Stark and black, the oaks rose through the morning’s ghostly fog, Spanish moss dripping from their limbs like the hair of drowned corpses. Beneath the oaks, twelve-year-old Emmy stopped as a sound whispered along the trail before her.
“That you, Mom?”
It was just like her mom to scare her.
There wasn’t any answer and Emmy doubted it had been her mother anyway. The breeze would have brought Mom’s scent. She hitched her heavy bag higher on one thin shoulder and walked on. Nothing jumped her.
Then she was free of the oaks and stalking through a meadow toward her grandmother’s cabin. It was brighter here, the fog lifting. Her feet swished in thick, wet grass. A spider web fingered her face. She brushed it away as she knocked on Grandmother’s door.
“Come in,” a guttural voice called.
The door creaked open. Night lingered within and Emmy flicked on the flashlight that she carried in one pocket of her red parka.
Grandma’s house was an abattoir.
Emmy’s eyes widened. There were more bodies than last time. Some were alive, or semi-alive.
“Well come on, Dear,” the voice called again, impatiently.
Emmy started forward between two chained rows of drooling forms. Hungry moans roiled the air. She ignored them. Broken fingered hands grasped at her. She ducked them, her feet kicking tibias and ribs from her path, some cracked and bleached white, some…meaty.
Just past the zombies, Grandmother’s door stood open. Grandma lay on the bed amid quilts and pillows. She was still in wolf form.
“You brought the stuff?” Grandma demanded.
“I brought it,” Emmy said.
She sat her bag on the bed and Grandma jerked it away with taloned hands and ripped it open. Livers and hearts and links of intestines spilled out like a miser’s hoard, but Grandma had eyes for only one thing, a jar of rare delicacies. She grabbed it, tore off the lid and dipped within to pull out a pinkish, cauliflower-sized lump.
“Ah,” she sighed, popping the thing between her teeth. “Melts in your mouth.” She reached for another.
Emmy frowned. “I thought you liked hearts best, Grandma. Mom only sent four baby brains.”
Grandma chuckled, stroked Emmy’s head with clawed fingers.
“Tastes change,” she said, grabbing another tidbit.
Emmy frowned again, and a sudden gasp spilled from her lips.
Grandma heard the gasp and turned bloodshot eyes accusingly upon her granddaughter. The last brain was chewed mush in her mouth.
“That bite on your shoulder, Grandma! Where did you get it?”
Grandma smiled, with teeth that could crush spines.
“Just a scratch, Dearie. Come give Grandma a hug.”
Shaking back her hood, Emmy drew the nickel-plated .357 from her other pocket. She knew where Grandma’s bite had come from. Grandma had gotten careless with a zombie.
With a howl, Grandma leaped from the bed, her eyes screaming, “Brains, brains!”
Emmy pulled the trigger. There was only one cure for what ailed Grandma.
A silver bullet.
Through the head.
∼ Charles Gramlich
© Copyright Charles Gramlich. All Rights Reserved.