That Morning In The Marsh
Their mommies told them never to shortcut using the marsh, but boys—good or bad, smart or stupid —never listen to their parents, do they? One mother worried about snakes and rats while the other was more concerned about the junk tossed in there—who knew what kinds of chemicals were breeding in all that filth? Little Jimmie, who was almost fifteen and preferred to be all Jamie cuz it sounded more mature, was stomping his boots in the mud, flicking some backwards at his best bud, Charlie, who didn’t give a damn what you called him.
Jamie saw it first, a rolled up brown carpet and he thought it might fit in their tree house. Charlie didn’t think much on flooring—he wanted Wi-Fi in their hideaway, peruse some wireless thumbnails and play with his pretzel when Jamie wasn’t around.
“Over there,” Jamie said, “a carpet.”
It was lying on a mound of straggly grass above a patch of stagnant water.
“Let’s check it out,” Jamie said.
“Fuck it, sure,” Charlie said.
They slogged through the wet bottom, their arms getting bit by the sharp blades of grass and brambles. When Jamie got up close, he saw a high heel sticking out from one end of the carpet.
Looked like a red stiletto.
Whoa, Jimmy thought. Who tosses out a carpet with such a fancy shoe still in it?
“Ah, fuck me,” Charlie said. “There’s a foot attached to that high heel. See it?”
“The shoe or the foot?” Jamie said.
“One? The other? Both? Who fucking cares, dude?”
They squatted down, stared at the foot dangling in the high heel. It was a dirty foot, toes caked in mud, though Jamie thought there might be polish on the nails, a purplish color, what his mom called maroon.
“Think there’s more, you know, person up in there?” Jamie said.
“No, dipshit. It’s just a shoe with a severed foot in it,” Charlie said. “Of course there’s more woman in there.”
“Who said it’s a woman?”
“High heel, asshole,” Charlie said.
“Dude who dresses up like a woman.”
Jamie didn’t know that one, was pondering an answer, any kind of comeback, when the foot flinched.
The boys jumped up from their squat.
“Oh, shit,” Jamie said.
“Whatever gender it may be,” Charlie said, “I’m thinking it might still…ah...”
“How could they breathe, carpet rolled up tight like that?”
Charlie was bending down, his hands on the carpet. “Help me, Jamie, motherfucker.”
They unrolled it over the lumpy, watery ground.
And there before them, they both saw their first naked woman. Well, mostly naked, bra hanging loose, skirt torn apart, hanging by the knee.
“That definitely ain’t no man dressing up like a woman,” Charlie said.
“Nope. Them look like real hooters to me.”
Neither one mentioned the bruises and cuts that covered the woman’s body or the dried gob of blood in her matted hair.
“Probably a hooker,” Jamie said.
“Yep,” Charlie agreed. “I heard they get themselves roughed up all the time. What my Pop calls an occupational hazard.”
“Well, I ain’t touching her to see if she’s still alive,” Jamie said.
“Let’s just roll her back up then.”
“And get the hell outta here.”
“Never come this way again.”
They got down in the muck, but even so, they kinda’ rolled her up uneven, her head and a foot coming out of the ends.
“Think the perv woulda’ used a bigger carpet,” Jamie said.
“Yeah, no shit.”
The hooker’s head was upside down, inches from a pool of water, when the boys’ heard an airy moan leak out.
“Umm,” Jamie said, “did you just hear something?”
“Hell no, I did not,” Charlie responded.
“Let’s go,” Jamie said.
The boys were covered in marsh sludge as they backed away from the carpet. Jamie staggered moving this way and fell on his ass.
“Get up dickweed,” Charlie said.
But Jamie didn’t rise up from the mud. Another scantily clad, high heeled, streetwalker did. As the woman lurched forward, Charlie noticed that a piece of her arm had been chewed into.
As the woman jerked down and took a bite out of Jamie’s torso, Charlie knew this wasn’t a hooker killed on the job. Nope, this was a hooker zombie.
Charlie turned to run—screw his bud, right?—and bumped into the brown carpet now standing on two feet. Charlie fell face first into the marsh, the carpet unraveling on top of him.
Bio: Phil Beloin’s first novel, The Big Bad, was published by Hilliard and Harris and is available over there at Amazon.com. Read the first chapter on his blog, philbeloinjr.blogspot.com. He has other short stories splattered all over the web, including two others at TKnC.