Chapter 22: Don't Go Under the Basement; Bad Flower Need Pruning pt. 3
Later That Night
Amityville City Morgue
The room was clean and sanitary, as well as bright. Operating tables were cleaned and the lights shown. On one tray, operating equipment was placed neatly and organized; both electrical and tool. On one of the tables, a freshly delivered corpse of a male and female were placed side by side, as one of the coroners was operating on the male. The coroner was thin, in hospital attire, as well as gloves, Caucasian, short brown hair, but oddly enough his skin seemed pale with a few puss-filled zits, and a milky white to his eyes. He was currently opening up the chest cavity, while another orderly was on a cell phone in the room. He was dressed in hospital attire, a bit bulky, Caucasian, but also had pale skin, a few zits, but only one eye was milky white.
"Yeah, uh-huh. I gotcha," the fat one stated as he nodded in agreement, and then looked to his companion, "George, we're gonna need an order on the kidneys and lungs."
"Got it, Zack," George nodded, but then asked, "Any interest in limbs for a medium sized middle aged man yet?"
George shook his head, "Nuthin' yet." But just then, they heard the doors open, and George turned away to the door, shooting out, "Hey, no civilians back here! You can't just barge in without…" he stopped however, as he saw who strode in, and seemed to recognize his face, "Oh, John, it's you." Indeed it was John Stranger, as he came in along with Courtney, Justin, Leon, Lilith, and even Alex and Oogie.
The fellow walked over and extended his hand in a friendly handshake, as Stranger accepted it. "Look at ya. Hitting the age of eighty and still kickin' like a forty year old." George then pointed out to the kids, "Aside from Elsa, I see you wrangled in some new blood."
"I never wrangled anyone, George," Stranger calmly stated as he stopped, leaning on his cane in front, "They each came in on their own free accord."
Courtney looked at the two, and asked, "Um, Stranger, you know these guys? And… how do they know you?"
"I helped them back a while ago, about thirty years ago…" Stranger answered. "… After they died."
Courtney and the others nearly paled at this information, until Justin asked pointing to them, "You mean, they're… zombies?"
"Hey, that term's a little condescending," Zack shot out, as he pointed to George and himself. "We prefer the Undead, Walkers, or maybe the occasional, um…"
"Don't mind him; the whole Zombie term's a bit touchy with him," George defended, and got down to business, "I take it this isn't a social visit, John?"
"Not quite," Stranger asked as he pointed his cane at the Morgue storage fridges, "We heard you had some recent deaths come in for autopsy."
"Okay, cut to the chase," Alex stepped forward, his camera at the waiting, "Were they zombie attacks?"
Zack shot his hands up in defensive shielding, as he defended, "Hey, man! We're clean! We didn't bite no one!"
George even defended, "Yeah, we're not like those flesh eaters. We're a bit more civilized than that. But as for them: think Mike Tysen after you made fun of his lisp and that tribal tattoo he's got. Basically: the flesh eaters are mindless, ripped with some of their bones and insides showing, shredded, and with a major attitude to match with no brains."
"That's the only way we can fit in with the Living anymore," Zack explained. "We don't attack and eat them, they don't sever our brain stems. We're on a straight diet of grubs, roaches, and nightcrawlers."
At hearing that, both Courtney and Lilith nearly gagged at that notion, until Elsa commented, "Oh, come on, you two. It's better than having them snack on people."
"We never said it was anyone here," Justin defended, as he explained, "We were hoping to check one of the bodies. In case it was a zombie attack, they'd come back to life and tell us who did it." But then awkwardly scratched his head as he mumbled, "If he/she's a talker like you guys."
"Do you have a Mister Victor Cystone arrive here," Stranger asked.
The two looked to one another, and Zack nodded, "Yeah, he just arrived this afternoon." The two then led everyone over as they reached one of the freezers. "It was pretty evident that the kid was a zombie victim, what with the torn stomach that was seen on him when we examined and patched him up. Not to mention around the fact that his long and small intestines had been pulled out and gnawed out." They pulled the door open and brought out the corpse laid on the table.
There, lying on the table was the corpse of a teenage boy, appeared to be the age of eighteen. His frame was large and very muscular; the body frame of a teenage body builder being trained by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was African American, dark black, with no hair, and brown eyes; a look on his face saying 'It's Smack-Down Time'. He was dressed in nothing, except for the tarp from feet to shoulders.
Zack pointed out, "I gotta tell ya, this guy really knew how to take care of himself. Skin's as soft like a lady's, and not an ounce of fat to drain outta him." He looked to any of the kids, as he casually quizzed, "Was he a Vegan?"
Stranger pulled the tarp up a bit, just enough to examine the wound, and lightly shook his head, "It was definitely a zombie."
"Yeah, but here's the real kicker," George pointed to the wound with a pencil, "These bite marks… I've seen them on other bodies. But most of them were from security guards, lab heads, and business suits. All workin' for some corporation called Noygog Chemicals."
Elsa looked surprised at that, and then to Courtney, as she asked, "Courtney? Isn't Ivy scouting out locations for boycott groups for Noygog? What if they attack there again and she's…"
"That won't happen," she quietly objected, knowing full well they would stop this. But her attention was drawn to someone else at the moment. Leon looked at the boy with a quiet respect for him, as Courtney noticed but didn't say until she asked, "An old friend of yours? Not just a teammate?"
He nodded, "Vic and I were sort of each other's backup. He was the muscle and I was the speed. But… we were pretty tight, way before I patched things up with Justin."
"Not tight with me or Justin here," Alex confessed as he shivered, "Whenever anyone wasn't looking, he always gave us wedgies, stuffed us in the toilets head first for swirlies. I'm not gonna miss him at all."
"No love for enemies, eh," Oogie confessed a guess. But then he looked at the body, and asked, "Hey… was he missing an arm?"
The two zombie coroners looked at the body, and then noticed the boy's left arm was missing. George nodded, "Yeah, about that. Well, we were pretty much betting whether or not he was gonna be a Walker. But we got impatient, and Bob from downtown needed some new…"
"AAAAAAAH!" Victor screamed aloud, his eyes wide open, and shot up, the sheet sliding down to his lap, exposing his chest.
Everyone jumped back at that, nearly startled, except for John, George, and Zack who were more calm about this situation of a dead boy coming back to life. Zack smirked as he held his hand out in front of his friend, "Ha! He's a Walker. You owe me five bucks."
The others were a bit skittish about Victor's rising, not sure if he was going to attack or not. Finally, Victor looked around, taking the surroundings of where he was now. Taking deep breaths until his breathing slowed a bit, he finally looked at those around him, and immediately spotted Leon. He cocked his eyebrow in confusion, until he finally asked, "Leon? What… Where am I?" Leon and everyone were a bit quiet, not sure as to how to answer his question. However, Victor finally took notice of his missing left arm, as he grabbed the empty area, and screamed out hysterically, "WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO MY ARM?" He looked around, frantically crying out, "WHERE THE HECK AM I? WHAT'S GOING ON? WHY AM I HERE?"
Leon swallowed for a moment, and asked quickly, "Do you want the good news or the bad?"
Victor stuttered for a moment, as he tried to process an answer, "Um, uh… Good? No, Bad! Bad. I want the bad news first."
Finally, after much thought-processing, Leon cleared his throat, and finally answered, "Um, Victor… I'm not sure how to lightly say this, so I'm just gonna throw it straight to you: you're dead."
"Well, more like the Walking Dead," Justin clarified. "Okay, Walking Dead in general."
Taking a moment to sink in, or rather just go into deniability, Victor sighed out, nodding his head, "Oh. Is that all?"
"That's the bad news for you," Stranger comforted the boy as best he could, "The good news is this: the new life is manageable."
"Look at it this way, Kiddo," George walked up to advise him on the new lifestyle, "Your tendons have gotten tighter, meaning you'll jump higher, run faster. Muscles have loosened up, making you stronger. You won't even feel pain if you get shot or hit by a car." But he pointed to his noggin as he replied, "Just make sure that if they do go for the head, and make sure they don't hit your computer. Anywhere below the jaw, that's okay; just don't let them destroy your brain. If they get a lucky shot there, you'll be All Dead. And All Dead, there's only two things to do."
Alex stepped forward, and asked, "And what's that?"
"Go through his clothes, and look for loose change," George finished.
"That's all very well informative, but there's something that hasn't been answered." Victor's calm then went into hysterical stammering gasps, and then into a frenzied panic, as he pointed to the bandaged empty socket that would have been his left arm, "JUST WHERE THE HECK IS MY ARM?"
The kids, boogie monster, and Stranger all looked to the two zombies for an answer at that. But the two only shrugged and casually answered, "Big Bob's."
Big Bob's Body Shop
The area they had gone to in the Cerberus appeared to have been located near the town dump. It was an old car parts store, built near the far side of the dump itself, where no one would be the wiser to go looking around. The place seemed brand new, with trash dumpster trucks cruising back and forth, parking back into the loading dock of the warehouse building. The place was bustling over with people driving in, and the place was littered with signs showing good prices and deal breakers for anyone purchasing anything by. All in all it seemed like a pretty good business, nothing out of the ordinary, except it was open late at night and located in a non-urban area for anyone to just notice firsthand.
Once the Cerberus was parked, everyone got out to investigate. As they got out of the Cerberus, Alex looked at the place, and asked Stranger, "What are we doing at a Body Shop all the way out of town?"
Stranger leaned on his cane before leading the way, "Seeing an old informant of ours."
But Leon was the last to get out, as he was still comforting a still freaking out Victor, "Look, just stay here, and we'll be back to get your arm, Vic. Okay?"
"This is a car parts store," Victor pointed out, and then hysterically shouted, "I DON'T THINK THEY'RE IN THE BUSINESS FOR FINDING MISSING LIMBS!"
"Trust me, you'd be surprised what they really sell here," Leon answered, as he closed the door before his undead football teammate could reply back. He walked back with the others, as he groaned, "I think he's taking this all well."
Courtney shrugged, "More than we ever did." As they entered the body shop, Courtney became even more paler than usual, as she gulped, "I take that back. I'm still taking it in."
What the others saw was nearly too good to be terrifyingly obvious as well as disgusting. All over the place, on shelves and tables, fresh and used body parts were there on display with prices next to them. Heads, hands, legs, arms, even spare organs were all in fresh out, in jars, and even in ice boxes to keep them fresh were all in display to be seen. And all around the area, zombies were examining them; almost trying a few on like someone was trying on new clothing or shoes. In truth, this was the most disturbing thing the kids, Courtney, Justin, and Alex, had ever seen in their lives.
Alex gulped, and held his camera up, making small pictures as he silently asked, "Um, what's this place? I thought it was a parts store."
"It is. A parts store for zombies," Stranger explained as they continued on, "Whenever a zombie loses or has a limb rot off, they go to a place like this to find replacement parts."
"There are places like this all around the world," Justin gulped.
"Only around darkened and damp areas, like Maine, New York, Louisiana… anywhere that monsters or the dead can fit in around human society," Stranger answered, as they walked past a spare brain shelf. "Without proper care or embalming procedures, a zombie will rot fast." He pointed all around the place, "Think of it all like recycling."
Courtney watched them, as she and the others passed on by, and she asked, "And… where do they get the spares?"
They turned and saw a garage door open as a loud beeping horn was going off. It was a garbage truck backing up near the open garage door, as two zombie cleanup crew workers were standing by with brooms, shovels, and freezing coolers at the ready. Once the truck stopped, the back door opened, and the truck's back tipped upward, allowing the contents to dump out on the floor. And what was lying on the floor were black body bags, as well as freshly amputated body parts, freshly frozen and cut ready for zombies to take for their own. Needless to say, the sight would have made any normal person throw up, or cringe in fear or disgust at the mere sight.
Courtney gulped and paled more, as she mumbled, "Forget I ever asked."
As the workers were cleaning up the body parts to be sorted out, the kids and Stranger just walked by to go to where they were going at the moment: the Boss's Office. Once they got to the door, they saw a fat Caucasian man with a Curly Stooge hairstyle and dressed in a tacky yellow suit. They could tell he was the boss due to his attitude on the phone, as he was talking business.
"No! you don't pick them out of the bayou! They're as fresh as your mom's…" the boss shouted on the phone, as he turned in his chair. And came in visual contact with Stranger, as his anger disappeared, as he casually greeted an old friend/associate, "I'll have to put you on hold," he replied as he hung up, and smirked, "Johnny! You look good. It's been, what? Thirty, forty years since I saw you?"
"Thirty-five years, Big Bob," Elsa answered for him.
"Elsa, you little minx," the man or zombie identified as Big Bob smirked, "I see you're doin' fine as well. Haven't aged a day. Literally."
She nodded, and casually asked, "So how's the Body Shop business doing?"
He shrugged, "Ah, can't complain. A few limbs here, some organs there. But business is boomin's now that I've gotten my website open for email deliveries." He pointed to the computer as he smirked, "God, I love the internet." But he leaned back in his chair as he asked, "But I take it you're not here to discuss old times, right? Business? I mean, ever since word got out that your book was unlocked, all Nine Circles of Hell have broken loose. So to speak."
"A case, and mostly business," Stranger pointed out, "We have a client who's missing a left arm. He's most likely still in the back of the supped up truck outside the parking lot."
"I'll get Hunchy to bring him in the back and see what we got for him," Bob replied, as he picked up a phone and shouted, "HUNCHY! WE GOT A NEW WALKER OUT IN THE FREAKY TRUCK OUT THERE! HE NEEDS A NEW LEFT ARM!" And hung up immediately, but before he went back to business, he eyed Courtney, Justin, Alex, and even Lilith, as he pointed out, "Gotta admit, Johnny Boy, when you recruit new blood, you do a damn good job at it. They got some nice parts on them."
"Bob," Stranger interrupted, as the kids backed away for a moment, "The case. Allow me to give you the details."
After a while explaining to Bob about the cases of corpses being eaten in half, as well as the description of the bite marks. For a while the zombie boss was quiet, until after a few minutes of thought, he snapped his rotting fingers as he pointed, "Oh yeah, the guy you're talkin' about sounds like Grunge."
Lilith asked, "Grunge?"
"Yeah, he's one of them old-fashioned Voodoo zombies, but rumor has it he was enhanced with some fancy-shmansy virus that beefed him up a bit. A real dirt bag flesh eater that one. Guy's as built as a tank; probably could flatten one out if he could." He pulled out an old photograph of the creature, allowing the others to get a good look at him, but with the creature, riding on his shoulder, was the girl with him now. "A few years back, he teamed up with this Asian monster dame; calls herself Inke."
"Inke, huh," Courtney asked, examining her with detail to remember what she looked like, but asked, "What is she?"
"From what I've heard, she's the result of some mutagenic experiment that escaped from some Slime Monster-obsessed whacko from Malaria," Bob answered, giving what he knew. "Anyway, once they teamed up, they started workin' as a couple of mercenary/assassin/thugs for hire. They'll take any job as long as they get paid; doesn't matter what they do, so long as they get paid."
"What happens when they don't get paid," Lilith asked, not liking the answer to come.
Bob shrugged as he replied, "If they don't get paid by their employer, it's their employer whose gonna pay. Big time."
Stranger nodded, as he looked to the others to take leave, "Thank you for your help, Bob. Keep your ears open if you hear anything about this duo popping up." He then pointed to Leon, who looked like he was about to throw up, "Besides, we really need to be quick. Leon's getting nauseated from all this decaying flesh."
Oogie gulped of that sight, as he grumbled, "Guess it doesn't pay at times to have a sharp nose."
"Take care," Bob stated, as they started to leave, but stopped Courtney, "Hey, you. Living Dead Girl."
Courtney stopped and turned to face him, "What is it?"
"As the new guardian to the Book of Goosebumps, here's some good advice: Guard that Book with your life," Bob advised, "Not only is the fate of the Living tied to that book, but so is the fate of the undead and all of Monsterdum."
For a moment, Courtney remained silent, until she nodded, "I'll, um… I'll keep that in mind." And walked right out of there.
After they had left Big Bob's, they had immediately gone back into town. But now they had to make a stop at the super market to pick something up. Seeing as how now that Victor was among the Walking Dead, he was new to all this and still in denial on it. As such, Stranger decided to have the boy stay over at the Halloween Store as his new home. But if he was gonna stay there in the shop with the others, he was gonna need some things. As they came in, Victor was sitting in the shopping cart, dressed in blue jeans and a red shirt, to hide the bleeding wound that had not yet healed up. He was out for a moment, until finally, he woke up.
Groggy at first, he struggled to straighten up, as he finally asked, "Ugh, wha? What happened?"
"Oh, you're awake. Cool," Leon smirked, as he pushed the cart, while Courtney grabbed some stuff.
From the looks of it, they were in the kitchen/bathroom cleaning supply aisle. Victor looked around, asking, "Why are we in a convenient store?" He then sniffed all around, his nose catching a whiff of something awful, as he cringed, "Oh, Man! What's that smell?"
"That would be you," Justin replied, walking alongside Leon to guard his back.
Victor shook his head, trying to clear up his head, until his eyes spotted a new sight that put him in panic mode again. "AAAAAH! WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY ARM," he shouted, as he lifted his newly acquired new arm. The reason why he freaked out was that his arm wasn't African American, it was Puerto Rican, with a black tattoo of a bull's head on the bicep, and a gold ring on the ring finger.
Justin pointed out, "Yeah, about that. They were out of African Americans in your size and build."
Alex nodded as he cleaned his camera's lens, "Big Bob said you're a rare body shop specimen. He was lucky to find anyone with a build and size like yours."
"Oh, out of my size and build… ARE YOU ALL INSANE," Victor shouted, pointing his arm, "I'm African American here; I'm not Puerto Rican. AND I'M NOT MARRIED!"
"Victor, you're a zombie! Deal with it," Courtney shot out, getting the undead football player's attention. "Now pay attention," she began as she placed in the zombie's lap a few cleaning supplies, pointing to each one and explaining the function for either one of them, "Floor cleaner is your new deodorant, Wisk takes the place of soap or body wash, Green Cleaner will help prevent your eyes from going yellow so I'd take care of that like eye drops daily, bleach is for your teeth, and finally Soft Scrub is for when you need to exfoliate." She got some stares from Victor, as well as Justin and Alex, as she shrugged, "According to the Book, that's the beauty regiment for a zombie." She then turned sharply, waving her finger at Victor as she advised, "You may be embalmed but do not… I repeat: Do. Not. Take a day off from this, or you'll be smelling like my brother's underwear."
Oogie poked up on her shoulder, and pointed out, "And trust me, you don't wanna be smelling like that. I would know, I got stuck in the laundry one night and took a whiff at them after he had a soccer game finished. Whoo Hoo! Kid's undies stank from high heaven, I'll tell ya that!"
Victor looked at them all, as they were heading for the cashier, all confused. Until finally, he shouted out in laugher, pointing at Leon, "AHAHAHAA! You're a funny guy, Leon. Really, I knew you had a funny bone in you. But this…" He pointed to Oogie as he nodded, "Awesome puppet word, Keller. What'd you get him from? Muppets that didn't make it from Jim Hensen?"
Oogie shook his head as he grumbled, "This joker's still in denial."
As they turned the curve, Victor spotted a free samples plate, "Oh man, I'm starving." And grabbed it, eating them one by one.
Both Leon and Courtney paled at this, as Leon pointed, "Um, you really shouldn't eat human food now."
"Seriously, you shouldn't," Courtney advised as she explained, "Your digestive system's dead now, so you really can't…"
"I'm already eating this; it's delicious, so I know you're all punking me, so…" Victor replied, still eating the plate, but then stopped. Everyone heard it as they came to the cashier's register; Victor's stomach started growling from the food. It was a small rumble at first, but then it built up to a large growl and rather violently at that. Victor's face contorted to a pained nauseated look, as he stammered, "Oh, boy…"
Courtney grabbed a plastic bag, and gave it to him. Once he had it, he unleashed out the most wretched retching scene anyone ever took witness to that day. Once they were outside, Courtney had explained to the others what had happened back in there, after they purchased their cleaning items. After Victor had felt a bit better, Elsa walked towards an old rusty dumpster, and kicked it hard in a fully rusted corner. Then suddenly, spewing out of the dumpster's new hole like a waterfall, a glob of grubs, maggots, and worms squirmed around. The whole scene made Victor want to barf up his stomach again.
Elsa walked back and pointed to the pile, "That… is your new diet plan."
Everyone who was used to this sort of thing looked to Victor, who wasn't looking so hot at the moment. He stared at the pile for a moment, until finally, he sighed, covering his face with his hands, groaning, "Oh God, please wake me up. I'm done with this nightmare…"
Victor stumbled back as he stopped for a moment, and looked around as he saw a silver steak in his back. And Courtney was holding on to it as she pulled it out, with Victor shouting out, "AAGH! WHAT THE! ARE YOU OUTTA YOUR MIND, LADY?" But he stopped for a moment, feeling the wound on his back, pulling it back and instead of runny blood, there was sticky gelatinous blood gone coagulated. He raised an eyebrow as he stated the obvious, "My blood's… coagulated? And that didn't even hurt. Not at all…"
"You get it now, Cystone? You're a freakin' zombie, a walking corpse, the Undead from George A. Romero," Courtney finally shouted, getting fed up with the zombie jock's pity party!" she had finally calmed down long enough at the moment, and looked to Victor sympathetically, "Look. I can imagine what this might feel like to you. What with waking up as one of the Undead; a monster in a world full of humans that'll probably try to kill you…"
Victor just laughed out scoffing at her and everyone else, not wanting any comfort, or at least believe that they could ever understand, "Oh, really? You can understand? That's a laugh, in fact that's the decent joke I've had since I just found out, I'M A WALKING PILE OF ROTTING TRASH!"
"Did anyone bother telling him," a familiar voice asked, getting everyone's attention. They all jumped in surprise, as they saw that it was Zazie, hiding in the dumpster, doing one of her famous disappearing/reappearing tricks. But ignoring the banana peel hanging on her head, she jumped out and asked, "Has anyone actually revealed how we understand what he's going through? I think it'd help him out a bit better if he knew."
Everyone, minus Stranger who was waiting in the van patiently but watched them all the same, looked to one another for an easy answer to that solution. But they all knew that there was no other answer to it, and that they had to get Victor to take this new life easy. So they all nodded in agreement, and stood apart from one another. And much to Victor's surprise, they all transformed in front of his eyes. Courtney started off allowing her Wiccan charms to glow, as well as her left eye with a flame tip, and her flames became aflame. Justin's Kinsmir armor activated, as his hair turned white, as well as his eyes became yellow and his fangs grew out. Lilith shot her wings out, as well as her tail and head wing ears. Zazie's hands were encased in ice claws, as her hair changed to boot. Elsa's transformation occurred as well, as most of her components appeared. Leon was the last one, as he took a bit of Locoweed and swallowed it, afterwards, he grew in height and shredded off his human form, allowing his werewolf form in place. At first, Victor was going down in denial city, but now truly, seeing was believing, or believing was seeing.
Victor pointed at all of them, with his jaw hanging down, "You guys… are all… monsters?"
"You wouldn't expect that from people like us, would you," Lilith smirked, putting her hands on her hips.
And the now zombified Victor looked to Leon, who was now at least seven feet tall and covered in fur, and pointed out, "So… I'm guessin' this was the reason why you had to go away fro three years, right?"
Leon nodded, and muzzled out, "There's a whole lot to explain right now, and it's more than just zombies."
Next Chapter: Don't Go Under the Basement; Frienship's Like a Rose pt. 4