#20 Werewolf Decisions

Water lapped off the oars rhythmically.  Marilu’s face was set in a tight, grim, determined expression.  Occasionally she looked back to see if anything was following her. She thought back to her departure. 

Bokor had been in the shadows of the tree line, gripping Maggie’s arm.  She had tersely promised a full explanation as soon as Marilu left.  All three of them had looked around nervously for other living beings as Marilu made her way to the rowboat.

She had made it without incident – the only damage to her sizzling nervous system.  As she started rowing she heard howling.  But it came from far back into the forest.  Or did it come from her destination – the island not five miles away…?

 

Ralph and Joel sat on camp chairs around a burned out bonfire.  Their companions were all shouting at the top of their lungs to be heard over each other.  Each one of them in turn looked out toward the water with burning yellow eyes.  The rowboat would be there in a few minutes.  The question was: should they prevent Marilu from visiting the old woman, or should they let her go, and follow her to find out the strategy?

“Let her go,” Joel argued.  “We’ve been banished to this island long enough.  Attacking our main source of information is no way to get back to the main island.  And so far, Ralph has been useless.”

Joel directed a baleful glance at the younger man as the rest of the crowd bayed agreement.

“I can’t fight against Bokor’s power on my own, you idiots!  And I don’t see any of you risking their hides to do what I’ve done – get back to our island.”

“You’re wrong, Ralph.  It’s not Bokor’s power that has blocked your progress.  It’s Zoya’s.  You’re in love with a zombie.”

A shocked murmur rippled through the crowd as the sentiment was spoken out loud for the first time.  Ralph paled.

“Bokor and Zoya are two separate powers which are threatening to divert attention away from us.  If they begin fighting, it will be to our advantage.  I was the catalyst that started that ball rolling.  So stop your assumptions about my relationship with Zoya and do something useful for a change – don’t let Marilu get information from the old woman!”  His voice ended in a shout.  He threw his arms open in a gesture designed to include, reassure and convince everyone.

Joel stared at Ralph.  He faced the crowd and thought carefully before presenting his argument again.

 

Zoya painted furiously over the canvas.  She was sweating as she sat back and surveyed her handiwork: an old woman and a middle-aged one facing each other.  A gray animal lay in the background, glassy eyes looking at nothing, blood seeping out of its matted fur.

Bokor smiled in the background.

#19 Another Kill

 

                As Bokor fretted about Zoya, and Marilu prepared for a journey, and Joel sucked lazily on his cigar, the woman prepared for bed.  She sighed as she lay down in bed.  Work had been harder since the elders had been killed and she was tired.  She had done her nighttime rituals of warding off evil spirits so their fate would not become her own.  She was a simple woman and believed in the power of the small, candle-lit, herb crushing, feather brushing ceremonies she had learned as a child.

                But she hadn’t slept the same since that horrible day when the bodies had been found.  So she tossed and turned and slept lightly – until the sound of soft padding of feet sent shots of ice through her nerves.  She opened her eyes but otherwise didn’t move.

                Something was in the room.  She screwed her eyes shut and started to pray silently to her gods – pleading with them – chiding them for not heeding her during the rituals she had faithfully performed.  She felt a brush of air.  Her heart pounded so strongly surely the creature sharing the room with her must know that she was aware of it.  She started to shake.

                Something cold touched her clavicle and she let out a small, involuntary whining noise.  It was a hand.  Her eyes were still shut as the hand slowly unbuttoned her pajama shirt and slid it open to expose her breasts.  Whoever – whatever – this being was, they were surely able to see her chest moving up and down as she breathed fear, her left breast pumping blood from her heart at an alarming rate.  She heard an answering whine come from the creature.

                The hand moved slowly down past her chest toward her belly button and below.  What was happening?  She felt something on her lips and without wanting to, she opened her eyes.  She would have screamed at the sight of yellowish-green eyes staring into hers – if something hadn’t been crushing down on her mouth.  She tried to breathe, but the creature’s lips were on hers, sucking air out of her.  She felt the hand fondling her all over her body. 

                Fondling, or searching?  What was this monster looking for?  The woman continued to struggle for breath.  Then she felt a sharp pain on her side.  Her skin ripped under the sharp claws of whatever was on top of her.  Warmth dripped down to the bed and the pain increased as Zoya – still covering the woman’s mouth with her own to keep her from screaming – reached her fingers into the woman’s side and began pulling out her intestines. 

                Zoya’s glowing green eyes looked up and out the window.  The woman’s eyes – full of pain and fear – followed.  They both saw the outline of a wolf standing staring inside.  Zoya’s fingers pulled harder and she smiled over the woman.  The last thing the woman heard was the mournful howl of a wolf.

                When the struggling subsided Zoya stood up, wiped saliva from her mouth and blood from her hands.  She looked out the window at the human-like figure of Ralph who looked in at her.  She turned to leave the house.  Outside he was waiting for her.  He reached out his hands and took a hold of her shoulders.  But when his hand went down to perform the same action on her that she had just done to her unfortunate victim, she ducked away and disappeared into the night.

 

                Bokor sat up straight.  Her smile enigmatic smile was back.  Nevertheless, Marilu must leave right away.

#18 Bokor Hatches a Plan

                Bokor slumped in the ratty, cut-velvet upholstered chair with the replacement leg that did not match.  As far as she knew, the students were all still asleep.  There were deep lines carved into her forehead.  She was still worried.  Her clothes hung on her frame, which was thinner than a couple of days ago.  She couldn’t sleep or eat.  The problem seemed to have no solution.

                The crunch of dry foliage and gravel stirred her to sit up straighter and look out the window.  Marilu and Maggie were walking toward the front door.  What the hell was Maggie doing out there with the other woman?  Bokor thought she had counted heads correctly.  But then again, she had been so distracted she really had no idea who was upstairs.  No idea, that is, except she knew Zoya was there.

                Or was she?  Bubbles of panic shot up from the pit of Bokor’s belly into the back of her throat.  But before she could get up and go upstairs Marilu and Maggie were standing before her.

                “Bokor, we need to talk about what’s going on here on this island,” Marilu said.

                The two women looked at Bokor.  She was looking back at them with a thoughtful expression on her face.  She couldn’t leave the island – she had to control Zoya – but what about these two?  No, not Maggie, she was an innocent – or part of Ralph’s world, Bokor wasn’t exactly sure…

                “Yes, of course, Marilu.  But,” she looked at Marilu and did a sideways glance and head tilt at Maggie.  “You and I should talk.  I need you to do something for me.”

                Marilu got it.  She and Bokor had grown up together – cousins who were like sisters.  “Uh, Maggie, would you mind making breakfast?  The others should be down soon and we’ll all be hungry.”

                “But Marilu,  I thought…”

                “Please, Maggie, things will go quicker this way.”

                “Oh, all right.”  Maggie stomped toward the kitchen.

                Bokor would have had a heart attack if she had gone into Zoya’s room.

                Zoya paced up and down the beach, occasionally kicking up sand in anger.  Her options were getting limited – there were fewer people on the island now, and there were some who she knew not to touch – for now.

                But the hunger to kill was there nevertheless.  She needed more than the few monkeys she had slain an hour ago.  She kept pacing until something caught her eye.  A boat.  A rowboat with oars.  And something else she hadn’t really paid attention to before.  Another island off in the distance.  Another island – more people – problem solved.  She ran toward the boat.

                She was almost there when a dark object flew toward her and made impact, knocking her off of her feet.  She fell face-first into the sand, feeling the sharp claws of a large animal pressing down on her lower back.  She turned her head and coughed out sand.  Her nose caught a familiar scent and she knew that Ralph was her captor.

                “Going somewhere?” the shape changer growled, his paws softening into large, male hands.  Then she felt him shift.  He lay on top of her, his stomach on her lower back, other parts hard on the crack of her butt.  He was breathing heavily.

                She reached her right arm up and pulled hard on the nipple of Ralph’s shirtless chest.  He squawked and rolled slightly to his right, giving Zoya space to spring up and away from him.  He looked at her balefully and started to rise so she kicked him hard in the groin.

                The sound of his groans could be heard from the house.  Bokor and Marilu stopped their intense conversation and went outside.  When they saw Ralph rolling on the beach in pain, they ran to assist him. 

                “My God, is anyone upstairs where they are supposed to be?” thought Bokor as she ran.

 

                Zoya sat in front of the canvas.  A pretty blue rowboat was taking shape under her paintbrush.  It was a simple work – finished in time for her to catch an hour of sleep.  She was dreaming about warm salt water splashing gently on her face when Bokor looked in on her to call her for breakfast. 

#17 The Tables Slowly Turn

The man sucked on the end of his pungent cigar uneasily.  Bokor’s attitude in their last meeting had unnerved him.  He hated the feeling.  She was normally so competent.  It worried him that she was not under complete control.

His secretary slid in.  He glanced at her appreciatively.  He didn’t know how she could flow so easily in those four inch heels, but the affect was pleasing.  She wore clothing that was sexy without being skanky. 

She glided over to him and with a whiff of some light, flowery scent, placed a mug of steaming coffee on his desk just at his left side. He looked up at her.  She did not make eye contact. Damn it! She should be falling all over him.  How many months had it been now?  All past secretaries had screwed him before their first month was over…

He slammed his hand down on the desk petulantly.  Coffee sloshed out of the mug.  Her attention was on him now – or more accurately, on his left hand which was normally covered with a sleeve perfectly tailored to be longer than the right hand one without looking like it was.

She stared at the grey fur and slightly pointed fingernails for a moment before looking up into his feverish eyes.  A slow smile showed her pearly white teeth.  She began unbuttoning her shirt.

 

Zoya breathed heavily and slumped down in her chair.   For the last hour her arms had been working furiously, slapping paint onto canvass with one hand while mixing and holding with the other – a technique she had been practicing before the change.  She got up and walked away, stretching.

Bokor was standing a little way off, behind Zoya’s chair.  She looked at the painting.  Her face was dark and her mouth was curled in a snarl of fright.  A great battle jumped off the canvass.  But it wasn’t what she had been anticipating.  There were no zombies there save one, who was smirking off at a distance.  The battle was between werewolves.

What did it mean?  And how could Bokor regain some power over this situation before she had to call the man back?  She spun around and walked briskly back toward the village.  She needed to think.

This time it was Zoya’s turn to smirk.  She watched the retreating figure with a huge sense of satisfaction.  When she was sure Bokor was gone, she took out a huge knife and slashed the painting to ribbons.

#16 Influence

                 They had discussed it in detail.  They had laughed about it after sex – how powerful they would become.  When they weren’t screwing they were plotting.  The plan was simple: choose a girl out of the moronic international student groups that visited the island.  Turn her.  Once turned, she would follow Bokor’s influence to attain the goal.  The man, Joel, smoked his cigars and fumed over the way the islanders had treated him.  He had been thrown off the island for reasons Bokor knew but never discussed with him.  She didn’t care.  He was her life.  And now he was the driving force behind what Bokor thought of as “The Goal” – the grand scheme that they had formulated.

                Bokor sat in the shade of a palm tree musing over memories.  Pain burned in her heart with a low, steady flame that had become part of her daily life.  He was using her.  And she knew it.  But she hadn’t cared.  And now she was stuck in between The Goal and the fact that Zoya had turned out to be willful and not completely compliant to Bokor’s spell.  She had been the wrong target.  But how could Bokor have known?  She was sick about it.  Why, just last night it looked like Zoya had shed her zombie characteristics and become human again.  Disaster!  Good thing Bokor had been there and caught the transformation just in time.

                She wouldn’t tell Joel about the little blip.  She had been quick to correct it.  And the gods only knew how he would react.  Their plan had only just begun.  There was so much more to do.  They needed Zoya.  And Bokor needed Joel.  She was going to get him back.

But it looked like Ralph may need Zoya as well.  Bokor shook her head in frustration.  She had heard about the werewolves from her great-grandmother.  But they were supposed to have been banished from the island over a hundred years ago after a great battle between them and Bokor’s tribe.  The tribe won and where the werewolf survivors had gone had been somewhat of a mystery.  And how this descendant, Ralph, had had found his way back was an even greater one.  Why now?

                Back to the problem of Zoya – Bokor trembled.  She was nervous.  It was not supposed to be possible for her to return to human form after Bokor’s spell.  What had Bokor done wrong?  Or was it possible that Zoya had powers that were as yet unknown to Bokor?  How was she to find out?  Her great-grandmother was dead, and Zoya had killed her grandparents – all part of the plan.  But with their deaths went the possibility of valuable information.  Bokor had thought she had all necessary knowledge.  Perhaps she had been wrong. 

                There was only one other person that she could consult.  But the journey to see the old woman would be fraught with peril.  And she would have to leave Zoya – a danger in itself now that she knew that her influence was not strong enough.

                She thought long and hard about what she would do.  The sun began painting a striped mural behind the palm trees.  In the distance, if she had bothered to look, the dark outline of a girl in front of a canvass painted an unknown subject. 

 

Next week: To journey or not to journey? Marilu and Maggie’s meeting with Bokor and Zoya continues her rampage.

#15 – But There Can Always Be Hope

     Zoya opened her eyes.  She lifted her head and looked around.  Vague rays of sunlight were beginning to pierce through the blinds on the window.  Blinking, she sat up and put her feet on the cool tile floor.  There was something wrong.  Her heart beat faster as she mentally checked her body.  No, there was nothing wrong – she felt normal.  She looked over to the mirror that hung above the small dresser across from the bed.  The deep purple shadows that had ringed her eyes were gone.  Her teeth were back to pearly white normalcy.  Her hair was still wild, but there was nothing unusual about that.

                A feeling of joy came over her and she sprang out of bed to get ready for the day.  She had been under some kind of spell but this morning she felt like Zoya: the girl, the painter, the college student on vacation.  She flung her door open, ready to spring down to the communal bathroom.  Even the limp that she had been walking with seemed to have remedied itself.

                Just in time she remembered her modesty.  She turned back to gather some garments.  Various clothing items flew out of her suitcase as she searched for clean underwear.  Her back was to the door so she did not notice the dark shadow that flitted past in the hallway.  The figure appeared to stand – just for a second – at the edge of Zoya’s doorway before moving on.

                Zoya stood.  The numbness was back.  She hardly dared to look in the mirror – but she did.  Her eyes were ringed with bruised skin and her crooked teeth set her mouth into a grimace.

 

                The wind carried a mournful howl to all parts of the island.

 

Thoughts and prayers to the victims of the bombing in Boston – and to the people of Iran and Pakistan who have suffered a powerful earthquake. – God Bless everyone.

While writing these zombie installments I’ve made it a point to stay away from self-marketing.  I write about Zoya to entertain, which I hope I’m doing.  But every time there is another earthquake I remember what I went through and what victims still suffer years after.  If you have time, please check out my author page – 10% of my profits go to BuildChange.org – an earthquake relief organization.  Thank you for reading Zombie Stories – and feel free to comment!!!  I’d love to hear from you! :-) 

http://www.amazon.com/Krystiana-Stacy-Kelly/e/B0046VR5PW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

#14 – Attack in the Forest

                Maggie’s bare feet bled but she kept walking.  The air had inspissated as the sun went behind the trees and she occasionally gasped for breath.  Soon she couldn’t take it anymore and she sat on a tree trunk.  She felt the damp on her bottom, but the moss that covered the wood was soft. 

            She had woken up abruptly almost immediately after falling asleep. She had been cold.  Ralph was not there any longer.  They had made animal-like love earlier and she had had no inkling of anything being wrong. He must have gone to the bathroom.  But the longer she lay there, the Scarlett O’Hara smile on her face faded.  He had gone.

            Angry, she had gotten up and gone outside, nothing but her flimsy tank top and short pajama shorts on.  She had started walking.  Her determined stride took her through up one of the rainforest paths.  She had had no idea where she was going – but she knew that she was going to find him.  And when she did, Zoya had better not have been with him.

            But she had not found him.  Instead, her feet had encountered many sharp plants and rocks and the muscles in her arms ached with hours of pushing back foliage to advance up and down the paths.

            She sat for what seemed like more hours just listening to the chatter of nocturnal beasts.  She thought about how she and Ralph had met.  Their first encounters were with a large group of her friends and his.  They had shared much laughter and friendly banter before becoming lovers.  And that had been almost an accident.  But the night that they first had sex had been the most exciting of her life.  And she thought that it had meant something.  But now, far from home and with Ralph behaving so strangely unlike himself, she wasn’t so sure.

            Marilu’s warnings popped into her mind.  That woman was deathly afraid.  She had seen how frightened Marilu had been even as she had “rescued” Maggie from Zoya.  It was ridiculous.  Why was Marilu so afraid of Zoya?  Maggie was angry at the strange young lady with the newly acquired limp, but she wasn’t afraid of her.  She had jerked herself away from Marilu and had avoided her since.

            The wind picked up.  Maggie shivered, even though it was probably still in the low 80’s and steaming hot.  Perhaps she should go and talk to Marilu.  Maybe the woman could give her more information about the island – details on where Ralph could have gone.  She got up and started walking.  She had gone in a large loop through a section of forest, but was now fairly close to the edge – and from there only had a way to go before getting to the sugarcane field and labyrinth that led to the village.  She would stop by the house on the way for some shoes.

            She got up and almost fell down again, only stopping herself from doing so by grabbing on to a nearby tree and scratching her hands up pretty badly in the process.  Gingerly she started walking – or limping – down the path.  This part of the forest was more densely covered with trees and the ground was soft with decomposing matter so it cooled her feet and she was able to move a little quicker.

            A branch snapped behind her.  She stopped, her heart doing a fancy jig in her chest cavity.  Nothing.  She kept on walking, her ears perked.  There was a shuffling sound behind her.  She stopped again.  The noise stopped too.  Her blood marched faster through her veins and all the little hairs on her arm were standing to attention.  She walked faster.  The noise matched her pace.  Without stopping she turned and caught sight of a female figure behind her. The hair encircled the head like a wild, blonde fire – flames leaping in all directions.  The eyes of the creature were ringed with blue-black, but the red passion that burned inside the dark circles seemed like they were trying to burn a hole in Maggie’s face.  There was a white line of drool coming out of the creature’s mouth.  It bore down on Maggie at a faster speed than she could maneuver her injured feet. 

            Maggie screamed.  She tripped and fell on the soft ground.  Prisms of light that spoke of a pain she couldn’t yet feel flashed inside her closed eyelids.  She could feel the thick air whoosh around her as the horrible likeness of what Zoya used to be came rushing up to tower over her.  She felt the sharp nails of Zoya’s hand feeling around for her belly button and knew that this was it. 

            Then, in the distance, they both heard the plaintive howl of a wolf.  The wind picked up and the howl went on and on.  The two girls froze in their places.  Moments later the animal’s baying lowered to a growl and it couldn’t have been farther than twenty feet away.  Zoya jerked her hand away from Maggie, leaving deep, bleeding scratches along Maggie’s abdomen and right side.  She disappeared.  And so did the growling wolf.

 

            Bokor stood near the bleeding girl, her body shadowed next to a tree.  Her heart beat in time to Maggie’s, although neither of them knew it.  Bokor’s smug smile was not in attendance this time…

#13 – infection

            Flies swam like tadpoles through the humid, mid-day air.  A toucan clacked its beak on a branch overhead.  If she turned her head to the right she could see two monkeys lazily picking mites off of each other.  She was lying in the mud under the dappled canopy thinking about her next move.  If only she could stay away from Bokor – and Ralph…

            Her attention turned toward the wound on her ankle.  Little white worm-like creatures were setting up camp – busily darting in and out of her skin.  She watched as the round bite marks pulsed open and closed at the insects’ movements, spewing blood like tiny geysers in their wake.  Her eyes dilated and soon she couldn’t tell the worms from the puss that seeped out with the blood.

            Pain shot up through her leg making it impossible to think.  She lifted her hand out of the mud and grunted.  Her fingers shook.  She reached toward the infected ankle.  Shifting in the bushes froze her movement.  She looked up and her heart beat faster.  It wasn’t easy to see anything in her condition, but she thought she saw a gray pelt in the foliage.  She could have been imagining the four legged outline… 

Four legs – one horribly twisted – no, five legs.  Five legs?  She was hallucinating now.  She blinked to clear sweat from her eyes.  One leg was a lot shorter than the rest.  The outline sat suddenly and turned to scratch itself with its long muzzle.  Or was it licking at the shortest leg?

She turned away, disgusted.  The leaves kept rustling.  She ignored them and began crawling to her left.  She had been lying at the edge of a muddy pond.  Water would cleanse her ankle.  Incessant swishing seemed to follow her.  She turned back toward it, growling deep in her throat.

A child stood there.  The boy had a pail in his left hand and a crude bar of yellow soap in his right hand.  The two of them locked gazes for a moment.  Then his eyes went to her ankle and he dropped the items, making two dull thumps on the soft jungle floor.  He turned to run.  Pain was no longer an issue.  Forces she couldn’t quite control overtook her.  She struck – swift and fierce, her eyes unfocused.

 

Bokor lifted her head.  She had been sitting with her head between her knees.  Vomit coated the toilet underneath her.  She had successfully gotten the man out of her mind, only to have a violent image pop into her head, and she knew she would have to go deal with the problem. 

She got up slowly and walked outside.  It didn’t take her long to find him.  His body parts were in a neat line leading into the forest – one leg lead to an arm, which led to a stubby neck, another arm, the torso and another leg.  His head was nowhere to be seen.  Bokor turned her head and saw Zoya standing in the pond, her eyes clouded over.

 

The heat and almost unbearable build up in Ralph’s body was sated for the moment.  But he needed someone else to do it for him next time…

 

Coming soon: What does the man want

And 

Maggie’s team gets another player.

#12 – The Man

He was tall and dark with a clean-shaven face and big eyes.  When the long-lashed, giraffe-like eyes favored someone with their gaze, they hypnotized and imprisoned like an iPhone to a teenager.  He drew others to him with the sincerity that only the very charismatic possess.  He could make anyone feel at ease, man or woman.  More than that – he made people feel more wanted, attractive, and intelligent then they in fact were.  He seduced with his personality and only a few minutes after meeting him people fell over themselves in their haste to give him what he wanted.  Perhaps this was how he had achieved what he had – why he sat in the sleek, expensively decorated office with its simple décor with his custom-tailored, black wool suit that fit like a glove to his lean body.  He smoked Cuban cigars that never stained his teeth or fingers.

Bokor had fallen for him too.  There had been no other option.  And she thought that he had loved her.  But as is so often the case with people for whom things come so easily, his true character had revealed itself just as she had found herself too involved to get away.

“Well?” They had long ago stopped meeting in person and were communicating via Skype.

“There is a complication.”

He swiveled languidly in his leather chair and bit his lip with a perfectly white tooth.

“There are no such things as complications, Bokor.  Use the energy around you to your advantage.  There is much to be done and you have found the right one.  I congratulate you for that.  The plan can begin now.”

“But there is this boy… She is fighting him.  I don’t think I can –”

He stared at her.  It was the eyes.  It had always been the eyes – the pools of dark chocolate temptation.

“You will do as I say.”

And she knew she would – even if it meant disaster for her.

Spring Break Hiatus – come back in April for the next installment of Zombie Stories.  Peace!