Daniel I. Russell has been featured publications such as The Zombie Feed from Apex, Pseudopod and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Author of Samhane, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem, Daniel was also the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo and associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue.
Review: Mechanisms of Despair by Gary Buller
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Thursday, February 25, 2010At the End, Art
As my dad would say, at the moment I barely have time to wipe my arse (good old dad) so there will be no full-on blog this week.
Instead, and with Stitches due to appear in Fear and Trembling in a few weeks, I decided to share this poem with you that no one wants. It's too long!
Size, apparently, matters...with poems.
I have a few more smaller pieces out there and also some appearing in Bandersnatch publications (such as Ezra Pound. Cover on the right there) but I still don't see myself as a poet. Still more Sherie's forte than mine. Anyhoo, here it is. I hope you enjoy it. It's free. Quit bitchin'.
At the End, Art
Glass doors wide to swallow thee
to a house of pain and surgery.
Of faces carved of stress and worry
with teary eyes and noses runny.
Through the masses, approach the keeper,
take the elevator and go down deeper,
within the bowels of this medical devil,
head for the show on the basement level.
At door B12 your footstep fades.
He studies you through Rayban shades.
Flash the ticket, the mountain smiles
showing you through in brutish style
into a room wide and filled with glamour,
the stench of money, fall of the hammer.
“Sold!” a man cries to the gathered art fans
of financial kings with orange tans,
filthy popstars, corrupted law.
“Next lot is number 104.”
All eyes turn to yonder door
at the sound of wheels across tiled floor.
Women garbed in rubber shoes
white outfits and tabards blue,
push a frame next to the stand.
The opening bid is at five grand.
A highway smash by a Spencer Hyde.
Last October, he didn’t think,
took the car after too much drink
and lost control, a leg, an arm
and several quarts near Hanlon’s farm.
To the hospital, Hyde was rushed
on a gurney, the doors were pushed
open into the emergency room
and as the clock hit noon he met his doom.
On the bed sheet, his life’s blood poured,
and after framing,
A crimson stain on stark, white linen,
brought inside by laundry women.
On this sheet is where he died,
the stain what’s left of Spencer Hyde.
An Irish singer, money to burn,
raises his paddle and takes his turn.
“Going once, twice, sold!” cries the auctioneer,
who grins contently, displaying his passion
to hang in secret in his
to excited whispers and craning necks.
Suspended and taut, this colourful canvas
tells the story of pain and madness.
Drugs ran the life of Jo McBride,
that was until her suicide.
Bugs on walls. Bugs on skin.
To deal with her invasion within:
an extra hit to send away,
and if that failed, she’d make them pay
using a knife snatched from her kitchen,
she’d carve them from her porcelain skin.
On her canvas, her last outline
of blood and vomit and lime urine.
Her death so painful, long and slow,
a perfect prize for this here show,
and soon it’s sold and whisked away,
another few grand for the doctors’ pay.
A waiter circles serving wine.
You take a glass to pass the time
and wet your throat. The time is near,
glance at the guide and wipe a tear.
This sheet is blank,
of Cancer victim Lou Leyton.
You know the story, through and through,
of the award winning actress Lou.
A shining star of stage and screen,
made her fortune in her teens
till tumour stole her later years.
The doctor confirmed her greatest fears
that she would no longer play a part
but at her passing, she left her art
onto the sheet. It looks so plain,
no pattern, nor mark, mere ghost of pain.
The bidding starts, you bide your time.
The cost hits seven, then eight, at nine
raise your hand, enter the fray,
throw in your hat, agree to play.
A fat man winks, the price goes higher.
You grit your teeth at the potential buyer.
Hand up once more, you stake your claim,
yet fat man follows and does the same.
The war plays out, pendulum swinging,
and at fifty grand, your heart starts singing.
Your enemy’s out, he knows he’s done.
You’re the proud owner of
At 1am, you step outside.
The contract’s done, the cheque’s been signed.
Breathing easy, first time in weeks,
since the orderly’s words had leaked
and told you of the special show,
whom to see and where to go.
Your darling Lou, your loving wife.
You had her love, you’d shared her life
and in your hands her missing part,
her last moment, her final art.
Thursday, February 18, 2010Now with old, badly-written free fiction!
Got a message today: Where is your blog for this week? Your blog is one of the more interesting blogs I read ;).
To which I replied: nothing interesting enough has happened to warrant a blog this week.
Thanks, Jeanna, but the statement still stands. Nothing interesting has really happened this week. The boring aspects of my life (housework, reading - which I love but it's pretty boring to watch - and the never-endin', form-fillin', reference-seekin', document-certifyin', wheeler-dealin' visa bullshit whoooo!) have taken over. The things I wanted to talk about are still a bit hush hush from various editors... So there you go.
Nothing to report.
SO WHY ARE YOU STILL TYPING, DAN? HAVE YOU GONE MAD?
No. Yes. A little. I decided that now would be a convenient time, what with all this craziness about novels coming out this year with German versions and all this madness, to take a minute, grab a can of Bundy (and I would have no idea what that is 18 months ago), and take a walk down my writer's memory lane. That's the reason I have that old picture up there, back when I had the long hair and my own writing office back in the UK.
Back in the good (pfft!) old days.
I have enough published short stories for a decent sized collection (and there may be developments in the next few months on that...if the editor still wants to go ahead with it), even with the stories that get lost over the years, both published and trunked.
I love the notes at the back of an anthology, and hope I can do that with each of my short stories. But what about these beloved lost stories? What were they about, and where did they appear? Indulge me in my reminiscing...
Hopefully, we can see that my story ideas improved over the seven years I've been writing, and for you readers that like a little more gravy on your meat...how's this: a posting of one my oldest stories UNEDITED. Yup. you can see how truly awful I was! I do love this story, as it was my first paid gig, but it needs a severe clean up should it ever see the printed page again!
Anyway, the stories. Ah, memories...
THREESOME - A guy isn't satisfying his girlfriend, and she's organised a threesome with a guy she met at the gym. He's against the idea, but goes along with it because, after all, he loves her, right? His flatmate Hellin is against the idea, and puts some very murderous suggestions in his head...
While this fella is hammering his partner, our protag decides to hammer him. Literally.
This story was the first short story I ever wrote after finishing my school years. After a few months of floating around, it was picked up for the anthology BLEED MY HEART ROMANTIC. It had a great cover (I can't find it anymore on Google) but it sadly never came into existence. Thus is the publishing world of a then newbie writer.
THE WHORE AND SICKLE INN - Now a place for pints and gossip in SAMHANE and a section of my website (!), this old inn was the scene for murder back in 2003, as a barman sinking in debt resorts to murder of the landlady to ease his financial worries.
I believe the character was still working in the W&S Inn when SAMHANE came about, but he was much nicer...and thankfully for the plot, more informative!
This story was never picked up for publishing, and I don't blame them. It was shit.
MY ROOTS - Completely overhauled for a 10k rewrite for the Decimate anthology for Wild Child Publishing (the anthology had lots of great stories but sold like hot cakes...in the Sahara) the original had a similar but simpler concept.
A plant breaks free from its mindless existence and tries to be human, eventually finding love with the owner of the garden from which it sprung. There's just one thing spoiling his dream: her husband.
A prime example that sometimes, if rarely, the remake can be better.
GORGE ON GEORGE - Originally titled Long Pig Pie, this was my first venture into horror-humour, starring a couple of cannibalistic old age pensioners. It was a bit like the I.T Crowd episode Moss and the German (but was written earlier with gore!). This was snapped up by the same editor that wanted THREESOME to be in an anthology called GORE-MET CUISINE and again, this folded.
CHUCKLES THE CLOWN - One of my favourites as we get yet more future SAMHANE characters slugging it out, this time with our favourite Pedo-clown abducting Detective Mill's grandson on a summer's day. Looking back, there was nothing clever about this one. Just cheap shocks.
But then cheap shocks are good every so often, right?
HIGH STAKES - A legit publication in NIGHT TO DAWN #8, but sadly lost somewhere down the line. Vampires play poker with an expected mother, with endless riches and security against her unborn fetus. Wasn't too bad this one, actually. Better then it sounds!
HE WALKS IN THE SNOW - My attempt at a literary piece. Did it work? Well it didn't sell. Did the editors not get it? Or was it simply rubbish? Yeah, yeah, I know...
A fairytale set in the Black Forest of turn of the century Germany, and loosely based on a Canterbury Tale by Chaucer (oooh, get me!), this follows a brother and sister and their father's stern warning not to play outside when the snows come, or they will see Death himself. Guess what happens next?
I wish I still had this one actually.
90% PERSPIRATION, 10% MUTILATION - Set in a gym, all that worked off sweat is pissed off and starts to attack the customers, blob style. No surprises, didn't sell.
DO YOU WANT THE MONEY, MR EVANS? - Quite bizarre as the poor landlord Mr Evans finds himself locked in a nightmare cycle with an axe murder (that turns out to be him) and a giant spider (which also turns out to be him. I said it was bizarre, right?).
This was the top rated story for 14 days at the writing group I was part of at the time, which made me quite proud, yet it never sold. Still, helped me get through the angst with my landlord I was going through...
INNER BEAUTY - In Victorian times, a man breaks into a cyrpt and rapes a corpse.
I'm hanging my head in shame right now.
SLAY BELLS - A Christmas story. surprisingly.
Two young thieves break into the wrong house after conning an elderly lady that they're carol singers that need the toilet. All I can remember is something twitching in a jar, the old woman breaking her neck and the boys eyes getting replaced by lumps of coal courtesy of a psychotic skeletal Santa Claus as the finale. Merry Christmas.
Thankfully, that's all the stories that were lost, and looking back, maybe that was a good thing?
Here (with the original artwork, which I still adore, despite the artist spelling hamburger wrong on the window) is the copied and pasted first paying story I ever wrote. UNEDITED. Expect many eye rolling moments.
What's this? Multiple punctuation marks!?
Anyway, to my loyal legion of readers, I hope you both enjoy it.
Enjoy it with
The smell of bleach, salt and cooking fat hit Joanne the moment she opened the large glass door to Kelly’s Kitchen. She had always wondered who Kelly was, an actual cook that had opened her own chain of fast food restaurants? Or merely a kindly figurehead created by the franchise for a friendlier image? Either way, Kelly’s Kitchen was all over the country, selling burgers, fried chicken, fries and all the other junk foods to that the other chains sold.
Joanne mentally corrected herself. It wasn’t junk food, just good food made fast. It was one of the corporate slogans that she regularly told her merry band of employees, even though she didn’t believe it herself.
She weaved her way through the dining area, a large tiled room with wall-to-wall windows, circular tables, and booths around the outside. Lavishly exaggerated photographs of the restaurant’s menu items covered the walls with inch thick burgers and fries that were all long, golden and perfectly straight.
She could have negotiated her way around the tables blindfolded; she’d done this journey many times over the last few years.
Entering the kitchen area, she punched in the key code to turn off the alarm system. The small LCD display showed the time to be just after seven in the morning.
She didn’t have much time; the morning crew would be here within minutes.
Joanne hurried through the kitchen and into the large stockroom at the back. She pulled the light cord and the single bulb blinked into life.
The stockroom was around half the size of the kitchen, but had plenty of room for the floor to ceiling shelves. One half of the stockroom contained packaging – burger boxes, cartons for fries, cups, napkins, straws and so on. What Joanne was looking for lay in between the milkshake syrup and packets of dehydrated onion on the food side of the room.
The burger relish.
She struggled to pull the white plastic tub, which was the size of a bin and quite heavy, out from the bottom shelf and far out enough to pop the flat lid free. The relish lay inside, thick and red, with chopped onion and pepper suspended in its viscosity.
Joanne fumbled, trying to open her bag with trembling hands. After a few attempts, she managed to undo the clasp and withdraw a small glass jar from the depths of the bag. She held this up to her eyes, watching the powdered green herb tumbling over itself as she turned the jar.
She couldn’t believe this might be the answer to her problems. What did the old man say? Three pinches?
Joanne unscrewed the top, but in the instant that the golden lid came off the jar, her quivering hands lost its purchase on the glass. The jar fell from her grip, and with a small, thick splash, landed upturned in the relish.
Joanne watched in wide eyed horror as the red sauce entered the jar, filling it completely. Its contents were swept out into the goop and were quickly swallowed up, sinking into the relish.
Joanne snapped out of her shock as she saw the jar to start to sink. She quickly plunged her hand into the container and plucked the jar out.
A single bubble popped on the surface of the sauce.
She wondered what to do. Money was tight and she couldn’t afford to throw out an entire tub of relish. Besides, maybe this was for the best. If three pinches were all she needed, an entire jar would guarantee results, surely! The fact that people were going to eat an unknown herb did cross her mind briefly, but if this didn’t work, the restaurant would be out of business any way.
She dropped the sodden jar into her bag in panic as she heard a shout from the restaurant – someone had arrived. The lid was forced untidily back onto the white container, and using her body for leverage, she pushed it back onto the low shelf. Grabbing a napkin to wipe the sticky relish from her fingers, Joanne headed for the door.
She expected a busy day at Kelly’s Kitchen.
Stu rushed across the empty car park, determined not be late again. He was on the verge of promotion to deputy manager, if only he could arrive on time! He swept his long black fringe out of his eyes. He could see the lights were on inside the restaurant, and some of the other workers were starting their morning duties. Candy was giving the floor a quick sweep and Joanne, the manager, was taking the chairs from the tables. He couldn’t see Michelle yet, but it was only a matter of time. He’d swapped his day off with Dave just so he could work with her. He didn’t have a chance with her, and didn’t lie to himself about this fact. That’s what it was, a fact. What would a goddess like Michelle want with a skinny, shaggy haired scruff like him?
He was so lost in his thoughts of tardiness and towards work and lust for Michelle, that he didn’t notice the car that slowly rolled up behind him. He released a cry of surprise when the car horn blared out, a very painful blast, especially so early in the morning. Trying to get his heartbeat and breathing back to normal after the jolt, he turned to see who was so rude to beep him so early.
It was a black convertible VW Golf, a poser’s car Stu had always thought, and in this case he was spot on.
Powers rolled down the window, his grin wide.
“Scared you, eh Pies?!”
Pies. Stu hated that nickname. It was a twist on his surname, Piez. Damn my French heritage, he cursed to himself.
Powers swung the car into a space close to the doors of Kelly’s Kitchen, killed the engine, and clambered out. He looked out of place in his green Kelly’s uniform, with his footballer physique square jaw and cropped hair. He didn’t have to work at the restaurant; in fact he found it demeaning. But rich Mr. Powers wanted his son to learn the meaning of a pound, his method being to get him a job at Kelly’s, and buy him a flash car. Go figure, thought Stu.
He hated Powers, and his stupid car.
“Ready for another day of doing fuck all, Pies?”
“If there’s work to be done, I’ll do it. Unlike some, I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty, Powers.”
“Dad says this place is going down the toilet. There are not enough people in this shit hole of a town to bring enough in. I think that Joannes’s going to crack!”
“Shut up, Powers.”
They entered through the glass door into the eating area.
There she was, a forbidden deity, beauty personified.
Michelle was checking the money in one of the tills, her long brunette hair flowing around her neck and shoulders, before resting atop a chest that strained against the uniform’s material. On hearing the door open, she looked up from the bags of coins and smiled.
Stu smiled back.
“Hey cutie, you still on for tonight?” shouted Powers from behind him.
“Sure!” Her sweet, delicate voice replied. “What time?”
“The Power will pick you up at eight, babe.”
Third person? What a wanker, thought Stu.
Joanne came out of the kitchen beside the prepared food chutes and around the counter. She looked even more agitated than normal. Her eyes darted around and she was talking to herself.
“Right team!” she suddenly called. “Shop meeting!”
With a shared groan, the workers moved to a large booth on the far side of the restaurant. Candy leaned her brush against a table to join them. She twirled a blonde ponytail with a finger as she chewed her gum with her mouth open. Stu had always considered this to be a filthy habit.
“Right guys,” started Joanne when the team had finally settled, “as we are all finally here, I can start dishing out the jobs. I want you all to be prepared for a busy day.”
“A busy day!” snorted Powers.
“Look, I know that things have been dead around here lately, but things are going to change,” her eyes swept over all gathered around the table, “they have to.”
“Yeah,” continued Powers, “but what’s so special about today?”
“I just have a feeling…” Joanne’s eyes fell to the table for a few seconds, while she was deep in thought. When she looked up, it was at Stu.
“I’ll need you until the end, Stuart. What with Dave being off,” she turned to Powers, “you too.”
“Aw! Joanne! C’mon!” he moaned like a stroppy toddler. “I have a date with Michelle!”
The rest giggled as Powers’ face screwed up in frustration. Only Joanne could get away with using his first name.
“Right then, Michelle on till. Candy, the drive through. Stuart, I want you on the grill. Francis…”
“…fryers. I’ll be doing the cleaning and generally floating around. Come on guys! Let’s make it a good day! And remember, we don’t make junk food-“
“Just good food, made fast,” they all finished, half-heartedly.
“Stuart! Keep your hormones in check and stop gawping at Michelle! Get to work!”
His face quickly turned a deep shade of pink, and Stu quickly left the table and headed for the kitchen.
The day began just like any other. They each started at their stations and served the occasional customer. All that was available was the breakfast menu until half past ten. Candy got a few customers at the drive through window, mostly employees of the Belvedere Corporation on
The breakfast things were put away at the half ten change over just as the restaurant’s first sit in customer had ordered a ‘Kelly’s Hunger Buster’ – two burger patties with cheese, bacon and full dressing.
Stu threw a couple of frozen burgers on the grill and prepared the buns with lettuce, onion, and a generous scoop of burger relish.
The serving dish had been empty, and he’d nearly strained his back carrying the white relish container from the stockroom.
By the time the burgers had browned nicely, Powers had the fries and bacon ready and Michelle had poured a coke that was waiting on the counter. The meal was quickly and efficiently put together and handed to Michelle through the ‘food ready’ hatch.
As soon as it was on the tray, the customer, a tall elderly man in a brown coat, took it over to a table and sat down. He took a big bite of his burger, and started to chew. After his jaw had gone up and down a few times, the man stopped, and for a moment peered into the exposed innards of the burger. He took another big bite before he swallowed, taking half of the burger into his mouth.
“Jeez,” said Powers, who had also been watching, “he must be starving!”
Stu nodded. There was something strange in the old man’s eyes…a hunger…
“Two chicken, one regular cheese, three large fries!” called Candy from the drive through window.
Stu turned from watching the man, who had nearly finished already, and reached for another frozen patty.
“Erm, three more Hunger Busters?” shouted Michelle, somewhat unsure from the counter.
Stu quickly looked over.
The man in the brown coat was stood in front of Michelle, a ten-pound note held tightly in his hand. His fries and coke still remained untouched on the table behind him. He groaned, and the saliva that was quickly gathering on his bottom lip glistened under the bright lights.
The clock above the milkshake machine showed that an hour and twenty minutes had passed, but the employees of Kelly’s didn’t notice the time; they were too busy.
Stu was throwing frozen burgers in groups of ten onto the grill, while at the same time scraping the cooked ones from the back and dropping them on pre-prepared buns. Powers had five metal baskets on the go in the fryers, while Michelle and Candy carried on shouting out the orders. Joanne was rushing between tables in the dining area, mopping up spills with a huge grin. She loved the fact that her restaurant was full.
“Hey! Pies!” Powers shouted over the noise of the restaurant, “Our bonus is looking pretty good all of a sudden!”
Stu wrinkled his nose. It’s all about the money for you Francis, he thought. But he was right; their chances of a bonus had improved.
He wiped a trickle of sweat, caused by both the heat from the grill and the exertion of working so fast, from his forehead with the back of his forearm. Taking a quick glance at the dining area, he could still see the old man in the brown coat, forcing yet another burger into his mouth in one go.
“Another four kids’ meals and two more Hunger Busters,” asked an irate woman at the front of the queue. The mass of people behind her had started to complain and shove the people ahead of them impatiently. Her two children, a boy and a girl of around six, pulled on her woolly green sweater.
“Mummy…want more burgers…burgers…more…” they muttered up to her.
The kids un-nerved Stu slightly, he didn’t like the look of their glazed eyes and hanging mouths. They reminded him of the Children of the Damned…but in a fast food restaurant.
Michelle looked at the woman, frowning with concern.
“Madam,” she started politely, “this is your third time at the counter. Maybe you…”
She was cut off by the woman’s bark.
“Look here, bitch! If you were so concerned about my family’s diet, you wouldn’t work in a fucking fast food joint! Burgers! Now!”
All the workers heard this, and shot a look over at the counter. The woman’s kids were still hanging on her jumper. “…burgers…”
Beth looked at Joanne, obvious to Stu that she was looking for approval to serve this rude customer. Joanne shrugged, and then turned to empty a tray piled high with empty burger boxes into a bin.
“Four kids’ meals, two Hungers!” shouted Michelle.
Stu, trying his best to force the man in the brown coat, angry woman and weird kids out of his head, concentrated on preparing the food. His concern was growing. There seemed to be more and more customers, but his supplies of frozen burger patties was getting pretty low.
Stu’s concern had grown into a knot of foreboding, deep in his stomach. As he placed the last of the burgers on the grill and scooped the last few spoonfuls of remaining relish onto dressed buns, he knew that the shit was about to hit.
“Joanne!” he called, but he couldn’t see her in the large crowd of customers. He couldn’t even see the tables, or the door, or even the windows for that matter. There were too many people.
He called again, and saw the black bobbed hair of the manager as she forced herself through the mass of bodies.
“What is it, Stuart? We are very busy you know!”
“We’re out,” he said.
“Out of what?”
“Burgers and relish.”
Her mouth dropped open as his words sunk in. It was the best day of business in years, and she had to inform the customers that they had no burgers left? Her mind quickly raced through her options. If she phoned for a delivery, that might take all day. She would have to apologise to the customers first, and keep her fingers crossed.
She turned from towards the kitchen and counter to face the crowd. They all glared at her, eyes wide and mouths hanging open. There were sounds of a scuffle at the back of the room, and Stu saw a half eaten burger fly up in the air, a dozen hands reached up for it.
Powers abandoned the fryer to stand with Stu.
“What’s wrong with them?” he asked.
The hungry crowd all had their eyes fixed with on Joanne.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” she began, trying to sound professional. The nervous quiver of her voice suggested to Stu that she was on the verge of shitting herself. “On behalf of Kelly’s Kitchen, Samhane, I regret to inform you that our stock of burgers has ran out.”
“…burgers?…mmm…” murmured some of the customers.
“Shit!” cried Candy, diving to the floor.
Stu and Powers turned just in time to see a large saloon car smash into the drive through window with a deafening crash. Candy covered her head to protect herself from the falling shards of glass.
The car had completely destroyed the drive through window, and the bonnet and front half of the car was inside the kitchen.
Stu stayed rooted to the spot in shock. Through the settling dust of the impact, he could see a fat man with a comb over haircut in the driving seat. His head was leaning out of the smashed side window of the car, blood not dripping, but sickeningly gushing out of a cut on his face.
His lips pulled back, forming a hideous smile.
Finally breaking free of his horrific transfixion, Stu rushed over into the scattered debris to help Candy get to her feet.
He nearly dropped her as Michelle’s scream cut through the air.
Powers had already burst into a run towards the counter.
With Candy still in his arms, all Stu could do was watch.
It wasn’t Michelle that was in trouble. She was safely backed up against the serving hatch.
It was Joanne, who had been stood in the crowd when the car hit, that needed help.
There were arms everywhere, grabbing at her green uniform, tugging at her hair and pulling her deeper into the throng of groaning bodies.
Those closest to her put their heads against her body, the stains of mustard and relish on her uniform close to their faces. They sniffed.
There was more smelling, and the odd lick of the fabric.
The crowd roared and Joanne was swept into the body of customers, yelling for help.
Powers got there and tried to grab her outstretched hand, but it was too late.
She screamed, a high-pitched wail of terror. The cry was cut short immediately, and was replaced by other noises.
Stu couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Was that chewing?
A woman with blonde hair in the crowd held up something red that dripped down her arms. She pushed this straight into her mouth, her face becoming flecked with scarlet droplets.
They’re eating her! His inner voice screamed. They’re eating Joanne!
Powers grabbed Michelle by the wrist and pulled her into the kitchen.
Members of the crowd, including old brown coat, followed. Some staggered around the counter, while others simply climbed over it in pursuit.
“Run!” shouted Powers, releasing his grip on Michelle.
Stu backed away from the advancing customers towards the rear of the kitchen. He looked to his side for Candy, but she had disappeared.
Brown coat took a swipe at Michelle, his outreached fingers inches away from her green uniform. She yelped and increased her pace.
Powers, not looking back, ran past the fryers. His foot slipped up from under him as he ran into a patch of cooking oil that was on the tiled floor. He landed solidly on his rump.
Michelle ran on in blind panic.
Powers was nearly back on his feet when the first few customers reached him. Brown coat was heading the charge and grabbed him roughly by the shoulders.
Powers’ hands swept around in panicked circles trying to find something, anything, which he could use as a weapon. His fingers found the slippery handle of one of the metal frying baskets. He jerked it out of the bubbling golden liquid, causing browned fries to scatter in all directions. Driving the hot basket up between brown coat’s arms, he forced it into his attackers face.
Brown coat roared with frustration, and shook Powers so hard that he lost his grip on the frying basket, and it fell to the floor with a clatter. Powers found himself looking into the face of the old man.
The hot oil on the basket had done some damage, as angry red lines had formed a lattice on brown coat’s skin.
More customers had joined around Powers, and he was doing his best to fight off the hands that clawed at his body.
“You two! In here! Quickly!”
Stu looked over his shoulder and saw Candy in the dark doorway of the stockroom.
The stock room! It had a lock!
“Powers!” he shouted over the groans of the crowd. “Come on!”
Stu followed Michelle, who had run the full length of the kitchen, towards the sanctuary of the stockroom.
“Help me! Guys!”
Only when Stu had seen Michelle safely enter the stockroom, did he turn to help Powers.
He had been held aloft by six of the crazed customers, his body close to the reflective lights on the ceiling. Like a football team carrying their match winner, they walked together, taking Powers towards the grill.
“Oh shit! Girls, get inside.”
The wave of lurching customers had taken over the kitchen, and even the fat guy in the car had clawed his way out, and was quickly advancing towards them.
A wall of reaching and drooling people lay between the stockroom and the suspended Powers. Stu didn’t have a chance of reaching him; he’d be ripped to pieces before he got halfway.
“Help me! Please!” Powers pleaded again.
The group dumped him like a sack of coal onto the shiny black surface of the grill. His scream was joined by the hiss as his flesh began to cook. His cries became uncontrollable shrieks of agony as brown coat forced Powers’ face onto the hot metal, rolling his head around.
Stu felt hands grab his shoulders and he was pulled backwards into the stockroom, Candy slammed the door closed and locked it in front of him, cutting out Powers’ dying screams. When Michelle had released him, he ran into the corner, and emptied the contents of his stomach into a box of napkins.
All three could hear the fingernails and fists against the wood of the door.
Candy warily backed away from the door.
“What do we do now?”
Stu turned from the box of napkins, a string of saliva hanging from his lips.
“We wait,” he said, wiping his mouth.
Michelle started to cry, and Stu was quick to go to her, and wrap his arms around her trembling body. She pressed her face deep into him.
“It’s okay, Michelle. We’re safe in here.”
The blows from the other side of the door caused it to rattle on its hinges. Long, painful groans could be heard through it.
“What the hell happened to everyone?” asked Candy, calmly unwrapping a piece of gum from her pocket and popping it into her mouth.
“Isn’t it obvious? They ate Joanne and fucking cooked Powers like he was a piece of meat! They’re zombies! They must have taken over the town or something!”
Michelle raised her tear-streaked face from his chest.
“It’s a disease. They all came into the shop normal, but then they…they changed…”
“Nah!” snorted Candy, chewing her gum with her mouth open. “It can’t be. I mean, we’re fine, aren’t we?”
“Then what do you think it is?” asked Stu. He was getting annoyed with her lack of respect for the severe situation that they now found themselves in, that and the open mouthed chewing. It’s a disgusting habit.
“Aliens. No doubt.”
He rolled his eyes.
“How long before they give up? I mean, we could be here for days! We could starve to death!” a hysterical Michelle blubbed, her shoulders shook with sobs.
“No problem!” grinned Candy. “There’s enough food in her for at least a week! And besides…” She walked to one of the shelves, moved a stack of kids’ meal boxes to one side, and pulled out a large white paper bag. “I stashed these when I saw that we were going to run out. I mean, I wasn’t going to miss out on my lunch!”
She ripped the bag open, and half a dozen Kelly’s Hunger Busters toppled out.
“See? Good burgers with extra relish! We’ll be fine!”
I can't believe I posted that. Is that how bad things have been this week? Honestly...
See you all next week with hopefully a better blog!