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

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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.

November 20, 2012  Short stories   Tags:   

Raphael Diego sat trembling in the small dark room. A single light bulb swung gently on a long cord. The bulb itself had blown some weeks ago, but Raphael still hadn’t noticed. The small beams of sunlight that would have otherwise seeped in through the tightly drawn shades were completely suffocated by thick dark blue comforters the man had tacked to the walls above the windows. The faint stench of mildew wafted from the walls, and the carpet under Raphael’s knees was damp, as if dew had somehow found its way into the drab little room. An ugly tan spot dotted with greenish-blue mold that sat lazily on the ceiling; the remnants of an old leak (Raphael often thought the mark resembled a chili pepper).

Raphael himself fit into his almost cave-like environment perfectly; a frail, sickly creature with almost translucently pale skin, his eyes were sunken and bloodshot and wore dark purple bags underneath them like fleshy blouses. The irises were an icy, haunting blue, like two tiny pools of ice water within a lake of fire. The skin of his back stretched tightly over his spine and ribcage like flesh-toned cellophane. His upper half was bare; his only clothing was a pair of stained, baggy cargo shorts that were obviously made for a man much larger than himself, but Raphael made up for this fact with a tightly secured green, red, and yellow striped nylon belt.

Raphael’s hands presently shook nervously, but this time it wasn’t just the withdrawal shakes that had become so familiar. Oh no, it was much more than that. These were breakthrough shakes, Raphael thought with a snicker. Eureka shakes. The sickly man was kneeling before the dark, empty room almost as if praying, though instead of a bible or rosary beads in his hands, there were round bits of paper clutched in his fists. The papers were dotted with tiny blue and purple spores, which Raphael affectionately thought of as his children. The spores were perfect (or near-perfect) clones of the parent fungus, which cap rested on a stained paper plate. Its stem lay beside it like a decapitated corpse, seeping blue juices from its bruised neck.

“This is it,” Raphael whispered under his breath. This was the moment he was waiting for. He was now holding in his hands the little brothers and sisters of his second successful generation of the mutated fungus. The tiny heads budding from the coke bottles filled halfway with fertilized (cow shit, Raphael thought with another snicker) soil proved beyond a doubt that his new fungus could reproduce, and these tiny spore prints that were left behind by the parent plant along with the already sprouting older siblings meant that Raphael would have more than enough to begin his empire from his single parent plant. He just hoped his children reproduced as well as their mother had.

Time to celebrate, the man thought excitedly, placing the spore prints carefully into their own cow shit capsules and tightly screwing on the lids. He stared down at the purple-stained plate almost dreamily. After a moment, he resolved to sample the stem of his creation. Not the cap; that could still prove useful to him in the future.

Raphael fumbled with the stem of the mushroom clumsily, but managed to wrap his badly shaking fingers around it like talons. He brought the stem to his lips, his left hand steadying the hand holding the precious shroom. Just a little, He reminded himself almost bitterly. Just a taste. The stem, which had once been white, had stained itself a deep blue with its own juices. That was very good, Raphael noted. The higher this gets me, the more I can sell them for. He took a bite. The texture of the mushroom was almost like cardboard. The blue juice seeped from the open wound, staining Raphael’s tongue blue. Raphael gingerly severed a small chunk of the stem and chewed slowly. The mushroom didn’t have the characteristic gritty-with-a-hint-of-feces taste of most psychedelic fungi, he noted. That was good. He swallowed, feeling the rough little chuck of half-chewed fungus climb its way down its throat. “Swallow it down, like a jagged little pill,” Raphael muttered in a sing-song voice. It was a song by some bitch he’d heard on the radio once, and the lyrics that came back to him now seemed appropriate enough. It made him giggle. He took another small bite, this time chewing slowly and thoughtfully before swallowing. This bite, closer to the fat butt of the stem, was cardboard with a hint of sponge. Raphael then placed the half-eaten stem back on the plate, next to the decapitated head. Tiny beads of sweat began to condense on his forehead. He wiped them away. He closed his eyes for a moment, suddenly dizzy. He pinched his temples with his thumb and forefinger, trying to clear his vision. This couldn’t possibly be from the mushrooms. But could it? He asked himself. Shrooms generally took anywhere from half an hour to an hour to take effect, he knew from plenty of experience, not in the couple of seconds that had passed since he’d nibbled the stem. At first, Raphael felt a tinge of fear, but then he realized with a rush of excitement that of these symptoms were indeed from his fungus, this could be a very good thing. This was his strain of mushroom, his very own strain, which apparently got you high almost instantly. No one but him had access to this super-shroom. Hell, no one but him even knew it existed. But that would change soon, he knew. He would be a god in the drug world. A god…

This was Raphael’s last thought before the walls began to crawl. The edges of his carpet actually began to climb up the wall. His tiny budding shrooms danced mystically in their containers, like tiny fairies. Raphael looked up. His ceiling was covered with a brilliant, translucent rainbow sheet. Raphael imagined it would be soft to the touch, like silk, if it were tangible. Ghostly mushrooms danced through the wavering sea of color. The roof itself seemed to billow like a flag, and the mushrooms distorted around the gentle waves like seaweed carried in ocean waves. Raphael stared up at it in amazement. The carpet beneath his knees began to pull and tug at him with soft, tiny fingers. The feeling reminded him of the sea-anemones on the Discovery Channel that rubbed their long, colorful fingers along the bellies of the clownfish. He rocked backwards onto his ass. A thin line of blood trickled from his nose, but Raphael didn’t notice. He licked it away absent-mindedly when it reached his top lip, much in the same way a toddler disposes of snot, and sniffed deeply, sending some of the blood shooting back up his nostril.

Voices were coming to him now, through the walls. They sounded as if they belonged to people inside of a fish tank, distorted and liquid. He couldn’t understand what the voices were saying. They sounded as if they were in another language as well as underwater. Suddenly, like a demon from hell, a voice shrieked at Raphael and shattered his good vibes like a raw egg dropped on concrete. SWALLOW IT DOWN, the voice within his own head screamed. Raphael screamed too, pressing the palms of his hands against his ears. This, of course, wouldn’t do any good, since the voice was inside of him, but the reflex was out of his control. LIKE A JAGGED LITTLE PILL. The voice blathered. It sounded like his father. His fucking father, who found a way to scream at him and cause him pain even here. IT FEELS SO GOOD. Now the burbling fish tank voices joined in from within the walls to create a disturbing little chorus. His father’s voice rang loud and true over his ensemble. Raphael suddenly felt like he was going to vomit. He squeezed his eyes shut and swallowed repeatedly, trying desperately not to barf all over his precious fungus. It didn’t even strike him to get up and go to the bathroom. Not that he thought he’d be able to stand, anyway. SWIMMING IN YOUR STOMACH. This one came as a static screech, as if the fish-people had turned into banshees. Raphael screamed back at the voices, his teeth gritted and his tongue pressed to the roof of his mouth so it came out as a muffled “NNNNGH!”

Before he knew what he was doing, Raphael stumbled to his feet. A thick, bubbling stream of foam seeped from the left corner of his mouth. His eyes had been bloodshot before this ordeal, but now they seemed as if they were bleeding from the inside. His pupils hid his entire ice-blue irises, giving him a wild deer-in-headlights expression. “Nnngh..” He said, weaker this time. He swayed on gelatinous legs. The once brilliantly colored rainbow blanket that had hung above him had turned into an angry dark storm cloud. The happy dancing shrooms now shimmered red with rage, and the chili pepper spot on his ceiling had somehow contorted itself into a blood-soaked dagger. Fire, Raphael’s mind screamed at him. His veins were on fire. His eyes were on fire. In fact, it seemed as if every fiber of his body was burning, screaming, shredding. His arms flew around each other in a one-man hug, the nails biting into his flesh, drawing crescents of blood. His knees buckled, and the man performed an awkward, swaying dance to keep himself on his feet. A noise much like wind howling over a metal roof wailed in his ears. His head felt as if it were a million miles under the sea and about to burst from the pressure. He looked around him wildly. The room spun with the motion of his head, around and around like a carrousel. Shadows danced on the walls like flames. Never in his life had Raphael experienced a trip so terrible. His hands flew up to his head, grasping fistfuls of greasy brown hair and pulling at them violently. He screamed, his eyes bulging from his skull. Never… never… he felt as if he were in hell. He was in hell, and the fires were consuming him.

“Make it stop,” He gasped. He wasn’t aware of the fact that he was sobbing. Large pink tears rolled down his cheeks. “Oh, please, God, make it stop…” The room thudded with his pounding temples with an audible thud, thud, thud, making his vision shake as if a giant were approaching.

Then, it seemed as if Raphael’s prayer was answered. The pain, at least, subsided almost instantly to be replaced with a tremendous rush of adrenaline, his body’s last-ditch effort to somehow save itself. Raphael’s last conscious thought as a human being was the ridiculous, drug-charged need to free his babies. He ripped the tops off of the coke bottles in a show of almost inhuman strength, not even bothering to unscrew them, and tossed the contents into the air. A polluted cloud of dust and spores plumed upward towards the ceiling, then dispersed to the floor like brown and blue toxic rain. Raphael snatched the fungus cap from its plate, swaying and almost collapsing in his present disoriented, dizzy sine qua non. With a dedicated grunt he ripped the cap in two, squeezing it violently in both firsts. Blue, bubbling juice condensed between his fingers, and the remaining spores flew into the air in a brilliant blue and violet haze. Raphael laughed hysterically. He was still crying, though the tears were not clear or even the rosy shade of pink they once were. They were now the deep red-black color of blood. The thick red lines trickled down Raphael’s cheeks, leaving cherry stains behind. Raphael opened his mouth to let out another hysterical cackle, but what came out instead was a sickening gurgle as pink, frothing foam overflowed from his mouth and ran down his chin in a cascade. This is when Raphael’s mind completely left him.

The dark, rectangular world of his grow room (made even darker by the film of blood covering both his eyes) which had only moments ago been so familiar to him, was now seen through blank, lifeless eyes as new territory. Hunger; this came to the thing that was once a man, not as a word but as a tearing, biting, instinctual urge. Raphael began to grind his teeth, his lower jaw working in a circular motion beneath the foam. The steady crunch, crunch, crunch of Raphael’s tongue being ground between his teeth now accompanied the low, rumbling gurgle coming from within his blood-clogged throat. Raphael stood massacring his own tongue for a full minute, blood now deluging down his lower jaw in mass amounts, mingling with and eventually overpowering the pink foam. It was as if Raphael’s jaw had been transformed into a red ocean tide. A sound like a leaking sink echoed softly in the small, dark room. A pool of gore was collecting around his feet. Raphael didn’t care. In fact, he didn’t care about anything anymore, anything but the hunger that was eating him from the inside. He careened in a drunken circle, his feet squishing in the blood beneath his feet, and was confronted with more darkness, more nothingness, and not a morsel to eat. “Ungh… Nnnugh…” He mumbled through the mouthful of blood and chunks of tongue, his filmy eyes droopy and motionless. Then, something caught his attention. A thin sliver of golden light peeked through the small gap between the grow room’s door and floor. Raphael stumbled to it, a thin trail of his own blood following him. He stared down at the sliver of light with something close to curiosity, though now he wasn’t capable of quite such a complicated emotion. He then noticed the handle of the door, so familiar… yet so alien. How exactly did those things work? This was the general mood of the jumbled nonsense that was now passing as thoughts for Raphael. He lifted his arm with much difficulty; he now had about as much motor-control as the average six-month-old. His hand faltered for a moment, jittering in the air like an injured bird, then collapsed heavily onto the shiny round object he once called a “doorknob.” The fingers twitched, attempted to close around the handle, then failed and slipped clumsily away. Raphael’s arm fell back to his side. “Nnnnn…” He complained. He attempted to grasp the handle twice more, then resorted to scratching his nails down the swollen wood of the door. Splinters broke off under his nails, drawing small beads of blood. Raphael didn’t notice. Nor did he notice his nails crack after the sixth scratch, or begin to tear away with a sound reminiscent of a band-aid being peeled off after the twelfth.

After half an hour of this tedious torture of the old wood, Raphael finally gave up. The tips of his fingers were now reduced to bloody stumps. Bone poked through the tattered mess of flesh and meat. All but two of his nails had been completely ripped from their fingers, and the remaining two clutched desperately to thin bits of skin at unnatural angles. He swayed stiffly, his hands hanging limp at his sides. His chest was stained red with his own blood, and a few small pieces of tongue clung to him. His face was drenched as well, and his hair was matted and clung to his forehead. His eyes were half-open and barely seeing anymore. The hunger pains should have been physically unbearable, if Raphael was still human. He wasn’t, however, and the ripping pain went almost unnoticed. The effects were there, though; he was weakening, starving to death. The toxic spores tearing through his body were speeding this process up ten-fold, and the fact that the shroom was the only thing Raphael had eaten in the last twenty-four hours didn’t help. He stared down at his mangled fingers. He watched as a thin line of blood trickled from the tattered flesh and down his hand. A low, demanding rumble rose from his stomach. Eat, eat, eat, chanted some ancient voice with no language, just simple understanding. Raphael bared his teeth like an old lion, and bore his yellow, blood-stained teeth into the back of his own hand. He didn’t feel the pain, just tasted the coppery-sweet blood, reveled in the wet ripping sound of his flesh tearing away into his mouth. He didn’t notice his own blood spraying into his face in a fine mist. He enjoyed the sensation of the warm fluid trickling down his hand, curving into his palm, and splashing to the floor like red droplets of rain. He chewed twice, then swallowed. Ecstasy. He took another bite of his own soft flesh, this time in the thicker meat of his lower arm. He hooked a lean muscle with his left canine tooth, and shook his head like a dog until it snapped. Blood poured from this new wound freely, and Raphael sucked at it eagerly, his lips pressed around the wound in a hungry O, washing down the large chunk of his own meat. Raphael found it was much harder to swallow without a tongue. Delicious.



  1. Creepy Deepy, our quest for better highs sometimes leads us down really really bad paths lol.

    Comment by Gunldesnapper on November 21, 2012 @ 8:48 am

  2. What an interesting way to start the infection. Really creative, bravo.

    Comment by Joe from Philly on November 21, 2012 @ 10:37 am

  3. Remember kids. Just Say No.

    Comment by Patrick Turner on November 21, 2012 @ 11:01 am

  4. Oh god. I spent the whole time reading this violently shuddering and making weird noises. I’ve been on a few bad trips, never from shrooms though. This would have been nuts! And the nails on the door part freaked me out!

    Comment by Ashley on November 21, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

  5. This was really creepy, horrifying and gory, i can see what is happening to him perfectly because of the vivid imagery.
    Perfect opening for a movie.
    Would need a realy good actor though since the level of work is so high.

    Comment by bong on November 22, 2012 @ 6:26 am

  6. Wow what a story, very graphic and gore filled, made me feel a little ill actually. Very different take on the genre. Hope this is just the opening to a great story.

    Comment by Scouse Chris on November 22, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  7. Definitely an interesting way for the infection to have begun; no huge government conspiracies or alien invasions – just simple human ingenuity & greed….

    Comment by JohnT on November 23, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  8. Drugs are bad, mmmkay. Seriously, I like the new take on the typically mysterious start of the ZA. Good job.

    Comment by JamesAbel on December 4, 2012 @ 6:37 am

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