The undead are with us.
They have clawed their way across the face of human history since the ancient times, and have left their mark upon the eons.
We have here for your perusal, twenty-two accounts of how the undead have gnawed across the pages of history from Ancient Egypt to Marquis DeSade. From the the Book of the Undead to the Necronomicon. Famous events, like the Beatles on tour, the Lizzie Borden case, and JFK in Dallas; to more recent events have been visited by our alternate zombie history authors.
There’s something here for all fans of zombie fiction. Past, present, and even some future history collide with the flesh and brain consuming undead hordes.
And Happy Halloween from The Were-Traveler.
Given the choice, I’d prefer the company of zombies to hippie protesters. Zombies smell better and there’s no law against shootin’ ‘em. – Governor George C. Wallace
The zombie epidemic will not hinder our efforts in Vietnam. America will prevail at home and abroad. – President Lyndon Johnson
Zombies are the ultimate Commies. – Governor Ronald Reagan
“Hunter Stockton Thompson.” The fat cop reads my name aloud like a mad mother about to smack her child.
“You the fellah that wrote that book on the Hell’s Angels?” he asks me as he inspects my driver’s license, holding it at arms length, his expression the pained look of a man in need of a good bowel movement. He’s looking at my ’67 Chevy Impala, the Great Red Beast, and I bet he wants to check the car for marijuana, but if he does the pig is going to be disappointed, because I smoked the last of my grass somewhere north of Shreveport.
“The one and only, sir,” I say with a sarcastic flourish.
“What brings you to Louisiana, Mr. Thompson? We don’t have no Hell’s Angels around here.”
“I want to see some of that southern hospitality I’ve heard so much about. I’m on vacation.” I don’t tell him that I’m on my way to New Orleans to check out the hippie scene down there for a piece for Rolling Stone. With the West Coast under marshal law, Haight-Ashbury has lost its buzz, and word is that the Big Easy is the new place for free love and psychedelic drugs.
The cop lets me go with a warning about my speed – “You ain’t ridin’ with the Hell’s Angels no more, Mr. Thompson” – and tells me about the wildlife.
“We got it good in these parts compared to a lot of other places, but we still got zombies walking around the hills here. Be careful. And keep your car doors locked.”
I see the fat cop grinning in my rearview mirror as I drive away. I light up a cigarette and dig out the Colt handgun that I hid under the seat. Louisiana’s Highway 1 stretches before me like a long asphalt snake and I point the Great Red Beast south and hit the accelerator, Nawlins or Bust.
My windows are rolled down and Conway Twitty is playing on the radio. It’s a hot August day and I’m in the middle of enemy territory, not Vietnam but the crazy world of Old Dixie. George Wallace’s political signs are everywhere along the highway, and it’s a sure bet he’ll carry this state, along with the rest of the Deep South in this year’s Presidential election. Was the Summer of Love just a year ago? And now Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King are dead, most of America is under martial law, and Wallace looks like a real contender.
The old lady sitting in the rocking chair in front of the gas station is holding a double barrel shot gun in her lap while she fans herself. Pretty much everybody in these parts is packing a gun. It explains why this part of the country isn’t as infested with zombies as the rest of the nation. America, take note – the Second Amendment saved the South.
A skinny teenage redneck comes out to pump gas into the Great Red Beast. I walk into the station and buy a Coke to cool off. Stuffed zombie heads are mounted on the wall, and for a dime you can buy a genuine zombie tooth necklace.
“I think Wallace has the right idea,” I hear the bearded man behind the counter tell his customer. “Just round up the damn things and drop them on Hanoi.”
His rotund customer agrees and adds a fresh insight. “Yep, he should do the same thing with the hippies and the coloreds.”
I hate to interrupt heady political conversation, but I need to empty my bladder so I ask about the restrooms. The bearded man looks at me with suspicion. I’m sure his cognitive gears are turning, trying to determine whether the foreign invader that stands before him is worth the cost of a bullet, but as I don’t look like a zombie, a hippie or a colored he relents and points me outside in the direction of a nearby outhouse.
As I finish my business in the outhouse, I ponder the irony of a culture able to hold back a zombie epidemic but unable to install indoor plumbing. Last year’s zombie outbreak shut down most of America, with the Army coming in to keep things running, but Old Dixie just broke out the guns and held its own. The rest of America may be going through a new Dark Age, but Old Dixie never left the old one, so praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
Walking away from the outhouse I expect to smell the fragrant north Louisiana pine, but the outhouse smell lingers longer than it should, and that’s when I notice the smell isn’t coming from the outhouse.
My heart kicks up the beat like a drummer on speed when I see the zombie. Judging from his movements and the fresh blood stains on his shirt, the black teenage boy is a fresh one. The older zombies are pretty slow, but the fresh ones can sprint. The zombie teenager might be able to catch me if I start running but I don’t have a choice. The Colt and the Great Red Beast are about 70 feet away, and I’m back here alone.
The zombie starts running for me. His eyes are blood red and his teeth are stained with the blood of his last victim. I turn and run towards my car as fast as I can, screaming like a maniac the whole time. I’m praying to God and promising Him that if he gets me out of this jam I’ll always bring a gun with me when I go to the toilet.
I fly past the store and see the Great Red Beast. The teenage redneck has finished pumping gas and is wiping the windshield. He sees me and the zombie coming towards him and he starts running. I don’t dare look back but I know the zombie is right behind me. This is going to be a photo finish.
I reach the car and pull the lever on the car door. I don’t even make it inside the car when I hear the shotgun go off. I turn and see the zombie on its knees, with the old lady out of her rocking chair, holding the double barrel to her shoulder. She moves in closer, points the shotgun at the zombies head, and with a trigger squeeze Granny puts the monster out of its misery and saves my life.
The bearded man and his customer come running out of the gas station.
“Momma, you got you another one,” says the bearded man.
“It’s a zombie and a colored,” says the customer. “Good shootin’.”
The bearded man asks me if I’m all right. I regain my composure and light a cigarette. I tell him I’m fine. He offers to give me the zombie’s teeth if I want them as a souvenir. I pass on the offer, and thank the old lady for saving my life.
“These are the end days,” she responds with a crazed look in her eyes. “God is coming to judge us. The Devil is walking the Earth, and only the righteous will be saved.”
I can’t disagree, so I politely nod and excuse myself to pay for the gas. As I drive off, I think about Granny’s words. Everybody has their theory about what caused the zombie epidemic. Mutant virus. Communist plot. Wrath of God. The last one is just a valid as any of the others, because nobody knows the answer. It’s heavy stuff to think about when you’re driving alone on a long southern highway towards the New Sodom, and I wish I had some grass to smoke.
After years of hunting monsters and fighting ninjas, globetrotting adventurer Reed Beebe has retired to a quiet Kansas City, Missouri neighborhood to write fiction and poetry. This is his first published work. He is still trying to figure out Twitter, but if you’re patient and forgiving, you can follow him at http://twitter.com/ReedBeebe.
Looking down you would only see a part of the story. You would see a priest chasing the monster through the near deserted streets. Behind the priest is what passes for a policeman in these new times, a gun strapped to his waist but not registered. These two men would be racing by upturned bins and broken city shops to chase a monster. In the eyes of the scattered folks in what used to be the capital of the country, maybe even the world, these two men are the heroes.
What are they chasing?
If you look closer, in amongst the alleyways and shadows, a monster lunges and lurks and staggers. It is a thing from old comic books, groaning theatrically, with arms outstretched. It is a man, or used to be, but even that is hard to place in a glance. The face has been erased through disease, the skin putrid. Everything about the creature smacks of death, though it is clearly still living, if indeed, living is what you call this sorry state. It shambles and rambles and is a horror movie cliché, back when movies still existed. It is a boogieman to scare the children who stray too far from the porch at dusk.
And yet, if you were to study this monster’s eyes you would see a surprising thing. The pupils dilate and the irises and corneas are still in the socket, where they should be. But there is more to it than that. Look closer and you would see something that is oddly missing from our heroes, devoid in the most basic form: passion. The creature- termed as ‘zombie’ by the few men and women left in the street and ‘un-dead’ by the more learned men who still, albeit underground now, have their laboratories and carry out their experiments- has a fierce light burning that sets it apart from the others in this story.
As the monster pushes back against the brick wall of the alley, it clutches something to its chest. Remember, now, this is not the stuff of hackneyed high-school tales; it is not a human head or child’s hand. No, what the creature clutches is a patch of cloth. The cloth came from a dress, a dress worn by someone, something, dear to the monster. In the world before The Event his name was Daniel Mears, a single man and unhappy. After becoming infected, he fell in love. The thought of the creatures having feelings outside of hunger is an alien concept to the priest and the fake policeman. If someone were to tell them this fact, the priest would dismiss it with an angry wave of the hand and the policeman would laugh and later turn it into a dirty joke to tell the people he pretends are his friends. And yet, it is true.
The monsters are the heroes in this story.
After The Event, the uninfected lived a life of ragged opulence; they stole for there were no longer rules; they screwed and drank and took all manner of drugs because people, when offered a life with no consequences, always choose the most obvious pleasures. No-one travelled freely, or claimed priceless works of art just to admire in their broken homes. No, the men and women took and consumed and when they found resistance, took again, by force. The few good people were first outnumbered and then dispatched. To offer themselves respectability, the men and women made the creatures their enemy and more importantly, a threat.
But was this really true?
The infected did not seek out human meat and most subsided on shrubs and plants. One city, rife with trash, was cleaned within weeks by the un-dead and on the whole, the planet became a healthier, more vibrant place, through both the monsters hunger for rubbish and the total lack of man made pollution. A joke sits uncomfortably inside these facts, doesn’t it? No, the creatures did not attack on any level, unless assaulted first and even then, their form of self-defence was meek. They did not bite or ravage, but merely flail, trying to bat away their opponent with weak arms or frail legs. It was not a contest.
So what did the creatures do?
They gravitated to each other. Below, in their bunkers, the scientists observed and became fascinated by the monsters innate ability to find each other. Within weeks of the event, settlements had been established, where the un-dead came together and…dwelled. To the men and women, it would have been a scene of horror and low comedy; the monsters staggering aimlessly and groaning as if in complaint. To the scientists below, it was a revelation to follow the moans as they became a form of speech. The tone and length of a sound indicated agreement, expression; sometimes displeasure, or even love. The brushing, which the men and women mistook for clumsiness, was in itself, a form of contact, of friendship. What else, the scientists pondered, was the human handshake?
A community borne out of tragedy began.
It should have been the men and women. Humanity should have been forged from the darkness and brought new light. Instead, all it harboured was addiction and need. The human enclaves took on a form nothing short of debauched squalor. It was the stuff of Roman times in their antics, although it differed from that period in their total lack of regard for the future. No, in these hellish places, the survivors set about destroying themselves with a new relish unseen for generations, while on the outskirts, the monsters gathered.
This was where the community lay. To the untrained eye, the areas were little more than tin shacks and dirt and yet, underneath ran certain logic. The shacks were sturdy and withstood the unpredictable weather. Their location was well judged, situated around fresh water and natural food supplies. A survivor comedian alluded to their seeming lack of intelligence with a trademark joke: ‘those crazies don’t fear nothin’ except…you know…can openers.’ Yet, the creatures ate from the land and pinpointed, in their own way, ongoing resources. The comedian, in his castle, ate from dwindling cans and discovered he was slowly dying from bodily infections.
In the months after The Event, these communities grew and prospered in their own way, until the low murmur of groans became an almost settled hum. To an untrained human ear, it may have sounded like contented bees going about their work. No addictions slowed their progress; no bad attitude hampered their work. Slowly, they began to find a purpose again, until even that tiny part of their mind that still mourned for a previous life stilled, and found a sort of peace.
And so, the humans sought revenge.
It was thought that it began with the church, embarrassed at its ineffectual nature and dis-heartened with the men and women delighting in their heathen practises. But this, in fact, was a lie. It began, as most human endeavours did before and after The Event, out of boredom. One day, a gang of men and women, seeing a community of creatures, went about picking them off, one by one, with high powered rifles. As they did, their cheers could be heard echoing for miles. Their high-fives were vigorous and when the community had been utterly stilled, they rutted in triumph, passing each other around like party favours and ripping open cans of beer and popping champagne corks in celebration. In that moment, this new practise of killing as entertainment began.
It became a craze, perhaps the first new fashion-trend since The Event. Bereft of glossy magazines and celebrities, the idea of any new entertainment was seized upon with an enthusiasm. A loosely styled guideline was established, scoring marks for the most kills, extra points for headshots, etc. etc. Soon, celebrity was back on the agenda. One prolific marksman, ‘Jed 27,’ had his tag sprayed from wall to wall and soon became the new world’s first hero. Over time, people were soon appraised by the style of their rifle, their numbers on the board. In this way, a new class system was established, with the most proficient killers as elite.
The communities dwindled and took to the shadows. Gone were the times when they could establish themselves by fresh water and almost daintily scoop flowers in their broken hands and marvel at their simple beauty. No, all such times of calm and happiness were erased with that first shot. They bickered for the first time, more out of fear and confusion than anger at each other. Even in their reduced state, they raged at the injustice of their plight. Soon, relationships were broken, either through human extermination or bewilderment and the creatures were on the verge of destruction, either through elimination or their own squabbling disenchantment.
It was the creature clutching the piece of cloth to what was once its heart-and now, was again, in its own way-which saved them. It was furious like all the other’s, but burned with something else, something deeper: vengeance. A lot of the practicalities of their community stemmed from this creature’s simple guidance. Something logical remained in its hollowed brain and guided them when needs required. Now, the creature was a thing split in two: the cold logic of new plans burning and accelerating in the fibres of its ruined skin and pure, utter vengeance.
The creature gathered them in the shadows and the filth. In the dirt, it traced circles and squares. These were instructions; basic and simple and brilliant. The others shambled forward and nodded in imperceptible agreement. The creature looked around them and stepped up to each, its eyes gleaming and more…alive than any of the others. It straightened the shoulders on one and tightened the fingers on another. To each comrade, it offered an improvement, an instruction, something that made each of them more than it had been just moments before. Each of them complied not out of subservience but with willingness. By the time the creature had returned to the master-plan scrawled in dirt something had changed. The rabble had become an army.
And so, we return to the first scene in this story. The monster, clutching the cloth to its chest stands in the alleyway, seemingly worn down and exhausted. The priest and the wannabe policeman confront it in the mouth of an alleyway and each scream in triumph. They watch the hapless thing slump around a final corner and slow to an easy walk, complacent in victory. The policeman draws his weapon, the priest withdraws a knife that has been tucked inside a well worn bible and the two grin in a fashion that makes them look more unnatural than any un-dead creature. Together, they turn the corner.
The army is waiting for them.
The screams that follow are brief but incredible. In far off pockets of the city, men and women prick their ears away from their hobbies and listen. In amongst the fog and haze of their brains, they wonder what they have just heard. Some look out of smeared windows, others return to their excesses but all of them have registered that first scream. One or two wait for a few moments, expecting something else to occur. When it does not, they breathe a sigh of relief but cannot quite shake that ear-piercing scream from their heads. In amongst their befuddled minds, they recognise it for what it was: a warning.
The creature stills the army when the task is complete. A few surge towards the city but are stopped by the creature as it stamps a foot fiercely into the concrete. It will not be a single attack. It would leave them exposed for one thing; it would not be wholly satisfying, for another. Instead, the creature points in various directions and the army disperses, exploring routes and accessing tunnels, learning to adapt to their new environment as they did before. Gone are the searches for fresh water streams, however; gone are the simple discoveries of new shrubs and berries to eat. Now, their home is in the city and their food will have bones to pick and flesh to strip.
And in that way, the creature becomes the monster the men and women have always claimed to fear.
Chris is an English teacher in Greece. He has been published over 350 times in the past year, in everything ranging from horror to drama and also including children’s literature and is currently working on a full-length novel. His influences include Stephen King and Ray Carver. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Auschwitz, Poland - The barracks were stifling hot in June of 1944. The food was rancid and water was usually contaminated. Death was common.
The rampant suffering and disease made a perfect laboratory for Dr. Josef Mengele.
Mengele tortured and mutilated the inmates of the concentration camp in his irrational desire for medical immortality. In pursuit of his goal, Mengele meticulously isolated, categorized and stored diseased tissue samples from hundreds of prisoners
His latest experiment was Silvie Greenbaum, a 36-year seamstress. Greenbaum suffered from tuberculosis and dysentery. Mengele designed experiments on Greenbaum to observe the symptoms following the injection of a cocktail of diseased cells. A gruesome death was the expected outcome.
Without mercy, the Angel of Death injected the conscious woman and began jotting notes in his journal. Within seconds convulsions began. Bleeding from the nose and ears was copious. Respiration varied from rapid to shallow in increasingly short periods of time.
The woman tried to scream from the pain but a gurgling moan was the only sound she could make.
Silvie Greenbaum took ten minutes to die.
Mengele turned his back and began updating his record books. He heard a shuffling noise behind him and assumed it was the guard becoming impatient. But when Mengele heard a howl of anguish., he whirled around in his seat to find Silvie Greenbaum eating the brains of the guard.
Mengele recoiled in horror and screamed for help. Additional guards rushed into the laboratory. Seeing what was happening they fired dozens of rounds at Silvie Greenbaum but she would not die. One of the guards named Klein got too close to the undead woman and she nipped him on the shoulder.
By happenstance a random bullet found Greenbaum’s head and she fell dead for the second time and finally found peace.
And like Silvie Greenbaum, Klein, the guard, reanimated a few minutes later and infected six more guards before Mengele ran to the graveyard shouting instructions to shoot them in the head.
During the following week, Josef Mengele successfully repeated his experiment five times. In each case the only way to stop the reanimated victim was a bullet to the head.
Satisfied, the doctor called the fuehrer in Berlin.
“Mein fuehrer,” Mengele announced to Hitler. “I have invented our Doomsday weapon.”
Berlin, Germany - At that very moment Hitler was planning the Ardennes offensive scheduled for December of 1944. But in his heart-of-hearts Hitler knew the German position was hopeless. The best the could hope for from the counteroffensive strategy was time to develop a Doomsday Weapon.
In the warped mind of Adolf Hitler if he could not have the world, he would insure no one could survive in it.
German scientists and engineers worked feverishly across the country on weapons as varied as atomic bombs and chemical weapons. Hitler was not surprised, however, to learn that Dr. Mengele had invented the weapon first. The man’s insane genius was already legendary.
Hitler named the creatures zombies after an undead monster in Haitian folklore.
He then called the doctor and ordered him to create enough of these monsters for a division by the first of the year, a total of ten thousand zombies.
Dr. Mengele agreed without hesitation. Auschwitz closed shortly thereafter.
Teddington, London - General Dwight Eisenhower first heard rumors of a successful Nazi Doomsday weapon from French and Belgium resistance fighters. Initial reports were vague but seemed to focus on some kind of super-soldier, one who was almost impossible to kill.
But, Eisenhower reasoned, if Hitler had super-soldiers, why not use them against the Allies? So he dismissed the notion as sheer speculation. Yet reports persisted. And they became more specific.
So-called zombies were being manufactured by the thousands somewhere in Poland and being stockpiled in warehouses near Berlin. These zombie things were unreasoning beings, uncontrollable and useless as soldiers; in other words, they were monsters.
General Eisenhower was still far from convinced. So he contacted Wild Bill Donovan, the head of the Office of Strategic Services. He issued a terse order to the OSS.
“Capture a zombie and return it to England.”
Berlin, Germany - Mickey Macgruder and Larry Wilson parachuted into a village near Berlin. Armed with only pistols they made their way towards Berlin quietly and quickly. Their maps showed the way to the warehouse district.
When the two spies reached the area they found dozens of warehouses and were uncertain how to locate their targets. But several of the warehouses were brightly lit so Macgruder and Wilson tried them first.
They found a couple of ladders and climbed to the second story of a building. As they approached the window a horrendous din came from within. The men peered into the open window to a sight unlike any horror ever on Earth.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of zombies were tightly packed into a single room. With no benches or chairs the snarling creatures lurched mindlessly around the room colliding with one another unnoticed.
There was no way to know exactly how the zombies detected the spies. Perhaps one of them saw them at the window or maybe they smelled the humans. In any case the mass of bodies swarmed over each other trying to reach the window.
Macgruder and Wilson watched in terror as the things neared the window by climbing on the bodies of other monsters. Finally they retreated but not before Wilson was scratched by one of the zombies.
When they reached ground they fully expected the zombies to spill out of the window after them. But without ladders, the creatures appeared not to understand that they could just jump.
The two spies abandoned their mission to capture a zombie and fled towards the village and relative safety. Along the way Wilson complained of nausea and a headache but did his best to keep up. Finally, though, he sat to rest for a moment under a tree. Macgruder tended to his partner as best the could but encouraged him to keep moving.
Wilson looked up at Macgruder with glassy eyes and said simply, “Mickey.” He then slumped against the tree and died. Mickey Macgruder said a silent prayer for his companion and again made for the village.
Macgruder had gone only about two hundred yards when he heard a familiar grunting sound behind him. He rapidly turned to face a dead Larry Wilson staggering towards him. Macgruder fired his gun wildly but the zombie of Wilson was relentless.
In desperation Macgruder fired at its head. Larry Wilson fell to the ground and joined the truly dead.
Macgruder shoved the body into a drainage ditch and pushed a few leaves over it hoping it would not be found.
Ardennes Forest, Belgium - The Ardennes Offensive began on December 16, 1944 and took the overconfident Allies by surprise. For a while Hitler was ecstatic; his strategy was working. But slowly, yet methodically, the Allies themselves counter attacked.
By the middle of January, 1945, the Battle of the Bulge was won and the war in Europe was effectively over. Hitler retreated to his bunker in Berlin in near isolation. On April 29, 1945 Hitler gave his final order to SS-General Felix Steiner.
“Release the Doomsday Weapon,” read the simple order.
Hitler emerged from his bunker expecting to watch 10,000 near immortal creatures swarm out of the reinforced warehouses to devour every living thing on the face of the earth. When he heard the rumble, Hitler assumed he was hearing General Steiner’s tanks tear open the warehouse doors.
But the roar he heard came from the clouds. Hitler looked up to see an entire wing of B-17 bombers blacken the sky over Berlin. Their targets were the warehouses and the zombie creatures inside.
When hundreds of incendiary bombs struck the warehouses, the creatures burned like torches and the intense heat caused their heads to explode. The zombies joined the casualties of the war
All except one. A single creature managed to escape the fire. Its clothes and its skin burned off but its head was intact.
Hitler committed suicide the next day, April 30, 1945 with his insane goal of world domination thwarted and his Doomsday Weapon destroyed.
Bastogne, Belgium - On the eighth of May, 1945, Bastogne, along with the Western world, celebrated the end of the war in Europe. The town mourned the 86,000 Belgians who died at the hands of the Nazis and then it began to rebuild.
Officials were horrified to find a man resembling a burnt ember among the rubble eating the bodies of dead soldiers. When confronted, the man stood and lurched forward. Now terrified, the leaders of Bastogne ran back about a hundred yards. The burnt man continued his slow pursuit of the townspeople.
The man had vacant eyes and made a low grunting noise as he deliberately approached groups of one or two individuals.
A policeman named Paul Smets ordered the man to halt.
When he did not stop, the officer fired his weapon in warning over the man’s head. But the man continued his single minded approach to the people. Unable to warn the man away, Smets walked close to the man and fired a shot directly into his chest.
The man staggered but then continued his relentless approach. The policeman fired again and again but the approaching man would not fall, would not die.
Paul Smets survived combat with the Resistance and Nazi occupation. He was concerned but not afraid. He emptied his automatic into the man’s body with no effect. The policemen ejected the spent clip and fumbled in his belt for a full clip.
But the walking dead-man reached the officer before he could reload. The thing grabbed the officer by the throat and threw him to the ground. A crown gathered to watch the fight. Most, but not all, rooted for the policemen.
The fight did not last long. The zombie slashed open Smet’s stomach and began to eat his intestines.
A resistance sniper happened by and unslung his rifle. The sniper fired a bullet into the brain of the feasting creature. The zombie immediately fell dead on top of the policeman.
Paul Smets was buried with honor and was considered Bastogne’s last causality of the war.
During the war the Belgian custom of lighting bonfires to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring was abandoned. Customarily a caricature of a witch was placed on the fire for good luck.
And in June of 1945 the citizens of Bastogne built a bonfire unlike any seen in years.
And on top of the bonfire they laid the dead body of the zombie.
The fire consumed the creature.
Bastogne was safe from witches and zombies and finally the world was safe from the Nazis.
Sao Paulo, Brazil - After the end of the war, Dr. Josef Mengele, masquerading as Fritz Hollmann, evaded capture until he fled to South America in 1949. In South America Mengele moved from country to country staying a step ahead of Mossad, the Israeli Secret Services.
By 1977 a failing and demented Mengele was visited by his son Rolf in Sao Paulo. As Rolf was leaving for home, his father pressed a briefcase into his hands. Rolf glanced at the journals and notebooks in the valise and decided they were just the writings of a raving lunatic.
Rolf tossed the case and its contents into a fire and began his journey back to Germany.
Dr. Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death, died of a stroke on February 9, 1979.
Mr. Tobin holds a degree in mathematics from LaSalle University. He retired from L-3 Communications after a career in software engineering. His Christmas stories The Legend of Christmas Past, Fred the Christmas Dog, and A Soldier’s Christmas will be published late in 2012. The Knock on the Door appears in A Fistful of Horror, an anthology from Cruentus Libri Press. Cramer appears in I’ll Never Go Away, an anthology from Rainstorm Press. Winds of Winter appears in The Speculative Edge and The Black Pumpkin appears in 31 More Nights of Halloween, an anthology from Rainstorm Press. His story, Chuckles, was podcast by The Electric Chair on October 14, 2012. He is a member of the South Jersey Writer’s Group.
So… A little about the format. The Issue posts (like this one) will serve as an anchor for all the contributing posts. You can read what you want by clicking on the story links.
Once you get the idea of what kind of stories I want to publish here (the weirder, the better) please feel free to submit something. The themes coming up are listed on the Calls for Submission page.
Why do they matter?
They’re too hard to write, you say.
They’re not, I argue back. And they matter because they’re cool. Just listen to any episode of The Drabblecast and you’ll get addicted to the Drabble of the Day.
What the foamy feck is a drabble?
It’s a short story, boiled down to it’s essence. Dialogue, plot, twist…all in one-hundred happy words. Drabbles were invented in good ol’ England. Here’s a bit of history, if you want to know more about their origins.
Short to write and easy to read. And while they are not easy to write, they’re not that hard once you get the hang of it. I’m telling you all this because there will be other drabble-themed issues in the future.
This Halloween issue has some pretty damn kick-ass drabbles. My favorite one appears first: Daniel Ritter’s “Three Jack-O-Lanterns.” It’s the epitome of a Halloween drabble and was exactly what I was looking for, spot on, for this issue. Great job, Daniel! The rest appear in random order, but Larry Kollar’s “Hunted” also struck a chord with me.
I’ll let you get to reading now. But before I go, I mentioned The Drabblecast and other drabble-themed issues. If you want a clue to what I’m thinking of, give Drabblecase Episode 119 a listen…especially a story by Jake Bible called “The Seven Deadly Drabbles.” I’m thinking about doing something along those lines very soon.
Now…let’s read some scary drabbles.
Every year it’s the same. Harvest comes in, jack-o-lanterns go out.
We all get one each to hollow out and to put a candle in. Janey always saws around the top and then scoops out the junk. Mackenzie always starts shaping the mouth first. I always go for the eyes. It’s messy, sure, but it’s something we get to do every year together.
Same with candy corn. Candy corn is forever.
One thing gets harder each year, though, but there always seems to be free digging space at the far end of the field.
Three jack-o-lanterns, three bodies to bury.
He ran through the darkened halls, looking behind him on occasion. No way out, his footsteps told him. Every room was a dead end.
His father’s voice came to him from so long ago: This dabbling in the occult will end badly! Yes. His body feared only death… his mind feared what lay beyond.
Bursting into the great room, he paused, looking around for a hiding place.
Curtains flew open, the sun shone in, and he cried out in pain and terror. The hunter rushed forward with a cry of triumph, and drove his sharpened stake into the vampire’s heart.
Roger regained consciousness at 2am.
At first he felt nothing, which he thought was due to the anaesthetic. Slowly, feeling returned to his feet and worked its way up.
“And how are you today, Mr Gold?” the doctor asked, his smiling face hoving into view.
Roger tried to speak but couldn’t. He felt his mouth move and larynx vibrate, but no noise escaped.
“Excellent,” the doctor said. “The monitors show that you have feeling which is excellent. Soon you’ll believe that you can move. I’ll tell the clients we’ve successfully put your consciousness into an aspidistra.”
Roger tried to scream.