by Wade Bush
It was a night embraced by the elements
that John Gorman was pursuing his dare on. The whole thing had stemmed back to the previous Wednesday at school when within
seconds of almost being killed by the school’s notorious bullies, he had decided to take the safer option they had blessed
him with and break into the local cemetery’s crypt and bring back the hand of a corpse.
The said bullies were actually two kids,
in John’s grade, but much bigger; and they only went by their nicknames – Drako and Brooze.
Drako was of wispy build with a persona
and life dedicated to a gothic disposition. He embraced Satanism and as his name suggested he delved into vampirism on regular
occasions. As the school day moved along he cut his own groove in the educated structure with a contrasted appearance that
crashed between his jet black hair with clothing to match, and the pale skin that poked out of the darkness of his shroud
helped along via cosmetic makeup to highlight his evil ways. Short of fangs he was all that he idolized, to the dismay of
the school principle who preferred he look just like all the other kids in their customary school attire. He had tried everything
bar expulsion…that was coming soon.
Brooze was an overweight compliment to Drako’s
brainstorms. Whether it be worshipping Satan or just beating some poor student up, Brooze was too mentally dim to know any
better. He needed brighter company to feel any sense of normality. At least now he had found a place in society. Ever since
Drako had confronted his simple disciple years before when they had first set foot upon Zombee high, Brooze had become infatuated
with him – instantly taking it upon himself to follow in Drako’s footsteps. He had even aquired Drako’s
wardrobe tips, though he was still to take the next step to gothism and paint his skin. In the confines of school he felt
strong and powerful, and kids left him and his IQ alone unlike most places he haunted when not with his psychopathic counterpart.
He also wanted the same thing Drako did…he was actually still unsure as to what that was; but he was going to follow
no matter what. Their destination would be known eventually; and besides, he thought his adopted nickname was rather cool,
and had certainly been earnt on many occasion.
Even though there were only a pair with
a couple of equally big henchmen shadowing their every move, they liked to refer to themselves as a gang – they even
had a name for their bone snapping organization…The Blood Gang; a gang that had the intimidating number of just four
– Brooze, Drako, Henchman Keith and Henchman Luke; their henchmen even had to use that unflattering title; word was
it gave the gang more muscle. Brooze and Drako had stayed back two years in a row, a hindrance which had also bestowed them
the guise of giants. No one new if they were both naturally evil or just annoyed that their intellect couldn’t move
them forward, but all the kids new to stay out of their way. Not John though. He had an insane dignity that had him believe
that the blood gang shouldn’t scare him into taking precautions to avoid them. He loved going to school, and no broken
nose was getting in the way of that. He had dreams of being the boss of many, and he required an education to achieve it.
On this fateful Wednesday morning though, as he once again fleeted past them with books in hand and an invincible persona
that some could quite easily have mistaken for a suicidal tendency, Henchman Luke had tripped him up sending the books he
was holding so confidently in his hands splashing into some freshly made rain mud a few feet ahead. While most kids would
have climbed back up into an upright position and hoped there was some ice in the freezer back at home to attend to the bruising
they were about to receive, John simply forced a dirty look and went to retrieve his soiled books. The blood gang had been
through this many times with John; it was another déjà vu moment. But after hundreds of beatings that just didn’t get
the message across, The Blood Gang had recently sought out another course of action when it came to John – their unlearned
victim. As John proceeded to grab his books, Brooze grabbed him from behind, while Drako pushed his head into the rather suffice
looking puddle. The henchman did what henchman do, stood with little expression on their faces. John twitched vigorously trying
to break free so that he could suck in some air, but the gang was way too strong. He could taste the mud as he trashed about,
he even swallowed some, and just when he thought he was about to pass out forever, his limp head was pulled up from the puddle
“Enjoy ya swim”, laughed Drako,
the designated leader of the Blood Gang. Out of habit and respect for their leader – and an inkling of fear, Brooze
and the Henchmen who were looking rather dire in their school uniforms, laughed in support of the attempted humour.
John just gasped in response, his want for
air much more intense than justifying a sarcastic comment.
“He seems just a bit wet behind the
ears”, laughed Brooze who mostly came across as a frustrated comedian when trying to bully, and he just wasn’t
funny. Occasionally even attaining enquiring glances from kids covered in blood and with bruises to most parts of their bodies
who just didn’t get his taunts. A faster brain would have helped immensely in this department. Drako and the henchmen
remained silent; the akward silence deafening Brooze as he vowed to write some new material when he next had the chance.
John continued to splutter in the background.
Soon the spluttering began to subside, and
that wasn’t allowed as far as Drako was concerned. He even decided to venture one step further in his evil plot and
push John’s head back down into the puddle, this time with his foot. With pressure applied to John’s matted hair,
he decided that something notably sadistic should be strived for fairly soon, more so than near drowning. A teacher was sure
to approach soon and his authority would be undermined once again with a punishment that involved the scavenging of Zombee
High for rotten apple cores and empty chip packets. As fun as this was, his morbid mind raced off in search of the perfect
climax. He turned to his gang smiling on at his escapades.
“What do ya think guys?” he
prompted still applying pressure to the wriggling being beneath, “Death or something worse?”
The minds of his gang began to tick. Even
the henchmen who were smarter than their older recruiters couldn’t shoot back a response; after all, the being in question
was turning blue as he flopped about in oxygen denied agony – retorting with an even more agonizing option seemed impossible.
The Henchmen had only been part of the gang for two months. As they were big for their age the blood gang found them a threat
and did what any gang would do in that position – offered them leniency in exchange for their services. They rarely
spoke; they were the perfect compliment to the gang in that all they had to offer was muscle and the odd grunt or sadistic
chuckle. People found them more intimidating that way. They had even been promised ‘blood gang t-shirts’ to sweeten
the deal. They were still waiting for them. If the truth be known though, they were quite the social butterflies outside of
the gang, even hosting parties at the house they both rented together. In school though their ice prince persona’s gave
them a free ride that veered away from any form of trouble in regards to those they stood menacingly by.
As the circle contemplated action, John’s
thrashing subsided to nothing more than slight movement.
“Shit”, shrieked Brooze. “Drako,
you better remove your foot”.
Brooze lifted the weight from John’s
head, and clasped his hair painfully tight.
John began to cough up mud water.
“I know what to do with you”,
uttered Drako in a tone that was void of any good intention. “The Blood Gang have a morbid fascination for anything
that is dead…anything that is dark, that is evil; I have the perfect job for you”.
The blood gang looked on in anticipation;
as did many kids from a distance, which was a sure sign that soon teachers and rotten apple cores would soon follow.
“What are you all looking at”
shouted Brooze at the hoards looking on in disapproval. Many who had fallen at the very hands of the gang. “You’re
all next!” he then threatened in his usual un-savvy nature.
“You’re attracting attention
you stupid fuck” spat Drako through a venomous gaze.
“Teacher” commented Henchman
Keith is an urgent tone. Their tough act didn’t come with a great deal of dialogue, but when they spoke there was normally
weight behind what was uttered. Especially when yard duty was concerned.
In the distance Mrs. Callan, a teacher who
had brought it upon herself to destroy The Blood-Gang’s reign, journeyed their way to track down the source of the shouting
and to locate the source of many a students gaze.
Knowing that the release of their hostage
was now imminent, Brooze hastily threw his orders at the limp, drenched victim he was still clutching by the hair. “There
is a cemetery close by to here, up that hill half way between here and the town center. I want you to go there on Saturday
night and enter the crypt in the middle of the grave yard.” A sadistic smile covered Brooze’s face as he went
on. “Find a corpse and cut its hand off, and then on Monday here at school give it to us…death or dare, you decide”.
He then retrieved a pocket knife which he opened up and used to caress John’s neck; his implication dire. “And
don’t forget I know where you live”.
John threw a sideways glance at the gang
who were in obvious discomfort knowing that authority was moving hastily towards them. His eyes eventually lay on the murky
puddle below that had almost been his final resting place. Even though Mrs. Callan had basically saved the day, more days
were to come…and she would not always be around. He took a couple of deep breaths before he spoke – “Dare”.
Drako then dropped John’s head back
into the puddle as they bolted to evade the teacher who was closing in.
Mrs. Callan asked John about what happened.
Obviously he didn’t name names. He knew that would be one big mistake.
So here he now was. Walking up a gloomy
hill towards Zombee Hill Cemetery. The name was off putting enough, but so were the stories of gravediggers disappearing and
being found with their entrails scattered over gravestones. A couple of homeless people had even been found in a very dismembered
What am I doing he thought. But it was something he new that he couldn’t avoid. He
had never seen Drako like that before. Sure he was your textbook bully, maybe slightly more morbid and off the wall, but this
time round he had almost drowned and then stabbed him. He had heard reports that Drako had been dabbling in drugs. That could
certainly explain his newfound psychosis, but the only thing to find now was the hand of a corpse, which would hopefully
keep the blood gang of his case. Along the way he had noticed movement in the bushes either side of the hill’s pathway
at regular intervals. He was wondering if they were following him to make sure he carried out the dare, or maybe it was just
the windy night playing on his mind. He couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this and a horror movie. It
was night after all, and the branches in the diBroozece looked like long, jagged hands that wanted to scratch him to many
smaller pieces. On top of that was the full moon that sat ominously above him with the power to have some unlucky individual
sprout hair at its very beckon. As that thought sat stirring in his brain, he was inBroozetly startled by the wind howling
through the trees. Every little detail seemed to suck the life out of any happy though he tried to clutch onto. He was en
route to a cemetery in any case, happy thoughts were certainly banned tonight…only scary thoughts seemed a legit thing.
What about those gravediggers and homeless people…he had to stop thinking about that, he just had to get the
hand and be done with it, the lifeless corpse of a hand which was still attached to a cadaver. I’m outta here. Coming
to his senses he turned around only to see two figures looking at him. He couldn’t make them out at first, he could
tell that they were lifeless though which meant one of two things – They were the walking dead which seemed rather appropriate
considering his surrounds, or they were the henchmen from the blood gang here to make sure he carried out the task. He had
seen enough horror movies to know that zombies had some sort of personality…
“Why if it isn’t the henchmen
to come and hold my hand” said John sarcastically. “Or would you prefer to wait and hold one that has been cut
clean off a corpse?”.
“Move!” they both ordered in
“I love how you both speak at exactly
the same time, anyone would think you were twins or something…you must have rehearsed all day just so you could make
me proud”. John had always been a bit cocky, he prided himself on it. He wasn’t the biggest guy, but he like to
think that what lacked in height he made up for in wit and especially courage when he used that wit on people who actually
towered over him, like the darkened figures blocking his path.
They remained silent. Brooding in impatient
angst. Come-backs weren’t built into their DNA. Bedsides, they would have much rather be doing something else instead
of this glorified babysitting, but one ounce of brain matter was all that it took to work out why they were in a situation
that had them a somewhat fair share of the way towards a graveyard; his name was Drakson, a psychopath who could quite easily
put them in one.
Knowing he was wasting his time, John continued
his hike to Zombee Hill Cemetery under a blanket of rain that was now pattering down.
The Henchmen followed.
Within only ten minutes, they had all past
the rusted gates of the cemetery that were squeaking eerily in the wind. They perused at the old headstones that were at least
two hundred years old. This cemetery had long since been out of action. There was a newer cemetery not far out of town. The
dank earth here had long since been overpopulated with the dead and so the local council had taken action to build another.
The overcrowding was evident in the many corroded crosses resting askew all over the land. Ahead was the crypt. A dank impression
of how scary cemeteries can be at night, especially old, decrepit ones such as this. Its windows were smashed; probably by
bored youths, and even in the dim light of the moon its age seemed very obvious. It was born of weather worn stone and wooden
planks that were splitting and falling off. The roof wasn’t in much better shape. The only proud thing about the crypt
that was now being highlighted due to the occasional flash of fork lightening, was the strong looking – though slightly
dilapitated - iron door with a big, silver amulet attached to it.
“Well here we are guys”, remarked
John trying to sound like he didn’t want to run. He was failing miserably though. “Time to collect my dare”.
As John pushed on the door the creak that
it evoked echoed in every inch of the cemetery. They all looked back cautiously.
John was the first to enter. And then the
Henchman, one of whom decided to take a little souvenir of his own. The loosely hanging amulet on the iron door. Payment
for giving up our Saturday night he thought Henchman Luke as the other smirked.
They trudged in harboring wet sneakers that
squeaked with every wary step as they browsed past many old looking coffins that were also attaining a wetness due to the
roof that was long overdue for a renovation. They were also laying awkwardly on the dampness; dark spaces in the walls indicated
their previous interment, but vandalism or unstable housing had put an end to any resting in peace. Other coffins remained
in their snug fits though with handles ripe for the pulling if exhuming called for it. A smashed window close to the ceiling
let some moonshine in which proved to be a welcoming source.
“Choose one so we can go”, snapped
Henchmen Luke who suddenly didn’t seem too brave.
“Ok”, replied John. Instead
of disturbing another coffin, he vied for one already long since exhumed. “This one seems as good as any”. He
edged towards the mystery casket and slowly removed the lid. As the lid toppled onto the floorboards the sight that bestowed
them was one they were not ready for, a live corpse in the decomposed flesh. It’s hollow eye sockets staring soullessly
They all screamed as they tried to adjust
to the morbidity before them.
“Just get its hand so we can go”
uttered Henchmen Keith urgently.
With that prompt, John removed a pair of
his dad’s hedge clippers and proceeded to remove the hand, which proved a harder task than he thought. The flesh was
like rubber, which required a good deal of both cutting and pulling, but eventually it severed from the arm with a final snap
The Henchmen looked on in disgust. Their
body language suggested that the exit was a major part of any agenda.
“I agree”, said John, stuffing
the ancient hand into a pocket. He still couldn’t believe he had done it. A passing thought reminded himself to wash
his dad’s hedge clippers.
As they sauntered with added mileage, a
cracking sound from below got their attention causing everyone to stop abruptly. Something was about to break and it concerned
all of them. They looked at each other through unsure eyes before Henchmen Luke fell through the floor boards that burst around
him and into a hidden room, not that the discovery meant much to him as he began to splutter blood out of his nose and mouth,
partly because of the fall, but mostly because of the axe that was now embedded deep in his back. It had been sitting sturdily
on a chopping block, and now too was Henchman Luke. He looked up through half living eyes at the two survivors above him,
and then down at the blood-drenched amulet he had removed not long before from the iron door. He was dying, and the only thing
passing through his fading consciousness was whether any of this had been worth it. He ejaculated one more spurt of blood
and then gazed into eternity.
The other two couldn’t believe it.
It was way too much to comprehend. Their breathing cut back to short bursts as shock began to set it. Shock would have to
wait though as the haunting sound of that crack emanated again, and then a huge snap as broken floor boards and wooden shards
lifted around them sending them plummeting down into the hidden room below also. They both landed with a heavy thud. Apart
from slight bruising and a momentary loss of wind they were in much better shape than the lifeless body next to them. They
both got to their feet and assessed the surroundings around them. The henchman Keith glanced at his best friend lying motionless
and felt like throwing up anything he had ever eaten. He was now gang opposed – Brooze and Drako had gone to some party
tonight in the hope of scoring much sex, and here he was staring at The Henchman Luke, covered in blood all because they were
told to. I will fucking kill them he thought as he took in the room that had taken his only mate. He suddenly wished
he was just another student trying to avoid being beaten, and not this falsified persona that had evaded the point of Drako’s
knife, but had also gotten him into this tragic predicament.
“This room is creepy”, stated
John. It resembled some weird laboratory with vials scattered all over the place. Some with potion still in them. The whole
room was gloomy, even more so thanks to a couple of torches on the walls that threw shadows all over the place. It was almost
like some sort of dungeon. Where the crypt was surrounded by dank wood, this room was housed by stone. And books. There were
books everywhere. One book stood out though, it was on what appeared to be the main work desk and it was opened.
John walked over and perused it. “I
would get you to read this out but you barely speak, so god knows if you can read”.
The henchman shot back a response defensively
“I can speak, and after all this the gang can go and get screwed”. He bottom lip began to quiver. “Why
did we even join a gang?”
“So you wouldn’t have to cut
the hand of a corpse ”, replied John referring to the fingers sticking out of his pocket. “Damn…this page
is blurry without my glasses” he cursed.
“I’ll take a look”, commented
Henchman Keith while wiping the stinging moisture building in his eyes. He moved over to the book and began to decipher. It
was very dusty so he wiped the page with a tissue from his pocket. The uprising dust caused an involuntary cough. He then
began to read. “It talks about a warlock called Zademo. It says he was very powerful and commanded armies of Zombies,
vampires, werewolves and any other product of evil he so willed to. He came here from England about 130 years ago after being
exiled so that he could continue his work”.
“Is it a biography or something?”
“Hang on”, retorted the Henchman
Keith. He moved his finger over certain pages of the book before settling into an ominous look. “This is an autobiography…he
wrote this himself…even these red stains look authentic, like blood or something”.
“So this must have been his place
of work”, replied John as he moved into sleuth mode. “For someone who liked commanding armies of the dead a cemetery
would be the perfect place to set up, and especially beneath a crypt where no-one can disturb you”. John threw a look
towards the naked page and noticed something very familiar, a picture of an amulet. The one that was now being clasped by
Henchman Luke. “Is that what I think it is?’ asked John even though he felt little doubt.
Henchman Keith read on. “It says that
any sole corpse, or even an army of the dead couldn’t enter a site guarded by this particular amulet hanging somewhere,
though if it were to be removed by someone with ill intention towards those deceased and stained with blood, it would cause
rage and blood lust in those beneath the earth in close proximity and they would rise to seek retribution and feed”.
Their eyes both darted towards the amulet
being held by someone who was part of a mission to dismember a corpse, an ill intention, who then too became one while
spilling his very blood onto the amulet. They both knew this didn’t look good.
“Umm, if these…these zombies”,
stammered John, “if they decide to rise and kick our asses, or even eat them, does it say anywhere how we can save ourselves?”
“Well all I can gather”, replied
the Henchman Keith, “is that these zombies are scared of the amulet so whoever has it should be safe”.
In the distance a blood curdling sound was
heard. It wasn’t the wind or the front gate creaking in the wind, but something different. These sounds stood out. High
pitched wailings that seemed to be coming from the cemetery. The books prophecy about the amulet seemed to be coming to fruition.
Those sounds were in fact the awakening cries of the dead. Or something that seemed very close.
Wasting no time, the Henchman Keith lunged
forward towards the amulet. He was sure those sounds were an undead army gathering its troops and he didn’t want to
be on the menu. John also lunged for it. He grappled the Henchman Keith and threw him back into some wooden shelves that broke
without too much effort. Sensing his chance, John then removed the amulet from the dead henchman’s death grip. The henchman
Keith then jumped onto John and began to wrestle him. They fought vigorously, unaware that the lifeless gaze on the Henchman
Luke now looked directly at them, eyes focused. It sat up and removed the axe from its back in one swift motion sending bone,
blood and tissue fragments onto the rear wall before clumsily getting up and hobbling towards the chaos. They were still fighting
when the axe came crunching down onto the henchman Keith’s head, severing part of it and causing him to give up the
fight instantly. His arms drooped raggedly down each side of John as his whole body convulsed towards its final curtain.
John pushed his dead opponent off onto the
floor where the blood continued to pour from what was left of his head. Bits of brain matter swirled lazily in the red pool.
He got to his feet as he closely monitored the room for a weapon. The zombie didn’t approach though. It stood in an
unthreatening manner and then lowered its head.
“Master, what do you ask of me?”
it said as it dropped the blood-laden axe to the floor.
John looked on in disbelief. The wailing
outside was also getting closer, but now he didn’t seem too threatened. The amulet must have possessed all the powers
the book said it did.
“Umm, what would you like to do”,
asked John still coming to grips with his decayed pet.
It looked up through red eyes that seemed
to swirl in a fluorescent mist. “Feeeeeeed…I must feed master”.
“Then feed”, replied John cherishing
The creature lunged towards the dead henchman
Keith and continued to open him up, ripping at his intestines and filling its mouth with anything it could grab. It crunched
down onto the liver which popped open with little effort squirting blood all over the cold floor. It went for the heart next
which was still warm as it had only recently stopped pumping. It snapped some of the ribs off so that it could get to more
of the good stuff. Eventually it didn’t even single one organ out, it just pulled stuff out by the handful and devoured
every last bit.
“Umm, sorry to interrupt your snack,
but how do I get out?” queried John while at the same time trying to keep as much composure as he could after witnessing
his first cannibalistic all you can eat.
The creature pointed towards a ladder that
had been obscured by chairs and various ancient looking artifacts. He proceeded to climb it before removing a loose slab now
the base of weed infestation and then bursting out into the cemetery through earth and grass. Before him stood hundreds of
zombies, Standing to attention as best as one can on legs that had been decaying for centuries. Their red eyes cut through
the cemetery mist as they awaited orders.
Normally this sight would have seen John
have a cardiac arrest before the undead legion, but he looked at the blood-covered amulet and felt a warming sense of calm.
Just like an undead choir they all spoke
– “Master, what do you ask of us”.
John still had many unanswered question,
such as what happened to their real master - The Warlock Zademo, and he still hadn’t fathomed what was now a nightmarish
reality. But it had always been John’s dream to have many people working for him, this was a little awry in terms of
that dream, after all he always assumed the people working for him would have a pulse…but John suddenly didn’t
care about that; he was now a powerful leader. As he took in the massive army covering the entire cemetery, his eyes focused
on one zombie in particular, it was missing a hand – definitely the result of ill feeling towards those deceased. “I
know what we can do”, shouted John towards his army hungry for orders and blood. He looked down at the decrepit fingers
popping out of his pocket. “If you’re all free Monday, we could go give someone what he deserves”.
The zombie hoards grunted as the thought
of retribution and food filled their decayed souls.
John began to smile, knowing that Brooze
and Drako would never have to worry about rotten apple cores and empty chip packets ever gain.
Stay tuned for part 2.
Copyright Wade Bush 2005