Authors: Kevin Butler
Emperor of a
This is a work of fiction. All characters are from the imagination of the author. Any resemblance to anyone living or undead is coincidental.
Emperor of a Dead World
Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Butler
All Rights Reserved
Other novels by Kevin Butler
Champion of the Gods
Table of Contents
When he awoke, he was coughing so hard he thought he would choke. It took several minutes but he finally caught his breath and opened his eyes. Looking around, he could barely see in the dimly lit room and when he tried to move, his head felt like it would explode. Consumed with agony he could do nothing but stare at the ceiling and wait for the pounding in his head to subside.
In this condition, he lay and endured a cycle of worsening and lessening throbs until his anguish slowly dissipated. As this torment passed, pangs of hunger oppressed him and the dryness of his mouth was unbearable. He was also uncomfortable in this stifling room and his bed was soaked with sweat. When he looked toward his nightstand, he saw a glass of water and tried to reach for it but a renewed throbbing in his head arrested his attempt causing him to fall back with a groan. He now lay motionless and in misery with barely the desire to live.
For some time after this, he drifted in and out of consciousness until his thirst plagued him so much he could stand it no more. He once again glanced toward the water then took a deep breath, fought back his pain and struggled to sit up. As he rose, he ground his teeth in agony while he swung his feet onto the floor. This very slight movement drained his strength causing him to sit with his face in his hands for several minutes.
When he finally regained his composure, he looked up and noticed the door was boarded shut from the inside.
, he thought. He turned to look at the windows and found both these boarded as well. The curious thing is that one had boards on the inside and the other on the outside. Returning his gaze toward the glass of water, he snatched it up and took a drink then spit it out. The glass was only half-full and dust covered the surface of the water. How long had he slept he wondered. After wiping away the dust as best he could, he drank. It was disgusting and satisfying at the same time. When he set the glass down, he saw several candy bars. He picked up a Snickers Bar and devoured it.
, he smiled. Now with something in his stomach, his headache began to diminish so he glanced around the room then hobbled over to the window and peered out between the boards. As he looked down at the yard below, he just barely caught the sight of someone stumbling around the corner as if drunk.
, he thought. He knew of no drunks in his community. He checked again but this time saw no one so he limped across the room. For some reason he was very lame. When he got to his bureau, he gazed in the mirror and his appearance shocked him. Red blotches covered his face and he looked like he had not shaved for at least three weeks.
What has happened
, he gasped,
why do I look like this
? He glanced at the door and then at the windows again.
Who boarded me in? I didn’t do it. I don’t think so anyway
. He spun around to make sure he was alone in the room then bent down and inspected under the bed. Seeing no one, he went to the door and pounded on it then waited for a reply that did not come. He now sat on his bed and tried to think.
I cannot remember a thing
, he mumbled.
Was I sick? Yes. I was. I was sick and I believe others were sick as well. I remember some terrible flu. I had a fever and that is why they put me in my room but why am I boarded in like this?
While he sat trying to remember, he noticed several boxes filled with food and water on the far side of the room. On top of one of the boxes was a note. He immediately bound over and grabbed it. It was very sloppy and appeared as though written in a hurry but it was definitely his father’s handwriting. He held it toward the light of the window.
“Son,” it began, “I am very sorry but we had to leave. Your mother and I argued with the others but you had the fever so they would not let us bring you. I do not know what you remember but a plague has infected the world and the ones that got the fever changed somehow. They fell on death’s door but then they came back with a vengeance. As soon as they opened their eyes, they tried to kill everyone in the room. Anyone that received even a scratch from these people became infected. The virus spread quickly and now there is barely a safe place on earth in which to seek asylum. In case you survive, I have boarded you in for your safety. I left food and water in the room and there are weapons in the closet. Please son, if you encounter anyone that is aggressive stay away from them. They will only try to harm you. If they attack, aim for the head. That is the quickest way to bring them down. That may sound insane but believe me they are no longer human. I have to go. The others are calling for me. The last news broadcast suggested everyone go to the state capital. If there is a cure, I will come back for you if I can. If I do not come back, I pray you simply die from your fever and never awake. I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say but I say it out of love and mercy. God be with you, Love Dad.”
What does this mean
? he thought.
Weapons…Shoot for the head… Are we in some kind of war
? He read the letter again.
He hopes I die…What the hell!
He glanced out the window and saw a tall woman stumbling around as if lame. It looked like his neighbor Sally.
Long tall Sally
, he smiled. He pounded on the window and called to her. When she turned to look in his direction, he gasped in fright. Her face was blotched like his, only worse and her clothes were tattered and torn. As she came towards him, a look of hatred glared from her eyes. He glanced at the note his father had left then backed out of sight. Apparently Sally had the fever and she would do him harm if she had the chance. Fortunately, she had never looked up and seen him. She only heard his pounding and came towards the noise. Even if she had looked up at his second story window, she probably would not have seen him behind the boards anyway. He peaked out again and she was just looking around at ground level and not heading anywhere in particular. She was not pursuing him but she was not leaving either.
He shook his head then sat on his bed and reached over for a Reese’s cup - his favorite. As he ate, he tried to determine what he should do. When he tossed the wrapper on his nightstand, he noticed his cell phone. He picked it up but there was no service. After a moment, the snack revived him and he decided he needed to get out of his room. He went to the door and tugged on the boards but he was weak and they were solid. He looked for some tool to use but did not see anything. He stepped to the closet, opened the door and could not believe his eyes. A 12 gage pump-action shot gun, an old Remington 30-30 rifle, a Glock 37 .45, a Beretta 9mm and boxes and boxes of cartridges for each weapon. With a smile, he saw his father’s Roman gladiator sword inside its scabbard next to a shield with a red cross painted on it. Beside these sat two daggers. One had a ten inch double edge blade with an antique silver cast metal handle and the other was a Storm Trooper that had a knuckle guard handle with a lion’s face engraved on it.
I guess he wanted to make sure I could defend myself
, he laughed.
He always did enjoy collecting artifacts like this.
As he looked around, he saw a seven-inch railroad spike next to a two-pound sledgehammer. He picked up the railroad spike and thought,
what am I supposed to do with this
. As he set down the spike, he finally saw something of immediate value. A three-foot pry bar and a 12-inch claw hammer.
Now these I can use
, he smiled as he picked them up and headed for the door.
After loosening one of the boards with the claw hammer, he stuck in the pry-bar and pulled the board free on one side. He then grabbed the board with both his hands and pulled it off. Easy enough he thought. He went on to remove all the others the same way knocking the last one free with one hit of his hammer. Once finished he reached for the knob but stopped before he opened the door.
I wonder if anyone is on the other side
, he muttered.
Could there really be people in the house who wished me harm?
Slowly he pulled the door open and peeked out. No one was there so he stepped out and called in a whisper, “Anyone here? Mom, Dad?”
Receiving no answer, he called a little louder and listened intently. Hearing nothing, he walked down the hall peering into each room clutching his hammer tightly. Inside every room, he saw an air freshener and a box of baking soda. Odd, he thought. When he got to the stairs, he looked down and once again called to his parents then quickly turned to make sure no one was behind him.
This is crazy
. He jogged back to his room, his nervousness masking any pain he had previously felt. Heading straight to the closet he glanced at the pistols then grabbed the sword and shield. There is no way he could ever shoot anyone but he could rap any troublemakers in the head with the blunt side of the sword or ram the shield in their face if they got frisky.
His recent exertion caused him to feel a little faint so he sat and ate another candy bar. Once finished he removed the sword from its scabbard and held the shield in his left hand. He now took a deep breath then stepped out into the hall wearing nothing but pajama bottoms. This time he thoroughly inspected both bedrooms and the bath as he passed. After he checked his parent’s room and was sure the upstairs was clear, he headed downstairs very slowly.
“Hello, hello,” he called. “Friend or foe let me know.”
With every step, he prepared himself for an encounter. When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he first went to the left and checked all the rooms then headed back through the living room, dining room and into the kitchen. All the rooms had the same air freshener and box of baking soda and he found every window boarded from the inside. The last place he looked was the garage. The car was gone and no one was there. Seeing it clear he walked back through the kitchen and grabbed an apple. Once satisfied he was alone he went into the living room, plopped onto the couch and then looked behind him just to be sure.
After this last check, he put down his weapons then relaxed back and laughed.
What would I have done if someone had been here?
he thought as he bit the apple.
Surely, I could not have attacked anyone.
He swallowed with barely chewing then looked at the over-ripe piece of fruit and took another bite. He was very hungry. While he ate, he decided to watch TV. He picked up the remote and turned on the TV but he got no signal.
Damn satellite must be down.
He turned off the TV then stood and paced as he chewed his apple.
This is insane
I don’t know why I should feel afraid. Sally looked like crap, so what, that doesn’t mean a thing
. He looked toward the door.
That’s it. I need to see what is going on
. He walked over, twisted the knob on the deadbolt and headed out the door. As soon as he stepped outside the stench hit him in the face like a sledgehammer almost causing him to throw up.
What the hell died out here,
he thought as he tossed the apple core aside.
There was trash and debris everywhere and it looked like there had been a wild block party the night before. As he looked around he noticed most of the front doors and garages were wide open. He glanced back at his own house and saw a ladder lying on the ground next to some boards. He shrugged and determined his dad must have used the ladder to board up the outside of his window.
After a moment, he put his arm over his nose, walked to the center of the yard and shouted, “What the hell is going on around here?”
Suddenly someone came around the corner.
“Joe, hey, what happened here?”
Joe came straight towards him.
“What’s up Joe? Can you tell me what is going on?”
Joe did not respond. He just kept coming with an evil look on his face. While watching Joe he suddenly noticed something to his left. Long Tall Sally and Little Richard were heading across their yard. Richard was as big as Sally but he felt the nickname was appropriate.
“You guys look like hell,” he said as he stared at the red blotches covering their faces. He nervously backed up as they slowly came toward him without saying a word. All were foaming at the mouth and appeared rabid. “Hey, it’s me, Brad. Come on guys.” He removed his arm away from his face and held his hands out. “What is the problem here?”
They kept coming and Brad kept backing up. He was almost to his house and they were just a few feet away. He took another step back, tripped on the front steps and fell down. Joe was about three feet from him and coming on. Brad looked in the door and saw his weapons lying on the couch. Before he turned back, Joe grabbed his leg. He kicked Joe away then got up and rushed through the door slamming it shut and locking the dead bolt. He did not know what was going on but he felt like he had just entered the twilight zone.