Meats Birthday

The horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present!

Meats Birthday


The contractions came hard and fast, doubling Denise over as she tried to cross the small living room to the window. It was too damned hot inside, and she needed fresh air. Marvin had already gone down to get the car, and bring it around front. Living in the city, while it had its benefits, meant one couldn’t always find a parking spot where one wanted.

He would be back up for her soon, that is if he remembered to come back for her. While Marvin had his uses, he wasn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the box. But that didn’t matter, once she got her payday she’d blow this crappy town and move north to a real city, like New York.

Focusing on her breathing she managed to get the pain under control enough to make it to the window. Pushing it up the rest of the way she was rewarded with a hot breeze that carried the pungent scent of the nearby river, an odor that spoke of things long dead.

Someone slammed into the door behind her, rattling it in its frame.

“Is that you Marvin?” she said, as she waddled to the door, her hand cradling her swollen belly.

She yanked the door open to find Mrs. Franklin, her neighbor from across the hall, lying on her doorstep.

“Mrs. Franklin,” she said as she struggled to get down on her knees next to the old woman. Mrs. Franklin’s walker was laying on the other side of the hall where it had obviously come to rest after her fall.

Denise shook her shoulder only to find her body stiff and rigid. She felt along her neck, not really sure what she was looking for, only that she had seen it done on television when a paramedic of someone checked to see if an unconscious person was alive. She knew with growing certainty that Mrs. Franklin was dead. There was just something about he way she lay there. Perfectly still, not even a breath stirring her body.

From the streets below came the sound of sirens and shouts, horns began honking, and alarms started going off. Bedlam had erupted and she worried for the first time about Marvin. Hopefully he’d remembered to feed the meter, she didn’t want to have to ride to the hospital in an ambulance, by the time they got to her the baby would be a toddler.

“Mrs. Franklin,” she said, louder this time, as if raising her voice would rouse the old woman from the other side. Leaning forward she looked first, left, then right. The hallway was empty.

Confident that no one was watching her Denise began digging through the pockets of Mrs. Franklins sweater looking for her door key. It was no secret the old bitch had a stash of cash somewhere in her apartment, which to Denise was just an added bonus to what she was already going to receive.

Several shots rang out from below and Denise ducked instinctively just as another contraction slammed into her, doubling her over. When she found out she was pregnant her first thought had been to go to the clinic and take care of the problem. She didn’t have the time or patience for raising a child right now.

A friend had introduced her to another friend who had arranged a meeting with a childless young couple looking to adopt. They had money, and when it was all said and done, Denise had agreed to surrender her child to the Mowerys for the tidy little sum of fifteen thousand bucks. That was enough to get her to New York and set her up for a few months until she was on her feet and starring in the latest Broadway play. She was still naive enough to believe her talent would be enough to land her the lead role for any play she auditioned for.

The Mowery’s had set her up in the apartment where she now lived, it might had been small, but it was better than the basement at Marvin’s parents house, or even, god forbid, her own parent’s place. Her mother had chided her ceaselessly when she found out she was pregnant. Telling her it was time to settle down and raise her family. Denise had other plans.,

As the pain of the contraction subsided she looked up to find Mrs. Franklin staring at her with cataract coated eyes that shimmered in the afternoon sun. She had turned her head at an impossible angle that briefly reminded Denise of  the movie, The Exorcist, that she and Marvin had recently watched on video. She couldn’t afford cable and the Mowery’s viewed it as a waste of money.

The flesh of Mrs. Franklin’s face had become a splotchy gray and her mouth hung open like a dog panting, her tongue lolling from side to side as drool dribbled from the corner of her mouth to stain the collar of her flannel robe. There was an animal like nature to her face that made Denise lean back away from the old woman. It was as if she were a ravenous dog looking at a piece of meat.

Suddenly Mrs. Franklin's arms and legs flailed against the door frame as she struggled to roll over, again her actions were reminiscent of an a dog struggling to jump to its feet,  and Denise scooted backwards on her butt.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Franklin, please, I wasn’t going to take anything.”

Mrs. Franklin rolled over onto her belly, her gaze never once leaving Denise, and pushed herself up onto all fours. She continued to stare at Denise with those shimmering eyes, her mouth hanging open as a strand of saliva dribbled from the corner of her slack lips

“I’m sorry, please,” Denise said as the first feelings of panic stirred in the pit of her stomach. Mrs. Franklin moved towards her in a jerking gait, almost stumbling as she stalked her across the small living room. Denise crab walked away from her on her backside, using her feet to propel herself across the floor away from the old woman who paced her step for step.

“Not now!” Denise cried out as Mrs. Franklin reached out for her with a claw like hand and another contraction rippled across her belly. The old woman’s fingers latched onto her foot, digging into her flesh, pulling her across the floor towards her as Denise doubled over in pain.

She gasped for breath as she wrapped her arms around her swollen belly, the carpet coarse against her back as her shirt rode up while Mrs. Franklin pulled her towards her. The old woman smacked her lips in anticipation, which in other circumstance would have been a comical sight, as her dentures had been knocked loose and lay on the floor in the kitchen.

The look in Mrs. Franklin's eyes was anything but comical. Her features were wrinkled by an animal like snarl that twisted her once grandmotherly face into a caricature of its former self. Her bare gums snapped together with a sound like that of someone being slapped in the face by an open palm. She pulled Denise’s foot to her mouth, those bony gums clamping down on her Tom’s leather slip on's that she’d bought at Nordstroms for nearly seventy bucks.

The pain from Mrs. Franklin gnawing on her foot brought her back to the reality of the situation. She was in trouble, the why didn’t matter at the moment, there would be time enough for that later. For now she had to concentrate on surviving. If she could make it to the street, Marvin had better be waiting there for her if he valued his life.

As Mrs. Franklin gnawed on the toe of her foot, Denise raised her other foot and brought it down on Mrs. Franklin’s face with as much savagery as she could muster, considering her condition. There was movement in her belly as Mrs. Franklin released her grip and Denise scrambled to get back to her feet.

She rolled over onto her belly, the baby inside kicking viciously against the side of her womb as it was compressed beneath her weight, and she tried to push herself up onto all fours so she could crawl away from the threat that was even now pulling itself across the floor towards her. She felt like she was moving in slow motion, the distance between her and the chair appearing to grow instead of shrinking.

Reaching the chair in the living room she managed to pull herself to her knees as Mrs. Franklin clawed her way after her. She was panting, out of breath from the exertion, nearly out of strength, but fear had a way of helping one dig deep when it was needed, and all the motivation Denise needed to make that final push was to glance over her shoulder to see just how close Mrs. Franklin had gotten to her.

Making it to her feet amid the pain of an approaching contraction that came like the sound of a freight train bearing down upon her, Denise crossed to the open door, and staggered into the hallway beyond. She felt her panties getting wet and knew her water was about to break. The baby was coming and here she was trying to escape some crazy old woman bent on chewing her to death.

She whimpered as Mrs. Franklin clawed her way after her and she tried to pull the door shut only to have it catch on Mrs. Franklin’s fingers that she'd managed to slip into the crack. Denise leaned into the door as Mrs. Franklin howled on the other side and Denise looked left and right down the vacant hallway, surprised that no one had come out to see what all the commotion was about.

She put her weight into it, which with the baby was considerable, and felt the gore rising to the back of her throat when she heard the audible click of Mrs. Franklins fingers being severed.

She giggled uncontrollably as she watched the four individual fingers squirm across the carpeted floor towards her feet. On the other side of the door Mrs. Franklin flailed against the door like a mad woman, screaming in a guttural voice that was more a growl than a cry, slapping the door with what Denise believed was her arms.

She took several steps back, alone for now in the hallway, as the door rattled in its frame. She was afraid that if she turned Mrs. Franklin would manage to get the door open and chase her down the hallway. When she was several steps away she turned and ran as best she could towards the doors of the elevator at the end of the hall, her hands cradling her belly as she ran, the baby within sharing its displeasure with being mistreated as it had over the past half hour.

If she could get to the street, if Marvin was there waiting for her, she could go to the hospital, get the baby out, and move on with the life ten grand would buy her.

“I wouldn’t go out here.” A man’s voice came from her right and she stopped to look at the occupant of seven C who watched her from the shadowy recesses of his apartment.

“What do you know about anything,” she said with a dismissive wave.

“More than you obviously,” The man said before closing the door softly.

Another contraction hit her as she stood in the elevator, amniotic fluid ran down her leg, staining her leather shoes as it leaked into a puddle on the floor around her. She squatted with her back against the wall of the elevator, breathing rapidly as she struggled to get control of the waves of pain washing over her.

Once she got to the lobby everything would be fine, someone would help her to Marvin’s old Cutlass and they would be on their way to the hospital. By this time next week she’d be in New York preparing for her first of many auditions.

The elevator stopped, a bell dinging above the door, and she looked up from where she was squatting as the doors slid open. The first thing that assailed her ears was the screaming, followed shortly by the overwhelming stench of rotting flesh that turned her stomach as hot gore burned the back of her throat. She put her hand over her nose.

On the other side of the narrow lobby a group of six people were kneeling on the floor around someone who was screaming in a high pitched voice. Blood spurted in an arc over one of the men’s shoulder, splattering onto the polished tile floor, staining it crimson. The screams became resigned whimpers as the sound of something tearing came from within the knot of people.

Denise screamed and one of the people turned to look in her direction. Their face had the same appearance as Mrs. Franklin's, the flesh gray with dark splotches, the eyes silvery discs that watched her with a predatory interest. The only difference being the piece of bloody flesh that hung from the man’s mouth at he absently chewed on it.

The man pushed himself to his feet and staggered towards her as she reached up and pushed the up button, her other hand wrapped around her belly where they baby moved around in preparation to being born.

She kept pushing at the button as the man staggered towards her, the doors refusing to budge as the distance between them narrowed.

Twenty feet, fifteen, ten, five.

“Please,” she whimpered as she pounded on the button to close the doors. The pressure of her child’s impending birth pushed down against her hips. The sound of her frantic heartbeat filled her ears.

The old man was reaching for the doors of the elevator when she glanced down and saw her own foot resting against the side of the opened door, blocking it open. Using the cuff of her pants she pulled her leg inside the elevator car as she frantically jabbed at the close door button.

The doors rumbled softly as they closed on the grisly scene in the lobby, She lay there,  for the moment, in relative safety, as the sound of the old man slapping the elevator doors came faintly through the metal.

Her hair was plastered to her sweaty forehead and she panted in an effort to bring the growing contractions under control. With her hands on her swollen belly she focused on the light in the ceiling as she struggled to regain control over her body. As if she could will her body to reverse a course that came from years of evolution.

She didn’t know what was going on outside the confines of the elevator, but she knew she couldn’t stay here. Pushing herself up to her knees she hit the button for her floor and pulled herself to her feet using the handrail that ran around the interior of the elevator car.
She might not know what was going on, but she knew someone who did, and she cringed inwardly at the way she had treated the strange man in Seven C.

Would he help her? She wondered as a soft ding came from the light above the door and the doors slid open with a faint rumble.

The hallway beyond was just as she had left it. Mrs. Franklin’s walker still lay on its side across from the door of her apartment. As she cautiously stepped into the hallway, her head on a swivel, she heard Mrs. Franklin flailing against the closed door at the other end of the hallway.

Another contraction drove her to her knees as the baby, no longer willing to be denied, began forcing its way down.

“No,” she whimpered as she reached out for the door to Seven C, “not now, please, not now.”

The sound of footsteps came from her left and she turned her head in that direction, spotting an old man staggering down the hallway towards her. His hands were out in front of him, like twisted claws grasping at the air. The front of his torn shirt was stained with blood. It was obvious something had been at him, the place where his belly should have been was an empty cavity. A white rib poking through gnawed meat at the top of the cavity.

It was too much for her to comprehend, her world had been turned upside down, and she didn’t know how to respond. Nothing in her life had prepared her for what she faced so she clung to the only thing she felt was certain.

If she could get this damned baby out of her, she could escape this nightmare, and get to New York where she was certain the world still turned as it should. Not like the insanity she had awakened into.

Moving as if she were trapped in a nightmare she crawled towards the door for Seven C, glancing back at the old man who staggered towards her. She reached the door and beat against it with her fist as the old man got closer. She leaned against the cool surface, crying in resigned desperation as the old man’s erratic footsteps neared.

The door she was leaning against swung open, she fell into a cool emptiness as the man who lived there stepped into the hallway. He was carrying a baseball bat and she watched as he vanished from view. From the hallway came a sound like a cantaloupe being dropped to the floor and the man returned, his baseball bat dripping blood.

He stood over her, looking down at her with the bloody baseball bat in his hand, and she suspected that she had made a serious mistake coming here.

He tossed the bat to the side and bent down to pick her up. She struggled against him as he pulled her to her feet with his hands under her arms, then he was picking her up and carrying her across the room.

In the next room she saw the bed and fought against him as he lay her down and began pulling her pants down. Contractions slammed into her, doubling her over, but he refused to let her curl up into a tight ball.

“You gotta have this baby,” he said as he pulled her pants off and tossed them aside. He hooked his fingers under the elastic waist of her panties and she slapped at his hands in a half hearted attempt to stop him.

“I’m an EMT, just relax,” he said as he pulled on a pair of surgical gloves and began probing her with his fingers. She felt violated as he forced her legs apart, but the contractions, that were now coming like the waves of the ocean crashing against a rocky shore, dulled her embarrassment.

“He’s coming,” the man said as what felt like a sack of potatoes forced its way out of her body. 

“I don’t have anything I can give you,” he said as her flesh tore and an intense pain flared. She cried out as her once swollen belly collapsed upon itself, yet the contractions continued as the last of the baby that had inhabited her body for nine months was released from its womb.

The last thing she remembered before she passed out was the sound of a baby crying.

The first thing she noticed when she woke up was the bulkiness between her legs, she carefully ran her hand down to find bandages under her panties . From the other room came the voice of a news reporter talking about crazed attacks in Washington D.C.

Throwing back the blankets she pushed herself to her feet and stood swaying with dizziness. She had to get out of here. The stretched skin around her belly hung in a flap that draped over the hem of her panties. Finding her maternity jeans she slipped them on, almost falling as she tried to balance herself on one foot. They were too large now and she was forced to hold them up with one hand.

When she was dressed she turned to find the man in Seven C watching her from the bedroom door. In his arms he cradled an infant swaddled in a blanket. Actually he didn’t look half bad, he was older, with a fringe of gray along the edges of his brown hair.

“I gotta get out of here,” she said as she searched for her shoes.

“You don’t want to go out there, not in your condition. The dead are walking the streets, attacking anything living. Everything has come to a halt. There’s no more buses, no more airplanes, the world is changing. And what about your son?  Don’t you want to see him?”

“No, now just leave me alone, I gotta go,” she said as she searched the room for her things. On a chair in the corner she found her purse that she slung over her shoulder. She should have had the damned abortion. Nine months spent carrying that little monster all for nothing.

But maybe the Mowery’s were still okay. Maybe she could find them, give them the kid, and collect her money. No! One glance at the man in apartment C told her it was all a  wash. There was a sincerity about what he’d said, coupled with what she had seen already, that only served to confirm what she already knew.

Once again she was getting screwed. Circumstances had changed and she’d been left holding the bag. It was the story of her life.

“Where are you gonna go?” the man said.

“North, New York city, what does it matter to you? Anywhere away from this place.”

“What about your son? Don’t you want to take him?”

“No, you keep him, I’ve got better things to do with my life.”

“Lady, the world has changed, its not like it was.”

“It’ll be better in New York, I know it will, they’ll fix it.”

“Who’s gonna fix it?”

The government, the police, the army, they’ll take care of it.”

“They’re gone, either hiding in a bunker somewhere or wandering the streets looking for something to eat. The world we knew is gone. The dead have risen from their graves and judgment is upon us.”

She stopped then as she recalled what she had found in the lobby. “I can’t stay here, I have to go.”

“I’m headed to the mountains, you can come along if you want, it’ll be safer there. I was getting ready to bug out when you pounded on my door.”

Hide in the mountains, or go to New York and follow her destiny? It was an easy choice. Nothing was going to stand in the way of her future. Besides, no matter how bad the problem was, surely the government had it under control, no matter what this nutcase was babbling about.

“I’ve gotta get to New York.”

“New York is not what it used to be.”

She found her shoes under the dresser and fished them out with one foot. Once she’d gotten them on she crossed the room to the door. The man stepped back.

“Don’t you want to see your baby?”

She shook her head as she pushed past him, at the door of the apartment she struggled briefly with the locks before opening the door.

“Don’t you want to give your baby a name before you go?”

“You can call him Meat for all I care,” she said as she slipped through the door.

The man looked at the child in his arms. “Meat it is,” he said.

The End

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Read for free on Kindle Unlimited
Also available in paperback.