John found the twins knee deep in the pig pen muck, bent over his two prized pigs, gnawing on their little piggy brains. Shocked and disgusted, loaded shot gun in hand, he aimed true but just couldn’t pull the trigger. Despicable and scary as they were, they were still just little kids. Blond haired, blue eyed, twin girl and boy. The twisted semblance of what he and Martha had long prayed for.
He just couldn’t blow them away, especially when they turned towards him with tear filled eyes and helpless looks upon their blood smeared faces. Just two scared kids unable to control themselves. Innocence lost, probably not by their own doing.
Shotgun still in hand, John coaxed them into the farm house, their hunger temporarily sated, to his very surprised wife of thirty years.
Later that night they all bonded. Petite, dark haired Martha sponging the blood off the eight year old twins. Lanky, balding John tucking them into a double bed in the spare bedroom. The room always intended for John and Martha’s future kids. A little paint, bunk beds, and bright shiny new toys would soon follow.
Martha couldn’t bear children, and the adoption agency had failed them time and again. Now middle aged, they’d all but given up. The zombie twins were a godsend, regardless of their dark proclivities. “God willing, we’ll find a way to save them,” Martha told her husband that first night.
Neither John nor Martha thought to inquire about the twin’s parents or relatives,
or to inform the police. The TV news made no mention of missing children, twins or otherwise, so there seemed no point. And everyone knew what happens to zombies when exposed to the authorities. The twins were definitely zombies. John had seen some movies about the walking dead and knew what to expect. He preferred ones like Shawn Of The Dead to those trying to take themselves too seriously. As for Martha? She didn’t care, her mothering instincts outweighing the obvious dangers and strangeness of the situation. Together they agreed to do all they could to save the little savages, to shower them with love and understanding, to try and raise them like normal kids.
John did fashion some ankle bracelets and chains as a precaution – for their own good – to restrict their movements at night. They slept all day, the sleep of the dead. Martha got used to preparing steak tarter for the little darlings. Forget the vegetables, but like kids everywhere, they did have sweet tooth’s. Their regular diet became one of chocolate and bloody rare beef. At least early on.
Living out in the sticks like John and Martha did proved expedient. No one knew about the twins, nor ever came in contact with them. Martha home schooled them the best she could – the three R’s, Bible study, art in the form of finger painting – and made all their clothes as well.
John taught the boy how to do some simple farm chores, ones that didn’t involve any of the livestock. The twins were slow learners, to say the least, but did progress enough to perhaps fit into the lower echelons of society one day.
Both kids seemed uninterested in toys, though the little girl, named Emily after John’s mother, did have a baby doll whose rubber head she liked to chew on. Her twin brother, now called John Jr., loved to watch TV, especially football and the various permutations of CSI. Emily enjoyed the later as well. Watching TV all night seemed to calm them both, distract them from what they would otherwise be doing, roaming the countryside in search of fresh brains. In the morning, Emily and John Jr. peacefully sleeping, Martha would clean up the scattered candy bar rappers, and crawl into bed exhausted. John and her only saw each other in the evening. He slept at night, chores to do early in the morning to keep the farm running, and she slept all day so as to be awake when her little zombies were. Parental supervision was a must in their household, to say the least.
After a while it became obvious that Emily and John Jr. needed more. The rare meat just didn’t always do the trick each night. Normal children throw fits. Zombie children take the screaming and yelling a step further. They attack each other. The first time it happened, on the night of a full moon, Martha nearly had a heart attack. She found Emily pinning John Jr. to the living room carpet, CSI NY blaring from the TV, a mouth full of his curly blond hair clenched between her teeth. The look on Emily’s face was that of a rabid animal. Martha had screamed, which woke her husband, and together with some effort they pried the twins apart.
Later on, when the kids were asleep, John and Martha decided the twins needed more. It just couldn’t be helped. Martha thought they were backsliding, but John convinced her that it was perfectly natural, the twins just following their unnatural instincts.
After that night, come a full moon, John and Martha started taking the twins on road trips. Or more precisely, undead feeding frenzy trips. They learned the hard way that rare steak wasn’t enough to satisfy their little zombie’s, Emily losing an earlobe to John Jr. one crazy night. So like a typical American family they all piled into the old SUV, the twins strapped tightly in, and off they roamed to some isolated ranch or farm house. Always to a different state each time to help keep the law off their scent. Luckily they live in Missouri, near the Kansas boarder, with so many choices surrounding them. Over the years the Texas panhandle has proved the most inviting. So much open space, so many loners.
Martha hated the road trips, always waiting in the SUV, radio tuned to a country western station, while the slaughter took place. It was up to her husband to collect the blood covered twins once the deed was done, hosing them down with the victim’s garden hose before getting back into the SUV. She hated the whole routine, but did collect post cards from each state they visited like a typical vacationer. John told her she was twisted for doing so, that the post cards were negative reminders of the evil they were sanctioning. She just ignored him. Of course, she never sent any post cards out, had no one to send them to anyway. She’d collected a couple of shoeboxes full by the time the twins hit their teens, message and address sides left blank.
It should be noted that Emily and John Jr., identical twins, where not your stereotypical zombies. They didn’t shuffle along in a zombie pack with other dull-minded ones. They were quick on their feet like most kids their age. They had much better hygienic habits, even brushing their teeth after a little parental prodding. And though their bodies never aged, stuck at the same age as when they died, their minds did. Puberty finally caught up with them. Traditional zombies they weren’t.
John and Martha didn’t question the supposed facts about zombies, nor bother to research the literature about zombies and their connection to voodoo. They pretty much put the whole zombie thing out of mind, too busy just trying to raise their two “special needs” kids. High maintenance, unhealthy kids at best, but still just kids in their adoptive parent’s eyes.
The daily routines of their strange life went on for years, until Emily and John Jr. hit their early teens, and like normal teens everywhere, rebelled.
It began one night when both kids refused to eat their dinner and were sent to their rooms – separate bedrooms since becoming young adults – where they figured out a way to breaks their bonds, and headed for the pig pen again, as if picking up where they’d left off years before. If it wasn’t for Martha’s feelings of guilt, and subsequent visit to their bedrooms, John’s new prized pigs would have ended up like their predecessors.
When John confronted them, the tear filled eyes and helpless looks of the past were now replaced by contempt and hatred. Shocked and saddened, John managed to get them back inside the house with the promise of another road trip, even though they’d just returned from one a few days earlier.
The next day John replaced their shackles and chains with bars on their bedroom windows and pad locks on their doors. Soon the bloody road trips became more frequent, and not just on full moon nights.
With Emily and John Jr’s. raging hormones now in the driver’s seat, John and Martha agreed something had to be done, but didn’t know what. Their love and the increased road trips weren’t going to be enough. The twins, though still looking childlike, were hell bent for adulthood. In their case, zombie adulthood with all its mind numbing, twisted, deadly connotations. They couldn’t be set free, and keeping them under lock and key for the rest of their zombie lives was out of the question. Martha and John weren’t exactly spring chickens anymore, both in their early sixties now. The twins would obviously outlive them, so to speak.
Another road trip to Texas proved a less than perfect solution to their problem, but a solution none the less.
The full moon bathed the surrounding landscape in ghostly light as John steered the SUV, headlights off, onto the dirt road leading up to a ramshackle ranch house. It was well past midnight, no lights on, no barking dogs, no sign of life at all. Someone lived there, though, as evidenced by the Dodge Hemi pickup parked in front.
John stopped the SUV a hundred yards down the dirt road, and killed the engine. It was just him and the twins this road trip, Martha back home sick with the flu. John turned around to look at the twins, but before he could say a word, they bolted out of the doors and sprinted towards the ranch house. Watching their small bodies disappear inside, John had the distinct feeling it was for the last time.
He thought he’d heard a scream after the twins had entered the ranch house, but nothing since. All was deathly quiet. He checked his watch and was a little surprised when he found more than an hour had passed. The twins never took that much time. In and out, hunger sated; hands, faces, clothes bloodstained.
Martha always brought Wet Wipes to help them clean up a bit before returning to the motel or home. John didn’t think to bring any this trip, and the twins, since getting older, refused being hosed down.
Something wasn’t right. They should have returned already, so he started the SUV and slowly drove up to the ranch house, lights still off, pulling to a stop beside the pickup truck. He waited a few minutes, but seeing no movement, finally got out and trudged inside the darkened ranch house.
The smell hit him soon as he stepped through the front door. The smell of death, of freshly spilled blood. The twins had definitely sated their hunger.
All was silence, so he pulled a Maglight from his coat pocket, switched it on, and panned it around what had to be the living room. Couch, chairs, TV, a few lamps and a coffee table littered with old magazines, beer bottles, and a cigarette butt filled ash tray. But no bodies.
A darkened hallway led off to the right, and John headed down it past a bathroom, a vacant bedroom, and then to the closed door at the hall’s end. He stopped and listened at the door for a moment, then hearing nothing, opened it. The beam from his flashlight bathed a blood spattered scene of horror. Walls, ceiling, furniture were all streaked with fresh blood, and crumpled at the foot of the bed lay the remains of a young man and woman, both naked, both with the tops of their heads chewed off. Bloody sheets partially covered their bodies, pulled off the bed during the struggle. John started to gag, the gruesome sight and smell getting to him. He quickly backed out of the room and started calling the twins names, but got no answer.
He quickly searched the rest of the ranch house, ending up in the kitchen where a trail of bloody shoe prints led up to and out of the wide open back door. He followed their trail outside, calling their names, shining the flashlight out into the warm Texas night, but they were long gone. The silent night had swallowed them up, like a couple of wild beasts slinking home after a hunt.
They were gone, and there was nothing he could do about it. For the first time since their initial encounter years before, he felt afraid of their little zombies, and hurried back to the safety of the SUV, and the lonely drive home.
John and Martha settled back into their simple lives, back to the way it had been before the twins appeared. John routinely did the farm chores each morning, Martha cooked and cleaned and blankly watched All My Children every afternoon on their old TV. They both went to bed early, after the evening news and dinner. It had been over a year now, and there had been no reports of strange doings out in the Texas panhandle. Not one zombie sighting. The twins had just plain disappeared, and John and Martha started to question their own memories.
Then one night the local news anchor snidely reported about some cattle mutilations in Northern Texas, ending his report with a doctored picture of a stereotypical big eyed alien holding a fork and knife. John laughed out loud at the image, but deep down he knew the truth. The twins had survived and were up to their old zombie ways. Martha didn’t see the humor in the newscast, though, and with tears in her eyes, retired to their bedroom.
The next day at breakfast, John glanced at his newspaper, and Martha just stared at her breakfast plate. “Nothing in the paper about them aliens,” John said, trying to lighten up the mood, but Martha just ignored him, staring at the cold scrambled eggs before her.
The TV news that evening, however, left them no choice but to talk about the twins. The mutilations were spreading, fanning out from their original locals on the Texas panhandle, and were no longer limited to cattle. The bloodied corpses of ranchers and their families were starting to turn up, many with their brains missing. The authorities were declaring a state of emergency in North Texas, and various federal agencies were getting involved.
“I never should have let them get away,” John said. “Probably with a bit of luck I could have tracked them down that night and brought them back where they belong. I’m so sorry, Martha.”
Martha was silent for a few moments, then in a soft voice, “It wasn’t your fault, John. We knew they would leave someday. I’m just sorry we couldn’t break them of their evil ways first. I failed our poor little darlings.”
“No dear,” John responded, putting his arm around Martha and pulling her close, “you did all you could. We did all we could. It was kind of like taking in a wild animal, a bear say, and trying to tame it. Eventually it follows its instincts and has to break free. Think of the twins as bear cubs who grew up and had to return to the wild.”
Martha laughed at his rationalization. “They weren’t exactly pets, you know. I’ve been thinking a lot about them, and now know it was wrong for us to take them in at all. We should have turned them over to the police or some scientist or something. We were way in over our heads. It was all my fault. I wanted kids so bad, I’d do anything. Now look what I’ve wrought.”
“What we have wrought.” said John, sadness in his voice. “What’s done is done. I just hope they’re caught before any more suffering on anyone’s part. God help us.”
Martha put her head on John’s shoulder and half watched the CSI episode on the TV. It was the Halloween themed episode, with Vegas party goers dressed appropriately as vampires, werewolves, and zombies. “All my fault,” she thought to herself. “All my fault”.
In the weeks following, the news just kept getting worse and worse. The “zombie infestation” as it was now labeled by TV newscasters was spreading exponentially. The whole Midwest was infected, and marshal law had been declared. John and Martha living out in the sticks didn’t see much evidence of the later, any troops patrolling the back roads, but they’d taken the necessary precautions before hand. John had boarded up the windows and kept two loaded shotguns at the ready. Martha had stockpiled nonperishable foods before the National Guard troops had rolled into town. They had a gas generator and plenty of spare fuel as well. They were prepared.
John had seen enough zombie movies to have a fair idea of what to expect. Martha never watched horror movies, though, and was putting her faith totally in her husband, and God. She silently read the Bible to calm her nerves, and prayed for forgiveness. More and more she felt the “zombie infestation” was all her fault. Her blind acceptance of the twins had led to this horrible situation. John had given up trying to ease her guilt, and being the pragmatic one was now putting most of his energy into survival. He’d seen the movies, and knew how things could end. He was downright scared, but tried not to let Martha know how scared.
The reports on the TV kept getting worse. The “zombie infestation” was spreading like wild fire. Nowhere seemed safe anymore. John and Martha were just finishing up dinner, the last of the frozen chicken Martha had stocked up on, when John heard his prize pigs squealing loudly outside.
“I better go see what all the racket is about,” said John, getting up from the table. “Probably some more of those stray dogs again like last time.”
“You be careful,” Martha said, fear in her voice, “take your gun just in case. Could be worse than dogs.”
“Haven’t seen no zombies around here, and its been weeks now. Just stray dogs. Don’t you worry.”
John grabbed a flashlight from the kitchen counter, and headed out the back door into the yellow glow from the porch light. It was pitch dark beyond the lights perimeter. He hurried down the steps towards the squealing pigs, switching on the flash light as he went. When he got to the pig pen, he suddenly realized he’d forgotten to grab one of the loaded shot guns by the front door. “Damn,” he thought to himself. “Better be quick just in case”.
As soon as John shone his flashlight on the half dozen pigs, cowering in one corner of the muddy pen, they quit squealing, looking just like deer caught in the headlights.
“What you all whining about, huh?” said John in a calming voice. “Those dogs back again?”
The pigs just stared at the light, still as death. John swung the flashlight around searching for signs of dogs or worse, but saw nothing. Whatever it was seemed to be gone. He than walked the short distance to his barn, and stepping through the open barn door shown the flashlight first on one cow, than another, until he was satisfied all eight were okay. They seemed quite content, one of them eyeing him as if angered by his sudden intrusion. John walked up and down the length of the barn, shining the light into the corners but found nothing out of the ordinary. “Got to remember to fix the busted light out here,” he thought to himself, then headed back outside.
Looking towards the East he could see the full moon just beginning to rise above the tree line. It was huge. On moonless nights you could see the glow from the city lights thirty or so miles distant, but that was before the zombies arrived. Now the full moon was the only glow in the night sky.
John stopped by the pig pen one more time, and the pigs seemed just fine. He thought back to that night when he’d discovered Emily and John Jr. knee deep in the muck attacking his prize pigs. He wondered to himself what he would do now if confronted with the same scenario. Shoot them on sight, or repeat the past and let them live. Things had definitely changed for the worse, and he was partially to blame, but even so. Of course he realized there must be other zombies out there in the night, someplace, besides the twins. It was only logical. “The army or someone will get things under control again,” he thought to himself. “Or nature will right things. Just like in the movies.”
John headed back to the house, switching off his flash light. Standing on the back porch steps, he turned and scanned the back yard one more time, listening intently for a minute, and satisfied everything was okay, opened the back door and entered the kitchen.
The dinner plates were still on the kitchen table, but Martha wasn’t there. He could hear
the sound of the TV coming from the living room, the muffled voice of a newscaster droning on about something. He figured Martha was just too tired to clean up, and had retired to the living room to rest.
John put the flashlight back on the counter, and quickly gathered up the dinner dishes and put them into the sink to soak. He’d do them later, like most nights now, after checking up on his wife. He grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, popped the pull tab, and after taking a few sips to calm his nerves, opened the door to the living room and a scene of bloody carnage. Slumped in his leather recliner was Martha, her head thrown back, two male zombies feeding on her brain, chunks of flesh and warm blood littering their already filthy shirts. Martha’s green eyes blankly stared at the ceiling, and one of her legs twitched spasmodically. A blood splattered bible lay open in her lap.
“My God!” screamed John, momentarily in shock, his beer can dropping to the floor. Then spying the two shot guns leaning up against the wall by the front door, he started towards them. One of the zombies turned towards his scream, but didn’t move, just staring blankly at him while still chewing on a piece of Martha’s brain matter. John reached the guns in a few strides, and grabbing one, spun around to blow the zombies to Hell. But before he could pull the trigger, the front door crashed open behind him, knocking him to the floor, the gun slipping from his grasp and sliding across the floor. He quickly rolled over and tried to stand up but it was too late. Three male zombies attacked him where he lay, ripping at his shirt and sinking their foul brown teeth into his exposed chest, arms, and skull.
The last thing he heard, besides their feeding frenzy snarls, was the sound of his prize pigs squealing in pain outside in the still night. If he could have been out there, full moon bathing the pig pen, he would have seen little Emily and John Jr., feasting on pig brains, picking up where they had left of years before, totally oblivious to their once familiar surroundings.