Cubs Win! (A Zombie Novel)

I would like to release my novel for the world to read, but I have to finish it first. One way to get me to stay motivated is to garner feedback. With that in mind I have begun releasing a chapter a week on my personal blog site over at Blogger.com. However, the little traffic I have is not very vocal. I am hoping I can get some love, or hate (at this point I will take what I can get). Since I am already at chapter 4 there, I will start with that here. Please let me know what you think!

And now, Cubs Win! (A Zombie Novel)

Prologue

As I sit here watching the Cubs win the series, I can’t help but think of how we got to this point. It was not that long ago, that the world as we knew it came to an end. A mere 75 years ago, the first of the dead rose from his grave. It sparked a revolution that would cripple the world in a matter of months, and take nearly a century to rebuild. Life on our planet will never be the same. I am a member of the second generation, the generation spawned from the children of those that survived that Great War. My grandfather fought in that war. He often tells tales of life before the war. Granddad was a Cubs fan you see, him and the rest of Chicago had waited over a hundred years for the Cubbies to win the series, it’s funny that world did in fact come to an end right after that had happened. A cruel joke played by the universe, and now three quarters of a century later, and they do it again. I wonder what the world may have in store for us this time around.

I have listened to countless stories from my Grandfather, reliving the horrors and heroics of the greatest war humanity has ever witnessed seemed to be the only thing that kept Grandpa sane. Just a boy, no older than I am now; he lost everything that was important to him. If it were to happen again I know I would not be able to be half the man he was.

Grandpa died yesterday. I was asked to give his Eulogy. While I went through some of his old belongings, looking for some bits of his life I could share at his funeral, I decided that I would go a step farther. I’m told I’m good with words; that’s why they asked me to eulogize him. But grandfather was such a great man; a simple eulogy can’t be enough. So, here for you all to read is my grandfather’s story, my words with his memories. The biography he always wanted to write, but could never bring himself to put down on paper. I will try to stay as true as I can but I may be a bit biased mind you. You may want to sit down, this will be gruesome, sad, funny, and a bit scary at times, but as Grandpa always said, it will always be alright, just have some faith, and life will bring you happiness.

Chapter 1

October 2015

“Cubs win! Cubs win! Jack Brickhouse and Harry Carey just sat up in their graves! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself) Theo Epstein has done it! Theo Epstein has ended the cubs 100 year plus draught!”

I could hardly believe my ears! I could not believe my eyes! Did my beloved Cubbies just win the series, is that what I hear and see from the TV screen? Could our hundred years of agony finally have come to an end? Did Hell just freeze over?

“Jason….”

“Jason, snap out of it bro, The Cubs just won the fucking series baby!” My best friend Marcus was jumping all over the place like a man possessed. “We need to get out of here, we have to celebrate!” I just sat there, staring right through the screen; it was like a lucid dream. I could not bring myself to comprehend the sight right before my eyes. On the TV Theo Epstein was popping a bottle of champagne and spraying it all over the team. The fans at Wrigley have completely over taken the field. All hell broke loose in the friendly confines. I felt a vibration in my pocket, grabbed my phone. Forgot I left it on vibrate. I look down at my phone, dumbfounded. It’s a text from Maddy, my sister, and a Sox fan in her right; she takes after my Mom in that way. Dad and I are Cubs fans till the end, but somehow he ended up with a Sox fan, and she brought Maddy over with her to the dark side.

‘Congrats Brother’ You must be freaking out right now!’ Sweet girl….

Snap

“WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cubs win! Cubs win! Holy Cow Cubs win!!!!!!” I suddenly burst from my seat, the excitement that seemed to lack in the moments preceding suddenly came bursting through me like water through a geyser. My beloved Cubs have finally won the series! We have to celebrate….” Marcus…, we have to celebrate, your parents basement cannot contain this moment, let’s get the hell out of here and hit the streets…… CUBS WIN BABY!” Truth be told, we were only 15, the laws at the time mandated that you must be 16 to drive, 18 to get into almost any club, and 21 to drink, so our choices were a bit limited. But this was the north side of Chicago, we wouldn’t need to go to a bar, the party was on the streets! All of them!

We were in Marcus’s parent’s basement watching the game. My mom, a Sox fan, had little to no interest in the series, and my Dad, a lifelong die hard Cubs fan was stuck at work, because his jerk boss could not care less about baseball. Since I had nobody at home to watch the game with, and Marcus whole family were Cubs fans, it only made sense that we watch the game at his house. Marcus’ Mom had made a bunch of Baseball themed snacks, and his dad had grilled hot dogs and burgers. I was in as close to heaven as a baseball fan could have gotten. I would love to have seen my Dads face when that last Homer flew past the Ivy, but I knew he was celebrating in his own way.

I shot Mattie a text thanking her for the congrats and told her I hope her Sox will get another opportunity in the near future, I lied, then I stepped outside and called my Dad.

“Hey Dad, did you hear?

“Oh yeah buddy I heard, watched the game on my computer while I was finishing these reports. We are going to celebrate hard. I am taking you kids up to the cabin first thing in the morning. I will get you out of school for a few days, this event is history anyway, and they should give you extra credit for living through it!”

“Wow Dad, that sounds awesome! Hey, Marcus and I are going to go out and party for a bit, so I may be home late, is that ok?”

“I want you to be careful out there. The streets will be full of excitement, and people can get pretty stupid out there, in fact I want you home by 9.”

“9? Dad, my curfew is 11.”

“Nine O’clock, do you hear me? And if people start acting stupid, you book it out of there you hear me?

“Alright Dad, 9:00. I’ll see you at home….. GO CUBS GO!!!!!”

I clicked end call just in time to see Marcus come flying through the air and landing in my arms, causing us both to tumble to the ground. “CUBS WIN BABY, CUBS WIN”

“Where should we head to?” I said as I pulled myself up off the ground.

“Wrigleyville, DUH! But we should hop the bus, we only have a few hours, my parents say I have to be home by 9.”

“Wow, so did my Dad. What do they think is going to happen after 9?

“I don’t know Baby; all I know is that this town is going to party tonight!”

I shot my Mom a quick text to let her know i would be home by 9 and we started off down the block to the bus stop. We had to break into a quick trot, because we did not want to miss the next bus, but with the way we were feeling, we could have run the 20 blocks to Wrigley.

*****

The bus came to a stop about 6 blocks from Clark and Addison because the streets were flooded with people. The bus was over packed and bursting with the chorus “Go Cubs Go, Go Cubs Go, hey Chicago, whadaya say, Cubs are going to win today” Marcus and I were singing along as loud as we could as we filled off the bus and got lost in the crowd of people cheering, drinking, toasting, kissing, hugging, and dancing. A local band had set up equipment on a rooftop and was blasting “Go Cubs Go” for the entire city to sing along to. Our first goal, get to the Harry Carey statue and take a picture with it. We knew Harry was up in heaven smiling down upon us, and we had to congratulate him. We pushed our way through he crowd, singing as loud as we could and slapping five with what I am sure was half the city along the way.

Everybody was so happy I could not fathom how this crowd could ever start getting stupid. I was sure our parents were just being paranoid. I can’t imagine an event that saw this kind of brotherly love before. Dan Akroid and Harlod Ramis could not have imagined this when they wrote that scene in Ghostbusters 2. I could not believe I was a part of this celebration.

“Can you believe what you are seeing Brimmy?” Marcus screamed as we weaved our way through this massive crowd.

“Marcus my friend, this is 112 years of party waiting to explode!”

As we continued to shuffle past we came across a group of guys standing around a keg, when the bartender saw us, he waved us over. “Here kid, the rules don’t apply today, Fuck’em!” he then thrust a hot dog that had been dragged through the garden and a plastic cup of beer at me. I grabbed them without hesitation, Marcus followed suit.

“To Theo Epstein” I yelled as I raised my glass high!

“To Theo Epstein” the group cheered. Marcus and I took a long pull off the beers a big bite of the hot dogs, thanked our new best friends and started back on our journey to find Harry.

“I fucking LOVE this city!” Marcus yelled as he finished the rest of the beer in one gulp.

“Hey Kid,” came a voice from off to our left” Try loving it with a Coke next time, huh?” We turned to see a cop standing not 5 feet away from us. I panicked; I still had 3/4 of my beer in my hand. I slid it behind my back with as much slickness as I could muster. The cop closed the gap between us with just a couple of steps.

“Don’t worry kid, as long as you promise to make that your only one, I won’t bust you.” Not quite as slick as I thought. “But if I see you with another one, your party is over”

“Yes Sir,” I stammered, “my one and only” I raised the glass in a mock toast, took a sip and headed back on our way. “Go Cubs” I screamed back to the cop as we disappeared into the crowd again.

“Dude you must have a Horseshoe up your ass, you just got lucky as hell!” Marcus was always talking about how lucky I am. And sometimes I have to agree with him. Things just happen to fall my way.

As we pushed our way through the crowd I could not help but get a sense that our lives were about to change. The Cubbies just won the World Series. The boys in blue finally found Blue October; after better than 100 years, it just goes to show that anything can happen. Little did I know.

I could see the world famous Marquee looming over head in the distance, reading “Cubs Win!!!” in its familiar yellow lights. We could not be more than a block away, and with each step the crowd became more and more dense. “Elbows to Assholes” my dad called it. The crowd was loud, thousands of voices mingling together as Chicagoans were congratulating each other and sharing stories about their favorite parts of the series and season. I could barely raise my glass to my lips to take a sip of the Old Style, much less push my way through the crowd,

After what seemed to be an eternity swimming in the sea of humanity, we finally reached our destination, There Harry stood, towering over the masses holding out his Microphone, preparing to lead the entire city in the biggest version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, the world would ever witness.

Try as I might, I could not fight a tear from my eye, as I marveled at the voice of the Cubs. The man loved the Cubs as much as any person could love, for the entire 84 years he walked this earth, and the one thing he never got to see was the Cubs winning it all.

“It finally happened Harry! And what a season it had been. I know you are up there partying like it’s the 1999 you never got to see! Congratulations Harry!” I raised my glass high in the air, and toasted the broadcaster as best I could.

I glanced over at Marcus and saw he had shed a tear as well; just then a very large hairy arm wrapped itself around my shoulders. A man easily twice my size, had decided he wanted to join us in our toast.

“Haaarrrry Caray was a great man” was the sound the intense smell of alcohol made as it crossed my nose. “He is up there right now leading all the Cubs Fans we lost in the biggest round of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ the Heavens have ever witnessed”

“You damn right, Brother” Marcus said grabbing the beer from my hands and taking a long pull. I took the brew back and finished it off.

“Speaking of which, Marcus, we better get back before both our old men send us up there to party with him!” With that we said goodbye to our new buddy and started to push our way through the crowd and back to the bus stop.

As we made our way through the crowd, I noticed that there was a lot more noise then there was before. And a few intermittent screams, that seemed oddly out of place. As we walked past one alley I saw a couple of dudes kneeling on the ground over something. They were moaning and working very hard to get inside something. It was too dark for me to tell, but it gave me the creeps. Suddenly my Dads warning was ringing loudly in my ears. Marcus must have had the same feeling because we double timed it back to the bus stop.

“Did you see what I saw in the alley” I said to Marcus as we boarded the bus.

“Yeah, buddy, I guess it’s true what they say, the freaks do come out at night”

Marcus and I did not say another word to each other, for the duration of the ride. I think we both knew what we saw; we just didn’t want to believe it.

****

By the time we got off the bus, we noticed that the party was in full swing, right on our block. Stepping off the bus, I checked my watch and saw that I had about 10 minutes to make it home. I slapped hands with Marcus making a “Go Cubbies” comment and headed up the block to my house.

As I approached my house I saw my Dad standing outside talking to Mr. Winter, our neighbor. I ran up to my Dad and wrapped my arms around him and congratulated him. He had been waiting his whole life for this and I know he could not be happier. He took one look at me, smiled, congratulated me and told me that I would be best suited to get some sleep. He was planning to leave pretty early in the morning and he wanted me to be awake during the 8 hour drive so he had somebody to talk to. Part of me was very tired so, I really had no need to object.

I walked into the house and was immediately confronted by Mom and Mattie. They stood in the door way and glared at me like I just stole all the cookies from the cookie jar. “Don’t you for one second think this gives you some sort of bragging rights young man” Mom said.

“And if you think for one second that they will ever be able to pull off such a lucky feat again… well not in this lifetime buddy” Mattie jumped in. She had no idea.

“You couldn’t have given me tonight?” I managed to eek out after being blindsided by this typical Sox Fan jealousy. I looked up to see their faces break into smiles. They both walked over and gave me a big hug.

“We are just giving you shit, we are both very happy for you, and you must be freaking out,” Mother said as she released me from the embrace. “Now I know you must be wired with energy, but you both need to get some sleep. Your father is taking us up north tomorrow, and we are leaving bright and early, so off to bed with the both of ya. And Congrats again Jay; I really am happy for you, if not just a little bitter.”

I thanked her for her congrats and said goodnight to Mattie. As I was brushing my teeth I could not help but feel relieved to be going to bed. I was exhausted. The game, the night had been an emotional roller coaster that just did not seem to end. As I crawled into bed I suddenly flashed to that scene in the alley. It had only been a brief moment in my field of vision, but it would be the last thing I remembered from that night. It would be a memory that stuck with me forever.

Chapter 2

My father woke me about 3:30 am and told me to take a quick shower, we were to leave in an hour, and Maddy still had to shower herself. I found it rather easy to wake up; his voice actually startled me awake. I know I was dreaming, but for the life of me I could not remember what it was about. The only lasting moment was a fleeting thought to run. I shook the cobwebs out of my head and took what my father referred to as a Navy Shower. Five minutes later I was putting my clothes on and heading into the kitchen where my father was gathering ingredients for sandwiches to eat on the way.

“I was thinking we would grab some Micky Dee’s for breakfast and we could have sandwiches for lunch. Grab a cup of coffee; I’m counting on you to be my shotgun on the drive up.” I took a travel mug out of the cabinet and filled it to the rim with black coffee. I did not drink coffee very often, but the few times I did, I always preferred it black.

I heard Mom come down the stairs carrying bags. She must have packed them last night. She was a couple of steps from the bottom when she looked directly at me with those “Mom” eyes that all Mothers are taught. “Young man, get your butt upstairs and grab the rest of these bags. And don’t forget the one in your sister’s room.” As I made my way up the stairs I heard my mother tell Dad that she would be sleeping in the back of the truck on the way up north. He must have anticipated that.

Dad and I loaded up the SUV and climbed in the front, a quick glance in the back showed Mattie already passed out and Mom well on her way. “Well, that didn’t take long.” I said to my father. “Looks like it’s just the two of us till Madison”

“Works for me” he replied. “Hey buddy, I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for the game yesterday, it’s just that”

“There is no need to apologize Dad, I completely understand” And with that, we were on our way. We could still hear the screams from the Cubs fans partying at Wrigley, and even saw a few people running down the street like they were going to miss the Trophy Ceremony at Grant Park or something.

“This is one crazy town!” my dad proclaimed as we drove toward I-94, weaving around a few vehicles we assume people left abandoned after the excitement of 100+ years spilled out into the streets of Chicago like a tidal wave from that movie about the end of the world.

“Yeah,” I looked at my father, “maybe we should wait till we get to Milwaukee before we stop for breakfast. Those guys over there are looking a little scary.” I pointed out a small group of drunks clumsily stumbling toward our car while stopped at a red light. As they stepped into the bathing glow of a streetlight, I could see that they were the worse for wear. Blood stained their skin, and their clothes had been ripped up. They looked like they were involved in a hell of a fight. I thought of my Dad’s warning from the night before. I finally got it.

The light turned green as the group got within about fifteen feet of our car, and Dad wasted little time in getting us going. We saw quite a few more drunks as we drove to the toll way. A few more people running as well. Dad flipped on the radio, Mike and Mike were arguing over whether or not the Cubs would be able to repeat this again next year. Greenie, a former Cubs reporter in his own right was saying that this was the one thing our city needed to start a long string of championships across all our sports. Golic, was simply antagonizing him, one of his favorite things to do.

Dad and I discussed the series at length. We must have broken down every pitch, at bat, and error, making excuses for some plays, and ridiculing others. We discussed our chances for next year, and my father exclaimed how good it felt to not have to say “There’s always next year” for the first time in his life.

We swung by a McDonalds just outside of Kenosha, waking the girls up just long enough to eat some breakfast before they fell blissfully back to sleep. Father and I continued our conversation, topics ranging from whether or not Bears new head coach Belichick would be able to carry Da Bears to the post season this year, to how school was going. It occurred to me that Dad and I have not had a chance to talk like this in a long time. I wasn’t going to spoil it by bringing that up; I just wanted to savor the moment.

We were nearing Milwaukee about seven a.m., and noticed an awful lot of traffic moving out of the city. It seemed rather odd to me that so many people would be leaving a city on a Monday morning, but my dad didn’t seem to think much of it. As we passed Wrigley North I could not help but notice a large crowd of people around the ballpark; it made me wonder if there was just as much celebration going on here as there was in Chicago. It wouldn’t really surprise me; the Cubbies had fans all over the country. That’s the thing about Cub fans. We just don’t seem to die.

Madison and Mom woke up shortly after we got out of Milwaukee. Once they got the sleep out of their eyes and gathered their bearings, they immediately started complaining about having to pee. The more Maddy moaned about it the more I had to go, which left Dad with no choice but to pull over at a Perkins so that we could all go. While we were there, my dad ordered 3 black coffees to go and an orange juice for Maddy. I joined him at the counter after I finished, he was trying to power down a sticky bun as I approached. When he saw me, he cut off a piece of the bun and handed it to me. “You didn’t see anything”

“Not a thing” I said as I slammed the hunk of cinnamon goodness in my mouth.

“Kinda slow in here, huh?” my father said quietly

I’d been looking around the restaurant and was a little surprised by how few people were eating. We have only been to Perkins a few times, but every time we have, it was usually a packed house. “I was just thinking that, must be a lot of people sleeping in today?”

“On a Monday?” Dad questioned. Just then Mom and Maddy appeared. Dad handed them their drinks, and we headed back to the car. Because Mom was now awake, she got the front seat with Dad and I was in the back with my sister.

The rest of the car ride was pretty uneventful. We played one of our favorite family road games were we each took turns reading road signs, or whatever we could find that had words or number on it. If you went 5 seconds without finding something you lost and had to solve a math problem from each person in the car. Every few miles or so we noticed a car or two parked on the side of the road with nobody around it. They became less frequent the further into the sticks we got, but none the less, it seemed weird to me.

****

We arrived at the cabin a little after two in the afternoon. It was a small 3 bedroom cottage in the woods right off a lake. It was very peaceful up here, and the nearest neighbor was a quarter mile away. The weather was still warm, unusually high temps for the season. It was not hot enough to go swimming in the lake, but it was more than comfortable. “High sixties today,” Dad said as we pulled onto the driveway “supposed to get to seventy-two tomorrow. Only down to about fifty tonight. We should have nice weather all week long.”

When the car came to a stop, Maddy and I burst through the doors heading toward our tree house. It wasn’t really a tree house, due to the fact that it was built on the ground, but it did have a tree going through the middle of it.

“STOP!!” came my mother booming voice. We only made it about 5 feet. “You will help us unpack the car before you go anywhere.”

Maddy and I went to the back of the truck and grabbed as much as we could; bags, coolers, blankets, pillows, fishing poles. We packed as much into our arms as we could and ran them into the house; put them in the rooms they were destined for, and grabbed the next load. Once everything was in the room it belonged in, we jet for the tree house. As we hopped off the front porch we could hear our father saying that we need to be at the fire pit by dusk, so that we could eat.

As soon as I saw the tree house I was overcome with memories from my childhood. We came up here every summer while we were kids. We stopped coming about 2 years ago, due to having other things to do during the summer. My dad came up once or twice a year just to keep the place in good repair, and get some fishing in. When I was six, and Madison was four, our parents brought us up here and there was suddenly a tree house in the back yard. My dad had built it as a surprise for us while he was doing his spring cleaning, and we spent almost every afternoon hanging out in it whenever we were up north.

Madison and I spent the next three hours talking about school, the city, how bad the Sox suck, and reminiscing about the times we had spent in this tree house. It was a great afternoon. I could not help but think about how little we hang out anymore. When we were younger we spend a lot of time together, but over the last few years, we have drifted apart. Sure we fought every now and again, but what siblings didn’t? Unlike the brothers and sisters you see on TV, we never really had any animosity, we just had our own things going on. Her with Cheerleading and Volleyball, me with Football and friends, we just never hung out any more. I really missed this. I silently cursed myself for going this long without realizing it and promised myself that I would make more time for my little sis in the near future. As the sun set we made our way over to the big stone fire pit that sat about half way between the house and the lake. Mom was using the small table top Dad had built years ago to dice up onions and tomatoes, while Dad stoked a fire into life. The cooler next to Ma had Vienna Beef hot dogs, a few pops, a bag of chips, and some of my Mom’s amazing mustard potato salad. Dad had some hot dog sticks ready to go, Mom had the mustard, and neon green relish lined up. Dad had a small rack over part of the fire with a pot of beans and some sauerkraut warming up. It does not matter where you are in life, there is only one way to eat a hot dog, you drag it through the garden, and keep ketchup as far away as possible.

The darkness settled in quickly as we cooked our dogs over the fire. We talked about how nice the cabin looked, and how long it had been since we have been up here, but mostly we just sat and enjoyed the cool crisp air and the heat of the fire against our skin. It was the kind of peaceful moment that rarely ever happened in the city. The air was silent, the breeze, when there was one, was light, and the occasional animal scurrying through the woods was the only disturbance while we ate. There was no TV, no radio, and mobile phone service was spotty at best, certainly not capable of data streaming. We were going to spend the next few days in total peace, and I could not be happier about it.

“Well kids,” Dad said his voice somehow perfectly in sync with the stillness of the night. “we better turn in early. It’s been a long day, and we need to get up good and early if we want any shot at catching some fish to eat tomorrow.”

“You and the kids can get up as early as you like, “Mom said practically interrupting my father. “I plan on sleeping in, and going to the grocery store to make sure we actually have some food to eat tomorrow!”

Dad shot her a quick glance, and Maddy jumped in. “oh no, not a chance you’re getting me to go fishing, not this time Pops!” Dad looked a bit hurt. I’m sure he didn’t really expect her to go, but he looked at her like he did.

“Fine, Jay, it looks like it’s just me and you then. That just means we get to keep all the walleye cheeks for ourselves!”

“Damn straight we do!” I replied with an ear to ear grin. I loved walleye, and the cheeks are a true delicacy!

“Why don’t you two city slickers try and catch a fish first, before you talk about who gets what.” Maddy teased.

“You might just be sharing a frozen fish stick cheek if you’re not careful.” Mom added.

Dad and I shot each other a confident glance and we all began to gather up or things. Dad threw the paper products in the fire, as Maddy, Mom and I took the rest of the stuff inside. After I placed the things I was carrying in the kitchen, I headed back outside to the fire pit where Dad was standing watching the last of the flames cling to life. We stood in silence for a moment and took in the beauty of our surroundings. The sky was clear the light of the full moon was bouncing off the almost perfectly still water, causing a mirror reflection of the night sky. I gazed in wonder at the number of stars in the sky. The city is always so bright that one can forget the stars exist.

“Dad,” I said softly as if the sound of my voice could shatter this perfect picture. “I’m really glad we came out here, I know how hard you work so that we can do things like this, and I just want you to know how much I appreciate it.”

“Jason, I have to say, having you guys up here with me is all the thanks a guy could ask for.”

****

By six A.M. Dad and I were in the boat, trolling out to where the fish finder told us was the best spot. This was not a particularly big lake, maybe two and a half miles in circumference. Big enough to water ski, and fish on though, and that was just about all we needed. From our vantage point we could see most of the houses that were on the lake.

“Looks like Mrs. Janakowski left her porch light on last night.” I said to my dad as we cast our lines into the water.

“Huh, I didn’t think she was here. She always drops by when we get into town. I figured she was back in Arizona for the winter.”

“Maybe she left it on when she left. She is getting up there in age, must be seventy by now. Few more years and she’ll catch up to you.” I jabbed.

“Watch your mouth, or you’ll be swimming home. Just the same, maybe after we pull back to shore, you should take a walk over there and she is she is home.”

“Yeah, I can do that.” I said, rather looking forward to it. Mrs. Janakowski was a window that spent her summer up here, but flew south for the winter. Whenever we were up here she would make us zucchini bread with fresh zucchini from her garden. It was one of my favorite treats, and it had been so long since I had been able to eat some.

Dad and I fished until about eleven o’clock, with a respectable 3 Walleye, 1 Northern Pike, and 5 Small Mouth Bass to show for it. That was three Walleye Cheeks a piece, and we could not be more pleased with our selves. By the time we got our haul back to the cabin, Mom and Maddy had returned from the store, and were already engaged in a game of Rummy. Mom hated playing Maddy in Rummy because “she sandbags” as she always put it.

“Wow sis, could you have any more pairs in their?” I said out loud as a shot my mother a devilish grin.

“Sandbagger” My mother said with a hint of disgust.

“Don’t hate on me just because you have not learned the secrets to this game yet Mom” Maddy said in retort.

They continued to go back and forth while I left the room and hopped in the shower. After I got dressed, I stuck my head out the door where my dad was on the front porch cleaning our catch. “I’m going to make a sandwich, you want one?”

Not just yet, I’m almost done here, then I’m going to take a shower myself, I’ll eat after that.”

I fixed myself some lunch and sat at the table where Mom and Maddy were still arguing over whether or not sandbagging was cheating. After I finished eating I grabbed my IPOD, and began the quarter mile hike through the woods to Mrs. Janakowski’s place. As I crossed her driveway I noticed the garage door was open and her car was parked in it. I knocked on the front door, but there was no answer. Knocking one more time, I peered in through the front window. There was no sign of her anywhere. I heard a muffled noise from the bedroom, sounded like she was sleeping, not quite a snore, but nothing that alarmed me. I chalked it up to an afternoon nap, and figured I’d come back tonight to check on her.

As I made my way back through the woods, a noise caught my attention, I looked to my left but saw no movement. I paused my IPOD and kept looking in the direction of the sound. After a moment I heard it again. It was a low whine, like an animal was hurt. I took a few steps toward the noise, cautious as I could be. I don’t know much about wildlife, but I do know that a wounded animal is a dangerous animal. As I approached the sound of the noise I could see the antlers of a full grown buck sticking up in the air. Curiosity pulled me closer as I could not imagine what could bring down a Buck like that up here. The buck was lying on its side, his abdomen ripped open like it was torn by a bear. There was small bite marks all over its body. I placed my hand near the buck’s skin, it still radiated heat. He must have just taken his last breath. There were bite marks on his neck, maybe even piercing his windpipe, but not opening it up. The strange part is that the bite marks were very small. Could not have been a very big animal at all. Like I said, I don’t know much about wildlife, but I knew enough that what I was looking at did not make sense.

When I got back to the cabin, I told my dad that Mrs. Janakowski must have been napping, and then I told him about the buck.

“Must be a pack of wolves or something, cubs, maybe. I don’t want you kids walking through the woods any more, If they took down a Buck like that, you sure as hell don’t stand a chance.”

“Dad, those did not look like any wolf bites I have ever seen.”

“And just how many wolf bites have you seen?” Dad challenged.

“Well, none I guess.”

“Just stay out of the woods”

Maddy and I went back to the tree house and spent the rest of the afternoon talking and play fighting and just being kids again. Dad fried the fish we caught, and Mom made some French fries to go with it. After dinner, we sat out by the fire, telling jokes, exchanging stories, and eating S’Mores. Before we knew it, 10:30 had rolled around and we were all ready to turn in. After cleaning up the mess and letting the fire die down we all went to our respective rooms, and said goodnight.

I was startled awake about two thirty in the morning by the sound of a muffled scream. I looked around my room, but saw and heard nothing. Just then a loud low moan cut through the silence. It sounded just like the moan I heard in the woods, but much louder. As the moan waned off I could hear the sound of choking. It was almost wet sounding, kind of like drowning in shallow water. Confused and scared I started to get out of bed. As my feet touched the floor I heard my mother scream louder and harder than I have ever heard anyone scream in my life. I felt my blood curdle in my veins. Immediately I ran from my room top my parents door. Without hesitation I swung the door open. For the rest of my days I will never forget the images and sounds of the scene in front of me at that moment, on that night.

Chapter 3

The door flung open and my eyes had to adjust from the dark hallway to the surprisingly brilliant moon light bathing the room. That first few moments seemed to stretch for an eternity. As my vision failed I was overcome by a booming silence; broken only by the faint humming of what sounded like what I had always imagined a pack of wolves feeding to sound. Under the low grumbling I heard the odd sound of gurgling, like air blowing through a puddle of motor oil. As the room slowly came into view; I could see three people hunched over my parents. My father lay completely motionless, while my mother only shook her foot, until at long last, the grueling stopped and her leg fell silent as well. An hour must have passed in the fifteen to twenty seconds I had been standing there yet I could not bring myself to move. My mind raced through every possible reason for what I was seeing, but could not come up with any. One of the men standing over my father was gnawing on his arm like it was a giant ear of corn, while the other was using his teeth to stretch the cartilage from his neck. The kid standing over my mom had worked his mouth down over her abdomen and was currently using his hands to clumsily lift one of her kidneys from a large hole he seemed to have dug out. The people paid no mind of me, they just kept eating.

“They’re dead, and if you don’t get moving you will be too.”

My brain finally came to a conclusion, and before I realized this had happened I was already running for Maddy’s room. The only thought I had left was to grab Maddy and get the hell out of there. I could not figure out what was happening, I just knew we had to leave. As I came to my sister’s door I stopped. What would I do if there were people in there as well? In all the confusion did I hear her scream? I stood there frozen. I had to see that she was ok, but I was terrified to find out she wasn’t. I could not decide what to do. I heard footsteps coming from my parent’s room. A loud thud snapped me back to reality and I grabbed the door knob, and pushed my way into the room, expecting to be face to face with… well I have no idea what with.

The room was dark and still, no gurgling, no humming, no screaming. Was I too late? I flipped on the light and Maddy shot straight up in her bed. “what the hell are you doing? What freaking time…”

Before she could finish her sentence I had grabbed her arm and was pulling her from her bed. “Mom and Dad are dead and we have to go!”

“What? What? Jay what…”

By the time she had stammered those words out we were in the hallway and saw one of Dads assailants stumbling down the hallway. When he caught sight of us he let out a low throaty piercing moan. Maddy just stood there staring at him in disbelief. I was over it. I started pulling on her arm, buts she seemed to fight me; just then the other two emerged from the bedroom and joined their leader in his slow speed pursuit. As they drew closer they stepped into the light from Maddy’s room and I got a good look at the leaders face. His skin was pale, but not gray. Almost like he had been surprised and the blood just ran out of it. His eyes were cloudy, but his pupils were big black pools of nothingness. It was terrifying. Blood stained his chin and jaw and there was a piece of something hanging in his teeth. I had never seen him before and I was not about to get acquainted now. I pulled hard on Maddy and she finally seemed to get the hint. She blew right past me and out the front door. I was no more than 5 feet behind her and when she leapt off the front porch and turned right, I knew exactly where she was heading. I had a bad feeling about going to the tree house, but everything else in me just saw the comfort in it.

It did not take long for me to catch up to Maddy and for a few dozen yards we kept pace, me just a few steps ahead of her. As I came to the door of the tree house, I noticed Maddy was not on my flank. That’s when I heard it. There was no scream. There was just a struggle. Maddy was grunting and struggling and when I saw her attacker, my knees buckled under me. My back against the wall of the tree house I slid down to my butt and stared as Mrs. Janakowski held my sister on her back one hand on Maddy’s face, the other holding her chest to the ground. Mrs. Janakowski raised her head high, and then drove her mouth around Maddy’s soft throat. In one fluid motion the old lady raised her head back up with my sisters windpipe in her mouth. Then I heard that grueling sound again, as Maddy fought in vein to take her last breaths. Mrs. Janakowski proceeded to devour parts of my sister as I sat there and watched. Why had I not done something to stop this? Why had I not thrown Mrs. Janakowski off my sister and ran her to freedom? I always imagined that if I were in a situation where the shit had hit the fan that I would be able to deal with it. That I would be able to be the hero. I sat there motionless and watched my sister’s corpse lay there… wait… where is Mrs. Janakowski?

I looked left and right, but I was still too terrified to stand up. My sister lay 15 feet in front of me, but her attacker was no longer with her. Then, not 3 feet from me I saw Mrs. Janakowski pulling herself to me. Her legs were gone past the knees so she could not walk. She was looking at me like she needed help. Her eyes cloudy, with those same large black pupils, not moving from my throat. A deep low rumbling moan escaped her mouth. I knew exactly what was going to happen. I knew my time was up. And I deserved it. I could not be enough of a man to save my family; I sure as hell did not deserve to save myself. I only hoped it would be quick. She was upon me now, her hands grabbing my legs to pull herself up. Instinct kicked in and I threw my hands up to guard my face, closed my eyes as tightly as my lids would go and waited for the inevitable.

Pressure

Pressure

The first thing I noticed was the force on which her jaws clamped around my arm. She had a tremendous bite. I felt her pulling on my skin, but no piercing. It was like pinching a large amount of skin and pulling it away. But there was no breaking of the skin. After a moment of this I opened my eyes. She had her mouth wrapped around the small of my fore arm, but was not ripping away flesh. She loosened her mouth to get a better grip and that’s when I saw it. She had no teeth. Her mouth was just gums. In shock I looked up at Maddy’s corpse and saw she was still dead. I looked back down at Mrs. Janakowski and she flashed those bloody gums at me again. Maddy’s blood. Something inside me snapped. It was like somebody painted the moon red, and its light washed over everything. I pushed Mrs. Janakowski off me, stood up and ran to the fire pit. Dad had left his hot dog skewers by the rocks. I grabbed one and made my way back to the tree house. Mrs. Janakowski was already crawling toward me. As I passed my sister, I stopped to take one last look at her. As my eyes started at her beautiful face and worked their way down, a twinkle caught my eye. There, embedded in Maddy’s thigh were Mrs. Janakowski’s dentures, dangling from a torn piece of flesh.

A hand grabbed my foot, I glanced down to see our neighbor on her side gumming my toes. Without so much as a second thought I raised the 3 foot skewer above my head and jammed it straight threw the old bags ear. I continued pushing downward until I had buried the first 3 inches of the pole into the ground. The old lady wiggled a little bit, just enough for her head to take a quarter turn around the skewer, but then her body stopped moving. It just collapsed on the ground and that was it. I kind of thought there would be a burst of flames, or a puff of ash, but there was nothing. Just two dead bodies.

Chapter 4

I stood there motionless, my gaze switching slowly between the dentures hanging from my sister’s thigh; to the old woman I knew growing up to be the zucchini bread lady. My mind could not grasp what I was seeing. Why would these people be attacking my family? Why did their eyes look so odd? Why is this happening to me? What the hell am I supposed to do now? I was still breathing heavy from the excursion of driving the skewer into Mrs. Janakowski’s head, and my mind was racing, searching for any possible explanation. I hear movement coming from behind me. I looked over my shoulder to see the man that killed my father stumbling toward me, my mother’s assailants about ten feet behind them. I grabbed the skewer with my right hand and tried to remove it from its sheath to no avail. I wrapped my left hand around it and pulled harder. The skewer came out of the ground but the old lady’s head came up with it. I glanced back; the other three were no more than 30 feet now. I placed my foot on Mrs. Janakowski’s head and pulled up on the skewer, freeing it with an audible pop, turned toward my new attackers and charged with all the rage still running through my veins. Running at full speed, I closed the gap between the leader of the pack and I; raising the skewer to chest level with both my hands, driving it through his chest plate with a sickening crack, as I moved past him on his right. I stopped and turned around to see the look of a man that did not seem to notice he had a large metal stake sticking out of his back. I stood, staring in disbelief, as a man was coming at me with outstretched arms flanking the large metal pole sticking out of his chest, not a foot away from me.

The moans from the other two behind me brought me back to reality; I turned and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. As I approached the fire pit, a gleam of light on the ground caught my eye. The other 3 skewers lay neatly against the rock of the fire pit. I stopped to grab them and took the moment to look back at my followers, expecting to see them closing in fast. They had not covered fifteen feet from where we were. I could barely make them out in the darkness. I had run nearly fifty yards and they had not picked up their pace a single step. They just continued to clumsily walk toward me, moaning that deep rumbling moan that I was coming to despise. I could not figure it out. If they were so dead set on killing me, why would they let me get away? Why would they not chase me? Are they toying with me? Do they believe that I have no means of escape? Have they sabotaged the car?

“What do you want from me?” I screamed into the night.

The moaning that was pouring out of them remained unchanged. As they creeped closer, I could see that they had tightened up their ranks, the gap between the leader and the other two was down to about four feet. I stood my ground as they came closer, twenty yards away now, trying to figure out my next play. I had to assume the car was busted, leaving me only one real chance to escape. That would mean running several miles until I reached any signs of civilization. The only other option would be to stand and fight. I had three more skewers, and there were three of them, but how to do fight something that has a metal stake through its chest and not seem to care? I decided I can no longer call these things people, as any person would be lying dead after that strike.

15 yards.

I thought back to Mrs. Janakowski. The skewer went through her head and that seemed to work, maybe they could only be killed by a head shot? That made almost no sense, but it was what the limited information I had on the situation pointed to. So that settles it, if I try to fight them I will aim for the head.

10 yards.

The moon light bounced off the skewer hanging from the leader’s chest with each step he took. It was almost like a beacon, taunting me, begging me to try and hit him again. The flash continued with each slow step, and with each little twinkle of my failed kill attempt I became angrier. I want answers, I want my parents back, I want Maddy back, I want revenge!

I charged the leader once again, this time I was aiming for the head. I held the skewer as level as I could; pointing the sharp tip right at his eyes. The tip of the skewer bounced off his skull and flew out of my hands, the force caused the thing to stagger backwards and I noticed a deep gash on his forehead, his thick skull not allowing the weapon to penetrate into the soft gray matter behind it. I caught my balance before he did and was shocked when he didn’t even flinch at my attack. That really pissed me off. I grabbed the handle of the skewer in his chest, planted my foot into his soft abdomen and pulled as hard as I could. The skewer slid out of him with almost no effort, and I fell backwards, landing flat on my ass. The force of my kick had knocked him back into the other guy with him stopping him from falling himself. The skewer coming out of him caused a splatter of blood to come with it, several drops of which had hit my face; thick curdled blood was oozing from the hole in his chest made me gag. It was only a second before he was lumbering over me. I rolled backwards onto one knee and stood up with every ounce of force I could muster, driving the point of the skewer through the underside of his jaw and coming to a quick stop at the top of his rock hard skull. I had really hoped to see the skewer sticking out the top of his head like you do in all those movies, but the end result was just as good.

The creature stopped moaning, and suddenly the dead weight of his body was collapsing onto me, causing me to stumble and fall onto my back. The other two things dropped to their knees on either side of me and started to grab at my arms. I swung and fought until I could wiggle myself away far enough to grab another skewer. I did not have enough room to pull back and drive the shaft through an ear so I did the next best thing. I used the handle of the skewer to bash in the side of the woman’s head, backing her up just enough for me to roll onto my knees. She was on her back and the other guy was crawling over the corpse of his leader as if he were just some small obstacle in the path of a buffet. Quickly, I drove the skewer through her neck, just left of center, pinning her to the ground. She twitched and pulled and did not deviate at her attempt to reach me. Her arms reached for me and her mouth kept snapping as if she were hoping I would stick my foot in her mouth for her to gnaw on. The other skewer was ten feet off to my left and my other dance partner was coming at me from the same direction. I had to get around him if I had any hope of getting to that skewer. I charged the thing that was coming at me, lowered my shoulder and knocked it off its feet. As I collided with it, I could feel something hard brush the back of my neck, and a sharp pain just under the spot where the back of the skull ends. Fearing the worst I grabbed the back of my head expecting the sticky wet blood running down my fingers. My head was soaked, but when I looked my fingers glistened in the moonlight, but it was clear. Sweat had coated my fingers and a huge feeling of relief washed over me.

I reached back quickly and grabbed the skewer, the thing was coming at me again and I had full intention of driving the skewer through his eye socket. As I swung my arm around to the front, the smooth wooded handle slid out of my wet fingers and the skewer went flying into the night. The thing was coming at me, and I had no weapon. As he took a step closer I caught the gleam of the skewer embedded in the leaders jaw. I side stepped my attacker and quickly grabbed the pole from the leaders jowls, and buried it firmly into the soft spot in the back of the other guy’s head, right under the skull. The force drove him to his knees and then after one last moan escaped his lips he fell forward, his face making a nice imprint into the grass. I took a survey of the two dead bodies, completely surprised at myself for what I had been able to do when I heard the struggles of the woman behind me. I turned around and saw her pawing at the ground, still lying on her back, trying with everything she had to get to me. I almost felt sorry for her. I just watched her for a moment.

I was relieved to find that I did not take any joy out of her suffering. I had read somewhere that once you kill your first person; it just gets easier and easier. It gets to the point that the murder can become like a game you enjoy playing. In the span of the last fifteen minutes I had laid to rest three people. Sure I did it out of self-defense, but I killed three people none the less, and I did not take pride in it. It did not seem like a rational thought, but I was proud of the fact that I was not proud. I don’t know how long I was standing there, but it could not have been more than a minute. The lady was still trying to reach me. She was clawing at the ground and using her body to inch her way. The skewer in her neck was holding her tight to the ground, but she would not give up. What incredible drive this woman must have had.

I took a moment to look at her; she could not have been more than thirty years old. Obviously the years had not been kind to her. I took a couple steps closer to her, and it seemed with every inch I moved her thrashing got more intense. She was trying to let out her moans, but the metal in her neck was stifling them. I was two paces from her when, with one last powerful lurch forward, she ripped her neck off the skewer. Startled I stumbled back, falling to my ass on the ground, watching in horror as her head and mouth continued to snap at me, while her body lay almost motionless. Almost all of the muscles on the left side of her neck were severed, and her spinal column was visibly frayed. Her body and arms twitched with attempted motion, but with all of the spinal damage, she had very little control. I stood back up and approached her again. She kept trying to snap at me with her mouth. I walked over to the guy bent over in the grass and placed my foot on his back, grasping the skewer with my right hand and slowly pulling it out of his neck and made my way back to the woman. I knelt down a foot or so away and drove the skewer through the open area of her throat and up into her brain, ending her suffering.

By this point I was exhausted. I knew I should be morning my family, or feeling something for all the death, but the only thing I could think about was getting to civilization and finding help. I was hoping I could find some answers. I was hoping I could find anything. It was ten miles to the town center; there I would be able to speak to the police. It would be a long walk, but I needed the time to clear my head. I had a lot going on and just wanted to sort through it. I went back to the house to grab a pair of socks and shoes. I threw on a shirt and headed out. As I came to the drive way I glanced at the car. I had assumed that the people had sabotaged it, but looking at it, I thought maybe they were some kind of creature. Maybe they were not capable of destroying the car. I looked over the outside of the car for any sign of damage I could find. Tires were intact, no broken glass, not a scratch on it. I ran back into the house and grabbed the keys. I had a learners permit and had logged a few road hours, plus after the night I had, I don’t think anybody would give me flack for getting behind the wheel without a licensed driver in the car tonight. As I pulled out of the driveway, I noticed the sun rising in the east. I took this as a good sign.

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