Hello and welcome to my first ever short story. This is not anything special but it is said that everyone has at least one book in them, and here's mine. I hope you enjoy reading it.
"Look look look, I guess I'm okay with coming in tonight, all I'm saying is Brad had better really be sick is all, like he's lost an arm to a bear or he's dead or something. I'm sick of covering for his lazy ass again and again, okay!"
Jeanette angrily jabbed the "end call" button on her phone as she finally managed to button up the yellow polyester nightmare that was the "Shop N Dash" uniform blouse with her free hand, along with a name tag that still had her name as "Janine" despite her protestations for years.
"This sucks!" Jeanette thought to herself as she deftly weaved her way through all the unwashed clothes and take-out boxes that littered her bedroom floor on her way out of her apartment. This was her first day off in nearly 2 weeks and stupid Brad and his stupid haircut had to go and call in sick for his night shift again, which of course meant Dave the manager called Jeanette to cover because the universe hated her for some reason. So now she was stuck working all night again serving the drunk, the high, the insomniacs and the terminally lonely of "good ol'" Severed Oaks, Massachusetts. "Oh, the glamour of minimum wage slavery" she thought to herself closing the door behind her.
It was Spring but the temperature was icy cold, and walking as the driving rain pelted her face and made Jeanette really wish she had a car, or at least a warmer jacket. Even with her favourite grey hoodie zipped up, a chill still ran through her. At least the the crappy weather seemed to keep the streets quiet as everyone seemed to have decided to spend the night indoors. That hopefully meant that her shift would pass quieter and there'd be less awkward small talk, less high schoolers with their fake IDs and less smug pricks delighting in telling her that things were cheaper at the store across town.
"God" she thought to herself as she reached her workplace, "when did I get so cynical? Is that what this place has done to me?".
It was 9pm. 9 hours of tedious work stretched out before her like a slow conveyer belt, the thought of which caused Jeanette to sigh as she stood at the threshold of the store, not wanting to enter but not wanting to pass up extra pay or seem unreliable in the eyes of management. After another sigh she put on her most convincing fake smile, the one that made it look like she wanted to be there, and stepped in to start her shift.
Dave the manager's face lit up as he saw a soaking Jeanette storm into the break room. Jeanette's arrival meant that he didn't have to stay behind any longer. With little more than a half hearted "thank you", he practically flew out of the door leaving Jeanette to run things with Marcy, who was her usual self.
While Jeanette hated working here but at least tried to give the impression of caring about her job, Marcy wore her apathy & grumpiness like badges of honour. Never was this better illustrated than by her blatant stealing of drinks throughout her shifts, always angry and ready with an empty promise to pay for it when she finished whenever she was pulled up. She never did pay of course but Marcy was seemingly bulletproof in the eyes of the boss. Jeanette was convinced that Dave had a crush on her and although she'd never admit it, she was a little jealous. No one had a crush on her that let her get away with murder.
"Aww, so you got dragged into working tonight?"
Those were Marcy's first words to Jeanette as she stepped out onto the shop floor.
"Never mind, just turn your brain off and think of the money, that's how I do."
Jeanette let out yet another deep sigh. "Nah, someone's got to keep this place going."
Marcy's tone took a turn for the sarcastic.
"You keep slaving in this modern workhouse and maybe, just maybe the Shop & Dash gods will notice you and bestow upon you the highest of honours, a star on your nametag, a set of keys and free reign to call you in anytime of day or night. Oh wait, they already call you......well, at least you get a star." She snickered.
Jeanette wasn't in the mood for Marcy's jibes.
"Are you done?" She said curtly.
"Oh come on Jen." Marcy snorted, "you're too good for this place, put that brain and those Beyonce looks of yours to use and make something of yourself while you're still young."
Marcy didn't appreciate the pep talk. The truth hurts after all and after pouring so much time and her parent's money into a psychology degree, she had talents that were at risk of atrophy from lack of use.
"No really, are you done?"
Time lost all meaning as the night dragged on. Jeanette got her wish from earlier as the combination unseasonal cold, rain and a thick mist were keeping all but the hardiest townsfolk to brave the elements. This left the girls plenty of time to stare into space and watch the clock ticking, a low buzz from the harsh florescent lighting providing a soundtrack ever since the music system died.
Eventually Marcy piped up. "Okay it's nearly midnight, do you think Bill will show up even with how bad it is out there? I think he will."
Bill was the most regular of the regulars that descended upon the store at night. He was in his 50s but looked a lot older and possessed the kind of delusions of being charming that only a deep love and reliance of hard liquor could provide. Despite all this, he was a ray of sunshine whenever he came in.
With her head smushed into her hands as she rested her elbows on the cash desk Jeanette thought for a while, eventually reaching a decision.
"Nahhhh. Not even Bill wouldn't go out in that weather."
Almost as soon as the words left her lips, a booming voice came from the door.
"Ah, good evening ladies, how are the two most beautiful creatures on God's green Earth this fine night?"
Clearly Bill had already had a large amount of booze before heading out. Marcy turned on the sarcasm with some fake charm right back with her "cutest" voice.
"Hiiiii Billllll." Every syllable became comically drawn out.
"I wouldn't knowwwww, I'd have to ask them if I ever see themmmm."
Jeanette didn't move, she just looked on as Marcy toyed with Bill some more, laughing at his every cringe worthy attempt at flirting as she served him his regular midnight snack of whisky followed by more whisky. With his business complete, Bill went to leave, creepily blowing Marcy a kiss as he waddled out of the door.
Marcy turned to Jeanette and the pair giggled at Bill's buffoonery and returned to their busy night of waiting out the clock.
"Heeyyy beautifullll" Bill slurred as he left clutching his booze. Neither girl looked up from their work as they assumed Bill was talking to them again. Who or what had actually caught Bill's amorous gaze was a stunning and almost ethereal pale woman with long, silvery hair, dressed in a magnificent white gown and seemingly gliding down the street without her feet touching the ground. As she noticed Bill staggering towards her she passed silently to meet him with tears running down her face, arms outstretched and ready to embrace the old drunk. Bill was entranced staring into her eyes as she caressed his head in her long, almost skeletal fingers.
"Mussshht be my lucky day" hissed Bill before suddenly and with inhuman force and fury, the mystery woman snatched at Bill's lower jaw, yanking it down sharply and destroying Bill's face in a shower of blood splatter and screaming. Bill's cries roused Jeanette and Marcy who looked through the store window in shock at the violent murder outside.
With the girls still stood frozen and with his blood plastered all over her and a still alive Bill in her arms, trying to scream but with no lower jaw or that to do so, the Woman in white leaned closer to him, savoring the gurgling and spluttering of a life about to end in a most hideously violent fashion. She breathed deeply as if to inhale the last essence of Bill as he slipped away. The woman released her grip and Bill's mangled body slumped to the pavement in a twisted heap caked in its own life's blood.
The woman was caked in blood too and briefly stared at what was once "Bill" before her attention was soon turned towards the storefront. Seeing a man murdered in cold blood had incensed Jeanette and she was pounding on the door, screaming all manner of expletives at this woman who had casually killed someone she actually liked. Kinda. Marcy was desperately trying to hold Jeanette back as well as attempt to comprehend what she had just seen. She'd resorted to expletives too in her shock.
The ghastly woman gazed quizzically at the girls almost in recognition, then a Rictus's grin played across her face as though she'd finally decided what to do. From the corner of her eye she wiped a single tear with her finger, then brought it to her pale lips as she blew gently on it. This somehow turned the tear into a tiny, glittering stone that shone with a pale green shimmer. The woman floated over to Bill's remains and placed the stone onto his forehead. It was then that the woman finally spoke with a voice that cut through Marcy and Jeanette like nails raked across a blackboard.
"He's mine now." She hissed, and then cackled as Bill's corpse began to convulse and rise back to its feet, jaw still hanging down and blood pouring from what remained of its mouth. Once again the two sales assistants were dumbstruck as they saw the dead rise in front of them. This gave way to abject fear as the newly reanimated Bill began to lurch at the pair with fury in its eyes and low, guttural grunts.
"Bill" plowed into the unlocked door, knocking both women to the floor. The corpse leapt at Marcy who was nearer and with supernatural speed clasped its hands tight around her neck, aiming to choke the very life from her as she clawed and struggled to break free.
Jeanette was shocked but the world snapped into focus as she saw her colleague being throttled by this ghoul. A sudden rush of anger and adrenaline ran through her and she hopped to her feet, dashing to Marcy's aid and trying desperately to save her from certain death. Her attempts to muscle the monster off Marcy proved fruitless as it seemed to feel no pain anymore, and was intent on carrying out its given task.
With Marcy fading fast, Jeanette was desperate and still running on panic and adrenaline, looked for something, anything to just hit this thing with hard enough that it might at least let go. Then she remembered! Mr Rubens kept a baseball bat under the cash desk in an effort to somehow deter shoplifters & robbers. Jeanette darted behind the counter and found it hidden among price labels and paperwork, taking it in hand she ran back to Marcy, held the bat high and summoned up all her anger and rage. Not just with now but everything, her boss, her pay, the customers, Brad and being here instead of having a day off all empowered her rage. She took all of that anger and let out a loud scream as she swung the bat, bringing it crashing down on the back of "Bill's" head with all the force she could muster. The impact was enough to dislodge the crystal on "Bill's" forehead and the instant the corpse was separated from it, it went back to being a lifeless pile of meat and blood. "Bill's" body slumped to the floor, its hands finally releasing Marcy from their grasp. She struggled to breathe as Jeanette just stood in place, shaking. Tears began to stream down her face as she realised what she had just done now the red mist had lifted. She'd just had to bludgeon the body of one of the only customers she actually liked. She dropped to her knees and hugged Marcy as relief washed over them.
The mystery woman had watched all this unfold and seemed incredibly perturbed that the girls had survived.
She scowled angrily at Marcy & Jeanette and slowly faded from view as she used her piercing voice once more, "Don't think you are safe from me in there, I'll be back, and you'll still die tonight for taking him from me!"
"Oh god, I'm so glad you're safe" bawled Jeanette as Marcy finally became able to get enough air.
"What was that? Who was that?" Marcy spluttered, desperate to gain any kind of understanding of the situation.
"God, I don't know" said Jeanette as she began to calm down, "all I know is she's gone".
"So what do we do know?" Asked Marcy.
"Huh?" Replied Jeanette, "Do?"
"Yeah, do!" Marcy became indignant.
"Look, that....that thing, that woman, whatever she is, killed Bill and nearly killed me by proxy, she owes me an apology!" Marcy raged.
"An apology? What kind of apology?" Wondered Jeanette, trying to decide if she'd misheard Marcy or something.
"Yes an apology! When she comes back, I want that bitch to be sorry she ever decided to fuck with us!"
Jeanette sighed. She knew Marcy was right but she was hoping that this was somehow the end and they could just hunker down in the store and hopefully ride whatever this situation was out, after all, she wasn't supposed to be here tonight. But from the way she left full of anger, Jeanette knew that the woman would be back and they'd need to defend themselves.
"Alright, but we get prepared, no screwing this up", Jeanette's tone shifted to more authoritarian, "we'll need something to fight with in case she's done whatever she did to Bill to anyone else.".
"Speaking of Bill..." Marcy nodded at the corpse still sprawled out on the sterile white tiled floor, blood still pooling around it. Her voice trailed off as she hoped Jeanette would finish the sentence she couldn't bring herself to complete.
The reality of their situation hit Jeanette like a truck. Here they were in a room with a twisted, mangled body who's current state they were partly responsible for. What would the police say? Were there any police out there anymore? Do they hide Bill? Would that be a crime? How many crimes had they committed? Was it self defence? How on earth would she get the blood stains out of the floor? God, she didn't get paid enough for this. Her thoughts were running away from her.
Her racing train of thought was derailed as Marcy finally plucked up the courage to speak. "We should cover him up and deal with him after we've kicked that bitch's ass, I feel creeped out with him just laying there."
In the absence of any other, more complete ideas Jeanette agreed and a ratty tarpaulin was retrieved from the stockroom. Bill was hastily covered and without his glassy eyes blankly staring at the pair they could turn their attentions to plotting their next moves.
"So what did she mean by us taking him away?" Marcy said later as she checked on the deep blue and purple bruises that had sprang up on her neck from her earlier assault in the bathroom mirror. "Damn, I wish I had my choker to hide this, damn Dave & his dress code" she thought to herself as she did, as it was she'd have to bear her bruises.
"I don't know, could be something about Bill." Jeanette answered, trying to sound confident as she flitted around the store for anything solid enough to class as a weapon they could use.
Marcy reappeared on the sales floor from the break room tapping at her phone's screen, "okay so I've hit up this site called " Wiccanipedia" I use for spells & curses 'n' shit on ex boyfriends, and in their site on ghosts, there's a page on our town and the ghost of a woman who appears for a night, I guess it's her. Here, take a look."
Marcy handed her phone over for Jeanette to read the page:
'The Woman in White of Severed Oaks, MA is said to be a vengeful spirit of a wealthy young woman jilted at the altar by her fiancé. In her heartache she made a vow of revenge on all men before killing herself and becoming a spirit. She is reputed to be able to enslave men and uses this to wreak havoc upon the living for the one night she makes her reappearance'
"Sounds like our girl alright Jeanette said, handing the phone back. "But there's nothing in there about stopping her other than waiting 'til morning and we pissed her off royally, I don't think she's just going to sightsee around town until morning."
Marcy shrugged. "I guess it's all we got, if we live I guess I get to update it as a reward." She giggled. Jeanette giggled. Maybe they were going crazy.
Jeanette's hunt for supplies had turned up a few items she hoped would prove useful. Marcy was quite taken with the steel crowbar from beside the delivery door. "I didn't know we had this" she cooed as she gripped and swung it around to gauge its heft.
"I kinda like this, it'll be handy for getting some payback when that woman does come back". Marcy's demeanour suddenly seemed odd, like the shock of being attacked hadn't sunk in quite yet, Jeanette felt that Marcy might actually be "enjoying" herself, or at least in deep denial. It wouldn't last.
Jeanette felt like asking but it wasn't her place to pry, they were colleagues, not friends and they'd probably need a little crazy if they were going to survive the night.
Jeanette handed Marcy a small knife used for opening boxes. "Keep this handy in case someone gets too close" she advised flatly, and shuddered at the thought of its potentially gruesome new use. Jeanette took a small screwdriver for herself for the same purpose but really hoped it wouldn't come to that. Marcy flashed an appreciative smile and tucked the knife into the waistband of her jeans and walked over to the huge drinks fridge that dominated the back wall of the shop floor, grabbing herself a cold beverage. As she took a huge gulp, she noticed Jeanette with a very disapproving look on her face. "What?! Marcy cried, I'll pay for it after my shift."
"You say that every shift" Jeanette chuckled, "If we make it to morning, I'll make sure you pay for it" she joked. The humour was good, they'd need it soon enough.
Bats and screwdrivers weren't going to be enough to see them through to daylight, they knew the Woman would be back with god knows what in tow so the girls' attention turned to fortifying the store front. The heavy magazine rack was pushed towards the front door with great effort to act as a barricade and Marcy took it upon herself to cover the floor with washing up liquid, much to Jeanette's bemusement. "What the hell are you doing?" she asked.
"Remember last year when I was wearing those really slippy shoes?...." Marcy quizzed.
"No, but go on...." Jeanette puzzled as she struggled to move heavy boxes of cola cans to shore up the magazine rack barrier.
"Well, I did, and when I was mopping around after that kid threw up by that big standee we had, I slipped and fell on my ass..."
Jeanette stifled a giggle but couldn't resist interrupting "well, at least you had a big cushion to fall on", she snickered.
" Hey! I just thought it would help, no need to get personal!" Marcy retorted. "Anyway, you're one to talk..."
Jeanette wasn't offended, she deserved that and she was more happy that her and Marcy were finally connecting, it was just a shame that it took the threat of being killed by rage zombies controlled by a revenge ghost to bring it about. Still, every cloud has a silver lining, she thought.
Their banter was broken suddenly by a loud thud against the front door, it seemed that the Woman in White had found herself another victim, a slovenly disheveled old man in checked shirt and sporting a huge grey beard that had been stained crimson as his jaw had been ripped off his face like had happened to Bill at the start of this nightmare. He too had a small crystal tear on his forehead that was fuelling his rage. He was feverishly flailing his arms at the glass, but the girls' barricade was doing its job, and Jeanette allowed herself a brief thought that they may just be okay after all. She even allowed herself a sigh of relief that her plan was working. Marcy was more unsure though, and couldn't take her eyes off the figure at the door, gripping her crowbar tight. Any sick enjoyment she'd felt earlier was replaced by fear at confronting another monster hell bent on killing her. Now she wasn't sure she wanted that apology.
The old man continued to pound on the door relentlessly for the next hour but was no closer to breaking the glass. At least the company didn't cheap out on fixtures like they did everything else. The tension in the store steadily crept up with each passing minute as Marcy and Jeanette just sat on the floor, just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"What time is it?" Marcy asked for the umpteenth time in a hush, not daring to look away. Jeanette checked her phone, "shit", she muttered under her breath, "4am, still 2 hours till sunrise" she answered.
"Shit" Marcy agreed, then scoffed to herself. "Time always seems to stop when you're waiting for the end of a shift, eh?"
Jeanette smiled back, "same shit, different day. Look at me Marcy, I went to college and got my degree, I had aspirations, I had plans. How did we end up in this shitty store wearing shitty uniforms and working for shitty Shop N Dash?"
"Beats me", I flunked college and this was the first job I could get, u don't know about you but I'm scared I wouldn't be able to do anything else."
Jeanette sighed. "I think I know what you mean. Everything about this job sucks, but at least it's a job."
Jeanette's frustration erupted again. "Fuck!" She screamed. "Why'd stupid Brad have to be ill, I had plans tonight!"
"Oooo, 'plans'...?" Marcy said, knowingly. "Did these 'plans' involve a certain hunk who delivers bread, perhaps?"
"Maybe...." Jeanette smiled slyly as she turned to look at Marcy with a gleam in her eye.
Although that exchange had diffused a bit of the tension in the air, their relative peace was shattered when out of the mist and murk outside the store, several more jawless "Zombies" lurched to try and breach the door and barricade. It seemed that the Woman in White had found her reinforcements during the wee hours at a local bar, its drunken patrons now brutally conscripted into her service.
"So I guess the jaw thing is her trademark" Jeanette pondered as they began to prepare to fight.
Jeanette and Marcy leapt to the feet, gripping their makeshift armaments tightly as the heavy glass door began to crack under the pounding of the six monsters. The Woman faded back into view to watch her new minions attack these two women who'd dared to slight and challenge her earlier. With little over an hour till sunrise and her disappearance, she would add Jeanette and Marcy to her list of victims.
"Hey, isn't Brad the one on the left?" Cried Marcy as frantically scanned the horde outside.
"Sonovabitch, you're right! Screamed Jeanette, "that bastard wasn't sick, he was drinking!"
If she wasn't angry before, she was incensed now, but with the glass door about to finally give way, Marcy reassured her.
"Look, I don't know if we'll live through this and I know we've never been best friends.." she garbled. "But I'm glad you were here tonight, I'd have been lost without you."
Jeanette's response was drowned out by the front glass shattering, and the "Zombies" began clambering all over themselves to pass the magazine rack & other junk in their way. The fight was on.
With evil magic controlling them and pure hatred fuelling them, the possessed men hurled themselves at the metal rack, eventually it too gave way and it budged enough for two of the smaller attackers to squeeze by. Once in they dashed towards the two girls eager to end their lives for their mistress.
Marcy's idea of wetting the floor with cleaning chemicals turned out to be a good one. As the attackers closed in they both lost their footing on the slick floor and toppled face first, their self preservation instinct having gone so they didn't put their arms out to break their fall. The lead one fell so hard that its face shattered into pieces on impact, dislodging the crystal tear controlling it even before it reached its target. Like before it was became limp and lifeless upon losing its power, resting in a pile of mush that was once its face. The other zombie, the old man who tried to break in before, fell but wasn't incapacitated. It did however land at Marcy's feet who summoned up all her rage at being assaulted at the start of all this. She raised the heavy metal crowbar and brought it crashing down on the back of the zombie's head as it tried to stand. One blow was enough to shatter the monster's skull making blood and brain matter hit the floor with a gruesome splat. She'd now struck a blow for vengeance.
"That felt good!" Marcy said as her bloodlust dissipated for a moment. Her would-be attacker's body flopped to the ground and twitched as the last vestiges of unlife left it.
In the chaos, two more zombies slipped by the barrier and made a beeline for Jeanette. She swung her bat as they drew close, whacking one in the head sending it reeling from the impact. She couldn't stop the other one however and it barreled into her, knocking her backwards against a shelving rack, making her drop her weapon and pinning her against the metal fixture, swinging it's arms wildly, clawing and scratching at Jeanette's face.
She tried to push it off her with all her strength but the zombie was too strong and too angry to be denied and continued to draw blood and rip her uniform. Jeanette was pinned up against the shelving, both hands trying to restrain the zombie's swipes. Her only option was to try to kick the zombie in an effort to save herself. She desperately kicked at the shins of the zombie as hard as she could as adrenaline tore through her body like a bolt of lightning. Eventually she heard a very audible and sickening "CRUNCH" and the zombie suddenly let go and crumpled to the floor. She'd somehow shattered its leg bones and bought herself a split second to save herself. With no time to think Jeanette was running on pure survival instinct, with no hesitation she grabbed her bat off the floor and began to swing as hard as she could again and again. Each shot thundered into the flesh of the zombie, crunching bones and pulverising flesh. This one was sturdier than the others and still tried to fight back even under such an onslaught. Eventually Jeanette wound up for a final swing, hitting it with such force that the zombie's head (or what was left of it) was knocked clean off, a pink lump of bloody meat landing several feet away and splattering like a grizzly art installation.
As Jeanette fought for her life, the other monster had regained its footing and set upon Marcy before she had time to ready herself. She had swung her crowbar at the zombie but missed and it had tackled her to the ground. Now the two were locked in a violent struggle, with Marcy holding her crowbar horizontally, using it to try and push the Zombie away as it swiped and clawed at her in a frenzy, its rough nails tearing at the skin on her arms and snagging threads of her uniform sleeves.
Despite her struggles, the much heavier zombie began to overpower her, changing tack and pushing the heavy metal bar into her chest attempting to crush her with it.
Jeanette meanwhile, had fended off her own attacker to see Marcy mere moments away from serious injury and leapt to her colleague's aid again. Running up behind the attacker she reached over and grabbed the crowbar, pulling it back into what was left of the zombie's face and dragging it off by the neck with Marcy helping by pushing from underneath. After much effort Marcy was free and made a desperate grab for the knife she'd secured in her jeans. In one swift motion she stabbed the blade into the crystal on its head. As she drove it into the Zombie's skull the tear shattered in a flash of brilliant green light as the dark magic within escaped into the air. As with the others, the corpse reverted to being lifeless upon being struck. Outside the store, the Woman in White & her remaining minions howled with rage at the girls' inability to die by her whim.
"I guess that's two I owe you now" Marcy spluttered as her and Jeanette picked themselves off the floor.
"All part of the service" replied Jeanette with a groan as she got to her feet, "We're in this together" she added, trying to sound confident again.
Daybreak was now in sight and the pair's efforts now left just two zombie thralls and their ghostly mistress left between them and survival, one of which used to be Brad. Even though he was dead and now little more than a meat puppet, Jeanette still wanted to hurt him for shirking his duties, he always was a scumbag.
The other minion Marcy recognised as the bouncer of the nearby bar where the Woman in White had presumably "acquired" her horde. He was built like a tank but underneath the Mohawk, 300lb frame and tattoos, he was actually a nice guy. His name was Erik and Marcy was deeply sorry that he was a victim of all this, not that it mattered now.
The pair lumbered past the debris at the front of the store as both girls readied their weapons, and Erik burst into a sprint when their path was clear. Even in death Brad was lazy as it was Erik that struck first by using his bulk to smash into Marcy and Jeanette before either could land a blow, hurling them back across the floor. Zombie Erik's wild swings even struck Zombie Brad as he attempted to join the fray, sending him careening into the magazine rack barricade, hitting it with enough force to topple over, trapping Brad beneath it. That at least gave the girls a fighting chance against the huge and very powerful Erik.
That chance wasn't forthcoming however. Both girls were hit hard and in real trouble. Their weapons were knocked out of their hands, Jeanette was seeing double and Marcy could taste blood in her mouth which meant something was really hurting. Jeanette tried to stand but the room began to spin and she fell back against the cash desk. Zombie Erik moved in for the kill, standing over her poised to pummel her with his massive and well used fists. "Oh shit" she muttered to herself as she closed her eyes and prepared for a very unpleasant end.
Fate, or rather Marcy wasn't about to let that happen however and despite being only 5 feet, weaponless, in tremendous pain and outweighed by Erik by a considerable amount, she rushed the hulking monster, grabbing one of his thick arms to try to distract Erik, if not restrain him.
Marcy's gambit worked as Erik's attention turned to trying to shake her off of him. Marcy gripped tighter and tighter as he flailed and snarled at her. Electric sensations of pain shot all through her as she clung on for dear life.
"JEANETTE, DO SOMETHING!" she screamed. "I'M NOT DOING THIS FOR FUN, FOR GOD'S SAKE GET OFF YOUR ASS!"
Jeanette's vision was blurred and screwy like a busted television, her brain was sending her a tidal wave of conflicting information so she couldn't focus and her limbs felt like they were made of lead. A physical rescue was out of the question but she did remember the screwdriver she had as a supplementary weapon, that would have to do. It took a huge amount of strength to reach to her waistband to retrieve it but through the pain and confusion she knew that if she didn't do this then both her and Marcy would be dead & all their fighting would be for nothing. She summoned up yet more strength and tossed the screwdriver into the air, in what she hoped was Marcy's direction.
Marcy saw the screwdriver tumbling through the air and reached out a hand to try and grab it even as Erik thrashed and bucked her around. Time seemed to slow as it spiralled towards her outstretched fingertips as she climbed like a spider monkey onto Erik's back and somehow against all odds, she caught it. With possible salvation in her hand Marcy repeated her manoeuvre from earlier and thrust the tiny screwdriver at the crystal in Erik's head. She struck it as hard and sure enough it shattered. Erik howled in agony as brilliant light again erupted from the broken gem. Marcy fell to the floor as Erik's corpse toppled backwards, landing flat on its back and quite dead.
Marcy's first instant was to check on Jeanette to see if she was still among the living.
Still slumped against the counter, Jeanette was woozy but still just about ticking. Seeing Marcy safe brought a groggy smile to her face.
"I guess that worked, I think we're even now." She said.
Marcy began to cry with relief that her friend was safe, "I guess we are, he was big enough to count as two" She said with a sniff and half chuckle.
There were still matters to attend to however, Zombie Brad was still pinned under the magazine rack, snarling and desperately trying to free himself.
Jeanette's senses began to come back to her as Marcy helped her to her feet. She limped over to the subdued Brad, still trashing with murder in its eyes as Jeanette stood over him. She didn't care if he could still understand her or not, she wanted to say her piece.
"You lying, lazy sack of shit!" She screamed, "How many times did you no-show only for me to have to drop everything and cover for you, you utter dickhead!" She couldn't help but vent at Brad, she needed to after all she and Marcy had been through. Jeanette's ire turned outside towards the Woman in White who watched everything unfold, seemingly happy to let her captives fight for her. "And as for you..." She continued, "where do you get off killing & enslaving people just because you got your feelings hurt, eh?"
With that Jeanette reached down to Brad's mangled face and grasped the crystal tear in between her thumb and forefinger. Slowly she began to pull at it, peeling it away from Brad's skin. His connection to its source of life weakening, Brad began to convulse and scream (as much as he could with no jaw). The crystal was finally removed from Brad's forehead with a sickly satisfying "pop" and with a protracted gurgle, the last of the Woman in White's ghouls was no more.
The sky began to lighten as dawn approached meaning that the Woman in White had run out of time and tricks. The thick mist outside began to lift as the light burned it away. Desperate for vengeance, the woman reluctantly but still gracefully glided into the store to finally confront Jeanette and Marcy with none of the three unsure as to their next move.
Trying to mask her apprehension, Jeanette tried to act tough again. "Tell me this you bitch, Why all this? Why all the killing? Why rip jaws off? Why want to kill us especially?"
Marcy was content to just stare at the ghost, hoping to appear intimidating.
The woman didn't answer. Instead she took a savage swipe at Jeanette with her long, slender and bony hands. To everyone's bemusement however, including her own, her attack phased through Jeanette harmlessly. It seemed that one of the conditions of her undead form was an inability to attack women physically, only men, the principal objects of her hatred. The woman looked at her hands puzzled as Jeanette tried an attack of her own with a wild punch. Her arm passed through the woman harmlessly too and everything became an awkward standoff with neither party able to harm the other.
Jeanette began to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation, "Oh this is perfect, just fucking perfect, after all that shit we're all left just waiting out the clock!"
"So" Marcy piped up at last, "seen as we can't beat an apology out of you, care to say sorry before you disappear for all the shit you put us through tonight?"
The woman continued to just stare back at the girls, unsure if to say anything.
"No?" Marcy snapped, "what's the matter, not used to not getting your own way for once? I know your kind, those dresses were only for the very rich so I guess 'daddy's little girl' got whatever she wanted, am I right?" It was now her turn to vent. "And the one time you don't get your way, you transform into a rage monster and try & kill us with a gang of zombies!"
Staring at the floor, finally the woman spoke meekly and without any of the power, menace or authority from before. "He was mine, and he left me for a damn serving maid." She then raised her voice, apparently it was her turn to vent now. "I had class, breeding, money. What did some god damned serving woman have that I didn't?" She began to weep as her pent up frustration boiled over like a pot left on a stove, "He ran away with her on MY wedding day! He humiliated me! That lying rat said he loved me that morning, everything any man says is a lie..." She trailed off as she sobbed.
Jeanette and Marcy were dumbstruck. They never expected this turn of events. Their animosity towards the woman ebbed as they saw her for what she was, a fragile ego angry with the world. Part of them still wished that they could still just fight her, but battered and bruised as they were, they weren't complaining at how this was going.
"Love is complicated honey" Jeanette said, "sometimes people just fall for each other, I'm sure whoever he was didn't mean to hurt you, but you can't live a lie."
Marcy chimed in to try and help, "Maybe she offered him love, you only offered money." The woman took that on board and seemed to accept it.
Time was running out, the light outside grew brighter and Jeanette was wanting answers to try and make some sense of this hellish night. "So why attack us? And why the zombies?" she asked.
The woman looked at Jeanette.
"You reminded me so much of her, if I couldn't make her pay for stealing him away from me, you were the next best thing..."
That answer shocked Jeanette, she never expected to hear that and it underscored the petulance of this powerful spirit. Willing to murder so many for only an imaginary revenge.
The woman continued,
"As for those men, I made them perfect. Unable to talk so unable to lie, and utterly devoted to me and MY happiness."
"That's really fucked up!" exclaimed Marcy. "Those were people with families, but I guess that didn't mean anything to you, did it?"
Time was up. Dawn broke over the horizon flooding the store with warm, golden sunlight.
"No, I didn't think, I was angry" said the woman, showing some real remorse for her actions as she began to fade away.
"Nothing I can say can fix what I've done but...."
She turned to face Marcy.
"I'm sorry for what I put you through."
And with that she was gone, vanished back to wherever she'd spent all those years seething with selfish anger.
The girls dared to finally breathe a sigh of relief. They had survived the night after all. They hugged each other amid a tidal wave of relief and joy.
"We did it, girlfriend" Jeanette shouted with tears in her eyes.
"Yes we did" replied Marcy, joining her in having tears of joy streaming down her face.
With their euphoria wearing off and their adrenaline high dissipating, the pain of their many wounds started to hit home.
"I'll go get the first aid kit" declared Jeanette pragmatically and she limped to the office to retrieve it. When she returned she was greeted by Marcy sat on the floor against a shelving unit, surrounded by beer bottles that she had "liberated" from the drinks fridge. She looked up at Jeanette, "What!? I'll pay for them after my shift" she said with a knowing grin.
"The hell you will" Jeanette said as she joined Marcy on the floor amid the debris and and the pair watched the sun rise. Marcy handed Jeanette a beer and they both took a long drink.
"A toast!" Said Jeanette, "to the best damn night shift workers in the history of everything, ever!"
"I'll drink to that!" Marcy replied and they both took another long drink.
Suddenly, Marcy remembered the damage and bodies all around them and panicked, "ohmygod! How are we going to explain all this to the boss?! He'll think we're murderers!"
Jeanette went all calm again, too calm for Marcy's taste, "Well..." she mused. "First we tell him the truth about what happened and then we tell him that we deserve a raise for having to cope with this shit. We saved the town and I wasn't even supposed to be here tonight. Then, I'm telling him I quit, I am too good for this place."
Marcy couldn't argue that logic and she went back to sipping another beer and watching the dawn. "I'll miss you, Y'know."
"....anyway...." Jeanette added, "if we tried lying about this, we'd be no better than Brad."
Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was having spent the night fighting for their lives, but whatever it was down to, that last comment caused both girls to burst out in fits of laughter. It was a surreal end to a surreal experience and distant sirens could be heard, it seemed someone noticed the state of the store now the fog had lifted.
It was down to Marcy to cap off the night.
"Y'know something?" she said as ambulances and police cruisers pulled up outside the store.
"What?" Asked Jeanette taking another sip.
"Ghosts and zombies trying to kill us and I still don't think this still isn't the worst night we've ever worked."