Excerpt from The Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals by Jay Wilburn:
Donna Cash tucked her dick away from the front of her sequined dress. She adjusted the wig she had borrowed from the box of supplies left unclaimed by previous drag queens, mostly eaten by zombies in the streets of Milwaukee.
She took the stage and stumbled on her left platform shoe which threatened to fold under and snap her ankle. Donna stood tall and sexy, but Timothy Janvier was short and had a growing belly. He wore a girdle and high platforms to make the transformation.
Donna straightened her back and slid her gloved hands down past the full curve of her hips. The fingertips showed through cuts in the satin gloves to reveal the shine of bright red nails against the sequins covering her body. She mixed wine color and slut red polish when she could find them in the ruins of beauty shops to get her signature hue that looked crackled and sexy under crappy propane lights. Beauty shops did not get hit like grocers, liquor stores, and gun shops. She slept in them some nights trying new make-ups until she felt drowsy.
The crowd did not turn her way right away, but a few went silent. She would take that as a recovery for now. The move was well practiced and required a little finesse to keep the satin from snagging on the sequins and ruining the sexy.
As she stood in front of the greenish metal of the microphone, Donna Cash decided to call an audible. The sultry tune of “True Folsom Blues” gave a good “come and bend me over” sort of jazz/blues vibe, but this crowd was already teetering. She leaned out toward the Asian fellow at the piano leading the band of guitars, drums, and horns. It wasn’t a bad ensemble for a post apocalyptic drag bar house band. She imagined it probably helped that nothing else was open for miles, so the surviving talent had pooled.
“Like Rome in the Renaissance,” Donna muttered.
“Florence,” the Asian fellow said. “We’re like Florence in the Renaissance.”
“Play something,” someone shouted. The titters of laughter and conversation followed.
Through it, someone else said, “Show us your pussy.”
The band leader tilted his head at Donna, but she shook her head at him.
Donna arched her back and gave her best swell of ass. Now she got some whistles and husky laughter. It was the kind of laughs straight dudes used to cover the tingles down under from a queen’s ass.
She whispered the chord progressions to the band leader. He nodded, but she still wasn’t certain. “True Folsom” was a safe opener because it was tough to fuck up. “Like a Ring of Fire” was a much harder mash-up, but if she wanted to play it safe, she could have stayed in Detroit.
Safe won’t earn you both toothpaste and dinner, bitches.
Donna stood back up straight and batted her eyes and pouted her lips in the flickering light from the lanterns. As she pulled a few more whistles, she tossed her head back and puffed out her chest which was mostly line illusion through make-up. A whiff of raw sewage wafted up from the grate just below the stage and she fought the urge to heave.
Tough to maintain a crowd of hard-ons over the smell of shit, but here goes everything.
“What the fuck were you looking at?” Donna Cash demanded. “You weren’t nearly so stiff when I went down. Did you have a heart attack and turn zombie on me, pumpkins?”
The crowd gave the first real cheer of the night. The crowd knew that you had to be bitten to turn into a zombie, but the joke still played. A mug flew past her head and shattered against the back wall. A pair of dirty, tightie-whities slingshot by her on the other side landing on top of the piano with the brown streak up. The fact that both missed her was a sign of respect in Donna’s book.
The band leader poked at a key and the other musicians came close to matching. He swiped the stained drawers aside with one elbow.
He muttered. “I kind of wish I was back in Hong Kong at moments like this.”
“Someone has been saving those up for a while,” she said to more laughs. “Well, I’m Donna Cash and I’m here now, mother fuckers.” She swung her palm around and slapped her own right ass cheek with a loud smack. “Hit it hard, boys.”
The music blasted out from the band almost on tempo.
“I made it through the wilderness … like a burning flame …”
After a few lines and a few moves, the crowd broke down the middle between cheers and dropped jawed awe – the perfect split. As the chain link at the far end of the room near the door rattled, Donna thought she was building to a climax. When the tables nearest the door barked on the floor and chairs overturned with sharp crashes, she suspected something else might be going down. The shouts and growls confirmed it.
One fellow picked up his chair and slammed the fencing. He caught one of the posts and broke the legs loose. Another man charged and jammed a Bowie knife through the links three times. He missed twice snapping the wire with a screech from the knife’s edge. The third stab caught one of the shadowed figure’s shoulders. A spray of black mist exploded out from a boil as the blade exited the rotten body. The man with the knife bent over and gagged, wiping the smear of gore around his eyes and nostrils.
Donna Cash added “Oh, shit” to the end of the chorus.
The men in the room lifted guns and aimed across the club. A shotgun blew out pellets from too far away ringing off the chain link and the closest tables. The band faltered, although to his credit, the drummer kept the downbeat. Another impotent, ear-ringing shotgun blast and one man still sitting and staring at Donna grabbed his face with both hands and fell backward onto the floor screaming. His friends on both sides of him dove for the floor.
Donna pulled the greasy green microphone free of the stand and rolled her hand in a circle. “Keep playing, boys. I think we can still salvage this. I’ve had worse nights.”
The band obliged.
More shots rang out until the sparks flew off the lock. The gate swung open and the dripping bodies staggered through the gap into the club. The ones in the back of the horde settled for falling upon the lax security trapped between the cage and the front doors.
Donna stepped off the stage with a whistle of feedback and kept singing. “That’s until I found you as the flames kept getting higher …” During the bridge, she broke off to call over the cheap speakers. “Put your barrels away, Pumpkins, I’ll handle these stiffs.”
The men looked between Donna sauntering across from the stage and the corpses shambling through from the cage. They kept their guns up and ready, but backed up watching her close the distance on the dead.
Donna continued the song as she slapped the ass of the black fellow that wore the shiny, silver helmet. Tight as a fucking drum. Who the hell still does squats during all this? Damn. He let out a little yelp and a few guys laughed despite the peril.
“Firm,” she broke to say before resuming the lyrics. “Like a ring of fire … torched for the very first time …”
Donna closed her hand over his bat just above his grip on the handle. She tugged at it rhythmically until he let go. She rested it on her shoulder and turned back to wink at the crowd just as the colorless fingers reached for her back.
“Look out, baby.”
Donna heard and she thought it might have been the same asshole that yelled to see her pussy. She really was winning the crowd.
With a backward jab, she felt the fat head of the bat connect with the orb of an eye socket. A little distance was gained, but rough fingers crackled as they clawed at her sequined back. The gun barrels rose so the darkness in each one loomed at her. She remembered the bullet holes backstage and figured she was out of time and out of luck with drunk aim.
Donna crossed her ankles and gave an expert spin. Light dazzled off her dress and the dead weight of her arm whirled the sweet spot of the bat into the temple of the scratchy corpse behind her. Even as his skull caved nearly into two pieces, she saw that the others had honed in on her as well.
Donna rolled the bat behind her and up over her shoulder as she tried to make her retreat appear to be a shuffle step. The bat whistled as it plowed down onto the top of a saggy jowled zombie. His head turned into a canoe and he corkscrewed as he collapsed onto the floor.
“Oh, the twist. How retro.”
Over the laughter, a gruff voice through the backstage walls said, “On your left, watch it.”
Donna whirled the bat overhead, but the wispy mustached partner of the black fellow stepped into view before the strike and drove a dark blade into the zombie’s ear. A fan of armpit hair spread out from under his extended arm. The creature staggered before falling limp off the end of the blade. Not to waste the swing, Donna whirled the bat an additional loop over the man’s long blond hair before ripping through the face of the cadaver she had been aiming for the first time. Its eyeball popped loose and landed in someone’s World’s Greatest Boss mug with the gray end of the optic nerve hanging up out of the hooch.
“Don’t drink that, pumpkin,” Donna warned.
Her strike glanced off too much to bust the one-eyed zombie’s skull, but she did turn its head completely around the wrong way. The body swiped blindly at the air as it stumbled backward over a chair into the floor.
The black fellow dodged past Donna with his head down and connected his silver helmet to the forehead of the next beast reaching for them. Its brains exploded out the back of its head leaving a brown smear on the silver helmet. The man raised his fists and jammed two broken chair legs through the heads of two more zombies bringing them down.
“I need my bat back, bitch.” The black dude adjusted his stained helmet up higher above his brow before he turned to face her.
A skinny girl with sheered bone exposed where her knees should have been drug herself between the feet of the slobbering, leaking men shuffling through the gate into the club.
Donna flipped the bat in the air and caught it on one clean spot holding the handle back out to its owner with the tight ass. She wrapped the cord to her mic around the neck of the dead girl on the floor as she went for Donna’s calf with broken teeth. Donna pulled tight drawing feedback and static from the speakers and lifting the girl up high enough that her fingers barely grazed the floor.
“Jesus, will someone close the damn door?” Donna lifted her chin to speak into the raised mic. “Everyone is getting in without a cover now.”
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near Myrtle Beach on the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Main Street, and Middletown Apocalypse. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels The Great Interruption, Time Eaters, and co-authored The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com
©Jay Wilburn, 2016. All rights reserved.