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BOOK: Dead Men (and Women) Walking
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Resting back behind the
couch again, Eric began to listen to the detective as he came out
of the bathroom and into the living room again. Graham turned the
television on and the 6:00 p.m. news was on. The final test was
about to take place. Would Wilson make Eric proud? Would the
detective take the steps of Hicks before him? The sound of the
oven's door opening prompted Eric's full attention again on Wilson.
Would he eat one there, right in the kitchen where the Offering
took place? No, it was not to be. Graham didn't take a bite in the
kitchen, preferring to have his meal and watch the news at the same
time. As Wilson sat down, Hicks wanted to cry out, to embrace his
soon to be comrade. The process was so close to being complete, to
being realized.

The top news story of the
night focused on a recent finding in the Thames River. As Graham
sat up and at his meal, he listened closely, as did Eric, who at
that point was ecstatic at the fact that the Offering of his flesh
had been taken freely. The case about the dead body of Mr. Hicks
wasn't over yet. The morgue assistant's car and body within were
dragged from the river a little while ago. Preliminary reports
suggest that the boy was dead for at least a day or two but the
police weren't confirming anything yet. The media was taking the
story in various directions, but the most common theory was that
someone else – possibly one of Hicks' cannibalistic friends – came
to get his body and the morgue assistant was in the wrong place at
the wrong time. Eric risked a look at the side of the detective's
face from the side of the couch. "No, this wasn't some friend. This
was Hicks. God I don't know how, but it was Hicks." Wilson had
passed the test. Instead of thinking in the terms of regular men,
Graham decided to look beyond Man's logic and conclude the
impossible, however improbable.

After Wilson swallowed the
food in his mouth, Eric felt the wires in his hands one last time,
and lopped them around the detective's neck in one smooth stroke.
"Hello Graham!" said a slimy voice from behind the couch. "I do
hope you haven't missed me too much over the last couple of days."
The detective was struggling to bring his upper body up to gain
some kind of leverage on the smaller man, but it was no use. Hicks
had pinned his feet under the couch and was using Graham's own
weight against him.

Graham’s mind was racing
along at top speed while trying to slip his fingers under the wire
that threatened to cut off his air supply. How did Hicks get in the
apartment? How did Hicks even found out where he lived? Graham’s
back was arched and he was nearly falling over backward due to the
pressure Hicks was putting on his neck, but he knew that if he
didn’t stay in the position, he could well strangle himself. Graham
realized that his gun was only an arm's reach away and instead of
trying to stop him, Hicks actually moved along the back of the
couch to let the detective realize that his gun was no longer where
it should be. Hicks started talking in an overly excited voice to
his new friend.

"I truly can't believe you
actually wanted to know, Graham. To be able to share with you the
delights of my kind is an honor above almost all others. To
actually have you, the leading investigative officer of my case, be
the one to realize that this world holds truths that no mortal
logic can dictate was truly an accomplishment. You asked me, why we
cannibals ate the flesh of others. Such a weighty question! To
answer in short, we eat the flesh of the living to survive, to grow
powerful, and to live. Our sustenance is the flesh of man, our
drink, his blood. And you, my new brother, have tasted one of mine
tonight.

Graham started his struggle
anew as the cannibal sought to poison his mind. The big man kicked
out at the coffee table and sent his food flying all over the
floor. He jerked one last time but the preternatural strength of
Hicks was far too much for the large man to overcome. As Graham
leaned back on the couch to ease the pressure, Hicks
continued.

"Oh come now, surely you
noticed those little extra pieces of meat I put in your food while
you were having a shower, yes? You don't? Look at my arm,
detective, and let your eyes do the talking. What ...you don't
believe me? There, over by the television, you can see a piece of
my arm hanging out of your meal. That's right; I've cut myself just
for you, Graham. I've bled for you because I care about you. We're
going to go far, you and me."

Graham's eyes were fixed on
the open wounds upon Hicks' arm. It looked like a knife that just
cut off long thin pieces of flesh caused the wounds. The wounds
weren't bleeding though; they didn't look like they had bled at
all. "You did say you wanted to know how it felt, so, now that
you've actually tasted the flesh of your fellow man, please, tell
me how it feels Graham. Does it invigorate you? Do you feel dirty,
like you've broken some sacred bond with God? Does it frighten you
that another man's cooked flesh was indistinguishable from your own
dinner?" Graham's arms began to shake in the air as Eric pulled
just a little bit harder.

Graham's body finally began
convulsing violently. Hicks released him and stood behind the
couch, watching his soon-to-be brother of flesh losing his life. In
a way, Eric greatly admired Graham's stamina throughout this little
episode. It was a nod to Eric's ability to pick someone to change.
Thick, blackish red foam poured from Graham's mouth as Hicks began
to speak again.

"Like it or not brother,
you're going to find out what it's like to be one of us, to be of
the Undead. You see, you've tasted my flesh, and it's so much more
than just meat off the bone. It carries with it the curse of death
itself, a curse I've given to you. From now on, you'll know what
the Feast is all about. Blood will be your water but flesh,
glorious juicy flesh of the living will be your sustenance. Without
it, you'll slowly lose your mind over the years, becoming a monster
not fit even for hell, but with the flesh of others, you'll become
so much more than you once were. The physical boundaries of a
mortal's coil you've been tied to will be all but erased. Your body
is dying, yes, but you'll get over it. We all have, to one degree
or another. The Urge, we don’t.”

Graham vaguely heard the
words Hicks spoke. His body was racked with pain. A poison in his
belly was spreading to all of his limbs, to his heart, to his very
mind. Barely able to move and not able to think coherently, Wilson
moved his eyes to see Hicks leaning over him, smiling. Wilson began
to feel some dread sensation that his soul dared not admit.
"There's no need for talking, my friend. I know what you're
thinking. Your mental fugue will clear with time. It's always the
same with the Urge in the beginning. You must feed your sickness to
get better.”

Graham's eyes glossed over
as an almost opaque yellowish liquid filled them. Eric's eyes had
changed as well, giving off a yellowish glow where he looked. The
large man had stopped moving now; he could only lay on the floor
and take the world as it came to him. Eric left the man on the
floor and began to pick up the scattered pieces of his flesh that
were kicked on the floor. Once he was done, Eric sat behind
Graham's head and cradled the newly changed cannibal.

"Here Graham, here is the
flesh of your brother. Yes, that's it. Chew it, swallow it, and see
how simple flesh combats the Urge. This is the most important
lesson of all for us. We must feed to subdue the Urge, but we
mustn't let the Urge overcome us, or it will destroy our very
souls. That's right, all down the hatch." Eric fed the man the last
vestiges of the gathered flesh from the Offering and helped the new
corpse to sit on the couch. "You stay there for now. I need to get
this place cleaned up. We do have company coming over, after
all."

In order to not alert their
meal when she arrived, Hicks cleaned Graham up with a wet towel and
put new clothes on the new horror. Hicks' emotional attachment to
Wilson had changed dramatically within the past hour. Just as Hicks
was brought into the darker recesses of the moral pits of humanity
by someone else, Hicks was now nurturing someone else who asked
after why such things were the way they were with cannibals.
Eventually, someone would ask Graham the same question, and the
answer would be juicy sweet in the telling.

 

FIRST BORN

By Brian Jaime

 

A muddy foot, blistered, bruised
and bleeding, stumbled across the forest floor. Tattered britches
made way to the worn body of a withered man. He exhaled and inhaled
rapidly, doing his best to keep going. Frequently, he would look
back behind him as if he was checking up on an advancing predator.
He was thin, worn and dirty. His filthy hair clung to his sweaty
unkempt face.

He struggled to remember who
he was, where he had come from and why he was running. His mind
raced with empty thoughts. All he knew was that he had to run. He
had to keep going and get as far away from the direction from where
he had come. He didn’t know why. He just knew that he had
to.

Somewhere behind him, a
flock of disturbed birds flew out from a thicket of trees. Had he
been followed? He paused, only for a second, to study the dense
forest. It was quiet. Sunlight crept in from the loose canopy
above. He hesitated and then crept back slowly, the chill of a cool
breeze swept across his bare neck.

The pain came
instantaneously; beginning on his neck’s left side and working its
way across his chest and down his spinal column. His body surged
with discomfort and he fell to his knees. Grunting, he gnashed his
teeth and searched for the origin of the malaise. His ears rang and
his mouth grew cottony and bitter. He stood up, arched his back and
continued further, passing through thin trees and low
brush.

The forest gave way to a
clearing, a meadow of wild flowers and tall grass. He dashed out
into the sunlight and staggered across the field until he came to
the side of a narrow, dirt road. His feet flopped under him and he
hit the rocky earth head-on. His vision swirled and, all at once,
everything went black.


He’s doing much better
now,” a voice said.


Oh, Sabine, I do hope he
comes around soon. Your father aims to call the constable if he
fails to wake through the night.”


Do you think he’s a
criminal?” a younger voice said.


No, Zacharie, I doubt he
is. Now no more talk of pillagers and foragers. Off to bed with
you.”

The man slowly opened his
eyes. He could see a tubby woman ushering a small boy into an
opposing room. A young girl was using a small towel to clean his
wounded feet. The sensation was more than he could handle and his
left foot twitched. The girl sprung back and then noticed that he
was awake.


Oh, sir, finally you are
able to join us,” she said. He did not speak. At that moment, he
didn’t remember how to talk. His mouth was still sore and
dry.


We found you out near the
Old Forest just past the meadows.”

She smiled at him
innocently. “Mother!” she called. “Mother, the gentleman is
awake!”

Her mother rushed into the
room carrying a large pitcher. She placed it on an old table and
leaned over her patient.


What is your name?” the
pudgy woman demanded.


Wa-wa-water…” he
managed.


Fetch him a cup,” she told
her daughter, “His memory is weak. We’ll let him rest until your
father comes in.”

The water quenched his
parched mouth and he settled back down on the makeshift cot.
Slowly, he dozed off to visions of torture, blood and beautiful
women.

----------------


The time is upon us…” an
unfamiliar voice echoed through his mind. He snapped up. The pain
from his neck coursed throughout his body. He sat for a moment and
then searched for the origin of the mystic voice. The room was dark
and empty. He felt the left side of his neck and discovered it had
been bandaged with rags. Two voices, just outside of the chalet,
drew his attention and he snuck to the window to
investigate.


The poor man is
practically an invalid,” the old woman said.


Isabelle, he has puncture
marks on the side of his neck,” her husband responded.


What are you implying,
Victor?” She eyed him suspiciously. “Surely you’re not talking of
vampires.”


They kill our cows. They
kill our horses. What are next, our children?”


The man…” she
began.


This man will have to
leave as soon as he awakens.” He turned away from her and continued
sweeping the small porch. His wife, having been put in her place,
grabbed a bucket of feed and placed it on a shelf below the window.
Inside, the man ducked in fear of being seen.

High above the home, a
flurry of activity traversed the starry night sky as three
seductresses circled the air waiting for the right time to attack.
The eldest of the three sniffed the air and wheezed. The other two
stopped and hovered in adoring silence.


The time is upon us,” she
said. Her companions smiled at each other. “It begins.”

An icy breeze blew the front
gate open. Victor stopped and felt a cold chill.


Isabelle,” he whispered.
His wife did not hear him; she continued straightening the window’s
ledge. He turned and saw the first, the eldest, of the three female
vampires advancing upon his house.

BOOK: Dead Men (and Women) Walking
9.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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