Underlying Corruption

Underlying Corruption

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Underlying Corruption

Long shadows meandered through the darkened house, lightning strobing their actions on the walls. Jeremy stood in the dark kitchen, holding a small emergency candle and a box of matches. Barefoot in jeans, and an unbuttoned flannel, his relaxed look belied his state of mind. The sights and sounds of the night made him pause.

Holding stalk still, he listened intently, hoping for the sounds to be the dog or maybe some farm animals. The noises that greeted him were nothing of the sort. The wind and rain made the trees creek and the windows rattle.

Moving through the old house, Jeremy tripped over assorted furniture, trying to navigate in the random illumination. The electricity had gone out a couple of minutes before, leaving only the lightning to help Jeremy find the kitchen.

Outside, the wind was hammering at the windows. Soft grass crumpled under foreign, unliving feet. Around the house, the creators of those shadows moved slowly past the windows.

Jeremy finally got the candle lit and headed toward the silverware drawer. The wandering flame of the candle painted more eerie shadows on the kitchen walls. Grabbing a hand full of knives, he selected the largest, and armed himself.

Slow feet trudged along the cracked sidewalk, outside. A torn pantleg dragged behind, snagging the bushes. The smell of wet concrete mixed with noxious odors.

Another strange shadow passed the kitchen window. Jeremy caught only the tail end of it in a random flash of lightning. Tightening his grip on the knife, he stood listening. The sounds that came were not encouraging.

As the pale, torn hand snatched at the screen door handle, a ragged foot slapped flatly on the first step, outside. Pieces of insect-eaten flesh hung lifelessly. A bony finger slowly groped for the screen door button. The dull white bone scratched along the black metal.

Inside, the sound echoed in the heavy silence. Jeremy froze, then turned toward the door. A low groan rose up in his throat as terror wrapped its icy fingers around his heart. Another strobe of lightning silhouetted a dark figure in the doorway.

Jeremy stared at the door for a second, then ran to the master bedroom, down the hall. Knife in hand, he rounded the corner and into the room. Throwing open the closet door, he dove in. Nervously, yet trying to be extremely quiet, he rifled through the closet.

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Finally lighting upon his treasure, he grabbed the large .45 caliber pistol, used for target practice at the town dump.

"Bullets, bullets, bullets, " Jeremy stammered. His hands shook with fear.

In the hallway, noises of crashing objects and slow shuffling, became louder. A low growl was emanating, just beyond the bedroom door.

Fumbling fingers found the box of bullets. Searching for light to read the bullet type, he looked into the hall, as another strobe of lightning hit. In the foreground, the bullet read ".45 cal. BLACK TALONS," in the foreground. In the background, a grotesque face grinned at him.

The clipped snapped easily into the pistol.

"Back off!" Jeremy shouted. The figure kept grinning as it came through the door and shuffled closer.

"I'm warning you, " Jeremy shouted, his voice shaking.

The figure smiled openly, green and red drool cascading down its chin. Terror gave way to clarity, as Jeremy fingered the trigger.

"Too late, " he whispered.

The gun recoiled, as the bullet ripped forward and carved a hole in the intruder's chest. The loud retort of the silver pistol rang in Jeremy's ears.

The bullet exited easily out of the back of the intruder. To Jeremy's horror, the figure kept coming. The grin wouldn't die. He fired again, a bit higher.

The shot splattered everything from rotting grey matter to cranial bits on the opposite wall. With that the intruder stopped. The thing fell to its knees, then out upon what remained of its chest. Gore covered the bedroom floor.

Falling back against the closet, Jeremy breathed out hard. He stood, staring at the thing for a moment. Being seventeen and a senior in high school was bad enough, but that thing on the floor really took the cake. Looking over into the closet, he spotted another weapon of mass destruction. A large double-barreled shotgun sat propped up in a corner. He snatched it up and dug his way through the mess of the closet to find shells.

"Thank god for paranoid parents," Jeremy thought to himself.

New noises sprung up in the living room, signaling the arrival of more intruders. Jeremy loaded the shotgun quickly and stooped in front of the headless figure before him. Its extremities looked as if some animal had already had their way with them. Tiny insects moved about in its clothing.

Jeremy looked away in disgust, stood and exited the dark bedroom. In the black living room, shapes moved and intertwined with the huge shadows. A string of lightning strobes flashed in an awkward tandem with the explosions from the shotgun. It kicked hard in Jeremy's trembling hands, but felt good. As his guest fell to pieces, the fear turned to an adrenaline rush. Groans and animalistic grunts came from everywhere, as the ghouls searched for Jeremy.

Making his way to the phone, he kept firing. Snatching up the receiver, he pressed it to his ear with his left hand. Dead silence echoed back at him. With another blast, the living room also echoed silence. The smell of sulfur hung in the air. Another stench that mimicked age-old sweat socks, rose up from the gore that covered the floor.

Jeremy stood still, holding his breath, waiting and listening. His ears rung from the blasts. All the excitement had his heart racing at the speed of light. With no other responses, a wide smile spread across his thin face.

"Ha, " he laughed, as he went back to the closet for more bullets.

Holding the gun tight, he felt better. Though he still couldn't wrap his mind around the events that just happened, the gun reassured him.

Within a few minutes, Jeremy found three more boxes of shells and more clips for the pistol. No more visitors had showed, but he was sure that others were out there.

Standing up in the dark living room, his black boots crushed the shag carpet. Behind his back, in his waistband, he packed the .45 pistol. He wore a blue T-shirt, over which hung a faded, oversized flannel. Slung over his shoulder was the shotgun. He carried a black back pack, full of matches, first-aid, and other provisions.

He threw the pack over the other shoulder and headed out the front door. As he walked to the gate, he took a coin from his pocket, and flipped it into the air. Heads, he went north, into town. Tails, he went south.

As he followed the spinning coin with his gaze, a flash of light reflected in his neighbor's house, just up the road to the north. Jeremy rushed through the gate and ran in that direction.

Behind him, the coin bounced on the ground and spun. It finally stopped on tails. South.
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