by Darren Sant

The crazies came for me that night. Five years after the mushroom clouds, my neighbourhood had turned to shit. You could hear them yelling and hollering at night and if you were stupid enough to walk the streets, then fuck, you were on the menu. I sat smoking my last Marlboro, a trash heap of empty packets littered the corner of the room. I thought of Celia Ann and blew smoke towards the ceiling.

The first one came diving through the window, hair in a pony tail with trademark raven feathers braided in. A chalked face, blackened with charcoal around the eyes, teeth filed to points. I reached for my shotgun.

The creature was on its feet now brushing shards of glass from faded leathers. I fired point blank and watched it fly backward. The light went out in the thing’s mad eyes. I stamped on its face a few times to be sure.

I reloaded and counted my remaining shells. An even dozen and they would have to count. I stowed the shotgun in a sling across my back, picked up my machete and waited. Crazies attacked in packs. I listened. Sure enough, I heard the back door being kicked. Running to the kitchen I saw an arm thrust through the glass pane and reaching for the latch. With a quick swipe the arm was writhing on the floor and my machete was dripping blood. The blood-curdling scream chilled my blood as the now Napoleonic crazy staggered down the garden path.

I took one last drag from my cig, before grinding it under my boot heel. A quick glance verified my worst fears, more crazies were pouring into my yard, smelling fresh meat. I spun around and dashed back to the living room. Too late. Three of them stepped through the gap where the glass had been. The creature in the middle was huge and wore a necklace of human teeth. I backed up a step but they charged. I drew the shotgun and let them have both barrels. My sawn off turned flesh into a fine pink mist. They writhed on the floor screaming. I finished them off with three quick hacks of the machete and then reloaded.

I dashed to the top of the aged staircase: a more defendable position. They’d have to come at me one at a time.

A stunted thing lurched into the hallway. It had a withered arm that swung like a pendulum as it snarled and, spotting me, ran up the stairs. I waited until the last moment before kicking out. My heavy boot connected with its face with a sickening crunch and it flew backward, landing unmoving, at the bottom of the stairs, like some nightmarish baby bird that had fallen from a nest. I dispatched another two with my machete. There were now bodies piling up at the bottom of the stairs.

A group came, their ululating cry shattering the night air. I fired and the first three went down. Quickly reloaded, two more down. The shotgun clicked. A bad shell. I cracked it to reload, but a creature was on me. I fell backwards and its fetid breath hit me as I tried to get it off me. I could tell that it was female and I realised with horror that it was her — Celia Ann, just before she sank her sharpened teeth into my neck.

Darren Sant lives in Hull. His passions are writing, reading and reviewing what he reads. He is one half of the team behind the fiction zine Near To The Knuckle. His fiction has been published by many websites and by Byker Books. At 44 he feels a mid life crisis must surely be just around the corner.

Twitter: @Groovydaz39