SPUF OF THE DEAD
Chapter 1: Is There Anybody Out There?
As the old, dust-covered phone jangled off, two men turned around in surprise from their desks and gazed at the spectacle; the two detectives had not received a single call in a while.
“Shall I?” One of the detectives asked, receiving affirmation in return. His name was Donald Stamda, or more commonly referred to as “Don” or simply “Stamda”. He bounced up and walked towards the phone in a relaxed manner, yawning in the poorly-lit room. Stamda was a tall and handsome, smooth-talking man with a fitting pair of spectacles resting on his calm face. He and his partner, Aabicus, were detectives of a private chic boutique firm, selective in its employees and customers. Apart from being brilliant detectives, they were also amazing liars – their firm was neither ‘boutique’ nor ‘chic’. The only reason you could call them selective is because they couldn’t pay anyone other than themselves, and they couldn’t care less about the customers. Nonetheless, you couldn’t call them charlatans or fools – merely over-exaggerating and masters of twisting words.
“Hello, this would be your friendly neighborhood Pinkertons.”
Just as Stamda squelched at the phone, the phone squelched back at him, spewing gibberish that he answered with “uh huh” and “right”. After thirty seconds or so, the other detective, a man with curly hair and a rounder face piped up and growled at Stamda to “talk to the damn customer before he had the ‘Pinkerton’ him up”. Stamda finally connected the line as Aabicus, his curly-haired partner blackmailed him and smoothly asked:
“Hello, S-and-A Private Eye Bureau. How may we be of help?”
From Aaby’s perspective, he could certainly hear something, but with the frantic tone they were talking with, he couldn’t distinguish anything. Concerned, he stood up and walked to Stamda, who was bent over and scribbling details on a yellow paper.
“Indeed, yes. We’ll be there within minutes.”
Slamming the phone, Stamda ripped the paper off from the pad and pushed Aabicus towards their coats.
“What’s the deal, Stam?”
“No time. Put your coat on and get the driver. We need to get to the court house immediately.”
“Huff, you should really get around to sanitizing that axe. I’m pretty sure a new species is evolving on it at this point.”
Huff rolled over from his bed, eyes half-shut and yawning.
“Wha.. What time is it, Medic?”
“Time to clean your axe up. Get up.”
Huff rubbed his eyes, as well as shielding them from the grey light outside. He pushed off the sheets to reveal him in his undershirt and underwear. Blushing, he immediately jumped out and pulled his pants on, his shirt and suit following shortly after that. He immediately jumped to a conclusion.
“Medic, I’m sorry about last night-”
She peeked around the corner, almost offended, but more accurately described as annoyed.
“You idiot, I just got here. Get your mind out of the gutter, get dressed, and then clean that damn fire axe up.” She stormed before going about on her own business. Huff, slightly dazed and confused, finished dressing up and combed his smooth hair back. It was a Saturday – no work today, but Huff still dressed up regardless. He had recalled that he indeed did not sleep with the Medic (“What was I even thinking?” he thought to himself), but he gave her his apartment key as a backup in case he ever locked himself out.
“Medic, what’s the occasion?” He yelled across his home, pushing his collar down and entering his bathroom for a quick toothbrushing. He clearly didn’t lock himself out, so something must’ve been up that he forgot about.
“Huff, I got a call this morning and I’m concerned. I came over to talk about it.”
“Oh? What was this call about?”
As a touching finish, Huff splashed some of his cheap cologne on before he went out. He was prepared for practically anything, ‘practically’ being the keyword. He found the Medic in the kitchen cooking breakfast in an unorthodox fashion; she was actually using the stove and the other utilities provided that Huff disregarded as obsolete. After all, who needs a kitchen when you have a diner down the road?
“Take a seat, Huff. Breakfast’ll be simple egg and sausage.”
“Hardly appetizing. I could be eating a burger and fries.” Huff thought to himself, but retained himself with brittle smile. The Medic scraped the food off the pan and into a plain white plate, which found its way in front of Huff.
“We’ll skip coffee and get straight to business, Huff. I got a call today which warned me to gather my prized possessions, any functional weaponry, close friends and move away to a remote location for safety. Some about the “The end is neigh”
Huff was barely paying any attention – he was busy stuffing himself with the salty and slightly over-cooked sausage. As soon as he realized she had stopped for his reaction, he put the sausage down and tried to come up with a generic reply.
“Why?” He burbled out. He lucked out this time; the Medic took no notice of his ignorance.
“Why? I’m not sure myself, but it sounded pretty serious. Remember those weird types we bumped into last week? The one you axed? I think it has something to do with them.”
“What makes you think so?” Huff asked, now slightly more engaged in the conversation. He was skeptical of her concern, partly because of his apathetic and narcissistic mood, but also because the entire idea as a whole seemed a little far-fetched. Danger? Here? Moreover, on a Saturday?
“Those people didn’t seem human.”
As morning rolled around, Argeon was one of the first people up in the area. Not a big surprise, considering the town practically consisted of three salmon and a potted plant. He put his tome of Dostoevsky back on this bookshelf and yawned. Again, he met the morning with a gloomy melancholic gaze, his mind tormented from the pressures of everyday life.
“I hate mornings.”
He pushed himself up from the creaky bed and wobbled towards the restroom, head pounding. He washed up in a mere thirty seconds and then went to make some coffee before heading off to check on the neighborhood and beginning his day with civil service. He quickly made and downed a cold cup of coffee before jumping outside into the boring morning. With his Force-A-Nature, of course.
“Argeon, why’re you up so early? Don’t you have shit to write?”
It was Corvo, or bluntly “Corv”, leaning on the cold red-brick building, flipping a small kunai in his fingers. He was always lingering somewhere, his long, silky hair flipping in the everlasting cool breeze that stayed present outside.
“Good morning to you too, Corv.” Argeon replied coolheadedely closing locking the door to his apartment, “Still a maid?”
“Once a maid, forever a maid.”
“Indeed. Where’s the Corvette parked?”
Corv stopped spinning his knife and pushed himself off the wall, his lush hair gently swirling in the air. He pointed down the deserted street, and indeed, a corvette was parked several blocks down.
A… Pink Corvette?
“Whose idea was it to paint that piece of junk pink?” Argeon rolled his stoned eyes in sarcasm. Corv puffed his cheeks up and grew red with rage.
“That ‘piece of junk’ is worth more than your entire miserable life put together, and it was Aaby’s idea to get a pink paint job on it.”
“Marvelous. You could use one yourself.”
To a tourist (which, occasionally, stumbled in into this little town by accident, but then immediately went left after realizing that you’d shoot yourself from boredom in this god-forsaken place), this conversation would’ve sounded quite real and hot-headed, but rest assured, they were only teasing each other.
Down the road, two gentlemen were running at Argeon and Corv. As they came closer, you could distinguish their anxious mugs. It was Aabicus and Stamda. Corv’s eyes widened – he was not expecting them to want maid services this early in the morning. Finding it opportune, Argeon quickly slipped away from the company of detectives and a maid to go about on his own business. Finally in the company of himself.
That is, if The Medic wasn’t rushing towards from the other side.
“Argeon, have you seen Aaby or Stamda?”
Argeon pointed at the pink blurb that rolled down the empty street.
“Damn it. Have you seen Huff around?”
“Can’t say I have, sorry.”
She swore under her breath and kept on her way. Strange, it was unusually busy for a Saturday.
Argeon disregarded the entire situation. After all, what could he make of it? With his unorthodox way of perceiving life and the extra hours reading too much Dostoevsky, apathy creeped out of him. He really couldn’t care less about the wind of change.
He continued down the sidewalk, hands dug deep into his pockets. Something growled menacingly behind him, but he didn’t care.
The breaks screeched and the Corvette stopped. Two men emerged from an old-fashioned sports car, stepping heavily on the cold, wet pavement. They both wore khaki overcoats and matching detective panamas with a similar light-brown tone. Aabicus glanced up and peered into the grey sky, the sun blandly shining through the dull puff above them, and let out a sigh before snapping back into his focused expression. Stamda grimly stared at the court house.
“We, uh, gonna check this joint out?” Stamda snapped in a Mafioso accent, slightly bored and disappointed at the lack of action. A nod in return, the two men walked up the steps of an old court house, the words “Lex est SPUF” chiseled above the stone steps.
“What exactly was the call about, Stam?” Aabicus inquired, still unaware of what the issue was.
“I’ll leave the shotgun inside, Corv. Someone called in on a suspected assault here.”
“Can you pass me the note?”
Stamda handed the note over and held the door open for Aaby, who is feverishly reading the note. In terrible handwriting, scribbled on it was:
“Some detective you are. I should get Argeon to teach you how to write.”
Stamda shrugged off that comment and whipped out a notepad from his coat. Aabicus did the same.
“I’ll check over to the left, and you can check the right. Fair enough?”
They split up and started taking notes on the spacious room of the court house. Aabicus was surprised; the court house was practically abandoned since the justice system was almost in the hands of the Pinkertons. Assault in a building which was essentially unused and uninhabited seemed a little off. An abrupt smell of rotting flesh threw Aaby’s concentration off. He grimaced, but did not halt his investigation.
Behind a flipped table, Aabicus saw a sight that caused him to throw up a little in his mouth – a mangled body of one of the most recognizable individuals in town. He opened his notepad, snapped his pen out and jot down something in a handwriting that couldn’t be distinguished from regal cursive and drunken scribbles. He bit his lip and fearfully looked down, wondering what to make of this horrid sight. After a brief thought, he botched on his yellow legal pad:
Itsurblog is discovered dead.
Aabicus stepped around the mangled body of itsurblog and knelt down beside it, carefully tucking in his trench coat as to not muck it up on the blood. Itsurblog was a dear friend to many, including Aabicus. It was strange, however. It appeared that he was covered in bite marks everywhere, and bruises everywhere else.
Bite marks and bruised. Animal?
Aaby stood up and snapped his pen closed.
“Stamda, can you come take a lo-“
Something snatched his foot and pulled at it. Aaby yelped and jumped back, throwing what he had in his hands at the direction from where he was grabbed. A pen and pad promptly flew away. Itsurblog groaned, saliva foaming around his mutilated mouth, sounding something like “ehhhhram”.
“Stamda run!” shrieked Aabicus, flailing at the door. Stamda peeked from his corner to see what was happening over from his partner’s corner. Seeing a bloodied corpse rising behind a wide-eyed and scared-senseless Aaby, he also hit at the door. Faster, faster, faster – they had to make it to Corv. Corv was spinning his knife inside the Corvette.
It would be an understatement to say that Corv was baffled when he saw two typically calm men sprinting from the court house at him. He was downright scared.
“Corv! Start the car up!”
Corv abided, and snapped the key in the ignition. The Corvette rumbled, but refused to start up. Corv’s silky hair immediately got drenched in cold sweat. Stamda and Aabicus already slammed the door close, but the Corvette couldn’t start up. Itsurblog wobbled out from the court house.
The car erupted into screams from the backseat as Stamda and Aabicus shrilled in the back, hugging each other like frightened children as the monster tumbled down the steps of the town hall – getting closer and closer and closer to the car.
“Corv!” Stamda squealed, inching to the Aabicus at the other side of the seats as itsurblog smashed himself at the car window, “Go now! NOW!”
Finally, the Corvette reverberated and blasted off, only leaving tire marks and itsurblog. Inside, the two detectives grasped each other tightly, eyes like tea plates. Corv wasn’t any better; he crunched the wheel with his tight grip. Finally, breaking the fearful silence, Stamda squelched:
“We need to meet with the rest of the gang. Go to Huff’s.”
“Medic, could you make me more of this ‘simple egg and sausage’?”
“No! Focus, Huff!”
Huff grew leaned on his hands over his empty plate, depressed. He had finished his breakfast rather quickly and now had to focus on the matters at hand. He groaned like a child, but lifted his eyes up and met the Medic with a social smile.
“We need to go somewhere; somewhere away and safe. Do you know of any good places where there aren’t many people?”
Huff wanted to suggest staying in town, seeing how small it was, but refrained from letting his attitude butt in the conversation. He stood up and walked to his axe, sitting in the corner of the kitchen, by the trashcan and the door, in thought. He snatched it and picked up some wipes.
“Hmm… Hydro or Watchtower?”
The Medic rubbed her chin, contemplating on whether those would be good choices. Huff, busy with himself, sat down and began cleaning his axe. As the Medic rightfully pointed out, it was in need of some thorough sanitation.
“Those sound fair. We also need get supplies – do you have any weapons stored?”
Huff raised his half-clean axe up with enthusiasm, only to be met by an annoyed sigh in return. He put it back on his knees and offered some advice to the stressed-out Medic.
“Don’t worry. We can pick weapons up from some traders.”
“Huff? Can we come in?”
Huff and Medic turned around and looked down the corridor. Stamda, Aabicus, and Corv entered cautiously, all slightly bewildered and doused in sweat. Huff and Medic stood up and went to their friend’s assistance.
“Good, let’s go.” The Medic interrupted, interrupting Huff and pushing all of the boys out the door. Not a single one could say a word before they were all outside by the pink Corvette.
“Medic, what’s the me-“
“Get inside and start driving to the nearest traders. I’ll explain in the car.”
Now typically, and of these four men would’ve disagreed and asked for an explanation, but under the circumstances, those being a sudden attack of a resurrected itsurblog and the Medic’s tone of voice, they all conceded to her request. One after the other they all piled in. Corv adjusted Argeon (or, to put it more honestly, shoved him away from the driver’s seat) who was out cold. The car rumbled once again and they were off.
“Gentlemen, I have sad news to tell you. The zombie apocalypse is upon us.”
The last thing Argeon saw before he was hit was a horrified face of Corv and smudge of a pink car.