Unedited, Uncensored, Unsettling…
By Jason Morton
It was over. All over. Nothing left to care for, love or feel. We killed it all. Hope was a concept of the past, a means to Deliverance, deliverance a means to not feel guilty as the bombs fell. Those in charge never cared, they were out for the almighty dollar. Why should we have rights when it hinders their ability to make a million or two? What the fuck? The good thing was the bombs had no discretion killing black, white, old and young. Now there is nothing. Good going world we are dead.
End Credits by Tilby Noir
Katie stared at the derelict movie screen, the summer wind rippling tall grass like waves upon the sea. Nature had reclaimed the concrete expanse, filling what had once been row after row of parking spaces with vibrant green. Broken speakers leaned precariously, the rusted ushers of a bygone era. Pulling tangled hair back from her face, Katie delved the recesses of her mind for memories of before.
She had no memories of this place, of course. Drive-in theaters were a thing of the past even in her youth. But seeing this relic of long ago looming across the plain, still proud and determined when few traces of civilization remained, brought an onslaught of nostalgia.
Once, Katie had played without worry of roving corpses and vicious raiders. Once, her parents walked with her, spinning her in circles or swinging from the monkey bars. But that was before the Walkers came, before humanity devolved into small nomadic bands scrambling for mere survival. Her family was dead now, as were the families of everyone she had ever known.
The groan alerted her to the Walker’s presence. Katie twirled and extended the well-honed machete that served as an extension to her arm. Her movements were fluid, quick, born of a grace tempered with the will to survive at any cost. The blade glinted in the setting sun, eager for a taste of blood. The edge bit into the zombie’s neck, separated the rotted head from the desiccated neck, the spinal cord snapping like a dry twig left under a hot sun. Thick, black ichor oozed from the wound, coated the razor-edge of the machete.
Katie straightened her pose, watching as the body of a once robust athlete, still clad in jogging shorts, flopped to the ground. Her pulse was steady, her breathing even. Fear had long ago been driven from her body, a liability in a world ruled by instinct. The sight of the corpse at her feet stirred no emotion, no revulsion, no remorse. Her heart still beat, her body still thrived, but inside, she was already dead. This harsh landscape had stolen her humanity a little more with each Walker that fell to her blade.
Movement caught her eye and Katie squinted into the sun. A line of Walkers shuffled towards her, unyielding in their continuous search for the flesh of the living. She turned to more closely assess her surroundings. The field stretched on for miles, no buildings, no trees, no place to barricade herself until the horde moved on. Only the warped wood of the movie screen rose from the grass, skeletal posts holding up thin, whitewashed planks turned grey from overexposure. There would be no shelter there.
The Walkers were slow, she could easily outrun them. But for how long? Her waterskin was near empty and she hadn’t had a decent meal in days. Her strength wouldn’t outlast their other-worldy drive, a seemingly neverending font of stamina. A few hours at most, that was all she could delay them.
Katie breathed deep, closing her eyes and lifting her face to the sun one last time. She savored the smell of grass and wildflowers, of the dark soil beneath her feet. This, at least, was constant. Animals starved, humans devoured, the undead polluted all that had once been civilized. But flowers, blessedly, flourished. Flowers, she would miss.
Opening her eyes, Katie turned her attention back to the approaching swarm. Her time had come, she was prepared. There was no life out here, anyway. Not the kind she craved. She’d played a hard game, lasted longer than most. The end was welcome.
Planting her feet. Katie raised her arm, black stickiness rolled down the blade like saliva from a dog’s tongue, thirsty and craving more. Her other hand released the glock at her hip. She aimed the muzzle forward, her hand clenching the stock firm but not too tight. The bullets wouldn’t be nearly enough, only five remained, but it would feel good to blow a few brains across the plain before she went down.
Groans of excitement filled the air. They were almost close enough, bent and torn feet shuffling stiffly in their haste to reach the promise of delectable meat. At this distance, Katie could count them. There were twenty-two hungry, putrid biters, mouths gawping and yellowed eyes rolling. This was going to be fun, a real warrior send-off.
“Mom, dad, I’m coming home,” she promised, leaping forward to meet her fate.
A Cloud of Omens by Mike L Lane
Fireflies stirred around the base of the world tree as Morgan climbed down from the branches and mounted her bone-white horse. The fading glow of the day’s sun drifted below the horizon and the evening chorus of crickets filled her ears with a peaceful serenade, guiding her undead steed out of the dark forest and into the clearing. The horse snorted his disapproval and stamped his cloven hoof on the ground in protest, but a tap on his reigns urged him forward. Her companion loathed the abandoned drive-in and the faint scent of humans that had long ago frequented this place. Dried oil stains in the grass and remnants of stale popcorn couldn’t mask the rancid smell of human life that still permeated the air. The scent of old fear and human pheromones lingered long after the race had abandoned this plot of decaying land. Morgan ignored it. It was time to gather her darlings and as always, there was work to be done.
“Take these broken wings and learn to fly,” she hummed under her breath, remembering the Beatles’ tune she favored most. It was one of the few things these pathetic humans had created. Besides, it was a much better tune than Sing a Song of Six Pence. “All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.”
She maneuvered her steed beyond the broken down sign that read- Black Oak Drive-In. It was peculiar how humans felt the need to label things. Take her, for instance. She had been known by many names throughout the centuries. Some had called her Rhiannon or Rīgantōna, The Great Divine Queen with her birds that could wake the dead and lull the living to sleep. The Hopi had called her Sussistanako, or Spider Grandmother, who sent out her darlings as directional guardians, but associated them with the underworld. Some had even called her Black Annis, though she despised that title. She preferred her Celtic name; Mororiganis, the Nightmare Queen. It seemed fitting.
Weaving between rows upon rows of rusted, silent speakers, she made her way to the old projection booth and dismounted. She pulled an enchanted apple from her cloak and fed the beast, affectionately scratching below his chin with her curved, iron claws. The horse whinnied in approval and she stepped into the booth and closed the door, humming as she went.
She had always used lakes and streams in the past for this particular job, but the humans’ reckless pollution had soiled the waterways and her visions were often muddled. Besides, her darlings were easily distracted and by using this forgotten theatre, she could broadcast a much wider viewing. It was another one of their creations she could admire, even if they no longer did.
Just before dusk, the messengers trickled in, cawing at one another and ruffling their feathers. Watching them line across the top of the busted screen and along the telephone lines, she felt a tinge of sadness as she always did before her broadcast. Most would carry their messages to the undeserving, their warnings completely ignored. Others would venture within human homes just to get their attention and even then they would simply be shooed away. Many would even sacrifice their lives to forewarn the ungrateful of their impending doom, smashing into glass walls and crushing their majestic skulls. Most of it would be in vain, but it was work that had to be done, nonetheless.
Morgan carefully removed her crystal eye, mounting it to the projector. Light pulsed through it and reflected onto the empty screen. A hush fell over the viewers as they received their orders and made special note of the omens specifically assigned to each one. Flashes of horror splashed across the forsaken canvas. Humans died in agonizing pain. Corpses and carnage. Disease and disorder. Murder and mayhem. It was all there, the future broadcast across the drive-in’s screen like a kaleidoscope of death, no two tragedies alike. As each blackbird received their omen, the harbingers of sorrow took flight to forewarn the ungrateful. Morgan sighed with a ragged breath as the last one faded into the night air.
“Blackbird singing in the dead of night,” she hummed the melancholy tune. She mounted her horse and returned to the world tree where more visions would plague her sleep. “Take these sunken eyes and learn to see.”
Clerical Oversight by David Court
Planet Earth: Population zero.
The last vestiges of the troublesome blight that was homo sapiens has been slowly reclaimed by nature. Monuments to the existence of humanity still stand, but only as decaying relics to a doomed species. Lightning storms against tinder-dry concrete and wood reduce skyscrapers to hundred-storey funeral pyres. Car parks sit shrouded in vegetation. Large feral cats and dogs hunt smaller prey in this now quite literal concrete jungle. Vacant drive-ins will wait forever. Within time, there will be no sign that mankind ever haunted this world.
Except for one.
In a bunker, deep in the recesses of the Earth, lies a chamber chosen for two reasons; secrecy and defence. A fusion reactor throbs and hums, its energies easy capable of powering the bunker until our sun becomes a red giant and boils oceans into mist.
A video plays on a monitor, a message-in-a-bottle that will never reach shore. A long-dead voice makes an announcement to long-dead ears.
Was the recording left as a message for others, perhaps the inhabitants of other worlds who stray upon our necropolis? Or as apology and confession?
“We’d existed since the late thirties,” says a lone lab-coated individual sitting at a desk, “An organization of such secrecy that we didn’t even dare speak the name. One of those government departments solely funded through filtered budgets. One of many, to be fair – if that justifies anything.”
The video shows a series of blueprints now, schematics of a metallic winged dart.
“Project Extirpate, they called it. A means of dealing with the enemies who’d threaten our nation. Through a few simple taps at a keyboard, they would be unleashed.”
The image is replaced by video footage now, zooming back from our metallic dart to show that it’s just one of a swarm of millions.
“Nanomechs. Microscopic machines working together to achieve a common goal. Self-replicating and self-powering, and – with hindsight – armed with more destructive capability than the world’s nuclear arsenal combined. Want a terrorist gone? Enter a few details on the computer, and they’re history. Want a regime toppled? Again, enter a few details and leave them be. So small that they’re capable of evading radar and entering any structure that isn’t perfectly airtight.”
The footage shows the man again. The bottle of whiskey that sat in front of him is now half-empty, a smashed glass on its side.
“We were only trying to help, you know? Remove the need for conventional soldiers. Wars could be over in moments.”
He gulps back a sob, and stares forlornly at the bottle for a moment. He picks it up, studies the contents, and pours most of the remaining liquid down his throat.
“And it would have worked, but for the fact we were found out. Turns out that some of our budget diversion might not have been all that… legal. And some of our bosses turned out to not be as loyal to our country as we would have liked.”
The footage now shows closed-circuit camera images from the surface, a series of military vehicles veering off a road to all head in a singular direction.
“Despite all our best efforts, they’d found us. And we had terabytes of evidence on our hard drives that would see us executed as traitors. We had to get rid of it. One simple command doomed us all, and I’m ashamed to say I’m the one who said it. An inexperienced clerk using the wrong computer killed Earth.”
Later still. The lab-suited individual is standing behind the desk, clearly drunk, gesticulating with the empty bottle in his hand.
“I… ran down here and locked them all out. I’m probably the last one left now. My countermeasures have protected me for this long, but I can hear them outside the door.”
He looks off camera, and visibly slumps, resigned to his fate. His last words are mumbled, barely audible.
“We should have labelled the computers.”
A typhoon of movement engulfs him. Clothes are torn away by the storm of razors. Naked flesh is reduced to a moist redness, which in turn becomes bleached bone – and then nothing. The swarm is suddenly gone, sated.
You know you must have imagined it, but it sounded like his scream still sounded for a few moments after he’d vanished from view.
In an empty room on a dead planet, the last computer instruction ever delivered by a human sits on a screen. Garish orange on black, two words.
> DELETE ALL.
ZOMBIE RAPE by Robert Brown
The marquee outside the drive-in proudly displayed ZOMBIE RAPE along with the same show times it had touted for almost five years. Marty checked his watch. It was still broken, forever showing half past twelve, so he checked the sky instead. It was dark enough.
He ran from the concession stand where he had been heating up the stale popcorn and filling the roller grill, across the cracked and overgrown parking lot to the projection booth. The moans of his audience stretched after him, kept at bay by the wrought-iron fence that circled the lot. Up the stairs he ran. He had carefully rewound the film after re-splicing an unfortunate break, and it was all ready for tonight’s showing.
He flipped the switches, relishing the clickety-clack of the projector as it started, sending dancing popcorn and soft drinks on their parade through a cartoon lobby. Back down the stairs, almost tripping over his own feet, he slammed through the door at a full tilt.
Out in the growing darkness, the audience moaned, cried, and gnashed rotting teeth, drawn by the nonsensical song wafting through the speaker boxes, each turned to its maximum volume.
In the snack shack, the roller grill had started to pop and sizzle, the heating grease joining with rancid butter flavoring to create the symphony of smells he loved.
“Won’t do to eat too early. Then we drink our drinks, and either miss the best part or have an accident. Isn’t that right, dear?”
Marty hopped over the back of a broken-down tan sofa he had drug in years ago, landing heavily in the seat. Beside him, a blond girl squealed through duct tape, jerking away as heavy, fast breaths rushed through her nose. Tears, old and new, streaked her face.
“Shhhhhhh,” he hissed, raising a single finger to his pursed lips. “I am trying to be a courteous host. I am sharing my favorite movie with you, and it is rude to talk through it. Very disruptive.”
Small whimpers escaped through the tape as an answer.
“Look. It’s common courtesy. You don’t talk during my movie. You brought hot dogs! I wouldn’t think of not eating them.”
He gestured down toward her bound hands. Her right hand clenched, knuckles white, on the dirty bandages that covered the stumps where her fingers used to be. She closed her eyes, shuddering through a sob she managed to choke back.
On the screen, the feature started. Marty had been so excited when it arrived at the theater. A week later, it was like the movie had come to life around him. Things got a little hazy after that, but he always had the movie to come back to.
“Oh!” he said, causing the girl to jump in her seat. “This part is my favorite. You can’t see it, really, a windstorm took out that part of the screen two—no, three—maybe, one year ago. But, the Zombie rapist has her, and then it breaks off right insi-“
Out in the darkness, the audience began to roar. They were really getting into it tonight.
“Anyway- What was I saying? Favorite part! So-“
They both jumped as gunshots barked.
“Dammit! I missed the hospital scene and it’s your fault! We’re already to the scene where the cops-“
But they weren’t.
On the screen, the heroine, who had just escaped from her zombie attacker, had reached the hospital.
Cold metal touched the base of his skull. His date sobbed loudly, no longer afraid.
“Do I need to get an usher?” Marty whispered.
The hammer fell.