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Story #1

Emperor Roland

Story 1  

3 members have voted

  1. 1. Does the Story fit the Zombie theme

    • The Theme was the primary focus point of the story
    • The story used and followed the theme but it wasn’t the primary focus
    • The story was set using the theme but the theme did not affect the characters
    • The story did not use the theme at all
  2. 2. Romance in the zombie apocalypse

    • The relationship between the queer characters was so believable I wanted to hug them both
    • The relationship between the queer characters was pretty realistic
    • The relationship felt forced but was there
    • The author did not include a relationship between queer character
  3. 3. Content. Did the story engage you all the way to the end

    • I couldn’t stop reading it
    • It was great but there were a couple dull spots
    • It was enjoyable but not gripping
    • I had to force myself to finish it
  4. 4. Character Development: Where the characters believable

    • The Characters reactions to theme and each other was very realistic
    • The characters reactions to the theme or each other was very realistic
    • The characters reactions were a bit of a stretch in some places
    • The characters reactions where not believable at all
  5. 5. Technical: did the authors follow the rules and tell a good story

    • The author told a great story and kept within the word count challenge
    • The author stretch the story will fluff to make the minimum word count
    • The author cut important details to get under the word count maximum
    • The author was under the minimum or over the maximum
  6. 6. Overall satisfaction with the story

    • I am thrilled with this story
    • I am happy with this story
    • It's an ok story
    • I am unhappy with this story

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  • Poll closed on 10/26/2019 at 05:59 AM

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“Johnny, Johnny, come say good-bye to your grandpa. Come on, Johnny. It won’t be long now, and you’ll be sorry that you missed the chance.”

The stout woman put her arm around the boy’s shoulder and guided him into the house. Using the corner of her apron, she wiped a tear from his eye. They slowly went up the stairs of the old farmhouse, every step creaking to announce their ascent, and stepped into the bedroom where the elderly man lay. The windows were closed, and the air smelled strongly of Bengay.

“Pa, Johnny’s here to see you. Can you talk to him Pa?” she whispered, her voice breaking.

The old man lay under two quilts, having complained about being always cold lately, and his breathing was ragged and loud. His eyes fluttered open as he tried to focus on his young grandson.

“Johnny, is that you Son? Here, come closer, Johnny,” he whispered as he held out a trembling hand. Johnny took it in his small hand, noticing how cold it felt, how thin and translucent the skin. Despite the old man’s fading strength, his grip was still strong as he squeezed Johnny’s hand.

“Good-bye, Johnny. You be a good boy, now. Be good and have a happy life. I’m going to miss you,” were the old man’s last words. His eyes closed, his breathing stopped, and his grip grew slack. 

Finally finding his voice, Johnny cried, “Grandpa, don’t go. Grandpa. Please, Grandpa. No, no…”.

Around the bed, the others began to sob. Mother, Aunt Audrey, sister Sally and cousin Art. Johnny buried his face in his mother’s apron, and she guided him back down to the kitchen. She understood how difficult the loss was for her eight-year-old boy. The two of them had been more like friends than grandpa and grandson. The family was silent as they drank coffee and indulged in some fresh apple pie. No one had anything to say right then. 

They had plenty to say the next morning when the old man came downstairs to breakfast.


A month earlier, in a locked room of a local university, two men pored over the contents of a remarkable package from Israel. News had reached the world only recently that a shepherd boy had discovered ancient writings in an unknown cave. These were texts written on parchment and papyrus and many contained versions of Biblical books. Others were written about more secular things. Still others, the oldest ones, were on engraved on bronze plates. 

“I had my man grab as many as he could. Security is not yet very high, so he was able to get a few minutes alone with them. He had a papyrus scroll, but the fool mishandled it and it crumbled. Such a terrible waste,” the small, sweaty man said. 

“The things are priceless. Anything lost is lost forever. Still, with so many clamoring for the scrolls we are fortunate to receive these,” the taller man sighed. He was a scholar and he looked like one with his pale complexion, watery eyes, and white lab coat. He was professor Whitman, a chemist, inventor, and somewhat expert in ancient languages. His diminutive associate was Sal Ricci, a low-level member of a minor crime family. The two had met when Ricci tried to burgle the professor’s home but had been discovered by Whitman, who happened to be in need of a thief. In return for not calling the police the crook promised to procure certain items from other libraries and universities, things in which the professor had an interest.  

“What do these things say?” Ricci eagerly asked.

“Be patient, man. I can’t decipher them at a glance. I have to examine them closely, slowly. Their meaning will become clear eventually, I’m certain. The words seem to be Aramaic, so I may have to refer to my books to fully decipher the content. This will take some time, perhaps days,” the professor said thoughtfully. “Leave me now and let me study them.”

Sitting at his desk, pen in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other, the old man began his task. Symbol by symbol he worked, hour by hour, frequently getting up to take another book from his shelf in order to verify a point. As he labored at his task his excitement began to grow. A realization began to dawn as to what the tablets were offering up. He had to tell someone, but who? Not a colleague. He wouldn’t share this discovery. And he couldn’t let anyone in authority know that he had pilfered items from the East. There was only Ricci.

“Sal! Sal, come to my office,” he shouted into the phone. “And tell no one.”

After several minutes a sweaty and gasping man came rushing in. “What is it? Did you finish them? What does it say?” he asked breathlessly.

“Yes, most of it. At least I understand what they are pointing to. Tell me, Sal, how much do you know about the Bible?”

“I try to steer clear of churches. You know that. Why?”

“Let me tell you something about it. Did you know that supposedly Christ could raise the dead? There is mention of at least three times he performed that miracle, a widow’s son in the town of Nain, the daughter of Jairus, and then his friend Lazarus. There were surely others, as well,” the professor told him.

“You really believe that stuff?” Sal asked. “The nuns tried to feed us that crap, but I wasn’t buying it. The dead can’t come back to life. Dead is dead. I mean, I’ve seen lots of stiffs, and believe me, they’re all still dead.”

“Do you know that the Voodoo practitioners of the Caribbean islands have a method of bringing the dead back to life? It is a crude method, to be sure, and the results are less than perfect, but the resurrected ones are able to rise and move about. They seem lose the ability to speak and they don’t appear to have thoughts, so that makes them useful only as workers. The priest or priestess uses them as slaves. They call them Zombies. It is a documented practice,” the professor lectured. 

“Come on, Prof. This is 1952, the age of science. How can something like that be? How do they do it? You want me to think it’s some kind of magic?”

“Magic? No, although that is the belief they wish to instill in the ignorant public. They want their followers to believe they possess eldritch powers and that they control life and death. In reality, it is a drug, a potion, that they create. No one outside the religion knows the formula.”

“So, what’s that got to do with these bronze tablets? They didn’t have any Voodoo back then, did they?”

“No, my ignorant friend, (Sal bristled at being called ignorant). Not Voodoo. But they had other knowledge, and some of that knowledge they have written down. By a miracle, it has been passed along to us. This is nothing less than the directions for producing an elixir to raise the dead. This is the secret to eternal life, man. This is power, fame, riches, all here etched in ancient bronze,” the professor gushed. He was giddy with growing excitement. 

“So, that sounds great, I guess. What’s in this stuff? Can you make it?”

“Ah, do you remember the story of the Nativity? The three Magi who brought gifts to the newly born Christ Child. The brought gold, Myrrh, and frankincense. These were given for a reason. Not to be sold, but to be saved and used for his future. These are the principal elements of the elixir. There are several other parts, and it requires some processing, but it is all described here. It will take a bit of time to procure the ingredients and equipment, so while I continue to translate this, I want you to go and find the items on this list I have written out for you.”

“Wait a minute, you mean to say that Jesus raised the dead with a magic potion? I thought it was supposed to be divine power that worked the miracles,” Sal protested. He hated having his conception of the world challenged.

“Not only did he use it on others, I believe that it was used on him, as well. Remember, he too came back from the dead.”

“You mean…?”

“Yes, my swarthy friend, Jesus was a Zombie.”


Maryville was a medium sized town that could have been located anywhere in America. It was like hundreds of other towns, with the same church spires rising over all the other buildings, tree-lined streets with modest homes, a main street with the usual stores, and the courthouse that was the grandest building of all. Since the end of the war there was a lot of new construction on the edge of town, with the returning soldiers and sailors coming home to start their families. The local schools began to have to struggle to find room for the influx of new kids.

Ethan Winters was thirteen and going through some changes of his own. Lately, all he could think of was the new toy he had discovered between his legs. He had never paid much attention to his wiener before, just using it to pee, but now it always seem to grow and stiffen at some of the most uncomfortable times. He relied on frequent masturbation to keep it happy. The times that were the most troublesome were when he was hanging out with other boys. That’s when he had to watch his feelings and actions, so that the others wouldn’t learn his secret, that he was homosexual. 

Ethan had to look up the word when he read in a newspaper. He realized that it was another word for queer, an insult that was tossed around on the playground. It was supposed to be really bad, but to Ethan, it felt really great. He just wished he could have a boyfriend to share his feelings with.

As Ethan kicked a ball around the playground one morning during recess, he heard someone yelling and went to investigate. A fight had started, and kids were crowding around to watch Steve Monroe, the school bully, slugging a smaller boy. The boy was one of the new kids in school, but Ethan couldn’t remember his name. The kid was trying to hit back, but it wasn’t at all a fair fight. He got a couple of licks in, but that just made Steve angrier. He said, “You little queer, I’ll teach you…” and he knocked the kid to the ground. Steve was just about to give him a kick in the ribs when Ethan yelled at him to stop and threw the ball at Steve’s head. It hit him soundly on the ear and almost knocked him over. The other kids who had been shouting, “Fight, fight, fight…”, suddenly became silent. Steve took a menacing step toward Ethan, murder in his eye, but a teacher chose that time to arrive and intervene. Everyone scattered as she dragged Steve off to see the principal.

Relieved, Ethan helped the other boy to his feet. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, just dirty and a little sore. Hey, thanks for stopping him from kicking me,” the boy said.

“I’m Ethan Winters,” Ethan said, holding out his hand. 

“I’m Rory Sands,” the boy said, shaking his hand firmly. “I hope I’m not gonna have a black eye.”

Ethan looked at his eyes and saw that they were a beautiful shade of green, like emeralds. In fact, Rory was a good-looking boy. There was something about him that made Ethan’s heart beat faster. Both boys smiled at each other and held each other’s hand for a bit longer than necessary.

“So, ah, why did Steve pick on you?” Ethan asked, feeling a little flushed as he released his hand.

“Bullies usually don’t need a reason. At least that’s what I’ve seen. It’s enough to just be smaller, or maybe it’s because I’m new. Maybe someone pissed in his cheerios this morning. Who knows? I can tell he’s a jerk.”

“Yeah, you got that right. His name is Steve Monroe, but we all call him Steve Moron. Everybody hates him. He failed a couple of grades so that’s why he’s bigger than the rest of us. He should be in high school,” Ethan said, still staring at his new friend’s eyes.

Rory smiled and shyly looked at the ground. “Do you think he’ll be trouble for us?”

“He had better not. My uncle is a cop. Hey, do you want to come over to my house after school and watch Hopalong Cassidy?”

“Uh, sure. That would be keen,” Rory agreed happily. It was the beginning of something special for both of them.


Across town, in the back room of an Italian restaurant, seven men were having a meeting. 

“Big Eddie, you’re short this month,” said the large man at the head of the table. “Last month you brought in twelve large, this month only seven. What’s the matter? I hope you’re not lining your pockets. I saw that new car your woman is driving.”

“No way, Lou. No way. You know I would never do that. No way. It just ain’t been as much business lately since the cops cracked down on my street dealers. I was hoping that my nephew would get some word on a truck load of televisions, but he hasn’t heard yet. We’ll get caught up before long,” Big Eddie said, sweating a bit. He was a short man with a thin combover stretched across his bald pate. Middle-aged, he was already getting the large belly that was so prominent on most of the others at the table. 

What caught Lou’s attention, though, were the several small sores on Eddie’s face. They were red and scabbed over and looked like a sign of heroine usage. That was a constant danger with the drug industry, it was too easy to dip into the merchandise. That was why he preferred robberies to drug dealing. The payoff was better, and the profits were quicker. He made a mental note to keep an eye on Eddie.

“Al, what about you? I was expecting something from that coin store heist,” Lou said, turning to the man on his left.

“Still trying to move them, Lou. I know what they’re worth, but the guy I’ve been dealing with is trying to low-ball me. My regular guy got busted, so he’s out of action. I’ll get this guy to come around,” Sweet Al said, puffing on his Swisher Sweet cigar. That smoke was the source of his nickname. Unlike Eddie, he was rail-thin and nervous.

Each of the others in turn explained why they were short on their tribute this month. Everyone was sorry and anxious. It wasn’t good to disappoint Lou. If a man could look like a shark, that would describe Lou Benetti. He was large, with a wide mouth and a weak, receding chin. His hair was slicked back with gel and his eyes were dark and dead. The word was that he had killed six men in his career and did it without mercy or feelings of any sort.

Sal Ricci listened to his fellow mobsters whine and explain why they were not producing like they should be. He felt good because he was thinking about what the professor had told him about the value of the stuff he was working on. If it worked, it would be worth a king’s ransom. He planned to steal it from the old man and give it to Lou. That would put him in a position of favor, maybe make him a lieutenant. First, he had to know that the stuff worked.

Lou looked around the table with a sour face. “Income is down,” he said, “And that ain’t good, boys, so listen up. We need something big, and Charlie here is gonna tell us about a job.” He nodded across to the youngest member of the syndicate.

Charlie was excited and said, “So, I got this friend, a guard for an armored car. They got a new crew that he has to work with so they’re all green. Now, he thinks I’m legit and that I got a company selling sporting goods, so when we was drinking last weekend, he let slip that they were carrying a big load in a couple of days. Gold bars and coins to First National Bank. I’m talking millions, with green guards. We need to figure out the best time to hit them.”

“That’s right,” said Lou. “So, here’s the plan.”

As Lou laid out his plan, he didn’t notice the waiter who had served them their meals and waited nearby to see if they needed anything more. The waiter, Bill Price, pretended to clean counters and reload beer into the cooler. He was just near enough to hear Lou’s plan. Lou had one of those voices that carries well. Listening was dangerous, so Bill pretended not to hear anything, but he stored every detail in his memory.


On Saturday, Rory and Ethan went to the movies. The main feature was a Gene Autry film. The theater was packed with kids and the noise level was pretty high until Gene came up on the screen. Then everyone settled down and paid attention. Meanwhile, Rory and Ethan were sitting in the back of the balcony, away from everyone else. In the darkness they shared a bag of popcorn while they quietly enjoyed being close to each other. When the bag was nearly empty both boys reached in it at the same time and their hands came into contact, but instead of withdrawing them quickly both boys let the touch linger. Not daring to look at his friend, Ethan boldly took Rory’s hand in his, and they both held their breath. In the darkness they shared a special moment and continued to hold hands for several minutes. 

After the show they went back to Ethan’s house to check out his comic book collection. Sitting on the edge of his bed, their knees touching, they each took a Mad comic book and read aloud to each other the funny parts. Laughing hard at some lines, they were happy to find that they had the same sense of humor. Ethan elbowed Rory in the ribs as he pointed out a good part and Rory flinched and drew back slightly.

He said, “Careful, I’m ticklish there.”

“Oh, you are?” Ethan said gleefully. He then grabbed his friend and proceeded to tickle him mercilessly. Rory was squirming and laughing as he tried to get away. Eventually, they found themselves lying on the bed, Ethan almost on top of Rory. Their faces were red and their eyes wet with tears of laughter. Then they both fell quiet as they looked at each other. It was one of those magical moments, that threshold moment when their lives were about to change. Ethan leaned down and kissed Rory softly on the lips. It only lasted a couple of seconds. Ethan stopped and watched to see what Rory would do. He didn’t know if he would be mad or if he had liked it. Either way, he had just revealed himself to be homosexual. His heart was beating rapidly as Rory raised up and kissed him back. Then everything was wonderful. 

Breathlessly the boys kissed again and again until Ethan rolled over and said, “Wow.”

They didn’t know what to say to each other at first, but Rory finally said, “That was great.”

“Yeah, great…, but does this mean that we’re queers?”

 “I don’t know. I just know I’ve wanted to kiss you ever since you stopped Steve from kicking me that day,” Rory confessed.

“I really liked your eyes. I knew I liked other guys and I tried to hide it, but with you I don’t care. Want to kiss some more?”

Kissing led to more serious play. Both boys were rubbing boners against each other and finally they took off their jeans and, well, got ahold of themselves.


Professor Whitman ground the exotic herbs into a powder using a mortar and pestle. He hoped he had translated the names of the herbs correctly from Aramaic. Plant names changed a lot over centuries, but he felt confident about his work. Once he mixed the ground herbs with the other ingredients, he added a few ounces of his own blood to bind the mixture. Then he poured it all onto a large pan and set it aside to dry out. 

The next day, he found that it had dried to a hard crust, so he scraped it out and put it in a blender and turned it back into a powder. This he transferred to a ceramic jar with a tight cork seal. Eager to try it out, he decided to test it on an animal, so he opened the door to the small cage that sat on the worktable. He took out the cat and stroked it until it calmed down. It was an alley cat that he had grabbed the previous evening as it prowled around his back door. Holding the cat still, he jabbed a knife into its heart, killing it dead.

He let it lie for an hour before proceeding. He took a pinch of his powder and sprinkled it over the stiff body of the cat. Taking careful notes, he kept one eye on the cat and one on the clock. It only took about fifteen minutes before he saw some movement. The cat’s tail twitched. Professor Whitman’s heart began to pound with excitement as the small corpse slowly came back to life. The cat stood on its feet, looking dazed, its eyes unfocused, and drool ran out of its mouth. Then it turned its head and saw the man standing over it. With a wild screech the cat sprang at him, its claws catching onto his flesh, raking deep gouges out of his face. 

The professor screamed and threw the cat across the room, where it slammed into the wall and fell on the floor. The cat almost flew back at the man, howling and clawing furiously. The man picked up a large, thick book and smashed the cat’s head onto the table, crushing it flat. As he tended to his wounds, mopping up the blood and bandaging his deep scratches, he pondered what had gone wrong. On one hand the stuff definitely worked. The damn cat was alive, at least for a while. But why did it go crazy like that?

He had just disposed of the feline corpse when Sal Ricci let himself in.

“Hey, Doc, how’s it hanging? Holy shit, what happened to you? Who’s the bastard that cut you up? I’ll cut the prick’s throat,” Sal offered.

Professor Whitman was not in the mood for an interruption. He was embarrassed by his partial failure, so he covered his dismay quickly by pasting a grin on his face and saying, “Oh, this is nothing. Just a little lab accident. Nothing to be concerned about.”

“Oh, okay, well how’s the formula coming? Made any progress yet?”

Whitman hesitated a moment, and said, “Well, yes, actually. I have completed the work and it tested successfully.” He lied. 

“You mean it works?” Sal asked excitedly. “Well, I’ll be damned.”


Rory and Ethan spent every moment together that they could. It was wonderful to finally have a friend, a boyfriend, at last. Neither of them had realized how deeply lonely they had been, thinking that they were alone in the world and would never know love. It wasn’t just a physical longing that they felt, but a spiritual one, as well. Rory called Ethan his soul mate. 

Their parents were happy to see their sons making a new friend, and their teachers smiled to see them becoming so close. There was someone who wasn’t happy to see them, and that was Steve Monroe. The bully was still resentful for Ethan interrupting his abuse of Rory, and felt he owed both of the little bastards a good thrashing. The opportunity just had not presented itself yet. 


Early one morning, a several days after the meeting between Lou and his gang, an armored car drove silently down a narrow city street, on its way to make a delivery to a bank. The bank chose early morning for the transaction so that there would be little traffic. 

The driver was surprised when a black car pulled in front of him from a side street and stopped, blocking their way. In the mirror, he could see another car behind him. The armored car’s doors were locked, of course, and the windows were bulletproof, but still the driver was nervous.

He was suddenly surrounded by men in suits, holding machine guns. One of the men held a bundle of dynamite in his hand and a cigarette lighter in the other. 

Lou spoke to the driver through the glass, “I know you think you’re safe in there, but this dynamite can blow the hell out of you, so if you don’t want to die, you and your crew, you need to unlock this truck and get out of it. All we want is the loot.”

Before the driver could answer, the sound of a bullhorn amplified voice echoed from the brick walls of the surrounding buildings. “This is the police. Drop your weapons and put your hands up. We have you surrounded.”

Lou looked up at the windows above them on both sides of the street and saw uniformed officers all with rifles pointing at them. There were more on the rooftops. It was like an army of cops. Lou cursed loudly and knew that his plan was thwarted. Failure was a bitter pill for him to swallow, but he started to lay down the dynamite. Suddenly, one of his men fired his gun. It was an accident, caused by a nervous finger, but it didn’t matter. The police started shooting. Bullets flew everywhere and in a matter of seconds it was over. The gang lay dead in the street. No cops were wounded at all. 

The chief of police shook the hand of the waiter, Bill Price, and said, “Mr. Price, we owe you our thanks. Your information was spot on and thanks to you we were able to foil a major robbery. The bad guys are dead, and the good guys get to go home. Thanks very much.”


As he neared the ambush point, Sal Ricci could hear gunfire. It sounded like a war zone up ahead. He was running late for the heist and hoped that Lou wouldn’t be too angry with him. All too soon he would learn that his worries were needless. The big boss was dead, along with the rest of the gang. Stunned by the outcome, Sal returned home and got good and drunk. Without the gang to support him, he felt at sea, lost, with no idea of what to do with himself. He had always been a follower, never a leader, and had trouble making decisions about his own life. Now he needed to think.

He had imagined himself giving Lou the professor’s formula, winning praise from the boss and envy from the others. Now it was too late. There would be no promotion, no respect. He was alone and friendless, just another low-level crook. 

Then it hit him. Why not bring the gang back? He could do it with the formula. He would go see the professor and ask him for some. After all, the man owed him for getting the ingredients.

The professor sat at his desk, reviewing all of the steps he had taken in producing the resurrecting powder, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Why the cat gone so wild? He re-read all of his notes and looked again and again at his translation of the ancient text, but he could see no errors. 

His attention was diverted by the sound of the door slamming open. It was Sal, who seemed to be very drunk. “Oh no,” he thought, “I don’t need this distraction.”

“Hey, Professor. Hey, listen, I need a favor,” Sal slurred. “I need some of that stuff, you know, that magic dust.”

“What are you going on about? You can’t have any of the formula. You have no idea how dangerous it is. It still needs a lot of work to get the kinks out,” the professor snarled. His frustration snapped into anger.

“But I gotta have it, Doc. It’s important!”

“Nonsense. If you sprinkle it on something dead, bad things will happen. Leave it alone, Sal,” the professor shouted. He picked up the jar of powder and held it to his chest protectively.

His drunken assistant pulled out a pistol and said, “Give me that powder, old man. You can make more, and I need it. Give it here or I’ll blow your super-smart brains out.”

“Put that gun down, you fool…” BANG. Sal missed. He fired again and again, but the alcohol had dulled his aim so that even from a few feet away he kept missing. Finally, the last bullet found its mark and the professor stood for a moment with a neat little hole between his eyes. He collapsed and dropped the jar of powder, but Sal recovered it and fled. 

He raced out to his car and drove toward the police headquarters. “They’ll have put the bodies in the morgue,” he said to himself. “I just gotta find a way to get in there.”

Sal was unaware of two things. One, his stray bullets had done more damage than he thought. There was a hole in the wall of the lab and the bullet had punctured a gas line, which was now leaking a large cloud of gas into the lab. 

Two, the jar of powder he held was not the only one. The professor had made several test runs, trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the first batch. These were stored in a closet next to the leaking gas line. 

Sal first saw the flash in his rearview mirror, and then he felt the shockwave as the building he had left exploded in the night, sending debris and fire high into the air. Riding on that shockwave was a cloud of resurrection powder. It was borne aloft and picked up by the wind and was soon distributed over the entire city.


Earlier that day, Rory and Ethan had been in the park, strolling slowly and talking softly to each other, when their private time was interrupted by an unwelcome voice. 

“There’s the two little fags. I’ve been looking for you. I think you’ve been avoiding me, but now I’ve found you. Are you ready for that ass kicking that I owe you?” It was Steve Monroe standing in front of them, along with three of his little gang. He had his fists balled up and he leered at the boys. Ethan wasn’t afraid. 

“Get lost, Moron. We don’t have anything to say to you or your crew,” Ethan scoffed. “You had better leave us alone or you’ll get into some serious trouble.”

“You’re the ones in trouble, Asshole. I’ll teach you to slam my head with a basketball,” Steve said as he swung at Ethan. He caught Ethan on the jaw and knocked him to the ground. Rory flew at him, enraged to see his lover being hurt, and he threw himself into the fight, furiously punching and kicking the larger boy. His blows had little effect. Steve laughed at him and shoved him away with a strong push. Rory landed badly and his head struck a rock. He lay there unmoving. Ethan grabbed him by the shoulders and held his lifeless body. 

“You killed him,” he screamed. “Look what you did, you big piece of shit! You killed him.” 

Steve and his friends stared for a minute, trying to process what had happened. He had been warned many times about his bullying and had been told that it would lead to serious trouble. Now he realized he had gone too far. He ran away in a panic, already trying to think of a way to lie his way out of this.

Ethan cried over Rory’s body, begging him to come back to him, but he was dead. The next few hours were a blur to him. There were police there, and parents, and strangers, and doctors. He felt sick as he tried to answer their questions. He heard someone say that Steve Monroe had been picked up and was in jail. He would be punished, but it didn’t matter to Ethan. He just wanted his boyfriend back.


Police stations are hard to break out of and nearly as hard to break into. Sal was a little more sober by the time he located an unlocked window at the rear of the building. He knew that the morgue was in the basement, so he only had to slip in and find some stairs leading down. Luck was with him and he escaped discovery as he searched for the right door. Finding it, he made his way down to the dimly lit hallway that led to a metal door that had a glass window in it. Peering in he could see bodies wrapped in sheets lying on tables and shelves. The air felt much colder down here and there wasn’t much light, but he had found the right place. Suddenly, Sal felt hesitant about opening that door. He was no stranger to death, but this felt really creepy. The corpses of his associates were lying in there, stiff and cold and dead. He steeled his nerves and went inside. 

There were more bodies in there than those of his six gang members. Several more. He wanted to pull back the sheets to see who was under them so that he could get the right ones, but he didn’t really want to see them. Instead, he opened the jar of powder and tossed the contents liberally around the room. Better to raise too many than to miss the right ones, he thought. After several minutes of waiting, nothing happened. It didn’t seem to have worked. Feeling defeated, Sal left and went to get some more booze. He wanted to get really drunk and toast his dead friends one last time.

He hadn’t been gone long when things began to happen in the cold room. First there were low moans, and then slight stirrings of limbs. Soon, a body sat up, and then another. The dead began to rise and move about.

As sheets fell back, faces and bodies began to be revealed. The six dead gangsters were not alone. There were other men and a couple of women now standing in confusion in the dim light. The other people were also victims of violence, either domestic, or car crashes, or accidents. Lou was the first to move as he pushed on the door. It didn’t open. Lou seemed to have forgotten how to turn a doorknob. Instead, he pounded on the door with his fists.

There was no attendant on duty, but upstairs several officers sat at their desks writing out reports. The sergeant heard a thumping sound coming from below and sent one of the officers down to investigate. The young man followed the sound to the cold room and saw a face in the window. Thinking that someone was stealing a corpse, he drew his gun and opened the door. Immediately he was overwhelmed with ghouls, biting his face and ripping his uniform to get at the tender flesh. Lou beat his head against the floor, cracking it open like a nut to get to the brains inside.

Then the mob of zombies made their way up the stairs, following the smell of fresh meat. They took the officers by surprise and attacked them. Bullets did no harm to the dead people. They just kept attacking, biting and crushing with enormous strength. 

Then Lou, Eddie, Al, and the others broke through the doors and onto the streets. It was early evening and there were dozens of people going to restaurants, shops, and the theater. The unfortunate citizens found themselves suddenly in the midst of monsters. Lumbering men and women, some with dreadful bullet holes, all drenched in blood spread out trying to grab them and muttering something about brains. 

People fled, screaming, rushing to get away from the creatures. As they ran off into the night the zombies followed them, creating havoc and panic. 

But back in the downstairs cold room a small figure stumbled around. Rory had been hiding under a table while the scary people milled around. He didn’t know where he was or how he got there. He remembered being with Ethan in the park, but that was all. Now, his head hurt, and he was scared so he made his way up the stairs. He was not prepared for the carnage that decorated the floors and walls of the station. He could only think of one thing, Ethan. Racing outside he began to make his way to Ethan’s house, although it was halfway across town.


All across town a bizarre thing was happening. The powder had spread over the entire area and was beginning to have a widespread effect. In funeral homes, in medical schools, in private homes where newly deceased relatives lay waiting for burial, bodies rose and walked around. Some were like Rory, confused but with coherent thoughts. They woke up their families and terrified them.

In funeral homes, where people had been embalmed, the corpses of the dearly departed went insane, attacking everyone and everything. Dissected cadavers at the medical school screamed and waved their limbs but were unable to rise from their slabs and drawers. Even at the hospitals there were people who had been declared dead who now stood up to object to that judgement. 

Not only was it people who were reviving, but pets as well. Sparky, Fluffy, Mr. Wiggles, and others found their way back into their homes where they immediately began to bite their owners. 


Frank and Gwen Stoppard were walking back to their car, struggling with their children, Edy and Jeffrey, after having dinner at Luigi’s. Jeffrey wanted ice cream, so he was sobbing as if the world was ending. His little sister just wanted to go home. She was tired and peevish and trying to cry louder than her brother. Because they were distracted Frank and Gwen didn’t see the little man until he was a few feet away. Still wearing the suit he was killed in, Al stepped out of the shadows and ran at them. Gwen screamed at the sight of his bloody face and hands. His shirt was soaked with blood as well. Al grabbed little Jeffrey and yanked him from his fathers grasp. He sank his teeth into the boy’s neck and tore out his throat, stopping his screams. With a shout of anger, Frank punched Al in the face and then wrapped his hands around his throat as the dead man held tightly to the boy’s body. Al dropped the kid and twisted out of Frank’s hands. Then he jumped at Frank and pushed him to the sidewalk and began to eat his face.

Gwen watched in shock and horror at the attack. She was helpless so she ran with her daughter and jumped into the car, locking the doors and waiting for help. Her son and husband were dead.

Timothy Johnson was just getting off work and decided to stop for some doughnuts on the way home. As he got out of his car a young woman fell in behind him and bit him on the neck. Timothy threw her off and clamped his hands to his bleeding neck. He watched her get to her feet and start toward him again. “Fucking Bitch!” he screamed and kicked her in the face before she could stand up. Then he saw the blood that covered her face and clothing. She leapt at him and knocked him back against the brick wall, smashing his skull. Then she gorged herself on his brains.

Lou Benetti had two bullet holes in his chest and one in his jaw, but that didn’t slow him down. He was after two young nurses who had just finished their shift and were now fleeing from the ugly former gangster. Sarah tripped on the curb and fell. Lisa paused to help her to her feet, but Lou was too close. He fell on the unlucky girl and began to tear her apart. Lisa screamed and ran. Lou had become a mindless beast, filled with only one thought, to eat. He had just cracked open Sarah’s head when officer Peterson came running up, drawn by the girl’s screams. He only saw Lou from behind, so he pulled out his night stick and bashed him across the head with it. Lou barely noticed it and kept slurping at his meal. Peterson swung again, harder and harder, until Lou finally stopped moving. His head was a mass of pulp.

All around the neighborhood the attacks were continuing. Some people fought the creatures off, but many were too weak and slow. They became dinner. In one house a shadowy figure crawled through an open window into the children’s room. Their parents were awakened too late by the screams of terror and pain.


Ethan was exhausted from crying. His life was almost perfect since he had met Rory, but now it was snatched away from him and his heart ached terribly. As he lay in the dark bedroom, reliving the fun times he and Rory had shared, he heard a small click coming from his window. He paid it no attention until he heard a second click. Then he dragged himself out of bed to investigate. His feet felt like lead and his eyelids were heavy, but he parted the curtains and looked outside. He gasped at the figure that stood there. It was Rory.

Quickly throwing open the window Ethan excitedly grabbed his friend and dragged him inside. “I don’t understand,” he said. “I thought you were dead. Oh God, I’m so glad to see you, Rory. I’m so glad. I thought I was going to die too. Oh God, hold me Rory.”

Ethan embraced his friend and the two of them kissed for several minutes. Rory asked, “Why did you think I was dead? What happened to me?” 

“Because everybody said you were dead. I’m glad they were wrong. I’ll bet your parents were happy to see you alive again. I’ll bet they sue somebody for making us all think so,” Ethan said. 

“I haven’t seen them yet. I came right here when I woke up. Ethan, something crazy and scary was going on when I woke up. There were a bunch of grownups and they killed a bunch of policemen. There was a lot of blood. I just wanted to get out of there, and I needed to see you.”

“Wow, Rory, that does sound crazy. I would have run too. I’m glad you got away. Weren’t you scared walking here all the way from downtown?” Ethan asked.  

“It wasn’t as scary as I thought,” Rory said, sounding puzzled by his own bravery.

“Oh gosh, I’m tired and I know you are too. Let’s go to bed and we can figure it out tomorrow,” Ethan said with a yawn. He helped Rory to get undressed and get into the bed. Under the covers, Ethan said, “Rory, why are you so cold?”

He also noticed that Rory was not breathing at all. Those two clues made him think that something was terribly wrong with his friend, but he didn’t want to think about it just then. He slept.

The next morning, he woke up to find Rory sitting in a chair by the window. “You’re up early,” he remarked sleepily.

“I had a hard time sleeping. I kept having bad dreams,” Rory said. He looked sad and troubled. 

Before Ethan could answer, the door opened, and his mother peeked in to wake him up. She saw Rory sitting in the chair and she screamed.

“Ethan, what have you done?” she shouted, thinking Ethan had somehow stolen his friend’s corpse.

Then Rory said, “Good morning, Mrs. Winters. I hope you don’t mind that I spent the night here.”

She slammed the door shut and ran to get her husband. Mister Winters was getting ready for work and had paused to hear the radio report about the eldritch occurrences of the previous evening. He knelt and looked at Rory’s eyes. He held the boy’s hand and felt how cold it was. 

“Have you heard the news this morning, Hon?” he asked his wife. “Let’s go to the kitchen and have a talk. You boys stay here for a while. We have to discuss something, but we will be right back.”

In the kitchen he told his wife what he had learned from the news reports. “Apparently, somehow, last night dead people began to come back to life all over town. Dead people are walking around, attacking living people and trying to eat them. I know it sounds crazy, but the newsman sounded serious. I’ll get the paper from the front door and we’ll see if it says anything else.”

The headlines were in large type and several photos filled the front page. There were murders all over town, reports of attacks by unkillable corpses. Shocking was not a strong enough word for this disaster and major scientists were being called in to investigate. Meanwhile, the local law enforcement agencies, the sheriff, the highway patrol and the FBI were trying to search out these creatures and try to find a way to destroy them.

Mr. Winters said, “I think that Rory is one of these dead people who have come back to us.”

“Good Lord, what if he hurts Ethan? We better separate them.”

“He doesn’t seem violent. Look, let’s get his parents over here and they can decide what to do. I suppose the authorities need to be notified,” Mr. Winters said grimly.

It took a lot longer to get Rory’s parents to calm down and stop crying over their son. Finally, the six of them, both boys and their parents, discussed the ramifications of calling the police. Naturally Rory’s parents were dead set against it because they would probably lose their son again. Ethan’s parents were afraid that Rory might go feral and attack them all. Ethan vowed that he and Rory would run away where no one would find them if they tried to take his friend away.

At last it was decided that they should wait and see how things progressed before making a decision. There would surely be more information available as the days went on.

The afternoon paper reported that all over the city, the unburied dead were affected by the unknown disease. “From what we can tell at this time, the deceased people who are not yet embalmed are not behaving in a dangerous or violent way. These people, who are being called Zombies, are able to walk and talk and carry on their normal routines. Their families are, understandably, having a difficult time coming to grips with this development. 

Unfortunately, those bodies which were embalmed or had died from mortal wounds are still creating pandemonium in the streets. Most have been hunted down, but several remain, so the public is advised to stay inside until further notice. 

One good note, it has reportedly been discovered that crushing the skull of the zombie, thus destroying the brain, kills them once again. A bullet or two is the recommended method, but if you are confronted by a zombie and you don’t have a gun, an axe or machete will also work.”

Everyone relaxed more when they read the part about the non-embalmed people being normal and safe. There was still much to be learned about Rory’s condition. His parents went back home but left their son with Ethan’s family so that no one would see him outside. They didn’t want the rest of the world to discover his existence yet. 

One of the things that was learned was that he no longer had a taste for regular food. 

“I know it sounds crazy,” he said meekly, “but I keep thinking about brains. I’m hungry for brains.”

“Human brains?” Ethan asked in alarm.

“I don’t know,” Rory sighed. 

Ethan had an idea. He rode his bike to the butcher shop down the street and soon returned with a paper wrapped parcel filled with calf brains, and sweetbreads. As soon as he unwrapped them, Rory grabbed the brains and began to shove them in his mouth.

“I was going to ask mom to cook them,” Ethan offered, but Rory shook his head and kept eating. Then he picked up the thymus and the pancreas and ate them too. Satisfied for the moment, he put the rest of the raw meat in the refrigerator for later. After that, only Ethan could stand to be around him when he had his meals.

This source of nourishment was a saving grace for Rory. The other people like him, who the papers now called ‘good zombies’, were seemingly normal for a couple of weeks, they finally began to decay. Some accepted their fate early on and asked to be dispatched back to death, but others clung selfishly to life and it wasn’t until bits began to fall off of them that they gave up and died. Young Johnny’s grandfather held out until he sneezed one morning, and his nose landed in his handkerchief.

For Rory, no decay developed. Ethan watched and waited, dreading any sign of rot, but there was none. Once he thought he smelled something bad, but it turned out that Rory had just farted. They both shared a laugh over that one. Somehow, brains and sweetbreads were providing the nutrients needed to maintain his life and keep him intact. 

Ethan knew that there would be obstacles to their future happiness. He didn’t care. It was enough that they had a future together. 


The magic powder settled from the air and landed on the ground. There it waited until the next rain came. The water pulled the powder into the ground and over in the cemetery… a hand clawed its way out of the soil.


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