Friday, July 1, 2011
Guest Post SIX: Patrick Rahall
This next guest post is a special treat. His is a friend of mine from twitter, an amazing writer with a bit more experience under his belt. I love this story, and I really just want to get you into it. Enjoy.
By: PATRICK RAHALL
Amber was enjoying the cool breeze of the late June evening as the sun set on the last day of her vacation. She was sitting on the porch absently stroking the head of her cat, Anubis. Anubis was grey and sleek and Amber was crazy about him. Her devotion bordered on reverence. In fact she had actually found a company in Salt Lake City that would mummify him when he passed on. But that was nowhere near her thoughts now. Now she was just enjoying the last day she had before returning to the drudgery of her dead-end job in the latest bookstore café combinations.
There was a rustling in the bushes at the end of the walkway and Anubis raised his head quickly, exhibiting the quick reaction time and ability to go from sleeping to wide-awake alertness cats have been known for. He bolted off of Amber’s leg, leaving trails of claw marks from the urgency of his leap. She dropped her margarita and swore as she tried to see what Anubis was after. She barely had time to register what she saw and connect it to the proper animal when the battle began.
From the time Anubis leapt off her lap to the charge after the hairless pink tail that disappeared under the porch a split-second before Anubis did Amber’s glass tumbled from her hand and shattered just after the last of her cat’s tail disappeared into darkness. She ran to the hole in the latticework where the two of them had gone and called out to Anubis. She tried to ignore what her brain kept screaming at her
(RABIES! RABIES! RABIES!)
to just concentrate on getting her cat to come out from that battle with its oldest quarry.
Amber tried not to think about the fight that was going on as she heard her cat screaming and hissing and growling as it fought the rat, but it was in vain. Her overactive imagination made her see in her mind’s eye her cat crouched low, its tail twitching as it locked eyes with the rat. It moved slowly forward as the cat matched it, halving the distance between the two of them. In her vision the cat’s eyes were yellow and the rat’s were red. They narrowed to slits as the two of them lunged forward with claws slashing and jaws snapping. She could imagine the rat tearing flesh from her cat’s ear and the cat retaliating by twisting around and kicking hard with its back feet. She was so wrapped up with her imagination of the fight that she hardly noticed that all the sounds of the battle were coming from her cat.
The rat made no noise whatsoever.
After what seemed like an eternity but was in reality three minutes Anubis emerged from the hole in the latticework. He had scratches on his muzzle, his left forearm was bloodied and his right ear was shredded. But he had a distinct air of a conqueror emerging victorious from epic battle.
Amber took her cat in her arms and brought him upstairs to tend to his wounds. The cat calmly licked his wounds as she rummaged through her medicine cabinet in the bathroom for a first aid kit. Anubis stopped licking and looked at her with amused curiosity. She found what she was looking for and propped the open kit on the bathroom counter while Anubis sat patiently on the toilet seat. She was able to slather liberal amounts of antiseptic on a piece of gauze and then secured it to his arm with medical tape. She knew it would be a pain in the ass to remove later but that wasn’t something she was concerned with at that moment. She was able to use warm soap and water to clean his muzzle but he was uncooperative when it came to his wounded ear. She tried to wash it but he shook his head, spraying her face, eyes and open mouth with both blood and soapy water. She spit what she could immediately into the sink but it was already too late. It was working on her already. She just didn’t know it.
After a futile ten-minute struggle she finally decided that the bleeding in his ear had subsided enough but just in case, she put a sheet on her bed over her blanket where Anubis liked to curl up. She washed up and went downstairs to make something to eat. Anubis was acting strangely the whole night, and since she had to be up early for work she decided to go to bed around ten. Anubis was walking in circles and seemed to have a tough time keeping his balance. She didn’t want to think about how many diseases rats could have, and decided that he would be fine after he slept, but that she would get up a little bit earlier than usual just in case she needed to tend to him before going in to work.
The next morning Amber’s alarm went off at five-thirty instead of the usual six. Anubis was at the foot of her bed but didn’t move when she called to him. Fighting back tears she reached for him to shake him awake. He was stiff. That’s when she knew that he had succumbed to his wounds. She began crying hard but was able to wrap him gently in the sheet that would serve as his shroud. She was not thinking about mummification anymore, just of getting him buried in a nice spot under the tree out front where he could watch birds and squirrels as he liked to do.
At six fifteen she was finished and went inside to shower. Her hands were covered with dirt and dried blood from the sheet. There was also a strange brownish-black liquid with the consistency of turkey gravy that had come out of Anubis’ mouth and nose. She absently wiped the tears from her eyes and it got into her tear ducts. By the time she was done with her shower and getting ready for work it was already working on her nervous system.
She got to work at five minutes to seven and Chris let her in. He told her she looked awful and she glared at him until he apologized and asked what was wrong. She explained it to him, all the while her head felt light and fuzzy. Her vision kept going in and out of focus. As she talked sometimes her voice seemed like it was coming from a great distance. She swayed on her feet and Chris asked if she needed to go to a hospital. She said no, she just needed something to eat. Her stomach growled with ravenous desire for sustenance and Chris chuckled. She managed a weak smile and went outside and to the bakery in the same plaza. As she went to the door she looked back and noticed the warmth of Chris’ smile and his genuine concern for her health.
That was the last thought she had as a human being.
Amber came staggering back from the bakery into the now-open bookstore café. There was a large gash in her cheek that was deep enough to show the impacted wisdom teeth she had never gotten pulled. Her left eye dangled against her undamaged cheek and bounced jauntily as it hung from the optic nerve and strands of veins. She was covered in a combination of vomit, frosting, gore, bits of flesh and cake. She had slaughtered everyone in the bakery and was now heading back to the one place she could remember. She knew there was food here.
A man went up to her and asked if she was okay. She turned and grabbed him by the shoulders and sunk her teeth into his neck. The arterial spray coming from the man’s severed carotid made an onlooker remark “It looks like Old Faithful!” and then laugh a high, tittering laugh of a person in shock. Chris screamed her name in horror and she turned towards her friend and advanced upon him.
She made it to the coffee bar before Chris’ paralysis broke and he leapt over the counter. Unfortunately he planted his hand on one of the thermometers that was used to make sure the various sandwiches they sold were fully cooked- the kinds with the extremely sharp points on the end like meat thermometers but thinner. It skewered his hand and threw his leap off. He landed hard on his back and knocked the wind out of himself. This gave Amber enough time to come around the corner and make it to where he was laying.
With survival at stake Chris was able to push himself out of the reach of her snapping jaws and he kicked her as hard as he could. She stumbled backwards, slipped in some spilled milk and her head smacked on the tile floor. Chris managed to make it to his feet but Amber was already getting up and blocking the only way out. He tried to grab her but the virus must have done something to her because she was unbelievable strong. He managed to use his punctured hand to drive the thermometer (which was still stuck) into her eye. He thought that if he blinded her she would be unable to find him. But she knew she did not need eyes to see her prey. She grabbed him by his beard and slowly dragged him towards her.
No, not towards her.
Towards the milk steamer.
Chris screamed and struggled and nearly got away when the skin on his jaw ripped from the pressure on his beard from Amber’s pulling. She grabbed his head and shoved his face under the steamer and turned it on. The steam melted the skin on Chris’ face and as he writhed and screamed Amber regarded him with her eyeless sockets. The one dangling eye was no longer any use, and her other eye was leaking whitish fluid as she stood over him. Some of that fluid dripped into Chris’ open mouth and into a cavity that he didn’t even know he had and the tiny microbes began to inflict their damage on his cells, making them into their own. At this point Amber stopped her attack, recognizing Chris as one of her own. She was incredibly patient, waiting for the virus to do its thing. Finally Chris stood and looked at Amber. She started walking out of the store. They had work to do.
Anubis was calling to her.
Patrick Rahall was born and raised in Massachusetts and currently reside in Shrewsbury with my fiancée Ashleigh. He started writing when He was 8, and finally published his first book Cycle of the Hunter in February 2007 through PublishAmerica. He joined the New England Horror Writers shortly after his first book signing in August 2008.
Patrick published his second book Mist and Shadow in June 2009. He joins the NEHW each October at the annual Rock and Shock horror convention in his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts.
He is currently working on several short stories and two novels.
Patrick is a busy man. In addition to writing this story for us he also did an interview with the lovely and talented Tamworth Grice on her fantastic BLOG. Make sure you let Patrick know what you think about his incredible story buy leaving him a comment.
Also, this blog is all new, with added tabs and pages. Look around and have some fun. As with most things in life this is still a work in progress, so there is more good stuff to come. Hit the follow button and check back often.