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“No, Daddy, they’re not zombies,” Cindy said. “But you can’t go out there. They’ll get you like they got Mommy.”
He affixed her with a laser stare on par with her mother’s. “You just can’t help yourself, can you?” Verocchio barked again. “I’m going to get my dog.”
“No, sir,” Matt said, standing between her father and the door. “You can’t open the door. You can’t let them in.”
“Your friends?” Mr. Nostrand threw his hands up. “Young man, don’t you think this joke has gone on far long enough? Shouldn’t you be getting home?” He pursed his lips as he considered the boy a moment. “Tell me son, how many beers did you have?”
Matt’s face blanched, but he held his ground.
“Sir, I didn’t have any.”
Even if Cindy hadn’t had firsthand knowledge she wouldn’t have believed him.
“Right.” Mr. Nostrand proceeded to remove Matt from his path as if the boy were no more substantial than a wet bedsheet on a drying line. Gregory had gone still several minutes earlier. He had begun twitching not long after and now he’d begun to rise. Delilah noticed him first and pushed herself against the window to get farther away from him.
“Gre-Gregory!” she said and pointed.
They all turned and save for Mr. Nostrand screamed. The boy had turned a deep emerald color, thick grayish ooze spilling from his mouth. He seemed to be spitting up teeth and when he drew closer to them Cindy could make out the tiny pins in his swollen gums.
He was turning into one of them.
“Oh God, not you too Gregory!” Cindy said.
Her father began to clap slowly.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been as disappointed in you as I am right now. Nor as angry.” He stepped over to the boy, reached and grabbed him by the back of his t-shirt and dragged him to the door. Gregory snarled and snapped at them, but was essentially helpless as Cindy’s father unlocked the door, pulled it open, and unceremoniously dumped him on the deck. He was barely missed by a set of needle teeth chomping the air where his hand had been a moment before and Cindy quickly hustled along side him and pulled the door shut.
She peered over Delilah’s shoulder as the boy dragged himself back upright and stood swaying in the midst of the others.
“It’s the bites,” Matt said. “It must be the bites.”
“Were you bit?” Cindy asked. He quickly checked himself then shook his head. “Were you, Delilah?” The girl was too terrified to speak, keeping her eyes shut as she stood frozen. “Delilah,” Cindy said, seizing her by the shoulder, “were you bit?”
The glass shattered and several hands were suddenly on Delilah, pulling her outside.
“My window!” Cindy’s father said. “What kind of game do you think you’re playing at?” Cindy and Matt screamed, backing away. He wagged a finger at the boy-thing nearest him outside. “I will be contacting your parents about this. What is your name?”
“Hnnnnnnh,” the boy said.
“I-I’m sorry? I didn’t get that. And stop pawing at that young lady’s clothes. Have you no decency?”
“Rrrrrrgh,” another said, stepping closer. They began reaching through the window and Cindy was able to pull herself back just in time to grab her father by the arm and drag him out of reach.
“Daddy, I want to confess. I want to tell you everything. I have condoms and alcohol in my room.”
His head whipped around. Ever since Milton her parents had become accustomed to believing the absolute worst in her. Her confession got him moving in the right direction and he was practically running behind her as she fled up the stairs.
“Where?” he said as he stormed into her room. Matt was already waiting there (although how he’d come to know which one was hers really was innocent) and she shut the door behind him.
“It’s um… it’s um… over here.” She took three quick steps over to her dresser, slid out a drawer and dumped the contents on her bed. Her father watched, his eyes wide as she fished out a flask and thumbed through a paperback until she came to the crusty old condom she’d been using as a bookmark as a goof. She was still a virgin, technically, and had never thought about using the prophylactic. Likewise with the silver flask that her father took out of the pile on the bed. She had tried alcohol before, a bottle of Merlot Tasha had taken from her parents’ wine cellar, but had been the only one who had gotten sick and after having had only three or four sips.
But it would have been useless to tell him that. If he wouldn’t believe her when she told him the truth, maybe she could lie her way to the other side of this.
The back door smashed in, followed shortly by the front. A moment later, she heard them on the stairs, staggering and gurgling like they all had teaspoons of water stuck in their throats.
“Where did you get this?” her father said, shaking the old condom with each word. She looked at him and saw tears in his eyes. Cindy went back to the door and locked it.
“At the orgy,” she said and his eyes went even wider. He froze like all the fluid in his body had been turned to ice.
Be sure to come back soon for the conclusion of “The Non-Believers”. In the meantime, download a copy of Vamp-Hire from Permuted Press.