Ghoul Camo.jpg

A TALE OF HELL ON EARTH
A WRITTEN STORY OF ROT TOWN

SHOCK ROCKEN AN UNDEAD EXTREME SPORT.  INVOLVES THE DETONATION OF A NUCLEAR DEVICE FOUND IN THE WASTELANDS SURROUNDING ROT TOWN. UNDEAD WILL CLING TO RUINED BUILDINGS NEAR THE EXPLOSION AND ATTEMPT TO HANG ON AGAINST THE SHOCKWAVE. USUALLY 1 IN 3 PARTICIPANTS OF SHOCK ROCKEN ARE CATASTROPHICALLY DAMAGED. IT IS ONE OF THE FAVORITE PAST TIMES IN ROT TOWN.

 

There was a blinding flash. The dank red sky flashed white, then faded.  Out in the Rind, the radioactive wasteland that surrounds Rot Town, a mushroom cloud blossomed- another fungus eating the dead world. Tash and Ling were waiting for it. They had paid good zombie mula to know where the boom would be. The two zoms were on the tip top of a ruined skyscraper right at the edge of Rot Town. The building was a blasted wreck. The top third was little more than jagged girders spiking from the scalped top of the building, like ribs sticking out of road kill.

    Tash clung to the top most girder, clinging on like a monkey. Skinny, wiry and spattered in festering sores, Tash resembled a skeleton covered in old flaky paper mache. A pair of baggy pants, belted to its narrow hips by a rope, covered its legs.  Tape and glue held the pants together more than the original stitches. Duct tape was wrapped around its bare feet and spiked toes. Except for a stringy rat tail that sprouted out the back of its skull like an old dead umbilical cord,  Tash was  as bald as a mushroom.

   Just below Tash was Ling, who was clamped onto a pipe that jutted out of the mangled mess. It clung on by its teeth, as tight and secure as a vice. A pair of jeans clong to its skinny legs, know rotted away to just below its knee and it's worn out sneakers where more duct tape than shoe. Ling’s bloated paunch hung free out the bottom of a filthy white tank top. The zom resembled a rotten pear with chewed up pencils sticking out of it- a fat head and body with thin frail arms and legs. Its spindly arms were wrapped in sodden rags, sticking to the rotted out flesh in an attempt to hold them together. Ling’s wasted arms weren't going to handle what was coming; it's heinous jaws and teeth had a much better chance.

    The two ghouls hung to their perches and watched the rolling shock wave come closer and closer.

   “Ohh shit, this is goin’ to be brutal! Clinch them yappers, Ling!”

  Ling grunted unintelligibly over its mouthful of pipe in response. Dotting the neighboring ruins, dozens of other ghouls clung on to their perches. Their howls and shrieks mixed with the growing rumble of the shock wave. It was the sounds of nightmares, the music of Armageddon, the rock n’ roll of Rot Town. Somewhere a zom started yelling, “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4…”

    The shock wave hit.  Whoever that zom was sucked at counting down.  It struck like a colossal bitch slap; an enormous mass of pressurized wind and heat. The buildings groaned under the impact. Anything that was loose or weak blew away as the buildings quaked. Tash and Ling thrashed about like flags in a gale. On neighboring buildings, undead were torn free and tumbled away into the storm.  Punk asses! Only chumps got blown out while Shock Rocken.

   Tash howled at the top of its rotten lungs. Black sputum blasted out of its open mouth to be carried away in the blast wave. An eye suddenly popped loose, bouncing around on its chest by a nerve, like a ball on a string.  Somewhere nearby, a ruined building gave way under the blast and blew apart in a mass of blowing dust and debris. Everything behind it was pummeled by its fall. Then, the top of another building tore free. It flew through the air like a giant cardboard box before smashing apart on the buildings behind it. Tash got a glimpse at the zoms clamped to it.  Even from its perch it could see the mad grins on their faces. Lucky assholes. That was an epic ride.

   After the initial blast the shock wave quickly pooped out.  As the force waves weakened, Tash’s body collapsed on the girder. A final gust whipped Tash’s rat tail.  Then it was all over. On the surrounding ruins undead howled in adrenaline fueled glee. Shock Rocken was a sport that only the most badass ghouls did and if you were still clinging in the end then you were straight up the shit.

   “Fuck yeah bitches!” howled Tash. It thrusted its middle finger at the mushroom cloud. “And Fuck you boomer! Ya can’t scrape off old Tash!”  It grabbed its dangling eyeball and popped it back into its head then looked down at Ling. A look of surprise came to Tash’s face, then it began to cackle. Soon it was howling in hysterical glee.  Beneath Tash, Ling glared back. It remained clamped to the pipe by its teeth. It tried to speak but all that came out was muffled hissing.

   Ling’s teeth and jaws held out against the shock wave. Ling’s neck did not. Ling was now just a severed head clamped to the pipe. Tash continued laughing as it shimmied down to its buddy. It grabbed Ling by the ear and yanked. Ling snapped its teeth free.

   “Ha ha. Laugh it up, punk! This is obviously a fuckin’ hooot!”

   “Ohh, come on Ling. It’s kind of funny.” Tash lifted Ling’s severed head so they were eye to eye. “I guess you’re a punk ass, buddy. Couldn't handle a Shock Rock.”

   “What?!” Ling yelled. “I totally hung in there, asshole! You're literally holding the proof of that!”

   “Yeah, well I guess you're just a punk ass from the neck down,.”  Tash replied as it tucked Ling’s surly head under its arm.  It then began the long climb down to the streets.

 

 

FUSE HUSTLERS

THE FACILITATORS, PROMOTERS AND PROFITEERS OF THE SPORT OF SHOCK ROCKEN.  FUSE HUSTLERS HUNT THE WASTELAND FOR UNDETONATED NUKES. ONCE ONE IS FOUND THEY RIG IT UP WITH A TIMED FUSE OR DETONATOR, THEN RETURN TO THE CITY.  FOR A SOLID FEE THEY TIP OFF INTERESTED PARTIES AS TO WHERE AND WHEN THE NUKE WILL GO OFF AND THE BEST PLACES TO GO SHOCK ROCKEN. FUSE HUSTLING IS A LUCRATIVE BUSINESS BUT ALSO ABSURDLY DANGEROUS. IT TAKES A WHOLE LOT OF CRAZY TO BE A FUSE HUSTLER AND A WHOLE LOT OF LUCK TO BE A GOOD ONE.

 

   “I guess that old scab Dooby was for real,” Tash said as it hopped down to the street. “I thought the Doob was full of baloney about the nuke but lone and behold.” Ling remained in sullen silence.

   “Stop being a peevish bitch Ling. Shock Rocken’s a dangerous game. It could be worse.”

   “Oh yeah? Like how?”

   “Well, you could be that dude.”

   Tash lifted up Ling’s head so it could see a zom impaled on some nearby ruins. It had landed ass first onto a long piece of piping that jutted from a pile of debris. The pipe had gone up its ass, through its body, and out its mouth. The impaled zom looked down at Tash and Ling.

   “Hey there buds, can ya give me a hand here?” it slurred over the pipe in its mouth.

   “Should have hung on tighter, punk ass.” Tash said and walked away.

   Tash might have been a dick, but it was a good friend in the end. Tash and Ling had been buds since before the Vile Genesis, back when they were clean meat human. As a matter of fact, when Tash turned ghoul it was the one who bit and infected Ling. You can’t put a price on friendship like that. And for 22 years of undeath they had rolled together in the gooey streets of Rot Town, two damned beings in a world of the damned.  And having a damn good time.  The wrecked earth could be a fun place if you knew where to look.

   For three hours Tash carried around Ling’s severed head, looking for its body. They found three other splattered zoms that couldn't hold on, a good looking zom lady who was not interested in anything they had to say, and a fascinating mutant slug thing that Tash had to examine and eat before they found Ling’s below the neck parts. For a body that had fallen over a dozen stories in a nuclear blast, it wasn't too bad. It had bounced off or through a building or two and had landed in a puddle of gelatinous toxic goo which had cushioned its fall somewhat. One arm had been torn out at the shoulder, and the other arm was a mangled mess a few feet away. Something sharp had ripped open the belly and the guts were festooned around the surrounding ruins, but the spine and hip were intact, and the legs were ok. With some work the busted arm could be nailed back into shape. And a good knitter could sew the arm and head back on and tie up the stomach gash. All in all, not too bad.

   “Yeah, not too bad,” complained Ling, “I only got one arm now. And of course my right arm’s gone- I’m right handed, damn it!”

   “You're just going to have to learn how to beat off with your left,” Tash said as it examined Ling’s mangled body. “Now stop being a butt hurt cry baby before I punt your ugly mug into a ditch.” It scratched its head as it looked into the hollow wet hole within Ling’s gutted belly. “I hope you know a good knitter because this shit is way beyond me.”

   “Yeah,” said Ling’s head, “An old husk named Lady Glue. You can get ran over by a lawnmower and Lady Glue can sew you backup good as new. Only problem, the old bat cost some weight in zombie mula.”

   Tosh looked down at Ling’s head. “Well I hope you got some mula.”

   Ling’s head thought about it for a moment. “Yeah I do! In my pants. You’ll have to grab it. It’s taped up safe and sound.”

   Tash started batting around Ling’s body looking for the mula.

   “No no, not there. Down south. Right between my ball sack and taint. You know, the choad. I got about a pound taped in there for safekeeping.”

   Tash looked at Ling’s head, then at Ling’s mangled body. It sighed, then bent down and started poking around where it was told. “I don’t see any zombie mula here!” complained Tosh after a halfhearted search.

   “What? It better be there. Look closer. Check underneath things and inside stuff.”

   Tash squinted into crevices and under loose stuff. “I don’t see no mula!” It yelled in disgust.

It then slowly stood up and looked angrily at Lings head. “Wait a second, there was never any zombie mula taped to your choad!”

   Ling’s head managed to look innocent for about a half second before it exploded into laughter.

   “You punk ass, low down, degenerate fuck!” yield Tosh.

   “I’m the degenerate fuck? You're the one who just fondled my choad.”

   Tosh kicked Ling’s head squarely in the face and sent it sailing through the air. Ling laughed the whole way, even as it tumbled across the ground and ended upside down against a barrel of toxic waste. Totally worth it.

   “Come on Tosh. I’ll pay you back. You know I’m good for it.” Ling’s head yelled.

Only silence answered. “I’ll even throw in a couple nugs for Z Cigs and a handle of Tox Hooch.”

   Tosh walked over to Ling’s head, hunched under the weight of Ling’s body, which it had thrown over its shoulder. Tash grabbed Ling’s head by the ear and held it so they were face to face.

   “You best,” Tash said, its voice ominous and threatening. Ling tried to look frightened but then snorted.

   “Choad fondler.”

   Tosh sighed as it tucked Ling’s snickering head under its arm and trudged away into the guts of Rot Town to get its buddy fixed.

 

 

FIXING THE UNDEAD

THE GHOUL RACES DON’T DIE EASILY. ONLY MASSIVE TRAUMA TO THE BRAIN WILL KILL THEM. THEY CAN SURVIVE ANY DAMAGE FROM THE NECK DOWN NO MATTER HOW MASSIVE OR TRAUMATIC. HOWEVER, THEY CAN BE DAMAGED AND THEY DO NEED TO BE REPAIRED. UNDEAD CAN'T HEAL BUT THEY CAN BE FIXED. IF AN UNDEAD LOSES A PIECE OF ANATOMY SUCH AS A HAND, FOOT, ARM, LEG, HEAD, OR WHATEVER, IT CAN BE REATTACHED AND BECOME MORE OR LESS AS FUNCTIONAL AS IT WAS BEFORE. CRUSHED BONES CAN BE NAILED BACK TOGETHER. BURNT, FROZEN OR ROTTED OUT FLESH CAN BE WRAPPED UP AND HELD IN PLACE. WITH A SKILLED KNITTER, OR UNDEAD FIXER, ANY DAMAGE DONE TO AN UNDEAD’S BODY CAN BE REPAIRED.

 

   Lady Glue’s shop was way in the Splicer Market, a part of Rot Town known for its stitchers, fixers, and grafters. During the early days of the Vile Genesis this part of the city had been plastered by the quarantine bombing attempts. About a half mile or so was leveled. In the years to come the undead used this cratered mess as a thriving market district. There meat shops, clinics, and graft stations were housed in a bizarre variety of structures made from materials dragged in from other parts of the city. Piled up cars, shipping crates, stacks of toxic waste barrels and plywood; all kinds of random things slapped together to make the shanty town of undead healers. If you needed a severed hand knitted back on, you went to the Splicer Market. You need a mutant tentacle tumor properly removed? You went to the Splicer Market. You want your leg replaced with a flamethrower or want your ass hole to shoot acid? You went to the Splicer Market.

   Lady Glue’s shop had been a bank vault once upon a time, a giant concrete square pitted with acid burns, fitted with a rusted circular vault door in the front. In white paint above the vault door it reads, Lady Glue’s Fixin Station. Gash knitting, limb and cranial reattachment and repair. ZOMBIE MULA ONLY!”  Hanging from a string against the door was a grenade. A sticky note on it said, “Pull Pin for Service”.

   Tash walked up to the door and looked at the dangling grenade. “Hell of a doorbell.”

It shrugged and yanked the pin then dived for cover behind a pile of rubble. The grenade blew with a deafening bang that echoed hollowly inside the vault.  The vault wheel began to spin and the huge door slowly opened on squealing hinges. A tiny mummified zom was hunched on the inside. It looked like it was made of burned out fluorescent light bulbs, skinny, stiff and fragile. However, there was nothing fragile about its agitated scowl or the sharp look of manic intelligence in its large yellow eyes, magnified by the complex array of lenses and specs strapped to its head. Covering its sunken torso was an apron that had once, decades earlier, been white. Now, after years and gallons of putrid fluids, it was a crusted sheet of browns, grays and blacks.

   Lady Glue put its long spiked hands on its hips as Tash pulled itself from the rubble. Saws, pliers and other tools clanged and clacked around the thick leather belt cinched around its tiny waist. Tash brushed off the filth and yanked out a rusted shard of metal from its shoulder. Lady Glue’s eyebrows rose as it saw Ling’s head tucked under Tash’s arm and the trashed body thrown over Tash’s shoulder. Its long gray tongue slid across its teeth, already tasting the large amount of zombie mula it would cost to fix up that mess.

   “You got mula?” Lady Glue’s voice was a low hiss.

   Tash flung Ling’s body from its back and plopped Ling’s head down at its feet. “You owe me fat for this,” it hissed as it stuck a hand into a pocket. It pulled out a human foot. It was far from fresh, starting to stink, but still good if you didn't mind some tang in your human meat. Tash put the foot on Lings head and smiled at Lady Glue.

   “More,” it hissed.

   Tash glared down at Ling’s head as it dug around in its back pocket, pulling out a spool of human intestine. Tash dropped the gut on top of Ling’s head.

   “More.”

   “How much more?” complained Tash.

   “A good chunk more. Quality cost meat, and that mess goin’ ta need quality.”

   Tash sighed and yanked off a length of tape stuck on its side. Under the tape was a long gash, which Tash pried open. Long ago Tash had yanked out some obsolete intestinal crap to make a space to stash it's best loot. It stuck its hand into the gash and fished around. It delicately pulled out a human brain, covered in salted tin foil to keep it fresh. A human brain, the finest kind of zombie mula. Tash placed the brain on top the other mula on Lings head.

   “Is that enough for ya or do I need to eat out your rotten clam to?!”

   “It would take a better undead than you”, Lady Glue hissed back. The old ghoul smiled at the pile of human flesh. “Come on in.”

 

 

SLIT VAULT

ROT TOWN’S A ROUGH PLACE AND THEFT, ROBBERY AND GENERAL VILLAINY ARE THE LAY OF THE LAND. THE GHOUL RACES COMBAT THIS BY MAKING SLIT VAULTS IN THEIR BODIES. THE INTESTINAL TRACTS THAT THE UNDEAD INHERITED FROM THEIR HUMAN DAYS HAVE NO FUNCTION AND CAN BE REMOVED TO NO NEGATIVE EFFECT. UNDEAD WILL CUT OPEN THEIR STOMACHS AND YANK OUT CHUNKS OF THEIR POINTLESS GUTS IN ORDER TO MAKE ROOM TO HIDE THEIR MOST VALUABLE LOOT.

 

   Tash leaned impatiently against a giant glass tube inside Lady Glue’s shop. Stenciled on the tube in red paint was: “Arma Corp Mutagenic Weapons Division. Failed specimen. Dispose of immediately.”

   After an hour and a half under Lady Glue’s knife, Ling’s busted up body was much less busted up. Ling’s head was being reattached to its body.  It was laying on its back on a rickety wooden table in the middle of the shop. Lady Glue hunched over it, hands and forearms covered in thick black zombie blood. Lady Glue hummed a song softly as it worked. Apparently it had a fondness for Pearl Jam.

   “Can ya sing something else?” Tash blurted out. “Do ya know how fucked up it is for an undead creature to be singing Alive? It’s way too fucking ironic!”

   “Sing a White Zombie song.” suggested Ling, its head hanging awkwardly from its neck.

   “That’s ironic in an even more dumb way!” yelled Tash.  “I’d be down for a Rob Zombie song though.”

   “If ya don’t like my tunes go wait outside. Now be quiet. The melon is always the hardest part.” looked Tash sighed loudly at the undead arms that hung from the ceiling. Most still clinched and grabbed blindly which meant the host body was still unalive out there. They probably belonged to ghouls who still owed Lady Glue debt.  Behind Tash, in the thick milky liquid inside the glass tube, a mutant creature swam around. It was a tumorous mass of spongy flesh sprouted with tentacles and barbed bone. Metal sheeting blinked with lights and electrical discharge where it was riveted around its bulbous mass. It had its round puckered mouth suctioned against the glass, right behind Tash’s head.

   “How much fucking longer?” whined Tash, completely unaware of the hungry mutant mouth inches from its head.

   “Long as it takes,” hissed Lady Glue as it stitched around Ling’s neck with slow careful strokes. “Now shut your mouth! You’re bugging Isabel.”

   “Who’s Isabel?” Tash looked behind it at the giant suction cupped mouth pressed against the glass, centimeters from its face. “AHHHH!” It lunged back into the hanging arms. Several grabbed onto him. Tash looked at the puckered mouth- then gave a lewd smile.

   “Ahhhhh,” Tash said in a sultry voice, brushing off the clingy arms. It sauntered over to the glass tube. “Howsit, Isabel? Hey, Lady Glue. You mind if I go for a swim with the pretty lady?”

   “A swim with Isabel cost mula.” Lady Glue hissed, not looking up from its work.

   “I gave you every last gob of mula I have to fix that asshole,” Tash yelled pointing at Ling.

“I’m a good customer. You can’t give me a break?”

   “Breaks are for bones,” replied Lady Glue, “Ya want a swim with Isabel, you give my mula.” Tash crossed its arms and leaned against the glass tub next to the hungry mouth in sulky defeat.

   “Next time baby, next time.” It winked at the mouth.

   About 30 minutes later Lady Glue tied off the last stitch. “You're done,” it hissed, putting back gore covered tools in its belt. “Please continue to play rough, and please remember to come by Lady Glue when ya need knittin’ up. Now get your janky asses out my shop.”

   Ling hopped off the table and looked at its one remaining arm. Long metal spikes were pierced through its lower and upper arm to secure the busted bones. The tips of its spiked fingers to the very edge of the reattachment sutures below its shoulder were tightly wrapped bandages. From right below its ribs to right above its groin was a long ugly gash sewn shut by dozens of stitches. The join where the head had torn away from the neck was sown together with thick copper wire. Ling’s head looked stiff when it moved but was a great deal better than before they came in.

   “What I tell ya Tash. As good as new. Worth every gob of mula.”

   “Ya, my mula,” stated Tash as it began to push open the heavy safe door. It gave one last longing look at Isabel who swam around menacingly in the opaque fluids of the tub.

   “Yo, Lady Glue. I’ll be back for that swim.”

   “I’m sure ya will,” it hissed back as it rummaged around in a box. “Here.” It tossed a small round object at the two zoms. The grenade bounced across the floor and came to rest between them.

   “Holy shit!” shrieked the two zoms at the same time as they scurried around for cover.

   “String that up at the door when ya leave,” lady Glue hissed as it began sorting out a box of rotting eyeballs. “Ya blow my last one.”

   Ling and Tash looked cautiously at the grenade and saw it still had the pin in it.

 

 

HUMANS ABOVE AND BELOW

THERE ARE HUMANS WHO LIVE IN ROT TOWN. THE MAJORITY OF THESE HUMAN EITHER LIVE BELOW IN THE SEWERS OR IN RUINED BUILDINGS HIGH OVER THE STREETS OF ROT TOWN. THE ONES WHO WENT UNDERGROUND ARE KNOWN AS SEWER BOYS. THEIR SUBTERRANEAN TURF IS HEAVILY DEFENDED AGAINST THE UNDEAD AND IS ONE OF THE FEW PLACES CONTROLLED BY HUMANS. HOWEVER, IT'S A STINKING HIVE OF SHIT AND VILLANY. THE SEWER BOYS ARE CANNIBALISTIC INBRED FREAKS, CORRUPTED FROM YEARS OF RADIATION AND DRIVEN INSANE BY THE WORSHIP OF DEMONIC ENTITIES. THE HUMANS WHO TOOK TO THE BUILDINGS ARE CALLED RUIN LEACHES. THEY LIVE A NOMADIC LIFE, RUNNING AND HIDING FROM THEIR UNDEAD HUNTERS AS THEY EEK OUT A LIVING FROM THE RUINS OF THE OLD WORLD.

 

 

   Tash strung up the grenade outside Lady Glue’s, giving it a contemptuous slap before heading off. Ling followed, twisting its newly fixed arm.  “Ok, said Tash, “Time to gear up for a hunt.”

   Ling slumped. “Come on, I just got fixed. Can I get a minute to recombobulate and shit?”

   “I’m broke thanks to you. So fuck you and your combobulation! You owe me fat and your helping me run down a human is you starting to pay off your debt.”  Ling shrugged it's one good shoulder and walked on after Tash.

    Several hours later the two zoms hunched in the third floor of a half gutted apartment building. Somewhere on the 5th floor a pack of undead were howling and shrieking as they thrashed to booming music. The smell of Z Cigs and Tox Hooch wafted down with the noise. Tash and Ling longed to sneak up and crash the party but they were here for a very different purpose.

    Ling put a black trash bag over its head and taped it around its neck. The rest of its body was covered with taped-on trash bags. After it tied the bag over its neck it tore a slit for its eyes and gnashed its teeth, ripping an opening for its mouth. As Ling finished up it looked over to Tash who sat on a barrel of toxic waste staring longingly upward at the sounds of the party.

   “What the hell dude? Yea going to camo up or what?”

   Tash looked at its buddy, then hopped off the barrel. It grabbed a rusted metal container lying next to it. Tash clamped its teeth into the top of the container and ripped it open. Inside was old sludgy motor oil. It lifted the container and poured the stinking crude over its head. It tossed the empty container away then rubbed the oil over its body. Soon all its bleached undead flesh was covered in black oil. It glistened wetly in the shadows, just a vague silhouette, with only its teeth and eyes showing in sharp contrast.

   The two undead, camouflaged for the dark places they would soon hunt, climbed out of the ruined building. Behind them, the dull thumping of the music echoed. Somewhere, the haunting howl of a wendigo cut the dead air of the city. The red sun sunk under the broken skyline and the sky turned the deep crimson of night. Ling looked at the jagged ruined city, then looked down at the broken asphalt of the street.  “We going high or low? Ruin Leach or Sewer Boy?”

   “You think I’m going to wallow around in trap filled dooky tubs trying to sniff out some degenerate sub human inbred, cannibalistic, demon worshiping sewer boy fuck who's meat’s mostly tumors and not worth its weight in rot guts?” asked Tash with contempt.

   “Whatever dude, you're just a claustrophobic bitch.”

   “Fuck you and the sewers,” Tash side with a shudder. “Sewer boys give me the heebee jeebees. We’re Ruin Leach hunting.”

   “Climbing around on buildings may be all fun and games to you but last time it didn't turn out so good for me,” said Ling pointing at its stitched up neck.

   “Well, maybe if you weren't in such massive fucking debt to me your opinion would matter.  But, oh look, it doesn’t. We take to the buildings for our zombie mula.”

   Tash stomped away down the street. Ling glared after it before trudging along. The two zoms walked for miles into the deep ruins of Rot Town. Here, once upon a time, was the heart of the city. The dead bodies of once great skyscrapers swayed in the smoky wind or leaned against one another like old drunk hobos. Here and there a toppled building lay shattered on its side, another rotting thing in the rotting city. The deep ruins were the wild lands of Rot Town, unclaimed and uncontrolled. It was a place unfriendly to the Ghoul Races, one of the few places in Rot Town where the undead didn't hold sway. Humans live here. They live within the ruined buildings. They snare rats and pigeons and wild dogs. They scavenge for canned food, ammunition and medicine. They tap into old water mains, and filter out rain water. They lay traps and alarms in their holes and hideouts. The life of a ruin leach is hard and unforgiving, a nomadic, hunted and short life, yet one of the few ways a human can live. The deep ruins were their turf and it took a mean, crazy and stupid ghoul to go there looking for prey. Mean, crazy and stupid- just like Tash and Ling.

   A change come over the two zoms. Their degenerate minds faded back behind the primal will of the Vecna Germ and let the will of the germ govern them. There was no hanky panky when it came to human hunting. If there was an unaffected clean human being still alive in Rot Town after all these years that meant they were among the toughest of their race. The two zoms disappeared into the darkness of this unfriendly land, hunting for the most valuable thing in their undead existence. Human Meat.

 

 

GUNS AND LEAD

GUNS AND AMMO ARE A RARE COMMODITY IN ROT TOWN. AFTER 20 YEARS OF APOCALYPSE MOST OF THE BULLETS HAVE LONG AGO BEEN SHOT OFF AND THE GUNS HAVE RUSTED OUT OR BROKEN. HOWEVER, WHAT FIREARMS REMAIN BELONG MAINLY TO HUMANS. THEY HAVE FOUND WAYS TO MAINTAIN THEIR WEAPONS AND CAN SCAVENGE OR CREATE AMMUNITION. THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS HUMANS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CARVE OUT A HOLD IN ROT TOWN. THE UNDEAD HAVE LARGELY ABANDONED THE USE OF GUNS, MAINLY BECAUSE OF THEIR MUTATED, ENLARGED HANDS AND TALONED FINGERS- AND A LACK OF DETAILED INTELLECT TO MAINTAIN THEM. IN THE END, THE GUN DIDN'T SAVE MANKIND BUT IT DID ALLOW THEM TO SURVIVE.

 

   There was an office building in the deep ruins. Once upon a time it had been a towering spike of steel and glass that housed the dictatorships whose wheims decide the course of the old world. Now, fires had burned out many of the floors and most of the windows were long blown out. The top floors were crushed by a military helicopter that still sat impaled in them like a hatchet.  At the 27th flood three humans sat around a small sterno can where they ate. Ody was an old man, hairy and gangly, while Nail was a muscular bald man with tombstone eyes. Melody was a tiny, dark skinned young woman, a mongrel child of the apocalypse.

   Ody huffed on a spray can with a long gurgling snort. He lent back his head and groaned as bloody snot leaked out his nostril. His thick gray mustache was crusted with the goo. He had barely even touched his rat. It was stuck into the spongy carpet by its cooking stick, getting cold. Ody’s priorities had become more and more screwed over the last months. Now, getting blasted came before eating.

   Melody looked at Ody. The red glow of the sterno lit his matted, hairy face. His buggy eyes were staring at her from the dreadlocked mass that was his head. He was staring at her chest in a stoned stupor. She leaned forward and lowered her face so she was staring back at him, her amber eyes flashing menacingly. His bug eyes looked into hers for barely a second before he looked away. The rat he wasn't eating had more courage than he ever would.

   Some humans survive the same way vermin did- by being sneaky, clever and cowardly. Ody was one of them. Melody had never seen a craftier human in her life. He could make smart little traps to snare rats and pigeons, and he could fix a busted gun, rig up a solid perimeter alarm, and patch up a broken arm. However, the skill he had that truly mattered was making ammunition. His mobile munition kit had kept them armed and their guns in working order for the last three years and had saved their asses way too many times. His bullet making was getting low on his priorities, though.  Instead of looking for the stuff he needed to make ammo he was out looking for shit to get high. His bullet count had been dropping noticeably lately, as well as the quality. Twice in the last month his rounds had misfired.

   Melody stared at the ugly old creep as he sucked on the can again. Soon his benefits to the group would be overshadowed by the detriment. Then something very bad would happen to him. Melody looked at the vague shape of Nail where he lend against the wall. He was looking at Ody too, his hooded eyes emotionless as he chewed on his rat.

   Some humans survived because they were too fucking mean to die. That was Nail. He was a murderous psycho who thrived in the post-apocalyptic world. He was good at killing undead, at killing mutant monsters, or killing other humans and he did it with a scary kind of ease. He was the only human she had ever seen who loved life. He took to the Wrecked Earth like a fly to shit. It just worked out well for him. No one could tell what was rolling around in Nail’s bald head. He might be bored and snap your neck for shits and giggles. Or maybe he’d give you an extra can of food because he thinks you're looking thin. One thing was for sure, if Ody became too much of a pain in the ass, Nail would be the one to fix it, one way or another.

   And then there was Melody. Some humans survived because they were lucky. That was Melody. Her sixteen years of life had not been kind. She was a Red Sky Child, meaning she was born after the Vile Genesis and had only known the Wrecked Earth. There had only ever been sickness and death, empty bellies and dirty water. Skulking the ruins, scrounging for enough- enough to not starve, or die of thirst, or freeze, or burn, or die from some random sickness. And always, always hunted by the undead who craved your flesh with all their will. Yet she had made it. She seemed to have a sixth sense that saved her ass on a regular basis. It was a random thing; sometimes she was at the right place at the right time, or had a funny feeling that helped her avoid bad situations. She could kick over an old box and find a can of food, or make a half ass snare and get a fat rat. Her mama had said she was charmed, years ago before her momma got run down by some human hunter zoms.

   Melody sucked the last shreds of meat from her rat and tossed the bones on the rotted carpet. It had been a good day. Four rats and two pigeons snared, a scrounged can of peaches and a gallon and a half of clean water siphoned from a water main. Nail had found a box of bandages and a bottle of peroxide. Melody had found some gear Ody could use for ammo. And Ody found a can of something he could huff. They had settled down on the 27th floor of the old office building for the night. This was the first solid meal they had in 5 days. The office building was rotten and cold but more or less dry. They had pitched camp in a meeting room near the center of the floor with a good view of the stair well, the main way in or out. They set several traps and alarms in the surrounding halls and cubicles. If any nasties were poking around they would know long before they got the drop on them. The three humans were as secure as they could be. All in all a very good day for a ruin leach in Rot Town.

   Melody looked around the old meeting room, looking at the inspirational posters and memos that hung limply from the moldy walls. She looked at the coffee mugs that sat on the tables where they were last set down, decades before. Lying on the floor was a single high heeled shoe. On the wall next to the shoe were bloody handprints, dull brown and faded. She wondered what happened here all those years ago, tried to imagine humans that were clean, healthy and unafraid. She tried to imagine blue skies and full bellies. However, she had no reference to that old world and could never really understand it.

   She unrolled her ratty old sleeping bag. She put her rife by her side and pulled out the shank from her boot as she kicked them off. She looked at the screw driver as she laid down. Tied to the end of it was a label. Written on the label, “Evidence, Case #666”. She remembered finding it, years ago when she was kid. She and her mama were scrounging around a ruined police station. They had found nothing but a few nick knacks, one of which was the screwdriver lying on the floor of the evidence locker. The evidence locker was a safe enough place to crash so they stayed the night there. That night her mama dug up the case folder for the screwdriver. Apparently it was a murder weapon, used by some crazy goth kid. She had murdered the entire cheer team at her high school, stabbing each to death as a sacrifice to Satan. Melody’s mama had read the case file to her that night under the flickering light of a candle as they huddled in the darkness, the howling of the undead echoing outside. These were her bedtime stories. She smiled at the memory as she drifted off to sleep.

 

*****

 

   Melody woke up coughing. The moldy ceiling was thick with black smoke. She was up with her rifle at her shoulder as she looked around franticly. Outside the broken windows the sky was turning a brighter crimson. Dawn was coming. Nail was thrashing awake in his sleeping bag, hacking and coughing. Ody sat in a rickety computer chair dazedly looking around, too stoned to even gag on the fumes. The stairwell was billowing thick black smoke, quickly filling the entire floor.

   Subconscious instinct took command. Milady ripped open her pack and yanked out her gas mask. She put it on, then tugged on her boots. Nail had a bandana over his face as he trained his AK 47 around the room. Ody bumbled around his pack for his mask with one hand, a revolver in the other. No alarms or traps had gone off. There was nothing in there with them. That was little comfort as the black smoke continued to billow in from the stair well. The building was on fire somewhere below them. Time to bounce.

   Nail and Melody quickly gathered their stuff as Ody finally got his gas mask on and covered them with his revolver. They jogged down a hall, setting off the loud clanking of one of their sound alarms as they went by. The stairwell was a no go- too much smoke. They would need to take another way down. The three humans crashed into the rusted doors of the elevator at the end of the hall. Ody and Milady covered Nail as he yanked a crow bar out of his pack and drove it into the seam of the elevator door. With a loud grunt he pulled on the crowbar and the elevator squealed open. The dark shaft was a bit hazy with smoke but not billowing with it like the stair well. Nail looked down. The top of the elevator was blocking the shaft right below the next floor so they could only go down one story. They could get down from there and hopefully find another way out. Nail took a step back, then ran and leapt into the shaft. He slammed into the swaying cables, grabbing onto them. He began to shimmy down.

   With wild eyes Ody shoved his revolver in the front of his pants and leaped in after Nail. He grappled with the cables and slid down. Melody slung her rifle on her shoulder, took a deep breath and took a step back, ready to jump. Then the bad feeling hit her, hit her like a cinder block to the chest. She stood rigid, looking at the elevator shaft with the trust one would give a rabid dog. She knew this feeling.  This feeling had saved her life before. She looked about her desperately. She could barely see ten feet into the smoke filled room. She could taste the poisonous gas through her mask. Any minute fire could burst through the floor and if not, even with her mask, the smoke would get her sooner than later. She looked at the elevator shaft and the bad feeling flared up once more. Yet she knew she had no choice. Luck was a tricky thing.  It would ultimately betray you. Melody thought about that as she ran and leapt into the shaft and grabbed the cables.

   She shimmied down to the next floor and hopped down on the top of the rickety elevator next to Nail and Ody. The elevator swayed and squealed under their weight. The door was open just a few inches on this level. They could see the slight flicker of fire through the gap. Nail looked at them and nodded. Melody covered above them while Ody covered the door as Nail jammed in his crowbar and started prying it open. Ody squirmed and jerked, his eyes wide. He was primed to lose his shit at any second. The elevator under them began to screech loudly and suddenly dropped several feet. With a loud grunt Nail heaved and forced the door open. Pale smoke oozed in from the top and drifted upward. As soon as the door was open Ody frantically pushed past Nail and squeezed his narrow ass through. Nail glared after him before looking at Melody. He nodded at the opening. Melody squeezed through and scoped the area with her rifle as Nail started pulling through his bigger frame. Ody was nowhere to be seen.

   She remembered this floor of the building when they were scrounging earlier that day. It was one of those places that had nothing to offer. It had been gutted long ago. Other than some piles of half melted debris, the room was empty but for the huge systematically placed structural pillars that were lined in rows. Along the circumference of the large open space where the frames of blown out windows, bringing in the dark crimson morning light. Everything was pitch black against the crimson. Milady looked to where the stair well was and saw the fire. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. The fire was coming from three large metal barrels. Stenciled on them it said, “Arma Corp Industrial Waste, Warning- Flammable”. She knew there were hundreds of such barrels dumped a few stories below them, but none on this level. They had to of been brought up here- and very recently. The fire inside the barrels was weak, yet produced massive amounts of the toxic smoke which was billowing up the stairwell.

   She looked to her left and saw a tall stack of the same barrels next to the elevator door.

They were haphazardly placed on top of each other and seemed ready to fall. She then saw the chain wrapped around the bottom most barrel. The chain stretched away along the scorched floor and disappeared behind one of the closest pillars. She saw the end move slightly. Her eyes opened wide. She looked back at Nail and saw he was barely halfway through the elevator door, his huskier build holding him up.

   “Nail,” she screamed, “It’s a bushwack!”

   The chain wiped tight and pulled out the bottom barrel, sending the whole stack crashing down. Nail howled as he pulled free and rolled. The barrels of toxic crap smashed down in front of the elevator door and burst open, splattering everything around with black goo. Nail dodged them by a cunt hair. He stood up, wiping of gob of the stinging liquid from his forehead. He pulled off his bandana and looked around him, his eyes murderous. Ruin Leeches don't go face first into a trap as hard as they just did.

   They scanned the room with their guns at their shoulders. They could see nothing but the black pillars and piles of melted junk, all slightly misted by the smoke. “Where the fuck is Ody?” hissed Melody as she pulled off her gas mask.

   Nail shrugged his shoulder.

   “Ody… where the hell ya at?” Melody hissed.

   “….over here…” came Ody’s voice from deeper in the room. “I, I found a way out… It’s a… like a service elevator or something…” His voice was strained, but then again his voice was always weird when he’d been huffing.

   Nail and Melody headed toward his voice, their guns scanning around them. They found

Ody near the center of the room. He stood a few feet in front of a pillar looking forward wide eyed and rigid. His gun was lowered toured the ground, his gas mask lying at his feet.

   “Where the hell is this way out?” Melody asked.

   Ody opened his mouth as if he were about to yell something. He managed to say, “HEE” before three taloned fingers burst out his opened mouth. His eyes rolled up and he gagged, then everything above his mandible was ripped off. Standing behind his spasming body they could see something, it's vague shape covered in shiny black liquid. Its yellow eyes looked at them as its lipless mouth slurped the gore inside Ody’s opened head.

   For a half second Milady and Nail stood in shock before they both opened fire on the zombie behind their dead mate. Ody’s body jerked and thrashed as the rounds tore into him. The undead glared back angrily.

   “Stop springing leaks in my mula, assholes!” It hissed.

   It tossed the body aside and leapt away toured the nearest pillar. The undead creature was an emaciated thing, covered head to toe in shiny black goo. It moving in the graceless jerking agility of the undead. It resembled a broken machine as it moved, with no smoothness to it- just jerking ugly movements.

   “Your boy totally bitched out on ya.” hissed an undead voice somewhere behind them. This one was a different zom then the one that had killed Ody. “We told ‘em to call you two over here and we wouldn't bite him. I thought you clean meats were supposed to be loyal?”

   Another zombie's voice, this one belonging to the one who killed Ody, spoke up from behind the pillar. “Not as loyal as me.  I kept my word, I didn't bite shit.”

   Melody and Nail went back to back. They both knew they were in deep, deep shit- the deepest either of them had ever been in. If they had stayed by the elevator door or even the stair well they could have maybe made a run for it and found a better place to make a stand.

Instead they were in the middle of a dark, smoky, opened room, with intercepting cover. The ghouls had some significant advantages here, just as they planned.

   The skinny zombie leapt away from cover and rolled behind a burnt pile of debris. Nail followed it with his rifle but did not fire. He knew what the zom was doing- trying to get him to fire at it and use up his ammo. He wouldn't fall for that noob trick. The other undead appeared. This one was a paunchy mess with skinny legs and a missing arm, covered with black trash bags. It moved in an even more clumsy way. However, it was still fast. It leapt from cover and ducked behind a pillar in the blink of an eye. Though crude, the two ghouls’ makeshift camouflage was effective. They disappeared into the charred room like shadows.

   A chain suddenly whipped out and cracked Nail across the ribs. He grunted in pain and shot off a few rounds in the dark. They could hear the undead whispering to one another in the darkness, as their voices echoing in the opened room making them hard to pinpoint. A half melted computer monitor came hurtling through the air. Melody barely ducked out of the way, sliding to an off-balance squat. The monitor smashed loudly against the ground and slid away.

   Melody stood back up, frantically looking around her. The trash bag covered zom was leaping right at her, less than 10 feet away. She brought her rifle up and fired at it point blank. The zom throw its head to the side just before it would have taken a round between the eyes. The bullet blew out a fist sized chunk of its cheek and jaw and its ear went tumbling away. It wasn't a kill shot. That luck Melody had lived on so long had failed her.

   The zom crashed into her like the bag of rotten meat that it was. They crashed in a cloud of ash and slid across the ground. Melody managed to get her rifle in front of the zoms snapping jaws. It chomped down on the barrel and its teeth sank into the metal as if it were made of wax.

They thrashed on the floor, dead meat vs living girl.

   Nail spun around and tried to get a bead on the ghoul tangling with Melody. He looked over his shoulder and saw the skinny, oil covered zombie jump from cover and charge in. He smiled coldly. In truth he wasn't trying to help Melody; he was trying to get the other zom out of cover by showing it his back. Nail spun around, quick as a mongoose facing a striking cobra. The zom came to a sliding stop and ended with the gun barrel pressed right between its eyes. The zoms mouth dropped open and its yellow eyes opened wide as it saw its unlife flash before its eyes. Nail’s mouth turned to an evil smirk and his cold eyes narrowed. He pulled the trigger.

That’s when Ody’s lack of quality control came to bit him in the ass. There was a loud click from the gun and a smoke ring puffed out of the gun's barrel into the zoms face. A misfire. Now, Nail’s mouth dropped open and his eyes went wide. A huge grin opened up the zom’s face.

   Nail tried to crack it across its head with the butt of his gun but the zoms taloned hand wiped out and caught it, stopping it cold with a loud slap. It slashed its other clawed hand across Nail’s face. There was a sound like wet fabric ripping. Nail screamed in agony and staggered back. His gun clattered to the ground as his hands clutched his face. Three deep gashes had opened it up good. His ear dangled from his gashed head. His eye was gone. The zom looked at its hand and there, impaled on its index finger, was Nails eye ball.

   “Hurm”, the zombie said then popped the eye into its mouth.

   Nail glared back from his ruined face and yanked out his hatchet from his belt. He lunged in, howling in pained furry. The zom sidestepped the first blow, then ducked under the follow up. Nail lifted the hatchet over his head and brought it down with all his might. The zom watched the hatchet come and at the last second shifted to the side just enough that the hatchet sank deep into its shoulder. It thrashed its torso violently and ripped the hatchet out of Nail’s hand, the hatchet still buried in its shoulder. The ghoul smiled at the disarmed human and lifted its leg, driving its foot into the human's chest. Nail came crashing down to the ground on his back. He rolled onto his hands and knees, trying to crawl away. The zom leapt onto him and grappled him into a tight full nelson. Nail rolled onto his back with the zombie under him, trying to smash it loose, but the ghoul clung on like a tick. It grinned savagely the entire time. Brutal combat against man and ghoul was something a real undead loved. Even Shock Rocken paled in comparison. This was the true meaning of undead existence. Fighting for your meat. To feast on human flesh- or at least spread the Germ.

   Melody slammed the zom she was fighting in the face with a right hook. The zom let go of her rifle as it reeled, dazed from the blow. The barrel of her rifle was warped out of shape by its teeth. She whacked the zom in the mouth with the twisted gun and a thick zombie tooth flew loose, bouncing off her face. The zom angrily sank its teeth into the gun again and jerked its head back. The gun was ripped from her hands and sent tumbling away. The zom engulfed her face in its one remaining hand and slammed her head into the burnt floor. She was stunned by the blow, then gasped as it drove its knee into her chest, pinning her to the floor and driving the wind from her body. It grabbed her cheeks and squeezed. Melody could feel her face squishing into a pout, its talons slowly sinking into her skin. She groped blindly with her hand trying to grab the screwdriver she had stashed in her boot. She looked desperately to Nail. She could see him trying to shake off the zombie that had him grappled. The side of his face was a ripped opened  mess. He looked at her with his one good eye. His eye was wide with pain, wide with terror.

   The zom that was grappling him smashed him face first into the ground, then again, then a third time. Nail no longer struggled. The zom wrapped its hand around Nails face, pulling it back so he stared in front of him. Then, with a brutal jerk, the zombie wrenched Nails head to the side so it stared at Melody's once again. There was a loud snap.

   The zom pinning Melody lowered its face so it was inches from hers. She could smell its stink, rotten meat and burnt plastic, that toxic smell all undead shared.

   “Watch”, it hissed into her face and forced her head to the side to stare at Nail. His body lay limp, his neck broken. Yet he was still alive. His one eye blinked. He stared right back at her. There was a moment, then the skinny zom yanked Nail’s head to the other side. There was another snap, this one wetter and louder. The zom then began to yank his head back and forth faster and faster, each time with a horrible cracking sound. When it finally stopped, Nail’s head dangled loosely from his neck. The zom was in a killing frenzy, its eyes bugging from its head, its mouth opened grotesquely wide, its tongue thrashing around like a snake having a seizure.  It bent down and hugged Nail’s limp head. It put its feet on his shoulders, took a hissing breath and pulled up with its arms and down with its legs.  There were popping sounds, then ripping sounds. Nail’s head slowly tore free from his body in a long stringy mess. Blood pooled around them.

   The zom stood up and lifted Nails severed head high into the air. “Look upon that which is holy!” it screamed shrilly. It then chomped into Nail’s bald head and began to eat his brains.

   Melody's face was forced back to look at the zom pinning her. “He can have his buff boy. I always liked me some soft little lady meat. I think I’ll suck out them eyeballs first. Them's my favorite part. Then I’ll lick out your brains though the holes.”

   It smiled and its tongue oozed out its mouth like a giant worm. It slid slowly across her cheek, making its sticky way to her wide eyes.

*****

 

Deep inside of Melody was a coal- an icy little coal ready to blaze. A coal that just needed a spark to ignite it to magnificent light. There were a lot of sparks flying around inside her at that moment.

   The coal erupted into flame and from it her power was born.

   Ling’s eyes went wide and its tongue wiped back into its mouth like a scared eel. It looked into her eyes, at the two bright red spots that had once been her pupils. Every germ in its rotten body recoiled at once. Every muscle clenched tight and black zombie blood oozed out of every pore. Hex power is the antimatter of the Vecna Germ. Voodoo magic is the ultimate nemesis to the undead.

   “Fuck, Tash… SHE’S A FUCKING HEXER!”

   Melody’s hand grabbed the handle of the screwdriver tucked into her boot. As soon as she touched it the manifestation of her power was complete. She had the Spark of her power, but she also needed a Focus, an item which held some sort of supernatural energy. The screwdriver, used to kill a cheer team in the name of Satan, had just enough demonic energy within it to work as a focus. She drove the screwdriver into the zom’s side. Then she plucked at a strand of power. A glowing red hand of a demonic entity manifested at the end of the screwdriver inside the zom’s belly. The hand shredded through meat and organ and clamped around its spinal column. The hand flung the zom off her, sending it thrashing across the room.

   Ling smashed into a pillar with a crunch. It stuck there for a moment, then slowly slid to the ground. From the right side of its rib cage to its hip was a seared hole, spewing out a reddish smoke. Tash looked on in stunned shock. Nail’s chewed up head fell from its hands. There was a blast of hot wind and Melody was lifted from the ground to her feet. The arm holding the screwdriver was encased in red nebulous energy, just the black silhouette of her bones seen throw it. Her hair billowed in the hex wind.

   Her good luck, her seemingly charmed life. It all came from the seeds of her power, the tiniest hint of voodoo magic she was born with. Everyone in Rot Town knew about the witch doctors and the voodoo tyrants. Their power was the one thing that the undead truly feared, and it was possibly the ultimate power of the Wrecked Earth. Hex power could enslave the undead or obliterate them. Hex power nullified the Vecna Germ- burned it from the Hexer's flesh like ants to a blow torch. She had that power. It flowed through her like electricity through steel wool. At last she was whole. A Hexer born. With this power she was no longer a Ruin Leach; she no longer had to live the hand to mouth horror of that life. The undead where hers to do with as she wished. Rot Town hers to claim.

   Tash backed away into the dark. Ling pulled itself forward onto its belly. It’s spine was busted up, leaving its legs convulsing uncontrollably. Melody stood in the center of the room, as proud and regal as a madam in a whore house. Ash and debris swirled around her as the nebulous red energy from her arm caressed her body.

   The two zom’s initial terror fizzled out and was replaced by seething hatred. The Germ tugged at their degenerated minds. This Hexer was a newborn. She was still weak, unsteady with her power. They could snuff out her young spark, get rid of a terrible scourge to all Ghoul Kind. The two zoms no longer had a choice. The Germ was their master and the Germ wanted this hexer dead, her flesh eaten, her bones ground to dust and blown into the wind.

   “Fuck Hexers,” whispered Tash from the dark.

   “Fuck Hexers,” hissed Ling, prone on the ground.

   Melody smiled and lifted her hand. She extended her middle finger and the hand burst into crackling yellow green energy. Her middle finger was a black boney silhouette at its center. Tash leapt forward at her like a spring. Melody pointed her middle finger at the ghoul and let loose her power. A skull of a devil alligator made of red and yellow fire erupted from her hand and flowed toward Tash. The skull belonged to a demonic creature, a creature found in the sewers of hell. It grew to the size of a refrigerator in the second it took to get from her hand to Tash. Its fiery jaws opened wide and snapped down onto Tash’s body. From the waist down the ghoul was engulfed in its mouth. As soon as they clamped shut the skull exploded.

   Everything around was blasted away in a donut cloud of dust and ash, mixed with the green sparks of the fading magic. If she had aimed higher she would've obliterated the ghoul. But she was new to the game and had much to learn in spell slinging. Tash’s upper body came crashing down on top of her. Its head, shoulders and arms were still intact but below the collarbone there was only an empty blackened rib cage and a charred spinal column. As soon as it hit her it grabbed onto her shoulder and wrist. It bit down onto her glowing arm with all its might. There was a surge of power and a flash of red- and every tooth in its head popped like a string of firecrackers. The ghoul was blasted off her and slid across the ground, its toothless mouth an opened black wound.

   Melody straightened up and glared at Tash. It lay smoking on the ground, spasming. She stared at the other ghoul. Ling cussed and hissed as it tried to stand on its

quaking legs but managed to only flail around on the ground. It glared at the human hexer in rage, digging furrows into the ashy ground with its taloned hands. She smirked at the helpless undead, then turned her back to it. She stalked up to Tash. It looked back at her with its remaining eye, the other just a smoking hole.

   “Go fuck yourself Hexer!” it hissed, wet smoke coming out its mouth. The red nebulous power coursed over her body lovingly as she knelt down before the burnt undead.

   “I’ve lived my whole life running and hiding from you assholes. You killed my mom. You killed my crew.”

   She cracked a cold half smile. “Thanks for that by the way. If ya hadn't done that I may never have found out about this powers.” She looked at her hand, at the tendrils of red power that came to gently stroke her cheek.

   “Hey, his brains sure were good. Wish I could have eaten the rest but whateves, take what ya can in Rot Town and enjoy it while ya can.” hissed Tash.

   “Rot Town. I guess I get whatever I want from Rot Town from now on. I think I’ll dibby out some revenge of you ghoul fucks. For every starving night hiding in a pool of piss, for every hunger pain, for every rat I had to eat, I’ll fry a hundred undead.”  She smiled down at the burnt zom.  “It’s only fair right?

   “I guess so,” replied Tash. He smiled a toothless smile and gave a dry laugh. “But I doubt it. Ya should have realized, ya dumb ass. My and my bud are sneaky.”

   Melody’s face was confused for a moment, then a look of terrible recognition replaced it. She spun around. Ling was already on her. It was on its feet, awkwardly lunging forward. It wasn't nearly as crippled as it led her to believe. It grabbed her hair and yanked her head back. It sank its teeth into the side of her neck. It pulled it head back, and came away with a fist sized chunk of her flesh.

   The energy surged into violent spikes around her as if it too felt the pain. She smashed both her glowing hands into its chest cavity. The nebulous red energy turned to coals, which blazed into its undead body. The coals were powered by primordial pain, the pain of the burning ash that had killed the dinosaurs in there great extinction. The coals multiplied like a virus and in seconds Ling’s entire body was erupting into rust colored flames. Ling looked at its buddy Tash as the coals began to burn to its face.

   “I’ve always loved you,” it hissed. “No homo.”

   Its mouth boiled over with zombie spit. Its skull cracked open and billowed out flame. Its eyes popped and its head collapsed into its burning rib cage, as its body crumpled to the ground. Ling, at last, was truly dead.

   Melody staggered away from the burning ghoul. Blood spurted from between her fingers and ran down her body, where it pooled at her feet. She could feel the hex power burning away the Vecna Germ inside of her, like tiny little pin pricks, but she knew her hex power couldn't heal her catastrophic wound, or stop her terminal bleeding. She was dead, bleeding out in buckets. The dry cackling of the remaining ghoul echoed through the room. She looked at it as the nebulous energy began to fade out to just a wisp around the tip of the screw driver.

   “Rot Town’s for the undead! The Wrecked Earth belongs to Ghoul Kind!

You Hexers are just the death rattle of the human fucking race!  Think about that before ya die!  Think about that when you're falling to hell!”

   The Hex power in her flared up like a supernova, a blinding white. Blood spurted more violently from her neck wound.

   “After you,” she hissed, blood bubble from between her teeth. The white energy was concentrated into a blazing white point at her fingertip. It shot forward like a bullet into Tash’s face. In about three seconds every Vecna Germ in its body exploded.

   It might not seem like much for a single microscopic organism to explode but when a couple trillion do all at once it’s a hell of a show. Every centimeter of flesh was blown away and pulverized into a black brown mist with a deafening howl. The violence of the act blew a crater into the floor, vaguely in the shape of Tash’s body. An oily mist lingered, periodically popping as the last stray germs burnt away.

   Thus, Tash and Ling’s reign of miscellaneous shenanigans was over.

   Melody came to an unsteady stop at a blown out window. She stared out over Rot Town as the red sun rose in a crimson sky. The city was a black, broken silhouette beneath it, dotted with random lights. Hate filled her for a moment, hate at the unfairness of what had happened. At last her destiny was open to her, only to be snuffed out so quickly. Then she felt a crushing sadness, the sadness of hopelessness. Then, there was only exhaustion. She collapsed to her knees. She took her hand away from the gaping wound at her neck and felt the weak drizzle of the last of her blood slide down her chest. She could feel the spark of her hex power still burning inside her, still burning away the Vecna Germ which tried in vain to take her flesh. It was then that she realized. Her Hex power would kill her, truly end her forever. But if the spark where snuffed, then…

   Worse than death, same said. A bullet to the head is a kinder fate, I’d rather drown myself in a toilet, yadda yadda yadda. Death or the Germ- what do you choose in the end? Melody closed her eyes, and tears ran town her blood-spattered cheeks. She focused on the spark inside her, cradled it, loved it. Then smothered it. Her will beat at the spark until it shattered and went cold. It was the hardest thing she had ever done. The screwdriver fell from her numb fingers, bounced off the window ledge, and tumbled into the Rot Town dawn.

   Not a moment later the Vecna Germ rose up and tore into her unguarded flesh. It clawed its way through her veins, into her organs and lanced up her spine to her brain. It clutched her straining heart in cold needles and squeezed it still. She gasped in pain and arched her back in agony. Then the Germ erupted into her brain and she lunged forward in a violent spasm. She found herself falling- tumbling right out the window. The last thing she saw with her human eyes were pipes sticking out of the debris below her.  Then there was only black.

 

THERE IS A SAYING AMONGST THE GHOUL RACE. UNDEATH IS MUCH LIKE LIFE. IT  CAN BE A BEAUTIFUL THING, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU SEE IT.

 

 

   One more heave and the second kidney blasted out its mouth with an explosion of ghoul sputum. It splattered into the pile of other barfed up organs. With it ended the agonies of birth. The newborn ghoul stood warily to its feet and looked around it. The world looks different through the eyes of the undead. It seems to crackle and shimmer, yet is still and gray. The ghoul looked at its long taloned fingers, still wet from forming. It snapped its jaw shut with a loud snap, shocked by their power. It looked at its chest and stomach, at the pipes that were impaled threw it from its fall from the building. There was no pain. It could feel the pipes, a sort of dull pressure, but no pain. It yanked a pipe out, then another, until they all lay discarded with its useless organs.

   Its undead mind began to focus. It could feel the primal presence of the Germ, the desire it spawned. Meat, human meat. To eat it, to infect it. Its tongue lolled from its mouth and oozed at the thought. It looked up at the building it had fallen from, at the smoke that still billowed from the 27th floor from the trap the zoms had sprung. Two fresh human bodies lay on the 26th floor. All for itself. It would climb up and get its zombie mula. It would eat what it wanted and trade the rest for other things it wanted.

   Somewhere out in Rot Town there was a collective howl of undead, all gleefully shrieking over some nonsense or other. In another part fireworks shot into the air celebrating another day of the apocalypse. The young zombie smiled. It had known life as a ruin leach, it had briefly known life as a Hexer. But in the end, it had ended up undead like so many countless others. The last shade of its humanity screamed in horror then faded to oblivion. Now it would howl in glory and shake the ruins in glee like the rest of the Ghoul Race. It would exist for its moment's pleasure, damn the consequence, and ignore its rotting flesh until it ceased to exist. Born again, a denizen of hell on earth.

    Devils love hell.

    Undead love Rot Town.

©2015-2019