I wrote this very short piece of flash fiction at a friend’s request. She asked for something beautiful about zombies in 150 words or less. I hope you enjoy it.

last rays

“They’re at the back door, too,” Dawn said.

“Great.” Paul hit the wall with his fist. In the corner, Jenna quietly began to cry. Dawn sat next to Jenna and put an arm around her.

“Don’t cry, sweetie. Paul will think of something.”

Through her tears, Jenna said, “I watched the sun come up this morning. First time in years. It was breath-taking. I used to watch the sunrise with Gram when I was little. I forgot. All these years, I forgot.”

Dawn hugged Jenna and gave Paul a meaningful look.

“Right,” Paul said. “It’s not over yet.”

Just then, the front door collapsed. Bodies flooded the room as zombies rushed in. The last thing Jenna saw before they blocked her view completely was the sun, low in the afternoon sky. Its golden rays broke through the clouds, like hope penetrating the darkness.

It was beautiful.

I’m back on schedule this week with another 500 Club post. I keep telling myself I’m going to use prompts from a different source one of these weeks, but the folks over at The Parking Lot Confessional are going to have to give me stale prompts one week to push me to it. This week the prompts were fresh and interesting, so this ain’t the week.

The prompt I’ve chosen for this week is: “Write a short story about something out of place. Maybe stacks and stacks of books, but not in a library or book store. Or, a full working kitchen at the heart of a cave. Make it believable and make it in 500 words.” I don’t know about believable, but the 500 words below were some of the most fun I’ve had writing flash fiction in a while. It’s twisted and dark, but still somehow playful. I enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it.

blood and frosting

Zombies don’t really have a place at children’s birthday parties. I trust that a fuller explanation isn’t needed, but I have a practical example that illustrates my point.

Whitney Cummings is 6. She turned 6 just two weeks ago today. Like most children her age, she flits through phases as frequently as Facebook changes its privacy policies. Three months ago she could not get enough of “The Land Before Time”. It was a movie of paramount importance in her little world, its cinematic greatness unrivaled. In the weeks leading up to her birthday, however, “Beauty and the Beast” took a surprise leap forward.

As a result, Whitney’s mother, Caroline, scrambled to shift from one theme to another. Fortunately, her party planning skills are the stuff of legend. By the day of the party she had arranged for a cake in the shape of the happy, if unlikely, couple, no fewer than 6 age-appropriate party games such as “Pin the Hands on Cogsworth”, homemade decorations accurate enough to violate Disney’s copyright laws and, the crowning jewel, a Beauty and the Beast bounce house.

The party was going perfectly. Children and adults alike were mingling and enjoying themselves when the Wilson boy, Cody, began screaming. He emerged from the bounce house gripping his left forearm with his right hand. His left hand was gone.

Panic ensued as someone, perhaps Cody’s mother, scooped the boy up and children began to cry out in those shrill tones that make nails on a chalkboard sound like Haydn.

The bounce house began to deflate. Another child careened from the opposite side of the food table clutching her leg. There were bite marks and blood on her shin. Larger forms emerged from the bounce house, from behind the bushes, from the sides of the Cumming residence. Their skin was pale-gray and glossy. Their eyes blank. They moaned and shuffled forward toward the party goers with a slow but relentless cadence.

They were zombies.

Caroline Cummings, feeling both the fierce protective instincts of a mother and the basic sense of hospitality which demands that it’s improper for one to allow one’s guests to be consumed by the walking dead, ran to the tool shed at the far corner of the yard. Fumbling with her keys, she unlocked the door and retrieved a small gas-powered chainsaw from within. Pulling the ripcord, she fired the chainsaw up and charged forward, past frozen kindergartners and their parents, toward the clustering zombies.

There were a dozen but the chainsaw made short work of them. Caroline swept it back and forth, to and fro in wide arcs that sent blood showering the yard. In less than a minute they were gone. In their place was raw carnage commingled with the remains of a fairy tale. Beauty and quite a few beasts. Blood and frosting.

There were injuries, yes, but no one died that day who was not already dead and everyone learned that zombies have no place at a child’s birthday party.

No place at all.