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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2234659-THIS-OLE-HOUSE
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2234659
Based on a song, this is a standard zombie apocalypse story! Fun for the whole family!
(2700 words)
(Based on the song by Stuart Hamblen; Performed by Shakin’ Stevens)

The wind howled a mighty gale, buffeting all in its path. Trees were bent to its wrath, smaller twigs and branches flying off, leaves stripped in swirling swarms of brown and yellow. The dark clouds filled the sky quickly, thunder rolling in from the far horizon, distant flashes of lightning heralding the onset of a huge storm.
         And the approaching night heralded the onset of another, different storm.
         Yet again.
         Again and again...
         Steve sat in his rocking chair, letting the rising wind blow him back and forth less gently than he was comfortable with, the wooden rails creaking beneath him on wooden boards with each movement. Every night he came out here and sat on the porch in the old rocking chair he had inherited from his long-dead grandfather, set in front of the house he had inherited from his father a decade earlier, everything passed down from generations before any of them were even born. And all of it supposed to be inherited by his own children, and hopefully their children as well. It was the way of life out here. This house and this property had been in his family for generations, and was supposed to continue to be so...
         And then came the Day.
         He did not know what else to call it. He did not know exactly what was happening, or why... only that it was, and he always thought of it as the Day. And ever since the Day there had been no more electricity, no more telephones, only static on the radio, no cars, no planes flying overhead towards the distant capital city.
         And no-one else.
         At least, no-one like him...
         He had not known how it had all started. He had been out in the very back fields, checking on crops that were not growing despite everything, sleeping as he always did when out there in the ex-army tent for a few nights. And he had returned to the house on the Day... the Day the heavens opened and the ground moved.
         And he was already all alone. The fireworks, the strange weather, the colours, the lightning from circling clouds, tornadoes, all of it was something impressive... and all of it was over when he walked in through the back door of his place...
         And found himself alone.
         Him and his old house.
         The first heavy drops of rain fell like water-filled balloons, exploding on the dirt that had once been his front lawn. The sound thudded inside his tired head and he lifted the rifle he held in his hands a little higher. A semi-automatic, with a shotgun fully loaded at his side, just in case any got too close. He was ready for them. They might not come by tonight – it had been three full nights since any of them had last dared enter his property, even go past it – but they would come eventually. Surely not all had passed this way. And they would want to see what was in his house. Their mindless heads were curious and hungry; that was all they seemed to know. Curiosity and hunger... and fear of the sun.
         And when the heads were blown off or the sun hit their putrid bodies, they died. That was all he had to know...
         The wind blew stronger, sliding with ease throughout his sparsely furnished house behind him, through a roof that needed more new shingles than he cared to count, across a floor festooned with gaping holes, in and out of cracked window panes, making broken doors with rusted hinges creak in protest at the sudden movement, causing flakes of peeling paint to fly out and into the night air...
         If his children had still been here with him, filling this place with their shouting and laughter, then maybe he would have placed more effort into its upkeep; if his wife had still been cooking food and cleaning and making sure everything was perfect in her own special way, then maybe he would have looked after overgrown fields and dead lawns more carefully.
         But they were all gone now, victims of the Day like so many others.
         And like them, he too would be dead before long, and the house with him. “Gone to meet the saints,” his dear, departed grandmother would have said.
         Well, his family was already there and he was sure he was going to join them...
         But not before he sent some more of the spawn back to the infernal place from whence they had come...
         The rain grew heavier and he grunted a little. Inside the house the water would be running down cracked walls, through holes in the roof, through window panes with no glass. It shook with each crack of thunder, with each explosion of lightning, rattling further and further from its increasingly insecure foundations. A place that was once his home and full of the comforts of a life on the land, a home he had known his entire life, now nothing more than a derelict building... dilapidated... as good as deserted...
         Thunder exploded overhead, releasing with it a torrent of water that quickly turned the dirt all about him into thick, putrid mud. The house groaned and trembled under the onslaught, and Steve cast a wary glance at its quivering roof. The house was tired and old... like him.
         For too long he had kept guard here, protecting something that was not really worth protecting. Not really... not when he looked at it like he now did...
         The Day had been so many moons before that it was now nothing more than a nightmare...
         Shadows loomed out of the darkness, along the dirt road that led past the front of the property and into the distant, overgrown hills. The rain hid the sounds of their sluggish approach, but he still saw them coming before they were too close to notice him. A smaller group than he had seen in a while, a mere trio of stragglers. He had a feeling that most had moved towards the city where the feeding on the ever-present rats and cats and carrion birds and any other animal (but not dogs, he noted sadly; his own two had died on the Day) would be enough to keep them going for a while, and where there would be enough dark areas to keep them hidden from the rays of the sun each day. And then what? They would turn on each other and it all would be over in one orgy of pseudo-cannibalism? Questions like that he did not think he could answer... and he really did not care, either...
         Still, all he had seen for the past week or so were those coming from further and further afield. The large numbers were gone, replaced by these few remnants, following the same path as those before, towards town, then onwards and into the capital city...
         The last time he had gone into the town to replenish his supplies it had been all but deserted, but he had found a few of them hiding in the back of the service station. Just sitting there, staring at nothing, waiting for the opportunity to continue their journey. However, to Steve’s satisfaction, merely opening the door on them had been enough to see them return to their own corner of hell. Just as when he had shot the first few in that first night, before he was inundated by walking bodies. He had been careless with his shots, simply blowing off their legs so they were trapped, floundering on his front lawn, trying to pull themselves towards him with their hands, making very slow ground. And when the first light of the new dawn had hit them, they screamed with an earthly howl before shriveling and burning, their smell still present in the ground, especially when the rains soaked through into the earth like tonight.
         It was exactly the same odour that came when their heads were removed by a well-aimed bullet, but when he did that the bodies decomposed quickly and the putrescence faded with their remains.
         He found himself wondering absently how they knew that the city was the place to move towards, but he decided that there was enough of their original human intelligence left within what passed for their brains to tell them that safety could be found in the shadows of the empty buildings there. Safety for what they had become...
         The trio sniffed the air, but he knew that even the dampness in the atmosphere would not be able to cover the apparent smell they could detect when it came to his own person. He readied the rifle in his hands and aimed down the barrel. A careful shot; bullets were getting harder and harder to come by, and he could not afford to waste any. But while they stood still, trying to pinpoint him, he had at least one clear shot.
         And he squeezed the trigger.
         The explosion sent the head of the nearest into the sky in a spray of red, black and green, accompanied by several crows nesting in a nearby tree. Always the birds, waiting for death so they could feed. The other two barely registered the demise of their companion, but they turned to face the source of the shot, their emotionless eyes seeking him out. And he managed to get off a second shot while they looked for him in the darkness. He had a feeling they could see only the heat his body – and that of all living things, gave off – and so he would stand out on a cold night and wet like this like a red and yellow beacon to their dead eyes, making him a glaring target.
         The remaining creature – once human, but now something far less than that – lifted its arms and with a guttural hiss, started towards him, its speed surprising for such an uncoordinated beast. And he lifted the shot-gun from beside him, aimed it, waited, waited... and as the thing mounted the steps, less than five feet from him, close enough for Steve to smell the death that surrounded it like a shroud, he pulled the trigger. The resultant explosion took off not only the head but most of the chest, sending the farmer back in the rocking chair with the recoil he had steeled himself for. It was flung backwards, landing in the mud and staying there, motionless, the rain washing it clean, waiting for the sun to come and burn it away unless the awakened crows managed to get to it first...
         He stood and looked out over the yard. Three more corpses... And not one of these things had been alive. He was not sure what he had missed, why he had been spared except that he was just too secluded out in the fields when the Day had come. His wife and children had been slain, but he was also sure one of the walking dead things he had shot in the early days had been old Larry from up the road. So, it seemed to come down to the fact that some were killed, some became like them, and some were eaten... although he had not seen any proof of that last. But, still, he had no doubts that it was happening somewhere out there. Why else would they be so keen to attack him, if not to utilise his living flesh for food? And he turned back to the house that had once been his home.
         A face peered through the broken front window. A face he recognised. The face of an angel. His eldest, young Becky, the girl who looked and acted and sounded so much like his own mother it was sometimes frightening. Her hair pulled up into two small, dark, pigtails in ringlets, the smile angelic, the cheeks chubby and dimpled... the eyes cold and lifeless, the whole body muddied.
         An angel inside his place.
         He had buried them out the back when he had found them after the Day... and if Becky was there, then so would be the three year old Mike... and Georgina.
         He felt like crying, but the tears had long since dried up.
         For he knew what he had to do.
         And he checked the rifle, then lifted it to his shoulder. The girl that stared at him had no comprehension of his actions. It wasn’t his daughter, he told himself; it was just a crude facsimile of the young girl he had found lying in the front yard with her throat torn open and her chest mangled two and a half months earlier.
         His memories were starting to overpower him. He had to act now...
         And he pulled the trigger, erasing her with a single bullet.
         The sound of footsteps hurtling towards him made him swing the gun around and pull the trigger again on instinct as soon as the moving thing came into view. Still dressed in the apron she had had on when he had placed her into the ground, his beloved Georgina now lay spread-eagled on the hardwood floors she had cared for so long and hard, the headless corpse not even bleeding, not twitching, nothing.
         Dead again.
         And that left one more.
         The hardest one...
         And he walked carefully out to the back.
         There he was, still struggling to gain his feet. Whatever had initially attacked him had taken one of his legs, and the three year old’s body now limped out of the ground, dragging itself along with tiny hands, struggling to follow the path taken by the other two, two that it did not know now lay dead inside the building that had once been its home.
         And it looked up at him, and for the briefest moment Steve thought he saw something in those cold eyes, a flicker of the child that had held his hands while learning to walk, that had so delighted in calling him, “Da-da,” that had slept on his lap in front of the open fire on those cold winter nights, not wanting to let go of him. And he paused.
         A hand reached out to him, opening and closing, just as it always had when he was attempting to wave.
         And then sharp teeth dug deep into his shin.
         Steve cried out and kicked his foot viciously forward. The youngster flew backwards, landing awkwardly on its back, struggling to turn over almost immediately, like a stranded turtle. And before he could let any more sentimentality enter into his mind, Steve aimed the gun and with one last shot, obliterated the upper half of its tiny body.
         And still not even a tear entered his eye at what he had just done.
         It had been done before...
         But he could no longer stay here, not with those bodies and what would be left of them come morning. And the memories if what he had just done. He quite simply had to do something else.
         And he looked at the gun he held. It was tempting...
         No; that would be the coward’s way out. And, realistically, if he had survived, surely there would be others. Somewhere. He could not possibly be the only one left.
         Tomorrow he would go out into the world and find them.
         And together maybe, just maybe, the memories of the Day and what it had brought would be wiped from all their minds...
         And he would leave his old house behind him forever.
         A new life beckoned...
         He was not ready to meet the saints just yet, even if so many others had...
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