– What goes "Bump" in the Night –
This story was originally written for a guest blog I did, Halloween 2011.
I hope you enjoy it.
Tiffy grimaced and glanced at Zalin, who seemed oblivious to her expert pumpkin carving.
A critical look at the mutilated pumpkin in front of her made Tiffy revise her opinion. Okay, maybe not expert. Definitely unique though. She pushed the pumpkin toward Zalin. "Whatcha think?"
The Alpha didn't turn and kept cooing to the infant on his lap. "Very nice."
"You didn't even look!"
"I have eyes in the back of my head," Zalin defended himself.
"You're no fun anymore," Tiffy grumbled. "Ever since Connor was born, you've turned into a Dad."
Zalin laughed, the faint lines at the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I am a dad."
"That's not what I mean. You used to do fun stuff, and now you don't anymore." She sighed. They used to go running, but he wasn't even doing that anymore. Well, not with her, at least. Maybe running with his seventeen year old sister-in-law was beneath him, now he'd taken over as Alpha. "Are you going trick or treating with me?" No reply came. Tiffy rolled her eyes. "Fine, I'll ask Lucia."
"I'd go with you, but I have to check out the old Ferguson house." He shrugged. "Besides, don't you have a party to go to?"
Yeah, there was a party. Three, actually. Only she hadn't been invited to any of them. It was as if she'd contracted some deadly disease. Ever since Zalin had taken over, her life had tanked. None of the guys asked her out. None of the girls invited her for anything fun. She was alone most of the time, but did anyone notice? Hell no.
Maybe it was time he knew how badly he was screwing up her life. "Didn't get invited."
He looked guilty, and so he should. It was all his fault.
Zalin turned to face her. "You sure you want to go begging for candy?"
"What choice do I have? It's either that, or sit at home." She'd be damned if she stayed home. No chance.
"Well…you could come with me. I could use another set of eyes." Zalin shrugged. "You could call some friends and we'll go over to check it out."
The Ferguson house had stood empty for years. There were rumors it was haunted, but she'd never seen anything when she'd crept around in there. Granted, it had been daytime, but as far as she knew there wasn't anything spooky out there. "Sounds boring."
"Boring? Maybe. But I had reports of weird stuff happening out there, so I better check it out."
Considering they were werewolves, how weird could it be? Tiffy's interest perked. "What kind of strange stuff?"
"Odd noises, windows and doors moving when there is no wind, figures creeping around after dark."
Becca might want to come. She was always up for spooky stuff. Tiffy snatched her phone off the table. Maybe Arnie wanted to come too. "I'll get a posse together. If they're not all going to the party."
Two hours later they stood outside the derelict building, Zalin leading the gang of six to the creaky old doors. Tiffy had her arm hooked through Becca's, Leslie squabbled with Gary and Arnie, while Tommy brought up the rear.
Zalin held up his hand. "All right. I want Tiffy and Gary to head upstairs. Leslie and Tommy take the basement. Becca and Arnie, you check out the back rooms. Stay together."
"What are you doing?" Tiffy grinned at him. "You're going to sit on your butt and let us do all the work?"
"I'm heading up to the attic. If anyone sees anything, I want you to back off and tell me. Do not engage anything or anyone you see." He jerked his head toward the door. "Go. Be careful."
Flashlights cast eerie shadows on the walls as the pairs headed off to their respective areas.
Tiffy slanted a quick look at Gary. He swaggered toward the door and she sighed with appreciation. Gary was so hot. All long limbed grace and smoldering brown eyes. Way out of her league, but she didn't mind being teamed up with him. At least she'd have a nice view all night, even if there wasn't anything here.
They made their way upstairs, into a bedroom, but it was empty. "Nothing here."
Gary shrugged. "It was a stupid idea, anyway."
Tiffy's heart sank. They'd blame her if they didn't have fun.
A loud bang sounded downstairs, followed by another — then another. Suddenly all the doors slammed at once and both Tiffy and Gary almost jumped out of their skin. Windows flew open, then smashed into their frames, the broken glass either dropping to the floor, or rattling loudly. Tiffy's flashlight hit the ground and shut off.
"What was that?" Tiffy whispered, her heart beating like a drum.
"No idea," Gary whispered back, picking up her flashlight. He flicked the switch. "Dead. We'll have to use mine."
Both flinched when a low moan filled the silence. A scream from the basement followed.
"Shit." Gary grabbed Tiffy's arm. "That sounded like Leslie."
"Oh my God, Zalin was right. There is something here." Tiffy shuddered. "Zalin? Zalin!"
"I'm in the attic," came the muffled reply. The door rattled upstairs. "Can't get out, the door is stuck or locked. Are you guys all right? I heard a scream."
"We're okay." Tiffy called out. "We'll check on the others and get you out."
Oh she planned on it. What started as a boring excursion suddenly seemed a lot more dangerous than any of them had thought.
"Probably just someone pranking us."
Gary didn't look too certain about it, and she assumed he'd said it for her benefit. "When have you ever heard Leslie scream like that?"
His face lost all color, and at first Tiffy thought it was because of Leslie's scream, then she followed his gaze and froze. A ragged, rotting arm groped through the broken window on the landing, trying to find the latch. "That…that looks like…"
"A zombie." Gary drew her backwards. "Can't be real."
"Let's get downstairs." Tiffy grabbed his arm and dragged him down the stairs.
They were met by Becca and Arnie half way down.
"We can't get to Leslie and Tommy. Tried, but–" Becca stared at Tiffy. "What's wrong?"
"There's a zombie trying to get in upstairs." Gary squared his shoulders. "Zalin is stuck in the attic. We're on our own."
"A zombie?" Arnie's eyes almost bugged out of his head.
"I saw it too." Tiffy looked up the stairs. "We should get the others out. Something's not right here."
"Zombies? Seriously?" Becca pulled Tiffy to the side. "You're kidding, right?"
"No." She glanced out of a window, noting figures lurking in the distance. "Oh man. Look out there."
Her friends rushed to the window.
"Crap. There's tons of them." Arnie drew back. "What are we going to do?"
"First we need to get Leslie and Tommy out. Then we get Zalin." Becca started for the basement door.
Another scream, far more terrified, came from down there.
Tiffy rushed to the door and started to pull. "Help me!"
The other three immediately worked on the door. Gary let go and stepped back. "I think I saw an old axe or something when we went upstairs."
They'd need it. The door was stuck solid and no amount of pulling helped to get it open. "Get it." Tiffy banged on the door. "Leslie? You guys okay down there?"
Footsteps sounded on the other side. "There are freaking zombies trying to get in down here!"
Tiffy breathed a sigh of relief at hearing Leslie's voice. "We'll get you out. Gary went to get an axe."
"Fuck! Run!" Gary came bolting down the stairs, brandishing an axe. "It's right behind me!"
The four of them bolted into the kitchen, barricading the door.
"Now what?" Arnie leaned against the rotting counter behind him. "Man…zombies. I don't freaking believe it."
"We should shift. We're stronger then." Becca pulled her jacket off.
"You think I want to bite that rotting shit hanging off them?" Gary shuddered. "No thanks."
"Okay, can we focus here? We have to get Les and Tommy out. Can't do that when shifted, so going wolf is out. Can one of you distract the zombie who went after Gary?" Tiffy looked from one to the other. No volunteers. Figured. "All right, I'll do it. You guys just make sure you work fast."
Arnie dragged the table away from the door and opened it a crack to check the other side. "All clear."
"Turn the flashlights off or they'll know where we are." Gary suggested. "We can see in the dark anyway."
They tiptoed outside, but there was no sign of the zombie.
"Get at the door. I'll distract it if it comes back." Tiffy trembled, worried she might not be fast enough. "Exactly what happens if a zombie bites you?"
"No idea." Gary slammed the axe into the door. "Don't let it. It can't be good."
Idiot. Tiffy glared at him. A moan upstairs made her spin around. "It's back."
They looked at each other. Tiffy snorted. "Really. Brains? That's so cliché."
Arnie hugged her. "Don't worry, Tiff. We won't let it eat your brains."
Tiffy grinned. "Good. Now get them out. I'll run up and distract it."
Gary kept hacking at the door, the others pulled the wood away. Tiffy ran upstairs and went looking for the zombie.
There was no sign of it. Since she was up already, she tried the attic door. "Zalin? You okay?"
"Yeah, what's going on?"
"Zombies. Trying to get in. The others are working on getting Les and Tommy out. I'm distracting the zombie up here."
"Zombies? They don't exist, Tiff." Zalin sounded concerned. "Can you get the door open?"
"Tried, it's stuck. And they do exist." Tiffy backed away from the attic door. "We'll get you when we got the other two."
A thud made her turn. "Oh shit. It's back."
"Tiff, be serious, they–"
"I gotta go, Zalin. It wants my brains. Look out of the window. There were at least twenty out there." She bolted down the stairs, waving her arms at the staggering creature. She couldn't see much more than outlines in the dark. "Hey! Over here!"
It lumbered toward her.
Tiffy backed off, mindful of the rooms behind her. She didn't want to be trapped somewhere. Downstairs she heard wood breaking and hoped they'd finally got through the door. Then a scream that sounded like Becca, made her blood freeze. Another scream followed, this one distinctly male, but she couldn't tell which of the two guys it was. The sound of running feet followed. Damn. What was going on down there?
"Tiff! Get down here!" Gary shouted up the stairs. "We got them out!"
"Uh…yeah." She stared at the creature between her and the staircase. "That's not gonna happen."
Five of them came running up the stairs. "Over here!"
The zombie turned and went after them. Tiffy raced down the stairs, past the slow moving zombie. "Go! Kitchen!"
"No!" All five of them cried out at the same time.
Tiffy screeched to a halt. "What?"
"Full of zombies," Arnie informed her.
"Shit. Where, then?"
"Upstairs. They can't get in the windows there." Gary led the way, avoiding the zombie still on the stairs.
The others followed suit and ran into one of the bedrooms. Arnie, Tommy and Gary wedged the wardrobe against the door.
"Man, this is nuts." Leslie dropped on the dusty bed. "Some Halloween."
Becca giggled, then started to laugh. "And here I was thinking the only zombie I'd have to deal with tonight is Henk after he's had a few too many beers."
All of them burst out laughing at the mention of Henk, who really did turn into something much like a zombie when he got drunk.
"At least he doesn't want to eat our brains." Tommy shuddered. "Where the hell did they all come from? How come no one knew?"
"Maybe Zalin knew?" Arnie grimaced. "Maybe we're bait? I wouldn't put it past him."
"No." Tiffy glared at him. "He'd never put us in danger if he'd known. He's not like that."
"Says you." Arnie scoffed.
"Yeah. Says me. He is not like that." Tiffy took a step toward him.
"Hell, for all we know your dad is one of the zombies." Arnie spat.
Tiffy reeled backward as if he'd hit her.
"Arnie!" Becca got up and glared at him.
"You bastard! That was uncalled for." Leslie jumped in.
Tears stung Tiffy's eyes and she turned away. Her father couldn't be a zombie. No way. But now Arnie had put the thought into her mind and she dreaded to find he was one of those creatures.
"Guys, we need to figure out what to do, not make stupid remarks," Gary grumbled. "But yeah, that was uncalled for, Arnie."
A scratching sound outside the door made everyone turn to look.
"Shit, they're outside," Leslie whispered.
"Can we get out of the window?" Tommy glanced toward the broken frame and went to look outside. A skeletal hand reached for the window sill and he backed away with a cry of alarm. "Incoming! Get something to block it!"
They wedged the bed against it, leaning against the frame to keep it there.
"Man, this isn't funny anymore. What if they get in?" Leslie grumbled. "We're toast."
"Maybe we'll just have to hold out until morning." Tommy settled down on the floor. "I know I'm not going anywhere."
"What about Zalin? We can't just leave him up there." Becca paced the room.
"Well, if he can't get out, that should mean they can't get in. So he should be safe." Tommy got up again. "I hate being a sitting duck."
"Sitting wolf," Leslie corrected him.
Gary came over and slid his arm around Tiffy's shoulders. She looked at him with wide eyes. What had brought that on?
"Yeah." Tiffy suppressed a sigh. Gary was hugging her! He'd never even looked at her before.
"Arnie is an ass. He shouldn't have said that. I'm really sorry." Gary cuddled her closer.
"Thanks." Ah bliss. Even if he just felt sorry for her, it felt good to be held by someone.
"So, any suggestions?"
"Not really. Other than getting Zalin out so we have an extra person to fight them if we have to." Tiffy listened for a moment. "Do you think they're gone?"
"Don't hear anything." He withdrew and turned to the others, making her feel alone again. "Guys, I think it's clear outside. We should try to get the Alpha out."
Becca and Leslie voiced their agreement and together they shifted the wardrobe. Tommy opened the door and peeked outside. "Clear."
"Cool, let's go." Gary headed outside.
They'd just reached the attic door, when a shuffling noise drew their attention. Six zombies came stalking up the stairs.
"Fuck that," Arnie wailed, shifted to wolf form, and bolted down the stairs — out of the building.
Gary kicked the first zombie and sent it flying down the stairs. Tiffy and Becca tackled another, while Tommy and Leslie went for a third.
They managed to drop all three, but the other three still advanced on them.
"Form a line! Kick them down!" Gary hooked his arm into Tiffy's, who in turn linked hers with Becca. Once all of them had a grip on each other, they slammed their feet into the oncoming zombies, pushing them down the stairs again.
"What's going on out there?" Zalin asked through the door. "You guys safe?"
"We're fine!" Tiffy called out, kicking another zombie back. Four more came up the stairs from the ground floor. "Man, they're all in here! How'd they get in?"
Together they fought hard, kicking and punching when the zombies advanced, until Tommy hit one of the creatures and pulled off a layer of skin.
"Ewww!" Tommy flung the skin to the side and went to punch the zombie again — pausing before his fist connected with the face. "Dad?"
All of them turned to stare at the zombie, who was now laughing loudly, half of his face normal, half of it covered in some kind of prosthetic.
The other zombies stopped groaning and lumbering, and stood up, also laughing.
"Zalin, come out, they made us!" Tommy's father called out.
Behind them the door opened and a grinning Zalin stood there, a set of controls in his hand. He pressed a button and the doors slammed. "Had you going, didn't we?"
"Oh man…" Leslie groaned. "It was all fake?"
"You bastard!" Tiffy laughed and punched Zalin. "I was scared out of my brains!"
"Braaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnnnzzzzzzz…." one of the pseudo-zombies moaned immediately, making grabbing motions.
Gary laughed so hard he almost fell down the stairs. "Awesome! That was just totally awesome!"
Becca grinned and hugged her father. "Sorry about kicking you in the face."
"I've had worse."
Zalin drew Tiffy back and winked at her. "More fun than begging for candy?"
"Hell yeah." She grinned and hugged him. "Thanks for that. When did you do all this?"
"The others helped. Gary's father rigged all the doors. I just had to sit tight and press buttons."
"But there were zombies trying to get in through the windows? How–?"
"Mechanical levers with prosthetic devices on them. They look like crap in daylight, but they work at night. Mike's idea."
"Wow, you must have planned this for weeks!" Leslie said in wide eyed wonder.
"Months, actually. Zalin started working on it back in August." Mike grinned broadly. "I dare say it worked. None of you suspected a thing."
Gary came to stand beside Tiffy while everyone's attention was diverted. "Hey."
She smiled at him. "Hey."
"Uh…listen, I was wondering…you wanna go see a movie some time?"
"With you?" Tiffy gaped at him. Was Gary asking her out?
"Well, yeah. We could have a burger after, or something." Gary grinned sheepishly. "It's okay if you don't–"
"I'd love to." Tiffy hugged him.
A date! Not only had she had the most amazing Halloween night — courtesy of the most unlikely stand in for a dad — but Gary had asked her out!
Life was good.
Copyright © 2011 Silke Juppenlatz
All Rights Reserved.