New Horror Short Story: A Life Less Vanilla

Posted: 09/20/2011 in Horror
Tags: , , , ,

Hot off the press!  Time to get your zombie on with my new horror short story, A Life Less Vanilla.  Enjoy!

           “Todd, I’m leaving you.”

            The words were met with silence and the sound of her own harsh breathing.

            “Girl, I’m telling you, that’s all you’ve got to say.  He’ll get the message.”

            Charlie closed her eyes and frowned.  She tapped her cell phone against her temple once, twice, three times.

            “How long are you going to support his lazy ass,” her best friend, ‘Chelle, continued.  “Girl, he’s already failed out of two degree programs in five years.  Now he’s majoring in what, poetry?”

            “Creative writing,” Charlie corrected automatically, and bit her lower lip.

            “Pays about the same.”  Her friend gave a sniff and a short, ugly laugh.  “Come on, Charlie, you’re too good for that slacker.  You’re young, talented, and attractive.  No reason for you to stay trapped in a dead end relationship.”

            Charlie heaved a deep sigh and glanced up at the framed photograph of Todd – a glamour shot, no less – on the top shelf of the cheap black laminate bookcase that flanked the television in the living room of their studio apartment. 

            “I just don’t know, ‘Chelle,” Charlie responded.  “Todd’s a nice guy.  Just too nice.  I don’t know what to do.  I’m tired of vanilla.  I need some excitement, some spice, a little splash of color in my life.”

            “That’s what I’m talking about.  Break free, girl, live a little.  Step out of that prison of a relationship!”

            Charlie wedged the cell phone between her left cheek and shoulder, and slowly crossed the room.  As she went, she hesitated briefly in front of the bookcase and removed a small ebony box.  She listened to ‘Chelle rant and rave, grunting an occasional “uh-huh” and “oh, yeah” in response.  She plopped down on their 1970’s-era avocado green sleeper sofa.  Her fingers searched for, and found, the sliding panel for the hidden compartment. 

            “What can I do, ‘Chelle,” Charlie interrupted.  “At least Todd’s stable.  I could do worse.  I have done worse.  I’m not sure I want to turn things upside down.  But I don’t how long I can live in this void.  He’s just so unmotivated.  His idea of a wild Friday night is a trip to the Old Country Buffet and a DVD from Family Video.”

            Charlie heard her friend’s laughter and joined in, but no smile graced her eyes or lips.  She gazed down into the box.  It had contained two capsules, given to her by Alex, the handsome and charming biochemistry Ph.D. candidate.  The man who had stolen her heart.  The man who had been married throughout their six month affair.  Alex, who had been the epitome of passion, charisma, and ambition.  The antivirals had been his last gift to her before the motorcycle accident that had claimed his life.

            She’d taken one about a year ago.  A precaution.  That was the word Alex had used to describe the pills, with a careless grin and an easy shrug.  He wanted her to have them just in case.  Just in case of what, Charlie had asked.  In case you need them, Alex responded.  If you ever need them, he had continued, drugs like these will only be available to the wealthy.  She’d taken the capsules and hidden them, not sure if she would know when – or if – they would be necessary.  Alex had refused to tell her any more, and the drugs had been in the final round of human subjects testing when he’d died.  Charlie had taken one of the pills with a large glass of water and an equal amount of trepidation.  She had no idea if the pill actually worked.  It hadn’t appeared to do anything.  The extra capsule remained in the box.  She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t given it to Todd, if it really was as valuable as Alex had suggested.  Too complicated, she imagined.

            Or maybe she was hungry for a life less vanilla.

            “You need to go out now, Charlie, now, to the nearest bar and slam a few shots of Patron and get your flirt on, girlfriend.  I bet you are sitting alone in your dank apartment this very moment.  Aren’t you?  Aren’t you-“

            ‘Chelle’s strident words turned into a shriek that rattled the plastic casing of the cell phone.  Charlie involuntarily jerked her ear away from the headset and dropped the phone into the dingy khaki shag carpet beneath her feet.  She gazed at the phone numbly as her friend continued to scream.  Outside, the town’s tornado siren began to wail.

            That’s odd, thought Charlie.  It’s late November.  Well past tornado season.

            The sounds of a multi-vehicle collision in the intersection below brought her to her feet.  Charlie rushed to the patio window and shoved the vertical blinds aside.  They swung jauntily on the cheap aluminum curtain rod.  She looked down onto the street in disbelief, then with growing horror.  Outside the apartment, smoke from several large fires blackened the sky.  An ambulance lay on its side in the middle of the intersection.  It had been t-boned and flipped from a violent impact.  As she watched, an EMT crawled out of the back, clutching a wound on his shoulder that geysered blood.  A crowd of people swarmed toward him and engulfed him within seconds.  She lost sight of him as he was buried beneath a mass of writhing bodies.  Charlie listened as his screams first grew faint, then stopped altogether.  ‘Chelle’s screaming had stopped emanating from the phone, but Charlie barely noticed.

            The door to their apartment burst open.  Todd staggered over the threshold.  His eyes were cloudy, skin ashen and gray.  His gait was awkward and uncoordinated.  Blood dripped from his chin, and what looked like – but couldn’t possibly be – a string of entrails dangled from the outstretched fingertips of his right hand.  His shirt was saturated with blood, a garish maroon.  A color uncharacteristic for him, Charlie thought, and laughed.  Her laughter was unnaturally shrill.  It caught Todd’s attention and he whipped his head in her direction and advanced with clawed fingers.  Charlie could see his normally white teeth, now tinged with gore.  She backed away but there was nowhere to go in their tiny apartment.  Todd’s fingers locked around her neck and she could hear his guttural snarling and groaning.  She could hear it for several seconds after he ripped her throat out with his perfect teeth and gouged out her eyes with manicured fingers.  She heard it distantly even as darkness chased her into the abyss, which was, she noted with an almost clinical detachment, also devoid of color.


  1. A perfect beginning to the zombie apocalypse. I love the detachment Charlie felt in her final moment. 🙂

  2. blackalchemy says:

    Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed the story! I struggled with the decision about how it should end – I generally don’t kill characters gratuitously – but this felt right. 🙂

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