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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s horror stories, ghost stories, monster stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre dark fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. 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 authors.

Become a patron today and support the online magazine!

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=3340730&alert=2&ty=h

-Mr. Deadman

 

 

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Deadman’s Tome Book of Horrors Pre-Order

Deadman’s Tome newest anthology is about a month a away from release, but you don’t have to wait until July to get a copy. Pre-order a copy of Deadman’s Tome – Book of Horrors V1 and know that on July 1st you’ll have a collection of demented, twisted, thought provoking, and psyche damaging horror delivered right to your tablet, smart phone, or computer! Featuring the following authors: Seán Glasheen (Author), S.J. Budd (Author), Florence Marlowe (Author), S. Alessandro Martinez (Author), Matthew Johnson (Author), Mark Armstrong (Author), Jacob Lambert (Author), & 3 more

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Lost, but not forgotten. Discarded, but not abandoned. Rumor has it that somewhere deep in the dark abyss lies an ancient relic of wicked men, a product of madness. A tome of horrors so unimaginable, so unfathomable that a few lines was all it took for people to go mad. There are documented accounts of this book shattering families, tearing through the strongest of examples of love, causing mothers and fathers to devour…

 

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Deadman’s Tome LIVE – Cursed Paintings, Ghost Sex, Zombie, and more

Hosted by Mr. Deadman, but made interesting with guests like Shawn Riddle and Kathleen Wolak. Shawn Riddle has infected Deadman’s Tome with not one, but two solid zombie stories, while Kathleen Wolak explored the dark topic of cursed paintings. From horror shorts to zombies to cursed painting, we’ve got quite a lot to talk about! While finishing off a bottle of Gentleman Jack, we talked about cursed paintings, ghost sex, zombie, and a bunch of other stuff that is loosely related to the featured stories.

 

Check out “lockdown” by Shawn Riddle and “Paint“.

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Dinner Time Commentary

Mr. Deadman offers commentary on Dinner Time by Peter Indianna and asks the tough question just about every man, straight or gay, asks when they find themselves in an unsatisfying relationship.

If you’re easily offended, this is not for you. I think Peter’s story is fantastic and conveys the horror of being in a unsatisfying relationship with a vindictive and jealous partner. I apologize for the audio quality. Other than that, enjoy the video for a few laughs and make sure you check out Mr. Indianna’s story.

 

 

 

 

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A Hero’s Welcome by Peter Indianna

 

 

 

The cobalt dress was taut around Carter Graham’s hips, the nylon thigh-hose stretched smooth and the blonde wig that he made out of Janet’s scalp fit radiantly snug over his short, salt-and-pepper hair. The pumps were far too small so he had to slit the sides of the black leather to make his feet slip into the shoes. Sitting at the dressing table, Carter fumbled about in Janet’s jewelry box, primping and fussing, trying on different pieces to achieve that distinctive look. The make-up strategy was harsh and gaudy, the scarlet lipstick a bit too thick and became smeared from his unskilled attempts to apply it. An synthetic pearl necklace was selected and Carter clasped it around his neck, followed by a pair of pearl studs which he punctured through the lobes of each ear. He stood before the full-length mirror and turned, spun and swayed, mugging at his reflection. Small plastic bottles, pills, capsules and tablets were sprinkled on top of the tawny carpet. Clozaril, Depakote, Zoloft, Luvox, Trazadone – a gathering of pharmaceuticals; slow-motion comfort and fast-frame, accelerated nourishment. A magnificent cocktail that swept your life under a national security rug and wrapped you in medicated swaddling. The simple, country songs of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline pervaded the bedroom, while hearty swigs of luscious bourbon smoothed the edges.

The erratic, unpredictable emotional and psychological behaviors began just a few months upon his return from the unforgiving deserts of Iraq. Discharged from the stifling heat, the desiccated terrain and aggressive sunlight, Carter was tossed back into a frightening and now unfamiliar society. The slap-and-tickle life that everyone sloshed through, bickered, quarreled and moaned about, yet so coveted. There was never any comfort, no time for contemplation, just an incessant barrage of flashing, strobe-light images, blaring, yap-yap-rapping sounds and thundering bass-lines saturating the American way of life.

When Johnny comes crawling home again, hurrah! hurrah!

No parades were given, no handshakes offered and no keys to the city were ceremoniously granted. The cracks to fall through were becoming wider these days and the darkness below the grating was hostile and unmerciful.

Carter found out that he could not adjust to any of it. He couldn’t fit in and eventually caved-in and decided that he did not want to.

After the turmoil he had witnessed, the sanctioned use of brutal aggression and premeditated terror he knowingly participated in, Carter could not simply return to Wheel of Fortune after supper, Starbucks Colombian or baggy-pants adolescents. Entertainment celebrities, sports stars and corrupt CEO’s were strutting up and down the red carpet, saturated with ludicrous salaries and worshipped in their respected fields as role models. Fifteen minutes of fame became hour-long, weekly television shows where the hateful, self-absorbed, soft-headed, two hundred-dollar-hair-styled herd clamored for the million dollar prize by demonstrating to obese couch potatoes just how rugged they were by eating grubs and holding their breath under water for two minutes. Carter knew the sadness, the incongruity of it all, the pain and isolation of being abandoned and betrayed by a nation and by those he trusted and confided in.

They could never walk in his shoes, never have gone through, let alone survived the hardship and severe stress he faced on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis. His wife tried to understand, at first she attempted to support him but eventually sought to only pacify him then she too became an outsider, an intruder into his lost world growing ever distant and ignorant of the blight that ate its way into his soul, wormed its way deep into his psyche and obliterated his humanity. He went into the Gulf War as a confident, dedicated, clear-headed man and he returned as a damaged, slack-jointed toy prone to vicious, demented outbursts and psychopathic fantasy. All of the physicians, the medical personnel at the Veteran’s Hospital encouraged the excessive liberal use, the cover-your-ass, inexhaustible procession of eclectic anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, anti-anything-and-everything medications to try and keep his – as well as all of the other war victims – mind swerves from going off the standard charts.

They told him that his symptoms were temporary, stress-related from the field of combat and that other servicemen similar to Carter had gone through it and recovered with remarkable success. PTS-fuckin’D, but with the contemporary treatments and one-to-one and group therapies that were available today, an effective transition to a post-war life had become relatively unproblematic and quite commonplace.

The doctors persuaded him, patronized and humored him to have total confidence in their learned knowledge and trust in the established government protocols and the procedures that guided their enlightened hands.

After all the declarations that rolled off of their tongues and the axis diagnoses and the official reports that were hot off the presses, he reasoned that his medication was a vulgar, document-driven conspiratorial joke played against him and Carter eventually discontinued taking his doses.

He knew best. Theirs was nothing more than folly.

“So what do you say now, girl?” Carter screeched at the mirror and waved his fingers at the ludicrous image, shifting his hips back and forth and kicking his legs up in an awkward, barnyard dance. He pranced over to the bathroom and looked at Janet’s plump body which was kneeling and bent over the edge of the bathtub. Carter sashayed, wiggled and giggled as he pranced across the cool ceramic tiles. He stood over his scalped wife’s body,  leering, then stuck his tongue out and wagged a saucy finger at her.

“My dear sweet Janet, you are such a nasty tease!” He squealed childishly as he kneeled down behind her, pushed her dress up around her waist and pulled down her panties. His mind was spinning, soaring and roaring on the whirlwinds of a chemical climax bubbling straight to the top of the charts. No feelings of regret or sorrow encroached his domain. He became a sadistic changeling, a blazing, savage entity from a dimension of the absurd, the abstract plane of lunacy.

“OH, NO! A STRING? NOW, THIS WILL NOT DO!”

Carter screeched as he yanked the tampon roughly out of her flinging it over his shoulder where it slapped onto the white-tiled wall, then slid snail-like, downwards until it plopped atop lid of a hamper basket.

He beat out a frenetic samba rhythm with his hands, slapping her milky-white, pudgy and dimpled thighs and all the while wailing a nonsensical, improvised song. Grinding his hips and groin against her exposed bottom, Carter was overwhelmed by the satiny feel of the sheer dress material on his hard penis.

Raising the front of his costume he went in slowly, smoothly, then pushed jaggedly, sadistically and deep, then finished quickly. He fell forward across his wife’s back where his hands massaged her bloodstained shoulders. He lay his sweated head down softly between her shoulder blades and closed his eyes.

Pleasant voices once far away, now drifted closer on the slightest of air currents. The sound possessed him, gripped him intimately amidst meandering, sinuous harmonies. Unrestrained, he absorbed this primordial song as it filled his gluttonous belly with a sun-burst of dazzling and splendid jubilation.

No scorching winds blowing through dry sands. No unrestrained screams from inside burning personnel carriers. No innocent families thrown alive and breathing into improvised, bulldozer-ready graves. No malignant plumes of gas belching from concealed, concrete underground bunkers or the slow-moving, toxic, emerald mists that hugged the rocky terrain, kissing you so sweetly as if it were a cat’s whiskers.

Carter spoke very softly, his voice lethargic and slowing to a dead-man’s crawl. His eyelids fluttered over dilated pupils and the cadence of his heart diminished, spreading outwards like ripples gliding across a lake. Passionate, delicate arms urged, soothed and nurtured him as wings fluttered overhead ever so silently, lifting him from this place, from this earth.

 

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Paint by Kathleen Wolak

 

“Excuse, Madame.”

A clearly over-worked, under-dressed waiter bumped my elbow as he rushed to the kitchen.  His momentum placed my watch squarely beneath my nose, and I saw that Professor Gray was now fifteen minutes late.  

Finally, when I was about to start packing my things and call the interview a wash, the professor blew in the door, as if pushed by a particularly unforgiving wind.

“Madame Calau…you must accept my deepest apologies.  It’s-well you see…” the professor looked around the mid-sized café frantically before throwing his coat on the chair next to him and sitting across from me.

“He’s dead.”

The professor wiped the corners of his mouth with a shaking hand.  “He’s dead.”  

“You are joking.”  I placed my pen on my notebook and crossed my arms tightly.  

“I assure you, Madame.  I would never joke about something like this.  I have just returned from identifying his body.”

The Professor removed his glasses and began to absently wipe them with his napkin.  “I apologize for this, Madame.  I know you traveled quite a way for this interview.  I should have known…well, I should have been aware of his situation a bit better.  You see, Monsieur Kinar had been in ill-standing for quite some time.  He died in squalor, Madame.  The same squalor he had been rotting in for several years.”

“I don’t believe it.  News gets to London quite slowly sometimes but nobody ever heard ramblings of poverty.  Last I heard, he had retired to Nice.”

Professor Gray shook his head slowly.  “Non, Madame.  He never left Paris.”

“But what about his paintings?  One fetched several thousand dollars at Southeby’s just last week.”

The professor sighed before removing a piece of crumpled paper from his pocket.  He placed it on the table, never removing his hand from what I assumed was garbage.  

“Madame, what do they know of Monsieur Kinar over in London?”

“Well, not a whole bloody lot to be honest-that’s what this interview was all about, wasn’t it?” I snapped. I instantly felt horrible.  “I’m terribly sorry, Professor.  It’s been quite a long trip.”  

Professor Gray held up his hand.  “It is completely understandable Madame.  I promise you will go home with a story.  It may not be the story you were looking for, but I believe that it is one that must be told.”

I nodded, and opened up my notebook to a fresh page.  “Go on, Professor.”

He took a sip from the water that had been waiting for him for twenty minutes before withdrawing a cigarette from his shirt pocket and lighting it, in an almost hypnotic daze.

“I was Monsieur Kinar’s closest confident for many years.  It’s true we had fallen out of touch in the past decade, but when he was just starting out as a struggling artist, painting cans to sell at street fairs, we rarely went a day without seeing one another.”

I jotted down the Professor’s words as he exhaled thick, magical smoke into the air above him.  

“We met at one of these fairs when I was passing through on my way to the library.  I was obtaining my degree at the time.  I remember being in such a rush-until I saw this man arranging a collection of cans into a small pyramid.  They had portraits on them.  Small, painfully detailed portraits of people.”

“Famous people?”  I asked, rubbing my cramped hand.

Professor Gray shook his head.  “Non…non.  They were just normal people.  Neighbors of his, prostitutes, paupers-despair ridden people really.  But they were beautiful-all of them.”

He took another sip of water and stubbed out his cigarette.  “That’s right, Madame.  The reclusive, respected Monsieur Kinar started as nothing more than a caricaturist.  But he was happy.  Poor, of course, but getting by the way only a young, hungry artist can.  You see, Madame, there is a difference between a starving artist and a hungry artist.  A hungry artist is moving up the food chain, while a starving artist has been reduced to begging for scraps.  Monsieur Kinar was hungry-and getting noticed.”

“And the first day you met-you could tell all of this?”

The professor nodded thoughtfully.  “Oui, I absolutely could.  You see, I was rushing along and these caught me.  They drew me towards the young man and his sorrowful art.  We had a wonderful conversation that day, after I purchased a can.  For the life of me though, I can’t remember what about.  I just remember thinking that this man was a true, modern artistic genius.  I used my father’s contacts in the art world to give Monsieur Kinar’s work showcases at museums all over Europe.”

“But why did you take such an interest in him?  To go to such trouble, I mean?”

Professor Gray considered his water glass for a long moment.  “Because I would have never forgiven myself if I didn’t.  It’s incredibly selfish to not urge along talent if you have the means.  I happened to have the means so I did what I thought was right.  It was all so wonderful for a while.  He was popular and young and in demand.  That’s when he started to do portraits.  See, your art world in London doesn’t know about these portraits, do they Madame?”

I shook my head.  “No. We have no record of him being a portrait artist.”

“There’s a reason for that, Madame.  You see, once Monsieur Kinar had gathered a bit of fame, the elite started to clamor for him to paint them.  Commissions were sinful, and hard for any young artist to ignore.  It started with the daughter of a count.  She was a young, beautiful thing, barely sixteen years old.  Monsieur Kinar was thrilled to start his portrait career sans cans, and she was a perfect first subject.  The sitting took three months, and by the end, he had produced the most beautiful portrait that anyone had ever seen.  It was both hyper-realistic and fantastic.  But you see, as soon as he dragged the last stroke across the canvas, the girl crumpled in her chair, dead.  The doctors said it was heart failure, but a child?”

The professor held his hands out to me, pleading.

“It affected Monsieur Kinar, this death. But he pressed on with his work.  His next sitting was with a banker, who wanted his portrait to hang in the lobby of his bank.  When the painting was done, so was the banker who died only a week after it was hung.  Next, a young bride sat for him, and she too succumbed shortly after completion of the portrait.  Shaken, Monsieur Kinar vowed never to paint again.”

“Did you keep in contact with him when he stopped painting?”  I asked.

“I did.  It was getting increasingly difficult to track him down, as his money was disappearing and he was slipping down the ladder, as we say.  He was still selling his paintings, but not producing anything new.   I thought it would all change for him when he met Maribelle.  She was a dancer at one of the noir jazz cafes.  He fell in love with her immediately, according to his letters.  She was just what he needed to mend the years of despair he had deluded himself into having.  Maribelle made his guilt fall away, and he no longer believed he was somehow responsible for those deaths.”

I swallowed hard, and motioned to the waiter for more water.

“And you know what she begged of him, the night before their wedding, Madame?  She begged that he paint her.”

“No.” I whispered.

“Oui, Madame.  They were married the next day, and on their wedding night, she fell asleep but never greeted the day.  That is when I stopped hearing from him altogether.  I would receive updates from my artistic friends on him.  He completely stopped living, according to them.  He took to wandering the streets, drunk, sick and starving.  I have no idea how he stayed alive, but I feel as though his guilt must have worked as a tonic for a long life.  A curse, really.”

I put my pen down on my filled notebook, as the professor dabbed at his eyes and pulled out another cigarette.  

“He died in the attic of a boardinghouse.  The maid found him, next to this.”  The professor finally loosened his grip on the crumpled paper that he had been guarding.  

I picked up the paper and unfolded a crude picture, drawn with what looked like a crayon.  The picture was of a man-a hollow, terrifyingly skeletal man with patches of hair missing from his beard.

“That’s a self-portrait, Madame.  Of Monsieur Kinar.”

I turned the paper over and noticed a date on the back.  It was dated April 2.  Yesterday.

“He finally broke the curse.”  The professor attempted a tired smile.

I turned the portrait over once more to look into Monsieur Kinar’s eyes.  Even though they were crude and sketchy-with runaway lines and blurred edges, these were the most real eyes I had ever looked into.  Bubbling pain brought them to life on the last page he ever touched.  

“I’m afraid that is all I can tell you, Madame.  I must get to the university to teach a class but I feel I must apologize for not being able to secure the interview with the Monsieur himself.  I feel somewhat responsible.  I just thought foolishly, that I could pull him out of the gutter for one last hurrah.  A bit stupid, no?”

I looked up at the professor, who had already retrieved his coat from the chair next to him.  

I shook my head.  “No, professor.  This was the story to be told.”  I handed the picture back to him, but he held up his hand, refusing.  “No, Madame, you may keep this.  It was his only personal effect and I prefer it go home with someone who can truly appreciate the Monsieur’s work.

With that, Professor Gray threw down some bills, smiled and turned to leave.  Before he reached the door, he turned back around.

“Be sure to tell them back in London, Monsieur’s work is beautifully cursed.”

With that, the professor vanished into the softly falling rain drops outside the café, leaving behind his only existing burden, just as the serpent did when he left paradise in ruins.       

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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s horror stories, ghost stories, monster stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre dark fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. 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 authors.

Become a patron today and support the online magazine!

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=3340730&alert=2&ty=h

-Mr. Deadman

 

 

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ANT FARM by Roger Dale Trexler

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Timmy Caldwell stomped the anthill.  

He was only eight years old and his mother had shooed him out of the house so she and her girlfriends could drink wine and gossip.  Left to his own devices, he found the anthill almost immediately.  He watched for a moment as the ants scurried to and fro, but he lost interest quickly.

He looked down, said: “she won’t let me have an ant farm” and flattened the anthill with the heel of his shoe.

 

After the girls were gone, his mother, tipsy from too much wine,  came stumbling out the backdoor.  

“Timmy,” she yelled.  “Come in and take your bath!”

Timmy, who was sitting on the swing set, did not listen.

“Why you little shit!” she muttered under her breath.  She staggered forward, started down the steps on the deck, and fell flat on the concrete sidewalk below.  Blood splattered everywhere when her nose shattered.

Dazed, she rolled over to see Timmy looking down at her.

“You’re an ant,” he said.

Then, he stomped her face in.  He sat on the ground and watched as the ants crawled into her open mouth and broken nose.

“Ant farm,” he said.

 

 

Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s horror stories, ghost stories, monster stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre dark fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. 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 authors.

Become a patron today and support the online magazine!

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=3340730&alert=2&ty=h

-Mr. Deadman

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Lockdown by Shawn M. Riddle

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Hinesville, Georgia

Robert E. Lee Memorial Hospital

April 19, 2011-9:52 P.M.

 

Doctor Steve Zimmerman jerked his Mustang into the parking lot and cut off a blonde nurse in a Honda Civic to take the last space in the emergency employee’s lot. When she honked at him, he flipped her off without a glance.

This was his fourth straight week of working the ER night shift. The past month had been monotonous. Sure an occasional real patient came through the ER, but the majority was the dregs– drunks who got into bar fights or fell down stairs, drug overdoses, and every hypochondriac in the county. They all seemed to converge on his hospital and, more specifically, his shift like vultures to a fresh corpse. He didn’t spend all those years studying and working through his medical degree to waste his talents on trivial, meaningless cases.

Chuck, the night security officer, glanced up from his newspaper as Steve walked in. “Evenin’ Doc. How you doing tonight?”

Steve screwed on a tight smile, “OK I guess, just another night of dealing with idiot drunks and patients who think a runny nose is a 911 emergency.”

Chuck snickered and snapped his newspaper, “Yeah, we do get a lively crowd, but it pays the bills I guess.”

“Yeah, I suppose so,” Steve sighed as he scratched his name into the log. He turned and strode away from the desk, hoping to avoid further conversation.

“Have a good night, Doc,” Chuck called after him.

Without turning around, Steve mumbled, “Yeah,” and made his way through the lobby and into the ER.

 

10:10 P.M.

 

The evening lived down to Steve’s expectations. He checked the log and found that there had been three patients in. A twelve-year-old boy who had broken his arm playing football, he’d been treated and released shortly before Steve’s arrival. The second was a frequent flier– tonight’s complaint was a mild fever with chills which she self-diagnosed as avian flu. The third was a man who had been brought in an hour or so before Steve’s arrival. He had apparently been mugged earlier in the evening and had suffered numerous minor injuries.

Susan Hamilton, night shift head nurse, approached Dr. Zimmerman. She was in her late thirties, with strawberry blonde hair and a figure that turned heads. She said in a heavy English accent, “Good evening Doctor Zimmerman, how are you feeling tonight?”

Steve scanned the charts again. “Why hasn’t the hypochondriac in room two been sent home yet? She was released almost an hour ago by Dr. West.”

Susan smiled, “She wants a second opinion before she leaves. She’s not convinced that Dr. West’s diagnosis is correct and insists she has avian flu. I told her she could wait for the next shift and they would have another look at her to confirm Dr. West’s diagnosis.”

“Why do these people waste my time? That woman has been in here four times this month and there’s not been a damn thing wrong with her. I’ve wasted enough time with her. Get her out of here.”

“I apologize Dr. Zimmerman. But she was quite insistent on a second opinion.”

Steve’s cheeks flushed, “I don’t care what she insists on. She has been diagnosed and released…”

Susan interrupted him, “I realize that, and I’ll thank you to mind your tone, I’m simply doing my job.”

“Not very well as far as I can see,” Steve snapped. “I’ll go have look at her and release her from care, again. If necessary, have the moron at the security desk drag her out of here, I’ve got better things to do.”

“Yes Doctor.” As Steve headed off to room two she added under her breath, “Arrogant little git!”

 

10:23 P.M.

 

Susan opened the curtain to room seven where Mr. Garcia was sitting upright in the bed. He had been brought in earlier in the evening after being mugged.

“How are you feeling Mr. Garcia?” Susan asked.

Dios mio, my arm hurts like a son of a bitch, and my head hurts so bad it feels like it’s going to explode,” he replied, gripping the bandage on his arm.

Susan smiled reassuringly, “I’ll get you something for your pain. The Doctor is with another patient. It shouldn’t be more than a few minutes.” She placed the blood-pressure cuff on his uninjured arm. After a few moments, results appeared on the display. She placed the digital thermometer in his ear. Susan noted the results of the tests in his chart. “Why don’t we take a look at that arm,” Susan said as she removed the bandage. She saw that lesions had begun to form around the wound and his face was flushed a darker red than when she came in. She smoothed the bandage back into place. She smiled at him again and said, “I’ll be back in a few moments.”

His breathing somewhat labored, he raised his head and managed a weak smile, “Gracias.”

 

10:26 P.M.

 

Dr. Zimmerman was at the desk filling out paperwork when Susan approached him. Without looking up from his papers he sighed, “Yes, what is it now?”

“Doctor, Mr. Garcia in room seven is complaining of a serious headache and his arm is still hurting. Dr. West started him on Tylenol and antibiotics an hour ago. His temperature elevated–99.1 to 100.7. BP is also elevated. He’s flushed and lesions have formed around the bite on his arm.”

Her report sparked his interest, “What’s his BP?”

Susan glanced at the chart, “When he arrived–9:32 this evening–his BP was 127/89. Last reading was 142/110.”

“I’ll look in on him in a minute.”

 

10:52 P.M.

 

“Good evening Mr. Garcia, I’m Doctor Zimmerman, Nurse Hamilton tells me you’re not feeling well.”

Mr. Garcia opened his eyes slowly and looked at the Doctor.  Both eyes were fiery crimson and a tear drop of blood trickled down the left side of his face. His forehead was beaded with sweat. Mr. Garcia tried to catch his breath to speak; the only sound he made was an unintelligible croak. His breathing had become labored and erratic. Steve pressed the “Nurse Call” button on the man’s bedrail. Moments later, Susan walked through the curtain and asked, “Yes Doctor Zimm…” She stopped when she saw the patient’s condition.

Steve glared at her, “Step outside with me for a moment. Mr. Garcia, I’ll be right back.” Once out of earshot, Steve rounded on her, “What the hell is wrong with you? You didn’t say anything about the sclera or bleeding from the eyes—I would have expected even you to have noted. Not to mention the man can barely breathe.”

Susan flushed, not backing down; she looked right into Steve’s eyes and whispered, “Doctor, he wasn’t like that when I was taking vitals. Those symptoms must have manifested in the last few minutes.”

“I’m not interested in excuses. Get Doctor West in here. We need to run a full work up on this patient stat.”

 

11:20 P.M.

 

Doctors West and Zimmerman and the entire night shift nursing staff bustled around Mr. Garcia. The room was filled with the stench of vomit and human waste, augmented by the unmistakable smell of decaying flesh. The lesions had spread and completely covered his arms, and were weeping thick yellow pus. His temperature reached 104.1 and his blood pressure was off the charts. The man was bleeding from the eyes, ears, and nose and was completely unresponsive to all attempts at communication.

The nurses checked and rechecked the patient’s vital signs while the doctors waited for blood test results from the lab. West had his suspicions about the etiology of these symptoms, but had never seen any disease manifest and accelerate at this rate. “Susan, would you please join us outside?” He motioned for Steve to follow.

“Certainly Doctor,” she said.

The three stepped into the hallway. Doctor West sighed and spoke very quietly, “I think we may be dealing with a form of hemorrhagic fever, like Ebola, but I’ve never seen it firsthand. Susan didn’t you spend some time in Africa a few years back? I thought I heard you mention Marburg outbreaks? Have you seen anything like this?”

“You’re asking her?” Steve whispered in exasperation. “She couldn’t even tell me in the beginning what was going on with the patient. . .”

“I’d like to hear from Nurse Hamilton, if you don’t mind,” Doctor West said.

Susan suppressed a grin and said, “I spent several months in the Congo in 1999. The World Health Organization was called out as well as the Red Cross–a massive outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever at a village in the Orientale province. This patient shows many of the same symptoms. But his condition is worsening at a rate far faster than any I saw during my time in Africa. I’m at a loss.”

Dr. Zimmerman sneered, “She’s at a loss, what a surprise.”

Doctor West’s face hardened, “Doctor Zimmerman, I have had enough of your abusive attitude and insults. One more word out of you and I will see to it you are dismissed from your post. Is that clear?”

Steve gaped as if he had just been gut-punched, “I was only…”

“Do you understand?” Doctor West interrupted.

“Yes sir,” Steve muttered, looking at the floor.

Doctor West continued, “Susan, please go to the lab and find out about those blood tests? If this is a strain of hemorrhagic fever, protocol is for us to isolate the patient and alert the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. Doctor Zimmerman, call ICU and have them get a unit ready. Tell them the patient is to be quarantined immediately. All attending staff should observe level 4 protocols. I’ll get CDC on the line.”

“Yes sir,” they replied in unison and rushed off. Doctor West returned to room seven. Mr. Garcia’s condition had deteriorated. The bleeding from his eyes, ears, and nose had worsened; his breathing had become more labored than an asthmatic during a major attack. He thrashed around as he growled and snapped at the staff. Doctor West picked up the phone and dialed security, “Chuck, code postal room seven, stat!”

 

11:24 P.M.

 

Chuck burst into the room, breathing heavily, “What’s the problem Doc?” Chuck panted.

“We need restraints–this patient is becoming violent. I have to sedate him, but I need him under control.”

“Yes sir,” Chuck left faster than he came in.

Mr. Garcia screamed; his eyes were wide open and completely red, blood flowed from every orifice and he was soaked with sweat. He thrashed violently and knocked over the I.V. stand next to his bed. As it fell, it pulled the tube from his arm.  

Chuck returned with restraints in hand.

“Chuck, give me those. Put on a mask and gloves and hold this guy down, we’ve got to get him under control before he does any more harm to himself, or us.”

Chuck nodded and donned his protective gear. He grabbed Mr. Garcia’s arms and held them tightly to the gurney. The man thrashed and snapped at Chuck. “Hurry up Doc!” Mr. Garcia kicked and screamed like a madman, a wet gurgling noise accompanied the screams.

Once the restraints were in place, Chuck released his grip. He saw huge black bruises on the man’s arms where his hands had just been, they were oozing a yellow pus-like substance mixed with blood.

Doctor West ordered the nurses, “Atavan stat.” As Mr. Garcia continued to thrash in his restraints, the Doctor and Chuck held his arm while the nurse administered the sedative. Mr. Garcia slowed his thrashing, and became still. “Hook him back up and give him a Valium drip until we can figure out just what the hell is going on.” He left the room and returned to the nurse’s station. He punched up the emergency contacts and located the number for the CDC.

 

April 20, 2011-12:10 A.M.

 

Doctor West paged all night shift department heads to report to ER nurse station two. In seconds, beepers went off all over the hospital.

 

12:14 A.M.

 

Doctor West stood and calmly addressed the department heads, “For those of you not aware, we have a patient in isolation right now exhibiting symptoms of what may be viral hemorrhagic fever. We’re waiting on blood tests to verify this diagnosis. I’ve alerted the CDC and briefed them on our patient. They’ll be sending a team as soon as possible and have advised instituting level four protocols, which I have already done.” With this remark, the staff began to whisper to one another, shifting nervously on their feet. After a moment, Doctor West continued, “As of now, no one is to leave the hospital under any circumstances until the CDC team arrives and assesses the situation. All incoming patients will be redirected to Fairfield Hospital. Security has locked down all exits to the building. These are all precautionary measures. The CDC team should be here within two hours.” The murmuring began again as many member of the staff stared at Doctor West, many appeared to be in a near state of shock. Doctor Zimmerman began, “Doctor West, what are we supposed to…”

Doctor West interrupted, “Doctor Zimmerman, would you please report to ICU/Isolation and ensure our patient is receiving aggressive antibiotic treatment and sedation? I’ll join you there shortly. Nurse Hamilton, I would like you there as well. Everyone else please report back to your departments and quietly inform your staff, we don’t want to cause a panic among the patients.”

 

12:37 A.M.

 

Doctors Zimmerman and West stood by Mr. Garcia’s bed in the ICU/Isolation ward. Nurse Hamilton, on the other side of the bed shook her head in silence.

Doctor West spoke, “Time of death?”

Susan looked at her watch, “Just now. 12:37 A.M.”

Steve turned to Doctor West and asked, “How could he have died from a viral infection in what? Three hours? I don’t get it.”

Doctor West, shaking his head replied, “I don’t know, I’ve never even heard of a virus that kills this fast.”

Cheryl Chapman, one of the duty nurses knocked on the window and held a clipboard up, “I have the lab results.”

As Susan pulled the sheet over Mr. Garcia, Steve and Doctor West entered the adjoining negative flow scrub room, removed and disposed of their protective clothing, scrubbed up, and walked into the hallway.  

Doctor West took the clipboard from Cheryl and scrutinized the results. As his eyes moved back and forth across the paper, they grew wide. “No trace of viral or bacteriological infections in the blood? Are you sure you brought me the right labs?”

Cheryl nodded.

“We need answers, not more questions,” Steve said, a tremor in his voice.

Doctor West handed the clipboard to Cheryl, “OK. Stay calm. The normal screenings wouldn’t necessarily turn up something like this.” He looked up at her, “Please take new blood samples from Mr. Garcia and prep them for CDC. Since I’ve contacted them, they’ll be interested in the results. “

“Yes sir, I’ll get right on it,” Cheryl stepped into the scrub room.

Doctor West turned to Steve, “Call the morgue and get a team up here to help you transport him downstairs and get him prepared for an autopsy. Let’s hope the CDC has a pathologist with them. Remember, level four protocols—we can’t have this thing spreading,” Doctor West turned and headed down the hall.

 

12:41 A.M.

 

Steve donned his protective gear and entered the isolation room just as the Cheryl finished drawing blood.

With a disdainful glare at Cheryl he said, “Make sure you do it right this time.”

She tried to maintain a civil tone and was almost successful, “Yes Doctor Zimmerman, I’ll make sure it’s done correctly, again.” She placed the fresh vials of blood in the biohazard container, sealed it, and left the room.

Steve picked up the phone and dialed the extension for the morgue, “This is Doctor Zimmerman, I need a gurney and two men up in isolation. We have a subject in need of transport to autopsy.” After a short pause, “Just get up here, this is top priority.” He hung up. “Once, just once, I’d like to have people around me who are competent.” As he began to remove the patient’s restraints, the man twitched. Steve stepped back and watched the man for a few moments. He didn’t move again. Steve chalked it up to his imagination, and went back to removing the restraints. After freeing the patient’s arms, he turned and began on the leg straps. With his back turned on Mr. Garcia, Steve heard a low rasping moan. His heart skipped a beat at the noise, he heard moans like these before with deceased subjects, he quickly convinced himself it was simply a case of gas.

The man who had once been Mr. Garcia sprang upright in his bed, grabbing for the doctor. Steve turned on the spot, and barely escaped Garcia’s grasp. He clawed at Steve’s face as he fell forward, tearing through Steve’s protective mask and leaving three long scratches on his cheek. The man’s eyes were feral, there didn’t appear to be anything human left in them. He snarled and lunged at Steve again, his left leg still partially strapped, he toppled over the side. His leg twisted and broke with a wet snap and his head smashed into the tile floor, opening a gaping wound.

Garcia tried to rise, but still strapped to the table he kept falling. He lunged again at Steve and snapped like a wild dog. The leg strap gave way and he stood, unbalanced by the broken leg. Steve ran from the room screaming.

As he cleared the door, Steve slammed into the two men from the morgue knocking all three of them to the floor. The infected appeared in the doorway. Its eyes fixed on the men on the ground. It limped toward them, dragging its broken leg behind it. It dropped to its knees right on top of one of the orderlies and sank its teeth into the man’s bicep. The orderly shrieked and punched the infected’s head as it ripped away a large chunk of flesh. The other orderly sprang to his feet and grabbed the infected by the shoulders, pulling it away from the screaming man on the floor. The infected spun and sank its teeth into the orderly’s throat, savaging him, spattering blood on the walls and floor. He fell, choking as the infected continued to tear at him. His partner picked up a metal clipboard that had been on the gurney and smashed it into the infected’s head, tearing away a flap of the scalp and splattering blood on the wall; the infected turned and threw itself on him. Its teeth sank into the man’s neck.  He shrieked as blood flowed like a river down from the gaping wound and held his hand out to Steve, “Get this guy the hell off of me…” he gurgled and gasped, spraying blood with his last exhalation. Steve wind-milled backward as the now-dead orderly sat up and began to move toward his former partner. Panic-stricken, Steve spun and ran down the hallway, ignoring the man’s screams.

 

12:52 A.M.

 

Chuck stared out the ER lobby window at the scene unfolding in the parking lot. He counted as thirteen large army trucks pulled into the lot, from each of these, men in black suits and gas masks armed with rifles jumped out and took position around the front. With the new distraction of the armed soldiers, he lost count of the vehicles as they steadily flowed onto the access road and headed to the other side of the hospital. He went to the security desk and picked up the phone.

Doctor West listened as Chuck told him about the developing situation outside. Susan watched West intently.  This wouldn’t be good news, but then, it seemed tonight wasn’t about good news. West nodded a few more times and then spoke, “Thanks Chuck, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Doctor West hung up the phone, closed his eyes and lowered his head. The lines on his face seemed to deepen as he grimaced; he brushed his disheveled graying hair from his forehead with a sweaty hand and took a deep, slow breath. It seemed to Susan that he had aged ten years since the beginning of the shift.  

Susan leaned in close to Doctor West, “What’s going on? I’m guessing it isn’t good news.”

Doctor West glanced around and lowered his voice, “It appears our CDC ‘guests’ have arrived.”

“Isn’t that a good thing? It means help is here.”

“Apparently it isn’t just a team of doctors. From what Chuck said it’s a full military convoy–a small army. They’ve surrounded the hospital.” He shook his head and grasped the edge of the counter. “I thought I was scared before, but now I’m terrified. These people know something we don’t, something really bad.”

“Perhaps it’s just a precaution?”

“That’s what worries me the most Susan.” He shook his head again, as though trying to dislodge something. “I’m not sure I want to know what precautions like this could be for.”

She patted his shoulder, “I’m not sure I want to know either. But the way I see it, knowing is better than not knowing.”

Doctor West cracked a weak smile, “I hope you’re right Susan, I really do. Page Doctor Zimmerman and tell him our guests have arrived and I’d like him to join me here in ER. I’m heading outside to speak with them.”

“Of course Doctor West, right away.” Susan picked up the phone as Doctor West went to the front entrance.

 

12:54 A.M.

 

Steve huddled in the maintenance closet, terrified to make the slightest sound. In the hallway outside, chaos reigned. He could hear people screaming, furniture and glass breaking, and a constant low moaning punctuated by wet slurping noises. In the minutes since Garcia died and began to walk, most of the floor had become infected. All who died in the attacks got up almost immediately and began to kill. The situation had cascaded out of control. A loud crash–someone was flung against the door outside. The door shook in its frame as whoever it was kicked and thrashed against an attacker. Shrieks filled the air and a trickle of blood flowed underneath the door. Steve buried his head between his knees and said something he hoped resembled a prayer.

 

12:57 A.M.

 

Doctor West stood in the ER lobby and looked out the large glass windows into the parking lot. At least one hundred men stood, knelt, and crouched about fifty feet from the front entrance. They were all heavily armed and dressed in protective clothing. The officer in charge barked out orders and directed his troops to take position behind makeshift barriers they had constructed. Doctor West waved his arms over his head, trying to get the leader’s attention. The officer looked his way, but did not return the wave and didn’t acknowledge the doctor.

“This doesn’t look good, Chuck,” said Doctor West. Chuck nodded, too nervous to speak. A few of the nurses and other hospital staff had also come to the lobby. They murmured and shuffled around nervously.

Doctor West picked up a house phone. He dialed nine for an outside line but instead of the expected three beeps and a dial tone, it was silent. He hung up and tried again, twice with no better luck. He then dialed the extension for the nurses’ station. After two rings he heard Susan’s voice on the other end. “Station two,” she said.

“Just checking to see if the internal system is still working. I can’t seem to get an outside line. Would you try from there? I want to talk the CDC.”

“Just a moment,” Susan said. After a pause she was back, “I’m sorry Doctor West, I can’t seem to get an outside line either.”

Doctor West took his cell phone from his pocket, flipped it open and frowned at the screen, “How about your cell phone?”

“No service,” she replies.

“Thanks. Please call me at the security desk when Doctor Zimmerman gets there.”

“Will do,” Susan replied.

Doctor West turned to Chuck, who had his cell phone in his hand. He looked at Doctor West and shook his head.

“This keeps getting better and better. I’m going out there to talk to them.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea Doc? They don’t look sociable.”

“I’m just going to talk to them. Everything will be fine. Unlock that door for me, will you?”Chuck nodded, fumbled with his keys and unlocked the latches. “Doc? Be careful, huh? I don’t feel good about this.”

Doctor West placed a reassuring hand on Chuck’s shoulder, “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.”

He walked through the door and into the entry foyer of the hospital, wishing he felt as certain as his words. The moment he stepped outside, several bright lights flashed on and focused on him.

“Stop where you are, go back inside, now,” an amplified voice ordered. Against the bright lights, he couldn’t see the source. He saw dozens of red laser dots dancing on his chest as the soldiers aimed their rifles.

He raised his hands and said, “My name is Doctor West. I’m the senior member of the medical staff. I need to talk to whoever’s in charge.”

“Go back inside and stay there; the CDC team will be arriving shortly. You can speak with them when they do,” the voice responded.  

“But…,” Doctor West began.

“You have ten seconds to return to the building. This is your last warning. Ten . . . nine. . .”

An icy hand clutched Doctor West’s heart. Whatever this disease was, these people had no intention of letting it escape the confines of the hospital. He walked slowly backwards, his hands still raised in the air. After passing through the entrance door he turned, his eyes wide and sweat flowed freely down his face, “Chuck, lock up please,” he sighed and collapsed into one of the hard lobby chairs.

 

1:03 A.M.

In the cardio ward on four, a floor beneath the ICU/Isolation ward, Judy Michaels sat at the nurses’ station, completing paperwork on her patients. Sarah Turner, the other ward nurse walked up to the desk, “If I work too many more nights, my husband is going to get a girlfriend.”

Judy chuckled, “What do you mean going to? He’s a real catch.” She winked at Sarah.

“Ha ha, very funny.”

Someone slammed into the stairwell exit door and was now pounding on it, as if frantic to get in.

“What the hell was that?” Judy asked.

Sarah, shrugged, “Don’t know, better call security.” The pounding at the door continued. It was joined by more noise from the stairwell, as if several people were now banging at the door. They heard loud moans and grunts.

Judy dialed security. “Hello…Hello? Come on, pick up the damn phone… Chuck? We have a problem here in Cardio. Yeah. Several people are in the stairwell, pounding on the door and making a lot of noise. Can you send someone up?” As she listened to the guard’s response, the stairwell door sprang open and people came running out, some in hospital garb and others in patient gowns. Their eyes were red; most were covered with vicious wounds, as if they had been mauled by wild animals. One man’s throat was ripped open; another’s upper right arm was stripped down to the bone. Every one of them was covered in blood. Judy screamed and dropped the phone, staring at the infected, frozen to the spot. The infected zeroed in on the two nurses and charged them. Judy and Sarah screamed and tried to run, they were overtaken and torn to pieces. Eight of the infected walked away with an arm or a leg while the others tried to grab what they held. On the other end of the phone Chuck yelled, “Judy? Sarah? What’s happening? Judy!” Droning moans were the only answer.

Sarah’s head lay in the middle of the hall, her once beautiful face caked with her own blood. Her body had been torn to pieces and hauled away by the things that had killed her. Her eyes flicked open and began to scan the limits of her vision, looking for prey.

 

1:05 A.M.

 

Doctor West called Susan over to the desk. “Chuck just got a call from Cardio, something’s happened to the nurses there.”

Susan’s eyes widened and her jaw hung slack for a moment, unable to voice her feelings. “What the hell is going on here?”

“I don’t know. Alert the department heads to lock down their sections until we get this under control. Chuck and another guard are checking out the problem on four. Have you seen Doctor Zimmerman?”

“No,” Susan looked over her shoulder, “I haven’t seen him since we left ICU.”

 

1:10 A.M.

 

Chuck and Paul, the other night security guard, heard the pandemonium when they entered the stairwell. A few floors up, people screamed, furniture and equipment crashed against walls, glass shattered and rained to the floor. A nurse burst into the stairwell from the fifth floor, screaming. She ran down the stairs and tripped over her own feet. She tumbled down half the flight of steps and hit the landing. Chuck and Paul ran up the stairs. When they arrived on the landing, they saw her neck had been broken by the fall, and she had been covered in bite marks. Blood stained the white fabric of her uniform.  

They heard several more crashes and shrieks coming from the door. They peered around the door frame and saw perhaps a dozen people, covered in gore, running through the halls. Chuck recognized several of them as hospital employees. The rest had been patients. He saw the man he had restrained earlier in the evening. He looked nothing like the man Chuck had seen barely an hour ago. His face, hands and limbs were swollen, his leg was horribly twisted and broken and there wasn’t an inch of the man’s body that wasn’t covered with sores and blood. Chuck looked at Paul, put his finger to his lips and motioned to head back down the stairs. Paul nodded agreement and followed Chuck’s lead. This was too much for them to handle alone. They crept down the stairs as the screams and moans continued on the fourth floor. The door on the third floor landing burst open, several more of the infected poured into the stairwell. Chuck and Paul drew their batons, “Get back, I…I don’t want to use this,” Chuck stuttered as he brandished the weapon. The infected paid no attention to the warning and rushed forward. Chuck brought his baton down on the first one’s head, caving in the skull. Paul screamed as he swung his baton wildly, hitting anything that moved in his direction. The infected on the fourth and fifth floors heard the cacophony and rushed into the narrow stairwell, leaving the guards nowhere to run. Chuck swung his club again and again, cracking the skulls of the infected, dropping them to the ground. He heard Paul scream and turned, one of the infected had dragged him to the ground and others jumped on top of him and sank their teeth into his flesh. “Paul!” Chuck yelled. Although Paul was only five or six feet away, it might as well have been miles. In the second it took for Chuck to turn and start for Paul, the infected had dragged Chuck to the ground as well.

 

1:25 A.M.

 

Panicked phone calls had been pouring in to the nurses’ station for the last few minutes. People on every floor reported the same thing, infected attacking and killing everyone in their way. Doctor West and the other staff pushed desks, chairs and equipment in front of the stairwell doors in an attempt to barricade it. One of the infected reached its hand through the narrow opening of the closing door just as Doctor West was pushing a desk up against it. He managed to shove it back into the stairwell and secure the door before more arrived. The infected pounded on the stairwell door, trying to get in. There were dozens of them, moaning and pounding against the door. Doctor West turned to Susan and the two other nurses from the ER, “I have to go outside and try to get help.”

“They’ll shoot you on sight!” Susan protested.

“What choice do we have? We’ve got to do something.”

The nurses hesitated for a moment and Susan gave Doctor West a silent nod.

“Ok, follow me, move!”

They ran to the lobby. The spotlights shining in from outside were blinding.  

“Get behind the security desk.” Doctor West panted as he ran for the front door. The doors didn’t move when he came near. They were locked. He pounded on the glass in terror and frustration, “Chuck’s got the damn keys!”

He picked up one of the hard wooden chairs from the lobby and slammed it into the glass; it cracked, but didn’t break. He slammed the chair into it again and again making a little more progress with each blow, small pieces of the chair splintering away each time. On the sixth try, the glass gave way and came free from the frame. He used the chair to push the glass out, dropped it and ran outside waving his arms frantically.  

“Stop where you are and return to the building, this is your only warning. Repeat. Stop where you are and return to the building,” the voice boomed through a loudspeaker.

Doctor West continued to run; he waved franticly in the air, “Wait! Help us! Help us,  damn you, something is loose in there and…” The chatter of automatic weapons fire filled the air, blood, tissue and bone erupted from Doctor West. He fell to the ground, dead before he landed.

Susan held her hands over her ears and screamed. She screamed so loud and so long that her throat seemed to catch fire. The other two nurses with her did the same. In a moment of silence, Susan heard the barricade in front of the stairwell give way, the sound of running feet filled the hallway leading to the lobby. They had broken through. Susan grabbed the hands of the other two nurses and ran to the restroom; she dragged them in with her. They slammed the door. Susan locked it and prayed it would hold. She pushed the two others into a stall and followed them. She locked it. They were all sobbing and gulping air. Susan deliberately slowed her breathing. “Quiet,” she said firmly. “If they don’t hear us, they may forget we’re here.” The pounding continued on the door. She heard shrieks, moans, and growls as the infected swarmed into the lobby. Suddenly the pounding stopped, even though the moaning was just as loud. It was getting softer by the moment.

 

1:37 A.M.

 

The infected closest to the ER door ran through it and into the parking lot. Others followed closely. As they ran, the soldiers opened fire, hundreds of bullets ripped through the infected, tearing them to shreds. Pieces of them flew through the air, hitting the building and sidewalk like confetti at a parade. The gunfire continued and infected were ripped apart. Then, as quickly as it started, the gunfire stopped. Dozens of bodies lay on the ground, covered with bullet holes, other injuries and blood. Two soldiers with canisters that looked like fire extinguishers moved in and sprayed the entire area.

 

Epilogue

 

2:30 A.M.

 

The sound of sporadic gunfire echoed through the hospital as the soldiers conducted clean and sweep operations for any remaining infected. The team of doctors from the CDC arrived and were debriefing and examining the nurses. Susan sat in the lobby, waiting for her turn.

A large man sat down in front of Susan, he wore the same black protective clothing as the other soldiers. “We’re going to need you to answer a few questions about tonight. After our doctors finish, please report back to me. My name is Colonel Ortiz. My men will know where to find me.” Without waiting for a response, he went back outside.

As she sat for a moment, breathing deeply after her encounter she felt a tear trickle down her cheek. She heard the sobs of a child and saw a small boy huddled in the corner under a green army blanket. She wiped away the tear with the back of her hand and went to sit beside him. Susan put her hand on his shoulder and said, “Hello, my name is Susan. What’s yours?”

 

2:33 A.M.

 

The soldiers of second platoon cleared out the fourth floor. They checked each room for infected. Most of the stragglers had already been put down, but their orders were to sweep and clear the entire hospital.

The platoon sergeant led his men down the corridor past the isolation rooms. They checked each room before securing the door and moving to the next. They turned the corner and saw a body lying in the hallway outside a door marked “Maintenance”. The sergeant ordered two squad members to check the body out. One soldier kept his weapon trained on the body as the other used his foot to turn it over. The solider closest to the body retched and vomit splattered the inside of the mask, covering the lenses The body had been torn open, entrails splattered onto the floor, there were bite marks all over the body and its head had been crushed. “Get another body bag over here. Extreme caution with this one, he’s not exactly in good shape,” the sergeant ordered. Two more members of his team came and dragged the body away from the door. The sergeant heard a thump from inside the closet, he held up his hand, signaling his men to be quiet. He motioned for two of his men to take positions on opposite sides of the door. Once they were in place, he held up three fingers counting down. Once the count hit zero, the men threw the door open as the rest took aim. A man in a white lab coat was sprawled on the floor. His name badge read ‘Dr. S. Zimmerman M.D.’, the man was soaked with the blood that had poured under the door, and his face sported three long, deep scratches. His eyes, nose, and ears were bleeding. The sergeant raised his weapon and covered the Doctor. “Medic, give me a sit rep, now.”

The medic rushed into the closet and inserted a small probe into the man’s ear. It beeped and turned bright red after several seconds.

“Infected. Stage three.”

“Get a gurney over here,” the sergeant ordered. “Get this man strapped down and get him outta here. The Colonel wants a subject. Looks like this poor bastard just volunteered.”

Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s horror stories, ghost stories, monster stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre dark fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. 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 authors.

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Deadman’s Tome LIVE 10PM (central time)

Join Mr.Deadman, writers, and other guests as they share stories and generally have a good time. Tonight, you’ll meet Corey Niles (Beached), and hopefully Mike Mitchell (When The Engineer Knocks). Why would you want to meet these two guys? Well, their stories were featured on this site this week, and I’m sure they would love to talk about them.

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When The Engineer Knocks by Mike Mitchell

 

The room was cold and sterile, white from floor to ceiling, a small table and two chairs decorating the center, leaving taste and décor at the door. On the far side, a man sat, meek and unseeming. His arms and legs were shackled, his head hung low. Hair drooped across his face, concealing his eyes.

Dr. Taryn Humbolt stood at the door, flanked on either side by orderlies dressed in white. She sighed and looked at the case file. Pictures of carnage, full of blood and bodies stared back at her. In her other hand, a portable CD player and a case filled with CD’s. She nodded to the nearest orderly, who pulled out a huge ring of keys. He selected one and inserted it into the key hole. The lock opened with a click and he swung the door wide, pocketing the ring and pulling out a canister of mace.

Dr. Humbolt stepped in, placed her belongings on the table and nodded.

“We’ll be right outside. He’s harmless, hasn’t said a word since he got here so you shouldn’t have any problems, physically anyway. If you need us, just tap on the door”, the orderly said, closing the door behind him.

She looked at the man across from her, his head hung low, unresponsive.

“My name is Dr. Taryn Humbolt, but feel free to call me Taryn. I’m the resident psychiatrist here. I would like to talk to you if I may.”

The man didn’t move, didn’t speak.

“I specialize in multiple personality disorders. I find that music helps patients talk, makes them more comfortable,” she motioned to the CD player on the table. “Would you like to talk”, she asked.

The man didn’t move.

“I want to help you, I want to understand.”

Silence.

She reached into her bag and pulled out a CD, placing it in the player. She hit the play button and the sound of Bizet wafted from the speakers. She waited, staring at the man, looking for any reaction. He shifted slightly in his seat.

“I’ve read your file. Can you tell me what happened the night they found you?”

The man moved his head up slightly, his eyes locking onto Dr. Humbolt.

“You can talk to me. I’m here to help.”

She stared at him for what seemed like an eternity.

His lips parted with a raspy intake of air.

“What do you believe in, Dr.?” the man asked.

“I don’t understand”, she replied.

“Heaven…. Hell… do you believe in these things, Doctor? Do you believe in the pure innocence of man? Do you believe that God has a heavenly design for us all? What are your religious beliefs?”

“I was raised Catholic.”

The man smiled widely. “That’s not what I asked. I asked what you believe.”

“I… I don’t know. I want to talk about you, not me.”

The man chuckled softly. He brought his face up to meet hers and she gasped.

“If you want to talk about me, about what I’ve done, you have to believe in something. You have to believe that there is evil, and thusly good. Life is a dichotomy, Doctor. If you believe in one, the other must exist, correct?”

“I guess I believe that man can be what he chooses, good or evil. You have a choice. We all have that choice.”

He threw his head back and laughed, oddly filling the room with sound. She shuddered at the coldness of his laugh.

“You’re a naive fool. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in evil, it believes in you.”

“Can you tell me about the night they found you?”

The man licked his lips

“I can still smell their blood. I can smell yours, just waiting to be spilled. Oh, don’t worry; I have no desire to kill you. You’re innocent… so far anyway. Tell me doctor, have you ever lost anyone? Have you ever known loss, known despair so consuming that you’ve wanted nothing more than to die just to escape it? Have you ever cried so hard that you would do anything to stop, but you simply can’t, so consumed that you would sell your soul to escape your pain?”

“No… no I haven’t thankfully.” she said softly.

The man stood with such speed, she jumped back, terrified at the unnatural movement, Smacking the CD player to the ground, shattering it

“Then how do you expect to understand me” he yelled, his eyes locking onto hers. “How do you think to ever understand me? You think you can come in here and play your silly music and unlock the secrets of evil so dark that science can’t stand to admit that it exists?”

The orderlies rushed into the room, mace and a needle filled with some kind of cocktail at the ready. She raised her hand, stopping their advance.

“I’m alright. Wait for me outside”

The orderlies eyed the man, and then Dr. Humbolt. She nodded that everything was okay.

The orderlies stood a moment, then turned and walked back outside, closing the door again behind them.

She turned back to the man seeing his eyes were full of tears.

“I didn’t want this, no one could want this” he said through the tears and gritted teeth.

“Want what? Talk to me, help me understand.”

“I loved him. Jake… I loved him so much and they took him from me. I wanted them to pay, but hate only breeds hate. Tonight I will die, the piper paid his due. I did it all for him”

“Why don’t you start at the beginning?”

Tears streaked down the man’s face. He looked at her and took a breath and began to speak.

* * *

They were covered in sweat, dancing, drinking and now the humid night combined would make anyone a little moist. It wasn’t a long walk back to their apartment from Zim’Mars, the local gay hangout, though it was on the seedier side of Terre Haute, if a town that small had a seedier side to speak of. Jake’s legs were rubbery and he held on to Eric’s hand for support. Eric didn’t drink, but that didn’t stop Jake.

“Jesus I needed that”, Eric said.

“You and me both” Jake said, looking at Eric, leaning over to kiss him lightly. “Let’s get home, I need something else”.

“You’re such a slut when you drink”, Eric said smiling.

“Ya well, I don’t hear you complaining”.

“Why do you think I let you drink”?

“A-HA!” Jake let go of Eric’s hand and pointed. “I knew you were just using me for my body”, he said slurring his words. Jake took a step and stumbled and fell to the ground, laughing.

“Jesus boy, you can’t even walk”, Eric leaned in to give Jake and hand up, and Jake pulled him down on top of, kissing him. Eric rolled off.

“I don’t think this is the place to be having a make out session”.

“It’s dark, and no one’s around…. come on, gives it an edge of danger”, he said, trying to kiss Eric again.

“Nope, no sir. Let’s get home”.

“Fuddy duddy”, said Jake, stumbling back to his feet, wobbly and woozy.

“Ya ya, you’ll say that later”.

Eric heard the footsteps before he saw the man, walking up behind them.

“Hey, you guys okay?” the voice asked.

“Ya, were fine”, Eric said.

“Hey, didn’t I see you guys in the bar a little bit ago?”

“Sure did big boy” Jake said and laughed at himself.

“Can I…. Can I give you guys a lift home, your friend looks like he can’t walk. My car is just over there”, he said, pointing at the parking lot.

“No, thank you. We just live a few blocks over”.

“Aww come on, Eric. Let him give us a ride” Jake said humping the air.

“No” Eric said, looking at Jake. “Were fine, but thanks”, he said towards the man.

“No problem”, said the man. “But uhm, while we’re here, why don’t you go ahead and give me your wallets”.

“What?” asked Eric.

The man pulled out a gun and aimed it at Eric’s head. “Your wallets, give them to me”.

“Whoa man, hold on, now. Just take it easy.”

“Just give me your fucking wallet, faggots!” the man shouted.

Eric reached down and threw his wallet at the man. “Jake, give him your wallet”.

“NO! No, fuck him,” Jake yelled. “Fuck you asshole!” Jake grabbed at the gun, drunkenly, struggling with the man. The man kicked, knocking Jake to the ground. He heard the shot, but felt nothing at first. The man looked at Jake then back up at Eric, almost shocked, blood whelling up on Jake’s shirt.

“YOU SON OF A BITCH!” Eric shouted, jumping at the man. The man shot again, catching Eric in the shoulder, spinning him to the ground. The last thing Eric saw was the man running into the darkness, the sound of sirens blaring in the distance.

* * *

The doctors said that Eric’s wound was superficial, a bandage and a few stitches after removing the bullet and he was sent on his way. Jake, on the other hand…

Eric sat alone in his apartment, a picture of Jake and himself in his hand, his face soaked with tears. Three weeks have passed since the funeral and the pain hadn’t dulled. Eric reached for the bottle of whiskey at his side and took another drink, drunk having been reached a few drinks ago. He stood and paced the small apartment for the hundredth time, trying to shake the thoughts in his head. He sat back down at the desk and picked up his pen. It had taken hours, but he finally put the last few words on his letter, his last letter. He folded it up and placed it in his pocket, sure that it would be found when the cops arrived to take away his husk. Suddenly a strange thought passed through his head and Eric changed his underwear. Don’t want to let the cops find him in dirty underwear after all. Eric giggled at his final act of humor. At least his mom could be proud of that much.

Eric sat on the bed again and took another drink, bracing himself for the deed. He picked up the gun and looked at it, checked that there were bullets in the chamber, and placed the gun against his temple. Tears poured down his face as his hand began to shake. Eric squinted his eyes, tightened his grip and took a deep breath, steeling himself against the impact.

The sound of the doorbell jolted Eric back. He stopped and lowered the gun, looking at it. The doorbell rang again. Eric looked up and threw the gun to the floor, picked up the bottle and stumbled towards the door. He took another drink and looked through the peephole. A smallish man stood on the other side, ghostly white hair slicked back to his skull and a dark suit and tie that hung of his small frame like robes on a skeleton… Eric unlatched the door lock and opened the door.

“What”, Eric slurred.

“Eric Parker?” the man asked.

“Who are you?”

“I have many names, Mr. Parker. Most, however, simply call me The Engineer. May I come in; I have a proposal to discuss with you.”

Eric stood back and waved him in, closing the door behind him.

“Drink?” asked Eric, waving the bottle at him, plopping himself down in a kitchen chair.

“Thank you, no. Mr. Parker, it seems to me that you are not in the best possible shape at the moment.”

“Well that’s fucking obvious, don’t you think?”

“Perhaps I can rectify that situation for you, Mr. Parker. I read about your lover, my condolences to you. Have they found those that committed the deed?”

“Fuck the police. Those bastards aren’t even looking. What’s one less fag in the world? No one fucking cares about Jake.”

“I care, Mr. Parker.” The Engineer walked around the room, taking in the smallness. “You know, Mr. Parker, suicide is an easy thing to do. A quick pressure and a moment suspended in eternity before oblivion. Tell me, Mr. Parker, does your god frown on suicide?”

“God? You want to talk to me about God? Would God have let Jake be murdered because of what I did? There is no God, there is no good, no evil. No one is fucking watching out for us, hoping we do better. I got Jake killed, plain and simple.”

“You didn’t get your lover killed, Mr. Parker. Those thugs killed Jake, and what are the authorities doing about it? Nothing. That is where I come in, Mr. Parker.”

“Just get the fuck out.”

“What if I told you that I can help you get the revenge you seek? The justice that you’re beloved Jake deserves.”

“I said get the fuck out, Now!”

“All you have to do is ask of me, the power will be yours. The power to exact your vengeance, to find your justice, to take from these people what was taken from you.”

“Fuck you,” Eric said and swung his fist madly. The Engineer caught his fist, wrenching it behind him, dropping Eric to his knees.

“This rage, this pain”, said The Engineer, leaning in close to Eric’s ear, “This will be your weapon. You will be my instrument of fear, reaping the souls of those who have wronged you, rending the flesh of your tormentors and feasting on the hearts of the very people you destroy.”

He released Eric, stepping back. Eric grabbed his arm, cradling it, staring at the man hovering over him.

“Who the fuck are you, man?”

“I am your doorway to a new life, a second lease. Do you understand what I am offering you? A chance to be above the law, the laws of both man and God. All that I ask in return is your immortal soul. A small price to ask a man that has nothing, that was willing to throw eternity away in suicide.” The Engineer reached out with his hand, as if to pluck something from nothing. His hand started to glow and erupted in flame. Eric shielded his eyes and when he looked back a piece of parchment was in his hand.

“A small contract, standard for this sort of thing, you see.” The Engineer reached down and grabbed Eric’s hand, pulling Eric to his feet. “Sign the contract and the power will be yours!” The Engineer pulled out a small knife and pricked Eric’s finger, drawing a bead of blood and handed him the contract. The Engineer licked the tip of the blade and rolled the taste of blood across his tongue. Eric looked down at the contract, written in Latin, placing his finger on the parchment, smearing his name across the bottom in crimson.

“Wonderful!” cried The Engineer, grabbing the contract and placing it in his jacket. “Know here there will come a time that you will regret this dealing Eric Parker, and know at that time, you will be mine. For now, however…” he reached again into his jacket and revealed a long yellow gem that glowed with a power of its own, bathing the room in a yellow glow.

“What… what is that” Eric said softly.

“Nib’shugoth.  A demon contained in this stone,” The Engineer said before he plunged the stone deep into Eric’s chest, piercing his heart. Eric felt heat burn through his veins as he grasped at the stone, trying to pull it free from his chest frantically. Eric screamed and dropped to the floor, writhing…

“The deal is struck; you are the new vessel of Nib’shugoth, the Old One. The gateway to hatred and vengeance is unleashed in you, Mr. Parker. I will call upon you to serve me in time, but for now, go and reap your vengeance young one. Let this world know hatred in its purest of forms!” and with that The Engineer left Eric to his pain.

* * *

Eric woke a few hours later and promptly retched the contents of his stomach across the kitchen tile, thankfully it was mostly liquid. Eric felt his chest where that Engineer guy shoved the stone. No marks, no blood, but a huge knot where there should be a gaping hole. Eric stood and grabbed a glass of water, letting it slide down, trying to cool the burning inside his chest. Eric grabbed his shoes and coat. Maybe a walk would do him some good, clear his head,

Forty five minutes and two miles later, Eric was still confused about what happened. Who was that Engineer guy, and why was he still alive after what happened. The streets were dark, the occasional car could be heard, and the random siren of emergency response heading somewhere else they were needed. Eric pulled out a cigarette and inhaled the smoke deeply. Jake always wanted him to quit, but he always said a man needs a vice. The light from the street lamp accentuated the smoke plume as it rose. Eric didn’t even notice the smell. The familiar smell of tragedy, of anger and hate. The smell of the two men that killed Jake. Eric sniffed, looking around, feeling weird. The smell lead somewhere, and every instinct in Eric’s body yelled at him to track it. He dropped to the concrete, sniffing the ground. The smell flooded his sense and blinded him in rage, feeling it build up inside him as he sniffed, losing control of his emotions.

Eric began to run in the direction of the smell, a pain burning in his legs. Eric stumbled and looked down, seeing his pants rip as his legs boiled and changed.

“What the…” Eric yelled into the night air, the rest of sentence cut off as pain shot through his body, emanating from his heart. Eric continued following the scent as his body rippled and changed, driven in a way that he shouldn’t be able to maintain under such pain. His head was pounding. He barely heard the tap of his teeth falling out, replaced with needle points of fangs. All he knew was pain and the urge to follow the smell, never noticing his hands changing, claws burrowing out from under his muscle and flesh. He never heard the plop of his flesh dropping to the ground. Follow the smell. Kill. Kill. Revenge. His muscles continued to ripple and change, forming scales. Rip. Tear. Follow. Hate.

“KILL!” Eric yelled into the night, now changed into something unimaginable, something not human, his voice deep and almost unrecognizable as human.

Eric stood before a door to a trash heap home in the back streets of the town. Nothing lived near here but ex-cons, registered child molesters and drug dealers. He reached up with a huge hand, covered in scales, claws and muscle and brought himself down on the door, splintering the wood. He could hear screams from the inside, taste the fear that flowed like a river through the frame of the house.  Again he rammed the door with his fist, this time taking it from its hinges and shattering it on the ground. Eric stepped through and looked around at the squalor. He heard the click of the hammer striking the bullet before he felt anything slam itself into his chest. He looked up as one of the two men who killed Jake stared at him in awe.

“What the fuck are you”, the man mumbled and fired off several more rounds, each landing home, none having any effect. The rage and hatred welled up in Eric, who snarled, baring rows of needle like teeth.

“Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck”, the man chanted and turned to run. Eric launched himself at the man, landing on his back, tackling him to the ground. Eric bit down, hard, shredding the flesh in the man’s shoulder, feeling blood flow across his chin. Eric stood, pulling the man up, turning to face him. Holding him by the neck with one arm, Eric threw him against the wall, placing his free hand against the man rib cage. The man pleaded, begged for his life. RIP. KILL. He pushed his claws, slowly into the man’s ribcage, feeling the bone shatter and splinter against the pressure. Eric felt the beating, slowing, and grabbed, removing the man’s heart. HUNGER. EAT. Eric bit down on the organ in his hands, the muscle tearing easily into his maw.

“What in God’s name…” A voice from behind him caught Eric’s attention. He turned, dropping the first man lifelessly to the floor. He turned and snarled, spitting blood and gore at the second man.

“Fuck this,” and the man ran down the hall, slamming a door behind him. The door was easy to remove from the wall. A bedroom was on the opposite side of what used to be a door; a woman was sitting on the bed, with the second man protecting her. Eric lunged, the woman rolling off the bed, and pinned the second man to the mattress. Eric studied his face. TEAR. KILL. RIP. FEED. Fear feeding his hatred and bloodlust. The man pounded on the side of Eric’s now changed head. Eric grabbed his arm, mid swing and tore off the man’s hand, blood shooting out of the stump. The man screamed in pain, grabbing at his arm, cradling it.

The woman stood and jumped on Eric, trying to pull him away from her lover. Eric stood, throwing the man across the room in a heap against the nightstand and turned on the woman, grabbing her and pulling her close. Eric grabbed a claw full of hair and pulled her neck back and bit down, chewing again and again, tasting her, until her head pulled away in a snap of bone and torn muscle. He threw the head back against a closet. The door bounced open revealing a car seat with a baby crying, strapped in, and sitting on the floor.

“My my my, you are an effective young demon, aren’t you”, The Engineer said, clapping his hands in the doorway to the bedroom. Eric spun around, hunching down on the floor, ready to strike again.

“You”, Eric growled.

“Now now,” The Engineer raised a finger, “We can’t have you attacking your creator.”

Eric struggled to stand. KILL. KILL. FEED. OBEY

“I’ve been in this business, since, well, forever, quite literally, and I have never seen someone give in to the hate quite like you did. I must applaud you. How does it feel, is the hole inside your heart plugged now that these two have gotten what they deserved?”

“I’ll kill you and eat your heart for doing this to me” Eric growled at The Engineer.

“Yes, I bet you will. But now, to collect what is mine”, said The Engineer, stretching out his hands. Lights rose up and out of the bodies of the three that Eric had killed, the sounds of children’s voices wafting through the room, screaming in terror, as the lights circled the room and was absorbed by The Engineer’s hand. “Souls, Mr. Parker. Their souls are mine, just like the souls of everyone that you kill, and kill you will. But first, I hear something… delicious.”

The Engineer walked to the closet and picked up the small child. He held it like a parent, cooing at its face as the baby screamed in fear. The Engineer walked over to Eric, stuck to the ground crouching.

“Darling, isn’t she. Fresh, pure, no sin. The soul of a small child… “he said, kissing his fingers, making a delicious gesture.”There is power in souls like these.” He set the child on the floor in front of Eric, offering it up like a sacrifice, which is pretty much what it was to be. “Smell it, so soft, so pink. All you have to do is eat, feed, and we will both get a taste.”

Eric stared at the small child, its flesh so soft, and such easy prey. His mouth watered for its flesh, drool falling onto the babies’ face and neck.

“Eat, my vassal.” The Engineer goaded.

Eric studied the child, its small arms and legs flailing wildly. He lowered his head and licked the baby with a giant, slimy gray tongue.  The taste flooded his head. He bit down, the baby screamed, The Engineer laughed, Light flooding the room again as the child’s soul was lifted from its bloodied body as Eric continued to feast. The Engineer crouched down and placed his hand on Eric’s head, cold filling his body as it began to quiver and bubble again.

“Sleep now, my pet. When I call again, we will both feast on countless sinful souls.”

The pain overcame Eric, blackening out.

* * *

“And that’s where your file should pick up, with me naked and covered in blood.” Eric trailed off.

“Mr. Parker, Eric, that’s an, well, an interesting story.”

“I told you” KILL. “You don’t know evil, Doctor.” RIP.

“You said yourself that you had been drinking and near suicide. Your mind may be making things up to absolve yourself of guilt over killing the child.”

Eric winced, pain shooting through his chest. He grabbed at his heart and fell to his knees.

“Orderly! ORDERLY!” Yelled Dr. Humboldt. “He’s having a heart attack!’

The orderlies rushed the room, grabbing Eric. Eric swung wide, knocking them both back, into the wall.

“Get away! Gethefuckaway!” Eric said as he began to change. The Engineers words filling his head. KILL. RIP. TEAR. FEED. And Eric understood, The Engineer wanted him here, to feed, to kill the killers, the molesters, the sinners. The last thing Eric knew before his humanity slipped away, giving to the bloodlust, was the laughter of The Engineer and the smell of flesh, ripe and bloated, and oh so tasty.