Deadline: A Short Story
A typical day for the paranormal investigator, Saber. Anyone out there who has some artistic/comic book illustration skills, let me know if you're interested in making this into a comic book.
I’ve faced some mean monsters, but zombies are just plain annoying. This guy calls me up and tells me, “Hey, I got a zombie in my basement. No one believes me, can you please get rid of it.” I drive over and have a little Q&A session with him. It went something like this, transcribed from my recorder:
“There I was, lying on the couch watching TV, when I realized…”
“Do you do this often?”
“Kind of. Why?”
“Just wondering. Continue.”
“I realize that my essay is due in like four hours. So I take the full four hours to write it, print it, pack up my bag and head for the door.”
“How much was this paper worth?”
“I don’t know. A lot!”
“Well, there he stood. Someone or something was standing in the hallway. I thought it was my roommate at first. But then when he didn’t respond I started to wonder if it was him. It was dark so I couldn’t see his face. We were meaning to change that light…”
“Is your roommate a drunk or a druggie?”
“Okay. So who was it?”
“I don’t know. But it moaned and it began to… SHAMBLE… towards me!”
“I don’t know. Really freaking creepy slow walking, like his leg was broken and he didn’t care. Then the light of my room finally revealed its face.”
“A zombie! It was a freaking zombie!”
“It lunged at me, tried to bite me. I jumped over it, but my leg got caught underneath him and then I fell to the ground and hit the wall. I scraped up my arm. What to see? Look.”
“Why did he attack you?”
“I don’t know. It’s a zombie! Does it need motivation?”
“You tell me.”
“You’re the expert… Mr. ‘Saber!’ Ooo! Mr. Hunter-of-the-undead!”
“No need to insult me. I’m here to help. Do zombies have a motivation?”
“Answer the question, Tim.”
“No! No, a zombie doesn’t need a motivation!”
“Zombies: zero motivation? Okay, we established that. Then what?”
“Well then I kicked his head. It sort of bounced back like a basketball.”
“Then I swung my backpack at him. It was very heavy. Full of books, you know.”
“Did that hurt him?”
“No! He just kind of squirmed.”
“Okay. Move on.”
“Well then I got free from that and ran to the kitchen screaming.”
“What were you screaming?”
“I don’t know! Stuff like, ‘Oh God! Don’t kill me. Please help me! Help! Help!”
“Got it. Then what?”
“I ran out of my house like a little girl and turned in my paper.”
“Turned in paper? Huh. Understandable. You called the cops?”
“Wouldn’t believe you?”
“I told my teacher. I was late, you see.”
“Didn’t believe you?”
“Typical. Probably accused you of lying?”
“Not the first time you were late, was it?”
“I believe you. This zombie is real but it will be gone soon if you listen.”
“What has a lack of motivation, moves slowly, is contagious, is hard to kill yet has no life?”
Yep… a terrible story isn’t it? Tim was so incredibly lazy that his laziness became an actual physical manifestation of one of the seven deadly sins. Idleness is a contagion that has infected our modern society for some time. It literally kills people. And now that sin has become a flesh eating zombie running around in Tim’s basement.
Luckily a zombie apocalypse can be thwarted as long as the “Alpha Zombie” is killed before he can infect anyone. Only problem with this is apparently an Alpha Zombie doesn’t die like a normal zombie. It’s similar to Dracula in terms of being a pain in the butt to terminate.
So I head over to Tim’s house. He sits on the front steps and sees me in my new attire: a black fedora, a grey trench coat, a sheathed sword at the side, a black tie and a white shirt.
“What are you wearing?” he inquires.
After countless times wearing this attire in all of my fights I just shake my head and reply, “Why you wear those gay unitards when wrestling?”
I just walk past him and up the stairs to the front door. I hear him saying, “I don’t wrestle?”
Tim then shows me to the door that leads to the basement. “Stay here. I’ll be back in a minute,” I tell him. The last thing I need is some lazy bum to trip over.
I head down into Tim’s basement, armed with a shotgun, a sword, a blow torch, and a super soaker full of holy water. I walk around the basement, looking for any kinds of signs of life… or undeath. There’s nothing at first. I start to think that Tim is just a loon like the last few clients.
I hold my shotgun up ready for anything to jump out.
That basement was something else. It was made into a strange apartment. No one had lived down there for some time. All the cobwebs down there helped me realize this. There were closets everywhere and a couple bedrooms, a kitchen, and a creepy bathroom. I comb the place, flipping on all the lights. After I checked the last bedroom I sighed with disappointment, “Damn. I was hoping for a real one this time.”
A paranormal investigator is a crappy job most of the time. I’ve only had the opportunity of exorcizing one demon, shooting one werewolf, and ending one witch ceremony before. And the last encounter I had with danger was two years before Tim contacted me, and that was just a typical murder conspiracy with only serial killers to deal with. Ever since then I got nothing but false alarms and hallucinations. It had been so long that I was dying for any kind of activity, even if it was just a meager chupacabra.
I lower my gun and leave the room and come into the narrow hallway. I look to my right and notice a strange little door that was about 2 feet by 2 feet. It just looks like another cubby hole, but it has an odd thing, a lock on it. I’m not too concerned with it but decide to try and open it anyways. “Please be in there, zombie,” I mutter to myself. As I push to see if it’s indeed locked, it creaks open. It wasn’t even latched. I poke my shotgun inside before peering in. It’s just a dark crawl space no bigger inside than a mini fridge, but it stinks like the dead.
“Ah ha!” I exclaim. I spot some blood smears and claw marks on the cement walls. There was no other way out of that little space, but there was something definitely in there. This was the sleeping space for the zombie, perhaps.
I hear moaning from behind. I quickly pull my shotgun out and turned about. I see nothing. A buzzing echoes through the hallway followed by all the bulbs bursting apart and blacking out. Then I really don’t see anything, not even the shotgun in my hands.
Why do the lights always go out? Seriously! A gust of wind blowing out candles, a surge causing the light bulbs to burst, every time I go hunting for monsters, the lights go out! Why?
Anyways, the moaning is heard again. It comes from my right, a small outlet leading to one of the rooms. I spin to where I heard and fired a shotgun shell into the bedroom door. The flash from the gun lit the space for a brief moment. I see nothing. The pellets tear a hole in the door. A dim light beams through the new opening. The bedroom must have had a window up high barely at ground level.
I kick the door open only to see a blown open mattress and pillow with feathers still floating in the air. I look left to where the closet was. The small window allowed enough daylight in to illuminate everything I needed to see. The closet was open and inside was a hole in the floor. I creep over and peer inside. More blackness and I didn’t even think to bring a flashlight. You’d think I would have brought one. I always forget something. I heard moaning from below, and then a flash of red.
“What the –!“ I exclaimed. The red showed me a rock floor down below and a corridor that extended to the left. Another red light flashed as I heard a man cry out and more moaning from what I thought was the zombie. The red light flickered more frequently. I guessed that was enough to see with so I hopped down.
The corridor was only three feet high. It inclines up to the left and then turns away. I had to crawl up toward the source of the flickering red until the corridor opened up into a large chamber. It must be near the front of the house underneath the main entry. No doubt this is a walled off area of the basement somewhere.
I hold in my lunch as I take in glimpses of the scene. Dead bodies and body parts littered the makeshift lab. Vials of blood lined shelves of a cabinet to the right. In front of me is a flipped over table and a man in a lab coat with his head hanging off his shoulders, held on by only a few palpitating fibers of meat and vein. Above the body hunches a hideous creature, humanoid in shape and appearance, but with just a thin torn covering of skin over rotten, cold purple flesh and a protruding skeleton. Its spine jutted out through the skin and it wore only a torn pair of jeans stained with blood and pus.
It turns to look at me, revealing its deformed human face. One side is rotten, exposing the skull and cheek muscles, while the other is still covered with pale skin. I instantly recognize it. It looked exactly like Tim… only deader. Why did it look like Tim? I didn’t wait to find out before emptying my shotgun. I must have fired five shots before it clicked empty. By the fourth shot I yelled out, “Why won’t you die!”
There’s no physical damage to this thing. Nothing! Freakin’ zombie just won’t die. Five shotgun shells and it still shambles toward me.
I drop the gun and pull out the flame thrower as the thing swings its claws at me. It doesn’t catch fire but rather picks me up and shoves me against the wall. It begins to choke me as its mouth gapes open. I punch it, breaking off the jaw. It just glares at me as it squeezes harder. My trembling hand grabs my sword by the hilt and slices through the zombie’s belly. It gasps in shock. It loosens its grip as I slice through its right arm.
“That’s right!” I yell at it. “I got a sword! The name’s Saber, you undead son of a zombie!”
Its dilapidated and detached arm punches me in the groin in response. I involuntarily sing a high “E sharp” before toppling over. I fall to the ground only to be picked up again and tossed across the room.
The thing picks up its right arm and reattaches it. I charge again, swinging the katana at the neck. It bounces off the spine, barely scraping the bone. “Oh, come on!” I cry in frustration.
The creature swings its claw-like nails at me. I duck and roll to the side and stab it in the back. The sword sticks in place as the fiend swings around, backslapping me in the face. As I start to sit up and wipe the blood on my mouth, I see my precious sword still stuck in the zombie’s gut. He doesn’t even have the decency to take it out. It’s going to be stained for months now. Zombie juice just seeps out from the puncture.
I notice the super soaker fell off my belt and eye it across the room. One last thing to try, I suppose. I roll toward the zombie’s legs, causing it to fall over top of me. I hear my sword clank. It’s free at last from the belly of the beast. I grab the water gun and squirt it at the zombie’s face.
The undead bastard just pauses for a moment. I wait for the holy water to start steaming, burning away the ungodly flesh… nothing.
The water just drips off! He just wipes it off like it was Daffy Duck’s spittle!
As I watch the zombie contemplate its next counter attack, I spot something behind him, another 2 by 2 cabinet door. Why is it there?
This didn’t make any sense to me. But I was desperate. It must lead to the front of the house. “Tim!” I cry. He’ll be waiting just outside, I know it.
My eyes dart back to the zombie who makes this terrible noise sound that’s somewhere between a lion roar, a rolling belch, and smells like a fart from an obese taco bell patron. Even the demon I fought before had more civility than this damn zombie. I throw the water gun at it. As it flinches at the plastic water tank cracking open, I bolt to the small door and bang it open. The day light flows in as I hear lips smacking. “What on earth?”
The zombie grabs me by the leg as I peer out of the opening to the side of the house outside. I see Tim standing there making out with his girlfriend. The nerve of this guy!
“Tim!” I yell out as strong hands start yanking on my leg. “Tim! What the hell are you doing?” Tim jumps, probably biting his girlfriend’s tongue and looks over at me.
“What the heck?” his girlfriend shrieks in bewilderment.
“Saber?” he slightly acknowledges. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing!” I growl as my head bobs in and out of the hole as I play tug-of-war with my own body. “Your freaking zombie’s attacking me!”
“Oh,” he says. “Oh,” like he forgot his keys or something.
“Would you just get down here and help me!” my voice growls.
“Okay. Okay. Just one second,” he says as he turns back to the broad.
“Okay!” he angrily replies. He says good bye to his girlfriend and hugs her.
“Hurry!” I cry.
“Fine! Sheesh!” He strolls over to my exposed head. “What’s the rush!”
“Just shut up and get in here now!”
My arm extends out and grips Tim’s collar as he bends down to peer inside. The zombie yanks hard one more time, pulling both me and Tim into the room.
Tim shrills like a little girl. “What the hell!”
“It’s your zombie, Tim!” I shout. “Kill it!”
The zombie looks frantically back and forth between us, deciding its next target.
I point to the katana lying on the ground right next to him. He hesitates and looks back at me. The zombie picks me up, breathing its vomit-inducing breath into my face. It has its jaw back. When did it get its jaw back?
“Why didn’t you do it?” Tim asks.
“Damn it, Tim! Stop being so freaking lazy and kill the damned thing!”
Within a flash the zombie’s breath leaves as black blood splatters all over my face and neck. Tim shakes with my sword in his hand.
I sit on the ground and pant out, “Congratulations. You decapitated you’re first zombie.” I take another breath and ask, "You know who that is?” I point at the scientist on the ground.
“Oh geez!” he cries and vomits on the ground.
“Do you know who that is!” I repeat.
“Yeah… that’s my lab partner for biochemistry. Bob. He helps me with my homework.”
“Define ‘help,’” I demand.
“We were assigned to work on a project. He wanted to do one on reanimation. I didn’t get why. He’s not that good of a drawer…”
“Reanimation?” I ask in disbelief. “Ah, crap!”
“Reanimation of the dead?”
“What is that?”
“It’s how you make zombies, Tim!” I just roll my eyes and calm myself down. “How much did you help him?”
“He did all the work! Okay! Is that what you want me to say?”
I don’t answer. I just stand up and look down at the decapitated zombie that resembles Tim, holding my arm, aching with pain. “He was trying to bring bodies back to life.”
“And so I did,” moaned a voice. I look slowly over at the young scientist on the ground. His mostly decapitated head was talking, eyes glowing red. Then I start sniffing the air. It smells like urine. Tim just wet himself.
The head coughs, “Tim, you always made me do all the work.”
“But…” stammers Tim with drenched pants. Too bad his girl isn’t here to see him now.
The disgruntled partner’s body starts to crawl, it’s head dragging. “Now you have nothing to avoid! No excuses! No extended deadlines! You cannot procrastinate death!”
“Saber!” Tim cries. “Saber, help!”
I sit back, leaning up against the wall with arms folded. “I don’t know what to tell you, buddy. This seems pretty inescapable to me. You brought this on yourself.”
“Please!” he cries again.
“What is your sin, Tim?” I ask.
“I’m lazy…” he whispers.
“Louder,” I demand.
“I’m lazy!” He breaks and corrects himself, “Okay, I’m extremely lazy! I’m sorry Bob!” he starts to cry. The messed up corpse with a grudge stops in place. “I’m sorry. I should have helped you. I should have been more responsible. I’m always lazy. I’m always so damn lazy! I can’t get anything done.”
The face on the ground saddens. “I’m sorry, too,” says Bob. The dead guy and the lazy bum hug each other like brothers and sob. The head hangs down now upside down with tears flowing into its hair. I’ve seen more bizarre things.
“Good luck with life, Tim,” Bob says.
“And good luck with… um… death, I guess,” replies Tim.
With that, the talking corpse withers into dust. Tim wipes his nose and eyes.
I just sigh, “I need a nap.”
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