Do you like horror stories? Some of our readers take a break from time to time to share their fiction, and like adult magazines of yesterday used to do, we sometimes enjoy sharing their work. Enjoy this fiction and maybe we’ll feature some more in the future. This one is particularly scary, but we think you’ll enjoy it. Zombie stories somehow tape the most timeless desires in all of us. And some of those zombie chicks are hot, let’s face it. Well, some are hotter than others. But you know how it is. Time is no girl’s friend, whether she’s alive or undead. But that’s another story, ha ha…
The creature, the man, had died. Not dead like the first time, but truly dead, lying in a tangled, wet heap at the base of the dumpster like a marionette with its strings cut. Its head was caved in and a small pool of blood — not much at all — had congealed on the grimy asphalt. Half a bloody cinder block had been tossed aside nearby, clearly the weapon used to brain the thing.
Laughlin sighed in relief.
Realizing suddenly that he was standing around with a gun in plain view, he hurriedly tucked the Glock back under his shirt and looked around. It was a miracle no one had found the body yet, but given its condition and its smell he could see why no one had gotten closer to investigate. The shadows around the dumpster made it look like just so much other trash. Risking another guilty scan to either side and behind him, Laughlin held his breath and crept closer, grabbing the thing by what was left of its ankles. It was missing one shoe; the formerly white sock was stained black from sole to ankle.
Heaving with all his might and feeling something pop in his abdomen, Laughlin wrenched the filthy thing up and into the open dumpster. Parts of it sloughed off as he did so and his shirt became smeared with its fluids. Gods, the smell of it! He couldn’t hold it in anymore. He crouched in the shadows, puking his guts out.
At least, he thought, standing bent at the waist, his hands on his thighs and his stomach clenching, it’s all over now.
Jack got up.
The Styrofoam cup fell to the sidewalk, spilling its precious cargo of change and crumpled dollar bills.
With slow, unsteady steps, Jack — no longer caring what his last name might have been — began to walk.
Ann Belkirk, hurrying back to the Mall building, passed the homeless man as she entered the glass doors. She was more or less used to the street people, given that every weekday she walked the gauntlet of stinking, grasping paws and staring eyes. Provided they stayed out of her way, she ignored them, though she was never comfortable around them. They were a blight on downtown Syracuse that the city’s politically correct denizens seemed unable — or unwilling — to cure. A proposed ordnance to outlaw “aggressive panhandling” had been doomed before its conception. No, the homeless were a fact of life downtown and those who lived and worked in the area simply put up with them because they had no choice. Those who didn’t walk that daily gauntlet sniffed about “compassion” at those who did. Bill, being overprotective, had actually written a series of eloquent but overwrought letters to the editor of the Post Standard in support of the ordnance.
Ann smiled at the thought, shook her head, and made her way back to work.
She did not see Jack turn, his eyes red with burst blood vessels. She did not see him shamble after her, only to stop when he encountered the closing glass door.
She also did not see the African-American woman who worked at the greeting card store. She did not watch as that woman left the Mall, only to stop when Jack blocked her path.
Ann was not watching when Jack sank his teeth into the woman’s throat. She did not see nearby people scream and run as blood sprayed from the woman’s torn carotid artery. She was not there to see Jack gnaw hungrily into the woman’s stomach for several minutes before he rose to find other, more stimulating prey.
Minutes later, Ann was not present to see the dead woman rise and, with slow, unsteady steps, begin to walk.
Laughlin cleaned himself up as best he could in the bathroom of the Hess station down the block. Then he stopped at a diner downtown and had some coffee and toast in an effort to settle his stomach. The diner was quiet and he could hear the staff muttering about the scheduling of Flavor of Salt City stealing their Friday lunchtime crowd. He wanted nothing to do with those crowds. He waited as long as he thought he could, sitting in his booth alone, then took the little Siemens phone from his pocket and flipped it open.
He dialed the number and listened as it rang once.
“This is Laughlin,” he said.
“It’s done. Somebody beat me to it. Crushed its skull with a cinder block. I stuffed it in a dumpster off Warren street, in an alley near the bank.”
“Yeah, the HSBC. You know, the one that gets robbed all the time. There’s an alley just west of there, off Warren. The body’s in the dumpster.”
“I’ll send a team. We don’t need some trash man finding it.”
“Laughlin.” There was a pause. “How exposed are we on this?”
“I think we’re okay.”
“No. I’m as certain as I can be, though.”
“All right. Get back here as soon as you can.” Miller disconnected without further comment.
The Glock was digging into Laughlin’s stomach. He would be glad to be rid of the thing. Regardless of what Miller said, Laughlin figured he’d damned well take his time. It had been a hell of a morning and he’d earned a rest.