This page is dedicated to all the short stories and other fiction I post on my blog (usually attributed to J. Watson), updated with the most recent at the top.
“You know,” I croaked, “I’m getting really tired of all these BRAAAAIIINS jokes. They get” — I paused to slurp my lower jaw back into place — “old real fast, you know?”
Barton hopped in a vaguely nod-like manner. “HAA-RAT TAT TAT TAT TUT!” he exclaimed. The skull wasn’t technically a zombie, but he was a nice guy and fun to have around. Plus, considering the Intact Act, we made it a point not to discriminate based on level of decay.
“Barton’s right,” slurred a young zombie — young in undead terms, as none of us were quite certain how old we used to be — who insisted her name was Bloody Bones. “Like, really? There’s more to being dead than eating brains.”
“Quite so,” said Quentin. “Not only are such jokes offensive, they ridicule zombie intelligence and imply a certain lack of perception regarding the nature of the undead. I’d say they’re told in rather poor taste, truthfully.”
There were agreeing moans all around, though chances were half of the group didn’t understand a word out of Quentin’s mouth. Words longer than two syllables were difficult to decipher when your ear drums were rotting. Though, Quentin’s curious way of speaking prompted frequent debates over whether he had once been a teacher, a politician or some sort of scientist, or possibly merely British.
“What, you mean you dead-heads don’t like brains?”
Frieda jumped out of her skin in surprise — literally. We all turned, joints cracking, to look at the small band of humans, shotguns in hand, peering over the whitewashed fence locking them in their backyard.
“Ugh,” I said, partly because humans are annoying and I was expressing my disgust, but mostly because they were too far away for me to tear them to shreds before they blew my head off with their shotguns.
“DA-TAT TAT,” Barton agreed.
“Actually,” Quentin said, “I would imagine that a fondness for brains would be more a matter of personal taste. This obsessive brain craving humans casually attribute to the undead is an unfounded stereotype, as zombies’ dining preferences vary quite as much as humans’. There are other variables too, of course, such as availability, quality, convenience–”
“Oh,” one of the humans interrupted, a tall one that smelled of cheese and sweat. “I got one. Knock knock!”
There was an awkward silence. “Uh,” said Bloody Bones. “Who’s there?”
The humans all burst out in snorts and guffaws while we shuffled uncomfortably.
“Was that even meant to be funny?” Quentin asked incredulously. “Generally speaking, a knock-knock joke involves some sort of word play, or puns, or some situational humor at least.”
“Hey,” said a squat male that smelled vaguely of broccoli, and possibly cow dung, “Here’s a good one. What do zombies wear when it’s raining?”
“Well, assuming we–” Quentin was cut off again.
“A BRAAAAIIIN-coat!” The humans descended into laughter again.
Frieda sniffed, though I wasn’t sure whether it was in disdain or an effort to hide the bluish fluid leaking from her nostrils. “Really,” she said dryly. “You can’t be more creative than that?”
Cheese and Sweat clapped his hands together gleefully. “What did the zombie say to his girlfriend?”
A thin-faced human that might have been female gasped. “Oh, I know this one! ‘I just love a woman with BRAAAAIIINS!'”
I raised an eyebrow. Or, I think I did. Did I still have my eyebrows? Frieda and Quentin were grumbling quietly, while Barton adopted a look of pained tolerance. Bloody Bones looked positively livid.
The female-ish human cackled, hooking its shotgun over one shoulder. “What do vegan zombies like to eat? GRAAAAIIINS!”
“Ha!” laughed Cow Dung. “How about: how do zombies like to travel?” He paused, sniggering. “TRAAAAIIINS!”
“Or, what do zombies like to eat for breakfast? Raisin BRAAAAIIINS!”
The humans were gulping for breath, choking on their own laughter. I peered sideways at Quentin, tempted to roll my eyes but worried I might lose one if I tried. We shuffled closer, eyeing the wheezing humans.
“Why did the zombie cross the road?”
“To get to the BRAAAAIIINS!”
I reached over the fence, grabbing Cheese and Sweat by the throat. The laughter cut off suddenly, evolving into panicked screams and shouts. A couple of gunshots rang through the air, and the air was tangy with the scent of blood.
As the last scream faded off into gurgles, I faintly heard Bloody Bones say, “Hey. What do you call a dead human?”
Licking my fingers, I glanced at Quentin. With glazed eyes and blood dripping from his chin, he groaned, “BRAAAAIIINS.”
“No!” I cry as I fall into the darkness below. “NO! I’m clean!”
I land gently on the cushioned bottom of this despicable pit. Something wet and sticky touches me and I can’t repress a shudder.
“I’m clean,” I whimper, as my last ray of hope is sealed off with the top of the stinking prison. The darkness is putrid, so thick it is almost tangible. It penetrates every corner of this cesspit.
How I loathe this place.
“Well, well.” The voice slices its way through the darkness. “What do we have here?”
A sense of foreboding even darker than my surroundings fills my being.
So it begins.
“Long time no see, eh?” The taunt is followed by a chorus of high pitched giggles and wheezes from the heaps around me.
A rough fabric nudges me, and I can feel the filth left behind. “Where ya been, Leftie? We missed you!” The smell of the creature’s breath burns, lingering long enough to make me gag.
“Ain’t been half so fun without your ugly hide to give us comp’ny!”
“I was jus’ thinkin’ to meself, not two minutes ago, wonderin’ where’s Leftie been? He not like us no more? After all the good times we had together?”
“Rumor has it you bailed on us.” The mock-friendly atmosphere dissipates in an instant. Bailed on us… The phrase seems to hang in the air for a moment, condemning, threatening, before the darkness comes alive again with a barrage of angry voices.
“You bail on us, Leftie?”
“I heard Rightie’s been bawlin’ herself t’sleep at night.”
“I heard she been thrown in with the cleaners.”
“Reckon it oughtta been Leftie, what with him leavin‘, an’ all.”
“Why you gotta be such a scumbag, Leftie?”
This isn’t good. This is bad. I shrink down, struggling to quell my trembling. The stink of the place seeps into my consciousness, the bitter voices ringing in my mind. It’s been bad before, but this? This is worse than it has ever been.
“Hey guys,” I say, forcing some sense of joviality into my voice. “I’m just like the rest of you. None of you can say you haven’t thought of slipping off every now and then, maybe escaping for a while. I’m one of you!”
“That’s right, Leftie. You are one of us.” I jump at the sound of the harsh voice grating from underneath me.
“Yeah, only we don’t leave our partners to rot in a drawer, let ‘em get tossed to the cleaners, while we lie low for a while.” Ice shoots through my gut, the darkness seeming to deepen with my fear. I flinch, attempting to ready myself for the inevitable. Inevitable? Oh, please, no, just let it end…
“It ain’t right, what you done. It ain’t right.”
“If I din’t like Rightie so much, I’d shred you right now.”
The angry, spitting voices rise, accompanied with unearthly screeches and howls. Something shoves me, and, all at once, violent blows and strikes are battering me from all sides. I curl up as small as I can, as if that could protect me from the fury around me. Then, suddenly, a single voice cuts through the rest, sending a chill to my very core.
“NO!” A last, desperate plea tears itself from the sobs catching in my throat. “No, please….”
It only incited them.
“Yeah, sink him to the bottom!”
“He should count himself lucky if he ever sees daylight again, after what he done!”
The clothing around me writhes, as the maniacal cries increase in brutality. I gasp for one last breath of clean air before I am sucked into the sweaty, stinking depths of the hamper.
I’m sorry, Rightie. What’s a sock to do? I think. I close my eyes and surrender myself to the filth.
What’s a sock to do?
I Hate Ninjas
My eyes flew open.
The room was dark, empty, the windows closed and the curtains tightly drawn. I strained my ears, listening for even the barest whisper of a sound, but the night was still as death. My bedroom was silent, noiseless, nothing out of place. There was nothing that should have disturbed my slumber.
I hate ninjas, I thought, annoyed, as I turned my head to meet the gaze of my wife lying in bed beside me. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, she nodded.
With as much force as I could muster, I flung up the bedsheets, hoping to distract them with the sudden movement, and hurriedly rolled out of the bed. The whistle of a blade brushed past my ear with a sting, lodging itself into the bedpost with a softthud as I fell to the floor.
Nimbly, I leaped to my feet and yanked the nightstand drawer open, ignoring the blood trickling down my neck. Behind me, I heard the distinctive sound of my wife fending off the ninjas — meaning I heard nothing, except for a few curses and the occasional crack of abused furniture. I quickly rummaged through the clutter in the drawer, dumping nearly half its contents on the floor. I found a flashlight — ooh, the heavy, security guard kind, I’d forgot I’d bought that — a penknife, and about three months’ worth of junk mail. But no gun.
I swore. Vociferously.
At the faint rustle of clumsy ninja feet — wait, what? — on the fallen junk mail scattered behind me, I whirled around, useless penknife in one hand and the hefty flashlight in the other. I flicked it on and was met with the startled, light-blinded eyes of the ninja. He stumbled back, slipping again on the papers. I rolled my eyes and awarded him with a kick to the gut.
“Amateur,” I grumbled.
Then — a sudden, feminine cry of pain — my gut turned to ice — I clubbed the ninja in the head with my flashlight — hurtled over his writhing figure — into the wild fray of masked shadows and flailing limbs.
“Lyla!” I cried out. There was no response. Without another thought, I threw my pathetic penknife at the nearest ninja, prayed it stuck in his eyeball or something, and joined in the tumult.
A punch here, a dodge there, a quick, threatening swing with my beautiful flashlight. I was fighting blind, save for the beam from the flashlight spinning about like some sort of hyperactive strobe light. The whole fight seemed surreal, a blur — pure instinct, just act and react.
Although, now that I thought about it, either these ninjas were particularly puny or I was a whole lot tougher than I’d realized.
Abruptly, the bedroom lights flickered on. I was instantly blinded by the sudden light, but all of the breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding released in a heavy gust from the bottom of my lungs. No ninja would turn on the lights. They thrive in darkness.
Lyla was all right.
As my eyes adjusted, suddenly she was by my side, dealing a flying kick to a ninja with a knife creeping up behind me.
“You okay?” I asked, as I gave a still-blinded ninja a taste of my right hook.
“Never better,” she replied with a grunt. Yeesh, that ninja was charging like a blundering rhino. There’s just no professionalism these days, I thought grimly.
“I heard you scream,” I prodded, just to make sure.
She ignored me. “Where’s the gun?”
I dodged a particularly aggressive ninja, somehow losing my flashlight in the process. Son of a biscuit. That had been a nice flashlight. “Wasn’t in the drawer.”
Lyla snorted. “Well, what half-wit forgot to put it away?”
I wrestled with an unusually chubby ninja for a moment, trying to come up with a plausible excuse. “I dunno. Maybe your stupid cat took it.”
Lyla just rolled her eyes and drove her knee into another ninja. Between the legs. I winced.
“How many?” I ask, hoping she wouldn’t notice the sudden change of subject.
“Twenty-three. Not including their boss over there.” Lyla nodded (over the thrashing limbs of the ninja she had in a headlock) towards the other end of the room.
Attempting to peer around an awl-crazed ninja to see who Lyla was talking about, I glimpsed a tall ninja with a silver eyepatch. He was leaning against the wall near the bedroom door with his arms crossed over his chest, watching the brawl unconcernedly.
“Twenty-three, huh?” I said. I did a quick headcount of the unconscious — well, they probably weren’t dead, considering the gun was playing hooky — ninjas littering the carpet, running some quick calculations through my head. “Eight — no, make that nine — down, that leaves….”
“Hmm?” I mumbled distractedly. “That leaves twelve more? No, thirteen, there’s still that boss guy….”
“This probably isn’t the best time to be bringing this up,” my wife continued, decking a ninja in the face. “But–”
Another ninja leaped in front of me, wielding some sort of scythe thing — it was made out of that dull black metal preferred by the stealthier professions, the kind that doesn’t glint even in moonlight, with words engraved into the blade that looked to be something along the lines of death death death death. But he was swinging it around like a baseball bat and yelling like an idiot, which kind of ruined the whole intimidating factor. I stepped away to avoid losing my nose and found myself back to back with Lyla.
“I think this guy’ll just love you. Wanna switch?” I wrapped my arm around my wife’s waist and flipped her over my shoulder. I spun to face her opponent — a vast, burly, mountain of a ninja. How this guy managed to conceal himself in our bedroom is beyond me, I thought with wonder.
“Sorry, love, what were you saying?” I asked, as I squared up against the giant.
“I want a divorce.”
Suddenly the ninja’s big, beefy fist connected with my jaw and I was sent flying across the room. I impacted with a sharp crack against the wall and slid to the floor with a moan. My teeth seemed to be reverberating in my skull, but my mind was far more bewildered.
“A divorce?“ I gasped. “Why?”
Numbly, from my low vantage point, I noticed the cat huddled beneath our bed, trembling. Coward, I thought.
A soft, pealing laugh drew my attention back to my wife. She strode confidently across the room, coming up beside the one-eyed boss ninja.
“I found someone new,” Lyla said, as she slowly raised a very familiar handgun and shot me four times in the chest.
The pain was distant, it belonged to someone else, someone not me, it was just a dream. Except it wasn’t. I laid there bleeding, watching, as the love of my life rose up on her tip-toes and, with a triumphant smile, kissed the ninja on the cheek, right below his silver eyepatch. His expression didn’t change. He just stared at me coolly, my wife hanging on his arm, as I lay dying.
I hate ninjas, I thought, and then everything faded into darkness.