Monday, November 16, 2015

Short Story: Forest of Genres

Forest of the Genres

“This is a stupid argument.” Delia said.

“I swear, I saw it.” Roger told her, sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast as normal.

“They do not exist. They cannot possibly exist.” She answered.

“It was a zombie. Just like in the movies.” He said.

“Okay, answer this question. If Zombies eat brains, then how does a brainless body become a zombie?” She asked him. “It can't.”

“I didn't ask.” He admitted. “I don't think it could talk.”

“It would rot within days and then no more zombie.” Delia said and laughed. “This prevents any zombie apocalypse even if it was real.”

“It was a zombie.” Roger said, sure of himself.

“Okay, describe it.” Delia told him.

“It had one arm, a bad limp, a bloody face, a rasping moan and glassy, unseeing eyes...”

Delia rolled her eyes and sighed, “How would you know if they were unseeing?”

He shrugged.

“Elderly amputee stroke victim, fell down hard on his face. You should have called an ambulance instead of running away.” She told him. “Shame on you.”

Roger shook his head. “No way. It was definitely a zombie.”

“Yet, no zombie outbreak. You left a poor stroke victim in the woods two days ago. You'd better hope nobody finds out when they discover the body.” Delia said. “140,000 people die annually in this country from strokes and how many zombies are there every year?”

“Nobody knows. It's covered up.” Roger said, defensively, playing with the remaining cold scrambled eggs on his plate. This made Delia guffaw in exasperation.

“Okay, come with me. Let's go back to that place and see what we find.” Roger said. He finished off the last remaining orange juice. “You and me.”

She thought about it. “I don't know if I want to find that poor man's body though.”

So they climbed into the pick-up truck and drove toward the forested area near the levee in the flood control area of the city. To get there they had to pass over the old wooden bridge that the local preservation society had adopted to maintain.

“Such a pretty bridge.” Delia said leaning on her husbands shoulder. “Kind of romantic in the moon light.”

“It's a full moon, though. There might be some crazy people out and about.” Roger answered, “I'm trying to drive, don't lean against me.”

He had pulled off the road and onto a dirt road and the forest loomed ahead of them. “This is it.” He said, “Should we walk?”

She shook her head looking at the wall of trees and bushes ahead in the headlights. “I think I changed my mind.”

He handed her a flashlight and took a bigger one for himself. “There's nothing here that isn't here in the day time, babe. We'll stay together the whole time, okay?”

They entered the woods, Delia stayed right next to her husband. His warm shoulder against hers was calming. He was tall and strong and he was very alpha at the moment in her eyes.

Something made noise to their right and they both shined their flashlights in that direction and saw a rabbit.

“It's just a rabbit.” He told her, as they continued walking deeper into the forest. “I didn't think they came outside at night. Guess I was wrong.”

“This place feels very weird.” She said. It felt like she was dreaming even though she could feel the occasional stone beneath her running shoes and the breeze on her face as they walked. There a faint blue light coming from their left but it felt like it was far away. “Maybe it's the light of the city”, she thought to herself.

There was a moaning sound. Both of them froze. It didn't seem to have come from any particular direction. She leaned on him even more. Then in front of them the grass and bushes were being trampled and a dark shape was moving toward them.

“I should have brought a weapon.” Roger said, thinking these might be his last words. The shape emerged from the shrubbery and into the light from their flashlights. The horrible countenance of a giant furry beast was before them. It lifted its head and gave a shrill cry that made their blood run cold.

“Big foot?” Roger whispered, “Seriously?”

It took a step toward them and it came to the couple to flee but they were both too scared to move, their legs felt like dead weight. Just then another higher-note scream came from their right and a shape darted straight at the hairy beast and tackled it. The new shape looked almost like a man in tattered clothes but it had rabbit-like ears and two large fanged teeth.

It stopped battling the big foot for a moment to look at Roger and Delia and said, “You can run away now.”

As if this freed them from being spell-bound they both turned to run but within several feet found the way blocked by the diffused blue light and shadows the shape of small creatures walking amongst it.

“Aliens?” Roger wondered out loud. Then he pulled her to the left.

“What's going on?” She asked, confused.

“Genre-creep!” He answered her, running out of breath as they moved. “It looks like the fiction shelf all melted together in this forest.”

“That's insane.” She told him.

“Zombies, were-rabbits, big-foot, aliens… who knows what else, how else can it be explained, Delia?” He said, stopped for breath.

Before the big flood of 1993 this area had been next to an annex of the city library but had been demolished for the expansion of the flood plain. The forest had been considered part of the city but had been totally abandoned.

“It's like the ghosts of the old library annex still lives in the forest.” She said, “Like some kind of ghost or another dimension.”

Then another voice said, “Sounds serious. Maybe I can help you with something, Delia?”

She shined her flashlight at what turned out to be a handsome man dressed all in black but his face had a shiny complexion. The man spoke, “I can keep you safe, forever, Delia. Just come to me.”

Delia was mesmerized and took a step toward the man, who smiled. Then another light shone on the handsome man and she heard Roger yell, “Vampires don't sparkle!”

Roger grabbed Delia's hand and pulled her in a different direction. Some tree branches in the way caused her to hold her hand up and block it. She came away holding a switch. When they paused again she laughed and swished it and said “Abracadabra.”

A flash of lightening exploded from the tip of it and destroyed a tree in front of them. They were both startled and grabbed each other. Somehow past the downed tree they could see the shadowy shape of the truck.

“Thank goodness.” She said. They began walking toward the truck and soon left the forest behind.

They climbed into the truck and just sat a moment watching the dark forest in front of it.

“How many genres did you count?” He asked.

“Several of them, but I wasn't thinking about it.” She answered, “Why?”

“Something was missing.” He answered. “I guess if we had stuck around longer, we would have seen a lot more.”

“I think we saw enough for one night.” She answered, “I want to go home.”

He turned the key in the ignition but nothing happened. The headlights and interior lights had come on but blinked and then died again. Suddenly the car was bathed in light from above.

“But we already saw some aliens!” He said. Suddenly some kind of space ship landed next to them, not a saucer but a boxy shape. The side opened up and armor-suited guys carrying big guns exited and looked around.

“Space marines.” Roger noted, “My favorite.”

Except that the truck had been surrounded and the guns were all pointed at the couple.

“What, no dragons?” Delia asked. Then she embraced her husband tightly.


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