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Valentine’s Day – A Dark, Twisted Love Story – Burning Passion by Rebecca Besser

buring passion


By Rebecca Besser

            There she was, his beautiful blonde siren, leaving her house to go to work. She did a really good job of pretending she didn’t notice his old gray van sitting a block down facing her house. She swung her hips provocatively – like she knew he was watching – while she walked to her car in her smart navy business suite that was tailored to fit her perfectly; it drove him crazy when she wore it and teased him with the contours of her body. He fantasied about taking it off of her slowly while she moaned and begged, panting with her heated desire to have him.

She pushed the button on her remote to unlock her shiny black BMW convertible and it chirped once with a flash of the lights.

She opened the door to climb in, but stopped suddenly and looked up at the house – a man was standing in the open doorway. He blew her a kiss and waved, and she did the same in return.


            Doug Thomas seethed with rage as he laid his binoculars on the passenger’s seat beside him. How dare that bastard blow kisses to my woman? he thought while growling and punching the steering wheel.

“She’s my woman!” he screamed, gripping the wheel with both hands until his knuckles turned white.

He started the van and clenched his jaw to wait for “his woman” to pull out of her driveway and head to work. He followed her shiny black car and glared at the prim and proper two story house “the bastard” was now closing the door on as he too prepared to go to work.

Doug followed the blonde object of his affections all the way to work, and he parked and watched her walk into the corporate law office with his binoculars. Once he was content that she was safely inside, he headed off to his own job at a recycling center.

Four weeks ago he’d been released from a mental care facility. He was keeping up with his therapy visits and had procured a job at a recycling center, working part-time. The entire three years he’d been incarcerated they’d counseled him in how to be a good citizen and productive member of society. Along with the long talk sessions, they’d also given him a handful of pills to take. He no longer ate the mind control drugs, as he thought of them – he’d stopped taking them as soon as he’d walked out the door of that horrible place. He honestly believed that the drugs were what had kept him in their grasp, and that they’d intentionally toyed with his mind to make him their mindless pet; he refused to live that way. He was finally free and he was determined to break their hold on him.

He had done one thing that was suggested in therapy: he was building relationships. The troubling thing, though, was that none of the people he’d built relationships with seemed to want to reciprocate.

His girlfriend, for example – the blonde in the BMW – wouldn’t acknowledge him at all, and she was cheating on him. Of course, it wasn’t her fault. She was too nice to hurt the bastard’s heart. He honestly believed she’d tried to break it off with the man, but he wouldn’t let her go – he had the sneaking suspicion that he was beating her and she was scared for her life. That’s why he had to watch her all the time and keep her safe.

They’d been spending a lot of time together for the last couple of weeks. He drove to work with her – like he’d done that morning – and he had lunch with her every day. Yesterday he’d met her at a restaurant and he’d sat at the table beside her. It was the crazy woman beater’s fault he couldn’t sit with her so they could hold hands and look deep into each other’s eyes. The blankness he’d seen in her eyes every time she’d glance over at him and smiled broke his heart. He’d paid for her meal and that had brought a spark to her eyes – he knew she’d known it was him by the smile she’d been wearing as she’d headed out the door and back to work. This had deeply pleased him. She didn’t acknowledge their relationship often, but when she did it brightened his world.

Doug drove his van through the dregs of the city to the recycling center, and pulled into the rough gravel parking lot that was choked with dumpsters and beat up, rusted vehicles of various ages. He squeezed the van off to the side of the lot and parked. As he was getting out, he heard a gruff voice barking orders to the workers within the grey, filthy, nondescript metal pole building the crusher was housed in. He grabbed his work gloves from behind the driver’s seat of his van, slammed the door closed, and headed toward the building.

He didn’t notice the harsh, sickening sweet odor of the intermixed soda and juice seeping out of the dumpster with the aluminum cans, or the molding, rotting smell of various vegetables and foods rotting in the tin can dumpster. His mind was filled with the beautiful face of the woman he loved, and he breathed deep of the memory of her perfume, which he’d gotten a breath of from the scarf she’d dropped for him last week. The treasured item was sealed in a gallon storage bag at home under his pillow where he could be alone with his thoughts of her and pretend she was there with him.

“Where have you been, maggot?” Hank Townsend snarled as Doug walked through the door of the metal building.

“I had to take my girlfriend to work,” Doug said, slipping on his gloves, grabbing a shovel from against the wall and jumping right in to help with loading cans into the crusher.

Charles Davis – his coworker – glanced at him as they loaded a shovel load of cans at the same time and smiled briefly before getting back to work.

Hank laughed harshly.

“I don’t see how an ugly fuck like you could have a girlfriend. She either has to be blind or you have the biggest cock in the city! That’s the only way a woman would ever be with you.”

Doug paused and turned his head to glare at Hank, but the man was already outside; the heavy door banged against the frame as it closed behind him.

He growled angrily.

“Don’t let him bother you,” Charlie said, smirking. “He’s just jealous ‘cause he ain’t gettin’ no pussy.”

Doug looked at Charlie and couldn’t help but laugh; he shrugged and got back to work. But the words his boss had said cut deep. He knew he wasn’t a good looking man – his reflection in the side of the stainless steel machine attested to that – but he liked to think that his kind, caring heart made up for his lack of stunning good looks.

“You havin’ lunch with her again today?” Charlie asked. “At that fancy café place?”

Doug shrugged and said, “Yes, I plan to, if that’s where she wants to go.”

“Man, you’re a lucky dog to have such a classy lady,” Charlie said, then smirked as he continued deviously, “You givin’ her some hot sausage, ain’t ya? To keep her interested?”

“I would if she’d let me,” Doug growled. “I’m still trying to get her to leave that beating bastard. I’ll kill him if I have to, just to keep her safe.”

Charlie shook his head and sighed.

“Why do the moth’fucks get the great broads and smack ‘em around?” he asked heatedly. “It just don’t seem fair when here we be, wantin’ nothin’ mo’ than to give ‘em the lovin’ they deserve!”

“I don’t know, man,” Doug said, shoveling fast to help burn up the hot rage that was taking hold on him while he thought about another man hurting his woman. “Life’s not fair. I will keep her safe though, and I’ll make sure she’s damn happy when she finally comes to me.”

“I knows ya will!” Charlie exclaimed with a smile. “An’ if you need any help wit’ that, ya call ol’ Charlie to come help ya out!”

Doug laughed and said, “I will, you old pervert! But I think I can handle her all on my own.” He winked and continued to work hard so he could have a long lunch with the love of his life.


            Noon came fast, and the crusher building floor was clear, so Doug and Charlie headed off to lunch. They knew there would be plenty more work for them when they got back that afternoon, but this was the highlight of their day.

Leaving the grimy, smelly metal building, they went their separate ways with a smile: Charlie ate a packed lunch sitting on the tailgate of his battered pickup truck; and Doug drove off to have lunch with his woman.

He found a parking space mere seconds before his blonde goddess came out to her car. The sight of her made his chest tighten and his manhood swell; he didn’t know how much longer he could handle this game of her being his but living with another man. He had to have her soon – all her teasing was making him hot and hard with wanting.

Doug followed her to the same café they’d eaten at countless times before, and was disgusted when “the bastard” met her in the parking lot and kissed her and groped her ass. He fumed and punched the steering wheel in a fit of rage; it took all he had not to get out of his van, march over to where the couple stood, and beat the bastard down right there in front of her so she would know she didn’t have to be afraid of him any longer.

“I love you!” he yelled, but knew she couldn’t hear him.

His hands began to shake and the world around him faded in and out of darkness – one moment it was all bright sunshine with cars parked around him, the next it was pitch blackness with hot rage burning just under his flesh.

He started scratching his arms in an attempt to relieve the pain, and the next thing he knew – when he glanced down – blood was dribbling down his arms from where he’d torn through his skin with his fingernails.

“Fuck!” he screamed, and fumbled to retrieve the first aid kit he had stored on the floorboard behind the passenger’s seat; this wasn’t the first time this had happened.

After his shaking, blood slick fingers finally got the latch open, he grasped a couple of bandages to apply to the wounds, but he didn’t put them on right away. Instead he looked down at the red liquid seeping out of his arms and thought about passion. It’s because I love her so much she can do this to me, he thought. She makes me feel so much and gets under my skin and I just can’t help myself. I have to protect her…make her mine. Soon! Very soon, my love, I’ll rescue you from the hell that is your existence.

With sharp, decisive movements he dressed his wounds, noting that the pair were no longer in the parking lot, but had wandering into the café. He couldn’t see them through the windows and he figured they’d chosen one of the back booths. Yeah, I know what you’re up to, you fucker, he thought. You’ll take her back there so you can smack her or pinch her and no one will see. You’re a sick fuck, you bastard!

He fumed and raged inside as he climbed out of the van and headed into the café. He’d thought about driving down the street to a fast food joint to buy himself something to eat, but he decided that fuck no he wasn’t slinking away like a coward. She was his woman and he wouldn’t give her up to “the bastard” without a fight.

I was right, he thought and almost screamed, when he saw them sitting close together in a private corner booth. He noticed the bastard had his hand on her knee under the table, kneading and squeezing it while they talked. You’re gonna leave bruises where no one can see, aren’t you, you fuck? his mind ranted as he took a seat at a table where he could watch them at an angle.

A waitress came to take his order and she blocked his view of the couple, which annoyed him greatly; he glared at her the entire time he was placing his order, and she practically ran away from him as soon as she was done.

Doug’s allotted lunch time passed quickly, without him even tasting the food he’d ordered. He had to leave and go back to work before the couple, and he thought about staying, but decided he shouldn’t push his luck with Hank after being a couple of minutes late this morning.

He paid his bill at the register, threw one pissed off glance back at the couple in the corner and stormed back out into the world alight with harsh sunshine. The warmth did nothing to improve his mood though, as he knew it would be sweltering at the center while he worked through the afternoon.

He climbed into his van, started the engine, and pulled out into traffic without even looking to see if anything was coming. Luckily, this time, nothing was, and he sped through the streets, cursing at the other drivers to vent his pent up emotions.

When he arrived back at the recycling center, he noticed that they’d had a delivery of cans over lunch, and he knew he’d be stuck in the crushing building again. With a sigh, he parked, got out, and headed back to work.

Charlie wasn’t inside when he went in, so he figured they must have received a load of glass too – crushing it was Charlie’s favorite job.

Doug was glad for this because he had a lot on his mind and he didn’t want to discuss “the bastard” being at lunch. His mind swirled with random, chaotic thoughts of how he could handle the state of his love life. His thoughts were so jumbled with emotions, ranging from crushing depression to burning angst, that he couldn’t make sense of anything.

I know, he thought, finally deciding on a plan after working for a couple of hours and using up some of his energy so his mind could clear, I’ll talk to my therapist about it tomorrow morning at our meeting! He’ll know how I should handle everything.

With all his problems set to be resolved the next morning by someone else, Doug happily worked the rest of the day, dreaming about all the things he’d do with his woman once she was freely his.


            The next morning was overcast and Doug frowned as he stepped out the door of the heap-of-trash trailer he was renting. He knew the place wasn’t pretty, but it was functional, and was all his for as long as he paid the extremely low rent – that’s all he needed. He was saving up his money so that when his woman came to him, they’d be able to get a nicer place to live in. Everything he did or suffered was for her and he knew that’s why she loved him so much.

He locked the door behind himself and walked over to his van. On impulse, he slid open the back, side door and peered at the bed inside; it was still made up neat with clean silk sheets. He smiled, envisioning his blonde goddess naked laying across it, loving the feel of the silk beneath her and aching for the feel of him on top of her.

“Soon, precious,” he whispered, “soon.”

He slid the door closed and opened the driver’s door to climb in. Just as he closed the door behind himself a torrent of rain fell from the sky, coating his windshield with little droplets and making him feel sealed off from reality – something he liked intensely.

He sat there and thought about his woman: how her skin would feel…taste; how she would sound when she moaned his name; how it would thrill him to excite and satisfy her; and how it would feel to be satisfied by her body.

Without giving it any thought – letting his natural urges take him – he unzipped his pants and got himself off while he imagined having sex with her.

Once he was finished, he cleaned up with some fast food napkins he kept in the glove compartment and rushed to make it to his therapy appointment on time. If he was late or missed, he could end up back in confinement and he didn’t want that. For some reason they’d previously deemed him unstable and thought he could pose a threat to the general population when he’d supposedly raped and killed a young woman. He’d told them repeatedly that they’d had a long term relationship and she’d consented to the sexual contact, and that he didn’t know who’d killed her, but it hadn’t been him. He was devastated without her and had been more than willing to let people take care of him while he’d grieved, hence his stay at the mental care facility. The stay had been court ordered, but he hadn’t fought it.

The short-term stay had become more long-term when they’d charged him with rape and murder, having found evidence against him. He still maintained he hadn’t done anything wrong and that someone else had done everything and was framing him. He vowed to find whoever had done it all and kill them, ranting like a mad man at anyone who opposed him.

That’s when the pills had started. Those mind controlling drugs that had kept him enslaved to their will. But he’d tricked them…tricked them all by not taking them once he was away from their choking grasp.

Despite everything, it had been hard for him to leave and go back out into the world. He’d loved Melissa – the young woman he’d been accused of raping and killing – and didn’t know how his heart would ever mend. He never thought he would be able to love anyone again, until he’d first seen her, his blonde goddess. She’d been jogging down the street – one he just happened upon as he drove aimlessly – and he’d instantly fallen in love with her. Sure, most men would have lusted after her in those skin tight exercise clothes that emphasized every curve and dip of her body, but he’d looked beyond all that to her soul. She had a truly beautiful soul. The sad thing was…it was being tormented by the bastard she was living with, and her beauty, her heart, her life was being smothered by his heavy hand. Her soul cried out and begged Doug to love her, to help her. After that, he made it his life’s mission to do right by her and free her for real happiness with him.

Now, as he drove through the city to his therapy appointment, he hoped all the battles he’d been fighting to get to her were worth it. He knew that he’d get some sound advice from his counselor, because he always had.

He pulled into the prestigious medical building parking lot and parked his van. He climbed out, slammed the door behind him, and checked to make sure he hadn’t gotten anything on his pants and that they were fastened properly. Once he was sure of his appearance, he headed for the main door of the brick building; they slid open in welcome but he didn’t go in. He turned left and walked around to the back of the building where an alley lay between it and another. He walked into the dim passageway and headed toward a large cardboard box lying on its side.

“I’m here,” he said, stopping to stand in front of the opening. “Right on time too.”

“Did you bring payment?” a voice croaked from within the tan confines of the box.

“Of course!” Doug said, reaching into the back pocket of his pants, withdrawing the agreed upon payment – whiskey. “I wouldn’t come to see you without payment.”

The voice in the box laughed.

“Good,” it said. “Set it down and let’s begin.”

Doug sat the bottle down on the pavement that was slick with a coating of slime built up from the rain and alley grime.

A hand reached out into the faint light and curled its long, thin fingers around the bottle, lifting it; the bottle disappeared, along with the hand, back into the box.

Doug didn’t know for sure if his therapist was a man or a woman, but he always assumed that the person inside the box was male, so he called the therapist a he. Once, when they’d first started their strange sessions, he’d thought about asking why they were meeting in an alley, while he hid in a cardboard box, but he’d decided that would be a rude question. He wasn’t opposed to sitting in the outdoors to talk about the things in his life that bothered him – he actually liked it better than a confining room. He figured the therapist had read that in his file and wanted him to feel more comfortable. He also assumed he knew about his privacy/trust issues and that’s why he’d insisted on hiding; keeping things anonymous made Doug feel more comfortable sharing. The only thing that did bother him was that there was nowhere for him to sit and he had to stand through the entire visit, or plant his ass in the sludge of alley grime.

Shifting from one foot to another in nervous frustration, Doug tried to tame his thoughts enough to share them.

“It’s complicated…” he started. “I’m in love, but the woman is stuck in an abusive relationship with another man and I don’t know how to help her.”

“Free her,” the voice croaked from within the box. “Follow your heart and free her.”

“How?” Doug asked. “She’s with this man and he seems to follow her everywhere – he never lets her out from under his thumb.”

“Does she love you?” the voice asked.

“Yes!” Doug all but shouted, getting angry. “She loves me so much, but can’t get free of him.”

“You’ll have to take care of him then,” the voice said quietly. “You have to get him out of the way so you can be together – it’s the only way.”

Doug sighed. “That’s what I thought, but I wasn’t sure. Thank you for your advice.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” the voice said. “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

“No,” Doug said. “I have some planning to do. Thanks again.” He turned and walked out of the alley, climbed back into his van, and headed home.


            Dusk was starting to change the appearance of the world when Doug stepped out of his trailer. He breathed deeply of the sweet, cool air evening brought with it and smiled broadly. Tonight was the night he and his blonde goddess would be together once and for all. They would be free to love each other, like they should have been for a long time now.

He practically bounced down the decaying wooden steps leading to the ground and danced all the way to his van. He had so much to look forward to with his woman free to love him back.

He climbed into the van – which tonight he thought of as his grey steed – started the engine and was off. Streets, cars, and people went by in a blur as he headed toward his destination; in less than twenty minutes he was parked down the street from the prim and proper two story house where his love had been held prisoner. He watched the place for a little while and there didn’t seem to be anyone home, so he got out and walked toward it. When he reached the driveway, he turned and walked up it like he was supposed to be there. He knocked on the front door and was pleased when there was no answer. He circled around to the back of the house and investigated a sliding glass door that connected the kitchen of the house to a cement patio; it was locked. With a sigh he decided he would have to break in, but he’d actually expected it to come to this.

He turned and picked up one of the heavy, metal patio chairs and slammed it into the glass of the door; it shattered loudly and splinters of glass sailed through the air in every direction.

Doug didn’t mind the sting of the shards; it was a small price to pay to rescue his princess from the evil dragon. That’s how he’d begun to see the adventure he was on. He was the knight is shining armor, accosting the cursed castle to rescue the damsel in distress so they could live happily ever after. He’d always loved fairy tales, so he thought it logical that he should star in one. After all, he was pure of heart, valiant, and willing to sacrifice himself for those he loved.

He stepped over the threshold of the broken door and looked around cautiously. He’d expected there would be an alarm, but after a quick check, he realized they didn’t even have a system in their house. He thought that odd, but then shrugged it off knowing they lived in a “nice” neighborhood where nothing probably ever happened.

He moved through the house, picking up random object and pictures, looking at them and then putting them back down where he’d gotten them; there was something surreal and eerie about being in someone’s house while they weren’t home, but it didn’t bother him, it excited him. He couldn’t wait for someone to get home from work so he could put his plans into motion: if “the bastard” arrived first, he planned to kill him and throw the body out back; and if his blonde goddess got home first, they would get to know each other and express their love freely and he would kill the man when he arrived. He was harboring some thoughts of making the bastard watch while he and the blonde goddess slacked their passion with each other, like he’d made Doug watch so many times when he’d touched her, but Doug didn’t feel like sharing. He wanted her all to himself so she would feel free to enjoy herself.

While going through a stack of mail, he discovered the name of his woman.

“Bree Heller,” he read aloud. “What a beautiful name…” He sighed and whispered her name again, “Bree.”

A noise from the door – sounding like keys jingling and one being inserted into a lock – alerted him that someone was home.

He dropped the envelope he’d been reading and stealthily made his way over to the foyer to hide inside the archway leading to the living room.

The bastard came through the door as it opened. He turned and kicked it shut with his foot, juggling his briefcase and a large takeout bag full of containers.

Doug’s stomach growled as the aroma of Chinese food waft to his nose.

The bastard’s head shot up and looked in the direction of the living room; he froze, listened, and stepped into the living room.

Doug heard the man coming and watched him step into the room. He waited until he glanced in his direction before slamming his fist into the bastard’s face.

The bastard hit the floor with a loud thud and Doug stood over him grinning.

“Thanks for picking up supper, you fuck!” he exclaimed with glee, righting the takeout bag so the food wouldn’t spill; he took the bag to the kitchen, sat it on the counter, withdrew a large knife from the cutting block, and went back out to the living room.

He stood over the prone man who was dressed in a slate gray business suit, having a hard time deciding if he wanted to finish him quickly or make him suffer. He finally decided on quickly, because he knew Bree would be home soon and he wanted to prepare them a special dinner at the table with the food the bastard had brought.

Kneeling down, he sank the blade into the bastard’s neck and sliced it all the way across. Blood shot out into the air as he cut, then seeped out into a puddle once he was done.

“She’ll be happier without you,” Doug said, smirked, stood, and kicked the bastard just because he wanted to.

He took the time to walk back to the kitchen and put the bloody knife in the sink before he dragged the body outside to the patio. For some strange reason, he thought it would be funny to sit him up in one of the chairs and make it look like he’d fallen asleep, so he did it while giggling hysterically.

“You look like an ass,” he said to the bastard, shaking his head as he went back into the house, crunching through the broken glass.

He washed his hands and looked through the kitchen cabinets until he found what he was looking for – plates and wine glasses. He took two of each out and carried them carefully to the dining room, where a large dark wood table sat quietly. He set them down and went back to the kitchen for the bag of food and cutlery.

He’d just finished setting the table when the front door opened and closed. Then he heard the sweetest voice in the world calling some man’s name; it wasn’t his.

“Bree, my darling,” Doug said, walking out into the living room to greet her. “Welcome home!”

She froze halfway through the living room, her eyes wide with fear. Without warning, she dropped her briefcase, turned, and ran for the front door.

Doug, expecting this of her, knowing she wouldn’t know the bastard wouldn’t hurt her anymore until she’d seen his lifeless body, bolted forward and caught her just before she could reach the door. He wrapped an arm around her waist and whispered Shh! in her ear when she started screaming. When she wouldn’t be quiet, he clamped his hand over her mouth and dragged her through the living room and the kitchen to the patio so she could see for herself that she was safe.

Her eyes fell on the lifeless body of the bastard and she went limp, sobbing.

“That’s right,” Doug said, thinking her actions were from relief. “I’ve freed you from him so we can be together. You don’t have to be afraid anymore!”

She shook her head and sobbed harder.

He turned back toward the house and half-carried, half-dragged her to the dining room, where he sat her in a chair at the table.

“Are you hungry?” he asked. “What would you like?” He spread his hands, displaying the array of food containers on the table.

She shook her head and covered her face with her hands.

He sighed and said, “I know this is a lot to take in at once, but we don’t have to hide our love anymore! You don’t have to be afraid anymore.” He reached over and pulled her hands down from her face. “No one is going to hurt you anymore. I love you and will take care of you.”

He noticed that her eyes were crazy and her breath was coming hard in sobbing gasps.

“I think you need to relax before supper,” he said, standing and extending his hand toward her. “Come with me.”

She jumped up from the chair and tried to run out of the room, but he easily caught her again.

Bree fought hard, screaming, biting, and kicking.

With a deep sigh, Doug said, “I didn’t want to have to do this, but you’re leaving me no choice.” He drew back his hand and slapped her hard across the face; she crumpled to the floor in a ball, sobbing even harder than before. “I’m sorry… I didn’t want to hurt you, but you need to calm down.” He pulled four large cable ties from his back pocket and used them to bind her wrists and ankles before he carried her upstairs.

When she wouldn’t direct him to the bedroom, he started checking every room until he found the master suite.

“Oh, what a lovely tub,” he said, depositing her on the bed and looking through the doorway into the bathroom. “That’s what you need…a nice hot bubble bath to help you relax.” He winked and headed that way to start the water.

He turned the taps on the large, two person bathtub and adjusted the water to the perfect temperature. He then chose some fragrant bubble bath from the counter and added it to the water.

Once the bubbles were forming nicely, he stripped off all his clothes and headed back out into the bedroom.

Bree lay on the bed where he’d left her, still sobbing.

“Please, no,” she begged. “Please, please, please, no!” She squeezed her eyes shut tight.

Doug knelt by the bed and brushed her hair away from her face and kissed her forehead.

“It’s okay,” he said. “I’ll take care of you.”

With strong hands he ripped her clothes and slowly slid them off of her body while letting his hands trail over her soft skin.

“Beautiful,” he whispered. “More beautiful than I could have ever imagined.” He didn’t stop with just touching her and began to lick her skin and then nibble.

She screamed, but Doug believed it was from passion and that he was somehow fulfilling her fantasies, so he kept going.

When he took her it was more rapturous than he could ever have imagined, and he felt their souls touch and become one. He knew she felt it to by how she shuddered with ecstasy and groaned.

“I’m sorry, my love,” he said, getting up from the bed. “I couldn’t wait to have you.” He caressed her tear slick cheek and headed into the bathroom to turn off the water that was still running. While doing so, he accidently spilled the bubble bath solution on the floor, because in his haste he’d forgotten to put the cap back on.

“Shit!” he exclaimed and righted the bottle before setting it back on the sink. “I’ll clean that up later.” He came back out into the bedroom, picked her up, and carried her over his shoulder into the bathroom.

He was just about to lower her into the water when his feet slipped out from under him and she went flying through the air.

Bree screamed and landed with a thunk and a slash.

Doug picked himself up off the floor and peered into the tub – he couldn’t see Bree at all. He scooped away some of the bubbles that were swirled with thick, red blood, and peered into the water.

Her lifeless eyes stared up at him, and he could see more blood swirling out into the water from a dent in her skull.

Tears filled his eyes as he fell back onto the tile floor to sit on his butt; his hands were shaking and he was having a hard time breathing.

His love had been taken from him just as they were finally free to be together. He felt robbed by life – cheated. Anger and pain warred within him for release, but there was nothing for him to lash out at but himself.

He stood and glared at himself in the mirror. Brown eyes stared back at him from a plain, nondescript face. He reared his head back and smashed it into the glass, shattering the reflected image of himself. Large pieces of the silvery glass fell all over the counter and into the sink, shattering into even smaller pieces.

Doug reached down and grasped a long, knife shaped piece, gripping it tightly, not even paying attention to the pain of it cutting into his hand. He stabbed at his face with the shard, desperate to get the pain, the burning, out of his head. He couldn’t take anymore disappointment and hurt. Everything he loved was always taken from him.

He screamed as he sank the glass into his flesh again and again. Chunks of skin and meat fell into the sink and blood ran in floods down his neck and chest. When the burn eased and he didn’t feel the pain anymore, he stumbled over to the bathtub and looked down at his beautiful Bree. His blood dripped into the water, turning the bubbles pink and them red; the water soon changed to the color of passion as well. The color of passion, he thought, as he fell to his knees, too weak from blood loss to stand any longer. Her blood and mine. Her passion and mine.


Three days later…

Doug woke up in a room with blank, off-white walls, a window covered by a metal grate, and straps restraining his body to a single metal framed bed in the center. He glanced around apprehensively, but his face hurt terribly when he moved, so he tried to hold still.

Distantly he heard a door open and the sound of footsteps getting closer.

“Ah, I see you’re awake,” a woman in light green scrubs said. “I’ll get the doctor – he’ll want to see you.”

She vanished from view and footsteps receded, and again a door opened and closed.

He didn’t know how much time passed while he was laying there; he couldn’t think straight because his mind was fuzzy.

The mind control drugs… he thought and chuckled to himself, wincing in pain as his face muscles moved under their protective gauze.

He jumped when he heard the door open and close again, and this time two sets of feet walking across the hard, smooth surface of the floor.

“Douglas Thomas?” a male voice asked in a somewhat bored, overly calm tone. “I’m not surprised to see you back here…since your escape almost a month ago the authorities say you’ve been up to your old hi-jinx: raping and killing innocent women. It seems that this time you also killed the woman’s husband. You know you’re not getting out again, right? We know how you escaped and have taken measures to prevent it.”

Doug laughed and tested his restraints.

“You can’t control me,” he muttered. “I’ll be free to love!”

“What?” the doctor said, stepping closer, trying to hear what Doug had said.

“You can’t control me!” Doug screamed at the top of his voice, thrashing violently on the bed, laughing. “I’ll be free to love! You can’t stop me!”

The doctor shook his head and he and the woman left the room.

Doug kept muttering to himself, envisioning Bree’s beautiful face.

“Bubble bath of blood,” he raved. “Passion! Red, burning passion!”

His rants and laughter soon turned to sobs, and the sounds of his inner torment floated out into the corridor and down the empty hallway to haunt anyone who came close enough to hear. He knew he would never get out again, but it didn’t matter. His heart was broken beyond repair, and he’d remember it for the rest of his life every time he looked in the mirror. The damage was done. The burning passion had taken his very soul and twisted it beyond repair.


©Rebecca Besser, 2016. All rights reserved.


The Three Zomb-Egos by Rebecca Besser


By Rebecca Besser

            It was an overcast afternoon when Shawn, Nathan, Cal, and Tim met at the local bar in a small town in Virginia. They’d become friends online and planned the get together so they could discuss their most common interest – zombies.

            The establishment was nothing short of pathetic on the outside, which almost made the men decide to traverse elsewhere, but Cal joked that it looked like his apocalyptic dream house, so they decided to stay.

            Inside the alcohol peddling abode, the men found a plethora of zombie and science fiction collectables, proudly displayed in lighted chrome and glass cases.

            “This place is sweet!” Shawn exclaimed, and the others agreed.

            They seated themselves at a round table toward the back of the empty deserted room, and took in the sight of the place for a couple of minutes.

            “Oh,” Tim said, jumping up and dashing over to the bar that ran almost the full length of the right side of the room, “light sabers!” He picked up one of the toy collectables and swung it to make the plastic cylinders extend from the base, just as he pushed the button on the hilt to make it light up; an electronic hum rent the air as he swung it.

            All the men’s faces lit up and they joined their friend at the bar to play with the sabers.

            “Could you imagine having a real one of these babies when the Z-poc happens?” Nathan asked with glee painted across his face, making him look like a kid.

            “That would be kick ass!” Cal said, but was disappointed when he noticed there were only two sabers.

            Shawn, having also arrived at the bar too late to have a saber of his own, frowned.

            “Let’s just see how well those things do against zombies…” he said, and moaned, lunging toward Tim like a zombie from hell.

            Tim, Cal, and Nathan laughed, and Tim swung his saber playfully at Shawn.

            Shawn didn’t give up his attack easily, though, and soon had Tim pinned against the bar, snarling like a raging hungry beast intent on having Tim for lunch.

            Cal, amused by Shawn’s actions, did the same to Nathan, and in seconds they were on the floor, rolling around.

            At that very moment, the proprietor of the establishment came in through the back door, heard the noise out by the bar, and called the police. He’d been outside, taking bags of trash to the dumpster, and when he’d returned, he found lunatics in his bar!

            The police told him to stay hidden, so he went into his office and locked the door behind him.

            The noise continued for a while, and was abruptly ended when something glass shattered.

            “Oh, shit!” Shawn exclaimed, noticing that they’d knocked a glass off the bar with their playful tussling; he looked around, but didn’t see anyone. “Hello?” he called, hoping someone would answer him.

            Cal and Nathan stopped wrestling and looked up, and around, to see what had broken and what Shawn was yelling about.

            “You’re probably going to have to pay for that,” Cal said, motioning to the broken glass on the floor.

            “I know…” Shawn said, still searching for someone who worked there, so he could do the right thing and offer to pay for the damage. “Where the hell is everyone?”

            Tim laughed. “Z-poc!” He started moaning, limping, and shuffling in circles.

            Shawn shook his head, and still trying to find someone, spotted a broom and dust pan behind the bar. He didn’t want to go back there, in case someone did finally appear – they might have a gun and think he was robbing the place – so he picked up the light saber Tim had put down and grabbed the other one out of Nathan’s hand.

            Nathan protested with a whine of, “Hey!” but Shawn ignored him.

            Cal nudged Nathan to distract him from losing his toy and started moaning and pawing at Nathan like he was a zombie; Nathan shoved him away, and did the same.

            Shawn, meanwhile, was using the sabers – one in each hand – to try to pinch the broom and dust pan together so he could pick them up and lift them over the counter; he kept getting frustrated because the cylinders kept folding down when he tilted the sabers at a certain angle.

            Tim, Cal, and Nathan got bored with aimlessly shuffling around the room and trying to bite each other, so they converged on Shawn in a horde of chomping teeth and (what they hoped sounded like) deadly moan.

            They were all around Shawn, clawing him with wild eyes – while he tried to shove them off, focused on his broom retrieval task – when the police came charging in with their guns drawn.

            “Freeze!” they yelled. “Put your hands up where we can see them!”

            All four men froze and spun to face the officers; Shawn accidently slapped Nathan and Tim in the head with the light sabers as he lifted his arms.

            “Sorry,” he muttered.

            “No talking!” one of the officer’s yelled – the tall, bald, skinny one. “Drop your weapons!”

            Shawn opened his hands and let go of the plastic toys, and as they fell, one hit Cal in the head, and the other bounced off the top of the bar and into a row of liquor bottles, knocking them to the floor. They all shattered with a tickling of glass and a splash of liquid.

            “Smooth move,” the other officer said – the short, slightly chubby one. “ All of you – turn slowly and put your hands on the bar.”

            “What’s going on?” Cal whispered to his friends.

            “I don’t know!” Shawn whispered harshly. “Shut up.”

            “Hey!” the tall officer said. “No talking!”

            The room went silent as the four men were patted down by the two officers.

            “Stand up, put your hands behind your heads, and turn around,” the short, chubby officer commended; the four did as they were told.

            “Where are you from, and what are you doing here?” the tall, bald officer asked.

            No one spoke for a moment, and then Nathan – who had experience with law enforcement – spoke up.

            “We’re friends who met online,” he said confidently. “We’re all writers, and we decided to meet for a drink, since we lived close together.”

            “Oh, really?” the tall officer asked, glancing at his partner. “Can we see some ID please?”

            Shawn produced his, and so did Tim.

            Cal and Nathan searched their pockets only to realize they’d left their wallets in their cars.

            The officers, getting aggravated, decided they would have to go and get them.

            “We’re going to take a small field trip outside together,” the short officer said. “I don’t want any fun business from any of you, understand?”

            The four men nodded and proceeded as they were instructed outside.

            Nathan and Cal were allowed into their cars to retrieve their wallets.

            The officers then had them walk to the rear of their vehicles and stand with their hands behind their heads while their IDs were examined.

            The chubby officer glanced up and noticed the license plate on the back of Shawn’s car. He did a double take and then looked at Cal’s…and Nathan’s. He couldn’t help but laugh.

            “What the hell?” he asked. “Are you zombie worshippers or something?”

            The four men frowned in confusion and shrugged.

            “We all write about zombies,” Nathan said, trying to understand the man’s meaning. “Why? Did you recognize one of our names? Have you read our books?”

            All four of the men’s eyes lit up as they looked hopefully at the officers, expecting at least one of them to be a fan of their work.

            “No,” the short, chubby officer said, and motioned to the license plates. “I was referring to those.” He glanced at Tim’s car. “Who doesn’t have one? Does he still need to be ‘initiated’ into the group or something?”

            Tim looked down at the ground and clenched his jaw; he didn’t want to admit he didn’t have a zombie license plate like his friends. He wanted one, but just hadn’t gotten one yet.

            Shawn stared off into the distance.

            Cal looked down at the ground and kicked at a small pebble that was lying in front of his foot.
Nathan shifted his weight from one foot to the other with nervous energy.

            “Not going to tell me, huh?” the chubby officer asked. “Fine, I have my own way of finding out. I’ll run the non-zombie plate.”

            He walked over to the police cruiser and opened the door. He slid into the driver’s seat and typed on the cars computer, pulling up the license plate that didn’t have anything to do with zombies.

            He climbed back out of the car and sauntered back over with a triumphant look on his face.

            “So, Tim,” he said, “are you just not zombie enough to have a zombie themed license plate? Or won’t your wife let you?”

            Shawn, Cal, and Nathan burst out laughing.

            “Shut up, you fucking wacktards!” Tim snarled.

            “He’s just jealous we’re better zombie men than him,” Cal joked.

            “His wife did say he moans like the dead…” Nathan said with a snicker.

            “He’s been known to prance around town screaming, ‘I’m a rainbow vampire! I’m a rainbow vampire!’” Shawn said, and doubled over laughing.

            “You’re all bastards,” Tim said, and sighed; he noticed the officers were laughing too.

            “Calm down, my friend,” Nathan said, trying to catch his breath.

            “Look at it from a zombie perspective…” Cal said, “…at least when the Z-poc happens, they won’t know you’re out to get them.”

            The officers were shaking their heads at the men and their antics.

            “Okay,” the tall, bald officer said, “let’s get back to business. What was going on in the bar?”

            The four men told them about finding the light sabers, pretending to be zombies, and the broken glass.

            “Well,” the chubby officer said, “as long as you pay for the damages, and promise to leave, we won’t take you in.”

            “Thank you,” Shawn said, even though he now had to pay for multiple bottles of liquor because the cops made him drop the light saber and knock them over.

            The officers escorted Shawn back inside the bar and let the owner know what had happened. He paid for the glass and the alcohol, and then made his way back outside where his friends were waiting.

            “I guess we survived that,” Shawn said.

            “Well, we are all survivors!” Nathan said, grinned, and winked.

            The four men said goodbye and headed their separate ways, knowing that their story would someday be told online…




©Rebecca Besser. All rights reserved.

Zombie Christmas Story – High Price for Hope by Rebecca Besser

Jerrold Brown sat by the small fire burning in a fifty-five-gallon barrel that had been cut in half. He watched his wife across the room, tucking in their son and daughter. Sighing deeply, he looked into the fire, thinking about Christmas. It was hard to believe it had been a year since the zombies had arrived. It was the worst Christmas Eve he’d ever experienced. He still remembered tucking the kids in that night–trying to get them to fall asleep so Santa would come. But he’d never arrived, just the rotting corpses of the animated dead.
With another sigh, Jerrold rubbed his face with both hands. His wife, Dawn, drew the blanket curtain they used to partition off the kids sleep area closed, and joined him by the fire.
“What’re you thinking about?” she asked quietly, her voice barely above a whisper.
“I’m thinking Christmas will be here in a couple of days,” he mumbled.
“I think it’s sad that we don’t have any presents for the kids. Last year they didn’t get to open the presents we bought for them–we were too busy fighting for our lives. After a year of being sequestered in this basement we have lost all sense of hope.”
“What are you getting at?” Dawn asked, a suspicious look on her face.
Jerrold dragged his hairs through his hair, closed his eyes, and bowed his head. He knew she wouldn’t like what he was going to say next.
“I’m going to go out and get the kids presents. They deserve to have a decent Christmas, no matter what the condition of the world.”
He heard her gasp, but didn’t look up, just rushed on.
“We need food, too. I should have gone a week ago. You know it as well as I do. I might as well see if I can find some presents while I’m out there. Who knows, maybe all the zombies are gone, moved on to somewhere else in search of people to eat.”
Jerrold looked up at his wife, dreading what he might see in her expression. Tears were sliding down her sallow cheeks. It hit him again just how much they’d suffered–how much they’d had to go without. Clenching his jaw, he decided, be damned all danger, he was going to make this Christmas special for all of them, no matter what she said.
Dawn’s eyes were trained on the fire. The shifting light from the tongues of flame licking at the wood that feed it sent shadows dance over her features. She was upset. He could see that from the tightness of her jaw.
“Sweetie,” he said, caressing her wet cheek. “I have to do something. I can’t bear them not having some joy in their lives. What kind of existence is that for a child?”
Closing her eyes, she pressed her face into his hand and took a shuddering breath. “It’s too dangerous. I don’t want to lose you.”
“You won’t lose me,” he said, taking her into his arms and kissing the top of her head. “I’ll be careful. I promise.”
“I can’t bear even the thought of losing you,” she whispered and wrapped her arms tightly around him. “It’s not worth the risk. I don’t want you to go. Stay for me. Please.”
Jerrold took a deep breath and rubbed her back, tears coming to his own eyes at her pleading. He eyes fell on a stick that was jutting out from beneath the curtain to the kids sleeping area. It was crudely carved to resemble a human. He remembered making them for the kids for their birthdays. Their eyes had lit up and it was the only time he remembered seeing genuine smiles on their faces since they’d been down here.
Squeezing Dawn tight, he whispers, “I have to do it–for the kids. They should have sometime to play with, something to enjoy. All they play with are those damn sticks, or what they can draw on the cement floor with charred pieces of wood from the fire. They should have more. They deserve more. What kind of childhood are we giving them?”
She pulled back and looked him in the face defiantly.
“We are giving them the best childhood we can under the circumstances,” she hissed. “It’s not like we have a choice. We are doing the best we can with what we have. Those damn zombies took everything from us, but we have our lives and we have each other. That should be enough.”
“Believe me,” he said. “I am grateful that we are all alive and together, and I’ll never be able to express how glad I was that we found somewhere that had a good supply of food and water to stay, but it’s Christmas. I really need you to understand and support me in this, I need to do this, for all of us.”
Dawn clutched at the front of Jerrold’s threadbare shirt, kneading it in her almost skeletal hands. Tears ran freely down her face and dropped on her shirt, also threadbare and almost sheer in its overuse. Choking back a sob, she buried her face in his neck and whimpered. She took a couple of minutes to get herself under control before she spoke in a pained whisper.
“When will you go?”
Wrapping his arms around her and rocking her gently, he mumbled into her hair, “In the morning. It’ll be Christmas Eve. I’ll arrive back just in time to put the presents under the tree, just like Santa.”
He laughed at the irony of the thought, as he too choked back sobs.
She nodded against his chest and clutched at him, not wanting to let go, not wanting to think about what the morning would bring, when her husband would leave their den of safety and venture out into the world that held who knew what.
They sat by the fire, crying and holding each other for hours before they added a couple more pieces of wood to the fire and went to bed. Even though they’d been careful about sex, using condoms to make sure that Dawn wouldn’t get pregnant–which they’d run out of a couple of weeks ago–they made love that night, throwing caution to the wind. The action was full of desperation. They spoke to each other with their bodies, conveying their love and their need to be with each other, hoping that the bond they created would be stronger than the separation they would face in the morning, stronger than the fear of never seeing each other again.

*   *   *

The next morning Jerrold was up and dressed before the kids awoke. He kissed them gently on their foreheads, brushed back their hair and said a quick prayer for them. Behind him, he heard the sound of Dawn’s bare feet padding softly across the cement floor. She paused at the curtain and sighed heavily. He could feel the tension radiating from her. Turning, he stepped up to her and wrap his arms around her, burring his face in her hair.
“I’ll be careful,” he whispered. “I promise I’ll come back.”
With a quivering breath, she nodded and pressed her face into the side of his neck. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he said, pulling back and kissing her.
Wrapping her arms tightly around his neck, she stood up on her tip toes and put her soul into the kiss, making it clear to him one last time how much he truly meant to her.
Breaking away reluctantly, Jerrold picked up his 30/30 rifle and his bag, and headed for the door.
“Make sure you put these back up as soon as I’m through the door,” he said, taking down heavily pieces of lead pipe and angle iron they had at different levels of the door. “I’ll padlock the door at the top of the steps from the outside, instead of the inside. Do you remember the knock I’ll use when I come back, so that you know it’s me?”
Dawn nodded, but he was facing the door and didn’t see her.
Turning, he looked at her. “Do you remember?”
“Yes,” she said. “Three fast, two slow, three fast.”
He smiled and nodded, stepped back over to where she stood, and kissed her one last time. Looking deep into her eyes, he said, “I’ll be back tonight.”
She smiled weakly, nodded, and closed the door behind him as he picked up his rifle and bag again, and stepped through.

*   *   *

Jerrold stood in the shadows of the apartment building basement, waiting to hear the scraping of metal as Dawn replaced the bars on the boiler room door. They’d been lucky to find such a place to stay. They had heat, and had been draining the water out of the building’s pipes for months. He’d also feed them on what the building had to offer. Each apartment had provided canned goods and everything else they had needed. The zombies had left the building after the people who lived there had died or been turned into one of the walking dead. Now their supplies were getting low, which after a year, they couldn’t complain. But this time he would have to venture beyond the safety zone and into the unknown.
Satisfied after he heard the last bar being placed across the door, ignoring the sobs he could hear from his wife, he mounted the steps to their second defense–a padlocked metal door that lead into the main lobby of the building. Withdrawing a small, sliver key from his bag, Jerrold quickly and quietly unlocked it. Taking a deep breath, he pulled the door open slowly. The hinges screeched loudly and Jerrold froze for a moment. Deciding it would be better just to get it over with, knowing the sound would have already alerted anything in the area to his presence, he jerked the door the rest of the way open and jumped through. Whipping his rifle around from where it hung on his back with a shoulder strap, he held it at ready and spun in a semi circle to check the room around him. Seconds passed and all that could be heard was his panting breath. No danger presented itself.
Turning back to the door, he quickly shut it and attached the lock to the latch he’d installed when he’d gone on his first ‘raiding’ trip. They kept it locked from the inside when they were all at ‘home’, and when he went out, he locked it from the outside.
Surveying the room again, Jerrold noticed that the only thing that had changed since the last time he’d been here, was that more plants were growing through the openings of the vacant windows, which had been shattered long ago.
It was still dark, the sun was just beginning to rise, casting a light yellow glow to the backdrop and in between the buildings he could just make out beyond the vines. Stepping carefully, holding his rifle in front of him, ready to pull it up at any moment, he advanced to the busted out glass door that had once been a grand entrance. Pushing aside the greenery, he stepped out into the world, breathing deeply of the fresh morning air, something that seemed almost foreign to him since they’d sought haven below. The sweetness and crispness of it almost made him cry, and at the same time, overwhelmed him with joy.
A bird flitted past and called to its mate, which soon joined it in a tree that had once neatly graced the sidewalk of the city, but was now growing wildly. Old Christmas lights hung from the branches, providing a ladder for the vines to climb–the tiny, twinkle light bulbs looked like alien berries waiting to be picked.
With a grin on his face, Jerrold shivered as a strong wind blew, cutting through his worn out clothes. He’d forgotten how cold it was outside when fall gave way to winter.
“First things first,” he said to himself, heading down the street to where he knew a man’s clothing store used to operate, knowing he needed a coat, gloves, and a hat if he was going to stay warm long enough to hunt for gifts and food.
The sound of his voice startled a black squirrel who’d been searching through the weeds for the last of the nuts from a small walnut tree. It chattered at him angrily as it ducked inside a faded blue BMW that was parked at the curb.
Bending down slightly, Jerrold could see that it had made itself a nice little nest in the interior, where it had dug into a rip in the seat and was not living lavishly in leather and insulation.
Chuckling and shaking his head at the absurdity, yet genius, of the upside down world that they now lived in, he continued on in search of warm clothes.
Soon he reached the store he was looking for. But, to his chagrin, he noticed that all the showcase windows of the front of the store were intact. Smeared on the inside was a dark-brown substance that he knew was dried blood, which meant someone or something could still be inside.
Jerrold stood there for a moment, indecision warring in his mind of the possible dangers of breaking the glass and alerting any zombies that might be lurking somewhere, and the possible danger of going in period when something could still be in there. A strong gust of wind easily penetrated his clothes and bit into his skin with tiny, pin like teeth, made the choice for him. He had to have something more to wear, and if he didn’t go it there, he could waste hours searching for the right items, and then hope they would fit him.
Looking up and down the street, seeing no movement, he lifted the butt of his rifle and broke one of the windows. Glass hit the pavement with a tinkling of accusation, as if angry for having been broken and disturbed after so long a silence.
Jerrold held his gun at ready and waited for a ghoul to jump out at him. He’d had it happen plenty of times before and had always come away the victor. Nothing happened. No one and nothing came from the new opening. Glancing up and down the street again, not seeing any movement, he started knocking away the jagged remains of the glass so he could get through. His hands were so numb from the cold he didn’t feel when a small sliver penetrated his palm, breaking the skin and letting out a small trickle of blood.
Entering the store, he hurriedly located what he needed. He found himself a new pair of jeans, a shirt, underwear, socks, boots, a coat, gloves, and a hat, piling them in the center of the store, where he could see all around him. Quickly he shed his worn out clothes, donned his new apparel, and took out his old hunting knife, adding it to his new outfit in case he did meet a zombie. Leaving his old clothes laying on the ground where he’d taken them off, he grabbed some more clothes and shoved them into a shopping bag he found behind the counter. Knowing that he couldn’t carry them around all day because he would be collecting more items he decided to jog them back down the block and leave the bag outside the door to the basement sanctuary.
While Jerrold had been searching through the racks of clothing, the small sliver of glass had come free from his hand, but he still hadn’t noticed. Unknowingly he began a blood trail, starting with the glass, to the racks, to the clothes he left lay, and the counter where he’d gotten the bag. The gloves he’d chosen were thick, and they absorbed the red liquid, only to start dripping around the cuff after he’d left the bag at the basement door. He didn’t think anything of it, as now his hands were warm and his palms were sweating.
Jerrold decided that clothing and food should be top priority for this trip, even though he wouldn’t return without presents. He just knew that finding appropriate gifts would take longer, and if he got his ‘duty’ done first, then he would have more time to ‘shop.’
Turning to the right this time when he left the building, he went to a department store he knew would have clothes for his entire family. There were plenty of shopping carts sitting around, so he used one to procure clothing for his family. Having not seen any zombies for a while, he started to let his guard down. He assumed they’d moved on to where they thought people might be more numerous.
Christmas decorations and fake snow were on all of the displays, some still standing and some destroyed. Strings of lights dangled drunkenly from cash registers, and Santas that had been placed close to the windows had faded from red to pink, where the sun had bleached them through the summer months. Seeing these relics reminded him of last year–of what a disaster Christmas had been.
After getting all the clothes the cart could hold, he paused to think of anything else they might need. Batteries came to mind. He searched around the counters where he remembered having seen batteries when he’d shopped there long ago, but there were none. The empty racks stared back at him menacingly, as if mocking his stupidity for thinking he’d find something there.
All the snacks and candy bars were gone as well. There was nothing of use or value.
Pushing the overloaded cart out of the store was harder than he’d first thought it would be. There was so much stuff knocked over and in the way, the wheels kept getting stuck and he had to continually clear a path. It was at one of those times, while he was bent over pulling an inflatable snowman, that had deflated long ago, from beneath the wheels that a noise from behind him alerted him that he was not alone.
Slowly he stood erect, sliding his rifle strap off his shoulder he prepared to fire. Spinning suddenly, he brought the butt of the 30/30 tight into his shoulder, and looked down the sights with the ease that only comes from practice.
Standing no more than ten feet from him was an old woman and a young boy, but they were no longer human. The wasting of their flesh released a stench that he should have noticed and probably would have if he hadn’t been constantly moving. But the fact of the matter was, he was accustom to the smell of death, he’d been living with it for a year now, and it wasn’t something he noticed anymore.
They stared at him, the little boy holding the old woman’s hand like they still thought they were living and he was going on a shopping trip with grandma.
The stand off ended when the old lady hissed and her dentures fell from her gapping, rotted mouth. Her cheek split and her bottom jaw slid from its sockets to dangle below her face by loose, flapping skin.
She darted forward at Jerrold, as if it was his fault she was falling apart. Not seeming to realize that she was still holding the boys hand, she ripped his decaying arm off as she came for Jerrold, the only fresh meat she’d seen in months. It didn’t matter that she didn’t have any teeth, or that she could no longer bite, she attacked him anyway.
Not wanting to draw unneeded attention, Jerrold quickly side stepped the woman, and grabbed the long knife that was strapped to his thigh. As he spun, he brought the blade down into the back of the old woman’s head, penetrating her skull with a sickening squish. She was so rotten that she was literally falling apart.
Amazed at how easy it had been to kill her, for a moment Jerrold just stood there marveling at the corpse, and didn’t pay any attention to the boy.
Suddenly, a shriek sounded–it was high pitched and angry. Turning toward the sound, Jerrold saw the boy had climbed up onto an empty rack and was about to propel himself at the him.
Jumping back and losing his balance when he slipped in the black blood that had oozed out of the old woman, he landed hard on the marble tiled floor, the knife fell from his grasp and slid a few feet away. For a few moments he couldn’t move, the breath had been knocked out of his body, and he’d jarred his back.
In those precious moments, the boy took advantage of the situation. Hissing and clawing, he scrabbled across the floor on all fours. He was a wild beast and he smelled blood.
No sooner had Jerrold got his breath back, than he saw the small body pounce into the air above him. He frantically searched around himself for his knife. With the boy in the air, merely two feet from landing on him, Jerrold gripped something and brought it up at an angle in an attempt to knock the boy sideways. He succeeded, hitting him directly in the head.
The boy fell to the side with a whimper and didn’t get up. Jerrold looked over at the boy, slowly sitting up, forcing his back to stretch. He’d picked up a large plastic candy cane, and had, by a miracle, stabbed the boy in the temple with it, killing him.
Sadness gripped his heart. He was here to get things that his family needed to survive. He knew that the boy had been a zombie and there was nothing he could have done to save or help him, but he still felt bad about ending his existence.
It took Jerrold precious minutes to get his back to stretch enough to allow him to stand. After that, he hobbled his way out of the store. By the time he was half way home with the cart, his back was almost back to normal, with only a few spasms every now and again. Pushing forward and through the pain, he made it back and dropped off the cart, leaving it beside the bag he’d brought back earlier.
Now that he’d seen a couple of zombies, his guard was back up. Slipping off his glove, he wrapped his hand around the padlock, giving it a swift tug. Looking back over his shoulder when he heard a rustle in the rubble, he slid his hand back into his glove. Not seeing the blood he had smeared all over the padlock. Holding the rifle in front of him like a combat soldier creating a perimeter, Jerrold snuck over to where he’d heard the noise. A rat jumped up from a hole and scurried away. Startled by the sudden appearance of the rodent, he almost pulled the trigger.
With a deep sigh, Jerrold bent over and closed his eyes for a moment, still thinking about the boy he’d just killed. Mentally shaking off the thought, he reminded himself why he was out here, and left the building once again, this time going straight across the street, heading into a residential area, where he had the best chance of finding food and presents.
The first house he entered was small, and it looked like it had been the home of a young couple with a small children. Baby toys were strewn about the decaying, dirty carpet. They looked as if a small animal had decided to play with them. Having gotten brittle over time, the soft plastic and plush toys now sported holes and teeth marks.
Quickly doing a check to make sure there was nothing moving around upstairs–where he found a crib and a toddler bed in one of the rooms–he ventured back downstairs. Sitting under the Christmas tree were many presents. Jerrold knew his children would be too old for the toys, but he knew he could use the bright red wagon to haul food and gifts. Digging it out from beneath the packages, he was about to leave, but then thought he better check a couple of the woman’s presents to see if there would be anything Dawn would like.
Knelling down, he tore open a small, somewhat flat, rectangle box. The paper came off easily as the weather had broken it down. He discovered that it was a new cell phone. With an ironic smirk he tossed it aside–the once vital piece of technology no longer having a purpose. He dug through more of the pile and opened a few more packages, finding CDs, DVDs, and all kinds of other things that needed batteries or electricity to function. He was about to give up when he came across a small box far back under the tree. It held a dainty opal ring. He slid it into his coat pocket, knowing that Dawn would love it. Deciding to open one more thing and then check the kitchen, he found a collection of children’s books. They were too young for his children, but they hadn’t had much experience in reading and he knew that it they could use them to practice. He hoped he would find more age appropriate books at another house. It would be great for what little schooling and teaching they tried to provide.
A quick check of the kitchen cabinets yielded a couple of cans of soup and vegetables, bu not as much as he’d been hoping for. A door standing in the far wall of the kitchen was slightly ajar, and Jerrold decided to check it out, and was glad he did. It was a pantry, and all kinds of canned goods and dry goods where stored on the shelves.
Feeling like a kid at Christmas time, the thought of which made him laugh, he pulled the wagon close to the door and started to fill it.
He wasn’t paying much attention to what he was grabbing and when something warm and furry slithered against his hand, he screamed and dropped it. He looked down at a box of corn flakes that had a hole chewed through the side. The light tan flakes inside moved and wiggled. He knelt down and gently brushed the cereal aside to see a rat’s nest.
Standing, he kicked it off to the side and was more careful while loading the wagon. Once it was full to the point of over flowing, he set out for another house. Pulling the wagon with the hand that was injured caused it to bleed more profusely. Blood ran down the handle and dripped on the ground, but Jerrold didn’t notice, he was still on a high from finding so much food in one place. Now all he had to do was find a few more gifts and he could go home. He had plenty of time before the sunset.
The next house he entered smelled like muscle cream, even after the time it had sat vacant and open to the elements. He knew that an older couple had lived there, it was a smell that no other dwelling would have possessed. It reminded him of his own parents, and what it had been like to visit them. He didn’t look through the presents, but he did take the time to look through the medicine cabinet, taking anything that he thought might be useful.
Two houses later, he hit pay dirt. Quickly securing the house had shown him that a boy and a girl had lived here–there was a room for each. He took some of the decorations from each room for his children, so they could decorate their sleeping area. But he was mostly happy with the books he found on their shelves. After carrying them downstairs and putting them in the wagon, he knew he would have to find something to make sides for it. If he hit one bump on the way home he would lose everything.
With a little bit of thought and some quick innovation, he fashioned sides for the wagon out of shelves from a book case. He held them on and together with a roll of duct tape he’d found in a small tool box underneath the kitchen sink.
The family had purchased a live tree, which was now dry and bare of all needles. They lay on the floor of the room in a carpet of brown strands. Pushing them aside Jerrold dug through the presents and was disgusted when he had to throw more than half of the items aside. Electronics. They were so worthless now.
Finding a couple more books, he added them to the wagon, along with the other gifts he thought his children would enjoy. He left the house, focusing his attention on the wagon as he maneuvered it down the front steps. When he turned around to look forward, he noticed there were five zombies stumbling down the sidewalk toward him from the way he’d come.
Frowning, he wondered where they’d come from. Lifting his rifle, he shot the first zombies in the head. The bullet pulverized its rotting brain and still had enough power to hit the third one back in the neck, taking out enough tissues for its head to fall off–both fell to the ground at once.
The second, fourth, and fifth in the stumbling line up kept coming, ignoring their downed comrades lying in their path.
Jerrold clenched his jaw, hating to fire once, but hating even more to fire again, knowing now that there were still zombies around and they would come searching for the source of the sound. He wouldn’t be able to search for anything else, he would have to hurry home after this or risk serious danger.
Jerking the lever action of the rifle, releasing the spent casing and chambering another bullet, he took aim again. Hoping to do intentionally what he’d done by accident with the last shot, but it wasn’t to be.
After three more shots and a stab with his hunting knife, the zombies were all down. Hurriedly, he jogged in a round about way back to his home. It took him a half an hour, with all the curbs and debris he had to navigate through.
The sun was beginning to set now, as the apartment building came into view. He breathed a sigh of relief and increased his pace even though he was exhausted. The thought of seeing his wife, of holding her and the kids, gave him the strength he needed to make it back.
Fatigue made him lazy, and he didn’t even take the time to peer into the lobby before rushing in with the wagon clattering noisily behind him.
Twenty zombies were gathered around the door that lead to the basement, pushing and clawing at each other, fighting over who got to lick the lock. They turned, as shocked to see him as he was to see them.
Jerrold stood frozen in shock until the zombies started to cock their heads and sniff the air, inching closer and closer to him.
Raising his gun once again, he blasted as many as he could. Some of the zombies went down as legs were severed in a splash of thick, black blood.
Jumping over the reception desk, Jerrold took cover and reloaded the gun, when he stood, hands that had been stripped of flesh reached for him. Stepping back, he let bullets fly. The rotted corpses were so far gone that the bullets had almost nothing to stop them. They went through two or three zombies before losing momentum.
He caught glimpses of eyeballs dangling from sockets and grotesque figures with missing or damaged limbs. Face after face of hungry horror eager for him to fill their bellies or join their ranks.
After a couple more reloads and attacks, he killed fifteen of them, and the other five were wounded to the point where they were no longer a serious threat. Jumping back over the counter, he thanked God they hadn’t been smart enough to find the little swinging door, or the latch that held it shut, otherwise they would have gotten back there with him and he would have been trapped.
He finished off the last five with his knife, retrieved his bag from the wagon, and attempted to unlock the padlock. His gloves made him clumsy and he dropped the key. Biting one of the fingers of his glove, he yanked it off. Crying out in pain, his teeth parted and the blood soaked glove fell to the ground.
“That’s how they found me,” he whispered to himself. “I was leaving a trail.”
Knowing now that it was just a matter of time before more zombies showed up, following his trail of blood, he quickly picked up the key and unlocked the door. He threw his bag of clothes down the stairs, and then moved to the cart. Armload after armload of clothes followed the bag.
Heaving the cart out of the way, rushing to the wagon, and dragging his feet in a shuffle so he wouldn’t fall in all the blood and guts, he retrieved the wagon.
As he made it to the door, more zombies came falling through the entry way in search of the fresh meat they’d been trailing.
Rushing and panicking, Jerrold pulled the wagon down the stairs after himself. Scrambling, he struggled to reach around the wagon and close the door. He slipped and the wagon, with all its weight, shoved him down the stairs. He tumbled down the stairs, landing hard at the bottom, his head hitting the pavement just beyond the pile of clothes.
Dazed and fighting for consciousness he was only vaguely aware of what was actually going on. His eyes focused on the door to safety, to sanctuary, it was his only chance. Forcing himself to crawl, he made his way to the door to the boiler room where his family was safe from the danger that hunted him.
Knocking on the door, just like he had told Dawn he would, he was relieved to hear the metal bars being quickly removed. He sighed with relief and closing his eyes, he let his forehead rest on the cool cement floor, too confused to understand that there were now six zombies stumbling down the stairs after him.
Dawn opened the door and he looked up into her sweet face, smiling, but frowning quickly at the look of fear he saw there–her eyes were focused on something behind him. Half rolling onto his side he saw what she was looking at–a huge brute of a zombie stood over him.
The zombie growled, with what would have once been a grin on his decaying face. He lunged forward and overpowered Dawn in an instant.
Jerrold cried out weakly, holding his hand up as if pleading with reality, asking it not to be real. He cried out again, this time from physical pain as two of the other zombies bit into his legs, tearing flesh from bone.
As he bleed out, Jerrold stared into the eyes of his dead wife who lay on the floor in front of him. When death was about to overtake him and his eyes drifted closed, he heard the chorus of screams as his children were eaten alive.




©Rebecca Besser, 2010-2012. All rights reserved.

A Vampire Story — MONSTER DETECTIVES: THE NEXT CASE By Rebecca Besser

Hello, I’m Vincent Ortega, but am more commonly known as Vinnie, the vampire third of the Monster Detectives. The other two ‘parts’ of the team are Frank N. Stein, but we call him Frankie. He’s a huge, green mammoth of a creature with bolts sticking out of his neck–quite clumsy, but he gets the job done. Then there’s Zack . . . He’s a zombie–nothing more than a walking, decaying, eating piece of undead flesh. But, hey, we all have our purpose.
I suppose you’re wondering what we do. Together we investigate occurrences involving anything of a supernatural or mythical origin. Monsters investigating wrong doing by other monsters, you might say. The last case we were on involved werewolves. It was a mess! Frankie thought it was just one werewolf, but there had turned out to be five! Maybe next time we’ll look before we leap. Hell, we didn’t even get paid for that little fiasco, because we went charging in before we had a client. But Frankie says in doing so we protected ourselves. Maybe him and Zack, but as for me, I’ve been around thousands of years and have remained invisible.

    Bang! Bang! Bang!
“Vinnie, are you awake?”
With a heavy sigh I unlatched the lid of my coffin and peeked out, just to make sure the sun wasn’t still shining in. Sometimes Zack would forget about my aversion to sunlight and wake me up too soon. I don’t know how many times I’ve lost fingers and suffered burns because of his carelessness.
It was Frankie, standing there looking anxious.
“What?” I asked.
“Turn on the news and you’ll see,” he said urgently.
Pushing the coffin lid all the way open, I turned on my built-in TV.
“What station?” I asked.
“Doesn’t matter. It’s on all of them.”
I was about to ask ‘what is’ when I heard it from the TV anchor.
“. . . Human remains have been found in the woods close to Overlook Point. Among the remains are said to be Senator Gregory Hastel and his secretary Joyce Willis. Speculation is that they were involved in some kind of ritualistic slaughter and burned. There were three other DNA samples found at the scene, but they have yet to be identified . . .”
“Damn,” I said, glancing at Frankie.
“No shit!” he barked, gripping the side of my coffin so tightly I could hear the wood cracking.
“Easy, you’re breaking my bed,” I said, turning my attention back to the TV.
“Sorry,” he muttered, loosening his grip.
“. . . In national news, thirty-nine bodies, with more expected, have been found in Appalachia, more specifically West Virginia. No one knows the cause of the deaths at this time. Our sources tell us the bodies are dried out shells. No blood, no wounds, just dry husks. We’ll keep you updated as information comes in . . .”
They cut to a quick video someone had managed to get of federal agents carrying bodies out and laying them in a line to be taken to the morgue. It showed what the anchor had said. Human raisins, all dried up and wrinkly–merely shells of what they had once been.
“Shit,” I sighed, sat up, and dragged my claw tipped fingers through my hair.
“Yeah, who would have thought those werewolves were prominent citizens,” Frankie said. “What are the chances?”
I closed my eyes for a moment and willed some patience. Frankie’s mind was still on the last case and I was already on the next. Typical. It was hard to work with the guy sometimes when I’ve had years and years of experience he didn’t. Not only was my body faster, but my brain was faster as well.
“Don’t know,” I said, jumping sleekly out of my coffin to stand next to Frankie. “But that’s the least of our worries right now.”
Frankie turned his head with a barely audible creak. No one except for me could hear all the creaks and moans when he moved. No one else had my acute hearing, at least not anyone close by. My eyes flicked briefly to the TV screen. The news was over and they were moving on to something else.
“What’s wrong now?” Frankie asked. “What could be more important than us killing a Senator and who knows who else?! This is serious. It could attract more attention than we need. This could end us!”
In his frustration and fury, Frankie slammed his fist down, shattering the side of my coffin in an explosion of splintering wood.
He looked down at what he’d done, his eyes growing wide. “I’m sorry, Vinnie. I’ll have someone in here to fix that right away. It’ll be good as new by morning.”
I just glared at him–this, after breaking three of my ribs last week. Taking a deep breath, even though I didn’t need air, I counted to ten as I let it out slowly. I still found some human rituals could serve a purpose in my life. This was one of them.
“Where’s Zack?” I asked and started walking toward the door.
“I really am sorry, Vinnie,” Frankie said, thumping after me. Each step he took shook the floor.
“I know you’re sorry,” I hissed, spinning back toward him. “We have other stuff to worry about right now. Where is Zack?
Frankie pulled up short, in mid step, and just stared at me. It’s no wonder. He’d never seen me like this before. Hell, I hadn’t been this way in more than four centuries, but he didn’t know that, because he hadn’t known me then.
“I think he’s in his office,” Frankie said, frowning.
I turned back to the doorway and marched out into the hall. Zack’s office was three doors down, to the left. I followed the passage, knocked briefly, and then steeled myself to enter. I hated going into Zack’s office. Not only was I fast and had acute hearing, my sense of smell was stronger. Being around Zack in an enclosed space filled me with revulsion. I know he did his best to keep his rotting stench under control with Lysol, but all it did was burn my nasal passages even more. I tried not to fall back into my past ‘human’ actions when I was around him. I didn’t need to breathe, but it was hard not doing it sometimes.
Don’t breathe! Don’t breathe! I chanted in my head before twisting the knobbing and stepping inside.
Zack was sitting behind his desk chewing on a human calf like most people would chew on a fried chicken leg. Blood was shooting from the flesh with each chop of his jaw. It sprayed the ceiling and the walls, with a few drops landing on my face. I hissed and wiped it away.
“Sorry,” Zack said around a mouthful of raw meat.
I nodded and walked in. Frankie followed almost two full minutes later.
“What’s the rush?” he asked, still frowning.
“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t know I was moving so fast.”
“You were in here so fast,” Zack said, taking another bite, “that I’d just opened my mouth to take a bite and you walked in before I could close my jaw! Which explains why you got sprayed.”
Instead of sitting down, I paced back and forth so quickly that Frankie and Zack didn’t even know I was moving. I suppose to them I just looked like I was going blurry.
“What’s going on, Vinnie?” Frankie barked, getting tense now. “Just spit it out! You’re making us all nervous.”
“It was the news,” I said, coming to a halt. “The bodies, the ones in West Virginia, I know what, or I should say who, is responsible for them.”
“Really?” Zack asked, swallowing what was in his mouth. “Who? Is this going to be our next case?”
“I have a feeling it is,” Frankie said, still looking at me. “Are you going to tell us what’s going on? Or do we have to beg for information?”
I took a deep breath to calm myself and regretted it instantly. The smell of Zack and his meal burned my throat and lungs.
“It’s hard,” I said. “I’m not supposed to tell anyone. I’ll get in serious trouble if I do.”
“What do you mean?” Frankie asked. “Why can’t you tell us? We’re your partners for crying out loud, not to mention your friends!”
I thought about it for a moment. Trying to figure out how to break this to them without sounding like I didn’t trust them. I did trust them. I just wasn’t allowed to tell. They would hunt me down . . . They would kill me.
Sitting heavily on the couch Zack had against the wall, I tried to ignore the squishing noise it made.
“Great!” Zack yelled, wiggling and wobbling to get up, out of his chair. “You found it.”
I was scared to ask what I’d found, but didn’t have to as he pulled up the edge of the cushion I was sitting on and extracted a quarter of a brain from beneath it.
“I’ve been looking for this for weeks,” Zack said, taking a delicate bite and chewing slowly like he was savoring the flavor.
This time, I remembered not to breathe.
“I’ll tell you what I can,” I said, staring Frankie in the eye. “But the less you know the safer you’ll be. You’re going to have to trust me about the rest.”
Frankie folded his arms and nodded, never dropping eye contact.
“The deaths, they’re vampire related,” I said slowly, “and I know which vampire is responsible. But I can’t tell you.”
Frankie raised his eyebrow and I inwardly cringed at the high-pitched squeal that little movement made. I wanted to cover my ears and scream for him to be quiet.
“It’s a long story,” I said, holding my hands up. “Again, one that I can’t share. All I can tell you is we’re dealing with a vampire older than me, and that she’s very strong and dangerous. And if she’s made others like herself . . . Then they could be . . . I can’t even imagine how bad this might end up.”
“She?” Frankie asked. “A female vampire?”
I almost laughed. “Yes, there are female vampires.”
Zack sucked the last bit of brain into his mouth noisily. “You know, for some strange reason, I always thought you were the only one. You know, like Frankie is the only one of him, and I’m the only one of me that we know of.”
I did laugh at that. “There are many vampires. We’re an ancient race, going almost all the way back to the origins of humanity.”
“Why do I have a feeling there’s way more to this than you’re letting on?” Frankie asked.
“Because there is,” I said.
“What are we supposed to do? Just jump in blind and trust what you aren’t telling us won’t get us killed?” Frankie asked.
I sat silently for a moment, thinking. “Either that or let me go and handle this on my own.”
“Not a chance,” Frankie and Zack said at the same time.
While I feared for their lives, knowing they didn’t understand what they were up against, it also made me feel good to know I wasn’t alone.
“Thanks,” I said. “I guess we should head out to WV and see if it is her who’s doing this, or if I’m letting my nightmares run away with me. I’ll have to see one of the bodies or catch her scent at the crime scene to be sure.”
“I don’t like how that sounds,” Frankie said softly, as he and Zack followed me out.

    *   *   *

After getting the supplies I knew we would need, Frankie, Zack, and I climbed aboard our helicopter. It was a good thing I’d taken lessons years ago or we might have been hard pressed to find a pilot who only flew at night and didn’t ask a lot of questions. We’d used it as our mobile camp for three years. It has a spare coffin for me, a cooler for Zack, and some kind of portable office looking thing for Frankie. He seemed happiest when he was working, and I have to admit, the nights he’s spent surfing the internet doing research has saved our asses a few times.
“We should be there in an hour,” I said into the microphone attached to my headphones.
Frankie nodded and tried not to look nervous as we flew high above solid ground–his favorite place to be. Zack didn’t seem to care. If I turned my head, I could see him sucking marrow out of bone fragments that he’d brought along for a snack. I didn’t even want to think about what was in the cooler in the back.
My mind kept going back to the glimpse of the bodies I’d seen on the news. With the image came memories of a past that haunted me. I’d thought I’d buried it deep and would never have to face it again. But I’d been wrong. Here it was, staring me in the face.
I kept hoping we’d get there and her scent wouldn’t be on the bodies, and I wouldn’t find the little mark I knew to be hers that the humans hadn’t found yet–may not ever find. But when I arrived at the scene shortly after landing, her scent was everywhere–taunting me, teasing me, making me remember.
I stood beside the old wooden church tucked into the side of the mountain. Towering trees stood around it, as if they were sentinels of protection, with a cross visible over their green tops. Frankie and Zack had stayed behind to set up internet and communication links. There hadn’t been anywhere close by where I could land the chopper, so it was faster and easier for me to scout out alone. They couldn’t help with the trail anyhow. Their sense of smell wasn’t good enough to detect what I was after.
There was no scent of blood. I hadn’t expected there to be. She’d always been meticulous about that. Her sweet voice echoed to me through the glade, but I knew it was only be in my mind: A drop fallen is a drop wasted.
Slowly, I walked around the church, looking for any signs of entry. I sniffed at all the windows and doors before going inside and sniffing the floorboards. She hadn’t been alone. I could smell at least two more, and they were both like her. She’d made herself a few children–a family.
When I knew that I’d uncovered all there was to be found, I leapt to the tree tops and made my way back to base. The cool air helped clear my head. I had to be able to think clearly if I was going to make it out alive, if we were going to make it out alive.
I landed in the small clearing and noted the satellite dishes were in place and Frankie’s face was illuminated by the artificial glow of his laptop screen. Zack was off to the side, sorting and tying up some wires, popping eyeballs into his mouth like they were cherries. He didn’t seem to notice that the juices were dripping from his chin, coating all of the wires he was handling.
I went straight to my coffin and opened a small compartment at the foot, extracting a chilled pouch of blood. Without warming it like I normally do, I bit into the bag and sucked it dry. My nerves were stirring the need to feed. Usually I could go a week or more without a meal, but right now I was going through two gallons of blood a day.
Frankie glanced at me. “How did it go? Did you find what you were looking for?”
“It was her,” I said, tossing the empty plastic bag into the trash bin, “and a couple of others.”
“So, it’s worst case scenario?”
I nodded. “I would say so.”
“I found where the bodies are being kept,” Frankie said, pointing to the screen. “The county morgue. This little burg doesn’t have much to offer, which makes it easy for us.”
“I don’t need to see them,” I said quietly, hopping up and laying on top of my coffin. “I know it’s her.”
“Are you ever going to tell us her name?” Frankie asked, sounding agitated.
“I can’t,” I said, looking in his direction. “If I do, she’ll hear me.”
Frankie turned his head slowly toward me. The groan of it filled the interior of the chopper. Glancing at Zack, I thought it must be blissful not to hear it.
“Aren’t you being a little paranoid?”
I shook my head no. “She’s in a cave close by. I found it on my way back. She won’t pay attention to us unless we get in her way or she accidentally comes across us; we aren’t food. But, if I say her name, she’ll know we know she’s here and come and find us. We don’t want that to happen. We want to surprise her, not the other way around.”
“I wish you weren’t so cryptic,” Frankie muttered and turned back to his laptop, slamming on the keys. The little plastic pieces broke apart, ruining the computer as they shot down in and blew pieces off the motherboard. He screamed, picked it up, and threw it out the door. The wires detached mid air, like Zack had designed them to.
Opening a drawer, Frankie pulled out another laptop and yanked the wires back over to where he could reach them, pulling Zack with them. He fell hard against the ramp they’d set up to get in and out of base. I heard a sickening crunch and some grinding of bone as his shoulder dislocated and his torso gave way, almost twisting the middle of his body all the way around.
“Damnit!” Zack yelled as his bowl of eyes dumped onto the ground. “Be careful, you big bastard!”
“Sorry,” Frankie muttered, stood, and stomped outside. He stormed all the way to the tree line before he stopped and just stood watching the forest.
With a deep sigh, I got up, helped Zack semi-right himself so he could pick up his eyeballs and went after Frankie.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as if I didn’t know.
“I feel helpless on this one,” Frankie said. “I’m supposed to be the leader, and right now I’m feeling like a newbie going out for the first time. I don’t know how to proceed. You won’t tell me! Don’t you understand . . . You two are my responsibility. If something goes wrong, if something bad happens, it’s my fault.”
“It would be my fault,” I said. “I shouldn’t have let you come with me.”
He turned toward me and I noticed his movements were quieter out in the open.
“We wouldn’t let you come alone,” Frankie said with a half-grin. “Even if you hadn’t let us come, we would have found a way and would be here anyway.”
I nodded. “I was thinking maybe we should make this quick–get it over with tonight. It would be faster and easier. I don’t like taking the chance that they’ll find us. Would that take a load off your mind? Just getting it done and over with, and going home?”
Frankie frowned. “Yes, but we only have a couple hours of darkness left. You’ll have to get in your coffin.”
I grinned. “I’ve been working on something for just this type of occasion. I don’t know if it will work, but it’s one of those now or never times.”
Frankie grinned. “I take it you have a plan. What did you have in mind?”
I laughed, and together we walked over to Zack, who’d finished picking up his food and was eating again, so we could all discuss it together.

    *   *   *

Moving through the forest at such a high rate of speed I knew no one and nothing could see me, I headed for the cave that I’d tracked the vampires to on my way back to base earlier. It hadn’t been hard. I was guessing that one of the ‘children’ was still relatively young, because their scent was easy to follow. But, then again, they probably didn’t figure on anyone coming after them. Knowing her like I do, I could bet she didn’t feel threatened by anyone, thinking she would always be safe.
When I was in position, I gave the signal, which was nothing more than me pushing a button on a one way remote. It would signal Frankie and Zack, but I couldn’t receive anything back from them. I didn’t want them giving away my position. That could get us all killed.
Darting swiftly to the mouth of the cave, I paused to listen. At first I couldn’t hear anything, but after waiting a full minute I heard what sounded like voices within the deep, dark depths. Checking swiftly over the concealing, black body suit I was wearing, I made sure everything was ready.
Slinking through the darkness, which I could see fine in, I traversed toward the innermost depths of the damp cavern. Sounds would carry easily, so I had to be incredibly careful not to make any noise whatsoever. It took me longer than I thought it would to reach the den of the coven.
Her scent overwhelmed me as I circled around them. There were five of them altogether–more than I’d counted on, but still manageable. They were all lying down in a square, head to head, foot to foot, with her in the center by herself. I knew they were still awake, the sun wasn’t up and the feeling of lethargy hadn’t set in. It was as if all vampires had an internal clock, telling them when it was time to sleep by making them extremely tired.
There was one tense moment when my foot scrapped against some loose stones along the edge of the chamber. A young female sat up and looked in my direction. I froze. When she didn’t see anything, she laid back down, and I knew my suit was working.
Once I was in position behind the vampires, knowing they could easily get out of the cave, I waited until I started feeling tired–it wasn’t very long. I hit the signal again, letting Frankie and Zack know that I was ready.
Just then she shot up from her position on the floor, flew across the small space, and slammed into me full force, knocking me off my feet. She hissed in my ear as I tried to push her off of me, but she was too strong. Her clawed hands clamped down on either side of my head and she was about to rip it off of my shoulders when she stopped.
By this time all of her children were alerted to my presence and they’d circled around us.
She bent forward, pressing her face into my neck, breathing deeply.
“Vincent?” she whispered in shock, her body going limp.
Quickly, I pushed her off and stood. The others hissed and growled at me, still having a hard time seeing me.
“Vincent? Is that really you?”
“You know it is,” I said roughly. “It has been a long time, Penchant.”
She laughed. “Yes, it has.”
Her children hushed, listening to their maker talk to me with interest.
Thinking fast, I jumped to the ceiling and then to the wall, positioning myself behind the group once more. Swiftly, I lit the UV lights I’d attached to my suit. The vampires around me hissed in pain and tried to hide. I knew the strength of the lights wouldn’t kill them, but it would burn like hell.
“Why are you doing this, Vincent?” Penchant cried, backing away. “Why?”
“Need you ask?” I asked bitterly. “I would think you would have a better memory.”
I walked forward, forcing them to move back toward the mouth of the cave. They withered and whined, crawling along the ground in agony. One of the young ones was brave. He jumped up, bounced off the wall, and hurtled himself at me. I didn’t expect such a show of heroics. He caught me in the chest, knocking me down and breaking three of the six lights. His face sizzled inches from mine as he hissed, clawing at my throat. But I was older and stronger, easily holding him back. The others were turning back, ready to help their brother. I heard Penchant laughing softly.
“I remember quite well, Vincent,” she purred as she watched me fight off her children. “You always were foolhardy. It was one of the things that caused me to fall in love with you.”
I clawed and bit and fought against the group of young vampires. Decapitating one with a twist and a yank–blood went spraying through the air. I could tell they’d recently fed by how much they bled. Quickly spinning and kicking, I knocked another off of me and dragged the other two with me as I got to my feet. The young female who’d almost spotted me earlier tried to rip off my arm. Luckily it was the one with the broken lights. Thinking fast, I lifted my other arm and held the light that still shown across her eyes, burning her eyeballs to a crisp in her skull. Her howls and wails as she fell away were almost deafening.
The one I’d knocked off started to get up and I knew I had to get out of here fast. If they managed to rip my suit, I wouldn’t be able to leave the cave.
Penchant heard my panicked heart beat faster. “What’s wrong, Vincent? Are you rusty? You used to spar with me and it didn’t bother you near this much.”
Angrily I ripped the young male off my back and threw him into the one who’d just regained his footing. They fell in a mass of limbs onto a stalagmite. It penetrated one through the torso and the other through the head. They withered in pain, crying out as they tried to free themselves, but couldn’t.
I roared, shaking the cave with the loudness of my fury. I could hear Penchant laughing over the screams of the fallen, but I couldn’t see her anywhere. I knew my time was up and it angered me. Everything had almost gone according to plan. Turning, I ran quickly to the mouth of the cave and swallowed hard as I stepped out into the sunlight. Thankfully, Zack and Frankie were there with my coffin because there were multiple slashes in my suit and the sun was burning me alive.

    *   *   *

When I woke up, it was night once more. I opened my coffin and peeked out. No one could be seen. It was just as we’d arranged. I climbed out and shed the skin tight black suit I’d worn in the cave and threw it into the trash bin with the rest of the garbage. Retrieving a bag of blood I sucked it down quickly.
“You know, years ago, the sight of you standing naked sucking on blood got me excited,” Penchant purred from the darkness beyond the helicopter. “And I have to admit, I still feel some of that excitement when I look at you now.”
I turned to see Penchant standing at the top of the ramp. Her long brunette hair hung free around her shoulders, being tousled by the night’s breeze. Her soft red lips were slightly parted and she was panting eagerly, like she was thinking of pinning my down and mounting me like she’d done many times in the past. Her bright red pupils betrayed her though. They weren’t filled with lust like they used to be, they were filled with anger and hate.
“And once, I liked that,” I said, “but not anymore. You tried to kill me. Hell, you betrayed the entire coven. That’s why you were exiled, and why I left. After standing up for you–when you lied to me–I couldn’t stay there any longer either. Now you’re breaking the laws again, and this time I’m not going to protect you.”
She laughed, her head falling back in amusement. “You’re such a cute child. Do you think you can honestly defeat me?”
I grinned and winked at her, lifting my foot off of a trigger that Zack had set in the floor. Ropes soaked in holy water whipped around Penchant. She tried to leap back, but they still managed to tangle around her lower half.
I pounced on her and shoved a clove of raw garlic into her mouth while she was screaming in fury. It wasn’t enough to seriously hurt her, but it would knock her out for a while and make her sick when she woke up. After her eyes drifted shut, I put on heavy work gloves and untied her before the ropes burned completely through her body. After that was done, I dressed and made a couple of calls. One to let Frankie and Zack know our plan had worked, and one to the ‘authorities’ to come and take care of Penchant. This time she wouldn’t be exiled. This time, she would be terminated.
Thanks to Frankie and Zack’s slowness, the equivalent of the vampire police showed up and took Penchant before they returned, saying they would also take care of her children as well. While I had peace knowing that I’d done everything I could, I still felt a deep sadness. She’d been my first love after all, and who wanted to be part of their first love’s death.
“Where is she?” Frankie asked, lumbering up the ramp. “Did she get away?”
“No,” I said with a secret smile. “They came and took her. Our work is done.”
Zack followed Frankie, eating a human heart like it was an apple. “What? We don’t even get to see her? What a crock!”
“Sorry, guys,” I said. “But that’s how it has to be.”
Frankie frowned, and then grinned. “You know, I think this case has been ‘Vin-Dic-ated’! Thanks to Vinnie, the best vampire Dic around!”
We all laughed. Everything was back to normal. Things were taken care of, and we’d done it as a team, even if I was the only one put in the path of danger.

If you would like to read the other two episodes of The Monster Detectives (this was episode two – one and three are also in the book), they can be found in: Monster Party (cover art by Justin T. Coons)!



©Rebecca Besser, 2010. All rights reserved.