Hi! I'm just getting started in writing, and I'm posting some of my experiments and other short stories here. Offline, I'm working on building my "rejection slip collection" with other stories.
Please enjoy the short stories and writing experiments I've posted here. I always enjoy constructive criticism.
I'm very interested in improving my abilities as an author, and I like to experiment with different genres and story ideas when I write. A lot of what I'll be posting here will be somewhat unfinished, I figure I'd rather post and learn what I can than have something never get written because I fret too much about how it will turn out.
Thanks for coming!
06 September 2014
Not Quite Zombies, Last Draft
The first time I met something like that was a few years ago, back when I was six. My mother and father decided that it was a beautiful day outside, and that we should go to the park. When we got there, the weather was great. I got to run around on the grass, chase after small birds, and then run away from large dogs. There was an old swing set just off the side of the grass, the red paint mostly worn and rusted off. One of the swings hung on one chain, the other chain lying on the ground, the link at the end of the chain bent grossly out of proportion. I would have gone and played on the swings that remained except for the fact that there was a fence in the way, dividing the public park from the private school grounds. So, I just ran around in the grass. My parents were sitting on the edge of the grass watching me, both were smiling. I glanced over my shoulder once to call out to my parents, but they had started to talk to each other. I saw a dark look pass over my father's face as the conversation seemed to intensify. My mother's usually present smile slid away to a distanced look. I stopped running for a second to watch them.
"...another person...left his car keys...nothing in the house to suggest..." I could just barely hear my father's voice float across the grass.
"kids...what about them?...suspected by police for..." my mother said. I raised my eyes slightly from my parents to look at the sidewalk behind them. There was a man standing there, looking at me.
"I'll get you, kid." I glanced down at my parents. My father wasn't looking at me. I looked behind me, but there wasn't anyone there. I looked back over to the man. I smiled at him and waved. I noticed my parents look away from each other. The smiled and waved to me. I shook my head and pointed past them. My father raised his eyebrows and turned around to see the man who had been on the sidewalk. My father stood up quickly and offered his hand to the man as he came up to my parents. The man looked at the offered hand, grabbed it, then wrenched it around. I jerked as I heard a loud crack. The shirt over my father's shoulder started to turn a deep red. I saw my mother scream, but I only heard my father's yell as his arm was released. He fell to the ground, his arm lying near him at a funny angle. My mother scrambled up and started to move towards me, but the man kicked her. She fell over. She looked up to me and parted her lips, opened her teeth, then closed them. I turned away from the man and my mother and ran.
I had only ever watched my father ride on his motorcycle, but I thought at the time that I knew enough to ride one myself. I ran into the parking lot on the other side of the park. I looked over my shoulder once to see the man following me. He was walking, almost calmly, towards me. After that, I didn't bother to look back. I came into the parking lot, looking around frantically. I finally sighted a motorcycle, ran up to it, then tried to climb on. I eventually pulled myself onto the seat, but then found myself looking at an empty ignition. I grasped the handles and started to rock my weight forwards and backwards, trying to get the motorcycle to move.
I guess it was lucky that the parking lot was at the top of a hill, because the motor cycle started rolling off the pavement and onto the dirt of the hill. It gained speed as it rolled down, starting out slow and wobbly, but became less so as it got further down the hill. I realized that I couldn't the direction of the motorcycle when I started tugging on the handlebar to get it to avoid a tree. Either I wasn't strong enough to turn it, or the steering was locked. To this day, I don't really know. But, somehow, I narrowly evaded a collision with the tree. After the tree, the ground began to level out and the motorcycle's speed began to drop.
When I judged it slow enough, I jumped off of the motorcycle. The motorcycle fell over as I started to jump, so I lost my footing and landed head first on the dirt. When I sat up, I could barely see. When I reached up to touch my face, to try to clear my eyes. I felt a warm, sticky liquid on my face. My face started to burn, like if I had stood close to a fire for too long. I wiped my face the best that I could, the burning intensifying with each wipe. I stood up shakily, and started walking.
I don't know where I was walking to, but I can remember that I was mostly walking away. I tripped several times, skinning my knees and elbows. By the time it was dark, I was covered in blood and I was crying silently.
"Hey, kid. Where are you going?" I looked up to see several dark shapes surrounding me. As I let my eyes adjust, I could make out that the shapes were men. Their clothing was loose and torn, hanging from them almost like ivy hangs from a tree. I don't know who these people are, I thought. They may be trying to kill me like mom and dad. I stood staring up at the man who had spoken to me, not knowing what to say, so just staying silent.
"Hey, kid. The man asked you a question. You better talk. I turned slowly to look at the other man who had spoken.
"I found you again, kid." I stiffened. That voice! I looked around at the people surrounding me. They seemed to be laughing to themselves, as if they were laughing at me. Can't these people here him?
"Hey, kid! You paying attention to us?"
"Don't you hear him?" I asked softly, my voice trembling. "He killed mom and dad. Can't you hear him?" Two of the men looked at each other. One of them smirked. He turned to face me, bringing his hand out as he did so. I was sent sprawling on the ground.
"What voice, kid? We was the only ones talking to you, and I ain't never seen your mummy or poppy. Now, you be a good girl, or we'll just have to hurt you a whole lot." I looked up to the man who had hit me. I saw a dark shadow emerge from behind him. I watched as the form slowly resolved itself into the form of a woman. She brought up her hands from her sides, lifted them slowly. Then, almost lovingly, she wrapped her hands around the man's neck and squeezed. The other men surrounding me got wide-eyed as they watched their companion begin to turn blue, watched as he struggled in vain against the woman's grip. One of the men let out a yell. He pulled up his shirt and reached for a hand-gun hiding under his shirt. He pulled it out, fiddled with it a little, then placed his finger on the trigger. A hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed the man's wrist, then twisted it up and around. I watched as the gun fell. The two men who remained, stood dumb-founded as they watched their companion's arm being torn off. I looked at their eyes, and it almost looked as if something emerged from inside of them, peered out from their eyes. They turned and looked down at me.
"I have you now, kid," the taller of the men said.
"I will kill you," the other man said, in the same voice. I lunged for the gun that the man had dropped, picked it up, pointed it towards the taller man, and pulled the trigger. The gun fired, a loud, ringing bang echoed around me. I watched as the gun was propelled backwards into my forehead. The hot metal burned into my forehead. I pulled the gun away from my head as quickly as I could. The man I had shot at, slowly collapsed from the knees and pitched forward. I turned the gun towards the other man as he lunged at me, he leaned down, extending his hands ahead of him. I pointed the gun as close to his head as I could and pulled the trigger again, this time holding my arms stiff. The man jerked back slightly, but continued to fall forward, falling onto me. I pushed at his limp body, trying to move it off of me. The body moved a little. Just enough for me to be able to wriggle out from underneath it. I stood up, staggered slightly, then ran away from the two dying men and their killers. As I ran, I began to see a light ahead of me. The light flickered and wavered, like its bearer it was dancing.
"Help!" I screamed. "Help me!" The light flicked towards me, then began dancing up and down in a sickening manner, growing steadily larger and larger. I moved my legs up and down, willing the muscles to move faster. Soon, I was in the circle of light, I stumbled forward, trying to stop, then tripped and slid forward. I felt a hand grab my upper arm, pull me up to where I was standing, then pull me off the ground. I felt the hand let go. I gasped. Then, there was an arm wrapped around my middle. I felt movement as the person carrying me began to run. My arms and legs bounced up and down, occasionally smacking into the legs of whoever was carrying me.
Finally, the bouncing stopped. I heard heavy breathing above me. I tried to turn my head up, but only succeeded in turning my head slightly to the side. I felt the person's body twist, heard the sound of strained metal, a click, and the sound of creaking. I was lifted to a vertical position, thrust forward, then dropped onto a padded seat.
"Buckle," I heard a deep, crackling voice say. I reached up past my right shoulder, felt a rough and stiff fabric, grabbed it, pulled the belt across my body, felt the metal click into place. The door slammed shut, I heard a jingling, then the car began to rumble. Blinding light shot out infront of us, falling onto a woman's form. The woman tilted her head back slightly, opened her mouth wide enough for her tongue to shoot out and loll against the side of her face. The person beside me straightened his leg.
"Mom!" I screamed. The car pulled forward, ran into the woman.
"It's not your mom." The voice to the side of me said. "Did you see her eyes?" I nodded, rubbing my fists against my eyes. "Then you know." The voice paused. "My name's Jim. What's yours?"
"Talissa," I muttered, quietly. The man laughed.
"What kind of a name is that? Are you ethnic or foreign or something?" I turned the corners of my mouth down.
"No," I pouted. "Mom liked Clarrissa. Dad liked Talia. They made a compr-compr-"
"Compromise?" The man Jim burst out into laughter. I nodded. What did this man know about names?
"What sort of a name is Jim?" Jim stopped laughing. "It's awefully simple and plain."
"Mommy and daddy tell you that, did they?" I lowered my head.
"Told." I sniffed. Jim stopped talking. I listened to the quiet rumbling of the car.
"I, uh, heard gun shots." Jim turned his head to look at me, then turned it back to the road.I rubbed my forehead.
"I killed the men." I muttered. "They were talking the same."
"You mean they had the same mannerisms?"
"No, they talked the same." I lifted my head, then tilted my head down slightly. "I have you now, kid." I said in a deep voice. "I will kill you."
"Do you know what they are?" Jim glanced towards me again. I shook my head from side to side. "Zombies. Just like in all the old movies. Wandering around, moaning, trying to eat your flesh. Yup. We're living in a movie now."
"Zombies don't talk. They did."
"You said they were men."
"Their eyes weren't their eyes." Silence consumed the car again.
"I'll let you stay at my house, if you'd like," Jim said. "I can get some antiseptic for you." I nodded. The car continued to rumble. After what seemed like a long time, Jim finally stopped the car infront of a small, single story house. "Here's my digs," Jim said. I opened my car door and clambered out. "Lived here alone since the girlfriend left." Jim stuffed his hands into his pockets and strode towards his house. Once he arrived at the door, he pulled a set of keys out of his pocket and unlocked the door. He turned slightly, then turned all the way around to look back at me. "You coming, Tali?" I dipped my head down, lifted it again, then jogged forward.
Jim was very nice. He filled a bath tub for me, tested it to make sure it wasn't too hot. As he filled the tub, he talked.
"Always wanted to have kids, you know? Girlfriend and I were planning on adopting after the marriage. Found this nice little house. Has a nice lawn out back." He glanced back at me. I nodded. He turned back to the tub. "She had to leave, though, you know? Business or something. Next I hear from her, she's in a hospital. Some jerk ran her over." Jim lifted his free hand to his face. He wiped at his eyes. "We just wanted a quiet life with a couple kids." He took a deep breath, then looked at me. "What happened to make you so torn up, kiddo?" He stretched out a hand and wiped carefully at my face. He looked at his hand. "Lots of blood and dirt. Did you fall off something?" Jim said to himself. He stood and looked down at me. "The tub is filled now. Just holler if you need anything. I'll bring you some of my sister's old clothes."
He turned around and walked out the bathroom, shutting the door behind himself. I walked over to the tub and dipped my hand in. Then I started to undress. The warm water stung as I climbed in. I breathed in sharply. I reached out to get a bar of soap, then started gently rubbing myself.
After about an hour, I heard a gentle tapping at the bathroom door.
"I have some clean clothes for you, Talissa. Can I come in?" I voiced a soft yes and the door opened. Jim set a pile of clothes on the counter, then bent over in order to gather up my dirty clothes. "My little sister just out grew these. My parents sent them over because Teri and I were planning on adopting soon. I hope you don't mind pink." He looked at me thoughtfully for a second, then left the bathroom again. I climbed out of the bathtub and picked up a nearby towel. I dobbed at my skin assiduous. After I had dryed myself, I smeared antiseptic cream all over my cuts. I picked up a roll of gauze bandages and started wrapping my forehead. Soon, I had bandaged and clothed myself completely. I left the bathroom and climbed down the set of stairs that started at the front door.
The next morning found Jim teaching me how to hold the gun I had gotten from the man the night before.
"Wrap your fingers around like this, see? Now, take your other hand and- no not like that. Get that thumb off of there. Good. OK. Now, wrap your other hand around. Yeah, just like that. Now bend your arms so you hold it like this. Yeah. Now, put your finger on the trigger. OK. Now take it off. Here." Jim took the gun away. He ran his thumbs up and down the gun, then pushed on a switch twice. "That's the safety. With it on, it won't fire. But when it's off," he pushed the switch again, revealing a bit of red, "then you can fire with it. This is a...9mm hand gun. Hmm. What was that guy up to? Anyways," Jim clicked the safety back on. "Enough for now. I'll teach you more later."
It's been about seven months since then. The first few times I shot the gun after Jim's intruction, I nearly whacked myself in the head, again. But, I learned, I got better. Right now, I'm running towards Jim's house.
"Jim!" I yelled. "More are coming!" I looked up to the house. It's still a distance away. I hope he can hear me. I watched a shadow grow in one of the windows of the house. The window slid open, then Jim poked his head out. I glanced behind me to see the people were still following me at a walking pace.
"I'll get you, yet," I heard the all-too-familiar voice say. I breathed out sharply through my nose. I stopped on one foot, pirouetted around, pulled out my hand gun from my hip holster. I set my foot down firmly, took aim at one of the walking people's heads and fired. Fired. Fired, until all were lying limp on the ground. I looked at the dead bodies, thought for a minute, then turned around and walked away. More have been coming everyday. Why am I such a threat? I'm seven. My thoughts followed these lines as I approached the house. I looked up towards the saound of panting.
"You OK, kid?" Jim said, slowing his run to a jog, then to a fast walk.
"Yup, yup, yup." I said cheerfully. Jim narrowed his eyes at me.
"This isn't a game, Tali."
"Sure it is. They come after me, I shoot them!"
"Tali-" I watched as Jim's mouth closed slowly. To the corner of his mouth, I saw a drop of red. I looked up slightly, saw another drop of red, and just above that, a stream of red. My eyes followed the stream of red up to the side of his head. Jim's eyes never closed as his knees collapsed, pitching him forward. I watched him fall, slowly, his eyes calling to me the whole way, "Why?" Then, I looked up into the blank face of an old man. Behind his vacant eyes, I could see someone watching me. The old man lifted a large rock over Jim's head, then let go. I turned away and started running before it landed. I didn't want to see it. Sudden laughter fill my head. Cackling madly. Laughing over the death of my surrogate father.
"Shut up!" I yelled. "You have no right to laugh over his death. Only he can." I shook my head violently, causing myself to stumble and fall. "You have no right," I whispered. I rolled over on to my stomach, facing the old man as he stumbled forward. I pulled out my hand gun, rested my elbows on the ground, took aim, and fired. Over the old man fell. I watched as the blood flew out in almost a perfect arc from the bullet hole.
I never stayed anywhere for very long after that. It was hard to find food that wasn't rotting. It seemed like the presence had taken over nearly everybody. Whenever I had a chance to take a good look into those people's eyes, I did. Each time, I noticed something more about them. The eyes were the person's own, but their's wasn't the only set watching. Behind their eyes, it almost looked like their was a purple smoke. Ebbing and flowing around the second set of eyes.
The more I watch the people stumbling around, the more I suspected that they weren't zombies, not as modern legend has portrayed them, at least. Today, I've decided to look in one of the abandoned libraries. It was a little hard to break the glass of the door, at first, but as the cracks grew through the door, it became easier. The door soon gave, revealing a glittering patch of carpet that crunched as you walked across it. As I walked along the aisles of books, I drug my hand along the shelves. When I looked at my hand, it was still pale, catching a flicker from the dying light outside.
I walked up and down the aisles of books until I came across a book titled Vodou Shaman. I picked it up, glanced through the pages briefly, then set it back down. I turned to the other side of the aisle, picked out another book, flipped through it briefly, then set it down. I glanced up along the book shelf. There were a few screws holding it against the wall. Not quite enough. I turned away, walking quickly down the aisle. I glanced from side to side occasionally, then focused my attention back to my front. Eventually, I came to the end of the aisle. I looked at the bookshelves infront of myself. I walked forward, pulling a chair away from a desk as I walked. When I had approached the shelf, I whipped the chair infront of myself, set it next to the side of it, then clambered on. I stood up and stretched my hands across the top. Then I stopped. I followed te length of my arm with my eyes, stopping near my elbow, then looking out to the wall. No screws or bolts.