I thought you might enjoy a sneak peek at the second Dave novel, due out soon!
1 – Killer Nana
My harrowing escape from Little Mexico left me bloody, battered, and in dire need of a bath. I’d been electrocuted, my right foot had been chopped at with a katana, my leg had been shot by a pellet gun, my left eyebrow was singed off by a torch, and there were more scratches on my arms than a goth kid with a razor-fetish. Furthermore, I was caked in vile, stinking squid-goo. Yet despite all I’d survived, it was nothing compared to what was still in store for me.
Let’s kick this off with a little juvenile booger humor, shall we?
I felt a tickle in my head. It felt like there was a hair stuck between my eye and ear. I jammed my finger into my right nostril and tried to pull out whatever was in there, but I couldn’t get deep enough. I closed my left nostril and tried to snot-rocket out whatever was stuck in me. A glob came loose, but not all the way out. I dug my finger in again, and this time I felt the tip of something that was lodged in there.
At first I assumed it was a titanic booger. If only it had been. To my horror and disgust, there was a piece of Cum Dumpster, my Terramed arch-enemy, stuck in my skull.
That disgusting, slimy bastard had tried to worm his way into me moments earlier. His tentacles had snaked their way up my nose in search of my brain, but I managed to electrocute him before he got there. I thought I’d gotten most of the Terramed out, but apparently I was wrong.
I pinched the pink strand and pulled it free. The sensation caused me to tremble as the slimy tentacle came loose. A long, spaghetti-length strand of pink slid out of me. It was wet with blood, and still twitching. I threw the disgusting remainder of my nemesis to the concrete, and squished it beneath the heel of my one good boot.
The tentacle popped like a fat, blood-gorged leech. I nearly vomited at the sight, and turned away as fluid spread out beneath the squished tentacle.
I gagged, heaved, and then gagged again at the thought of Cum Dumpster’s wormy little strands mucking about in my noggin. The thought initiated a flurry of useless face slaps, shivers, and hair pulling. I started to shake my head around like a swimmer trying to get water out of his ear.
“Fucking octopus… Baby shit stinking… Get out of my head. Get out of my head!”
I spent the next several minutes trying my hardest to blow every last ounce of snot out of my head in the hopes that any remnants of the Terramed would come out as well. Soon my nose was bleeding, and I was feeling woozy. My stomach churned, and I knew that if I didn’t stop thinking about Cum Dumpster snaking around inside of me, I’d end up painting the pavement with bile and whatever was left of the greasy breakfast I’d wolfed down that morning.
I had to ignore the nausea, and focus on surviving the nightmare I’d been plunged into. I calmed down, and got my bearings.
My body should’ve ached, but the adrenaline surge from my fight to survive kept me going. Truth be told, I felt pretty good, despite having just picked the grossest booger in history out of my head.
Gabby and the others were long gone. They’d left me for dead, which is exactly what I would’ve done if I’d been in their shoes. By all rights, I should’ve never made it out of Little Mexico. I should be dead, but the day had been full of surprises.
My friends were headed west, towards the foothills to escape the infested city. It wouldn’t be long before nightfall. Once the sun went down, the Terrameds would have free reign. I needed to be as far from civilization as possible by the time that happened.
My foot was wrapped in bandages, and I expected it to ache as I limped along. However, when I dared to put weight on it, I discovered it felt surprisingly good. I started to wonder if I was more of a badass than I ever knew, but I didn’t have time to consider my impressive resilience. I needed to find a way out of town.
“Tony’s truck,” I said to myself.
Gabby’s boyfriend (ex-boyfriend now – she broke up with him right before the apocalypse started. Also, he’s dead now. That has a way of hampering a relationship) had come to rescue them in a van, which meant Tony’s truck should still be in the parking lot. I walked along the edge of the apartment complex and around the corner to get to where my friend had parked, only to discover that the truck was gone.
“Son of a bitch.”
It didn’t surprise me that Tony had taken his truck. He loved that thing. I think the majority of his paychecks went to it. But why did they need both the truck and the van?
That’s when I saw a dark blue mini-van parked near where Tony’s truck had been. Perhaps they traded vehicles, and left Jason’s van behind.
The van was in bad shape. It had a long rear-end that was windowless and dented in several spots. If you were working on a movie about a pedophile, and had been tasked with finding a super creepy van for the lead actor to drive, you’d earn a raise for bringing this heap back to the set.
The van was a mess. There were fast food wrappers littering the floor. The ashtray was overflowing with butts, and instead of emptying it out the owner simply started ashing into a McDonalds cup. I would’ve been critical of Jason’s filthiness, but people in glass houses – know what I mean? My old clunker of a car’s probably still smoldering from the garbage dump of greasy wrappers piled in the back of it.
I was certain this was Jason’s van. First off, the keys were dangling from the ignition. Second, it made sense that Gabby had hooked up with another slob after me. She had a certain type that she gravitated to. It wasn’t that she was attracted to bad boys, but rather hopeless cases. It’s like how some people want to save every stray cat they see wandering the neighborhood, no matter what shape the thing’s in. Gabby was the same way with boyfriends. It was as if she felt the need to fix people. Sadly for her, she wasn’t very good at it.
The van was unlocked, and I knew Tony had been here the second I opened the door. The van stank of his cologne. The guy couldn’t have been in the van for more than a few minutes, but he still managed to leave behind a stench. It was like those Bugs Bunny cartoons with the skunk, where he’d leave green clouds everywhere he went, except Tony left choking clouds of Drakkar Noir, or whatever brand it was that he owned gallons of.
Had Gabby purposefully insisted on leaving the keys in the van in case I miraculously made it out of Little Mexico alive? Even if that wasn’t the case, I decided to believe it was. I liked the thought of her refusing to give up on me.
I turned the key, and then quickly clicked off the radio. From what I’d learned about the Terrameds, they were attracted to any abundance of positive ions, which were released by most electrical equipment. It was dangerous for me to even try driving, but there was no way I’d make it to the mountains before sundown if I tried to walk.
The van’s engine shuddered, and sounded like it was about to die. I pumped the gas to give it some life, but as soon as I took my foot off the pedal the vehicle started to sputter again.
“No time to waste,” I said as I put the van in reverse. I heard glass rattling behind me, and glanced back. There weren’t conventional seats in the back of the van. Instead, there was a bench on either side. This was a work van, or had been at one time. Now, in the vehicle’s final days, it’d become a feckless stoner’s clunker. (My original intent with that last statement was to make fun of Jason. However, I guess ‘feckless stoner’ would be an apt description of me as well.)
There were mirrors of various shapes and sizes in the back of the van. Some of the mirrors were hand held, while others were as tall as a door.
“What the hell?” I asked out loud as I looked at the glimmering glass. Then I remembered how we’d instructed Jason to bring mirrors with him, because at the time we assumed that we’d have to use them to reflect light at the Terrameds to help us get away.
‘That’s great,’ I muttered to myself. ‘If we get in an accident, we’ll get shredded like an onion in a Slap Chop commercial.’
I momentarily considered getting rid of the mirrors, but decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. During the apocalypse, one of the first things to go out the window is safe driving.
I put the van in reverse, stepped on the gas, and hit something almost immediately. The mirrors behind me jostled, as if in warning.
I looked through the side mirror and caught a glimpse of an elderly woman falling to the pavement. Her tightly wrapped babushka came unfurled as she moaned and grasped at her head.
“Oh crap,” I said. “Smooth, Dave. You killed nana.”
My first instinct was to get out and see if my victim was okay. I got so far as to open my door, but then I closed it again, and looked through the mirror at the chubby lady lying on her back behind the van. I rolled down the window and yelled, “You all right?”
I could hear her moaning, but there was no way I was going out there to check on her until I knew she wasn’t infected.
“Hey lady, are you all right?”
She just moaned in response.
“Good job, Dave,” I whispered. “You whacked someone’s granny. Way to go, big guy.”
I was stuck in my parking spot, trapped there by the wobbling, felled body of my victim. I doubt the van would be able to make it over the concrete parking barrier in front of me, and I couldn’t back up without running the old lady over.
Something struck the side of the van facing the apartment complex. I looked to my right, uncertain what hit me. There was a streak of blood on the passenger side window. Had an infected showed up? Was I about to be surrounded? After a few tense moments of speculation, I leaned over closer to the passenger side window to try and gaze down at the ground.
This is the moment in a horror movie where a bloody face is supposed to slam against the glass for an effective jump scare. I prepared myself for the inevitable attack, but it didn’t come. I gazed down at the ground and saw a severed foot.
“What the hell?” Was it raining body parts all of the sudden?
There were undulating tentacles hiding in the shadow of Little Mexico’s entrance, about twenty yards away. One of the tentacles reached to the ground and curled around something. I watched as it pulled the bloody stump of some poor victim off the ground, and then tossed the limb at me.
A human hand flew through the air and collided with the passenger side window, slapping it like Thing from The Addams Family, leaving bloody fingerprints before it fell to the ground.
I leapt back into the driver’s seat, prepared to splatter that damn old lady if she didn’t roll her fat ass out of the way. “Move it or lose it, granny,” I shouted the warning in hopes of avoiding geronticide.
(Fun fact of the day: Geronticide means ‘The killing of the elderly.’ It’s a word I rarely use, but it’s been stuck in my brain for years. Maybe that’s because it has a jaunty sound to it, like it’s supposed to mean something fun. It makes me imagine a family cavorting around joyfully, dressed in holiday sweaters, singing songs as they wield bats and circle their wide-eyed, terrified grandma. ‘Time for some good old-fashioned geronticide, nana!’)
I took one last look back at my victim, hoping she’d managed to get out of the way.
“Dave,” said the felled woman as she sat up. Her face was split, and the wound gushed blood. Tentacles wormed their way beneath her skin, causing her cheeks to flutter.
“Nope,” I said, and floored it.
The van collided with the squishy old lady, but she didn’t go under the tires like I’d expected. Instead, she clung to the rear of the van while screaming my name. As I reversed and prepared to leave the parking lot, I caught sight of a horde of infected running my way. Most of them were screaming my name, just like the mangled-road-pizza grandma on my bumper.
This must be what it feels like to be famous – just with more blood, murder, and resilient old ladies.
The horde got to me before I could get out of the parking lot. They slammed their bodies uselessly against the side of the van in a desperate attempt to do whatever damage they could. I don’t think the Terrameds were fully aware of the physics of this world yet, or the stopping power of a vehicle versus a human face. They were determined to stop me from leaving, and were quickly schooled on how jumping in front of a moving vehicle was a good way to get yourself killed.
I don’t know how many residents of Little Mexico I ran over on my way out of that parking lot, but it was enough to convince me the shocks on the van were garbage. I jostled around and tried to keep steering straight as the infected rushed at me. They slammed into the side of the van, flailing their arms before losing their balance and falling beneath the tires. It slowed me down, and allowed more of the horde to catch up. It sounded like I was driving over a load of Frito Lay bags as bones popped and crunched.
The mirrors in the back of the van bounced up and down. Soon they started to break, and my previous concerns about tooling around town with a backseat full of face-shredding shards of glass were coming true.
For a moment, I thought the van was going to get stuck on top of a mountain of slaughtered infected, but then the tires caught traction and I jutted forward. My broken sword fell from my lap and clattered on the floor as I rocketed away from Little Mexico.
Just when I thought I was in the clear, the rear doors opened. That damn grandma was still back there. She’d been clinging to the van like that hitchhiker from Creepshow 2.
I took a hard turn onto the road outside of Little Mexico, hoping the momentum would throw the elderly woman off the back of the van. It didn’t work. That little abuela was determined to get to me. Her curly, grey wig was holding on by a scant few bobby pins, and her bulging eyeball focused on me as she screamed my name. Her upper denture flopped loose, and finally fell free.
Several mirrors tumbled out of the back, shattering on the pavement behind us.
With the rear doors open, the infected grandma was only steps away from getting safely out of the sun. I knew that if she did, I was a goner. Once the Terramed was inside the van, it could break free of its human host without fear of sunlight.
The sun was to my right, so I turned left down a side street. Now the sun was shining right onto the grandmother’s back, and in through the van’s rear doors. The light reflected off the broken mirrors still in the back, turning the van into a shimmering spectacle, as if I was the world’s worst disco ball sales rep.
The nana was holding the unstable door, trying to keep from falling off. She was snapping her jaws at me, as if threatening to gum me to death.
“Thanks for the ride, lady,” I said as I tried to jerk the van around to knock her free.
I know the quote from Creepshow 2 didn’t quite fit the moment, but I’d already thought of the movie and couldn’t come up with anything else witty to say.
I swerved the van again, hoping to fling her off. It didn’t succeed in doing anything other than break more mirrors. The door swung wide, but she clung on with the impossible strength of an action movie star. I glanced back, and saw that her grip was being assisted by tentacles that’d sprouted from her wrists.
“Fucking Spiderbitch back there,” I said.
The infected granny was able to anchor herself on the back of the van with her tentacles. She swung one of the doors shut, locking it in place. She reached for the other door. I knew I only had a few moments before the Terramed closed the door and blocked out the sun. Then it could come at me in a flurry of barbed tentacles.
The road was too thin to turn around. I sped up to reach an upcoming intersection, and then whipped the wheel to the side, causing the van’s tires to squeal as the vehicle performed a clumsy 180. My driving skills are better suited for videogames. While I might’ve been able to pull off this maneuver with ease in a Grand Theft Auto game, it didn’t go exactly as planned in real life.
The van teetered on two wheels. Glass bounced around in the back like there’d been an earthquake at a Chihuly exhibition (culture, baby. Get you some.) I saw the pavement outside my window at an angle that was clearly bad news. I instinctually pulled the wheel the opposite direction to make up for my over enthusiastic turn. The van crashed back down onto all four wheels, sending Nana in the back bouncing off the ceiling, and me nearly popping up over the steering wheel and onto the dashboard.
“Dave,” said the grandma, her voice wet, hoarse, and slurred by a lack of dentures and a glut of face snakes.
“Fuck off, nana.” I slid down the steering wheel and back into my seat as the infected grandma came at me. I didn’t have time to look, but the wet sloshing and the crack of bones alerted me that the Terramed was breaking free of its host. I hit the gas, turned the wheel, and completed the maneuver I’d fumbled moments earlier. I scrunched up in my seat, cringing in expectation of an attack as the nana-monster made her way to the front of the van. I saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye as one of her tentacles latched its barb into the head rest of the passenger side seat.
Finally, the van turned far enough that the sun shined in through the windshield, and directly onto the creature behind me. The Terramed screeched in pain, and withdrew its tentacles in an attempt to hide from the painful light that was being reflected in a million different directions by the carpet of broken glass back there.
I reached down for my sword, but it was gone. The weapon had slid away during my catastrophic attempt at a deft driving maneuver.
Granny was tucked back in the corner of the van, a mess of tentacles trying to retract back into ruined flesh. Her skin contorted and wiggled as the Terramed snaked its way back in, bursting her fragile skin. Blood oozed down to the slats of the van’s floor, along with plenty of the worm-ridden baby diarrhea muck the creatures emitted.
Speaking of which… How long has it been since the last time I complained about how disgusting these creatures are? However long it’s been, it’s been too long. I can’t possibly do this tale justice without reminding you of how it felt like I’d decided to wear soiled diapers as a face mask ever since the Terrameds showed up. I was covered in their… secretions (barf). What sort of evolutionary process caters to creatures who spew wormy turd juice all over the place when they get burned? Darwin’s got a lot of explaining to do on this one.
Nana was hissing at me. Her face had been split from the accident, and the tentacles worsened the damage as they tried to slide back inside of her. The wound stretched from her forehead, over her brow, across her cheek, and down to her upper lip now, affecting her speech. One half of her face was flapping to the side, revealing her cracked and mangled jaw. It looked like she had two tongues, but one of them was retracting. It was a tentacle sliding down her esophagus.
The sunlight didn’t reach the back of the van, but it came pretty close. Granny was pushing herself as tight against the door as possible as the tentacles slithered their way back inside of her. She reached for the door handle, but her muscles had been ravaged by the tentacles, and she had trouble getting her fingers to work.
“Get out, Nana nasty.” I picked up the cup full of cigarette butts and tossed it at her. The cup still had some liquid in the bottom of it, and the fluid splashed on the old woman’s broken face. Some of the butts stuck to her. It looked like someone had dragged her across the floor of a gas station bathroom.
“Dave,” she hissed and gurgled a sound similar to my name. Her finger successfully hooked around the rear handle, and she opened the door.
“Tell your friends not to fuck with Dave.” I picked up a shard of one of the broken mirrors and positioned it to shine some light on the grandma’s exposed tentacles. Granny squirmed and screamed in a rush to get away. I dropped the mirror, got back into my seat, shifted into drive, and hit the gas.
Granny rolled out of the back of the van, and into the middle of the street as a cavalcade of broken glass fell out around her.
I never expected to happily leave a granny crying and bleeding in the street, but shit got real weird that day. Unbelievably, this was just the start.