Do you believe in Zombies?
T. J. Edison.
On All Hallows Eve, four 18-year-old grammar school pupils sat around a cut-out pumpkin, lit-up by an electric lantern, on the floorboards, in the confines of a barn’s loft.
“Any of you lot believe in zombies,” asked ginger-haired Jamie Maguire, and took a swig from his bottle of Guinness.
Jean, blond-haired and blue-eyed, seated next to him, looked at Peter, rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah, sure, and vampires and werewolves.”
“No, really,” he said, “not that there are any, but do you believe there could be, in somewhere like Transylvania.”
“You dickhead,” said blond-haired Pete Armstrong, cricket team captain and school heartthrob, sitting on Jean’s left, “that’s where Dracula comes from.”
Jack Billings said, “I believe -,” and stopped and looked up as there came a scratching noise from the barn’s roof. “What’s that noise,” he said, staring up at the loft ceiling.
“Is somebody on the roof,” asked Jean, wide-eyed and open-mouthed as she glanced at the other two, her eyes resting on Pete.
“Dunno,” said Jack, “sounded like it though,” and brushed his dark locks off his forehead.
“Jamie, help me,” came the plaintiff voice once more, accompanied by the scratching.
“Shit,” said Jamie, “that’s my sister, Helen.”
“I thought she was at the Thompsons’ with my brother,” said Jean, her brow creased.
Pete stared up at the spot by the roof trapdoor where the persistent scratching was coming from. “Piss off, Zombie freak,” he called out and grinned at Jean, who blushed and lowered her gaze.
Jack placed a hand on Jamie’s shoulder. ”Ignore it, Jamie,” he said, “Somebody’s taking the piss.”
“Helen, is that you?” said Jamie, his brow tense, pushing Jack’s aside as he stood up.
“Jamie, help me,” said the voice.
“What’s she doing on the roof?” said Jack and winked at Pete.
“Could be a zombie trap,” said Pete, “they can imitate other people’s voices,” and sniggered.
“Open the trapdoor, they could be after her,” said Jamie, concern lining his features.
“No,” screamed Jean in mock fear, “the fucking zombies are on the march, it’s Halloween don’t you know,” she said and hid a smile.
“Course we know, that’s why we’re hidin’ here, to surprise Joe when he comes to milk the cows,” said Pete, “You don’t believe that shit about the walkin’ dead do you, Jamie?”
“Course not,” he said.
“So, what’s your stupid sister doin’ on the barn roof,” said Pete.
Jamie rounded on him, “She isn’t stupid, you twat, just cos she wouldn’t go out with you.”
Jean called out, “Helen, is that you?” and raised a finger to her lips.
“Yes,” came the subdued answer.
“Where have you been?” she said and muffled a snigger.
“At the Thompsons’ Halloween party,” was the answer.
“Who were you with at the party?” asked Jean, grinning now.
“Where is Charlie now?” she said and held her hands to her mouth to stifle her laughter.
“Here, with me.”
“What do you want, Helen?” said Jack and grinned with the others, “Are you after brain?”
More scratching, this time at the trapdoor, “Open the door, please,” said the voice.
Jamie jumped onto the small stack of hay bales and crouching, reached up to the bolted trapdoor. “Okay, sis, I’m coming,” he said and winked at the others.
“Oh, my God, he’s goin’ to open the door,” said Pete, his hands clasped to his face to hide his grin, “Somebody stop him.”
“What are you doing, Jamie,” said Jean in mock horror, as they all stood up. She looked at the other two, her eyebrows slightly clenched, Pete shrugged his shoulders and Jack slowly shook his head.
“Don’t do it, Jamie,” she said.
Jamie ignored her and slid the bolt back and pushed the door open. He stretched through the gap and they heard Jamie say, with the top half of his body hidden, “Helen, Charlie, what are you -,” followed by silence.
Then an ear-splitting scream filled the air as Jamie’s legs shook rapidly.
Pete scoffed, “Stop fartin’ about, Jamie. You ain’t scarin’ us.”
Jean yelped as Jamie’s feet left the hay bale, kicking and trampling as if trying to run, and then his legs disappeared altogether and there was a crunching sound and a shower of blood sprayed the others below.
Jean screamed, “It’s blood, real blood, I can smell it” and brushed at her skirt and blouse.
“Fuck this,” said Pete and sprang onto the bale and grabbed the trapdoor handle and pulled down. A grey-skinned, claw-like hand reached inside and grabbed his other wrist, pulling it through the narrowing opening. His body lifted off the bales and his shoulder rammed repeatedly against the door frame as his body jerked up and down. He screamed, “Let go, let go of me, get off - Aaaagh,” he screamed and fell to the floor his empty arm socket spraying Jack and Jean with blood.
Jack grabbed a piece of sacking and covered Pete’s wound, pressing down hard.
“Some bastard bit me,” gasped Pete, his face white.
Jean stared around the loft and kicked at a bale of straw. “What the fuck’s going on, is this a wind-up, cos this is too fucking real,” she shouted.
“Zombies,” said Jack his face blank, as Pete’s eyes rolled back.
She grabbed Jack by the shoulders and shook him. “There’s no such thing,” she said, “but there’s a bleeding maniac on the roof with an axe or machete, so do something, Jack, for fuck’s sake.”
Jack looked down at Pete’s features now white, his eyes staring. “He’s stopped breathing,” he said.
“Oh my god,” she said and knelt by the body as Jack rose up and discarded the bloody sacking.
Her hands smoothed back Pete’s hair and she caressed his waxen features.
“You know what they say about people bitten by Zombies,” said Jack, his fingers playing with his lips as he stared at her.
She turned her head, “What the fuck are you on about, bleeding zombies, there’s no such thing, and you are out of your tiny mind, Jack Billings.”
He giggled somewhat hollowly and said, “They become Zombies too,” and giggled once more.
She sat back on her heels, her mini-skirt rising above her stockings, displaying her suspenders. “Bollocks, Jack Billings, you’ve been reading too many horror stories.”
“No, its true, their skin turns grey and their eyes sink inside their skulls, just like Pete’s.” He giggled once more and pointed at the body, “Look at him.”
She shook her head, deciding to ignore him and turned back to Pete, whom she’d always had a secret crush on. She looked at his eyes, no longer a soft Hazel. They were darker and they had sunken into his skull, and were now staring at her.
She regarded his lips, still kissable despite their greyish tinge, and she lowered hers to them and kissed him gently, her tongue slipping inside his mouth. Her heart leaped as he returned the kiss and squeezed his bloated tongue inside her mouth, and partly down her throat and out again. He bit her lower lip as they kissed once more, just a nip, enough to draw blood at which he licked. She was in heaven, at last he had noticed her and she saw their future in her minds eye, an eternity together, as he held her to him with his lips glued to hers.
Jack ignored them, walked off and climbed up onto the bales and examined the trapdoor. He reached up, lifted it tentatively and peered through the crack. He closed it and slid the bolt back in place.
He brushed the dust off his fingers, sighed and climbed down. He turned and faced Jean and Pete as they stood staring sunken-eyed at him. He nodded and said as he looked them over, “Well, how about that then; just as I said, Zombies.”
Jean said, “Jack, please forgive me for doubting you; now come here and give me a kiss, then we’ll go look for Helen, Charlie and Jamie and join the celebrations.”
“Yeah, sure,” he said, as he slipped his hand behind his back and under his sweatshirt and around the grip of .44 Magnum tucked inside his Jeans waistband.