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ZOMBIE-CON – Martin Richmond

       Darkness plunged the prison cell into a box of stark, uneasy shadows. An external security light switched on, throwing a sickly yellow pattern through the bars and over a group of four prison officers sharing a common silence. It was the youngest of the group who broke the icy stillness with a fearful cry.

“Why us then, hell’s teeth, – WHY – WHY?”

“Keep quiet you fool, they’ll hear you,” hissed Danny Chard, senior officer of the group.

He gripped the young officer’s shoulders and hurled him backwards onto the lower bunk bed. As he fell back his head battered against the metal frame of the upper bunk and he shrieked out in pain.

The officers froze, afraid to even breathe heavily, looking anxiously towards the closed cell door.

 

They could hear the shuffling gait of the zombie horde dragging their lifeless shells aimlessly along the galleries outside. The hollow groaning of an unnatural hunger filled the remaining, uninfected with a helpless terror.

When the zombie plague erupted within their walls its ferocity took the D hall prison staff completely by surprise, pouncing from one body to the next, like a sickening chain of bloodlust tag. As it tore across the prison hall, Chard was on the second floor landing. While others stood gaping in a state of shock he bundled a few of the officers into the nearest cell. He slammed the door behind him, locking them all in, saving them from being torn apart or becoming a soldier of the living-dead army.  Inside they were met by the strong smell of stale urine hanging in the air, an eye-watering cloud of bitter ammonia, although the stench of the rotting dead lingering outside was far greater.

The young officer, Iain Caine, clutched his head, trying to stem the blood flow from his injury and rolled over the urine soaked mattress to face the wall. It was his first day as a prison officer, a virgin screw witnessing prisoners and staff, bitten, mauled and instantly transformed into hellish creatures. It was a vision that screamed in his brain. Not a first day that he could ever envision or could prepare for, not that any other officer would for that matter.

 

It was a sight he couldn’t un-see and a waking nightmare he was trying hard to forget, but failing miserably.

“Sorry I was so rough lad,” said Chard, leaning on the bunk bed, “but hey, we’ve survived and we’re damn lucky to be alive.”

Lucky,” snapped Caine, turning back to face him, “you call this lucky? Don’t you see, we’re trapped, they can’t get at us and we can’t get out, doesn’t that say to you that we’re going to die – one bloody way or another?”

Caine rolled back toward the wall and pulled his knees up into a foetal position, hoping he could escape this thing by ignoring it and praying that, maybe, it would just go away by itself?

Chard shook his head and threw his peaked cap onto the top bunk. He turned to the other two officers he had ushered in, Hawkins and Baker, both normally reliable under pressure, but this event could hardly be described as normal. They were seated on the floor beneath the barred window, shell-shocked and silent. Both were in shirt sleeves, heavily stained, but thankfully, not with their own blood.

“Ideas guys?”

They both shrugged, as if ready to surrender themselves to the inevitable.

Chard moved across to the cell door and leaned against it, pressing his ear to the cold wood.

He could hear the scraping sound of a hundred or so inmates and officers, who were now un-dead monsters, staggering around the ground floor and upper galleries. Occasionally one would bump its shambling body against the cell door and he would hold his breath until the thing moved away.

Chard was a big man, of height and girth and his broad shoulders carried the chrome pips of his rank on the epaulettes of a light blue shirt.  Spanning the width of the doorway he dipped his 6ft 2inch height to be level with the spy hole, but the slide was down and blocked any vision of the hell that stalked his prison hall.

It was probably better that he couldn’t see the monstrous, charnel house parade that now outnumbered the living.

He was about to move away from the doorway when he heard a strange sound spiking out amongst the incessant groaning.

It was a musical sound that filtered up, echoing, from the ground floor to their second floor cell.

The television room that had been abandoned when the devil marched in was still playing to itself.

He recognised the strident sounds of an old movie and its rousing musical score and turned to the two seated officers.

“You guys ever seen the movie, ‘ZULU’?”

“Sure,” said Hawkins, the bearded one of the solemn pair. His companion, Baker, nodded, but looked perplexed.

“Boss,” piped up Baker, “if we’re going to kill time with a sodding movie quiz then count me out, I’m not really in the mood.”

“No quiz,” said Chard, moving across and seating himself in a chair beside them, “but you remember when the Zulus were breaking into the hospital area, you remember what the British soldiers did?”

“Shoot ‘em?” said Baker.

“Yeah, sure, but they also dug their way out through the wall into the next room! There’s two cells between us and the corner of the building and then – y’know what’s on the corner?”

“The fire escape!” said Hawkins, excitedly.

“Exactly” he said, standing back; “now how about breaking this chair up, the metal legs will do for digging. There’s only a couple of layers of brick and plaster in these connecting walls so they should be easy to get through.”

Hawkins and Baker leaped up, energised by the promise of escape. They quickly broke the metal legs from its welded frame and began eagerly pummelling the wall. Chard stayed by the door raising a hand to cease their action whenever he heard a movement close by. A blanket was laid across the floor to reduce some of the noise from the falling rubble.                             

Caine began weeping and mumbling into the blanket he’d buried his face into, shutting out the savage world.

They chiselled at the wall, breaking away the thick plaster, one strike swiftly following the other with plaster dust slowly clouding the air. It coated their faces and hair as they worked; producing some brief fits of coughing. The bricks soon fell away and a hole soon appeared and they struck more vigorously, steadily widening with each blow. They eventually stopped when they created a gap wide enough for even Chard’s huge bulk to squeeze through.  

Hawkins eagerly stooped down towards the darkness beyond the jagged porthole and suddenly heard a terrifying growl!

He immediately jerked backwards just as the bloated face of a creature from hell thrust its head into view! Its mouth was torn open from ear to ear, exposing rows of barred, broken teeth like a battle-worn shark’s, dark maw.

It’s wild, blood-shot eyes bulged and swelled, threatening to explode. It snapped and spat, desperate to reach them, hissing and screeching like nothing they’d ever heard before.

They were all frozen in shock horror, until Danny Chard burst forward from the doorway and tore the chair leg from Baker’s fist. He lifted it high above his head and brought it down, spearing the zombie’s skull from temple to ear. The sickening crunch as the metal bar punched through the exposed head was enough to cause each man to recoil in revulsion. Barring the stomach heaving of Caine’s vomiting, the eggshell crack sound punched the cell into a full stop of silence.

As the flaring light in the zombie’s eyes flickered and went out, its head sagged onto the edge of the hole and the group quickly found the remnants of their courage again.

Chard extracted the bar by resting a boot on its face and Hawkins kicked it back into the other cell. After a cautious glance, making sure there were no more lurking dangers, they bundled their way through, dragging the unwilling Caine with them.

They immediately set to work on the next hole breaking through even faster than before, but were far more wary of finding another hungry occupant this time. They exposed the final hole in the last cell through to the fire escape just at the moment when Caine turned!

A sudden, howling savagery gripped him in a whirling frenzy and he leaped at them, shedding tears of blood with a fiery glow staining his bulging eyes.

Chard left him pinned to the wall, pierced through his face, right between the eyes and only paused to look back when they were stood in the safety of the fire escape staircase.

Caine’s un-dead body was still wriggling like a macabre, dancing puppet dangling against the wall.

Chard realised Caine’s blow to the head must have become infected with zombie blood when they dragged him through the hole, another sad casualty of the deadly plague. A gut punch of guilt hit Chard, but he knew that the mindless creature the boy had become could well have been one or all of them, without his actions. When they exited the fire escape into the yard outside, they found flame throwers were sweeping over the building, creating a huge funeral pyre by the Army’s guaranteed cure to the zombie menace.

Chard looked up as the flames took hold, curling around the cell block roof. The jail contained the outbreak but the plague was still out there waiting to return and he wasn’t about to let it back in – not on his watch!

 

THE END

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All the Time, the Screaming – Austin Malone

 

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Enhance your coffee

 

All the Time, the Screaming – Austin Malone

 

The Angler rises, opens his cupboard. He gathers the biscuits and jerky, wraps them in a scrap of pale leather, places the bundle in his creel, and retrieves his rod from beside the door. Rod and creel in hand, he emerges into the perpetual twilight of the fishing grounds.

He looks neither left nor right, does not acknowledge his fellow fishermen, ignores the row of identical huts that dot the riverbank. In silence, with single-minded purpose, he strides to his designated place. The black waters suck at the bank, their hushed susurrations inaudible beneath the tormented shrieks that rend the thick air. All the time, the screaming.

A low mutter rumbles his stomach. He retrieves a strip of jerky, chewing as he unspools his reel. The flavor is bland, the texture fibrous. It brings him no joy. He is hungry. It is food. His teeth grind away at it as his hands secure the hook. It is an ugly thing, heavy, multi-pronged, bristling with barbed spikes. It is perfect. It feeds him and clothes him, and he is fond of it. He is not fond of the next piece of equipment. None of the fishermen are.

The Angler swallows as he withdraws the lure, and his face contorts with disgust.  He squeezes his eyelids shut, guides the bauble onto the hook, and the thing explodes with radiance. Even with his eyes closed, the light pulses blood-red behind his eyelids, searing his flesh. Whimpering, he pulls his arm back and whips it forward. The plop of the hook landing in the water is followed by the cool relief of the lure sinking into the depths.

He sighs, eases his eyes open, and waits. He does not wait long. He never waits long. The rod bucks in his hands. He counts silently to ten. Then he reels the line in, slowly, steadily.

Black water runs in rivulets down the fishing line as it emerges. The top of the hook appears first, followed by the lure, its glow muted now. Then, like pale, wriggling worms, his catch begins to rise into view, skewered by the bottommost row of hooks.

He hauls on the line, dragging the thing up out of the river. The wriggling appendages resolve into fingers, the attached hand pierced by the barbed spikes. More emerges. A thick arm, muscles corded. Heavy shoulders, a broad chest, meaty thighs. Then, the thing’s head lolls forward, and its scream joins the cacophony. It dangles above the riverbank, thrashing, water-slick hair plastered to its scalp above too-wide eyes and an even wider mouth. And all the time, the screaming.

The Angler holds the line aloft with one hand, and reaches for the knife at his belt. The noise will cease soon. Then there will be fresh meat to prepare. Bone meal to grind.

The knife goes in, tugs down. The thing’s final cry fades to a burbling whimper. It falls silent. And all around him, the screaming continues.

All the time, the screaming.

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Book of Horrors II “Triggers” Readers

Book of Horrors II Might be Racist is what some fragile, uber-sensitive snowflakes might say after reading The Valley of Sex by Joseph Rubas – a Lovecraftian horror tale that does more than embrace the archaic and labored prose, the story embraces the prejudice and racism H.P. Lovecraft is infamous for.

The Valley of Sex follows a crew of investigators as they explore a strange underworld and attempt to understand the primitive savage natives, but they were not expecting to encounter an active sex crazed tribe.

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Interview with S. E. Casey

 

This Friday, fiction writer S. E. Casey, the author of Last Meal of Adonis, joins Mr. Deadman on the Deadman’s Tome podcast to discuss his inspiration behind his existential fiction, the process behind his prose, and his other projects.

Listen to Deadman’s Tome podcast on Friday at 10pm CST to participate in the chat and to ask you’re own questions.

use this link to catch the episode as soon as it goes live http://www.spreaker.com/user/8056632

 

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DEADLIGHTS MAGAZINE SAYS PRINT ISN’T DEAD

 

Some say that print is dead, but DeadLights Magazine says no. The young publication appreciates a challenge and has tapped into a niche market. Sure, it would be cheaper to be just another electronic magazine – electronic magazines spring up from the ground like weeds due to cheap production costs. But the digital screen does not compare to the actual print material in hand. If Deadman’s Tome could afford it, it would totally embrace the old school horror magazine feel of Tales From The Crypt and Creep.

DeadLights Magazine is a horror fiction magazine printing flash fiction, short stories, poetry, and art, with a focus on up-and-coming authors and artists! Of course, print is not cheap and Dead Lights is raising money via Kickstarter to.. well.. kick start the magazine. Dead Lights has already exceeded their initial goal, but the more they raise, the more they can do for the authors and readers.

As fans of horror, please check out DeadLights Magazine kickstarter and see if you can afford a dollar, just a simple dollar, to give them that extra push.

 

 

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The Old House in the Country – Ryan Reid

 

 

Jacob Hauser was on his way home after a twenty mile bike ride when he noticed dark clouds building on the horizon. It was a hot, humid July afternoon. Jacob enjoyed summer weather, but he had never cared for humidity. I’m going to get soaked, Jacob thought as he pedaled along the country road.

Bike riding was one of Jacob’s favorite hobbies. He had been working as a middle school science teacher for a year and didn’t have as much free time as he used to for exercise. During college he had put great emphasis on working out. Those days had been more carefree.

The dark clouds continued to spread across the sky as Jacob heard a distant rumble of thunder. Jacob couldn’t recall seeing any houses along the stretch of the road he was on; he was out in the middle of nowhere. Jacob pedaled as fast as he could, but he knew he would never make it home before the rain began; there were still about nine miles to go. Jacob was wearing a gray T-shirt and khaki shorts, so he wasn’t dressed for a storm.

A flash of lightning cut across the sky as it darkened. Jacob had been terrified of thunderstorms when he was a child. He remembered being unable to fall asleep at night as lightning lit up his bedroom and thunder shook his house. Thunderstorms had always seemed like the perfect backdrop for monsters to come crawling out from the closet and under the bed. As an adult, Jacob was no longer scared of thunderstorms, though they still created a sense of anxiety in him.

The wind began to pick up and shake the leaves of nearby trees as Jacob smelled the ozone scent of rain. I need to find some kind of shelter soon, Jacob thought.

The wind tore at Jacob’s face as he continued to pedal. His leg muscles were aching from the long bike ride. The first drops of rain began to fall when Jacob saw it: an old, dilapidated house. He remembered passing the house on his bike rides in the past. He had never thought much about the house, until now. The house was two stories and had rotting clapboard siding. The siding had once been painted white, but years of neglect had resulted in an ugly gray. Most of the windows were boarded up. The house’s weed-choked yard surrounded it like a moat. The building looked like it had been abandoned for a decade or longer.

Jacob hopped off his bike and ran with it to the front door of the house. He just made it onto the crumbling front porch when the rain began to pour down. The front door was boarded up, but there was a broken window next to it. A board covered the upper part of the window, but there was enough room to get in. Jacob leaned his bike against a wall and climbed through the window into the house.

Looking around, Jacob noticed he was in a foyer. There was a staircase leading up to the second floor against the right wall. The white plaster walls were cracked and peeling. Fragments of plaster covered the floor. The air smelled musty and stale. Jacob peered outside through the window he had come in through. The rain and thunderstorm showed no signs of stopping. Well, I might as well take a look around, Jacob thought as he watched the rainfall. I don’t think I’m going anywhere for the time being.

Jacob wandered through an open doorway into a kitchen. The room’s furnishings were simple: a wood table, several chairs, cabinets, a stove, a sink, and an old refrigerator. Some of the cabinet doors had fallen off. Pieces of broken ceramic plates littered the floor. The table was covered with mouse droppings. Jacob spotted a foot-long snake skin on the ground next to the table. That’s lovely, Jacob thought as he kicked at the snake skin with his right foot.

Jacob opened a door leading into what seemed to be a cellar. There weren’t any windows in the room, and the only light came from the open doorway. Jacob could hear the sounds of animals skittering around below, probably mice. Jacob could see the top of a staircase descending into the darkness, but he didn’t feel like going down there. Jacob shut the cellar door and returned to the foyer.   

Jacob climbed the staircase to the second floor. Every step he took on the stairs created a loud creak that shattered the dead silence of the house. Jacob thought it was odd how there weren’t any signs of recent human habitation of the house. He figured he would’ve come across empty food wrappers or beer cans left behind by a vagrant using the building as a shelter.

Jacob reached the top of the staircase and entered a room to his right. The room was devoid of furniture. There were two windows in one wall. Dim light from outside filtered in through the spaces between the boards covering the windows. Jacob could hear the rain pounding on the roof of the house. Jacob walked over to one of the windows and looked outside. The wind continued to whip the nearby trees, and rain pounded down. Jacob saw a flash of lightning. That’s when Jacob heard something strange. It sounded like people whispering. The noise seemed to be coming from behind a door in the room.  

Jacob went to the door and put his ear next to it, trying to hear what was being said. It definitely sounded like two or three people whispering. Jacob couldn’t tell what they were saying. Jacob put a hand on the doorknob and turned it. He flung the door open and looked in. As soon as Jacob had opened the door, the whispering had stopped. The room was a closet. There was nothing inside it. A horrible odor that smelled like a dead animal emanated from the closet. Jacob wasn’t sure what was creating the stench, but it was awful. That’s weird, Jacob thought as he shut the closet door.

Jacob left the room and walked to the top of the staircase. He heard a strange, raspy breathing sound coming from behind him. Jacob turned around to look behind him. There was nobody there, and the breathing had stopped. Jacob turned around and put his hand on the staircase banister. As Jacob was about to step onto the top stair, something shoved him from behind. Jacob grabbed for the banister as he began to fall. He was angled towards the right and barely managed to catch hold of the banister before he would’ve fallen down the staircase. “What the hell was that?” Jacob shouted as he gripped the banister.

I could’ve gotten killed, Jacob thought as he stared at the bottom of the staircase. I need to get out of here.

Jacob ran down the stairs and headed for the window he had come in through. The strange whispering started again. It seemed like it was surrounding Jacob. He couldn’t see any people; the sound seemed to come from thin air. Jacob began to climb through the window when his shirt snagged on a nail sticking out of a board. Come on, Jacob thought as he struggled to free his shirt from the nail.

The whispering was coming from right behind Jacob. He didn’t have much time left. With one final struggle, the nail tore through Jacob’s shirt, and he was free. Jacob grabbed his bike and ran for the country road. It was still raining, but the thunderstorm had ended. Jacob was soaked in seconds from the deluge. As soon as he reached the asphalt, Jacob jumped on his bike and began pedaling as fast as he could. Jacob had a feeling he was going to set a new record on his ride home.

 

The End

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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.

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Month of Horror Week 2 Winner Announced!

Month of Horror week 2 contestants Al Edwards, Gary Buller, and S. E. Casey compete for 1st place which consists of placement on the Tome with double earning rate! With four solid stories, this decision was not easy. Seriously, I’ve had an easier time deciding the title for my own story than coming down with a verdict.

Listen to the episode via iTunes, too

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/month-horror-week-2-winner/id1148253629?i=1000376674460&mt=2

or on Spreaker

http://www.spreaker.com/user/8056632/month-of-horror-week-2-winner-announced-