If you’re here for the Gospel of John, you will find it above and below this post. This post is here for the short story fans of the site. It is my flash fiction submission for Easter. You don’t have to read it. But some do. It is a bit gruesome at points. You’ve been warned!
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The entire morning had been a festival of anger and stupidity. Not only were the adults all mad at each other, but the children had been bickering since the first bowl of cereal had been consumed. This trip to the big-box store was just icing on the cake, for it acknowledged the fact that the dryer was beyond repair. The smoldering husk had been dragged out by the fire department the night before, and the four loads of laundry weren’t going to dry themselves.
Nothing ever happens when you have a surplus of money. The dryer was no exception, and Nadine and Paulus had bickered themselves stupid over replacing it just a week before when the drum quit rotating.
Paulus was useless on things mechanical and Nadine had managed to nurse another few loads out of it the previous weekend. But that was it. Now it was time to pony up the money to replace it.
Paulus endorsed getting a discounted unit, perhaps even used, at one of the fleabag stores on Cardinal Drive. Nadine had put her foot down and demanded a new machine. She’d had it with nursing things along until they died. She wanted something that would outlast the current pair of sneakers she was wearing.
They pulled in to the lot and the two hellions raced for the door, narrowly avoiding death when a contractor backed up to get a load of cement that happened to be on the other side of the aisle from them. Ricky and Lucy were 8 and 6 respectively, but had unfortunately taken their namesakes attitudes when it came to arguing: it was non-stop. Yet another item weighing on the family this morning.
Once they got inside the family split up. Nadine wanted to check the garden center before she had to spend the big money on the dryer. Paulus drifted toward the bratwurst wagon at the exit and fed his greasy face another thousand calories. The kids simply vanished. Nadine could hear their voices from time to time as they ricocheted off the ceiling, but couldn’t see them.
One hour and twenty minutes after arrival, Nadine had made it to the dryers and still hadn’t actually seen the children. That was too long to go, even when she was furious with them. She dialed the old cell phone she’d given Ricky and it rang once before going to voice mail. She checked the family tracker option and it showed her husband on the other side of the store but Ricky was last located just 10 feet from where she stood.
Puzzled, she dialed again but heard no ringing for the brief instant before it went to voice mail. She called Paulus and demanded he get his butt over to appliances to find the kids while she shopped. He sauntered over a minute later, just as she was approaching a salesman. She told Paulus to find the kids and call her.
The salesman looked puzzled and said, “Two little engines of doom with blonde hair and too much energy? They were playing here about ten minutes ago but I haven’t seen them since.”
A cold dread grabbed Nadine with a memory of her own childhood blazing across the giant screen in her head. She’d been trapped in a freezer as a kid and almost died. In a flash of anguish she thought, “Ricky, I’d rather you died if you tricked Lucy into this than survive. I’d settle for one and it’s gotta be her.”
Satan, who is always nearby, accepted that deal.
Within thirty seconds she’d opened every unit on the floor. Lucy was in the freezer side of a refrigerator/freezer and Ricky was in the refrigerator side. The salesman called a code on the store system and within four minutes a team of firefighters took over the CPR on the children. Lucy responded in a few minutes and was rushed out to a life flight helicopter. Ricky, still unresponsive, was on the gurney behind her and once they pair were loaded into the helicopter it took off.
Paulus, who was rarely good for anything, listened to where the hospital was and sent Nadine with the rescue unit who’d put her on a gurney in shock.
Six hours later, as the sun set on Saturday afternoon, Nadine and Lucy were released from the hospital. All tests normal. Ricky was being held for an autopsy in the hospital morgue.
The rest of the evening was a blur as a neighbor came over to make sure everyone was fed and watered before bed. Nadine took another dose of the medication they’d given her at the ER to control the panic and anxiety she’d flashed into during the low-lights of the day. Lucy crawled into bed with the family Cocker Spaniel, Buster, after skipping dinner. She wasn’t upset as much as she was shocky. She truly didn’t understand what had happened, or where Ricky was that evening.
Thirty seconds after the clock struck twelve, Lucy woke up hungry from having skipped dinner. Buster was delicious, and he didn’t even make a sound as Lucy tore him to bits in the quiet of the sleeping household. Sated for a few minutes, she took time to destroy her room with a hammer she fetched from the basement. That gave her an idea and she proceeded to her parents’ bedroom where Paulus was snoring loudly.
Not for long. Her first whack with the hammer put a silencer on him and allowed her to peel back the bit of shattered skull to continue her feast. Much better than the dog who had been a complete nitwit on his best day and lacked anything cranially delicious.
Mom would present a bigger challenge, as Nadine was awakened by the death rattle of Paulus and the slurping noises from the other side of the king bed. Frozen in fear, she caught a glimpse of what was happening in the mirror over the dresser.
All of her training (every single episode of The Walking Dead) prompted her to leap out of the bed, grab the baseball bat Paulus kept handy for the burglars he’d never actually confront, and swing for the fences. She missed as Lucy ducked the blow and ran across the bed at her. One final mighty swing and that was it. Lucy was inside the arc and knocked her to the floor.
Nadine struggled mightily but eventually succumbed. She feared the next evolution as she came back as one of the Zombie force herself.
She coughed violently and opened her eyes, fully expecting the hunger. Instead, it was a pleasant young firefighter who pulled the oxygen mask off of her face and gave her a grin.
“You had us scared for a minute. You hoovered a lot of smoke in that fire and we found you down in the hallway when we broke in to fight the fire. You’re a lucky woman.
Nadine pondered that for a moment and asked if she’d be taken to the hospital.
“Nope. You’re good to go. You can spend Easter with your family instead of in the Regional Care Center.”
Nadine, profoundly grateful for the fact that she would be around for Resurrection Day instead of wandering the face of the Earth until judgment, simply nodded and pulled the oxygen mask back over
her face. Paulus could replace the dryer on his own, the kids were staying with her.