City streets – fast fiction ~requested by hiddenninja~
They had gotten together because of their love for gaming, and it was the last night they’d all be in the same town. Lorcan looked at his friends from online and raised a glass.
“It’s been good to have you all here visiting. Just one last thing to do!”
“What are you talking about,” asked Kev, cutting his eyes to look at Lorcan.
Sam laughed and raised his glass too. “That thing he’s been talking about for weeks in the Cafe, Kev.”
“Ah, that,” said Jordan. He set his glass down and leaned back in his chair, looking at the three of them with almost a stern expression. “If we must, then we must. But I still don’t see how this is going to work.”
“You’ll find out,” laughed Lorcan before draining his glass. He stood up from the table and put his hands on the back of his chair.
“Oi, I’m not done here,” Kev barked, but before long, everyone else was standing and looking at him. “Damn it all,” he muttered as he drained his glass in a few large swallows. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
Sam and Lorcan laughed, while Jordan just stared, and Kev frowned.
“Oh come on Jordan, you too Kev, this isn’t going to be that bad, and it’s our last night before you all go home.”
“I know,” said Jordan. “Lets get this over with.”
“Yes,” shouted Lorcan. He led them all out into the night and pulled a large, old leather-bound book out of his bag. “I found this in my Nan’s basement. She told me it was her Pa’s and that I should leave it be, but after i started reading the wild rituals, I had to get a group of people together to try one of them.”
“Yep, and it just turned out we were coming,” laughed Sam. “Lucky us.”
Jordan shrugged and looked at the book in Lorcan’s hand. “Either way, it’s gonna be a crazy way to end the weekend.”
Kev nodded, “You said it.”
The boys walked down the darkened road toward a tall hill. Each of them thinking about what was coming, but making small talk as they went. Their laughter echoed in the quiet street, and they lost all real apprehension that they carried with them. When they reached the gate, Kev walked up and pushed it open. The gate screeched and the boys laughed uncomfortably but filed into the park anyway. As they were walking, Jordan found a large stick by the side of the path and picked it up, smacking at the bushes.
“You know,” Jordan said, breaking the silence. “This is crazy, walking in this large park without any flashlights or way to defend ourselves from a mugger.”
Kev just shrugged. “I’ve been here before on holiday, this park is mostly deserted, no matter WHAT time of day you come.”
Lorcan pulled a small penlight out of his bag and turned it on. “We have this, even though it doesn’t do much.”
Sam laughed and shook his head, “Good thinking man.” The rest of the guys started laughing at that, and they continued up the trail.
When they reached the top of the hill, Lorcan set the book down on a rock and kneeled beside it.
“Ok, did you all bring what I asked you to bring,” he asked, fishing out a few plastic baggies from his bag. Jordan pulled an envelope from his back pocket, and dropped it next to Lorcan. Sam pulled a small paper bag from his coat pocket and set it down on the book. Kev looked at them like they were nuts, but when all eyes turned back to him he shrugged and pulled out a plastic bag and set it down next to the paper one.
Lorcan grinned as he picked up everything and put it in a pile. He bent over the old worn book and shined his penlight at it. From there, he organized the bags on the ground and pulled a small candle stub and lighter from his bag and put it on the other side of the stone, away from the packages. Once he had the candle lit and setting on the ground, he looked around.
“You ready for this,” he asked. The dim light reflecting off the book made his face look almost gaunt.
A general muttering came from the assembled guys and Lorcan just shrugged. He looked back down at the pages. Carefully he opened the envelope that Jordan brought, the seeds inside were still warm from being in his pocket.
“Seeds of the earth,” Lorcan said, sprinkling a pinch of seeds over the flame. They hissed, popped, and flared as they came into contact with the small fire. “Devoured by that which devourers all, yet brings life. Silt from water, unable to sustain human life.” He reached down and lifted the bag that Kev brought and sprinkled dry sand over the candle. The area around them smelled vaguely of seaweed and dead fish.
“I could swear that by the time it was dry, it didn’t smell like that anymore,” muttered Kev. Sam and Jordan hushed him and went back to watching Lorcan at work.
“Grasses from where the sun shines, white in the sky,” Lorcan intoned, pulling out a pinch of dry grass. As it burned, the ocean smell dissipated and was replaced with the smell of a fragrant meadow. The smell almost brought with it the warm feel of the sun pounding on your back and the soft wind in your face. Kev looked around, and he noticed that Sam’s smile had melted, and Jordan was clutching his stick as tightly as his jaw was clenched. Lorcan seemed not to notice anything and proceeded.
“Dirt from the grave of one beloved,” he said as he pulled open a bag that he brought. As the dirt landed in the flame, they all smelt what could only be described as earth from a freshly turned grave.
“Petals from flowers, lovingly given.” Lorcan stopped then, looking at the last bag. He seemed to notice the smell in the air, but before anyone could say anything, he reached in the bag and pulled out some dried petals and sprinkled them on the small flame. The air smelled sweet, like that of a small room filled with bouquets of all sorts. Lorcan looked at the serious, and even worried faces of his friends and smiled nervously.
“I bid those forgotten to rise and tell us of their woes.”
With those last few words, Lorcan blew the candle out, and shut the book. He chuckled nervously, and looked at his tiny penlight and the crescent moon in the sky. They all looked around at the darkness around them, when Lorcan’s laugh blossomed out of the dark.
“Well that was all a bit of shite now, wasn’t it?”
“Uhh, yeah,” said Kev.
“Wow, but it was pretty intense,” Sam laughed.
Jordan stared at them, the smell of flowers still in the air, his stick clutched in his hand tightly.
“Well, let’s get back to the city. All of us are leaving early tomorrow,” Lorcan said. He packed his bag, leaving everything but the book, lighter, and penlight sitting just where it was discarded. He stood and turned, heading down the trail. Kev, Jordan, and Sam followed behind, and the farther they got from the site, the better they all began to feel. Sam started laughing, picking on Lorcan and Jordan. Kev pulled out his phone and sent a text message to his girlfriend, while joining in the jokes. Lorcan was the only one left feeling uneasy, looking behind him to the park, and the hill they left.
As they passed a small alleyway Sam heard a loud rustling sound, and he turned to see someone shambling from behind the bins.
“Poor guy,” Sam mutters while looking at him. The old man seems to hear him, and staggers quickly down the alley in their direction. Sam gives Jordan and Kev a shove, and grabs Lorcan’s wrist and walks a bit faster.
“We don’t need someone begging us for spare change. Lets get going.”
They all walked a bit faster, and saw more people shambling out of the dark corners. When they reached the small hotel, they took the stairs up to their rooms and laughed about the crazy night. They all did their night rituals, ending in bed and falling asleep rather quickly. When they woke in the morning however, things weren’t as good as they had been when they fell asleep. They walked downstairs to give their keys to the clerk, but she wouldn’t come to the desk to check them out, she stayed barricaded in her little cubicle. As they looked around the room, Jordan noticed that the large sofa had been shoved to keep the front door shut. Sam and Lorcan moved it easily, and as they opened the doors, a loud and hungry groan greeted them. Lorcan looked down the street, and saw bodies littering it. A few of the mangled corpses shambled in their direction. Lorcan shouted, and Kev ran to the fireplace, grabbing the poker and tongs. Jordan found a heavy candle stick on the mantle, and Lorcan grabbed a sword off of one of the cheap suits of armor that are displayed for tourists to gawk at. As the first body shambled in, the clerk started screaming, and a few more bodies rose from their prone positions. Kev and Jordan stepped out swinging. Sam and Lorcan were right behind them, both swinging at the corpses. Each hit summoned a sickening crunch and fleshy squelch.
They made slow progress, changing positions so that they could keep their arms fresh, to make sure their blows would land hard and sure. As they moved through the streets, they found other bits of survivors doing the same thing, and ended up taking refuge in a small corner market. Kevin took his backpack off and called his girlfriend. When she answered, they had a short discussion about his circumstances, and she told him that nothing like that was happening by her. When the news was shared, Lorcan pulled out his old book, looking at the page that he looked at last night.
“Shite, this says that I was supposed to say a name. That only one was supposed to rise, but I guess I missed that line.”
“That’s a big miss,” muttered Kev.
“How do we stop it,” asked Sam, his cheeks flushed from the effort of making it this far.
“I don’t know, let me read more,” snapped Lorcan.
The minutes inched by. Lorcan poured over the book, turning pages, and muttering to himself.
“Ah! I got it right here,” he shouted triumphantly. “We need to ask one of the risen three questions!”
“Is that all,” asked Jordan scowling.
“Uh, well. Yes and no,” stammered Lorcan, still reading. “The questions need to pertain to them, and their life.”
“How on earth are we supposed to find out three questions to ask of a corpse, that’s a stranger,” sighed Kev.
An old man lifted his head from where he was hiding in a corner. He looked at the boys a long time.
“I think I might be able to help. You have to help me find my wife though. Can you do that,” he asked. His old voice seemed creaky and seldom used.
Lorcan looked at Sam, Jordan, and Kev. When they all nodded, he spoke up.
“Yeah, we can help you,” he replied. “Do you know where she might be?”
“Only a few blocks behind here is where she was put to rest.”
“Ok then, let’s go,” said Jordan.
They all filed out, into the streets. They moved quietly and slowly. Doing so attracted less attention. When they reached the cemetery, the sight that met their eyes had them all feeling a whole lot less confident about the plan. The old man stepped forward, speaking loudly; louder than they thought his old voice should have been able to.
“Betty, why did you lie to me about our son,” he bellowed.
A corpse shambled to them, and the boys raised their makeshift weapons, but the old man signaled for them to relax. The voice of the dead woman was far more creaky and disused than the mans, but it was still strong and understandable.
“I didn’t mean to, but it was what the times required of me,” she croaked out in reply. The other zombies stopped shambling about and stood, staring at the interaction.
“Why did you leave me and go to your mother’s house when I found out,” the old man muttered as a few tears slipped down his cheeks.
“I thought you were mad at me, that you were going to kick me out,” she replied, her head cocked to the side.
“When I die, will I be able to see you and our boy?”
“Yes,” she answered. “Yes, and we’re waiting for you.”
The old man laughed quietly and wiped his face with a handkerchief that he pulled from his pocket.
“I’ll see you when I get there then,” he said, a small, sad smile on his face.
Betty’s body fell to the ground, lifeless. All around them, the other corpses began to fall back to their original states. The old man looked at the boys.
“Listen, you get away from here. I’ll not tell anyone what you said, and we can keep it our little secret. But before you go, one promise out of you,” whispered the old man. “Don’t do this again., Ok?”
Lorcan and the others nodded quickly.
“Good, now get. There’ll be a search for those who caused this trouble. You gave me a reason to be at peace, so letting you off is the best I can do to help.”
Jordan nodded again, turned, and dropped his candle stick. Lorcan, Kev, and Sam did the same. They dashed off to the bus station, to find that all the buses had been delayed, but someone was heading their way, and could get them to where they needed to be.
As the car pulled away, Sam looked out the back window at the small town. People were slowly leaving their houses and looking at the bodies in the street. Lorcan looked at the rest of them and said, “How are we going to top this the next time we meet?”