Tag Archives: horror

The Z Word Origin Stories – The Dane in Combat Boots (Annya)

Annya had to do something to escape the memories of him and their awful relationship. Everything in the apartment still reminded her of him even though he’d moved out months ago. She needed to get out of Denmark, leave Copenhagen behind, and what better way than to travel during holiday to the U.S.? She could definitely escape her demons there.

The long flight was boring but uneventful, exactly what she wanted for the whole trip. The plane hit very little turbulence and the landing was flawless. She arrived.

She tried to speak as little as possible to the cab driver, just a quick mention of the address of her hotel and he nodded; she was a bit self-conscious of her accent. As they waited at a red light she watched a pale woman walk very slowly, dragging her left foot, and noticed the general disrepair of her business suit. A brownish stain covered the front of her blouse, and Annya wondered what sort of chocolate concoction the woman spilled all over herself, and then forgot the woman completely as she yearned for chocolate. If she’d watched a moment longer, she would have witnessed the woman attacking an unsuspecting older gentleman walking his poodle, and might have been horrified to see his blood spurt out of his throat, freshly covering  her blouse.

The driver pulled up to a fancy hotel, and Annya was surprised at how nice it was. She looked at the address on the side of the hotel and then down at her agenda, making sure it was right. This luxurious palace couldn’t possibly have cost her so little, could it? She gasped and then realized the driver was waiting for his money.

As she paid him and got out, difficulty with her suitcase exasperated the driver. he seemed rushed.

“No, no don’t help me, I’m fine,” she said to him.

“Sorry, miss, but there have been a lot of attacks around here lately, I’m not getting out. I have a family!”

She finally freed the suitcase and started pulling it toward the front entrance as she heard a scream from somewhere a few blocks away. She looked around, saw nothing and headed inside the hotel to the desk.

“Hello,” she said to the perfectly groomed clerk . She handed him her passport to keep from chatting, and the man took it and found her room number. He grabbed a sheet of paper that shot out of the printer and asked her to sign.

After getting the key to her room she went to the elevator and hit the up button. The sound of the bell woke her up from a daydream, and she was surprised at how relaxed she was already. This trip would be the uneventful but fun adventure she needed to put all her horrible, scarring past behind her.

This story is the origin of one of the many characters from my new book, The Z Word, available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. Like us on Facebook.

My first book!

My first book is out and available via Amazon! Check out the paperback or Kindle version HERE or click the cover art:

War. . .murder. . .disease. . . A zombie cares not for these things. In a zombie apocalypse, you’re only as powerful as the weapon you wield, only as strong as those you surround yourself with, but no matter how hard you try, you probably won’t survive in the end. The Z Word is a collection of short stories about people trying to do just that. Zachary, a former nerd, uses his vast knowledge of zombies learned from pop culture to survive, rescue others and even-he hopes-get his first girlfriend. A principal strives to keep the few child survivors alive in a school, while neighbors battle it out over a zombie hunting contest, and a teenage girl leaves home to take her chances out on the road. Some barricade themselves inside their homes while others stay on the move. But humanity will endure and humans can sometimes be the best in the worst situations. The Z Word is a manual of what to do-and not to do-in a world ruled by the dead. Don’t make the same mistake others have, heed these stories . . .they may be your only chance at survival.

The Z Word Origin Stories: Zachary

This story is a prequel to my upcoming zombie collection The Z Word. Like it here on facebook.
Click the photograph to see WhiteStag’s Etsy account where this print and more are available!

Zachary Ward was sitting in his old bean bag chair reading the recent Walking Dead when it happened. A scream ripped through the open window of his bedroom and he barely looked up from the issue. But then, who would? The second scream was the one that forced him to carefully place it on the shag carpet in the basement bedroom he “rented” from his grandmother and walk up to the eye-leveled window.

It had started. He saw two of his neighbors chased down by another, who seemed a bit slower than usual, and a bit more…gray? The slower neighbor latched on to one of their jackets and pulled the woman in, biting her arm as her scream reverberated off the walls of neighboring homes. Blood splattered across Zach’s window as her eyes met his and she reached for him.

It was time.

He ran to the comic he’d thrown to the ground in frustration and held the cover up, looking from the image to the view outside. It was definitely time.

He turned to find his grandmother standing in his doorway, the light from the basement steps silhouetting her figure.

“Mom-mom, how many times have I told you to knock first! I don’t care if you have to do laundry!” he whined. She stood, waiting for something, and that was when he looked back at the comic he’d been reading and flipped to the fourth page. It showed a back lit silhouette of someone in a doorway, a similar scene. He carefully placed the comic onto his sofa bed and reached under, feeling for something.

“Mom-mom, I would answer me if I were you…”

She made a sound, guttural, coming from deep inside, and that’s when his hand hit what he was looking for – a baseball bat. She lunged at him just as he pulled it out, and he swung it at her side, knocking her away from him.

“Mom-mom?” He looked into her eyes, a milky white. He sighed and knew what it was he had to do.

“Sorry mom-mom. You’re no longer the person I knew. I love you.” She stood again, her flowery moo moo flowing behind her as she jumped at him and he swung the bat at her head. The crack sounded different from those of the star baseball player’s he bench-warmed for. After all, his bat had never connected with anything other than wind that whole season his dad forced him to play.

She dropped to the ground, blood oozing from a crack in her skull. Zach looked at her for a brief moment and then started gathering items around his room and throwing them into a backpack. He’d been reading about these things for years now. He’d seen all the movies, even the terrible ones. The books, the graphic novels, everything prepared him for this moment. And he knew what he had to do next. It was time to save the hottest girl in his old high school who just so happened to live across the street and also, however unlikely, never pulled the blinds when she was changing. Why else would a twenty-year-old live in his grandmother’s basement?

As he burst through the old front door of her home, the screams got to him and he winced and lost his nerve for a moment. At that point he pulled out the iPod his cousin had given him when the new one came out and threw the buds into his ears after pushing random. With the bat in his hand he entered the street filled with monsters and victims alike, trying to catch some food or survive, depending which side they were on. He stepped to the other curb and was ready to swing the bat when a song started. The first few notes made him stop as the lyrics “Well no one told me about her…the way she lied” and he laughed at the irony of this song of all songs being the first to play. As he ran across the street one of the zombies came after him and he swung, this time right at its head. It went down fast as two more turned to look at him. He ran around her brother’s van parked in the driveway and checked to see if he could make it to the front door. He took off for her house and got to the door to find it locked. He rang the doorbell and turned to find the two from earlier coming at him rather slowly.

“Just like Romero said,” Zach actually said to himself as he gripped the bat tighter before thinking better of it and swing the bag around from his back. He pulled out a half-filled bottle of rum and stuffed a rag in it as they got closer, dropping the iPod and letting it yank the buds out of his ears. A quick flick of the lighter and the cocktail was lit. He threw it at the oncoming creatures and watched them ignite and fall, bringing three more into view who were apparently following them.

“Shit.”

He turned and banged on the door, rang the doorbell again and started yelling. Finally he heard a voice.

“Who is it?”

“Lucy! It’s Zach! Let me in!”

“Who? I can’t. Something’s going on! I’m not opening the door!”

“If you don’t open it I WILL DIE!”

He waited, the closest undead thing within reach of his bat and he took it down with one swing. The click of the lock turning caught his attention and as she opened the door he fell inside onto her.

“Quick! Lock it!”

She sat on her ass looking at the monsters slowly approaching and began to shake so he jumped up and slammed it shut in their faces. He threw the latch and slid the chain into place, then offered her his hand.

“Are you okay?” She nodded and then wrinkled her nose at him.

“Oh, you’re that creepy guy from across the street. You live with that old lady.”

“Um…yeah. I was also in your homeroom.”

“Oh.”

She brushed herself off. “What do you want?”

“I was trying to save you.”

“Well, I’m fine. I’m locked in. Safe. You can go.”

“We need to barricade the door, block up the windows and do a quick survey of what you have in here. Got a lot of food? We’ll need it.”

Lucy just stood there staring.

“What?” he asked her.

“Why should I share with you?”

He pulled open the curtains to get a view of the street. “You want to be alone in all this? They’re zombies.”

“They’re what?”

“Zombies. Dead people come back to life. Eating people.”

“That’s stupid. They aren’t even eating the people’s brains. Zombies eat brains.”

“Where in the hell did you hear that? It’s a myth.”

“So are zombies.”

“Then what are those?” he yelled, pointing outside at the chaos.

She looked outside and her confidence wavered. “They can’t be z- they just can’t be.”

She rubbed her arm and looked at him as sweat began to form on her forehead. “Well, what do we do?”

“We do what they always do. Lock ourselves in. Hold down the fort. Hope others find us so we become stronger in numbers.”

The two of them went to work moving furniture and blocking the doors and windows with as much as they could find. A quick inventory found them plenty of food and he filled up the bathtub with water.

“Why do we do this?”

“If the water stops running you’ll thank me.”

“What if I need to take a shower?”

He rubbed his temples for a moment trying not to yell, but ended up losing his temper a bit anyway. He yelled “YOU DON’T TAKE A SHOWER IN THE MIDDLE OF A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!”

Her lower lip trembled and he instantly felt bad. “I’m sorry, Lucy. I didn’t mean it.”

She took a good look at him and collected herself. “I’m fine. I get it. We’re in trouble. I’ll be tough.” She looked out the bathroom window and gasped. “This is for real, isn’t it.”

“Sure is.”

She turned and looked at him, a small smile forming. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m actually glad you’re here.”

He smiled and felt his heart skip a beat. The hot girl from his high school days was happy he existed. That’s when they heard the thump. Zach ran down as fast as he could, Lucy close behind, to find the front door being rattled. He ran to it and pushed up against it, Lucy copying him. That’s when the window shattered.

“No! Lucy get back!” By the time she realized what was going on, a hand grabbed her nearby arm and pulled it through the window. Zach grabbed her waist and pulled her back in, and as she turned he saw the distinct marks on her arm. Bite marks. She looked at it and said “I’m fine!”

“You aren’t. When you get bit you become one.”

She looked at the cuts, wiped away some blood and passed out. He picked her up and put her on the couch.

“Shit.” He knew what he had to do. He ran to the front door and added a heavy armoire to their makeshift barricade and then went back to her. She didn’t wake up. “I’m sorry. I have to leave you. It’s too late for you.”

At that he grabbed the keys to her brother’s van off the counter, ran to the back door, turned to take a last look at the hottest girl in his grade, and left through the backyard.

Zombies and Art

If you enjoy this, please visit my book’s new facebook page and like my upcoming novel, The Z Word, a collection of short zombie stories and flash fiction pieces that change everything you know about the genre. Okay, maybe not, but they’re still entertaining, and it’s still exciting that I have a book being published! I’m also challenging any writers I know to write zombie haiku and post them on the facebook page!

Adam shoved the bar between the two handles of the main doors and wrenched it into place. Jan was already on the marble floor trying to catch her breath.

“Holy shit. That was close. Were you bit?” Adam leaned against the door as it started to shake.

She shook her head. “You?”

“Nope.” He slid down to the floor next to her. “This floor is cold.”

“No shit, Sherlock.”

“Think it’s safe here?”

“As safe as anywhere else. This is an art museum. The place should be locked down. Nobody can get in.”

“Think anyone is in here?”

They both looked up the marble stairs past the golden banisters into the semi-dark reception area as if waiting for a sound.

“I don’t hear anything,” she said to him in a low voice.

They both continued to listen.

“HELLO?” he screamed, making her jump.

“Thanks a lot, ass.”

He laughed. “Sorry.”

She stood herself up leaning on the large fireman’s ax she carried and crossed the stairwell, small drops of blood dripping from the ax trailing behind her. She climbed the four steps to the landing and listened again.

“I don’t think anyone is here. They would have come running, I would think.”

“True. Or they don’t trust us.”

She nodded as he stood up and adjusted the backpack he carried.

Jan entered the reception area first, the large room fairly well-lit from above by a glass roof. The signs directed visitors to the food court, gift shop and a long list of exhibits.

Adam walked up beside her. “We better check the place out, make sure it’s safe before we let our guard down.” She nodded in agreement and turned right toward the food court.

“Hun, why that way?”

“If people are here, we’ll know it by the condition of the food court. They’d need to eat!”

She passed an exhibit area, peeked in and saw an empty room save the art and a few statues. “Clear.”

As she continued on down the hall, she heard him yelp a little and turned back. “Hun?”

She pressed her back against the cold wall and peeked around the corner and saw nothing.

“Hun?”

He must have gone into the exhibit for some reason, she figured, so she relaxed a bit and peeked in.

“Holy shit!” he yelled.

She ran in brandishing the ax, ready to kill to find him looking at a Monet.

“Look at this? It’s beautiful!”

She walked up next to him and slapped him on the back of the head.

“Scare the shit out of me, why don’t you?”

He laughed. “Sorry. But come on. It’s a Monet. This room is full of them!”

“I’m glad you can appreciate art, even at a time like this. But come on, let’s make sure it’s safe first.”

He walked up to the velvet rope and started taking it off the pole.

“What are you doing?”

“I want to get close, real close! Closer than anyone has come before!”

His nose was almost touching it when she came up alongside.

“Great. Can we check the food court now?”

“Dare me to touch it?”

“You can’t!”

“Says who? The guards?”

She looked around. “Good point.”

He looked closely at the brush strokes, each one visible on the canvas.

“Wow,” he gasped and she breathed in, amazed at the work.

“Doesn’t look like much from up close, huh? But then, you can see each and every nuance. Intense.”

She wiped her hand on her jeans and reached up, running her fingers gently over the strokes. “Whoa.”

He followed suit and felt the small lines.

They stared a moment longer before she broke the silence.

“Okay, let’s get to work. We can touch the other priceless works of art once we know it’s safe.”

Things You Shouldn’t Say on a First Date

A (Mostly) Fictional Story

I waited at the front of the restaurant with a mixture of nervousness and anticipation, the norm for a first Internet dates. Online dating is tough; you never know when it’s time to meet up in person and it’s impossible to get a read on what someone is actually like in real life. They can edit an email as many times as they want as they strain for literary perfection, but in real life, there is no backspace. Once you say it, it’s on the table, it’s out there, it has been said.

I check my watch. He’s late, but only by a minute or two. A man is walking towards the restaurant, and for a fleeting moment my heart skips as I wonder if it’s him. Another risk of online dating: you never know how old the photograph is, how much it’s been doctored, or if it’s really the person you’re speaking to. I relax as he passes me when a finger taps my shoulder from behind, startling me. I turn quickly with a twinge of anger.

“Jessica? Hi. I’m Nate.”

He offers me his hand, and I take it, feeling a small tremble in mine and sweat in his. Gross.

“Shall we?”

We enter, we’re seated, our drinks are in front of us and we’re perusing the menu. He basically begged me to go on this date so I decide to order what I want instead of what I would normally do on a first date, which is skimp. I had qualms about meeting him. He lives in his uncle’s basement. He works in retail but hasn’t said where. His personality seems wishy-washy.

The waiter approaches and breaks the awkward silence. “Are you ready to order?”

I look at him, he nods, so I order. “I’ll have the filet as is.”

He looks at me. “Wow, really? Don’t you want a salad or something instead?”

He gets a nasty glare from both me AND the waiter.

“Yup. I’m good.” Now I’m ordering dessert, too.

“And you, sir?” the waiter asks in a sarcastic tone.

“I’ll have the crab cakes. Can you put onions on them?”

Well, at least I won’t have to kiss him now. Thank God.

The waiter nods, takes our menus and leaves us in a sea of silence. I have nothing to say to him, especially after that little comment. I’m still not sure if it was about my weight or the money, but either way, I’m not impressed.

“So, you like music?” he asks.

Here’s the biggest problem with going out to dinner for a first meet up through an online dating website: there’s a TON of down time, which is great if things are going well, but can be the most painful time EVER when the guy is a dud.

“Um…who doesn’t like music?”

“Yeah, true. I like it.”

Awkward silence.

“So how old are you again?”

Another no-no in my book. It reads as You look older than you claimed on your profile…are you a liar?

“I’m 35. You?”

“32. No kids?”

“Nope.”

“Aren’t you worried?”

I can’t believe this guy. “About what?”

“Well, you’re running out of time, you know? To have kids?”

I’m surprised I can hear his voice over the sound of my biological clock ticking.

“Oh, my gynecologist says I still have a few good years left in me.”

He doesn’t notice my sarcasm.

“Well that’s good I guess. When do you want to get married?”

Who asks things like this on a first date?!?

“Well I have a date set for next Saturday at my church, just in case.”

He shifts in his seat. Fixes his collar. Looks back at me.

“What do you mean?”

“I was kidding.”

“Oh. You’re funny, huh?”

“That’s what they tell me.”

Awkward silence again. I feel like he’s waiting for me to say something funny. I don’t really know any jokes, so I take a sip of my wine, then another, then another. Then one more.

“So…” he says. I look at him with minimal expectation, but he just twirls his wine glass. “I hear this place is pretty good.”

“Yeah, this is where I go for all of my Internet dates. I’m working my way through the menu, then I’m switching restaurants.” I say it with such a straight face that he nods.

I look at food coming, but it’s not ours. This is excruciating. My friend scolded me for meeting people in restaurants. He said anything involving waiting for food in a busy restaurant could be a recipe for disaster. I’m starting to think he was right. But it’s too late, I’m in for the long haul now.

“Oh crap!” he says, ripping me from my train of thought, which happens to be possible excuses I could use to run out on him. He’s looking over my shoulder so I turn to see what has caught his attention.

“Don’t look! What the heck!” he yells at me. I mean it too, yells. I look back at him. “Oh never mind. I thought it was my ex.”

I stare at him.

“She was crazy.”

I still look.

“Is. Is crazy.”

I decide to say nothing and let him continue.

“She keeps texting me crazy things. Yelling at me for things I did two years ago. Or saying dirty things. Or sending me…pictures.”

Dirty pictures, he means.

“When did you two break up?”

“Last month.”

I think about today’s date. It’s the eleventh. So this guy may have had a girlfriend as recently as twelve days ago.

The food comes. Thank God.

“Filet and” he gives me my food, “…crab cakes for you,” he practically spits out.

“Could I get another…” the waiter is either legitimately too far away to hear him already or he downright ignores him. Nate puts the mostly empty wine glass down.

“So what about you? Any crazy exes?”

I shove a giant piece of steak into my mouth so I don’t have to answer. It’s none of his goddamn business what mistakes I have made.

“Wow…slow down fatty.”

I almost choke. I am maybe five pounds overweight at that, and I guess it’s a joke. But this guy is either seriously awkward or a huge asshole. I swallow the food and take a smaller, more sensible bite.

“Can I take your picture?” he asks, taking out his phone. I almost choke again.

“I’d rather not.”

“It’s just, you looked cuter in your profile. I mean, you know, you’re beautiful! I just thought maybe you had Photoshop or something.”

This has to stop. I need to scare him away now before it’s too late.

“I’m in rehab!” I blurt out. It’s a lie, of course, but worth a try.

He looks at me.

“Me too! What for?”

“Um…” my brain stumbles over his confession and my lie. “…I drink. I drink waaaay too much.”

“Oh. For me it’s drugs.”

I take another bite. He waits for me to start more conversation.

“Excuse me,” I say, grabbing my purse.

“What, you gotta pee NOW?”

“Yup.”

I walk in the direction of the bathroom and then, once out of his line of sight, run for the exit.

A Great Road Trip

They put their vacation on hold for a few minutes when they saw the flea market sign. He slammed on the brakes, throwing a cloud of dust up from the dirt road their GPS lead them to, and made a quick turn.

“Is it okay?”

“Of course it is!” she said with an excited smile. “Although we really don’t need bait or ice.”

“Very funny,” he said as he pulled into the empty lot.

They got out of the car and couldn’t help but notice the building, a run-down diner on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

“Maybe the sign should say “Horror Movie” or something. Feel like we might be killed?”

“It’s entirely likely,” she said with a pretend-scared face. “Come on, the yard sale must be around back.”

They ignored the rusty screen door hanging from one hinge and passed the diner made of what looked like light blue, chipping paint. The windows were too dirty to see in clearly, but the lights appeared to be on inside and someone was standing at the counter, but not moving.

“This really is like a horror movie,” he said. She nodded as they turned the corner.

Behind the diner there were several little bungalows covering shelves that held countless objects. Thousands of old items were piled everywhere, yet appeared to be organized. One shelf in the far corner of the lot was piled with old glasses, jars and vases. Each bungalow seemed to be organized in some way, although neither of them could figure out the order.

Beyond the eternal yard sale were huge ditches, run-down vehicles, piles of chopped wood accompanied by a colorful beach umbrella and old farming equipment.

“I keep waiting for a creepy, dirty man in overalls and no shirt to come out with some kind of ax he’s just slaughtered today’s special with,” he said.

“I know, right? But I have to photograph this.”

“Obviously.”

As she walked around snapping shot after shot he searched through the piles of stuff. Old wanted posters. Roller skates. Broken typewriters. Vintage statues and figures of every animal that ever existed. He found an owl and held it up for her.

“Hey, check it out! An owl!”

Her head poked out from the next bungalow over, her camera strap around her neck. “Say cheese!” she said as she held it up and snapped a shot. She looked at the screen. “Too dark. Sorry,” she said as she deleted it.

He continued to root through the randomness of the collection, sure he would find something here that he wanted. He always did. A random old toy. A cartoon character drinking glass. Postcards. Photos. Something that would inspire a story. He kept looking as she took shot after shot.

“Make sure you get one of the roller skates,” he yelled.

“Done and done!” her voice called from a hidden part of a bungalow.

He smiled. Their thought patters were always so similar.

He went to the far corner of the lot and surveyed the land around it, the broken down vehicles, the rusty old unrecognizable objects. He wanted to shoot a horror film here. Or write one, at least. Do something. His skin tingled with ideas.

She finally emerged. “Damn, already took two hundred photos. Now I’ll have to upload them tonight when we get there to make some space on this thing!”

This was going to be an inspiring trip.

The Final Sunset

The government, scientists, specialists, news programs, everyone agreed the time had come. The end was here.

Many people prepared, stocking everything they could get in their basements: batteries, flash lights, canned goods, generators, but a select few knew it was only a matter of time. Without the sun, plants would stop growing, and slowly all life would discontinue.

Those few decided to honor their light giver, the life essence of their world, one last time. In this small town, a collection of people, rather than uselessly bunkering down in a basement, wanted to say goodbye to someone they never thought would abandon them, someone they took for granted, the one who gave them life every day up until this point without ever asking anything in return. Many forgot all about the importance of it, or simply complained when the weather was too hot or they forgot their sunglasses. So few really relished in how much it did for every living being on the planet.

And now it would abandon them.

Today the sun would set for the last time on their world.

And so they gathered to worship their long-time friend, or say goodbye, or mourn its death. They met at the old soccer field and sat in the bleachers as if watching a match, but this time nobody would cheer. The sun slowly reached the horizon, and the colors were more beautiful than any spectator had ever witnessed. A cloud cluster came in from the East, but it would not ruin the absolute perfection of the very last sunset in the history of man.

The sun touched the horizon, and crawled beyond their sight, a few oo’s and ah’s rang up from the crowd as if they were witnessing fireworks. People hugged, they held hands or comforted each other in their own way. The last orange sliver peeked for one more moment, and then was gone forever.

Photograph by the amazingly talented Manon De Sutter. Click here for more of her work.

A Political/Artistic Post Against Oil Spills

Created with my pissed-off attitude, creativity, a found photograph and my Brother Charger 11. This post would also not be possible without the (dis)cooperation of BP.

This piece is now on sale HERE along with many others!