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.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
IN THE FLESH: PART TWENTY THREE
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/Little is known about her at this
Fox: A native Tennessean/Former registered nurse
IN THE FLESH
By Daniel Skye
PART TWENTY THREE
Friday, September 13th,
Reggie White was twenty-one years old
and his life was going nowhere. He was working as an assistant ice cream vendor
for his Uncle Ben’s truck, and getting paid the bare minimum of wages, a detail
Reggie might add if he was telling the story.
And with fall on the horizon and
winter right around the corner from there, Reggie was soon to find himself
unemployed again. Nobody wants to hire a two time loser at age twenty-one. Too
much of a risk. And what if Reggie felt compelled to steal again? He’d end up
back in the slammer with three strikes under his belt. Life in prison.
Reggie vowed not to let that happen.
And Uncle Ben had made mention of a gig out in Little Rock. It was a
sponsorship deal. A company looking for people to sponsor and counsel recovering
“That job would be perfect for you,”
Uncle Ben had told him.
“How much does it pay?” Reggie had
“Twelve bucks an hour.” That was more
money than Reggie had ever made without stealing. But little did Reggie know,
fate was about to hurl a monkey wrench into the works that day.
With all the kids back at school, it
had been a slow Friday for Reggie and his uncle. The ice cream wasn’t moving as
fast as it had in the summer.
Reggie was bored out of his mind. By
four o’clock, he was begging his uncle to drive him home. But Ben was a
stubborn man and refused to lose any business that might come their way.
Suddenly, Reggie heard a woman’s
scream echo from down the street. And suddenly, he wasn’t the least bit bored.
Across the park, Reggie could see a
man who had been walking his dog. But he stopped dead in his tracks when he
heard the screams. So did the two girls with pigtails who were bouncing a ball
back and forth. The whole park seemed to freeze at the blood curdling sound of
that woman’s scream.
And that’s when all hell broke loose.
The screaming woman came running
through the park, her beige pant suit soaked in blood. A man trailed after her,
but there was something strange to Reggie about the way he walked.
But it wasn’t just the walk that
disturbed Reggie. It was the blood dribbling from the man’s chin and that
glazed over look in his eyes.
The man gave up on his initial target
as the woman in the pant suit ran out of sight. Instead, he turned his
attention to the man with the dog, ripping the man’s throat open with nothing
but his teeth.
And then he started with the dog…
The girls with pigtails screamed as
they dropped their red ball and ran from the park. A woman with her kids
scrambled to her minivan and sped out of sight.
A trio of shiftless slackers who were
loitering in the park with their bikes and skateboards were mauled in front of
Reggie, torn limb from limb by a woman who must have been in her fifties. She
had that same glazed over look in her eyes that the man had.
A small boy was bit by a total
stranger, then five minutes later, the boy was biting and clawing his own
Tires screeched as a mail truck lost
the road and veered off into a tree before catching flames.
Across the park, where the man was
still chowing down on that stranger’s dog, another man was clawing at his own
eyes in a fit of insanity.
“Uncle Ben, we have to go now!” Reggie
But Uncle Ben was incapable of hearing
Reggie pleas. A young girl, no older than six or seven, had climbed up the side
of the truck and leaned through the open window, ripping Uncle Ben’s throat
Reggie tried to stop the bleeding, but
it was too late. Ben tried to warn him before Reggie moved him from the driver
seat and took off. He tried to warn Reggie not to drive with him in the truck.
Ben had seen this before in movies and
comics, read about it in books. He’d prepared himself for this occasion, and he
knew he was going to turn. And when he did, he didn’t want to be in the vicinity
of any family members.
But Reggie had no clue what was going
on. He just knew the shit had hit the fan and he needed to get out of dodge.
On the road, he watched a bike courier
get mauled by an old man with a cane. Saw a woman get her stomach torn open and
her guts ripped out onto the sidewalk.
He couldn’t help but witness the
horror that unfolded as he sat, waiting for the traffic to break up.
He heard movements in the back of the
truck and slammed it into park. He stood up and looked back, saw Uncle Ben
writhing on the floor. The blood had already dried and coagulated. The flesh
had already lost its color. And he had that same vacant stare; that same glazed
over look of terror in his eyes.
“Uncle Ben, are you ok?” Reggie asked,
keeping his distance as Uncle Ben stood up. He had nothing to defend himself.
And he couldn’t bring himself to harm another family member, regardless of the
So he did the smartest thing he could
think of. He abandoned ship so to speak and jumped out of the truck, taking off
There was panic, chaos, and confusion
in every direction he glanced. And the blood…so much blood.
He tried not to look, not to think
about it. What he needed now was shelter, safety. He needed to get home. But
how could he be certain that home was safe? What if his mother or father had
turned? What if there was already nothing left for Reggie White?
* * *
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Six.
It had been more than a day since the
group moved on from the hospital. More than a day since the burial of Tyler
Reese and their newest acquaintance, Aaron Black.
Kenny Sudrow had taken the loss of
Tyler very hard and started drinking again as a way to cope with the tragedy of
the events. Carson Ryder didn’t approve, but he understood. Everyone needed a
After adopting Chase Crawford’s
crucifix, Carson had turned to the Lord and started praying. That was his
outlet. Trying to establish a connection with God…if God hadn’t already turned
his back on them.
It was in Little Rock, Arkansas where
the gang stopped the RV to rest. And it was Little Rock where Carson was hoping
to find answers about his wife and child.
They set up camp for the night in the
deserted strip mall corner market. It was there Carson hoped they’d find some
“You got anything?” Carson asked as
they walked up and down the bare aisles.
“We’re in luck,” Damien shouted from
There were cases of water bottles, expired soda pop, packs of
gum and other untouched candy and chocolate. Bags of chips, and cans of beans,
corn, and green peas. Packages of dried apples, apricots, banana chips, dates,
mangoes, and figs. There were cans of nuts and packages of trail mix that were
still sealed. Boxes of raisins. Every kind of dry fruit imaginable. Everything
they’d need to sustain.
The shelves were stocked with dry
rice, grain, chick peas, and lentils. A sack of potatoes rested on the floor.
Eli found a box of fresh mushrooms on
the shelf and beside it, a jar of peppers that were still fresh.
There was salted ham and genoa salami
logs sealed in plastic. And plenty of soup cans that hadn’t reached their
expiration date yet.
“This isn’t right,” Carson shook his
head as he looked around the stockroom.
“I know,” Kenny said, slurring his
words. His breath reeked of vodka, which he had finished the last of. He was
planning on working on the gin next. “We hit the cosmic lottery.”
“No, I mean nobody would leave all
this food behind. This could be a trap.”
“Drop your weapons!” a voice shouted
from the door and they turned to see three young men with rifles.
“Oh no you don’t,” Carson said,
pumping his shotgun. “Not today. Not after what we’ve been through.”
“Don’t put up a fight,” the leader of
the group said, stepping forward with his rifle. Carson could see his hands
were shaking slightly. He wasn’t infected with anything that Carson could tell.
He was just nervous.
Carson gathered this was one of his
first rodeos. “Just give us your supplies and be gone,” the young man said.
“That’s all we want. No one has to die.”
“I’m afraid someone does have to die,”
Carson said. “Because we’re not giving up our supplies. Not after what we’ve
“You’re one stubborn man,” the leader
said, lowering his rifle. “The name’s Reggie White. The man to my left is Scotty
Loomis. And this big lug to my right is Drake Sharpe. Guys, lower your rifles.”
“Are you crazy?” Loomis yelled.
“Do it!” Reggie shouted back.
The young men lowered their rifles and
Carson lowered his shotgun and gave his group the nod to do the same.
“The food is ours,” Reggie informed
the group. “We found it first. But we’re willing to share if you’re willing to
have our backs with those firearms of yours.”
“We don’t have much ammo left, but
we’re willing to help in any way we can,” Carson said. “I’m assuming we’re the
first person you tried to stick up.”
“You’re the first people we’ve seen in
months,” Reggie told him. “We were starting to think we were the only ones left
besides the Flesh Eaters.”
“We call them Biters,” Damien said.
“I like that name,” Reggie chuckled.
“Where are you from?” Carson inquired.
“Arkansas,” Reggie said. “Born and
“Utah,” Loomis answered.
“Missouri,” Drake replied.
“What about you folks?” Reggie asked.
“Where do yawl come from?”
“Most of us are from New York,” Damien
said. “We met Taryn, Nikki, and Valentina along the way.”
“This is your whole group?” Carson
asked Reggie directly, addressing him as their leader. ‘”There’s no one else
waiting in the wings to ambush us?”
“This is it,” Reggie confessed. “It’s
just us three. The group used to be bigger, but we lost people on the road.”
“You’re not the only ones,” Carson
* * *
That night they all pulled up chairs,
or in this case it was empty milk crates, and made themselves at home by the
registers. The windows in the front of the store had been blacked out by Reggie
and his men. They used black paint to smear over the inside of the glass and
The lock was busted, so Carson and his
gang gave Reggie and his men a hand barricading the door that evening. There
was an emergency exit in back, but the lock still worked on that door. They
were safe, at least for the evening.
They drank rum and tequila while Kenny
guzzled a bottle of gin. Carson wondered how long it would be before Kenny burned
himself out. He wondered if it would come before or after he realized the
liquor wasn’t a solution to his problems.
“So you guys came all the way from New
York, huh?” Drake asked. “You traveled a long way. What’s it like outside of
“Not much different,” Carson informed
“Wait,” Eli said, “You guys haven’t
left Arkansas since the shit hit the fan?”
“Nope,” Drake said. “Like I said, I’m
from Missouri. I was only out here on a construction job. The job was supposed
to last for two weeks. But when things went bad and everyone sought shelter, I
followed. I sort of got trapped here like a lot of other people did.”
“Well, I’m sorry to tell you that
there’s not a whole lot left,” Damien said.
“I sort of figured that,” Reggie said.
“Figures. I spent my whole life in Arkansas. Never bothered to travel or see
the world. Now there’s nothing to see.”
“Don’t feel too bad,” Loomis said.
“The world was a cesspool then, and it’s a cesspool now. The only difference
now are the Flesh Eaters.”
“Biters,” Reggie corrected him.
Taryn whispered something into
Damien’s ear and they snuck off when nobody else was paying attention and went
to the stockroom to try and get some privacy.
“There was something I was going to
ask you tomorrow, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask you now,” Carson said,
removing the creased, faded photograph from his back pocket. He passed it to
Reggie who unfolded the picture to take a better look. “Do you recognize the
woman or the little girl in the photograph?”
“Can’t say I do,” Reggie said. “Sorry.
Hey guys, take a look at this picture and tell Carson if you’ve seen these two
“Hey, Drake, take a look at this,”
Loomis said, eyeing the photograph. Drake leaned in over his shoulder and
“Is that your wife and daughter?”
“Yes,” Carson said. “I’ve been looking
for them since we left New York. Have you seen them?”
“I have,” Drake said. “Back when
Scotty and I were part of another group. The group decided they were going to
split up. Your wife’s goal was to reach Washington. Like many others, she
figured it’d be safe there. She had others willing to travel with her.”
“So she’s in Washington?” Carson
“I’m sorry,” Loomis said for Drake,
who wasn’t exactly the best at expressing sympathy. “Before our group could
split up, we were attacked by the Biters. Drake is a big guy, strong as they
come. But even he couldn’t save them. Again, I can’t tell you how sorry we
“It’s true,” Drake said. “I tried my
best. Believe me, I did. But there were too many of them to overcome. Those
that survived had to abandon the campsite.”
“You’re saying she…she didn’t make
it?” Carson mumbled. “Caroline and Charlotte…they’re dead?”
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” Loomis
“I don’t want your fucking sympathy!”
Carson screamed. “I want to see my fucking wife and daughter!”
“I wish I could help you,” Loomis
sighed. “I feel your pain.”
“We all feel your pain,” Reggie spoke.
“I’m so sorry, man. Anything I can do for you, just say it.”
“Clear the door,” Carson said.
“What?” Reggie asked.
“You want to help me, clear the door,”
Carson said. “Get rid of the barricade. Then once I’m gone, you can barricade
the door again.”
“Look, Carson, I’m sorry you lost your
family,” Valentina said. “But don’t walk out on us. We need you.”
“She’s right,” Nikki finally spoke up.
“We all need you. And whatever you’re thinking about doing, it won’t bring them
“Just do it!” Carson screamed at
Reggie. Loomis and Sharpe helped Kenny reluctantly clear the doorway. Kenny tried
one last time to talk him out of it.
“Reconsider,” Kenny urged him. “Stay
the night and sleep it off. I promise you’ll feel better in the morning. You’ll
be able to think a little clearer.”
“Like you?” Carson laughed. “Get the
fuck out of my way.”
Carson grabbed his Remington and Kenny
stepped aside and helplessly watched as Carson walked out on them. Loomis and
Sharpe barricaded the door when he was gone and the conversation came to an
“Well, maybe we should just call it a
night,” Reggie suggested. “It’s getting late. I’ll stand guard and wait up to
see if Carson comes back.”
Kenny wanted to argue and insist that
he’d stay up to wait for Carson, but his body was too exhausted to allow him to
protest. He curled up in the aisles with a pillow and blanket and found sleep
before anyone else.
“Where have you guys been sleeping?”
Eli asked Reggie.
“We’ve just been crashing in the
stockroom,” Sharpe said. “One of us always stays up to keep watch. We work in
shifts. I usually keep guard first, but I’m going to let Reggie have the honors
“I think the stockroom is taken
tonight,” Valentina said, her ear pressed up to the door. From the outside of
the stockroom, she could hear Taryn’s screams.
“I guess out here is just as good as
in there,” Loomis shrugged and settled for the floor. Sharpe wasn’t pleased
with the arrangement, but eventually settled down and went to sleep.
Nikki, Eli, and Valentina were the
last to turn in. Nikki felt awful about the news that Carson had received. She
wished there was something she could say or do to ease his pain.
Valentina was actually rather pleased
about the news, but she didn’t show it. Like many other survivors, she had her
Reggie White sat awake with his
hunting rifle, keeping his eyes and ears open for trouble, and waiting for
Carson to hopefully return in one piece.
* * *
It was an overload of emotions. The
stress was too much for Carson’s shattered mind to bear. He felt guilt, regret,
sorrow, remorse, agony, and rage.
The aggression had been boiling inside
of him for months and now it was time to release it. It was time to let go and let
those violent tendencies take over. It was time to feed the rage.
Six blocks from the mini market,
Carson saw the first Biter of the evening. Its legs had been maimed, possibly
from the wheels of another vehicle that had recently passed through. It crawled
on its swollen, discolored belly, trying to reach the sidewalk. Its head was
resting on the curb when Carson wandered over and stomped it, crushing the
skull like an egg with his boot.
Two more Biters lurked in the shadows
of the car dealership across the street. One vehicle occupied the lot and had
been stripped. All that remained was the body. The parts, the engine, even the
tires had been removed.
When the apocalypse began, people weren’t thinking rationally
and someone must’ve not realized they’d never have a chance to sell those parts.
Not like it made any difference to Carson.
He pumped the mechanism of his shotgun
and fired one deafening blast. He pumped it again and took the next Biter down.
He loaded two more shots and wandered
across to the empty dealership lot. Both shots had been kill shots, but the
sound just attracted more of them that were stumbling around in search of food.
It didn’t mean anything to Carson. The
more, the merrier. He cocked the shotgun again and fired one shot towards the
road, bagging another.
Four more came staggering from the
road and advanced on him in the lot. The Biter that was closest to him looked
to be the freshest one of the pack. Advanced rot and decay had yet to set in.
He could’ve been turned just a few days before Carson encountered him, maybe
But that wasn’t going to stop him. He
raised the shotgun and fired, the bullet tearing through the Biter’s eye.
The one that stood behind it was an
Oldie as Kenny liked to refer to them. A zombie that was most likely turned
during the initial weeks of the outbreak. The skin that hadn’t rotted away was
saggy and hung from its bones like layers of excess fat.
He raised the Remington again and
fired, and the bullet turned its skull to mush.
As the final two Biters continued to
advance on him, Carson took a few steps back and loaded two more shells. He
pumped it twice and fired twice, tearing the heads clean off their shoulders.
The echoes of the gunshots just drew
more of them out of their hiding spots. Carson could see them shambling through
the streets and circling the lot of the dealership. They were coming from every
He dug through his pockets and found
the last two shells for his Remington. He loaded the shells and made them
count, taking down the two nearest Biters. Then he ran like hell.
He ran until his legs throbbed and his
heart pounded against his ribcage. Then he ran some more.
He jetted all the way back to the
market and as he huffed for air, he pounded on the front door. “Let me in! For
the love of God, let me in!”
The noise stirred Scotty and Kenny
from their sleep and they helped Reggie clear the door. They let Carson in and
he barricaded the door by himself, moving like he was possessed.
“Are you alright?” Kenny asked.
“Far from it,” Carson said. “But at
least I got that out of my system. The Remington is done. No more shells. I’m
still going to hang on to it for now. Maybe we’ll find more ammo soon.”
“I might know a place,” Loomis said.
“It’s not too far from here.”
“Would you be willing to lead the
way?” Carson asked.
“If you’ve got my back, I’ve got
yours,” Loomis said. “Besides, we can’t stay camped out in this market
“That’s the spirit,” Carson said,
forcing a smile. It was going to be a long, tough road to recovery. But he had
to put the loss of Charlotte and Caroline behind him eventually. He had to pull
it together and survive for the sake of the group.
“You’re going to need a new gun,”
“We’ve still got Vern’s .357 Magnum.
That’ll work till we find more guns and ammo.”
“There’s only six shots left,” Kenny
said. “So use them wisely.”
“Hey, where’s the commode in this
place?” Kenny asked. “I drank too much and I gotta drain the main vein.”
“There’s a bathroom just past the
stockroom,” Reggie said. “Make sure you don’t go in the stockroom instead.”
“Who’s in the stockroom?” Carson
“Taryn and Damien,” Loomis said.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Carson said.
“It’s dark in the bathroom and the
toilet’s busted, but there’s a piss bucket in there on the floor. Make sure you
don’t knock it over.”
“Got it,” Kenny said and wandered off
with a flashlight to use the bathroom. He opened the door, gasped, and dropped
the flashlight. “Guys, come quickly!”
The men rushed over and Carson picked
up the flashlight to scope the room out. He saw the dangling legs before he saw
anything else and realized what the fuss was about.
* * *
A half hour before Carson returned,
Drake Sharpe had snagged some rope from the group’s bag of supplies. He snuck
off in the darkness to the restroom and in the sink, he lit a scented candle
he’d been hording for the occasion.
He made a loop and knotted it tightly
in the center. He flipped the piss bucket over and the rank smell filled the
restroom. But in a few seconds, the smell wouldn’t matter one bit.
He flung the rope around a beam and
fastened it securely. When he stood on top of the bucket, he noticed the rope
was tied a bit higher than he anticipated. He had to stand on his tiptoes just
to fit his head around the noose.
Once the noose was snug around his
skin and the knot was pulled tightly against the back of his neck, he let the
bucket slide out from under his feet. But the initial fall had not snapped his
neck as he had hoped for.
His legs kicked involuntary through
the air as his fingers moved on their own, pulling at the rope around his neck,
trying to alleviate some of the pressure. It felt like a million tiny insects
crawling around inside of his back, jolting his spine in every direction.
He choked with every attempt to call
for help and his tongue flapped over his chin like a panting dog.
Soon, there was no sound. No sight.
Death came calling for Drake Sharpe.
* * *
Day Two Hundred And Thirty-Seven.
They buried Drake that morning, three
blocks from the market.
The noose had succeeded in taking his
life. But it didn’t stop him from turning. When they found him in the
stockroom, his body was still writhing and struggling to escape the noose.
Carson had to cut him down with his
machete and finish the job.
“Drake looked to act like he was
tough,” Reggie said. “Like he had everything together. But I could see it in
his eyes. He was a coward. He was secretly afraid of anything. When you guys
told him nothing was left out there, I think he took that as his cue to exit.”
“Sorry for your loss,” Nikki said.
“Very sorry,” Carson added.
“It’ll be ok,” Reggie assured them.
“He was a good man, but we didn’t know him that well.”
“We could wait till tomorrow to move
on if you’d like,” Carson said. “I know it must be tough for you.”
“No we should probably leave today if
we’re going to find the place before dark,” Scotty said. And Reggie seemed to
On their way back to the market, the
group fell under attack. It was a whole herd that came staggering from a nearby
alley. There were Oldies and there were fresh ones, but one thing was certain.
They were all starved and in search of fresh meat.
Almost as if they were working in
unison, the Biters staggered into the streets, forming a wall of flesh that
prevented them from cutting straight across. And there were more lumbering
towards the group from the other direction.
“Take as many down as you have to,”
Carson said. “Just until we clear a path.”
The group raised their individual
weapons and the firing commenced.
Carson remembered the lack of bullets
in Vern’s gun and took his time with his shots, made sure he didn’t miss.
Valentina was a natural and Taryn had
drawn inspiration from her and stepped up her game. She was firing and
reloading with the speed and accuracy of a seasoned vet.
Nikki still wasn’t quite there yet,
but when push came to shove, she knew how to pull that trigger and eliminate a
Eli had taken lessons from Carson and
seemed to adapt well to the Beretta. He was capping Biters left and right.
A stray Biter in the distance caught
up to the group, but they failed to notice it with their backs turned and this
herd of Biters lined in front of them.
The Biter sank its black, rotting
teeth into Kenny’s shoulder and he wailed in pain. Damien saw what was going on
and put a stop to it immediately by blasting a hole through the Biter’s head.
“Fuck!” Kenny screamed as he applied
pressure to the wound. Just trying to put pressure on it made him wince in
A path had been cleared and Carson
assisted Kenny as they doubled back towards the market.
Damien helped Loomis and Reggie
barricade the door again as Carson had Nikki help him tend to Kenny’s wound.
“What can we do?” Carson asked her.
“Nothing,” she whispered. “It’s a
bite. I can’t cure this. I can patch him up, but that doesn’t mean he won’t
“Then we’ll cut it off,” Carson said.
“What?” Nikki said.
“Yeah, what?” Kenny asked. “Are you
“If we can cut it off and stop the
infection from spreading, we might be able to save you. Is it possible?”
“Yes, it’s possible,” Nikki said.
“Almost anything is possible. But even if we cut the arm off and stop the
infection from spreading, we’ll have to stop the bleeding right away. We’ll
have to cauterize it.”
“Cauterize?” Carson asked.
“Burn the wound shut.”
“Oh hell no,” Kenny protested.
“Kid, I’m trying to save your life
“Is it going to hurt?” Kenny asked.
“Yeah, it’s going to hurt like a
bitch,” Carson said. “But when it’s over, you’ll still be alive. Nurse, prep
the patient for surgery. I’ll get my machete.”
To Be Continued With Part Twenty Four:
FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND