Check it out, yo! It’s Halloween! Again!

In years past, I’ve posted a new story that I hope is at least somewhat suitable for the evening. Due to other stuff going on, I wasn’t able to write something for last year, but I think I’m kind of back in the saddle this time around.

Be advised that the story contains strong language.

And with the preliminaries out of the way…….

Dayton Ward

Continue reading ““Transcript””

“Private Party”

Hey, it’s Halloween!

The previous three years, I’ve offered what I hope is something of a suitably-themed story for the evening. As it’s now something of a tradition, here we go again this year!

The first two years, I presented the story as a “live-Tweetathon,” one 140-byte chunk at a time, for however long it took to lay out the whole tale. The third year, I wasn’t home during the evening, so I just posted it here. Even though the family and I once again will be away from the Manor during the appointed time, I’m posting this here for your (hopeful) enjoyment.

This one is definitely not like the stuff I usually write, and a full explanation of the whats, whys, and what nexts is included after the story. Hopefuly, I won’t bore the shit out of you before you make it that far.

So, without further ado….

(Please be advised that the story contains strong language and a depiction of semi-sorta-kinda graphic violence.)

Private Party

Dayton Ward

“I think I’m in love.”

Despite the heavy rock soundtrack blaring through the main lounge at the Whispers Gentlemen’s Club, Dauphine still heard the words spoken by the man sitting at the edge of the stage. Looking in his direction, she saw him smiling back at her, eyes wide with appreciation, or was it lust? A bit of both, Dauphine guessed. His behavior was not at all uncommon for men watching her dance, but setting him apart from the other patrons was his open admiration of her while sitting next to an attractive brunette woman. Her left arm was nestled in the crook of his right elbow, her hand obviously resting in his lap even as she watched Dauphine on stage. Like her male companion, her own expression conveyed more than a hint of allure.

She might prove entertaining.

In keeping with the Whispers Halloween theme and like other female patrons in attendance, the woman was dressed in a form-fitting black body suit which covered far too much skin while still leaving little of her lithe form to Dauphine’s imagination. A black mask covering her eyes, small black ears on top of her head and the fake whiskers completed her ensemble. She had participated in—and won—the costume contest held earlier on stage, affording Dauphine ample opportunity to contemplate with open interest her slim, athletic physique. The woman seemed not at all put off by the wanton scrutiny cast in her direction, and they even had exchanged smiles.

Yes. Entertaining, indeed.

As for her companion, he had opted for a white 1970s leisure suit with a maroon silk shirt open almost to his navel to expose a thick gold chain and a tanned, muscled chest. His blonde hair was slicked back and held in place with some kind of gel giving it the appearance of being wet. Though he dressed the part, Dauphine had already determined that his own dancing skills were more than a bit lacking.

Not that it matters. He’ll do.

“So, you’re saying you like her?” the woman asked, turning to him, and he nodded.

“She’s incredible,” he said, his eyes never straying as Dauphine continued to dance before them, clad only in her tiny black G-string. She guessed the couple to be in their mid to late thirties, likely married and perhaps even to each other if the gold band on the man’s left ring finger was to be believed. Were they here looking to inject a bit of excitement into a long-term relationship which had grown stale? Dauphine thought she could help with that, at least until it was their turn to help her.

Spinning away from them to face the stage’s mirrored back wall, she appraised their reflection as she continued to dance. They appeared fit for their age, and she decided they would do quite nicely. Dauphine felt the initial heat of yearning and hunger welling up within her, and she channeled that new energy into her dancing. It had been some time since her last feeding, the possibilities presented by the club being less than ideal. Still, there was a measure of consistency she had not enjoyed during the three years which had passed since her Turning.

The vampire who had taken her blood and her mortality had guided her in the beginning, only to disappear without explanation. Left with few options, Dauphine eventually had found her way to Whispers and the manager all too eager to hire her on the spot. That spot had been the couch in his office, but she had fed from him before making certain to wipe his memory of the “interview.” Dancing here allowed sufficient freedom to examine a potential feeding source, almost always under the guise of providing a private performance or some other service in the club’s VIP area. Effort was required to secure a victim not riddled with drugs or disease, of course, which disqualified a sizable number of the establishment’s regular clientele.

These two, however, looked to be perfect. That they offered the promise of other outlets before she took them was a welcome additional benefit.

Dauphine placed her hands on the mirrored wall, increasing her gyrations in time with the music. It was a rock ballad, and she ground her hips along with its heavy drum beat. She could see the man’s face in the mirror, mesmerized by her movements as he watched her from behind. Dauphine could almost smell his desire even from here. He swallowed a lump in his throat, and she saw the vein along his neck. How would it taste? She could almost feel its warmth coursing over her lips.

Continuing her dance as the song reached its midpoint and the obligatory guitar solo, she arched her back and thrust out her ass, watching the man’s eyes track her every movement. They remained fixed on her even as he sipped his drink before reaching up to let a ten dollar bill fall from his other hand, where it joined the assortment of crumpled, sweat-damp bills on the raised stage. Already, he was all but under her spell. Taking him would be so easy.

She turned from the mirror, offering a smile and nodding in appreciation. Behind him, other patrons were directing their attention to her, drawn away from the two dancers working the smaller stages to either side of her. Dauphine caught the girls’ looks of disapproval, the first true emotions they had displayed since beginning their own performances, rather than the usual assortment of unfocused, detached expressions they often provided their audience. She cared for none of that, so focused was she on her newfound prey. The man’s eyes widened along with his smile as she strutted forward, arms over her head and giving him an unfettered view of her body. Dauphine drew closer as the song was coming to an end, reaching for the band of her G-string and running her fingers beneath it and before she pulled the miniscule garment away from her hip. He gasped, and his female companion leaned into him, whispering into his ear inaudible to everyone around them except for Dauphine.

“Oh, she’s into you, all right. Or, your wallet, at least.”


Scattered applause greeted the end of the rock ballad. After collecting the few bills thrown to them during their performances, the dancers on the other stages made their way without delay to the curtain at the front of the room which—along with Justin, the head of the Whispers security staff—guarded the entrance to the dancers’ dressing room. Over the speakers, the announcer was informing the audience of another Halloween-themed contest about to begin, though Dauphine ignored it, and neither did she leave. Instead, she dropped to her knees on the stage before the couple, her eyes never leaving the man’s as she leaned forward until mere inches separated them. She saw him shiver despite the club’s warm, stagnant air, and sensed his increasing need. His woman’s was noticeable, as well, though she also was more guarded. It was an understandable, if futile, response.

“Thank you,” Dauphine replied, smiling again before introducing herself.

The man nodded. “I’m Daniel.” Gesturing to his companion, he added, “This is my wife, Michelle.”

“Nice to meet you,” Dauphine said, holding Michelle’s gaze for an extra moment. There was a strength behind the woman’s eyes that only served to enhance her appeal.

Michelle gestured toward the stage behind them, where another dancer already was beginning her routine as a new, slower song piped through the club’s sound system. “You’re different from the other girls. They’re not into it like you are.”

“You like that?” Dauphine asked.

Offering his own knowing smile, Daniel winked. “She likes that you’re into it.”

The beats of their hearts and the rush of the blood in their veins pounded in her ears as Dauphine’s hunger mounted. Her gaze shifting between Michelle and Daniel, she asked, “What else do you like?”

Michelle leaned closer. “How about something a bit more private?”


Now dressed in a filmy black robe that did little to cover her and still sensing Daniel’s eyes on her ass, Dauphine guided him and Michelle down the narrow hall leading from Whispers’ main room. Six doors were set into either side of the corridor in alternating fashion, each leading to one of the club’s VIP lounges. A seventh door at the end of the passageway faced her, beyond which was her own private suite.

“Here we are,” she said, looking over her shoulder as she opened the door. No key was required, as access to the hallway was all but impossible for anyone who was not in the company of a dancer. Stepping to one side, she gestured for Daniel and Michelle to enter the suite, reaching out to stroke Daniel’s arm as he walked past. His bicep tensed beneath the thin material of his white jacket, reacting to her touch, and she heard his small yet sharp intake of breath.


She followed them into the room and closed the door behind her, the soundproof walls shutting out the ambient noise from the rest of the club. The suite’s front room was appointed for entertaining guests, furnished with two overstuffed leather recliners and a matching wide, curving couch. Lamps sitting atop end tables provided gentle illumination. A widescreen television was mounted on the wall opposite the couch, and a stocked bar was situated in the room’s far corner.

“Fix yourself a drink, if you like,” Dauphine offered, gesturing to the bar.

Daniel smiled. “I’m fine, for now,” he said, dropping onto the couch.

“Me, too,” Michelle added, taking a seat in one of the recliners and resting her purse in her lap. “So, now what?”

“What would you like?” Dauphine asked. Reaching for the wall panel near the door, she dimmed the lights even further before keying the suite’s own sound system. Soft music filtered into the room as she eyed Daniel, and she crossed the room toward him. She reached up to play at the folds of her robe, her fingers teasing her skin. Daniel’s scent was intoxicating, his heat palpable. There was no mistaking the lust in his eyes as he watched her every movement, and he even licked his lips in anticipation.

Leaning back in the recliner, Michelle waved toward Daniel. “Right now, I just want to watch.” She reached for the zipper at the front of her bodysuit and drew it down almost to her waist, revealing the lack of any bra. Her skin was tan, a stark contrast to Dauphine’s own pale complexion. A small gold cross hung from a chain around her neck, resting between her breasts.

“I like the way you think,” Dauphine said, untying her robe and allowing the garment to fall from her shoulders. Nude once again save for her G-string, she turned back to Daniel and climbed onto the couch, straddling his thighs. Placing her hands on his shoulders, she said nothing but instead just stared into his eyes as she began to rock against him in rhythm to the music. His mouth went slack and his gaze softened, and she felt his evident desire against her.

“You’re beautiful,” Daniel said, his words barely a whisper.

She reached up to stroke the sides of his face, already smelling his blood. Leaning forward, she flicked her tongue against the side of his neck, feeling the pulse of the vein there. Reaching through his open shirt, she let her fingers explore his chest. His breathing had grown rapid and shallow, his arms resting useless at his sides. He was hers, now, and while her hunger called out for attention, Dauphine resisted the urge to feed. Should she take him first, or the woman? Closing her eyes as she licked his neck and let her teeth scrape against his skin, she almost surrendered to the craving. It would be so easy, but where was the pleasure in that? There would be time, later.

Movement behind her made her open her eyes, and she saw shadows dancing on the wall over Daniel’s head. She turned to see Michelle standing within arm’s reach, her bodysuit still open to reveal her bare breasts and the small gold cross dangling between them. Her smile was grim, possessing no warmth, and something silver flashed in her hand.

“Trick or treat, bitch.”


Michelle lunged forward, thrusting her right arm at Dauphine and triggering the spring-loaded spike. Its solid silver tip exploded from the spike’s housing, doubling the weapon’s length as it locked into position at the precise instant Michelle rammed it through the vampire’s back.

The reaction was immediate as the spike pierced Dauphine’s heart, and her body jerked from the shock of the violent attack. Her scream made Michelle flinch but she retained her grip on the spike and pressed it farther into her prey’s heart. Dark blood spurted forth as the weapon’s tip pushed through the muscle and skin of the vampire’s chest, staining the all but catatonic Daniel’s white suit. Another gurgling cry of pain escaped Dauphine’s lips, the last sound she made before her body collapsed into a cloud of ash. The echo of her final anguished protest rang in Michelle’s ears as the gray-black dust which was all that remained of the vampire dispersed in a cloud that settled down upon her and Daniel.

“Holy shit,” Michelle hissed, scowling as some of the dust made its way into her mouth and nose. “Damn, but I fucking hate vampires.” She tried wiping the residue from her tongue onto her sleeve, but the foul taste remained, and she was gripped by the need to sneeze. Doing that twice seemed to snap Daniel out of his stupor.

Still on the couch, he blinked and shook his head as though to clear away whatever mental fog Dauphine had inflicted upon him. Clearing his throat, he asked, “What the hell happened? Is it over?” He looked down at himself, his expression turning to disgust as he beheld the gray film covering his clothes. Even the initial blood spray had turned to dust in the wake of Dauphine’s dissolution. “Shit! You know this was a rental.”

“They’ll reimburse us,” Michelle countered, staring at the spike in her hand. There was no blood along its silver length; only more of the same light gray film obscuring the weapon’s polished finish. She had seen the effects of execution before, of course, but only as an apprentice. Dauphine was her first solo kill.

“I guess you got her,” Daniel said, sarcasm lacing every syllable as he brushed at his clothes.

Michelle grunted as she zipped up her bodysuit. “Yeah. We need to report in.” She reached for her purse and retrieved her phone. Standard protocol required all field hunters to contact their superiors upon the successful completion of a disposal. Given that this was her and Daniel’s first unsupervised assignment since being promoted to active status, she had no intention of overlooking the smallest detail.

“How close was it?” Daniel asked, pulling himself from the couch and reaching up to wipe ash from his face.

Michelle divided her attention between him and the text message she was typing. “Pretty close. You sure you want the whole story?”

“Not really,” Daniel replied. “I can’t believe you let her zap me like that.”

Finalizing her message, Michelle hit the Send key. “It was the only way to sell our story and distract her.” She smiled, bobbing her eyebrows in suggestive fashion. “Besides, it was kind of hot watching you get a lap dance.” Dauphine had been under surveillance for weeks by the Agency, which had waited for the vampire to become used to her new life as an exotic dancer at the club before attempting a disposal, in the hopes that she might lower her guard. A relatively new and inexperienced vampire, Dauphine had lacked the decades, even centuries of wisdom and instinct which might have made her wary of strangers seeking to do her harm. The gambit had worked this time, but Michelle doubted all of their future cases would be so simple.

I guess we’ll see.

Her phone buzzed, and Michelle glanced at its screen to see the response message from her Agency superiors. “A containment crew will be here in fifteen minutes, and they’ve already got another job waiting for us once we get back.”

“Well, we knew they were going to keep us busy,” Daniel said. “More cases than agents to handle them. Vampires, werewolves, demons, oh my. The backlog’s a bitch.”

Michelle nodded, holding up the spike. “Well, think of it as job security. Come on. I still need to get my prize pack from the costume contest.”

To be continued…?

Copyright © 2012 by Dayton Ward. All Rights Reserved.

Yeah. A definite explanation for this one is in order.

A few years ago, I had this half-baked notion of a husband-and-wife team of paranormal “cleaners.” They’d both be bad-ass, both fully capable of unleashing hell on various denizens of Hell, the undead, and beyond. My idea was that I’d play the whole thing somewhat laid back; think, “Mr. & Mrs Smith, Demon Hunters.”

Then, I read a book written by friend, mentor, and dude largely responsible for my writing career, Dean Wesley Smith, titled Bump & Run. He wrote it under a pen name, Edward Taft, and it featured a married couple who also are cops, getting into all sorts of trouble after stumbling onto a murder plot while staying at a golf resort. In Dean’s words, the publisher’s intent with this and other books to be released under the “Foggy Windows Books” banner was to “publish erotic novels with married couples.” Mysteries, thrillers, etc, with married couples as the stars and doing their thing in around…uh…doing their thing. It was an interesting notion, and one I filed away for possible later idea fodder.

Earlier this year, I was going to write a story for a small press anthology in which all the writers took their cue from a picture. The picture was of a female vampire hovering behind a woman. At first, I thought my “Demon Hunter Married Couple” idea could work with this springboard, but after jotting down some notes for an outline, I got busy with other things and that project fell by the wayside.

Skip ahead to two days ago: The story I was writing to be this year’s Halloween story is a hot mess. I can’t get it to work the way I want it, so I end up scrapping it, and almost scrap the idea of doing a story at all. Then, somebody mentioned “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” in casual conversation, and something tripped in my little monkey brain. I still had notes for that earlier story. Whereas that original idea, and the longer story I’d intended, were such that my married couple already established as a “demon hunting team,” I decided I could still write something of a “first mission” story for them. And here we are.

So, I basically wrote this last night, with a fast edit over lunch and this afternoon. I had no real time for second-guessing, let alone any wholesale rewriting, so it’s likely still a bit rough in some parts. For that, I apologize, but I figured the immediacy of the thing also adds something to the overall (alleged) fun of the exercise.

As for whether there might be more, longer, more detailed (and more detailed) adventures of Daniel and Michelle, only time will tell, I suppose. After all, there are still many questions to answer. What exactly is the Agency, for example? How did Daniel and Michelle hook up with them, what other types of critters might they hunt, and so on. Good questions, I think. For now, though, I hope this was a nice taste.

Happy Halloween!


For the past two Halloween evenings, I’ve taken to “live-Tweeting” a story on Twitter while trick-or-treaters wander the neighborhood. The idea is that I “narrate” the story, one 140-byte chunk at a time, for however long it takes to spin the entire yarn. In 2009, I offered up a “Twitter-fied” version of story I’d previously written, a short zombie tale called “Last Stand.” Last year, I wrote a new story, “Counter-Protest,” which didn’t use zombies.

For 2011, I return to the world of the shuffling undead with a new tale written just for tonight. It’s a short, rather sardonic look at zombies from the perspective of a regular old working-class guy just trying to get by in a world that occasionally descends into chaos…at least long enough to screw up his bottom line from time to time. Unlike the previous years, and since I won’t be home this evening, I’m not going with the “live-Tweet” option. Instead, I’m just posting it here so you can read the whole thing at your leisure.

Please be advised that the story contains strong language and depictions of graphic violence. So, without further stalling, here we go for Halloween 2011….


Dayton Ward

Few things piss me off like somebody trying to skip out on their tab. That goes double when it’s one of my regulars.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going, Tucker?” I barked, stopping Tucker Hayden in his tracks as he was making his way to the door. He at least had the decency to look dumbfounded as I crossed the bar toward him, pushing past some of the other regulars who always stayed right up to the second I kicked them out the front door at closing time. Moving so that I now stood between him and the front door, I was able to see from Tucker’s eyes that he was six kinds of shit-faced. He probably didn’t even know where the hell he was.

“I was just gonna take a leak,” he said, with more than a hint of whining underscoring his slurred words.

Shaking my head, I grunted in irritation. “John’s back the other way,” I said, pointing over his shoulder toward the rear of the bar and the narrow hallway leading to the restrooms. “Unless you’re looking to piss on another cop’s car, that is.” Tucker had crossed paths with the local law a month or so ago, when he’d decided that a squad car parked on the street in front of my place made for the ideal urinal. The cop assigned to the car hadn’t shared Tucker’s opinion, and it was only because he was a frequent customer of mine that I was able to talk him into not citing Tucker for indecent exposure and branding him a sex offender or some other such damned thing.

His shoulders seemed to slump a bit, and he couldn’t even look me in the eye as he sighed. “I’m sorry, man. Things have been real shitty, is all. You know I’m good for it, right?”

Part of me was furious with him, because this wasn’t the first time he’d pulled this stunt. Still, I knew he’d been having a rough go of it. He’d been laid off at his job down at the mill, and now he had money problems including the bank circling him like vultures as it pushed ahead with foreclosing on his house. Tucker’s marriage was in trouble, too, likely owing to all of that, and it probably wasn’t helped by him coming into my place and running up a tab he couldn’t pay. I try not to be a dick about these kinds of things, especially when it’s somebody I know, but I hate being played for a chump.

“Look,” I said, conscious of eyes on us and keeping my voice low as I leaned in closer to him. “I get it, all right? But I warned you the last time you tried to pull this shit. Don’t be sneaking out on me, okay? That ain’t cool. I got bills to pay, too, and I can’t be tolerating any deadbeats screwing me over. Got it?”

I don’t even remember what I was going to say next, because that’s when I heard the front door open behind me. That was when Alicia, the last of my waitresses still working this late at night and doing her damnedest not to bust out of the skin-tight black tank top she was wearing, released a blood-curdling scream. Flinching in response to that, I jerked my head to look in her direction and saw her pointing toward the door.

Three zombies had walked into my bar.

No, this isn’t the set up to some joke. Three fucking zombies, each of them wearing camouflage uniforms, had pushed their way through the door and now were shuffling toward me. I heard the sound of chairs and tables pushing across the hardwood floor as people scrambled away from the new arrivals, and to either side I could see my customers all scrambling for an exit or a place to hide.

“Shit!” I grunted, backing away from the trio. “This again?” Their uniforms weren’t an uncommon sight, given that the center of town was less than two miles from the main gate of one of the larger army bases on the east coast. My bar was a regular hangout for active and retired soldiers, but it also meant that it, like everything else this close to the base, was one of the first places affected whenever crazy shit like this happened. It was obvious that the army, having learned nothing from the last however many times they’d fucked up with stuff like this, was up to something yet again.


“Alicia!” I shouted as I backpedaled toward the bar. “Throw me the bat!”

Already behind the bar, Alicia turned and reached for the baseball bat I had hanging on the rear wall, between shelves of liquor, and with the word “BOUNCER” burned into it. I didn’t have any real bouncers on the payroll, but the bat had served that purpose more than once over the years.

Pulling the bat from the pegs holding it on the wall, Alicia turned and tossed it underhand toward me. I caught it with both hands a second before the zombies reached Tucker Hayden, who was too drunk to realize until way too late that he was fucked.


The first zombie sank its yellow, rotting teeth into Tucker’s neck and he screamed in pain and terror as blood sprayed everywhere. I felt some of it across my arm and face but by then I was lunging forward, brandishing the Bouncer and taking aim on the nearest zombie. Tucker was still shrieking as I stepped into my swing, bringing the bat around until I felt it slam into something soft and lumpy. My follow-through was pretty sweet, if I do say so myself, and I was rewarded with the zombie’s head sailing across the room until it smashed with a wet thud into the back glass of the pinball machine in the far corner.

Home run, mother fucker, I thought, although any enthusiasm I might’ve had was lost as I saw and heard the game’s glass panel shatter at the same time all the lights on the scoreboard went dark.


I had time only to swing the bat in the other direction as the zombie chewing chunks out of Tucker turned toward me. Tucker fell to the floor while his attacker and the third zombie lumbered forward. Behind them, those few customers who’d still been here when the zombies showed up were bolting for the door. Like me, they’d seen this shit enough times to know that getting the hell out of Dodge was the smart play, but there was no way I could leave my place to get trashed. While I should’ve been angry about them leaving me and Alicia to fend for ourselves, what really burned my ass was that every single one of those dickbags was beating feet out of here without having settled their tabs.

Deadbeat sons of bitches, the lot of them.

I moved back behind the bar, handing the Bouncer to Alicia before reaching for the sawed-off pump-action shotgun I kept under the shelf. Eyeing the zombies as I pulled the shotgun from its mount and checked to see that a round was chambered, I couldn’t help but wonder what these poor bastards done to end up like this.

How many breakouts did this make for the year? Four? Damned army and their fucking pencil-necked science geeks and their never-ending dumbass experiments. When would those shit heads learn to lock the damned doors on that base? It was like a right of passage for zombies to wander off the reservation, making their way into town and raising all kinds of hell. They came through more often than the Jehovah’s Witnesses, for fuck’s sake, but at least those pricks didn’t try to eat you.

“Get in the office,” I snapped at Alicia before catching sight of Tucker, still squirming and whimpering as blood oozed from his neck and half a dozen other places where skin and meat had been ripped from his bones. I couldn’t do anything for him now, not with the pair of zombies shuffling toward me and Alicia. The stench of decaying flesh assaulted my nostrils as they moved closer, and despite my telling her to head for the office, Alicia stayed where she was, looking too scared to try outrunning the things. “Go!” I said, pushing her in that direction, but she held her ground.

“No fucking way!” she yelled. “Just shoot them, already!”

It’s gonna take me a week to clean up the mess. I brought the shotgun to my shoulder, taking aim and pulling the trigger. The blast pounded my ears as the first zombie’s head disappeared in a red rain, showering its buddy, Tucker, and the nearby chairs and tables with bits of blood, flesh, and bone. I racked the slide to chamber a second round and that’s when the shotgun decided to jam.

“Damn it!” Dropping the weapon from my shoulder, I clawed at the spent shell casing wedged into the breach. Alicia was backing away from me, holding the Bouncer in front of her as she moved down the bar. The lone remaining zombie was almost within arm’s reach and I side-stepped the bastard, still fumbling with the shotgun and trying not to serve myself up for dinner.

Then I caught movement near the door and got a glimpse of camouflage and light reflecting off long black barrels. There was just time enough to grab for Alicia before the first shots rang out. My fingers closed on the first thing they found—the front of her tank top—and I pulled her down to the floor with me as a hailstorm of bullets screamed overhead. I heard glass breaking and wood splintering, and I covered my head as I felt a shower of debris falling down on us. Something wet splashed across my pants legs, and I tried not to think about the money these soldiers were shooting all to hell.


I heard something heavy drop to the floor on the other side of the bar, accompanied by a voice from somewhere near the door yelling that everything was “All clear.” Then that same voice called out to us.

“Everybody okay back there?”

Rising to my feet, I pulled Alicia with me, and we got our first good look at our saviors. Two soldiers, dressed in full combat gear and looking too young even to be shaving yet, were pointing rifles at the festering corpse before them on the floor. The zombie looked dead for real, this time, with most of its head gone and lying in an expanding pool of dark, murky fluid that might once have been blood. That shit was never coming out of the wood, I thought; I’d have to strip and refinish the whole damned floor. Again.

One of the soldiers, noticing Tucker twitching nearby, turned and fired a single round into the luckless man’s skull, putting the poor bastard out of his misery. Satisfied with his handiwork, he turned and looked at me.

“You all right, sir?” he asked, before his attention shifted to Alicia, and I realized for the first time that in my haste to pull her to safety, I’d torn her tank top. She wasn’t wearing a bra and was doing her best to cover herself, but there was more her there than tank top.

“Asshole,” she hissed at me.

Reaching beneath the bar for one of the clean towels stacked there, I handed it to her before looking back at the soldier. “Oh, we’re just fabulous here. Just another Monday night, you know; no football, no baseball, but plenty of critters to shoot at.” I cast my gaze around the bar, noting the number of bullet holes in the walls and the shattered remnants of what had once been a fully stocked bar. Nothing makes me smile like having to replace the bulk of my inventory, to say nothing of repairing small arms damage to cedar wall paneling. “Nice shooting, boys. Glad to see the army’s keeping up with marksmanship training.” The comment earned me a pair of withering stares, but I didn’t give a damn. “So, what the hell happened this time?”

The soldier’s lips tightened and I could see his jaw clenching before he replied, “I’m afraid there’s not much I can tell you at this time, sir, except that there’s been another containment breach at the base, and you’ll have to come with us.”

His partner gestured for us to follow him. “We’re evacuating all civilians to a safe location until the situation is under control. It’s for your own safety, sir.”

“Of course it is,” I said, shaking my head. “Just like the last, what? Three or four times?” I indicated the wreckage that represented what was left of my bar. “What the hell am I supposed to do about all this? My insurance company’s getting tired of cutting checks for me to fix everything after one your little lapses over there.” I stepped past Tucker’s body, sad to see that he was dead but thankful that he hadn’t turned into one of those things. Despite my mixed feelings for the man, I could only shake my head as I considered a single, humorless thought: He’d managed to skip out on his tab, after all.

Well, I suppose I could let him have that one.

“I’m sure the army will be more than happy to reimburse you for your troubles, sir,” the first soldier said, though I could tell from his expression that even he didn’t believe the bullshit he was shoveling.

“Yeah,” I replied, using every last bit of willpower I possessed to keep from giving him the finger. “You mean like last time, right? And the time before that? If this is going to keep happening on a semi-regular basis, maybe it’s not too unreasonable for the army to maybe start a tab?”

Cripes. How the hell is a guy supposed to make a living around here, anyway?

Copyright © 2011 by Dayton Ward. All Rights Reserved.


Following on the fun we (supposedly) had for Halloween 2009 when I “live-tweeted” a piece of zombie flash fiction on Twitter, I was asked to repeat the exercise again for 2010. The result of that call was this story, “Counter-Protest.”

The basic idea came from trekkieturtle, who suggested a story about zombies having their way with the folks from a certain “church” of certifiable whack-jobs. They get their rocks off by staging protests at (among other things) the funerals for fallen service members, where they hold up signs that convey notions of God punishing said soldiers as vengeance for our society’s embracing of homosexuality. “Thank God for IEDs” and “Pray for More Dead Soldiers” and other assorted vile bullshit are common slogans on display at such events.

(Yes, I know that the 1st Amendment protects this bunch and their antics, just as it protects my right to offer my humble opinion that every single one of those nutbags will eventually end up in the fiery pits of Hell, impaled through the ass on their own personalized hot pokers fashioned to resemble the flame-spewing cock of Mephistopheles himself. And, if there truly is a God, every single one of their deaths and subsequent banishments to Satan’s rec room will be aired on PBS.)

Anyway, while I loved the basic idea of sending zombies after this bunch, I’d already done zombies last Halloween, so I gave it some thought and figured out a way to use her suggestion while still doing something different. The result?

As with last Halloween, I presented this new story on Twitter as a (seemingly unending) series of tweets, interspersed with me handing out candy to neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Each tweet was appended with the hashtag “#wardfic” so folks could keep track of the feed I was conjuring. I even tweeted myself into a “Twitter time-out” at one point, necessitating me sitting in Twitter Jail for almost two hours before I could resume posting. For those who followed in real time, this raised a few questions as to whether I blew off the story to go and watch The Walking Dead. But, I finally managed to get back online and finish the “show.”

Now with Halloween 2010 safely behind us, here’s the entire story, without the Twitter hashtags and formatted for reading by regular people who can handle more than 140 characters at a time.

'Counter-Protest,' the complete story, behind the cut.

“Last Stand”

I originally wrote this “flash fiction” story for a website for Halloween 2007, and decided that because it was short and told from a first-person point of view, presenting it via Twitter for Halloween 2009 might be fun. When I posted it as a series of tweets, each entry was ended with the hashtag “#laststand,” which let readers find all of the tweets if they weren’t online when I started posting. Unless you use one of the programs available on the Web to read tweets in the correct chronological order, you end up seeing the most recent entries first, and reading backwards. With that in mind, I decided to post the story here in “proper” format.

Please be advised that the story contains strong language and depictions of graphic violence.

‘Last Stand,’ the complete story, behind the cut.