Saffron's Space

Last year I had the pleasure of hosting a zombie short story from Michael Cairns. This year I’m happy to host another fantastic zombie tale of horror from Michael:

Spirit RoomEris

 

SARAH

 by Michael Cairns

┬áSarah doesn’t much care for alcohol. She tried it a few times in her teens and ended every evening with her head down the toilet. Now she settles for orange juice and occasionally Coke if she’s feeling wild.

Right now, she’s craving whiskey. Or Gin. Lighter fluid probably wouldn’t be too bad. Anything to dull the pain. Anything to take away the cold that seeps through her feet like she’s standing in snow and creeps up past her knees. Alcohol would burn it out and leave her all warm inside. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be warm again.

She stares down at the corpse before her and relives the moments leading up to this point. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s got about two minutes to live, so it’s probably not the best part of her life to be thinking about. It is, however, one of the most surprising.

She’d expected the mail-man, or possibly the cute guy who moved in down the road last week. She’d hoped it was the cute guy in a tight t-shirt, possibly a mankini. Those things weren’t sexy but they told you everything you needed to know. Alas, it was neither today’s post nor her latest sexual fantasy.

She didn’t know who it was, though she wouldn’t have recognised him even if she had. His face was twisted, the skin so pale it resembled freshly dried plaster. His teeth were on show from beneath gums that were cracked and bleeding and his eyes were sunk deep into his skull. They burned with a fire that reminded her of the girls on America’s Next Top Model. He wanted something, something so bad he was willing to kill for it.

It turned out he was also willing to crawl halfway down her hallway with an axe buried in his head for it. She had to admire the tenacity. It also turned out that what he wanted was her, or more specifically, her brains. She knew he wanted brains because that was all he said.

‘Braaaiiins. Braaaiiiins.’

She giggled the first time. He sounded like one of those funny zombies from the movies. Then he grabbed her arm and took a chunk out of it with nails that belonged in.. Well, America’s Next Top Model. She screamed and threw herself away from him, slamming into the bottom of the banisters and hitting the floor. She stared in disbelief at the blood streaming down her arm.

The strange man with the scary eyes put his finger in his mouth and licked the blood off. She never thought she’d want to see a mankini as badly as she did right then. Sarah scrambled to her feet and dashed down the corridor. His voice followed her, like wind before the storm.

‘Braaaaaiiiins.’

She reached the kitchen, banged through the back door and grabbed the axe off the back step. The patio was covered in splinters from a morning spent prepping wood for the fire. She hefted the axe, feeling the smooth wood against the old callouses and smiling. That fucker was looking for brains in the wrong damn house.

She stepped back into the kitchen and blinked. He wasn’t there. She took one step and then another into the hallway. She held her breath, heart thumping harder. Why wasn’t he calling out? Had he gone? She let out her breath as quietly as she could and sucked in another, holding it as she stalked down the hall. As she reached the front door, she heard it.

It sounded like a geriatric eating a peach, like Mr Horowitz down at the oldies home where she helped out. A slurping that implied not all the teeth were either present or working properly. Her stomach turned and she stepped into the lounge. He had Jinx. The bastard had Jinx and her cat no longer had the top of his head. His tiny cute eyes stared sightlessly across the room as the zombie – because let’s face it, that’s what it was – sucked his brains out the top of his skull.

She howled like a soccer mom who’s son has just been fouled, and launched herself across the room. The axe flew and struck the zombie right in the centre of the head with a crunch that bounced off the walls and drowned out her solitary sob. Jinx dropped to the floor a lifeless ball of fluff, and she scooped him up.

‘You bastard.’ She sobbed again and blinked away the tears. He’d killed her cat. Now he was lurching this way and that, mouth open and spilling half-masticated cat brain onto her lounge carpet. She should have kept the axe. She backed away to the door and the zombie spotted her. He staggered toward her, hands outstretched and mouth making empty chomping movements.

She reversed further, eyes never leaving the axe as it bobbed up and down in time with his steps. He reached the door to the lounge before he collapsed to his knees and she finally let out her breath. Spots flashed before her eyes and she put out a hand to catch the wall. She wasn’t quite quick enough and fell on her ass. Stupid. The zombie dug its nails into the hardwood floor and she expected it to crawl toward her. But instead it rushed forward like someone had kicked it up the arse and before she knew it, the zombie’s teeth were buried deep in her arm.

She screamed, thrashing her head from side to side and wailing. She gritted her teeth and grabbed the axe handle for leverage, then yanked her arm away. The sound of her own flesh tearing brought bile to her throat and she gasped, tears once again stinging her eyes. But she was free.

She shoved herself away down the hallway, scooting on her butt, gaze fixed on the zombie. She resolutely refused to look at the hole in her arm.

So now Sarah sits, staring down at the zombie who’s finally stopped moving. It’s done its job anyway. The cold has reached her waist now and she’s all too aware she no longer cares about the mankini. In fact, her craving is feeling altogether different. She thinks about Geoff next door. He’s an IT consultant, smart guy apparently. About as sexual as a Town Planning meeting, but she no longer cares.

Sarah gets to her feet and notices that her arm has stopped bleeding. The craving for alcohol is still strong. Maybe there’s something in that. Maybe whatever the disease is that’s creeping through her can be defeated by alcohol. Or maybe she just wants to get drunk before her life is over. Then even that craving is gone and Sarah fades like book spines left in the sun.

Geoff next door has always fancied Sarah. Unfortunately for him, the feeling is now mutual.

****

Michael CairnsChocoholic Michael Cairns is a writer and author of the superhero fantasy series, The Planets and science fiction adventure series, A Game of War. A musician, father and school teacher, when not writing he can be found behind his drum kit, tucking into his chocolate stash or trying, and usually failing, to outwit his young daughter.

At http://cairnswrites.com you can download a free copy of novella Childhood Dreams (A Game of War, Part one), find podcasts, free short stories, info about Michael, and of course, links to where you can buy his books.

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