Thump thump, thwack, thump…
Heavy anxious fists slammed on the barrier door. Rhythmic, fast and signaling that Jerry needed to get off his ass and let the scout party back in. Flipping the safety latches open and the removing the steel dead bolts, the thick hatch flew open.
Kara, Hank, and most of James crashed through the door and slammed it behind them. The three lay still for just a moment breathing hard; listening for anything following them.
After a minute Jerry broke the silence, “What happened?”
Hank answered, “We got jumped just as we got to Main Street. Twenty, thirty—it could have been a hundred for all I know.”
Kara said, “Who in the hell is on look out?!”
“Kara…” James choked on the blood filling his mouth, “Please don’t worry about it. I knew the… *hak* risk. Take me to Shelly… I want her to do it.”
Shelly sat in the decaying beauty parlor on the fourth floor of the “Petroleum Building”. It had been an office-for-rent building before the war—not that Chickasha, Oklahoma had changed much during the war. Now it was home for her and the other survivors.
She picked at her breakfast of pigeon eggs and rat meat. Losing appetite she rearranged the beauty implements strewn about the counter. She could hear someone climbing the stairs.
“Shelly! Shelly come quick!” It was Jerry. He was bloody but not bit.
He didn’t have to say why he was crying but he did, “He… he got infected. There isn’t much time. He asked you to do it.”
Her mouth went dry, her legs wobbled, and everything felt like it was falling.
“A flood of zombies on Main got’em surrounded. He’s pretty rough.”
“Where is he?”
“Down at chapel. Father Frisby is praying with him now.”
Shelly flew down the stairs. The families were already gathered in the main hall. The men were concerned and the women were grieving. Only Kara looked up at her. She reflected the anger Shelly was holding. In front the chapel Frisby was consoling Angela, James’s breeding partner. She hugged her stomach and cried onto the Priest’s shoulder.
The rotting floor groaned. All eyes turned to Shelly. She was suddenly all too aware of herself. Butterflies leapt into her stomach. She breathed deeply and held it. Looking forward she walked past the on lookers and entered the chapel.
It was dark, only sparse candles lit the room. Books from the former secondhand shop were shoved against the store front windows. James lay in the baptism tub near the back wall.
“Hey rug-rat, guess I wasn’t fast enough,” he coughed out.
She looked at his broken body. His arm and legs were scratched and bitten to the point of uselessness. One eye was swelling to the point of closure and the other was already turning pale.
“What’s wrong Shell-Bell?”
She could not make a single thought stick long enough to say anything at all. Her butterflies turned to worms seeing him.
“Sorry… I tried to protect you… for dad… but I guess… I guess I wasn’t handy enough to save myself,” he said shaking his stump.
“Don’t be like that. We don’t have long before I turn. Let’s make it happy,” he tried to reach her, but remembered his infection and sat back down.
She wiped her tears and looked into his paling eye.
“I… I love you,” she choked.
“I know Shell-Bell. I love you too. Take care of Angela, and the baby for me.”
The door rattled. Hank entered, “There isn’t much time Shelly. He’ll turn any second. Take this.” He handed her a sledgehammer. “We can’t risk the noise with a flood so close.”
Taking the handle, “I understand.”
She walked to the tub and looked into James’s eye one last time. Bowing slightly she let one more tear fall. Looking back the innocent boyish grin slacked and his eye widened. He gripped his chest and convulsed.
“Don’t miss,” he laughed for the last time.
Shelly raised the hammer high above herself. She felt its full weight strain her arms. His convulsions stopped. She could hear the rats scratch at the walls. Then he grunted and started to turn back. Seeing her, he hissed.
Shelly brought the sledge down on the front of James skull with a wet dull smack…
Hank sniffled at the door. He said, “You did good kid. I wouldn’t have the strength for that. Not the kind a sibling would have. Tha…Thank you.”
Shelly stared at her brother’s smashed skull and asked, “Who was on lookout?”
Hank swallowed. “It was… It was Pete. He should still be up there now. But we shouldn’t worry about that now. We all make mistakes.”
She avoided looking him in the eye and just walked back to the door clutching the sledge.
“Can I have my hammer back?” She didn’t answer. “Where, where you going darling?”
“To make a mistake.”
Throwing open the door Shelly raced for the steps. The clansmen cried out in surprise. She took the stairs two at a time. Each flight her anger filled her lungs. Her legs burned and her head pounded.
Reaching the fifth floor she went straight for the roof access. Swinging open the door she saw Pete sipping tea and warming himself over a coffee can fire.
“Hey sweetie, did you come all this way to see me?” asked Pete.
Shelly stood in the doorway.
“What’s that sledge for? Trouble down stairs?”
She closed the door and jammed a piece of rebar into the handle.
“No, the trouble is here… James is dead.”
Pete got to his feet and glanced over the edge of the roof. Seeing the horde of undead on Main Street he dropped his tea. He started say something but all Shelly ever heard was a wet dull smack.
Thump thump, thwack, thump…
The Fringe is open to submissions of poetry, flash fiction and short stories of any genre. Stories accepted will be published online in our Ezine and also in the monthly pdf magazine.
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We are open to unpublished and previously published stories up to 40,000 words in length.
About The Fringe Magazine
Here at The Fringe Magazine we publish Short Stories, Flash Fiction, Poetry in all genres and reviews of books, roleplay games, music and movies.
Our variety seems to be hiting the mark with over 100,000 views of our Online Magazine with a good spread across all articles.
Our variety seems to be hiting the mark with over 100,000 views of our Online Magazine with a good spread across all articles.?xml:namespace>From surveys we've conducted, our readers are like most people and enjoy reading all kinds of books, both fiction and non-fiction.
With over 350 readers visiting our site each day, we listen to the voice of the masses and try and procure books in all genres to review. To date, we have reviewed over 600 books, including; non-fiction reference, music, art, photography, gardening, cooking, Self Help, architecture, design, biographies and roleplay games.
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