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WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

FOR CAROLYN by Dylan Charles
June 22, 2010  Short stories   Tags:   

Alex Scott hiked up from the cabin through the snow, taking care not to get too far from the path. The snow got deep and got deep quick and if he wasn’t careful, he’d end up to his waist in snow.

It was stupid to leave the cabin in the first place. Erin and Carolyn would be up by tonight, tomorrow morning at the latest and he should be getting the place prepared. Couldn’t afford to get lost with the world bein’ the way it was. They all needed to stick together.

But he was bored, plain and simple. Tired of hanging around an empty log cabin in the middle of nowhere. Tired of listening to the wind howl at night. Tired of keeping a constant watch, looking for what might be comin’. Tired of watching snow fall, white on white, layering higher and higher, hiding what might be lyin’ on the ground.

So he went for a walk before he went nuts. Last thing they all needed was for him to go stir crazy so early on. God only knows how long they were going to have to stay up here.

Alex walked along, his footsteps breaking through new snow, the only sound to follow him. Most of the animals must have taken to ground already. He hadn’t seen any deer so far, which might be a problem. They could only live on canned food for so long.

A long, low moan broke into his thoughts. Alex froze and tried to pinpoint where it had come from. His heart thudded and Alex thought he could hear it pounding underneath his coat. And if he could hear, God knows what else could too.

There. That moan again. He knew what it was. He had heard it was impossible for them to be this far north, not in this cold. He had to see. Had to find it, make sure there weren’t more. Make sure it was just the one.

He broke from the path and pushed on through the trees, the snow getting knee deep. His muscles got tired fast and he had trouble feeling his toes, but he kept on going. He had to find it. He stopped to listen every few feet. There it was again. He shifted his direction slightly and kept on going.

The trees were getting thicker and Alex began to get worried that he wouldn’t be able to find his way back. If another snow storm came this way, his tracks would be covered and he’d be royally screwed. He entered a small clearing and all thoughts of snow storms were driven from his mind.

In the clearing, someone had made a campsite, tents sitting round a campfire. Apparently, Alex and his family weren’t the only ones to decide to come up here to get away from it all. There were three tents. Two were open, unzipped and letting in the cold. The third had been pulled down. Blood was splashed across the snow in front of it and Alex could see a pair of boots poking out from under the tent. There was no snow on the tents or the boots, so they had set up camp after last night’s snow fall. Whatever had happened had happened fast.

The fire was just smoldering logs and ash now. It had gone out not too long ago. Alex stepped further into the campsite, wishing he had brought his gun. “Hello? Is anyone…” he almost said alive. “Is anyone here?”

Silence, not even the moaning. He walked over to the collapsed tent first. Maybe this had been the problem and they killed it. If so, there might be survivors and they ran out into the woods in a panic.

He lifted the tent off the body and winced. It looked like it had been a man. Shot at close range in the face. Didn’t prove that it was one of them, but at least Alex knew it was definitely dead. He bent down and took ahold of one of the man’s arms. Not stiff, rigor hadn’t set in. Hell, the body hadn’t even frozen yet. He rolled up the man’s sleeves. Nothing on the right arm. Alex grimaced when he got to the left though. A nasty bite midway up the arm, near the elbow. Yep, dead man had been one, but his friends took care of him.

So where did they go?

Alex stood back up and looked around. He should go back and get his gun before he did anymore searching. It was too dangerous and Erin and Carolyn depended on him. He had to do this carefully.

He stepped past one of the other tents and was knocked to the ground as something lurched through the flaps. Alex fell onto his back and pushed at the woman, trying to keep her mouth away from him.

He pushed against her throat with his left arm, while he reached toward the campfire, hoping for one, sturdy log. The woman clicked her teeth, again and again, long blond hair falling into his face. He avoided looking at her, didn’t want to see more than he already had. That circle of teeth marks around her left eye, the empty socket, didn’t need to see that again.

He heaved up on her and knocked her body back. He scrambled onto all fours and grabbed a log, turned and struck her on the head just as she reached him. The log disintegrated into sodden ash and she grunted, but didn’t stop. She bit down hard on his right wrist and he howled, jerking his arm out of her mouth and then punching her as hard as he could in her empty eye socket. Her head snapped back and she fell backwards. Alex grabbed another piece of wood and then bashed once, twice, three times. And she stopped moving.

Alex sat down hard, out of breath. He looked at his wrist, a perfect half circle of teeth marks above and below, blood trickling from the wound. Alex stared, long and hard and time seemed to stop for an instant.

He jumped to his feet and ran, leaving behind the bloody abattoir behind him, all thoughts of survivors fleeing his mind. He just wanted to get out of there. Needed to get out of there.

He ran back along his trail, up the path and up to the cabin, threw himself through the door and fell onto the floor, exhausted and out of breath. His legs burned from the exertion and he felt like he was going to throw up. Sweat poured down his face and he just lay on the floor, his heart jack-hammering.

He pulled off his coat and stared at the wound on his wrist. Fine, black lines were leading away from the wound, trailing along the blood vessels. He had to stop it somehow. He ran into the bathroom and dug through the medicine cabinet, pulling out the bottle of hydrogen peroxide. He stared at it for a second and threw it to one side. If that’s all it took to stop it, there wouldn’t be preachers talking about the end of days right now.

He went into the kitchen and turned on the gas stove; flames jumped up and lit the kitchen. The house was getting dark as the sun set, but Alex didn’t bother to light any lanterns. He had to act quickly.

He dug around in the drawers trying to find…there, that should be big enough. He took the butcher knife in his unbitten hand and lay it across the lit burner. The blade grew hot and still hotter. He left it on for five minutes, before taking it off. Alex took two deep breaths, shut his eyes and then lay the flat of the blade across the bite.

He screamed, but still kept the blade pressed down. The smell of burning hair and flesh filled the room. He finally just dropped the knife and fell to his knees, clutching his burned and bitten arm. He stayed that way, on his knees with his eyes shut tightly, praying that he had killed the infection, that there was no way it could possibly spread.

Alex took in a deep breath and opened his eyes and looked at the injury. At first it looked all right. The skin was red, peeling and a blister was rapidly raising and it freely wept pus, but there was no trace of the infection. It was a shallow bite, maybe it hadn’t had enough time to set in.

But then he saw the tiny black threads tracing through his skin. He could see it spreading before his eyes, trailing down his arm. He buried his face in his good hand while the infected arm hung limply at his side. It hurt to move it.

He was going to turn into one of them. Going to become some horrible…thing. Erin would have to kill him, put him down before he could hurt their daughter. And then what? She hadn’t even been camping before. The place was his, left to him by his father. They would starve or freeze without him. And what if they were attacked? Erin couldn’t fend them off by herself, not with Carolyn to look after as well.

He stood up on shaky legs. He couldn’t let that happen. Wouldn’t let that happen. He went outside and picked up the hatchet that leaned again the firewood pile. He looked up at the sky. Night would fall soon. Erin was supposed to bring Carolyn after night fell, to make it less likely that someone would follow her to the cabin.

He went back inside with the hatchet. He set it on the counter and placed the cast iron skillet on the stove. While he waited for it to get hot, he took off his belt and cinched it up above his elbow, as tight as he could get it. He stared in amazement at the black trails that led up his forearm. He needed to move more quickly. He went over to the stove and laid his arm on the stovetop, next to the pan. He could feel the heat radiating from the surface.

He gripped the hatchet in his left hand and rested the blade against the skin. He watched his skin crease. He raised the hatchet and brought it down again slowly, just below the elbow. It was awkward, but he thought he could manage enough strength to do the job.

“Ok,” he whispered, raised the hatchet and brought it down with a wet thud. Pain, an explosion of pain made the world go grey around the edges. Alex raised the hatchet and brought it down again. And again. And again.

Blood pumped weakly from the stump, his tourniquet doing a decent job. He felt the world going grey again and swooned, nearly falling away from the stove. He had one more thing to do though and then he could let himself pass out. He grabbed the skillet, the handle burning his unprotected hand. He pressed the glowing hot pan against his stump, cauterizing the wound and killing what was left of the infection. He screamed, dropped the pan on the stove and passed out onto the floor.

He awoke an hour later, feeling feverish. He was lying on his back by the stove. He had trouble remembering what had led to him being here. And then the pain reminded him. Slow, sickening waves of it rolling from his arm. His missing arm. Gone now. He didn’t look at his stump, couldn’t do it. Couldn’t look just yet. He stood up, a wave of dizziness rolling through him. He turned off the stove with his left hand and stared at all the blood on the stove. No wonder he was so dizzy. He giggled.

Something seemed missing though.

And then it hit him. His arm was gone. It had fallen onto the stovetop and now it was gone. He turned around and looked on the floor. A red streak led toward the front door. Feeling a chill deep in his heart, he followed the trail and saw his hand crawling toward the door. Dragging itself along by its nails. With a primal yell, Alex snatched up the hatchet again and began to chop up his right arm. Again and again and again he brought down the blade, but the pieces still moved and jived. Weeping, he kept going, until his left arm refused to continue, the muscles seizing.

Alex sat there, tears rolling down his face, the dizziness stronger than ever. In the dying light of day, in the open doorway, he finally looked down at the stump. Small black lines ran up past his elbow and up under the sleeve of his shirt. He lifted his shirt and saw the lines spreading across his chest and down toward the waistband of his jeans. He dropped his shirt and stood up.

He staggered out into the living room, headed for the gun rack. He had to finish it, before they came home. Alex tripped and fell and lay still on the floor.

A few hours later, Erin drove up with Carolyn in the seat next to her. She was tired and had been driving for most of the day, taking multiple routes, making sure she wasn’t being trailed by anyone looking for a place to hide, for easy picking. They couldn’t risk the infection reaching the cabin. It was their last possible refuge.

Carolyn had fallen asleep, which was a blessing. There had been those things along the side of the road and that was the last thing she needed to see. Erin parked the car behind Alex’s and got out. There were no lights on inside. That was bad. Alex would have a fire going at least.

She opened the front door and stepped on something. She frowned and looked down, in the dark, it looked like the remains of some animal. There was a hatchet laying next to it, covered with drying blood. Ignoring the blood, she bent down and picked up the hatchet. She also grabbed the lantern that had been hanging next to the door, lighting it with a match.

She walked into the kitchen and grimaced. She could smell blood, burning something, the cabin reeked of burning something. She stopped. The edge of the light caught something

Erin heard a low moan and her blood went cold.

Alex shuffled into the light, his eyes cloudy and white. His right arm was gone, but his left reached out to her, the fingers opening and closing.

A wave of sadness wash over Erin and she lowered the hatchet and put the lantern on the floor.

“Oh Alex,” she whispered.

He got closer and closer to her and when he was within a foot or so, she raised the hatchet and hit him square in the forehead. He sank down to the floor, pulling the hatchet from her hands. He landed on his back, the hatchet sticking up.

She reached down, grabbed onto the hatchet and planted one foot on his chest. She tugged and wiggled it free with a wet smack. “Sorry Alex,” she murmured. She had loved Alex, but Alex was dead and she couldn’t die too. There was Carolyn to think about. Someone had to take care of her.

Erin swung the hatchet down on his neck to remove the head. Better safe than sorry. Again and again she brought it down. For Carolyn.


  1. Good story! Made my morning!

    Comment by taylor on June 22, 2010 @ 10:10 am

  2. Very good story. Would like to read more of your work.

    Comment by Jason on June 22, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  3. My hand went bad so i lopped it off at the wrist…………. Good story

    Comment by RedneckZombieHunter on June 22, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  4. Scary and gross. Although I could kind of see where it was going, it was a fun ride.

    Comment by FanFanatic on June 22, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  5. Wow, that’s chilling. Reminds me of that rock climber guy who hacked off his arm at the elbow when it got crushed a boulder. Except with zombies.

    Comment by Garrett on June 22, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

  6. Great, great story. I wished it was longer, it was that good.

    Comment by John the Piper's Son on June 22, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

  7. Good read, pretty graphic, not to say that’s bad but I did cringe a few times. Alex should have known better, always carry your gun. Hope you have more up your sleeve

    Comment by Hazzard1Actual on June 23, 2010 @ 10:52 am

  8. Thank you for all the kind words! If ya’ll are interested in reading more, just head on over to dylancharles.net. And if I write any more zombie stories, I’ll be sure to submit them here.
    Great site!

    Comment by Dylan Charles on June 23, 2010 @ 6:38 pm

  9. A nice (?) tale, well written. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Pete Bevan on June 24, 2010 @ 3:28 am

  10. Enjoyed it, nothing like killing a reanimated family member to cap off the day.

    And Barrett, I did too.

    Comment by ScottB on June 24, 2010 @ 8:37 am

  11. nasty and entertaining, I agree with Hazzard, always bring your gun, its zombie country out there!

    Comment by Dave on June 24, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  12. .. unless you lie in the UK in which case you will have to make do with a cricket bat or large kitchen knife.

    Comment by Pete Bevan on June 25, 2010 @ 4:17 am

  13. Unless you’re a suburban gangsta. In which case you might manage some sort of firearm. I don’t think they even have ammo though.

    At least a bat is quiet.

    Comment by ScottB on June 25, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  14. Bored or not, he should have carried a weapon with him!

    Kudos to Alex for cutting off his arm, but it’s too bad it just didn’t work out the way he wanted. Nice read!

    Comment by Greg on June 25, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

  15. Leaving unarmed wasn’t his only mistake–he knew it was a bad idea to leave. He wasn’t dressed for the cold (his toes went numb pretty quickly). He went to investigate a moan in that state–all when his wife and daughter were depending on him. Dumbass

    On the plus side, your story was good enough to evoke that emotional response.

    Comment by jeff on June 30, 2010 @ 6:09 pm

  16. This story pretty much captures how much of a dumb arse most are under times of stress. It shows the weakness of character that is in all of us. Except for the rare few who are heroes. Alex Scott is not a hero. This is his story. Well done!

    Comment by J-mo on June 30, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

  17. Nice!.., i liked how the spread of the infection turnes the vains black, im suprised ,ive never seen that before good job

    Comment by Jay Chavez on July 2, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

  18. Another good story from this siite. I hate the concept that they don’t freeze. The World War Z book implies they do, really makes it hard to have a happy ending if there’s not even a little respite from the undead. I guess that means the Caribbean is out as far as a haven.

    Comment by D.Mc on July 6, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

  19. Great story. Only a few people can write a good zombie story with all the details. and your one of them

    Comment by Chris Preddy on July 7, 2010 @ 7:58 am

  20. Nice story. The part about cutting of the arm to find it running away kind of reminds me of Evil Dead, which, if anything, you should consider as a compliment. And I agree with the above: always take your gun along.

    Comment by David_VDB on July 9, 2010 @ 5:17 am

  21. Mr Chavez, the tracking up the veins is medically sound by the way. Infection tracks up the veins and is red in colour, I’ve seen it before. The black was however, a befitting touch.

    Comment by ScottB on July 9, 2010 @ 9:01 am

  22. Cool touch with him deciding to cut off his arm to try and staunch the infection, I liked it!

    Comment by Kellye on July 14, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  23. Good story. I would like more about Erin and Carolyn, how do they carry on?

    Comment by Zoe on July 16, 2010 @ 9:28 am

  24. […] heart and red hot mind kills his lady because she dances with another man. If you’ve read my stories, you can probably see why this song appeals to […]

    Pingback by Me and the Devil Blues « The Dylan Charles Blog on August 8, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

  25. Haha. I feel stupid for thinkn he wuld b all better once the arm came off.

    Comment by Renne on August 11, 2010 @ 1:48 am

  26. Good job!
    I like the idea of “Bitten = Zombie”, maybe if you have a few seconds you could cut off your arm and stop the spread, but no more than this.

    Comment by Victor on August 12, 2010 @ 9:02 am

  27. Good Story I enjoyed it. I would also like to read more about the wife and daughter.

    Comment by Guts Mahone on August 27, 2010 @ 6:56 am

  28. Great Read!

    Comment by L Martin on August 30, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

  29. Its sad that alex had to die 🙁 but great story none the less

    Comment by Jiggy on August 23, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

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