Archive for April, 2014

cross-eyed freaks

Posted: April 19, 2014 in Dark Silo News

DSC_0641Wes B. is a student at Polaris Expeditionary School in Fort Collins, Colorado. Polaris is a school of choice, and if they encourage this sort of insanity, then Wes made a wonderful choice indeed. The following story reads like the opening to a novel. Notice the way Wes mixes characters, scenes, lists and song lyrics to create an authentic voice for his post apocalypse.  (Special thanks to teacher Ryan Grindle for providing another wonderful piece of student genre fiction.)

W 6/8 (night)

We have been planning this trip for a long time. Z and I will walk from our homes in Fort Collins, CO to the Commune in Chicago, IL; a 1000 mile distance. My friend R lives there and has been trying to get us to visit him for years. We will travel primarily by foot, but we will accept rides from whoever will give them to us.

Our parents have advised against this trip as there have been many reports of homicide in the Midwest this last week, and they are worried for us.

We are prepared for the journey and it will be a lot of fun. In my pack I have:

  • 6 pairs of wool socks
  • 2 pairs of synthetic pants
  • 1 rain coat
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 7 bandanas
  • 4 pairs of boxer briefs
  • A headlamp
  • My camera
  • My hatchet
  • My sleeping bag
  • A sleeping pad
  • A big bag of trail mix
  • A bag of tortillas
  • A jar of peanut butter
  • A block of hard cheese
  • 3 of my hats
  • (And a toiletry bag.)

Z 6/8 (night)

Tomorrow we leave on our much anticipated journey to Chicago. I am starting this journal on W’s behalf as he would like to make a scrap book type thing upon our return. BlahdyBlah this is some stupid shit, but the trip will be great. My pack has a lot of stuff in it. I have 3 knives, 2 hatchets, a trowel, a box of strike anywhere matches, 50ft of rope with a monkey’s fist tied to the end, a pack of American Spirits, and a big bag of cake mix that I’ll be eating for forever.

R 6/8 (night)

W asked me to start a journal preceding his and Z’s expedition to visit my humble abode. I think it’s a pretty decent idea, but whether W will have the time to finish the book that he wants to write is beside the point. Shit’s been going down here in Chicago lately, lots of people dying in the streets (more than usual). People are freaking out. Lots of riots. The pastors are encouraging all of us to pray for peace, but as they say that, there are guns being fired outside the wall of our side yard.

W 6/9 (night)

Today we left walking, and we kept hearing moaning coming from the forest on the side of the road. It was hard to ignore, but we did anyway by loudly singing our favorite folk punk songs. AJJ and Johnny Hobo were featured prominently, but a new favorite for Z was the song Lets Get Eaten Alive by Wally Tusk and the Film Club. We added verses in order to keep singing for a long while.

We are now camped along the side of the highway under a blue tarp.

Z 6/9 (night)

I was walking through a park once

When I saw a man

Getting disemboweled by squirrels

With a note in his hand that read

I’m sick of being hurtful

I’m tired of being used

Sick of being judgmental

Stubborn and rude

And if I can’t be a good person

Then at least I can be food!

 

Lets get eaten, get eaten, eaten alive

Chew on my flesh baby, slurp out my eye,

Let’s get eaten, get eaten, get eaten alive

It’s the only thing that makes sense

R 6/9 (night)

The number of dead is increasing. The reports of reanimation are circulating as well. W gave me a decent book for Christmas a few years back called The Zombie Survival Guide. I believe the newscasters when they say that dead are walking, I believe them when they say that the dead are eating the living. I believe them when they say we should evacuate.

The pastors do not believe the media and they want us to stay to continue our ministry with the local homeless population. All of the young men are now required to take a guard shift at one of the four locations; community front door, community back door, the route to the shelter and the shelter entrance. I chose route duty twice a week. We are supposed to be unarmed, but I will be taking my big knife.

S 6/10 (morning)

Although the events leading up to this journal have been tragic, I feel as if they would make a good film, so I will be writing down the everything that takes place in order to make a film about this disaster after I finish school. Things will be better then.

I am writing this entry in the morning before my first route guard duty. I shall be taking my Bible and this journal and a pen. My mother has insisted that since I am Hemophilic, I should wear long sleeved thick fabric clothing and a helmet. I love my mother dearly, so I will of course do as she asks.

W 6/10 (night)

Z and I are currently camped just north of Sterling, CO.

During lunch we watched the news in a Diner off of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. The food was pretty much completely awful, but it might have been worthwhile just for the TV. The news guy talked something awful about mass murder and cannibalism throughout the Midwest. And since this was Fox News, they also talked of how the dead and infected were reviving with crossed out eyes and continuing the spree of chaos. It’s kind of like all of those George Romero films I watched in G’s class. I don’t believe the news guys, but Z does.

Z 6/10 (noon)

There are Zombies. I have a hatchet. I will kick Zombie ass, and survive. We will get to Chicago, the most devastated city in the United States and I will save R and the rest of the Commune. It is my promise; I will not stop until we are safe.

R 6/10 (night)

Today during guard duty we had an encounter with the zombies. We were escorting two women and a child to the shelter when a man appeared in an alley. He was big and walked with a limp, but the thing I remember were the crosses through its eyes. Bloody red crosses on the dark holes in its skull. He wasn’t the only one; after I looked around I saw that there were at least 50 of them in the area, and that our small group of 5 was the only human group nearby.

The zombie guys shuffled closer to us. I struggled to pull my knife out of my hiking boot. S took his Bible out of his pocket, I looked at him in as demeaning a way as possible and then as the ex-guy hunched over to bite our kid. S shoved the Bible into its mouth and knocked it to the ground. S then proceeded to stomp its head repeatedly, spilling buckets of blood across the asphalt. He picked up his Bible and said something like “fight like a man, scripture in hand.” I laughed. By now I had my knife out, so we were in decent condition to reach the shelter. No great tragedy for me.

W 6/11 (night)

Shortly after entering Nebraska, we decided to leave the road for a while and walk through the woods. We walked for a few hours before reaching a clearing which contained a buffalo herd. I didn’t want to walk through it, but Z convinced me by saying that as we weren’t wearing roller-skates we would be fine.

Near the center of the herd we started hearing a low gruff moan. I looked around and saw a pale looking cowboy standing with his head down. As he looked up I saw that he had bloody crosses through his eyes and a horse leg in his mouth.

He shambled toward us, but before I could react much at all Z jumped in the air and smacked the cowboy’s hat off with a hatchet. The cowboy lunged forward and grabbed Z’s arm, I quickly threw my backpack off onto the ‘zombie’ and pushed down with all my strength. The cowboy zombie struggled for a long time as Z tried to smash its skull with a hatchet. It was hard to crush the skull so Z kept hitting and spraying blood all over everything. The Buffalos didn’t like this at all and walked away revealing even more of the cross eyed freaks. We were completely surrounded.

After finally crushing the skull of the cowboy Z put the hat on his head and pulled his army trowel out of the brain of his pack.  I grabbed the hatchet and one of my knives. We spent the next three hours decapitating and stabbing zombies. It was tiring…

_______________________________________________

 

Is this infected?

Is this infected?

Each year, Dark Silo Press attends “Zombie Week” at the Polaris Charter School in Fort Collins, Colorado. The mastermind behind this inspired bit of teaching is Ryan Grindel, who teaches an integrated curriculum (from physical education to art to math) based on the zombie theme. Part of his week involves writing. Dark Silo visits, hands out copies of our books and talks about zombies as a metaphor.

At week’s end, Grindel has the students write their own zombie stories and scenes. You’ve seen the entries of years past (some of the most popular blogs we’ve ever posted). But you ain’t seen nothing yet. Maggie’s entry (unnamed) is one of the most disturbing things you’ll ever read. 

But if you’re worried about the future of genre fiction, you may actually find solace in the mayhem. This young girl writes like a pro:

 

The light came to me first. Slowly at first, then painful, accompanied by a killer headache, like the worst hangover in history. I could focus my eyes a little. A figure was silhouetted against that sharp light. My stepmom.

“Travis! You awake? You alive?” Her fake blonde dye job hurt my eyes, the light reflecting off platinum.

I’d just woken up. It was too damn early for my eyes to tolerate her hair. It was causing me legitimate pain.

I moaned a little, then tried to roll over. No luck. My wrists were restrained behind my back. My feet, too. I looked to the side. Lined up on the cold cement floor, like sardines, my brothers were hogtied and sleeping. I guess that would explain why I couldn’t move.

I don’t remember falling asleep here.

“Travis!” I forced my eyes into focus in front of me. My stepmom was kneeling down so her eyes were at my level. Over her shoulder, I could see the lights were dim and the door was boarded. That was a little terrifying. She was the last person in the world I wanted to be barricaded in a small space with. “Focus on me.”

I couldn’t. The world was coming back sharp and painful. From my vantage point on the floor, it took a little while to recognize where I was.

My dad’s garage. He was a chronic car junkie, or maybe he just needed a place to escape from his psychopathic second wife. The result was a cement garage out in our field. He was a simple man and it was a simple place. During peacetime, his truck—which he loved more than any of his children—sat front and center on the cement floor. But now, my stepmom had used it to barricade the main door, along with his tractor and work bench. The prize antlers on the wall were being used as a coatrack for my stepmom’s clothing. My dad would not approve.

“Travis. Come back to me.” She grabbed my face and forced me to focus on her. “It’s time to go back to bed. Alright buddy?” She pulled out a little bottle and a rag. Taking her time, she soaked the rag. I was coherent enough to understand what was happening, and fought it. “Hold still!” She grabbed my hair and forced my face up, shoving the rag into it.

I was asleep again in seconds.

* * * * *

When I woke again, it was dark. I had no idea how much later. Hours? Days, maybe? My stepmom was across the room, bent over our big, top-open freezer, with our pug, Bentley, in her arms. “Eat the dog, sweetie. You can do it, eat the dog.” A low moan came from the freezer.

“Mom?” She turned around. “What are you doing?”

She put Bentley down. He ran under the tractor and started whimpering. All I could see was the glow of his eyes. “Hi honey. You’re awake.”

“Mom. What were you doing with Bentley?” I strained against my restraints, but only managed to flip myself over, so I was staring at her upside-down.

“Oh. I didn’t expect you to be awake. I was just feeding your father.” She crossed back to the freezer and reached in.

“What?”

“Look.” My stepmom hauled up a dog leash. Attached to the end was my dad. He wasn’t looking so good. I mean, my stepmom had him on a dog leash in a freezer, so I didn’t expect him to look all that great, but he looked really bad. One of his eyes was missing and brains leaked out of the socket. His boots were shoved over his hands. “So he can’t scratch,” she explained. He clutched a rancid, severed leg like a child would hold a teddy bear.

“What happened to him?” I yelled.

“He got infected.” She shrugged.  “Did you actually like him much anyway?”

She had a point.

“But why Bentley? Why my dog?”

“He was an extra mouth to feed.” I stared at her for a second. “And your dad didn’t want to eat him anyway. I think he still has a little bit of thought and emotion left. Or maybe he just likes human flesh better.”

“Way to not eat my dog, Dad!” I called over her shoulder, feeling the hysteria rise in my voice.

A slight moan replied.

Then a thought hit me. “What about…” I looked up and down the row of my hogtied, drugged siblings, too freaked out to even finish the thought.  On my left, my little sister was asleep and drooling. On my right, my big brother was tied with a jump rope, blissfully asleep. Another jump rope lay on the end, still knotted. No one was in it.

We were missing one.

She came to the thought about the same time I did. My stepmother got all quiet—a bad sign. “He didn’t want to eat Colton either. But instinct prevails, I guess.”

“Mom!”

“Shh… Shhhh… Don’t wake the others.”

My little sister had begun to stir. She was thirteen and pretty when the apocalypse started. Who knows how long we’d been asleep in the garage.  Her eyes had popped open but were far away. Slowly, they focused in on my face. “Travis?” she asked, her voice shaking.

I looked up at my mom. “You weren’t planning on doing… you know… with all of us?” I glanced over at Colton’s severed leg wrapped in my dad’s arms.

She looked over also. “No. Oh no. I was gonna let you guys sleep through the apocalypse. It’s the gentlest way, I think.”

My sister kicked against her bonds. “Where’s Colton?”

We both shushed her.

“No! Where is Colton?”

My other brothers were starting to stir.

My stepmom poked the oldest with her toe. He groaned and his eyes fluttered open.

My stepmom got a faraway look in her eyes. “So you’re all awake now. I was planning on having you sleep it out. I was. I was.”

My sister locked her eyes on me. “What does she mean? Travis. What does she mean?”

“Shut up, Whitney.” I could feel my voice rising and my panic building. All this bullshit and I’d only been awake for a few minutes.

My stepmother traced her steps back towards the freezer. My dad was straining against his leash, as if to greet her. She turned and faced us again. “When I put you to sleep, I was doing what the best is for you. That’s all I wanted. The best for my children. Now, for once, I need to do something a little bit selfish. I need to do the best for me. You were always a burden and you know it, Travis.”

* * * * *

My dad was a deadbeat father. He also made a pretty shitty zombie. When my stepmom dropped him on the cement floor a few feet away from me and my drugged and helpless siblings, his initial reaction was to continue to gnaw on my brother’s leg. Then, slowly, his single eye raised until it met my gaze.

Whitney was screaming next to me. My mother had closed the lid to the now empty freezer and crouched on top of it. She’d pulled one of the prize antlers off the wall and was using it to poke my dad towards us. He turned around and swatted at her with one booted hand. She poked him with the antler again.

“Don’t make me take your other eye out!” Her voice had a hysterical quality.

My father snarled and swung his head around wildly. He stood up for a second, then fell right in my brother’s face. “Holy Shit! Shit, Travis, help me! Travis…” his screams were cut off as our father’s jaws locked on his throat. Blood boiled up in his mouth. “Travis!”

I tried to scoot as close as possible to Whitney on my other side as my brother’s blood spilled across my face. My dad latched onto his neck and was swinging wildly. Bones crunched. Whitney’s face was buried in my back. I spit out guts and leaned back over my shoulder to yell at her. “Untie me!”

“What?”

A warm bit of intestine hit me in the face. The remnants of my brother were hot, like a Saturday night bath.  “Whitney. Untie me!”

She seemed to understand me. Bending forward, I could feel her teeth latched onto the jump rope binding my hands.

“No!” my stepmom shrieked. “No!” She threw the antler at us as hard as she could. One tip scraped across my face. Blood flooded my vision. I think she hit Whitney, too. I could feel her recoil.

“Keep going, Whitney!” All I could see was blood, but I could tell that she wasn’t working at my bonds anymore. My father was playing in my brother’s blood the way a child plays in the mud. I couldn’t tell my own from the puddle of what once was my sibling. “Whitney!” I screamed again.

“Travis! Move!” My little sister, a tiny thing, grabbed me by the hair and hauled me across the floor right as my stepmom aimed another choice antler. It buried itself in the ground inches away from where my right eye had been just seconds earlier.

I pulled my arms and came away free from my bonds.

“Eat them, dammit!” my stepmom screamed. My dad was almost finished with his snack. Entrails dripping from his mouth, he looked up and started towards us.

Several things happened fast. I bent over, desperately working at my sister’s bonds. My stepmom was still screaming bloody murder. Whitney was reduced to a terrified whimper. My dad lashed out and I dove over my little sister out of instinct.

Time seemed to slow as his boot clad hand knocked me hard in the side of the head. Then, I felt his teeth close around my throat.

Whitney grabbed the antler off the ground and beat at our dad. Our stepmom was launching every projectile she could find. I looked up—Whitney was bleeding from her face and one eye was swelling rapidly.

“Go!” I screamed.

She pulled away and I could feel him strengthen his grip on my throat.

“Go!” I tried to scream again, but my mouth was filling with blood. I could feel the virus burning through my bloodstream. For a second, my vision went completely black. Pain seemed to radiate from my neck. Then, my eyes popped open.

My sister and dog, clambering through the window, looked awfully tasty.

Slowly, I pulled myself to my elbows, and then attempted to climb to my feet. Unfortunately, my lower half was detached and my father was happily gnawing on it, like a dog with a sack of bones. On my elbows, I dragged myself towards Whitney, who was desperately pulling boards off the windows. Suddenly, I was wondering why I’d never tried to eat her before.

My stepmom continued to pummel her with cans of food to deter her escape. A can of creamed corn nailed me in the back of my shoulder and tore a chunk of my arm off.

Whitney pulled a board off the window and pushed the dog through. Then, she turned around and met my eyes one last time.

“Travis. Eat her. Make sure you eat her.” My head swung around to my stepmom in the corner. She wouldn’t be able to fit through the hole in the window my sister had made.