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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.

GOIN’ MY WAY by Barrett Shumaker
January 18, 2012  Short stories   Tags:   

Gravel crunched under Ford’s boots as he walked along the road’s sunken shoulder. Marshall idly kicked a pebble off the asphalt as he kept pace with his younger brother. It took two of Marshall’s strides to keep pace with Ford. The brothers had the same brown hair and brown eyes but over a foot in height separated them.

Marshall squinted in the sunshine as he scratched his chin in thought. He had to keep the game going or Ford would win again.

“All right, I got one.” Amused with himself and sure he had a stumper, Marshall kicked an island of sand that had gathered on the asphalt, scattering it to the wind. “‘The good guys always win…even in the 80’s.’”

He glanced over and up at Ford, checking his face for any sign of recollection.

“Hmm,” Ford puzzled.

Marshall smiled. “Need a hint?”


“You want the year, lead actor or story concept?”

“You think you got me, huh?”

The smile fell from Marshall’s face.

“Don’t bring it unless you’re ready for it to be brought-en!”

“Damn it. Go ahead,” Marshall sighed, defeated. “Give it to me.”

“ ’82, Barry Bostwick, Mega-f’en-force, bitch! Ugh!” Ford stopped and stooped into a Mr. Universe pectoral flex.

“Damn,” Marshall cursed as he walked past. “Your turn.”

In two long strides Ford caught up with him. “All right,” he said cheerily, “you wanna pull from the stumper stack? I’ll give ya one.” Donning a British accent, Ford emphatically said, “‘If I were creating the world I wouldn’t mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o’clock, Day One!’”

Marshall laughed. “You’re really going for the gonads aren’t ya? Well, for your info, I got this one, needle-dick. ’81, David Warner, Time Bandits! Now, which one of the Time Bandits midgets was in Star…”

“Kenny Baker.”

“I didn’t even finish!”

“I know, but you wouldn’t pick someone harder like David Rappaport, who was Rinaldo in The Bride. Or Mike Edmonds and Tiny Ross, who were in Flash Gordon. Or Ian…”

“How’s my shoes look, butt nugget?” Marshall chided. Ford’s words were cut off in a garble as Marshall leapt up and grabbed his neck in a headlock. Marshall tightened his grip as his feet touched down, doubling Ford over.

“‘Check out the big brain on Brad!’ Who said that one, huh?” Laughing, Marshall playfully spun Ford in a widening circle, keeping him off balance. Ford chuckled and attempted to catch Marshall behind the knees. “You know, if I didn’t know any better I would say that a noogie might be coming your way,” Marshall chided.

“No!” Ford gurgled.

Ford struggled to get loose, but there was no way; Marshall had him locked.

Twirling asphalt grain was suddenly replaced by blue sky and white billowy clouds when Ford caught Marshall’s left knee and pulled the leg out from under him. The two crashed to the ground, laughing. As soon as Ford released his brother’s leg, implying an end to hostilities, Marshall rapidly rubbed his knuckles on Ford’s scalp.

“No!” Ford shrieked, struggling against his brother.

Marshall jumped to his feet and ran down the road, laughing, with Ford in hot pursuit. “‘Oh yeah!’” he shouted gravelly over his shoulder, channeling his inner Kool-Aid Man. “Who said that, smart-ass?”

Fear and excitement fueled his acceleration when the solid thumping of Ford’s footfalls came up quickly from behind. “Oh shit,” Marshall squeaked. A few seconds were all that separated him from what would be either an atomic wedgie or a near-fatal wet willy.

Marshall risked a peek over his shoulder and saw Ford slow and stop with three heavy footfalls. It was then that Marshall noticed the smell.

He skidded to a halt, arms flailing forward, trying to maintain his balance.

“Christ! What the hell is that?”

“It’s that car.” Ford motioned to a black sedan, the first car they’d seen in two days, parked neatly on the shoulder of the deserted back-country highway. A breeze picked up, wafting the sickly smell in their faces.

“Whew! What a stink!” Marshall coughed, waving his hand in front of his nose.

“C’mon. Let’s go check it out.” Ford smiled devilishly.

“Hell no! Man, ain’t a damn thing in that car we need.”

“No, nothing in the car. I just want the car.”


“Aren’t you tired of walking? I am. I say we kick whoever’s in there out, and drive our happy asses for a while.”

Marshall stood in stunned silence, blinking in disbelief. “Fuck that noise! I’m staying right here.”

“It might not be that bad,” Ford said cheerily as he strode up to Marshall. “Maybe they’re all mummy-like in there, and all’s we gotta do is drag ‘em out, air that bitch out for a bit and BAM! We got a ride!”

“You go right on ahead and do that,” Marshall said sarcastically with a dismissive wave, “I’m staying here. Besides, I don’t think ‘dead fucker’ comes out of upholstery all that easy.”


The condensation clinging to the inside of the windows obscured their view into the car. A ghostly shadow in the driver’s seat seemed to move slightly, its silhouette so thin that the neck appeared to be only a few inches wide. Were it not for the stench, one might think the driver had pulled over to take a nap.

They stood fifteen feet behind the black sedan when the wind shifted, blowing the offensive stink away and giving the brothers a brief respite. “Thank God for that.”  Ford said as he walked toward the car. He looked back at Marshall with a giddy smile. “Another minute and I was sure I’d lose it.”

Marshall glared at him. “I serious, man. If I suffer through this for nothing, I’m gonna kick you square in the nuts.”

Marshall’s displeasure ramped up a couple notches when the wind shifted again, basting him in a hot breeze weighed down by the oily reek of rotting flesh.

Ford wretched so hard his knees buckled. He caught himself, bracing his hands on his knees, grimacing at the horrible odor. He slapped his hand over his mouth and nose and wretched again.

Marshall’s eyes watered at the noxious odor. Its penetrating stink was unbelievably thick. He could taste it in the back of his throat. As smell-laden saliva slid past the point of no return, he reflexively swallowed and immediately gagged.

Wiping the tears from his eyes and fighting back the urge to vomit, Marshall looked up to see Ford standing beside the car, reaching for the driver’s door handle.

Ford hung his head and retched, then spat onto the ground, making a sour face.

“Hey, leave it,” Marshall shouted. “There’s no fucking way we’re driving that!”

“No way man!” Ford laughed. “No damn way! I’ve come,” he gagged the “come” out with a guttural heaving that left him leaning over with his hands on his knees again. “I’ve come too far to stop now. I’ve gotta see…” Ford covered his mouth with the back of his hand as a new, richer stench found its way onto his tongue. “I gotta see this asshole.”

“Goddamnit. It’s fuckin’ pointless, Ford! Leave it!”

Ford curled his fingers under the door handle and dropped into a wide stance. Marshall knew immediately what Ford was going to do. Like knocking down a wasp nest and running for cover from its angry inhabitants, Ford was going to yank the door open and run.


“Leave it man!”


“Aw, Jesus.” Marshall drew his .22 pistol and took aim at the sedan.


Ford pulled the door handle and managed to take a step toward freedom before he realized that the door was still shut. Wincing at the smell, Ford reached again, grabbed the handle and yanked harder. As the door swung open, he sprinted to the opposite side of the road, across from the driver’s door, fending off a barrage of flies and the smell of rot.

“You ok?” Marshall shouted.

Hands on his knees, Ford waved off Marshall’s concerns as he squinted and grimaced against the putrid stink issuing through the open door.

Ford ducked his head, swatting at something that landed on his neck as sloppy brown liquid sloshed out of the car and onto the road.

“Zed?” Marshall shouted, watching Ford’s face for confirmation.

Ford straightened up, craning his neck for a better view into the car. Suddenly he pointed at the car and heaved hard, his body buckling under the tremendous force with which it wanted to throw up. He staggered back a few steps into the grass and spun around.

Looking back to the car, Marshall heard the splatter of Ford’s vomit striking the ground a second before more brown goop sloshed out of the driver’s seat, adding to the vile pool forming on the road. He rushed forward, putting himself between Ford and the creature.

Like a spider crawling from its burrow, withered black fingers wrapped around the edges of the doorway. Four fingers clung to the metal frame beside the windshield; the other four clutched midway down the door frame beside the driver’s seat. A hint of bone poked through the shriveled fingertips.

A leg swung out from the car, spilling more gelatinous brown goop—now tinged with streaks of black and green—to the asphalt as its penny-loafered foot flopped to the ground. The shoe made a wet, gurgling fart as fluid squished over the top and down the sides of the leather. Death-black flesh hung loosely at the dead man’s ankle.

The monstrosity tried to stand but fell backward into the seat. Marshall watched as what looked like gloves fell to the ground, slapping wetly as they landed in the expanding pool beneath the driver’s door. Like horrible rubber novelty items, the blackened finger-socks of flesh jiggled when they struck the ground.

Marshall felt the bile rising in his throat.

His mind could take no more. His stomach could take no more.

Marshall stepped back and took aim at the thing as it tried to sit up. The smell issuing from the car burned his nose; it was an acrid, pungent stink that made his eyes water. Bile pressed urgently at the back of his throat.

The zed in the driver’s seat floundered to pull itself upright. The skeletal fingers of one hand, clad in brownish-red muscle, clutched the steering wheel while the other grasped the driver’s seat headrest.

The luxury sedan’s leather interior was caked with maggots, flies and mold. The driver, rotting in the insufferable and stagnant heat, had provided a smorgasbord of nutrients for fungi, bacteria and insects capable of climbing in though the air-conditioning vents. Small patches of black and grey fluff clung to the zed’s clothing and the car’s interior. The driver’s polo shirt was a gray and green tie-dye of putrid body fluids and decay. The fabric, made translucent from the rendered fats of purification, clung to the corpse’s skin. The ribs and sternum showed through; languid flesh had allowed the cloth to sink into the interstitial spaces between the ribs.

It shook as it pulled itself forward, its decay-weakened muscles straining under the weight. Like a rubber Halloween mask, the thin flesh of its face dangled wetly from its head. The eyelids and nostrils hung well below their intended spaces, revealing slick, blackening muscle through the empty holes. Marshall could see the zed’s soaked and stained shirt through the gaping hole where the mouth should have been.

Marshall put two rounds into the head of the melting thing behind the wheel then threw up.

He kicked the door shut, holstered his .22 and walked over to Ford’s hunched figure. Pebbles scraped the road as he walked, held fast to his lug soles by remnants of vomit and putrescence.

“You ok?”

“Yeah. Did you see that one? Its face?” Ford wiped away tears produced by forceful heaves.

“You want me to kick you in the balls now or later?”

Ford chuckled hoarsely, pulled his canteen from his belt, rinsed his mouth and spat onto the gravel at his feet.

“Hungry?” Marshall slapped Ford heartily on the back, hoping to extract a little revenge by making him throw up again.

Still fighting the oily smell clinging to the back of his throat, Ford paled at the thought of food and gagged.

“‘How about a nice, greeeeasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?’” Marshall said with a sadistic lilt, sporting a smug grin.

Ford belched, then spit out what came up. “Chet aka Bill ‘Game over man’ Paxton, Weird Science, ’85. Douche nozzle.”


  1. Soooo GROSS! Looks like I won’t be eating dessert.

    Oh hell, I’ll still eat taco bell, the frying will kill all the mold in my brain.

    Comment by Georgia on January 18, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

  2. Well that was just unremittingly gross. Very well described but just very grim and evocative. This is not helped by the fact I’ve been sitting in hospital with all the associated sights and smells.

    Good work

    Comment by Pete Bevan on January 19, 2012 @ 8:10 am

  3. very well done, i was grossed out!

    Comment by gunldesnapper on January 19, 2012 @ 8:32 am

  4. Well, first off I wasn’t trying to gross everyone out, but I guess thats an added bonus. I was hoping to make a fairly funny short. Not that vomiting is funny mind you, but that the interaction between the brothers would be. Besides all that, and with the original Fright Night scene in mind where the guy melts on the stair case, I can’t imagine that a body left in a sweltering car would be anything but nausea inducing.

    Comment by BarrettS on January 19, 2012 @ 9:49 am

  5. BTW. Thanks for the comments everyone, and get well soon Pete

    Comment by BarrettS on January 19, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  6. Asides from the very well written grossness, i really liked how the characterization came across as rich and very much alive, it reminded me of some friends that i miss from childhood.
    Thanks for the memories that your story reawakened in me.

    Comment by bong on January 19, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

  7. Oh just to clarify (without hijacking your comments Barrett), I had a baby son yesterday a whopping 13lbs delivered by C section. Mother and baby doing well. He will make a fine Zombie hunter.

    Comment by Pete Bevan on January 19, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

  8. Amazingly written short story. Keep these flowing. This story begs to be expanded on.

    Comment by JasonGoss on January 20, 2012 @ 1:05 am

  9. I thought the dialogue was very, very good, As was the general rough and tumble interaction between the brothers, but your description of the corpse reminded me of what I see in the mirror in the mornings. Except I smell a bit worse. Very entertaining all round.

    And congratulations Pete. Sure, the child is practically fully grown at 13lbs. You could send him straight out to work in a few weeks.

    Comment by KevinF on January 20, 2012 @ 7:40 am

  10. Congrats Pete! Although a 13 pounder sounds like a gestational diabetes baby! Hope the new mommy is doing ok! Nice quick well written, real feeling piece. Reminds me of the myth busters doing the pig in the corvette in the shipping container. The ammonia smell alone was enough to overpower them. Mixed with some srandard brotherly ball busting! Liked it. Could be the start of a nice storyline!

    Comment by hijinxjeep on January 21, 2012 @ 12:55 am

  11. I like the humor, combined with foreboding, then ending with humor. Well-done.

    Comment by curiousfarmer on January 21, 2012 @ 11:34 am

  12. Hijinx. They aren’t sure. His weight went up a lot in the last few weeks but after my wife had had the last test. He is fine and healthy!

    Comment by Pete Bevan on January 21, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  13. Congrats on the baby. As a father of 2 sons heed this advice: perfect the gold idol swap technique from Raiders of the Lost Ark when changing diapers. Otherwise you will get sprayed.

    Comment by BarrettS on January 21, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  14. Question. How old would you say the brothers are? An earlier draft had their ages but I took out out since I thought the movie references would give that away.

    Comment by BarrettS on January 21, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  15. I was eating this great sandwich from the Deli when I started reading about the description of the Zed’s condition and I had to stop, walk away, and finish my mouth full of sandwich before I threw up, lol. Great description!!!

    Comment by JohnnyLo on January 21, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  16. Wow, the details were great! As for the ages, I envisioned like… late/mid 20’s maybe? (Congrats on the baby, Pete!)

    Comment by Ashley on January 22, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

  17. At first I though they were kids maybe 10 or 11 then when they started cussing maybe 13- 15 by the end it seemed more like 16+

    Comment by Spencer on January 23, 2012 @ 1:01 am

  18. CONGRATS PETE!!! 13 pounds wow

    Comment by uncleb on January 23, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

  19. Right enough hijacking Barretts thread! I would have put them at late teens 18-19, but then I don’t have a brother to compare it to.

    Comment by Pete Bevan on January 24, 2012 @ 4:13 am

  20. Hmm. With the 80’s movies referenced I thought they would have seemed older. I was aiming for late 20’s early 30’s. Sigh. Rewrites.

    Comment by BarrettS on January 24, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

  21. Barrett. I think their actions make them seem younger, than the references.

    Comment by Pete Bevan on January 25, 2012 @ 5:51 am

  22. Definately a fun story…as for the ages, you could TOTALLY pull 12-16 years old if the setting ISN’T modern day. Find some way to qualify the year (early 90’s) into the story and it would still work.

    I’m a sucker for 80’s references….cough cough 37 yrs old….cough cough.

    I liked it

    also congrats to Pete

    and for a final thread-jack….I just read a fun little book called Ready Player One whose entire storyline revolved around the 80’s…..you’d probably flip for it, Barret

    Comment by HalfBakedMcBride on January 30, 2012 @ 11:43 am

  23. well done! extremely graphic and entertaining :)… as i read, i pictured the boys at around 14 and 17 … and just assumed that they were REEEEEEEEEEEEELY into movies.

    Comment by penny on January 30, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

  24. Thanks McBride. This was just an introduction for these characters to try and get readers familiar with them and their personalities. I developed them later on as time passes. Their the characters from my book. I kept getting good ideas for side things that don’t really reflect on the main story. So shortstories works fit these little side adventures. I have another to post soon. It’s a little darker. I’m wanting to get a Jenny short in first. Just need to finish it. And I’ve read a little short about Ready Player One and want to read it next. The movie thing Marshall and Ford do is a version of what my brother and I do. More will be coming from them. I’m hoping to keep it funny with a hint of dark.

    Comment by BarrettS on January 31, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

  25. Congrats on the baby!!! i loved the story too. It seemed so life-like and stuff and i felt as if i was there…weird right? I’m a weird person…acording to the living. But um…yes the story. Awesome. The detail is amazing, a little gross, but the more the better ya know? it makes it real. The story appealed to the sences, and i just about vomited, but nice story bro!

    Comment by Makayla on February 5, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

  26. re: Pete Bevan

    Dude, reading a zombie story in a hospital is like reading leagues under the sea in a submarine (like in The Sphere) or playing Titanic’s song while on a boat.

    Did you hear that?

    *thump* *thump* *thump*

    Comment by Georgia on February 21, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

  27. I think my problem, along with others, is one that hit me frequently; the characters are already alive and formed in my head, but for everyone else their not. I already know the history before this event so their actions aren’t all that “immature” to me. I think once more is built in the readers mind on them their ages and personalities will help this work better. I’ll get some more stuff done on them. Then going back to this short will help it work better.
    Sitting at home with a sick child (this time of year always makes me think of Captain Trips) finishing up my next Jenny short. Sad but days off are the only time I get to write now. Pete will be figuring this out soon enough.

    Comment by BarrettS on February 22, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  28. @Georgia – The anti natal unit has only one entrance and exit (to prevent people stealing babies) never good. The hospital also had massive “WARNING NOROVIRUS” signs up everywhere. Not Good.

    @Barrett – I get this, so I always try to make the description clear and unambiguous. All imaginations are not the same! And I have a 4 yr old daughter so most of my writing last year was during quiet periods at work or late at night when everyone is in bed…like now.

    Comment by Pete Bevan on February 22, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

  29. Oh Boy, I think I can still smell it, I really like your stories.I feeling inspired to post one of my own. Thanks please keep writing stories, they are great.

    Comment by Brett on July 11, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

  30. Gross! They won’t last long if they kepe taking unnecessary chances llike that – looking forward to reading about more of their adventures, tho!

    Comment by JohnT on August 5, 2012 @ 2:34 am

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