Monday, 5 July 2010
“It’s a crime,” He muttered as he approached the destitute-looking couple, “that people are forced to live like this in America.”
Although most of the mall goers entered through the far doors to avoid the couple, he walked directly up to them and took a flyer.
'Please help us' it read, 'by providing a fitting meal for a small group of the less fortunate living in a makeshift shelter near the river.'
“Tell me, who are you, and why you need help?” Jeremy asked, turning toward the Pilgrims.
With the holiday season at hand, he had already started gearing up, and felt in a giving mood.
The haggard, pasty-skinned woman curtsied and smiled. With her worn, faded costume, she looked as though she had just stepped off the Mayflower.
“My good sir,” she said, gazing at him through dark-ringed, deep-set eyes. “We’re a group of displaced people traveling through, looking for a place to call home. We only ask for help in providing a meal to our people.”
“Have you had many donations?”
The man peered at Jeremy from beneath the shadows of his broad-brimmed hat. “You would be the first.”
“I see,” Jeremy said. “You look like you’re a minister of some kind. What about the churches in town? They are always willing to help people in need.”
Jeremy fought the urge to vomit from the man’s grimy clothes and hot, rancid breath as he leaned toward him.
“I am a minister,” he said. “Those we have approached however declined to help. Several even refused us entry into their house of worship. Now, that is not what one would call brotherly love.”
Jeremy shook his head. “No, it certainly isn’t. Well, how can I help?”
The woman glanced at her partner, who nodded. Jeremy shivered as her cold, waxy hand grasped his.
“Oh, thank you. Please bring vegetables and fruits, or anything else you might think appropriate, and come down to the river the evening before Thanksgiving. Our people will be so grateful.”
“Great.” he said, pulling his hand back. “I’ll be there. Would you mind if I brought my wife along? She always looks for worthwhile projects to become involved in.”
The woman and man both smiled. “We would love to have her. Don’t forget now, Thanksgiving Eve.”
On Thanksgiving eve, Jeremy and Brianna packed their trunk with boxes of canned vegetables, bags of fruit, and a large turkey they got free on a two-for one at the supermarket. They drove along the river, and then turned down the old logging road and into the woods. The aroma of meat cooking over open flames wafted across the road.
“Wow, Brianna said spotting several campfires in a clearing made by a construction crew earlier in the year. “This all seems so primitive, like they are re-enacting when the Pilgrims landed.”
Jeremy peered into the darkness beyond the headlights. “Maybe, they’re probably some group like those guys who dress up in Civil War uniforms”
“Well,” Brianna answered, “they couldn’t have picked a worse spot to camp. They’re right on top of that old cemetery a construction crew discovered last
People surrounding the campfires shrunk back into the shadows as Jeremy pulled up and parked. He spotted the reverend and the woman he met at the mall.
The reverend’s booming, gravelly voice echoed across the cool evening air. “Welcome, my friends. We are so pleased to have you.”
Jeremy and Brianna stepped from the car, and grabbed the boxes of food from the trunk. As they carried them toward their hosts, a putrid smell hung in the air.
“I hate to tell you this,” Jeremy said, “but you’re camping on top an old cemetery unearthed last summer.
The reverend nodded and smiled. Jeremy handed him the box of food and Brianna handed the woman two large sacks of fresh vegetables.
“Splendid,” she said. “Vegetables always go so well with meat, don’t’ you think?”
They led the couple toward the campfires, the reverend motioned to the shadows.
“Come children, it is time for prepare for dinner.”
Jeremy and Brianna found themselves surrounded by rotting, raggedly dressed creatures. As they closed in, the campfire illuminated their milky eyes and decayed bodies. Bugs and worms crawled in and out of their ears and noses.
“Brianna, run!” Jeremy screamed, realizing they were the cemetery’s unearthed inhabitants.
The zombies mobbed the young couple and knocked them to the ground, biting and tearing at their limbs. Brianna screamed hysterically for several seconds until their loud slurping and chomping silenced her. Jeremy swung his fists and kicked at his attackers until they began dismembering him.
“I get a leg!” someone growled, as Jeremy lost consciousness.
Harold ‘Hal’ Kempka is a former Marine, and Vietnam Veteran. His short stories have been published in House of Horror, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, Ascent Aspirations, Black Petals, Dark and Dreary, 52 Stitches, Microhorror, Flashes in the Dark, Flashshot, Long Story Short, The Shine Journal, and the Fiction Flyer, among others. He is a member of the FlashXer flash fiction workshop, and lives in Southern California with his wife and son. His email address is: