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Writer's Corner - April 2008


Rowan Morrison
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Mine isn't about zombies.

"You'd be surprised how many of them twitch."

Vinton Roebuck was drunk again.

An empty bottle of crown in the sink, and his eyes were looking everywhere at once.

"Did you hear me, Billy? Look at me when I'm talkin' to you, son. Ya' little..."

He stopped short, over come with his drunken stupor, and started again.

"Ya' fuckin' munchkin, listen to your old man." He grumbled.

Billy stood out in the hallway, just in from school.

Between freedom and Hell.

The front door to his left, the kitchen to his right. Frozen in place from the tone in his father's voice.

"Get the fuck in here, boy." His father quickly wrapped his fingers around his shoulder, almost knocking him backwards while digging his nails into his skin.

Dragging him into the kitchen, he forced him down into a chair. Hurt; Billy looked up into Vinton's vicious blood shot eyes.

Vinton snorted in disgust, "Don't give me that look! I'm not going to take any crap from an eight year old, you little shit."

He reached back and slapped Billy hard across the face. Flinging his timorous stare towards the ground. His cheek felt hot, but he didn't dare look back up. He kept his eyes on the floor. Focusing hard on the checkered linoleum. Black and white. Black and white. Black and white. Black and white. Black and white.

"Now, where...?" He stumbled back into his chair. It screetched across the floor as he dragged it directly infront of Billy. "...where was I?" he asked as he planted himself into his seat. The familiar smell of of piss and formaldehyde swam around in Billy's mouth, as he continued to focus on the tile.

Proudly remembering his thought, Vinton stomped his feet excitedly, "I remember! I was telling you about the twitchers."

He took another swig from his glass. "As I've told you before, we keep their bodies alive while we harvest their organs. Apparently they're 'brain dead', but every once in a while you'll get a twitcher." He took another swig, "Like seeing your first shooting star out in the sky, it's exciting. Like playing God...or that one guy who invented Frankenstein."

"Are you listening to your old man?" He looked down at Billy. He was tiny for his age, thin, pale, his ears sprouting up from his thick boyish bob of blonde hair. He sat quietly with his hands folded in his lap. You could barely tell if he was breathing, his back hunched wearily, his face pointed at the floor.

"Wake the fuck up, Billy!" He grabbed a hand full of his baby soft locks and tugged hard, feeling them rip from his scalp. Billy looked up at his father with out saying a word. He knew better than to yelp. Vinton slowly got up close to his face and whispered drunkenly into Billy's ear, "You should listen to your old man when he's telling you a story, you little fuck." Muttering drunkenly to himself, he pushed Billy's head back down to face the floor where he could still feel his father's breath on his face and began to focus harder on the tile. Black and white. Black and white. Black and white. Black and white. While tears welled up in the corners of his eyes.

Vinton's anger quickly subsided with another swig, and he began again, "That first twitch and you don't know whether to stop or continue. You just stand there for a while. Thinking. It scares you. It scares the fuck out of you." He laughed to himself, "My first twitcher was female. I'd already cut her open, broken the rib cage, and filled her with ice. The regular procedure. The thing you learn in text books." He laughed again, "Texts books won't ever prepare you for the real world. Not this kind of real." He felt smug. Intelligent. Wise. Like a hero.

"Nearly pissed myself when she twitched. I'd just started to dig in there, about to pull out it's..." He stopped, "...about to pull out her liver, when it happened." The memory started to overcome him. He stared blankly into his glass, trying to compose himself. "And I'm not talking about some sissy finger twitch. I mean. I mean her body. Her entire body twitched." He stopped, "I mean." He stopped again.

"No dead person twitches like that."

Billy's foot started to tap. His shoe laces clinked against the metal chair leg like a rampant xylophonist. His heart beat started to race, as he tried harder to concentrate on the floor pattern. Clenching his jaw, and grinding his teeth he sqeezed his hands together. Black and white. Black and white...

"You know Billy, we all..."

We all have secrets.We all have secrets.We all have secrets.

"...have secrets."

Silence filled the air.

"You can hardly blame a man. We've all got urges, Billy."

A wicked smile spread across his face, while he pursed his greasy lips. A brief image of her legs, still pink with blood, flailing about the table as he came all over her open corpse.

"And I wasn't gonna let that go to waste."

I wrote this story after I heard this on the news:

Nooz

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The Philosophical

by

Chase

"It is tempting to regard anti-physicalist arguments as rationalizations of an intuition whose independent force masks their tendentiousness. Some may be led to deny the possibility of zombies in order to make some theory come out right, but the justification of such theories should ride on the question of possibility. A zombie would be distinguishable from a person even though indistinguishable from a conscious person. It is distinguishable because it is stipulated that it is not conscious even though it is indistinguishable from a conscious being." - David Chalmers, 1996

"It's about the last thing in the world I'd want to write about, the very last, the very very last."

Nobody asks why. Nobody dares.

"I hereby commit to writing something entriely not about zombies and I intend to write not about zombies today."

We all note the unusual way he says the word 'entirely'. It sticks in our mind because the rest of his sentence is spoken in a very official, authoritative manner. I notice that even though he said the exact same thing twice in one sentence, he's still slick enough to pull it off. A lesser man would have been laughed out of the room by now. Not this man. Not Narcissus.

"With the utter lack of inspiration that the word 'zombie' personally brought to me this month (twist, twist), I fell back onto a firm favourite subject of mine to help get me moving. And here it is..."

He presents a story about a psychopath and he calls it Zombie. You can feel him playing up the notion that that man in his story is an emotional zombie but his metaphor doesn't quite work. Everyone in the room knows that it's a story about a psychopath. Naming it Zombie is a slap in the face to anyone who'd stoop so low, in his eyes, to tell a legitimate zombie story.

I take him to one side and enquire further.

"Narcissus, why don't you wanna write a story about zombies, mate?"

"Chase", he tells me, "it's crass. It's beneath me. I'm here to write literature that will inspire the mind and last throughout the ages, with broad themes and conflicted characters, not crowd-pulling b-movie nonsense like this. I find it all rather insulting to my vast intelligence"

"Yeah but dude, it's possible to write horror with some weight to it. Look at the classics, Frankenstein, Dracula...".

"I could write better stories than those with my penis tied behind my back.", he retorts. "Look, zombies just walk around and chase people, slowly. They're probably the least threatening monster ever created. The only way to make them appear threatening is if you have twenty of them in a room. And even then all you need is a cricket bat to fend them off. What kind of pathetic enemy is that? And besides that, there's no depth to their condition. Everyone's already pulled the 'lazy and apathetic people are like zombies' metaphor. Every aspect is clichéd and it's all been done a thousand times before."

I have to admit, he was putting up a pretty good argument. It seems clear that the most threatening aspect of zombies was just their appearance. And no-one could deny that his psychopath story was the best that had been submitted so far. Not to mention that it had fuck all to do with zombies.

So now it comes down to my turn and I have to tell a story. Do I write of pathetic monsters hobbling around searching for a plot? Or do I write about the ever inspirational Narcissus, package it as high art by using long, euphuistic, grandiloquent words, make it appear post-modern by putting in some inventive self-referential setting, imply that it's all an allegory for the zombie condition by opening it with some verbose quote, and give it a pretentious. preposterous and ear-scratchingly annoying title like 'The Philosophical'?

Take a guess.

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Ok, disclaimer:

I'm sorry I couldn't get this under 1000 words. It's currently sat at 1300 I believe. If this leaves me exempt from any voting then that's fine, I just wanted to write a piece in my last half hour before I left for home! :lol: Not fully proof read either so apologies for errors.

Must. Stop. Drinking.

It’s not uncommon for me to wake up somewhere unusual: a friend’s bathroom floor, a city bench, a door mat, a parked car - occasionally greeted by concerned strangers, often by an over-familiar silence and its accompanying pungent, foul smell of alcohol.

Today it’s the printer consumables closet.

The room is dark. I can’t see. I’m struggling to remember how I ended up here, when did I fall asleep? What day was it? It’s still dark and I still can’t see. I need to get up. I fumble awkwardly for leverage, no strangers today to lift me off my back. I’m dribbling. I mop the saliva from my chin with my shirt sleeve, which is now quite sodden. “Shit that’s disgusting.”

My eyes are slowly beginning to adjust to the dark and the very little moonlight that shines through the pigeon-hole sized window situated opposite from me. I look down at my watch, the needles illuminating under the lunar glow. 12:15am. Jesus, I’ve really fucking done it this time.

Chances are the alarms are on. The caretaker here is pretty fastidious about security, but then again in a school like this it’s absolutely mandatory. There have been numerous attempted robberies in my time here, usually resulting in little or no success – all thanks to the “dependable, assured and self contained security”. Or that’s what the bald prick told us in the presentation. Still, despite his slimy, duplicitous appearance he was right. The security is less of a nuisance and more of a genuine deterrent. Right now though, I wished he was wrong.

My head hurts as I struggle to think my way out of this, but before delving into multiple, tortuous, conglomerated cover-ups, I had to pick myself up and get out of this room.

I grip hold of the boxes and heave myself onto my feet, two hollow cracks resound from my knees and off the walls. It’s depressingly quiet. No. Not depressing. I know the sound of depressing silence, and this isn’t it. Each shuffle sends subtle reverberations through the surroundings, bouncing back at me from every direction, vibrations now booming through me. Attacking me. Is this the alcohol? Why am I so scared of every sound, so scared to move, scared even to breathe?

I begin to question any slight noise, I didn’t move. I DIDN’T FUCKING MOVE!

I feel like crying.

Why am I even in here? What day is it? Friday. Right. It’s Friday. Why was I drinking at school?

Shit. Yes. End of term. End of term means ‘end-of-teaching-thank-fuck-lets-get-drunk’. Not like I needed that great of an excuse, besides I don’t even teach. I’m support staff. Well, a technician. I fix stuff. I reset passwords. I manage the network. I do all the other stuff the school doesn’t want to pay subcontractors to do. Still, despite all of this, they won’t let this slide. Instant dismissal.

The fear is going away now. I need to carry on thinking. There are cameras not far from this room, but no alarm sensors. If I can make my way out unnoticed by the systems there would be no reason to check security cameras – I’d be safe.

My retina rods are kicking in and doing their job, I can just about make out a doorway and curvatures of the door handle in an indistinct mélange of greys and blacks. I scramble towards the exit, careful not to break any of the expensive but currently unidentifiable debris beneath my feet. Light switch, ha!

I clenched my eyelids tight as my finger hovered over the switch; I know all too well that a sudden bright light hurts. Flick. My eyelids now glow orange, only a slight burning is felt at the back of my eyeballs. I cautiously open my eyes as I turn to view the corner I previously habituated in a lifeless, almost coma like state. I’d managed to damage a good number of the boxes, though I’m guessing the damage was only aesthetic. I had also managed to cut myself, or so the deep patches of red fluid on the floor would suggest, decay hitting the back of my tongue and throat.

I wiped the remainder of what formerly seemed like saliva from my face, my sleeve now thoroughly coated in blood. I tossed my tongue from side-to-side in an attempt to place the wound. My tongue was fine, if not numb from the sickly bitter taste, though my cheeks were cut slightly from digging into the jagged enamel edges of unkempt molars, but not quite damaged enough to produce so much blood. I cupped my cheek with my grubby hand as I suckled on the loose stringy flesh in my mouth.

Whilst still quite hazy and confused, the unexplainable terror within me had gone completely. I returned to the door and opened it slightly, peering out from the corner of my eye. The lights were still on. Strange.

Upon stepping out I could discern that all lights were on, not just for this corridor. Light reflected upwards from the gleaming floor, my eyes still struggling with the difference in light, everything appearing overexposed and radiant along the stretched narrow walkways. I gaze down into the courtyard below which is positioned centrally in the school structure, aged weather-battered redbrick walls of the surrounding corridors encase the overgrown grass and damaged outdoor furniture. A prisoner in its own home.

I return my eyes to the corridors, searching for an exit. Cameras are everywhere, sensors blocking any route from this corridor and its branching rooms. Whichever way I went, I was going to trigger the alarm. Across the courtyard in the mirroring corridor I could see a shift in shadows. I pushed up against the glass, squinting as I scanned attentively for any further movements.

“Shit!”

I couldn’t help but shout. It was Bill. Bill the caretaker. Bill the fucking caretaker.

What is he doing here at this time? The alarms. There’s no alarms! I can surely get out. Fortunately at this point I haven’t ventured anywhere that a camera could see me. I’m smiling now, nope, grinning even. Grinning hard. I’m going to get out. My head dizzy, chest bursting in an intoxicating cocktail of relief, adrenaline and exhilarating trepidation. I scramble on all fours across to the nearest classroom.

“Locked.”

I reach for my keys. “Agh!”

I’ve lost them.

Kicking against the flaking painted brickwork I slide back against the exterior facing wall, a swift glance shows that Bill is definitely heading this way. I’ve got two minutes max. I venture to try the next classroom, failing that I’ll take the fire exit and risk getting caught by the cameras.

I scramble towards the next door, stretch out a hand and yank down with desperate hope. It’s open, I’m in. I feel sick from excitement, my stomach twisting tight, I almost feel the need to physically wretch. Only that’s not excitement, it’s the horrible realisation. I see my keys placed on the computer desk beside me. The truth hits me, flashbacks and hellish visions and that smell all convoluting into a nightmarish reality.

I can see her now, only feet away. The moonlight shines strong through the large windows of the ICT room. Mustang cherry red paint clashes with the blue fibre bonded rib carpet. My ex. My dearest ex. My dead ex. I skulk towards her, crying now, no longer worrying whether Bill will find me, only about her. Her face is mauled, torso eviscerated, bite marks - deep, flesh torn bite marks.

I catch my reflection in a PC monitor. My eyes look bruised and swollen, tears heavy with despair and anger and resentment. But the tears stop flowing, bitter taste no more. The corner of my bloody, tainted lips twitch. I’m smiling. No. Grinning. Grinning hard.

Let them find me. The cheating bitch deserved this.

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More zombie.

So here it is. The last stand over a full English breakfast.

This zombie is uncomfortable with labelling himself as such. He doesn’t remember his own name, and so for now he assumes it to be Brian, choosing deliberately against type. He pokes his fried egg with suspicion, not entirely comfortable with the meat on his plate, especially under the stare of the exposed flesh that sits opposite.

As the windows begin to thud once more he jumps as much as he is able to. The mob outside has taken to using chairs, bats, and all manner of farming hardware to test the reinforced glass to its limit. Only Brian has noticed, the other two zombies currently pre-occupied, tugging at a piece of flesh. He thinks that it’s bacon, yet despite everything else he’s seen today, the fact that it might not be still fills him with disgust.

That’s the problem, that he still feels anything.

His two colleges flipped over sometime back, which makes him the last – still capable of rational thought, still susceptible to loneliness, still able to use a breakfast hotplate with his rotting arms. His self-awareness still clings on, enough for him to wish that it would topple over into the dry-rot that waits. The crude portrayal of human kind outside, with its recognisable strokes of anger and violence, still feels like his race, his fellow man. He can still make the obvious comparison between the decorum of breakfast, and the zombie-esque mob outside – slavering faces pushed against glass, screaming obscenities masked by guttural growls.

Brian shakes his head. His gammon steak could do with some more pepper.

Soon there will be nowhere to hide in this crowd of three. The safety of numbers has long since gone, swept aside by an ever decreasing population. In many ways he wishes the process would accelerate, the sweetness of feeling nothing when inevitably crushed underfoot and turned inside out, feeling no pain or indignity, no shame that his fellow kind should derive such pleasure from such desperate times. He wants to tell them these thoughts, but speech from his rotten mouth only produces a growl like the others, typecasting him forever, the last of his temporary race. By his reckoning, he should be celebrity.

The window finally shatters and they pour in, hundreds of them. Hundreds. It’s a girl first, her denim hot pants clearly considered the most suitable attire for such an occasion. Others follow, moving with the speed and frenzy that a potential kill offers. A small part of Brian is still with them, still envious of why probability has chosen them over everyone else. He scratches his elbows, a comfort from his childhood, and sits up straight. These last moments haven’t all been blood and brains and splatter, more milk and two sugars, just how he’d wanted it. If a band were here now, he’s sure they’d still be playing.

He carefully folds his knife and fork onto his plate, not finding extinction an excuse for bad manners.

Fuck me he thinks, I thought we were supposed to be contagious.

He stands, scanning the diner for an exit, hoping such a futile act finally gives him the time to degenerate beyond compassion. In the second it takes, he forgets his assumed name.

Brian he thinks, choosing deliberately against type before the last stand finally begins, outsider verses outsiders. The nameless zombie moves across the diner, still fully aware it will do him no good.

Shuffling will only get you so far.

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Haven't read anyone elses story yet, so have no idea if its at all similar to others but here it goes.

Every time is the same. She comes in early morning and sits by his bed, checks to see if he’s awake, he never is, shuffles around to get comfortable and then checks again. Her eyes then moves towards me and she notices that I watch her. We share a gaze that sometimes last hours. I don’t know her and I’m a perfect stranger to her; the guy in the bed next to …whoever that is she visits. Its not a loving stare or one of disgust. I’m not lusting after her or vice versa. She’s not repulsed by me. It’s the kind of look a scientist gives to a chimpanzee in the woods, the kind that speaks volumes. She sees the horrors I’ve been through reflected in my eyes and I see similar such horrors in hers, only opposite. We never speak, never share information that cant be transmitted by that look. She must look in my eyes and wonder if her man has a similar look.

If I choose to speak I could tell her they do, that the man has the same daunted look that mine do when hes the one that stares back at me. He does wake you see, stares at me like shed does when he’s alone, but like me he doesn’t speak. I can’t recall anyone speaking that wasn’t in a medical uniform for months. I can remember screams, but not talk. All of a sudden my mouth dries at such thoughts and I thirst. If I choose to speak I could ask for water.

Why does he sleep when she’s here. Does he feel safe when she’s around, safe enough to dream? No. The truth is in his eyes and is the same that reflected in mine. He can’t take the shame, can’t confront that tension. But one can only run from these confrontations for so long, especially when bed bound. One day he ‘woke’ with her there and turned to his visitor slowly. For the first time I heard the voice of my room mate for the last… how long has it been weeks or months? It feels like months.

“Hey,” he said softly, groggily.

It seemed a little forced, like a kid convincing his parents he is to ill to go to skill. Obviously this man was trying to avoid the conversation.

“Hey,” she mimicked back, warmly.

There was compassion in her voice but not love. There was something about it that reminded me of my wife when she restraining herself from arguing with me in front of Molly.

I stopped watching and closed my eyes, shifting my face to the ceiling. The tension so thick I don’t even think a machete could cut through, I wanted to listen but not get drawn in. There was a long pause with not even the ticking of a clock to mark the passage of time.

“How long have I been out,” he asks after a long pause. She answers almost immediately.

“Depends on what you mean by ‘out.’ You’ve been in this hospital for three weeks. A specialist one in Texas for about a month before. But out? You haven’t been normal for close to thirteen months now.”

It sounded right. Him and I must be developing at similar time scales. I wondered what the date was and hoped he would ask. As if by miracle he does. I hope its not a side effect.

“August 7. 2012.”

If I choose to cry I would have at that point, dawning on me I really had missed a year. I couldn’t escape the date, that my daughter would have been eight in just a few days.

“Why are you here? Where’s Alice?”

I could have cringed. He knew the answer. I knew he knew. That look said it all, the same as mine probably speaks volumes about my Molly. I didn’t want to open my eyes in the time it took her to answer but I did. She was shaking.

“She’s dead Frank,” she caught her breath, every word a struggle. “I’m your next of kin.”

“My parents, my brothers,” he asks in, was it mock disbelief?

Why was he pursuing this, I was thinking. It’s a stupid question and its killing her to hear it. She’s your next of kin you dumb shit, aint nobody in your life closer to you than whoever she is.

“They’re all dead Frank. You killed them.”

Nasty words, but she needed to say them, strengthened her resolve. She was beginning to see the falseness in his surprise. As he continued his façade she looked once more at me and I wasn’t able to look away before her eyes locked into mine. She saw the truth in my eyes. That we knew. That we remembered everything. She turned back to him, gloves were off.

“They say Alice was, my sister was kept alive for days,” all warmth were gone from her now. “That one of those creatures, that you, snacked on her for days, keeping her alive to sustain your needs.”

The patient never responded.

“Most victims were dead in moments, jugular bit, vitals consumed, the beasts move on. They don’t know how to think about stuff like saving some for later. Just animals. But this isn’t a fate shared by my sister. She suffered, in agony as you kept her, preserving her…her worth.

What could you say to that? It took a long time, but he did speak.

“We weren’t. I wasn’t in control of my own actions.”

“My question,” she snapped back, “Is if one of those things had enough thought to keep someone alive, why not let them live? To feed on a stranger, someone else and let those you love…live?”

“I don’t have an answer for you.”

“Well I do,” She spoke, cold with no hesitation and didn’t flinch as she got up snatched from under his head a pillow and smothered him, held it tight until the shaking stopped, until her sisters killer was dead.

Only when it was done did she snap out of it and take stock of what she had just done, of me watching her, silently still. I had only one thing I wanted to say. The only thing I ever wanted to say since first waking up in the hospital but didn’t know how or who to ask.

“Please,” I said to her. “Do me too.”

Obliging me, she approached, pillow in hand.

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I’m a bad guy.

I kind of suspected it for some time now, but I’ve suddenly caught a glimpse of what I look like, where I am and what I’m doing and it’s left me with no doubt in my mind. Right now I’m one of the bad guys.

And I’m about to get much worse.

A radio signal from my commanding officer crackles in my ear and I raise my baton in unison with the others alongside me. We number nearly a thousand, dressed in black riot gear and gas masks. Plastic shield in one hand, the raised baton in the other. We march as one. Each footstep echoing down the street. We must look formidable.

We must look evil.

Ahead are our disorganised enemy. They outnumber us, but they’re clearly on the backfoot. A shambolic herd of righteous anger with no leader, no ranks and no clue. Their goal is admirable, their cause is true, but that’s going to amount to fuck all in approximately five minutes time.

They call it civil disorder at Headquarters, a fucking pathetic euphemism if I ever heard one. This is a riot. A fucking huge riot, plain and simple. Tonight, London burns and the sky is choked with the smoke and the hate. But not for much longer.

Tonight, we move to the next phase.

They should have seen this coming.

I say “they”, but I of course mean “we”. All of us. After 9/11 we were all paranoid and our nation saw it’s opportunity. They galvanised public opinion against a common enemy, taking the chance to take those first steps. Anti-terror laws, ID cards, increased CCTV. Then it subtly moved from an outside enemy to the “danger” within. Immigrants, the youth, the drunk, a constant barrage of fear and danger just outside your door. Just waiting for it’s chance to destroy the ideal that never existed.

They told us we needed pride in our nation. They we needed to be taken care of. That we needed to go back to what we built our empire on.

Dignity. Honour. Self respect.

A sense of our own superiority.

Then, the Olympics came and we found ourselves at the centre of the world stage. The enemies we had made in the intervening years all looking for a opening to really fuck us up. Of course, after China, the Olympics needed to go smoothly and we were only too happy, too polite and too fucking British to oblige. We sacrificed a lot for those games. And we’re only feeling the pinch now.

London. The safest city in the world, with a surveillance system even Orwell couldn‘t dream up. Camera’s covering every last square inch, able to not only detect those not carrying ID cards, but to read the information from those that did.

Fourteen million people shrunk to red dots moving on a computer screen.

Each dot reduced to fifteen facts.

Each fact revealing a million secrets.

“I’ve got nothing to hide!”, was the cry of the lap dog. As if guilt was assumed and not caused by your actions. “There’s nothing you can hide” was our nations measured response.

The rioters in front of me are fighting for our freedom. They know, each and every last one of them, that they will be found and arrested. You can’t do anything in London without paying the consequences. Only know have we realised what has happened, that our liberty has been slowly peeled away. What were we thinking? That all this would be turned off once we were “safe“? No chance. It goes further.

They’re fighting to stop this from going nationwide.

Every city, every town, every village. Every person a dot on a computer screen.

There’s more; “The Living Dead”. I have to admire the fact they haven’t even tried to dress it up a bit, just gone straight for the jugular with a phrase that conjures up a million images and accurately sums up the purpose. I think many of us in the ranks still don’t believe it; what they’ve told us will happen. It’s pure science fiction.

The ultimate in crowd control.

As we approach their front line a crackle in my ear confirms that we are ready to release. Batons are withdrawn, gas masks are checked, and grenade pins are pulled. A volley of smoke flies over my head and lands into the throng.

I’m reminded of something I read in a history book at school. It’s reported that the co-pilot on the Enola Gay, as the atomic bomb fell towards Hiroshima, solemnly stated “My God, what have we done?”.

A part of me wishes that I could come up with something equally quote worthy, but even now, I doubt that this will ever been written about.

As the smoke clears I see that it has worked exactly how they said it would. All that anger, all that hate, all that indignation and protest suppressed in one foul swoop. Thousands of people, who just a few seconds were ready to fight for their beliefs reduced to nothing.

They stand perfectly still, arms limp at their sides. Faces are locked in a vacant stare and movement limited to breathing. No argument. No struggle. No emotion

No light in their eyes.

Our government has succeeded where all others have failed. Our nation has brought us together in one unique vision and has done it without raising a fist.

We’re immaculate, incapable of dissent, crime or disorder.

The perfect populace.

The living dead.

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I really like Danster's entry, especially how it's written and the general impression you get of the main character. I can't quite place where, but his character seems to slip every now and then, or maybe I'm just reading it wrong. <_<

Still, I likes it.

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This is my first attempt at writing in here so be gentle.

Maximum Schmaltz Engage:

Since the accident I've had the same dream every night. In the dream I see nothing, not even darkness, just a complete absence of anything. My wife whispers to me. She is close and I can feel her warm breath on my ear.

"Come back to me" she says.

It's late in the evening and I'm watching a 24 hour news channel. The newsreader calmly tells me that the entire nation is in shock due to the dead returning to life. Their bodies are healed but their minds are gone, reverting to whatever memory of the life they once had they return to their homes or work and begin reliving the mundane routine of everyday life. They never speak; they cannot explain how or why they have returned. I pour myself another Scotch, switch off the TV and begin cooking dinner.

Two years ago my wife and I were driving north to spend a few days in the Lake District, in a small cottage we had rented for the weekend. As my wife slept in the passenger seat I turned to look at her, to admire the beautiful woman who had for some reason agreed to spend the rest of her life with me. The truck hit us head on. I had failed to pay attention to the road.

I've woken up again. The dream always wakes me, not in shock, but in pain. I yearn to see my wife again and the dream teases me with her half remembered voice. It's only been two years and already I'm beginning to forget the sound of her voice. I light a cigarette and cry, telling myself it's my fault.

In the morning I notice that her studio door is open and rustling sounds are coming from inside. For some reason the news report from last night doesn't register and I imagine burglars have broken in. I open the door and peer inside cautiously. She's standing as she always did by her easel, painting. I slowly close the door and phone work to tell them that I need the week off due to a family emergency.

I sit watching her as she paints. I can't see what she's painting as the easel is turned away from me but I can see the concentration on her face. Like all the others she never speaks. She seems to act only by instinct or memory. The lack of talk doesn't bother me, she always used to ask me to keep her company in her studio while she painted and I would dutifully do so, only to find myself completely ignored as she became engrossed with her art. So I would sit and read a book or nap or simply watch her, the only communication between us a loving smile every now and then. Sitting here with my un-dead wife I feel like I've gone back to that happier time, although now she never smiles.

I watch the news again that evening. The same newsreader is telling me that anyone with a deceased relative who has returned to their home should call a special number to let the authorities know. I switch off the TV. I don't bother to write down the number.

We are lying together in bed and she reaches an arm around me and begins stroking the back of my neck. It seems wrong but I can't help but turn to her to kiss her. Her face is completely expressionless. She's empty. My wife is not here.

"Come back to me" she whispers and I wake up, she's laying there, her eyes open, staring at the ceiling. I roll myself away from her and wish that she was still alive.

I'm watching the news. This time the smartly dressed newsreader is reporting that the dead who appeared so suddenly are now disappearing just as quickly. I run to the studio to find that she is no longer there. Slowly, I begin to walk around the easel to see what she's been painting for the last week. It's just circles. Circles of different colour and size, each one perfect.

Something is wrong with me. The edges of my vision begin to blur and the painting begins to warp and rework itself. Everything around me begins to fade until, just like in the dream there is nothing. But unlike the dream there is something to look at. The painting is still there its edges expanding and contracting like it’s a living breathing thing. The paints mix and consume each other in endlessly complex patterns. And suddenly it explodes, rushing towards me it fills my vision and I am absorbed into it. I become part of it. If I still had a corporeal body I imagine I might be smiling.

"Mrs James-"

"Please Doctor, I've been here every night for the past two years, how many times do I have to tell you, you can call me Sarah"”

She'd be attractive if she cleaned herself up, maybe after she's had some time to grieve I'll give her a call, be a shoulder to cry on thought the Doctor.

"Sarah... I've got the results from the latest MRI scan and there's been no change since the accident. His body is alive because we keep it alive, but the man you were once married to is no longer here. I hate to be the one to say this but I've discussed this case with a few colleagues and they all agree that the most humane course of action we can take is to switch off the machines. Keeping him alive is not good for you. I feel like we've become friends over these past two years so you have to know that I'm saying this because I care about you. You have to move on"

The woman sitting by the hospital bed looked up. Her eyes filling with tears she took one last look at the man in the bed and whispered to him "Come back to me".

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I haven't read all entries in here yet. I only bothered checking this whole corner out just recently. It's very cool. Anyway, I was right bored and drunk tonight so I thought I'd have a crack at it.

I'm sorry in advance if it reads like shit/doesn't make sense. I last wrote something at GCSE level :lol: and I only read comics nowadays. I would have got the gf to read through it first, but she's sleeping and I'm impatient.

Crack!! And again! He almost let go that time. A little further should do it. He's putting up a bloody good fight though. As expected, really. He always was a fighter...

We'd lost the clean-cut choreography of a good fight some way back. It was now in the degenerate stages. The dirty, grasping, seedy side of the fight. The messy finale. All full of frantic limbs and the desperate clutches for glory. There was no honour among thieves here.

His clammy palms throttling my neck now. Ever tighter. His wild-eyed determination and strength. His heavy breath all over my face. His distinctly foul smell. Suffocating. I dare not look into his eyes. It only seems to fuel the fire. No. I mustn't. I claw for his face in a last-ditch effort. At last, he recoils and loses the advantage. I can tell he is fatigued now. It seems like an eternity. His grip is becoming weaker, his panting... The dreadful wheezing of a veteran drinker. Hell, he's old meat. The guy should crumble sooner or later. We're both growing increasingly tired.

Suddenly, my chance!! I quickly reach for the nearest blunt object. Heavy and grey. A solid lump in my bloody hands. Inching it closer. Closer still. Up to his face, all scrunched and furious. Squeezing the dear life from my arm, I drop the object. Luckily it hits him in the face. Temporarily stunned, I lamp the fucker cold between the eyes. His wet brow catches my knuckle and I feel a short, sharp pain shoot up my forearm. But there's no time! The buzzing, loud and unrelenting. Screaming in my ears. The fire in my arms. The dull aching, suddenly restricting. Paralyzing. The creaks of my spine. He clambers to his feet. Unsteady, he lunges towards me. Is he winning? I panic and blindly thrash out, catching him off-guard. He stumbles.

Legs buckle beneath him like he were a stringed puppet. With a great thud he hits the deck. I hear bone's creak and then snap when I bring down heavy blows on his exposed frame. I pay particular attention to his head. He no longer tries to protect himself. He just slowly reaches for his jacket breast pocket with all the strength he can muster. Pretty soon he is still. I look down at his hands. There it is. Glistening beneath the dim light.

I prise it from his boney fingers. His fingernails are caked in shit. Dried blood and god knows what else. Len always was a filthy bastard. But this was what was left of mankind, I suppose. Filthy shit.

Hands trembling, I lift the can to my sight. Focus through all the haze. My head is spinning. A quick rub of the eyes...

Best Before End: Mar. 2010. For fuck's sake!!! I had killed Steve only yesterday for the last of the parboiled rice. And for what?! Some mouldy old tin of spaghetti? You can't eat rice with spaghetti! I'm not an animal.

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Yeah I don't really read much fiction either so thats clearly holding me back as far as prose goes. Stephen King says his method of working is to read 4 hours a day and to write 4 hours a day. The only things I regulaly read are forum posts and news n website articles, so most of my writing reflects that.

I still think comics and TV and movies can teach you a lot, though. The West Wing is one big lesson in speechwriting.

Nice story, btw.

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Jason and Sinead walked across the sand dunes of a sleepy seaside Welsh town, where a few old pier rides stood helplessly against the elements and the same old ladies had been sweeping the same old paving stones and neither the stones nor the old women would have anything to do with such new things as email and the internet. As they kicked the sand beneath their feet and the sun was chased by shadows across the sea, they mused on the sleepy sea side life. “Nothing ever happens around here,” said Sinead. Out of the sky, there was a flash, a boom and then the release of a parachute about a kilometre in front of them. “What was that?!” gasped Jason as they began running towards where the parachute was slowly zig zagging it’s way down. They ran breathlessly and excited, maybe it would just be a man with a parachute, maybe. But maybe it would be the key to an adventure that would change their young lives forever. After about five minutes running they came upon the parachute. There was what could only be described as a spaceship embedded in the sand , at least half of it. The other half was jutting up out of the sand. It was typically saucer shaped and as the evening turned to twilight, a hatch opened.

Out of the hatch came a rotting, shambling man dressed in a crimson uniform with some sort of insignia on it, that seemed to read “TTZFM.” “Sinead er, I think we might need to be leaving now…” said Jason.

“No, I know this. My dad….listen Jason, I have something to tell you. My dad was a time travelling zombie from Mars. It’s not a dominant gene and that’s why my skins not falling off and ….”

“So that’s why he runs a make up parlour.”

“Yes, on Mars his foundation skills were legendary. Anyway, he told me that he had to escape Mars because he had sabotaged a time travelling machine that they had invented. He was one of the elders and had thought that it would only bring trouble. So he destroyed the project and escaped on their only vehicle capable of interplanetary space travel. I can only assume they have built another one and have come to seek vengeance, and feast on the culinary exquisiteness of fresh human brains. It’ll be worth a fortune on their home planet.”

“So er, what do we do?”

“We tell my father.”

Back at Home

They sat in their father’s caravan perched precariously on the edge of a brook (Sinead’s father claimed that running water was the only thing that gave him any peace from the memories of her mother). “I can’t believe they managed to build another ship and get all the way here. What they will try to do is create a beacon through which they can teleport, which is effectively time travel in the way it bends space and time.”

“So, that explains the TTZFM,” said Sinead.

“It does?” said Jason.

“Yes, Time Travelling Zombies From Mars” said Sinead.

“Of course! Although, that is rather literal for an insignia. But more importantly, how do we stop them?” said Jason.

“We don’t have long before they arrange their bacons so that other zombies can simply teleport into our world and begin feasting on brains. As you all know from zombie films that despite having no contact with the Zombie time travellers from Mars have been remarkably factually correct. We are fairly resilient. Of course, tearing us apart limb by limb is always effective.”

"Bacons?" asked Sinead.

"Beacons!" shouted her father.

They looked around the caravan for the heaviest, sharpest objects they could find. Sinead grabbed a garden spade, her father took up a Black and Decker portable power drill while Jason grabbed a rubber hammer.

“What are you going to do with that, bruise them to death?” asked Sinead.

He put it down and grabbed the more mutilatory appropriate welding torch and axe. Then they set off to the sea front to face their foes.

As they stumbled over the dune where Sinead and Jason had first discovered the zombies, they saw six zombies, working busily at various control panels with a large satellite, surrounded by lights in the centre of them, with cables coming from it, each leading to a separate control panel.

“You ta…” but before Sinead’s father could finish the sentence, what was left of one of the zombie ears pricked and his head darted round, catching them in the sandy espionage. He let out a zombie moan and the others reared and started ambling towards what had previously been the trio’s hiding place. There were some more moans but luckily Sinead’s father was able to translate, “Two are going to flank us while four of them head straight for us – I suggest we immediately veer left and then right and take out the flankers in a three on one attack.” Which they did, burning, drilling, and swinging their way through blood gushing limbs. There were Niagra spouts of blood, ruining that nice new jumper Sinead had just got from the charity shop. But she didn’t care, because she had the taste of blood and a spade. They turned on the remaining four and Sinead’s dad took the lead as he had the deadliest weapon and was able to drill two of them into pieces before they had even got close. The last two were more difficult to dispatch and managed to tear free one of Sinead’s father’s arms. As he staggered back, Sinead lunged forward with the spade and attacked them head on, while Jason took pot shots with the blow torch. Soon, all that was left was a torso and one zombie, moaning away quietly. “What’s he saying, dad?” asked Sinead. “He’s asking me if I’m the terrorist and how I could do this to my own kind.” Sinead’s dad moaned back at the zombie. “What did you say, dad?”

“I said that he wasn’t my kind, and even if I was his kind I wouldn’t be his kind”

“You’ve been in that caravan for a while now eh dad?”

“A bit.”

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Maybe this says more about my feverish jealousness and angst ^_^

(11:51:57 PM) spore: my own story is awful. it will stay at 300 words

(11:51:58 PM) JohnJ : Iwon't win again this moth

(11:52:08 PM) JohnJ : rowan will ejaculate into a tissue nad post ap icture and they'll vote for that

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This is my first attempt at writing in here so be gentle.

Maximum Schmaltz Engage:

Wow, I really liked that!

EDIT: In fact, it's made me decide to enter one this month. Stand by your zombie beds!

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Okay, here's my effort. I can't seem to get it under 1100 words, but it's my first go! It might get a couple of revisions still if that's acceptable, but then again it might not.

Zombie

You learn a lot about a man when you watch him try to chop off an arm for the first time. I say a man, but Philippe was really no more than a kid. Sixteen years old, with a dark, fresh face. The first traces of a moustache that glistened with perspiration; a mouth that hung open with shock. I smiled. Boy, you’re going to be okay. I couldn’t see his eyes behind the dark shades, but I knew that they would be wide with surprise, disgust and fear. Surprise at the strength of a human bone, disgust at the blood that slicked across both blade and hand, fear at the thought of having to pull the weapon free and strike again. Good. That’s what you want to see when a man takes his first arm. The ones to watch out for are the ones that manage to take off the arm with one blow. The wild ones, the chiens fou. You can’t trust a man like that. To take off your first arm with a single strike marks a man as a savage by nature, rather than design. A man who loves the horror, a true son of Kalfu. No-one wants to work with a man like that. They always end up the same, killed by a brother in an argument over something evil. No, a man can only be trusted if he fears the horror, but learns to live and breathe it every day until it becomes a tool that he can wield like a machete. Philippe would be okay.

“C’mon, boy, finish the job!” laughed the captain, “If you don’t do it soon the poor kid will bleed to death. Harder this time, let’s see what you’re made of!”

Philippe pulled the machete out of the boy’s arm, and he made a sound like a creole pig as his blood poured onto the dusty ground. I turned around to look at the silent villagers who were crowded behind us, and lit a Marlboro. It tasted good. I could smell the fear that was surrounding us all like a fine mist, and that tasted good too. I heard the smash of Philippe’s second blow, and looked back to see the child collapsed on the floor where the captain had let him fall.

“Now get a bandage on it quick”, he instructed Philippe. “You see”, he said to the terrified crowd as he turned to face them, “the bogeymen are kind! This boy will remind you of that, and maybe he will remind you to tell the truth once in a while.” He looked at me. “Maxen, tell the men to get back in the jeeps. We leave in five minutes.”

*

I was seventeen when I joined the Uncles, the Tonton. I had been born in Port-Au-Prince, and grew up scratching a living out of those dark streets. A living! It was like being dead. They say Haiti is the land of dreamers, and I was no different. When I lost my last pennies at Mon Reve lottery bank I walked straight across to the army recruitment office and signed the papers. I was given fatigues, boots and a meal, and it felt like Erzulie was smiling on me. It was only when I saw the skull on the driver’s insignia as I sat in the truck with the other men that I realised I had joined the Tonton Macoutes.

My first arm had been a mess. An old market woman who had cursed my sergeant under her breath. Maybe she had scowled at him. Perhaps she just expected to be paid for a piece of fruit that he had taken from her basket. It didn’t matter. “Hey, Maxen, take out your machete. Rene, get a hold of her other arm!”

The shock of the impact as the machete struck bone travelled through the blade to the handle, which was slick with my sweat. Man, you can bet the others laughed as it slipped from my hand! The only thing that stopped me from vomiting right there and then was the fear that they would do the same to me.

“Boy, stop playing around! It’s time to be a man! It’s time to live!”

I looked at my sergeant, but his eyes were the dark shades we all wore. There was no expression that I could read on his face. I picked up the machete and looked at the old woman. Her face was a contorted mask, and she screamed as she struggled with all her pathetic might against the sergeant and Rene. I chopped wildly downwards at the mangled arm that the sergeant was still holding out stretched, and felt the acids boiling in my stomach and chest as my blade tore through the shattered bone. The sergeant cheered as the maimed woman spasmed and jerked, while Rene seemed completely unaware of her. He was looking straight at me.

“Put this in the jeep, Maxen”, the sergeant said, as he threw the severed arm towards me. I caught it before I even knew what I was doing. “We’ll feast on it later when we give thanks to Bacalou!”

It was too much then, and I puked over the muddy, bloody market floor. I remember that Rene said to me softly, “Good man. You’re one of us now. You’re going to be okay.” I opened my eyes to look at him, and through my tears I could see that he was still holding the screaming woman. He seemed to notice this too, and he suddenly dropped her to the ground. She bucked and twisted in the dirt. He held out his hand to steady me.

“Let’s go back to the jeep.”

On the way to the camp the sergeant laughed when I asked him about the arm that I had stuffed under my seat. “Heh, throw it away if you like. I just said that crap about Bacalou to scare the villagers. That voodoo stuff is bullshit. They think we’re zombies, and it does them good to imagine that we’ll be eating their flesh tonight.”

*

Fela Kuti and the Africa 70 played on the driver’s cassette player as we bounced along the road. Zombie was the album; it had been a big hit in Haiti that year. As I nodded my head to the rhythm I looked at Philippe’s face. His shades revealed nothing of his eyes, but his lips were trembling slightly. His skin was dull and black, and when I touched his arm with my hand he was cold. ‘Man,’ I said to him. ‘You’re one of us now. You’re going to be okay.’

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You can write something as well if you like oh let me be your slave.

Not really clicking for me at the moment, so I'm sticking to critcism. I like to enjoy all the pieces in one burst, on a long Sunday afternoon with a tall glass of wine.

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