Sunday, July 1, 2012
Zombies and Duckies?
This week on the Tasha Turner Virtual Blog Tour we were asked to compose a short story to share with our readers from a picture. Mine can been viewed at http://xarrok.com/2012/07/vbt-field-of-grace-fiction-by-allison-bruning/. My guest for this week is Canadian author, Bruce Blake. He chose to write about "colorful, plastic duckies." Take it away, Bruce!
TTVBT: Zombies and Duckies?
For the last few years, I've been writing novels pretty much exclusively. In fact, every time I get an idea for a short story, it ends up blossoming, growing, sucking in some other idea, and turning itself into a novel, like a sprig of ivy that takes over an entire wall of a building. So please forgive me if I'm a little rusty in this short form; it is not my comfort zone.
I hope you enjoy my sweet little story about some cute, colourful plastic duckys.
There's no laughter, now, only the click of plastic against plastic, the whistle of wind gusting through the loops on the ducks' heads. I sit on the bench feeling the sun on my face and the wind tugging at my hair, and I wish these things could bring me joy again like they once did. I was one of the smiling parents before it happened. I loved the kiss of the sun and the sound of laughter.
There's no one left to laugh.
I look away from the duck pool across the cracked pavement waiting to be overrun by ragweed and dandelions. In the distance, I see cars in the parking lot, but I know they sit empty, long since looted, the gas syphoned. Their owners won't be returning with half-eaten sticks of cotton candy or over-sized stuffed animal prizes. Children begging to stay just a few minutes more won't climb grudgingly into the back seats; wives won't gasp in shock at the burn of hot leather or vinyl against their bare legs; fathers won't promise to come back again soon.
The plague ended all that.
None of us believed it, at first. It was the stuff of movies and comic books, television shows and horror novels. When the plague came, the world grew tense, worried. When the dead rose, the laughter stopped.
I stand stiffly, joints popping with the effort. I've been sitting a long time, it seems, but time has lost its meaning; only my knees care about the passing of time. I tilt my head back, look away from the deserted park toward the sun, and have to squint so it doesn't blind me. I raise my arm to shield my eyes, but my arm doesn't raise. My arm is gone, and I have forgotten that it is.
My gaze returns to the ducks. I lick my lips, tongue rasping across them like sandpaper across rock. Somewhere inside, I know I can't eat the ducks; they are made of plastic. But I am hungry.
I lurch away from the bench, my nearly-useless right leg dragging behind me. My jaw opens and closes as I practise the movement I will use should I find sustenance. The hunger gnaws my gut, the feeling of it unsettlingly close to the actual hole in my torso where one of the dead ate my liver. It was this wound that killed me, not the blood loss from my arm.
In my condition, it takes a while for me to leave the park with its bobbing ducks, promise of prizes, its aching emptiness. I miss the laughter, I miss the children who are all gone along with their parents, their aunts and uncles, their babysitters.
I long for the taste of their brains.
Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don't take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.
Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn't really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the "u" out of words like "colour" and "neighbour" then he does shovelling. The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of burlesque diva Miss Rosie Bitts.
Bruce has been writing since grade school but it wasn't until five years ago he set his sights on becoming a full-time writer. Since then, his first short story, "Another Man's Shoes" was published in the Winter 2008 edition of Cemetery Moon, another short, "Yardwork", was made into a podcast in Oct., 2011 by Pseudopod and his first Icarus Fell novel, "On Unfaithful Wings", was published to Kindle in Dec., 2011. The second Icarus Fell novel, “All Who Wander Are Lost”, is scheduled for release in July, 2012, with the first book in the four-part “Khirro's Journey” epic fantasy coming soon after. He has plans for at least three more Icarus novels, several stand alones, and a YA fantasy co-written with his eleven-year-old daughter.
On Unfaithful Wings
I was alive, then I was dead, now I’m stuck somewhere in between.
My name is Icarus Fell. I am a harvester.
The archangel Michael brought me back to collect souls and help them on their way to Heaven--that’s what a harvester does. If I get enough of them before the bad guys do--if I do a good job--I can have my life back. Now people I knew in life are dying, killed by a murderer’s knife, their bodies defiled, and the cops think I’m the killer.
I’m not, but I think I know who is.
But how does a dead man, a man who no longer exists, stop a psycho? I’m not sure, but I’m going to stop him before everyone I know is dead.
I have to stop him before he gets to my son.
Guild of Dreams