the future of horror fiction

Posted: April 10, 2014 in Dark Silo Event
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.

 

 

 

 

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