Sunday, October 19, 2014

Short Story #1: Dead, Dead, and Undead

Before we share this story with you, we'd like to announce that it is our debut as co-authors! We wrote this short story together, Grace wrote the beginning and I ended it. We had so much fun and we hope to work together more in the future!(wink, wink. nudge, nudge)

We'd also like to thank "The Author" @ To Write Or Not To Write, for giving us the prompt of "death scene" and posting this story on her blog!

Anything to add Grace?

Nothing but the story. Here it goes: 

Dead, Dead, and Undead

It was a bright Sunday afternoon. But Samantha Moore knew it was much more than that. The Undead Apocalypse was here. Half of the world had become victims to an experimental viral drug made from the RNA of a specific virus only found in vampire bats. She didn’t say goodbye when her mother fell to the virus and reanimated as a merciless corpse trying to eat her flesh. Her father was long gone before the virus ruled the world.
She had not a single family member left but her little brother. His name was Philip, and he was eleven years old when he died.
They were out hunting for food that Sunday afternoon. The sun was bright and yellow, as if it was a typical morning. Years ago, Samantha would have been dressed in a fresh yellow sundress and holding her bible close. Now, she held a sawed-off shotgun from her father’s workshop and discarded her bible for a warm blanket. The golden cross she once wore around her neck was long gone. In its place was a chain with a single key to the abandoned facility where she and her brother lived.
Samantha was a better shot, so she held the gun. Philip was better at making traps and gathering food. Young and small, he was unable to hold the shotgun and control its recoil after a fired shot.
They were in the rural area, Samantha saw a barn, a tractor tucked away inside that she could just glimpse through the wide open doors, and a dead tree outside. Dirty and grimy though they were, they did not give up in the face of possible danger. They were willing to take risks to survive the Apocalypse.
With her young brother watching her back, Samantha slowly walked into unknown territory. She was cautious and careful, with a wide eye for any quick movements or strange sounds. She held the shotgun close as her eyes ran over a small pile of canned food in the corner of the barn, it was she first thing she noticed as she entered. Her stomach rumbled, but she wanted to make sure there weren’t any traps. Zombies are quick, but they were as dumb as rocks.
Her brother, however, wasn’t as smart. Delighted over the prospect of new food, he ran over to the pile and held it tightly in his hand.
Samantha cried out a warning.
But nothing happened. The food… seemed to be just food.
After the longest moment of terrible waiting, Samantha let out a sigh. It was safe. She pointed the shotgun to the ground and walked to her brother.
But then there was the strangest growling coming from outside. The zombies came through the barn door and back door and growled in their direction.
Panicking, Samantha started shooting at the zombies, but they seemed to come from all directions. She climbed onto the nearby tractor along with her brother, who was too close to the zombies. If they took ahold of him…
They would kill him, Samantha realized as she fired perfect shot after perfect shot. But there were too many. Samantha knew that after the first zombie attacks, there were very few humans left, and the zombies had to eat so they started hunting animals, from dogs to birds. From faraway, she’d seen them ripping apart animals for their blood.
Then the shotgun jammed, Samantha shook it, trying to get it to work, she fired eight shots. It would be impossible to reload and save her brother. She stood next to her brother and began slamming the shotgun at the zombies’ heads, but they were climbing up the large red tractor. Even with Phillip attacking them with his knife, there were too many.
Attacking and seeming so tiny, Philip cried. “Sammie, save yourself!”
Samantha thought back to her mother. What was the last thing she said before dying and becoming that abomination? “Save Philip,” she’d said, taking her last dying breath. Samantha shouted to Philip. “No! You have to live!”
Bending down slightly, Samantha took another swing at the zombie’s mouth. Another pale, ragged and bloodied hand came towards her feet. She had no way of avoiding it, and then Philip, pushing her aside, took what was meant for her.
Helpless, Samantha saw him being dragged off. Then he disappeared into the horde of zombies. She cried, “Philip! Philip! Philip! You can’t leave me!”
But he was gone.
Samantha almost stopped fighting, but then she saw the watch Philip always wore. It was given to him by their dad. Stupidly, she picked it up and nearly got bitten by a zombie. She climbed higher, towards the ceiling. There were objects stored there, and if she pushed them out of the way, perhaps she could find Philip among the abominations.
Throwing the shotgun at a zombie’s head, she started to climb the large tractor. She scaled to the tractor’s top and climbed higher, reaching for the ceiling. Whoever lived there stored Christmas decorations on the shelves, making a space looking similar to an entirely open attic.
She pushed boxes of Santas and mistletoe off, making space for her own body. She took out the other weapon she had, a simple kitchen knife made to cut fruits and vegetables, it was better than her fingernails.
An idea struck, she put away her knife and started throwing the boxes at the zombies. It was better to fight them, kill them all for Philip. She still held the watch in her hand, grime caking all her fingers and old zombie blood on her hands.
The zombies didn’t give up. Zombies were difficult to kill. Samantha knew only one way. Beheading.
She hoped, and she hoped. She had the stupidest hope that she would see her brother, one last time. Maybe one last time before the zombies killed her. She swore to the Heavens that she would never become one of those undead corpses.
She’d lost her faith long ago, when her mother rose as a zombie. She lost her faith when her father left. She lost her faith when her golden cross was destroyed by her own hand. Yet, she prayed hard that she would see him one more time, hoping her brother didn’t come back. Hoping her brother did.
She was being foolish, and she knew it.
After the brief prayer, she continued on, throwing objects at zombies and trying to see that familiar dirty red jacket and greasy black hair which never seemed to be tamed by anyone, including their mother. Just a glimpse, she hoped. Just the smallest look.
To make sure he was dead, she thought. To make sure I don’t need to finish the job. At least, it is one last mercy, one last gift, she could give him.
She gritted her teeth as she opened the dusty green box and saw many lights and matches. There were candles in there too. She threw the lights at the zombies’ heads, though they were quickly coming back despite the pain it would cause to a normal human being. They weren’t normal, but they had human limbs and eyes.
They were zombies.
She lit a match and threw the small fireball at them. It didn’t work. The fire simply snuffed itself out before it landed among the hungry zombies.
She needed something else. Something that would last. Something that would burn for a long time.
She looked to her own clothes. They were made of cotton, and they would burn nicely. She took her thick green jacket and set it aflame. Then after the fire built up nicely, she threw it to the nearest zombie.
It burned, and so did the zombie next to it. They seemed to be caught on fire, as if they were gasoline, not dead human corpses.
For once, Samantha had hope. At least, she will kill them all and take revenge for her brother’s death. At least they will be dead, she thought. At least no person would be a victim of them ever again.
She placed her fate in her own hands.
She pushed a heavy box and let it fall upon the zombies below. They were climbing up the tractor, but Samantha kept them back. They lost their balance in their desperation for a piece of her flesh. They sabotaged each other, trying to get the first bite. A little piece of her.
Samantha dug through the boxes, trying to find anything flammable. She tried the candles, they didn’t work very well. Anything that wasn't flammable she threw at the zombies. Then she came upon a Christmas shirt with two famous male actors with bold titles and bright colors of purple, red, and blue. She set the Destiel shirt on fire and lobbed it at the large zombie group.
Then at the side of the tractor was a young boy wearing a dusty red jacket and dirty jeans. He looked curiously at Samantha, and her heart pounded loudly.
It was Philip. But not Philip.
She ripped a piece of her long pants and set it aflame, wrapping the fire around a piece of wood. She looked to Philip, trying to find a piece of him while holding the fire in her hand. It was burning her fingers, but she didn’t notice.
All she saw was Philip. Zombie Philip.
She knew what she had to do, but she had to be sure first. Sure that there wasn’t any of her brother left in the undead shell. She stared at Zombie Philip even as the rest of the large group of zombies hungered for her flesh, reaching, reaching for her ankles, dying to get just one taste of her. She didn’t notice them.
Zombie Philip stared at her straight in the eyes but his were empty, soulless.  His skin hadn’t yet started to peel, he was pale though, bloodless. Her heart pounded even harder until Samantha was sure that it would burst out of her, killing her before the zombies would get the chance. At the same time her eyes burned, she would like to think it was because of the overwhelming zombie smell or the fire, but really it was because she knew, in that moment, that she would never see the real Philip again.
The longer Samantha stared at Philip the more she saw the old him, past the chunks of flesh that were missing from his face and no doubt other parts of him. Even as the fire burned lower and lower, reaching for the thin skin of her hand, she imagined Philip younger, happier. In her heart, she knew he would always look like the five year old who was constantly begging Samantha to make him ice cream sundaes with a little red cherry on top. But in her mind, she would never be able to get rid of this version of him, and the certainty that it was her fault.
Samantha was still staring into Philip’s eyes as she felt the fire starting to burn the skin off the back or her hand. Without giving herself another minute to think, to stare at the undead boy that just minutes before had been her brother, she threw the burning piece of wood. Even though she looked away, unable to bear the sight of her brother, undead or not, burning, she knew she’d thrown true.
The piece of burning wood was like the final domino, the zombies, burning up as they were, finally seemed to notice that members of their group were on the ground, unmoving. Ashes. Maybe they decided they weren’t hungry. Maybe they just got bored of the chase. Or maybe they could sense that Samantha was ready to destroy them all, and it was no longer a game to them? Either way, the ones who weren’t already burning and ready to die all over again, made a mad dash for the exit, but it was too late.
The fire had spread more than Samantha realized. As she ripped a final piece off of her shirt, setting it on fire before letting it fall in the mosh pit of zombies, they all started burning. She would destroy them, just as they had destroyed her brother.
As she sat back to watch the massacre, she didn’t think, she didn’t feel. Her mind was mercifully empty, her heart a steel vault.
The smell was the worst part. Zombies already had a peculiar smell, like old fish and tacos, and when they burned up it was ten times worse. Burning flesh, burning undead flesh. She thought that she could die from the smell alone, but she didn’t. She thought she would suffocate from the fumes in the barn, but she didn’t.
She thought she wanted to die, and she did, but it apparently wasn’t going to happen this way.
It took hours for them to stop burning and the whole time Samantha watched, she didn’t know if she was punishing herself, she didn’t know if she cared. She was convinced that she no longer had a heart, that there was no reason to go on living without one. In the days, weeks, since the Apocalypse, they hadn’t seen another living human. She knew it was unlikely that she was the only one left. Surely there were other hunters, other survivors. But she didn’t care about them.
As she finalized her plan in her mind, she didn’t think of what her mother would say, what her dad would think, she definitely didn’t think about Philip. Eventually she began walking.
For all Samantha knew, she had stopped breathing with Philip, her heart had stopped pounding, stopped beating altogether. It didn’t matter. Her heart couldn’t feel. Her mind couldn't move on past this. She walked down the broken dirt road, trees barricaded her in, showing her the way. Samantha couldn’t have told you then whether it was night or day, light or dark. For all she knew the sun had exploded, taking her with it. She saw nothing but the future she was going to make happen, smelled nothing but her own burnt smell that came from the hair on her arms that was burnt off while she held the fire she had used to kill her brother.
She knew she would come upon what she wished for, it was only a matter of time. The only weapon she had was Philip’s knife that she had reclaimed from the hot ashes of his body. Philip’s watch, broken and covered in dirt, was still clenched in her other hand, the sharp edge cutting into her palm.
Samantha didn’t know how long she walked down those dirt roads, had no real idea of time passing, but finally she came to a crossroad, and she knew this was where it would happen.
She heard them before they came into view. This group of undead were smaller than the last, only a handful of them, and they appeared younger, though it was hard to tell through their pale, sagging ripped flesh. Tattered clothing hung off their limping bodies as they shambled towards Samantha. She stood in the center of the crossroads, waiting.
Her grip tightened around the knife and the watch. She was unwilling to let either go. As the zombies grew nearer, their all black eyes narrowed in a way that conveyed their immense level of hunger. Samantha didn’t feel fear. She felt nothing except the peace that she was so sure was heading her way.
Samantha knew what she was doing as the zombies moved to surround her. She didn’t just give up, she fought. Slashing wildly with the knife as they surrounded her, the hand holding the watch pressed against her heart.
She let oblivion wash over her as their nails tore into her skin, as her blood dripped down, sinking into the soil of the earth. They bit and scratched, they got ahold of her knife. Though they were stupid, they managed to figure out what to do with it.
Her blood was slick and hot as she felt it pouring down her body. It was the only thing Samantha felt. She waited for the darkness to come. She didn’t even wish for it to be faster, because it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore.
Eventually she fell to the ground, curled in the fetal position on her side, both hands clenching the watch to her chest. She thought she should cry, thought she should be afraid but she wasn’t.
She let herself remember, just for a moment, what life had been like before. Remembered the feeling of walking into church on sunday morning, her brother at her side, their parents looking on proudly. She felt the ghost of her mothers kiss on her cheek, the familiar weight of her cross around her neck, and she wished fiercely that it was real.
As she took her final breaths, Samantha wondered about her soul. Her mind. Her essence. Would she move on? Or would she become stuck in her undead body, forced to kill? To eat flesh? Would she be hunted and sentenced to roam the earth forever? Would she even remember her brother...
Samantha’s eyes closed for what she thought was the last time…

Penelope Grace’s Alternate Ending:

As she took her final breaths, Samantha was calm. She wondered quietly about her soul, her mind, her body. Her body would rot. Her mind would be eaten. But her soul… She didn’t know where it would go. She thought, is there a Heaven? Is there Hell? Or is there nothing at all but oblivion? Just peace, no memories, no feelings. Maybe she will find the angels and her brother. Maybe not.
She wondered where the angels were. Then she felt the leather sides of the watch press into her palm and heart and truly smiled for the last time.

Happy Writing!

-Penelope Grace

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