Zombie Holiday, p.1C.G. Banks / Horror
C. G. BANKS
Copyright © 2014 by C. G. Banks
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Almost dusk again and I can feel em squirming around me like eels, getting ready to move. Like Halloween all the time now. But what do I care? I was never the kinda guy to go pallin around with anyone anyway. And now…well, I guess I got just about as many friends as I can handle. It don’t mean shit they’re zombies. The Regulars were never any good to me, so in the long run I don’t see how it really matters. Still, it is tight in this closet; all of us packed in like a clutch of spiders, and, granted, the floor is fucking horrible with the shit that runs out of us. So, yeah, I suppose the hygiene thing has taken a bit of a vacation.
But, like they say: it is what it is.
I don’t remember much about it starting. One minute I was at my mom’s house, going through CDs and wondering where my next buck was coming from when this sudden, blinding headache made the room go red. Next thing I’m on the floor looking under the bed at all the junk I’d pushed under there over the years. My throat real tight like I had a bone stuck in it. I sat up. Looked around. Everything seemed all right. But every time I swallowed there was that bone again.
The scream made me forget about it completely. Real shrill, like the kinda sound you’d figure a dog whistle would make. Just going on and on like a siren. I was across the floor and through my bedroom door before I could get my head together. Got to the second story landing, looked down and noticed I’d tore the door knob clean out of the wood. I remember that was the first real thing that struck me because the movies had never been in agreement on that. Regardless, rotten or not, I’m a helluva lot stronger now than I used to be. Of course just to continue the story of my life, everybody else is too.
There was a mass of shadows slamming along the wall, cast up here by my mother’s reading lamp from the living room. I tried to holler down but that goddamn bone was still stuck in my throat and I couldn’t make a sound. But that didn’t stop the scream.
I jumped through the rails to the bottom landing and saw the dog going at my momma. The front door was open and I knew it was the Johns’ dog even from behind. Only instead of tearing through garbage it was tearing the belly out of my momma. Her old lady hair was torqued out like she had a hold of an electric cable and her head was thrown back and that sound, that horrible, soul-guttering sound was coming out of her mouth. That, along with an absolutely astonishing amount of black blood.
I bonzaied over the couch and grabbed that fucking dog with double fistfuls of hair. Momma was howling, the dog jerking around like a spring-loaded nut job, and I went for that fucker with my teeth. I was down to the bone, my mouth full of blood and hair before I knew it, but that catch in my throat was suddenly gone and I was able to breath better. Until I opened my eyes.
That’s when I found myself laid across the bloody dog’s back, my head down in momma’s lap. And something was stroking my hair. I looked up and there she was, dear old mom, smiling crookedly down at me as the black shit ran down her chin, her hair in wires. Even as that damn dog began to squirm again under me I could smell the mess he’d made of her.
I scrambled backward, stumbling over furniture, my hands out in front of me like some Egyptian tomb raider. But it wasn’t too dark and I could see just fine. Momma was just lifting herself from the couch, bent over to one side pushing with both hands against the armrest, her guts boiling from her stomach and rolling out to the floor. The dog jerked that way suddenly and I watched as he began to gnaw at her. Gagging, I lunged for the door. Fell through the screen to the porch.
And that’s when I was witness to my first zombie holiday.
The streets and lawns were already filled with neighbors. Everybody wide-eyed and dazed, staggering around like a three-day drunk. I thought, crazily, “ a bomb” again, but that wasn’t it. Because Mr. Acosta, the old man in his seventies from across the street, so frail he reminded me of a rocking chair with busted spindles, suddenly tore across the yard like a spring chicken and attacked this kid. From some new family down the block; I’d never seen him down this far before. Busted his ass like no tomorrow and sunk what I’d as soon believe was a pair of dentures as not into the boy’s cheek. The kid went down like a sack of rocks as I got to my feet.
Left, past the hedge, some guy was attempting to tear the tits off the hot chick who lived with the Wild Bunch next door. Another group of kids was pummeling Mrs. Mannings’ head in with a garden rake and acting like it was a party. Out of the corner of my eye I saw somebody else, inexplicably, tumble off a roof across the street and land with a hard thud behind an old bank of azaleas.
The screen door whined when Momma pushed it back and I was out of there like my ass was on fire.
And all down the street it was Hell’s Circus. Shit you wouldn’t believe: the eye gouging and clawing, like the Three Stooges on PCP. With demons. Blood flying and torn clothing. Terrible cries enough to make your hair want to jump off and go hide somewhere. And to make matters worse that damn bone was back in my throat. I was still spitting hair and blood but the bone was back and bigger than ever. I thought, by nightfall that day, the craziness was done. And I guess it kinda was.
But that doesn’t mean things went back to normal.
For the first little while I hid out in the basement of some house I found when I got tired of running. I broke in the window, slithered through like a snake, and curled up real tight in a corner of a wet, gloamy broom closet like a babe to the tit. I don’t know what it is, but tight wet corners and nasty places draw me to no end. I crouched in there the whole night listening to the horrors taking place out in the road, closer even, right there upstairs in the house. People screaming and glass breaking. Thuds like hammers sinking into meat, the flat cracks of rifles. All hell breaking loose and me huddled down there in the basement like a baby, crying into my bloody hands and trying to forget the mess I’d left at my house.
The next morning I poked my head out early. I hadn’t heard anything from above in awhile (the last little bit of faint whimpering had died out hours earlier), and I went back to the window and stood up on a box to get a look outside. The house next door was burning like it wanted to, so hot I could feel the flames singeing my face. I climbed out into the heat through the window and inched along the side of the house. The skin on my right arm was slight blue, like somehow it had gotten smashed, but it didn’t hurt, and the best I could figure was I’d clipped it getting into the house.
I still had the taste of the dog in my throat.
That, along with the steady growing bone that now seemed to fill my windpipe.
I staggered out to the street, tripped over some kid’s skateboard and did a header in the gutter. Raked about a yard of flesh from my forehead and damn sure felt the click when my left pinky broke. I rolled over on my back, clutching my head with my broken-finger hand and my other on top of that. But nothing hurt.
I saw and tasted blood but that was it. The finger looked like it was giving directions in the fourth dimension and I didn’t feel a damn thing. I remembered the blinding headache. I remembered jumping through the railing down to the first floor at my momma’s house. I remembered the first taste of the zombie holiday and I stopped rolling around in the street right then and there.
I was not what I had been.
I held out my hand and looked it over real good, turning it this way and that. Long, skeletal fingers, the skin stretched tight around the bone. That same bluish tint and a deeper nastiness. A rot. I could see the veins underneath the skin, blotched black and weepy map lines spreading in the damp.
I staggered to my feet.
The street like a postcard still. Not even a breeze. Then, just on the other side, the cat broke cover. It lurched on top of an exposed culvert and looked my way. One side of its head had been caved in by God knows what. Leaving a single, bloody eye to pan over me as I watched. Likewise, its left forepaw was mangled and ground down and as it jumped from the culvert, what was left of the leg gave way and the cat pitched into the street like a flung towel and just wallowed there, mindless, silent, flapping around.
Just like me, I realized.
But seeing it there, slowly turning in a bloody circle, made the bone in my throat thrum just a hair. And suddenly I found myself hunched over and then down on all fours, scrabbling across the