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Friday, 2 July 2010

#FridayFlash: Zombie Luv Flash Fiction Contest: For The Love of Mike!


Well Mari, this is what happens when you talk me into something. Don't say I didn't warn you!


__________________

'Ma! He's doing it again!'

Maggie sighed and, apologising to the spirits, opened a door in her circle, stepped through and carefully closed it again behind her. Picking up the candle she'd left burning on the dresser, Maggie hurried through the darkened cottage to the kitchen.

Bartholomew stood on his hind legs in his cage on the counter top, nose and whiskers quivering as Maggie snapped on the light and set the candle down on the kitchen table. Bramble sat on the floor staring intently at the mouse in its cage, swishing his tale back and forth and moaning, flexing his claws against the tiles. Mike was over by the sink, giggling.

'See Ma, Bramble's at it again,' Mike slurred.

'Bramble! What have I told you?' Maggie scolded. Bramble turned, fixing her with a pair of milky, dead eyes.

'Yes, you!' she continued. 'Leave that mouse alone. Come on, shift.' She flapped her hands at the cat, who lurched unsteadily to its feet and shuffled stiffly across the floor towards Mike, the tip of his tail hanging at a strange but jaunty angle. Midway across the floor, Bramble's left ear quivered then dropped off onto the tiles.

'Oh not again,' Maggie muttered, hunting through a drawer for the glue.

Bramble let out a low, moaning meow as he approached Mike. Mike grinned a lopsided grin.

'You hear that?' He sounds like me.' Mike stuck his hands out in front of him and shuffled towards the cat. 'M-O-U-S-S-S-S-E,' he moaned, and even Maggie had to smile. It had never crossed her mind when she'd raised Bramble that a zombie cat would retain the instincts it'd had in life.

Mike stooped awkwardly to pick Bramble up and Maggie froze. As he straightened up she released the breath she hadn't been aware she was holding, nothing important had come adrift. While Mike wasn't looking, she poked his eyebrow out of sight under the table with her toe; she'd stick it back on later while he was sleeping.

Seeing the love Mike still had for Bramble brought a lump to Maggie's throat, casting her instantly back to the night of the accident. She'd been driving them back from the vet's after getting Bramble's booster injection when their car had been T-boned by a drunk driver in a horse box. Mike and Bramble had died instantly, yet she'd walked away without a scratch.

It had taken her months to perfect the spell, Bartholomew was proof of her first successful attempt. She preferred not to think about the previous ones, and wouldn't be caught outside after dark for love nor money. Even so, it was neither as simple, nor as quiet a procedure as she'd thought, so Maggie had sold up and moved to the cottage – nothing for miles around in all directions except fields. The perfect place to re-build her family.

She'd done the best she could with Mike, even shopping online for a preparation popular among undertakers, which really did seem to help arrest the decay. It had even seemed to help Mike retain his speech, at least for a few weeks, but recently she'd noticed his vocabulary diminishing and he seemed to be having increasing trouble forming words. Regular baths of strong-smelling herbs helped with the odour, whether Mike enjoyed them or not. The only thing that saddened her was she could do nothing about the ugly gash running across Mike's face, loosening his right eye, which had ended up in his dinner on a few occasions.

Mike seemed happy to be back, though isolated as he was in their new home, he was lonely. When the nightmares had got so bad he'd stumbled into her room and tried to wrench the top of her head off, Maggie had resolved to get him another pet. A zombie mouse was hardly the pet for a growing lad she thought, so Maggie had performed the ritual again to bring back Mike's beloved Bramble.
Seeing Mike cuddling Bramble and tickling him behind his remaining ear had Maggie all misty eyed. She recalled vividly as she dabbed her eyes on her sleeve, their first night together again as a family. A pet-food commercial had played on TV featuring a small boy and his cat. Mike had dissolved into hysterical moaning, which Maggie took for laughter, and when she'd asked him what was so funny, he'd fixed her with his lopsided grin and moaned, 'My cat loves braiinnnsss, and I love my cat.' He'd even emphasised the “t” of cat, just like the little boy in the advert.
* * *

Completing the ritual for the final time, Maggie exhaled slowly as the body of her husband William, dead from leukaemia these past four years, began to twitch within the circle. As she lay down next to him, Maggie prayed this ritual would work. William had been dead longer than anyone, or anything, else she'd raised, and she'd had the devil's own job exhuming his body and driving it to the cottage by herself.

A single tear slid down Maggie's cheek as the spell took the last of her life-force to power William's awakening. It would be okay, it had to be, she thought as her heart finally stuttered and stopped, she'd built into the spell that she would join him, an undead wife to an undead husband, undead mother to an undead son. The spell had been complex to construct, but after all, a growing boy needed both his parents. William's eyes flickered open slowly, his head lolling to the side where Maggie lay entwined in his arm. Recognition seemed to flicker across his face.

'Hello, love,' he moaned softly, planting a passionate, foetid kiss on her lips, his cold, clammy tongue tentatively exploring her mouth. Maggie shuddered with elation – it had worked, it had! Her family was complete again.

We will have to do something about that formaldehyde breath though, Maggie thought as she returned the kiss.
__________________

Guidelines:
  • Word count: maximum 1000
  • The story must be a romance between two zombies. Make it as horrific as you like.
  • Stories containing animal cruelty, torture, graphic sex or violence, any form of exaltation of violence, racism or other forms of prejudice will be immediately disqualified.
  • Post your entry on your own blog, with a title resembling this:
Zombie Luv Flash Fic Contest: Story Title
  • Leave your story title and a link to the story entry post as a comment at mari's randomities: http://marisrandomities.blogspot.com
  • Copy and paste the contest logo and the guidelines at the end of your entry post.





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56 comments:

Carrie said...

Oh my. Wow. You're good Sam. Good job on this. I'm gonna go hurl now. lol!

Marisa Birns said...

Oh, Sam, this is absolutely a wonderful zombie story. Quite inventive and humorous.

'My cat loves braiinnnsss, and I love my cat.'

Ergo, he loves brains? :)

You've done yourself proud here.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Oh my, now that is one for the books! Zombie Cat!!

This is a very touching story. We love our family (and our pets), no matter how dead and smelly, or if they drop their eye in dinner.

That was a really good zombie story!

Laura Eno said...

Formaldehyde breath...Sam, you are great! And leave it to you to add a zombie cat. :)

Maria A. Kelly said...

My cat loves braiinnnsss!

Oh my god, Sam, this story is both gruesome (I shivered when the husband frenched her) and hilarious at the same time.

Great zombie story!

Diandra said...

This is a story I really love.

Sam said...

Thanks for the awesome feedback! It's always great to log on in a morning to discover readers have enjoyed a story I wasn't sure about the night before.

Just for fun, the advert that helped inspire this tale can be found here.

Carrie - Thanks for your great comment. I hope you're not still feeling queasy.

Marisa - Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Anne - Yes, I couldn't resist adding the zombie cat. After all, Maggie needed something to practice on. ;)

Laura - Hehe, thank you. I had a feeling the mention of formaldehyde would add just the tone I was looking for. :D

Maria - Great! I'm pleased you enjoyed it. I figured I ought to try to make the romance angle a little uncomfortable.

Diandra - Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed my first foray into the zombie genre.

Deanna Schrayer said...

Sam, you know you've done well when you can make a body who doesn't care for zombie stories (that'd be me) enjoy it anyway.

I about threw up when he kissed her - ewwww! Such fantastic desciptions here. Super work!

Cathy Olliffe said...

I think you've found yourself a new calling, Sam!
Sensitive zombie stories!
Really well done, ma friend, one of my Sam-faves.

Tony Noland said...

Well written, Sam, but the thought of formaldehyde breath... bleeach!

Sam said...

Deana - Wow! Seems this story is going down better than I thought it would. Apologies for making you feel queasy, though that was the effect I hoped the kiss would evoke in readers.

Cathy - Thanks so much, I'm really pleased you liked it. Sadly, I don't see much scope for a sequel as I suspect the life of a zombie family would be only too short and their end somewhat predictable; I have a mental image of a mob with burning torches and pitchforks. Still, it was a fun genre to play with.

Sam said...

Tony - Thanks for the feedback. Seems as though William's formaldehyde breath is striking a chord, apologies if you're feeling queasy now too.

phonelady said...

sam , my across the pond friend I want you to publish you should do it and take that leap of faith . I hope you will at least consider it .

Sam said...

phonelady - Yes, I'm giving it some thought, but what to submit - flash fiction, short stories, a novel maybe?

Monica Marier said...

rather like if "Pet Semetary" had a happy ending. *shudder* This was darkly sweet, gross and funny. Well done, Sam-o. We'll make a hoo-doo samedi out of you yet. ^_^

Monica Marier said...

Rather like if "Pet Semetary" had had a happy ending. *shudddder* Sweet, funny, gross and twisted. Loved it Sam-o. I'll have to start start calling you "Baron Sam-edi."

alisonwells said...

Fab. What a wonderfully developed world and very touching love. You are such a unique writer. Well done.

Sam said...

Monica - Haha! Thanks for your great comment(s). I'm so glad you enjoyed the story.

Alison - Thanks you for those kind words, I really do appreciate it. :)

Gracie said...

Aww. Erp. This is a great story, Sam. I've encountered bad breath in my time, but formaldehyde breath takes the cake-- er, brains.

Love everything about it. Well done, sir, and good luck!

Sam said...

Gracie - Thanks for your lovely comment. I'm really pleased you like it; I wasn't sure I had the whole zombie thing down. :)

Eric J. Krause said...

Good story! Lots of excellent lines in it. It would seem she's become addicted to creating zombies. I wonder if it'll stop with her family...

Aislinn O'Connor said...

In spite of all the horror, it's a touching and excellently-told story of family love - best of luck with the competition!

(Note to self - if ever tempted to revive rock heroes, first stock up on breath-freshener..)

John Wiswell said...

Killer last last.

Pun intended.

Yeah, I'll own it!

melissalwebb said...

I love this story. So sweet, yet so gross at the same time. Well, they say love conquers all; here's to it conquering death breath. :)

Michelle said...

well done.
I'm off to check on my cat...

estrella05azul said...

Now there's a kitty story I sure won't forget!
Well done, Sam :)

brainhaze said...

Wasnt sure i'd like a zombie story, but you have totally proved me wrong - ecellent. Loved it

Sam said...

Eric - Thanks. Oh, now that's a thought, I hadn't considered whether a zombie could continue to raise the dead. Hmmm...sequel?

Aislinn - Thanks for those kind words, and encourageemnt re: the competition. I'm pleased you enjoyed the story.

John - ROFL!!! Very good pun. :)

melissa - Yes, that's what I was aiming for. I figured if I felt a little queasy when I'd finished writing I must be on the right track. Thanks for the feedback, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Michelle - I can recommend a decent fur-friendly glue if you need some. ;)

Estrella - Thanks. I couldn't resist a twist on the ol' boy+cat type story. :)

brainhaze - Thanks so much. I wasn't sure about this story to begin with as it's not a genre I usually write, but I ended up having a blast in the writing and am so happy you enjoyed it.

Emma Newman said...

Euw! And also "awww" which is pretty impressive in one story! Loved it Sam xx

Sam said...

Emma - Thanks. I did wonder after the 1st draft if there wasn't too much "awww" in it, hence the inclusion of more "euw!" So pleased you enjoyed reading. :)

David G Shrock said...

Wonderful zombie family; very loving. A nice balance of "awww" and "euw!" Gotta love the zombie cat!

Jodi MacArthur said...

;-)

Sam said...

Mari said...
You shouldn't listen to dead people Sam, heh.

You're on! :D

Sam said...

Mari - Blogger ate your comment somehow and so, until/unless it magically reappears, I've tried to add it manually.

I also listen to imaginary dead people, is that worse?! ;-)

Sam said...

David - Thanks. I think I was aiming for a slice-of-life story+zombies!

Jodi - Thanks.

dannigrrl said...

Great job, Sam. I love the boy and his cat and their rotting parts. The things a mother will do for her family. :)

Sam said...

dannigirl - Thanks, I appreciate your kind words. Yes, part of what I wanted to explore was how far a mother would go for her son, and family.

Pamila Payne said...

Well that was simply smashing. You can't write a good zombie story without a sharp wit, in my opinion, and I found your tale to be very, very sharp. And creepy, and disturbing. A win on all counts.

Sam said...

Pamila - Thanks so much for those kind words. I felt a bit out of my depth writing horror/zombies for the first time; I'm so pleased you enjoyed the read.

Lena S. said...

I really enjoyed this story, Sam. I know the contest rules specify the story to be about romantic love, but I think your story went over well because it included familiar love and pet-love. Good luck in the contest!

ganymeder said...

What a clever, imaginative story! It has everything I love about zombie stories.

Formaldehyde breath? And I thought morning breath was bad!

Matt Merritt said...

Awesome story! I loved the happy/desperate/crazy mother. A wonderful mix of emotions.

The deteriorating intelligence cast a more tragic feeling over the piece as well.

Sam said...

Lena - Thanks for the well-wishes, I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

I wanted to include more than just the romantic love between zombie Maggie and her undead husband, hence the inclusion of Mike and his zombie cat in addition to the re-awakening of Maggie's romantic interest, and her turning herself into a member of the undead to complete her family.

ganymeder - Thanks so much! With this being my first ever zombie story I wasn't really sure which way to go with it, in the end though I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Formaldehyde breath's a killer, ain't it? ;)

Matt - Thanks Matt, very kind of you to say so. I thought Mike's gradual deterioration added just the right feeling to this piece. I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

aweeadventure said...

That was a cracking read - gruesome, touching, funny and v original. I particularly liked the vague reference to the previous attempts, reminded me of Lovecraft's Reanimator.

Sam said...

aweeadventure - Thanks, I'm pleased you enjoyed it. Yes, I wondered whether there would be a difference between zombies raised by magic and those created by traditional means, and just how difficult it would be to create such a spell; I had visions of whichever Aliens film it was that featured the almost inside-out Ripley (can't remember which one it was - the memory's going!).

Valerie said...

That was sweet. Hope they can manage to keep their brain cravings to a minimum. At least we can be sure they'll have all their meals together! ;-)

Sam said...

Valerie - The family that slays together, stays together (or at least eats brains together), eh? ;) Thanks for your lovely feedback, very much appreciated.

Donald Conrad said...

Cool story. Even the cat's a zombie.

Sam said...

Donald - And the mouse, don't forget him! Thanks for your comment, glad you enjoyed my story.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Wow, you just took the concept and ran with it! This is by far one of my favourites - such a different way of looking at it! Awesome tale.

Jane Travers said...

Fantastic! Loved the idea of the zombie family, pets and all. :)

That kiss at the end sounds a bit like my first snog, though... *shudders*

jdanetyler said...

Great job on this! A whole family of rotten creeps. Literally. :) Nice job!

Laurita said...

ahhh, it does the heart good. Formaldehyde breath was a nice touch. :)

Karen from Mentor said...

I only read Carrie's comment. oh man. ECHOES CARRIE with feeling.

Good. hurl. eyeball in dinner.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Man I must really love you guys.

Sam said...

Icy - Thanks so much! I wanted to do something different as I must confess to not knowing much about "classic" zombies. I'm so pleased you enjoyed what I did with it.

Jane - Thanks for the lovely feedback, but possibly a shade too much information?! ;)

jdantyler - Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed my story.

Laurita - The formaldehyde breath was a flash of inspiration mid-way through the writing of this story, I'm pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks for your comment.

Karen - LMAO!!! Thanks for the great feedback. :)

Jodi MacArthur said...

;-)

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