I know what you are here for...but lookie what came today in preparation for my book signing! Yep...only ten of these babies have been made special for the signing with a little certificate inside the cover commemorating the event! Of course there is an unlimited supply of Zomblog: Snoe...but the first ten are special!
Garrett McCormick sat down on the wooden bench that ran most of the length of the baseball dugout. The remnants of a sign that once read “Rainbow Stadium” hung askew. One wire was all that kept it from joining the clutter on the ground. Even in the shade of the dugout, the hot South Carolina sun still sent a bead of sweat trickling down his spine.
Taking a deep breath and holding it, he listened. Yes, he could hear the moans and odd cries of the walking dead that roamed outside this rundown—and currently useless—baseball stadium on the outskirts of North Charleston.
With a heavy, booted foot, he nudged the female that lay sleeping, curled up under the bench. She moaned in her sleep. Yes, Garrett thought, I’m going to have to find a replacement soon. This one was losing its appeal.
“Wake up,” he growled, this time kicking hard enough to elicit a cry.
“Please,” the brunette in her mid-twenties rasped, “water.”
“I got somethin’ you can drink.” Garrett unzipped his jeans and fumbled with the fly to his underwear. A stream of urine splashed the woman’s face. Whether out of fear, or desperation, or thirst, he didn’t know, nor did he care, the woman who told him her name three days ago when he found her on the roof of a gutted mini-mart but he’d not taken the time to remember, opened her mouth. Alternating between gulps and gags, she took in mouthfuls of his piss.
Garrett sighed in relief as his bladder—full from the two six-packs of warm beer he’d drunk the past couple of hours— emptied. Shaking himself, he enjoyed the look of fear on her face as he paused before stuffing himself back in his pants.
Garrett took a step back to avoid the rivulet of urine that was inching towards his booted foot through the dust and occasional sunflower seed husk. He stared, albeit apathetically, at the dark haired, skinny-to-the-point-of-malnourished, bruised, and abraded woman who had curled up into herself again. Certainly it was not due to modesty. She’d been debased so severely that her nudity was of little import. No, she was trying to console herself from the horror of these past few days, and the potential horror to come.
“On your feet,” Garrett said, pushing his enormous frame towards the exit of the sour smelling dugout.
The skeletal woman staggered to her feet, weak from hunger and thirst. Her face showed the pain of every movement as she willed herself up the stairs.
“That gate, number seven, we’re going that way,” he pointed, then watched as she slunk past. He looked her up and down from behind. Her back was a Rorschach pattern of bruises. His eyes lingered on the slight curve of her ass. He could see darkened flecks of dried blood from one of his more recent excursions. She hadn’t even cried out that time.
Yes, it was time for a replacement. She was the third, and had lasted the shortest amount of time. Maybe it was time to leave the neighborhood and seek fresher grounds. He hadn’t even heard any gunshots in two days.
As they ascended the concrete stairs to the darkened concourse, the moans of the dead grew louder. The smell intensified to a degree that clung to the skin in a rank, sickly sweetness with a strong undercurrent of rot. As they left sunlight behind for the cool darkness, Garrett knew how to facilitate his escape from the stadium and rid himself of this now useless creature.
As he stepped up the last stair and gained the flat concrete walkway that once led countless fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters to beer gardens, popcorn vendors, souvenir stands, and restrooms, Garrett unzipped his pants. Out of reflexive fear, the woman stopped with a shudder and a sigh.
Garrett grabbed her by the hair and pushed her forward. A long counter was just past the turnstiles. A sign reading “WILL CALL BOOTH” still hung just above the counter in front of a pair of shuttered windows. Her body offered no resistance as he bent her forward.
He had never been all that interested in anal sex before. Mostly due to some shadowy memories he had from his childhood involving his mom’s best friend’s son. He swiped at those shadows and cleared his mind before it caused him to soften. With an angry thrust of his hips he tore his way into the body now bent to his whim and will.
As he shoved himself in and out against the initial, then eventually lessening resistance, he glanced to the right. Scores of milky-eyed onlookers strained to reach through the grate. Hands opened and closed on air, desperately wanting to feed upon the warm flesh only feet away.
Without warning, he wrapped one huge arm around the waist of the unresponsive creature slouched before him and spun to his right. Those grasping hands found hair. Skin. Now she screamed. As she was pulled flush to the big grate, her arms yanked forward while several sets of teeth sunk into the loose flesh. She screamed louder. Garrett’s thrusting became faster. The screams changed pitch as what was left of one arm came away and disappeared into the ravenous mob.
Pulling back, he shoved himself back into his pants, wiping his semen and blood smeared hands on the back of his jeans.
Like sharks they converged. Even those several yards away with no hope of reaching the gate came in stumbling, staggering steps. Maybe they can communicate, Garrett thought as he disappeared down a nearby tunnel.
Moments later he was gazing out a mostly clear archway. A few stragglers remained, but nothing he couldn’t take down or outdistance. Fumbling in the pocket of his leather duster he produced his bolt cutter. With a squeeze, the padlock hasp was severed. Pulling the grate open, he shoved the first clutching corpse back. His other hand came up with a metal spike.
A few of the zombies stumbled through the gate as Garrett strode past with as close to indifference as a person could while navigating his way through a loose cluster of partially masticated, animated, walking corpses. Within moments, the parking lot was behind him. Zigzagging through the neighborhood, he finally managed to shake the growing mob.
A large raindrop splatted on his nose. Garrett paused and glanced skyward. A big storm was coming. He glanced around for suitable shelter and decided on a dreary looking tavern. There was a second floor that he could gain access to and leave minimal evidence of having passed. He took a quick look around to ensure none of those things would see.
Tomorrow he would seek a new companion. Eventually, he imagined he would run out. By then, perhaps he’d just walk into a pack of those things and let it end.
“Nah,” Garrett laughed quietly as he slid the window open to discover a musty office…and several unopened boxes of Jim Beam.
Kirsten Malloy opened what was officially her last can of pears. Her mouth already began watering the moment that the round cutting-wheel of the can opener sliced into the tin. She couldn’t ever remember smelling canned pears in a light syrup before. But now…well it was probably the best smell ever in her thirteen years of life.
As she pushed the round piece of tin down with her thumb, then popped the lid up, Kirsten considered whether to eat sparingly or…with a slight twist, she pulled the circle of metal free, tossed it aside, and dug in ravenously. She would have to venture out for food today no matter what.
She thought back to the last time she’d gone out. Over the past few weeks, she had worked her way down the street. House by house she had broken in and taken all the food she could find. At least all the stuff that wasn’t totally gross.
Old Miss Perkins’ house had been the latest. That stupid old lady was probably still trapped in her bathroom. The Monster-people weren’t good at opening doors. That old lady sure loved canned pears! Kirsten took another big plastic sporkful in her mouth, not letting a single drop of the juice escape. Of course there was a lot of stuff in the cupboards that she left behind. Seriously, she thought, who eats sardines!
The next house would be Amber’s. Of course Amber and her parents weren’t in it. They were still standing at the gate of her house.
Kirsten guessed it really was her house now. Mom and Dad had both been gone since all this crazy stuff started almost five weeks ago. She still couldn’t think about that day without crying.
Philipé, one of the groundskeepers, had attacked her daddy at the main entry gate. He had bitten Pete Malloy on the hand and face. Arturo, another groundskeeper had beaten Philipé with a shovel to get him off her dad. Mom rushed her dad to the hospital that night. They never came back.
All of the servants took off the next day, leaving Kirsten and Arturo behind. Together they watched on the television what looked like scary movies. Only, it wasn’t movies…it was the news. Eventually, the electricity went out.
There were screams and shooting and sirens for a few days. Then…it was quiet. That was the scariest night of all. The first night of complete silence. Eventually, those things began crowding around the wrought-iron double-gates that used to open electronically and allow cars to enter Malloy Estate. What had once been an enormous plantation before the Civil War was now a walled-in private residence complete with two Olympic-sized pools, tennis court, and a driving range.
Three times, Arturo went over the wall in search of supplies. He only came back over the wall twice. Now, he was out there with Amber Cosgrove and her parents.
Sometimes Kirsten would get lonely and walk down the long driveway to the main gate. She would sit and try to talk to Amber…Mister and Missus Cosgrove…Arturo.
Amber looked bad. She was wearing a long pink nightgown torn open on the left side where she had been attacked. Her left arm was totally gone, and some of her insides hung out from a rip across her stomach.
Arturo was a nightmare. Both of his arms were gone. His throat was a big hole with something gross poking out. But his body was the worst. He’d been ripped open and most everything that should’ve been inside was missing…or more upsetting …dangling from the huge hole. Something had torn away a piece of his scalp, and the skin of his face looked like it might slip off in places.
Two times now, Kirsten ventured out for supplies on her own. She had watched Arturo each time he left the estate, and knew to go to the gate first and make a lot of noise. Then, she would duck through the hedges that lined the driveway and run a ways along the nine-foot high brick wall that separated her home from the world. She would tie the knotted piece of rope she’d made to look like Arturo’s to a tree and, after climbing up to make sure the coast was clear, she would drop it over the fence and climb down.
From there, she would sneak behind cars or slip into bushes as she made her way to whichever house she’d be grabbing food from. It hadn’t taken her long to figure out how slow and stupid those things were. Twice she’d gone into a house that was ‘occupied’. Both times she’d tricked the Monster-people—or person with Old Miss Perkins—into a room, and then ducked past and out to close them in. It was creepy to be in the house with those things slapping the door. Plus, the noise always brought more Monster-people.
Shoveling the last bit of pear into her mouth, then drinking the syrup, Kirsten scooped up the backpack—once used to carry her school books—and her coil of knotted rope. It was time to go down and see Amber, Mister and Missus Cosgrove, and poor Arturo.
Garrett brought his booted foot down hard on the head of the hissing, squirming zombie-child that had lurched at him from the thick hedgerow that appeared to run the distance of the street he was considering. There was an initial resistance, then a pop, and finally the eventual crunch as the skull gave under the pressure. He’d tried crushing skulls this way before, but it only seemed to work on children or the elderly.
If he intended to explore this street, he’d need to be cautious. He knew this had been a wealthy neighborhood before. One thing about the rich, they liked the illusion of privacy with their fences and tall shrubbery. The houses would mostly be back from the street, some behind walls.
Something in Garrett’s mind sent tingles. This, he thought, would be a good place to search for a new toy to replace the one he’d left at the baseball park. He’d been alone the past few weeks, and he was starting to have those dreams again. Ennis’ face leering at him, a floating head surrounded by blackness.
“Git over onta yer belly!”
Garrett always woke before the worst of it happened, but still, he only knew one way to make those nightmares disappear. Become the nightmare. A voice in his head that sounded an awful lot like Ennis whispered.
“Shut up!” Garrett growled as his eyes scanned the length of the street for both opportunity and danger. He was about to head towards an open gate that led to a three-story, red brick home when a sound froze him in place.
It was the slightest hint of a grunt. His eyes were the only part of his body to move as Garrett sought out the source. There! In a tree on the other side of a wall that travelled the length of the right hand side of the street was a girl! He watched her tie a rope to the branch she currently straddled. Then, she lowered the knotted rope down the wall where it vanished between hedge and wall. She lowered herself down, vanishing from sight for a moment.
When she vanished, Garrett took the opportunity to squat down behind a nearby car. A moment later, the girl emerged tentatively from the bushes. She’s done this before, a voice—not Ennis’—mused in Garrett’s head. Coltish legs emerged, and Garrett now had his first real look. She was tall. Almost six-feet, he guessed. Skinny. Probably from not eating well. Her near waist-length, sandy hair was a bit matted, but overall she looked clean.
She turned his way, and for a moment Garrett thought she looked directly at him. Then, she moved slowly out to the street and her gaze drifted away. With long strides she took off down the street, a small backpack in hand.
Standing to watch her go, he absently stuffed his hand down the front of his pants to shift things around. Just watching her brought him to almost complete arousal. His hand lingered, and it took considerable willpower to not sate the rising desires coursing through him right there in the street.
No, he scolded himself, release and pleasure would come soon enough. The question was, did he chase after her, or climb that rope and see if there might be others? If there were people who might search for the missing girl, it would be best to kill them now so he wouldn’t be interrupted later.
Garrett slipped from behind the abandoned vehicle, to the tree, and finally to the thick hedge. With one final longing glance in the direction the girl had dashed off, he plunged into the bushes. He emerged in a space much too narrow for him to fully be free of the dried and dying branches full of leaves that, without the daily watering from the timed sprinklers, would be completely dead within another month.
Grasping the rope, he easily hauled his massive frame up and over the wall. Before him, the once immaculate grounds of a house that looked like it belonged in Gone With the Wind appeared empty of any persons…living or dead. Still, he would be cautious. Garrett dropped to the gound and did his best to move in the shade and shadows of various buildings, statues, and trees. He made a mental note to come back outside and enjoy the inviting coolness of one of the two huge swimming pools that were only a little tinged with green.
Finally, he reached the enormous house. The back door was wide open. With a glance around just to be sure he wasn’t being watched, Garrett habitually ducked his head and entered. He wandered through a kitchen large enough to service a hotel.
From room to room Garrett roamed. He was convinced he would find nobody here…for now. A check out the front door revealed a huge porch that ran the length of the front of the home with a roof supported by marble pillars. A white gravel path led to a driveway that went on for what must be the length of a football field. It ended at a huge double-gated security entrance. He could see a sizeable cluster of those filthy creatures reaching futilely through the spaces between the black, wrought iron bars.
He shut the back door and made his way up a magnificent staircase. He went from room to room, ensuring that there was in fact nobody here. Eventually, he discovered the room he knew had to be where the girl stayed. A large box sat in a corner. Wow, Garrett thought, she sure likes canned pears.
Finding a place where he could sit, he leaned against the wall and slid down on his butt. A pile of dirty clothes were mounded beside him. He picked through, eventually discovering the prize he sought: a pair of panties. Bringing them to his face, he breathed deep.
Kirsten Malloy stared wide-eyed at the man who was currently busy rumaging through the pack of food she’d scavenged. Her face still stung from the backhanded slap he’d caught her with as she walked unaware through the doorway and into the room she’d been living in. He’d shoved her to the floor, then snatched her pack and commenced rooting through its contents.
“You know,” Kirsten’s anger had built enough steam to give her the nerve to finally speak, “I prob’ly woulda shared. Arturo and I lived together and shared with no problems.”
The stranger’s head popped up and snapped around to her. “Arturo?” he asked. She was surprised at the sound of his voice. She expected something much deeper and mean sounding.
“He worked here till all this…weird stuff happened,” Kirsten remembered her father and Philipé in a mental flash that made her voice crack just a bit.
“Where is this Arturo now?” the man asked as he pulled out a box that made Kirsten blush a bright shade of red. He examined the box of tampons, tossed it aside, and resumed digging through her pack.
“He’s…” Kirsten considered her answer. Could she lie convincingly and maybe scare this man away? “He’s out front.”
The man laughed. “So he’s one of them?”
“Look, take what you want and go. Take everything if you like. I’ll go out tomorrow and find more.” Kirsten watched the man tear open the bag of barbecue chips that she’d been very excited to find. Her mouth watered as she smelled the tangy saltiness. He plunged a grimy hand in the bag and stuffed a bunch of chips in his mouth. What a pig, she thought.
“I will be,” he said around a mouthful of chips.
“Will be what?” Kirsten stared longinly at the bag of barbecue chips. Her bag of barbecue chips.
“Taking everything I want.”
Something in the man’s voice, in his eyes, chilled Kirsten. The way he looked at her, his eyes never really looking into hers even when he stared ar her face, made her feel bad. It was the kind of bad she’d felt when Tricia, the lady who took care of the family’s laundry, had walked into her room a few months ago and found her lying on her bed with her hands down her pants. She’d been watching Oliver Gleason, the cutest boy in the senior class, as he finished cleaning their pool. He’d been wearing knee-length green shorts, and nothing else.
Kirsten became suddenly aware of the silence. She’d been thinking of Oliver and completely spaced. The man had stopped eating and was simply staring at her.
“I can smell you,” the man’s voice was soft and frightening.
“I ain’t been able to take my bath yet today,” Kirsten snapped, blushing fiercely once again.
The man dropped the chips and rose to his feet. He was so big! Kirsten scooted back without realizing it, until her back came in contact with the wall. He took a step forward, licking his lips like he was seeing something really tasty. Kirsten glanced around for what he might be seeing. She looked up, confused, and tried to follow his gaze.
It seemed to lead straight to her lap.
She looked up again. The man was unbuckling his belt.
“No,” Kirsten breathed as the realization hit her like a punch in the stomach.
Much quicker than his size should have allowed, the man lunged, grabbing Kirsten by the hair. She struggled, only to be punched in the side of the head so hard that the world flashed bright, then began to dim. She felt hands tearing at her clothes. She could smell his breath, hot and foul, on her cheek. With a rip and a yank, her pants were gone and Kirsten was on her stomach. Hands were in places they shouldn’t be. Then…
Return tomorrow morning for part 3...