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October 26, 2013

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Subgenre Smash-And-Grab

This weeks flash fiction challenge, as always, courtesy of Chuck Wendig and can be found here.

Random number generating gave me Slasher Horror and Zombies. And all in good time for Halloween.
Here in the basement, the banging on the door and the screeching of the zombies were distant and muffled by several barriers. In the relative silence, other sounds could be heard. Quick, frightened intakes of breath and quiet whimpers, not all of them coming from children. The survivors all huddled close together, watching the entrance to the stairs.
They were pushing up against the back wall as if they were hoping to melt into it when the zombies broke down the door. And they would break it down and smash through the makeshift barriers as they had done with everything else that had been put in their way, dead or alive. Especially alive. It was unclear whether the zombies actually ate the humans they killed, but they seemed to have an intense hatred of the living, wanting nothing more than to kill them or convert them into their own kind.
The whole basement reeked of sweat.
A soft voice spoke. “Hush, sweetie. Everything will be alright.”
The enormity of this lie made several people turn their heads and peer through the dim light at the speaker. She was a young woman, holding a little boy, a son or perhaps a younger brother. She met their looks with a stubborn glare of her own, as if daring them, any of them, to contradict her. No-one did.
A man’s voice sounded from out of the darkness in a corner of the cellar. “You might want to consider releasing me.” It was a voice dark and cool and smooth like black silk.
A short stocky man spoke up. “Want your chance to kill us before the zombies get here? A couple of last murders before your time is up? Or do you imagine that they will welcome you as one of their own?” He spat on the floor.
“Compared to what I’ve heard that the zombies do to people,” the voice answered, “I would consider myself almost merciful. A quick, clean death is suddenly not such a bad prospect for yourself and your loved ones.”
There was a heavy silence, broken only by small whimpers as several parents realized that they had actually, for a moment, consider his suggestion for their children.
The woman who had spoken before was not one of them. She stared in the direction of the voice, as if her gaze could penetrate the darkness. “If we release you,” she asked, ignoring the gasps around her, “what will you do?”
“Have a go at the zombies, of course.”
The stocky man spat again. “What kind of idiots do you take us for!? Why should you help us?”
“Well, you were kind enough to not hand me over to the police. Even if it was only because you wanted to keep me here and hand out your own kind of justice.” The voice sounded remarkably cheerful at this thought. “Also, I have never tried to kill something that was already dead. I wonder how that feels.”
Several people shuddered.
The woman let go of the little boy’s shoulders and took a small step towards the darkness. A man grabbed her arm. “What are you doing?! He’ll kill us all!”
“Look at it this way,” came the voice again. “You can release me in the hope that I will leave you alone and go after the zombies. Or you can wait for the zombies, hoping that they will take me and leave you alone.”
The woman yanked her arm free. “What choice do we have?”
From above came the sickening sound of splintering wood. The screeching grew more audible.
“Very true,” said the voice softly. “What choice do you have? Anyway,” it grew cheerful again, “it sounds to me like you have about five minutes to make up your minds. No rush.”
The woman took a couple of tentative steps into the darkness. No-one followed her, but no-one tried to stop her either. She could just make out a figure in the corner, tied up and unceremoniously dumped. Her nose wrinkled automatically as she caught the stench of urine. Then the figure lifted its head and looked straight at her and she gave a small gasp and stepped back. What made her recoil was the fact that he looked nice and friendly, like someone you would want to talk to, be friends with, maybe even take home after a few drinks. The realization that it could have been her among his victims, almost made her turn back. Instead she forced herself to kneel down and began to work the ropes.
After a few minutes, in which she tried to ignore the sounds from above, she realized that it was fruitless. The ropes were thick and the knots had been bound tightly by someone much stronger than her. She was about to turn around and ask one of the others to come and help her, when the killer said: “I think you need a knife for that. You can borrow one of mine.”
“Borrow one of yours?” she repeated, stupidly. Then she realized what he meant and felt sick.
“They’re right over there.” He nodded to give a direction. “And better hurry up,” he added in a conspiratorial whisper.
She got up and managed to stay up, even through a rush of faintness. There was a table and on it lay two knives, a chef’s knife and a big cleaver. For a moment she wondered why the people who had brought him here, hadn’t gotten rid of them. Surely it would be dangerous to have them lying around, in case he got loose. Then it hid her and she felt sick again. She picked up the chef’s knife with a shaking hand.
“Better bring them both. I’m going to need them,” she heard him call and she picked up the cleaver as well with numb fingers, carried the knives back, knelt down and started to cut through the ropes.

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