Jezri's Nightmare Books

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Do Not Disturb

The sign on the door said NIGHT SHIFT WORKER. Do Not Knock Or Ring Doorbell. Dolores read the sign, she knew knocking would annoy the occupant inside, but she knocked anyway. Then she rang the doorbell. Twice. The message she carried was too important. The resident might be irritated at first, but once she explained the situation he, or she would understand. They would in fact be grateful.
The door cracked open and Dolores peered into the darkness. A man stood there in the shadows wearing nothing more than a T-shirt and shorts. Goodness, not even shorts; he was in his skivvies. His eyes were dark, and for a second she thought she saw a tinge if red. His face certainly was flushed. He glared at her and pointed to the sign on the door.
"Do you know how to read?"
"Yes, sir," Dolores said, putting on her most winning smile, "but you see, I have great news for you and I knew you would want to hear it right away."
Now he looked curious. "Great news?"
"Yes! Of our Lord and Savior. Do you know Him?"
The man looked past Dolores, being careful to stay in the shadows. "Don't you usually travel in pairs?"
A faint burning smell carried past the door when he spoke... Brimstone? Dolores kept her smile, but inside she felt a small tremor of doubt. She shrugged it off quickly; he was no doubt a smoker. It explained his reddened complexion. Poor guy probably wasn't getting enough healthy air. Yes, it was a good thing she had come by. He really needed the message.
"My companion took Ill," Dolores fibbed. It was just a little white lie, and completely justified in this situation. And it wasn't a complete fabrication, Jason really did feel sick, just not for the reason she was hinting at. She still couldn't believe his reaction when she said they should go to the house at the top of the hill.
"You're kidding right? The devil lives there."
"Hogwash! Rumor and superstition has ruled this town. A child of God lives in that house and he deserves to hear the good news as much as anyone else."
"Then you will be delivering it on your own, Dolores. I won't step foot on that cursed land."
Jason had left then, abandoning his duty as a Disciple if the Lord.
"So it's just you?" The man asked. He seemed put-off.
Perhaps he was a chauvanist, Dolores thought. One of those men who felt women should be silent on matters of the soul. Undeterred, she held up the book she carried."I would like to share this with you."
He was amused. Her mind was simple, but pure. Her thoughts, genuine. She was the rarest of rares--a true believer. Stepping back, he opened the door so she could step inside. He glanced down the street to see if anyone had observed their interaction. No one was in sight. There was this Jason she had been with earlier, but he could take care if him tonight. His eyes flashed red as he closed the door and turned to properly greet his guest.

Getting By

Johnny always seemed to just get by in life. He stayed out of conflicts, didn't speak up, and when he caught his wife in bed with another man, he waited for them to finish before confronting her about it, if confronting her is what it could be called. The conversation consisted mostly with Johnny agreeing with her that he was lousy in bed, unimaginative, and too quick to the finish line.
"I need more," she said, and more meant Tom Hullinger. He was married too. His wife was in the Hospital where Betty was a nurse. Betty didn't want to leave Johnny, she just wanted an open marriage. She could see whomever she wanted, and Johnny could see other women too, if he so desired; Perhaps Tom's wife, she was in a coma, so not likely to notice his inadequacies.
She kissed Johnny on the forehead then, dressed for work, and left. Johnny found his gun and put it to his head. Thing is, the safety was on and having never used the gun before, (he only bought it to make Betty happy, because according to her, a real man owns a gun,) he didn't know how to take it off. So he set it on the table and popped open a beer. Maybe getting good and drunk would give him the gumption he needed to stand up for himself.
Two beers later, Johnny, who also was never a drinker--the beers were Betty's--set off for the hospital. He had a few things he wanted to say to his wife.
The hospital was in chaos. Apparently there had been an accident involving a school bus and several cars.
"Johnny, what are you doing here?" Betty asked.
"I wanted to talk to you." His words were slurred and he leaned into her, breathing his alcohol laced breath over the love of his life.
"Have you been drinking, Johnny?" She stepped back and looked at him. His eyes were glassy and he was leering at her like a drunk teenager at the prom. She shook her head. "I only had 2 beers left and I was looking forward to those. You better replace them, and not with the cheap shit you bought me the last time."
Betty tried to step around Johnny, but he had a mission, he wanted to show his wife he could satisfy her as much as any other Tom, Dick, or Harry. He grabbed her arm, intent on pulling her to him and kissing her passionately. What actually happened was he grabbed her arm and she pulled away from him. He had a pretty good grip though, which surprised Betty. Johnny had never been particularly strong. When he had courted Betty, she'd only been interested in making Doug Benfield jealous.
He was the star quarterback of the football team and had been her boyfriend. Then she caught him kissing Jenny Cowan. Johnny was the only one left to take her to prom. He wasn't a football player, but he was the water boy, so that at least had to count for something. It didn't and she knew it. Instead of making Doug jealous, she'd made herself look pathetic. She was going to let Johnny down easy after the prom, except somehow she'd gotten herself drunk and woke up the next day in bed with Johnny. What's worse, a few weeks later, she'd missed her period. A few months after that, at the insistence of her dad, she'd married Johnny. The day after that, she had a miscarriage, but she was stuck. Her daddy was a preacher, he'd never allow her to divorce Johnny. She'd made her bed when she shagged him.
Betty tried to pull her arm loose, but Johnny held on as though his life depended on it. She yanked harder, finally freeing her arm and falling backward against her cart. The cart tipped over and medicine and needles went flying everywhere.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Johnny?" Betty stood up, feeling somewhat woozie. She'd hit her head on the floor and when she reached up to touch it, she felt something sticky. Then she collapsed to the floor again. This time she didn't get up.
"Johnny, what did you do?" It was another nurse ... Linda, Johnny thought. She bent down and felt for a pulse.
"I just wanted to kiss her," Johnny said.
"She's dead," Linda said. "You killed her."
"I didn't mean too." Johnny stared at his wife for a second and then, when he heard Linda calling for security, he turned and ran.
He didn't know where to go. He couldn't go home, that was the first place the police would look for him. Maybe he should turn himself in. It had been an accident, certainly they would understand that. Yes, he should turn himself in.
"NO!" Something snapped at that moment. Johnny, who had never stood up to anyone, knew that he would be arrested and found guilty. He'd caught Betty in bed with Tom. It would look like be had killed her in a crime of passion.
Still, he didn't know where to go. He took the elevator and hit the button for the basement. Maybe be could hide out there for a while.
Turns out, the morgue was in the basement. Johnny had just decided that maybe he should find someplace else to hang out, and was getting ready to push the button to bring the elevator back down, when he saw it was already on the way. He looked around and saw a closet across the room. Moving quickly, he hid himself just in time. Johnny watched through a crack between the door and the frame as an orderly stepped off the elevator. Behind him, he pulled a sheet covered gurney. An unidentified shape lay underneath. The orderly pushed the cart next to a table, then pulled the cover off, revealing that it was Betty who lay beneath the sheet.
Johnny watched in horror as the man unbuttoned Betty's uniform and fondled her breasts. A rage built inside of him. Not only was she unfaithful to him when she was alive, she couldn't keep her marital vow in death, either. Johnny was about to fling open the door and confront the fiend, when the walkie on the Orderlies hip cracked to life. There was some kind of emergency upstairs and he was needed. Did they say something about the accident victims attacking the other patients?
The orderly left, after re-buttoning Betty's uniform and covering her again with the sheet. Johnny stepped out of the closet and went to look at his wife. She was beautiful, even dead. He regretted that he had never been the man she'd wanted him to be. He knew she didn't love him, had always known, but he had loved her and never had the courage to let her go. Maybe if he had, she'd still be alive. A tear fell from his eye and landed on her face. Then another one fell, this one landing on a closed eyelid. Betty's eyes fluttered open and Johnny screamed, startled by the intense blue of her eyes. Mainly because her eyes were brown, or he thought they had been. Now he questioned his sanity.
"Betty, you're alive!"
Johnny wanted to run to the elevator, bring someone back down, show them his wife was still alive--he wouldn't have to go to prison for murder--but Betty had hold of his arm. He looked down at her, joy swelling inside his chest. Her mouth was moving and she was trying to lift her head to his. Her other hand came up and touched his face, caressing him. He lowered his head toward her to finally kiss her the way she deserved. It wasn't until she ripped his tongue out of his mouth that he realized his mistake. Betty wasn't alive after all, and soon, neither would he. As in life, he didn't fight back. He let Betty eat until he took his last breath. He loved Betty, and if he couldn't satisfy her in life, maybe he could in death.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Weak Die

I wrote a 250 word story a few years back. I have revisited it and expanded. This is not a tale for children.

The Weak Die

I woke feeling that something was wrong. It was quiet. Not unusual in itself, I lived alone and there weren’t anyone around for miles. Hell, I might be the last breather, for all I knew. But there was something about the quiet. It seemed almost desperate, as though there had been a noise, something out of the ordinary, which had suddenly been hushed. I stood from my bed and crossed the room. There was movement outside. I checked my gun, which was leaning against the wall by the door, as it should be. I hadn’t actually used it for some time, but was well maintained.
I pulled back the curtain in my window. It looked to be noon, judging from the sun. Crossing the long dead field, a girl moved cautiously toward my garden. She was young, but strong. A bit skinny, but this was the apocalypse, everyone still living was skinny. I watched the girl as she drew closer to my home. I was curious, I didn’t see many people come this way. Those who had lived around here before The End, knew to stay away from Old Phillis, who had gone strange since her husband left. The children told tales of what would happen if they came too close. Most of it wasn’t true, mainly because I hadn’t wished for a visit from the Sheriff. Now they were all dead, or had left for parts unknown, including the nosey Sheriff. Those that had come after learned that I liked my solitude and the smart ones left me alone. The not so smart ones, well, they no longer bother me. This girl, I didn’t know which type of person she was, but either way she wouldn’t be much of a bother. She looked tough though. Had to be, if she was out there by herself. It wasn’t a kind world for a girl on her own … and one, judging from the bundle in her arms, she was protecting an even more precious commodity.
She looked toward my garden, obviously well-tended, and then toward my cabin. She was wondering if anyone was home, and if so, was this a safe haven. I would answer her question, soon enough. When she slipped into the shadows and made her move for the garden, I grabbed my gun and opened the door.
“This place is mine. That food is mine.”
     She froze. Her eyes were wild as she sized me up.  She was tryin’ to decide if she could take me.
I leveled my gun. “I wouldn’t try it. I’m old, but strong. You don’t survive in this world if you can’t fight. You know that. You also don’t survive if you don’t know when to run.” I cocked the hammer. “Go on. Git.”
     She stood firm and held out the bundle she was carrying. “If I die, he’ll be alone. I just want a little and you have so much.”
     Well, so I was right about her package. It was a baby. I hadn’t seen one of those since… well, before the world went to hell. The weak were the first to die and you didn’t get much weaker than a new born.
“I have so much because I protect what is mine. I can’t just give it away, and you don’t look to have anything to trade.”
    She held the baby out.  “Please then, if you won’t let me eat … can you take him? He needs a home, someplace safe.”
“And what would I do with a baby? It’s not like I have any milk around to feed it. And if I did, why would I?”
“Then let me stay and help tend your garden. There’s strength in numbers.”
“Is that why you’re alone?”
She lowered her eyes. I knew the truth. A young girl like her, she’d probably been passed around, used by men until she was no longer any use to them. They probably wanted to leave the baby and she wouldn’t. There was a fire in her eyes. I knew which type of human she was. She was a fighter, and not about to run. We stared at each other, and then I pulled the trigger.
     She flinched, but I have to give her credit, she didn’t scream. Behind her, the Rotter dropped. I fired again, hitting the second. She ran, shielding the child and taking up a position behind me.
     “Git inside.” I snarled.
I hadn’t seen any living for a while, it had been nearly as long since I’d seen any of the dead. When the living left, so did they. Those two must have been tracking her. Those two appeared to be alone, but chances were, there would be more. They were like cockroaches that way. The shots would attract them. I needed to prepare. I placed the bodies on my burn pile and lit them. For some reason the smell of burning zombie’s deterred the others. It was like they instinctively knew to steer clear. Then I waited for the few that would ignore the warning. Like humans, there were always a few.
     Later, I sat with the girl around the fire while she nursed the babe. She’d told me her name, but I didn’t want to know. Still, I watched, curious while I roasted potatoes and a few ears of corn. I’d never been blessed to have a child. Maybe nature had smelled something in me … knew to steer clear. My husband had ignored that warning. Kept insisting we try, even after I told him what I would do to the baby if I did conceive. I wouldn’t be a good mother. I knew that. Nature knew that. He wouldn’t leave me though. He should have. I think he’d even thought of it, but he had that damned pride. He’d taken a vow … til death do us part, so I killed him and buried him in the garden. I liked to be alone. And now here I sat with another mouth to feed. It just wouldn’t do. Food was scarce in the apocalypse.
     She wasn’t expecting it when I slit her throat. I had warned her. She shoulda got when the gitten was good.
     The babe stared at me. I smiled and said calming things. Maybe I could have been a good mother. It was too late now. I slit its throat too. You don’t survive in this world if you can’t fight, but even the weak serve a purpose and tonight, I’d be eatin’ well.