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Haiku Friday – Singe & Deep

5 Jan

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you are all keeping warm. The temperature in S. Florida is 55º F and it’s midday and the sun is blazing! 😮  To us, Floridians that’s like -10º F, anywhere else. Ironically, today’s prompt words from Ronovan Writes are Singe and Deep. Just reading the word singe warms me a little, but it also gives me an eerie feeling. With that being said, here’s my contribution for this week’s prompt challenge.

creepy girl-fire-Haiku_Friday-Poetry-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Quiroz Vega-Vashti Q-RonovanWrites-flash fiction-story

 

“The house is on fire, and it isn’t my fault.” Emily crossed her thin arms as she stared at the burning house. She stood wide-eyed with red lips pursed.

The young female police officer in charged of her, observed her for a while. “Are you okay? I know this is a terrible experience for a ten year old girl to go through.”

The little girl didn’t look her way. She blinked a long blink and gave her a one shoulder shrug. Then she nodded her head ‘yes’, but said, “No, I don’t think so.”

The policewoman tilted her head and furrowed her brow. “I’m sorry, I know it’s got to be so hard for you. You can rest assured that the fireman are doing everything in their power to rescue your mother from the fire.”

Emily pressed her lips together, narrowed her deep-set chocolate brown eyes and then gazed at her like a puppy dog. “I left my scrunchy and my favorite teddy bear in the house. Do you think they’re burning right now?”

The policewoman stared at her and narrowed her eyes. She rubbed the nape of her neck and squatted down to be eye level with the girl. She took Emily by the shoulders and turned her, so that they faced each other. “I think you should come with me. I can take you to the hospital where you can be properly looked after. You shouldn’t be here.”

Emily frowned and wrested her shoulders from her. She turned away and continued to stare at the house engulfed in flames. “Once I had a pet hamster. He accidentally walked into our fireplace. He made the strangest sounds as he burned––it was a he and his name was Agamemnon. Do you know how long it took me to learn that name? I was only six then, but that’s the name my mother wanted to give him. She couldn’t even let me name my own pet.” She grumbled the last sentence. “I would have named him, Apple, because he was round and had red hair like mine.” Her alabaster skin flushed making her freckles appear darker. She lowered her eyebrows and squinted her eyes. “Agamemnon died quickly and stunk up the whole house!” She turned to look at the officer. “Do you think my mom will stink like that, as she burns?”

The woman jumped to a stand and looked at the girl with a shocked expression.

Emily turned her sight to the burning house again. “I’m sure it will take much longer for my mother to die, because she’s bigger. She may stink up the whole block.” She crinkled her pixie-like nose.

“Come with me.” The officer took her by the hand and pulled her toward her squad car.

“No!” Emily screamed. “I want to stay here! I want to see.” She wore a hostile facial expression. She pulled her hand from the woman’s hand and took a few steps closer to the house. Her small chest heaved with every breath. She raised her chin and shoved her hands in the front pockets of her jeans.

The policewoman’s eyebrows bumped together in a worried scowl. She minced her way up to her and stood silently by her side. Her eyes were fixed on the girl and squinted in a furtive manner.

A fireman covered in soot and coughing approached the police officer. He took off his fireman hat and ran his hands through his hair. His face was black with residue from the intense fire, but you could see his agonized expression. He gave Emily a grim look before turning to the officer again. He shook his head. “We did everything we could, but we couldn’t save her.” He lowered his voice some more and moved his head closer to the policewoman. “She burned to death. It was a gruesome sight.” He turned to Emily who was staring in their direction. “I’m sorry, kid.” He gestured goodbye to the officer and hurried away.

The policewoman wrapped her arms around her body. Her breaths were shallow and rapid. “I’m so sorry, Emily. The firemen did everything they could, but––”

“I know!” Emily interrupted her. “I heard everything the fireman said, even when he whispered.”

The police officer stared at the little girl with eyes glistening with pity, but her expression quickly turned to shock.

A grin spread slowly across Emily’s face, moving all her freckles.

After the first death

there is no other, you see.

Fire is complete

 

“Too many logs can squelch a fire. Flames need room to breathe.”

~Vashti Q

 

Singe and Deep are this week’s prompt words chosen by Ronovan Hester of Ronovan Writes.

Ron hosts a challenge that anyone could participate in called Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge every Monday, and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your haiku poem. He is an author and poet and also does author interviews and much more on his blog. Be sure to check it out. Read Ron’s Haiku Prompt Challenge Guidelines for more information.

the fall of lilith-novel-Vashti Quiroz Vega-fallen angels-book-Amazon-lilith demon-gadreel

Enjoy your day and stay warm!

Writers Quote Wednesday – The Cursed Tree

13 Apr

A warm welcome to my blog. It is Writers Quote Wednesday and I offer you a quote and a story. Enjoy.

 

“And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are. All we can say is that this is a good deed, because it helps someone or that’s an evil one because it hurts them. People are too complicated to have simple labels.”

~Philip Pullman

scary_trees_The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-quote-short story

The Cursed Tree

by Vashti Q

 

 

The earth rumbled, and the sky turned an ominous dark grey. Large black clouds swirled across the heavens, colliding with each other. A sweet, pungent smell drifted through the air. Once the rain arrived, other odors came. The pounding water shook the plants and trees and carried their odiferous particles in the air. Jagged lightning bolts split the skies, spearing trees and turning them to ash. Deafening thunderclaps made the garden tremble. God was angry. Man had betrayed him. The Garden of Eden would no longer be home to Adam and Eve.

 

Only one tree still stood among the devastated land: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It, too, was cursed and would not last long in the tumultuous storm of God’s rage. A powerful gust of wind removed a seed from this tree and blew it out of the garden and into the world.

 

The tiny doomed seed drifted to the area of a large, roaring river and landed near its bank. The winds continued to bluster, covering it in moist soil. Buried and forgotten, the small seed took root.

 

In time, the seed pushed through the soil a green, quivering stem adorned with tiny, prickly leaves.

 

“What is it, Cain?” Abel scrunched his nose.

 

“What does it look like? It is a plant of some kind.” Cain peered at the rudimentary tree.

 

“I know that, but what kind of plant? It looks different from all the other vegetation. I do not like it.” Abel’s thick blond hair fell on his face as he leaned forward to take a better look.

 

“I think it is a newborn tree, and I do like it.” Cain stared at it. “I am going to build a barricade around it to protect it from the animals.”

 

“Why?” Abel asked. “It is ugly.”

 

“I want to see it grow. Besides, sometimes things that begin as ugly can grow to be beautiful.”

 

Abel’s brow joined in thought. Cain brushed his brother’s hair from his face. He could not stand that his younger brother never tied his hair back. On the other hand he always kept his dark brown hair tied back and neat.

 

Cain kept to his word and built a barrier around the small tree. The boy visited the tree daily and made sure it was doing well. He even spoke to it. “I know you probably do not understand my words, or maybe you do. I know not. Nevertheless, I shall take good care of you and see what fruits you bear.”

 

“Thank you,” the tree responded in his mind. He jumped, startled by the strange voice in his head.

 

Cain looked around and saw no one. His deep cerulean eyes gawked at the small tree before him. “D-did you speak to me?”

 

“I did,” the tree said.

 

Cain gasped. He took a few steps back. “How is this so? Trees do not speak.”

 

“Just because one never spoke to you does not mean that trees do not speak,” the tree said.

 

Cain stared at the tree.

 

“Protect me and help me grow and I shall bear extraordinary fruit just for you.”

 

Wide-eyed, he nodded in agreement.

 

He continued to visit the tree almost every day. He pulled any weeds growing near it. He made sure the tree’s soil was moist and that it was receiving enough water. He also took care of the surrounding land. He planted fragrant flower bushes and verdant plants to grow along with the tree. Soon, he had created a small paradise with the tree in the center of it.

 

He had many conversations with the tree and it was a good listener. As Cain grew up alongside the tree, he did a lot of complaining about his brother Abel, and the tree paid attention.

 

Years went by, and both Cain and his tree grew big and strong. He had grown into a handsome young man—tall, with long, dark hair, eyes blue like the twilight skies, and creamy skin the color of golden powder sand. He loved the land and knew how to work it well, and working it made him strong and muscular. Every seed he planted yielded luscious fruits, vegetables, and beautiful flowers.

 

One day, he came to visit his tree. Cain carried a basket filled with delectable fruits and vegetables. He grumbled under his breath as he kicked stones in his path. He let the basket drop to the ground. The crops spilled out and rolled in different directions on the lush grass. He fell to his knees and wept into his hands.

 

“What is the matter? the tree asked. “Why are you so troubled?”

 

“Nothing I do is good enough!” Cain’s eyes were dark and glistened as he continued to weep.

 

“What do you mean? Everything I have seen you do has been extraordinary. Because of you, I thrive.”

 

“My father does not think so,” Cain said. “Only my brother, Abel can do right in his eyes.”

 

“It seems that your golden-haired brother does nothing but cause you grief.”

 

“Even God shuns my crops and acclaims his sacrificed lamb. I am the eldest, yet I have always walked in my brother’s shadow. But there is nothing I can do.”

 

“Kill him,” the tree said, “you can kill him.”

 

Cain gulped air and stared at the tree, openmouthed. “No! I cannot slay my brother!”

 

“Why not? You are much stronger than he is.”

 

Cain looked bewildered. “I-I just cannot kill him.”

 

“You have never killed but your brother has killed many times.” The leaves on the tree trembled. “Every time he sacrifices a lamb or a goat, he kills.”

 

“This is true, but it is not the same.”

 

“Why?” The tree’s stentorian tone surprised Cain.

 

“Because taking my brother’s life is taking a human life.”

 

“A life is a life! Why did you protect me so, if you did not hold this to be true?” Cain’s heart leaped to his throat as he pondered the tree’s words. “If your brother Abel can take a life, then so can you.”

 

Cain jumped to his feet, nodding. He stared ahead––his blue eyes glittering with the prospect of revenge.

 

“Sacrifice your brother Abel so that you may walk in the light. Once Abel is gone, you shall grow mighty in your father’s eyes.”

 

Without another word Cain rushed to find his brother. He found him on a nearby hill tending after his sheep.

 

“Brother!” He called.

 

“I am here, among the sheep.” Abel’s long, golden hair a mess and flapping in the wind.

 

“You are always among the sheep. It is no wonder you smell like one.” Cain wore a mischievous expression. Abel chuckled until he saw his brother held a large rock in his powerful hand. He looked at his brother’s face, then at the rock, and then at Cain’s face again.

 

“That is a large, menacing rock you carry.” Abel’s voice was tremulous. “What do you intend to do with it?”

 

Cain gripped the rock until his knuckles turned white. He clenched his jaw and flared his nostrils.

 

Abel, who sat on the ground, climbed to his feet. He stared at him with wide eyes and took a step back.

 

Cain narrowed his eyes. He looked at his brother’s hooded russet eyes, at his messy hair and his sun-kissed skin. He puffed and slammed the rock on the ground. “What do you know of fear?” Cain turned and ran away.

 

He ran all the way back to the tree.

 

“I could not do it,” he said breathless. “I hate him. He is my brother and I hate the air he breathes, but I cannot kill him.”

 

“Do you remember the promise I made to you?”

 

“You promised to someday bear extraordinary fruit for me. What has this to do with my current circumstances?”

 

“Have you noticed the small flowers that have grown on my branches?”

 

“I have. Apologies, I have been meaning to compliment you on those, but so much has happened that––”

 

“Apologies are not necessary. I only mention them because in four weeks time a fruit will grow amidst each bloom. A remarkable fruit.”

 

“Remarkable in what way?”

 

“You bring your brother to me in four weeks time, and have him taste my fruit. One bite will accomplish what you could not.”

 

Cain returned home and was at his best behavior. He was obedient to his parents and kind to his brother. He must be pleasant and amicable toward his brother so that when the time came, he would not fear to follow him.

 

There was a consequence to Cain’s feigned behavior. As he became nicer to his family, it seemed to him that they too became more pleasant to be around. He began to enjoy his brother’s company and his parents’ new praises and attention. Being obedient to his parents and kind to his brother had its rewards. He was enjoying his time with them.

 

Four weeks flew by and the time had come to take Abel to the tree. Cain observed his brother as he protected and guided his sheep. Once more he felt remorse. He dragged his feet back to the tree.

 

“I have changed my mind,” Cain told the tree. “I know longer wish to see my brother’s life extinguished.

 

“It is too late now!” the tree bellowed, causing Cain’s head to ache. “He must taste the fruit I bear!”

 

Cain shook his head. “No! I no longer desire his death!”

 

“For years all you talked about was your hatred for your brother,” the tree said. “You spoke of your hatred for him while you watered me. You spoke of your hatred for him as you pulled weeds from around my roots. You said over and over again, as you pruned and cared for me, how your life would be so much better if your brother were not around!”

 

“Things are different now. I am an obedient son and a loving brother. Since I have been good, my parents show me more love and my brother is kind to me.”

 

“How long do you think this shall last? You are not being yourself right now. You are being who they want you to be, and the day you grow tired of being an imposter, they, too, shall go back to the old ways. Remember your parent’s preference for your brother. Remember how they all looked down on you, as if you were lesser than they.”

 

Cain’s heart grew heavy. His face and body slackened. He stared at the tree through eyes blurred with tears. “You are an evil tree and the fruit you bear is an abomination.”

 

“If I am evil, it is only because you have fed me the hatred that consumes you. The fruit I bear is a product of your hostility and your odium.”

 

Cain’s eyes opened wide, his breathing became shallow and erratic. He turned away from the tree, unable to stand its evil presence any longer. He ran as fast as his feet could carry him. When he arrived home he saw his mother watering the root vegetables he had planted for her.

 

“Mother!” he yelled. Eve jumped. “Where is my brother?”

 

“I do not know. He went looking for you.” Eve looked at him with confusion. “You look pale and distraught. Is there something wrong?”

 

“I must find him.” He hurried to the hill where Able spent most of his time with his sheep. He was not there. Instead, Adam tended the sheep.

 

“Father, where is Abel?” Cain asked. “I must speak to him.”

 

“Your brother went off to look for you. He said he would look for you by the river where he thought you would be tending your favorite tree.” Cain gasped and his legs faltered. He plopped onto his knees.

 

His father hurried over. “What is the matter, son?”

 

“Nothing, Father.” Cain clambered to his feet. “I have been running around looking for him, and I am a bit tired.”

 

Adam responded, but Cain did not hear his words, for his pulse beat loud and fast in his ears.

 

“I must go now, Father.” Cain hurried to the small paradise he had created by the river. Standing next to his tree was his brother, holding a half-eaten fruit in his hand.

 

“You did not tell me your tree has yielded fruit.” Abel smiled. “It is the sweetest and most succulent of all fruits.”

 

Cain approached him slowly, shaking his head––large tears falling from his eyes.

 

“Did you not catch the stench of evil and death that comes from this treacherous fruit?” Cain’s face was marked with anguish.

 

Abel flinched and dropped what remained of the fruit to the ground. His face turned ashen and he dropped to all fours. He sat on his haunches, and his tongue wagged out of his mouth. He rocked back and forth. His mouth foamed and he held his hands in front of him like paws. Then he ran around in circles on all fours, making growling noises and tearing plants apart with his teeth before eating them. He approached his brother and sniffed him.

 

Cain retreated from him, his face twisted in disgust. “He is wild, eats grass and runs around on all fours. He is mad and has the mind of an animal.” Cain’s face was red with rage. “Why have you done this?”

 

“It is what you desired,” the tree said. “You could not kill him because he was human, but now he is but a mere animal. Kill him. Or do you prefer he live like this for the rest of his existence?”

 

“No!” Cain shook his head as his heart pounded.

 

Abel continued to growl and paw at him.

 

Cain stared at him. Tears flooded his face. Abel was human only in appearance. He saw that now. He could not allow his brother to go on like this, and he would not put his parents through the shame of watching their beloved son walk on all fours and eat grass. He would do what he must in order to make this right.

 

He grabbed a large jagged rock and walked over to Abel. He lifted the rock over his head. “Goodbye, brother.” Cain brought the rock down on his head again and again until his brother’s skull became one with the ground, and his warm blood covered his face and hands and colored the verdant grass red.

 

Cain saw what he had done and shouted to the heavens as he pulled the hair out of his head. “My brother’s blood calls out for revenge, so punish me, oh God! I deserve your worst. But before you do, please, allow me to watch the destruction of this evil tree. I implore you!”

 

The earth rumbled and the sky turned an ominous dark grey. Large black clouds swirled across the heavens, colliding with each other. Deafening thunderclaps made the ground tremble. A jagged lightning bolt ripped through the sky and speared the tree, turning it to ash.

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

♦♦

Colleen Chesebro is a writer, poet, and book reviewer. She hosts an inspiring event every Wednesday on her blog, Silver Threading, called Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Anyone can participate by choosing a quote by a favorite writer and posting it on your blog.

 

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Short Stories

17 Feb

It’s the middle of the week and that means it’s time for Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Welcome everyone! I love short stories. I enjoy writing them and reading them as well. I have written several short stories for this blog, although it has been a little over a year since I wrote the last one. That’s because I’ve been so busy working on my Fantasy Angels Series and what little free time I have left after working on my series I use to work on my blog posts, social media, and blogging.

I haven’t had the time to write short stories in a while and that makes me sad because I love doing it. Anyway, I have gotten several new followers since I posted my last short story, so I decided to post the links to some of these stories. That way, those of you that have not read them can check them out, if you like.

A Town’s Perception

Murder She WrotePart 2, Finale

Raven’s Masterpiece

A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance, Part 2, Finale

The Cursed Tree, Part 2, Finale

The Writer Next Door

“I would also suggest that any aspiring writer begin with short stories. These days, I meet far too many young writers who try to start off with a novel right off, or a trilogy, or even a nine-book series. That’s like starting in at rock climbing by tackling Mt. Everest. Short stories help you learn your craft.”

~George R.R. Martin

“A short story is the ultimate close-up magic trick – a couple of thousand words to take you around the universe or break your heart.”

~Neil Gaiman

“I love short stories because I believe they are the way we live. They are what our friends tell us, in their pain and joy, their passion and rage, their yearning and their cry against injustice.”

~Andre Dubus

“I find it satisfying and intellectually stimulating to work with the intensity, brevity, balance and word play of the short story.”

~Annie Proulx

Colleen Chesebro is a writer, poet, and book reviewer. She hosts an inspiring event every Wednesday on her blog, Silver Threading, called Writer’s Quote Wednesday. Anyone can participate by choosing a quote by a favorite writer and posting it on your blog.

Ronovan, from Ronovan Writes and Colleen have joined forces! He has been linking his #BeWoW blog share (Be Wonderful on Wednesday) now to include: Be Writing on Wednesday. If you would like to combine both posts feel free to do so and link them to Colleen’s post. She will make sure and add you to the quote wrap-up she does each Tuesday. Please make sure and check out Ron’s blog for more writing inspiration and motivation!

Enjoy your day! And don’t forget to read one of my short stories.

They will haunt you . . . 

A Town’s Perception – Short Story

31 Aug

 

A Town's Perception

 

Hello everyone! Thank you for visiting my blog today. I’m featuring a short story inspired by a nightmare I had. The nightmare was somewhat bizarre, as night terrors often are, but what I remember of it became the creative impulse that led to this story. I’ll call it a Sci-Fi/Horror.

WARNING: The story is a bit macabre.

 

( ^ Click PLAY to hear soundtrack ^)

 

A Town's Perception_Vashti Quiroz-Vega_The Writer Next Door

A Town’s Perception

by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

It began with the moon.

One evening I lifted my eyes to the skies, and the moon appeared to have doubled in size. After that, all sorts of curious phenomena began to occur. Everyone in my small town was in a panic.

Strange swirls of indescribable colors were seen in the night skies. During the day the sun shone blood red and colored the skies pink. It was as if we had been transported to a different planet overnight.

When I saw the ships in the sky, I knew it wouldn’t be long before they came for us, and I was right.

In the middle of the day, they came. I watched them disembark their ships, small groups at a time. They resembled men of diminutive stature with large heads. They appeared to waddle rather than walk. They wore weird metallic suits with respirators attached to their faces.

I rushed to my daughter’s side. She lay on the bed in her room, stared ahead at nothingness and wailed, as she had done for days.

My poor child. Her mind was not equipped to handle this invasion. I held her tight. I would not allow her capture. Who knew what these small creatures were capable of doing to her—-to us.

I pushed the barrel of the gun up against her temple to keep my hand from trembling. The cold metal did not stop her wails. Poor thing, her voice was so hoarse. I would extinguish the fire in her gullet.

I pulled the trigger. She fell on her side, her eyes still open wide, as if she could still see this nightmare. I shut her eyelids and finally gave her peace.

It was my turn. I’d convinced myself, like so many others in this town, that this was the only way out. I was the last to take action since I was taught to always have hope, but even those of us who always have hope had given up.

The priest took most of the townfolk. After his last sermon, he instructed the congregation to get on their knees and pray. While the town’s people prayed, the priest left the church and locked the doors behind him. Then he set the church ablaze.

Pitiful man of God, his mind also handled the crisis poorly. He burned those people alive: men and women, young and old. He had invited my daughter and I to attend his last sermon, and I agreed to go, but my daughter was not doing well, so we stayed home and were saved from a horrific death.

I live a block away from the church, and I heard the screams and howls of the burning souls. I ran down the street and was met with a fiery inferno. The stench of burning flesh and hair made me retch. I released the contents of my stomach right there on the street. What did it matter? There was no one around to watch me. I saw the priest stagger from the back of the burning building. My stomach was tied in knots.

“Demons! The demons are upon us,” he shouted. “If you remain they will take your soul!”

“What are you talking about?” I gasped and pointed a shaky finger at the combusting church. “There are people burning alive in there.” I ran toward the church’s double doors. The heat of the blaze stopped me. I sobbed unable to act. Those were my neighbors. My friends.

“You have to burn! Otherwise the demons will take your soul. I burned them because the fire will purify their spirits.” He stared at me with wild eyes.

My hands flew to cover my mouth upon recognition of what he had done. My legs faltered, and I fell to my knees. I trembled uncontrollably as the priest took steps toward me. I extended my quaking arms before me.

“Stop! Stay away!” I made an attempt to get to my feet, but my knees buckled.

“My dear, you must not remain alive. The demons will take your soul.” His voice eerily calm. He continued to trudge in my direction.

“You’re right!” I shouted. My head nodding briskly. “I know I must die. I must tend to my daughter’s demise also.”

“What? Your young daughter is still alive?”

“Yes, she waits for me at home.”

“No, no, no!” The man of the cloth pulled on his sleeves and shook his head like a madman. “You must go to her! It may be too late already. The demons do not waste time. A young soul like hers is a prime target. Go to her! If her soul is still intact, take her life immediately and then take your own.” He took a lighter out and flicked it on. He bent over and put the small flame against the hem of his cassock.

I tried to scream as I watched the fire spread and grow on the flammable cloth of his priestly vestment, but I opened my mouth and sounds did not leave my lips. I gathered all my strength and lifted myself off the ground. I wanted to run. Instead I barely escaped the wailing priest who floundered, engulfed in flames. I staggered past him. The crackle and pop of his burning flesh lingered in my ears never to be forgotten. Noxious smoke attacked my nostrils. The stench was so great, I could taste it.

The very next day, the little men came.

It’s time now. My daughter is gone. The entire town is gone.

*

A gunshot is heard. Men in white lab coats and facemasks run into a young girl’s bedroom. On the twin bed, dressed in pink, lies a pre-teen girl and a thirty-something-year-old woman. Both females are deceased due to gunfire wounds to the head.

“We’re too late,” one of the men in lab coats said.

“Well, maybe it is for the best,” his partner said. “There is nothing we could have done to reverse the effects of the chemical agent.”

“It’s a shame what happened in this town.”

“Yes, but how could we know Compound K would have this effect on them?”

“No––we had no way of knowing that the solution we prepared to cause infertility in the men and women of this town would turn into a powerful, hallucinogenic, mind-altering drug when combined with their water.”

“We’ll have to look into the town’s filtering system before we try this again in the next small town.”

“I agree, but let’s not allow this small speed bump to deter our cause.”

“Doctors,” a young man interrupted, “you asked for bottled water?” The men nodded and each took a bottle. They hardly took notice of the fellow. The young assistant leaves.

“Of course it won’t deter us. Our cause to save the planet by ending overpopulation goes beyond a few casualties.”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call five hundred people a few casualties, but such things happen in the name of science.”

“Absolutely.” The scientist gulps down his bottled water. Suddenly, he sputters. His eyes widen. “Th-thi-this water was bottled right here in this town!”

The other scientist fumbles with the bottle, trying to see the manufacturer’s name.

“How could this small town have a bottled water company?” Wide-eyed and hands trembling, the scientist stares at the lettering on the bottle. He reads, “‘We take pride in our fresh, clean mountain water and we use the highest quality water filtration systems.’ They bottled this water four days ago.” He drops the bottle, and it crashes to the ground.

“No!” his partner yells. “We put Compound K in the water supply seven days ago!”

“Maybe it won’t affect us in the same way as the townspeople. We’ve only drank a small portion in comparison to what they must have drank in the course of several days.” His voice wavers and his body shudders at the thought of having ingested the solution that caused all the townspeople to go mad and kill themselves. The other scientist stares at him, unnervingly silent.

Unexpectedly, the first scientist cries out and recoils. “Stay away from me! Don’t come near me. You will never take me alive!”

“What is the matter with you?” Staring at his partner and looking perplexed the second scientist takes a step back. “Oh, no.” His face slackens as realization hits.

His partner continues shouting, “You’ll never take me alive, Nazi!” He grabs a lamp and charges.

The scientist wrestles with his crazed colleague and seizes the lamp from him. The madman bites him on the shoulder. The scientist beats the man on the head and shoulder repeatedly until the lunatic finally unclenches his teeth and falls to the ground dead.

The scientist falls back against the wall, panting. He slides down the wall, landing in a crumpled mess on the floor. He holds his head in his hands and stares at his partner’s limp body, whose blood meanders toward him. Rivers pour from his eyes. His body shakes and convulses.

His eyes do not reflect what his mind sees.

The flames of hell surround him while demons dance around and torment him with everlasting pain.

 

A Town's Perception

Copyright © 2013 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

Writer’s Quote Wednesday

1 Jul

Hi everyone! I’m posting this very late today and I have Comcast to thank for that. Since I moved to my new house I’ve had nothing but problems with Comcast and my WiFi connection. It works one day and then it’s out two, three, or four days. I’m getting really frustrated with this situation. Well, my internet is finally working––lets see how long this will last. Okay, I’m done venting.

Writer’s Quote Wednesday | Silver Threading

Writer's Quote Wednesday

Horror Quote

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'”

Do you enjoy reading horror novels? What are some of your favorite horror writers/novels?

The Search for the Last Flower – FINALE

7 Nov

Hello everyone! Happy Friday! Today is the last installment of my horror series, The Search for the Last Flower. I will be announcing the winner of the giveaway on Sunday. In the meantime please enjoy the finale.

 

Blue-Poppies_nearestneighbor-2

 

Caleb had to leave this place as soon as possible. Already yellow eyes glared in his direction. He would not be responsible for Armageddon. He could find the answers he needed in his lab. If he could find a cure, maybe all could be set right again. But how could anything be right again?

 

Caleb ran outside the hospital. The walking dead were all around him. They overran his car. They smelled Lolita’s blood. How would he get to his lab? He couldn’t make it on foot. Already there were so many of them. But he had to make it. He was the only one who could end this.

 

He spotted an ambulance and ran to it. The door was open and he jumped into it, closed the door and locked it. The keys were in the ignition. It was lucky for him but not so lucky for whoever had to leave the vehicle in such a hurry. He sighed deeply, turned the key and fled the hospital parking lot.

 

He drove as fast as he could, which was faster than he’d ever driven. He scrambled around the ambulance’s dashboard and found the switch to turn on the siren. He flew past red lights and stop signs on his way to the lab. He was high on adrenaline, and he was certain he could fix the problem he had started if only he could make it to the lab.

 

He made a sharp turn and heard a thump in the back of the ambulance. He focused his hearing while continuing to keep his eyes on the road. He heard a crash and a slam. His heart began to thump.

 

Something pounded on the small window between the back of the ambulance and the front seat. Caleb’s eyes opened wide. Part of him wanted to turn and look, but the other part just wanted to drive on. He turned his head. It was one of them.

 

A large man, judging by the size of his fists and neck, was pounding on the glass. A dark, triangular nasal cavity stood where his nose once did, and his lower lip, as well as the skin of his lower jaw was missing. His entire face was red with blood, which made his yellow eyes stand out even more.

 

Caleb faced the road again just in time to avoid crashing against a building. His mouth quivered and his hands shook, even while he gripped the steering wheel. He had to make it to the lab. If this malady spread to other states or countries, it would mean the end of everything. He stepped on the throttle.

 

All he had to do was cross the bridge and he would be a mere minute or two from his lab. He would work night and day until he came up with a solution to reverse the effects of the elixir.

 

The thing on the other side of the small window did not relent. He shook the vehicle every time his large fists pounded on the glass. Caleb glanced at the window and saw evidence that the glass could shatter at any moment. He slammed his foot on the throttle but the vehicle could not go any faster.

 

He finally reached the bridge. The dead man kept striking the window causing damage to the edge of the glass. It began to crack and the next hard impact caused it to shatter into pieces.

 

Caleb gasped when he saw the pieces of glass fall to the front seat, and heard the man’s growl. The man stuck his head through the opening and tried to squeeze his wide shoulders through. He snapped his teeth at Caleb like a rabid dog.

 

Caleb shifted away from the monster and pressed against his door. The man backed away from the window. Caleb panted and kept taking glimpses at the opening as he swerved through traffic. It grew quiet. Caleb’s thoughts were muddled. Where did the man go?

 

The man crashed into the opening sticking his head, left arm and shoulder through––reaching for Caleb.

 

Caleb kept pressing his body against the door, but that was not far enough from the man’s reach. His driving kept getting more and more erratic as he tried fending off the monster with one hand and driving with the other. He veered into the next lane and almost collided with another vehicle. His pulse raced. He was midway on the bridge. Would he make it?

 

As he watched the road, the man grabbed his arm, tore into the muscles of his forearm with his teeth, and pulled them away. Caleb howled as the man gnawed on his arm. He caught a glimpse of his ulnar and became lightheaded. His eyes were rolling in his head. He wailed and yanked his bloody arm away from the man.

 

He was bitten.

 

Caleb sobbed and shook his head. He groaned in pain, shock, but most of all at the knowledge that he would soon die and become one of them. He would no longer go to the lab. There was no time for him to find a cure for this affliction.

 

He looked to his right and then his left. The poison course through his body. He was dying.

 

He swerved the vehicle to an ongoing lane, onto the shoulder and then off the bridge. As he plummeted over two-hundred feet to his death in an icy river, Caleb cursed the day he went in search of the last flower.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

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I want to thank all my readers for their time. I hope this was a good ending for you. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. 

The Search for the Last Flower – (Part 11)

5 Nov

Welcome to Part 11 of my horror series, The Search for the Last Flower. I appreciate all the comments, shares, and tweets. You guys rock! I’m glad you’re enjoying the story––it’s why I right. 😉 (Part 12 is the final installment and I will be posting it on Friday.)

 

thesearchforthelastflower

 

 

 

Caleb snatched his keys, opened the back door of his car, grabbed Lolita and shoved her in.

 

Lolita groaned and squirmed in pain.

 

“Stay with me, Lolita.” He got into the front seat and started the car. He pushed the pedal to the metal and sped away, just as Dr. Smith placed his face against his window.

 

“Talk to me, Lolita.” Caleb drove recklessly, weaving through traffic, ignoring stale green lights and stop signs, trying to get the girl to the hospital as soon as possible. Her wails and shrieks were making his head throb. He sobbed and pounded on the steering wheel.

 

By the time Caleb had reached the hospital, Lolita was quiet and still. He slammed on the brakes in front of the emergency entrance. He swung his door open and jumped out. It was hard to stomach what he saw when he opened the back door. Lolita lay sprawled on the back seat, naked, completely covered in her own blood and gore. How would he explain this? What the hell––he had to do the right thing. This woman needed medical attention. He grabbed her and carried her out of the car.

 

He rushed inside the hospital, leaving his car parked askew with the passenger side front and back doors wide open. His car could be stolen, but the only thing on his mind was to save the girl.

 

“Help me! This girl needs help!” He ran into the emergency room bellowing. “She’s dying! I need a doctor!”

 

Some people sitting around stared wide-eyed, others gasped, screamed, and some jumped out of their seats staggering backward in shock.

 

Several nurses ran to him, followed by paramedics pushing a stretcher. Caleb placed her limp, motionless body down on the stretcher. A young doctor came running while putting on his stethoscope’s ear tips. He tried to find a heartbeat. His brow knit tightly. He shook his head and grabbed her wrist to feel a pulse and then he auscultated her again. Nothing. “I-I’m sorry sir. The girl is dead.” The doctor looked at Caleb and pressed his lips together. He placed a hand on Caleb’s shoulder.

 

Caleb pushed his hand off. “No––no, check again! She can’t be dead!” The doctor opened his mouth to speak but Caleb yelled, “Check again! One more time––please.” The doctor stared at him with a pitying expression and auscultated her once more. He took longer than the last time. He looked up at Caleb, still maintaining the stethoscope’s diaphragm on her chest and shook his head.

 

Lolita’s eyes sprang open.

 

The nurses gasped and recoiled. The young doctor stared at the corpse. Caleb looked into her eyes. They were wild, cloudy and yellow. The doctor placed his hand over them to close them. Lolita reached and bit three of his fingers off with one bite. The doctor stared in shock at the stumps on his hand as blood jet out from them like geysers.

 

Lolita sat upright and grabbed the doctor from behind. She bit right through his lab coat and shirt into his upper back. The doctor howled in pain and pulled away from her. He stared at her with a confused expression.

 

A nurse ran to help the doctor. Lolita jumped off the stretcher and seized the nurse by the hair. She bit her on the neck. As the nurse screamed and struggled, Lolita continued to bite pieces off her until she lay still, and someone else got Lolita’s attention.

 

The emergency room was in an uproar. Nurses, paramedics, doctors, and patients were running, crying, screaming. Caleb backed into a corner of the room and watched––immobilized by fear and dread. Lolita moved differently from Dr. Smith. She was faster, stronger, and more agile. She grabbed one person, took a few bites and then grabbed another. At least eight or nine people were bit so far, and she showed no signs of slowing down.

 

She must be stopped. Every person she bit would eventually become like her. He knew that now. She must not leave this place––everyone she’d attacked must not leave this place. But it was too late. Many of the bitten had already left the building.

 

As Caleb watched Lolita chase several screaming people out of the emergency room, he became lightheaded. He slid down the wall. He hugged his knees, rocked, and held his head. This would never end now. It would spread until everyone in the city was a crazed––can someone dead be called crazed?

 

He knew he should not sit still. This was all his doing and he had to fix it. He could return to the lab and figure out how to stop this before it truly was too late. He was the only one who could do it. He had to find the strength.

 

Caleb made an attempt to rise, but his legs trembled, his knees faltered and he fell on his rump again. He looked at his hands. They trembled like leaves in a windstorm. He took a deep breath. He had to calm down and take ahold of himself. The longer he lingered, the more victims of his elixir there would be.

 

He rose and looked around the emergency room. There were two paramedics lifting the young doctor, who had attended Lolita, off the floor and onto a stretcher. One of the paramedics bent over to lift the stretcher, his head too close the doctor’s face.

 

“No––get away from him,” Caleb said under his breath as he ran toward them. The doctor opened his eyes and ripped the paramedic’s ear off with his teeth. The paramedic staggered away, howling in pain. His partner dropped the clipboard he was holding and went to help him.

 

“It’s too late for him!” Caleb yelled at the paramedic who was trying to help his friend. “Get away from him and leave this place or you, too, will end up like the doctor.” The paramedic looked at his friend, Caleb and then the doctor, who had already jumped off the stretcher. He left his friend and ran away as fast as he could. The other stood in shock, putting pressure on the hole that was his ear. The doctor launched at him, knocking him to the floor.

 

He pulled his shirt apart, buttons flew everywhere. He gnawed on the paramedic’s belly until he made his way inside and began to feast on his intestines, while the man still squirmed and squealed.

 

Caleb staggered backward, retching violently. He looked around. Others who had been bitten and died were beginning to rise, animated by the synthetic essence of the Brazilian tribe’s last flower.

 

This was his doing. Could this be undone?

 

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

 

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Thank you for reading! Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Don’t forget about the Giveaway! Read, comment, and win!

The Search for the Last Flower – (Part 10)

4 Nov

Hi everyone! Thank you for visiting my blog and for reading Part 10 of my horror series, The Search for the Last Flower. I hope you like it!

 

 

the search for the last flower

 

 

She froze when she saw Dr. Smith lying on his bed in his pajama bottoms. She stared at him wide-eyed and then she began to scream nonstop. Caleb grabbed her by the shoulders and tried to get her to calm down, but she continued to scream. He smacked her face and she stopped. She sobbed and turned to leave.

 

“Lolita,” Dr. Smith called. “Come to me, Lolita.” His voice was rough, breathy, and the scariest voice she had ever heard.

 

“Go to him,” Caleb told her. She shook her head. “I will pay you well for a small amount of your time.” She closed her eyes tightly, shook her head again and hurried out of the room.

 

“Wait.” Caleb hurried after her. She kept moving quickly toward the front door. “Look––I will pay you triple what he normally pays you!”

 

“There isn’t enough money in the world to make me have sex with that––that monster!”

 

“I don’t expect you to have sex with him. Just remove your clothes and let him touch you a little––that’s all.” Lolita shuddered at the thought. “Give an old man just a few minutes of your time before he dies.”

 

Lolita sighed deeply and looked at the floor. “I only have to remove my clothes and let him touch me a little, right?” Caleb nodded. “Alright, but I leave in ten minutes.” She made her way back to the bedroom. Caleb followed closely behind.

 

Dr. Smith’s eyes were closed. He seemed motionless.

 

“Is he still alive?” Lolita took a step back.

 

Caleb stared at him for a moment. He walked over and shook him.

 

“Andrew, Andrew––” Dr. Smith opened his eyes. Caleb avoided looking at him in the face. “He’s alive. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can get out of here.”

 

Lolita took off her clothes. Her skin was smooth and flawless, like cream. Her breasts were plump and perky. Caleb could not turn away.

 

“If you’re going to watch, it’ll cost five hundred dollars extra,” she told him.

 

She trembled as she approached Dr. Smith. She climbed on top of him, straddling over his pajama bottom. When she got close enough her hand flew to cover her nose and mouth. The stench, cloying and nauseating, irritated her nostrils. Her face twisted in disgust as Dr. Smith’s cold, slimy hands grabbed her by the waist.

 

He pulled her closer.

 

Caleb’s face pinched. Then he noticed Dr. Smith’s eyes. Caleb squinted. It couldn’t be. Dr. Smith’s irises were yellow, as yellow as the eyes of the boy in the fire in the jungle. Ice water seemed to flow in Caleb’s veins.

 

Dr. Smith pulled Lolita to him and bit her breast. Lolita screamed, but the doctor would not let go. She wailed and pounded on his head. He gnawed and shook his head until he tore off the breast. She fell back on the bed, and Dr. Smith grabbed her foot with half of one breast still in his mouth. She howled and pressed the remaining breast tissue against her chest. Her caught leg juddered and the other kicked, trying to get away from his clutches. When he was done with her breast, he began biting off and eating her toes one by one. More horrific screams.

 

Caleb gawped at the scene before him, too frightened to do anything. Dr. Smith had become whatever it was that boy in the jungle had become.

 

The young woman lost consciousness. Caleb watched his father gnaw on that poor woman’s foot as if it were barbecue ribs. He panted and scanned the room. He could not figure out what to do.

 

Dr. Smith tossed Lolita’s leg aside. She regained consciousness and as she opened her eyes immense pain gripped her. Once more she began to wail and howl in anguish. He grabbed her by the arms and yanked her to him with ample strength and agility, as if reborn. He bit into her upper arm and pulled skin, muscles, tendons . . . each tissue fighting to stay together. She shrieked and cringed.

 

Caleb could take no more. He picked up a metal lamp from on top of his father’s night table and clobbered his father over the head several times until he finally let go of the girl. The heavy metal lamp dented his skull and should have killed him, but instead it only seemed to make him momentarily groggy.

 

Caleb gasped, carried the girl off the bed, and hurried toward the front door. When he reached the front door, he heard a noise. He looked over his shoulder––Dr. Smith was coming after them.

 

Caleb moved as fast as he could toward his car. Lolita clung onto him and tried to walk, but Caleb carried most of her weight and dragged her along.

 

As he approached his car, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his keys. He looked over his shoulder again and saw that Dr. Smith was emerging from the door. Caleb fumbled with his keys, trying to balance Lolita’s weight while he found the car key.

 

“Miss, you’re going to have to lean against the car until I open it.” He let go. He looked back—Dr. Smith was approaching fast.

 

He searched through his keys but his hands trembled and he dropped them to the ground. He bent over to pick them up and Lolita groaned and swayed, about to fall. Caleb grabbed her and pushed her against his car again. She was losing a lot of blood. If he didn’t get her to a hospital soon, she would die. He tried once more to pick up his keys. The doctor’s horrid stench preceded him. Caleb turned his head and saw that he was a mere few feet away and reaching out to him.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

 

zombie-Attack-the search for the last flower-blog

We’re almost to the end of the series. I’ve had a lot of fun writing it. I hope you’ve had as much fun reading it. Thanks so much for your time.  Don’t forget to leave a comment. 😀

The Search for the Last Flower – (Part 9)

2 Nov

 Hello! I hope everyone had a great weekend. This is part 9 of my horror series, The Search for the Last Flower.  Enjoy!

White_blood_cell_zombie_infection_the search for the last flower_story

 

“Your body has had some sort of reaction to the anti-aging elixir.”

 

Dr. Smith shook his head. “No––it can’t be.”

 

“Certain molecules from the synthetic solution have bonded to your white blood cells, reducing their ability to engulf and destroy bacteria.” Caleb’s voice was brittle.

 

“So my immune system is shutting down.” Dr. Smith pounded on his head with both fists. “Soon my body will be invaded by all sorts of bacteria, microbes, parasites . . . I’m already suffering the symptoms of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.”

 

Caleb covered his eyes with his hands. He shook and convulsed in anguish. “This is my fault! I should have done more tests. I should––”

 

“Stop!” Dr. Smith groaned and went into a coughing fit. “You know you’re not to blame. I, and I alone, decided to take the elixir before the proper tests were done. The question is, what are you going to do to resolve this problem?”

 

“As soon as I saw the results of your blood tests, I made some phone calls. The anti-aging elixir is in the process of being recalled, and a notice will be sent out by the CDC to pharmacies and all patients in their database. I’ve already posted a notice on our website and social media accounts.” Caleb’s pulse was racing. “There’s also a television commercial that will run every half hour, asking everyone who had bought or used the elixir to go to designated areas in their state established by the CDC to get labs and tissue samples done. I think we can contain this, but––” Caleb broke down again. “There isn’t much we can do for those already showing symptoms of microorganism invasion.” He took his glasses off, cleaned the foggy lenses with his t-shirt, and put them back on.

 

“So I only have a few hours left. It won’t be much longer before the organisms completely dismantle my body and take it away until all that’s left is my skeleton.” Dr. Smith closed his eyes briefly and shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t want to wait for that to happen, but before I go, I want to feel the warmth of a woman’s body next to mine.”

 

Caleb’s face contorted in shock and revulsion. Microbes must have ravaged his father’s mind.

 

“Call somebody for me,” he pleaded. “It must be done quickly. I don’t know how much longer I will be lucid.”

 

“I don’t think you’re in your right mind any longer.” Anguish was etched on Caleb’s face.

 

Dr. Smith frowned. “You will not give a dying man his last wish?”

 

Caleb bit his lower lip.

 

“You don’t think I’m suffering enough? Dr. Smith cough and his lips became red with blood. “Bring me a woman while I can still see her!”

 

His large blue irises were now an opaque purplish hue with yellowing of the outer rims. The whites of his eyes were bright red due to the engorged blood vessels within. A cloudy film covered the eyes. His face was a purplish color with black dead patches marred by tears in the skin, which was shiny due to the oozing of infectious fluid, which mingled with the blood seeping from his mouth, nose, tear ducts, and ears.

 

Caleb stared at him, his stomach churned, and he retched again and again. He tried to contain his feelings of disgust. This was the only father he’d ever known. He vomited a little in his mouth and swallowing it back down only made him more nauseous. He ran to the toilet, put the seat up, fell to his knees and vomited his last meal.

 

He got to his feet feeling lightheaded, grabbed a wad of toilet paper and wiped his mouth. He walked back into his father’s bedroom. “I can call a dozen women, but what makes you think any woman would stay after taking one look at you?”

 

“If you pay them enough, they’ll stay,” he said, each word a gasp.

 

Caleb narrowed his eyes. “You are infectious. You could make the woman sick.”

 

“I simply want to feel her close to me. Please grant me this final wish.” He went into another coughing fit.

 

Caleb winced and jumped back.

 

“In my iPhone, in the Notes app, under friends, you will find a list of women. Call any woman on the list and tell her to come now.” His croaky voice sounded creepier by the minute. His face had become as black as the iPhone he pointed to on his night table.

 

Caleb inched by him to pick up the phone. His father no longer smelled human. He smelled like a dumpster filled with dead flowers. Caleb cringed––his thoughts lit his face on fire and caused it to turn bright pink with embarassment. He picked up the phone and looked through it. He found the list of women––his father’s friends. Who would he subject to this horror?

 

“Mary Anderson, Patricia Jones, Elizabeth García, Barbara Thomas . . .” Caleb read under his breath. “I don’t know who to call.”

 

“Hurry!” Dr. Smith began to wheeze. Caleb touched a woman’s name, Lolita Jackson, and the phone dialed her number. When a dulcet voice answered, he almost dropped the phone.

 

“Dr. Smith?” she asked. “Is that you?”

 

“No––” He cleared his throat. “This is his son, Caleb.”

 

“Oh! He has spoken often of you. How can I be of service to you?”

 

“Me? No––no, not me. My father needs you.” His lips quivered. “Can you come over right away?”

 

“Yes, of course. Anything for Dr. Smith.”

 

Ten minutes later Lolita was knocking on Dr. Smith’s door. Caleb opened the door to find a petite blonde with large celery green eyes that looked like they had seen a lifetime, but could only have seen a fraction.

 

“Hello, my name is Lolita. You must be Caleb.”

 

“Yes, it’s nice to meet you.” Caleb swallowed hardt and pushed the rim of his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Are you old enough to be doing this?”

 

Lolita laughed. “I get that a lot. Yes, I’m twenty-three years old and totally legal. Where’s your dad?”

 

“Um, before you go to him, I have to warn you––he’s a bit under the weather, and his appearance is a bit, um, ah––he doesn’t look like himself.”

 

Lolita giggled. “Who does he look like, then?” She waved her hand dismissingly and went to Dr. Smith’s bedroom.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

The search for the Last Flower_Vashti Quiroz-Vega's Blog

Thank you for reading! 

The Search for the Last Flower – (Part 8)

1 Nov

 Hello! I hope everyone had a good Halloween. Welcome to the 8th installment of The Search for the Last Flower. There are only a few episodes left so I will not be posting one tomorrow, Sunday 11/02. I will post Part 9 on Monday 11/03 to allow some readers to catch up. Thank you for reading!

 

the search of the last flower_anti-aging elixir

 

*

 

Six months later, Dr. Caleb Wilson and Dr. Andrew Smith introduced to the world a miracle elixir that would not only stave off aging, but also turn back the hands of time. The news went viral on the web, and the two men were in all the newspapers.

 

‘The Geniuses Behind the Cure for Aging,’ the headlines read.

 

The sound of champagne corks popping, chattering and loud music, gave Caleb a headache. He walked out onto the balcony of the fancy hotel and took a deep breath.

 

Moments later, Dr. Smith joined him on the balcony. “What are you doing out here?”

 

“I needed some air,” Caleb said.

 

“Look, I know parties aren’t your thing, but this is your party. You should be in there, shaking people’s hands––mingling.”

 

“Andrew, this is our party. I think you do enough socializing for the two of us. Besides, I’m mad at you––remember?”

 

“Come on, Caleb. When are you going to let it go?”

 

“You drank the elixir without giving me a chance to test it properly! What if––”

 

“What if what? Yes, I may have jumped the gun, but it’s over now. Testing the elixir on primates would have taken too long!”

 

“Yes, it would have taken a while, but what you did was dangerous and irresponsible!”

 

“But look at me!” Dr. Smith spun around. “I’m a sixty-two-year-old man, and I don’t look a day over thirty. I feel great, too!” Caleb scowled at him. “Come on, you know the elixir worked just like I thought it would. You should be happy. I haven’t felt this good in years, and I feel better every day–– I owe it all to you! Your anti-aging elixir works!” Dr. Smith grabbed Caleb, lifted him and spun him around.

 

“Alright, alright. Let go!” Caleb laughed and straightened his glasses. “Are you sure we did right by putting the product out on the market without further testing?”

 

“Yes, yes. You’ve done all the tests needed. You’ve practically drained me of blood with all your testing. I am fine and benefitting from the anti-aging elixir. Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the rewards of your labor.

 

 

*

 

“Andrew, where are you?” Caleb said into his phone.

 

“I’m just a few minutes away. I’ve been feeling kind of sluggish, and it took me longer than usual to get ready,” Dr. Smith said in a hoarse voice.

 

“What’s wrong? You sound terrible. If you’re not feeling well, you could have told me. I would have understood.” Caleb sounded concerned.

 

“Nonsense, open the door. I’m parking the car as we speak.” Dr. Smith ended the call.

 

Caleb gasped when he greeted Dr. Smith at the door. “Have you looked at yourself in the mirror? You look like crap! Have you seen a doctor?”

 

“Aren’t you a doctor?”

 

“You know I’m not that kind of doctor,” Caleb said.

 

“It’s just a cold. No big deal.” Dr. Smith coughed.

 

“You’re pale and your eyes are bloodshot and cloudy. I could hardly see your blue irises. How’s your eyesight?”

 

My eyes are fine. I have a sore throat and a low-grade fever. That is all.”

 

“Nevertheless, let me draw some blood. I’ll get it analyzed right away.”

 

“What’s my blood going to tell you now that it hasn’t already told you?”

 

“I’m not sure, but obviously there’s something happening in your body.”

 

“Fine. Do you think we could have dinner first?”

 

“Of course,” Caleb said, embarrassed.

 

Caleb and Dr. Smith had dinner and watched a movie. Caleb observed Dr. Smith closely the entire time they were together. He drew his blood and drove the 30cc vial of blood to the lab to have it analyzed that night.

Caleb couldn’t sleep after seeing the results of his father’s blood tests. The next morning he called Dr. Smith with his findings.

 

*

Dr. Smith stared at himself in the mirror. He almost didn’t recognize the face he saw staring back. He looked worse than the night before, and he felt worse, too.

 

Overnight, red, painful lumps had grown all over his face. What was happening to him? He was fatigued, had body aches, dizziness, and he coughed, sneezed and continued to have a low-grade fever. He opened his mouth and examined his throat in the mirror. The back of his throat was white with pus. He grimaced with disgust.

 

He bent over the toilet and vomited what felt like sulfuric acid. He wailed in pain. When done, he grabbed a small towel and wiped his mouth. The towel was stained with his blood. He looked at his hands and arms, which were trembling uncontrollably––more red lumps. He was covered in these painful lesions. It seemed all manner of bacteria had invaded his body, but why––how? Dr. Smith’s knees faltered, and he collapsed. Too weak at the moment to stand, he curled up in a ball and cried like a child.

 

The phone rang. Dr. Smith took a deep breath and clambered to his feet. He tottered past the mirror and glanced at his reflection. He jolted and almost collapsed again, but he held onto the sink. He rose and braved another look. It had been less then an hour since he last looked at his reflection. The red lumps had become large bruise-like areas. The center of some of these areas had become black––dead tissue. The skin in some of these black areas had broken and now oozed a greenish-yellowish fluid. Dr. Smith howled.

 

The phone had long stopped ringing. He stood frozen, holding onto the sink, afraid to move. There was a thudding on the door. He tried to take a step, but his legs were wobbly, and he couldn’t let go of the sink long enough to move forward.

 

“Open the door, Andrew!” Caleb pounded on the door.

 

“I can’t––” Dr. Smith thought he had said, but only a hoarse, whistling sound emerged.

 

“Open the door, or I will break it down!” Caleb banged on the door a few more times and then began to ram it with his body until he was able to crash through it and into the house.

 

He ran from room to room looking for Dr. Smith. “Andrew, where are you?” His heart throbbed. When Caleb finally entered the master bathroom, he froze. He turned pale and stared at the doctor. He couldn’t find the words he so desperately needed to say.

 

Dr. Smith groaned and extended a weak, fragile arm toward him. This caused Caleb to run to him. He lifted his father and helped him to his bed.

 

“You’re not well, Andrew,” Caleb told him.

 

Dr. Smith forced a chuckle. “I’ve already figured that out for myself.” His voice was weak and raspy. “What is happening to me?”

 

Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.

 

zombie_face_by_brucethebandit-d3iqj0z

Zombie Face by Christian Peña (brucethebandit on deviantART)

 

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