The Treehouse

This short story of mine was first published on Kriss Morton’s The Cabin Goddess for her recent Zombie Week. When Kriss approached me to write something short and sweet, I couldn’t resist – The Treehouse was the end result. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

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It walked with a sickening limp. The accompanying noise was akin to the grinding of teeth, only louder. Much louder. It was a sound that reverberated inside your head, warning you of its imminent appearance.

A voice snaked out of the darkness at me. “It’s comin’ this way!”

It was Billy. Stupid Billy.

“Shhhh! It’s gonna hear you!”

The response was barely above a whisper. Too quiet for poor Billy to hear and likely too intelligent for him to understand.

The grinding noise seemed to get closer. Out of the corner of my eye I could see it. Everything about it was frightening. The slack, waxen face. The left eye drooping out of the socket and laying half eaten on the discoloured flesh of its cheek. The gore pocked clothing relaying the message that it had eaten – recently. The worst sight was its left leg; the skin had been flayed off of most of the lower half and one of the bones was broken. The sound that we were hearing was the scraping of the ends together as it limped awkwardly in our direction.

We didn’t have the best hiding spot but sometimes you have to make do with what is around when you’re on the move. Technically we were just on the opposite side of a large planked fence, but the fence was broken. It looked like a herd of elephants came through a section just a few feet down from us, but we knew what it really happened.

We saw it all go down. About 3 days ago, a group of survivors were fleeing an onslaught of Zombies on the road. With the corpses so thick in front of them, they changed directions and drove straight through the fence.

In any other situation, the action would have been cool to watch but the fence was the only thing keeping the Zombies out of the yard and away from the tree that supported our sanctuary.

As we watched from our vantage point, high above the verdant ground, we saw the truck come through one length only to lose the speed needed to go completely through the length on the opposite side. Instead, it got hung up on the broken fence beneath it and stopped short.

The driver panicked and in their haste to free the floundering truck, managed only to hopelessly tangle it among the hewn boards.

Panic is a funny thing; it can give you superhero capabilities or it can paralyze you. Like a sick game of Russian roulette, it chose paralysis this time.

We listened in horror as the Zombies flooded the backyard and surrounded the car, our minds making movies of what was occurring below us. Each whisper soft sound of their decaying limbs brushing the shiny blue of the truck. The dull pounding of their grimy hands on the glass, almost rhythmic in its intensity. The sharp cracking of the glass as it spider-webbed out from the point of failure. Screams assaulted our ears as the Zombies pulled the occupants through their access point. Not daring to look down lest we give away our position, we were forced to watch the translation of those sounds run behind clamped eyelids.

It didn’t take long but the memories of what we heard reverberate in our minds even now. Everything that we’ve seen and heard have melded together to produce the most horrific montages that play across the black expanse each time we close our eyes.

We knew we had to leave our makeshift home. With the hole in the fence, the backyard became a draw for them. We’ve waited until this moment to climb carefully down the lowered rope ladder, hoping not to attract attention to ourselves. I was the last to descend, cautiously feeling for each woven rung as I watched the scarred and lonely landscape around me, hoping I wouldn’t attract any attention.

Over my left shoulder I saw it. The solitary corpse had spotted me and was now limping in our general direction. It was slow but it moved with a purpose. Our only hope was to confuse it by waiting until it was in the enclosed backyard before sneaking out behind it.

Fate wanted to play a different game with us today. Not only had it stacked the deck against us with Zombies, it had also given us Billy.

As the broken leg of the Zombie came into view around the smashed edge of the planked span of fence, Billy screamed. High pitched and girly.

He froze, his mouth forming a perfect, round hole as the scream choked in his throat. A face appeared around the damaged edge, almost comical in its surprise and hunger. Its eye locked on Billy, the milky cornea searching for something; recognition perhaps.

With another scream, matched by a strident noise of victory from the Zombie, the dance of death resumed.

The rest of us took the moment of inattention to scale back up the rope ladder, knowing that at some point, we would need to escape. The time will come; we just need to be patient.

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Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity

Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity from Sirens Call Publications…

A unique collection of tales from old told in a new tone of voice, Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity is comprised of twelve stories told by a group of twelve extremely creative and imaginative authors pulling on the mythology of the past.

The world ends on an expected date, but not for the reason everyone is expecting; a tragic figure tears apart the only thing left in his power to control to reclaim what should have been his; a maimed demi-god is demeaned and degraded by his peers – does he deserve justice in the end? All of them questions that intrigue and enthrall. The question now remaining is will you be one of those who learn the answers?

Myth or reality…

Explore the twelve tales of horror and intrigue in Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity and ask yourself, what would you consider a fair price to pay for life immortal… or the chance of life at all?

Would a young woman pass up a shiny bauble if she believed it to be nothing more than a harmless trinket? What transpires once a year in a peaceful and remote village that no one will ever speak of? What better way for a broken man to honor a crippled existence than with a memorial of blood and vengeance? How could a disfigured woman ever dream of chancing across an object that would restore her beauty – and at what cost?

Follow the twists and turns of each writer as they delve into the legends of days gone by, as well as the consequences that are wrought when myths and monstrosities collide with our world.

Contributing Authors include:

Thomas James Brown, Nina D’Arcangela, K. Trap Jones, Amber Keller, Lisamarie Lamb, Edward Lorn, Alexa Muir, Kate Monroe, Joseph A. Pinto, J. Marie Ravenshaw, Julianne Snow, and Jonathan Templar

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Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity is available in print and digital forms from these find retailers:
Print: Amazon, CreateSpace
eBook: Amazon, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, Amazon.es, Smashwords (Nook, Kobo, Sony and Kindle eReaders)

***

Excerpts from three of the twelve magnificent stories contained within Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity. For a preview of all 12 stories, please go to SirensCallPublications.com

The Plight of Phaylen Ponsford – Julianne Snow

     Each thin layer of dirt removed had the potential to reveal a relic of a lost time; perhaps a treasure of incalculable value. Phaylen had wanted to be an archaeologist for as long as she could remember. The desire stemmed from the continual playback of a childhood favourite that still held her spellbound; good old Indy never let her down. With all of the bad things that had befallen Phaylen, Indy always remained a constant source of inspiration. Even after the fire.

     It happened when Phaylen was nine. An electrical short in one of the wires connecting her favourite pink lamp with the frilly nightshade to the wall. It could have picked any point in its life to short out, but instead it chose a moment when a young Phaylen was sleeping next to it. Within that instant her life changed – in the worst possible way.

     Gone were her frilly pink lamp, her bed that had once been covered in a pink and purple polka dotted bedspread, and all her toys.  In their stead was just pain; both physical and emotional.

     Phaylen had always been a heavy sleeper; a trait that her alcoholic mother had once considered a Godsend. In the wake of the devastation and the mounting medical bills, she began to consider it a curse.

     It wasn’t long before she considered Phaylen cursed as well.

Hades and the Hydra – Amber Keller

     It was business as usual. The day had started like any other. New York City was bustling with the normal activity of the big city at dawn. People already crowded the streets, business owners were busy with opening the many stores, and the street was filled with a never-ending stream of taxis and other vehicles. The cornucopia of smells that completed the city wafted in on a cool breeze. There was nothing different, as far as anyone knew. But in truth there was a sinister plan nearing fruition underneath the unsuspecting city.

     In the depths of the Underworld, Hades sat in the vast expanse of a large, dark, cavernous room, on a throne built of obsidian bones. Cerberus, the three-headed dog, lay at his feet. snoring.

     “Persephone, come to me.” Hades cracked his knuckles as he issued the command.

     Persephone glided into the room, her head down. She crossed the expanse and knelt beside him.

     “Today is the day that I shall finally have some fun,” he said as he stroked her silken hair.

Re-Emergence – Nina D’Arcangela

     As the ship is tossed to and fro on the frothy angry sea, Michael leaned out, hands cupped to his mouth shouting a warning that he has seen her, for her not to be frightened, they will find a way to rescue her from the water’s angry clutches. As Michael bent further still over the rail in an effort to be heard above the din of the howling wind, the Captain gives orders to his first mate to take the wheel so that he may save his fool of a son before it is too late.

     Just as the Captain relinquishes the wheel, the ship is hit by not one, not two, nor even three, but four consecutive waves that force a moan from deep within the bowels of the vessel, sounds of a cracking hull. In the same instant, the main Mast began to give way under the force of the onslaught. The tide of churning water that rushes across the deck knocks all off their feet, including the Captain and thankfully washing him and his first mate into the upper deck railing and not overboard.

     When the Captain regains his footing, he looks around to assess the damage done to his vessel. Upon seeing the broken Mast, he calls out to Michael to come help him and the others move the massive piece of wood off the bodies of the men trapped below it. Rushing to the main deck, the Captain is not immediately aware of his sons’ absence. In the confusion that follows, no man can say for sure what exactly transpired, though one deck hand swears he saw the Captains son jump from the rail into the water just before the consecutive pounding of the waves began.