Long Haired Zombie-Killing Freak #11

With my shirt tied to the back of my motorcycle, I hopped on, kickstarted the monster and headed down Wilson Boulevard to do my business.

I saw what I expected to see as I went along: broken windows, bloodstains, and the signs of people who were moving about in a hurry. The Metro station at Clarendon was a minefield of broken glass, and restaurants that weren’t in business anymore. Hell, from the look of things, they’d been looted down to the furniture.

How silly is that? If you don’t have electricity to refrigerate your ill-gotten food, you and your people get one day of serious feasting… and nasty food poisoning the next.

The exception to that, of course, are canned goods and shelf-stable staples. I’d done my own share of looting in that department, as well as taking it in barter, and for blood-soaked services. My personal stash, locked up in Marvin’s basement, was pretty extensive—God knows, it needed to be!

All reminiscing aside, the drive down to the apartment building was pretty quick and completely uneventful. I stopped about two blocks away and took a good look around for potential places to settle in. There were tons of options, including the wreckage of my former-favorite steakhouse, right across the street.

Ultimately, I decided to make a pilgrimage to the restaurant and use it for my observation post. There was enough crap around that I could hide myself and my bike without a lot of effort, and reasonably expect to not be bothered…unless they saw me arrive.

No one appeared to confront me, so I went across the street, rolled the motorcycle behind the wreckage of the bar, and checked my shirt. It wasn’t dry. I let it be.

There were still a few chairs strewn about, including a gently water damaged leather armchair. In my humble opinion, stakeouts should be as comfortable as possible, so I pulled it over and sat down. It didn’t make any squishing noises when my ass landed on the cushion, and that was more than enough reason to smile.

A few minutes later, I decided I could get a better view if I shifted closer to the broken windows. I moved, and started to watch in earnest.

I could see the dumpster that Miss Malley had mentioned, just beyond the decorative wall that ringed seventy-five percent of the property. Some time ago, the section near the dumpster was as white as the rest of the wall, but not anymore. That day, it was the color of dried blood, spread about in Rorschach blots and Pollock spatters.

Some of the blood on the cement glistened, which meant it was probably still wet. My target, or someone like him, had recently made a kill there.

The clue brick descended from heaven, and landed on the peak of my skull.

Louise Malley never said what the zombie did with his victims. Based on circumstantial evidence, my guy brought his dinner home. It was possible he didn’t dispose of his victims at all. If that were the case, the people he attacked and killed revived nearby.

Then again, the recently re-animated were probably less than thrilled at running into the dude who killed them so soon after the event. It didn’t leave many options. Either they left, before or after trying to kill him, or they stuck around.

It didn’t matter which was the case; both possibilities led me to the same conclusion. There was a non-zero chance that my target had reinforcements/friends/cohorts/insane, munching pals. That could make my hit (let’s call it what it is, shall we?) a little dirtier than I usually prefer.

Maybe Marvin had a point about the situation, and my client? I suppose I might have been distracted by the pale canyon between her pectoral dim sum, and failed to be effectively cynical about her request.

“Hello, Frank? This is your libido speaking.”

“Yes. What?”

“Well, Señor Quixote and the Panza twins are feeling under-utilized. As their duly appointed representative in these negotiations, I would like to point out that getting laid could help your attention span dramatically… in situations where female clients are involved.”

“Excuse me, but are you telling me that my junk has joined some kind of organized labor union?”

My libido didn’t have anything else to say after that exchange. Sure, I’d been lax in securing warm companionship over the past… more than a year… Shit. I supposed I’d been paying more attention to staying alive and killing reanimated, formerly dead, people.

There wasn’t anything to be done for it right then, so I turned my train of thought back to more practical matters. Does my target have buddies? My angst obliged me by returning, louder than before, so I crossed my legs, gripped the arms of the chair, and waited for something to happen.

After what felt like an eternity, my stomach growled, and my target made an appearance across the street, all at the same time.

www.bloodsoakedandwriting.com  twitter: @crawford4033

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Kids on a Rope

Breathers can be a judgmental lot. Personally, I don’t get it. Take it from someone with personal experience; we all look the same when the worms are having Thanksgiving.

And I realize the irony of my making a judgment call about how judgy people judge others, but what I judge is that my judgment ow my brain.

Anyway, what’s the big deal with toddler leashes? I understand judging other parents for safety issues—smoking, seat belts, feeding the kids road kill because that jogger was a lot faster than he looked—but why judge someone for putting their kid on a leash in public?

One argument I’ve heard is that they’re humiliating. Zombie, please. We’re talking about a class of people that picks its nose in church. My kids used to pick each others noses and eat them at that age. (After fishing my daughter’s nose out of my son’s mouth for the third time, I got a little smarter about packing snacks for the road.) Don’t tell me that a kid who digs around in his orifices whenever he gets bored is going to even notice a nylon strap.

Another argument is that kids kept on leashes will never learn how to listen and stay close to parents in public. Again: ZOMBIE, PLEASE. I think the kid would be more inclined to stay close if he didn’t have to grip a sweaty, clammy, rotting hand or sit strapped into a stroller the whole time he’s out. Making a kid hold your hand is all well and good for a quick walk across the street, but extended hand-holding can lead to defiance, struggling, and in my younger son’s case, shambling off through a crowded mall, leaving his fat little fist still clenched in mine.
I loved the leash for my kids. Having a visible radius to avoid made it easier on the breathers around me, too. I was able to enjoy my kids’ presence more, since I was able to take my eyes off them long enough to actually shop and relax, and my fellow shoppers knew exactly how far away to stand to avoid a sudden lunge.

Every so often I still forget to pack snacks.

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Long Haired Zombie-Killing Freak #10

It always occurs to me, after little scuffles like these, that I’d be dead or dying if they hadn’t lifted Martial Law. The police and military had no use, or mercy, for vigilante justice of any kind. It didn’t matter if you were killing the resurrected dead, or your grannie, the authorities would put you down like a dog—actually, with more speed, and less mercy, than they would euthanize an animal—for breaking the law.

As it was, I had a small audience clustered around my motorcycle when I hobbled back.

“Dude, that was some fucking spectacular work!” One random guy said, and clapped me, hard, on the shoulder. Because I didn’t kill him instantly, everyone else took it as permission to do the same.

Have you ever felt like a ping-pong ball?

“Hey! Good job, really!” Swat!

Look! Here I go, back over the net! Hooray!

“Damned fine shot, son. Damned fine.” Punch to the arm!

Woo! Over the net!

“God! That was so hot!” Clutched to a massive, sweaty bosom.

Shit! That’s the table top…but softer and smellier.

“People!” I pulled out of the embrace of piggies. (I knew they were piggies, because I could see their noses through the front of her shirt—pink and everything.) “I just got beat up, and I’ve got two kinds of puke on me!”

The micro-throng stepped backward in unison.

I turned back to piggy-chest lady, and gave her a particularly prickly version of the evil eye.

“You, honey, just hugged a man coated in vomit. What? You couldn’t smell me?” I got up in her grill and allowed my vapors to waft across her olfactory intake ports. “Hey? Can you smell me now?”

Her eyes started to tear up, and I should have run away. This is what they call “20-20 hindsight”. She gave me her answer, but it wasn’t in English. As far as I’ve ever been able to research, “Huuarrgggaaaa-sploosh,” isn’t in the dictionary.

My adoring fans fled, leaving me bruised, sore, and covered in a brand new coat of bile.

“Serves me right.” I blinked and looked around. “There’s a fountain around here somewhere.”

Across the road, I found exactly what I was looking for: a decorative water feature that still worked. God knows, I’d rather be soaking wet than looking like a walking ad for Jackson Pollock. I walked the bike over, and attended to improving my overall hygiene.

The first thing I did was wash off my sword. A good carbon steel blade shouldn’t be exposed to bodily fluids, oils, or acids for any length of time. The sword I carried that day was forged out of L-6 steel by a friend of mine in Fairfax. L-6 is a saw blade steel, and it will corrode and turn funny colors if you look at it askance.

On the bright side, that steel also holds an insane edge, and can be tempered in such a way that it will survive being bent 90 degrees and flex back with no damage.

I laid the blade to the side, beside the scabbard, and added my .45 to the still life of dangerous tools. I took off my shirt, threw it in the water, and dunked myself into the cold, slightly brackish, water.

Calling it cold was something of an understatement. My nipples crinkled up like kettle-cooked potato chips, and I squealed into the dark water. Needless to say, I washed off as fast as humanly possible, and attended to my shirt with the same manic speed.

When I was done, I sat on the concrete lip of the fountain and wrung out my shirt. The sun would take care of drying my hair, and the wet shirt would dry by doing an impersonation of a pennant, flying off the back of my bike. I guessed it would be almost moisture free if I drove fast enough.

I wiped the sword off on a clean patch of my pants, and slid it back home into the wooden, brass-bound, sheath. My swordmaker, Scott Lewis, was practical. He didn’t have the facilities to make a fiberglass saya (the correct term for a Japanese sword scabbard), so he used rock maple, and bound it in brass bands. It was fucking gorgeous, and it hit like a professional baseball bat. Ask me how I know.

I massaged my chest to bring back some of the warmth, once the sword was at rest. My nipples had ripples, and that couldn’t be tolerated.

-James Crawford

@crawford4033

Smashwords Amazon

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Look! Up In The Sky! – Part One

One of the better visual effects in our short Blobageddon, is the meteor hurtling though the sky at the beginning of the film.  Early on, when John and I were specing out the film we wanted to introduce the blob by having a shooting star streak across the night sky.  We even went so far as to take our cameras out on nights with a full moon and take pictures of the night sky in anticipation of using one of them as the background for a cool special effect.

Night Sky

The original meteor background

One of the reasons we enjoy trying to add special effects to our films, is that given the cheapness of all the rest of our production values, we’ve found that having an unexpected digital effect occur on the screen makes for some pretty cool WTF moments.  We found this the first time we tried it in First Aid For Zombies in which we had our victim (played by our friend Jim) get hit by a car.  John read some articles on the internet and since we had an evaluation copy of After Effects we decided to go for it.  What we ended up with is a 3 second clip in which Jim appears to get knocked off the screen in a very Monty Pythonesque effect.

Jim Gets Hit

Whap!

But I digress.  As the project began moving along, we encountered our first big hurdle.  We realized that shooting at night would require a lot of lighting and a crew that we didn’t have.  Our friend Baxter Guilfoyle had offered to help out one afternoon, and well that was the lighting we were going to get.  It was beneath even us to shoot a film in daylight hours and then show a meteor streaking across a night sky.

An interesting side note – the afternoon that we shot the sequences with Baxter, John and I, that was also our crew.  Most of the shots where all three of us were in frame consisted of Baxter and I getting ready off camera, while John framed everything up, pressed record and then ran to join us for the scene.

Sanj, John, Baxter

Larry, Curly and Moe

We got a great shot of Baxter pointing up at the sky saying “What’s that?” and the rest of our planned sequences shot and decided to wrap things up with some martinis.  We figured we’d follow up “What’s that?” with a shot of the meteor.

What's That?

After John and Baxter left, it was starting to get dark.  I suddenly remembered that we needed a shot of the sky that would match the light we shot all the other scenes in (this is another reason you should always have a shot sheet when filming).  I frantically dug out my digital camera, and took some photos of the sky through the trees in my front yard, figuring something had to come out.

Sky Shot

Right before all Hell breaks loose!

In the next part, I’ll discuss how we managed to take the empty, dull picture above and breathe some life into it by adding a digitally created meteor and the right sound effects.

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Long Haired Zombie-Killing Freak #9

“Fuck you, asshole!” His breath was awful!

Unsurprisingly, he swung again. This time it was a side-to-side strike, rather than an overhead attack. Fine.

I studied a number of martial arts from childhood into my awkward college years. One of my loves was Aiki-Ken—the use of Nihonto (Japanese swords) combined with the techniques and methodology of Aikido. To sum up the art, it is inflicting insane amounts of damage to your opponent while they do most of the work for you.

My blade came free of the scabbard as I blended into his swing. I ended up beside him, cutting upwards, as his arm came into the arc of my blade. Most of his forearm, including the baton, dropped to the ground as his stump sprayed me with cool, thick, zombie blood, as it passed by.

I continued my natural motion, and brought the blade back down through his skull.  When I pulled the blade free, his knees bent, and he came to rest in a kneeling position. Overjoyed at the perfection of the moment, I allowed the motion of pulling the sword out to reset my feet for a third strike.

I beheaded him. The halves of his head fell to the ground only a moment before his body collapsed into a twitching heap.

He didn’t even have time to scream.

The second zombie noticed how efficiently I de-animated his chum, and launched himself across the grass. He hit me like a ton of bricks, completely ignoring the razor-sharp blade between us, and drove me to the ground.

I got a face-full of screaming, bloody, former IT-geek, and the pommel of my sword in my stomach. He vomited sticky blood in my face while I threw up my squirrel stew.

Unfortunately for me, gravity left me holding the whole awful mess… including his writhing, angry ass, skewered on my sword. I thanked God when he fell over to one side and his weight wasn’t centered on a 1.25” long point in the middle of my abdomen.

This one hadn’t been revived long. A zombie who’d been around the block longer wouldn’t give physical damage much attention, unless it was a critical injury. This guy pawed at the sword blade, even more pale than normal for a reanimated dead person, and made useless noises.

“Sucks, doesn’t it?” I asked him, spitting blood and vomit out of my mouth.

“It… it hurts!”

“I’m sure.” I spat again. “I’m sure it does.”

“Why?”

I looked at this sad excuse for a walking dead man with a combination of surprise, horror, and pity. We were fighting for the continuance of our individual lives: it was hardly the time for philosophical discussions.

While he waited for an answer, I drew my .45 pistol, and blew his brains across the grass.

A few moments afterward, I managed to get to my knees. My abdomen hurt like hell, and I must have looked like shit—I could tell I smelled like shit. I put my gun back in the holster, and drew my blade from the body beside me.

“He who pulls the sword from the zombie shall be king of all the Croutons.” I would have chuckled at myself, but my tummy hurt.

Once the blade was wiped off, I resheathed it, and looked across the way at the person I’d been trying to save from being eaten by zombies. Most of his head was gone… it looked like the bullet I’d fired didn’t stop after making my opponent’s head go “poof”… it just changed direction.

Sad.

It didn’t keep me down for long, because in that case, it answered my moral problem. I didn’t have to worry about decapitating the victim before he could return from the dead, or try to keep him alive long enough to delay the process. I was, and am still, unsure what the compassionate thing to do is in that situation.

An infectee didn’t have much “quality of life” if they survived an attack. Eventually, one of two things would happen: they’d be attacked again, and die; or they’d die from natural causes at some point in the fullness of time. If no one found the body to cremate it, the person would reanimate, start hunting for food, and bother people like me.

I guess, in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter. It was just something that kept me up at night, thinking, since I didn’t have the internet to lull me to sleep anymore.

(Find me on Twitter @crawford4033, or on my blog. Thanks! -J.)

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