Keveny is dead. But even at the onset of the zombie uprising that’s difficult. Straddling between the realm of the living and the dead, he’s tethered to his reanimated corpse as it eats its way across the countryside.
Somewhere out there his girlfriend may not be safe, but is there still enough time to save her?
“Keveny—Keveny. Yo—wake up.”
I slowly came to. Daniel was kneeling over me, slapping me in the face with one of those meaty paws. If I’d had a brain still, he would be giving me a concussion. I grabbed his hand to give my eyes a moment to stop rattling in my head.
“What the hell was that?” My head throbbed.
“I don’t know, man, you tell me.” He helped me up and I noticed he was looking around a lot.
“What’s going on, did you pull me back again?”
“Pull you back? Again?” Daniel shook his head.
“Yeah, that thing. It yanked me back here a little while ago.” He looked at me.
“K, don’t trust that thing. I don’t think it’s what it’s pretending to be.”
“What’s it pretending to be? I thought you don’t know what it is.” I rubbed the side of my face, the ache going from my eye to my brain gradually easing.
“I don’t. But I know it’s not good.”
“What do you mean, what happened?”
Daniel smiled. “See my man, Keveny. Always ready to step in and help out.”
I hadn’t said that, but I let it go for now.
“What happened?” I asked again. “Hey, I thought you had moved on, when I was here last it told me you were ‘nonesuch’ or something.”
“See, that’s why I’m suspicious of this thing. I didn’t go nowhere. Nobody has. It looked at me wrong and I could tell it was about to try something. So I bashed it in the head and threw it into the fog.”
The image of the very big Daniel throwing a little blonde haired boy came to mind. I smiled for some reason.
“I’m starting to think we’re not going anywhere, but something is coming to us.”
“Why? I mean, you seemed so sure before.”
“I know, but… it’s hard to explain. You’d have to really be here to understand.”
There was a noise not far away from the house. I looked over and saw two orange-reddish lamps about twice the size of basketballs hovering near the top of the mist. For a minute they just hung there.
“For instance, stuff like that,” Daniel said. “I tried, but I knew I hadn’t killed it. That’s it. Sometimes it just stares.”
“You mean those are its eyes?” If the hairs on the back of my neck were real, they would’ve been standing.
“Right now they are. It doesn’t have a real form. I don’t think it needed one before now. Before us.”
“Why is it just staring?”
“It pretends when it wants to, but I don’t think it understands us. I think it tries to copy, but it’s at a loss when it comes to humans. Or at least the human spirit.”
It rose to about five feet above the mist. Yellow globes within the lamps swiveled around to our side. Okay, now it was looking at us and fake or no, the hairs on the back of my neck did stand.
The lamps came closer until they were hovering over the porch stairs.
“Let’s go inside,” Daniel said.
“Good idea.” We retreated through the creaky front door and shut it behind us as if it would do anything at all. I mean, the door didn’t really exist and what was on the other side of it was beyond the understanding of any human. Even if it were a real door I doubt one as dilapidated as that one would hold it at bay.
“So what’s going on with you?” he asked me. “Outside, I mean.”
My return had been so abrupt I’d forgotten. “Something’s very wrong,” I said.
“You mean other than the fact you are now a member of the legion of the undead?”
“Yeah. All this time I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get to Sefra. To protect her. I might have already been too late.”
“I figured out how to control my body. To make it do what I wanted. But I think she’s already dead.”
“Already? What—you found her body?” We went into the kitchen and Daniel opened the refrigerator. Surprisingly, he pulled out a pitcher of lemonade and poured into two glasses on the counter.
“Whoa. Is that real?”
“Well…” Daniel shrugged. He handed me a glass. “Quit stalling already. I’m hanging in suspense over here.”
I only intended to take drink a little. But a sip turned into a swallow and turned into a full-out chug. I must have been parched, but such a thing didn’t seem possible to me; I never considered it. My head was clearer, thoughts and realizations came to me faster than at any point before this whole nightmare began. I had to—
“Ahem,” Daniel said, his arms folded and tapping an index on a massive bicep.
I held the cold empty glass to my forehead and closed my eyes. “I think I might be dead for good. Sefra’s sister Susanne just shot me in the eye.”
“Susanne!” Daniel said. “But she’s two crackers shy of a bowl of crazy soup!”
“I know. Sefra had her locked away. If she got out and she’s pretending to be Sefra…”
“But what can you do about any of that now?”
“I got an idea.”
“No-no,” Daniel said. “You went out there a few times already and by some retarded fluke you didn’t get erased. Don’t you know what that mist is? It’s entropy.”
“Okay, what does entropy mean?”
“It means, uhhh, well.” Daniel scratched his head. “Remember The Neverending Story?”
“Remember the kid had to find a new name for the princess to stop the Great Nothing?”
“The Great Nothing is the same as that mist. And considering you just took a shot to the dome, I’d say your lifeline just got cut.”
“You don’t know that, though. I mean my body could still be alive. Besides, there’s something else going on.”
“I seriously doubt that as I have shot many an individual in the eye and none of them started whistling Dixie. What do you mean something else?”
“Look, we know a shot to the brain works, but come on—any part of the brain does the trick? Isn’t motor function like in the back of the brain or something?”
Daniel scratched his head. “I don’t know.”
“I’ve got to try to get back.”
“No, man. No.” Daniel put a hand on my shoulder and squeezed. But it seemed as though it might have been out of concern even though it still hurt. “You can’t. You’ll be dead for good.”
“But something is coming. For real. Once I tried to stop my body from… eating someone. I blanked out. I wasn’t here and I wasn’t there. It was like I was someplace that didn’t exist at all, that didn’t know it could exist until I came there. I came back, but I wound up bumping into Wynn and I went back there. This time it watched me. It started to move. I think it’s coming here.”
“Here? Like here-here? Or there-here?” Daniel pointed outside.”
The lamps floated through the door and into the room. They were bigger and pulsed red and orange. Daniel and I stepped closer to each other.
“You know, on second thought, K,” Daniel began, “I think getting out of here is a good thing. Matter of fact, I think I’m coming with you.”
“But what if you’re right? What if there’s nothing outside of here and you just cease to exist?”
“Gotta be better than this. That thing is gonna try to gobble me up or something.”
“But what about the others? You said this house was filled with other people.”
“Gone. And I don’t know where.”
We went through the living room, around those lamps and back to the front of the house. They followed us, the pulsing going even faster as we stepped out on the porch. The mist was like a wall, bumping up against the stairs. I stepped over and put my hand through.
“I don’t know if this is gonna work,” I said.
“I’m not waiting around to find out it didn’t.”
We held hands. It was kind of weird, but felt like the right thing to do. Daniel looked at me, his head bobbing slightly. He was counting. Just like me.
One… two… three…
We stepped off the porch.
I stood. Where ever I was, it was dark. There was a moment of panic as I thought I was back in that place, but then there was someone’s voice nearby. I could feel my feet beneath me on the floor, like gravity had something to do with it. The feeling was odd.
I kneeled and put my hands on the floor, cold concrete. This wasn’t right. I hadn’t been able to touch anything since… since… well, whatever the hell had happened to me.
Was I back?
“Hello?” I said and listened for my voice to reverberate back to me. Nothing. But I didn’t know where I was—it didn’t mean anything necessarily. I was at least semi-corporeal, but that didn’t mean alive.