The following is a piece of short fiction by Scott Nagele that was originally posted on a website or blog for fiction writing.
Brothers (originally posted on Musings of Mistress of the Dark Path – Halloween theme)
The five of them tumbled into Bunny’s house. Eyesore, the donkey, who was the last, slammed the door against the multitude of purplish-grey, flesh-eaten paws attempting to gain entry behind him.
Porklet quickly threw the bolt. Bunny went to the pantry to retrieve his 12 gauge. Willie-the-Poot threw his ample form against the door, making it a more steadfast obstacle.
Outside, a cacophony of moans provided the background music to the intermittent crash of an undead body against the door. Eyesore pulled out his 44 magnum. He swung open the peep-hole latch and fired a few rounds into the horde beyond.
“Don’t waste ammo!” chided Bunny. “We’re safe for now, but we’re gonna need every round before long.”
“Who died and made you boss?” Eyesore growled.
“Nobody made me boss,” Bunny shot back. “But I can tell you who died. That would be our friend, Trigger, right after you shot him in the head.”
Eyesore replaced the spent rounds in his 44. “Well he shouldn’t have jumped me like that. How the hell did I know he wasn’t one of them?”
“You didn’t spend any time finding out, did you, Mr. Shoot-now-ask-questions-later?”
“Hey!” Eyesore shouted. “You know what this is? This is a war, between us and those whatever-they-are out there. Any of you plush toys ever been in a war before? Well I have. In warfare, you account for your own tail first. Any questions?”
“I have a question,” Porklet said. He was sitting against the wall, holding his head in his hands. “What are they, out there?”
“They must be Woozles,” put in Willie.
“Like hell they are,” spit Eyesore. “They’re zombies.”
Bunny chuckled. “If only they were zombies, we’d have a fighting chance. They’re worse than zombies; they’re mozombies.”
“What the hell’s a mozombie?” It was a new voice. Its owner was sitting in one of Bunny’s dining room chairs, balancing on the back two legs and leaning against the wall. He had black fur with a white stripe down his back. He wore a baseball cap sideways.
“They’re hybrids, half monster and half zombie. Kristoff Robert told me about them. I guess he didn’t tell anybody else because he didn’t think you could handle it.”
“What do these mozombies do?” the striped one asked.
“I don’t know,” said Bunny, “probably everything a monster does, plus everything a zombie does, times two. You wanna go out there and ask?”
Eyesore had been eyeing the unfamiliar character suspiciously. Now he turned upon the newcomer. “Who the hell are you, anyway? I don’t remember seeing you around the 10 Hectare Wood.”
The animal sitting in the dining chair shrugged. “I don’t expect you would have, the way you’re all self-absorbed in your own old-man troubles.”
Eyesore made a lunge for him, but the quick-acting Bunny barred the donkey with the barrel of his shotgun. “Hey! Hey! You want some action, go outside. They’ll give you all you want. In here, we work together!”
Eyesore pressed himself against the gun barrel. “I just want a few answers. This cool cat shows up out of nowhere, sitting pretty in the middle of all this mess, like he don’t have a care in the world. I don’t trust him and I wanna know who the hell he is and why he’s here all of a sudden.”
“Relax, old man.” The unfamiliar character cupped his hands behind his head. “I got no problem tellin’ you who I am and why I’m here. The name’s Skunkface. I’m here because you need me. See, you old fogies lost your mojo some time back. You been at this for what, like 60 years or something? You lost your edge. You got old and boring. This franchise is on its way out the door. You all need somebody young a fresh to turn things around. You need somebody hip, and hip is my middle name.”
“Hip is where I’m gonna throw a 44 slug in your ass, if you don’t watch your mouth, you little shit!”
“If I may interrupt,” piped up Porklet from his spot against the wall, “I think we have bigger problems than being un-hip right now.”
“He’s right,” agreed Bunny. “Those mozombies aren’t going away.”
“Yeah, there’s that,” replied Porklet, “but I was talking about him.” He pointed to where Willie-the-Poot was sitting against the door.
The rotund bear had his face buried in his hands. His entire body was shaking as if he were freezing with cold.
“Dude, it’s okay,” Skunkface yelled out to him. “We’re all a little bummed about the present situation, but going to pieces over it ain’t likely to help.”
“He’s not going to pieces over our present situation, Dude,” Porklet shot back at Skunkface. “He starting withdrawals.”
“No way! An addict?” Skunkface shook his head. “This group just gets better and better. Nobody told me I’d be working with a stinkin’ addict.”
“It’s not his fault,” said Porklet.
Skunkface didn’t hear. “What a joke! My first day. They tell me, ‘just go trick-or-treating with the guys, make friends, find your niche within the cast.’ What a great Halloween this turned out to be. We got monster-zombie half breeds outside and drug fiends inside.”
“I said, it’s not his fault,” Porklet insisted with more volume than was usual for him.
Skunkface threw his arms into the air. “Okay, it’s not his fault. Who cares? We’re all mozombie kibble anyway.”
“I care,” said Porklet. “He’s worked here a long time and he deserves better. They made him eat honey every day. I told them it was too much, but they wouldn’t listen. That was the shtick; the bear can’t control his craving for honey. They thought it was hilarious. It was sickening. He knew it was dangerous, but he didn’t object because he wanted to keep us all working. He did it for us. I watched him get sucked in deeper and deeper. I begged them to get him help, but they didn’t care. All they wanted was a bear who was mad for honey, because it was hilarious. How funny is it now?”
“That’s very touching,” said Skunkface, “but can we worry about doing something about those guys out there?” He rolled his eyes toward the window above Porklet’s head.
Everyone followed his eyes. As if on cue, there was a crash, but it wasn’t at the window. Willie stood on Bunny’s kitchen counter, pulling plates out of the top cupboards and letting them crash to the ground. “Damn it, I need some honey! Somebody find me some damned honey, before I totally wig out!”
While Skunkface sat and watched, the others pulled Willie down and wrestled him to the ground. “It’s all right, Poot. We’ll get you something,” Porklet soothed. After a moment, Willie calmed down. His eyes were bloodshot.
“Everybody check your trick-or-treat bags,” Porklet commanded. “Maybe somebody’s got a Bit-o-Honey or something.”
They all checked their bags. “I got Ritalin and an unlabeled blue pill; no honey,” Bunny announced.
“I got nothin’,” said Eyesore. “Nobody gives me treats. They just pass their hands over my bag and drop it into the next guy’s.”
None had honey. Porklet sat down beside Willie and put an arm around him. “It’s gonna be okay, Poot. We’ll get you some honey. Kristoff Robert is sure to miss us soon. He’ll chase away all these mozombies. Then we’ll find you some sweet, sweet honey, like that!” He snapped the halves of his hoof.
“Kristoff Robert,” Willie whispered. “Kristoff Robert will save us.”
“I just hope he gets here before old Druggie Bear goes all ape-shit on us again,” Skunkface volunteered. Nobody answered him.
They sat quietly, the silence broken only by Willie’s soft sobbing and mumbling of Kristoff Robert’s name. Then their attentions were drawn outside, where the sound of tumult was rising. The moans of the mozombies increased in volume around the pounding of running feet.
A piercing scream jolted them.
“Jesus! What was that?” Skunkface exclaimed.
They all kept their eyes on the door. The running footsteps came nearer. The steps ended with a loud crash against the door. “Bunny! Open up! For God’s sake let me in!” pleaded a familiar voice. There was furious pounding at the door.
Eyesore and Bunny exchanged a knowing look. Bunny took up his shotgun while Eyesore attacked the door’s bolt.
“What the hell are you doing? Don’t open that!” demanded Skunkface.
They ignored him. Eyesore opened the door and dragged in a rather elderly-looking man while Bunny hacked at the rotting, purple hands that clutched at the man with the stock of his gun. Once the man was inside, Bunny leapt back. Eyesore slammed the door shut and threw the bolt.
Now, every set of eyes focused upon the man. His clothes were in shreds and he was covered with dirt. But what caught everyone’s attention was the festering, open wound on his neck.
“Kristoff Robert, are you bitten?” Bunny demanded.
The man’s eyes were glossy. “I . . . I . . .” the man stammered. His head tilted to one side and his face began to twitch. His eyes welled with tears. “Help me!” he begged.
“Dammit, Kristoff Robert!” Bunny yelled at him. “Did they bite you?”
Kristoff Robert turned his head slowly, as if he had only partial control of it, toward Bunny. With difficulty, he opened his mouth.
Instead of words, the next sound was the loud report of a 44 magnum. Kristoff Robert flew backward into the door where his limp body slid to the floor, a large, bloody hole in his chest.
Everyone jumped, then immediately turned their eyes toward Skunkface, who still held Eyesore’s pistol pointed in the direction of Kristoff Robert.
Willie screamed. “No! No! Kristoff Robert!” He climbed to his feet and attempted a pitiful lunge at Skunkface, but Porklet held him back.
Eyesore looked as if he were about to lunge at Skunkface too. Skunkface appealed to Bunny. “It had to be done. Tell them.”
Bunny nodded slowly. “He’s right,” he told the others. The words came hard to him. “Kristoff Robert would have turned into one of them in a few hours. It’s better this way.”
“Maybe,” Eyesore conceded, “but I wanna know how he got my gun.”
Skunkface nodded toward Willie. “When you were wrestling with the bear, you put it down. Rather careless of you.”
Porklet, still holding onto Willie, spoke up. “I don’t mean to interrupt your gunplay or anything, but if we don’t get Willie something soon, he’s liable to slip into a comma.”
“Well, we don’t want that,” Skunkface replied. “He’s no good to us in a comma.”
“What d’you mean by that?” demanded Porklet.
“I mean, he’s our ticket out of here – mozombie bait.”
“No!” they all said in unison.
“Listen!” Skunkface yelled. “I had to do a good bit of research for this gig, and one thing I learned is that he’s a bear of very little brain. It’ll take them hours to dig through all that stuffing to find a bit of brain to snack on. That’s our time to get away. Other than that, he’s nothing but a liability to us.”
The others shook their heads. “There’s no way in hell I’m handing him over to them to save my own hide,” Porklet asserted.
Skunkface pointed the 44 at them. “Fine. You can go with him if you want, but he’s going.”
Bunny pointed his 12 gauge at Skunkface. “Okay, that’s enough. Put the gun down.”
Skunkface leered at him. “You gonna shoot the only guy here with a plan?”
“If I have to,” Bunny said.
Skunkface whirled toward Bunny. There was a deafening roar as 44 and 12 gauge discharged simultaneously. Both animals toppled over backward. It didn’t take a veterinarian to tell that they were both dead.
The moaning outside grew in volume again. Eyesore perked up his ears and disappeared down the hall to the back of the house. In an instant he was back. “They’re breaking through the back way!” he shouted as he collected Bunny’s shotgun. He picked up the 44 and handed it to Porklet. “Take this. I can hold them off the back for a while. You two make a break for it while the front is clear.”
“What happened to accounting for your own tail?” Porklet asked.
Eyesore looked at the ratty Band-Aids over the place where his tail once was. “I haven’t accounted for it in years,” he said. “Besides, I’m old and I’m tired.” He rushed off down the hall.
Porklet moved Kristoff Robert’s body away from the door and collected Willie into his arms. “Whatever happens, Poot-bear, I want you to know, you’re my very best friend. You’ve always been like a brother to me. Eyesore, Bunny, we’ve all been one big family. In spite of our quarrels, we’ve stood it all together.”
Willie’s pale face was covered with sweat. He gave a weak, but sincere, smile. “Oh, brothers!” he whispered.
A shotgun blast sounded from the back room, followed by the noise of hand-to-hand combat.
Porklet drew the bolt and swung open the door.
Arm in arm, two brothers of one big family stumbled forth into the darkness.
©2012 Scott Nagele