For October and the haunted holiday it brings, I thought it would be fun to tell some creepy tales. Keep coming back for more frights all month long.

Here’s my third original tale, entitled #Zombie?:

The thin shadow continued to moan as it shuffled near. This is why you don’t take alleys, thought Ricky. He was late to meet friends a few blocks over and, after a year in the city, he felt he was ready to navigate the back streets. Then this guy appeared making horrific sounds, like root canal groans with back waxing grunts. Ricky took out his phone and started recording.

“Dude, are you okay?” Ricky asked.

The thing replied in underwater yeti. “Gargghlliig.”

“Look, if you’re like hurt or something, I can call an ambulance.”

The thing shifted closer to the lone flickering bulb of the back entrance to the pawn shop. Ricky noticed the iron gate was locked tight. He didn’t see any other doors. When the light managed a few seconds of general electricity, it did not bring good things to life. It was an elderly man but his skin was drooping more than Ricky had ever thought possible, and his white hair was in patches. The bare spots were pocked and peeling. The light, Ricky realized, made him equally visible to the old man, and the sickly wailer opened his mouth wide. He had no teeth, but he emitted a stench that rivalled the rotting garbage of the dumpsters lining the already narrow space. Impressive, Ricky thought, given the man was still twenty feet away.

“Do you live around here?” What? Ricky asked himself. Just leave. This guy’s mental. Ricky turned to leave, then remembered his uncle Mike that had the stroke last year. Maybe this guy needs real help. He turned back and the guy had shuffled closer.

“I’m just going to call an ambulance, okay?”

Ricky stopped recording and brought up the phone app. So rarely used, it took a second to find it mixed in with the other old fashioned features. As he pressed it a cat rubbed across his leg. “Oh god,” Ricky said with a start. When he saw the cat he shoved it away with his foot, and the old man picked it up.

“I read that pets were good for old people, um, senior persons. Just one sec on the ambulance.”

The old man brought the cat to his face and chewed into its stomach. The cat yowled and tore off the man’s cheek. He dropped the injured cat and it ran behind a dumpster. Ricky’s eyes widened and his mouth was agape. He brought the phone back up and snapped a picture. The flash made the cat eater step back and raise his hands for a moment.

Ricky posted the photo to Instagram. “Is this a #zombie? Yes or No?” While Ricky waited for responses, the possible zombie gummed the cat flesh with something that sounded like satisfaction. Ricky spied a concrete block near the pawn shop door, likely a door stop when moving big items in or out, and he started to pick it up. His lifting sounds were like a mating call and the zombie renewed interest in his alley friend, shuffling toward him again.

“Okay, that’s way too heavy.” A gnarled 2×4 leaned up against the nearby dumpster. “Better.” He grabbed the board and stepped back before checking his phone. Early zombie votes looked to be a tie. If I killed a zombie, thought Ricky, I could be a hero, especially if I stopped a full on outbreak, but if this guy is just a senile retiree who got lost on his afternoon stroll, I’ll be a murderer. I hope the jury are all cat people, Ricky thought.

“Sir, are you a zombie?” Ricky waited. “Oh, now you’re silent.” Cat got your tongue, Ricky thought. Unlikely, and he couldn’t hear the cat’s mewing anymore. That things dead, for sure. The light flickered. Self defense, Ricky. No, just run. Ricky went stiff with indecision, then checked his phone. “Burn it with fire,” was the latest comment. If this is Zombie Zero and I kill it, I’ll still go to jail. Pretty sure the CSI guys don’t do a zombie blood test as standard procedure.

“What’s going on here?”

Ricky screamed and raised his board as he turned.

“Whoa, kid” said a middle aged guy in a mock mechanic shirt with the name Joe on the patch. “You trying to hurt this old guy?”

Ricky lowered the board. “No,” he said between panicked breaths, “but he needs help.” He took a couple of paces away as Joe stepped forward.

“Oh man,” said Joe. “He’s covered in blood.”

“I know,” Ricky said as the light flickered again. Positioning himself behind Joe, he shoved him forward with the board and held up his phone. The cat eater reached out to Joe and pulled him in, biting into his neck. Joe screamed and fell to the ground in seizures while Ricky recorded, then updated his story feed. “Pretty sure #cateater is a #zombie.”

The old man stayed upright and chomped Joe. Ricky read through comments. Joe died. Then Joe started moaning. “Okay,” Ricky said. “Zombie.” Ricky recorded. When Joe got back to his feet he looked around with a melancholy bewilderment. While Joe and CatEater sized each other up, Ricky posted the video. #zombies #outbreak #walkingdeadforreal #cateater #notmurder.

The little bulb committed itself to the scene. “Good. I hate using the flash. Eats too much battery.” Ricky walked back to the concrete block. He set the phone against the block, framing the two zombies in view. After stepping back and adding a scene setting dramatic pause, Ricky rushed into frame with the 2×4 and bashed CatEater and Joe in their skulls until they stopped moving.

For better typing Ricky left the bloodied board near the #notmurder. He texted as he walked, “Be there in a sec. Dumb zombies.” Then something brushed his leg. He looked down to see the cat rubbing on him. “Wow. How did you survive that?” The cat bit his ankle and Ricky yelped. #zombiecat

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