#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p7

Night’s End.

A wave of ice hit Jack. He stood frozen, staring down at the dark shapes that used to be his neighbours. A strong smell of gunpowder lingered. After shooting his wife Carl had turned the gun on himself and bought it. In the sudden explosion of light Jack had seen Carl’s head vanish, like watching one of those slow-motion videos of melons exploding. The first aid kit in Jack’s hand was useless now. He had been too late. Carl and Mary were beyond help. Jack wanted to scream but bit it back hard.

“Dad?” Amy stood behind Jack. She couldn’t see very well in the dark by the moonlight but she recognized the shape of her father alright. She couldn’t see the horror in the room beyond. The pale blue light didn’t reach far into the room and the bad were wrapped in shadows.

It took a moment for a Jack to register the voice behind him. When he did a cold shiver ran down his spine. “You promised to wait downstairs,” he said turning around towards his daughter.

“Yeah,” she said, “The power went out and I heard another gunshot, I got scared” Her voice was a strange mix of shame, defiance and sadness. “I thought maybe you had got hurt.”

Christ, Jack cursed to himself, how long had he been standing there like a fool, staring at two dead bodies he couldn’t help when his own daughter had been sitting downstairs worrying herself sick about him. “I’m fine,” Jack said stepping forward into the moonlight to reassure Amy, he held out his hands in a gesture that said, not a scratch.

Amy sighed with relief but she didn’t walk closer. She remained close to the open apartment door. She knew that something was wrong. She sensed death and didn’t want to come close. “What about the Grimes?” She asked not wanting to know the answer.

“I couldn’t help them,” Jack replied.

Amy saw the first aid kit clenched in her dad’s fist, she didn’t push the subject.

“Let’s get out of here,” Jack said, “I want to see if there is anything new on the TV”.

“The TV died when the lights went out,” Amy replied.

“Makes sense,” Jack replied. In the heated moments in the Grimes apartment he had forgotten about the electricity flickering out. It had been one of the reasons Amy had left their apartment on the floor below.

“Wait,” Jack said as they stepped out into the dark hallway. He turned back into the apartment and walked with determined steps towards the bedroom. Deep breaths he told himself. If I’m going to do this it has to be fast and without thinking, deep breaths. He wanted to stop in the door frame, freeze up like before, but he didn’t. The smell of gunpowder was only a faint memory now, the smell of blood more tangible. Jack registered the smell but tried not to think about it. He stepped up to bed and wrestled the gun unceremoniously from Carl’s hand. “Sorry old pal,” he whispered and left the room for good. He couldn’t help the Grimes, but his daughter was alive. And he would keep it that way.

Amy saw the gun in her father’s hand as he joined her in the hallway but didn’t say anything. In silence by the dim glow of Amy’s cell phone they walked back down to their apartment and locked the door firmly behind them. Soon the sun would rise and cast its hard-hearted light on the city.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of Episodes for No Longer Alive

Advertisements

#FridayFlash – Carrefour part 3 (mini-series), conclusion.

“Yes child, I have come” Baron Samedi said. The voice was calm, but the old man could hear the playful undertones dance across the words like a thunderstorm.

The old man sat dumbstruck. He had wanted this, prepared for it, but now that he got his wish he didn’t know what to do with it, or what to do with himself. Baron Samedi loomed tall over him and the old man wasn’t sure if it was a man or a giant crow standing in front of him. Yellow eyes webbed with red veins stared down at him. Under the ancient top hat thick dreadlocks rippled with their own life, twitching eagerly to grasp another soul. His skin was darker than any the old man had ever seen, it was like looking into the void. This must be like dying, the old man thought.

Baron Samedi poked the old man with his diamond tipped cane. “Now that I’m here, what do you wish of me?” His voice, deep, ruined by cheap whiskey and smoke, it raked the air.

“Mistake,” the old man said in a dry whisper. He wanted to look away, but couldn’t. Before him stood a thunderstorm, an ill omen, the harbinger of death. Hot urine streamed down the old man’s ragged trousers.

“No!” Baron Samedi exclaimed. The old man jumped at the deafening sound of that single word. He began to shiver.

Behind them the child looked up. Baron Samedi turned his head towards the boy and smiled. The child smiled back, only for an instant, before returning to what game he played.

“You called, I came. A prise will be paid,” Baron Samedi turned back to the old man, “One way or the other.”

The old man understood these deep unforgiving words well. In his secret heart he knew there was no turning back. He met Baron Samedi’s horrible yellow eyes and nodded.

“So I ask, what do you wish?” Baron Samedi held out his open palm, “You may wish for anything, but not everything.”

The old man’s jaw and lips shivered with fear, “Life”, he spoke, pushing the words through his white lips.

“The payment?” Baron Samedi looked down on the old man, so close to lives end. He wasn’t the first to ask for more, and he would not be the last.

The old man could speak no more, his lips quivered too violently. He raised his thin arm and pointed one gnarly finger at the child.

“Very well,” Baron Samedi smiled, eyes gleaming like hot coal. The demon held out his hand towards the old man who gripped it with his own shaking hand. Strong fingers squeezed, long nails dug into the old man’s skin.

“Seven years. If you want more, pay more.”

The End.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p6

Blood.

The hallway was quiet. Jack looked first to his left, then his right, he was alone. All the doors were closed. He didn’t really know what he had expected stepping out from the safe sphere of his apartment. But he hadn’t expected things to be so normal. If his neighbours were awake they showed no signs of it. Jack squeezed the emergency kit until his knuckles turned white. He drew a deep breath, braced himself and started to move.

He walked past the elevators. He didn’t want to risk getting stuck in a cramped metal box if there was a power outage. Taking the stairs would be faster, and if the Grimes were hurt there was no time to lose. The automated lights in the hallway flickered nervously.

As Jack pushed the door to the staircase open he heard a door on a lower level slam shut. The sound echoed up through the concrete walls.

“Hello?” Jack leaned over the railing and looked down the winding stairs, empty. At least I’m not alone, Jack thought, but couldn’t decide if this was a good or a bad thing.

He hurried up the stairs to the next floor and pushed through the stairwell door. He walked quickly through the hallway. This floor looked exactly the same as his own and for a moment a feeling of being stuck in a loop hit Jack. He would find his own apartment door at the end of the hallway, not the Grimes’ door. The lights flickered like crazy, drew a synchronized last breath and died. The hallway was bathed in darkness.

Jack stopped, reached out his free hand to find the wall. The concrete was cool to his touch. Jack winced at his luck not taking the elevator. He would have been as stuck as you get right about now if he had. Being stuck in a pitch dark corridor wasn’t a whole lot better, but at least he could stumble forward. He didn’t have to stumble for long as the backup power switched on and the lights breathed new life again. A soft blue glow settled over the hallway, it was dim but at least Jack could see by it.

The door to the Grimes’ apartment was unlocked. Jack didn’t knock, he didn’t think about it. He just pushed the door open and stepped inside.

“Hello?” he whispered, “Mary? Carl? You okay?” No reply. The backup lights from the hallway only reached so far with its blue light and most of the apartment was draped with long shadows.

Jack took a few tentative steps forward. The weight of the emergency kit grew heavier with each step. His hand clamped around the bag. Suddenly his palms were wet with nervous sweat.

“Carl?” Jack took a step forward and stopped to listen. This time he heard something. A soft sobbing was coming from the bedroom. Jack crossed the living room, pausing only for a moment when his eyes fell on the thick pillar of smoke rising from the city, a deeper black against the dark night.

“Who’s there?” Carl asked as Jack appeared in the door frame, in the gloom of the apartment they were both just shadowy figures. Carl sounded exhausted, cried out.

“It’s me,” Jack replied and took a step forward. “Is Mary alright?”

“I had to do it Jack,” Carl replied.

“What do you mean, Carl?” Jack strained his eyes to see. Carl was sitting on the bed cradling Mary’s head, running his frail old hands through her hair.

“She’s been ill, Jack” the sobbing seeped back into Carl’s voice. “She went crazy, absolutely crazy. I couldn’t calm her down. Jack, I couldn’t.”

Jack stood frozen in the doorpost, he realized that Mary must be dead, her chest was still. Even in the dark he should have been able to see her chest move with her breathing.

“She started beating me, biting me, see.” Carl held out his arm, but Jack couldn’t see the wounds in the dark. The only thing he could see was the gleam of light bouncing of the gun in Carl’s hand. “I shot her,” Carl sobbed heavily. “I shot my wife. Fuck me, Jack, I shot her.”

In one last fluid motion Carl raised his gun to his head, a single gunshot exploded the darkness and in the momentary light Jack could see all of the blood, blood everywhere. He didn’t even have time to react. All he could think was that Carl was too fast, too fast for a goddamn old man.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive

#FridayFlash – Carrefour part 2 (mini-series)

The sun didn’t move, but time pasted. The old man knew this because his hunger was growing. Papa Legba had walked south, his promise that the other one would come soon still echoed in the old mans tired mind. Soon was an obscure promise. Time moved differently for humans and the others, the cross-road demons and the gods of the old world. But he would wait. There was nothing else. Food could no longer satisfy the deep hunger he felt. Only more life would.

The child still played in the dirt. The young boy had no worries and no complaints. If he was hungry he kept it to himself.

Time moved. The old man blinked, his eyes were dry from the dust and the sun, and suddenly the other one had come. The old man startled, he almost fell to the ground at the terrifying sight of the other one. “Baron Samedi…” he gasped.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

Find part one here

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p5

Going into Shock.

The gunshots splintered the last crude hope Jack and Amy was holding on to. They cracked through the night like a dry whip and in the distance they were answered by a much louder and deeper sound. It was the sound of something big exploding, a gas-station or a big truck. Jack turned his head, too exhausted and numb to care about the implications of the explosion, he saw a deep orange cloud of fire reach above the buildings a few blocks down, just outside the city core.

Amy didn’t look. She burrowed her face into her father’s warm shirt, trying to squeeze out any remaining comfort but there was only a lingering feeling of safety left in the familiar smell of the fabric, a memory of a time that now felt strange and distant. “What should we do?” She whispered, afraid that her voice would invoke further gunshots.

“Let’s get inside” Jack replied, “I don’t feel safe here.”

Amy nodded, “Yeah, no kidding.” She didn’t mean to say the last two words. The words just sort of slipped out of her, but she was glad they did, at least she wasn’t going crazy with fear. Maybe the explosion had shaken it all into place, maybe she was in shock. She couldn’t tell, but it didn’t matter. Anything was better than going bat-shit crazy with fear.

Jack had picked up on Amy’s slight change in mood and it reassured him. He would deal with whatever this shit was, for her.

“Amy, I’m gonna go upstairs and check on the Grimes,” Jack said, “and I want you to stay her, watch the news in case there is something new.”

“No, don’t go up there,” Amy replied instantly, feeling suddenly very small and afraid again.

“Look, I have to. The Grimes are old, and Marys been sick lately,” Jack sighed, “They might need my help.”

“Stay, please.” Amy grabbed her dad by the wrist as he pulled away from her. “Someone else will help them.”

“Amy, please. I’m their doctor. I’ll just be gone two minutes then I’ll be right back alright. Promise.”

“I don’t like it,” Amy said and creased her forehead in a disapproving frown, like she had done as a child.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Jack replied and tried to smile.

Amy tried to smile back.

“Lock the door behind me, I got the keys.” Jack held up the modest key-chain which held the key to the apartment, a car-key and the key to Jack’s locker at work.

“Alright,” Amy replied.

“Don’t open for anyone, even if you know who it is alright, wait for me,” Jack said. He pulled open the closet in the hallway and pulled out his emergency medical kit.

“Promise. Just hurry back, dad.” Amy said. She was looking at the green square medical kit but didn’t really want to see it, “I’ll make us some tea,” She added.

“Good idea, Amy,” Jack said, “I’ll be back soon.” But he didn’t feel it. If he was lucky the Grimes would be alright, but that would be some real goddam luck. Most likely, someone was shot.

Jack opened the door slowly. He waited until the automatic lights would blink to life. The hallway was empty. “Alright,” he said, “Don’t open for anyone.” He didn’t wait for Amy to reply. He slipped out into the hallway and quickly shut the door behind him. The sound of Amy locking the door behind him sent a single icy chill down his spine. The otherwise safe and familiar hallway felt like a scene from one of those bad horror movies. He felt terribly lonely.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l

#FridayFlash – Carrefour part 1 (mini-series)

The old man had watched his grandson play in the dirt for hours. They had come to the crossroads at dawn and the sun stood high above the world, beaming down with merciless heat. The crossroads offered no shade where you could hide from the cruel gaze of the sun. Large beads of sweat rolled slowly down the old man’s forehead and cheeks, the child didn’t seem to mind the heat.

Crows flew across the blue sky like black clouds, cawing ominously. They were taunting the old man, challenging him to stay awake, to stay sane. The man’s eye lids were heavy with sleep. He was very old and they had walked a long way through the night, his bones felt brittle and hunger was in his belly. He had only brought an apple which he had split in half with his pocketknife. The child had eaten his half of the apple hungrily, like a dog, the old man thought. Himself he had savored the taste, eating the ripe fruit in thin slices until nothing but the core remained. He had eaten that as well, seeds crunching like ancient bones between his yellowed teeth.

Time slowed down and transformed into a thick black tar in the heat. The sun hadn’t moved in a long while now. The old man closed his eyes for a moment and felt the kick of sudden sleep and opened them again. A man older than himself stood in front of him. He was leaning on a crutch made from sugarcane and on his head he wore a wide straw hat to protect him from the sun. Other than the newcomer wore only ragged trousers held up by twine. He wore no shoes and no shirt. His black skin glistened in the sun and his belly was swollen.

He nodded towards the old man, “He comes soon,” he said with a voice dry as the desert.

“When?” The old man croaked. He hadn’t had a drink since they had left home during the night and his throat was swollen and dry. The apple had done little to wet it.

The man standing before him uncorked a small water pouch and drank from it, richly. He offered nothing to the old man sitting at the crossroads. “Be patient, Carrefour, soon,” the man repeated.

“I will wait then.”

“Yes you will, child” the man on the crouch said and started to walk south support his frail body on the sugarcane.

“Thank you, Papa Legba,” the old man tried to yell after him but his voice failed him and all that came out was a hoarse whisper.

The child was still playing in the middle of the crossroads, he had noticed nothing. Children are so busy with their own fantasies they have no time and forget the world around them. The old man envied the child.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p4

Gunshots.

Time had vanished. It had rolled out through the open balcony door like a slow sluggish tar. Instead a heavy heat had settled in the apartment. Amy sat next to her father. She was staring at the news, trying to comprehend the images. It had only been a minute since she woke from her comforting nap and a low voice in the back of her head tried to convince her that she was still sleeping.

“It can’t be real,” Jack said, breaking the silence. His voice came out real calm, almost like he believed himself.

Amy heard that her father spoke, but didn’t take in the words. She replied, more out of habit than anything else. “They are all dead,” she said, “All of them,” when she said that she wasn’t thinking of the lifeless bodies lying in the city streets. “Look at them dad, they are all…” the last word stuck in her throat like an uncomfortable fish bone, stabbing painfully, insistently.

“Yeah,” Jack nodded, “and they are killing everyone.”

Silent tears streamed down Amy’s cheeks.

“I didn’t wake you,” Jack continued, “I thought it was just rioting or something. I didn’t see. I was rationalizing.” This last word he said without any conviction. Maybe there was a hissing voice deep down in her dad’s head telling him that he had fallen asleep on the couch next to her, Amy thought, she felt dazed.

A sudden noise broke the numb moment. It was coming down on them like a storm, demanding their absolute attention. The TV’s spell was broken, replaced by a new fear. Jack turned his head towards the hallway, expecting a horde of those stumbling and awful creatures come crashing through the apartment door. The sound grew in strength but nothing broke through the door. The sound kept growing, and growing until it was right above them.

“Outside,” Amy almost had to shout, she pointed towards the open balcony.

Jack got up from the couch and took a few quick steps to the balcony. In the same moment a formation of black helicopters swooped into view. He quickly counted seven identical helicopters, no numbers or logos on them. Some kind of military black ops he thought, he had seen one just like them once, while doing a stint in Iraq for Doctors Without Borders. Maybe they were here to resolve the situation.

Amy came out on the balcony, “They are flying so low” she said. Jack had trouble hearing her over the roaring noise. The helicopters flew low and fast and the noise faded out quickly as they flew out over the city and split formation. Three helicopters held a straight course for the centre of the city with the two on each side breaking off in opposite directions, then they vanished into the dark night, the only evidence of their passing was the low humming of the propellers spinning angrily.

“Who were they?” Amy asked. They were both startled by the volume of her voice now that the noise was gone.

“I think they were military, I’ve seen helicopters like them before. They send their best guys in those,” Jack replied, “They’ll soon get things under control,” he tried to sound reassuringly but didn’t do a very good job of it. Amy bit her lip nervously, a habit her mom had possessed and Amy had picked up when her mother had passed away. Jack took his daughter in his arms and held her, “Everything is going to be alright,” he said, and now, holding Amy he could almost believe it.

“It has to be” Amy replied.

The night had gone silent again. The only thing breaking it was two sharp gunshots from the apartment above.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p3

Amy Wakes.

Part of Jack wanted to turn his head and look out the apartment windows towards the memorial park, but the other much larger part refused. He wasn’t entirely sure that he even could. The fear was too potent, holding his spine in a cold and lifeless grip. The images rolled on and the woman behind the news desk moved her silent mouth in a frantic pace. He wanted to turn the sound back on but was afraid of what she was saying. She looked like Jack felt, absolutely horrified.

Suddenly, something next to Jack moved, he startled and groaned loudly. Ripped from his frozen state he turned his head to see what it was, leaning backwards to shield himself from a sudden attack. He imagined a thousand different and dangerous things that would jump at his face and bite as he switched his gaze to look upon the dark monster that would be his death. His eyes adjusted to the gloom and Jack saw his daughter. She was still sleeping on the couch next to him. A lot of the fear faded away as he looked at her, sleeping soundly on the couch she was a bright sunbeam cutting through thick and ominous rain clouds. Jack felt the fear drain away almost like a physical feeling and that was a good thing, but it wasn’t replaced with safe feelings, but a soft and imposing sense of worry.

Jack turned back to the TV and turned on the sound. He had to know what was going no matter how much it scared him. If it was something really serious that could affect his daughter’s safety he had to know. The city might impose martial law or something to combat such disgusting and terrible violence. It was so widespread and so close. He had to deal with it, for Amy.

The TV blared into life. It was way too loud. Jack hurried to lower the volume but it was too late, the damage was done. Next to him Amy stretched, opened her eyes groggily and gave her father a confused look.

“God I’m tired,” she said with a yawn. Amy pushed herself up into a sitting position, “What time is it?”

Jack didn’t reply. In fact, he didn’t even hear his daughter. The things the news lady was saying were just too surreal and it took Jack everything he had to comprehend what she was trying to tell her viewers.

“Dad?” Amy asked, “What’s going on?” She prodded her father’s arm.

“Uh?” Jack tilted his face slightly towards Amy, only for a second did his eyes leave the TV screen to meet his daughters. “I was just…” His words trailed of as he jabbed dozily towards the TV with the remote.

Her dad was acting very strange. A thick worried feeling was rising up inside of her. A chill ran down her spine, she felt the creeps in a major way. Some of Jacks fear had unhitched from him and was now sinking its deep dark hooks into Amy. She didn’t understand why she felt like this, she had never felt anything like it. A single thought entered her mind, something truly horrible was about to happen.

To be continued…

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l

#TuesdaySerial – No Longer Alive, p2

The News.

At the end of the movie all of the actors were smiling, looking generally satisfied and the villain had been carted off in a cop car. Jack deduced that it must have been a happy ending. He reached for the remote, turned off the DVD-player and started flipping through the channels. He had almost given up hope of finding something interesting when he finally reached a channel that showed the news. The images were violent and gruesome. Jack grimaced in disgust. He didn’t get it. The act of using violence against another person was both horrifying and childish to him. And this kind of gang violence was really getting out of hand.

   Jack felt both sad and blessed as he watched the violence on the news unfold, sad because so many people had been left behind by society, and blessed because he could provide a safe and stable home for his daughter, far away from the violent suburbs he himself had grown up in. Both of his parents had been cops, working in the same neighborhood they lived in. It had been fine for the most part. They were fair cops and well-respected, but they lived by the code that the only way to beat violence was with violence, an eye for an eye, all the way to the bottom.

   Jack hadn’t agreed with his parents. He refused the idea of violence as a force of good. So he had bunkered down and sweated through school, all the way to an internship at a fairly good hospital. He had been a doctor for a good long time now. Saved more lives than he had lost, so that was good. His parents lived outside the city now, in a house he had bought them when they retired. They always told him how proud they were, but in his heart, Jack knew that they would much rather he’d been a cop like them, fighting fire with fire, and not become some soft-hearted doctor without grit or guts.

   His dad had taught him to shoot as a kid. Jack had been dragged out to the range once a week until he had turned eighteen and his father told Jack that he was a man now and could make his own decisions. In that same moment Jack decided to never fire a gun again.

   The news flipped through a couple of clips, all with violent and gruesome images. Jack felt his stomach turn and try to somersault. He had never seen anything quite like this on the news. It reminded him of bad horror movies, the kind he had liked as a kid. The images were raw and uncensored. Fear rolled over him like a cold black wave, he recognized the scenes. It was here in the city, every one of the clip the news rolled through where from different parts of the city. The scene switched again, Jack put his hand to his mouth and gasped, this one wasn’t far away, down the block by the memorial park, and he could almost see it from his window if he wanted to. He didn’t. Four bright red letters burned on the screen, ‘LIVE’.

To be continued.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

List of episodes for No Longer Alive: http://wp.me/P4cKL8-l