Raven Willoughby is an unusual man. First, he was attacked by a werewolf, then he was bitten by a vampire. Through some twist of fate, he is now more, or less than, human. Finding that the town he’s in is being attacked each night by the walking dead, he decides that he must do something about it. With his superior stamina and reflexes, he is in a unique position to fight the undead.
By nightfall, Raven was armed with his silver daggers and ensconced in his offices by the docks. Where it used to bustle at night, the waterfront was silent. Those forced by circumstances to remain, barred their doors and didn’t go out from sunrise to sunset. What he was doing was either very brave, or very foolish. Raven reflected that the two often ran together.
The first shuffling blunder sounded. Ears perked, Raven closed his eyes, filtering out the lap of waves and the creak of ships at dock. Below that, the sound of a dozen or so feet, shambling, could be heard. A low, mournful sigh carried on the breeze and he caught the scent of death. It was faint, but prevalent. Rising, he doused the lamp and sat in darkness. Drawing two knives, he waited until the wandering forms drew near.
They did not come in, but seemed to sense the life’s blood pulsing in his veins, for they crowded around outside. The stench was horrendous, the sound of their wheezing, sorrow filled sighs almost more than he could stand. Knowing these used to be people, perhaps former friends, filled him with regret. He could not, in good conscience, allow them to continue. He felt responsible, as they had come from his own beloved ship. Even had they not, he was uniquely equipped to deal with them, where mere humans could not.
Taking a deep breath, he rose and walked out the back door, coming around behind them. As if they sensed his movement, the creatures had started shuffling sideways. One or two had made the corner of the building, but seemed uncertain how to proceed. There was a low wall, less than three feet tall, but it provided a boundary of sorts. The half dozen undead crowded forward, each trying to reach him. Limp hands dangled from stiff arms. Hands groped for him.
Uttering a prayer, Raven swung at the reaching hands, lopping them off one by one. When separated from the body, the shriveled and lay still. The stumps of the arms hissed and smoked. The dead didn’t seem to feel it, but he could see tendrils of black snake up their arms. He took another swing, this time at necks.
One head, another, fell to the ground. The bodies dropped, trampled by the others who came forward to take their place. Dancing and whirling, Raven whittled away at the dead. There seemed to be no end to them. He lost count at a dozen. More came, the longer he worked. Drawn by his scent, the movement or the noise, he didn’t know. Tiring, even with his increased stamina, he decided retreat was advisable.
Dawn neared and he’d been fighting death for hours. Taking refuge inside the office, he barred the back door and watched out the window as the dead glanced at the sky. The first pale rays of the sun peeped over the water. Flinching from the sight, they flung up bony arms and beat their own retreat. Tempted to follow, he decided against it. He was tired. If they surrounded him in the open, he’d be done for. Instead, he washed the sweat of his activities from his body and lay down on the cot in the back.
Some time later, he heard movement in the office. Springing up, he grabbed his daggers and dashed to the adjoining door. Uriah smiled at him.
“You look a disaster, sir. Care for that coffee?” He flashed a toothy grin.
“You spent a better night than I,” Raven said, slumping against the wall.
“Any night is better than fighting the undead. I see you made progress. There’s a heap of stinking bones and rotting flesh outside.”
“I wasn’t in the frame of mind to sweep it into the dustbin. My apologies,” Raven declared in a sarcastic tone.
Uriah chuckled. “My Lord Willoughby, I feel sure that it will be taken care of soon. Folk will see it, though likely smell it first. It will be sorted.”
© 2016 Dellani Oakes