Wake up with bad stomach cramps and a headache, sweating, face down. Stomach churning. Arm asleep. Book by Harold Bloom in hand. How to Read and Why. Also known as Bloom spoils all of his favorite stories while namedropping Shakespeare. Subtitled: A lot. Page 246. Bloom's talking about Miss Lonelyhearts. My eyes are to washed out from tears and pain to focus on the page, so I don't actually know if Shakespeare is mentioned on it. I don't remember, anyhow. 246? No way I got that far along. I must have been skipping around.
Mental inventory. Checking for breaks in the hull integrity. Head hurts, I've been over that. Stomach feels like I am digesting tacks. My memory of last night is nill, so maybe I am. The bed around me is soaked. Sweat I hope, but I'll settle for anything that isn't too pro-bacterial. I smell something horrible that I must have left in the bathroom. That's awesome. Right thigh feels like I drilled a small hole into it and then pushed a big peg into it. Left ribs feel vaguely like I have been in a fight. Have I? I don't know. I hurt. What's the metaphysical requirements of a fight? A win and a loss? A possible draw? Pain and regret afterwards? Check and check. Kidneys working overtime. I recognize that bottom of the pit of the stomach need to piss. I drank heavy. I'm bursting for a slash. Bladder renting out nearby space in a desperate attempt to not be overrun by tenant issues. Squatters have set up in my urethra. The others say they have to go and I am game to agree with them.
Roll over. Look right at the north wall where my bathroom door should be, ready to face down the source of that smell if it means I can reduce some of the urgency my gut is red alerting. There is a now a chifferobe there. Chest-of-drawers next to it. Former looks faded dark cherry. Latter glossy oak. Latter has a cat on it. Pretty sable kitty staring at me. That's not my cat. This is not my house. Smell like a burned death with a toping of rancid food discarded in a Mexican restaurant's dumpster hits me. That does not smell like my puke. Realizing that the pain has let up, some, in my left ribs I feel down and find two bottles—one empty and one a quarter gone—of Bacardi 151 stashed under me like I was a mother hen and this was my brood.
Hell. Those aren't mine, either.
Stumble my sizable frame upright and then shift slightly to the starboard. Aft. Whichever. Bottle in my left hand, book in the right. Nearly tip over. Right into the wall with the window. Pink curtains with green vines faking their way through them, as though it was some weird mutant canopy. That's a bad sign. Single pillow, pillow case with stars on it, full sized bed, green and brown and earth tone decor. Black cat. Old grandmother furniture that has been restored, slightly. Rose petals on a white cloth, red and white candles above it, scent of more rose oil in the air. Posters on the wall with pictures of flowers and an Amy Brown faerie. I've done a one-nighter with a Wiccan looking for love. Bollocks.
Maybe. Just one kretek in the room and I would know for sure. Whatever stinks, stinks enough that clove smoke is a thing of some distant, more eden-like past.
Kidneys call, and no curses for me for pissing on a Wiccan's most humble abode. Whoever's puke smells like a piper smoked a bowl of rotted liver, that puke is the lighthouse of my destiny, and I set out after it. Whomever's? Whatever. I make out the bedroom door, down the patchouli vague as a ghost hallway, and around the corner that clearly has an open door to the bathroom and realize the smell is coming from the door ahead of me and not to the side of me (if anything, I'm thinking a strong whiff of lilac, she's trying to drive away evil, maybe last night did not go so well) and suddenly my need to piss is nearly fulfilled by me just letting go. Trying to not piss myself, I squeeze it off as tight as a man can despite, you know, not really being equipped for that Kegel stuff. Not just finding out where the smell is really coming form, but when I pushed the book down into my pocket, my hand touched something. Not a big peg in a small peg hole, I remember now. It's a gun.
I don't know guns, that was my younger brother's thing, before we went spelunking those years ago, but it's about as big as could fit in my generally loose-fitting pocket. Revolver. Smells used. I imitate the movies and pop out the spinny thing. You know, with the bullets? There are four. Not four full ones and two used ones. No, just four. Like I shot something twice and then took the shells out. Why? Maybe I shot six things but only had ten bullets? Just where is miss Lonelyspells anyhow?
Oh, God. My insipid internal worldplay makes me realize something. Did I talk to her about the book? Was I in that mode. The schmooze? The "New York Times Bestseller List is so pedestrian" mode? Jesus Christ. Mea culpa. No one deserves that fate. Maybe she dumped me on the spot, took pity on my sorry ass, and let me take up her bed for the...nah, that's a stupid theory.
Bullets. Right. Gun. Right. Because...of what is behind door number two. Not the lilac. The stench. Liver vomit. Ahead of me. Noon. High Midnight. Fuck. The zombies.
I forgot all about the zombies.
Rule number one. Never forget about the zombies.
I'm fishing for details, building a jigsaw puzzle out of broken memories rum shots. Four of them. Five of them? Three of them. Some number. I lured them inside. Somehow. I'm not a natural runner. More of a shove things aside, type. Maybe I pushed them. Down into the basement. Then locked the door? Why? Who in their right mind would...right, rum was involved. Tequila. Oh, that burp sure felt like tequila. Note, Wiccans like the hard stuff. I pushed them into the basement. Then locked the door. And went to bed with a hot and horny Wiccan who ravished from head to toe all night long, while I got pissed drunk. Wait, back up. What proof of that do I have? That's right. I hear them shumbling around down there so something pushed them down into the basement and I woke up in bed that some lonely, love-starved Wiccan apparently sleeps in (cloves or no). Did I shoot any of them? No. I found the gun? Wait, did I have sex at all? Hell, that explains why I was fully dressed. Just who the hell's house is this?
I need a plan of action. I need options. Any system needs options or it's not properly thought out. Option 1. Go back to bed. Pros: Bed. Cons: nothing solved. Problem? I don't know. Option 2. Kill zombies. Pros: zombies dead. Cons: my head would still be killing me. Option 3. Leave. Pros: I'd be gone, the cat can handle it. Cons: see headache and nothing solved cons, above. Problem? Probably. No one turns their back on the unholy marriage between life and death and feels like a man. Or something. Forgot what the poster said. Something something...Trident gum. We salute. Something.
Option 4: I need an accurate count. How does one get an accurate count of an indefinite horde of undead from a basement? Magic. Man, I know just the chick to ask. Well, know might be too strong of a word. I know OF a chick to ask. She likes pink and somehow allowing drunken schlumps to sleep in her bed. Solution: I kick the door, hard. Thinking about that, now, a split second later, it seems pretty stupid. Like the time I jumped over the railing of a patio down to the ground below, just because I knew if I waited I wouldn't do it, and bruised my ankle. Sometimes we do stupid things all at once because we know we will over...
Ok, two zombies down, two bullets. I'm a pro. This gun is an extension of my body. I breathe bullets and zombies fall down. Well, shit, I missed that one. And, ah, that's a click. Where'd that fourth shot go. Oh, look like I shot that one twice. Great, once in the leg when I screamed a little and jumped back. In the leg and not the chest, headshots would have saved your... Oh, there are more. Our zombie to bullet ratio just divided by zero. Crap.
Plan, two, I brain the next one in the head with the bottle. Get a good "slush chunk". Heh, it's kind of a funny noise. Bring it around and turns out I'm a natural at this, too. I am the bottle wielder. You know, I am fighting zombies. Like, a dozen of them. Here I am, laughing, empty gun in one hand, a bottle of mostly full rum in the other, and I am using the bottle. Left-handed? I am a weird guy.
Stench number five (six?) goes in for a bit of the old sweaty forearm and I kick him down, which knocks me down. On a scale of one to ten, me with a hangover is slightly under "zombie" as far as grace. Sitting there, on the stairs, and I can hear more. I made into some sort of game of last night, didn't I? "I can kill them in the morning," I bet I said, smugly. "Let's get one more." Prick.
Death by undead and its less cute first cousin, being masticated by anything, especially things that are an abomination upon all that is holy and upon approxiamately 76% of things that are not, is the practically the step-mother of invention and bar-fight tenacity so I slam the Bacardi into the wall, twice, a third time, and finally manage to crack it enough that the brown liquid pours out, rip the book out of my pocket and douse the whole thing in the gush-stream of strong alcohol. You know the worst thing about homemade molotovs in the morning? The need to vomit so bad that you sort of lose track of what you were up to. Right, not... think proactive, not...ok. Then, whipping out a cheap box of complimentary Davidoff matches (pride and a sense of something like foresight force me to note that I would probably have preferred just about any other lightning mechanism in the world than a box of free cigar matches, excepting, you know, those match books that always light in movies and...right, damn, PROACTIVE), I manage to break one, drop one, one's a dud and SWEET MARTIAN MARY CHRIST, I start a blaze a burning. In my hand. It will heal. No worries. Think: "proactive". Toss it down into the ruined face of the horde's so sweetly volunteering forerunner coming on up the wooden stairs, slapping my hand into the wall to put it out, twice, a third time, somewhere between sucessfully and barely adequate, and then slush the rest of the rum right into his/its rictus grin and the unseen grins behind him/it, and this time I skip the bravado kick, instead diverting my natural librarian grace into standing up and not falling back down. I am up, in a basic sense of the word, and backing up and looking down and appreciating that tangled web of fire and dead flesh I just wove.
Death by Harold Bacardi. Bloom 151. Undeath? The death of death? No, wait, Romero may have that copymarked or tradewrited or something. Redeath? Um, oh. Whatever...
Zombies burn fast, and they hate fire, and so some primal instinct caused the poor damned thing to slam into the wall before dropping back down into the others. Which also burns fast. You know what the suckiest thing about old houses? They burn faster than zombies. Instinct carries me out of the basement door, around a left corner and then a right dash to the front door and half-way through it before I get it open, feeling the blossoming of a bruise on my shin where I apparently caught some low-lying table or something and then I am about to be a free man, assuming, you know, that zombies are not waiting outside, and some repressed memory comes back to me like the results of a bad acid trip: clearer than reality. Ah, hell, stupid cat.
Around the corner from the opposite way, shoulder a flaming zom back down the stairs, past the smell of lilac and into the bedroom. I snatch up Mr. Sable with my burned hand, pretend it does not hurt because I am big man, and then hurl aforementioned big man and terrified kitten through the glass surrounded by pink and fake vines, and right into the gravel outside. Some Wiccans hate grass, apparently. Scratches on the face and the cat teeth marks'll heal too. Get up and scoot away by several feet right as something, likely a gas tank or similar, goes up in the house and the old wooden thing is just a bunch of flames. I drop the cat, not too gracefully, as the heat hits the cuts in my face. Funny thing is, the guy sticks around. Nowhere else to go I imagine. Speaking of go, I drop trou right there and just piss like a race horse. It is awesome.
Only after I am done do I think to ask, again, "Who the hell's house was that?"
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Written by Doug Bolden
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