Working on revisions today as I tackle my second novel, Zombie Road. This one is loosely based on an urban legend in west St. Louis county. The guys here–Chris and Kevin find themselves near an abandoned river village on a dare from their group “leader,” Jason. Bear in mind, to that this is set in 1984, but I think it reads as if it could be set in any time period. As always, comments and feedback welcomed!
Chris began walking, quickly at first, through the bushes and down a well-worn earthen trail as Kevin considered his options. The smell of the river wafted through his nose—wet rocks, slick mud, foamy river weed. The wind hollowed through the trees, rustling leaves, snapping branches. It was eerily quiet and empty. They crossed a small creek, jumping over with reckless abandon. Kevin stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jacket, but still felt a chill that made him hunch his shoulders.
In the late afternoon light, faint, stony outlines, solid and eternal stones rose from the leaf piles along the side of the trail. They appeared abandoned; an oversight.
“Hey!” Kevin stopped. “You see that?” he called to Chris.
“What is it?” he slowed, kicking forest debris with his shoes. What the…” Trees filled the area in staggering numbers. The soil was rocky. Who would choose this as a final resting place? The trunks were thick and gnarled, and in many cases gown into the graves themselves, knocking them loose, tilting them to the sides like rotten, moss-covered teeth. Kevin’s body was racked with a sudden dizzying tremble.
Chris knelt down, brushed the leaves out of the way with a calloused hand—even at eighteen. “They’re old graves.”
Tampering with an old burial site made Kevin squeamish, superstitious in a way he couldn’t describe. “Maybe we should leave it alone.”
The sounds of the river raking over the shallow areas sent a chill up his spine. He didn’t want to be there. The sun slanted through the trees casting an ominous glow about the area. His head throbbed as he remembered their earlier experiences from that fall night. Kevin winced and rubbed his temples.
Ten feet away, Chris leaned over a pile of brush. “Hey! Check this out.” Kevin shuffled over, his feet dragging, his face turned towards the off-road area the car was parked. The clouds rolled in, closer. Darker. He wanted to get home.
As he approached Chris, his eyes landed on the hairless body of a small unborn animal—a deer fetus probably, maybe a coyote, still in the sac. Its spindle legs were folded onto itself. Its eyes were shut, translucent lids that were never going to open, ears flat against its skull, a map of blue veins threading just below the skin. Like that fetal pig in biology.
Kevin’s stomach lurched, the taste of bile filled his mouth. He swallowed.
“Momma deer’s gotta be nearby,” Chris said, poking at it with a stick.
“Yeah,” Kevin averted his eyes, “Bloody, dazed, and wounded,” he stiffened, looked around. “We gotta go. It’s getting dark.”
“Right,” Chris dropped the stick and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Guess Jason’s not showing.”
Kevin knew he wouldn’t. It was a dare to come back. For all he knew, Jason left the dead animal there as prank. Within hours, he knew vultures would shriek the night sky, swoop down and pluck at the remains. The thing would be gone. As if it never existed.
[this is an original work of fiction. Please do not copy, share, or submit as your own work. Thank you]