BE SURE TO VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE. AND COMMENT AT THE END. FOR THIS ROUND KT JAYNE IS GIVING AWAY AN E-COPY OF HER STORY “PUSH BUTTON, GET BACON” FROM THE ANTHOLOGY DEAD SOULS I’M GIVING AWAY A COPY OF MY COLLECTION, THESE OLD TALES (WINNERS CHOICE OF EBOOK OR AUDIOBOOK) FOR AARON BESSON. YOU HAVE TO COMMENT TO WIN. VOTING AND COMMENTING CLOSE WHEN THE NEXT ROUND BEGINS.
THE USEFUL TOOL
A wire brush is a useful tool in the zombie apocalypse. When things went to shit, I didn’t know what would be helpful. I pretty much just did a sweep of my workbench into my tool bag, grabbed a shovel and ran like hell. There’s lots of things in that tool bag that I’ve used. Hammer, wrench, pliers, flashlight. But none of them has been used as much as that wire brush. Not even the shovel. That’s a great zombie killing tool. Gotta separate the head from the spinal column after all.
So, here I was. Barely able to catch my breath, leaning against a very heavy wooden door with zombies clawing at the opposite side. I could hear them. Rasping and scraping. Sniffing. What the fuck do they sniff for? I have no idea what the hell that’s about, but whenever they get close to live people, they start sniffing. Maybe they can smell us thinking. I found that stirring up some dust with my handy wire brush throws them off the scent, though. They sneeze and it’s like their systems freeze up.
The wooden door was starting to bow inward. I didn’t know how long I had, but I suspected that it wouldn’t be long before those fuckers would swarm through the door and beehive me like four year olds on a soccer ball. I looked around the room. It was the back storage room of a bar. On the wall opposite me was another door that I figured led to an alley. All back doors in bars lead to alleys, don’t they? I also figured there would be a dumpster out there. It was a long shot, but a plan was starting to formulate and it would require me moving quickly and being right about the alley and the dumpster.
Taking a deep breath, I mustered what was left of my strength and dashed across the room, bursting through the door. It was dark on the other side. I cursed myself for not thinking to grab my flashlight before I rushed out. I’d been in the bar for several hours sleeping in a booth before the zombies had found me, so I knew in my head somewhere that it would be dark. I stopped and waited for my eyes to adjust. A streetlight glowed dimly at the end of the alley and I saw that there was indeed a dumpster. Glancing back, I saw that the wooden door I’d just left was starting to crack. No choice but to crawl into the dumpster and hope that they shamble past.
Seconds later, I was hunkered in the bottom of the dumpster, lid shut and trying not to throw up the last meal I’d had. I heard the door give and crash to the ground. Zombies hit the alley and they knocked against the dumpster. I knew they weren’t smart enough to lift the lid, so I waited. There was no telling how long it would take them to get bored and go away. I pulled some cardboard over my head and said some prayers to hurry them along.
I checked my watch again and again. An hour crawled by at a snail’s pace. My legs were tingling with pins and needles so I shifted. A sharp pain ran up the side of my calf and I aimed the flashlight down. Pulling my jeans up, revealed a thick dark red line running down to my sock. Digging around in my backpack yielded a box of wipes and a first aid kit. I spent a few minutes cleaning the jagged cut on my leg and digging glass out of it. I put a band-aid on it and then edged over to the slime covered wall of the dumpster. Out came the wire brush and I used it to clear a small circle to listen. An occasional thump met my ears, telling me the zombies were still outside.
One thing about zombies. They are very fucking patient. It’s not like they have anything else to do. They will mill mindlessly around for hours. Waiting. I needed a plan and nothing was jumping out at me. I moved myself so that I could take inventory of my belongings once more. There had to be some way to get out of this situation and I hoped that the inventory would give me some stroke of inspiration.
Tool bag, toiletry bag, flashlight, first aid kit, notebook, pen, extra change of clothes, ipod, jacket, and of course, the wire brush. It didn’t look like much, but it had gotten me a month into the apocalypse. I expected it to get me through the rest. I rubbed my eyes. I could starve to death trying to out wait the zombies. I’d seen it happen.
Planting my feet on the floor of the dumpster, I rose slowly, lifting the plastic lid just enough to allow me a narrow view of the world outside. Two zombies shuffled around the dumpster in full satellite mode. Dropping back down, I reached for the small bag with my minimal self-care items. I opened the dental floss container and tied the end to my wire brush. My plan was to throw the brush as far down the alley as I could. I was hopeful that this would distract the zombies and send them on a wild goose chase away from me. In theory, the plan was a beautiful nugget that worked perfectly. In execution, the plan was clumsy, but mostly effective.
The clattering of the wire brush on the pavement toward the mouth of the alley did distract the zombies and draw them away from me. I didn’t plan on one of the zombies grabbing the wire brush and yanking. The dental floss snapped and my wire brush started to move out of my sight. I didn’t think. Grabbing up my stuff and shoving it back into the backpack, I clambered over the dumpster wall and dropped to the ground. I moved forward until the two zombies were in my vision again. The female zombie sat down on the sidewalk and turned the wire brush over and over in her hands as if trying to remember what such a thing might be used for. A glimmer of recognition went across her face and she lifted the brush to her head, using it to comb through her knotted hair. She dragged it through the snarls pulling hair and small pieces of scalp with each tug. I usually used my wire brush for cleaning, I didn’t have to wash it very often.
I watched in horror as the female zombie continued to comb until all of her hair and most of her scalp were gone. Reaching back, I released the shovel and gripped it firmly. I tiptoed toward the pair, pulling my arms back so that I got a good deal of force behind it. I aimed for the man first. His head flew to the side and hung at an odd angle, staring at me accusingly. I then shifted my attention back to the girl who was still combing her hair with my wire brush. I lifted the shovel once more and swung toward the female. Her head made a satisfying crunch and her entire body fell over. The wire brush fell out of her hand and I reached to pick it up.
As I bent, I heard footsteps coming toward me. I looked between my legs to see two small boys, both under six heading straight toward me and looking ravenous. I picked up the brush and slowly straightened to strike these two creatures out as well. I turned toward them, pulling the shovel into position only to find the zombie boy running to me with his head down. I swung, hitting him square on the back of the head. He fell face first and I rammed the shovel down through his neck until his head rolled away. A low moan came to me and then a thump landed on my back. Before I could think, I lifed the brush and rapped the zombie on the head. That only stunned him, so I smacked the hands that were around my neck on the knuckles. This had a better effect and the zombie fell away from me for just long enough for me to whirl around to face him. He proved to be too quick again and barreled at me, teeth bared, poised to bite. I instinctively raised my arms with my wire brush still in hand. The zombie bit it and then yanked hard. I fell backwards and the wire brush flew above our heads only to land back into the alley.
“Damn it, that’s the best tool I have.”
I lifted the shovel and swung it furiously from side to side. It didn’t matter who or what I hit, just as long as I connected. This zombie leapt backwards with the momentum and hit the brick wall of the building hard, sliding down. No more zombies awaited me in the alley. I walked down into the alley, scanning the ground, looking for my brush. When I found it, the handle had gotten lodged in a man’s skull up to the hilt. He lay on his back, looking up at me pathetically. I stepped on his head, and pulled on my brush until it was free in the palm of my hand.
Yep, you just didn’t know what would be helpful in the zombie apocalypse, but it didn’t hurt to have a wire brush.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Do you know what to do in case of zombie apocalypse? How about when surrounded by a mad horde of Doctor Who fangirls? What if the Mothman invades your town? What if aliens land and start shooting up the place? Lucky for you that you have met KT Jayne. She knows exactly what to do if any of these things happen. She should, she’s spent her entire life obsessing about all these “what ifs” and more. Lucky for you, too, she has Asperger’s and with her out of the box thinking and whiz kid know how, she might just save your skin. Or your soul. Grab your shovel of death and prepare to face whatever form the apocalypse will take. Or just stand behind her. She’ll figure it out. No matter how the apocalypse manifests, KT Jayne does not die at the end.
KT Jayne lives in a small town of central Indiana with her husband.
A FIELD WELL TENDED
We’re gonna need to be getting’ ready now. The blood moon rose an hour or so ago, so things’ve gotta go just right or it all ain’t worth nothin’, probably even worse than that. Gramma practically beat that into me when I was first learnin’. They’re real particular about the ways. I wish there was another way to do it all, because this all seems like a lot more trouble than it’s gotta be, I’m sure you agree.
After Momma and Poppa died, Gramma was the only kin to take me in. What other kin I got never really were around, so no great loss there. Gramma made things real clear day one when I got here. She kept the ways right and proper, and tarnation if I wasn’t gonna as well. Seems like a lot for a young girl to take on, right? I gotta say I took to it pretty quickly, quicker than a body would think. Gramma said it was my knack, just like she had. After she died there were a few hiccups in my performin’ the ways, and They don’t really cotton to mistakes, but they gave me a second chance. You gotta appreciate that, all things considered.
The ways were almost fun at first. There was the dress up and the fixins that They insist upon. I thought it was all like playin’ weird tea party at first, but Gramma quickly knocked that idea outta my noggin. “They don’t play.” Gramma scolded me. When I first met them…boy howdy, she weren’t kiddin’. I got the law laid down on me and how, so you best believe now that it all goes by the book, no pun intended.
Look at it. It’s just an old wire brush, right? Sad, tired lookin’ thing. It didn’t have too many bristles when I first came to live here, and considerin’ that only three or four have been plucked out since I took it all on, you get an idea of how long all this has been goin’. Don’t rightly know if I’m gonna be here when the last one is pulled, but I sure ain’t gonna lie and say that it wouldn’t be an interestin’ thing to see. It gives you an appreciation on how long the ways have been kept. Kinda nice, gettin’ a clear view of takin’ part in somethin’ bigger than you, right? Who wouldn’t want to see that come to pass?
I thought the story about it all was just Gramma gettin’ into her dizzy juice good an’ hard the first time she told me, but as I said, Gramma weren’t one for jokin’. I might’ve been a wee thing when Gramma told me this here was the Devil’s hairbrush, but just because I was a little squirt don’t mean I was stupid. Children are a lot smarter than people give ‘em credit for. Yup, knew you’d agree. Anyways, that’s how the brush got its mojo. It’s all filled up with the Devil. You know how you brush your hair and it can get all crackly, and you touch someone and give them a little shock? This here brush is just like that, just a bit different. How Great-Great-Gramma got the brush is a tale to tell, but I ain’t got the time or the head for it, goin’ on about “promises in blood” and “thrice-scourged metal” and the like. I gotta admit, I still don’t understand half of what Gramma went on about, but that don’t matter none just as long as I know what needs knowin’ and do what needs doin’. Good thing, that.
Hey, y’hear how the crows and the wind just stopped at the same time? That means They’re close. I gotta warn you, to say that They are a sight don’t put no justice to Them. You best believe I screamed my damn fool head off the first time I saw Them, who wouldn’t? Even now it gives me a headache just to look at Them, with those weird eye-mouth things and the shapes that make you feel like you got the flu. The smell, too…you think you’re smellin’ it, but you’re really hearin’ it. That’s not the weirdest part, even. They pour right into the bristle when the time comes, just like a lake goin’ into a thimble. That’s how they take the bodies. They can’t stay long in the world unless They take a body, that’s the only way they can stay here and do what they do. Gramma told me that when all the bristles are planted, then our job is done and They’ll take it from there. Sorry, I’m probably not explainin’ this well at all. You’ll see what I mean.
Honestly, the whole thing with the bristle is the part I hate the most. Cuttin’ out the tongue, really? Why not just poke the bristle in the tongue? There’s still going to be plenty of blood when you do that. Gramma said that little pain and blood weren’t enough for Them. The bristle needs to take root in the mouth for it to work right and proper, and the tongue just gets in the way of that happenin’. There’s still gotta be a better way, I reckon.
That’s the reason I cut your tongue out while you were still passed out from the dope I put in your water. I’m sure it still hurts like blazes, and I’m right sorry for that. Believe you me, it would’ve hurt a helluva lot worse if I’d done it while you were awake and aware, so small blessins and all that. This’ll probably poke for a second, but I promise it won’t hurt long once Th…ah, hear that smell? They’re a-comin’. Okay, open wide for me now…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aaron Besson is a writer of horror and dark fantasy from Seattle,Washington. His writing has been published in the Weird Fiction Review from Centipede Press, James Ward Kirk Publishing, and Spinetinglers.