Episode 1: The Great Zombie Bake-Off

In the forest area outside of the walled village of Halsburg, a young boy wandered alone. He carried a wicker basket filled almost to the brim with berries destined for a pie. His mother promised to bake one if he was the one who picked them. It wasn’t his favorite chore, but if it ended in pie, he was fine with it.

The afternoon sun was high above him. The sunlight trickled its way through the leafy canopy to the ground below, making the berries the boy sought harder to see. That didn’t stop him though. He strained his eyes, determined not to miss a single one. 

Judging by the weight of his basket, he had more than enough for one pie. His plan was to bring home an excess and pitch to his mum the idea that she should bake several pies to prevent the berries going to waste. It was brilliant, really. He patted himself on the metaphorical back for this scheme.

Pleased with himself, he picked a few more berries before he decided to call it quits. He hefted the basket in both hands and stared down at his bounty. His mouth salivated as he thought of all the pies this would yield. 

His thoughts were so focused on the sweet deliciousness to come that he didn’t hear the soft moaning coming from behind him. It wasn’t until he heard a twig snap nearby that he noticed anything was amiss. He immediately stopped in his tracks and listened. The entire forest seemed silent and still. Not a leaf stirred. Not a bird sang. The air didn’t even move.

This did not bode well. If he didn’t know better, he’d say that he was a character at the beginning of a cheesy fiction story who gets killed before the main character is introduced, instigating the progression of the plot. He couldn’t have that; he had many pies to look forward to.

The boy quickened his pace the best he could. Being barefoot made it difficult to walk as carefree as he’d like. He had a low threshold for pain, so stepping on the odd nettle was a painful risk he’d rather avoid if possible. 

Being a short, and pleasantly plump eight year old limited how fast his legs could move him. He could run, but he wasn’t about to risk carelessly tripping over a stupid branch, ensuring both the decimation of his pie prospects and his life. No, he had to be swift, but upright.

Snap! Another twig, this time much closer. And soft footsteps were added to the soundscape. From what the boy could tell, they belonged to a bipedal with a stocky build based on the interval of footfalls. This would have been good news to the untrained person, but not to the boy. Even though the pace was even, it was still quicker than his. Any second now, his pursuer would be upon him. He was too far from the village to yell for help. His only other option would be to hide. He wondered if he had enough time to do that.

Just as he was about to make the decision to hide, he felt the presence of someone standing behind him. He froze on the spot and slowly turned around to see who it was. He regretted this almost instantly. 

The dim light made the figure look more menacing than his imagination could ever hope to match. The man towered over the boy, staring down at him with his dead eyes. Dead was an accurate way to describe him. The man’s clothes were caked in dirt and tattered to the point of disintegrating if someone so much as touched them. His skin had rotted away in large patches, exposing desiccated sinew and bone. His face… What face? The skin hung loosely from the skull like a poorly attached napkin, clear and mottled with age.

The boy’s eyes widened with fear as the realization of what stood before him sunk in: an undead. He had only heard scary stories about the undead told by his father at bedtime, about how the evil Skeleton King had used them to terrorize the lands for a decade, and how they would gobble up naughty children who didn’t do their chores. He thought all the undead disappeared when the Skeleton King was killed, but here one stood, looking at him like dinner was ready.

The undead man moaned as he reached out his decaying arms toward the boy. Bending was a bit of a problem for him because it had been a while since he’d done it. His backbones popped and locked as he made a grab at the small child.

The boy knew he should run, but fear had paralyzed his feet. The only thing he could do was scream. 

He was a second away from being snatched up when suddenly another man appeared in a nearby tree. He looked very much alive. He was a light brown man wearing a green cloak wielding a flaming sword.

“Hey, fuck duck!” the very alive man said.  “Pick on someone your own size!” He cringed at how basic his first line was as he leaped from the tree branch. He made sure to land in the standard hero pose when he landed beside the undead creature. He gave a satisfied grunt when he nailed it. Both the boy and the undead marveled at him as he slowly stood up and brandished the sword. “You leave that kid alone!”

The undead groaned in response, emitting a foul stench from its mouth. 

“Get out of here, kid!”

The boy’s lips quivered as he felt the question leave them. “Who are you?”

The alive man straightened his posture and smirked. “I’m glad you asked.” He raised his sword into the air and said, “I am Creston Dex, leader of the Graveyard Fighters; a slayer of the Undead; a champion of justice.” He pointed the sword at the undead dramatically and said, “Fear not, little one. I will take care of this abomination. You just run on home now.” He shooed the boy away with his free hand.

“You don’t have to tell me twice!” The boy took his basket of berries and ran away.

The undead moaned sadly as his dinner vanished into the distance. He had worked hard to find that kid, and now he would have to settle for the dude with the hot, pointy thing. Not ideal, but he’d do.

Creston beckoned to the creature, daring it to make the first move. When it did, that would be the last thing it’d ever do again. With the aid of his hot, pointy thing, Creston made quick work of the creature, slicing and dicing with relish. Pieces of dead flesh and bone fell to the ground with a satisfying thud. He stood above the pile of body parts and smirked. The skull, having been separated from its body, bemoaned its current state, to which Creston responded with a firm stomp, crushing it into tiny pieces. He watched as the black magic contained within flew into the sky before bursting into a dust cloud. 

“Well, that’s sorted,” Creston said smugly as he put the flames out on his sword. “It was hardly a challenge at all.” 

It was true. That creature was weak compared to the ones he was used to fighting. That only confirmed what he already knew; the Skeleton King had returned, but only just. The undead would continue to grow in strength the longer he lived. This gave Creston something to look forward to.

Author: Cameron D. Blackwell

Writer Ordinare!

One thought on “Episode 1: The Great Zombie Bake-Off”

  1. I love how this story makes me feel like I’m on one path, following a certain character or event, and then have it subverted and be part of a much bigger picture. Cant wait to see what else is going to happen!

    Like

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