Chapter 10: Old Friend, New Enemy
Never in Nate's "natural life" would he have ever thought of scaling the side of a house. He wasn't particularly fit and he had always been a klutz but tonight in his new found condition he leaps on to the nearest widow sill. In a frenzied lust Napoleon pulls himself up the side of the James house. He climbs with a purpose taking hold of anything he can to pull himself up to the attic window. Not once does the man who in life was afraid of heights ever look down. The grunt Nate lets loose once he places a hand on the attic window sill is one of pleasure as his muscles no longer felt stress or strain. With a final heave he balances his rotten corpse using his elbows and slams his hand palm first through the glass pane slicing into his jellied flesh.
Ben had positioned himself at the base of the stairs leading upstairs to the second floor of the house. He had an idea sprinting back across the dinning room and into the kitchen. From the sink he grabs a pair of bright yellow latex gloves. Just then he hears the commotion from the attic signaling his undead neighbors much anticipated arrival. A distant muffled savage grunt followed by a heavy crash. Ben holds his breath moving quietly back to the base of the stairs snapping the gloves on awkwardly as he goes. From the attic comes the sound of a wild animal trapped. Nate fought his way around the tightly pack claustrophobic attic space. Ben knew when Napoleon found the hatch from the attic it would be more than obvious. The sounds of splintering wood followed by the clatter of falling debris and a wet splat from what he assumes to be Nate. Benjamin knew his foe had found the way into his sanctuary. A roar erupts from the second floor of the house soon comes pounding footsteps from above. Nate was howling his name “Beeeeeeeeeennnnnnnn!” as he came cresting the top step. Ben stands rigid against the wall at the base of the staircase. His tongue feels coarse as if it is wrapped in sandpaper and his heartbeat bangs at his temples with each pulse. It was him, Nate and the hammer he clutched. Ben knew is his eyes would betray him the dark. He shudders as the dead man gallops down the stairs; he is almost half way down. Ben didn’t know what his enemy was capable of and more importantly he saw himself as the last barrier between death and his family. Leaning back into the wall planting his feet Ben flexes his brawny arms cocking them back slowly. Napoleon puts one tainted foot onto the tile floor and Ben unleashes the tension in his arms with gritted teeth into one savage double handed blow. Unfortunately Ben misjudges Napoleon’s diminutive height.
The fetid man took the brunt of the hit square in the gut crushing his ribs causing him to flip head over heals. The screeching corpse lands with the sound of snapping bones. In the kitchen sliding to a sudden stop banging in to the cabinets where Ben Jr. was hiding. As quickly as Nate had come to his feet. Ben was already on the move charging him bringing the mallet to bear. “You Black …….” Nate’s insult silenced mid word. The hammer catches him square in the cheek caving in the right side of his face and spinning him around. Ben delivers a boot to the back of the staggering figure. Nate is propelled forward head first into the stainless steel kitchen sink. Ben seizes the opportunity rumbling up behind Nate grasping him by his neck. The hammer then shatters the back of Nate’s head as he fails pinned in place. The next blow removes the top of the polluted man’s head and finally Nate’s hate fueled infected rage is stilled. Ben senses the room swimming away from him before he braces himself on the sinks edge. The big man vomits what little he had eaten over the back and decimated skull of his fallen adversary. Dropping mallet in the sink Ben grabs the corpse and tosses it through the open doorway to his left. This way he thought Nate and Carl can keep each other company. He strips the gloves free and turning on the water on in the sink. It trickles out as Ben throws a handful of the tepid water into his face breathing deeply.
“Crap” he thinks to himself. “Chip!” he calls his boy. “Come on we need to get down stairs.” he pants. The cabinet below him bursts open as his partially paralyzed son pulls himself free from his hiding spot. Ben sways unsteady on his feet “Dad did … Did he get you? Did he bite you?” the boy asks from the floor hesitantly. “No son I’m fine.” Ben kneels down grabbing his son in his arms hefting him up. “Dad…Dad!” the boy shouts clapping his dad on the shoulder. “The mallet dad … we’ve got to keep the mallet!” momentarily Ben’s exhaustion shows. He turns and jabs a hand under the running faucet picking the “lucky” mallet up. “Man …. Jesus…” he swoons. “Chip I really hope that was left over jelly and egg shells from your mother cooking I just put my hand into.” Chip strokes his father’s brow “Yeah dad it was …it sure was.” He says unconvincingly. Ben carries his son to the basement doorway but as he opens the door he feels the house shutter. In the distance the sounds of a fire consuming oxygen in a great “whoosh” can he heard. “We will worry about the attic window tomorrow.” He tells his son while locking the door behind them carefully taking one stair at a time. “Chip…” Ben speaks while they cross the empty basement workshop. “Let me tell your mom and Mrs. Fullerton what happened ok?” Chip snorts “You?! Mr. ‘she made it flesh.’” Ben Jr. mocks his father. “Tell me what?!” Anne whispers from the rear false wall of the workbench. Ben winces at his stupidity upon hearing his wife in the dark. “And what the hell was that racket Benjamin?” She blocks their entrance into the underground shelter “Where’s Carl Ben?!”
Today we find Benjamin James having squared off against Napoleon Archer. His one time neighbor and block mate. The only difference is Nate has been stricken by the same infection that Carl Fullerton had. What next for the James clan? Well first Ben has to explain to his wife why he and Chip first bashed in Carl's head then Nate's. What's worse Carl's family has no idea he's never coming back!
Come back the week of October 21st to find out what happens in Chapter 11!
The Living Dark
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