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KoolKat 02-01-2012 08:05 AM

Short Story Competition Poll
 
Ok here are the submissions. Please vote in the poll. Will shut it down in a week and award the winner a prize :D

KoolKat 02-01-2012 08:07 AM

Toads entry

Quote:

Originally Posted by Toad (Post 2154707)
Got my story done:

O'Conners and the breach squad


I throw my duffel bag into the back of my SUV and jump into the drivers seat. I turn the key and the SUV comes to life. I slowly pull out of my driveway and head towards downtown. It’s 6:30am and there is already a fair bit of traffic but not enough to slow my daily drive to work down. I pull into the underground parking garage after showing my ID to the man at the gate. I grab my duffel bag and walk towards the doors to enter my place of work. As I’m walking to the door I hear footsteps come rushing up to me from behind. I turn around to see my friend come up behind me.

“How have you been O’Conners?” My friend asks.
“Pretty good, but the weekend was boring. How ‘bout you Wayfield?”
“Good good, can’t complain to much”

We walk quickly towards the doors without saying a word. We scan our ID over the machine and I hear the automatic door unlock with a click. I push open the door open to reveal a room that looks a lot like airport security, it had a bag scanner and a full body scanner in the center of the room. When we enter an old security guard stands and motions for us to put our bags into the scanner and for Wayfield to step through the body scanner. He steps through without a problem and I follow behind with out any problems. We grab our bags and head through another set of doors into the main area. The main area had an open weight room and a big table with chairs around it. This was where I go five days a week as part of SWAT team. I check my watch; 6:58. I still have two minutes before I was on clock.

“Yo Wayfield, wanna hear a joke?” I ask.
“Sure, as long as it’s not dumb like all your others” he responds and flashes a quick smile.
“A Priest, a Rabbi, and Santa Claus walk into a bar.” I begin but only to be interrupted by Sarg.
“No time for jokes O’Conners, we have a call” Sarg quickly says while walking to the locker room.
“I’m not on the clock yet” I protest but I follow him to the lockers with Wayfield on my heels.

I spin the lock on my locker and it opens with a smooth click. I swing open the open my over sized locker door revealing all my tac gear. I put on my standard issued grey BDU’s and strap on my vest. I stuff my pockets with all the necessary gear. I grab my helmet and I head to my favorite room in the building, the weapons room. I unlock my weapons locker and grab my sidearm and my rifle that has been customized to my likings. I walk to the trucks beside Wayfield. He jumps into the driver’s seat and I sit in the passenger seat. While we wait for the other 5 guys to get ready I pull out my smart phone to read the missions briefing. We are headed to a bank robbery; the robbers have hostages but have yet to make demands. The robbers are 3 masked men armed with semi-automatic pistols. This doesn’t sound like a hard call to do. The rest of our members pile into the two trucks. We follow Sargs truck out of the parking lot with our sirens blaring and lights spinning.

We get to the bank in 10 minutes, not bad considering the traffic. We get out and approach the head cop. He gives us the brief run down of what is happening, nothing we don’t already know. We get into the command van and Tech sits down and pulls up the layout of the bank. Tech is the computer savvy one of the bunch, he can hack but is also can hold is own on a mission. Bruiser, the biggest guy on our team looks at the drawings and starts thinking of ways to breach the bank. Delta, the only female on our team also has the best shot and is the sniper on our team so she is looking for a good vantage point to provide support to Bruiser, Wayfield, Copper, Tech and myself. The five of us are the breaching team.

“Alright guys” he pauses and shoots a glance at Delta and says: “and girl”
“There is only one way to enter this building” he continues “and that is from the front”

The breaching team heads to the supply truck while Delta goes to set up her position. We all grab riot shields and sub machine guns. We all trade are mags out for the smaller caliber sub machine gun mags.

“Okay guys” Bruiser starts “We go in single file with me the front with my shield forward while you guys protect your sides with your shields”
We all nod.
“Sarge is going to fire in a flash bang ‘nade followed by a bunch of tear gas”
We all nod again and grab the gas masks.
“Tech protects the hostages, I will go for the guy on the right, O’Conners and Wayfield go for the one in the middle while Copper gets the one on the left.”
We all start to get ready.
“Couple more things guys, move predictably, Delta is watching. And, first sign of trouble take them down, he are going in hot”.

We all line up and get ready for the breach. I click off my safety and wait for Sarges signal. He gives us a nod and we start going, seconds later he fires off a flash bang out of the 6 round grenade launcher. It goes off with a bang and stuns the robbers. Sarg follows up with 5 canisters of tear gas. The robbers drop to the floor coughing and drop their guns. Tech ushers the hostages out and into police safety while Bruiser slams his shield into the first robber because he tired to get up. Bruiser then kicks him in the ribs and pins him down to handcuff him. While this is happening Copper takes down his man without a problem. Wayfield and I chase down the last robber who is sprinting for the bank vault. He gets to the bank vault that is also a dead-end. I take all my momentum and slam into him with my shield, he drops to the ground gasping for air.

After handing the robbers over to the police we head back to base. At base, we all shower and get cleaned up and begin to dread the painful process of de-briefing. We enter the conference room and take a seatt and open the folders that sit at our spots. We all start filling them out when Sarg walks into the room.

“Good work guys, all men taken down with no injuries” He says.
“Does that mean we get out of all this paperwork?” Tech asks with a grin.
“Actually, yes.” Sarg says.

We all scramble out of the room before Sarg changes his mind.

“O’Conners” Sarg says.
I stop and wait for the dreaded words that are to come.
“Stay here”
I turn and walk towards Sarg
“What did I do wrong, chief?” I ask.
“Nothing, I just want to hear that joke you were going to tell Wayfield”
“What joke?” I say as a flash a smile and walk away.


KoolKat 02-01-2012 08:08 AM

Dundadun's Entry
Quote:

Originally Posted by dundadun (Post 2170831)
Fiance's contribution:



Thompson, Joey, and Roger were standing outside of the bar.
The were dressed as a Priest, a Rabbi and Santa, respectively.
This was going to be a ****ty Christmas party.
As if they had all collectively sensed it no one had made any effort to actually enter the bar.

Roger was wondering how he had gotten to this point of time in his life. Back in High School he had written, ‘Keep in Touch’ in Joey and Thompson’s yearbooks. Who could have guessed that either of them actually would?

If only someone like Amanda Burgas had kept in touch instead. Though according to Joey she was now a crack whore living on the streets of Los Angeles. You really couldn’t trust anything Joey said. A more likely scenario was that she was now happily married with three kids in Vacaville. Either way it was a deal breaker.
Especially the Vacaville part.

Thompson pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lit one up. He took a long drag and looked up to find Roger and Joey both staring at him. Neither of them were quiet sure when Thompson had picked up the habit.
“What? If we’re just going to be standing around anyway.”

Back in High School Thompson hadn’t been the brightest crayon in the box. He hadn’t gotten good grades and was pretty socially oblivious. That obviously hadn’t changed about him. Here he was dressed like a priest to a Christmas party because he was trying to get double use out of his Halloween costume. Roger wouldn’t be surprised if next Halloween Thompson would be asking to borrow his Santa suit.

Thompson hadn’t gone to college. Instead he joined the Air Force. He was stationed in Las Vegas. He recently bought a three bedroom house. In seven more years he could retire. Oddly enough...he was doing the best out of all of them.

Then again, Joey had just started at law school. And he was just duchebaggy enough that he could be great at it.

And that...just left Roger.

“I get why Thompson is dressed like a Priest,” said Roger to Joey. “But why are you dressed like a Rabbi?”
Joey looked down at his clothes and back up at him. “I am being ironic.”
“But you’re really Jewish.”
“Only genetically.”
It was amazing that all of Joey’s ancestors of Hanukkah's past didn’t rise up to smack him upside his head.

Roger sighed. “I really didn’t want to end up as a bad joke tonight.”
“What you do mean a bad joke?” asked Thompson around his cigarette.
“You know,” said Roger, “‘a Priest, a Rabbi and Santa walk into a bar’.”
Thompson thought about that for a moment. “I’ve never heard that one. What’s the punch line?”
“It doesn’t have a punch line,” Roger replied. “It was a generalization.”
Joey snapped his fingers. “I got it. A Priest, a Rabbi and Santa walk into a bar--ouch.”
Both Roger and Thompson grimaced at that one.

“Who picked this bar?” asked Roger motioning with his chin. ”It has damn umlauts in it’s name.”
The bar was called Atmosfär. And apparently tonight it was both half off tequila shots and Karaoke night. That seemed like a painfully bad combination.
Roger gave an inward groan as he figured out his own question. “Mya picked this bar. Dammit. I hate you, Joey.”
Thompson gave him a sympathetic pat on the back.
Joey shrugged. “Haters goin’ hate.”

Roger should have been mad at him, but he just couldn’t work up the energy for it. This was an old argument and Roger was losing his edge just from the sheer longevity from it. Honestly, what did he expect from Joey anyway?

Thompson tilted his head slightly as he took in the bar. “Maybe it’s just it’s name, but it looks like an Ikea.”
Joey and Roger tilted their heads accordingly.
The bar was painted a pale yellow with a blue awning.
“It does seem to have a Swedish flare to it,” admitted Roger.
“I hope they have meatballs,” said Joey. “I love me some meatballs.”
Roger and Thompson both snickered at that.

Joey attempted to look stern and unamused. It was a little hard to take him seriously while he was dressed up like a Rabbi.
He finally gave a resigned sigh. “I guess I walked into that one.”
“Yeah,” replied Roger. “Like your bar joke.”
“You said ‘balls’” replied Thompson.

The door to Atmosfär opened. A rush of loud chatter and a horrible rendition of ‘Living on a Prayer’ flooded out onto the sidewalk.
And a woman--the woman walked out.
Mya Reyes.
Joey’s great love. Roger’s great headache. And the source of years of entertainment for Thompson.

As Mya sauntered towards them, Roger wondered why were people always so determined to treat old classmates as if they had never left High School? All you had to do was take one look at Mya and you would know that people really do change.

Roger remembered Mya as a too skinny, too chatty girl who was way too dependant on other people to pull off the free spirited impression she was trying to give off.

Now here she was her filled out curves being hugged by some slutty Santa’s Helper outfit with four inch red f***-me high heels. The way that she was teetering in them only proved it really was half off tequila shot night.

“Hello, boys!” she said with a smile. “How long are you going to be standing around out here?”
“Thompson had to finish his cigarette,” replied Joey smoothly.
“But it’s cold out here.” Mya rubbed her arms as if that emphasized her point.
“Why do girls wear next to nothing and then insist on complaining that it’s cold?” asked Roger.
“Maybe we like to make an impression,” said Mya coyly.
Roger tried to ignore her tone.
Joey smiled at Mya and started to take off his jacket for her. “Here. Just while we’re out here.”
“But it won’t match my outfit,” Mya replied as she not to subtlety looked Roger up and down.
“Jesus,” muttered Roger.
Thompson, in his Priest outfit, waved a scolding finger at Roger. “Tut, tut.”
Roger shot him a look. “What? Are you in character now?”
Thompson just grinned with his cigarette still hanging from lip.

“So, what have you boys been up to?” asked Mya casually.
“I just got into law school,” jumped in Joey.
Mya glanced at him. “Yeah? You’re just duschbaggy enough for that to work.”
“Thanks,” Joey replied with a smile.

Thompson rolled his eyes and maybe Roger would have too if he hadn’t been so stunned that Mya had pretty much said word for word what he had been thinking.

“What about you, Thompson?” asked Mya.
“Air Force,” said Thompson simply.

And, finally--
“And Roger, what have you been up to?”
Ah, yes. Here it was. The moment Roger had been dreading all night.

Back in High School, Roger had been an actor, a journalist, a minor athlete and an Honors English student. He wasn’t any of those things anymore. Funny how the real world doesn’t give a **** about any of that.

Roger shrugged. “Not much.”
“Cool,” replied Mya.
It really wasn’t.

The door to the bar opened again. This time it sounded like a whole Sorority was belting out ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ to the tune of too many tequila shots.
That wasn’t all that surprising, what was surprising was who walked out of the bar.

“That...is Amanda Burgas,” said Thompson. “She looks pretty good for a crack whore.”
Amanda looked pretty good period.
She was wearing boots, leggings, a little sweater dress and a Santa hat. She looked good. She looked like herself.

“Mya! What are you doing out here?” called Amanda. She then took in the whole group with one glance and smiled. “You guys do realize this is a Christmas party right?”

“Hey, Santa celebrates Christmas,” replied Roger.
“Priests celebrate Christmas,” followed up Thompson.
Everyone turned to look at Joey.
Joey just shrugged. “My family always celebrates Christmas.”
“You really are the worst Jew ever,” summed up Thompson.

Joey shoved him and Thompson shoved him back. It escalated slightly from there. Roger wasn’t sure what Joey thought he was going to accomplish. Thompson wasn’t a big guy, but the Air Force had taught him enough to fend off one skinny, Jewish law student.
No telling what the people driving by thought of the whole situation.

“So,” said Roger for lack of anything better to say. “How’ve you been, Amanda?”
Amanda shrugged. “Living at home with my parents, watching daytime TV and wondering if ‘yes’ I could become a dental assistant like the commercials say I can.”
“Well, if it’s any consolation, I heard you were a crack whore or married with three kids in Vacaville.”
“God,” replied Amanda a little stunned. “Vacaville, really?”
Roger laughed. He stole a glance at Thompson and Joey.

They had stopped fighting long enough for Thompson to light up another cigarette and Joey had managed to wrangle Mya into his coat. He seemed to be interpreting that as a win, but Mya appeared to be more interested in asking if Thompson had killed anyone.
“I got into a bar fight once...”

Roger looked back at Amanda. She had her arms folded across her chest and seemed to be looking everywhere except at him. When their eyes finally met she gave him a smile.
“So...how’ve you been, Roger?”
“Good.”
“Good,” repeated Amanda as she rubbed her arms absently.

Roger knew he should offer her his coat. He should just take it off and put it around her shoulders. It would be easy. It should be that easy--

“Hey, Mya,” called Amanda breaking up Mya’s interrogation of Thompson. “I am going to head back in. It’s freezing out here.”
“Okay, girl,” replied Mya. “You know we’re belting out some Britney later.”
Amanda laughed. “Let me down a few more shots first.”
“Done and done,” grinned Mya. “I’ll be in in a sec.”

Roger wasn’t even aware that he was watching Amanda walk back into the bar until Mya slid up next to him. She linked her around his own and pressed herself against him.
Which made what she said all the more surprising.
“You really should go after her.”
Roger did a double take. “What?”
“You heard me, Santa.”
“I am not sure I did.”
Mya rolled her eyes. “You know, Roger. Out of all of the people you kept in touch with, you chose those guys?”

They both looked back at Thompson and Joey. They were currently arguing over which Britney Spears song was the best. Thompson was sticking with the classic, “Hit Me Baby One More Time” and Joey was making a case for “If You Seek Amy”. The argument was probably going to end with another shoving match.
Roger shrugged. “I could do worst.”

“Hey, law school,” called Mya as she detached herself from Roger and headed back towards the bar. “I am taking your coat.”
“Oh,” said Joey a little dumbfounded. “Okay.”
Thompson elbowed him in the ribs. “She means you should follow her.”
“Oh. Oh!”

Joey hurried to catch up to Mya. He opened the door for her. It sounded like the girls were putting the finishing touches on ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. In their defense, who really knew how the end verse went?
Mya smiled at him. “If You Seek Amy’, really?”
“I like word play.”
Mya looked back at Roger. “You’re a good friend. And you should go after Amanda.”
“Dating advice from Mya Reyes,” replied Roger. “Go figure.”
“Don’t knock it,” Mya said with a grin. “We can all use a little advice.”
“Amen,” replied Thompson as if on cue. “Go in peace, my children.”

And with Thompson’s blessing the door closed behind the two of them.
Roger turned and was surprised to see Thompson stomping out his cigarette.
“You going in the bar?”
“Hell, yeah. A whole group of girls singing, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’? It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.” Thompson paused to look at Roger. “What are you going to do?”

That was the million dollar question, wasn’t it?

Roger smiled. “Who am I to break up a bad punch line?”


KoolKat 02-01-2012 08:10 AM

Magnificent7's Entry
Quote:

Originally Posted by magnificent7 (Post 2182616)
When a zombie kills a person and begins to eat their brains, it can be time consuming. Foremost, the skull must be opened giving access to the brains to be consumed. In most cases this means that a zombie has find a way to rip the skull open or use a tool to gain access. It still is difficult, sloppy and barbaric.

But before a zombie lusts for the taste of brains, one must become a zombie first and that is where our story begins...


The date was Friday, December twenty-first, 2012. A day that according to ancient Mayan cultures, would be the end of world. Of course I never believed the prophecies to be true. However, I don't think anyone expected the day to end the way that it did.

My name is Rabbi Robert Marvinski, but you can call be Rob for short. Along with being my synagogue's spiritual leader, I also teach ancient Jewish history at our local university.

That friday afternoon, I was sitting in my office preparing the next semester's syllabus. Across my desk sat, Father Carter Brown, a department colleague of mine.

Father Carter Brown was a young priest who taught the Catholicism classes for our university's religion department. He had spent the first several years of his priesthood serving in missionaries around various third world countries. Last year, he claimed that he felt a calling to teach, just as Jesus did. So he returned to the states and joined our faculty. Despite our different spiritual beliefs, we became quick friends, because we shared common ground in our passion for teaching.

We were finishing up our work for the day and preparing to go home. As it would soon be Shabbat, the Jewish weekly day of rest, I was looking forward to spending the next day at home. Since Christmas was coming the next week, my religious counterpart was really in the holiday spirit. All of our university had agreed to finish our work that day and not return to work until the new year.

At four pm, we turned off our computers, unplugged the coffee machine and prepared to lock up the office. Father Carter then surprised me by handing me a small Christmas present.

Father Carter said, "Rob, here is a little something for you. Go ahead and open it, I think you'll like it."

I obliged him, opening the present and said, "Carter, you didn't have to do that. You know of course I didn't get you anything."

Father Carter chuckled and said, "Yeah, that is ok. You shouldn't have to either."

The present was a very nice set of candles. I opened the plastic wrap around the candles and inhaled the waxy aroma. I love that smell. I then returned the candles to the original case and slipped them into my interior pocket on my overcoat.

I said, "Thank you, Carter. I will use these tonight for Shabbat."

What happened next that afternoon, defied all logic and started a wild chain of events. A loud boom was heard outside that momentarily shook our windows, walls and everything else in the office. Then all the lights and power in our building and seemingly everywhere around us suddenly went out.

It was still daylight so I looked out the window and it instantly started raining.

Father Carter said, "That was sudden. I did'nt recall a storm or rain in the weather forecast for today."

I replied back, "Neither did I. That seemed more like a earthquake than thunder."

Then screams from outside filled the courtyards between the various buildings on our university. Father Carter stepped next to me by the window and we both looked outside.

Father Carter then quietly mumbled, "Lord help us."

Down from the sky rained a mist that fell upon everything. As we looked outside the window at dozens of people walking around, it appeared that the air became thick and harder to breathe. The mist seemed to act as an acid on the people outside. We could see the skin on their exposed faces begin to burn and boil as they fell to the ground withering in pain.

I looked at Father Carter and said, "Look at those people. Come on, we must go outside and help them."

We exited our office and the lights in our building began to flicker on and off. Obviously the campus' backup generators were coming back on. As we made our way to the outer exit doors we were stopped by two young colleagues from the science department. One was Professor Paul Titus and the other his intern, Amber.

Professor Titus put his arm out and said, "Wait gentlemen, I do not think it is safe to go out there. There seems to be something toxic in the rain and air which appears to be harming everyone outside."

Amber pulled out her cell phone and attempted to dial out. She then looked up at us and said, "I was going to dial 911, but my cell lost it's service. Could one of you try to use your cell?"

Father Carter and I both immediately checked our cell phones. My cell phone had no service. I looked at Father Carter and saw the expression on his face and knew his was without service as well.

Father Carter then said, "What should we do now? We can't just leave all those people out there?"

No one answered.

We all stood silently for a moment looking out the glass exit doors to the people now scattered along the sidewalks all over the courtyard. The rain continued to fall and an errie silence had now suppressed everything. The people outside were now lying incapacitated all over the sidewalks. However stranger still, there was no other noise outside. No sounds of traffic, machinery or even the occassional birds chirping.

Then suddenly outside, a woman appeared out of nowhere, slamming her hands and face into the glass exit door. She attempted to open the door but then became overcome with exhaustion and slowly began to slide down the outer glass door.

I recognized the woman as secretary from the admissions office. The complexion in her face was grey and her skin covered in blisters. Our eyes locked and I she recognized me also. As she slid down she gurgled, "Help me.. Rabbi.. Marrr..."

I lunged for the door to open it and was immediately grabbed by Professor Titus and pulled back. He said,"Rabbi Marvinski I know you want to help her but if we open that door we may contaminate ourselves."

I looked outside at the woman by the glass door now lying unconscious and then nodded. I realized he was probably right.

Father Carter asked a question, "Nobody out there is moving anymore. So do you think the air and rain is now rendering everyone unconscious or do you think that they are all dead?"

Amber answered, "I do not know. Maybe when that storm started, it produced some intense form of acid rain. That might explain the burns and respiratory problems of those people."

Professor Titus then added, "I doubt it. Normally acid rain is too diluted with regular rainwater to cause any damage to humans. Usually it only affect statues, metals on buildings and various plants over a long time, not all at once. I've have never heard of anything this intense. I think this may be something else."

I then interjected, "Whatever it is, can anyone think of a safe way to protect us while getting to those people. A umbrella, a tarp...anything?"

Professor Titus then snapped his fingers and exclaimed, "Follow me! I think I got an idea to rescue them."

Father Carter and I followed Professor Titus and Amber as they ran down the hall towards the stairs. Once at the stairs, we took a flight down to the basement and Professor Titus began to explain his plan.

Professor Titus said, "Our science lab downstairs has PPE suits." Father Carter and I then both looked at each other for an explanation about what the Professor had just said.

Amber apparently saw the confusion on our faces and further explained. "PPE. Personal Protective Equipment. They are bio-hazard suits with respirators. We use them in our quarantined lab during experiments when dealing with dangerous chemicals and airborne pathogens."

Father Carter then said, "Ok, I get it now. We use the suits to protect us while going outside to rescue the people and then bring them inside."

I chimed in saying, "I believe that is the general idea."

We reached the lab doors and entered as the lights in the building continued to flicker. Professor Titus and Amber immediately moved to a closet in the corner of the lab and pulled out two yellow PPE suits and threw them to Father Brown and I.

I removed my Shabbat candles from my inner coat pocket and slid them into my pants pocket. Then Father Carter and I took off our jackets and slipped on the yellow suits. Amber and Professor Titus also suited up and we headed back upstairs. As we walked back down the hallway Amber gave Father Carter and I our respirator masks and quick instructions on how to use them.

As we returned to the exit doors, we put on our masks and prepared to exit the building. Then Professor Titus stood at the door looking outside through his mask and said, "OK, this is weird." Father Carter, Amber and I moved next to the Professor at the door and looked outside at empty sidewalks.

Amber said, "What happened to all the people lying out there?"

Father Carter offered a possible answer, "Maybe some paramedics arrived or someone else came and helped them while we were downstairs putting on the PPE suits."

I responded, "I doubt it. We were not down there that long. There was dozens of people outside on those sidewalks. You could not move that many people that fast."

Professor Titus further expounded, "It is also still raining that same mist and I don't think anyone else would have access to these types of suits that quickly to rescue anyone."

Amber concluded, "So do you think while we were down stairs, they were all able to get up and get inside other buildings?"

Just then from the opposite end of the hallway we heard footsteps and turned to see a crowd of people walking towards us. The lights in the building which had still been flickering, suddenly came back fully on, exposing clearly the faces of the group advancing upon us. I recognized a couple of them as people I had seen earlier lying in the courtyard during the rain. Everyones's faces were ashen grey, covered in burns and their eyes stared blankly forward.

Through the silence Father Carter was the first to speak towards the approaching party, "Hello? Are you all ok?"

Amber then removed her mask and took a stepped towards the closing group and said, "Are you guys ok? Can we help you?" Silence still followed. Amber then began to walk down the hallway to meet the mob.

Professor Titus then said, "Amber wait, I think something maybe wrong here."

As Amber jogged towards the group, she replied, "Come on guys. These people are probably in shock and need our help. We can take them down to the lab and treat them while we figure out what to do next."

The mass of people met Amber halfway down the hallway and I think she then realized she should have took the Professor's advice. When she stopped in front of the band of people, I could see a shiver run over her body and she froze with fear. The mob circled her, obstructing our view of her and we heard her scream. It would be the last time we saw her alive.

The rest of us stood frozen momentarily, not fully believing what was going on. It took a few moments before we ran towards the swarm of people to help Amber. All of us were then tackled by other members in the group as we approached the scene. The fierce people began drooling and clawing all over my body. While being held on the ground, I attempted to push off two of the savages who were holding me down, but they were too strong.

Father Carter and the Professor also seemed to be wrestling off other brutes preventing them from getting to Amber. I heard Father Carter shouting, "Stop! Leave her alone! We are trying to help you!"

During this time I could see another pack of savages begin to stomp all over the body of Amber. The crunching sounds of her bones breaking sent shivers down my neck. The eyes and expressions of those fiends remained blank during this whole time with only an exception of saliva coming from their open mouths.

One of the barbarians in the gang kneeled down over Amber's body and grabbed the back of her head and began repeatedly banging her skull into the floor. Her head eventually became misshaped and a large gash spilled blood over the floor. Two other maniacs then dug their fingers into the gash in Amber's skull and pulled the top of her head apart like a split watermelon, exposing her brain.

Once the brain was exposed, a primitive thirst seemed to fill all these savage's eyes. The brutes, which had been holding us down, suddenly released us and went over to Amber's body. Everyone in the crew then began digging their fingers into her skull and picking out pieces of brains. The monsters then ate them.

The Professor, Father Carter and I laid on our backs stupefied by what we were witnessing. Amber just moments ago had been a live, caring person who attempted to help these people and now the inside of her head was exposed like a candy dish for these cannibals. I heard Father Carter whisper through his mask, "Dear God, save her soul."

Then from the exit doors a man came coming running down the hallway towards us. The man was a unusual sight to say the least. He was tall, muscular and was wearing some sort white hooded suit with a respirator mask like you would use when painting a house or car. But on top of his head, he wore a red Santa Claus socking cap.

The man carried a wood two by four and began using it to swing death blows at the pack devouring Amber. The man quickly made three of those ruffians drop to the ground lifeless. Even as those three hoodlums fell to ground, presumably dead, the others paid little attention to the man and continued to feast on Amber's brains. Then the man yelled to us, "Come on, get up or they will kill you next!"

We rose to our feet and followed the man as he led the way, running back out the exit door. Outside the rain was still falling from the sky and everything was damp and foggy. Our group ran down the sidewalk towards a parking lot. The man pulled out a set of keys. He chirped a keyless remote, which unlocked the doors to an extended cab Ford pickup truck. He yelled, "Get in!" So we all did.
The man got in the driver's seat, started the vehicle and we exited the parking lot in a hurry. Even through the mist I realized we heading towards our cities' downtown.

Once we were several blocks away, Father Carter shouted, "What is going on?"
The man continued driving and explained, "I am not sure, but this rain has done something to people everywhere. They have become some sort of zombies and now are killing everyone."

Professor Titus then asked, "Who are you?"

The man answered, "The name is Harbinger. I work construction and other odd jobs. I was painting some walls in the Student Union building next to yours when that bomb went off and it started raining.

I then interjected, "Bomb? What bomb? Do you mean the thunder which shook everything?"

Harbinger replied, "No, I mean bomb. As in boom! I had the radio on while I was painting and a public safety announcement came across right before the power went out. The announcement said to take shelter immediately, then cut out. I was a Marine and served two tours in Afghanistan. I have been around bombs and explosions before. That was a shockwave which shook everything and it came from a bomb. Probably some from distance away though."

Professor Titus then exclaimed, "Of course it is all starting to make sense now. In the news the past few weeks, relations between the US and Russia has become strained. There was all those rumors about Russia's numerous missing nuclear bombs. So here is my theory. I bet some terrorist attack happened today that we have not heard about yet, which involved one of those bombs. Some nuclear blasts when detonated at high altitudes, cause EMPs, Electomagnetic Pulses, which disable all electrical power. Any nuclear radiation or fallout may have also fallen from the sky, in the form of rain, thus causing the obvious changes in people."

Father Carter responded, "No offense Professor, but nuclear bombs and radiation turning people into zombies. That seems a little far fetched."

I then added, "Well Carter, it may seem improbable, but the Professor's theory does explain all of things that have happened so far.

Harbinger added further, "After it started raining, I saw through a window, everyone outside begin to burn and change. After lying on the ground outside for a while they got up and entered the Student Union. Once they were inside, they began attacking and killing the normal people who were inside. As everything unfolded, I grabbed this two by four and attempted to save everyone." Harbinger paused for a moment and then continued, "But there was too many of them. So I fought my way out of the building, then heard you guys yelling in the building next door and found you in your current situation."

Father Carter said, "Zombies? It sounds more like those people became mutated."

Harbinger further expanded, "They were eating people's brains. I'm calling them zombies, unless you got something better."

I added, "In my faith we would call them, golems."

Father Carter said, "Call them whatever you want. They are very dangerous now. And we still probably should not take off our masks again unless we are in a safe environment."

Professor Titus then asked, "Excuse me Mr. Harbinger, I got to ask...why are you wearing a Santa Claus hat?"

Harbinger began to reply, "Well, that is a funny and unrelated story. You see I..."

I then interupted, "It doesn't matter. So where are we going now? The police? The hospital? We need help."

Harbinger answered, "We are coming up to the police station now."

Ahead in the streets we saw another crowd of zombies with the same expressions from the mob at the campus, looking at our approaching vehicle.

Professor Titus said, "Well I don't think that they are going to help us."

The truck slowed down and was now in the middle of the block so it could not turn around. The group of golems, or zombies, kept approaching our truck and began circling around us.

Harbinger slammed his foot on the accelerator and yelled, "Hold on!"

Our truck slammed into several zombies, sending them across the hood and underneath the vehicle. The truck bounced over the bodies of the ones beneath us causing Harbinger to loose control of the vehicle and turn us head first into a powerpole in the middle of the block. The truck's front end was wrapped around the powerpole and the engine was dead.

I yelled,"Is everybody ok?" Everyone shook their heads and replied yes.

The remaining cluster of zombies now approached our disabled truck from the driver's side. Professor Titus, who was sitting next to me in the back seat behind Harbinger, shouted, "They are coming! We got to get out of here!"

Professor Titus' window broke and several hands reached inside grabbing at him, attempting to pull him out the window. Father Carter opened the front passenger door and exited, followed by Harbinger sliding behind him. I grabbed ahold of Professor Titus's hands determined to not let him be taken away by the zombies.

The back of Harbinger's truck was full of several various tools. Harbinger grabbed a battery powered Dewalt power saw and ran around to the driver's side of the truck to stop the zombies. I heard the sound of the power saw start up and then could see red bloody mists spraying everywhere outside the truck.

While Harbinger dealt with the mob outside, Father Carter opened my passenger door and attempted to help me save Professor Titus. It was no use, the Professor eventually slipped from my grasp and was pulled out the window. Father Carter then immediately pulled me out of the truck and said, "Come on, he is in God's hands now."

I refused to give up and grabbed a crowbar from the truck bed and ran around the side of the vehicle to help Harbinger engage the zombies. Father Carter grabbed Harbinger's two by four from the front seat and followed me saying, "Right behind you Rob.".

I could hear Professor Titus screaming, and then saw him standing between several zombies. Two zombies held him in place, while another zombie twisted the Professor's head sideways, snapping his neck. Professor Titus's knees buckled and he fell straight down. The zombies then surrounded his dead body and removed his mask. They then began smashing his head into the asphalt, like the others had done before to Amber.

I gave my best battle cry as I was attempting to make my way to Professor Titus. I swung the crowbar hitting two zombies in their heads, sending them to the ground and leaving them motionless. Then one zombie snatched the crowbar from my hands and pushed me down on my back. The zombie turned and walked away with the crowbar over to the mob surrounding Professor Titus' body. I saw the zombie insert the end of the crowbar into a gash already formed on the Professor's skull. The zombie then pryed the skull opened, making a cracking sound. The Professor's brains were now exposed.

All of the zombies then simultainously stopped fighting us and went to the Professor's body. I looked over at Harbinger. He had several dead zombies lying on the ground around him.

Then I saw Father Carter swinging the two by four into a zombie's head while saying, "For this is thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Father Carter's monster then dropped idly to the ground.

Harbinger's red Santa Claus hat had apparently fallen off during his battles with the zombies. He picked it up off the ground and put it back on his head. He then turned off his powersaw and ran over to me. Harbinger helped me to my feet and shouted to Father Carter, "Come on, now is our chance. Let's get out of here."

The three of us took off blindly running down the street away from the distracted mob, which was now feeding on what remained of the Professor. As we ran down the street, we noticed a light on inside a local tavern. The tavern, Forum's Bar & Grill, was a older brick building on the corner of the intersection. Harbinger pointed and shouted, "Come on, we can hide in there."

Father Carter entered first, followed by me and then Harbinger. After we entered, I looked over and saw Father Carter and Harbinger standing by the door, breathing heavily through their suits and masks. I then said, "We should check the phone in this place. Maybe we can call for help."

Harbinger said, "It might be a little hard to communicate over a phone through these masks."

Father Carter asked, "Do you think it is safe to remove our masks in here?"

Harbinger answered, "I don't care. I need fresh air. I'll be the guinea pig and remove mine first. If anything begins to happen to me..." He paused and continued, "kill me and push me back outside." I looked at Father Carter and he looked back at me and nodded.

Harbinger then proceeded to remove his red Santa hat and then his mask. He pulled back his suit's white hood and took a deep breath and exhaled. Father Carter and I exchanged looks at each other and then back at Harbinger. Harbinger finally said, "I feel fine. I think it is safe to remove your masks as well."

Father Carter and I then removed our masks and placed them on the bar. Harbinger picked up the phone from behind the bar and attempted to dial out. He then looked up at us and said, "Its dead. "Ok, so now what do we do?"

Father Carter answered, "Well, lets evaluate our current situation. The air outside is poisonous, unless we wear these masks. We are outnumbered by a bunch of psychotic-mutants that are killing regular people. We have no transportation. We still have no way of communicating with anyone. And now we have entered this building and may die here unless we come up with a plan."

I replied, "You forgot that we have fought them before and killed some of them. So we know that they can die."

Harbinger nodded and said, "You are both right. However, I think we should wait here for the rain to stop. Once it does then we'll move out again and try to find help."

I then said, "If they find us, we may have to make a stand here. So we should prepare for it. Carter, please turn off the lights. Mr. Harbinger we need to barricade the door and that large glass window beside it."

Harbinger immediately pushed a jukebox from the corner to in front of the door. Then we began overturning tables and stacking them in front of the window. I then ran past the bar, through the kitchen to the back door. I looked at the door and ensured it was locked.

Father Carter yelled back to me, "Rob, do you have any idea what is beyond the back door?"

Without thinking, I turned the lock and opened the door and peeked my head outside to see. It was a dock for deliveries which contected to a small alley leading out to the street. The air was tasted stale and was still thick with fog. I then realized that I did not have my mask on, so I immediately stepped back inside and shut the door behind me. I then began coughing and bent over while trying to take a deep breath of cleaner air.

Father Carter again shouted back to me, "Rob! Did you hear me? Are you ok?"

I quickly replied, "Yes Carter, I am fine. I think the door leads to a back alley and then out to the street."

Harbinger then walked back into the kitchen and said, "Good. That will be our escape route, should the zombies enter through the front door." He then looked over at me and could tell I was ill from something. So he asked, "Are you ok? Did you get a wiff of air from outside or something?" I looked him in the eyes and then heard crashes from the main entrance.

Father Carter shouted, "Guys, they have found us!"

Harbinger and I ran out to the bar and saw Father Carter already putting his mask back on. The glass panes from the windows and door had been broken out and zombies were attempting to push their way past our piles of chairs and tables. I then heard noises from the back door. It was open and several zombies were coming through it. Oh no, I had forgotten to lock it when I shut it.

Harbinger grabbed his battery powered Dewalt saw, turned it on and went running to the back door. I then looked back to the front of the bar and watched Father Carter wildly swinging his two by four at zombies as they crawled across our obstacles.

I then heard Harbinger screaming, "NOOO!" So I turned and saw that the zombies had taken his Dewalt powersaw away from him and were holding him down against the floor. A zombie began cutting across Harbinger's forehead with saw. Blood splattered all over the kitchen and even me standing by the door way. It appeared we were about to be overrun.

Then I looked over at an stove in the kitchen and came up with a last ditch idea. I went over to the stove and pulled it away from the wall. Next I grasped the gas line from behind it and yanked it out. The nauseous smell of gas rushed up my nostrils and began to fill the air in the kitchen and bar.

Then I unzipped my yellow PPE suit and pulled it down to my waist. I removed the Shabbat candles from my front pocket and opened the package. Luckily a small package of matches was on shelf near the stove, so grabbed it and pulled a match off the package. I then exited the kitchen and ran out into the bar with Father Carter. I stood back to back with him.

Zombies were now inside the bar and Father Carter was still swinging the two by four at them to keep them away. He leaned towards me and said, "Rabbi, I fear all is lost."

I grinned and replied, "Father, you of all people must know when to keep faith, even in the most dire of situations."

While holding one candle in my left hand, I held the match with my right and struck it against the back of the package to light it. It lit and immediately it went back out. I pulled off another match and struck it again to the package. It stayed lit this time and I carefully lit my candle.

I could hear the powersaw in the kitchen running and see the zombies in the kitchen licking their lips, presumably waiting to get into Harbinger's head. I then took the lit candle in my right hand and threw it through the kitchen door, turned and pulled Father Carter to the ground and laid across him.

A powerful "whoop" was heard, followed by a giant fireball which filled the kitchen and even across the ceiling of the bar. The fireball engulfed the zombies in the bar and turned them into standing fire monsters. Most of them took a couple steps and fell to the floor and continued to burn. The air was smoke filled and I could barely breathe. However, I did not dare get up and become burnt by the flames. After about half a minute, but what seemed like an eternity the flames stopped. Silence filled the bar, nothing appeared to be moving anywhere.

I rose to my feet and put my hands on my face. It felt warm and my hair smelled burnt. Father Carter remained stationary and face down on the floor. Dozens of zombies laid dead, scattered around the bar and outside in the sidewalks and streets.

I staggered into the kitchen looking around at the scene I had created. The smell of burnt flesh filled the air, making me dizzy. My mouth felt so dry and raw. I really needed something to drink or even eat. Perhaps I could find something in here.

Sometime later, I am not sure when, as I seemed to have momentarily blacked out, I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor. I looked up to my left to see Father Carter stumble into the kitchen and look down at me.

Father Carter jolted and gasped through his mask, "Rob? No....Dear God, what have you become?"

Still confused, I looked down at my hand which held a powersaw that was covered in blood. I turned my head to the right and saw Harbinger's body propped up next to the cabinet beside me. His blank burnt face facing forwards. The top of his skull had apparently been cut all the way around his head.

Curiousity seemed to get the best of me. I reached over and grabbed Harbinger's hair on the top of his skull and pulled straight up. The cap of Harbinger's skull removed exposing his brains and I began to feel an overwhelming hunger. I could not help myself as I instantly started drooling from my mouth. So I picked a chunk of his brains away with my forefinger and thumb and brought it to my lips. I then opened my mouth and swallowed the brains.

I looked over and locked eyes with Father Carter. Shock and fear had rendered him still.

I bowed my head and said, "Shalom."


KoolKat 02-01-2012 08:10 AM

Robertsr's Entry

Quote:

Originally Posted by Robertsr (Post 2188700)
At some point there had to be a decision that would have led me anywhere but here. There had to be a point of no return somewhere – the place where I could have turned left instead of right… Could have been home with my wife instead of out here… Could have picked up anything in my hand instead of what’s there now…

That mythical moment is gone now. Any chance for things to be different has passed. Any way for me not to be in this situation is history, and all we have left is knowing how I got here, and figuring out what to do next.

***

Everybody has one… You know, the friend that nobody else really “gets”. For all of us, there is a person that we hang out with that our other friends, spouses, whatever just don’t understand. Not only do they not understand why we still hang out with that annoying jerk, they don’t understand what on earth we ever saw in them in the first place. For me, that guy was Zeke.

You’d have to go way back to find out where Zeke and I first met. I was 15 I guess, and he was a year older. He’d failed phys-ed the year before because he went out to the cornfield beside the school to smoke weed instead of going to Gym. His failure the year before put us in the same class for Driver Training even though he was a year older. Zeke being there was pretty stupid actually, since he’d had his license for months at that point, but you really can’t explain that sort of thing to a school official. The best you could possibly hope for would be a shrug, and a “But that’s what you take for six weeks in Gym.”

Zeke sat behind me in class, and one afternoon when we were supposed to be watching a pretty outdated film on the perils of drunk driving, he tapped me on the shoulder in the semi-darkness of the classroom. “Hey,” he whispered, “Wanna see something cool?” I nodded. I mean, there really isn’t any other acceptable answer to something like that. “No” just makes you sound like an a**, and even the most socially inept high-schooler knows that sounding like an a** is a good way to get yours beaten. I looked on expectantly as Zeke pulled a green pearl-handled switchblade out of his pocket and thumbed it open with an oily click. “My aunt smuggled it back over the border from Mexico in a box of tampons.”

At this point, I guess that I should probably mention that I wasn’t the kind of guy to get in trouble. I wasn’t a straight “A” student, but that was because I’m basically lazy. I didn’t touch drugs or beer, and I certainly didn’t hang out with the kids that did. To fix your mental image of me at that age, all I really have to say is that I was a member of the Latin Club and the president of the Drama club, and never went to a single football game. Now that you have that slightly (probably more than slightly) geeky picture in mind, you’ll understand that Zeke just wasn’t the kind of person I should hang out with, much less be the guy would become my oldest and best friend. But we did have one thing in common… We were both mad for blades. Pocket knives, sheath knives, swords, anything with an edge would put either of us into a collector’s frenzy. Over the years we’d probably sold or traded each other dozens of blades. Sold, but never given. Knives given as presents cut ties. But that’s all later. On that day, in that room, I had a secret too. That’s why the white jean wearing geek was able to surprise the black leather jacketed punk by pulling out an identical switchblade with a blue pearl handle and snicking it open.

“Looks a lot like this one…” I whispered.

I’ll never forget the look in Zeke’s eyes that day. At first it was annoyance, because after all, this was supposed to be his cool moment, but then you could almost see the wheels turning in there. It was like his brain was a slot machine that came up with,

“Hey wait…”

“This guy gets me…”

“Cool!”

Ding-ding-ding! Jackpot.

From there we certainly weren’t inseparable by any means. He still smoked a lot of pot whenever he could, and snuck his dad’s liquor when he couldn’t. I was pretty busy with school plays and trips to the regional Latin convention down at the beach. We always found time to get together though. It didn’t hurt anything that his mom was hot, and mine could bake, so spending time with Zeke meant I could ogle his mom, (one lucky time in her underwear), and him spending time with me almost always meant pie.

When High School was over, I went on to college, and Zeke did a lot of other things. We’d still see each other when we could, and there were at least 2 fairly long terms where he spent time on my couch in between jobs. I got married. He got married. Mine worked out. His didn’t. Through it all we still kept in touch. Once while we were sitting on the back stoop drinking, I mused that our relationship was comprised of periods of brief activity punctuated by long pauses of abstinence. Zeke laughed so hard he choked on his whiskey. “So what you’re saying is that I’ve been around too long this time, and I need to go away so we can get on with our friendship?”

“Yep. Go the hell away so I can start liking you again.” That started us both laughing so hard that my wife came out to see what the fuss was. Tina didn’t hate Z. If he was on fire and she had a bucket full of water, she wouldn’t pour it on the ground in front of him just to watch him burn. I’m just not sure how far she’d go to get water if she didn’t have any handy. That night she just smiled and shook her head at the two drunken idiots on her back porch.

“Both of you need to shut the hell up before the neighbors call the cops.” Of course, she set us off even worse, and by the time the we realized that we’d both had too much to drink, there was only that much left in the bottle, and it would be silly to put it back in the cabinet with just those last few drinks in it. When I surfaced the next afternoon with the jackhammer hangover, he was already gone. That time I think I didn’t see him for almost a year.

And on it went. He’d breeze into town with little to no warning. We would hang out for lunch, or for an afternoon or weekend… However much time he had to spend, and however much time Tina would let me go. Tina and I were trying to have kids by that point, and it wasn’t working out at all. There was a lot of stress there, especially since I had tested fine for good swimmers, and Tina was the one with the baby maker problems. It didn’t help any that Zeke had already had 2 kids with a couple of different women. Hell, there were probably more than that out there to be honest, but there were two “confirmed kills” as he liked to put it. So the visits began to get more strained. I took to meeting him away from the house so Tina wouldn’t get so upset. She cornered me after I met him at Riggers downtown one Thursday night. Riggers was a bar a couple of steps below a dive. The clientele was rough to felony assault, and the décor mostly consisted of aged, homemade, nautical knick-knacks, with the notable exception of a blown-up glamour shot of the owner Sally in skimpy lingerie that was thankfully about 25 years out of date. Sally makes a mean burger though, and they had a pool table, so it was good enough for me. Probably not the place you’d expect to meet your HR manager, but most of the folks I worked with wouldn’t have stepped foot in there anyway, so it was pretty safe from a career standpoint. Zeke was only in the area for a few hours, so we had met for dinner and a couple of rounds of 9 ball.

I came home about 10:00 reeking of beer and grilled onions, and Tina was waiting for me at the door.

“The least you could goddamned do is call.”

Ah crap. I hadn’t called... Zeke’s bike had been by my car when I left the office, and it had totally slipped my mind once we’d gotten to Riggers. “I’m sorry sweetheart, I forgot. Zeke was passing through and…”

You could almost see the storm clouds gather. Zero to gale-force in a second and a half. “I’m doing my best here Joe. “ She was working up to a good one. You can tell the signs. That red spot that she gets between her brows when she’s really pissed was starting to fill in. Her Mom always called it an “Angel’s Kiss” because she had been born with it, but I don’t think it was going to have anything to do with angels or kissing tonight. She also hadn’t let me in the door yet. “I’m off caffeine. I’m off alcohol. I quit smoking for Christ’s sake! I take my basal temperature every morning, and I’m diddling myself practically every day to chart cervical mucus, just so we can try the best few days a month to get this baby!”

She wasn’t screaming yet, but it was coming. If I didn’t get her out of the doorway and inside the house soon, the whole neighborhood was going to hear it. Mrs. Reynolds next door is a sweet old lady, but since Mitch died, she doesn’t have anything to do but spy on the neighbors, and if she knows about it, you might as well print it on the front page. “Honey, let’s talk about this inside.”

For a minute I thought that she wasn’t going to let me in. She slumped then, and I knew it was going from angry to crying. I’m a big softy, so waterworks are actually worse than getting a verbal beating. She stepped aside so I could come in to the front room, and collapsed on the uncomfortable, but pretty couch we’d bought for company to sit on. “I mean I’m trying so goddamned hard Joe. I want this baby so bad I can taste it, and I know it’s starting to get rough.” I sat down beside her. “We can’t even make it through month of sex every other night like the book says…” She looked up at me from where she was sprawled with shiny eyes. “And then the one night all month when the temp is right, and the goo is right and I’m sure I’m ovulating, you go out to that disgusting bar with your stupid friend, and eat a f***ing burger !”

I sat quietly. I may not be a smart guy, but I know by now when to shut up and let Tina talk.

“If it was anybody but Zeke, I could at least understand.” Now the tears were rolling. This has always been the hardest part of a relationship for me. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, or even what the situation is, a crying woman always makes me feel like something is my fault. “Why do you still even talk to him? He’s practically a criminal. He’s brought drugs into our house. He can’t hold down a job. He’s got little bastards spread over the tri-state area. He owes you money. Jesus Joe! I mean, what the f***?

“I’m sorry Tina.” I was too. I hated seeing her like this. We both wanted kids, and had wanted them for so long. It felt like wearing a sandpaper shirt. It hurts a lot at first, but you could get used to the pain. But then any little extra pressure makes everything else unbearable. “It’s just that you’ll never really know Z the way I do.” I got up. Somehow walking helps me think sometimes. “Sure he tokes. Sure he has a ponytail past the time any adult should. “ I looked up at the mantelpiece where there weren’t any photos of kids yet, just the kind of crap you get in a housewares department to fill up the space where you don’t have children. “But he’s also one of the most generous guys I know.” She snorted. “No really! I know he doesn’t have much, but anything he’s got he’ll share.”

“What, like weed?”

“No. Like food, or clothes.” I continued pacing. “That old leather jacket we took to Goodwill last fall? He gave that to me back when I was moving furniture for a living and couldn’t find any other job after graduation. He didn’t have any more money then than he does now, but I needed it, and he had it, so he gave it to me.” I sat back down. “…And he’s funny too. Half the stupid jokes you laugh at come from him. His dad had a big file folder where he would write down all the jokes he heard and keep them. Z ‘s got an incredible mind for that kind of thing. He never forgets stuff he’s heard like that.”

She stared at me, about as expressionless as I’ve ever seen her. “And?”

I already said I wasn’t smart… And here is where I proved it. I should have just let it go. I should have kept my damn mouth shut, but the whole situation was squeezing in around me. Tina’s baby trouble, the merger at work, the fact that I wasn’t 20 anymore… Hell, everything was pushing me further and further into a corner. Dammit, I like Zeke! Warts and all he’s been a good friend even though we’re the unlikeliest of companions. Before I knew what was happening I told her exactly how I felt.

“And he’s the last friend that you haven’t made me give up yet!”

It was like watching a horror movie. In the seconds before I spoke when I knew what I was going to say, the audience me that knew what kind of monster was behind the door was screaming at the screen, “NO! DON’T GO IN THERE!” but I did it anyway. I opened the box and let the feelings come screaming out, Pandora be damned. Once said, the words lay steaming between us like puke on the carpet. I hadn’t really realized up till then how much I’d given up to move from being “Joe the happy guy” to “Joe the husband Tina wants”. My clothes had changed. My hair had changed. She’d picked out my new car, our new friends, our house. s***, she’d picked out my whole life.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved Tina. I still do. I just hadn’t realized till then how much of her love for me was for some image of me that didn’t exist yet. She’d been chipping away all the parts of Joe that didn’t fit her ideal picture. The blame isn’t all hers though. I’d been letting her get away with it for years.

Tina was starting to ramp back from crying to pissed, but I was way ahead of her for a change. That’s the problem with the quiet guys… when we do get finally get mad, its capital “M” mad. “I can’t remember the last time I even talked to any of the old crew except for Zeke! Last I heard Jerry had gotten a job with a baseball team in Virginia somewhere. The “Generals” or some s***. That was what… six years ago? Frank’s selling cars and married to that religious girl, but they had kids too quick so of course we can’t hang around with them anymore! Alex came out of the closet four years ago. Hell, I could have told him that back in high school. Now that he’s queer he’s not fit to come over even though he was your favorite before. Still, he was my friend, and for all I know now he’s dead! I don’t even know what happened to Bill. The last time I even saw him was when he threw rice at our wedding.” Her eyes were looking a little wild, but by god I was on a roll now. “Little by little, one by one, you’ve cut me off from the pack. I’ve been sectioned out and led off to the kill! Zeke was the only one that hung with me - the only one to resist you!” Her face was turning ugly, and at that moment I hated her for what she’d done. Not just for what she’d done, but for how clearly she thought that it was her right to do it.

“Oh right,” she sneered, “It’s my fault that all of your loser friends are gone.”

I’ve never hit a woman, but I was getting close to finding out what it felt like.

“You should thank me if that’s the case. I’ve never seen a more useless pile of s*** than your friends! You want to talk losers? A glory-days bush league manager, a used car salesman, a faggot, and a pothead biker. Oh you’re so feeling the loss I’m sure.”

I got up again. I couldn’t stand to be couch-close to her. “Don’t you dare!” she spat. “You’re not going anywhere. We’re nowhere close to done yet.” I stumbled over the threshold into the darkened kitchen. I’m not even sure where I was going, just away from her and towards the Scotch. “So Zeke is the last one huh? The last loser holding us back? Fantastic! Maybe when he’s gone you’ll finally be man enough for this baby, maybe you’ll…”

I think both of us were surprised to find me gripping her arms hard enough to bruise. The light in her eyes faded from anger to fear. That’s the problem with the quiet guys... I leaned in close, fighting for control every second.

“Shut.”

“Up.”

I was trembling with the effort of staying out of jail. “You don’t get to say that. You don’t get to make that my fault.” My voice was quiet. The tone was flat, and each word was clear and slow. I let her go and turned my back. I walked back though the living room and out the front door on autopilot. It wasn’t till I was pulling the car out that Tina made it to the door again.

“If you want Zeke so much maybe you should go screw him!” She screamed. “A******!” She slammed the door behind her hard enough that one of the panes shattered. I drove away with the sound of breaking glass still ringing in my ears.

I guess Mrs. Reynolds gets her show tonight after all.

***

Zeke was still at Riggers when I rolled back in. Even through the dim light I could pick him out at the bar chatting up Sally. Charming bastard. She was old enough to be his mom… maybe even his Granny, but she was giggling like a girl at whatever line he was feeding her.

I slid onto the stool beside him. Not really trusting my voice yet I pointed over Sally’s shoulder at the liquor bottles and held up 2 fingers. Sally’s been around. She grabbed something at random and filled up a couple of shots. You don’t tend bar for 20-plus years without getting a feel for this sort of thing. I kicked back the first shot. Damn… Bourbon. I hate bourbon. As I was downing the second ghastly shot, I held up another 2 fingers. Sally glanced at Zeke. She’d never seen me drinking like this before. I always have to drive home after meeting Z, so it’s been Diet Coke and the occasional beer up till now. Whatever look Zeke gave her, she poured 2 more and pointedly put the bottle back on the wall.

“Sooo…” Zeke said. “She’s pissed again?”

I nodded.

“4 shot pissed?”

I nodded and kicked back the third. That Rigger-burger was starting to rumble with the bourbon, but aside from some minor tremors it felt like I wasn’t going to embarrass myself yet.

“About…?”

“You Z. She’s pissed about you.” Huh. Thought I was through with being overly honest tonight. Guess that’s why I never drink that much in public.

Z took the last shot and killed it. He outweighs me now by about 40 pounds, so he probably didn’t even feel it on top of the beers he’d been crushing all night. Me, I was starting to weave on the stool a bit.

“I mean, seriously man! You show up out of the blue, what? Maybe 1 or 2 times a year. We’ve got nothing in common anymore. All we do is shoot pool or catch a movie…”

You know, this drinking thing really isn’t my best side. I hadn’t been able to keep my mouth shut all night, and it just wasn’t helping. Zeke was staring at the girly pic of Sally back by the register. He wasn’t looking at me at all. “I’ve been in a stable job for 14 years, and you’re never at the same place twice. Why do we even do this?”

He turned to me. It struck me then how old we’d both become. The punk and the geek were long gone. Now here we were, however many years later, an aging biker and a gone-to-seed businessman. Zeke’s pony tail was threaded with grey, and I saw for the first time how thin his hair had gotten. We’re not supposed to be like this, I thought. We’re supposed to be those kids back in driver’s ed. He sighed, a longsuffering sigh with a bit of love in it. It sounded like it should have come from my mom.

“I come back, because we’re friends a******. I come back because I’m the only friend you have.”

He peeled a couple of bills off his roll, and dropped them on the bar for Sally. “I come back… My hand to God… I come back because I know you need it.” He looked me dead in the eye. “For decades I’ve been hearing about your dead end job and your bitch wife, and STILL I come back. You know what’s really funny?” He knocked softly on the bar. Visual punctuation. “I haven’t liked you for a long time. I consider this s*** charity work.”

Maybe I’m not the only one who gets to cut loose this night. In vino veritas.

“See, it’s like this dude. I’ve been sorry for you for a long time. You were pretty bad back in school. I’ve never seen anyone who needed to get laid as bad as you back then. Never had a head for chicks. You could have had my little sister any day of the week, but you were too much of a p**** to go for it. But, after school, you started getting less and less real. That college that cost the world, and what did you get out of it. A crap job moving sofas. Bam! A part of Joe fades away. This BS job of yours now…” He flicked my golf shirt hard enough to hurt. “Bam! Another piece gone.” He leaned back and glanced up to heaven. “…And then, Tina comes in to bat clean up. There ain’t s*** left of you bro. Ain’t nothin’ there.”

I didn’t know what to say. It was like all the words in the world were beyond me.

“So basically,” Zeke stood up. Even on the high stool it felt like he was towering over me. “Welfare is out bro. The checks are bounced. The well is dry. The bitch has the clap.” He leaned closer. “You need me more than I need this bull. I’m done. We’re done.”

I was stone. Mute, unmoving stone.

He kept staring at me, daring me to speak. Daring me to tell him he was right. That I did need him. That I was an a******, and that someone like him was exactly what would pull me back straight. God help me, it’s what I felt. It’s what I knew in my heart, but I couldn’t say the words. I couldn’t say anything. Mute stone.

His eyes never left mine. “Hey Sally? So a Priest, a Rabbi and Santa Claus walk into a bar…” She was hovering close, those hard won bartender reflexes warning her of an impending fight. “You know why that’s a stupid joke?” Out of the corner of my eye I saw her hand dip below the bar. Her voice was steady, and low, and perfectly non-threatening.

“No Z, why is it a bad joke?”

“Because it will never happen. None of those people exist.” He gave me one last chance to stop him, and then pushed roughly past me and walked away. The tinkly bell over the door even managed to sound angry for him on the way out.

Riggers isn’t all that big, but I suddenly realized how uncomfortable it could be to be outnumbered 10 to 1 in a biker bar wearing a golf shirt when everyone has heard what just happened. I wobbled off my stool and fished for my wallet. The pity in Sally’s eyes was about as tough to take as anything up to that point. Bartender Grannies aren’t supposed to feel sorry for me. I have a good job. I have a beautiful wife. I have a nice house. I’m successful.

She waved off my money. “It’s on me sweety. If you hurry, you might still catch him.

I’d heard the phrase, “Walk of Shame”, but I’d never really known what it was like. The door was miles away, and it took years to get there. By the time I made it through and around the side of the building where the bikes were parked he was gone. No bike, no Zeke.

There was something in the gravel where Zeke had been parked. Standing point down was a scuffed, beaten-up, pearl handled switch blade. I picked it up. It weighed exactly as much as a lifetime friendship, and felt just like a knife I had owned once and forgotten. Only this one was green where mine had been blue. It lay across my palm now.

Cutting ties.

Copyright 2012


magnificent7 02-07-2012 09:55 PM

This contest is almost over and looks pretty close, but someone needs to show Dundadun some love.

usagi_tetsu 02-09-2012 01:37 PM

And it's a tie! Damn. Good stories, everyone.

foughtwolf 02-10-2012 01:19 PM

What's the theme for the next? I really wanna do something but "Santa" in the last one threw all my possibles into the gutter. XD

dundadun 03-05-2012 03:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by magnificent7 (Post 2200958)
This contest is almost over and looks pretty close, but someone needs to show Dundadun some love.

Totally missed this thread! Thanks though!

magnificent7 03-06-2012 05:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dundadun (Post 2242045)
Totally missed this thread! Thanks though!

Sorry I selfishly voted for myself :o


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