Thursday, May 8, 2014


Genre: Horror (Zombies)

Daniel Skye

            Elaine Hershey was not accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle. She always had to be on the go, on the move. Life was simply too spectacular to waste sitting in a chair or spending her day parked behind a desk, clicking the refresh button of her browser every ten seconds.
            She had to enjoy every waning second. She had to be the life of the party. That why she chose dancing as a profession. No, she wasn’t a stripper or an exotic dancer. Elaine was a dance coach.
            She offered daily classes in the afternoon and private lessons in the evening for those self-conscious about their abilities. She also coached cheerleaders and taught ballet on the side.
            There was something magical to her about her body moving in perfect sequence to the beats and rhythm of the music. It was a unique, extraordinary feeling that set her soul on fire.
            And so it was no surprise that when Elaine spent her Friday at a club in Fairview, Long Island, she danced the night away.
            The Crazy Dog was a club that had a DJ spinning every night. The club seemed to prefer R&B, Hip Hop, Techno. And Friday night was no exception as the DJ on hand blasted techno tracks from nine o’clock ‘til the crack of dawn.
            It was a style of music Elaine had not quite familiarized herself with, but she was a fast learner. And after a brief perusing of the crowded dance floor, Elaine was out there mixing it up with the rest of them and following along with their movements to the entrancing beats.
            In addition to dancing, Elaine did what many others that frequent clubs do. Elaine drank.
            She started out light, having a tap beer. Followed by a second.
            Then she stepped it up with a vodka and cranberry.
            By the time the night was coming to a close, she was downing shots of Petron with a young blond man she had met at the bar.
            Her vision obscured by the liquor, she actually found this man quite handsome and hoped he’d be accompanying her home after last call. But alas, the young blond man failed to hold his liquor and by three AM, he was splayed out on the floor of the club, face down on a pool of his own vomit.
            “His loss,” Elaine shrugged and got up from her stool, a bit tipsy. The bouncer bid her goodnight and advised her take one of the taxis waiting in the lot. Ignoring the bouncer’s wise advice, she stepped outside the club and dug through her purse until she found the keys of her red Chevy Malibu.
            The Malibu was parked in the lot, blocking a dumpster. An officer had left a ticket under the windshield wiper, citing her for parking improperly. She lifted the wiper and crumpled the ticket in her hand, disregarding it and opening the driver side door of her Malibu, where she tossed the ticket onto the floor of the passenger side.
            She got in and turned the keys in the ignition, looked around to make sure no cops were lurking around. When she saw she was in the clear, she backed up, and pulled out of the lot.
            The lines of the road were a blur to her, but she had both hands grasped tightly around the wheel and stayed in the right lane, making sure not to drift over to the left.
Puddles of water had collected in various areas of town following Thursday’s lengthy rainstorm, mostly near the storm drains that had become clogged and were still overflowing. Such a puddle had formed on the corner of Washington Avenue where Elaine had made a slow right. With her vision blurred, she didn’t see the puddle lying in wait and ran over the backed up storm drain.
The water splashed up, sloshing over the windshield. She switched the wipers on just in time to see the vagrant stepping off the curb.
There was no time to swerve or brake. The vagrant thumped the red hood of her Malibu and struck the windshield with such force his head butted through the glass. But the windshield didn’t shatter to pieces as Elaine anticipated when she pumped the brakes and crossed her hands over her face to protect her.
The vagrant’s body, still and lifeless slumped down the hood of her car as his face remained embedded in the glass. She checked the rearview mirror. All clear on that end. She got out and looked up the road. All clear on that end too.
It was still early morning, the sun just starting to play peekaboo over the horizon. She tried to pry the vagrant’s head from the glass, but it was wedged in there tight. She could still taste the alcohol in her mouth and knew the cops would give her a Breathalyzer. After seeing the results of that Breathalyzer, they’d never buy that this was an accident.
So she deviated from the standard hit and run script. She took the body with her.
Washington Avenue was less than two blocks from her house. If she could make it there, she could hide the car in her garage and figure it out in the morning when she was sober.
            And she did make it. The roads all deserted, no traveling eyes were around to witness the carnage of the accident. She pressed the automatic button to open the garage door and swerved into the driveway, pulling into the garage and pressing the automatic button again to close the door.
            She regarded the vagrant; his eyes closed, his face maimed by the glass. “I’m sorry for this,” Elaine whispered.
            She knew it was going to happen, she just didn’t know when. But when she saw the damage she had perpetrated, it was then that she broke down and cried.
            It was a cry of guilt. A cry of regret. A cry of self-pity. And a cry of desperation, for she hadn’t the first clue how she was going to resolve this dreadful situation.
            She tried to calm herself as she wiped the tears away. She looked up, and gasped when she saw the vagrant’s unblinking eyes staring back at her. She opened the door and got out from the car, stepping back to his fingers scratching and digging into the hood.
            “If you’re alive,” she said, still keeping her distance, “please say something.”
            No response.
            “I’m terribly sorry about all this. I can call an ambulance for you.”
            No reply.
            She inched her way to the hood of the car and leaned over gently, quietly, reaching under his neck to check his pulse. Finding none, she took a few steps back, shaking her head in disbelief. The driver side door still open, she leaned inside and saw his eyes still wide and unblinking.
            “This isn’t possible,” she said. “I must be dreaming. I have to be dreaming.” She shut her eyes, squeezing tightly. When she opened, she wished to be awake and in her bed, free from this nightmare.
            But when she opened her eyes, all she saw was the cold, motionless eyes of the vagrant staring back at her. In addition to the scratches and scrapes of his fingernails dragging down the hood, she heard another sound she couldn’t quite make out at first until she saw the rapid movement of his jaw. He was grinding his teeth together.
            She closed the driver side door, and just to be sure, she leaned over the hood and checked the vagrant’s pulse again.
            No pulse. No heartbeat. No breath. This man was deader than the Macarena. And yet there was still life inside his body.
            Elaine abandoned the garage to compose herself, using the door that led inside the house so she wouldn’t have to open the garage door again. Feeling the alcohol, she walked to the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee. She had one of those newer models that brews one cup at a time for people on the go. So one minute later she was downing the steaming hot coffee, ignoring the fact that the heat was searing her tongue.
            She started to sober up a bit, and all these terrible realities began to dawn on her. The cops were the least of her concerns now. She had a dead man in her garage that wasn’t really dead at all.
            The word escaped her at the moment, or perhaps she didn’t want to acknowledge the events that were transpiring. She couldn’t bring herself to say it, but the word hanging on the edge of her tongue. Zombie.
            “This isn’t happening,” she found herself saying aloud. “This stuff happens in books, movies. It doesn’t happen in real life. People don’t come back from the dead. They just don’t.”
            Returning to the garage, she found the door leading into the house was slightly ajar. She crept in, barely lifting her feet so as to not make a sound. The hood was scratched and dented, and the shattered glass was streaked with blood. But this wasn’t what alarmed her. It was the fact the vagrant’s body had vanished from the garage.
            Elaine searched through the garage for a weapon at her disposal and settled for a pickaxe from her dads inherited tool collection. Gripping the pickaxe by the handle, she poked her head from the doorway and looked both ways to make sure she was clear.
            Gliding quietly through the hallway with the grace of a ballerina, she returned to the kitchen and found it empty, just as she had left it. Elaine moved back to the hallway, and glanced in both directions again before moving onto the living room.
            She flicked the lights on and the sight of the vagrant startled her. Shards of glass embedded in his face, he crept forward slowly, defectively.
            “Stay back or I’ll use this,” she screamed.
            He lunged for her, teeth snapping. She fell back, releasing the handle of the pickaxe as the vagrant fell forward and tumbled onto her. She used both hands to push his head back, carefully avoiding the shards of glass.
            He drooled, snarled, growled as he fought to sink his teeth into her soft, delicate flesh. In an act of desperation, she kneed him in the groin, discovering as she feared that it had no effect on the living dead.
            She managed to roll the vagrant over and pin the weight of her knees down across his shoulders. One hand trapped his head against the floor while the other searched for the pickaxe. She snatched it by the handle and raised it overhead, driving the pointed edge into the vagrant’s skull.
            His movements ceased instantly. “Just like the movies,” she muttered.
            She got up, wiping away specks of blood from her face with her sleeve and thanking God that it wasn’t her own blood.
            The pickaxe rested in the vagrant’s skull and Elaine was reassured as the immobility of his body persisted. That was one problem checked off her list. Now she just needed to figure out how she was going to square this away with the police, or if she even could.
            Outside, a sudden commotion seized her attention. She ran to the front of the house and peered out the windows, and saw flashing lights of an unknown origin. She opened the front door, expecting the cops to pull up to her doorstep and slap the cuffs on her for running down the vagrant.
            Instead, a patrol car with flashing lights sped right past her house, the officer never even glancing in her direction.
            In the distance, police and ambulance sirens wailed, car alarms were triggered. She listened and heard the distant roar of a fire truck. Screams and shrieks–both human and inhuman–filled the neighborhood.
            Elaine’s stomach sank as she saw the black pillar of smoke issuing up from the center of town. Just like in the movies, she thought. And then she finally uttered the word that had eluded her before. “Zombies…”

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