That being said I'm aiming to have Chapter Five of R&R Volume One: Deadman's Flats up for ya'll by the end of the month :)
“There, all done.” Ravenna said triumphantly as she laid the map down before her.
“Good, let me see.” Rosalie said brusquely, reaching for it. Ravenna handed the map over; Rosalie immediately began to inspect it. Rosalie had been pouring over the map for almost fifteen minutes when suddenly she leapt into the air, in a classic “Eureka” moment.
“I take it you found something?” Ravenna commented dryly.
“Yes!” Rosalie grinned. “Here look at this.” She commanded shoving the map back across the scarred table to Ravenna pointing excitedly at a point roughly in the middle of all the crime scenes.
“What? I don’t see anything.” Ravenna shrugged.
Rosalie rolled her eyes. “Look closer!”
Ravenna returned to the map, her nose drifting closer to the page. “I still don’t see anything…”
“Ah, dear God you’re incompetent, here give me that.” Rosalie snatched the map out of Ravenna’s hands, re-arranged it, and then assumed her explaining. “See, here, look.” She said, punctuating each word with a jab of her finger to a different crime scene. “Each location is within a two-kilometer radius of this central location.” She jabbed at the location on the map enthusiastically.
“Whoa, whoa, slow down there tiger. No need to get too excited.” Ravenna said dubiously, eying the map with skepticism.
“Are you kidding me?!” Rosalie nearly shouted with disbelief. “Don’t you see this? This center point, it’s like the headquarters of this whole conspiracy or whatever.”
Ravenna gave her a flat look, “Dude, you have issues.”
“Oh come on!” Rosalie yelled, standing up. She pushed herself back from the table and took a few steps towards the barred window. Her back was turned to Ravenna as she took a few deep breaths to calm herself. She stared at the mattress still propped there, the way the off-white sheets still clung haphazardly to the top, the remainder forming a pool of cloth on the floor. Rosalie pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration, her gaze shifting to the beige carpet beneath her feet.
“Don’t you think you’re taking this just a little overboard?” Ravenna suggested quietly. She wasn’t trying to upset her friend but all of this…well it was hard for her to accept. If she did believe, well it would turn her whole world upside down. She wasn’t willing to invest in that kind of earth-shattering truth lightly.
“How can you say that?!” Rosalie demanded through gritted teeth. “You haven’t even asked me where the center is!” She added as whirled to face Ravenna, an accusatory look arranging her features.
“Fine then, where is this “center” then?” Ravenna countered tiredly.
Rosalie’s countenance appeared to calm, then very matter-of-factly she asked, hands on her hips, “Where were we last night?”
Ravenna, a little taken aback by the sudden change in Rosalie’s behavior, answered only a bit uncertainly, her eyes rapt on Rosalie’s face: “Uh, that bar, Bandoleer’s or whatever….what does that have to do with it?”
Rosalie ignoring Ravenna’s question completely, continued. “And where did we run into that guy that attacked you?”
“Just outside the…” Ravenna’s face lit up with comprehension, shortly followed by horror, as she finished her reply. “…Oh my God!!”
“Exactly.” Rosalie said with a self-assured nod.
Ravenna’s horror quickly changed to confusion as she continued to try to put the pieces together. “So you, what, think that there’s like some zombie colony living under Bandoleer’s?”
Rosalie, who had been looking rather smug after Ravenna’s epiphany, suddenly looked exhausted. She rubbed her face a couple of times and was staring into the distance as she spoke. “I don’t know exactly. I mean we don’t really have much to go on at this point.” She turned back to Ravenna and looked her right in eyes. “But whatever’s going on that bar is at the heart of it.”
“So what does that mean for us then?” Rosalie asked, slightly afraid of the answer.
Rosalie tapped her fingers on the honey-colored table as she thought about their next step. At last she said, “I think it’s time we paid another visit to that bar.”
Ravenna perking up at the idea, announced eagerly, “Undercover work?! I’m sooo there! But uh, maybe we should change first…” She amended, sniffing the clothes she still wore from the night before.
* * *
“So… What exactly are we looking for?” Ravenna asked a little carelessly as they left their room.
“Uh, honestly, I’m not really sure.” Rosalie admitted a little sheepishly on their way to the Charger.
“Oh…. Ok.” Ravenna paused, her line of thought momentarily broken. She tried again, “So, what are you expecting then? Like for zombies to come crawling from the basement frothing from the mouth?”
Rosalie sighed, she didn’t like not having the answers and being reminded she didn’t wasn’t helping. “Like I said, I’m not really sure, and like this whole “nest” thing, I dunno, it really bothers me.”
“Well then what’s your theory there Sherlock? Why can’t the “zombies” travel any farther than two kilometers? Think they can’t get back fast enough before the sun crispy critters them?” Ravenna replied her tone even more careless now and edged with sarcasm in order to hide the growing apprehension she was feeling in the pit of her stomach. She wasn’t used to Rosalie not having all the answers either.
Her gaze was trained on the motel as they continued to make their way to the car. There were two reasons she couldn’t look at Rosalie: one, she didn’t want her to see her face and see the doubt and concern under the bravado; and two, she wasn’t sure she could handle seeing any doubt or concern on Rosalie’s face right now either. So her gazed wandered over the motel taking in the aged but well-kept façade which was painted, yes, tan. She wondered if they’d gotten a deal for buying so much tan paint… It was a two story building, squat to the ground but long so as to make up for its lack of stories and fit a decent amount of rooms. It was situated in a standard motel L-shape with an office and lobby a the tip of the short leg leading into a few rooms before making a sharp turn left where the rest of the L and the rooms were located. On top of all the tan the motel had opted for chestnut trim on its railings and doors making the whole building look as if a giant nut had thrown up in the middle of a parking lot. She supposed it was meant to look earthy and fit in with the mountain feel. In her astute opinion they had failed miserably, especially since the since was done in a navy blue and a pale yellow and completely at odds with the rest of color scheme suggesting there must have been renovations at some point to bring the building back up to date but no one had bothered about the sign. Well it bothered her, she noticed details, she liked details, they were what made things interesting and it was the details that had drawn her to psychology. She wasn’t the only one who noticed details though…
“No, no, no.” Rosalie scoffed. “Besides we’re talking about zombies here, not vampires. Zombies do not simply light up in the sun, they just look really gross when you can really see them.” She added matter-of-factly as she unlocked the car.
“Well then..?” Ravenna prodded. She knew she was being a pain in the ass and she really wasn’t meaning to she just—she just, well she just didn’t know what else to do.
Rosalie who was clearly started to get irritated with the conversation, interrupted Ravenna by slamming the door she had just opened, cutting off the sentence Ravenna had started. “I DON’T KNOW OK?!” She exclaimed. They stared at each other wide-eyed over the roof of the car; Rosalie looked away first and took a deep breath in an obvious attempt to calm down before turning back to Ravenna. “Look, let’s just go find out.” She finally said, gesturing in the general direction of the bar before sliding into the driver’s seat and starting the car.
Ravenna, only slightly shocked by Rosalie’s sudden outburst, hesitated for just a second before climbing into the passenger’s side. “Alright, let’s go… jeeze calm down.” Ravenna mumbled glancing side-long at Rosalie, who gave her a look that would have made anyone else run for cover, Ravenna had the good sense to at least flinch. Rosalie ripped the car into reverse and tore out of the parking lot, muttering angrily to herself the rest of the way to the bar.
* * *
“Ummm… No thanks.” Ravenna said through a tight smile sidling away from her pursuer.
He pressed on, unperceptive of her “seriously stay the fuck away from me” body language. “Oh come on beautiful, just one drink.”
“No seriously, I’m fine.” She reiterated before adding, “Besides, I got a friend waiting for me.” She then rushed away from the bar carrying two drinks, back towards the booth Rosalie occupied, before he could say another word.
“Never thought I’d see the day,” Rosalie laughed as Ravenna slumped into the brown cracked vinyl booth seat.
“What day?” Ravenna demanded curtly. She pushed Rosalie drink toward her and then busied herself trying to shift the vinyl beneath her just a little so that it wouldn’t dig into her ass so fiercely. This field trip was just not going her way.
“The day you turned down a free drink!” Rosalie grinned broadly, as she accepted her drink from Ravenna.
Ravenna turned from the vinyl to her cohort, scowling. “Hey!” She protested.
Rosalie shrugged unapologetically. “Come on, you gotta admit it’s pretty rare.”
“Alright, ya I guess it is.” Ravenna acceded before taking a sip from her drink.
Rosalie let out a light scoff. “That’s what I thought.” She sipped her drink in turn.
“That guy was a creep anyway.” Ravenna continued, absently stirring her drink with the thick black straw she’d been given.
“Really? Like how? He actually looks kind of cute if you ask me.” Rosalie inquired, visually perking with interest as she glanced over at the man in question.
Ravenna shook her head as Rosalie’s lack of sympathy. “Whatever, you can have him then.” She paused to take another sip. “Besides, you just like him 'cause he’s tall.” She accused.
“What can I say? I love me a tall man.” Rosalie shrugged, her lips set in a smile of approval.
Ravenna rolled her eyes, and took another drink.
“What?” Rosalie chuckled, tried turning into in a cough and failed. Ravenna raised her eyebrow in question. “So anyway… You said he was creepy. Define “creepy.”” Rosalie resumed, apparently over her coughing fit.
“I dunno.” Ravenna sighed. She didn’t really know how to explain why she disliked him so much. She was used to men accosting her and could generally slough it off with ease, but something about this guy…it just gave her a bad feeling. “He was in here last night too, and wouldn’t leave me alone. He began to get really angry when I kept turning him down, it started to scare me a little bit.”
It was Rosalie’s turn to raise her eyebrows. “Was that it? Just a case of coming on too strong, and getting a little pissy ‘cause you managed to withstand his many charms?” Rosalie asked sarcastically. “Or was there something else?” She added, this time serious.
“Ah I dunno Rosalie. I mean it’s hard to explain. Let’s just say I wouldn’t wanna find myself alone with him under the best of circumstances, never mind anything else.” She took a long pull off her drink to distract herself from the jitters she got even talking about the creep.
“Think he could be our guy?” Rosalie ventured. Her interest had piqued again, though this time in a much different way. If you suspected a guy might be a zombie controlling serial killer it kinda removed him from the romantic pool—well for her anyway.
“Maybe. I guess anything’s possible…” Ravenna peeked over her shoulder to see if the guy was still sitting at the bar. He was.
He’d advanced on her almost immediately after they’d arrived at the bar an hour earlier. Although, she had to admit it hadn’t been the most inconspicuous entrance. They’d walked in just as the last song had ended and before another one had had time to begin. Everyone in the bar had simultaneously turned to look at them. She and Rosalie had paused awkwardly for a moment before Ravenna had moved towards the bar on the west side while Rosalie snatched a booth against the north wall. The guy, Ravenna thought his name was David—David… something. She was pretty sure it started with an “E” at any rate. She may have been a freak for details but man, she just sucked at remembering names.
Approximately three seconds after she had edged her way up to the bar, he had re-introduced himself and offered her a drink. She’d politely turned him down, but every time she went back to the bar he was at her again. Of course, Rosalie could have gone to get the drinks instead, but she found the whole thing much too funny to relieve Ravenna of her persistent suitor. It was true he wasn’t bad looking; Ravenna couldn’t deny that, as if Rosalie would have ever let her anyway. He was about six-two, tall; the way Rosalie liked them. Ravenna herself preferred someone closer to her own height, five-ten, five-eleven or somewhere around there. She didn’t want to have to find a chair or a ladder to kiss a man, ‘course Rosalie always thought that’d be funny. “The best part about a tall man is that you can climb them!” She would always laugh whenever Ravenna brought it up. David Last-Name-Unremembered had bright blonde hair the color of butter, almost as yellow as blonde can be without the assistance of a hair salon. And to top it all off he had big grey eyes, framed by an impressive set of lashes—why are guys lashes always so much nicer than women’s?—and would have been striking if not for the slightly disturbing look she always found in them.
Just then he turned to look at her; Ravenna swiftly dropped her eyes and gazed at the table as if there was something of great importance carved into it. The look in his eyes had been sort of flattering, if you liked being appraised like a piece of prize beef. Rosalie never missing a beat, and noticing Ravenna’s obvious discomfort, glowered at the creep, her eyes clearly saying “Back Off!” She kept at it until he finally looked away; even glaring a bit longer to make sure he didn’t try to stare at her friend again. Eventually her gaze softened and settled on Ravenna who was still seemingly mesmerized by the table. Apparently Phil had been here more than few times and really liked big butts.
“Hey man, are you okay?” All traces of her earlier humor had vanished from Rosalie’s voice. She was all concern now.
Ravenna gave a small nod while still looking at the table. Eventually she looked up, this time at the wall, and said, “Ya, I’m fine. Like I said he just makes me nervous.”
“No doubt. You were right. That guy is a creep. Don’t worry though, I got your back.” Rosalie reassured, glancing menacingly at the man.
“Thanks Rosalie that actually means more than you might think.” She met her friend’s eyes and gave a small, sad smile. “I know I sounded all gung ho about this earlier but that guy just really threw me off.”
“No problem. Now, where were we?” To an outsider it may have sounded like Rosalie was rebuffing her friend but in truth she was doing what she knew Ravenna wanted her to do: move on. She knew Ravenna wouldn’t want to even think about the creep anymore, never mind talk about him, so she’d give her something else to think about. Before Captain Creepy’s festival of staring she had been trying to explain to Ravenna the “theory” behind raising a zombie, but so far not a lot of it had stuck.
“Just start from the beginning, I don’t really remember what you already told me.” Ravenna confessed. She tapped her glass and braced herself for the onslaught.
With that—to Ravenna’s extreme surprise, she was expecting Rosalie to lecture her on how she never listened, she must be more worried than I thought—Rosalie re-organized her papers, bringing the ones she’d already gone over to the front and began again.
“So zombies are not created by some strange virus or the dead crawling outta hell ‘cause it’s overflowing like in Resident Evil or Dawn of the Dead. They’re called from their grave by either a necromancer or a voodoo practitioner. Most of the time after they’ve been put in that grave by whoever plans to raise them.”
Ravenna raised her hand.
“You have a question?” Rosalie guessed, her lips twisting into a sarcastic half-smile.
“Ya, so you’re saying that not only do these people bother these poor dead bastards, they’re the ones that usually kill them in the first place?”
Rosalie quickly reviewed what she’d just read. “That appears to be the case.” She said with a firm nod.
Ravenna frowned, “That’s harsh.”
“Ya tell me about it.”
“One more question.” Ravenna put in before Rosalie could resume.
“Mmmm?” Rosalie replied, lips pursed as she continued to read her notes.
“What’s a necromanner?” Ravenna asked looking confused.
“Necromancer.” Rosalie corrected.
“Ya whatever, what are they? Like a zombie queen?”
“Or king.” Rosalie snickered at Ravenna’s analogy but went on. “They’re actually just a regular person, the term regular perhaps being loosely used, but whatever. Necromancer’s have an innate talent for raising the dead. They’re generally born with it; it’s like a psychic gift. Though it can also be something they’ve learned over time.”
“Gift.” Ravenna snorted.
“Ability then.” Rosalie allowed.
Ravenna tapped her fingers against the table top as she processed this new information. “So what do we do if the person raising these things is a “necromancer”?”
“Well, I’m not sure really, I mean we’d have to put a stop to what they’re doing…” Rosalie admitted reluctantly.
“Ya but how are we gonna do that? You said they’re born with this “ability.” And if not born, then they’ve learned it somehow. You can’t just unlearn something, any more that you can get rid of a skill you were born with.” Ravenna mused as she tried to puzzle it out for herself.
“Ya, I know. But they have to be stopped, what they’re using it for is wrong. And there’s no guarantees that they’d never doing it again after resorting to it once.” Rosalie said dejectedly. She’d left a hint of her plan in her tone but hadn’t wanted to say it out loud for fear that it’d sound too drastic.
“Wait. Do you mean kill them?!” Ravenna asked, shocked.
Ya that sounded pretty drastic…“It’s not as if I want to. But we’d have to find a way to make them quit what they’re doing.” Rosalie said hastily.
“Ya! By killing them!” Ravenna re-iterated. “Are you out of your mind? Wait, I already know the answer. Yes.”
Rosalie waved the whole thing off with a gesture. “Look it doesn’t matter anyway. From what I’ve read true necromancers are very rare, so I’m pretty sure we don’t have one here.” Rosalie explained, dismissing the issue.
“Oh I think it’d matter to them. And what do you mean you’re “pretty sure”? I think we need a little more here than “pretty sure” Rosalie!” Ravenna responded angrily, her voice hushed as she realized they were in a public place.
“Ok…I’m really pretty sure?” Rosalie ventured feeling only a tad uneasy.
Ravenna threw her hands up in disbelief. “Dude!”
“What?!” Rosalie shrugged.
“I’m not getting chomped on again because you don’t know what you’re doing!” Ravenna pointed empathically to the wound on her shoulder.
“Hey I don’t see you doing any better here!” Rosalie countered.
Ravenna paused. Silent. Thinking. “Good point.” She finally muttered. “Ok, so why don’t you think we have a necromancer on our hands?” Best to plow ahead instead of worrying about things beyond their control.
“Well, for one, it’s too sloppy. I mean a necromancer would have been much too careful to leave a trail like this.” Rosalie answered matter-of-factly, as if this were common knowledge.
Ravenna gaped at her. “Trail? What trail? I don’t see any trail! And why would they be so careful? I mean who else besides us would be crazy enough to look for them?”
“That’s ‘cause you’re not looking. And have ever heard of the Witch Hunt? Come on, Ravenna.” Rosalie shook her head as if she were a teacher and Ravenna a student who had forgotten to do their homework.
“The Witch Hunt hunted for exactly that, Rosalie, witches.” Was Ravenna’s rebuttal.
Rosalie continued, unaffected by Ravenna’s doubt. “Ya, and they burned anyone who was remotely suspected of witchcraft, and you’ve got to admit this stuff is pretty witchcrafty. I mean it’s not your normal apple pie flavor of human that can raise the dead Ravenna.”
“Harrumph. Well maybe it’s a new necromancer and they just haven’t learned to control their…whatever it is.” Ravenna suggested, pouting slightly; she resisted the urge to cross her arms over her chest.
“I thought about that, and I just don’t think it’s that likely. Like I said, these people are born with this, this “ability.” It’s something they learn to control early on or they end up like the undead pied piper, or worse in an institution. From what I’ve read, it’s not very pretty. Besides, whoever it is sent that one after you, and that takes control.” Rosalie finished her speak by raising an eyebrow, daring Ravenna to argue with her logic.
“How do you know they sent it after me?” Ravenna asked skeptically. She really didn’t like the idea that she had been specially targeted by some crazy asshole and his undead buddies.
“Well, it sure as hell didn’t try to tear me up, and it didn’t go after you until you were alone, so I’d say it’s fairly safe to assume it’s you he wants.” Rosalie pointed out.
Ravenna sighed, Rosalie had a decent point. “Alright. What is it then? And what do we do about it?”
“You really don’t listen do you?” Rosalie retorted with an exasperated shake of her head.
Now there’s the response Ravenna expected earlier. “I listen…sometimes.”
Rosalie just shook her head again and plowed on. “I think it’s a voodoo practitioner, which means that these zombies were created using a spell.”
“What kinda spell?” Ravenna’s eyes narrowed. She didn’t like that the word “spell” had just come out of her friend’s mouth. It sounded just a little bit to hokey for her tastes, especially if it was her life on the line.
“Puffer fish.” Rosalie answered, reading from her notes and nodding her head slightly.
“Puffer fish?” Ravenna asked, taken aback.
“Yes, puffer fish.” Rosalie answered, and then recited from the paper in front of her, alternating with brief explanations. ““To make a zombie, a voodoo practitioner makes a potion that consists of mainly the poison of the puffer fish that is given to the intended victim.” Which is actually one of the strongest nerve poisons known to man; it’s basically like an uber narcotic, the clinical drug norcuron has similar effects and is used during surgery. “This causes severe neurological damage, primarily affecting the left side of the brain.” The left side of the brain, you know, controls speech, memory and motor skills. “The victim suddenly becomes lethargic, and then slowly seems to die. The victim is taken to the hospital, then perhaps to the morgue and finally is buried. Then, at the voodoo practitioner’s leisure does he come to retrieve the victim, now become a slave, as a commodity.” In fact, at one time it was said that most of the slaves who worked in the sugar cane plantations of Haiti were zombies, cool eh?”
Ravenna may have zoned out once or twice during Rosalie’s fun science facts moment, and was engrossed in pulling the lint off of her sweater. “Ya… if you’re a nerd.”
“Jerk.” Rosalie scoffed. She set her notes down on the table and took another swig of her drink. She sat there silently until Ravenna finally realized she’d said all she’d planned to say.
Ravenna looked up after a few moments silence. “Ok so we now know how zombies are made. Do we at least know how to un-make them?” She asked hoping against hope that was the case.
“Well like I said, the zombies are made using a spell, which as I just explained utilizes the puffer fish potion, and luckily for us this spell can indeed be broken.” Rosalie felt a chill down her spine as she finished talking and turned towards the bar. The creep was watching them again. She gave him another warning glare, and fortunately enough Ravenna seemed to excited to notice the exchange.
“Well alright! Now we’re getting somewhere! How can we break the spell?” Ravenna grinned, eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas.
Rosalie turned back to her friend and drummed her fingers across the beaten wooden table top a few times before answering. “Well there’s a lot of lore on zombies, but I think nailing them to their grave beds should work. It seems to be the common theme throughout most of the lore and is linked specifically to voodoo.”
Ravenna nodded, accepting this method with surprising ease. It was just great to finally have a working strategy. “Ok… how we gonna nail them to their grave beds?”
“I was thinking a wooden stake through the heart and into the ground would do.” Rosalie shrugged.
“I thought we weren’t dealing with vampires.” Ravenna said smugly.
Rosalie gave her a withering look. “We’re not. But I figure this is our best bet.”
“Sounds to me we got ourselves a god damn plan! High five!” Rosalie bumped knuckles with Ravenna, who wore a triumphant smile.
“So… how we gonna do this?”
A bottle still in her hand, Ravenna woke slumped up against the wall. She could see Rosalie at the table asleep head on her laptop. She stumbled to her feet, leaving a nest of empty bottles, peeled wrappers, and pillows behind her and went over to the table and shook Rosalie’s shoulder.
“Dude, wake up.”
“Hmmm…w-what?” Rosalie lifted her head lazily and looked around the room before settling her eyes on Ravenna. She rubbed her eyes and said: “What’s going on? How long have you been up?”
“Just a few minutes, were you up all night?” Ravenna asked in response, pointing to the laptop.
“What? Oh, ya, I was doing some research online.” Rosalie answered tiredly, then perked as she remembered something. “ Ah man, you gotta hear this.” She booted her computer back up since it seemed to have gone to sleep sometime after she had, and opened up one of the many browser tabs she had on the go, explaining and retracing her path to discovery. “See, I was looking at the police reports for the last few months…”
“Police reports?” Ravenna interjected. “How’d you get your hands on those?”
Rosalie smile smugly and gave a shrug. “That’s for me to know and you—”
“Ya ya, get on with it.” Ravenna cut in with a dismissive wave of her hand.
Rosalie continued to smirk but obliged; she was eager to share her findings. “Alright, so look at this…” She turned the laptop to face Ravenna and pointed at the screen. “You see this? Four people have gone missing in the last three months. So far the police haven’t found a connection; they just think its people getting lost in the woods. But dude, I think something’s going on here.”
“You know, you keep saying that…” Ravenna gave her friend a sidelong glance as if Rosalie had got some infectious disease and she was afraid of catching it too.
“Because there is! That guy didn’t come after us for nothing, there’s a reason. He knows we’re on to him! Now, you say he bit you right?” Rosalie insisted passionately.
“Ya, son of a bitch nearly took my damn shoulder off.” Ravenna affirmed, rubbing the afflicted area.
“Well then take a look at this…” Rosalie opened a new page and once again turned the laptop towards Ravenna.
Ravenna glanced at the page then stopped and looked at Rosalie incredulously. “Zombies?! Are you serious?! Rosalie, what is wrong with you?!” She demanded.
“What?! Nothing! Nothing is wrong with me.” Rosalie scoffed defensively. “Now just hear me out. Four people go missing—no trace. Then two nights ago a guy gets mauled and eaten three doors down from us, and then you get attacked and bitten by some random guy last night—a guy that just happened to be in the area when someone was mauled. And you’re telling me that’s normal, that nothing is going on?!”
Ravenna scrunched her nose against the logic of her friends argument. She did not like someone professing there to be zombies in town to make so much sense about anything. “Alright, say the missing people and the guy in the motel room are connected… big deal. If anything, there’s a psycho killer on the loose, which means we should get the hell outta here. But zombies? ARE YOU CRAZY?!”
“Maybe I am, but then again, maybe I'm not.” Rosalie replied stubbornly; she crossed her arms and gazed intently into Ravenna’s eyes, “But if I’m not, then we are in some deep shit man, so we need to sit here and figure—it—out.” She said, not a quiver of doubt in her voice.“Now look, let’s just stay here one more night, I mean the cops haven’t said we can leave yet anyway, and if nothing happens then we’ll go. Ok?” She added, trying to sound reasonable.
“Fine.” Ravenna said in defeat, shaking her head. “At least help me move this dresser; I need to hit the liquor store.”
Rosalie grinned triumphantly. “Done.”
Twenty minutes later Ravenna returned with another two six-packs—one of coolers and one of beer—to find Rosalie hunched over her computer rapidly taking notes. “What’re ya doing now?” She queried setting her freshly acquired loot on the table.
“I’m taking notes. What does it look like?” Rosalie rejoined impatiently.
“You know I thought this trip was supposed to be a vacation, you know a break from school.” Ravenna said with a shake of her head as she went to stash her beer in the mini fridge.
“You’re taking notes.” Ravenna retorted.
“Ya…” Rosalie scoffed. “But they’re not about school.”
Ravenna just shook her head and cracked open one of the coolers.
“And what exactly are you planning to do with those?” Rosalie gestured to the rather substantial quantity of alcohol Ravenna had returned with. “Drown yourself?”
“Drink ‘em. What else?”
“Two six-packs? You're gonna drink two six-packs? Right now? Are you trying to kill yourself?” Rosalie inquired dryly as she tried to mask her deeper concern.
“What? No.” Ravenna said defensively. “One for now, one for later.” She went on to explain.
“Later?” Rosalie raised a brow in question. “I thought you were so excited to leave.” She added carefully.
“Oh I am. But in case that guy shows up, I don’t wanna be trapped in a room without booze.” Ravenna replied matter-of-factly.
Ravenna grabbed a glass from the top of the mini-fridge then sat down next to Rosalie and poured her cooler into the glass; if they were forced to stay there she might as well take in the little comforts. Besides, drinking out of a glass always seemed more sophisticated to her, even if it was at nine in the morning. Rosalie watched as Ravenna filled her glass with the pale pink liquid.
“A little early to start isn’t it?” She said gesturing to the glass, a skeptical brow raised.
“You know what they say, ‘it’s five o’clock somewhere.’” Ravenna replied innocently as she poured the last of the can’s content into her glass. She gently stirred it with a finger three times then slammed half of it back.
“Hey slow down man. We still have a long day ahead of us.” Rosalie cautioned. She had her hands full enough without having a drunken Ravenna to deal with as well.
“You slow down.”
“Whatever.” Rosalie said dismissing Ravenna and returning her gaze to her laptop. She’d tried, and there only so much one person could do.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, Rosalie continuing to scribble down notes, Ravenna continuing to drink. After ten minutes though, Ravenna’s curiosity, and well, boredom, got the best of her. “So… what ya got there?” She ventured.
“Here?” Rosalie pointed to the computer screen. “You mean my notes?”
“Ya, your… notes.” Ravenna said with a roll of her eyes.
“Just some stuff that might come in handy later.” Rosalie answered with a shrug.
“Ya… whatever that means.”
“It means drink your drink and leave me alone.”
“Fine then… grouch.”
“I heard that.”
Ravenna got up and shuffled to the bed, threw herself down and flicked on the TV. She flipped through the channels, sipping her drink every so often until she found something she liked. Rosalie ignored the noise in the other room and continued taking notes. She was soon absorbed in her work, reading page after page, quickly jotting down anything interesting or useful. But around one o’clock she found her eyelids getting heavy and soon could barely keep them open. She got up and stumbled to the couch, her bed still being propped up against the window, and was asleep before she hit the cushions.
Ravenna continued drinking and watching TV long after Rosalie had fallen asleep. She wasn’t paying much attention to the show though; she was far too wrapped up in her own thoughts. She thought over what Rosalie had been saying the last twenty-four hours and the more she thought about it the more sense it seemed to make. Something was definitely happening; she couldn’t deny that, but zombies? She couldn’t even believe she had considered it. But deep down she couldn’t escape the feeling that maybe Rosalie was right. After all, Rosalie usually kept a pretty cool head about things and wasn’t one to jump to conclusions, she would have put a lot of thought into something like this. But still, Ravenna had her doubts. She looked down at her drink, pondering the fizzy liquid as she swirled it in her glass – she’d poured herself another after Rosalie had dozed off. She took a drink, leaned back against the headboard and let out a sigh. They’d just have to wait and see.
* * * *
It was dark when Rosalie woke up. She rolled over and checked her watch. Eight O’clock. She’d slept a solid seven hours. Well she’d needed it; she hadn’t really slept the night before what with all the excitement. She sat up, stretched and went to make sure Ravenna hadn’t drunk herself into a coma. And there Ravenna was, glass in hand leaning against the headboard, looking like she hadn’t moved an inch since Rosalie had fallen asleep. Rosalie sat down on the edge of the bed, looking at the bedside table, which now held the plastic skeletons of two six-packs where the lamp had once lived.
“That still the first sixer?” Rosalie sounded like she seriously doubted it.
“Really?” The surprise in Rosalie’s voice said more than her words.
“Don’t sound so surprised. I told you I was saving the other. And contrary to popular belief, I am not a raging alcoholic.” Ravenna retorted acerbically.
“Ya…” Rosalie trailed off not sure how she should counter that; best to leave it be. “So, what you been doing all day then?”
“Well that’s very explicit.” An edge of frustration crept into Rosalie’s voice. “Would you mind enlightening me?”
“About what you said.” Ravenna answered dryly.
“Oh really? And what have you decided?”
Ravenna sighed, shrugged her shoulders and went on. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but maybe your right. I think that maybe, maybe, something is going on here.”
“Well how about that, who would have ever that maybe I was right?” Rosalie asked theatrically, a look of shock on her face as she gestured to the whole room and then herself.
“Don’t be coy with me Rosalie. Look, I’m not saying I believe you one hundred percent about this whole zombie deal, in fact I’m pretty sure that whole bit is just a product of you reading waaaay too many horror novels—”
“Look who’s talking…” Rosalie mumbled under her breath.
Ravenna ignored the comment. It was true she liked to read horror novels as well, a habit she had picked up from Rosalie who had an extensive personal library she was willing to let other use. But Rosalie was the horror queen. Moving on… “I’m just saying that I agree that there’s some sick freak out there that needs to be stopped.”
“And you think we’re just the people to stop him?” Rosalie asked dubiously.
“Well I’m not saying that we should go all Spider-man and deal out some vigilante justice, but according to you, the cops don’t have a clue and we can’t just go barging in there with some zombie story. They’ll never buy it, and all it will get us is a rubber room and matching jackets. So maybe we could just like hang around and check things out. Then if we find any solid evidence we could just hand it over to the police.” Ravenna suggested with a shrug of her shoulder’s, like she didn’t really care who was living or dying out there or why. It didn’t fool Rosalie for a second.
“I don’t know about the police, but its sounds like a plan to me.” Rosalie said with a slight nod of her head.
Rosalie and Ravenna bumped knuckles and then stared at each other in silence for a moment. Unspoken thoughts slid behind their eyes, they would see this through to the end like everything else: together. Rosalie was the first to look away.
“Since we’re sticking around now, I’m gonna go get my laptop, there’s a few more things I wanted to check out.” Rosalie walked back to the table, picked up her laptop, and fished through a few more sites. After she had everything she wanted she turned the computer off and started sorting out her papers.
“What’re ya doing now?” Ravenna asked from over Rosalie’s shoulder—at some point she had gotten up and made her way slowly over to the table
“I’m organizing, from most likely and relevant to probably way out in left field.” Rosalie explained as she continued shuffling her papers.
“Dude, you're such a nerd.”
“Ah shut up and finish your drink.”
Ten O’clock rolled around with no excitement. Ravenna glanced at the clock then at Rosalie, who was hunched over studying the crime scene photos she had printed off—she’d had to go and get her printer from the car—and their victims. Who brings a printer on vacation? Ravenna mused to herself with a shake of her head.
Rosalie looked up, a less than patient look on her face. “Look, I know you’re impatient but I’m afraid these things take time. Just because you’ve finally decided to play along doesn’t mean the monsters are just gonna jump out and go ‘BOO!’”
“I never said they would.” Ravenna replied flatly.
Rosalie just kept her eyes on Ravenna, the expression on her face unchanging.
“What? I didn’t.” Ravenna said, this time more defensively.
“Could you at least be useful and mark off the murder locations on this map?” Rosalie said tiredly. She rummaged through the papers on her lap, pulling out a large detailed map.
“Sure can.” Ravenna let out a low whistle as she unfolded the exceptionally sized paper. “What’d ya do? Go out and draw this yourself? Where’d you find this billboard?” She held the map out unfolded to its full length; it was nearly as wide as her outstretched arms. She honestly had no idea where or how Rosalie had managed to find it in the last two days. Maybe she went and got it while I was at the liquor store..?
Rosalie rolled her eyes but didn’t answer, instead she returned to her scrutinizing. Ravenna waited for an answer for about three seconds and then realized there was no point. Rosalie was in one of her frustratingly cryptic moods which mean there was no getting anything out of her until she chose to reveal it. Ravenna sighed and went to find a workable surface big enough for the map. It ended up being the floor. She laid out the other sheets of paper Rosalie had given her containing the crime scene locations then set herself to work.
For several hours the two continued to work in silence, or mostly silence, Ravenna’s complaints about the obscurity of the locations breaking through now and again.
Ravenna woke to sunshine on her face. The curtains were open and Rosalie was nowhere to be seen. So she hopped out of bed, quickly dressed, and went in search of her friend; she figured she was either downstairs pouting in the car, or if she was lucky had gone to get them some food. But when she opened the motel room door it was to find the parking lot filled with cop cars and an ambulance. And there was Rosalie leaning against her Charger, aviator sunglasses on, talking to a police officer. The officer in question was male, blonde, about five-ten, and according to his outfit, a member of the RCMP.
Besides her sunglasses, Rosalie wore what Ravenna considered her usual “uniform,” which consisted of more tight black pants—possibly the same ones from yesterday—a black leather belt and a silver skull-and-crossbones belt buckle—Ravenna thought the buckle was a bit hokey and gothic, but there was no keeping Rosalie from wearing it—her black combat boots, and one of her many interchangeable slightly revealing tees, today’s being a fire-red vee-neck. To top it off she was also wearing her beat up leather jacket. The ensemble made her look…uncooperative; which summed her up pretty good actually. Ravenna was similarly attired in her own sort of “uniform,” or standard outfit. She wore black flats, tight blue jeans that made her ass look way good, a navy tank top, and a tight black zip up hoodie. She’d left her coat in the room though since it had seemed like it was going to be a beautiful day.
Ravenna decided it was time to find out what was going on; she picked her way down the motel stairs which were crowded with official personal coming and going, and then started for Rosalie. As she made her way across the black top she began to pick up Rosalie and the officer’s conversation.
“So you say you heard a noise?” The officer said dubiously.
“It was a scraping noise,” Rosalie answered icily, “and it was followed by somebody screaming.”
The officer gave a limp nod. “And then what did you do?”
“I woke my friend up.”
“And she heard the scream as well?”
Rosalie replied with barely restrained rage in her voice. “Ya, we heard it again, right after she woke up.”
“Mhmm,” The officer continued, unaware of his witness’s growing frustration. “And approximately at what time was this?”
“It was around three o’clock.” She said bluntly.
“Three o’clock. Alrighty, was there anything else you remembered ma’am?” His voice was good ol’ small townness in audible form.
“Actually yes,” She said curtly. “I—I mean we—saw someone.”
“You saw someone?” He frowned in confusion, like something just didn’t add up for him.
“In the parking lot, after we heard the scream.” She clarified, the impatience in her voice growing.
He scribbled something down in the notebook he held in his hand. The first time he had bothered doing so since he’d ask to speak with her. “I see… and what did they look like?”
“He was tall, at least six feet; he was wearing dark pants and a dark shirt and he had a trench coat on.”
It was Rosalie’s turn to look vaguely befuddled. “Well, he was just standing there, staring at the motel… it was really eerie. And he just sort of appeared after the thumping noise, but was gone after we heard the scream.”
“’Kay. Well I think that’s everything for now. Stick around alright? We might need you to verify some details. Here’s my card, just in case you remember anything else.” The officer said easily, as if this sort of thing happened all the time in Deadman’s Flats. He handed Rosalie a small plain rectangular card; the name on it read Officer Pennington.
“Of course, no problem Officer Pennington.” Rosalie responded, pocketing the card. She scowled at him as soon as he turned to walk away. She’d never been a fan of police. Especially incompetent police. Ravenna reached Rosalie just as the officer was leaving.
“What’s going on?” Ravenna asked gesturing with a slight nod towards the retreating officer.
“Someone was killed last night.” Rosalie answered, her voice hollow.
“Ya, apparently he was ripped apart as if he was attacked by an animal or something… there are pieces of him actually missing…” Rosalie stared off into the distance as she spoke, aloof and unreachable.
“Oh my god!” Ravenna raised a hand to her mouth in shock as she attempted to process such violence.
Rosalie looked down and kicked at a small rock. “Ya…” She sighed. “But the thing that’s really got police baffled is that he was still in his motel room when it happened. How does an animal get inside a motel room, kill someone, then let itself out, and politely shut the door behind it?” She finished with an angry scoff.
“Wait, it happened…here?!” Ravenna’s voice quavered only a little as she pointed at the ground for emphasis.
“Ya… like three rooms down from us.” Rosalie replied pensively, gaze still trained off at middle-space. Then she turned to Ravenna, who could tell by her knitted eyebrows that beneath her sunglasses Rosalie was scowling at her. “I told you something was going on!” Rosalie smacked Ravenna’s arm, who merely stood staring at her, jaw agape.
“That’s fucking scary! What’d the cops say?” Ravenna said as she absently rubbed her arm where it had been struck. She was trying hard to ignore the thought that whoever had been killed had only been mere feet from them and it might have been only mere chance that it was not them who’d died.
“Well, they don’t really have much to go on. We’re supposed to stick around though, in case they need to talk to us.” Rosalie answered with a shrug.
A noise sounded from above. Rosalie and Ravenna both turned around to see the stretcher as it was pulled down the stairs and up to the ambulance. Ravenna gulped.
“Hey maybe we should get outta here, eh? Let’s hit the bar or something, I’m not really in the mood for breakfast.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.” Rosalie replied absently, her eyes trained on the stretcher.
* * *
“Alright Rosy, it’s time to turn that frown upside down.” Ravenna announced as she stumbled back to their booth, two shot glasses in hand.
“Don’t call me that. And I’m fine Ravenna, seriously. I’m just a little tired; I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night with everything that happened.” Rosalie insisted for what seemed like the hundredth time.
“Liar! You’re so not fine. Besides, a shot will be good for you. And as your psychologist I really must insist.” She said sliding the shot glass in front of Rosalie.
They both slammed back their drink and made a face.
“Woo… what was that?” Rosalie asked as she dropped her glass back down on the table.
“I’m not quite sure,” Ravenna shrugged, “I think they’re called Snake Bites.”
Rosalie cocked a quizzical brow. “What’s in them?”
“Uh, JD and tequila I think.” Ravenna laughed.
“Dude you really are an alcoholic.” Rosalie scoffed.
Ravenna shrugged again. “I am who I am.”
“So what now? Think we should go back to the motel?” Rosalie suggested; she hoped against hope that her friend was tiring of the drinking and would be ready for bed soon. The bar was small, full of locals, stains, and strange smells.
Ravenna looked taken aback. “What? So soon? No way man, I’m just getting started.”
“Dude, it’s like 12:30, you’ve been drinking for like twelve hours straight. I think it’s time to go.” Rosalie said, part weary part exasperated.
“Nah, you go. I’ll catch up.” Ravenna replied as she collected the shot glasses and got ready to make her way back to the bar to order another round for herself.
“Oh no you won’t. You’ll end up in a tree again, missing half your clothes, and I am so not in a climbing mood. Come on ya alchy.” Rosalie grabbed Ravenna by the arm and began towing her out of the bar.
“Ok, ok, ok. Let go! I can walk by myself, thank you very much.” Ravenna slurred, brushing herself off.
“No, you can’t. You’re drunk.”
“No, I’m adorable.” Ravenna could practically hear Rosalie’s eyes as they rolled in their sockets.
Together they left the bar and stepped into the night air. Rosalie immediately started walking briskly back to the motel—they’d left her Charger there, what with the ambulance and all the cop cars clogging up the place it had seemed like too much trouble trying take it out especially after learning the bar was just down the block— leaving Ravenna trailing behind.
“Dude, hurry up.” Rosalie called impatiently from up ahead.
“No, you hurry up!” Ravenna retorted.
“I’m trying to! But your drunk ass is taking forever!”
“You take forever!”
“Ya, ya.” Rosalie said with a dismissive wave. “Come on. I’d like to make it to the motel before check out.”
Ravenna stopped stumbling and straightened herself before addressing Rosalie, who had also stopped and had turned to look at her. There was a about a block of street between them.
“Well if you’re in such a hurry to get back, then just go! I don’t need you to babysit me!”
“You know what? Fine, I’m going, but don’t blame me when you wake up in a ditch.” Rosalie responded, giving up. She made another dismissive gesture then turned around and kept walking back to the motel.
Meanwhile, Ravenna, who was still in the middle of the street, had spotted something shiny in the gutter and gone over to examine it. She rummaged around looking for it for at least two minutes before she found what it was—a metal water bottle. She was turning the bottle over in her hands when she was distracted by the sound of a twig snapping behind her. She turned to find the man from the parking lot not three inches from her face. Before she could so much as tell him to fuck off he reached out and snatched her by the upper arms and bit her hard on the shoulder. She screamed, and using the metal bottle she still clutched in her hands, she smashed it over the man's head, cracking it open. Surprised at the damage she momentarily stared at the crack in the metal before hitting the man over the head several more times. As soon as he let go of her Ravenna darted after Rosalie, screaming, and eventually passed her. Rosalie, who had heard the screaming, turned to find Ravenna bearing down on her.
“What’s going on?” She asked, confused.
“No time. Run!” Ravenna yelled as she flew by.
“What d’ya mean ‘run’?” Rosalie demanded bemusedly as she watched Ravenna rush away from her, suddenly eager to be back at the motel. She then turned around to see the ominous man running doggedly toward her. “Sh-i-i-i-t!!”
Rosalie raced after Ravenna and soon they were both back in their motel room locking the door behind them. They leaned against the door, catching their breaths.
“We need to barricade the door. Ravenna, get the dresser.” Rosalie said, taking charge.
“What about the window?” Ravenna asked as she slowly pushed the dresser into place.
Rosalie ran a hand through her hair as she thought about it. “We’ll just have to flip one the beds up against it.” She said at last.
“Yours is closest…”
Before Rosalie could protest Ravenna flipped the mattress on Rosalie’s bed and shoved it over to the window, while Rosalie awkwardly peered over the dresser through the peep-hole. The man had already reached the parking lot.
“I’m coming! This thing isn’t light ya know!” Ravenna grunted as she gave one last heave and moved the bed into place.
Rosalie stepped over to help her straighten it out and make sure it wasn’t going anywhere. Just as they finished propping up the bed they heard wild banging at the door. For fifteen minutes they stood there barely breathing until finally the noise stopped. Rosalie peeked around the bed and out the window.
“He’s gone.” She announced with a sigh of relief.
Ravenna let out a sigh of her own as she sat down on her bed. “Man, who was that guy?”
“I dunno, but whoever he is, he isn’t friendly.”
“Friendly?! He bit me! The fucker bit me! Oh my god, I’m gonna get rabies! I’m gonna die! Dude, I’ve been drinking, my blood’s gonna be thin and it’s not gonna clot and I’M GONNA DIE!!” Ravenna shouted, working herself up into a frenzy.
Rosalie smacked Ravenna across the back of the head. “Calm down you idiot! You don’t have rabies and you aren’t gonna die! Now we just gotta calm down and figure this out.” She said decisively before taking a few deep breaths as if to lead by example.
Ravenna tried it. “Calm down. Calm….down.” She said, coaching herself through it. “Ok. I’m calm. Now…Where’s the booze?”
Rosalie did her very best not to roll her eyes and sigh. She managed, but barely. “There isn’t any. You drank it all last night, remember?”
“What?! Oh my god! I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die. WE’RE GONNA DIE! Oh my god I’m gonna die in a room trapped without booze!” Ravenna flailed, her shouts turning quickly to whimpers.
Rosalie grabbed Ravenna by the shoulders and struggled to sit her down in the nearest chair. As soon as Rosalie moved away to get the first aid kit, Ravenna tried to stand up. Noticing Ravenna’s escape attempt, Rosalie returned and sat her back down. “Sit.” She ordered.
“But I can’t! I just got bit by some freaking psychopath! You can’t expect me to just sit here!” Ravenna countered, trying to stand again so she could express herself better with more flailing.
“Yes I can. Now hold still so I can bandage you up.” Rosalie replied firmly, shoving her friend back down into her seat.
“Oh ok.” Ravenna caved, grumbling her assent.
Rosalie cleaned the wound with antiseptic first—to Ravenna’s extreme delight—then quickly bandaged it up. After cleaning up the table, Rosalie put away the first aid kit, made a quick pit stop, and then headed back to where Ravenna sat mumbling to herself, clutching her shoulder. Rosalie handed Ravenna the remaining two drinks from the six-pack that she’d thrown into the mini-fridge. “Here, drink this.”
“OH! We’re saved! My dear sweet friends…” Ravenna walked to the corner of the room clutching her coolers, sat down, and happily began to drink.
“Well she’s useless…” Rosalie murmured to herself as she picked up her laptop and switched it on. She then settled herself in at the small table for what was surely to be a long, long night.
Rectitude & Retribution
Volume 1: Deadman’s Flats
This story follows Rosalie and Ravenna, two friends who have just finished university and are on their merry way to Vancouver to celebrate their triumphant achievement with sight-seeing and partying. Along the way they stop in the lovely mountain town of Deadman’s Flats, Alberta where they soon discover some strange goings on. The two quickly become involved in a supernatural caper neither of them ever dreamed of as they begin breaking and entering, battling zombies, and dive rolling out of moving vehicles. Join Rosalie and Ravenna on their adventure to learn more about them, their quirky personalities, and their haunted pasts.
That being said my first project on here will be to release an old project of mine that I am revamping and editing specifically for this purpose. It is a novella length story that was inspired by the television show Supernatural but contains only original characters and story lines. However, there will be many parallels, references, and similarities to the show.
My plan is to release a chapter a week as I work through the editing and updating process. I apologize in advance if I miss a week. I am a university student and I work too so things can get crazy.
A brief overview shall be posted by the end of the week, and the first chapter by next Thursday. (Though again, please be patient; I'm actually in the middle of moving right now.)
If you enjoy the story I hope that you'll let me know in the comments, it means a lot to be a writer and know that people do in fact enjoy your work and you're not just some crazy a** out there. If you don't like it, well... I'm sure you can use your imagination to guess what I'd have to say about that. However, if you have truly constructive criticism I'd love to hear that as well. Keep in mind, this is a work in progress. I am working towards becoming a published author so I am naturally going to stumble a bit at first. Regardless of whether you like what you read or not, thank you for taking the time to read it. It means a lot. If you do like it, feel free to recommend it to your friends.
Also, if this installment of these characters and their adventure receives enough followers I will be writing a second. So please, if you do like it let me know. I really can't stress that enough.
If you're into social media you can follow me on Twitter @lazarusinlove, or on Tumblr, again @lazarusinlove.
PS. These works contain course language and graphic descriptions of violence. Consider yourself warned.