Authors: OJ Wolfsmasher
Tags: #horror, #zombies, #zombie, #black comedy, #undead
The President and CEO of Family Foodstores,
Inc., was also there. He was holding a giant novelty scissors and
was also very hot. He was a large man, both vertically (his
tallness being one of the things that helped him rise to the
proverbial and literal top of his business) and horizontally (his
love of food being one of the things that made him choose this
particular field of business in the first place), and being in the
heat of the day for this long always made him feel like he was in
imminent danger of having a stroke. He just wanted to get on with
this damn ribbon cutting, but the scheduled time was still two
minutes away. Political campaigns were managed to the exact second.
If you didn't, you'd never be able to control when the high-def
cameras from CNN or Fox News would show up.
The Incumbent Congressman's wife and children
smiled for those cameras. Mrs. Edith Burnett, the wife, because she
wanted to keep her meal ticket intact for at least two more years;
Chumbley and Sarah Burnett, the children, because they were
ecstatic to be out of school and with both of their parents for a
whole day. Sarah was overheated and feeling a little faint, but she
was not about to ruin this Important Moment by tugging on her dad's
shirt or anything. She gritted her teeth and smiled like the
politician's daughter she was.
At the appointed time, the CEO looked at his
watch, and spoke:
“It says a lot that in this economy, Family
Foodstores is adding to its already-impressive lineup of grocery
outlets. This is due, in no small part, to our beloved congressman
here, a stalwart fighter against the special interests and
socialists in Washington...”
People started clapping and cheering.
Everyone was smiling really hard, their teeth gleaming in the
Albiers Burnett's mind wandered as his friend
and sometime money-based influencer blathered on and on about how
great Albiers was. He didn't like being this close to his wife for
this long. He feared his facade would crack. I mean, how long could
their life last if it was just going to be like this, all cold and
yell-y and clandestine and outright fake? It didn't work for John
Edwards, and it surely wouldn't work for him. And John's wife even
got cancer! He'd lost count of how many times had he wished that
would happen to Edith. But he knew it wouldn't avail anything even
if it did happen, because...
“Before us lies the most important election
of our generation. Only one candidate in this district is willing
and able to confront the issues of our age.”
...she would still be around. He wouldn't
even be able to leave her then. He briefly reconsidered his plan to
have her quietly killed, but not even he could do that to his poor
kids. They, too, were an inconvenient political necessity, but they
didn't ask to be born into this mess. He caught himself not
smiling, and redoubled his efforts to look happy.
“And so it is with utmost honor and respect,
I hand over these scissors and ask him to officially open this
wonderful store, which he had such an important hand in
Alibers took the scissors, waved at CNN, and
enthusiastically cut that giant red ribbon in half. It fell to the
ground in two windblown piles, with all the ceremony's participants
in-between. The man in the red beret quietly giggled. He had his
smoking gun right there in the CEO's speech. This member of
congress was open for business -- bribey business. He held in his
pocket an offer that Dr. Albiers Burnett did not have the capacity
to refuse, one that would earn him lots of cash and a front-row
seat for the coming zombie apocalypse. He just wouldn't tell the
congressman about that last little detail.
The congressman made his way to the
second-to-last pew and sat down. The attractive woman carrying the
briefcase stayed where she was, then looked back at him. He pointed
at his neck and nodded her over, and she took a seat in the last
pew and began reluctantly massaging his neck. He sighed in obvious
pleasure and closed his eyes.
“Yo, man, you hidin' under that bench, bro?
What are you, a coward, dude?” the idiot hollered at the man in
sunglasses, much to the chagrin of both he and the scientist seated
in the pew above him.
The idiot nudged the man's leather jacket
under the pew with his untied basketball shoe.
“Please stop that. Please, just leave me
alone,” said Mr. Sunglasses in a calm voice.
“Naw, dude. No pussies allowed in here, brah.
I'll throw you out that window if you don't get up and join the
The idiot cracked his knuckles like an
I'm with the Irish guy, I can't believe
these people. And I'm stuck in here with them. Maybe I'll take my
chances with the zombies
, mused the doctor to himself. The
moaning outside was getting neither louder nor softer. It was the
idiot's last comment that made the doctor look up at the stained
glass windows that surrounded the band of survivors. He pointed at
them and said, out loud, “What in the hell is with these
Everyone on the main floor looked up. The
windows were 2/3 the way up the wall and three feet wide, and
spanned across all four walls. There was a gasp from someone, but
other than that everyone stood speechless as they all tried to make
sense of the stained glass pictures. They told a story, a clear
story – and not a nice one.
“What is this, the First Church of Cthulu?”
said Mr. Sunglasses, having been dragged out of his hiding spot by
fear of idiots as well as sheer curiosity about what everyone found
so stupefying. His head was bobbing up and down in his usual cocky
way, and he unconsciously found himself trying to meet the gaze of
the only attractive woman in the room, who was still massaging the
neck of the now totally relaxed congressman.
Let's see...a man walking in the
woods...that man meeting a multi-tentacled demon...that demon
dismembering the man and making jewelry out of his bones...that
man's soul ending up swimming in a lake of either blood or
fire...this is clearly not a good sign.
The doctor's thoughts
veered towards despair.
And this, the only shelter in the
“Whatever we do, we need to keep that crypt closed,” he
ordered, and instantly regretted saying something like that to
people like this.
He hoped that Fate would not turn his good
sense into ghoulish foreshadowing.
At the doctor's order, the Irish man scooted
quickly off the top of the crypt and onto his feet, looking back on
it in abject fear. There were markings on its sides that looked
like some ancient or alien language. He felt the markings, and they
were warm to the touch. He recoiled in even more abject fear and
screamed, “This creeapt is ho-at!”
He recoiled so far back he almost ran into
the scientist, who was still looking up at the weird windows. The
scientist's memory then fired off some synapses and took hold of
his concentration, and he began trying desperately to figure out
where he had previously seen markings like those on the crypt.
“Actually, doctor, we have nothing to fear
from this inert box,” the scientist commented in his usual snotty
way, pushing back all his non-logical emotions. “I've seen that
language before, and I assure you whatever is in there comes from a
civilization that is long gone.”
“You mean 'gone' like those people outside?
The ones that wanted to eat your brains?”
The questions spilled off the doctor's tongue
before he had a chance to consider the fact that he really didn't
want to hear an answer from this man. The scientist considered the
one-way hash aspect of the situation and decided he did not care to
unpack all the necessary information for someone who probably
wouldn't understand him anyway, so he ignored the doctor's
ignorance and went back to his important work of remembering the
source of the markings on the stone crypt.
Mr. Sunglasses loitered in the back,
gradually making his way over to his prey, the woman. His cowardice
had quickly turned into fatalism. He reasoned, S
ince we're all
going to die anyway, I might as well have some fun on my last night
on earth, right?
He strutted over and plopped down right next
to the now-dozing-off congressman. He turned and gazed straight at
the woman, who gazed back at herself in his cutting-edge
“When you're done with the old guy, I'd like
some of that action over here.” he said, pointing at his back and
smirking his usual head-bobbing smirk.
She, overwhelmed with having to massage one
guy already, as well as all the zombies and the crazy lady and the
windows and the crypt markings and her own self-loathing, totally
turned her head and barfed right there on the floor. He drew back
from her with his hands up and a panicked cry of “whoa, whoa,” as
did the idiot behind him (who had made his way over there to
challenge him for the attractive woman's attention in some weird
alpha-male dong-off). The Congressman's snoring head slumped
forward, oblivious to the barfing. The woman was quite a practiced
and effective masseuse.
“Oh Go-ad! I cinnot tay-ak the-at,” the Irish
man exclaimed, talking about the barfing.
He held his hand over his mouth and opened
his eyes wide, looking for something to vomit into. He picked the
worst possible thing in the world.
The doctor saw all this unfolding, but was 20
feet away and powerless to stop it without actually shooting the
Irish man (a course of action he momentarily considered despite the
potential manslaughter). The only person who was near enough to
stop the tragedy, the scientist, was deep in abstract thought and
completely unbotherable. As the hulk of a man was pushing the
crypt's stone lid ever-so slightly to the side to make room for his
puke-stream, the scientist remembered exactly where he had seen
those markings. Sumerian Death Cult! That's it! That man in the red
beret – the same man who would eventually offer to help him restart
his Death Panel project -- came to his office and asked him about
the ancient Sumerian Death Cults and their Lovecraftian ritual
sacrifices. He had nearly forgotten about their first conversation.
Whew. He wouldn't have ever been able to sleep again if he hadn't
figured that out.
The first thing the man with the red beret
noticed about Jim was how unbelievably Irish he looked. It was
evident before he even opened his mouth; he always looked like he
was about to order a Smithwick's in a wonderful Irish brogue. When
he got around to actually talking, however, that accent turned into
an aural battering ram. It seemed impossible that his voice could
be simultaneously that loud and that unclear. It was like a car
radio with the volume turned all the way up.
The two men sat in a dimly-lit booth in a
nearly-deserted bar that Jim often used for this sort of business.
Even though they were discussing activities that were obviously
immoral and illegal, Jim was talking at his usual ear-shaking
volume. Either he was friends with the few people that were in the
bar, or he was just dumb, or both.
“E doan't understeeand!” Jim “said.”
This conversation was getting old to him,
too. Here he was, offering a pile of guys to go beat another guy
up, and he couldn't get a straight answer as to the time and the
place, or even if he needed to bring the other guys. The frenchie
seemed to be getting cold feet.
“What I'm saying is, and I'll try to be as
clear as I can. We should meet, just you and I, to scope out the
site of where I want to do this. We should scope out the site
first, so you know where Father Collins is going to be. It's in the
woods, and it's hard to find.”
He made the potential victim a Priest just to
see if Jim would agree to beat up a man of the cloth.
(av coorse) Jim would, but it would cost “a hundred
extra bocks.” The man took that to mean $100.
“Whar in the wooads? In the dip wooads off
Myandreeake?” the hulking Irishman asked, trying desperately to get
on the same page so he could be assured of his payday.
“No, no, no. On the other side of town. Dover
Woods.” he reiterated. It was the third time he had mentioned the
name of the woods.
“Ahai! Doover Wooads. Beat me brither's
be-ast freend up thir one time.”
To the man in the red beret, it seemed like
Jim was just picking random vowel sounds for words; the accent had
no uniform vowel-for-vowel pattern. It also sounded like he had
just admitted to beating up his brother's best friend, but he
wasn't going to pursue that with a follow-up question. Listening to
every word from the guy's mouth was a chore.
“Yes, Dover Woods. Meet me by the Augustus
Dover statue, in the main courtyard. Meet me there on June the
17th, at eight in the evening. We'll go over the rest of the plan
then. Come alone, ok?”
“Cann E breyang me wiyaf weeath mi?” Jim
“Did you just ask me if you can bring your
wife? What? No, dude.” the man shook his head, as if to deflect the
question before he could hear it. “Just you.”
Irish Jim looked a little sad, and a little
sheepish. “But eet's ir Annuv...”
The man cut him off before he could finish,
trying desperately to avoid having to hear Jim say the word
“Anniversary.” “It won't take long, Jim. You can see her all the
rest of the day, but I don't want to see her in those woods. If I
see her...” he looked straight up into his baby blue Irish
non-smiling eyes, “...the deal's off, big guy.”
“Aaah-kay! Din't git yer payantiss in a
Please somebody make him stop saying
, thought the man.
Jim got up from the table and didn't leave
any cash to pay for his gin and tonic. The man in the red beret
shook his head and let him walk out the door without paying.
you'll pay, big man
, he mumbled to himse-alf. Er, himself. He
couldn't get Jim's skull-stabbing accent out of his brain. He
needed another drink, but his schedule was booked solid. It
occurred to him that he might not have time to sit down and relax
with a nice beverage ever again, and this made him a little