Not Even Once
Be warned, the following is explicit
Back again, mutherfuckers. It’s me, your favorite blood-sucking monster. Vampire, phlebotomist, blood bank robber extraordinaire. Yeah, yeah. I’m a self-righteous prick and I gotta do the intro every time. But shit. Springing the news never does get old. Except lately. You're all so caught up in the manufactured crisis of the day, who gives a fuck if vampires are real? You certainly don’t. Hell, they told you about aliens last month and you didn’t bat an eyelash. You just gestured to the price tag of eggs and rolled your eyes. Some of ya even begged for the mothership to land and take you away. It’s not that I blame you, really. If I was stuck in your little lives, I’d be first in line for the probing express. But I’m not you, and we’ve really gotta talk. Let’s dive in, shall we?
It’s been a decade since I first saw one. Back before I discovered the brilliant convenience of phlebotomy, I got a job doing janitorial in the ER (The blood’s not as fresh, but hey, a guy’s gotta eat). I heard him come in, incoherent mumbling echoing in the tiled hallways. They’d shuffled him into the tiny psych room in the back corner of the emergency department. It was padded in dingey white, but before the night was over he’d pull a Picasso in bright red blood. It was too much for a creature like me to resist. The smell of death was overwhelming on him, and curiosity got the better of me and I used those special skills I’d vowed to put aside for the first time in half a century. I gotta admit, even I was surprised when Phil (the security guard) placidly handed me the keys at my mere request. I was out of practice, but it seems human will has weakened in the last handful of decades (or Phil’s just a big softie– probably both). Phil shut off the camera to the little padded room and stood watch at the door. The thrill at using my power was short-lived as I stepped inside.
He sat hunched in the corner nibbling at some indeterminable bone I assume he’d pulled from an un-checked pocket. I didn’t blame them for missing it–I wouldn’t want to dig through his crusty clothes either. A strangled hissing sound emanated from little holes in his cheeks a he suckled at the marrow. When he looked up at me, I stumbled back. Now, you know me. I’m not one to balk in the face of any monster. I taught the Weres to be afraid of me two centuries ago. But this was something different. This was something unnatural. An abomination, like what you lot called us in the witching days. He stood, tattered clothing sucking at thin skin, pulling it away in large patches, and laughed in my face as he met my stare with milky, dead eyes. Zombie.
Surely, that’s what he must be. But. He couldn’t be. They weren’t real. The only undead that roamed this earth were the creatures like me… And yet. There he stood. The flesh of his hands had been picked away to reveal tendons crawling with maggots. He reached toward me and uttered a moan. I fled.
Safely tucked on the other side of the padded door, I watched with sick fascination as he pulled at one of the exposed tendons, stretching it thin in his efforts. He laughed manically, glazed eyes never leaving my own. When he tired of the tendon, he began picking little bits of skin off of his face, popping them into his mouth like Nerds candies (those are ruined forever for me, by the way– I hope they are for you now too). As a steady stream of blackish blood oozed down his cheeks, he began to gleefully paint on the walls, rubbing filthy fingers on the flapping flesh of his face and smearing spirals. I was so caught up in the horror of the thing that I didn’t hear the nurse come up behind me.
“First time you’ve ever seen one this far gone, eh?” She laughed when I jumped. I started to explain myself but she held up a hand, “Don’t bother. You work here long enough and you’ll start to see these.”
She barked a laugh, “Exactly. Yep. Turns out that’s what you become when you mix too many of the hard drugs.” She flipped open the chart and ran her fingers under the lines of the tox screen, “Ah— but.” She shrugged and gestured to the creature behind the padded door, “Just Meth.”
I shivered, “That is… terrifying.”
“Well, if you don’t wanna see it again– you should probably find another department. Maybe go work in the lab or something,” she raised her brows knowingly, “Now get outta here before someone who actually cares sees you. I heard Jennifer is rounding.” She laughed and shoved me into the hallway.
I put in my application to work as a lab courier that night and never looked back.
When you’re a phlebotomist, you have to draw the blood for those tox screens. Last week, I saw four Zombies, so far gone their flesh was sloughing away and wee beasties crawled across every last inch of their torn skin. Four. That’s a record. So no, it’s not the price of eggs or imminent invasion that has me thinking humanity is in the toilet.
All of this to say… You lot better get ahold of yourselves, or I’ll be facing a food shortage before we know it. Signing off now.
Your friendly neighborhood blood-sucker,
Don’t do meth, kids— Not even once.
Dead Lives Matter
I've always been someone who has seen my cup half-full. So today I look around and say to myself it could be worse. For instance, I could be one of the living.
But now that I've caught this plague, this merciful blessing, I guess that means I'm dead.
Living dead. And just today, mind you. And tonight will be my first, if you'll pardon the cultural reference, night of living dead.
Hunger. I am so very, very hungry. But it's not the pit of my stomach. It is the urge-become-essence. Now I understand, albeit vaguely. I'm from dust and to dust I shall return, so I want to consume the living, because that is all part of my return to the dust, the beautiful, calming, sacred dust.
I hunger for living, which no longer resides in this body. What has become of me? I used to be a professional of the living, but today I have no memory of what that means. Yesterday and quite out of reach now, vague remembrances of architecture, right-angles, protractors, and blueprints elude me like the non-sequiturs of a dream—fleeting thoughts with slippery handles of which I cannot gain purchase.
Mosquitoes--who knew? Micro-transfusions from the recently dead or soon-to-be-dead to the living. In the small mosquito gut there is a change, chemistry, and alchemy, and the next bite always carries a novel venom.
The living dead know that now, of course--vaguely, dimly. Just one bite. That's all. Just one. A swat that created a tiny blotch of red on my arm. Foolish mosquitoes, depleting their own supply of free-flowing blood. Not to worry about the time-honored mosquito, though—there are more to take the place of any imbiber which is not afraid to die on any living arm or calf or neck. Giving its life to spread its disease. Not satisfied with malaria, yellow fever, or dengue, they spread the new pestilence, and I have contracted it, moving hungrily in my fever dream.
Others, like me, suddenly suffer the void that must be satisfied. On my way to becoming the dust that begot me, I hunger for more than the gossamer I have become.
I want living protein, thermogenic fat, and catecholamines. The amino acid pairs of my DNA are dropping like flies and this engenders my hunger at the deepest levels of my being. Some of the living offer the base pairs I need, others offer ones I don't. In the next hour it may be the opposite. I pass this one but I lash out at that one, depending on whether I need an adenine/thymine or a cytosine/guanine. I cannot determine which I need in any moment; my hunger does. If the wrong-living are all I have to choose from, I pass and go hungry and the living do not understand, seeing my pursuit as random, chaotic, without reason. But it is simply biology. Simple biomortology. Biomortality.
I came from dust, and it is to dust I will return. I need the dust of others—living others. I merely shorten their wait, for it is all dust at the end of the day, and our day has come. It is the new symbiosis:
The living sustain the dead while the dead provide the dust ahead of schedule.
It is the natural history of the planet. A life cycle, if such an irony can stand. I want to consume the living, because that is all part of our return to the dust, the beautiful, calming, sacred dust.
Delicious is the dust of the living. How sating to glut on them. The living run from us to avoid our bites, clawings, or scratches, but it is not just our bites, clawings, or scratches that metamorphose them. There is a co-factor—the mosquito attracted by the breach of their skin, who knows how sating it is to glut on them. The unswatted ones fly off to alight on another recently bitten, clawed, or scratched with their novel venom. If I could align my inanimate synapses in any orderly way, I would appreciate it as a beautiful life cycle. But my musings are cold, vague, and anemic.
My new life is to bring others to the dust. Consuming them, we can go together. Where the living might say that being consumed means they will rot with me, I say we will make our beds in the dust together. Until the light comes down. Until the very elements of our bodies are one with our world. Forever, or until the cataclysm spews all of us back out to walk in the dust of distant places.
The dust has ten billion billion stories. There is room for more, so come to me. We will go to the dust together and we will finally find our infinite glory and happiness. Dust lives forever.
But you aim high with your guns, decapitate with your axes, bludgeon our heads. Why? I should know. I used to do the same before my mosquito went on its sortie. Aren't we motes all in this dust-sweeping together? Why can't we all just get along? Would it kill you to allow us our Holy Thursday suppers? Respect for the life cycle is its own reward.
Please know that dead lives matter.
My Name Is Shallowgenepool and I Am a Zombieholic
Okay, I admit it, zombie novels are one of my guiltiest of pleasures. Sure, they're so predictable they seem like they're written from a template, but I can't help it! What's worse, I have read enough zombie fiction to write a doctorate dissertation on the subject. So, this is my chance to totally fucking geek out on the zombie, "Literature" I am drawn to like a tweaker to unwatched spool of copper wire. For those who are zombie illiterate, let me offer some of my waaaaay too thought out observations.
Cause of Zombie Apocalypse
In the majority of zombie novels, the zombification of humanity is almost always the result of science gone ass up. Basically, some scientists who must have gotten their degrees from a Cracker Jack box try to play God. What's worse, they're contamination protocol is so bad it was likely gotten for free on Pinterest. Apparently, no one at Build an Apocalypse Incorporated is smart enough to keep a can of Lysol handy in case their naughty zombie creator escapes its Petry dish. Now the reasons the virus is created in the first place can be divided into two categories (with the rare exception):
1. The zombifier is the result of rogue medical research. In this case, the scientists are blindly trying to create a panacea that ends all disease and lets people either live forever or at least as long as it takes for a box of Twinkies to go bad. Of course, the virus has other plans.
2. An evil government tries to create the ultimate biological weapon or the means to create super soldiers that can be shot, stabbed, blown up, or forced into having sexual relations with a Kardashian and continue to function. Personally, I think having sex with Kardashian would make for the perfect cause of a zombie apocalypse in the next, truly unique zombie saga. It makes total sense because I bet the poor doctor who has to do a Kardashian pap smear has to inform the CDC before and after the procedure takes place. My guess is that a Kardashian gyno exam is viewed by communicable disease experts with the same level of fear as if Starbucks started to offer iced weaponized anthrax, with fat-free botulism, a dusting of small pox, and a frothy foam of soy based bubonic plague on top ( one pump of antibiotic resistant gonorrhea syrup can be added for just fifty cents extra).
Know Your Zombie
Zombies in zombie apocalypse novels typically come in two varieties. Let's discuss.
1. The Slow Mover: The Slow Mover zombie is just that. Slow. These Zombies move slow and have the intelligence of moldy bread. The only advantage that the Slow Mover has is that it tends to roam in hordes. These hordes look a lot like the inside of a Walmart on a Sunday afternoon only the zombies have better hygiene and fashion sense. It is strength in numbers that allows the Slow Mover to be successful.
2. The Fast Mover: This zombie is becoming more popular in zombie novels. Typically, a Fast Mover zombie will be able to run instead of shamble slowly. This variety of undead also seems to have a bit of intelligence. This bit of intelligence is equivalent to that of someone who goes to one of those colleges run out of mobile homes that advertised during Judge Judy level of intelligence. For example, a Fast Mover may know how to open a door where the classic Slow Mover would have to beat on the door eventually opening it by the sure number of zombies trying to get what's on the other side.
Okay, now that the possible cause(s) of the zombie apocalypse and the characteristics of the undead has been established, we need to discuss how the virus all but wipes out the human race. Basically, it boils down to normally competent protective institutions like the military and police suddenly becoming about as competent as a FOX News anchor. There are many examples of how this is used in zombie apocalypse stories, but I will focus on the two most commonly used.
The Armed Forces
Somehow during the apocalypse, the militaries of the world manage to forget everything they have been taught. First, they forget how to secure a strong, defensible perimeter. Apparently, the branches of the military as portrayed in many zombie novels decide to make a Home Depot run before they enter the fray because their protective barrier of choice are chain link fences (maybe chain link was on sale?). Of course chain link fences will work against THOUSANDS of undead bodies putting all their weight on the fence. What's worse, the evacuation plans seem to have been drawn up by a third grader. To evacuate the living the military and police decide to protect survivors by stuffing them into places like sports stadiums (once again surrounded by those ever so reliable chain link fences). This plan offers up the zombie equivalent of a Las Vegas breakfast buffet. Of course, someone who is infected somehow gets inside. Once turned, the zombie bites someone which starts a chain reaction of zombie making until the stadium is filled with zombies. My guess is the end result looks a lot like a Nickelback concert (truly terrifying).
The biggest fuck up the military makes is that it fails to use is the one weapon that is totally zombie-proof, FUCKING TANKS! An Abrams tank would make short work of thousands of zombies in minutes just by RUNNING THE FUCKERS OVER! No shots need to be fired. The zombies, drawn to the noise, basically come out and ask to be plowed over. Some argue that it would be difficult to get soldiers to attack their own people and the hesitation would be disastrous. BULLSHIT! Show an army battalion footage of zombies chowing down on their neighborhoods and they'll be all in. I have a lot of confidence in our military to enthusiastically fuck shit up in an efficient and methodical way because my dad served in the Navy on an aircraft carrier for almost 20 years. In times when our country was in danger they would enthusiastically write things on missiles like, "Killing is Our Business and Business is Good." In short, our men and women in uniform may not want to put down thousands of their fellow Americans, but they'll do it and find a way to have fun at the same time.
A common theme in zombie apocalyptic fiction is how society collapses when the zombies have wiped out 99% of the world's population. Basically, with no government or structure, by chapter five yesterday's accountant becomes a charismatic, post-apocalyptic warlord capable of gathering followers. With his followers, the warlord then begins a campaign of cruelty, violence, rapine, and mayhem against the average survivor. The thought here is that humanity's dark side comes out when there is no authority left to cage it in. Are you fucking serious? To emphasize how stupid this is I will use real history. Back in the dark ages Vikings would raid up and down Europe, plundering, burning, and raping but they were never able to fully gain control of those they picked on. Why? Because people at heart are generally good and NO ONE likes a bully. So, the poor peasants and local authorities would band together and eventually send the very outnumbered Vikings packing. The same applies to post-apocalyptic society. Warlords may try to rise, but they would eventually lose because people would band together and put them down.
The protagonist(s) in zombie apocalyptic yarns also tend to fall into two categories. One a little more plausible than the other.
1. Former cop(s) or soldier(s). Of course, those familiar with weapons and tactics would be the obvious choice for the heroes of the zombie apocalypse. They also have the discipline needed to work as a cohesive unit. Although to keep them motivated you may need to make sure there is at least one donut shop left running or brothel still seeing guests. So, with motivation, these heroes make sense.
2. The average schmuck(s). The average guy(s) or girl(s) as protagonist wouldn't be too big of a stretch except for one thing. They always start out ignorant of how to defend themselves, but by chapter five they have the skill set of fucking Rambo. For example the mild mannered IT guy suddenly can expertly use all forms of weaponry and also fabricate bombs out of chewing gum, women's hygiene products, and match sticks. Now don't get me wrong, most people will adapt and adapt quickly to horrible circumstances, but the least the authors of these novels could do is make the learning curve last longer than the first hundred pages!
The Unsung Heroes: The Blue Collar Factor
One thing very absent in zombie novels is how many normal people have the knowledge needed to defend themselves and even take the offensive against the undead. Look no further than the average welder. With their skills, a welder could fabricate good defensive measures such as reinforced doors, windows, and even make improvised weapons. Even better, give a welder a bull dozer and some sheet metal and he can create an impenetrable zombie death machine. Farmers, mechanics, electricians, and construction workers also have skill sets that would make short work of undead hordes.
The Unsung Hero: Mother Nature
Many zombie novels ask us to suspend disbelief a little too much. For example, as almost universally written, zombies quickly succumb to various levels of decay. Right there you have the end to the apocalypse! Open wounds or decay would bring in the flies by the billions. The flies would then use the decay and open wounds as food source for their progeny. It may take a while, but the maggots would decimate zombies. No matter how far you allow yourself to suspend disbelief eventually you have to concede that a zombie being devoured by maggots will soon loose the muscles, tendons, and other tissues needed to move and will then be rendered harmless.
Zombies: Victims of their own Zombiehood
Okay, the last point I will make is that pretty much every zombie novel you will read will stay close to one idea. That idea is that zombies are almost always incapable of complex thought. So, it would be very easy to lure zombies to their own deaths. The sound of a motorcycle's engine would attract every zombie around. Once gathered together, you could then herd the zombies using bait into large buildings, open spaces, or areas with ways in but no way out by the thousands. These areas could then be hit by the military, fabricated explosives, fire, or Justin Bieber's Greatest Hits thus wiping them out with very little risk.
So, I am ashamed to admit it, but I have probably read thousands of pages of zombie books. I guess it's no worse than those romance novels they sell in supermarkets. Anyway, in the unlikely event that the rules of biology take a pisser and dead flesh can be reanimated with an appetite for human flesh, please consider this as a good zombie survival primer.
I do not mean to offend anybody in this article. My purpose is to cover a topic of the challenge with facts and examples from modern day Russia.
Paragraph One. The Letter Z.
As the public media in Russia has been speculating over the last character of the Latin alphabet as "the brave and rightous symbol", I decided to dig deeper into the possible reasons of its choice. Some journalists at the beginning of the war were arguing on it being either the ancient Scandinavian runes, or the alternative for 'Ц' (as in "tsar/царь"); I, however, see a much simpler sense - the letter Z is for Zombies. The society that sees its idea in fighting without thinking for one's own life may agree to call themselves zombie with no regret.
Paragraph Two. Solovyov's Atomic Bomb Fetish.
Vladimir Rudlofovič himself is a topic for huge reseach in psychiatry and psychology, but one particular specific of his speech troubles me the most: he has, perhaps, one of the rarest sexual fetishes on earth - a nuclear weapons fetish. There is hardly a program on russian television in his presence where the celebrated propagandist does not mention the possibility, no, the necessity, of a nuclear war against European capitals. He cries for it, loud and proud. This can be regarded as some kind of necrophilia - the love of death ...the source of African zombie cults.
Paragraph Three. Russian Pravoslav Church.
I intentionally used the Slavic term for orthodox faith here, because both the Greek and the Slavic words mean "the right glorification". And for the Moscow church, the "right" means that one who glorifies the authorities, whatever they are and do. It was so for most medieval Chiristian countries in times on inquisition, by the way. Since any religion has its specific view on life and death, I would say that the Russian Orthodox church's idea is to make people die and become zombies to "serve" the homeland in this state of flesh.
Paragraph Four. Education. They have been rewriting history in Russia during the country's whole history (I know it sounds odd). Now they are doing it more and more. Kids are taught to be thankful to the "brave warriors" who often were jailed criminals before recruited to the army - and the battlefields. Think of the recently deceased Prigozhin's private paramilitary organization, and you will get what I'm talking about.
It is just a coincidence but the number 4 means death in some parts of South Asia. The four paragraphs of my short analysis show the state of affairs in the russian federation.
All in all, do not be zombies. Think with your own brain.
We woke one day to
a rolling blackout.
First went the Satellite TVs.
Then the cellular phones.
Now there's Something
inside that just won't turn.
On or off I'm not sure...
But I see us still walking
eating and talking...
And it sounds grave and
as we near to morning.
Every roaming body is
groaning, for a new carton...
ZOMBIES! challenge @Buck_Ripper
Perusing Zombie; Tod
The last time I ever talked to my old neighbor Tod he threw himself through his own kitchen window, and had his mother been much younger and up to the physicality, I’m half sure she would’ve smitten him for ruining her Chinas and all the other dishes on the countertop. The box of cookies he tried to hand me sat upside-down on the grass where he began his run-up into the house. How I wanted those cookies. Plenty of times from years present and even earlier Tow would come home from grocery shopping and have a box of M&M cookies specifically for me to have whenever he’d catch me outside. My parents preventing me from accepting any of his cookies when it came to attention that Tod was a much active drug addict. Thus, on the fateful day of the jump through the window, the box rested not in my arms and on my tongue but on the grass, ever so in view.
After this interaction, though not because of it, my parents moved us out of that 850 foot house and into an apartment building about two hours away, where we continued to keep in touch with our grandparents but gained no new information about Tod. His mother was an elderly lady of around seventy years old, Tod being thirty or forty, and her knowledge and consumption of the internet was limited to absolutely nothing.
My grandparents, who lived only a block north of our old place, expected us to call every Sunday afternoon as a family immediately following supper, and of course they would call every now and then to check up on us, especially on my younger siblings, and ask about school and tell funny jokes they’d heard in the paper. I loved hearing my grandpa tell some Garfield jokes over the phone and ask if I remembered the times he’d take me to school and even once or twice pick me up. I remembered every instance fondly. I liked when my grandma would complain about the kids she’d have to ‘babysit’ as a substitute teacher and talk to me in a strange way because I knew what everyone else must be thinking. ‘Oh boy, what a lovely lady!’ Spoken in a sarcastic solitude. And of course, talking to my uncles about sports, if I had seen them, what I thought about the world cup and who I expected to win, if I watched WWE or golf or even college football. It was like I never moved.
One day my grandpa called me while my grandma was out at the temple around an hour away. It was Saturday at noon which meant lunchtime for him. I could hear him eating on the other end as we called, but I didn’t mention it. My grandpa is the nicest man I’ve ever known.
“Hey there, Yousuf.”
“How’s your school going?”
“It’s going pretty good. We’re just getting started on reading a new book about an immigrant from Vietnam.”
“That sounds like an interesting book,” he responded. He had fought in Vietnam as a part of the Navy.
“Yeah. How’ve you been?”
“Oh, well, I’ve been alright. I did wanna ask you something about your neighbors when you lived here.”
“Which ones?” I asked.
“The man and his mother that you lived right next to. The Doyles.”
“What about them?”
“Well, is the man some kind of a zombie?” He laughed.
“I don’t think he’s a zombie,” I said, caught slightly off-guard. “I know my mom and dad say he’s addicted to something.”
“You mean he has some kind of a drinking problem?”
“No, I don’t think he has a drinking problem. I think that it’s drugs he’s addicted to.”
“Oh, I see now,” he said, chuckling. “Do you know his name?”
“Yeah, his name’s Tod.”
“Tod, huh? Well, he sure scared the neighbors and me last night. He must’ve walked up to our block last night with his arms outstretched and talking all silly, and the neighbors across the street from us saw him and asked if he needed help or directions or anything and, well, he just started cursin’ and cursin’.”
“That’s so weird,” I said. “That is like a zombie.”
“I know it. Those neighbor guys sure went back in quick.” He was laughing again, and this time I laughed too.
“Well,” he said, “that’s all I wanted to trouble you for. I’m glad you’re doing well and I hope you continue to do well with your schooling and your duties. And please call me whenever you’d like.”
“Okay, grandpa. I will.”
We said our ‘I love you’s’ and I hung up the phone. The air outside was hot and humid, otherwise I’d go out and play. Calling grandpa always gave me a huge burst of energy. I sat in bed instead, wondering for some time if I would ever see Tod again, and what state he would be in if I did, and I have this to say:
I hope to see Tod again someday, on a day when my parents won’t have to worry about what may be in the box of M&M cookies.
Don’t Eat Raw Meat
He always seemed to be hungry. No three course meals or store bought snacks could make Ruben feel full. The emptiness in his stomach could be borderline painful.
When the dead started rising and eating the living, Ruben didn't really care. He just wanted to eat.
After hiding alone inside his apartment for two weeks, there was no more food. He grabbed his largest kitchen knife and went outside.
His plan was to go to the nearest grocery, take us much as he could then return home. But the store was empty. So was the next store he tried, and the one after that.
After running all day and avoiding zombie attacks, the hunger pain became too much. He slumped into an alley, ready to be torn apart and devoured.
Ruben then noticed the body next to him, previously hidden by the way it's burnt flesh blended into the shadows.
It was someone recently killed, their skin smelling similar to cooking burgers on a charcoal grill. The comparison made his stomach growl.
He looked at knife in his hand then back at the corpse. Ruben shrugged, and crawled towards it. After all, everyone else was doing it.
And the door flew open; pounding against the wall,
And there stood a child,
But wrong something was,
For the child's eyes were white and hazy; a large red mark upon the ear,
And her head tilted at an angle as she stared at the woman standing there,
A step forward for the woman’s step back and chills that flew through the air,
Then the child lunged; there was no reasoning for how fast she flew,
Right at you.
Beyond the End
Sour was the taste on his tongue, devouring the deep as he swallowed flesh.
His mind had degraded long ago. Between the infection that had haunted his arm to the baseball bat that had hit him hard enough to be damaged but not dead, he would never return to the man he once was.
Not that he wanted to return, of course.
The tug of sinew under his fingernails and the most delectable scent of fresh meat were pleasures his addled brain would never surrender. It made his dead tongue itch for a taste he hadn't felt in a long while.
Something in his rotting heart clenched when his remaining eye moved to examine the face of the body he was devouring.
She was a pretty thing, and there was something vaguely familiar about her features. He would have frowned if he still had the muscles to do so. A groan ripped itself out of his throat, and he was hit with the metallic smell of the delectable meal before him once more.
His hunger took over and he began to dig in, feeling eyeballs pop in his mouth and skin tear under his hands.
She was unrecognizable by the time he was done.
The world seemed just a little bit lonelier when he looked up to see an empty street, abandoned and filled with nothing but ghosts. He looked down to see a pair of hideous hands and let himself fall.