Gay of the Dead
A/N: Geez, it's been FOREVER since I've last updated this! But rest assured, I WILL finish this story. It just might take another year. (November will mark year two of writing this). So, you know, the shit has hit the fan now.
Weston woke up sometime in the middle of the next day, feeling groggy, feeling like shit. His face was sticky with sweat and probably drool. His back ached, and for some strange reason his foot stung a bit.
But then he remembered the dream he had—getting up to change and then go the bathroom, tripping on the hammer in the hallway that Jess left out from when she was hanging pictures the other day. Sidetracked, he'd cursed and picked it up...
Picked it up...
And then saw Jess herself.
But it wasn't Jess.
It couldn't have been her, not with bloodshot, sightless, eyes. Not with black blood and vomit slicked down her chin, splashed colorfully on her hefty chest. Her pose was lame, and her mouth slack-jawed. She had a horrid stench about her. Weston wanted to say it was death, but he wasn't quite sure what that smelled like. Whatever it was, it smelled rotten. Two weeks passed the expiration date rotten. Sitting out in the hot August sun rotten. Ripe roadkill rotten.
He raised the hammer over his head and brought it down hard onto hers. She was stunned, and fell back, but he wasn't finished with her yet—no, not until he'd smashed her face and skull in so badly the only thing he could discern from the mess was a lone eye, severed from its optical nerve and to the side of the bone and blood and gore soup that had become his sister's once pretty face.
On standing up, Weston kicked it out of view, under the couch. He couldn't stand having it look at him, making him feel guilty and pained inside.
But it was a dream, Weston reminded himself, getting out of bed and moving to the door. And everything was perfectly normal, or as normal as things could get for Weston.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when Salem screamed bloody murder from the other side of the room, shivering and sobbing, just pointing with this accusing finger at Weston. His mouth quivered as if he were going to speak, but no words came out.
Weston looked down and suddenly wished he hadn't. "Oh what the fuck?!" He nearly shrieked, searching his brain for an explanation as to why there was a huge bloodstain on the front of his shirt--
Bolting out into the hall he stopped dead in his tracks over the body. The hammer, the body, the bloody mess where her head should have been. And then the tears Weston hadn't thought to shed during the night were gathering behind his eyes.
Salem was behind him, fisting the back of his shirt and demanding why. Why, why, why? It was all he could utter between gulping sobs, between screams of hysteria as he pressed his forehead into Weston's back.
Weston couldn't move, not for what seemed like an eternity.
There was no explanation, none that was anywhere near reasonable. None that Salem wanted to hear. Had Weston sleepwalked through these motions? Had he dreamed of that haunting look in his sister's eyes? The blood, the vomit streaking down her body?
He hadn't really been given much of a chance to explain. Salem pulled away from him completely and bolted for the door, tearing it open and heading down the steps to get away from the stuffy, dark apartment. Salem could see light flood through the dusty glass of the final barrier between himself and his nightmare.
"Jesus, Salem!" Weston darted after him, catching him just as he slammed the outside door open only to be pressed completely against the smaller male's back. Staring over his head, he could see why Salem had stopped so suddenly.
There was no one outside.
Now, for any rural area this might not have been such a strange occurrence, but in Rehoboth the streets were always bustling with people, and especially so in the summer time when you couldn't move an inch outside without brushing against someone else.
"Where..." Salem started, suddenly finding his throat dry and tight. He swallowed loudly, both shaken and afraid of his position between his uncle, who was now a murderer, and the shock of the empty outside. "Where... is everyone?"
Weston dropped a firm hand on Salem's shoulder, not really sure how to answer him. Of course, he had no idea either and was just as shocked as Salem.
Scanning from the distant ocean to the boardwalk, to the street, there was no one. The only sound was that of the waves, crashing and receding, crashing and receding. Over and over, lulling, calm, constant. Salem leaned back a little without even thinking about it.
From a distance, then, from down the sidewalk opposite the ocean, a man came trundling toward them. Silently they watched him make his trek closer, breaths baited in curious anticipation.
All they wanted was the chance to find out if they really weren't in some episode of the Twilight Zone, but given the circumstances neither of them thought there was much hope.
In closer view they could see his ghostly white face was slicked with blood, around the mouth and chin and neck. His eyes were wild and sightless, bloodshot a deep pink. And if that weren't curiously funny enough, his left arm was missing.
Salem screamed again, shouting obscenities as he shakily slammed the door shut and twisted the bolt. He sat himself down, hyperventilating, wrapping his arms around himself. And all Weston felt was numbness. He couldn't explain why, but he knew he wasn't afraid, at least not yet. In fact, he half-felt he was still dreaming, that soon he'd really wake up, sweating and hung over next to Salem, and out on the couch would be Jess all disheveled and still drunk from the night before. His carpet would be unstained, and there would be a hammer sitting on the floor near the wall that was only ever used to drive nails into place.
He was tempted to pinch himself, but didn't want to look stupid in front of Salem.
"Salem," he said softly, touching the boy's shoulder. "Salem, look..." But he didn't know what else he was going to say, and when Salem looked up at him they stared at each other for a long time, wondering what to say and what to think, wondering what to do next.
"We have to... Have to do something with Jess," he finally said to his nephew.
Salem sniffled a little like a child and his eyes watered, but then he said, "yeah, you're right," and swallowed hard as if to swallow a mouthful of grief.
Weston was overcome with a sudden urge to hug him, but he knew better than to try it. He could tell the boy was wary of him, and he didn't want to make him any more wary.
"Wh-what are we going to do with her?", Salem suddenly voiced quietly.
In the end, Weston patted Salem's shoulder, letting his hand linger as if in comfort. "I don't know yet." And then Weston sat next to his nephew on the steps, giving a sigh and trying to think hard about his situation, but all he could seem to focus on was the old man's eyes, and then the sight of his sister's body spread like mush on his carpet. Then he realized he'd probably either have to really scrub it or just cut the carpet out all together to get rid of the stain.
But all thoughts of his carpet, and of the old man, fled his brain as Salem gently rested his head against Weston's shoulder, and then he reached out and wrapped his scrawny little arms around Weston's own arm. Stunned, Weston simply let him.
What could he say to him? Considering what just occurred, and what was sure to occur in the future, Weston didn't blame Salem for feeling the way he was feeling. Of course, all he probably needed was a hug and some reassurance.
Without even thinking about it, Weston used his free hand to gently muss Salem's hair, but that only made the boy start sniffling, which quickly turned into body-wracking sobbing. Weston stroked him like a baby kitten, trying to soothe him. "Hey, c'mon..." But he couldn't finish, not when he was about to say, 'it's not all that bad', and really it was so much worse than that.
Weston almost felt like crying himself, especially given the circumstances, but he was a big boy, and big boys definitely did not cry, and besides that he simply couldn't bring himself to let even a single tear slip out of his eye.
He pulled his arm out of Salem's hold, bringing the boy into a tight hug. One arm hung around his thin waist, the other around his shoulders, pressing his face softly into Weston's chest. This was how he treated Jess, back when Salem was just a baby. He had to be strong for her when she couldn't be strong for herself.
He thought about it and realized he was doing just that. He was being strong for her, in place of her. But she would never get the chance to be strong again.
Just that thought made Weston quiver and hold Salem tighter, almost crushing the boy in his hold. Salem was all he had left. His parents disowned him, and now Jess was...
Weston kissed the top of Salem's head and left his mouth there. "I'm sorry," he whispered quietly, "I'm so... sorry..." He had to clench his jaw hard when Salem replied with a meek little, "me too".
They spent a long, long, time just holding one another, not sure when they should let go, or if they should let go. Salem couldn't contain his crying, and every few minutes he'd start sobbing hysterically and when Weston hugged him tighter he'd sniffle, hiccup, and breathe erratically. Calm down, and then his mind would turn to sludge, but soon his thoughts caught up with him again and he was sobbing like a newborn baby, taking his first, harsh, breaths of reality.
They didn't say anything. There was nothing for them to say. Not when they were both thinking the same thing, thinking things were... Thinking what happened was...
Weston pulled away and stood up, tugged the bottom of his shirt to straighten it a little. "We need to—I mean, I... I need to..." He couldn't say it again.
Luckily, Salem knew what he was getting at and stood as well. "I'll, uh, go in the bedroom while you..." He averted his gaze, wiped the back of his hand hard against his eyes and sniffled, running back up the stairs and into the bedroom, slamming the door shut loud enough to make Weston cringe.
Salem threw himself on the bed, hugging the pillows that smelled like Weston's hair and sweat. He wanted to cry some more, but his tears were running on empty, and his head was pounding from the intensity in his sobs. So he just laid there, in physical and emotional pain, already feeling tired even after he just woke up.
He heard Weston quietly pace, probably thinking of what to do, unsure of where to put her. He made his mind up quickly, though, because Salem could hear him dragging Jess away, out the door. Salem cringed as Jess hit each step on the way down and made a wet, squelching, thudding, sound.
But it faded quickly, and Salem could hear Weston spilling out into the street, this time with his sister slung over his shoulder. She must've weighed a lot less without her head, Salem thought bitterly as he peered through the blinds on the window that looked over Rehoboth Avenue. It was hot like an oven, and yet there wasn't a single person out besides Weston.
Salem looked a little further down the street, both ways, to see if there was anyone coming. The man without his arm had long since moved in the opposite direction, but Salem could see him make an appearance again as he turned the corner at Dolly's, checking over his shoulder to see who was there. Salem guessed the noise was attracting them, because suddenly the deserted streets were dotted here and there with a few people, hobbling in Weston's direction.
His heart started pumping in his chest and he felt dizzy with fear. As if on instinct, Salem rushed from the bedroom and into the living room, looking for something, anything, to fight with.
And there was the hammer, still speckled with gore near the mess on the carpet that was still his mother's head. Without even thinking about it he picked it up and barreled down the stairs, out the door, and towards Weston.
"Weston!", he yelled, and then felt the eyes of everyone suddenly turn on him. But their steps were slow, and there wasn't much chance they would get him if he ran fast enough, and with the hammer in his hand...
Weston nearly dropped the body he was holding, turning on heel to stare at Salem. "What the fuck are you doing?" He chanced glancing around to count the numbers. Of course, he'd seen them coming, but he'd seen plenty of movies in his time. He knew, or at least thought he knew, what he was dealing with. He didn't want to see Salem get hurt, especially if it was his own fault.
The younger male looked a little put off by Weston's reprimand, shyly looking away and to the side. "I just thought... I thought I could help."
He was about to reply when there was a terrible, gurgling, moan right behind Salem. Weston's eyes were the size of saucers, but he tried to snap into action, quickly dropping his sister to grab a hold of his nephew, snatching the hammer out of his hands and getting ready to slam it in the skull of the... of what used to be a man.
Weston only hesitated for a second before wailing on him, crushing his skull and getting both himself and Salem—but mostly Salem considering the boy was right at his side—sprayed with blood and bits of brain.
There were more coming, getting closer, almost surrounding them. "Shit. Shit!", Weston cursed, taking a firm grip on Salem's elbow as he dragged the boy back to the stairway up to his apartment. They made it unscathed, being spotted going into the apartment by only three or four of them.
Weston bolted the latch firmly, shoving Salem up the steps. "You're such a fucking idiot," he scolded, shoving him a little harder to punctuate his anger. "Do you realize you could've just fucking died?"
In the apartment, Salem tripped on the edge of the carpet and fell onto his hands and knees. Weston stood behind him, watching his small body shiver as he himself shook with a sudden rage, although he wasn't sure why he was so angry. He took a large breath and held it, dropped the hammer with a loud thud, then leaned down and gently touched the small of Salem's back. The boy jumped, but that was to be expected, and surprisingly turned around and latched himself to Weston's neck, sniffling again like a child.
Quietly, he helped Salem up to his feet, wrapping his arms tightly around his waist. "They know we're up here," Weston said very softly. "We have to leave soon." Salem nodded against Weston's shoulder. "Maybe we should... get cleaned up before we leave. It'll give us time to think about where we're going, okay?" Weston ran his fingers through Salem's sweaty hair, sweaty and now bloody, too, from that... thing outside.
He pulled away then, heading into the bathroom, but only coming out a second later with a towel to cover the remains of Jess' face. He looked over at Salem, still standing awkwardly by the door. "C'mon," Weston ordered, holding out his hand.
Salem didn't question why they were going to shower together, not when Weston peeled off his shirt and then started on Salem's, revealing pale skin blotched in red. Not when he ran his hands over that skin obsessively before pulling away to turn the water on. It left Salem a little breathless.
They continued to strip in silence, climbing into the shower and under the welcoming hot spray of water. Weston immediately wrapped his arms around Salem, continuing their embrace from earlier, running his fingers over Salem's bony back. He let his fingers touch each vertebrae, slowly slipping all the way down and then back up again.
Weston put his hands in Salem's hair, gently massaging his scalp for a minute before pulling away to grab the shampoo. After working it into Salem's hair he turned around to do the same for himself, but Salem almost shocked him when the smaller boy took the soap and started soaping up Weston's back.
He turned back around and took Salem's wrists into his hands to stop him, looking him in the eye before releasing him. Salem put his hands back on Weston's torso, only stopping to take the washcloth Weston was handing him, soaping that up instead and applying it to Weston's body.
Salem started innocently at first, rubbing his firm stomach, and then his sides, working his way up to his chest where he deliberately ran the cloth over a nipple. Weston shuddered, putting his hand over Salem's to halt him for a moment, but Salem wasn't going to stop. He pulled away and then began again, lower this time. He soaped up his uncle's strong thighs, and then between them, making him spread his legs almost helplessly.
Weston was starting to get hard so he stopped Salem permanently by taking the washcloth away from him, to give him a taste of his own medicine. He pulled him flush against his body to languorously wash his back. Salem whimpered a little at having Weston's half-hard penis press into his stomach, but didn't dare pull away. Not when Weston's rough hands were making him feel so relaxed, not when the world was a million miles away from the shower.
In the heat of the moment, Salem looked up and wrapped his arms around Weston's neck, laying a whisper of a kiss to Weston's lips before pulling away just a little, but Weston drew him closer than before and initiated another kiss. And then another. And another. And then Weston let out a rather embarrassing moan, but they continued kissing. Even as Weston's erection pressed insistently against Salem's stomach.
They held each other and kissed right up until the water turned icy, and then they had to rinse off and get out before they froze up.
Salem finally spoke up once they were back in the bedroom, facing away from each other as they casually dressed. "What are we going to do?", he asked quietly. "Where will we go?"
Weston didn't know how to answer. Considering what was happening, there were so many possibilities, and so many of them were dangerous and, under ordinary circumstances, fantastical. He briefly wondered if just Rehoboth was affected. What if they went north, would Newark and Wilmington be swamped with... these things, too? It never hurt to try, and Jess did own a car. And of course, if it turned out that Weston was wrong, there were more places up north to settle than there at the beach.
"What if we went up to your old place? I mean, what if this is just happening here?" But after saying it out loud, it sounded completely improbable. Like in the movies, the affliction spreads to every corner of the world, and no place is a safe place.
Salem seemed to brighten up at the idea though, so Weston kept his mouth shut. "But how would we get there? You don't have a car, right? And we definitely can't walk." The younger boy crossed his skinny arms then, pouting a little.
Weston stepped up to him, putting his arm heavily on Salem's shoulders. "Jess has a car," he said, "we'll just take that, okay?" He smiled a little, trying to assure Salem that this was the right thing to do.
Salem tensed a little under Weston's heavy hold, slinking away from him like a cat. "I don't know where she parked it," he replied almost frantically, like he didn't want to get near her car, like he didn't even want to leave.
"It'll be okay. I told her what lot to go park in, right? So it can't be too far from there. And doesn't she have a remote? I could just set off the alarm and find it that way."
Salem's eyes went a little wide. "But what if those things hear it and... and jump you!" Salem was suddenly fisting Weston's t-shirt in his hands. "What if they get you? What am I supposed to do then? I couldn't fight them off by myself!" A few tears slid down his face, and when Weston put his arms around his back he felt the boy shaking.
Weston laughed a little nervously, rubbing his back to soothe him like he were a baby. "I'll be fine. After all, when I was in high school, I was a track star. You can just stay here and I'll go get the car, okay? I'll be back before you know it."
He gently hugged the smaller boy, petting his soft black hair. Slowly, he loosened his grip on Weston's shirt, looking up at him with wet, red eyes. "I don't believe you," he whispered, reaching up and holding tightly to Weston's neck. The older man was almost surprised at Salem's intuitiveness. Of course he was no track star—he barely even remembered being in high school at all. "But even if you are telling the truth, I don't want you to leave me alone."
"Well you're not coming with me. If I do get ambushed out there, at least I'll know that you're not gonna die, too." But somehow, Weston knew he'd be okay, and if he wasn't, Salem wouldn't be able to survive without him. Salem seemed to know this, too, as he clung tighter to Weston's neck.
There was a long moment where the two held each other tightly. Like a lover's good-bye embrace.
Salem pulled back a little and shyly pecked Weston's cheek before completely removing himself from his uncle. "Fine. Go. Get the car." He crossed his arms childishly, pouting. "And I swear, if you die I'm going to kill you." But the scared and worried wide-eyed look in his eyes gave away his joking.
Weston paused for a long moment, watching Salem closely, before he gripped the boy's shoulders and brought him close for a hard kiss on the mouth. Salem squealed and tried to pull away at first, but quickly returned the gesture. He put his hands on Weston's elbows and when Weston went to move Salem dug his fingernails into him to stall him.
Even though he didn't want to, Weston finally pulled completely away from Salem. He went to the living room without a word then, retrieving the hammer from the floor where he'd dropped it. Salem followed him, and at the door the two shared another moment of awkward silence, of stalling, before Weston smirked just a little. "Pack your bags because we'll be gone for a while." And then as an afterthought he stroked the side of Salem's face with his free hand. Salem put his hand up and held Weston's there. "I promise I'll be fine," he said sincerely. In such a serious tone Salem was forced to believe him for it.
"Be careful," Salem said, and then his lips formed a devilish smirk, "Mr. High School Track Star." Weston chuckled and playfully pushed on Salem's face.
He put his arm around Salem's neck. "C'mon, I want you to bolt the door behind me." And so the two quietly descended the stairs together, and without even saying good-bye, Weston exited out onto the sidewalk.
He waited until he heard the definitive click of the bolt before walking to where he dumped his sister's body to rifle through her pockets to find her car keys. It was only a few seconds, but by the time he had the keys secured in his hand he noticed a few more of... them lurking around than before. He took a second to count heads and came up with thirteen. Thirteen was just thirteen too many for Weston so he bolted down the street.
While looking back to see if he was being followed, he failed to notice that there was one of them directly in his path and he slammed right into it, falling on top of what he soon recognized to be a woman. Terrified he went to punch her in the face but quickly remembered the hammer. He brought the hammer above his head and slammed it down onto her forehead with as much force as he could put behind the blow. Unfortunately, it splattered him with fresh blood and brains, and considering the proximity of his face to the thing, he ended up with a ripe tasting of the stuff.
He took a moment upon standing to spit out as much as he could before continuing his run to the parking lot ten blocks from the main strip.
About two blocks away from his destination his legs were ready to give out, and after running so far he slowed to a fast walk, keeping his eyes peeled for any of the things that might jump out at the corners of his eyes. He was breathing heavily, sweat running down his back and across his forehead. It felt like being in a broiler oven. Five-hundred degrees solid or maybe even hotter.
Weston swallowed hard and took a look around, finally noticing the parking lot he'd suggested to Jess. Now, to find which car was hers...
He looked down at the keys and suddenly felt like an idiot, remembering there was a remote attached to the key ring. He took a moment to pick a set of cars to aim the remote at, setting off the panic button.
Weston nearly jumped out of his skin when a car behind him started going off. When he wheeled around, he noticed there was one of them standing there, by the car, eying it with a sort of glossy amazement. Since Weston was still terrified he failed to realize that the thing standing before him had absolutely no interest in him, instead occupied by the blaring noise the car spewed out.
And since Weston thought that it would come for him, he threw himself into kicking what was once a man solidly in the gut, sending him falling backwards and immediately immobile. Weston kicked him again for good measure before turning off the alarm and unlocking the doors to get inside the car.
Back at the apartment, Salem busied himself instantly with dumping out the contents of his largest duffel bag, stuffing a few t-shirts and two pairs of good jeans into it, along with underwear almost as an afterthought. Then he turned with an almost intensity on Weston's closet, picking out what he thought Weston would appreciate wearing—a few more t-shirts with ignorant slogans—and of course, a few pairs of worn out jeans. After rifling through Weston's dresser he came up with some embarrassing underwear—cute pink boxers with duckies on them, and an authentic pair of heart boxers in a comfortable satin fabric.
He threw all of this into his bag then did a nice once-over of the room before moving out of the bedroom and into the living room. The bag wasn't quite heavy yet, so he figured he could put a few more things into it before stopping.
Salem dropped the bag onto the floor and walked into the bathroom, grabbing their toothbrushes and some toothpaste, deodorant, and even a bar of soap. He wasn't sure if any of it would actually be useful at the moment, but if they did end up north, and things really were okay, then they would be set for the time being.
The thought that maybe things would actually be okay made him feel more relaxed. Not by much, but enough to let him breathe easier as he waited for Weston to return.
It really hadn't been long since his uncle had left him—maybe five, ten minutes at the most. He was getting rather antsy, and figured he could put the television on to distract himself.
A few of the local stations were out, but he didn't expect them to be running. After flipping through a few channels he fell on a working news network and watched with anticipation through a stupid car commercial before it returned to the news program.
The newscaster immediately began by giving guesses of climbing death tolls, and increasing public unrest—then there were talks of an outburst of a flu or virus that caused cannibalism and an incredible hike in the immune system and human sturdiness. Then there was talk of how it seemed the dead were rising to life again, by some terrible miracle of God or some equally higher power.
And then the unspeakable happened. The camera panned suddenly around the studio, surveying what appeared to be a vicious massacre of the news crew. The screams were blood curdling, painful, and after watching just a few seconds of the scene, Salem turned the TV off completely.
He thought about it for a moment, coming to the realization that the broadcast was from New York. A good seven or eight hours north of them.
Salem's face felt wet and when he reached up he saw that he was crying again. He slumped to the floor, hugging his knees as he pressed his face into them. He wanted to keep crying, but he heard the unmistakable sound of a car screeching to a halt in front of the apartment, and then he heard the loud blare of a horn his mother's car had.
Picking up the bag, Salem bounded down the steps in two's, unbolted the door and rushed to the car.
Upon climbing in, he noticed that Weston had found a pair of sunglasses in the car, as they perched neatly on the bridge of his nose. He was also very sweaty, and the smell of it was very sharp and noticeable. Then again, Weston had run the entire way, or so it appeared. Not that Salem minded since he didn't smell horrible. He just smelled... very manly.
Salem was thrown back against the seat when Weston took off, nearly going from zero to sixty in two seconds point blank. "Where are we going?", Salem questioned.
Weston adjusted the sunglasses and smirked a little at his nephew from the corner of his eye. "To the mall," he said.
Salem frowned a bit, turning his head to the side inquisitively. "What for? I... I thought we were going north?" He wondered briefly if Weston had read his mind and already knew the condition the north was in before he had a chance to stutter out the truth.
"Well, there's a hunting store there. I figure we can just break in and get some artillery before we head upstate." He gave his nephew a reassuring glance, putting his hand on the boy's thigh and giving it a squeeze.
But that wasn't reassuring for him at all, and Salem took Weston's hand into his own. "Maybe, uh, maybe we shouldn't go north. I mean, the news they... they were talking about it and..." he couldn't continue, not with the image of the news crew getting slaughtered still fresh in the back of his mind. It was like the massacre of his hope, or at least what little shreds of hope he had left in him.
"And?", Weston said, his voice a little on edge. Like he were angry, but if that was the case, he wasn't angry at Salem even if it sounded that way.
"And maybe we should just stay put, you know? What if we, uh, we run out of gas on some abandoned road and we have to walk the rest of the way?" His eyes were wide and scared, like a wild deer, and Weston slowed the car to eye him curiously.
"What did they say on the news?"
Salem paused a moment before lifting Weston's hand up to his face, pressing his cheek to the back of it. "They died," he said in a restrained voice, "they were... attacked, and... I saw them get... get ea-eaten."
Weston stopped the car all together then to pet Salem's hair. He leaned over and kissed his forehead to console him like an infant sick for its mother before sitting upright again. "Maybe we could stay at the mall." But that wasn't entirely appealing either. The things would eventually get inside and kill everyone, and that was about as pleasant an idea as heading north to find nothing but wasteland. However, with the mall scenario it was likely they would live a lot longer than if they drove as far as the car's gas could take them, only to get stranded.
He pulled his foot off the brakes then, sighing in defeat. "Fine," he said, "fine, we'll stay in the mall." Salem leaned over and hugged Weston around the neck.