Flash: Mop Up Part 2 (Pizza and Movie Night Part 4)

Picture from the Interweb

Flash created from the above text prompt for a Facebook writing group. Aim was about 50 words, but I wanted to add it to the Pizza and Movie night series.

The stone stairs beside the old coal chute were worn until the angle tilted down, on top of the indentations where most feet land, making them a hazard with the wet slime growing on them in the perpetual dark of the city alley. Jae had an easier time of it going down with only one hand handling a machete, the other could be used for balance since handrails were not part of the required OSHA safety features from the age of coal and steam. Me, I had the banged-up metal bucket and stinky mop, plus two sawed-off shotguns and one full length cannon holstered on my back balanced through wishes and prayers to various low-level deities and demigods against the ammo stored in the front of the harness.

Only Magic kept me from falling down the five treads.

Literally, Jae leant me some of their extra-ness through our bond giving me the balance of two people for a few seconds. I shoved it back at them once I got down in the questionable rainbow-hued puddles by the alley door; they had the lead and would need every bit of their two-soul specialness if the possible six (or more) zombies were waiting on the other side of the warped wood.

While the doorknob turned in Jae’s hand, the door didn’t budge. They slammed their nearly six-foot thin, but muscular frame against the door until it reluctantly open. Shoving the swollen wood against the concrete floor, eventually made enough space to let us through. I had to pass the mop and bucket, turn sideways, and think thin thoughts about my boobs which bumped against the door, to get through, but it worked, even if I collected a couple more bruises from the pinch to add to last night’s collection. I was more concerned about the loaded weapons on my back than my breasts.

The mid-afternoon sun leaking through the hopper windows gave us enough vision to see the old stone foundation, partially plastered bricks where fixes had been mortared in, building column supports of ancient smoke-darkened wood, and an array of pipes and wires partially secured to the open floor joists in the ceiling. Jae passed me back the mop-up equipment before moving deeper into the building. Avoiding the old coal pit, we quietly investigated the basement. Sure, the noise of opening the door likely gave everything down here warning of our arrival, but maybe we could blend in time.

Finding our targets didn’t take long. First, fists pounded a metal door creating a deep hollow sound vibrating in the silence we were struggling to build.

Second, well, we got the standard zombie greeting.

“Br..ai..ns,” the thing said as it staggered out of the shadows.

I backed off to a clearer area and set aside the bucket and mop, in order to draw Momma loaded with solid shot. As I did so, I looked around for the other five, well, four if only one of them were stuck behind that metal door. And amended my thought to “maybe even more” based on my experience of the reliability of magic.

Jae swung their ever-present machete at the shambling not-person. A test mostly for range in the uncertain light, but also to see if it would back down. Last night’s zombies wouldn’t of course, those things were brainless and had little underlying programming other than to break things and people. The half-drunk, fired-that-day-for-sexual-harassment idiot just poured magic he shouldn’t have had out into the greater New York City graveyards raising the most recently dead.

The fact this one could talk was worrisome.

The others didn’t say a word last night, but maybe they changed the older they got. Or maybe with the original summoner dead (the New York Alpha pair do not like their See fucked with) the ongoing energy mutated. Mutated zombies, oh, that is ALWAYS so much fun.

I didn’t see anyone else around but kept watch on the battle in case I needed to use ammo.

A duck, twist, and slide-by gave Jae the perfect neck hit with their dancing partner.

“Cole, it’s stuck!” They puffed, trying to yank it out before kicking the zombie in the back of its knees and moving back to draw their second machete.

“That’s new.” I shouted back. Yesterday gooshers were easy one-shot or one-cut kills. There just had been a lot of them with over four hundred deaths monthly filling the cemeteries on the Union County side of the river. Those risen were mindless bags of dead flesh pushed back to movement by the misused magic of a drunk asshole whose feelings got hurt.

Not like last month’s zombies. Those had been raised by someone who knew what she was doing. Who MEANT, and, worse, UNDERSTOOD, every unholy necromantic word passing her lips. The spell animated old dead, the partially mummified, the ones where people cried tears over the graves for years, the ones absorbing whatever earth magic in the ley lines passing near their rotting coffins. Solid bodies like jerky. And cutting them in pieces didn’t help either, as the bits kept moving. Kept moving, wiggling forward, looking for fresh meat to absorb. To eat. Once they had enough living juices, those zombies could reassemble the dismembered parts back into a body. Only a brain kill worked, not even a beheading. I went through a lot of ammo that day. The saving grace that let us survive, other than the few number of dead meeting the spell’s distinctive perquisites, were their jerky-meat bodies made them slow.

At least until they ate, when speed picked up considerably. New Yorkers ain’t proud enough to ask for help with the cleanup, and the Toronto and Philadelphia Sees sent their best.

“It’s one of last month’s.” Jae and I said together as the stuck machete clattered to the ground, the cut sealing behind it.

If it could heal, it could move. “Back up, Jae.”

I dropped Momma to the floor and reached for the boomstick. Not something I liked going off in an enclosed space, but the head needed to get misted.

Jae, being Jae, didn’t back up, but kept the zombie occupied as I changed weapons. They managed to knock it to the floor and continued to use their machete and a pipe they picked up from somewhere to keep it on the ground as I moved around to get a good shot off.

Suddenly everything changed.

“Wait, wait, please don’t kill me.”

The zombie begged, movement ceased and its hands out, one to Jae swinging the machete but being careful not to cut off even a single finger because dismemberment movement had to be one of the creepiest annoying variations on zombies in the book. The other aimed towards me.

Way too environmentally aware for a hunger-driven zombie with food closer to it than me.

And the talking.

Zombies don’t talk.

This one had been mumbling “br..ai..ns” since it first stepped out of the shadows. Brains when the machete fell out. Brains when it thrashed on the ground trying to get up.

Now a full pleading deity-blessed sentence.

Its head whipped back and forth between us. Both Jae and I stepped back and exchanged a quick look that might have gotten us killed with a vampire.

Keeping my shotgun pointed at its head, I asked, “Who are you?” The question twisted my insides. I hated killing things with names.


(words 1,236 – first published 9/28/2022)

Pizza and movie night series
Pizza and Movie Night (2/21/2021)
Pizza and Movie Night Part 2 (3/7/2021)
Mop Up Part 1 (Pizza and Movie Night Part 3) (4/4/2021)
Mop Up Part 2 (Pizza and Movie Night Part 4) (4/18/2021)

Visitor at Movie Night (Pizza and Movie Night – A Flash) (5/23/2021)