The following is an excerpt from “Empty Bodies” by Zach Bohannon
The sheer chaos in the plane was a horror he could’ve never imagined. Down the middle aisle, bodies lay both sprawled and stacked on top of each other. On some, arms waved from figures who were covered with the bodies of the assailants. The lights flashed on and off above Gabriel’s head and the captain was still working to calm down his passengers, apparently having no idea of the mutilation happening behind the comfort of the cockpit.
Then Gabriel heard a scream over the intercom, and the calming of the captain ceased to exist.
Frantic alarms suddenly sounded through the plane and Gabriel lost his balance, grabbing onto a nearby seat to keep himself upright.
In front of him, one of the creatures looked up from its prey and saw Gabriel. It hissed at him from one knee as it dropped the head of its victim and stood.
The eyes, formerly a man’s eyes, had gone as gray as a cloudy spring day. Blood covered its cheeks, and pieces of flesh were stuck around its mouth as it came at Gabriel without hesitation.
As Gabriel backed up, the plane began to rumble, sending him and his stalker both to the ground. The creature rolled over Gabriel, the motion of the plane sending it hissing over him and hurtling toward the back of the cabin.
When he was able to catch his balance, he looked back and saw the remains of his stalker’s brains splattered on the wall.
He turned back toward the front of the plane just as another beast came at him. It was just about to bite his right arm when he blocked the path to his wrist with the stake, and the thing bit into the wood instead of his flesh. It chomped at the wood, leaving teeth marks in the middle of the shaft, as Gabriel pushed the beast away from him. They both fell backwards, away from each other, and Gabriel hit the back of his head on the floor when he landed.
He stumbled to his feet and limped over to the fallen creature. Looking over him, he saw those eyes. Those dead, cold eyes. They looked up at him without a soul. Remembering that the stab to the stomach had done nothing to his previous foe, Gabriel took the stake over his head, and with a thunderous plunge, drove it into the face of the monster below him. The blow covered his white dress shirt in a mural of red, but the thing’s arms went limp and didn’t move.
Gabriel put his foot on the chest of the beast and tried to remove the stake, but couldn’t. The lights flashed and the plane shook again, sending Gabriel off his feet, banging his head again, this time against one of the seats. As Gabriel fell, he clutched his hand and grimaced, feeling the burn of a newborn splinter in his palm from the shaft of the plunger.
All around him, he could hear the echoing of beasts’ howls and victims’ pleas as the plane continued a turbulent and eventual fall to the earth.
The plane fumbled again and sent Gabriel rolling down the aisle toward the front of the plane. One of the things passed over the top of him, chomping its jaws and hissing as they passed each other in mid-air.
Gabriel stopped sliding and rolling as the plane leveled again. His face was against the ground and as he looked over, he saw the young boy curled under the seat in front of his. Dylan lay on his forearms and gripped the metal base of the seat, the lonesome helplessness flashing over him.
Gabriel knew that his only chance to survive was to get back into a seat and hope—pray—that none of those things got to him. He reached up, grabbed onto the nearest armrest, and pulled himself up into his original seat.
Dylan seemed unaware that Gabriel was there; he was in shock.
“Hey, kid,” Gabriel whispered urgently.
The back of the boy’s legs faced Gabriel and he continued to look straight forward, never glancing up.
“Dylan, right? We have to get you up into your seat,” Gabriel told him.
Dylan still didn’t respond.
Gabriel heard more screams from further toward the front of the plane, piercing through the pounding shriek of the alarms.
He knew there was little time, so he leaned over and reached for Dylan’s legs.
The boy screamed and began to squirm, kicking back at Gabriel.
“Calm down,” Gabriel demanded, but Dylan didn’t.
His hands around the boy’s stomach, Gabriel lifted Dylan off the ground as he continued to yell and, with his back facing Gabriel, slapped at whatever part of Gabriel he could find. Gabriel let out a groan, turned Dylan around, and slapped the boy across the cheek.
The squirming stopped and Dylan looked to him in shock.
“Listen to me,” Gabriel said. “If you want any chance of seeing your mom and dad again, you better stop that shit right now and do as I say. Do you understand?”
Dylan, holding his face where the palm had landed, reluctantly nodded.
Gabriel guided the boy into the seat closest to the window and strapped him in. Above their heads, the oxygen masks swung back and forth. He grabbed the mask above Dylan’s head and secured it to the boy’s face, hoping that any beasts still alive were being bludgeoned by the plane’s walls.
“Now, hold on,” Gabriel told him.
Gabriel extended the seatbelt over his own lap and clicked it in, pulling to make sure it was secure. When he went to reach for his mask, the scream beside him stopped him.
A man, sick and decaying, reached at Gabriel. He was about the same height as Gabriel, but heavier by at least twenty pounds from what he could tell. Their hands were locked on each other’s shoulders and Gabriel tried desperately to hold the thing at bay. Its mouth was open, spitting blood and saliva all over Gabriel, who screamed consistently, trying to fight the thing off.
Gabriel’s hand slipped, allowing the thing to get within inches of his face.
Then, Gabriel watched its face fall back and away from him as the lights dimmed and the plane began to dive.
“Shit,” Gabriel mumbled, his eyes wide. The plane was going down.
Frantically, Gabriel reached above his head, trying to grab the mask. His nervous hands shook but he found it and secured it to his face.
He took the hand of the little boy, who was screaming through his mask.
“Hold on,” Gabriel cried out.
He closed his eyes, thinking of Katie and Sarah as the plane made its accelerated final descent.
* * * * *
The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
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