Log in / Register

 

Categories:

Monthly Archives:

Recent Comments:
  • Doc { Great read, hope there's more soon. } – Jan 02, 6:51 AM
  • J_Mo { This is the scariest story I've read here on talesworldwarz.com. this guy is way worse than the undead. Thank you... } – Dec 23, 11:18 AM
  • Justin Dunne { You had me at Kevin Fortune. } – Dec 22, 4:56 AM
  • Kristen { Wow. This is twisted and wonderful. Thanks for sharing. } – Dec 21, 7:51 PM
  • Martin { It,s too bad we can,t rate these stories like some other sites. Wow! What a great tale so far! 5... } – Dec 20, 1:20 AM

  • Spooky Halloween book series


    All The Dead Are Here - Pete Bevan's zombie tales collection


    Popular Tags:



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

    REDEMPTION OF THE DEAD By Michael R Brush
    August 23, 2012  Short stories   Tags: ,   

    Dan was awake; he couldn’t sleep anymore, not since he was bitten anyway. He had known it was bad as soon as it had happened; late in the zombie heyday, just before the living had mobilised. Dan had slowly turned into what the news reports had warned him of. Just that one bite. Dan had prided himself on his fitness, and when one staggering corpse had come upon him, he had hit him with all his strength. That had been enough to send the rotting man down, but not sufficient to make the undead unconscious and as he passed the victim of whatever mutation or virus that had caused all this plague, the victim had bit him on the ankle.

    Dan opened his eyes and looked at the clock. He caught himself staring and blinked a couple of times before closing his eyes again. It was early, but rest was important in allowing his body to keep itself maintained as best as possible. In an hour he would change the dressing on his ankle. It was lucky that he had been bitten somewhere so easy to hide, he reckoned. It allowed him to mingle with the living.

    He had found that he could retain some of his consciousness. After he had lost himself to the feeding frenzy there had been so much food just walking around, but then the food thinned out and gorged he had fallen down. It was the timing of all this that was important for when he awoke from his frenzy there had been a scarcity of food on which to predate and so he had come to some of his senses. He would never be able to aspire to the artist that he had hoped to become, that part of him had well and truly died with his heartbeat, but he was able to think logically, and that was when he really realised how much he did not want to ‘die.’

    So he worked out that if he lived on enough meat he would be able to control himself, that meant he would need a job to pay the bills… At that time there were plenty of openings and so he found a job which required only logic to be successful – accountancy and had he been alive he would have been disgusted that he flourished in his new career.

    But there were still problems. There was a latent paranoia about zombies being hidden in holes from which they could just leap out on the unsuspecting public, not that Dan could blame them, but most of the stories were run from tabloids looking for sales.

    He had, as most people and therefore what he would logically be expected to also do, moved to a better flat; a studio apartment. On the door to the apartments they had a dog on a leash to smell for corrupt flesh, and he had to remember to pull his mouth into a grin as he passed the German Shepherd. What he wanted, longed to do when he saw the gaping mouth, the rolling tongue, the dripping saliva, was to tear into the beast, but so far he had resisted. The other residents just assumed that the dog had merely taken a dislike to him. He supposed that if he was alive he would have enjoyed the irony.

    The clock ticked mechanically on and when the alarm sounded he rose to perform his morning routine. He changed the dressing on his ankle – a webbed bandage, nothing that would strip the skin away, but would cover the wound for one more day, and had his breakfast ration of raw mince straight from the fridge, not that the apartment was warm. He had decided to keep it cool so as not to rush any corruption. Dan worried about how he would cope when summer came, as an exercise in logic that he had yet to solve. He rinsed his mouth out with nothing stronger than water, dressed in the suit they expected an accountant to wear and upon this suit he sprayed deodorant before he left for work.

    He always left home early in the morning to avoid as many people as he could, of course this meant that everyone thought that he was committed to his work. When at work, he would go to his office and stay there unless he had to go out. What had surprised him was that he still needed to go to the toilet, but on reflection he thought that his body, undead as it was, still processed the food and water he ate, and it had to get rid of the useless byproducts just as normal. So he would go into the cubicles no matter what he had to do; his extremities were not doing well and once he opened his clothes he thought that some whiff of putrescent flesh might escape. His feet were enclosed in shoes, and later, perhaps, if they degraded badly he could wear boots, his hands he rubbed moisturizing lotions into, but there were limits…

    Today he would have to forego his normal lunch out in the park, just about nobody dared go into open spaces anymore. There was not much life out there to tempt him, so if he took a lunchbox out with him, nobody questioned him, just a quirk borne out of his trauma, or so they thought to themselves. Nobody ever looked to find his box empty. Today he would have to go to a café, or some such place. His girlfriend had become insistent, and Dan knew from memory that Sally would not give up, and he had not the will to put her off any longer.

    He had agreed to go out today, a week ago in the hope that either he would figure out an excuse she would accept, whether or not she believed him, or even more unlikely, that she would forget. Neither had occurred and so he would sit in a public place with people all around him. He had done it before, but it was a struggle that he did not want to revisit. However she had reached the point of taking no refusal and he had to admit he had been lucky that she had accepted the week’s delay. It would not do to trigger anyone’s alarm bells, all things considered, and before the plague had hit, he had been the keen one in the relationship. So after a morning of counting columns, Dan made his normal noises of going to eat out, and left.

    Sally had, typically, picked a trendy, crowded, café bar somewhere near the center of town. Dan entered the warm air and shuddered at what damage this would do his frail flesh. Being a ‘zombie’ wasn’t all it was cracked up to be – you might not need your flesh to survive in the prime of the plague, but if you wanted to survive amongst the living afterwards, you had better look after yourself. It was not a new thought as he headed off to the table she was already sitting at. He had come late so he could focus on getting to the table where she was rather than stand confused about which direction to take with all the food surrounding him. Salivating badly, he sucked in as he sat opposite her, calling to a passing waitress for mineral water with ice.

    “I ate at work,” he explained, keeping his words short and clipped. He was losing some of his speech capability, despite the vocal exercises he ran through every night.

    “I was beginning to wonder if you were ever coming,” she replied pointedly.

    “I said I’d come,” Dan replied.

    “Look, Dan,” she began slowly as she reached out to take his cold hand in hers. Dan jerked his hand back as soon as she touched it, her eyes narrowed, “Is there something you’re not telling me? Is there another woman?”

    Dan shook his head, twice; once in either direction, the idea shocked him in its femininity. Here he was trying to get out of a relationship, prior to whatever had caused his mutation, he had been keen on developing, and now he was dragging his rather cool heals, she wouldn’t leave him alone. The illogic of it all made him shudder. “No, it’s just that since the Big Zed happened, it’s made me want to re-evaluate my life…” he trailed off hoping that would get him in the clear and work towards an exit to this relationship.

    “I know, honey, and I’ve seen you change, and I know it must be hard for you,” she looked across into his eyes, and he looked away for it was just as his water arrived. He resisted the temptation to lunge at the waitress’s arm as it swung in front of him. “And I’ve seen how you look at other women,” his old girlfriend concluded harshly.

    “Sally, I’ve been nothing but faithful, I swear to you!” replied Dan shocked that she could see how hungry he looked at the bare flesh showing, and remembered to blink. If she worked out what he really was, he feared that no amount of love and affection would stay her hand from ‘outing him’ as Mr Walking Dead…

    “Well,” she said thoughtfully, “we should talk. I’ll call round for dinner later.” Sal rose, her drink finished, and with the parting shot of “You always used to say I was welcome anytime!” left the café.

    Dan stared down at his unnecessary water, and tried not to notice how much food there was around him, but could not get the smell of fresh flesh, the warm bodies surrounding him out of his mind, so he made to leave the bar in a rush, eyes gleaming. Someone shouted that he hadn’t paid before he got to the door. Dan thrust his hand thoughtlessly into his pocket and thumped some coins down on a table, some of them careening off like shrapnel, before he finally lurched into the relative safety of the street. No doubt he had heard people muttering how the devastation had left some broken by the loss of their loved ones…

    He had lost his life, he remembered that he used to have a great love of it – he was always doing something, undertaking an artistic project like his dabbling with sculpting or painting, or organizing an event for such and such, or he remembered trying to persuade ‘Serious Sal’ to let him do her, in any way he could persuade her – getting her to pose as a model, or for something else entirely. She had always complained that he was not serious enough, but they had fun, and now he was deadly serious and giving her his cold shoulder, she wanted him more than ever. Dan paused on his way back to work, it took a lot of effort to stay ‘alive’ in his condition and as he recalled his exit from the café that it was beginning to take its toll. The idea that he would have to entertain Sally, was getting near his breaking point.

    Remembering his stress control behaviours, he took deep breaths and felt the mess his lungs were becoming. Fearful of discovery, he walked with a measured gait back to work. Dan went straight to back his office without saying a word to anybody. He worked fast, so that he could take his time to think through what he was going to do about his impending date with Sally in the latter part of the afternoon.

    No matter how Dan viewed it, even though Sally might not have realized why he looked so hungrily at bare flesh, she had commented more than once on how cold his hands were, and they used to be too warm when he was caressing her… He had betrayed himself to her despite his best attempts. Even though she had might not have pieced it together yet, if she was given enough provocation she could just jump to the conclusion that he was ‘no more than a zombie’ – he had heard folk saying that proverbially about people who were cold to the protagonists. Just an offhand remark that sometimes, if you believed the tabloids, resulted in somebody being cut up to see if they healed up, of course without enough time, or if the wound was just too big there would be no sign of healing, and somebody died.

    Then there were the other stories, where they ‘really’ caught a ‘zombie’ and those stories terrified Dan. But if Sally used that expression, just to hurt him as an offhand remark, she may then see the truth. He did not think that anything he could do after that would help. Even if he did spark another plague of whatever floated in his flesh, his saliva, or where ever, he would not be able to return to his new normality, so that only would delay his being killed in the final sense, and he shuddered at what would happen if he told her the truth. Nothing occurred to him except having to actually bite the bullet and just see how ‘dinner’ went.

    He stopped off on his way home to visit his butcher’s shop. The butcher was a large fat man who always smiled at Dan. Dan had spent some time working out why he should get this attention, and when he had finally figured it out he had shuddered with dread. The butcher was a proud man, and he was proud of what he sold – meat, raw, cold, pies and other assortments, but he was really proud of his raw meat section and although Dan generally only bought mince now (to protect his teeth from having to chew) he had bought a range of steaks and cutlets when he had moved into the area. Not to mention the hungry way he looked around the shop, but the large walking pile of meat and blubber never realized that he was appraised in the same fashion as his meat section…

    On entering the butcher’s the owner smiled and Dan was welcomed into the store, “Why hello there, so nice to see you again. What’ll you be having today then, Dan?”

    Dan wondered for a moment and remembered what Sally’s favourite piece of meat was, before taking time to move his vocal chords around before answering, “I’ll have two chicken breasts and half a pound of mince, please,” he gulped.

    The butcher did not notice or care about his strange manner, after all, he was a good customer and always polite. Other folk had worse problems after the plague, so he just ignored it and treated Dan as normal, which meant being overly friendly, in Dan’s mind. “Not your normal order now, sir, you got a friend over for dinner?” At this he gave Dan a ‘good-natured’ wink, “My you are a live one!” he finished as he handed the parcel over.

    “Be so good as to put it on account,” replied Dan somewhat more forcefully than normal as he backed out of the shop.

    “Of course sir, settle up at the end of the month!” the butcher replied, and then turned to his apprentice as he said, “Can you smell that? Smells like something’s gone off,” and so he started to inspect his pride and joy – the raw meat section.

    On returning home, Dan remembered to smile at the dog, who now obviously, to those who watched the entrance to the apartment block, barked at him because of the package from the butcher’s. There were plenty of people who did watch, nervous as kittens in case another ‘monster’ should arise to terrify the living once again… from the safety of the cctv screens. But, they were satisfied that Dan was fine, he was a good neighbour; he did not make any noise and he kept himself to himself. They knew he had to be alright because he had one of those vegetable boxes delivered every week.

    Dan stared at his latest vegetable box and wondered how he ever cooked with vegetables. They repulsed him now but he had to work out what he was going to cook for Sally. He started by deciding to throw out what looked like it was off, after he had thrown everything away, he rummaged in the bin for what looked best. It was not a good assortment, and wouldn’t really go with the chicken he had bought for her. It would have to do, and he had better cook it properly or he might end up giving his date food poisoning. Then Sally might decide she could not go home and that would never do.

    He worked out that she would probably call at around eight, after petting the monster on a leash downstairs, and calculated the various cooking times so that he could start the food preparation in good order before her arrival. Dan put the air conditioning on to try to remove all traces of corruption and decay from his flat, and changed from his work clothes to a more casual outfit to cook in, at least that wouldn’t be carrying any of his smell from the day at work.

    He would have to be careful not to get cut or burnt whilst he was cooking, he thought to himself, and so tried to slice the vegetables with his oven gloves on. After fumbling with the knife, he realised that he had to cut the vegetables up without any protection, and so decided on an oven bake. Dan fished out an oven dish the previous apartment’s owner had no use for any longer and placed the chopped vegetables into the bottom of the dish, the two chicken breasts on top of them. Then he sprinkled herbs, which had also been left by the prior occupier, over the whole. Not for the first time did Dan wonder if the previous owner of the apartment had become a zombie before being destroyed by the hail of bullets from military guns, or had he been so devastated by zombies that there had not been enough of him left to even become undead.

    It was not a pleasant speculation, and Dan turned back to the problem at hand, placing the oven dish into the cold oven before turning it on. There was no way he could burn himself until it was time to take it out. Satisfied that he had done what was needed in the kitchen, he set the table for two, without the candle that he normally set when they were both alive. Having an hour to spend, Dan decided to set his alarm and grab some rest in a chair, while he practised with his vocal chords, it would be good if he could get more use out of them, especially for his date. He had to pretend he was normal.

    He had no more than half an hour before there came a knock on his door. She had come early. He rose from his chair and made his way to the door, remembering to stop jabbering incomprehensibly, and welcomed Sally into his apartment with his outstretched arm.

    “Is there somebody else here?” she asked, “I’m sure that I heard voices…” she trailed off, suspicion clear in her mind.

    “Just practising some vocal exercises,” he pronounced flawlessly. So they had worked, he observed to himself.

    “Please come in,” and so he ushered her into the main room and towards the table, which was set for the two of them. “Dinner won’t be long,” he said as he watched her move into the room and licked his lips at the sight of her tender frame.

    She had dressed with care to show herself off, but in a taunting fashion, a light flowing skirt you could almost see through, a flowery blouse which flowed as she moved, and with a modern corset underneath to keep her sense of propriety, and yet reveal the pert curves of her delicate breasts. He shuddered, tightened his grip on the door, and then shut it, closing the only exit from his apartment. She sat at the table, and he sat down opposite her. “I’m afraid dinner will be about half an hour.”

    “Never mind,” she replied, “I brought some wine,” and so saying she produced a bottle of white wine that he remembered, it was a light little crisp number that they both used to enjoy.

    “That’ll go well with dinner,” Dan rose and as he trailed towards the kitchen continued, “I’ll get some glasses and we can have some while we wait.” In the dead man’s kitchen there were many glasses, he grabbed two, as he kicked himself for forgetting such a simple thing as glassware, and the bottle opener. Before he sat back down he opened the bottle and filled the two glasses. He took a sip and nodded appreciatively, it was tasteless to him now. Sally virtually grabbed her glass and took a gulp. They sat looking at each other without saying anything and Dan occasionally remembered to blink.

    “What’s happening to us?” Sally eventually asked, “We used to be so good together…” she trailed off, heavy with emotion.

    Dan shrugged in what he hoped was still his good-natured manner, and after another moment, took a sip of wine and said, “I’d better check on the dinner.” He rose and fairly rushed into the kitchen. He opened the oven door and winced as the heat blew out. Dan waved at the oven door for a moment or two and, with oven glove he reached in to take the dish out, but the heat caught his face and he closed his eyes to protect them from harm as he fished the chicken out.

    Once the dish was placed on the kitchen counter, with the oven door safely shut, he had a look at the ruined meat – it looked ready. He portioned it out between them, arranging it so that the breasts were on top of those vegetables, and oven glove off, carried the food out to the dining area.

    “Here we are!” he exclaimed setting the food down on their placemats.

    She forked her food around her plate, obviously dissatisfied with something, before looking up at Dan to see him try to cool his meal down before starting. “It’s hot,” he explained, as he tried not to blow on his food in the traditional manner of one who is cooling his food down. To avoid being too obvious, he picked up his glass and swirled the light liquid around. “Just right for chicken casserole,” he said trying to make conversation.

    “Look,” started Sally, “I know I’ve always said I had my doubts about the relationship,” and with that she reached across the table, “but I’ve been thinking you were right when you said we should make a commitment to each other…” she paused, as she looked into her glass, and started again, looking him in the eye, “since the plague hit, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and there’s nothing worse than being alone.”

    Dan nodded at that, the sense that everyone was your enemy was a hard reality to exist with.

    Taking this as encouragement, Sally continued, “I’ve also seen how you’ve changed, darling, you’re serious now, a good worker with good prospects.” She took a deep breath, knowing that her next sentence could spark an old argument, “And you’ve stopped having your silly ideas about art and stuff, and I appreciate the sacrifice you’ve made, and well,” nervously she twirled her glass in her free hand, the other still reaching out to him across the table, “I think it’s time we pooled ourselves together and made a proper go of things…”

    Finished she looked up to see his reaction, but Dan just put his head down and moved his food around, which was when she noticed the burn on the back of his hand, it was just a bit further up his wrist than where the cuff of his shirt would come down, but it was an open sore and the cuff had stuck to it. Dan seemed oblivious to it. Sally worried that he was so caught up in his emotions, after all, this was probably a bit of a shock, she thought to herself.

    “Honey, what did you do?” she asked pointing out his wrist.

    Dan looked down to see what she meant, and with a shock realised that he must have burnt himself on the side of the oven as he was getting dinner out, just above the cuff of the oven glove, maybe he had just caught himself on the oven door, whatever, it did not matter. He had been found out, and this was the end for him. He cringed and folded in on himself. Sally, her concern for Dan written clearly on her face, went over to him and took one of his cold hands in hers. She shivered at its cool, clammy feel, and then she shuddered, as the realisation that Dan was not alive suddenly hit her.

    “Don’t touch me…” Dan pleaded, as he hoped she had not yet realised his complaint.

    Sally ran a hand over his shaved head; she had always liked its perpetual smoothness, as he had always kept it closely shaved. Now, she guessed, he did not need to shave anymore, to keep it nice and smooth. “Honey, I love you just as you are,” she said softly, almost kissing him gently to show her affection, but then worried that she might catch his contagion, drew her head back.

    “But I’m dead,” Dan replied forcefully, as he made sure that she realised exactly what he was, “I’m just another zombie…” he trailed off.

    “Well, we’ll just have to make the most of it, then,” she replied in her ‘Serious Sal’ voice, as she rose to sit opposite him again.

    They paused then, and slowly Dan unfurled to look at her and see that she was looking calmly at him, she caught his questioning glance and said, “Well, it’s not all bad, I mean I never did like sex that much and I prefer clothes that don’t show any flesh…” A sudden thought occurred to her, “And I guess I’ll never have to worry about you running off with a strumpet, unless of course you’re going to eat her…” she shrugged, she had him now, just the way she wanted him – passionless and conscientious. The career, the house, the car; they could have them all, she could have them all now. She guessed kids would be out of the question, but she even trembled at the thought of actually having to have them. So that was a relief.

    She put her food back in the oven to cook properly, and looked in the fridge, whilst Dan just sat in shock, not able to believe what was happening. When the plate of raw mince was put in front of him, he realised that she was serious, and when he tucked into his food, she spoke again, “Well, I suppose I’d better stay otherwise folk might talk. You don’t mind if I stay in the spare room, do you?”

    Dan shook his head with a handful of mince halfway to his mouth. She clucked then, she never did like him eating with his hands…

    And so they talked late about how they were going to keep his pretence up, Sally surprising Dan with the support she, living would give to him, undead, before they retired to their separate rooms.

    Dan was awake; he couldn’t sleep anymore, not since he was bitten anyway. He remembered to close his eyes, it was almost time for him to get up and he could hear her singing from the bathroom, they had decided that she would get ready and go before he rose with his morning hunger, before she had locked herself into her room.

    Now in the morning she sounded happy that she had the serious guy she had always looked for, even if it was not as she had expected, and Dan wondered if this was his redemption, to be able to live as part of a couple would throw everybody off his trail. In half an hour he would get up and change his bandages, the one on his ankle, and the new one on his wrist. He was not sure, but perhaps, for the first time since he was bitten, maybe he was actually happy.

     

    ***

     

    I’m coming up to that meaningful age of 42… so far I’ve managed to stay one step ahead of the apocalypse having enjoyed living in Belfast, Cardiff, and Durham (although not necessarily in that order) after coming from Newcastle Upon Tyne. I’ve appeared in the Worcester LitFest for two years now – the first for a sci-fi piece in Worcester Sauce evening, last year and this year I’ve done the 42/Horror eve and will read at the ‘You cannot be serious’ evening for comedy evening. Have also contributed a four part sci-fi serial to the 42 event over the last few months…

     

    14 Comments

    1. Very interesting tale.

      Comment by Terry on August 23, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

    2. I like it ~ I don’t know how long they’ll be able to keep up the charade, but I get the feeling this is a one-off, not part of a longer story?

      Comment by JohnT on August 24, 2012 @ 12:43 am

    3. A

      Fine story. When I lived in Europe my best pal was a Geordie and you lads are crazy.

      Comment by John the Piper's Son on August 24, 2012 @ 2:29 am

    4. good read, thanks, is she strange in the head?
      but lust is strange any way.

      Comment by greg wagner on August 25, 2012 @ 1:43 am

    5. Wooo! this is really off the bender!
      Its amazing how the supporting character can upstage the main character in more ways than one!
      Gee, what a woman!
      Makes me think that of the two, Sally is the one to fear.

      Comment by bong on August 28, 2012 @ 4:08 am

    6. Fabulous story! I would love to see how long before Dan can’t control the hunger anymore and what would happen to Sally if she was living with him when that time comes. Great work!

      Comment by Tonya on August 28, 2012 @ 10:44 am

    7. Thanks for the feed back… It was meant as a one off but well, who knows – there might be some life left in it yet…

      Yes – Sally, hmm… you can almost imagine she’d get a sawn off shot gun to keep under her pillow, just in case… What would happen next… or maybe that’s just a tease. I suppose for me she’s part Wodehouse Aunt (Jeeves & Wooster) and part …

      Anyway – thanks to all who’ve enjoyed it.

      Comment by Michael R. on September 6, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

    8. A zombie is perfect because she doesn’t like sex much? Consider being beard wife, it won’t get you eaten.

      Comment by Georgie on October 1, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    9. A nice twist on the happy ending. Unexpected and refreshing.

      Comment by rjspears on November 2, 2012 @ 7:24 am

    10. That was really good, very different, super, lol at the job choice.

      Comment by svw44 on December 3, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

    11. I’m still glad, rjspears and svw44, that my story is still giving folk pleasure…

      For you lot to still find it after all this time – you must be fairly hard core (or bored…)

      Thanks for the feedback…

      Comment by Michael R. on December 4, 2012 @ 5:36 am

    12. Michael, quite a lot of people don’t visit for ages then will blast through a bunch of stories. Guess they are too busy prepping to visit regularly 🙂

      Comment by Pete Bevan on December 4, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

    13. Well….

      That’s me told!

      Whatever the reason – I’m still glad folk are enjoying my Redemption…

      and I do appreciate the messages that are coming through…

      Comment by Michael R. on December 4, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

    14. This is a fresh new perspective, at least for me.

      Comment by CL on August 25, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

    RSS feed for comments on this post.

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.