“It’s just a batch of land in the middle of a swamp.”
“But, Scotty,” Dennis said, chugging a freshly-opened Budweiser. “There’s nothing there but grass and trees.”
“How do you know?” Scotty rebuked.
Dennis rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t, Scotty,” he sighed, then grinned foolishly and added, “But I don’t like getting swamp water in my pretty hair.”
Scotty rolled his eyes. “C’mon, Dennis,” he teased, “you don’t really believe what Uncle Maxwell told us ‘bout that island, do you?”
“No!” Dennis answered quickly.
The two cousins quieted down, finished off their last six-pack and gawked across the reach at the small island that their Uncle Maxwell had always called Zombie Hell. The thickly wooded land was blanketed by an eerie gray mist, the sky above it was much darker and the birds flew around it. Dennis pointed as one black sparrow made the mistake of flying over the island, and then fell from the sky like a brick.
“Did ya, see that, Scotty?” Dennis questioned.
“Fucking thing looked like it hit a wall!”
“Uh-huh!” Scotty replied, eyes falling upon an old, sun-faded rowboat. “Hey, cuz! What do you say we borrow that boat over there, and see if we find that bird.”
Dennis gaped at the boat, staggered over to it and gave it a quick look over. “Ya want to use this piece-of-shit to go over there and find a fucking bird?”
“Why not?” Scotty said, pushing the boat into the murky water. He hopped in it, raised an eyebrow at Dennis and asked, “What else are you going to do today?”
“Then c’mon, chickenshit!” Scotty howled. “It’ll be like that time when we were kids, and we snuck into the old Myers house. Remember how everybody in town said that that place was haunted, but we didn’t see a damn thing. But we had one-hell-of-a-time!”
Dennis grinned, shook his head and jumped in the boat.
The two of them rowed across the reach. Dennis flinched once as something scraped the bottom of the boat. His eyes never left the water that grew blacker as they neared the shore.
“Maybe we should turn back,” Dennis murmured.
“It’s just a batch of land in the middle of a swamp,” Scotty shot-back, grabbing an old, weather-beaten rope. “Besides we’re already here.” He got out and tied the rope around a small twig. “Now, c’mon, Dennis! Let’s see why Uncle Maxwell is so afraid of this island.”
Dennis let out an elongated sigh, climbed out of the boat and said, “This place smells funny, kinda like rotting meat. Don’t ya think so, Scotty?”
Scotty didn’t reply. He disappeared into the moss-covered cypress trees. Dennis gulped and followed. But he couldn’t catch up with Scotty. It seemed to Dennis that the woods had swallowed him up whole. Dennis wandered around aimlessly until he came to a well-traveled pathway. He walked down it until he came up behind a young woman wearing a tattered floral-print dress. His eyes widened and a smile crossed his lips as he realized that he could see her striped-panties through a hole in her outfit. “Um, miss,” he said softly.
The woman whipped around. She had two dull-gray eyeballs, frenzy red hair and loose skin hanging from her bloody chin. Dennis almost threw-up as he seen that the woman was holding a headless black sparrow.
“What’s wrong with ya, girl?” he stuttered. “Ya a zombie or something?”
She dropped the bird and charged at him, biting him on the forearm. Dennis hit her, and took off running. He could hear her following him, then the sound grew louder. He glanced over his shoulder and seen that the young woman was now accompanied by six more zombies. He quicken his pace, and leapt through the last rows of trees. He about fainted as his woeful eyes seen Scotty rowing across the reach.
“Scotty! Come back here and get me!”
Scotty stopped rowing. He rested his arms on his knees, as a twisted smile crossed his face. “Sorry, cuz. But with you out of the way, I stand to inherit all of Uncle Maxwell’s fortune. You know he’s getting old and doesn’t have much longer to live.”
“But, Scotty!” Dennis yelled, trying to walk in the muddy water. “There’s real zombies on this island!”
The young woman and the other zombies emerged from the woods, grabbed Dennis and began to feast on him. Dennis fought with them, kicked at them and that’s when he seen the rope wrapped around his ankle. He yanked at it, and watched as the little boat and Scotty danced in the water like a fishing cork. He pulled at it as the zombies dragged him back into the dark, uninviting woods.
Scotty tried to jump from the boat, but it was back on the banks of the island in the blink of an eye. It slammed against a tree, breaking in half. Scotty quickly gathered himself. He darted for the water with the speed of a frightened deer, jumped in and tried to swim away. Cold hands clutched his ankles. He looked around and there was Dennis. His eyes were two gray marbles, his hair was matted and half of his face had been eaten off. Scotty kicked at him, but Dennis was much stronger now.
“Where are you going, Scotty,” Dennis said in a sinister, echoing voice. “It’s just a batch of land in the middle of a swamp.”
©2010 Chad Case