***Release Day*** Zombie Rapture by Stuart R. West
The first time is always the best. What they don’t tell you is “the first time may be the last.”
Such is the way the world ends, I suppose. Life is good for Hunter Wright.
He's just about to graduate from high school and hes found true love. Just in time to lose her. Because the Raptures begun and those in his path, living and dead, stand in his way of finding her. And its not the Rapture the faithful have been expecting either. Someone failed to tell the dead they’re not in Heaven.
Heaven on earth sucks and nobody invited Hunter. Someone failed to tell the dead they’re not in Heaven. Heaven on earth is going to kill Hunter.
The sound of chinking glass and voices grew as we neared the dining room. Reserved laughter and party talk. Sprinkled with so many “amens” I thought I’d dropped into a Revival meeting.Two other women sat at the table, their dresses more floral than a greenhouse. Their jaws dropped upon seeing me, the typical reaction I’d been getting. Amidst serving plates piled high with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and bread sat a pair of hedge-clippers - rusty as hell and hardly proper dinnerware.
“Ladies, look who’s decided to join us.” Mrs. Hudson grabbed my shoulders from behind, displaying me like a trophy. Her small bony fingers squeezed with surprising strength. And again, cold. “Little Hunter Wright."
Silence. The two other women blinked at me. Dorothy pursed her lips up in a disappointed teacher’s fashion.
“Um, hi. I’m Hunter.”
A transcendent smile broke over one woman’s face like a rainbow, full of promise. Yet there was something else, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. “I’m so glad you’re joining us.”
Mrs. Hudson nudged me toward a chair. “Sit, Hunter, sit. We’ll be eating as soon as Hughawakens.”
Suddenly I felt as cold as Mrs. Hudson’s fingers. The women, perched on their chairs, stared at me with combined joy and indignation.Hugh.
Mr. Hudson. Surely he’s not a part of this farce?
I didn’t know him well, but he seemed like a no-nonsense type of guy, an old-school farmer. Since the God Squad of old ladies didn’t want to help, I’d ask him for the phone.
“Um, sure, Mrs. Hudson. First, I better go wash.” I waggled my fingers, displaying imaginary dirt. “Where’s your restroom?”
“Of course, Hunter. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, after all. Down the hallway and to the right.”
As I left the dining room, the women’s voices dropped to a whisper, pregnant with importance and hushed secrets. Obviously the topic of conversation involved me. I stopped in thehall and eavesdropped.
“He’s not one of us…”
“Well, we’ll just need to change that…”
“Poor boy…doesn’t know…”
A delirious replay of the events at my house burned through my mind. I had to find Mr. Hudson fast. Fighting off a bunch of old ladies didn’t top my “want-to-do” list.
I bypassed the bathroom. A door stood closed at the end of the hallway. Probably the bedroom; all the farmhouses had similar floor plans. Before I made my move, I listened again. The whispers had stopped. No laughter, no small talk. Unnaturally quiet for a social gathering.
I tapped lightly on the door, possibly too low for a napping man to hear. My hand trembled over the doorknob as I edged the door open.
A small square of moonlight filtered in through an open window. Sudden wind raised the curtain. A figure lay on the bed, uncovered.
“Mr. Hudson?” My voice lowered, little more than a whisper. “Hey, Mr. Hudson?” I shook his denim-clad leg. No response. Fumbling my way through the darkness, I bumped into a small bedside lamp. It wobbled, dancing to the table’s edge. I steadied it and ran my finger up thesleek surface, seeking the switch.
The orange circle of light captured Mr. Hudson. Something mottled the bedspread beneath him, something thick and dark. And wet. That’s when I noticed his grin. Rather, his two grins. His throat had been slit open into a mouth-wide smile, a goatee of dried blood beneath.