Jerry’s headlights cut through the steady downpour, and illuminated the blurry
image of an individual walking alongside the road. As he drove past Jerry
glanced at the drenched and muddied hitchhiker. He appeared fairly young, though
he trudged through the mud with the gait of an old man.
Jerry felt a twinge of guilt, knowing the guy would probably catch pneumonia if
he didn’t get out of the rain. He pulled onto the road shoulder and waited for
the hitchhiker to reach the car.
Lowering the passenger window, Jerry hollered, “You look like you could use a
ride! How far are you going?”
“The next town,” the man replied.
Jerry could see him shivering beneath his drenched shirt and suit coat.
“Well, hop in, and I’ll give you a lift part of the way. It’ll give you a chance
to dry off a bit.”
The musty aroma of damp earth and wet wool permeated the interior as the young
man slid into the seat. His eyes sank well back into their sockets, and in the
dashboard lights’ dim reflection resembled two black holes drinking in the
“Thank you.” the young man uttered, as Jerry pulled back onto the road.
His voice suddenly sounded raspy, and had taken on a strange rattle. The young
man suddenly hacked and coughed. He thrust his head against the seat back as
though he was seizing, and Jerry panicked.
“You all right?” he asked, slowing and pulling toward the roadside.
The young man waved his hand, and cleared his throat. “No, I’m fine. Don’t
They continued on with the silence broken only by the undulating sheets of rain
intermittently sweeping across the road.
Jerry leaned forward and wiped away the foggy condensation blurring the
windshield. He suddenly slammed on the brakes, and the tires scraped across the
wet asphalt. The car spun several times, and the tires blew out it as skidded
into a jagged tree limb blocking the road.
The car bounced over the limb and careened off the road. A cacophony of impact
and twisted metal exploded in Jerry’s ears as the car slammed into a tree, The
bursting airbag slammed him back against the seat and knocked him unconscious.
As Jerry regained consciousness he moaned from the pain wracking his bruised and
battered body. Opening his eyes, he caught a blurry image of the hitchhiker
kneeling over him.
“Help me.” Jerry whispered.
The young man however, said nothing. Jerry screamed in pain as he yanked Jerry
to his feet.
He grabbed Jerry’s arm, and pulled him through the muck.
“They’re coming,” He finally said.
“Who is coming?” Jerry asked.
His weakened legs wobbled and buckled as he struggled to keep up with the long
When they finally stopped, the young man glanced behind them. While he saw
nothing, he heard muffled voices in the distance grow louder. He picked up the
By the time they crossed a dark, open expanse of field, the rain had let up.
After stepping over a broken headstone Jerry realized they were crossing a
The young man pointed to a recently filled grave and said, “Stay off them.”
Jerry trembled with uneasiness as he tried to keep up with the young man. They
carefully wove their way through the darkness. Jerry stumbled, and fell face
down onto a muddy mound of dirt.
A fetid odor stung his nose. Two hands suddenly thrust through the ground, dug
their jagged fingernails into Jerry’s arms. Muck filled Jerry’s nose and mouth
as he was pulled him into the muddy earth.
The young man however, grabbed Jerry’s shirt collar. He yanked him out of the
ground with a strength that defied his size.
“I told you to stay off the dirt,” He growled.
The young man glanced into the darkness as the voices grew louder. He pulled
Jerry behind him and they hurried in the opposite direction.
Upon reaching another fresh mound of earth the young man stopped. Overturned
chairs lay scattered about beneath a weathered, canvass canopy. He carefully
scooped a handful of loose earth, and inhaled its damp odor of earth and death.
Their pursuers however, stepped through the darkness, and encircled the grave.
The young man immediately grabbed Jerry.
“Time for what?”
As the young man bit into jerry’s skull its eggshell crunch, drew a moan from
the crowd. Jerry’s life oozed down his face and neck in a warm gelatinous mass.
The young zombie dropped onto the grave mound, dragging Jerry with him. The
pursuing mob stumbled to a stop, and watched as Jerry’s feet sank beneath the
The zombies lingered over the grave and flared their nostrils, savoring the
scent of fresh flesh. At the first light of dawn they returned to their own
plots, satisfied their newest resident had proven his capabilities.
Hal's stories have been published in Thrillers, Killers and Chillers, Black Petals,
Dark Valentine, Golden Visions, House of Horror (UK), Midnight in Hell, Night to
Dawn, Sex and Murder, The New Flesh, Twisted Dreams, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia,
among numerous others.
He is a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, and lives in Highland, California.