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Short-Story.Me!

The Survivor Kind

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Love zombies? They love you, too - Editor

The Survivor Kind

by Jeff Bull

Even from a distance, they were the unlikeliest survivors I could have imagined. The man … well, I was assuming it was a man only because of the flat, scrawny chest … was covered head to toe in black latex. Every single inch of him was sheathed in one of those S&M sex suits. A black hood covered his head and face and there was a zipper over his mouth. He stood about six-three and was extremely thin. But then, most of us were these days. Food was getting scarce. A machete hung from a canvas belt wrapped around his waist and he had an old bolt-action hunting rifle slung over one shoulder.

The woman appeared to be in her mid- to late-fifties. She was maybe five-four and had somehow managed to keep her grandmotherly roundness. She had thinning blond hair and wore a bright purple pantsuit. Strapped to her chest in a baby bjorn was what appeared to be a stuffed anteater. She had two pearl-handled revolvers holstered in a beautifully tooled leather belt and was holding a cordless hedge-trimmer in one hand.

It was nearly noon and a faint breeze rustled the red and yellow leaves in the gutter. Tall, bare-limbed trees lined both sides of what had once been an idyllic suburban street.

A few seconds before, I’d caught movement out of the corner of my eye and unslung my shotgun. Once its reassuring weight was in my hands, I’d frozen, my heart pounding in my chest, my fatigue washed away in a flow of adrenaline. About a block and a half away, two people had just turned the corner.

If they were actually people, that is.
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Temple of Mirrors

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Refreshing Fantasy setting - Editor

Temple of Mirrors

Wm. Luke Everest

On his first contract, Tzu-lung was hired to kill a famous swordsman.  Tzu-lung revered him.  General Wen had proven his greatness twenty years ago fighting the Tung Ma, a triad society.  He now lived in disgrace three day's trek from Chang An.  Tzu-lung didn't know why.  The pig-men of nobility wanted him dead.  Someone was going to kill him.  This way, Tzu-lung could meet his hero, and ensure Wen died with honor.

Tzu-lung passed the colorful fruits of the market stalls, ignoring the salesmen's shouts and the guards who flanked the gate, halberds glinting in the sun.

Yellow River extended east, wide enough it might have been an ocean.  He followed it through sopping rice fields, passed old mountains, weathered to look like musician's fingers, long and curved.  He avoided the villages, living off smoked meat in his pack, sleeping under trees and beside rocks.  When he reached General Wen's home, it rained.

It rained like Yellow River had been turned upside down.  The water seemed to freeze on his scalp.  The home was a shack of wood planks and thatch.  It rested beside a low cliff, surrounded by trees with leaves in flat clusters like wisps of cloud.  Water bounced off the wood, creating a white, hazy aura.  Yellow River lapped a mud bank nearby.  Tzu-lung planned to keep the fight near the trees.  Mud made footwork unpredictable.

No answer at the door.  Tzu-lung pushed it open.  Rain drummed the ceiling, leaked into a cooking pot and chimed like a bell.  Bookshelves overflowed along every wall.  On the table was a teapot painted with a phoenix, and half-wedged underneath it, a letter addressed to the Tung Ma.  There were two cups.  Tzu-lung drew his sword.

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Cold Steel

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Hot blood and... - Editor

Cold Steel

by David Pilling

Hasan Al-Asim, outlaw, assassin, thief for hire and currently a mercenary soldier, watched indifferently while the Duke of Slaveni was slaughtered by a howling mob of men-at-arms.

Cornered with his back to a tree, the doomed nobleman reminded Hasan of a stag at bay surrounded by a pack of hounds.  Grimy hands ripped the Duke’s pole-axe from his grasp and pitched him into the thick winter mud. Halberds, spears and axes smashed down onto his fine gilded plate armour as he struggled to rise.

The Duke’s ignoble death was the last act in a long and bitter war between the Kingdom of Salymra and Slaveni, a rebel province. Eighteen months of war, of slaughter and siege and fire, and Hasan had somehow survived with nothing worse than a few scars and a lot of difficult memories.

He had been shrewd enough to sign up for the winning side, which was why he was not one of the scattered fugitives currently being pursued through the woods while their master was butchered. Always a military blunderer, the Duke’s last mistake had been to lead his army into a forest ambush.

“Three shillings says he drowns first.” said a rough voice.

Hasan turned to its owner, a hard-faced stripling named Hungry Jock. Jock was an army scout like Hasan. Unlike Hasan he was a tough Wastelander with a casual attitude towards murder, rape and other people’s property.

“I don’t care to wager upon a man’s death.” Hasan replied quietly.

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Not Dead

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Not myself today - Editor

Not Dead

by Ross Willard

I am not dead.

I used to think of that as a good thing. I remember, whenever I was having a bad day, or if I was just in a bad mood, I used to close my eyes and remind myself that it could be worse. I used to remind myself that I wasn’t dead.

Back then I believed that death was the worst thing that could happen to a person. I actually believed that.

Now I say the same words, every morning when I wake up. I am not dead. And I weep.

Or maybe I don’t. I guess it depends on how you define the word. If weeping is an action of the soul, a deep and bitter howling of the mind, if weeping is an emotional pit, then I weep. If weeping is the actual physical process of crying and wailing, then I don’t.

I can’t.

#

“Good Morning, Mr. Winston.”

It’s the nurse with the freckles, Amelia. She’s my favorite, she talks to me while she works. The only other person who talks to me anymore is an old preacher who comes by about once a month and reads a chapter out of the Bible before moving on to the next room.

Amelia opens the curtains letting the morning sun in, then gets to work. She checks me over for any changes, switches out bags here and there, all the while telling me about her date with her boyfriend the night before.

I try to focus on her words, immerse myself in the moment. I know what comes next, and the only peace I can give myself is in blocking that knowledge from my mind, pushing it away.

Or at least try to.

Eventually she picks up my chart and looks at it, shaking her head.

“Still with the samples. I swear, Mr. Winston, as long as we’ve been doing this, the doctor probably has more of you bagged up in his lab than in this room.”

It isn’t the first time she’s told that joke, but I’d laugh if I could. It’s probably true. Every morning for the last four years the nurses have been taking samples from me. Hair, saliva, urine, blood, skin. From what Amelia’s told me, and from what I’ve overheard, there are five other patients who have the same treatment as me. All from the same doctor. It’s an odd treatment, according to everyone who works here, but he’s an odd man. A genius, they say, but an odd man.
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Zombies Have No Respect for Plumbing

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I need a shower - Editor

Zombies Have No Respect for Plumbing

by Tony Southcotte

Zombies have no respect for plumbing. They don’t teach you that when you fill out the paperwork for your apprentice license.

Since the plague slowed down, people didn’t see the need to finish off their family members. You just pay a wrangler to tie them up, slap a rubber ball in the mouth, and send them home. They may want to tussle with you every once in a while, but for the most part they just sit there. People hold on to some hope for a cure, but I know better. Christ could raise Lazarus, but Lord knows he wouldn’t try to bring a pork chop back to life.

I used to just pull hair out of drains. Use a snake or some other such tool to drag matted balls of bath grime and shaving leave-ins out of bathtubs.

This brings me to my current predicament. Standing in the shower of some blue haired granny who just couldn’t say goodbye to her oaf of a husband. I saw him walkin’ in, that festering pile of meat. The red ball in his mouth would have made him look like a pig on a spit, that is, if he still had any natural color left in him.

She called to tell me her drain was backing up; that a horrible smell and rusty colored substance was coming through. I figured it was a sewage back up. Not my favorite call, but you can gouge these people and they have to pay it.

Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t sewage.

When I start pullin’ the snake back, the white chunks start dropping off the cable, little flaps of raw skin. At this stage, it starts to fall off like a bad sunburn, only meatier. The smell hits me and I want to double over. At least if the worst happens I am in a bathroom and can easily find the can.

“Ma’am, do you know anything about this?” I ask, pointing at the muck, retching under the stench. I’m pretty sure more than a couple teeth are in the mess now.

“Oh dear. Why don’t you plumbers make these drains good enough?”

“Well, we don’t expect you to push the cherished remains of your dead husband down the drain.”

“But he needs his shower, his hygiene was never in order, even before his accident. I just pushed it down with my toes.”

Now, I normally don’t take kindly to this sort of viscera, or the type of person who puts up with it, but something struck me in that moment. Its brilliance was so simple, but I had the idea that would revolutionize the in home zombie phenomenon and plumbing as we know it. “Miss, would you like me to install a garbage disposal in here?”

“Can you do that?”

“Yes. Yes I can.”

©2010

 


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