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an excerpt from Creatures & Crypts

Gary aimed his shotgun at the battered front door, his face was damp with sweat, his breath was quick and his hands trembled. The door buckled with a thunderous bellow, bowing under immense pressure, breeching slowly. A low, angry growl resonated behind it.

Seconds later the door burst open and a huge German Shepherd lunged into the room. The shotgun went off.

Gunfire ripped into the dog’s hindquarters and sent it against the living room wall in a spatter of blood but it kept on coming. Its face was skeletal; its eyes were empty sockets. The dog jumped to its feet, bloodied paws scratched the hardwood floor, shattered ribs protruded from a body ravaged by decomposition and dusted with muddy soil. The animal let out a baleful howl and charged.

A scream spilled out of Gary as he ran into the kitchen and hurled the dining table against the doorway. Throwing his body up against it, he braced against the undead dog’s attacks.

“Champ!” Gary reloaded his shotgun with jittery hands marred with bites. “It’s me Champ, stop…please stop!”

Rising barks filled the room as the beast launched at the table again. His full weight sent a crack through the dark cherry wood. The stench of decaying flesh filled Gary’s nostrils.

Jaws of razor teeth snapped inches away from Gary’s ear, he jumped and fired blindly over his shoulder. The shot hit the ceiling and sent debris down upon them. Plaster dusted the room like snow. He tasted the grit in his mouth.

Sweat drenched Gary’s face and he wiped it with skinned knuckles. He braced both feet against the nearest wall, and used his back to hold the table across the doorway.

Silence filled the room.

Gary looked over his shoulder and sighted the living room stairs. Behind the banister his eleven-year-old stepson Derek glowered. A menacing smile shined across the boy’s face.

“Derek,” Gary whispered. “Go back to your room and shut your door. Champ’s not your dog anymore. It’s dangerous down here. Go now, quickly before he…” Gary’s brow furrowed. What’s he doing? Why is he still standing there?

He watched Derek start slowly back upstairs. In his hand the boy held a knotted piece of twine tied with bones. A giggle escaped him as he vanished from sight.

Gary stared absently until Champ lashed again, collapsing the table on him. The two struggled as the shotgun slid from Gary’s grasping hands.

Champ suddenly sprawled across him. Bits of canine flesh slipped off the dog while black sockets leered into Gary’s eyes. Their void threatened to drive him mad.

Rotting paws tore through Gary’s sweatshirt as the dog dragged him against some cabinets. Gary reached for the nearest drawer desperately and yanked as hard as he could.
The entire drawer clattered to the floor as silverware plummeted. A butcher knife landed in his lap. He took it up and drove it deep into the dog’s skull. Its body twitched sporadically before going limp.

Gary rolled the heavy body off of him and climbed to his feet on wobbly legs. His hands were wet with mud and blood. His heart was finally beginning to slow down. He limped slowly upstairs to Derek’s room and found him on his bed, grinning.
Derek shook the twine in his hand and looked up. “This is for killing Champ.” He tied another knot into it followed by another. “And all my other pets you killed that mom bought me. I always knew you hated animals just like I knew it was you who killed them.”

Gary eyed a torn comic book page by the boy’s side. He just barely made out in huge gothic letters “home voodoo zombie kit.”

“Derek I…”

“Shut up,” the boy cut his words off. “If mom hadn’t died last year she’d seen it was you…but I have something for that too.” Derek tied one last knot into the twine and giggled.
Strange scratching sounds reverberated and Gary turned to stare out the open bedroom window. A cold breeze wafted through the window along with the appearance of a dead cat, a Terrier, and lastly, a muddied pair of women’s arms, glowing alabaster in the moonlight. 


shadowtales



Enjoy this story?  Why not purchase the Collection it’s featured in?  Creatures and Crypts. 20 stores, over 70,000 words of fiction.  Creatures of the living and the dead gather to dance on hollow bones.

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