Read Empire's End Online

Authors: David Dunwoody

Tags: #apocalyptic, #grim reaper, #death, #Horror, #permuted press, #postapocalyptic, #Zombie, #zombie book, #reaper, #zombie novel, #Zombies, #living dead, #walking dead, #apocalypse, #Lang:en, #Empire

Empire's End (23 page)

BOOK: Empire's End
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“Meyer’s prostitutes,” Cam answered.

“Fuck ‘em,” Logan slurred.

“They’re kids,” Cam snapped. Logan looked up
at her. “Kids?”

“We ought to go up there,” Tripper said. “We
have to. Try to get them out.”

“You want to add another dozen children to
our group?” Halstead shook her head. “Tripper, I feel for them just
as much as you do. But we’ve got to think logically. Safety in
numbers doesn’t apply here. We’d only make ourselves more
vulnerable.”

“I don’t know who you are,” Cam said to her.
“Listen. Why did Thackeray send us here?”

“They’re burning Gaylen to the ground!”
Halstead yelled. “We need to get out of here! Do you think
Thackeray would rather that we stay and die trying to save people
instead of relocating?”

“All you care about anymore is saving your
own ass,” Cam said coldly. She walked over to Lily. “Will you show
me where the girls are?”

“I’m going too,” Tripper said. Logan pulled
his chainsaw off the bar and said, “What the hell.”

“I guess that’s it, then.” Halstead sighed
and followed them through the door.

Lily led them upstairs to a set of doors.
“All the beds were in here,” she said.

“Okay. Stand back.” Cam leaned against the
door and cupped her hand to her ear. “I don’t hear anything.”

“They might not even be here,” Halstead
said.

“Let’s make sure.” Cam took hold of the
doorknob and turned it ever so slowly. Then she pushed the door
open, just enough to stick her head through and have a look.

The room was very dark. She could barely make
out the outlines of the beds. There wasn’t a soul to be seen. She
pushed the door the rest of the way open. “Nothing?” Tripper
whispered. She nodded.

Then a small shadow rose from behind one of
the beds.

“Little girl?” Cam beckoned. “It’s okay. Come
here.”

Another girl rose on the other side of the
room. Then another, and another. They stood stock-still.

“Come here! We won’t hurt you.” Cam stepped
into the room.

One of the girls walked out into the aisle.
Behind her, like a doll, she dragged a severed arm.

“Oh
fuck
—”

Another half dozen girls rose and stalked
into the aisle. Low, raspy growls escaped their throats. Then they
ran at Cam.

She swung the machine gun up and cut into
them, the muzzle flare lighting up their dead faces before they
were kicked back into the darkness. They each hit the floor and
struggled back up in turn, charging forward again.

Tripper knocked the other door open and
sprayed them with Uzi fire. They kept coming—even those whose legs
were sawed off by bullets simply pulled themselves along the floor,
screaming ravenously.

Halstead grabbed Lily. “Downstairs!
C’mon!”

Logan pushed past her and into the room. The
chainsaw roared to life over his head. “Get back!” he yelled.

The girls surged at him. He tore into them at
head level, cleaving through their little skulls with a metallic
snarl. Brain matter gushed into the air. Their tiny hands clawed at
his legs. He plunged the saw straight down into their chests,
splitting them open and knocking their bodies back.

One girl leapt onto his arm, jaws snapping.
He hurled her to the floor and cast the saw blade through her face.
Logan turned away to avoid the rain of infected blood.

Downstairs, Halstead pushed Lily toward the
bar entrance. “We’ve gotta get back into the tunnels!”

She threw open the trapdoor. “Go Lily!”

The girl looked toward the door through which
they’d just come. The saw’s whine and Logan’s mad screaming could
still be heard. “I want to wait!” she insisted.

Halstead started down the ladder. “Lily, I
want you to come with me—”

Her foot slipped on a greasy rung and she
toppled out of sight.

Lily looked down the hole and saw Halstead
lying prone on the tunnel floor. She backed away, fear overtaking
her. Gunfire erupted upstairs. Lily ran for the door on the other
side of the room—the door leading out to the street—and started
pulling chairs and tables away from it.

She had to get out. The children were going
to kill Cam and Tripper and the soldier and then come spilling
downstairs and into the tunnel. She had to get out of there. She
jerked on the door handle in a panic. “Open!
Open!

It did.

She plunged into the snow.

Wading through the drift that had piled up
against the building, Lily stumbled into the street and surveyed
her surroundings. Distant booms could be heard; distant screams
too.

A man ran toward her. She shrieked, thinking
him undead, but he cried, “No! No! I’m not one of them!”

He reached out for her. Then something
dropped onto his back from a ledge overhead and he fell, and Lily
saw it was a hideous four-armed rotter, flaying the man’s back open
with its black claws, making a terrible rattling sound like
corpse-laughter and then the Geek’s eyes settled on her.

She ran down the middle of the street. Her
fingers and toes were already numb. The wind drove tiny needles
into her face, and as she turned her head away from it she tripped
over a dead woman’s leg. Slamming into the asphalt, Lily rolled
over to see the Geek lumbering after her. It was slow, relaxed,
confident. Its arms swayed from side to side and it licked its lips
with half a tongue.

Lily rose to her knees, her face covered in a
thin layer of frost, expression blank, and waited for the end to
come. It had always been coming, always right on her heels, a cold
shadow nipping at her soul; and now it had her. It hadn’t mattered
that she’d fled the dead girls. No escape, ever.

The Geek threw its arms open and howled.

The horse’s hooves kicked up a violent flurry
of snow as Adam drove it down the street, the street from his
dreams, slapping the side of the scythe against the ribs of his
steed and hollering “
EYAH! EYAH!

She saw him. His skin was black and his cloak
was white but it was him, her Reaper, and he was hurtling toward
the Geek like a locomotive.

The rotter turned. It saw what was bearing
down on it and crossed its arms before its face in mortal
terror.

Adam swung down, clinging to the side of the
horse with his legs, and drove the blade into the Geek’s stomach,
lifting the undead off the ground and sending its dead body
spinning through the air before it landed headfirst with a
spine-shattering impact.

Adam swung to the other side of the horse and
snatched Lily with his left hand, depositing her in front of him.
He wrapped him arm securely around her waist.

“You came,” she said breathlessly.

“You knew I would,” he said.

“I know.”

She glanced over her shoulder. “You look
different.”

“I am.”

“What do we do now?”

“First, I’m going to get you to safety,” Adam
said, eyes on the road ahead. “Then I’m going to kill them.”

 

Thirty-Nine / Torture Porn

 

Meyer had found the rest of Tripper’s rope,
and Voorhees was now secured to the chair in the living room, blind
eyes looking out on a smoky sky through open windows.

“Smell that?” Meyer called, rummaging through
the kitchen. “They’re never gonna find you. You’ll be ash...
they’ll never know what happened today. But we will.”

He walked into the living room with a stack
of ragged towels bearing various pieces of cutlery. Setting them on
a small table beside Voorhees, he knelt and slapped the cop across
the face. “You haven’t gone deaf now, have you?”

“You’re going to die,” Voorhees snarled.

“Strong words for a cripple.” Meyer picked
through the selection of knives he’d brought out. “Quick story.
When I was a lad up north, my father used to take me to a place
where you could pay to carve up rotters. They’d have ‘em strapped
down to a table or lashed to a post, and you could put your name on
a snapping undead’s forehead or carve a heart into his backside.
They had old buggers tied down with years of abuse cut into their
flesh—it was a way to let off steam, you see, to turn the tables
for a change.”

“Sounds like your father was as sick as you,”
Voorhees said.

Meyer smiled and, holding his hand out,
flicked his wrist. A long gash appeared in Voorhees’ cheek. The cop
gasped in pain.

“Back when they still printed books,” Meyer
continued, “a lot of folks predicted this sort of thing. Using
zombies for torture and sex—entertainment. Some said it could never
go that far, that we were better than that. Boy, we showed them.
Mankind hit rock bottom pretty damn quick.

“But, as I was saying, we used to go down to
this place and we’d buy a few hours with one of the fresh rotters.
My dad used to carve limericks into their backs. It was fun, sure,
but there just wasn’t anything satisfying about parting that
bloodless flesh. It split under the slightest pressure and nothing
came of it. You could plunge a knife right through a rotter’s
adam’s apple and it would keep grunting and fighting and trying to
get at you with its teeth. They didn’t feel what we were doing.

“I guess that’s why I started cutting myself.
I wanted to see blood, you see. I’d slash up my arms and suck on
‘em. Sometimes I’d cut my tongue just so I could taste the blood
without anyone noticing. I had to hide it, because the old man
would never have understood. I started cutting my toes—he wouldn’t
spot that—and I’d fill my shoes with blood as I walked to market
with him. I loved him, I did, but he just didn’t get it. Man lived
every day of his life in the same miserable shithole, doing the
same old thing. Downing a few pints and slicing up rotters didn’t
cut it for me, pardon the pun. After a while, bleeding myself
didn’t do it either. I wanted more. And I got it, didn’t I?”

He pressed a paring knife against Voorhees’
neck. “I won’t go back to the existence of my childhood. I’ll get
out of here, get to Chicago. But first, I want to watch you
bleed.”

He drew the tip of the blade straight down,
spilling only a tiny amount of blood. Voorhees gritted his teeth
and fought the urge to scream.

“Hmm.” Meyer dug the blade into the flesh
beneath Voorhees’ left eyebrow. He started peeling the eyebrow
away. Voorhees couldn’t hold it in any longer, and he howled and
thrashed in the chair. Meyer straddled him and held his head still
until the job was finished.

“Got a lot left to go,” Meyer breathed. “Lots
of blood left in you.” He stabbed the knife into Voorhees’
forehead, grinding it against his skull. “
Bleed!

He tossed the paring knife aside and selected
a serrated blade. “Here we go.”

He began sawing into the bridge of Voorhees’
nose. The cop screamed loud and long, his voice becoming a nasally
rasp as Meyer sliced down through his nostrils and peeled the nose
away, leaving a gaping red cavity. Voorhees choked as blood poured
down his throat. He spit up on Meyer’s chest. The gangster
laughed.

Getting off of Voorhees, Meyer wiped himself
off and contemplated the severed nose in his palm.

Voorhees leaned forward to let the blood run
down his face. “
FUUUUUUCK YOOOOUUUU!

“You really are tough as nails, Officer,”
Meyer said. “Gonna take a lot more work to break you.” Cutting a
small strip away from one of the towels, he wadded it up and
stuffed it into Voorhees’ nasal cavity. Voorhees swooned from the
pain. “Stay with me,” Meyer cooed.

“Hmm.” Without so much as a flinch, he
slashed the top of his own wrist. He pressed the wound to Voorhees’
lips. “Taste it. Go on.”

Voorhees bit into Meyer’s flesh and wrenched
his head to the side. A chunk of skin was torn away. Meyer yelped.
Then a grin spread across his face from ear to ear.

Voorhees spit the flesh from his mouth and
screamed again. Meyer held his bleeding arm up to the light. He
watched the blood run for several minutes, as Voorhees’ sounds of
agony became more subdued. Then he went back to work.

He stuck the knife through Voorhees’ upper
lip and pinned the cop’s head to the back of the chair. “No
struggling now. I want this to be a clean cut.” He pressed his full
weight down on Voorhees and sliced the pink flesh away.

“Now for the bottom one.”

Voorhees swung his head violently, and the
chair rocked beneath himself and Meyer. He growled like an animal,
even as Meyer’s knife found purchase and dug through his lip into
his gumline.

Meyer tossed both lips aside with a
triumphant yell. He threw the knife across the room and staggered
back. “
Oh! God!
” He ran over to the table and looked over
his remaining knives. “We’re having fun now, aren’t we?”

The cleaver was small for what it was, not
too unwieldy. He pressed the razor-sharp blade against the lower
knuckles of Voorhees’ left hand. “What do you think? All of ‘em?
Just the first two? Maybe just the whole hand.”

He raised the cleaver high and whooped as it
came down. CRACK! As the blade bit into the wood of the chair’s
arm. Voorhees’ four fingers flew into the air.

The cop’s head sagged. Meyer slapped him
hard. “Stay awake! It’s no good if we can’t both feel it!”

He licked the wound on his wrist and chopped
playfully at the remainder of Voorhees’ hand. Blood speckled both
their faces and rained on the floor. Voorhees’ head came up, and he
moaned; then it dropped again.

“No!” Meyer grabbed him by the chin. “You
stay awake, you hear me? I’ll fucking wait for you if you pass out
on me! Fuck!” Meyer wrapped a towel around the ruin of Voorhees’
hand. “You’ve hardly lost any blood, you pussy. I thought you were
harder than this, Officer!”

Meyer stalked back and forth across the room,
muttering to himself. Then he ran at the cop and slammed the
cleaver into his leg, just above the knee.

BOOK: Empire's End
12.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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