#OctoberFrights Blog Hop Day 5: The Last Funeral

blog-hop-2016-zombie

 

Midnight Forever: Zombies 3

The Last Funeral

by Brandon Henry

 

 

Tina looked down the scope of the rifle she hugged to her shoulder at the man who had taught her how to use it. Or, what had once been her father. Now, it was just a zombie wearing his clothes, his face. Tina thought of how he’d put his hand on her shoulder and whispered in her ear to slow her heart beat. In her mind, she put her finger on the trigger and downed a 12-point buck. She had fed her family for a month on all that meat. Now, as she stood on a wreck-covered city overpass, looking down the same scope, she felt her heart drop.

“Protect yourself! No matter what happens! Protect yourself, Tina!” Those were his last words as they fled the looted grocery store. They were separated by the horde as soon as they got outside. So she scampered up to the top of the store and ran along the roofs of the old city to escape the horde. Tina waited until the undead thinned out to begin her search for him, only finding his pack, and his old hunting rifle. She was walking out of the city when she’d noticed a familiar shirt she knew. And the size of the thing wearing it. Tina stopped, shouldered her rifle, and looked down the scope.

Looking for a wind indicator, she looked at an American flag lying flat on its pole. Even the flag knew this country was dead. Tina scoped in on the thing wearing her father’s body. She pulled the trigger. The bullet crossed the road and into the middle of the parking lot, where It stood within mere milliseconds. The back of its head exploded, as the zombie’s brains flew out and splattered onto the asphalt. The sound of the shot seemed to carry on forever across the muted city and down the highway. Slowly, Tina lowered herself onto the sunbaked highway asphalt. As tears began to run down her face, she noticed a zombie shambling towards her. ‘Protect yourself, Tina’, her father had told her. Bringing up her sidearm, she blew the bastard’s head off. The body stood for a second and crumpled to the ground in a wet thud. Her gaze went back to the body of her father. ‘We bury our own,’ she thought.

Tina returned to the city and spent a few hours looking for a running truck. Finally she found one. It was in a dinky little local garage, with the keys in a plastic baggie on the hood next door. Next door, was a used car lot that had caught fire, along with all of its vehicles. Somehow the truck was unscathed, and met her needs.

The sun was throwing shadows as she turned into the lot where her father’s body lay. The lot was empty say for two zombies that were outside the fence, feeding on what may have been a dog. Stepping out of the cab next to the corpse, she caught a whiff of his stink. Tina nearly blacked out. Covering her mouth with her hand, she went and let the tailgate down. She walked back around to the front of the bed. Tucked up under the toolbox was a folded up tarp. “Perfect,” Tina said, as she pulled it out and began unfolding it. Checking her surroundings and the deepening shadows, Tina laid the tarp next her father’s body like a body bag. Starting with his legs, she pulled him onto the plastic tarp. His upper body was harder to get on the tarp, but when she finally got him centered, she noticed she noticed growling. ‘They’ had noticed her.

She wrapped his body, pulled him to the back of the truck, and in a surprising feat, she picked him up in her arms and gently laid him in the truck bed. “Damn, old man, you been working out?” She asked him. Suddenly, behind her, she heard the fence around the lot give way and fall in. Tina peered in the direction of the sound. There were more of them than she’d thought. Carefully she pushed his body further into the bed, climbed out, and closed the tailgate. As she drove off, just for fun, Tina peeled out of the parking lot.

She drove straight through the night and cried for a quite a while, as the rolled tarp flapped in the wind. Just as the full summer moon started to dim on the horizon, she noticed this damaged sign. All that was visible was the word, ‘Graveyard’. Turning onto the road, she saw some lengths of rope and some bungee cords hanging on a fence. She grabbed them. The graveyard was clean and quiet. The grass needed trimming though. As she lowered the tailgate, she saw his eyes. They were still blue, but there was a red ring around the edges. Pulling the plastic over his face, she kissed his cheek over the tarp.

As morning came, Tina secured her father’s body with tarp and rope. There was an old tool shed a few yards away, with a shovel inside. Once he was securely wrapped, she dug him a deep grave in the soft dirt. He’d lay next to a soldier and his wife, she knew he would love that. ‘A great conversationalist!’ her father always claimed to be. Lowering him to the ground, she found she’d lost most of her energy she had the day before. She would eat after he was in the ground, to gain some strength. The hole he lay next to was just long enough, wide enough for him and deep enough for her liking. Tina knelt down and said a prayer.

‘Lord, please take him and keep him safe. Never one for violence and never took to drink. Never raised a hand or his voice to my mother or me. He raised me well and right. Tell him I’ll fight to my last breath. Amen.’

Tina lowered him into the ground and covered him in dirt. She found a wooden plank in the shed and wrote his name and date of birth. She wasn’t sure of the current date. The sun came out from behind the trees, and pulling out of the graveyard, she felt an instant warmth through her whole body. She pulled up to the graveyard sign and spotted some highway signs, and a burned out wrecked car in the ditch. There was a zombie still inside, with no arms but a biting mouth still working. She wasn’t far from the ocean, according to the signs. She could use a dip in the salty water. Tina turned and looked over her shoulder and yelled, “Hey Dad! I’m going to the beach!”

 

The End

 

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 <——-Click the frog to see the rest of this year’s awesome #OctoberFrights lineup!

#OctoberFrights Blog Hop Day 4: What’s My Name?

 

Dark mysterious castle at sea background with two planets

Midnight Forever: Zombies

What’s my name?

by Brandon Henry

 

I opened my eyes and only saw red at first.

‘Whose blood is this?’ I thought. Damn I’m cold.  My whole body is stiff.  I cannot get up!

‘Why do they tingle?’  I wondered.  I moved my head and saw someone else lying on top of me. I opened my mouth to say something to the figure, but all that came out was a gurgled sigh. What’s my name?

Slowly, I propped myself on my arms and sat upright. The person lying across my legs nearly trapping me was dead. He was laid on his back with his stomach open and was partially eaten away. The sight should have made my insides churn, instead I felt nothing. At all. Nothing but hunger. The smell of something putrid nearby drove me to push the corpse off me. Slowly, and stiffly I walked over to the door of the small shed. Outside, the sun was shining brightly enough to hurt my eyes, but even that faded away as an instinct took over. Hunger. Food. What is my name? Everyone has a name…

The houses, they’re all boarded up, abandoned.

‘Why?’ I thought. I opened my mouth, as if to ask the world a question, but only a retorted a sigh, ending in an animal growl.

‘What is wrong with me?’

I screamed inside my head. Something bumped into me from behind. A tall man in a suit stood next to me, the whole left side of his face burned away, burned down to black bone. I screamed, inside. A hiss came out of my mouth.

‘Where’s my beautiful voice?! What is wrong with me?!’

I looked in all directions, everyone and everything I saw was dead, and empty. A pair of children walked past me, still holding hands, their necks ripped open. Following close behind them, a woman in a pink robe, still gripping a mug saying, ‘#1 Mom’. Her head split open in one huge gash. Her lips ripped off of her face. I watched it all in horror. What is my name? Everyone has a name! What did people call me…

Smell. Hunger. Some noise, very close, smell. Slowly, I flowed with the mass of the corpses towards the sound. I’m losing myself, so hungry, smell……..food. Hungry.

‘Do I know this neighborhood? Did I live here? Did I have … people? A group? In a house? Dammit, what’s the word?’

Questions filled my head till I thought I’d burst. Kind of wish it had. What’s my… BOOM!

Everything was moving. I was being pushed, carried away. In my head I was screaming. Out of my mouth, I’m groaning. I was under my own power as the mass had spread out. I wanted to be alone. Slowly, I made my way up to an open door. I felt like knocking, not that there would have been anyone to answer. Inside was quiet and dry. Empty. Walking toward a table, I sat in a chair, trying to collect my thoughts.  I’m missing something. What is it? What did I forget? It was important, I was sure. What’s my name?

A sound came from above me. Upstairs.

‘Hungry.’

A voice boomed in my head. My body moved to the stairs, I’m barely in control. Moving up the stairs, I heard noises, rising and falling. Hunger. Walking down the hallway, the floor creaked. A door suddenly slams shut. I throw my body against it, scratching, clawing, biting, and pushing. I moan. I grunt. So HUNGRY! Suddenly, the door flew open, and the world turned white.

I woke up on the floor, my arms and legs missing. Hungry. Smell food. Hunger. A face appears in front of me. He’s crying. HUNGRY!

‘Shut Up!!’ I screamed inside. Again, I groan and moan. The man slowly puts something to my head.

‘What’s my name?’ I wonder.

“Goodbye, Erynn.”

He says.

‘Oh.’

Suddenly the world went black.

The End

 

CLICK HERE to check out more awesome Brandon Henry stories, books, and poems.

 

#OctoberFrights Blog Hop Day 3: Hell’s Mouth

blog-hop-2016-zombie

 

Midnight Forever: A Light at the End of the World.

Hell’s Mouth

by Brandon Henry

 

 

Sit down, I want to tell you about a video I saw the other day. It’s not online anymore, and no one seems to know where it came from, or where it went. All I know is that I can’t find it anymore.

Anyway, somewhere in the world is this perfectly round hole. The sides are perfectly smooth, and there’s no sign that it was made by human hands. The people who made the video actually lowered the camera into the hole, which was a good idea, I thought. You can still see the light from the entrance in the beginning of the video, but it quickly turns to complete darkness as the camera descends.

It’s nothing but darkness and the sound of the camera scraping the sides for several minutes, but the camera slowly begins to show static instead of the complete darkness. The operators see this on their remote console and pulls the camera back to the top. They check the thing out from top to bottom, but its fine, so they send it in again. The same thing happens, and the men decide to keep going anyway. They don’t speak English, but they explain with subtitles that the lens is broken but the microphone still works.

Anyway, it’s a few more minutes of darkness and the sound of plastic scraping on the rock, but soon you being to hear something. And this is where it gets interesting. It’s whispering.

The microphone picks up voices that are whispering in a language that can’t be identified. As the camera continues to descend, the voices intensify. Now, thousands of voices are crying and screaming out in pain. Just when you think you can’t take any more, the video goes blank.

The captions on the screen begin explaining that the line had jerked from their hands before mysteriously going slack. They quickly pulled the lineup and were shocked to discover that the line had melted. It also looked chewed on, but there’s nothing in this world that can leave teeth marks that deep into a metal cord…much less melt it.

The video disappeared the day after I saw it, and I tried contacting the author about it, but no one knew anything about it. Every trace of the video had vanished.

I do know that the video was shot in the White Pan Desert and a hole that size shouldn’t be too hard to find.

But we’re going to need a good camera.

The End

CLICK HERE to check out Brandon Henry’s other awesome works!

 

#OctoberFrights Blog Hop Day 2: In The Dead of Winter

Dark mysterious castle at sea background with two planets

 

 

 

StraightJacket Publications Presents: Midnight Forever

In The Dead of Winter

by Brandon Henry

He stood outside, in the chilling cold as he blew the warm air from his lungs into his hands and rubbed them together. A light snow had begun, and he let the flakes brush his scruffy face. He’d gotten laughed out of another bar; maybe he’d just buy his own, even though he didn’t like drinking alone. He’d given the bartender the finger as he walked to his car and got in. He missed his truck. It was older than God, but he’d loved it.

They were all fools. He knew what he had seen, for his memory was quite sharp. He remembered it as well as he saw his own hands in front of him. This year’s winter was harsh. The town was on a fringe of a blizzard, bridges and roads were closed, and there had been break-ins, for food. It was for this reason that he kept a shotgun next to the door of his house. This winter had been hell, and he just wanted to see the sun.

There was one hill that always got hit hard by snow. It was a steep hill that was covered in black ice, and there was a sharp turn at the very top. He’d been ‘On the town’, as his mother would have said for too long that night, so, he thought he could take it on. Any other time he would have taken the shoulder, but tonight his confidence was high. His wheels spun as he searched for a patch of clear road, and he floored it, only to hit a solid patch of black ice. He hit the guard rail hard, his wheels spinning in the mud, before he heard one of them pop.

“Well,” he thought, “this isn’t going to turn out well.”

Fully awake now, and not in a laughing mood, he got out of his truck. It was pretty bad. The frame looked a little lopsided, his back-right tire was a goner, and he was missing two hub caps. And to top it all off, he was up to the axles in mud. He wanted to cry a little; this truck was his first vehicle, and there were a lot of good and bad memories in there. Turning away, he and started toward the road to see if he could understand how this all happened.

He’d barely taken a step when he heard a low, wailing cry. At first, he thought it had come from his own throat, but it hadn’t. It was female and he heard it again as he turned to the trees behind him.

“Hello?” He called out. He waited and waited but there was no response from the frozen world. “Must just be in your head.” He thought as he turned back towards the road, even though he’d forgotten why he was going there.

He heard it again, but this time it was louder and closer. He couldn’t see anything or anyone, but he turned and ran down the embankment anyway. He got to a tree and called out again, but there was still no response. Instead of turning back, though, he kept going. This time, though, he kept going. It wasn’t like anyone was going to take his truck. He ran into the forest that had scared him as a child, and made him think that there was ‘something’ out there. It didn’t help that he always felt like he was being watched when he hunted in it.

He thanked god that it was clear tonight. The moon gave enough light to show the tracks behind him, and the stars were pretty to look at. He stayed in a straight line for about ten yards when he heard the crying again. That’s when he saw the drops of blood. The few drops stood out like red ink on a huge smooth white sheet

And again he heard a woman crying. He walked on, slowly, as he didn’t want to miss something. He followed the blood, as it increased, then began to disappear. He wished this part of the country side wasn’t flat; he longed to climb up a hill and make sure there wasn’t some wacko out here with a gun. His military training still kicked in sometimes.

The forest became nearly impassable, and that’s when something occurred to him. Why had he seen blood, but no tracks? He’d tracked animals that way before and there were always tracks. He called out again, not expecting what he got. The woman’s voice came back to him, calling for help. He began to sprint as he continued following the blood, stopping when he came to a large pool. It was about a foot wide and had made a clean-cut through the ice. He didn’t want to know how deep it was.

He called out yet again. This time, he was answered by the low, wailing cry, but it was close. He ran past a batch of trees and saw something out of the corner of his eye. It was so white that he thought it was some built-up of snow but it was actually a young woman. She was beautiful, and when he looked closer, he saw that she was holding an infant. They were both as white as the moon above, and it was hard to tell where she ended and the snow began.

He looked closer at the baby cradled in her arms. It looked like it was just out of the womb, and its eyes were open; and frozen in place. Its mouth hung open in a silent scream and its head hung to one side in a grotesque’s way. After staring at the head for too long, he saw the blood coming from its chest.

“What the hell happened?” He whispered, not meaning to say anything aloud.

“I didn’t want to do it. It was an accident. I’m going to get in a lot of trouble.” He jumped when she began to speak.

“Honey, you won’t get into any trouble if you just slowly walk back to the road with me, and we can get help.” His voice broke, even he tried to sound calm. She stood up, and he took three steps back.

After two heartbeats, he noticed that her feet didn’t touch the ground, but she still walked as if they did. He almost climbed the tree behind him in fear, that’s when he remembered reading an old newspaper in his grandmother’s basement. The article was about a young woman who had gone crazy and killed her family before taking her baby brother into the woods and freezing to death. She screamed again, and that’s when he realized he was up against the tree.

Plastered to it, in fact. He blinked, and saw only snow. There was no woman, no dead baby, and no blood. He turned and ran straight back to the road. When he got there, he was tired and sweating. His truck was where he had left it, but he stared at it like he hadn’t seen it in years. Knowing that it was no good, he left the behind and ran on.

By the time he got home, he was sick. He’d be in the hospital for two weeks, then self-committed to a mental hospital for the next five years. He eventually got out, but everyone he told would just laugh him off. This also prevented him from getting married, though he had wanted to.

Towards the end of his life, he saw her again. He woke up one night-after having another nightmare and headed to the bathroom, but never got there. When he passed his bedroom window, he saw her standing in his front yard. They stared at each other through the window, and she had no emotion on her face at all. He, however, wanted to scream at her; to shake the life from her, or chase her away, but he couldn’t. He was too scared. She raised her hand and waved to him. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. He watched as she turned and walked back to her forest grave.  He spent many years telling and re-telling that story, but it always fell on unbelieving ears and shaking heads.

He disappeared one winter, and they didn’t find him until spring. He was sitting at the foot of a tree with a knife clutched to his breast, its blade buried deep in his heart.

 

The End.

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Bad Marketing Ideas: Reviews, Not Endorsements

Continuing on with our theme of bad marketing ideas, guest blogger Brian Wilkerson weighs in on the topic with his article “Reviews, Not Endorsements.”

This article originally appeared here: http://trickstereric.blogspot.com/2014/01/reviews-not-endorsements.html and is being reposted with the written consent of the blog’s owner, Brian Wilkerson.

First, a disclaimer: I don’t have anything against quick or short reviews. My style requires a lot of time and I understand that few people want to spend their leisure writing an essay about their reaction to a book. What I dislike are reviews that sound more like advertisements than reviews.

When strolling through Amazon, I find reviews that disturb me. They’re all composed of the same basic phrases: “couldn’t put it down”, “when’s the next one”, “recommend to all age groups/everyone/anyone that likes reading.” In three paragraphs, it’s easy to overlook them but when a review is one paragraph and made entirely of these phrases it raises a red flag. I think “Is this a paid review?” or “Did this person read the book?”. When I gush about things, I go into detail. I avoid spoilers or warn of them, of course, but I want them to know exactly what I liked about a book so they will understand how great the story is and read it themselves. Generic reviews are a waste because they contain nothing specific about the story and so they could be copied and pasted any number of times.

A reviewer isn’t doing an author any favors by turning their review into a endorsement. It sounds fake. Often times, it sounds cheesy. Posing questions that the novel ‘answers’ or saying that it bucks trends or some such; you don’t sound like a reviewer you sound like a promoter. Nobody trusts a promoter because the promoter is biased. They’re looking for an honest and informed opinion.

When I write a review it is long and it is thorough. If I dislike something about the book then I am sure to include it. I give A+s sparingly and even then I don’t sound like “OMG! This book is awesome!!!!” It’s a point of professionalism. Even for books that are not review requests, I follow the same format. Three sentences of generic praise may bolster the rank but it doesn’t help the reader (at least, it doesn’t help a reader like me) decide on whether or not to read the book.

I use bland language for this reason. Poetic lines are not professional because you sound like you’re trying too hard to impress. By using such language you’re trying to turn your review into something that is more than your personal opinion about a work; you’re trying to make your review into a work itself. I find that silly and arrogant. Reviews are not supposed to be read like a book or a poem. They’re supposed to inform a potential reader (and customer) about the book from the perspective of another reader and customer. Nobody cares how witty or enjoyable your reviews are because they’re interested in whether or not you liked the book. (I recognize there are exceptions: newspaper columnists and bloggers etc can have fan followings of their own, but in that case, what they’re reviewing is less important than the review itself.)

Genuine reviews are more effective promotions than promotions pretending to be reviews because the former has substance. It is unique. A promotion will not be unique and so has no substance. It’s little more than literary junkfood.

http://trickstereric.blogspot.com/2014/01/reviews-not-endorsements.html