BABE IN THE WOODS: Four

Thursday, October 31, 2013: Mt. Pleasant, NY, USA

The Mayor of Mt. Pleasant, NY, Jacob Harrison, could trace his family’s lineage back to the original Wampanoag tribes of Massachusetts Bay, all the way to within one generation of Chief Metacom and the vicious slaughter of his people by the immigrant Puritans. Looking around at the gathering of various levels of law enforcement – local, state and federal – that had invaded his sleepy little town, their pale white faces reflecting the morning sun, he felt a fleeting wave of revulsion at his place in the world. As if he’d somehow let his ancestors down.

The crime scene had been sloppily tended to, Mt. Pleasant’s small police force unused to investigating homicides – especially messy, zombie-related homicides – and any potential evidence of anything that might contradict the obvious surely had been destroyed, leaving the Mayor shaking his head at the thought that the country’s safety lie in such incompetent hands.

He had come to offer his condolences to the grieving DiBlanco family for the loss of their son, Anthony, the night before to an apparent zombie attack.

His routine but unusually nervous phone call to the police to report two zombies in his backyard had been recorded, picking up everything that had happened afterwards. The sounds of breaking glass, rapidly shifting furniture, a brief struggle and finally, one blood-curdling scream that lasted for nearly 15 seconds before the connection was lost were all clearly audible. Slightly less so was a second voice in the background, female and relatively calm:

“It’s going to be okay, Anthony.”

“Who is that?” the Mayor asked Detective Eric Pearson, Mt. Pleasant Police Department’s only experienced investigative officer, a recent transfer from the New York City Police Department.

“Not sure yet, Mr. Mayor,” he replied. “Parents say the boy was home alone last night. We haven’t mentioned the other voice yet.”

“Girlfriend?”

“Not likely, sir.”

Mayor Harrison gave him a quizzical stare.

“A nerd, sir.”

“Ah.”

Mayor Harrison was serving his first term, two years in, following twenty years of distinguished service with the NYPD, first as a beat cop in the worst neighborhoods of Brooklyn and the Bronx, followed by a brief stint in the vice department as an undercover narcotics officer; and finally, his last five years, as a detective in the north Bronx, covering the neighborhoods surrounding the Jerome Park Reservoir and Van Cortlandt Park. He’d watched things change gradually, from the ineffectual drug wars of the late-80s through Giuliani’s hard-boiled crackdown on quality of life crimes in the 90s; from the riots in Crown Heights to the protests of the Republican National Convention; from “Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect” to “Curfew, Politics, Religion.”

During that span of time, culminating with the Civil War of 2007, he witnessed the country, and portions of the city itself, march steadily towards the inevitable split at the seams along the so-called moral divide.

Mt. Pleasant, his retirement home and second love, sat near the northern border of an expanded New York City, the modern equivalent of a border town, and a relative neutral zone in the battle between “traditional values” and “progressive society.”

The only thing missing was a toll booth.

He’d been elected to the office of Mayor in a landslide under somewhat false pretenses, successfully hiding his native heritage and playing off his career as an officer of the law. This far north, minorities of any stripe were an infrequent sight and, whenever possible, were expected to keep their heads down and blend in. While it was perfectly obvious to any one with eyes that Jacob Harrison wasn’t white, it wasn’t exactly clear what he was, and as a result, most of Mt. Pleasant’s citizens took a don’t ask, don’t tell approach,

Eric Pearson, on the other hand, was as unmistakably black as they come and proud of it. He’d moved to Mt. Pleasant at Harrison’s behest, his former partner on the force for his last three years before he’d retired and moved north. Other than a six-year stint in the Army, the last two served in Iraq during the initial stage of the war, Pearson had never lived outside of the Bronx. He typically, by request, worked the graveyard shift and so was the first officer to respond to Anthony DiBlanco’s call for help.

What he found when he arrived caused all three of the White Castle double cheeseburgers and the half-order of onion rings he’d eaten fifteen minutes earlier to surge up into his gullet, and force their way out of his mouth, accompanied by the once thick vanilla milkshake he’d originally washed them down with which pooled around his feet, mixing with the blood and gore he’d stepped into like a Pollock original, and causing a fresh wave of nausea that brought up the remainder of the onion rings and a fair amount of stomach acid.


Everything had been going so well before the piercing howl startled Lorraine, causing her to jump, squeezing her thighs together and nearly suffocating Anthony between them.

“What the hell was that?”

Anthony lifted his head sharply, gasping for breath while wiping the perspiration from his lips. He hadn’t heard anything, too distracted by his greatest fantasy on the verge of coming true, and was completely disoriented as blood rushed back to his head.

He could still taste her on his tongue, a sticky sweetness that made him swoon until a second tortured howl snapped him out of it.

“What the… I think that’s DJ.”

DJ was the DiBlanco family’s Rottweiler, a three-year old tank trained to kill. Bobby DiBlanco, Anthony’s father, was a mechanic in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx and had DJ had been the pick of the litter from his shop’s guard dog, a Rottweiler named Summer. When he was a little over a year old, DJ had attacked and killed the neighbors’ German Shepard and ever since, had spent most of his time in a decent-sized pen in the DiBlanco’s backyard, where Anthony had put him out earlier in anticipation of Lorraine’s visit.

He rushed to the back window to see what had riled the dog up and was startled to see two people standing in the pen, DJ stretched between them, one gnawing on his back leg, the other buried into his throat.

“Holy shit!”

“What?”

“Zombies! Eating my fucking dog!”

Lorraine walked over slowly to join Anthony at the window, assuming he was playing some ill-timed practical joke to ease his nerves. He’d been shaking all night, barely able to kiss her, and had only gotten worse as their clothes had come off. As she reached the window, she placed her left hand in the small of his back and started to drum her fingers there, intending to head south and finish what she’d started. She glanced outside to humor him and her eyes widened as she realized he wasn’t joking.

Anthony backed away, pulling up his pants as he went, flicked on the light and grabbed the phone from its wall mount.

“What bad fucking timing!” he mumbled, dialing the Mt. Pleasant Police Department directly.

Someone picked up on the third ring, thanked him for “calling the Mt. Pleasant Police Department,” and asked what she could do for him.

“Um…this is Anthony DiBlanco, out on Leroy Avenue. Um, there’s a couple of zombies in my backyard.”

“Zombies? Are you sure they’re zombies?”

“Um, yeah. They’re like, eating my dog.”

“Anthony…” Lorraine whispered.

“What kind of dog?”

“What?”

“What kind of dog are they eating?”

“What the…a rottweiler. He’s a rottweiler and they’re eating him!”

“Anthony…” Lorraine whispered again.

“That’s unusual.”

“No shit! Can you send someone over, please?”

“I’m dispatching someone now. They’ll be there within 10 minutes.”

“Thank you!”

“A rottweiler?”

“Yes!”

“Shit.”

“Anthony!” Lorraine’s scream made him drop the phone and turn towards the window to see her pointing towards it, her usually vibrant freckles gone pale.

“What the fuck, Lorraine?!?”

Outside, the two zombies were walking towards the house. Slowly, heads titled as if curious, one of them still gnawing on a gore-caked foreleg.

“What are they doing?”

“Turn off the light!”

“Why?”

“Anthony, turn off the fucking light!”

Lorraine was backing away from the window slowly, her eyes unblinking, and Anthony had to sidestep to avoid her. He reached the light switch, flicked it off, and turned back to the window. In the three seconds it took for his eyes to adjust, Lorraine had backed into the living room, left hand reaching behind her in search of her bra and panties. Anthony, sensing the moment getting away from him, turned to tell her to stop, that everything would be fine, but he barely got the “St-” out before the kitchen window came crashing in.

On the other end of the phone, Margaret Field, Mt. Pleasant’s night dispatcher, flinched in her barely-cushioned chair, spilling her second cup of coffee for the night, freshly brewed and litigiously hot, all over herself and reflexively tore her headset from her head as she howled in pain.

At the DiBlanco home, Anthony stood in wild-eyed shock as a muscular arm flailed about his kitchen window, half-in, half-out, probing for the latch to unlock it. Seconds later, to his right, another crash as the windows in the back door shattered inwards, and another arm, thinner and more feminine, worked the three locks on the door.

A steady trickle of urine ran down the inside of Anthony’s left pants leg as his throat constricted, and his vocal cords locked up.

From behind him, Lorraine ran her fingers through the back of his oily, shoulder-length hair; flicking his right ear with a perfectly manicured nail. She stepped past him and picked up the phone from the floor. Margaret Field’s cursing in the background was inaudible of the sound of crunching glass.

“It’s going to be okay, Anthony,” she said soothingly as she hung up the phone. “Virgins have a much better shot at getting into heaven.”

Both zombies were in the kitchen now, standing before him, their foul breath filling Anthony’s nostrils and causing him to gag. Tears were running in perfect streams down both of his cheeks and his chest was heaving uncontrollably. No matter how hard he thought he was trying, his legs would not move an inch.

He blinked several times, trying to clear his vision, and felt a brief moment of relief as he recognized both of the zombies.

To his right was the girl that worked the register at the Starbucks in the Mt. Pleasant Mall. He’d never formally met her but, like most reasonably attractive girls he came across, he’d had a crush on her at some point and had occasionally called up her image while jerking off in the bathroom before bed. He specifically remembered hearing rumors that she was a lesbian, which made her even hotter in his mind. Her long black hair was matted with dirt, her pale face covered in grime, her lips in blood and fur – but her eyes glowed brightly, as if lit from within.

The other zombie, to his left, was none other than Mt. Pleasant High School’s Junior Varsity back-up 3rd baseman, Reggie Thomas. Anthony had never seen a black zombie before and momentarily forgot where he was as his brain processed his thoughts on the realization. Similar to the zombie barista, Reggie looked like he’d just crawled out of the ground and had dog for dinner, which, of course, was exactly the case. His eyes also glowed brightly, seemingly even moreso set against his dark, dusky skin.

Reggie had disappeared two weeks ago, never reaching home after leaving his weekend job at the Mt. Pleasant Mall’s Cineplex 50 where he worked the concession stand selling nachos and fruit smoothies to horny teenagers and the occasional family.

Anthony processed all of this and decided his situation was not nearly so dire after all. Lorraine had somehow figured out a way to control zombies – domesticate them, perhaps? – and had chosen him to become one of her followers.

The undead had always been his favorite type of monsters in the Dungeons & Dragons games he played and the opportunity to become one sent his mind reeling. He wondered if sex was a possibility, particularly with Lorraine who he could once again taste, but figured he might have to make do with a fellow zombie, which was fine really, as he was used to getting less than his heart’s desire having lived in his cheerleader princess sister’s shadow all of his life, and any sex was better than no sex at all, he figured.

He managed to turn his head towards Lorraine, and realized he wasn’t actually sure what kind of look he was expecting her to have as she welcomed him into her service, but it definitely wasn’t the hateful one that accompanied the last intelligible words he’d ever hear:

”Kill him! That bitch Jennifer may get home soon and I’m not ready for her yet.”


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