Lanto Singe had seen a great many weird and wonderful, strange and surreal, bitter and bad things in his life, especially in his chosen profession as a ghost hunter. However nothing could quite prepare him that late October day for walking into his home and finding his mother eating at the dinner table. Or, more precisely, exactly what she was eating at the dinner table: Lanto’s father, Elvin.
She hadn’t noticed Lanto coming in and throwing his keys on the small table next to the door like he usually did. Neither did she notice him dropping his jacket on the floor by accident before picking it up and putting it in a hanger. She also hadn’t noticed the muffled whimper that Lanto let out when he walked into the kitchen he had grown up in, where his mother had fed him many different kinds of roasted and sautéed and fried and barbequed animals, only to see her noshing on a wholly new one. Dad.
Her face was completely lodged into Elvin’s torn-open belly, a sickly gnawing sound emanating as she chewed on his intestines. The stink of his father’s innards, the bile and undigested--and even digesting--food hit Lanto’s nose and he staggered out of the door again to throw up on the floor. Somehow, the loosening of his stomach muscles found his voice and he cried out as he reentered the kitchen.
“What the FUCK?!”
His mother stopped chewing and slowly looked up at Lanto, her eyes covered with a white film as if they were glazed over, her whole face gleaming with the lifeblood of her husband of thirty-seven years. Slowly, she let out a moan, soft and low at first but building in intensity until it was a full-on yell. Lanto found himself unable to do anything but to yell along with her, same pitch, same decibel level.
His mother broke the screaming reverie by slowly standing up from the table. Lanto fell to his knees as he looked upon the lifeless face of his father, only just noticing that his lips and one cheek had been apparently bitten off. Mrs. Singe looked at her son and raised her arms towards him, what normally would be taken by one’s mother as a comforting sign, like she wanted a hug.
“Dad…” Lanto managed to get out. His mother stepped forward into the table. She looked down at it as if she hadn’t remembered it was there and stepped slowly to the side; one step, two steps, three.
Lanto was going into shock, and he could only repeat the word, “dad,” like some horror movie mantra, all the while, his mother was coming around the table for him. Somewhere in his brain, Lanto began having a conversation with himself.
Self, he said.
Not home, he answered!
Hey buddy, pull yer shit together, man.
Nope, not happening!
You see your dad?
Nope, not gonna look that way…
Do you see your dad?
Look at your dad, asshat.
You can’t make me.
Fine look at your mother, dillhole.
Do I haveta?
Because she’s coming around that table, see?
I think she wants a hug…
I think she wants a snack!
Oh I don’t know, your father’s BLOOD smeared all over her FACE maybe?
She’s got red on her.
Stop quoting movies and wake up, dude!
Nope, you can’t make me.
What do you think mom’s going to do when she gets over here, genius?
Uhh… Bake me some cookies?
Wrong answer, she’d be more interested in baking you IN some cookies… For herself… To nosh on… You getting any of this?
She wants to eat you, moron!
The hell you say!
The hell I say? Well I have an idea, let’s go over and ask dad shall we? Hey dad? Dad? Whoo-hoo, daddy! Could it be possible that mom might want to eat me? You know, nibble on my innards and all? What’s that? Oh that’s right dad can’t answer because he’s BEEN EATEN BY MOM, YOU FUCKING TOOL!
Not Mom anymore, Junior, now move yer ass!
With that, Lanto started pulling himself together, though he was still fighting off the effects of shock. His mother was around the table and halfway across the kitchen by then and he had to do something.
It’s no use, he thought, I’ve gone into shock.
Oh, do I have to do EVERYTHING around here?
With that, the left half of Lanto’s brain swung himself backwards as hard as possible until his shoulder slammed into the hutch next to the door. The pain flared up instantly and his mental fog broke.
Oh, that’s going to leave a mark, he thought.
Never mind that and MOVE fucktard, he thought back.
He grabbed his shoulder and rolled out the door of the kitchen back into the hallway, putting as much room between himself and his mother as possible. He ended up on his side, still holding his throbbing shoulder.
Great idea, you’ve broken it!
Better broken than breakfast, bub.
Your mother, kill her.
How very Oedipal of you. Freud would have a field day.
Jackass, she’s going to eat you!
Spend nine months trying to get out, whole life trying to get back in…
Not by being EATEN you dolt!
But she’s still mom… How do I kill her?
I’m going to guess sharp blow to the head, bunky.
Because she’s a freaking zombie.
What? Wait no! Not the zed word!
I told you to stop quoting movies, jerkweed, we’re not even British! We don’t say zed, we say… You know what fuck what we say; YOUR MOTHER IS ABOUT FIVE FEET FROM NOSHING ON YOUR NECK!
Lanto looked up and saw his mother about to shuffle through the doorway, moaning softly, her fingers beginning to grab in the air for him.
But she was going to make meatloaf tomorrow!
I don’t think you’ll like the latest cut of meat she’s using.
Oh my… You really are useless aren’t you?
Well that’s not…
Oh, just shut up already…
Lanto looked around; the hallway was just a room with several doors connected to it. Unfortunately, the kitchen with all its knives as well as the basement and garage were all behind his mother who was now in the doorway only feet away. For Lanto to head for one of the bedrooms or the bathroom would corner him in that room with her. Towards the front of the house was the door to the living room, which offered no real weapons except the television--which Lanto had preferred to try not to destroy if he could (unless he absolutely had to…) This was a tricky spot he was in for sure, but not desperate yet...
He considered another second and realized the living room also led to the front vestibule, which lead outside. From there, he could grab any number of weapons; a shovel, a rake, a garden gnome, his car.
His mother had reached his feet and bent over to reach for him. Lanto lifted his leg, planted it in her solar plexus and pushed for everything he was worth. He succeeded in pushing himself back a couple of feet, but also in knocking his mother backwards in the process. Her head hit the door jam with a loud THUNK and her neck shifted to the side at an angle that did not look very comfortable or lifelike at all. She slid down the door jam and finally rested on the floor, a low moan still coming from her, her arms raised skyward, her head all askew.
Lanto scrambled to his feet and went to run, but looked back at his mother, obviously now stuck on the floor, neck broken. He stopped and turned his head to the side. If he’d been wearing a big white mask, he might have looked like Michael Myers contemplating his prey. He stepped forward.
What are you doing numb nuts?
She’s harmless, she can’t move.
Let’s see, shall we brainiac?
“M-mom?” Lanto whispered.
Suddenly her moaning again got very loud and her arms scrabbled in the air searching for her next meal.
You’re damned straight your bad. Almost got your scrawny chicken legs nibbled on.
Chicken legs? Man that’s just hurtful…
Oh, NOW is the time to be all touchy feely? Suck a bag of dicks, asshole.
You… You said don’t quote movies…
Sue me! Now kill that bitch!
You ate my father… Now you must die…?
Work on the delivery… Now KILL!
It took a bit of doing, but finally Lanto had managed to kill the woman who had given birth to him, raised him to be a man, wiped his bottom, nose and anything else that needed wiping, supported his decision to skip college and hunt ghosts, but who, in the end, viewed him not out of motherly love but as if he were some ungodly huge chicken wing.
How exactly to kill her was his first dilemma, one he had some time to figure out as she had been basically incapacitated since the whole neck-breaking incident. Initially he had thought that perhaps he could just tie her up in the basement until a cure was found. This brought on another internal argument.
Basement, his left brain argued, and then what?
We wait for a cure!
Okay, two problems there with that logic, assbag.
First, how do you get mom into the basement without being bitten?
Second, if a cure is to be had, her neck is already broken and she’s eaten our father… Why would she WANT to live? Cannibalism, murder AND a paraplegic! Have a nice life living inside your head, mom!
Didn’t think of that.
Here’s something else you didn’t think of. What if mom is not alone?
What do you mean?
What if mom isn’t the only zombie out there?
We should check the news!
Or, and I’m just spitballing here, we maybe kinda sorta should TAKE CARE OF THE ZOMBIE WE HAVE BEFORE CHECKING IN ON ANY OTHERS.
Thought you’d see it my way.
With that, Lanto carefully worked his way around his mother brushing her hand off his jeans twice. He entered the kitchen and again stared at his father’s now partially eaten corpse.
I know, it sucks, but you have to do something about mom.
What about the cops?
Couldn’t they help?
Well… I hadn’t thought of that. I guess you could try them.
I mean, if I… We… Us… Kill mom, how do we explain her and dad being gone? How do we explain dad at all to a coroner? We can’t just bury them in the backyard, can we?
What, no witty retort? No name calling?
Interesting point jackass?
The first call to the cops yielded no answer, which got Lanto to thinking that this was more than just mom going all bitey death machine on him. Deciding that instead of trying the police again, he would look for a blanket to cover dad, especially since a police line being unanswered whilst a zombie was under your own roof was probably a sign of bad, BAD things being afoot outside, so better to start dealing with your own bad fortune.
Lanto passed his mother on the way out of the kitchen to go to the linen closet, again swiping away her hands grabbing at his jeans. He opened the linen closet in the hall to the smell of mothballs which he actually welcomed for once in his life.
Anything is better than the smell of mom’s undigested tuna casserole from lunch… From dad’s stomach…
Or what’s left of it…
Yes, thank you very much for that.
Trying to help.
Grab the one with the pinstripes, dad always liked that one.
Mom’ll kill me.
Mom actually WILL kill you if we don’t take care of her soon. She’ll start chewing on your brain, and likely kill me in the process.
Well… It’s one way to get you to shut up.
Funny, why don’t you try it then?
Sigh. Pinstripes it is…
Lanto grabbed the bed sheet and went back into the kitchen, staying away from his mother’s hands this time. He carefully threw the sheet over his father, the middle and the head immediately soaking through with dark red blood. He stood for a second over his father and considered how bad a turn his day had taken in such a small time. He had found out not only was his father dead, but his mother a zombie who was eating his father, and now had designs on him. Not to mention what had happened with Kate and Eli that had him headed home during the afternoon anyhow. However, he just could not worry about that right then, realizing which he broke out of the reverie he was in and got himself going again.
He went to the backdoor over by the fridge and opened it slowly, checking around it to see if the coast was clear. It was, but in the distance he heard sirens. Police sirens and a fire truck perhaps. Then he heard glass breaking much closer, then a scream from even closer than that.
Why the fuck do we have to live near the cemetery?
It was cheaper and dad was cheap.
That’s true, but still.
Besides, don’t complain too much, growing up near this cemetery gave you your interest in ghosts, and now you have a job because of it.
Great job, I’m still living at home.
What did you think, it was all gonna be Ghostbusters and television and money?
I know, I know!
So… You going out?
Well, implements of destruction can be found in the shed.
They can also be found in the kitchen, garage and/or basement.
The shed has ones with long handles so I don’t get near her.
Ooh, good point!
Bully for me.
Lanto opened the door enough to look out into the backyard. The coast seemed clear, but the cemetery fence loomed just a scant hundred and fifty feet away. If there was an outbreak, his house would be the Dunkin Donuts they stopped at for a snack on their way to a much bigger meal somewhere else. And Lanto would be the coveted cruller. Yay.
For the time being, the coast was clear. Thinking better of going outside completely empty handed, he went back into the kitchen and grabbed his mother’s butcher knife. If he had to, he could at least do some damage to any would-be attackers and allow himself the time to get away. Holding the knife firmly in his right hand, he opened the door fully to allow his slightly portly frame outside. He stood on the back landing and estimated it would take about ten seconds to get down the three stairs and run across the yard to the shed, another fifteen to do the combo lock and then maybe a minute to go through the shed to go through everything, find something useful, and another ten to run back. (Fuck the lock, dad can’t yell at me about it now…) All told, less than two minutes he figured.
He was off by a good twenty-four.
First, as he was a bit more shaken that he had initially realized, he stumbled on the very first stair and crumbled to the ground not only banging his left knee on the stairs as he fell, but the butcher’s knife sliced his arm, the other leg and his belly.
Smooth move, Dancing With The Stairs.
Oh, shut up! I’m hurt over here!
Hey, me too jackbasket.
I’m in pain here; you come up with a better name to call yourself.
He slowly picked himself up off the ground, left the butcher’s knife on the ground where it landed and limped back up the stairs, missing the step only twice as he went. Once inside, he grabbed several kitchen towels and started cleaning his cuts in the sink. Thankfully none were deep enough to need stitches, but they all hurt like hell and took a while to stop bleeding. On top of that, his knee had begun to throb and his head started to hurt.
Not my day.
Tell me about it.
Not being sure if zombies were attracted to smell, sight or sound, Lanto had no idea if he should try to get past his mother in the doorway to get to the medical supplies in the bathroom.
I have no idea if I should try to get past mom to get the medical supplies in the bathroom.
Point, she could see or smell the blood on you and go nuts.
But of course, if you go outside bleeding, you might attract some walkers if it is smell that gets them up and moving.
So… It’s a pickle.
Wouldn’t want to be you.
You ARE me.
Lanto considered his options and decided that he would tie the kitchen towels around his wounds and try to get an instrument of destruction from the shed, take care of his mother, then go clean himself and bandage up before going out to join in any zombie hunting going on. He grabbed every towel in the kitchen and wrapped both his leg and arm wounds tightly. His stomach he covered with three towels and ran a roll of duct tape wound them several times to hold them in place. In the end--fifteen minutes later--he was back out the door and carefully climbing down the stairs that had done him in before. Lanto got to the ground and spent several minutes looking around for his butcher’s knife, but couldn’t find it anywhere.
Uhh, THAT can’t be good bunky.
No shit, Sherlock.
Lanto looked around the yard carefully to see if he saw anyone, but there was no one to be found. He went back inside, grabbed the biggest cutting knife he could find, and then a huge fork to hold meat while carving and went back out brandishing both as weapons. He got down the stairs and ran across the yard to the shed without incident. The lock however tripped him up.
For several minutes he fumbled with it, trying to remember the combination and exactly how many turns it took in each direction before finally getting it right; two left and 20, one right and 15, one left and 6. He opened the shed and went inside all of a foot. He could go no further, as there was stuff piled floor to ceiling and from wall to wall.
God damn dad and his pack rat ways!
Didn’t this used to be clean?
That was like twenty years ago when I was a kid.
What the hell happened?
He stopped tinkering around out here and started using it for storing the stuff he picked up around town on big garbage night.
Big garbage night was the one day a year in Lento’s hometown of Camden, New Jersey that you could put anything you wanted out for the garbage men to pick up and they would take it; couches, sinks, toilets, fridges. One year someone even tried to put their two man motorboat out there, but the police came and said they couldn’t throw out a registered vehicle. (The next night the fire department had to come and put out that same boat on the same front lawn…)
For the past fifteen years or so, Elvin Singe had gone out every Big Garbage Night and gone through other people’s garbage. Every year, he brought home a trunk full of new treasures he could “fix up with just a few minutes time in the old work shed!” Those few minutes never came for anything save the pinball machine he found, which he fixed temporarily, but eventually broke again and became a clothes rack in the basement.
Now Lanto stood there, zombies running (or was it shuffling?) amok all over town, mom all zombiefied in the hallway, and he couldn’t even see an implement of destruction. Somewhere in there had to be an ice chopper, a chainsaw, a spade. Somewhere under all that…
Calm down, maybe there’s something else to use.
Dad, you fucking pack rat!
Really, gonna sit here and denigrate a half-eaten man who sired you because he liked to keep a few things?
A few things? Look at all this! What did he need with…?
Lanto grabbed the first thing he could get his hands on.
With a… What the heck is this anyway?
Isn’t that one of those thingies this women put on their head at beauty salons?
A whole-head hair dryer?
Right… WHAT DOES DAD NEED THAT SHIT FOR?
…Fine. What about…
Lanto grabbed something else.
This! An eight track player!
That’s a historic collectible…
Bullshit! You can’t even FIND an eight track to play on it anymore.
Fine, fine! Dad kept too much shit.
Thank you. You can be so damned difficult…
Listen douchenozzle, zombies all over! You wanna be lunch or you wanna find something, anything to take out mom with?
After going through the garbage for a bit, Lanto finally decided on a bowling ball and bag as well as a tall metal floor lamp. Between the two he would get the job done.