Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Brief Clip From the Sludge

Usual warnings apply: bad language, some real gross-out stuff, etc. Beware. I see dead people.

I was reading the latest SpecFicMe! market listings last night and saw a listing for the Aim for the Head anthology for zombie stories. That kind of got together with my "necrodancer" idea from a couple of weeks ago and kind of boiled over. Anybody got any paper towels strong enough to clean up a mess that big?

Enjoy. Or not.


Untitled as yet


Jake bent over and picked his right hand up off the floor. He swiped it across his shirt, trying to knock the dirt off the ragged ends of white bone protruding from the wrist joint.

“Sorry-ass rig-up job. Need to get Doc to put in some pins to hold this thing on. Give me a hand here, Wilbur?”

“Looks to me like you already got one, Jake.” Wilbur wheezed an attempt at a horse-laugh. His lungs and vocal cords had been pretty much eaten up by the cancer that killed him.

“Smartass. Can you just hook this son-of-a-bitch back on for me? We got any duct tape around here? These wires just ain’t holding it.”

Wilbur shuffled over and worked on twisting the wires tight. Jake was glad his nose had rotted off. Wilbur looked like he would smell pretty bad. The cancer had worked him over pretty good, then he’d lain in his bed rotting for nearly two full days in the summer heat before he’d been revived. His skin had blue and green patches where it was not hanging in shreds, and he was still bloated. Jake didn’t understand exactly how that worked, but they stayed just like they were when they came back. Wilbur’s gas problem would never get any better or worse. Neither would Jake’s rotted arms and legs.

“You want to go out after work?” Wilbur’s gasped question jolted Jake back to the present. He flexed his wrist. The bones scraped a little, but he had nearly full range of motion.

“Thanks. Yeah, we haven’t been to the Body Shop in a while. Wanta look in and see if Summer’s still working there?”

“Sure. Haven’t seen her in a while. Wonder if she’s still in one piece.”

They laughed and turned back to their work, Wilbur turning back to the grinding wheel, and Jake picking up the air wrench he had dropped and getting back to work tightening lug nuts.


As soon as he stepped through the door, Jake was assaulted by the noise. The music pounded into him like a middle linebacker with delusions of being Butkus reborn. He stopped dead in his tracks, letting his ears adjust to the roar and his eyes to the gloom. For a moment, all he could see was the brightly-lit stage and the naked woman grinding and pole-spinning. She was a sight to see, perfectly formed and perfectly preserved. Even her face was still as beautiful as the day she died. The only clothing she wore was a bright scarf around her neck, hiding the mortal slash across her neck. Jake grinned. He was always glad to see Summer. He sure was glad her killer had kept her in a freezer.

When he could see his way, he found an empty table close to the stage. Wilbur shuffled close behind and they sat. They waved when Summer turned toward them, and she grinned and winked. Jake looked around at the sparse crowd. The bar was dark and empty, zombies don’t drink, as was the back stage. A few girls sat at tables with the customers. None of them were anywhere near as whole as Summer. She was the star attraction here.

“Slow day,” he shouted in Wilbur’s direction.

“Good. More for us.” The two men grinned and turned their attention back to the stage.

Summer was just finishing her second song. After one more, her set would be through. Jake pulled a dollar from his pocket and strolled up to the stage. Summer came across and leaned over from the waist dangling her tits close to his face while she swayed to the music. He was mesmerized. After a few seconds, he was able to pull his attention away and slid the bill under her garter.

“Thanks, sweetie,” she said. Her voice was somewhat sibilant due to the unfortunate leakage under her scarf.

“Come see us when you get through, okay?”

“You got it, Jake. See you.” She turned to another fascinated onlooker at the other side of the runway and began to give him his money’s worth. Jake watched for a moment, wishing he still had some physical response., then walked back to the table.

“You what I don’t get?” he asked Wilbur. “Why do we still have human wantws and feelings when we can’t do anything about them anymore? It’s not fair.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. I mean, why do we still have this hunger for live flesh when everything in the world is dead? Can’t see no point to it.”

“You know what?” Jake turned to Wilbur and looked at what was left of his face. A line of drool dribbled down his friend’s chin. “If we’d’ve had any sense at all, we would’ve set up some farms or something. I mean, it don’t take much to satisfy me, just a couple of ribs or a hunk of ham every now and then. That wouldn’t’ve been hard.”

“Yeah.” Wilbur wiped his chin with his shirt sleeve as he spoke. “Hey, you remember that girl we found back about three years ago? The one living in the meat locker at the Kroger?”

“Oh, man! That was the juiciest piece of ass I ever had. Man, she was ripe!”

“I’m telling you! I got part of her arm. Didn’t even have to pull, just bit right through it.”

“Yeah.” Jake’s mouth was leaking now with the memory. He wiped and continued. “Tender as milk-fed veal. But that got me thinking. You know I have this hole where that bastard got me with his 12-gauge. Took out most of my stomach and perforated my guts real good.”

“Uh-huh.” Wilbur still had a far-away look, remembering.

“Well, I was on my knees, bent over gnawing on her ass, but every time I’d swallow, it’s just slide down and fall out. When I got through there was a pile had to be a foot high of chewed-up chunks. None of it stayed in, but I was still full. It was weird.”

“I know, man, this whole business’s just damn strange. I mean, what happened? Where’d all this shit come from?” Wilbur waved his hand around at the rotted remains of humanity inhabiting the strip club. “I mean, I know this ain’t the best example of people in here, but everybody’s like this! What is this?”

Jake shook his head. “I been worrying that over ever since I came back. Can’t figure it out at all. One of these days, I’m gonna go over to the college and ask one of them biology professors if they have a clue.”

A hand slid over his shoulder and down his chest. A cold cheek pressed again his cheekbone. “Hey guys, what’s up?” Summer’s soft hiss would have been a purr is she had had an undamaged larynx.

“Just talking about what’s been going on the last five years. Wondering, you know?” Jake reached up and stroked his one whole finger down the back of her hand, marveling at the feel of supple flesh. He felt a pang of hunger, but it was easy to suppress, since he well knew her flesh would only make him sick. He’d been there. Wasn’t going back.

“Giving me the bird, Jake?” She giggled.

He laughed. “Eat me, baby.” She giggled again. It was an old joke. It turned out his only whole finger on his left hand was his “bird” finger. Handy sometimes.

The stripper sat between them and leaned over and gave Wilbur a peck on his fuzzy green cheek. “Hey, handsome. Ready for a romp?”

Wilbur grinned. “Damn! Wish I could, baby, but, you know, the old equipment don’t work so well no more.”

“Next time, then? Maybe somebody’ll make a pill or something, huh? Too bad Viagra won’t work on us.” She sighed. “Damn this! Can’t even fuck anymore!”

Jake wished he knew her real name. It didn’t matter, but it bothered him just the same. One day he would make a real effort to find out. He leaned back, wishing yet again for a cold beer.


At 11:25 AM, Blogger Debra Young said...

Hey Carter! I LOVED THIS! I can't watch zombie movies---they give me nightmares--but this is a great piece. Hope there's more. Goodness-I'm sympathizing with zombies--will wonders never cease? d:)

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Carter said...

Thanks, Debra!

Hey, zombies are just plain folk just like us. :-)

Actually, there is more. The next scene is where things really start to get strange.

This is my first zombie story, and I'm having a blast with it. I've never really liked the zombie stories I've read up 'til now, so I'm trying to stretch and twist things to see how much abuse this particular mythos can take.

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Motherhood for the Weak said...

Carter, this was excellent. Definitely pursue this for the anthology.

But also be sure to spell check, you had a typo somewhere with 'what' and there are a few clunky phrases here and there, that I'm sure you'll catch on edits.



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