This is just a quick story i wrote. Inolves zombies and what might be demons. You decide! Also my first post so....hello Zombie Squad! Hope you enjoy.
If it could speak, I know what it would say. “Come here,” it would snarl through animal teeth. “Come, let us chat, let us get acquainted, get to know each other. Something to eat perhaps?” And it would laugh. But it wouldn’t be a human laugh, not the kind full of humor or love or caring; it would be something less, like the growl of a beast only half-alive. “Why do you look so afraid? I don’t bite, not like them.” It would nod its head towards one of the Carrion, and smile with its cannibal teeth.
The Carrion would look in through the windows, between the boards and the shattered glass. They would reach in, groping mindlessly with their broken and bloodied fingers like horny adolescents. Snarls would seep like oil from their teeth, what few remained. Jaws snapping and gangly limbs twisting, they would force their way through the barriers as if opening a clam shell, ready to savor the meat inside. Their stench would precede them, wafting through the hollow halls even without a carrying breeze. They would shamble, stumble, limp, and crawl. Whatever it took, they would do it, even if it meant losing more of themselves. They would shed an arm just to fit through the narrow windows, just to eat. Just to survive.
It would lead them, like an officer in the thick of the battle. The Carrion horde would follow; puppets carried by their marionette strings. They would march on to their prize, to me, led by their unholy patriarch. And it would smile, and it would say, “They bite, yes, but I am so much worse, so much more.”
But it couldn’t talk, couldn’t even smile. Its teeth were hidden by unmoving lips. It didn’t move or speak like a human, it merely looked like one. It was untouched by time or rot, not like the Carrion that had decomposed to little more than skeletons. They were grazing cadavers, roving corpses. But it was so much more. It moved with a liquid grace, walking on the balls of its feet and strutting like a big cat ready to pounce. Its gaze was predatory, its face emotionless. Its silver hair flowed behind it like a mane, its fingers arched into claws, its head weaved like an entranced cobra. The Skinwalker, backed by its reanimated legion, advanced on us.
Next to me, Mark swore and Gabby echoed him.
It chased us upstairs, cornering us in the master bedroom that we all shared on uncertain nights. Mark slammed the door and I toppled the bookshelf in front of it, just before it absorbed the full weight of a Carrion. By then, Gabby had already loaded the revolver and snapped the cylinders back into place with a flick of her wrist. We all carried weapons, but the majority of our firepower was downstairs, in the backroom. It’d been months since the last attack, weeks since we last saw even a single Carrion, and we somehow got the idea that we were safe.
Then the Skinwalker wandered into town, walking down Main Street like it belonged. He-no, it-was the first Skinwalker Gabby and Mark had ever seen, and only my second. They started popping up after the first outbreak, when the infection was first discovered. While most people were devolved into Carrion, things that were less than human, others were made into something more. Some people said it was steroids; that copious amounts of the juice induced the Skinwalker mutation. Others proposed that the uncontrolled cell growth of cancer was magnified by the virus, resulting in the Skinwalker’s internal…peculiarities.
Me? I think they’re demons.
Mark slid his crowbar off his belt and into the eye socket of an ambitious Carrion. Immediately it was replaced by another, which promptly caught a .357 round. They were endless, coming just as quickly as we could bring them down. Carrion after Carrion dropped in the doorway, which was slowly being pried open by the growing pile of bodies. Underneath the metallic clang of the crowbar and the crack of the revolver, was the unmistakable growl of the advancing Skinwalker.
Splinters were flung off the door as the unrelenting dead muscled their way in. Pounding fists and gouging fingers tore the aged wood to pieces. Shoulders and rotting foreheads repeatedly slammed against the frame, while corroding teeth vainly gnawed at the hinges.
“Mark, help me here!” I yelled over the battering sound of the assault. We braced our shoulders against the door, rocking back and forth with the undulating power of the Carrion. I glanced back in time to see Gabby reloading her pistol, curiously hesitating for a moment. When she looked up and caught my stare, she titled the gun forward, showing me the half-empty six-cylinder. We’d always discussed this, the three of us. Would we let each other die by the horde, or we would take the easy way, the quick way? Would any of us be able to endure the pain to save our friends a bullet? Would we be able to watch, as someone else endured, too selfish to waste a shot?
The door shattered, throwing Mark and I to Gabby’s feet. The Skinwalker stood in the doorway, all silver mane and predatory physique, a mound of twice-dead at its feet. Two long strides brought it to our feet; one more landed its foot on Mark’s abdomen. All the air left his lungs at once, rushing out in an audible whoosh. My arm naturally intertwined with Gabby’s and we wriggled ourselves out from underneath Mark, just before the Skinwalker hoisted him up by his throat.
There was no definition of muscle in its arm, no signs of strain or effort. Its expression didn’t change, holding fast in its emotionless state. Even with Mark struggling, kicking and swiping with his crowbar, the Skinwalker didn’t flinch or waver in the slightest.
The first time I ever saw a Skinwalker, it was holding my brother by his neck, more than a foot off the floor. It had the same white hair, pale skin, and white pupils as the one that had Mark in its grasp. It was like there was no color in it at all, just black and white, even its clothes. My brother was going blue, couldn’t breathe under the thing’s iron grip, but still had the fight in him to claw out one of his attacker’s eyes. The eye popped out, and his fingernails scraped away a patch of skin. There wasn’t any bone beneath it though, not even the pink-red flesh of a man, but something altogether different. Then it sank its claws into my brother’s heart, and I sprinted away, to the garage. I revved up the Chevy and peeled out of our driveway. Standing in the frame of our front door was the Skinwalker, its long gray hair waving behind it like a dying snake. Where its fingers should have been were long bone claws, tapered like ice picks. Its face was half-human, the other half was something less. Something more.
As Gabby leveled her gun, hammer already cocked, the monster in front of us pierced Mark’s skull. This one had the same ice pick fingers, the ivory shining under the artificial light. They were on every finger, on both hands, like the retractable claws of a big cat.
The Carrion had swarmed the door; a few were already biting away chunks of Mark’s corpse. Their teeth clamped down on his flesh, not puncturing at first, but pressing down hard enough to make me grimace. When they did pierce, blood sprouted like young flowers, squirting out of a torn artery. Jagged teeth left crooked and misshapen holes in his arms, his legs, his face. Some bites were shallow, peeling away strips of skin and minimal muscle; others tore down to the bone.
I smashed a window, clearing the broken glass with the blade of my knife. Gabby went out before me, sliding out feet-first, gun held firmly in her left hand. She snapped off a shot, the one formerly meant for Mark, just before she dropped out of view. I watched the Skinwalker’s right shoulder recoil from the slug. It stared me down when I slid down to the ground.
Gabby and I landed lightly, considering our second story drop. I noticed she was crying, even though she was wiping them away as they came. We could still hear the Carrion moving inside the house: walking unevenly, dragging themselves across the wooden floors, chewing on the bodies of either Mark or their fallen comrades.
“My God,” Gabby sighed, leaning her back against the side of the house, still wiping away teardrops.
“Gabby, we need to keep moving,” I panted. My heart was racing and I couldn’t breathe properly. Rest sounded delicious, but nothing we could revel in quite yet.
“I’m so tired,” she wheezed. “Just a minute, they’re too busy with…” She let the sentence trail off; we both knew what she meant. “The Skinwalker won’t be down here until we’re long gone, we can rest just for a bit.”
“Gabby, Skinwalkers don’t-” but I didn’t get a chance to finish, not before the siding of the house burst. An ivory-tipped hand caught Gabby’s ponytail and pulled her flat against the wall. She was screaming, but I didn’t know if it was from fear or pain. I prayed for fear. I grabbed her hand and pulled her to me, just enough to stretch her hair. A swift downward stroke of my knife freed her, but I groaned when I saw her blonde hair dyed strawberry.
Her hand went to the back of her head, and came away bloody. “No,” she whimpered. “No, no, no.” She looked up at me, probably for support, maybe just an ‘It’ll be alright’, but I gave her nothing. I stared back, disbelief in my eyes that a single monster had taken both of my friends from me. I was still staring into her eyes when she put the gun into her mouth and shot herself.
She slumped to the ground, and I could swear I saw a pale eye glaring at me through the puncture in the building. If the hole had been big enough, I imagine there would have been a cold grin below that pale iris.
The ground was wet from morning dew and I slid more than once as my feet pounded against the sodden earth. My shoes were soaked with the moisture and my jeans clung to my ankles, numbing my feet and hurting my progress. It wasn’t long until I fell.
Carrion banged on the window to my left hard enough to crack it. Hair-sized veins spider webbed out from the main fractures and gave way under the accumulated weight of the horde. Groping hands reached for me, squeezing at nothing and swiping at everything. Scrambling to my feet, I sprinted to the front lawn, sprinted to the Chevy.
As I rounded the corner, my momentum left me all at once. It took me a while to realize there were claw-tipped fingers holding me in place. It lifted me by my throat, forcing my entire weight down on my neck. I heard my spine pop. The Skinwalker looked up at me with those dead eyes, staring straight into my blue ones. “I won,” it would say if it could speak. “I killed your friends, and I’m going to kill you. Oh, why so glum? At least the Carrion won’t get to you.” And it would smile, and chuckle that death rattle laugh.
They never eat, never drink or sleep or even rest. Even the Carrion eat, even if their diet consists of still-living people. But never the Skinwalkers, I’ve never even seen them bite to infect, if that’s even possible. Would you rise up as one of them, possessed by whatever evil drove them, or would you devolve into a Carrion? Who knows.
My skin started to split under the bone nails. Pinpricks of blood welled up and stained its ice pick claws. The scarlet pikes bit deeper into my neck. I could feel them caressing my arteries, rubbing against my windpipe and silently threatening me with death. I flailed, just as my brother and Mark had, kicking hard against its chest and abdomen, occasionally landing a shot in its groin. I slashed with my knife, back and forth across its wrist in a vain attempt to sever its hand. I turned my knife to its face, slashing down and across, peeling away a sheet of skin in the process.
I wish I hadn’t.
It wasn’t bone, or exposed muscle. It was something entirely different. It wasn’t as smooth as bone, or as hard; and it was black, a pitch black that allowed no deviation in color. There was no nuance shade of grey or even a slight reflection of light. It was a black abyss that composed the Skinwalker’s body, shaped into the form of a man. A slight ripple shook the colorless mass, ending at the edges of torn human skin. The Carrion were undead, rotting, still-walking corpses, but they were at least human once. The thing before me looked human on the outside, but beneath that fragile layer of skin was something inhuman, something that never was.
It was otherworldly, a thing that had no place in this mortal plane. Was that it? After all the speculation, was that the answer? Was that outer wrapping of skin the only thing keeping those monsters grounded in this reality? The Skinwalkers weren’t zombies, not the products of a virus, but something unfathomable to the human mind.
Were they demons? Demons that had broken free from hell, casting forth their pestilence and following in its wake. The Devil himself may have been wandering the earth. Maybe he’d been imprisoned, detained in the violent coup of his underlings while they devoured the world.
I was amazed how my mind kept working, even after those cannibal teeth tore out my throat.
My hair is silver, as pale as my skin and undoubtedly my eyes. There are ivory claws where fingers used to be. They click together when I try to clench a fist. My steps aren’t heel-to-toe anymore, I stalk along on the balls of my feet as if ready to spring. My skin doesn’t feel quite right, like there isn’t enough of it. Maybe I’ll peel it off one day.
I walk down Main Street as if I belong, as if I have a place in this world.