I'm pretty excited since a friend of mine read the story and thought it would make a great independent short movie. I'll post updates on that when it happens. Not bad for a story that was a present for a friend. The other nice thing about this is that I can think of several more stories for that universe. I'm not usually a big zombie person but I think this could be a cool side project. Here's the first story:
All he had to do was touch the wall. Just touch the wall and it would be all over. After that he could go home and be safe and sound. It was scary enough to talk about this place, hear the stories and the constant warning from the adults. It was worse to be standing there staring at the darkened building. Sheets of icy rain plastered his hair and clothes to his body. It caused trickles of water to fall down his spine making the shivers worse. He was shaking so hard that his teeth were chattering just as much from the cold as fear.
“You can’t back out now. Don’t be such a baby.”
The boy glanced over his shoulder at his three friends. They were all equally soaked and, though they tried to hide it, equally as scared. At one time the building had been a school, now it was boarded up and abandoned. Even the neighborhood surrounding it had been declared a restricted area. It was going to be demolished soon. Despite that, or maybe because of it, it had been easy to sneak through the fences.
“I’m not backing out…I just…I’m not sure we should do this…”
One of his friends snorted. He was the oldest and the biggest and he was also the one who had dared the boy to touch the wall. “That is backing out.”
The boy took in a deep breath and shook his head before turning back to face the school. He couldn’t back out, wouldn’t back out no matter how much he wanted to. If there was one thing you couldn’t ignore, it was a dare. Only this wasn’t just any dare. This was really dangerous and they all knew it. It was the reason for their safe distance from the school. They were close enough to have a clear view but far enough away that they felt at least a little bit safe.
The boy glanced back at his friends one more time before walking towards the school. Each footstep splashed in the deep puddles all over the pavement. By now his socks were completely wet, the feeling of cold seeping into his entire body. He’d started off walking towards the school with a bit of confidence. As he got nearer he started moving more slowly. Up close you could see more of the decay of the building.
The brick walls were discolored with age and lack of care. Boards were nailed over many of the windows but some had fallen off though others looked brand new. A few of the boards were even splintered from the inside, as if something had been trying to break out. That thought made the boy stop dead in his tracks. What if the stories were true? What if the warnings weren’t just the adults trying to scare the kids into behaving? He’d never believed the stories his Dad used to tell him about how things were before. Stories about why you couldn’t go to certain places. Stories that tried to explain why there were so many rules about after dark, and why you never went beyond the walls that protected the cities.
Behind him the boy could hear his friends’ voices egging him on. They weren’t shouting, they didn’t dare shout here, but their tone carried down to him. He took in another deep breath and started his slow walk closer to the school. The dare was simple, touch a part of the wall then walk away. Then they could all go home and he could stop being teased for being scared of the dark.
The closer the boy got to the school, the quieter it seemed to get. He couldn’t hear his friends behind him, their voices fading into the rain. The rain was all he could hear in his ears, he couldn’t even hear his own heartbeat but felt it hard in his chest. Touch the wall…just touch the wall no more…no less. Simple, extremely simple, no big deal. A musty odor carried through the rain to his nose and he couldn’t help but make a face. Even wet the school smelled old and crumbling, stale dust and something else the boy couldn’t quite identify. It reminded him of a time when he and his friends had found some old animal remains in the park woods, like rotted leather left out in the sun.
He was so close now, a few more steps and he was there. He chose a wall straight across from where his friends stood. A row of windows ran all along this wall. All were boarded up, some only partially and pieces of wood littered the ground beneath them. There were even piles of boards on the lawn of the school and he stepped carefully around them, his shoes squelching into the mud and grass, sticking a bit as he walked. He froze again at the sound of…shuffling.
The boy frowned as he stood there, his posture stilled in midstride. It sounded like something was inside moving around but that couldn’t be. The school was empty and no one was in there, at least that’s what he’d been told. The boy thought of the stories again and the fear made his heart race. It wasn’t possible, there was no such thing. He looked over his shoulder to the small knot of his friends. They were getting colder now and huddling together as they watched him. Waving hand gestures and the stamping of feet caused him to swallow and look back at the school. Suddenly he didn’t want to be there, wished he’d never accepted that stupid dare.
He was close enough that if he reached out he could brush the old brick. One step, then another and he rested his palm against the cold slick wall, just next to one of the windows. The boy went still again, not even breathing as he stood there. Nothing happened. Now he felt silly, the fear dissipated being replaced by an adrenaline induced giddiness that made him smile then a moment later laugh. He turned back to his friends, his hand still against the wall. They were silently cheering him on, then gesturing for him to come back. By then it was too late.
Wood and splinters of glass showered over him, cutting into the skin of his face as arms reached through barricaded window and grabbed at him. A wet, hollow growling and roaring filled his ears as he turned to face the window and screamed. Bodies and faces distorted by decay and rot, pieces of flesh missing and bloody, bones protruding through clothing that were just as rotted as the bodies. He screamed again and they screamed back, fingers tightening on his hand, arm, and shoulder.
With the cracking of wood and bone the boy was pulled through the window. He heard before he felt the wood and glass gouging into his skin, his shoulder popping from its socket. He screamed as they dragged him to the floor and faintly in the distance he heard other screams, those of his friends. He was still screaming as they all fell upon him. The last thing he felt was the pain of teeth and fingers as they tore into his flesh. It was a long time before everything went mercifully black.