A collection of horror, mystery, and science fiction tales, with contributions from fellow writers, James Darko and Dexter Lynch. If you wish to contribute, I'd be happy to showcase your writing. Just send me a message. The stories are free to read and always will be. Some are better than others (I'm speaking only for myself), but I can't give all my best ideas away for free, ha ha. Feel free to share any stories, but please be sure to give credit where credit is due.
Monday, December 22, 2014
IN THE FLESH: PART TWENTY FIVE
Genre: Horror (Zombies)
Ryder: Former marine/Former police officer/Suffers from retrograde amnesia/ Searching
for clues to his past
Albright: Found and saved Carson/Was married once/Bad tempered/Doesn’t seem to
care at all about family or traditional values
Burton: Survivor found in Cherrywood Mall/Parents were rich and left him a large
inheritance when they died
Mills: One of the newest members of the group/Lost her boyfriend, George
Verdi/Not afraid to use a gun
Fox: A native Tennessean/Former registered nurse
White: Born and raised in Arkansas/Has never left the state
Loomis: Originally from Utah/Friends with Reggie/A perpetual fountain of random
facts and useless information
IN THE FLESH
By Daniel Skye
PART TWENTY FIVE
Day Two Hundred and Forty.
Valentina Jackson was gone. Kenny
Sudrow was gone. But the group had yet to move on from the market in Little
The loss had thrown Carson Ryder off
his game. He couldn’t sleep or rest his eyes for more than a few hours. He
couldn’t let his guard down knowing there was another killer in their midst.
“Eat something,” Nikki Fox told him
that day, holding up a package of dried figs and apricots. But he just shrugged
her off. “I’m not telling you what to do, but you should eat something for your
own good. There’s plenty to go around.”
“I’m not hungry,” Ryder insisted.
“Is this about Kenny?” Nikki asked. “I
miss him too.”
“It’s about trust,” Ryder said. “And
right now, I can’t trust anybody.”
“I can’t trust anyone until I find out
the truth about what happened with Kenny.”
“Come with me,” Nikki said, taking his
hand and helping him up from the floor. They walked to the stockroom and she
closed the door behind them.
The place reeked of sex. Taryn and
Damien had been going at it on a nightly basis just a few feet from where they
“Ok, we’re alone now,” she said. “And
if you can’t trust me, you’ll never be able to trust anyone again. Tell me who
you think is responsible for this.”
“You’ve got me,” Ryder shrugged.
“Scott and Reggie seem like good men, but if the past few months has taught me
anything, they could easily be faking. I mean, we hardly know them, right? And
then there’s Eli.”
“Kenny had his suspicions,” Ryder told
her. “He had a feeling that Eli was hiding something. And I think Chase
Crawford suspected something similar before he died.”
“You think Eli killed him?”
“I can’t say for sure,” Ryder said.
“But I’m going to find out.”
* * *
That day, when Damien and Taryn were
fooling around in the stockroom, Reggie was taking a nap, and Scotty was
enjoying a copy of The Catch in the Rye that
Nikki had lent him, Ryder approached Eli.
“We’ve still got a few hours of
sunlight left,” Ryder told him. “You want to lend me a hand loading stuff onto
“What about Damien?” Eli asked.
“He’s preoccupied at the moment,”
Ryder said. “And I’d rather you help me.”
“Sure,” Eli shrugged. “I’ll give you a
hand.” He checked his .27 Beretta and made sure it was loaded.
They used the backdoor and Ryder
wedged a spare chunk of wood there to make sure the door didn’t slam shut and
lock on them.
They loaded a few bags of supplies and
cases of water into the RV before Ryder said, “So tell me about yourself.”
“What do you want to know?” Eli asked,
loading another case of water on.
“I know you don’t like to talk about
your sister, but what about your folks?”
“They died after we graduated. Plane
crash. It was a freak thing. One of the engines failed. I don’t know, it was
all very technical. All the families got a huge settlement out of it. The ones
who were willing to settle out of court. We inherited the property, Ally and I.
We lived there together for years. There was more than enough room for the both
of us. And our parents saw to it that we were taken care of.”
“So they were good people, your
“My old man was tough but fair. My mom
was a pushover. Anytime dad said no, we’d just ask mom and she’d say yes. She
stayed home all day, cooked us breakfast and made sure we got to school on
time. She’d clean or go shopping for groceries while we were gone. Then she’d
pick us up from the bus stop and dad would be home for dinner by five o’clock.”
“What’d he do for a living, if you
don’t mind me asking? You mentioned your family had money.”
“My dad had money, my mom didn’t. Her
mom was his money. And he was a businessman. He owned a paper company, a water
company, a cosmetics department, ran his own office that employed over five
thousand workers. He made a lot of money in the stock market, too. He tried
explaining the aspects to me–buying, selling, trading–when I was in high
school, but I could never keep up with him.”
“So how much did they actually leave
you?” Ryder asked, continuing to load bags of supplies into the back of the RV.
Eli had stopped working completely and
was staring Ryder down. “Enough so that Ally and I never had to work a day in
our lives after graduated. What’s this all about, anyway?”
“I’m just curious, I guess,” Ryder
“Bullshit,” Eli shouted. “You’ve got
something on your mind but you’re afraid to just come out and say it.” His
voice was getting louder, echoing past the market and down the vacant streets.
“Keep your voice down,” Ryder said.
“The coast might look clear, but those things can still hear.”
“Just ask me what you want to ask me.”
“Fine…did you kill Kenny Sudrow?”
“No,” Eli said with conviction. “I did
not kill Kenny Sudrow. We weren’t the best of friends, but I’m smart enough to
know we need every man we’ve got. It’s not my call who stays and who goes. I’m
not a leader, just a follower.”
“I…I believe you,” Ryder said.
“You should,” Eli said. “I’m not your
enemy. I’m your friend. If you want to find out who the real enemy is, we
should work together.”
“No, I’m going to do this alone. For
“Uh, I hate to change the subject, but
we’ve got company.”
“Four of them.”
“We can make it to the door if we move
“Then let’s go.”
Carson and Eli ran to the backdoor and
Carson kicked the block of wood out that was wedged in between. The door
slammed shut, locking automatically as the Biters approached.
Ryder pressed his ear to the door and
could hear them growling, moaning, scratching on the other side.
If Ryder had learned anything, it was
when you saw a few Biters traveling together, more were sure to follow.
In minutes, the market was encircled
by a herd of twenty or thirty Biters. The group couldn’t see past the windows
that Reggie had blacked out. But they could hear the commotion the Biters were
making with every attempt to claw their way inside.
They pressed their bloated, maggoty
corpses to the glass, hissed and snarled as they pounded and scratched against
“I doubt that glass will hold them
forever,” Reggie said.
“We’re trapped,” Nikki said,
panicking. “No way out. We’re surrounded.”
“How many bullets do you have left for
the Smith & Wesson?” Ryder asked.
“Sixteen,” Nikki said.
“You remember how to use it?”
“Good, then get ready to use it,”
Ryder told her, drawing Vern Sheldon’s .357 Magnum.
Damien had his .38 pistols locked and
loaded. Reggie and Scotty had their hunting rifles. They also had Drake Sharpe’s
rifle for when they ran low on bullets. Eli was clutching the Beretta,
preparing for the inevitable. He still had twenty rounds or so left to spare.
And Taryn had adopted both revolvers since the loss of Valentina.
“What about the flamethrower?” Damien
“We’ll save that as a last resort,”
Ryder told him.
The glass could no longer hold and
shattered as the Biters began to spill in. The first few had been impaled by
jagged glass, but that didn’t stop the others from crawling over them.
The smell of death filled the market
and with Biters staggering up and down every aisle, the shooting commenced.
Blood. Guts. Bullets. Chaos. Flying
appendages. That about sums everything up.
The bullets were flying fast and
furious, the shots so loud that the group had become deafened by the blasts.
Ryder aimed carefully and made every
shot count. And Damien did likewise. Nikki didn’t miss any shots, but the first
few she took were poorly aimed and failed to hit the head.
Taryn was becoming a natural and fired
both revolvers at once, cocked the hammers back, and fired again. Ryder assumed
she must’ve been taking lessons from Damien Albright.
And that’s when it hit him. Ryder had
never thought to suspect Damien. He didn’t want to believe for a second that
Damien was responsible. But Damien had that killer instinct, that will to
survive. Ryder knew he’d do anything in his power to keep the group safe, including
killing others who posed a threat or put them at risk.
Well, with one arm, Kenny would’ve
only slowed them down, been a nuisance, a burden. Maybe Damien didn’t want to
take that risk.
But he couldn’t ask him now. Every
time they took down a horde of Biters, another mob had swarmed in through the
“If this was a video game, we’d have
the high score right now,” Loomis shouted at Reggie before firing his rifle
again. But all Reggie could hear was that awful ringing in his ears.
Ryder saw the boys knew how to handle
themselves, knew how to use their weapons. If they survived this ordeal, Reggie
and Scotty could prove to be worthy assets to the group.
Nikki felt her stomach tightening up
in knots. She wasn’t accustomed to using a gun on a regular basis. And for a
nurse, she was pretty squeamish when it came to seeing a zombies rotten head
get split open by a bullet.
Eli fired ten shots, took down ten
Biters. Then popped the empty clip out and loaded a fresh one. This was his
Ryder fired his last shot with the
.357, nailed one Biter between the eyes with stunning accuracy. He tucked the
empty gun away and grabbed his trusty machete.
He waited for a few of them to stagger
over, get as close as possible. Wielding the machete, he hacked their necks to
the bone and their heads rolled across the market floor like bowling bowls.
It was an endless cycle. Taryn
unloaded and reloading her revolvers. Damien firing his .38 pistols. Ryder hacking
and slashing and slicing and dicing with that machete. The blood spraying and
spurting across the market, coming down on them like thick, oily rain.
Nikki counted four Biters impaled on
the broken glass of the windows. Another ten that hadn’t made it more than a
few feet past those windows. She counted six dead in aisle one and twelve dead
in aisle two. She counted another two or three dozen scattered across the
adjacent aisles. The numbers were starting to make her dizzy.
She gasped when she looked down and
saw the lifeless eyes of a Biter staring up at her. The head had been severed
from the torso and had rolled near her feet.
She raised the Smith & Wesson,
fired her last bullet. Then screamed, “I’m out of ammo!”
“So am I!” Eli shouted, his back against
Scotty Loomis had run out of ammo too,
but he picked up Drake Sharpe’s rifle and kept on shooting.
“Damien, the flamethrower!” Ryder
shouted. “Everyone else back up, grab your stuff if you can, and get ready to
Damien slipped the straps over his
shoulder and hoisted the tank up on his tank. He scrambled from his lighter as
Scotty, Reggie, Taryn, and Carson tried to hold the Biters at bay.
It took a few tries to spark the pilot
light, but once it was lit, Damien screamed, “Stay back!” and a sudden jet of
flames exploded from the nozzle. The blue flames fanned across the aisles in
Damien held the flamethrower steady, using
short, controlled bursts. The Biters wailed, croaked, thrashed about as the
flames spread and consumed what remained of their flesh and bones.
“Run!” Ryder screamed. “Go now!”
And right on cue, everyone grabbed
their weapons, grabbed whatever they could, and headed for the backdoor. A few
Biters still lurked in the streets, but as everyone made a move for the RV,
Damien used the flamethrower to send the Biters scrambling in the opposite
Carson fired up the RV and sped off
into the night. Luckily, Eli and Carson had loaded most of the food, water, and
supplies into the back. Only a few items were left behind in
“Everyone all right back there?” Ryder
“Far from it,” Nikki said. “But I’ll
“That was quite an experience,” Scotty
said, his hearing returning.
“Let’s not do it again anytime soon,”
* * *
Day Two Hundred and Forty One.
They had stopped once to refuel and
once to get some much needed rest. No one slept outside, not even in tents.
With ammo so scarce, none of them wanted to take the risk.
They had abandoned the interstate in
favor for a more scenic route that Scotty Loomis had suggested. Ryder didn’t
care which road they took as long as it led them to the guns and ammunition
that Scotty had promised.
That morning, while the others slept all
cramped up in back, Ryder left the RV to stretch his legs and try to put the
pieces together. He had taken the machete just in case he ran into any trouble.
But as Ryder was well aware of, trouble
comes in many different forms. And that morning, trouble came in the form of
“You look like you got something on
your mind,” Damien said as he approached Ryder outside the RV.
“I have something I want to ask you,”
Ryder said. “I’m just afraid of how you’re going to answer. But I need to know…did
you kill Kenny Sudrow?”
There was a long, dramatic pause. His
lips were parted, but he did not speak. He just let Ryder’s question, his
accusation, linger through the air.
He cleared his throat and sighed. “Yes,
I killed him.”
“Why?” Ryder asked, dropping the
machete, balling his hands into fists.
“Everything I’ve done, I’ve done to
protect this group. To keep us moving. To keep us breathing and surviving. If I
see a threat, I eliminate it. If I see someone who’s weak, someone who’s going
to put our lives at risk, I step up and handle that problem. I do what you’re
not willing to do. I killed Darren Mays. I killed Diego Garcia and everyone
else that stood in our way.”
“Devin was a junkie. He was weak. He
put us all at risk.”
“This whole time I thought it was
Regis Whitfield who killed him. You fooled me. You fooled us all.”
“I did what had to be done,” Damien
said, defending his actions. “And as far as I see it, I’ve done more than you
have. So you should be on your fucking knees right now, thanking me, kissing my
fucking ass for saving your worthless life time and time again!”
Ryder could listen no more. He raised
his hands, pulled his arm back, and slugged him. The first fist caught Damien
in the lower jaw. The second punch met the bridge of his nose and drew blood.
Damien raised two fingers to his nose,
wiped away some of the blood. “What are you going to do?” he chuckled. “Kill
me? I don’t think you’ve got it in you. You’re too weak. Not like me. Someone
who does what needs to be done. Can you do it, Carson? Can you kill your best
“Kenny was my best friend!” Ryder
shouted, slugging him again. Damien stumbled back, bouncing off the side of the
RV, dazed. “And now he’s dead because of you!”
Ryder swung again, but Damien ducked
it and his fist went overhead, leaving his midsection exposed. Damien caught
him with a punch to the cut, then rammed his knee repeatedly into his ribcage.
Ryder fell on his back, clutching at
his chest, gasping for air.
“You can’t beat me,” Damien chided. “No
matter how hard you try, I’ll always be better. Just remember that. Let this be
a lesson to you.”
Damien pulled his leg back and struck
Ryder in the belly with his boot. He rolled on his front, but that just left
his backside open for Damien to stomp away.
Damien grabbed him by the collar,
ripping Chase Crawford’s crucifix from his neck and tossing it aside. He pulled
Ryder to his feet and held him in place. “Had enough?” Damien asked. Ryder spat
in his face and Damien head butted him across the bridge of the nose, drawing
blood. But he was still on his feet.
A stiff right hand caught him across
the side of the face and Carson staggered back. “You can’t win,” Damien taunted
him. “Give it up. Put this all behind us. I’m willing to call a truce if you
His nose broken. His ribs bruised, possibly cracked. His back
aching, his body bruised and bleeding, Ryder still had some fight left in him.
Ryder eyed the machete that he’d tossed in the road. But
Damien seemed to read his mind and made a dash towards the weapon. Just as
Damien leaned down and snagged the handle, Ryder caught him with a boot to the
chin that sent him reeling.
Ryder grabbed the machete, gripping the handle with both hands
like a sword, and raising it above Damien’s chest. On his back, blinking
rapidly, the world spinning around him, Damien didn’t even see the blade being
plunged into his chest. But he sure as hell felt it.
Eli was the first to wake and notice that Carson and Damien
were missing. He heard the commotion outside, but didn’t make a move until things
were quiet again.
The first thing he saw was Ryder standing over Damien, bloody
machete in his hands.
“What the hell is going on here?” Eli asked.
“I’m sorry I doubted you even for a second,” Ryder told him. “I
found the culprit. Damien killed Kenny Sudrow.”
“I can’t believe it,” Eli said, feigning surprise.
“Well, believe it,” Ryder said. “And if you don’t mind, wake
the others please. I want to make this place a memory.”
“What about the body?”
“Leave it,” Ryder said. “The Biters will clean up the mess.”