Authors: Ryan Craig Bradford
Tags: #YA, #horror, #male lead, #death, #dying, #humor
I knew she wouldn’t take my question seriously.
“Who would you want to see?” she asks.
“I don’t know.”
“You know, you’re just afraid to say it. I’m afraid to say it too.”
“I don’t know if he’s dead though,” I say.
“Yeah—” Ally trails off. She snuggles closer to me, and my hand drops from her shoulder to her waist. “Do you miss him?”
“It seems a lot of things remind me of him lately,” I say.
She’s quiet before saying the words that I should’ve said, “I miss him.”
A breeze picks up. She leans in closer for warmth. The wind tosses dead leaves around in little whirlwinds and drowns out the shouting and laughter of our friends. Time slows down. Her hair blows in my face. I don’t even brush it away. The moonlight flickers on our moment. She raises her head and our eyes meet. She looks at me like a stranger. She leans in. With eyes closed in anticipation, I feel the warmth of her mouth pressing on mine. She opens wider and her tongue touches mine. I try to impress her with kissing styles I’ve learned from movies. I reach up and cradle her face in my hand, but then slide my fingers up in her hair, messing it passionately.
We’re both breathing hard, and I taste her whiskey mouth. Letting gravity hold us, we fall to the hard ground. Cold seeps up into my back. Ally’s whimpering seems very far away. I open my eyes, and the grave looms over us while I crave her mouth. The whimpering still seems very far away, but more urgent. I realize that it’s not coming from Ally anymore but a child. A child screaming.
My brain persists to break through the thickness that’s attacking all my senses. It tries to tell me that it’s not a child screaming. It’s one my friends. A girl screaming. Ally hears it too. She lifts her head out of our embrace. Then a frightened look and a struggle to get free from me.
It’s a zombie
, is the only thing that would destroy this moment:
A zombie with eyes rotted out and one arm. It must’ve eaten Megan. That bitch.
The speed of time returning to normal is jarring, causing me to stumble as I try to catch up with Ally.
There are no zombies. Just Megan, screaming.
“What’s going on—” I start, but stop when I get close enough for a better view.
There is a small finger on the ground.
“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod.” Megan speaks in quick gasps.
“Fuck, man,” says Steve. “Shit.”
It’s hard to tell if the finger is a small child’s, or if it’s just a pinky finger. I bend down to get a closer view. Megan puts her hand over her mouth and turns away. The finger is old. It’s been decomposing for weeks. The skin at the base is jagged, ripped off. A piece of sharp bone sticks out, also broken. Someone behind me holds up the flashlight and we see flies jumping all around it. It’s probably so cold and stiff that it only serves as delightful-smelling platform for them to play on. The knuckle is worn down, exposing more bone, but I think the most dreadful thing is the dirt under the fingernails. I can’t help but think of the poor kid who showed off his filthy fingers like he would a merit badge in the last days of summer. I kick the digit over so I don’t have to look at the dirt, and the bottom of the finger is skinless, just black from where creatures have come up from the dirt for a nibble.
“Let’s get out of here.” No one objects.
Our faces redden when we run down the hill toward our bikes. I hold Ally’s hand as we jump headstones and slip on dewy grass. When I look over at her, I see lines of wetness reflected in the moonlight run down her cheeks. My shoe comes undone, and I almost trip. I stop to fix it, and Ally’s hand slips out of mine.
“Hang on,” I mumble to myself, watching everyone pick up their bikes and ride into the night, outside the cemetery gate.
My laces are muddy. It takes me three tries to tie them. Ages later, I finish. I’m about to make the final lunge toward my bike when I hear something behind me.
A rustle of leaves. Against all instincts, I turn around to look.
Two eyes stare back at me, red and reflecting. A terrible roar comes from the darkness and then a horrible sound that could be cackling.
The laughter fades behind me. I’m on my bike and flying.
I pedal blindly down the dirt road, every moment expecting the graveyard monster to throw itself on my back and rip me from my bike. From every dark nook and brush, more eyes watch me escape. They wait for any vulnerability. I don’t give them any.
I speed around a bend and there’s a body in the middle of the road.
I almost don’t stop.
Just got to make it home where there are no more dead things.
I see the bike on the ground next to it.
I skid to a stop and run over to find Ally curled, hugging her knees with her arms. She’s sobbing, and for the first time in my life I feel that I have the right, the duty, to comfort a girlfriend.
“What happened?” I ask.
Her syllables come out between sobs. “I-I-I fell.” She moves her arms away from her knees. Road-rash extends from her knees all the way up her thighs, blood soaking into her shorts. Despite a bloody nose, I’m surprised at how little injury her face sustained overall. “I just want to go home,” she finishes and I’ve never wanted anything more myself.
I help her up and we turn her bike into a makeshift crutch. We walk the rest of the way. The scene is so pitiful that the surrounding monsters allow us to make it all the way home without killing us.
It’s a long, slow journey home. By the time we make it to my house, the light of dawn lines the horizon. Early-morning birds replace the omniscient hooting of owls, which filled our mostly-silent walk. My head throbs from the combination of hangover and no sleep, but the promise of daylight and
have kept my mood chipper.
Dad’s still asleep. An empty bottle of wine on the counter lets me know that we don’t have to be especially quiet. I clean Ally’s wounds. I give her a jungle wildlife Band-Aid as a finishing touch. I usually refuse to wear something so childish, but Ally seems into it. I secretly thank my mom for buying them.
Before she leaves, she asks: “Do you want to go to the aquarium sometime?”
I try not to smile too much when I say, “Yeah.”
INT: ABANDONDED WAREHOUSE—TED RAIMI’S LAIR, DAY
SAM RAIMI and LT. CRONENBURG burst through the door to the warehouse, guns drawn. TED’S lair is covered with pictures of body parts, random trinkets hanging from the ceiling (bones, mannequin heads, hardware tools á la
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
). The room is filled with full-sized mirrors, which immediately has a disorienting effect on the two detectives. Once they realize there is no immediate sign of TED, they put their weapons away and investigate the scene.
Jesus, Chief, you could write a textbook on this shit. (Picks up a jar with a decomposed appendage in it) This is one sick puppy we’re dealing with. (Puts the jar down and looks to RAIMI as if he’s misspoken) Er, no offense, sir.
None taken, Crony. My brother or not, we must not forget the heinous things he’s done. As far as I’m concerned, I have no brother. I’d prefer to take him alive. Let him find justice in a cold dank cell! But if it comes down to it, shoot to kill. We can’t let him escape. Understand?
Got it, Chief.
RAIMI and CRONENBURG keep searching the place (use weird camera angles here to convey the increasingly fucked-up nature of TED RAIMI). Light reflecting from the mirrors keeps blinding them when they walk through the beams. RAIMI moves to a table with documents sitting on it. He rifles through them.
(Looking up from another pile of documents) What is it?
Pictures of my house.
RAIMI flips through the pictures, which start from a long shot of a house. The POV (point of view) moves closer, up to the door and inside the house. As RAIMI flips faster, the pictures move like a flipbook. The POV goes around the house and then up the stairs until finally ending on a candid shot of RAIMI’S wife, SISSY. She’s stepping out of the shower and soaked, barely covered by a towel. RAIMI tears them up and lets the little pieces float to the ground.
What should we do?
(Fuming with rage) We take this asshole out. (Cocks his gun)
RAIMI, in a violent outrage, shoots randomly. Pieces of bone and paper explode into the air. He shoots the mirrors, sending shards of glass flying everywhere in a deadly shower. CRONY jumps to the ground to dodge RAIMI’S rampage. RAIMI aims for one particular mirror and something in his reflection catches him off-guard. He lowers his gun, but the reflection does not.
Sound effect: BAM!
The “reflection” is, indeed, TED RAIMI. TED fires his gun, hitting RAIMI in the shoulder. RAIMI drops his gun and falls to the floor. CRONENBURG points his own gun at TED.
(Stepping out from behind the empty frame) C’mon now, Crony, you shouldn’t be messing around with these family affairs. (Cocks his gun and points it directly at RAIMI) Shoot me and your boss is a guaranteed stain. My finger’s motion-activated.
Put it down Lieutenant, I can handle this myself.
CRONENBURG holsters his gun.
A gun, Ted? Isn’t that a little domestic for you? I thought you would do me in with a coat hanger, at the very least.
(Laughing) You know me too well, brother. And believe me, I thought about that. But I really don’t have any intentions on killing you … yet. Did you like the little scrapbook I made for you? (He nods toward the pictures of RAIMI’S house)
I swear to God, if you touched Sissy, that shit you do to your victims will seem tame compared to what I have in store for you.
Don’t worry, brother. I didn’t touch your precious little wife. I just wanted to take a look at the life you’ve made for yourself. The girl didn’t even know I was there. (Pauses, licks his lips) But she will next time, if you don’t give me what I want.
And what’s that?
What are you talking about?
I want to be you. I want your job, your house, your wife. You’ve always had it better than me. Mom loved you more. The world fucked me, Sam, drove me to do these horrible things. I can change though. I want to be you.
Don’t turn this into some goddamned sob story. You’re insane, and nothing Mom did could ever explain what you’ve done. You can’t just
(Aggravated) Sure I can! What does identity mean anyway? People steal them all the time. We look alike, our DNA’s the same, and I’m an incredible actor, Sammy. You’d be amazed at how good I am at playing a cop. That’d be the perfect cover for me to continue my rampage—because, let’s face it: killing’s fun! How many people have
killed in the line of fire? I bet if you put us side by side, our body count is pretty close. (His speech gets more impassioned, his attention wanes. He lowers the gun) That’s right, I could play cops and robbers. I could be both roles! Investigate my own killings and then go home and fuck my beautiful wife on the side. It’s brilliant. Besides a couple cards in your wallet, what really separates you from me?
You mean apart from the obvious screw loose? You’re nothing compared to me. You’re shit. You always were shit and you always will be shit. (Spits at TED)
(Giggling) So, I guess it’s not a deal?
Never. I’ll tell you what—if you come with me, I’ll let you choose between dying a painless death or rotting away in a jail cell. That’s the only deal I’ll give you.
Not very good options, brother. I think I’ll pass.
It’s too bad that you don’t know your priorities even when they’re clear as glass.
As RAIMI says “glass,” he holds up a broken piece of mirror that he’s been able to sneak into his hand during TED’S speech. The reflecting light blinds TED for a second, but it’s enough time for RAIMI to get to his feet and stab TED in the leg with glass. CRONENBURG scrambles for his gun, but it’s caught in the holster. RAIMI reaches for the gun that he dropped, but TED manages to fire off a shot, hitting CRONENBURG in the face. CRONENBURG drops to the floor.
Nooooo! (Slow motion: RAIMI runs over to CRONENBURG on the floor).
(Pulls the glass out of his leg) You asshole! That was my favorite pair of jeans! (Runs away through the remaining mirrors that haven’t been shattered). I’ll see you at home, Sammy-Boy!
RAIMI fires randomly at TED as he escapes through the glass.
RAIMI calms down. He looks defeated. He finally notices the soft breathing of Cronenburg, who isn’t dead yet. Most of his face is blown off. Little glass pieces stick to the blood.
Hold on, Crony-buddy. I’ll radio for an ambulance.
Don’t bother, Chief. (Coughs) I don’t want to live my life without a face. Besides, I won’t make it to the hospital. …
Don’t do this. Don’t let him win. Don’t let him win!
(Going in and out of consciousness) Just go. Get your wife. Make sure she’s safe. And … Christ it hurts … and do one more thing, for me.