Authors: Jack Wallen
By Jack Wallen
Based on the I Zombie series
The short story “Seven Minutes In Hell” originally appeared in ATZ: The Gathering Horde
Published by Autumnal Press
This book is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise noted, names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously (unless otherwise noted). Any resemblance to actual locales, events or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic format without express permission from the author. Please do not participate or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Alina Maria Ionescu
This first book in the Teenage Wasteland series is dedicated to every kid out there (young and old alike) who has had to survive. There may be times when the struggle seems too great, but in the end your efforts will pay off. Stay strong, stay honest, and stay true.
one | seven minutes in hell
The world came to a stop. Cowardly masses huddled in the darkness of their homes, hoping beyond hope that the tide of death wouldn’t wash over them. They all wanted their sad, pathetic lives back. Jobs, drinks, mid-life crisis sex…the
blue and khaki army
of middle class business drones lost their lunch, their stocks, and their hope as they wished to reclaim the glory days they never really had.
–the tired, hungry, huddled masses that comprised the majority of the survivors hiding away in their basements or attics.
side of the coin. We are the future of the human animal, and we get bored. Even in the midst of the apocalypse, the tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings fear boredom more than the undead. The very idea of a life benign was counter to the soul of youth. We were the only hope of humanity. Our spirit, our energy, our
joie de bieber
would be that which would lift us above the cast-off trash of mankind.
So we were and so we are. So say we all, and fuck the rest. We lived. We grabbed life by the balls and never let go.
“Spin it, asshole,” Takki shouted, pulling me out of my philosopher’s high.
I smacked Takki, hard. “Douche wrapper. Didn’t you see me just take a hit from the Thinker’s Bong? Dude, I had it going hard.”
“I don’t give a shit if you were about to cure MV, it’s your turn to spin the bottle.” Takki pointed to the center of the circle of doom.
Instead of letting the apocalypse take us down, the youth of the city opted to make a game out of survival. What can I say…we were
bored. When you have nothing at all to lose, boredom is little more than an invitation to play a rousing game of chicken with death.
The game was simple…spin a bottle and wait for it to stop and point to your fate. No backing out, no do-overs. You didn’t survive, no one cared. We were all disposable now. So long as you remembered to empty your pockets before you took off after glory, all was good. Your shit was left alone until death was confirmed. You came back…it was all yours. Fail to survive, and your goods were up for grabs. My pockets overflowed with what remained of previous players. Knives, drugs, phones, money, a gun…I only snatched what I thought would truly help me remain alive. All else was left to
, the newbies to the game, the ones who spun with the look of terror in their eyes.
I grabbed the bottle and held it out to Mikko. She was my good luck charm, the only thing left on this godforsaken mess I held onto with even the slightest desire. It helped that she was smokin’ hot in that Japanese Sukeban way—like she’d been yanked from any given anime and dropped into my waiting arms. She was as badass as anyone playing the game…and she was all mine. Mikko kissed the bottle and grinned. I carefully placed the green glass on the wood floor and gave it a twist of the wrist. All other sound seemed to fade into the shadows to give way to the song of the glass against the stained and dirty floor. As it spun, Mikko chanted softly, “
Ike, ike, ike
.” She looked up at me with her evil smile.
Somewhere my insides melted a bit.
When the bottle stopped, everyone went crazy—everyone but me and Mikko. While all the other kids shouted and mocked me, I could feel rage boiling up my esophagus and punch through the roof of my mouth. When I could no longer hold it in, I shot my fists in the air and offered a primal scream prayer to whatever god
was most certainly not listening.
One rule of the game was that once a challenge was accepted, it was removed from play. There was a single entry the bottle had, for whatever reason, never landed on—until now. The bottle clearly pointed to
Seven Minutes in Hell
. I looked across the circle to Mikko. A lone tear trailed down a cheek I’d kissed so many times. I wanted to join her in sorrow, but my reputation didn’t allow tears. I stared deep into Mikko’s desperate eyes. She subtly tilted her head toward the exit of the building. I shook my head.
I wasn’t a coward. The edge was my life, and I lived on it with passion. Ever since Mikko and I had taken our leave from Asylum—even though it had only been three days—we knew life was a fragile beast and was to be lived to its fullest at all costs. We had been in search of what we’d assumed to be the mythical Wasteland. Thanks to a map we’d pilfered from Crowbar, the leader of Asylum, we’d found it. The place turned out to be less fantasy and more Mad Maxian Hell on Earth.
We never pierced that veil. The second we saw the wall of dust and heard the unnerving sounds of death from within, we knew where the boundaries of sanity lay. Even though life was a game…I wasn’t about to make it my personal Kobiashi Maru.
When I stood, everyone went crazy. Chants of my name rose to shake the rafters and peel the plaster from the walls. With a bow and a flourish, I spun and made my way to the doors of Hell. There were two—one marked Male and one Female. Beyond each door was a bed. Chained to the bed was either a male or a female Moaner. Zombies: the newest evolution of man, brought to us in stereophonic 3D-O-Rama by the Zero Day Collective. I stood before the doors, knowing full well which I would pass through.
Takki rushed to my side. “Jingo, this is awesome! I knew you’d be the first.” He released a howl of a laugh and then turned to the crowd to recite the rules of Seven Minutes in Hell. “Beyond one of these doors is your fate. You must choose your path, and then you have seven minutes to find your inner awkward teen. That’s right, Jingo, you must dig deep, get awkward, and make out with the sweet, undead honey of your dreams. You have seven minutes to accomplish the task before the chains holding your undead lover are released and the door locked, sealing you within Hell. Kiss or be killed, baby.”
The crowd chanted, “Mack, mack, mack.” I wanted to crush each and every one of their faces for enjoying that moment so much. Mikko stood in the front of the crowd, weeping. She couldn’t stop me; nothing could. I had stood up to every challenge the bottle gave me. I wouldn’t, couldn’t, turn tail and run now. This goddamn game had yet to best me.
I grabbed the handle of the door marked Female and pulled it open. The first thing that hit me was the smell of rot. My mouth shut tight against an oncoming flood of bile. The zombie caught wind of fresh meat and raised her voice in an undead symphony of pleas. She and I both wanted but one thing…
The door slammed behind me.
One of us would get their wish in seven minutes.
Above the bed was a large, round clock. It read 9:37.
“Okay, bitch. How do you like it? Fast, slow? You want to lick my teeth or just shove your tongue down my throat? I hope you don’t mind, I forgot to brush.”
She writhed on the bed and moaned. There was no sexuality to the movement…only raw, unfettered, single-minded need. Another moan escaped her lips, this time accompanied by a frothy green drool.
“I’m gonna hurl,” I whispered. The thought of getting anywhere near her mouth was enough to induce epic-level shrinkage. “Maybe the priesthood wouldn’t be so bad,” I joked. She didn’t laugh. “What’s your name, sexy?” A nervous, stuttering chuckle escaped my lips. The undead corpse turned her head my way and gnashed a set of blackened, broken teeth. Behind me, through the door, I heard chants of “Jingo, Jingo, Jingo,” rising and falling. I shot a glance at the window. The thought of crashing through the glass and disappearing into the night careened through my brain.
“No,” I whispered. “I started the game, I’ll finish the game.” With that, I licked my lips, steeled my will, and climbed up on the bed. The second the zombie realized how close fresh meat was, she strained against the chains. The sound of wood creaking against her inhuman strength had my nerves strung out like a coke-head’s. “What’s it gonna be, Alice? You gonna remain in chains?”
The cold flesh of the thing’s legs brushed against my skin. Dread flooded my system. “I don’t know if I can do this,” I said. “Don’t worry…it’s not you, it’s me. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s all you. How am I supposed to get close to that rotted mess of a mouth without you swallowing these lush lips o’ mine?”
The tick of the clock jerked my attention away from Miss Undead America. I had four minutes left. Shit. In desperation, I closed my eyes and sucked in a deep, hot breath—hoping to get something going with my nerves. Nothing came.
“Fuck,” I shouted. I closed my eyes and pictured Mikko. As soon as her beautiful face filled my consciousness, I came alive. It was her…all her. Perfect skin; almond shaped, chocolate brown eyes; black silky hair. Mikko was everything to me, and the only way I would ever see her again was to survive this nightmare within a nightmare. I had no choice but to dive in and get a game of tongue hockey going with…
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.” I nearly laughed. The woman’s ripped and stained shirt had the all-too-familiar Hooters logo screaming out in neon orange. The irony was not lost on me. “My generation is so damned to hell.”
With Mikko at the forefront of my mind, I was ready. All I had to do was calm the raging storm that was the flopping and writhing legs of the monster under me and get my kiss on with her…it…whatever. “Come on, baby. You’re gonna love the way my lips taste. They don’t call me Vanilla Thunder for nothing.” I laughed. “I’m wasting my best pillow talk on you. Just shut up and kiss me.”
Without another word or thought to caution, I grabbed a handful of the thing’s hair with one hand and, with a massive stroke of luck, snatched its lower jaw with the other. I pulled down as hard as I could to prevent the nightmare from snapping my fingers off. As I drew in for the long kiss goodbye, her fetid breath smacked me upside the face and I blew the contents of my stomach all over the Hooter’s logo.
“Sorry baby, you’re just gonna have to taste my bile,” I said as I leaned in for the deed.
She lunged forward. My grip held tight.
9:42. I had two minutes.
Every ounce of my consciousness begged me to cave, rush the door, and pound for mercy. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how these things worked. The way to save my life was to complete the mission, leave the hellish game behind, and start afresh.
The zombie continued her symphony of hate as she strained against her bindings. One minute remained before the chains let loose the dogs of war, and I’d find myself in an up close and personal battle with the undead. With my hands holding fast to the zombie’s hair and jaw, I scanned the room. There was nothing to use as a weapon in case my mack fell short and I had to drop into arena mode and fight. We made sure cheating
Minutes of Hell
wasn’t an option.
The sounds of shouting rose up from the other side of the door, followed by gunfire. My race against time was about to be lost.
“Fuck me,” I shouted again. I jerked my hand free from the monster’s mouth as a motorized whir sounded and the arms of the Moaner were freed. I let go of her hair and jumped back, out of her reach. She twisted and contorted on the bed in an effort to reach me. The sounds of rigored muscles and tendons cracking and snapping was like tap-dancing on bubble wrap.
The zombie was on the ground, her legs tied in a crossed-up pretzel, still connected to the frame of the bed. The room was small enough that she could now reach me.