"Satannnuh has come to play tricks with your mind," the crazy preacher wailed. "Do not listen to him. He is the devil incarnate!"
The corpses wandered in circles and converged. A steady buzz arose as the dead congregation spoke to one another in a language of their own, then they began to move toward the pulpit.
The wooden carving of Christ moved. One hand tore free of the cross, trailing bits of shredded flesh and dripping blood in its wake. The second hand came away next, sliding right off the nail, then the feet came free, and Christ rose behind the wild-eyed preacher.
The dead parishioners formed a wide circle around the front of the pulpit. The preacher commanded them to retreat or face the wrath of Christ, but before he could continue his diatribe, Christ lifted him off the ground and held him so the congregation could feast.
The preacher screamed as bony hands groped him, tearing and ripping and chewing until his flesh was gone. The zombie congregation fought over brains and intestines, devoured his liver and his heart, and licked blood from their lips and rotting fingers. . . .
Gil bolted for the door. He was reaching for the handle when someone screamed. He turned to see the preacher running down the aisle toward him, now missing one arm and half his face. The preacher's stomach was an open cavity. He was trying to hold what remained of his body organs in with the one arm he had left.
Gil jerked the door open.
Larry's car was disappearing in the distance.
Silence fell around him.
Gil turned around, still expecting to see the crazed preacher and the long-dead congregation. The church was dark except for the dusty strips of sunlight falling across the floor.
The pulpit was empty.
Christ hung in silent suffering upon his cross.
Gil retrieved his briefcase and tape recorder, then he got into his car and started the engine. He took one final look at the church and drove off.
The Little White Church became a best-selling novel. In fact, it became the biggest selling book of Gil's career. He'd considered making it a nonfiction masterpiece, but he wasn't sure the public would believe it.
Larry sure as hell hadn't believed a word of it, and as the days went by, Gil wasn't sure he believed it either.
It was sort of freaky the day the dead started to walk again. I was nineteen years old at the time, and into experimenting with all sorts of drugs and weird sex shit. My life was one big party. I didn't think about the future at all. I always assumed there'd be plenty of time for that later. How the fuck was I supposed to know dead things were going rise from their graves?
When they first came back, almost everybody got away from the city. My landlord was one of the first to split, so me and a few of my radical friends turned my apartment building into a fortress and hung around. It made good sense to us. Why wander the countryside when we could stay somewhere we already felt comfortable?
It was me, Bingo, Porky, and Stella. We worked together to make our building immune to the dead. Bingo and Porky went on foraging missions daily, while Stella and I held down the fort. It was the perfect setup for a while, and then everything went to hell.
We were all still smoking weed, but everybody except Bingo had given up on the hallucinogens. The way we saw it, with all the corpses walking around and shit, anything stronger than weed was not only unnecessary, it was downright stupid.
Bingo didn't see it that way. He said he'd stop when his supply ran dry, but we all knew Bingo's supply would never dry up. The man knew where to get his stuff, even in a world turned upside down by some freaky plague.
One night Bingo got so crazy he went outside and stood in the middle of the street, screaming at the top of his lungs. A bunch of the dead things came out of the woodwork and climbed all over him. They tore him apart and fought over his intestines.
Well, Stella freaked out and ran outside, and then Porky went after her because he wanted to fuck her someday, which meant he couldn't let her die, and that's how they all ended up zombie food right along with Bingo.
That left me alone, and believe me, I learned how to survive. I spent a lot of time inside at first, but then I started going out. I mean, the world was what it was, and I knew I couldn't stay inside forever, right?
The dead seemed to be migrating away from the city. I saw less and less of them as weeks went by. There came a time when I could walk the streets for hours without seeing one walking corpse. I hadn't seen a live human for more than two months, and once the dead started coming around less often, I actually started missing their company.
Sex was the thing I missed most. I masturbated a lot after Bingo and Stella and Porky went over the edge, and before that, I fooled around with Stella mostly, and sometimes even Bingo and Porky.
I liked Stella best, though, not so much because I'm into women, but because Bingo and Porky weren't all that great, if you know what I mean. Porky was, like, two hundred and fifty pounds with a really tiny dick, and Bingo was thin as a rail and greasy.
Stella was something else. She had long, beautiful blonde hair, nice breasts with big pink nipples, and a tongue that could work wonders on my pussy. Sometimes she'd eat me for hours at a time. She was into that shit more than I was, but you never heard me complain.
It was tough adjusting to solo sex. I like masturbating and all, but for real, how many times can you play with yourself without getting bored? I had to find a new outlet for my sexual needs, and that's when I remembered a conversation I'd had with Stella, Bingo, and Porky one night.
Bingo was going on about a game called Scoring. He said it was something he'd heard about right after the death plague hit. Everybody was doing it. It was so popular that it had become a worldwide sporting event. There was even an entire underground that supported Scoring events.
Scoring involves having sex with as many zombies as you can without getting yourself killed. It sounded sort of gross to me when Bingo was talking about it, but like I said, a girl can only fuck herself with her fingers so many times before it starts to get old.
Bingo told us he did it one time with a dead hooker he found wandering around. He used raw meat to distract her while he screwed her doggy style. He said that was the trick, you had to use a distraction. Raw meat was best, because all they really care about is eating, and as long as you distract them with something bloody, you can fuck them all night. There was a butcher shop a couple of blocks over from my building. I found a freezer in back, full of all sorts of spoiled meat, which I figured would make good bait.
Another thing Bingo said was that you had to be quick. The quicker the better. I wore a skirt and no panties when I went out. I figured the less clothes I had to fumble around with, the better off I'd be.
My first score happened outside the library. I found this dead guy wandering aimlessly. He looked like he was still in pretty good shape, except for the way his jaw was sort of just hanging there.
He was a little skittish when I approached him. I had some raw meat in a bag. I offered a piece of it to him. When he came at me, I got freaked out and threw it on the ground. He looked at me for a few seconds, like he was maybe considering eating me instead, then he got down on his knees and started going at the rotten meat.
I had his attention, but there was a problem. There was no way I could get to his dick while he was on his knees like that.
"Hey, you, come here," I said, offering more rotten meat.
The dead guy looked back at me, sort of in a daze, then he lumbered over, reaching out with both hands. It was scary. He took the meat from me and crammed it in his mouth. He chewed with no manners at all, letting pieces of bloody meat fall out of his mouth so it dangled from his chin.
My hand shook as I groped for his zipper. He fixed his dead eyes on me the whole time he was chewing the meat, but he didn't make any attempt to stop me from what I was about to do.
I reached into his pants and grabbed hold of his dick. It was cold and rubbery. I jerked him off. I wasn't sure a zombie could get a hard-on, but I was determined to find out. I kept feeding him raw meat as I pumped him. It took a while, but eventually his cock twitched and the fucking thing actually started to grow.
I shoved him and he stumbled backward a few steps before plopping down on his ass. Those things aren't very strong. I climbed on top of him and pushed him back, then I crammed more raw meat down his throat to keep him happy while I sat on his dick. I came right away. It was the most intense orgasm I'd ever experienced, but it wasn't the zombie's cock that did it for me. The danger is what turned me on; the thought that I could die any second. It was a rush, better, and more potent, than any drug I've ever taken. How's that for sick?
I was addicted after that. I scored three more times in less than a month. It would've been more, but like I said, there weren't as many zombies in the city as there used to be.
Greg came into my life suddenly. I was fucking a dead construction worker against a building, so caught up in what I was doing that another one of the dead things snuck up behind me. By the time I realized he was there, it was too late. I was pinned between him and the construction worker. The second one could've taken a bite out of me. I would've been finished for sure, but he started humping me instead.
That's when I heard a gunshot. The zombie behind me fell to the ground. Another reverberating shot erupted and the construction worker's head exploded in a shower of blackish blood and gray brain bits.
"You okay?" a male voice asked.
I wiped slimy crap from my face and smoothed down my skirt. "You could've fucking killed me," I said to the guy standing there.
"I saved your sweet ass. Those things were the ones trying to kill you," he said, shoving his gun down the front of his pants.
"They weren't killing me, asshole, they were fucking me."
"Are you deaf? I said they were fucking me, you moron. You've never heard of Scoring?"
"I've heard of it, I've just never known anybody stupid enough to do it."
We were fire and water from the beginning. I don't even know why I invited him to stay with me, or why he would want to. I guess we were both bored with life in general, so bad company was better than no company.
We fought day and night.
We fought and we fucked.
One thing that made me happy about Greg being around was that I had somebody to go down on me. That's something a girl learns to live without when she's having sex with dead things. You don't spread your legs for a walking corpse. That's like laying out an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Greg was good at going down. He kept me happy. I'd make him do it several times a day. Some days we didn't even fuck. Greg would just eat me out. If I felt like it, I'd suck his cock, but for the most part, he was content to eat me out.
Outside of sex, our relationship got worse by the day. The only time we weren't fighting was when we were balling. Other than that, it was a fucking war zone when we were together.
The dead started coming around again. I don't know what drew them back, but seeing them amble down the street made me long for the excitement I felt when I was scoring. Sex with Greg was good, don't get me wrong. It just wasn't worth the hassle of having him around all the time.
One night I watched him sleeping. I listened to his snoring, watched him toss and turn, and realized I wanted out. His gun was on the night stand beside the bed. I picked it up and aimed it at his head. All I had to do was squeeze the trigger. One shot and that would be the end of it.
That's when I got a brilliant idea. I put the gun away. A head shot was too messy for what I had in mind. I spent a few months conditioning Greg to eat me out. I made him do it for hours at a time, and when he was good, I rewarded him with a nice sloppy blowjob. I figured if I trained him right, there would be less risk when he came back again.
When the time came to finish him off, I remembered some heroin left behind after Bingo pulled that stupid stunt of his. I never did that shit, but Bingo thought it was the bomb. I knew how to use the needle and everything, just from watching him do it. I waited till Greg was fast asleep one night, then I injected him with enough junk to sink a battleship.
I got him down to the basement as fast as I could and chained him to a water pipe. They say the dead have no memory once they start walking again, but that sometimes they continue doing things they were conditioned to do when they were alive. That's what I was counting on when I spent all that time training Greg.
I was going to have to find a different reward for his good behavior, though, because even I'm not fucked up enough to suck a stiff's stiff. . . .
No matter how crazy the world gets, we adapt, don't we? Humans are good at adapting to just about any situation.
Most of us anyway.
There were a lot of suicides right after it happened. Some people thought it would be better to blow their heads off than to have some fucking dead thing rooting around inside their skull for a meal, but not me. Suicide ain't my style. If they want me, they're damn sure going to have to work to get me. I ain't going down without a fight.
Fuckers are pretty damn slow. Stupid as hell too. That don't mean they ain't dangerous, don't get me wrong. Like I said, you adapt, baby. You get used to it. I carry a 9 mm. with me all the time. I don't sleep without it, I don't eat without it, and I don't take a dump without it. That's the way it has to be. I'm used to it now.
I adapted, baby.
You wanna survive these days, you learn to live a whole new way. You get used to shit that wasn't necessary before. I've gotten used to sleeping less. That's when you have to worry about the shambling dead most. They got a way of creeping right up on you. I woke up once in the middle of the night with one of them leaning over me.
His face was pulpy gray run-off, his left eye was missing, and in the black hole where the eye had resided was a squirming camp of maggots. The fucker was about to make a snack of me, but I put a bullet between his one eye and the maggot-infested socket.
That's the way it is. Get used to sleeping as little as possible. Get used to carrying a gun. Get used to not sitting too long in one place.
I still remember what it was like before the change, when life had some semblance of sanity, before the dead started to rise. It was a different world then, but just as dangerous. Only difference was, you had to worry about the live ones. The rapists, the muggers, the serial killersa"all of 'em just as bad as the zombies are now, but we adapted to that world, we can adapt to this one too.
I've been thinking about settling down. Don't know how easy it'll be, but I'm going to try. I'll find me a nice little room up high. The dead aren't very good at stairs. I can rig up some locks and put a couple big bolts on the door. The dead ain't so strong either. Most of 'em anyway. Pretty sure I'll be safe. I'll need to make a few adjustments, but I'll get used to those too. If you wanna survive these days, that's what you've got to do, and mostly I'm pretty good at it.
There's just one thing I haven't gotten used to yet in this new frontier. Don't know if I ever will. It's a thing that gets in your head and burrows down deep in your soul. It's a thing that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. I try to ignore it. I try to think of better things.
I try to adapt, but there's just no way around that smell.