Read Wormwood Dawn (Episode I) Online

Authors: Edward Crae

Tags: #zombies

Wormwood Dawn (Episode I) (10 page)

BOOK: Wormwood Dawn (Episode I)
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Dan saw Drew cover his mouth out of the corner of his eyes. He felt his own bile begin to rise again, but he couldn’t tear himself away to puke.

Drew could though.

The creature’s shrieks died down as the body collapsed. It slowly crackled and sputtered, sending wisps of steam and smoke up into the air. Soon, they stood in silence once again, their hearts pounding, and their breathing labored with disgust.

“Fuckin’ weird, man,” Drew said. “What the hell?”

Dan swallowed hard. “DNA,” he said. “It alters DNA.”

“I thought that meant something like cancer,” Drew said. “Like it created tumors or some shit like that.”

Dan was about to respond when another shrill cry echoed out of the forest ahead of them. They froze, staring into the shadows. Then, the splash sounded from the creek again, followed by a low hiss that rolled across the surface of the water like a wave of sonic death.

The two instantly turned, bolting toward the house. They stumbled inside, slamming and locking the door, putting the barrier beam in place.

“What the fuck was that?” Drew said.

Dan shook his head. “I don’t know, man,” he breathed. “But I think we’re about to get a visit.”

 

Chapter Eleven

 

Moans and scraping sounds came through from the outside of the house. Dan and Drew crouched near the front door, in view of the sliding glass doors to the deck. They each had their shotguns pointed out in front of them; Dan facing the front door, and Drew facing the deck. On the floor at Dan’s side was his .308, locked and loaded, and each of them had a handgun stuffed into his belt. Stacks of shotgun shells, rifle rounds, and 9mm clips sat behind them, along with an open bottle of Kentucky bourbon.

“I’m about to shit my pants,” Drew said.

Dan nodded, trying desperately to control his fear; breathing slowly and deeply. His hands were sweaty and shaking, and he couldn’t figure out whether it was from the terror he felt, or the lack of alcohol. Either way, a good swig of whiskey would help. Keeping his eyes on the front door, he reached back to uncap the bottle and took a deep swig, handing the bottle to Drew.

Drew happily gulped down a mouthful. “Where could they be coming from?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Dan said. “Maybe the
DNR
office in the state forest.”

He glanced over to the sliding glass doors, hoping that the barricade that blocked the covered area of the deck would hold. The railings had been covered and secured, making them about ten feet tall and smooth on the outside. Only a good climber or jumper would be able to get over the top.

Amid the groaning and banging, the low hiss was heard again. It was a disturbing and foreboding sound that sent chills up Dan’s spine. He pictured a shit ton of things in his head; alien queen, giant winter worm, even a dragon.

“It’s not a dragon,” Dan said out loud. Drew glanced at him for a second, gritting his teeth but saying nothing.

Glass broke outside the front door, and Dan knew the screen door had been ripped from its hinges. Something—or a group of somethings—
really
wanted to get inside. Thankfully the front door was thick wood and steel. But, like most houses, the walls weren’t. Siding, insulation, and drywall were all that stood between them and certain death.

“I don’t think it’s going to do any good sitting here waiting,” Dan said. “We should find some good spots and start shooting.”

Drew nodded, rising to a crouching position just as the window behind the couch shattered.

Cold air blew in between the boards that had been secured there, and dirty, clawed fingers began poking through. Dan pulled the couch out of the way, shoving the shotgun through the gaps. He fired, cocking the shotgun as screams of pain erupted from outside. He fired again, moving the barrel to another position. Drew joined him, and the two blindly fired into the gathering crowd outside.

A yelp broke the monotonous groaning and screaming; the same yelp that the two of them had heard during their encounter with the infected coyotes. They had returned with the infected humans.


Fuck!”
Drew shouted as a massive object slammed into the OSB. He stuck his shotgun out, pulling the trigger, hearing a yelp. “Fucking coyotes.”

The window to their right shattered, bringing in more cold air. Dan turned, rushing to the window to shoot through the gaps there. He shot and pumped repeatedly until his shotgun was empty. He stepped back and rushed to the ammo pile, slapping shell after shell into the 870 until it was full again.

And that’s when he heard the rustling from underneath.

“They’re in the crawlspace,” Dan said, wide-eyed.

As Drew continued firing outside, Dan crouched near the floor to listen. He could hear something large moving beneath the floor boards, slinking underneath the house to find a way in. The only weak spot Dan could think of was underneath the shower. He had often pictured himself falling through the floor while he was scrubbing his ass.


Fuck,
” he hissed under his breath, rushing to the bathroom.

“Where are you going, dude!?”
Drew shouted.

“Hold them off,” Dan said. “There’s a weak spot in the bathroom floor.”

As Dan rushed down the hallway, he heard Drew’s repeated shots. He crept into the bathroom, going to the walk-in shower to listen. There was a scratching below, and the familiar low hiss. Dan sighed fearfully, watching the bottom edges of the shower stall for any movement in the tiles. There was already a gap between the floor and the wall that had been there for a year or so. It didn’t look any different.

But the scraping persisted, coupled with the hissing and growling, filling him with a sense of doom.

But the sound of a massive pane of glass shattering snapped him out of his terror. He rushed out, going back toward the kitchen. The sliding glass doors had been shattered, and a coyote—or what was once a coyote—stood there menacingly.

“Fuck!”
Drew shouted.

The coyote-thing howled, stretching its impossibly wide, fanged mouth open to reveal its snakelike tongue. The entire beast was furless and white, like the mutant cat, and its skin glistening and quivered as if it was still changing on the inside. Dan leveled his shotgun at the creature as it poised itself to pounce over the kitchen table. He fired, hitting the creature squarely in the flank. It yelped and stumbled, but turned its red, glowing eyes on Dan.

He stood frozen as the creature glared. It turned to stalk toward him, its head lowered and dripping slime. Dan pumped his shotgun and fired again, hitting the creature in the face. It screamed and howled in rage, charging him. Dan pumped and fired again, this time hitting the creature at the same time as another blast hit it in the side.

The coyote-thing crumpled to the floor, quivering and convulsing as putrid blood poured from its shredded body.


Jesus,”
Dan exclaimed, slinking past it to what was left of the sliding glass door.

He could hear scratching sounds and yipping on the other side of the barriers. The coyote things were attempting to climb the wall. He kept his eyes on the top of the boards, hearing Drew cursing and shouting behind him. Then, a frantic scraping was followed by a claw appearing over the top of one of the boards. An ugly, mutated coyote head came over the top, its red eyes glaring and its tongue darting around menacingly as it spotted Dan.

He rushed forward, shoving his shotgun into the creature’s mouth and pulling the trigger. The head exploded in a shower of dark blood and brains, throwing the creature back into the shadows beyond. He heard its lifeless body impact the ground with a splat, and the other coyotes yipped and howled in anger, clawing their way up.

“Drew!”
he shouted. “
Get over here. We’ve got problems.”

Drew appeared almost instantly, and the two watched the edge of the wall, each one of them shifting their sights from side to side, never looking away. The scraping and clawing grew more furious, rising up the boards from every side. Dan’s heart was about to explode, and he could hear Drew’s heavy breathing above all else.

Thank God Drew had called him the other day. Otherwise, he would here by himself, facing certain death at the hands of… whatever the—

BAM!
Drew’s shotgun sounded.

Dan snapped out of his coma, training his sights on another head that appeared. He fired, missing, and the creature growled, shooting its tongue out as it climbed over the edge. Dan pumped and fired again, blowing the beast’s tongue away. It howled and dropped to the deck, and Dan fired into its body until it lay still and bleeding.

Drew was firing at the corner, where the edge of the OSB had been partially torn away. A coyote snout poked through, opening to reveal its razor sharp, dripping fangs. Drew ran up to it, shoving his shotgun into the open maw, and blowing the head to smithereens. He stumbled back, covered in slimy blood.

The scraping and yipping stopped, and the two backed into the house in relief. “I think that was the last of them,” Drew said.

“The windows in the living room should be safe,” Dan said. “But I think something is coming up through the bathroom floor. I’ll stand guard at the bathroom door. Check the big bedroom. The windows aren’t boarded up there.”

Drew nodded, and the two raced down the hallway. Dan crouched at the bathroom door while Drew checked the bedroom windows. “Nothing out there,” he heard Drew say. “I’ll check the other windows.”

Suddenly, what little light there was went out.


Fuck!”
Dan cursed. “
They cut the power!”

Drew appeared again from the bedroom. “Or the power grid just went down,” he said.

Dan pulled the bathroom door shut. “Let’s grab some boards from the mudroom and close off the bathroom,” he said.

“Wait,” Drew stopped him with a hand to his shoulder. “Whatever is down there, we need to kill it. We can’t just block it out.”

Dan thought for a moment, realizing Drew was right. This was
his
house, and he had to protect it. There was no way they could stay here with some fucking weird ass creature living in the crawlspace.

“You got any ideas?” Dan asked.

“Those things outside are just people,” Drew said. “Weird and fucked up as they are, they’re not that dangerous. There aren’t that many of them. I say we sneak out the bedroom windows, hunt them all down, and
then
take on whatever is underneath the house.”

“Alright,” Dan nodded. “Good idea.”

Drew pumped his shotgun. “Let’s load up, nigga,”

 

Armed to the teeth, Dan and Drew quietly slid the bedroom windows open. The night air was cold, but the two of them were so pumped with adrenaline that they didn’t even care. The one street light was out, and the yard was shadowy. The sound of moaning and groaning echoed from the other side of the house, and smell of rotting flesh and shit came with it.

They slid out the windows feet first, slowly lowering themselves to the ground. They crouched there in the darkness, listening for anything nearby.

“Which way should we go?” Drew asked.

Dan shook his head. “I don’t know. Should we split up?”

“Fuck no,” came Drew’s answer.

“Alright,” Dan said, looking across the street. “We can cross over to Steve’s yard to get a better view. I don’t even want to think about going into the back yard.”

Drew nodded. They crept away from the house, moving parallel to the street until they found a dark place to cross. They went steadily, so as not to kick up any rocks. Behind them, the moaning of a wandering loony moving into the front yard stopped them in their tracks. They turned to look, silent and still, watching the shambling person-thing sway as it walked around the corner. Dan lifted his rifle.

“No,” Drew warned him. “Too loud. Wait until we get into position.”

“What if we forget about him?”

A sudden crashing sound jolted them, and the person-thing was suddenly pulled into the crawlspace vent by a massive, bony claw. They sat stunned; wide-eyed, and silent as the sound of crunching and hissing followed.

“Well,” Drew said. “I guess that answers that question.”

“What the fuck was that?” Dan said.

Drew shook his head. “Let’s keep moving.”

They continued across the street, keeping to the shadows. When they reached Steve’s yard, they crawled across the lawn to get a better view of the front door. There were at least a dozen person-things crowded on that side of the house, clawing and scratching at the walls, windows, and the door itself. They were dressed in regular clothes for the most part, with some of them wearing ranger uniforms.

“Oh shit,” Dan said. “I forgot about the DNR tours. Those must be the tourists. They must have been gathered the other day when the shit hit the fan.”

“Jesus, man,” Drew said. “Poor fuckers.”

“They would have gotten sick either way,” Dan said. “But it would have been somewhere else.”

“Fuck,” Drew whispered as he raised his rifle. “These sights aren’t adjusted for me. I should have sighted it days ago.”

“That’s alright,” Dan said. “We shoot pretty much the same. They should be close enough.”

He sat the .50 caliber Barrett on the ground beside him, patting it with his free hand. “We’ll save this for the big guy.”

Drew nodded, wordlessly aiming his rifle. Dan did the same, picking a stumbler that was wandering away from the rest of the pack.

“Ready,” Drew said.

“Me too,” Dan replied.

He swallowed, squeezing the trigger. Two gunshots rang out, echoing through the forest. Dan’s target dropped, and he pulled back the bolt to chamber another round and aim at his next target.

“Shit,” Drew said. “I missed.”

Dan fired again, dropping another stumbler. The group began to turn in their direction, and he could see their horrid, pale faces. Drew fired again, this time hitting his mark. Dan chambered another round, missing this time.

“Damn it,” he said, chambering and firing again.

The stumblers began running toward them, moaning and groaning as they raced across the gravel road. Dan and Drew quickly reloaded, aiming and firing again. Two more stumblers dropped, and the two grabbed their weapons and retreated further into Steve’s yard.

BOOK: Wormwood Dawn (Episode I)
3.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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