians. When the outbreak occurred, the big wigs all ended up getting eaten or turned. Like many other buildings in the area, squatters began taking the building as their own. Though it should have belonged to the native tribes by principle, Reverend Taddeo and his church provided a good amount of money to the mayor and the police. Many of the people inside were converted and given a place to live. Others were kicked from the premises. Some rumors say that a few people just vanished, but nobody knows that for sure. A lot of dirty rumors have circulated around that new-age cult, but nobody knows for sure one way or another. But it didn’t matter. He’d never seen the inside. He needed someone who could take him through.

“Toby! What are you doing around here?”

“Oh, you know,” I sniffed, spitting my cig into the gutter. “The whole detective schtick. I’ve gotten good at skulking around. Need some help with those groceries?”

“No. I’m okay. Look, about Theo…”

“Don’t even worry about it.”

“You don’t care that I hurt your friend?”

“I care, Vera. But you’re my friend, too. And Theo’s kind of a whiny cunt sometimes anyway.”

“I’m relieved. I was worried for a second that you were going to try to get me to come back.”

I shrugged. “We miss you, V. You know that. But, no, I’m not here to break your balls are carry you home or anything. Actually, I wanted to ask you what got you so obsessed with these Rapture guys? Thought you were going to Guadeloupe.”

Vera switched her grocery bag to the other arm. “I wish I could. There’s just no money for me to do it, not even with my cut. And what would I do if I got there? I don’t know anybody. The Rapturists support me. Brother Vance tells me there’s a place we can go, a utopia where people can live free from fear.” Must be the guy she’s banging now. “Theo always likes to stay inside where he thinks it’s safe, but maybe it’s not safe in there. Maybe it’s not safe anywhere. So, you know, I always wanted to travel, see the world. I want to go somewhere that’s not… here. You know? Theo would never go for it. He’s okay with the same fear and seclusion. I want to go somewhere and do something. I probably sound crazy.”

“No,” I chuckled. “I remember one time he used to play this old computer game, Warcraft. Sometimes he’d just take the microwave out of the wall, put it in his room, and play for days. The man loved Hot Pockets. See, that’s crazy. You’re just a delusional dreamer. There ain’t no promised land. Wherever you go, there’s gonna be zombies. Death.”

“And people. Life.”

“Exactly. Same thing.”

“When did you get so cynical, Toby? You used to be such a sweetheart.” Vera blew her hair out of her mouth, switching the grocery bag to the first hand.

“Still am,” I argued, snatching the bag from her. “Now, let’s go meet your new family. I’m curious what the appeal is.”

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Filed under FEATHERTON III, Flash Fiction

Mass (revision)

Vera and I walked to the front doors, plan running smoother than a greased handjob, when my bastard of an informant came cruising toward us. He said he’d find me. Guess I was wishing he was a liar.

“Oh, rapture! Tobias, my friend!”

Micah. I hated the guy since I met him. The gun to the back didn’t help much, either.”Oh, hey! It’s my good buddy…”

“Ebenezer,” Micah jumped in. “Tobias here saved my life, you know? Did he tell you?”

“No,” Vera shook her head. “What happened?”

“When I came here, I was without a home or a penny,” Micah began. Cue the violins. “I sold off my car, my belongings, whatever I had. I had reached my destination, after all, so I didn’t need any of these things. Unfortunately, before good Tobias found me a communal home, I was sleeping on the streets. Some rough characters found me and were ready to murder me just for being an immigrant.”

“What happened?” Vera glanced from Micah to Tobias.

“He beat them up, sent them on their way. The canals can be a dangerous place, but Tobias here is my savior,” he grinned wide. Tobias shivered. There were a few men found dead in the canals the other day. Not that it was an unusual event, but it usually wasn’t rich-boy locals who ended up being the corpses. The murders caught the attention of police and vigilantes alike.

“I’m glad you’re okay, Ebenezer. I knew Tobias was taking up bounty work, but I didn’t know you were a superhero.” She laughed, nudging at my ribs.

“Yeah.”

“Don’t be so modest, Toby! Ebenezer! Where are you from?”

“Little Rock.”

“Arkansas?”

“That’s the one!” Micah smiled. I cringed. Arkansas was a dead zone, from the stories I’d heard. What kind of Hell had this man been through to get to this point? Well, whatever. His little revenge plan was going to get them all killed.

“Here. Take some money, bud. Happy to help.”

Micah Tobias’s palm around the money and pushed it back. “Thank you, but I won’t need money where I’m going.” His eyes were two dying embers. The police have a saying: “suicidal is homicidal.” Basically, it means stay the fuck away from crazy people.

“Where are you going?” Vera asked.

Micah pointed to the Rapturist building.

“There. But I don’t think the Rapturists would let a bum like me inside that fancy building.”

“Nonsense! We’re all equals here. The Rapturists welcome all who need guidance.”

“Well, that sounds mighty nice, Vera.”

Tobias felt like he’d been thrown into The Wizard of Oz. But what did that make him? Tin man? Scarecrow? Maybe he was Todo and just along for the ride. They checked into the Rapturist building, filled out forms, got the grand tour, seeing the chapel and the gallery of Native Alaskan art they inherited. After the tour, they would never again be allowed in these places without cause. Which is another way of saying that they’d never be allowed in these places. They were all ushered into the common room, a teething mass of bodies shuffling around, eating grey slop. Lunch time. The food was a sort of gooey matter. This kind of infiltration was going to be tedious. It was good that Micah was a virtual no-name and Tobias, at least, had a clean slate.

“Where’s Ebenezer?” Vera asked.

Tobias looked around… gone. He must have slipped away in the crowd.

“Zombies!” someone cried.

“What?” Tobias asked, as if being shaken out of a dream.

They all looked outside the window. The streets were flooded with people running away. In pursuit, a writhing mass of corpses, toppling over each other to get to their food. Tobias took Vera’s hand and pulled her up onto the table. The stampede at floor level was fatal for many.

* * *

Micah said a prayer for his brother. The guards were allowed to keep guns, which was a huge mistake. Anywhere the oppressors keep weapons, the oppressed are sure to take them. Trickle down.

“Where’s the reverend?” Micah could hear the screaming masses trying to escape from the blood and from the death. Micah rode a chariot pulled by both beasts.

“I don’t know.”

There’s a hair of a second as the trigger his being pulled when a man knows he is going to die. It’s at that moment that men are their at their purest. Better they die rather than live and become monsters.

Blood and Death carried Micah to the elevators.

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Filed under FEATHERTON III, Flash Fiction

Blood

Jerm used to be scared of crossing bridges when he was a little kid. Their mother told them stories about the three billy goats Gruff and Jerm was always afraid there was a troll hiding in the creek, waiting to eat them. Micah practically had to drag him across the bridge.

“I’m the biggest billy goat gruff!” Micha would cry at the foot of the bridge, imitating the fairy tale. “If you come out, troll, I’ll poke out your eyes and crush your bones!” With that, Micah would say to Jerm. “There! Now the troll won’t bother us. Come on!” And they would cross the bridge together to go pick peaches.

Micah felt like the troll now, skulking about in the dark, searching for the reverend. The guards were all leaving to the entrances to block off the incoming zombies and refugees. In spite of it being an emergency, he took the elevator to avoid notice. This was a zombie attack, not a fire, after all. Not yet.

“I have two spears,” the biggest billy goat Gruff said. He was dressed in a guard’s uniform, courtesy of the man on the first floor. Nobody would recognize him, and there was blood on the shirt, but a second’s hesitation was all he needed. The guards were all at the door with their rifles. Like fish in a barrel. Micah walked toward the group, ranting about the infestation below.

“Hold there. You need medical attention, brother.” Micah shot him in the chest, as well as the two other guards. Then, each in the head. He breathed heavily. If the zombies had not attacked, he would be dead. There should be more guards than this. Perhaps this really was God’s intervention that he was able to get this far. Micah took one of the dead men’s rifles. He kicked at the door, backed up and shot at it. He kicked again. Again. The door began to bust apart. He shot again at the door handle, picked up another gun.

“I have these stones to crush your bones,” said the eldest billy goat Gruff. The door gave way and Micah’s bullets sprayed the room. He blinked once, knowing that he should be dead now. He looked around. These men were all unarmed, shot in the back. had been praying, most likely. Micah tried to swallow down the horrible bile of guilt that threatened to tear apart his guts from the inside out. He closed his eyes and all he saw were corpses. Be strong. This is for Jerm. Cut the beast off at the head.

“Oh, God…” a man breathed, frightened. Did Jerm beg for his life? Did Micah’s brother know the reason why he had to die? This man had been standing at the pulpit, higher up than the others. Micah had only shot out his legs. Perhaps he was consoling them, fortifying their faith in God and his “angels,” the zombies.

“Father, you have sinned.”

“God!” he shrieked. Micah butted the man in the face with the rifle. He surveyed the room, looking for surivors. There was an adjacent room, a kitchen, most likely added by the Rapturists when they moved in. The staff was still there. Micah unloaded his rifle into the room. They were going to die anyway and Micah already had blood on his hands. Better now than in the fire. This is what he told himself as he re-entered the main room and dragged the wounded reverend into the kitchen.

“Father, you have sinned.”

He prayed for forgiveness, deliverance, forbearance. There would be no escape. He would not know why he had to die. He would merely suffer and die. Micah decided the only mercy he would give the man is that he would kill him before his corpse came back life.

Micah began by cutting out the reverend’s eyes. “I have two spears,” he said. “To stab out your eyes.” Micah started up the food processor, sticking the reverend’s hand into it. Then the other. “I have two stones,” he said, “to crush your bones.” The troll hiding under the bridge. Micah would have to kill him to protect Jerm. To protect Jerm, so they could cross the bridge together. The bridge, across the creek with the troll. The troll kept screaming. Micah dragged the troll to the meat slicer and slammed his face into it, setting the machine to auto slice. Micah fought with all his might to keep the troll there as the machine sliced him away, a little bit at a time. Finally, the troll stopped struggling. Micah turned on the gas stove and threw him on. He dragged all of the bodies inside the room, corpses to fuel the fire.

Micah walked back into the main room, up to the podium. He looked out the window at the sky.

“The sun is so close, Jerm,” Micah said, tears streaming down his face. “Why’s the sun so close when it’s so damn cold up here? I don’t understand…” He closed his eyes and put pistol to his temple. Jerm would have to cross the bridge alone.

* * *

Josh and Theo rode in through the stampede of people and zombies. A horde of people stood on the car, trying to break their way inside. Vera jumped off the table and ran for the car. She was lost in the sea of people. Tobias unholstered his dad’s old revolver and inhaled deep to keep from trembling. These were people. Tobias could try to shoot to maim, but then they’d be dead anyway. Zombie chow. Either way, they were going to trample Vera.

“Damn it!” he growled, squeezing the trigger. The outburst caused him to shoot too high, clipping a man on the shoulder instead of piercing his chest. “Thank God.” Tobias spoke too soon. His firing into the crowd had done nothing to scare the crowd away from Vera. They were already too panicked, like animals. In his peripheral, Tobias saw Theo jump out of the car.

Theo! Damn it!”

Tobias’s heart seemed to slow. Vera’s body was lost in the stampede. Theo, who had flung his door open to save her, was quickly taken by the crowd, which seeped into Josh’s car. Josh was thrown out and crush under the wheel as the car crushed everyone in its way, driven by a hysterical creature bent on safety. Vera was dead. Josh was dead. Tobias fired off a few rounds into the crowd around Theo, but he was too late. The wave of zombies crashed in like the ocean tide. He aimed at Theo’s head to save him the pain of being eaten alive, but a large body crashed into Tobias, his gun flying from his hands. The wind had been knocked out of him, but he managed to keep his footing and keep from being trampled. Somehow, he was able to pick out Theo’s death cries.

Tobias ran with the crowd to keep himself from being crushed under frantic heels. They were trying to break into the Rapturist compound. He crouched low and covered his head. Gunfire was spraying the spearhead of this phalanx. The guards were making a futile stand to keep the populace from entering the cathedral. The gunfire quickly died out as the unstoppable wave of people and zombies crashed through the windows and doors. It was like being caught in a flashflood. Tobias’s clothes were torn, bruises smashed all over his arms and middle. He gained a reprieve when the large lobby fanned out and he was crushed a little less. The crowd was headed upstairs, for the most part.

Tobias remembered Raj saying that zombies could fall down stairs, but they had trouble climbing up. Still, Tobias had to go with his gut and get away from the stampede before he was killed. There were a few people that trickled downstairs. Tobias followed this tributary of lost souls down into the basement. The hallway ended in a locked door: “employees only.” The people at the door were ramming into it with their shoulders, trying to push it down.

“Out of the way! You!” Tobias grabbed the arm of the largest man at the door, a man he vaguely recognized from his time in the militia. The man was thick, weighted down with almost as much fat as muscle. He’d do fine. “On the count of three, we kick at the same time! Okay?” The man nodded.

“One. Two~! Three!” They took their rear legs and shoved them into the door. For a second, Tobias thought it was going to give. “Again!” They kicked again and hinges began to give way. A final time  and the door was ready to be tossed down by the mob.

“Let’s go! Let’s go!”

The place they entered was pitch black and reeked of piss and blood. “Light switch! Find it!” The fluorescent lighting flickered on. Tobias almost wished someone would turn it off. People were pinned or chained to the walls, dying or dead. It was some kind of dungeon. The crowd walked through the room, dazed and fearful. Tobias spied a young woman in fair condition, if a little shaken up. It was Sarah Scarborough.

“Sarah!”

She writhed, as if the name gave her pain. “You’re Sarah Scarborough, ain’t you?”

“She won’t talk. She’s been raped too many times to respond to anyone anymore.” Tobias jumped at the sound of the man’s voice; he couldn’t have been sure that the man hanging there on the wall was actually alive or not.

“I was hired by Sarah’s husband…” Tobias started to say. It sounded strange now, as if it had happened to him in another life and he was just remembering. “To find…” His friends were all dead. He paused, staring into space, remembering that sound that could have been Theo. No. It had unmistakably been Theo screaming for death.

“What’s your name?” the man asked.

“Toby.”

“I’m Hermann. Dr. Hermann Schulz.”

This brought Tobias from his more painful memories. “You’re Dr. Z.”

“Some call me that.”

“Let me try to get you two out of those chains.”

“It won’t matter,” Hermann said. “The zombies will come down here any minute. It would take a miracle to keep them at bay.”

“Don’t worry about that now.”

The crowd, suddenly aware of themselves and their safety, began acting like humans again. They tried their best to break or pry the chains from the walls. Following this, they all waited for the zombies to arrive. There were many loud and strange noises, but no zombies. After what could have been 5 or 10 hours (nobody was certain), Tobias left to check. The building was scorched and collapsed in places. There had been a fire.

“Well, Dr. Z. I guess this is our miracle.”

“I don’t suppose the kitchen burned down?” Dr. Z croaked. “I’m starving.”

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Mass

***Author’s note: this is actually the 1st revision. I accidentally erased the original and replaced it with this. Oops!

I was walking in with Vera, plan running smooth as a greased handjob when my bastard of an informant came cruising by. He said he’d find me. Guess I was wishing he was a liar.

“Oh, rapture! Tobias, my friend!”

Micah. I hated the guy since I met him. The gun to the back didn’t help much, either.”Oh, hey! It’s my good buddy…”

“Ebenezer,” Micah jumped in. “Tobias here saved my life, you know? Did he tell you?”

“No,” Vera shook her head. “What happened?”

“When I came here, I was without a home or a penny,” Micah began. Cue the violins. “I sold off my car, my belongings, whatever I had. I had reached my destination, after all, so I didn’t need any of these things. Unfortunately, before good Tobias found me a communal home, I was sleeping on the streets. Some rough characters found me and were ready to murder me just for being an immigrant.”

“What happened?” Vera glanced from Micah to Tobias.

“He beat them up, sent them on their way. The canals can be a dangerous place, but Tobias here is my savior,” he grinned wide. Tobias shivered. There were a few men found dead in the canals the other day. Not that it was an unusual event, but it usually wasn’t rich-boy locals who ended up being the corpses. The murders caught the attention of police and vigilantes alike.

“I’m glad you’re okay, Ebenezer. I knew Tobias was taking up bounty work, but I didn’t know you were a superhero.” She laughed, nudging at my ribs.

“Yeah.”

“Don’t be so modest, Toby! Ebenezer! Where are you from?”

“Little Rock.”

“Arkansas?”

“That’s the one!” Micah smiled. I cringed. Arkansas was a dead zone, from the stories I’d heard. What kind of Hell had this man been through to get to this point? Well, whatever. His little revenge plan was going to get them all killed.

“Here. Take some money, bud. Happy to help.”

Micah Tobias’s palm around the money and pushed it back. “Thank you, but I won’t need money where I’m going.” His eyes were two dying embers. The police have a saying: “suicidal is homicidal.” Basically, it means stay the fuck away from crazy people.

“Where are you going?” Vera asked.

Micah pointed to the Rapturist building.

“There. But I don’t think the Rapturists would let a bum like me inside that fancy building.”

“Nonsense! We’re all equals here. The Rapturists welcome all who need guidance.”

“Well, that sounds mighty nice, Vera.”

Tobias felt like he’d been thrown into The Wizard of Oz. But what did that make him? Tin man? Scarecrow? Maybe he was Todo and just along for the ride. They checked into the Rapturist building, filled out forms, got the grand tour, seeing the chapel and the gallery of Native Alaskan art they inherited. After the tour, they would never again be allowed in these places without cause. Which is another way of saying that they’d never be allowed in these places. They were all ushered into the common room, a teething mass of bodies shuffling around, eating grey slop. Lunch time. The food was a sort of gooey matter. This kind of infiltration was going to be tedious. It was good that Micah was a virtual no-name and Tobias, at least, had a clean slate.

“Where’s Ebenezer?” Vera asked.

Tobias looked around… gone. He must have slipped away in the crowd.

“Zombies!” someone cried.

“What?” Tobias asked, as if being shaken out of a dream.

They all looked outside the window. The streets were flooded with people running away. In pursuit, a writhing mass of corpses, toppling over each other to get to their food. Tobias took Vera’s hand and pulled her up onto the table. The stampede at floor level was fatal for many.

* * *

Micah said a prayer for his brother. The guards were allowed to keep guns, which was a huge mistake. Anywhere the oppressors keep weapons, the oppressed are sure to take them. Trickle down.

“Where’s the reverend?” Micah could hear the screaming masses trying to escape from the blood and from the death. Micah rode a chariot pulled by both beasts.

“I don’t know.”

There’s a hair of a second as the trigger his being pulled when a man knows he is going to die. It’s at that moment that men are their at their purest. Better they die rather than live and become monsters.

Blood and Death carried him to the elevators.

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Filed under FEATHERTON II, Flash Fiction

Outside

Tobias waited outside with a cigarette, glancing above the headlines of the Juneau Empire: “Zombie Casualties Record Low.” The politicians are getting better at hiding the bodies. At least the Dr. Z kidnapping story has finally gotten off the front page. The Rapturists have the media in their back pockets. Who even knows if that “Micah” is right about this Sarah girl being  alive? They’d have no reason to keep her in there, as far as Tobias could figure. The old Sealaska building was originally a heritage and research center for the region’s native peoples. When the outbreak occurred, the big wigs all ended up getting eaten or turned. Like many other buildings in the area, squatters began taking the building as their own. Though it should have belonged to the native tribes by principle, Reverend Taddeo and his church provided a good amount of money to the mayor and the police. Many of the people inside were converted and given a place to live. Others were kicked from the premises. Some rumors say that a few people just vanished, but nobody knows that for sure. On the outside, the building looks like a normal place of business and worship. Go deeper into the belly and that’s another story. The place is a fortress unless you have an in with the Rapturists. And Tobias’s “in” was just heading around the corner with her groceries.

“Hi, Vera. Can I help you carry those in?” Vera pulled her bag away. Tobias squeezed her arm hard. “I don’t want to make a scene, Vera. I just came to see what became of a friend.”

“Shit, Tobey! You can’t scare people like that!”

“Sorry,” he sniffed, throwing his cig into the gutter. “It’s the detective schtick. I’ve gotten good as skulking around.” He released is grip but stared her down. “I need your help.”

“With what?”

He shifted his gaze to the Rapturist building. “I need to get inside.”

“Why?” Vera moved the bag to her other arm to put something between her and Tobias. “What’s going on, Tobey?”

“I should be asking you the same thing. Heard you wanted to go to Guadeloupe of all places, but I find you closer than I think.”

“I wanted to go somewhere safe. Theo figured we could raise a family in that hovel, but how can we with all of that crime and zombies.”

“Nowhere’s safe from crime, Vera. And especially not zombies. You think the Rapturists have God’s protection from the undead or something?”

“What if they do?”

“Then I’d like to sign up. Think you can get me in?”

Vera gave him the stinkeye. “I thought you’d be mad after what I did to Theo.”

“I don’t follow the “bros before hos” policy, Ver. It’s a pretty archaic custom. You’re my friend, too. So…” he gives his sweetest smile. “Can you help a friend out?”

Vera shifts her bag back to her other arm. “Sure. Let’s see what we can do.”

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Filed under FEATHERTON II, Flash Fiction

Dishes

“When the stars threw down their spears  and watered heaven with their tears, did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb, make thee?”

“Hellboy.”

“What? God,  Theo! You scared me.” Vera hadn’t heard him over the clatter of washing dishes. The man was like a little ghost walking around the house.

“I’m sawry,” he said in that baby voice she hated. He pushed up against her. He was already hard.

“Please. I’m trying to do the dishes.” She was hoping that he would take a hint and help out.

“You can do them later,” he purred. Apparently, she would have to be more direct with him. But why did she think otherwise?

“This brewing company is messy and smelly and you and Josh don’t help by leaving your shit all over the place. Either help or get out of the kitchen! Comprenez vous?”

Theo shrank back. “But of course, ma petit tigre.” He rolled back his sleeves.

“So, what do your comic books have to do with Blake?”

“My comics? Oh. Right. That poem is in one of the Hellboy comics.”

“Do you know what it means?” They both stopped swapping dishes for a moment.

“I suppose… I figured it was that God created Hellboy. That he created devils alongside everything else.”

Tres bon, ma petit agneau! At least, close enough. Blake wrote that poem about a tiger, kind of a musing on why God created this ferocious beast that kills God’s supposedly most precious creatures.”

She hands him a big bowl to dry. “And?”

“And what?”

“What’s your point? You always have a point.”

They stopped again as Vera thought. “I was just wondering if the Rapturists, crazy they may be…”

“Don’t even finish that sentence.”

“What? I’m not allowed to think now? Is that it?”

“No. You can think. I’m okay with thinking. It’s just…”

“Look. I’m not going to run off and join a cult. I was just thinking about… moving?”

“Moving what?” She could hear the increasing fear in his voice.

“I know you haven’t thought about it. You and Josh love this little world you’ve created, but I keep thinking about the rest of the world.”

“What about the rest of the world?”

“Think about it, Theo. We have enough alcohol to pay our way on a fishing boat, I’m sure of it! We could go to France! Or Monaco! Or Guadeloupe!”

“Why would you want to go to Monaco? Or Guadeloupe, for that matter? What’s even there?”

Something! Something else! Why is everyone so sold that moving up north is the answer? We’ve walled hundreds of thousands of people in here who are afraid to step off their own front porches most days! You want to know what’s in Guadeloupe? Freedom! Freedom from our own damn fears!”

“Say you’re not crazy and you could get to Guadeloupe. Then what? We’ve set up a life here, Vera. We’ve got a steady income. We’ve got friends. We’ve even got a poutine stand down the street!”

“You think this is a joke?” Vera slams the plate she was scrubbing crashing into the others. “You know what’s a joke? You’ve got beer, a deadbeat business partner, a best friend who runs around the streets playing detective, and you can keep your damn poutine!” Having dried off her hands on a dish towel, Vera threw it in Theo’s face.

“She’ll get over it…” Theo mumbled to himself, but he couldn’t shake this feeling like he had air trapped in his lungs that he couldn’t expel. And all he was doing with his life was holding his breath.

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Filed under FEATHERTON II, Flash Fiction