Don't Forget Your Helmet Chapter 8-10
And here we go again, folks! Another weekly episode of ZOMBIE CRAZINESS!! It's been a long slog, but ohhh now it's gettin' good! We're getting into the bat-shit craziness of zombie attacks! Just the beginning... Oh I have some lovely sick ideas that I'd like to share with you all. You'll just have to keep reading! And so it continues...
Scott, winded but pushing on, found the wreckage of the Roto-Rooter truck and the downed telephone pole. The tire marks on the road indicated the driver attempted to avoid a collision with something in the street. Perhaps a deer. The truck was empty of occupants. Plumbing equipment was found strewn about the yard between #3 and #4 Mobile Street. It looked like pieces of a motorized Rooter snake, PVC tubes of various lengths, scattered various metal odds and ends, and several various hand held tools. Upon further inspection, the truck's driver side door showed signs of possible attempted forced entry. Broken window, door handle covered in mud, hand prints. The passenger side door was left open. A bloody trail from the door to the sidewalk, and then nothing. The rain had washed away all further evidence to suggest anything else. No sign of the driver.
Nearby was also an abandoned police cruiser, driver door open, siren off, but the flashing red and blue lights still on. The dispatch receiver was completely ripped out of the radio unit, and lay coiled under the front left tire. Definite signs of a struggle. Massive amounts of blood congealing on the front seat, a splatter on the steering wheel leading to the car door exit, and outside... Holy Christ, are those teeth? A clump of what could've been as many as 6 teeth, busted up and laying in a bloody pile of gore. Scott could not determine if they were uppers or lowers. Probably both. And the next shocker, a stillson wrench with what looked like fragments of bone and black hair matted to the vice grips, laying nearby. There had also appeared to be black skid marks, as if someone's shoes tried in vain protest to halt themselves as their wearer was dragged away.
As Scott moved closer to inspect the police cruiser, sounds could be heard coming from the blind other side of the vehicle; like when a dog is fed scraps from a table. He had a pretty good idea what it was. He knelt, picked up the wrench, began slowly making his way to the other side of the police car and there was officer Pete Carlyle, in a sitting position; face busted open, teeth cracked off at the gum line, face slack, eyes rolled up in their sockets. The top of his head was more or less completely gone. Behind him, smacking his lips between mouthfuls of grayish pink brain matter, with blood slopping down his chin was Michael Reed; Scott's 8th grade science teacher. Oh sure. His face looked like it was painted a pale green and left out in the sun for weeks to dehydrate and peel, but there was no mistaking it. Scott attended the wake. Even through the gore that dripped down the thing's face onto his tie, he knew.
Mr. Reed, before his demise had taught science at Stanhope Elementary for grades 6th through 8th. He had this thing for goofy ties. One day he'd wear a fish tie, the next it was tap dancing dinosaurs. It was just his thing. He was bald, but sported these crazy tufts of hair on the sides of his head, looking something like a mix between Bozo the Clown and a Mad Scientist. He smoked 2 packs of Lucky Strikes a day; those lovely non-filtered promises of death. Within time, the inevitable happened; he developed lung cancer and eventually was declared deceased due to complications with medicine to help with a bout of pneumonia 4 years ago. He battled it for several years, but the chemo and hospice care became too costly as it always does in the end.
He chose to die at home with his wife in peace and with dignity. It was an emotionally grievous ordeal. He was well liked. Loved, in fact. He had lived only 4 houses down from here, and his widow had never remarried. He was buried in the next town over, at the Byram Cemetery, next to an apple tree. Why there was an apple tree in the middle of a cemetery, no one could say. It was just always there and its growth didn't interrupt any plot planning designs, so there it stayed. And the apples would fall down and bounce off his tombstone. Subsequently, his tombstone was always covered in bird shit; his wife, Bethany would come there once a week to clean it off. She'd actually visit the gravesite with Windex and towlettes, and make an afternoon of it; sometimes sampling the apples that fell from the tree. She became a recluse in the last year, praying to God to ”Please take me!". She was barren and could not have children, and her mental state at the time would probably legally not allow her to adopt. And her prayers would continue throughout the 4 years of her loss, "God take me too! Take me to my dear Michael! Take me please!"
Her prayers were answered earlier this evening when Michael came home. She believed a miracle had happened. In fact, a miracle had happened. A miracle of nature. And when she embraced him, the first thought that came into her mind was Jesus Michael, you smell like bad meat and filthy ass! And then her thoughts became a very brief scream as Michael Reed grabbed the sides of her head and just began twisting. And then it was Dinner Time. But oh, much like the others, she didn't remain prone for very long. If the contagion inside Michael didn't cause it, well it would just be a matter of time before something else did. You could say Michael simply hastened the process. He was a facilitator. They were all simply facilitators. And now at this time, she herself was out and about, with her head flipping around like a bobble doll; to possibly pay a visit to places that were familiar. She had an aunt living in a local nursing home that she hadn't seen for quite some time. Perhaps it was time for a visit.
And now here was Michael, gorging himself on human flesh. It was completely surreal. How many times did Pete pull me over? How many times did he let me go? This is...impossible. This whole fucking thing is impossible. But it wasn't impossible. It was reality. So apparently Mr. Reed crawled out of his grave, walked across town, possibly made a pit stop to say "Hello!" to his old lady, caused a black out, and killed a cop. And here he was! Just sitting there, munching away like everything was fine. Like this was perfectly normal. And the more Scott stared, the more he wanted to join in. The Other inside of him wanted a taste. Wanted him to have a taste. The Other was trying to convince him that what was happening was very natural and that human flesh was not only delicious, but a new food group entirely. The only food group. Filled with Vitamin People. It was Soylent Green minus the soy and lentils part. I'm...this... looks savory. Scott thought to himself.
The thing that was once Mr. Reed looked up from his meal, and something that could've been recollection suddenly appeared in his dead eyes. And acknowledgement of sorts. Perhaps whatever part of his own rotted brain that had a hope of resuscitation was rekindled by the miracle of nature inside of him. And maybe whatever was in him recognized the changes going on inside Scott's body. Scott was becoming one of a very special fraternity. A member of The Infected Club. He stopped his munching, swallowed, tried to speak. Something came out of his mouth, it sounded like "Untis? Untis?", and he hoisted Officer Pete's torso into Scott's direction. "Untis? Untis?" Want this? Want this?
The very fact of this situation unfolding, the new becoming of which Scott was finding himself a part of, was almost too much to bear. He did want it. He stared at the half empty skull of the police officer and almost obliged Mr. Reed's offer. He could picture himself in a weird cartoonish parody saying something to the effect of "Aw shucks, Mr. Reed! Thought you'd never ask! Thank ya kindly!" And then digging right in like he was a guest at some kind of weird All You Can Eat human flesh buffet. And then for dessert, a covered serving dish would be brought to the table, and inside would be his girlfriend's decapitated head; with all the fixings and trimmings, and garnish you might see at Joseph's Italiano Ristorante on Broadway in New York City. Tiffany's brains, served family style. With a side order of your unborn baby son, Scott. Dig right in! Second course is coming up! Because afterwards, we're going to stop off and say hello to mommy and daddy!
And that's what finally broke the coercion of his own mind against itself. How could I forget? I love you Tiff, how could I ever forget? Mr. Reed was still asking his lunatic questions "Untis? Untis?", when the pipe wrench fell again and again making Mr. Reed's head look something similar to the poor late police officer's.
He caught his breath, looking at the injury he had inflicted. Why did I even leave the house today? This is all my fault. The pain in his arm had ceased; the bleeding as well. He took a moment to inspect the wound. It was infected alright. The blood had congealed, the wound itself had turned a greenish black. But he felt no pain anymore; no pain whatsoever. He was beginning to understand the new truth of his imminent physiological condition. I'm becoming one of them. Why? Why me? Why did this have to happen?
"He...talked to me. How the hell could he even speak? He...remembered me."
He could feel it happening. It wasn't anything you could get better from. There was no improvement. No medicine that could reverse it. It was like rabies. Your mind turned against itself, and then physical pain switched off. He could guess what would happen next. It was only a matter of time before his organs would cease to function, and then he'd cease to be Scott Orsen. And soon after, he'd be back up, hale and hearty. Looking for human flesh; Looking to pass on whatever it was that churned and divided inside of him.
And looking at the crushed skull of his science teacher and office Carlyle, and if past was prologue, Scott knew the inevitable was going to soon happen. Mr. Reed would get up, and not long after so would officer Peter Carlyle. And then he'd have more running to do. He reached over, took the H & K Glock 17 from Pete's holster. Inspected it, surveyed the weight of it.
"Poor bastard never even got a round off." Scott said to himself. Would it even help?
He slipped it into the front of jeans, and ran further up Mobile Street.
William Mills was at a loss for words; his entire family was at a loss for words. After he had cleaned himself up and things had settled down, he went to the fridge, grabbed several Yuenglings (The were they oldest brewing company in America, after all), and went out on his covered back porch. He was never able to fully kick his smoking habit. Especially when it came to beer. Cigarettes and beer just kind of went together like fries and ketchup. And after this evening's events, a few beers and a couple smokes were exactly what he needed.
So here he was on the covered porch, drinking away, and feeling as if he'd failed as a father. He knew he failed as a husband, no doubt about that. He couldn't even count the amount of times he had cheated on Eleanor. Oh sure, he could conveniently temporarily forget. But not forever. No sir. And when shit hit the fan and he was at a loss of what to do (which was often), compound memories of the past would bubble up to the surface, reminding him of how terrible of a person he was. No, he wasn't blind to that fact. Prone to anger, infidelity, drinking, broken promises; you can't just forget that. He was thinking about his daughter, and how young he was when he first met Eleanor. How wonderful everything was back then. How fit he used to be. And now he couldn't even see his penis under his enormous stomach when he passed water each morning. Can't stop the clock. It just keeps turning. And turning. Can't stop fate, we're all just along for the ride. All just getting older, and no more wiser. He thought to himself.
His mind drifted off in reverie as he idly glanced about his yard as the rain continued to fall. He looked over to the little red tool shed in the back that he built with his own hands. And to the makeshift grave that Mussolini was buried in. Yes, they named the cat Mussolini. People name their pets for all sorts of silly reasons. They had named the cat Mussolini, because there was a special on the History channel at the time; and Benito Mussolini was wearing this black fuzzy hat with a stripe in it, and well they had brought the cat home from B.A.R.K.S animal shelter... and to make a long story short, the cat had a similar white stripe on his black furry head and he looked like Benito Mussolini. He would even prowl slowly around the house like a fascist dictator surveying his territory.
Well, the cat had lived almost 10 years. But the problem with cats is that they're like little gangsters. They gamble with their 9 lives every time they cross the street; and it's just a matter of time before they roll a 'snake eyes', or the roulette wheel lands on 17 black and a car comes along causing the inevitable. And that's what happened to Mussolini. They found him on the neighbor's yard stiff as a board. His little green eyes were popped right out of his head. So Bill placed him in a garbage bag and they had a little burial service for the cat; he was buried next to the Gardenias which Eleanor watered and cared for daily. This was two months ago.
Now, tonight, Bill was standing there with an L&M 100 (the cheapo smokes) hanging out of his mouth like Dan Aykroyd in the movie Ghostbusters, as he watched mesmerized; the security lights on the side of the shed flashed on like a spotlight due to movement. The saturated ground he had buried the family cat in began to bulge and ripple. The cat's head (now looking much more like Mussolini in his current state), popped up out of the mud. He began rustling about; bill could actually hear the crackling of what was left of the garbage bag the cat was placed in.
"What in the shit...no fucking way." Bill said to himself. It was unbelievable.
"Eleanor! Get out here! You have to see this!" Bill yelled from outside.
"What is it this time, dear?"
Bill ran back into the house, cigarette still hanging from his mouth. He found Eleanor in the kitchen, grabbed her by the arm, practically dragging her outside.
"Look, do you see that? Am I going crazy?"
"Oh my God, Bill! Is that...Musty?" She couldn't bear calling him Mussolini, she felt the name was absurd. What would the neighbor's think if she called 'Here, Mussolini! Get in the house, you naughty dictator!'
The cat was now out of the hole. It was a slim, grotesque wreck of bone and fur; his skull was exposed. And now the cat was shaking itself off in the rain, and slowly making his way across the backyard to the porch.
"Get back in the house, lock the doors! Don't let that goddamn thing in here!" Bill exclaimed, ushering Eleanor quickly back inside.
"We've got to call Animal Control, the police, something!"
"B-b-but Bill...how...how is...how can..." Eleanor stammerd.
"How the hell should I know?! Do I look like the fucking vet? Lock all the doors and windows right now! Don't let that thing in here!" Bill ordered.
James and Sandy were now in the kitchen, in the thick of it again.
"What's goin' on dad? What's that on the porch?" James asked.
"Is...is that...our cat? He came back?" Sandy inquired, shakily.
"Holy hell, get your asses back up stairs! Right now! This is the last time I'm going to say it! Want me to get the belt?" Bill yelled. He was at his wits end with these kids. They just wouldn't listen. They just wouldn't stay put. Threats of the belt always worked like a charm, and his 2 kids quickly ran back up to their shared room.
And now he was fumbling with the cordless phone, mis-dialing 9-1-1. When he finally dialed the number correctly, it was busy. How can it be busy? This is bullshit! Dialed again, still busy. Now he was fumbling the buttons trying to call the local police department. The grumpy female dispatcher on the other end didn't believe him. Thought it was a crank call.
"I'm telling ya lady, in the only way I know how...My family's dead cat came up out of the ground and is now scratching at the porch sliding glass door! I know how this sounds, but I shit you not! I'm standing here LOOKING at the fucking thing! Send a cop or animal control or something!"
She had told him to calm down, and someone would be dispatched. It wasn't a lie, exactly. The dispatcher couldn't know that the patrol car she sent wouldn't make it there. And it certainly wasn't making it back to the department. At least not yet anyway. And neither would Byram Animal Control.
Eleanor scurried about, checking windows, making sure they were closed and locked; checking shutters, doors. She went downstairs to the back door, it was locked already. That door was always locked. Went to the front door, locked it twice with the deadbolt and the chain. She was just getting to the door that lead to the garage, when from the window she noticed the shape of a man shambling around in the street. He looked drunk. More than that, unbelievably, he looked like Butch Gatts. But that wasn't possible.
Butch Gatts, local townie, an excellent bowler died 7 years ago of asphyxiation; carbon monoxide poisoning. It was a senseless accident. He used to like work on this vintage 1959 Chevrolet Impala he picked up for super cheap. It was rusted, all kinds of busted up; it was reported that a homeless bag-lady was living in it, and used it as a toilet. But he had gotten it for $1,200. The previous owner just wanted it off his property. A literal veritable steal for that kind of classic automobile.
So it became a project. And little by little, Butch and his younger brother Danny were attempting to restore it to all of it's former 50s glory. First thing he did was get the radio working. Oh sure, he could've simply hooked up his CD player in the garage, but he found it quaint to listen to the golden oldies station in the classic vehicle he was working on. They spent months on it, grinded the rust off of the frame, spent a small fortune on the new interior, bought some fuzzy dice for the review mirror. Slowly but surely new life was brought to this classic car. Looking at it felt like time traveling back to a golden age; a better age. An age of life and possibilities before Kennedy was shot, and Viet Nam was yet to have happened.
Unfortunately, the car was manufactured before the time of the EPA's mandatory regulations of toxic vehicle emissions in the 70s and the exhaust was not upgraded with a catalytic converter. Good 'ol Butch was slowly poisoning himself each day he worked on it in his garage. He and his brother used to enjoy smoking hash while working on their old baby; spacing out listening to the golden oldies of such greats as Sinatra, and Pat Boone. They'd both confide in each other about their deviant behavior and laugh mightily. The subject of Bill Mills would come up, who became the butt of a lot of their mean spirited jokes. Just things like how shitty of a bowler he was, how hot his wife was, how much of a total dope he was... And Butch actually admitted to having slept with his wife one night, right on the kitchen counter when Bill was working construction in the city. Danny found this particularly amusing. Butch would go into detail about how he couldn't breath because she'd wrap her legs so tightly around him, it felt like he was fucking a huge set of vice grips. And they'd both laugh and pass the pipe back and forth between each other.
One night, Butch was alone in his garage, working on the old Impala, stoned off his keister. He passed out with the engine revving and never woke again. Until earlier today. And the thing inside of him facilitated and directed his locomotion to familiar territory. First he visited his brother Danny. Said "Hello!". Had a little snack. Checked on his old Chevy Impala that was left to his younger brother. Went out for a late night zombie stroll. He wanted to visit his good pal Bill. And now here he was, shambling up the street, heading to Bill's home.
Roger Dennings worked for Roto-Rooter. It was a shit job, literally. The company received a call earlier in the day regarding a seriously backed up toilet on #24 Mobile Street. Apparently someone's child had flushed his or her brother's collection of Transformers down the bowl and a torrent of feces, urine, and Autobots overflowed and was continuing to spill into the living room, and onto an expensive Mosaic print rug. Fairly standard day. When you dealt with human feces a good portion of your working life, you get used to it. It's no big deal after a while. And the money was decent. He was called at least once a month to head to The Healing House for similar situations. He didn't mind that as much, because he had something of an Asian fetish, and the nurse who worked there was gorgeous. Had been gorgeous.
And so he got into the truck, headed out on the call. Fixed the toilet, headed back out on the road when what appeared to be a drunken man ambled out into the middle of the street. He swerved, but not in time, clipping the man and sending him sprawling in the rain. The truck barreled off the road, jumped the curb, and smacked right into a telephone pole. The back of the truck flew open, spilling work material all over the place. The pole cracked, power lines snapped and fell sizzling on the grass. Lights immediately went dark on the whole block. Roger's head smacked on the steering wheel, and then his lights went out temporarily. Several neighbors exited their homes to see what the commotion was. They immediately went over to the man who was briefly laying supine in the street. When he got back up smelling like death and looking like something William Mills' dead cat might've dragged in, panic rose. And when the man began to chase after them, they ran back into their homes, locked their doors, and called the police from their cell phones.
And there was Roger, slowly regaining consciousness as this thing that was once a science teacher was banging on his driver's side door and juggling the handle. The thing was hungry; saw the blood, saw the unconscious man, and figured it was easy pickins.
Roger woke up with a start, looked around at his predicament, and then gazed into muddied dead eyes of the assailant trying earnestly to gain entrance and yelled "Holy shit!". And then the thing punched it's decomposed fist through the window sending glass flying into Roger's hair. The thing pulled Roger's left arm and took a bite.
"What the shit...? D'AHHHHHH!!" Dennings screamed, pulling his arm quickly away. The thing was trying to climb in through the window, and when it finally found and depressed the door lock, that was enough to send Roger screaming through the passenger's door and out into the rain; his utility belt clanking through the night.
Within a few moments a police cruiser arrived, lights blaring, attracting attention. Neighbors were watching intently through windows in the dark at the ongoing development. And well, what happened next is history.
And here Roger was now, banging on the outside sliding glass door of The Healing House, which was just down the street. He remembered the nurse, and figured this was his best course of action.
"Hey, you there! Let me in man! Some crazy shit going on outside, you gotta let me in! Get the nurse!". Roger demanded.
Sammy startled at first, recognized the utility overalls and the name sewn onto the jacket. Yes sir, he remembered Roger. He remembered everything. He let the man in.
"Ah shit, what's your name again....Sean...Cedrick...Sammy, that's right! Sammy, listen. Where's the nurse? Any phones working in here? We need to get help!"
"Upstairs! Upstairs!" Sammy repeated. He grabbed Roger by the arm, the bad one, and pointed to the floor. Roger yelped.
"Ahhh shit! Watch the arm, fella!"
"I broke a glass, broke a glass."
"It's alright bud, we'll get it cleaned up." Roger having been here many times, began to understand some of the various quirks and ticks the residents exhibited. He knew a little something about autism from personal experience in this house. He unclogged the downstairs toilet once and didn't clean up the mess afterward. He learned first hand on how loud Sammy could scream. A mistake he'd not repeat again. So he quickly cleaned up the broken glass and spilled water.
Satisfied, Sammy lead Roger Dennings out of the kitchen, through the dark. The stairs were off to the left of the den; they hadn't even gotten to the stairs when screams and a ruckus were heard upstairs. A flashlight lay forgotten at the top of the stairs, it's illumination at odd angles producing strange shadows. Roger went to run up the stairs nearly tripping over the body of poor Martin Tork.
"Oh my God! What in the hell happened here Sammy?" Sammy remained silent.
Upon inspection of the body, it appeared that some sicko had not only ripped Martin's throat out, they had jabbed scissors through his left eye; worse than that, completely destroyed his orbital socket and scooped some of his brains out. His face was a bloody portrait of reckless horrific murder.
Another scream from upstairs, and Roger was ascending them 2 at a time, Sammy in tow.
The passed the bathroom. The door was locked, sobbing was heard from the inside. No more shouts of "Pink pajamas!".
They burst through the door of Neil's room, to find a scene of absolute bedlam. There was Neil in his wheelchair, eyes wide in terror; the room in total disarray. Moonlight through the windows illuminated papers strewn about, a desk overturned, bookcase trashed and its previous contents of books thrown everywhere. And there in the middle was Henry on all fours, Nurse Chow clinging to his back. And the unbelievable, she was attempting to bite through the yellow fireman's helmet upon his head. The whole situation was completely surreal. This once beautiful creature was actually gnawing on the hard plastic. Teeth marks were evident all over it. Good thing he had his helmet.
Roger couldn't even act at first. It was unbelievable. He was dumbstruck. She went fucking insane and attacked mentally disabled people! Roger thought to himself.
Over in the corner Neil was banging frantically on his collapsible desk, which drew Roger's attention. He held up a piece of paper and written in a sharpie in huge capital letters was "ZOMBIE!!!".
"Jesus Christ!" Roger yelled. Now it was time to act. He rummaged through his utility belt, found a tack hammer, brandished it in his right first.
"I'm real sorry about this Miss Chow...God forgive me..." Roger said quietly, and waffled Sylvia Chow in the back of her head. When that didn't stop her, he hit her again. And again, and again. Finally she went limp, the gnawing ceased. Henry quickly got up, scrambled to the opposite side of the room.
"G-g-good thing I remembered this!" Henry stammered, slapping the top of his helmet. He breathed heavy, tuckered breaths.
Neil rapped on his desk, began writing and held up another piece of paper.
GET US THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!
"Yeah, that's a big 10 Four... We're gettin' outta here. Sammy, stay close. Henry, right? Help me move this poor son of a bitch's chair".
To Be Continued...