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.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
IN THE FLESH: PART TWENTY FOUR
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
Sudrow: Youngest member of the group/Former spa porter/Happy to be doing
something else/Lost his family to Biters
Burton: Survivor found in Cherrywood Mall/Parents were rich and left him a large
inheritance when they died
Jackson: Tough as nails/Has no fear/Knows how to use a gun/Claims to have
crossed paths with Carson’s wife and daughter at one point in Tennessee
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 FOUR
FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Seven.
The teeth were so decayed that they had broken off and were
embedded in Kenny Sudrow’s shoulder.
“What about painkillers?” Kenny asked as Nikki Fox prepped him
“Fresh out,” Carson Ryder informed him.
“Maybe not,” Scotty Loomis spoke up. He was holding what
looked like a lunch box made out of metal. The outside was so rusty and
corroded that it took Ryder a few seconds to make out the red cross and the
words FIRST AID scrolled across the front.
“Drake was a good man,” he said. “But he certainly had his
habits. These are his leftovers. There’s everything in here from weed to
“I don’t see how marijuana will help
us,” Ryder said. Adding, “You know I used to be a police officer, right?”
“Not anymore,” Loomis told him.
“Besides, heroin is an analgesic. It can numb the pain and help him sleep.”
“How do you know this?” Nikki asked
him. “Did you work in a hospital? Were you a med student?”
I wish,” Loomis said. “I just know
things. I liked to read a lot. Now I don’t really have the time or the reading
material for it.”
“Well, he’s right,” Nikki shrugged.
“You really want to shoot him up with
heroin?” Ryder asked, his brows arched.
“We don’t have to shoot him up,” Nikki
said. “He just has to sniff a little of it.”
“I’ll huff paint if it helps with the
pain,” Kenny moaned. “Just please give me something for it.”
Ryder nodded and Loomis opened the
first aid kit, dug out the balloon of heroin. He took a pinch between his
fingers and sprinkled the powder into Kenny’s hands. “There you go, buddy,”
Loomis said. “Remember, not too much. Just a little bump.”
Kenny inhaled a small portion and
waited for it to kick in. Two minutes later, his eyelids were heavy and he was
filled with an overwhelming sensation of warmth, like his body was wrapped in a
heated blanket. He felt no pain, no sorrow, just bliss.
He didn’t even feel it when Ryder used
the machete to hack his arm down to the bone.
Damien had the flamethrower strapped to
his back. The pilot light was lit, set on a low flame. It was hot enough to cauterize
the wound, but safe enough that it wouldn’t burn him alive or torch the whole
place to the ground.
The steady flow of the blue flame was
applied to the wound, causing a dark, blood filled scab to form around the
wound. By then, Kenny was fully sedated. Unconscious would be the better word.
The heroin had taken effect, and there
was more left over for when he’d wake up screaming in agony.
“Thanks,” Ryder told Loomis.
“Oh, yeah, don’t thank me,” Damien
said, extinguishing the pilot light and removing the flamethrower.
“I’ve thanked you dozens of times
already,” Ryder said, laughing. “Let someone else have a turn for a change.”
“Don’t mention it,” Loomis said. “Just
glad I could help. And at least Drake’s death is not in vain.”
“Not to change the subject,” Ryder
said. “But we’re running low on ammo. This place you were telling us about,
where is it?”
“Maumelle, Arkansas,” Loomis said. “It’s
northwest of Little Rock. Not too far from here. Can your RV make it?”
“We’ll sure as hell try,” Ryder said.
“When do we leave?” Damien asked
“It depends on how long it takes him
to recover,” Ryder said, referring to an unconscious Kenny. “I don’t want to
move him until the wound has had a little time to heal and he’s ok to move on
his own. I don’t want to risk the chance of infection.”
“Understood,” Damien said, nodding.
“If you’ll excuse me,” Ryder said. “I
need a little air. This has been one hell of a day and my head is spinning. I’ll
go out the back so we don’t have to clear the front entrance. If you hear me
knocking, please come running.”
“Will do,” Reggie assured him. “But
don’t wander too far. You’ve only got a few bullets left in that Magnum.”
“Thanks for the reminder,” Ryder said,
walking to the backdoor. “I’ll stay close by.”
Nikki fetched a pillow and blanket.
She covered Kenny and gently pushed the pillow under his head. Then she
bandaged the wound.
With Ryder gone, Damien was running
the show. But he had other things on his mind. And a whisper in his ear from
Taryn was all it took to lure Damien back to the stockroom.
“Guess that just leaves us,” Reggie
pointed out to Valentina and gave her a wink.
“Ugh,” Valentina said, and walked off
“Oh, well,” Reggie said. “So what’s in
that first aid kit anyways?”
“There’s a few grams of weed,” Loomis
said. “Some rolling paper. A balloon of heroin. A one hitter. A salt shaker
full of crystal. A few Xanax. And some mushrooms, but they’re really dried out
and discolored. I wouldn’t risk eating them.”
“You know how to roll, right?”
“Does the pope shit in the woods?”
Loomis asked. “Yeah, I know how to roll.”
“Then roll us a fatty and let’s blaze,”
“You’re not smoking in here,” Nikki
“Oh, lighten up,” Loomis said. “Who’s
it going to bother?”
“Me,” Nikki said. “I don’t like smoke.”
“Have you ever smoked weed before?” Reggie
“Hell no,” Nikki said. “Some people
offered it to me in college. But it was never my thing.”
“It’s never too late to start,” Loomis
said, grinding up some of the weed with his fingertips.
* * *
Valentina Jackson followed Ryder
outside and caught up with him behind the market.
“So your wife was heading to
Washington,” Valentina said. “I was right.”
“Valentina, not now. Please.”
“I just don’t want you to think I’m a
“I don’t. But she was here. Maybe she
told you Washington and she told Nikki Arkansas. Maybe Nikki crossed paths with
her before you did. Maybe neither of you really even remember what she said. It
doesn’t matter. What does matter is that my wife and daughter are gone. I’m
never going to see them again. EVER. And I’m trying to learn how to cope with
“Well, what’s the big deal?” Valentina
asked. “A few months ago, you couldn’t even remember them. You still can’t
remember them completely. And chances are you never will. Stop focusing on the
past when you should be focusing on what’s right in front of you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about us. I’m talking
about the future.”
“There’s no us,” Ryder said
vehemently. “Get that straight. We’re friends. That’s it. You’re a good ally. I
don’t want to screw up our relationship or make you think it’s something that
“Who is it?” Valentina probed him. “Taryn?
No it can’t be her because Damien is already fucking her. Is it Nikki? Do you
want to fuck Nikki? What does she have that I don’t, Carson? Tell me!”
“You need to relax,” Ryder said. “Go
for a walk. Clear your head. You’ll feel better.”
“Don’t patronize me, you bastard! You’ll
regret this!” She stormed off like Damien after one of his temper tantrums.
Ryder was left baffled, concerned, and craving a cigarette.
Valentina had been wrong about one
thing. His memory was getting stronger. He was starting to remember more of the
little things–movie titles, sports teams, rock bands, the election of George W.
Bush, the panic of Y2K.
He recalled that Caroline’s favorite artists
were Neil Diamond and Stevie Nicks. One of her favorite songs was “Sweet
Caroline”. He remembered her closing her eyes when she listened to it. She
liked to pretend that he was singing directly to her.
He remembered that Charlotte loved
Disney movies and aspired to be a doctor when she grew up. Ryder remembered
encouraging her aspirations, something he’d never be able to do again.
And he was starting to recall all
those intimate moments with Caroline. It wouldn’t be long now before he
* * *
Willard Pickman was right about one
thing. There was an antivirus. A cure. And it did rest somewhere in the heart
It just never had the chance to be
implemented. Eli Burton saw to that. He lined all the right pockets with money,
gave them plenty of notice. Plenty of time to stockpile supplies and flee to
their uncharted islands, to safety and obscurity.
The Secretary of Defense was paid a very
generous sum to sway the CDC into generating this pathogen. The whole time,
they were never truly aware what they were working on. What purpose, if any,
this experiment had. But they created the antivirus just to be safe.
And the Secretary of Defense was paid
an even larger sum to see that it was destroyed.
But the day they met to exchange the
rest of the money for the pathogen, Eli changed his mind.
“The antivirus,” Eli told him the week
before the outbreak. “Don’t destroy it.”
“Having second thoughts?”
“You never know.”
“Am I still getting paid the same?”
“Then it’s your money.”
“You know you only have about a week
or two to enjoy that, right?” Eli pointed out to him.
“You’d be surprised how much I can
spend in a week,” he said, grinning from ear to ear as he accepted the leather
briefcase and handed a set of keys over to Eli. “It’s all in the trunk. The license
plates are government issued, so nobody should stop you for any reason. That
shouldn’t be any trouble though. The real trouble for you is smuggling this
stuff out of the country to all your friends.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that,” Eli
said, returning a sinister smile. “You’d be surprised what people are willing
to do for money. They don’t even bother to ask questions. They just take the
money and ship whatever I give them without thinking twice.”
“So is it safe to assume this is
goodbye?” he said.
“In a week or so, you can say goodbye
to the whole entire world as you know it.”
* * *
Ryder knocked several times before
Reggie wallowed over to let him in through the backdoor. His eyes were glassy
and bloodshot, and the whole market reeked of marijuana.
“Hey,” Nikki giggled. “Look who came
“You’re smoking too?” Ryder said,
“Hey, when in Rome,” Nikki said,
Her laughter was infectious, causing
White and Loomis to join in. Soon they were all laughing at nothing as they sat
Indian style in a circle and passed the burning joint around.
"Ah, what the fuck?” Ryder shrugged and
sat down beside them. “Let me try some of that.”
* * *
“Where’s Nikki?” Ryder asked when they
were all settling in that night. “And where’s Valentina?”
“Beats me,” Eli shrugged, curling up on
the floor with a pillow and blanket.
“I think they wandered off together a
little while ago,” Loomis said. “Girl talk.”
“In the dark?”
“They took a flashlight,” Loomis said.
“Still,” Ryder said. “That isn’t like
Valentina. She knows better than that.”
“Girls,” Loomis shrugged and turned in
for the night.
Ryder wasn’t convinced though and
grabbed a flashlight and his .357 Magnum and went looking for them.
He used the backdoor again and walked
around the back of the market, crept along the side. It was dark, but he could
navigate his way with the flashlight. But he didn’t want to use it unless he
had to. The light could easily draw the Biters out.
Ryder used the shadows to his
advantage, slinking through the streets and following their trail.
He found them a few blocks up from the
market, but remained in the shadows, not drawing any attention to himself. He
waited for Valentina to reveal her true motives.
“So what’s this all about?” Nikki
asked her. “I mean, what’s this really about? I suspect you didn’t just want to
talk about your family.”
“It’s true,” Valentina said. “I did
want to talk to you about something else. But there’s nothing I can say to
change anything. He loves you, not me.”
“Oh, stop,” Nikki said. “He isn’t in
love with me or you. He’s just lonely. He misses his wife and daughter.”
“Oh wake up, you stupid bitch!”
Valentina shouted in her face. “They’re dead! Gone! They’re not coming back!
And what he’s looking for right now is a replacement! And that just so happens
to be you!”
“You’re insane,” Nikki mumbled.
“Am I?” Valentina cackled. “Let’s find
out. Let’s see what happens when you’re out of the picture and Carson has no
one else to turn to.” She drew her revolver with six fresh bullets loaded
inside. The gun didn’t have a safety, but it did have a hammer which she cocked
back with her thumb and pointed it directly at Nikki.
“Valentina, no!” Carson shouted and
stepped out from the shadows, .357 Magnum in hand. “Put it down now!”
“She has to die!” Valentina screamed. “It’s
the only way!”
“You’re wrong,” Ryder said. “I don’t
want either of you. And there is another way. We put our guns down and walk
back together like nothing happened.”
“You know that won’t work,” Valentina
said. “Not after this.”
Valentina squeezed the trigger of her
revolver and Ryder took a shot at her. The bullet got lodged between her ribs
and she fell to the ground, bleeding profusely.
Nikki sighed as she realized Valentina
had missed. At the very end, she had no intention of killing Nikki. She knew
all she had to do was fire a shot and Ryder would finish her off.
“Hold me,” Valentina moaned as she lie
on her back, bleeding internally. “Please, hold me.”
“She’s not going to make it,” Nikki
“I know,” Ryder said, whispering. “She
was crazy, just like her old man. I hate to say it, but it’s better this way.”
Ryder pried the gun from her lifeless
fingers and tucked the revolver in his waistband. He lifted his flashlight, the
beam illuminating three rotting faces.
The Biters has heard the gunshot and
were on the prowl for fresh meat. Nikki gagged and pinched her nose like a
clothespin with two fingers. “They smell awful,” she exclaimed. “They look like
they’ve been dead for years.”
The one in the center, its stomach had
been torn open and its intestines now dragged along the street like sausage
links. The one on the right was wearing a charcoal suit and dirty red tie.
Behind all that rotten flesh and those dead eyes, Ryder saw a businessman who
was not cut out for this kind of world.
On the left, a girl, a teenager. Maybe
a local. Maybe someone who got separated from their group. Either way, she didn’t
“Let’s book,” Ryder said. “We can’t
waste the bullets if we can beat them on foot.”
* * *
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Eight.
Carson Ryder waited until morning to
announce to everyone what transpired the night before with Valentina. But her
death was overshadowed by the loss of another.
That morning, when Kenny Sudrow had
yet to wake, Ryder checked up on him. But when he couldn’t shake him out of it,
he checked for a pulse.
“He’s dead,” Ryder mumbled in
disbelief. Shock was already setting in. “Kenny is dead…someone broke his next
last night while he was sleeping.” It was then Ryder noticed the blood. “And
then they stabbed him through the back of the head, made sure he didn’t turn.”
“Who?” Reggie asked. “Who killed him.”
“It sure wasn’t Diego Garcia,” Ryder
sighed. “Whoever it was, I’m giving you fair warning. I will find out who you
are and I’ll give you one chance to explain yourself…before I kill you.”
* * *
Nobody had gone back to retrieve
Valentina Jackson’s body. Too risky. And the Biters had already had their fill.
Little or nothing remained of her now.
They buried Kenny three blocks from
the market, in an unmarked grave beside Drake Sharpe’s. Carson poured the first
shovel of dirt into the hole and then passed it to Damien, who took a turn.
They all poured one shovelful of dirt into the grave and then Damien and Carson
finished the job as quickly as they could.
Short on breath, Carson and Damien let
Eli say a few words first.
“Kenny was a good man,” Eli said. “He
was always friendly, helpful, easy to approach and talk to. He always tried to
keep his spirits up and I think that helped raise the spirts of the group. I’m
really sorry to see him go. Rest in peace, buddy.”
Nikki, dabbed the tears from her eyes,
and spoke next. “I didn’t know Kenny for as long as some of you did. But he was
nice to me. He accepted me. He made me laugh and smile. And I’ll miss him. Rest
in peace, Kenny.”
“I didn’t know him that well, either,”
Taryn said. “But I’m so sad to see him go. And I’ll miss him dearly. He was one
of us. And he’ll always be one of us as far as I’m concerned.”
Even Reggie White and Scotty Loomis
stepped up to say a few words for their fallen comrade.
“I’m not big on speeches,” Damien
said. “But Kenny was my friend. And I’ll miss him. Rest easy, big guy.”
Carson lifted the crucifix from his
neck to his lips and gave it a slight peck, said a silent prayer. Then he
spoke. “Kenny was one of my best friends. I would have done anything for that
kid. I taught him how to shoot. He taught me how to laugh and have a good time
again. I’ll miss him as much as I miss Arnold and Vern and everyone else we’ve
lost. Kenny, if you’re listening up there, rest in peace, brother.”
TO BE CONTINUED WITH PART TWENTY FIVE: ZOMBIE