by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Hugh woke to the sound of fireworks. Though the explosives were muffled inside his coffin it still startled him, bringing him from his dreams of young, nubile women with sweet blood into a world that was exploding around him. Briefly, before he came out of the fog of sleep, he was back in the war that nearly killed him. It was the nurse that was tending to his injuries that did the trick, deciding that he had lost too much blood to survive. And she said she thought he was too good looking to rot in the ground.
Climbing from his coffin, he saw that it was just dusk. Somewhere he smelled a bar-b-q and the scent of rotting flesh burning. This was probably his newest neighbors. He couldn’t imagine who else would be bar-b-quing but the zombies. Strange, he had thought they liked their brains raw.
Dusting the dirt and cobwebs from his face, Hugh went outside to check on the festivities. He waved to the Steins, who had ventured out of the house to watch the fireworks. It was a funny little hunchback by the name if Igor that was putting on the show, entertaining the young ghouls. One of the more attractive of the spirits floated over to talk to Hugh.
“Beautiful night, don’t you think,” she said, hovering in front of him so that he would have to walk through her if he didn’t stop to talk.
Hugh looked up at the sky, which was clouded over with dark clouds, the threat of a storm hanging over them. It was beautiful and Hugh said so, stepping to the right so he could go around her. He didn’t think it would be right to just walk through her, seemed rude. The ghoul floated to the side, blocking his escape.
“Why do you always avoid me Hugh?”
“I don’t avoid you,” Hugh lied, “I’m just in a hurry. I have dinner plans with some friends.”
“Would one of these friends be Nora?” Hugh could hear the jealousy in her voice.
“We’ve been through this,” Hugh sighed, “there is nothing between the two of us. You are a ghoul, I am a vampire. What kind of a life would we have together?”
“It would have been nice if you’d thought of that before you drank nearly all my blood and left me barely alive in the bushes. You couldn’t have just turned me? “
“I’m sorry,” Hugh said, wondering how many times they were going to have this conversation. She had been a young college student when he’d met her. He hadn’t intended to drink as much as he had and in all honesty he thought she’d be alright. Otherwise he wouldn’t have left her the way he did. Her spirit, having died as a result of paranormal interference, was unable to rest. To make matters worse, she’d developed a crush on him, a sort of a Stockholm syndrome for the undead.
“Well sorry isn’t going to make everything alright again, now is it,” she screeched at him, catching the attention of a wraith down the road, who answered her back with an ear splitting shriek that could wake the dead. Feeling the earth rumble, Hugh shook his head, wondering why holidays always had to be so chaotic. The ghoul looked towards the cemetery where corpses in various state of decomposition were digging their way out of the ground and squealed in delight. “Grandma,” she yelled, “look at you! You haven’t aged a bit!”
Taking the opportunity to slip past her, Hugh nodded again at Frank and his wife. This one had been around for only a few days and her skin wasn’t rotting as much as the last one. He thought that Frank seemed to have improved his process of reanimation and would have to make sure to compliment him on that later. Maybe in a few days, if she hadn’t lost any body parts.
Down the road he heard a commotion and chuckled to see that George Black had been overzealous with the lighting fluid and had caught his arm on fire. His wife was batting at him with a towel and his daughter Missy appeared mortified. It couldn’t be easy having a zombie for a father, especially when you were still alive. Hugh tried not to breathe in too deeply as he passed by. She was just the right age, where the blood hadn’t yet been spoiled by puberty. Hugh wasn’t one to drink from a child though and he was pretty sure George wouldn’t be happy about it either. No sense in getting the neighbors after you.
“Out of the way,” someone shouted . Hugh barely made it out of Charlie’s way before the Creeper came barreling through with a fire hose and dousing George with it, drenching his wife as well. Hugh noticed how her shirt, a patriotic red, white and blue with an American flag, clung to her and wondered if she wouldn’t be too opposed to sharing a little blood every now and then. They wouldn’t need to tell George about it.
“Have a nice dinner,” Charlie said, turning towards Hugh and waving, before turning his attention to a young were wolf that was drooling over George’s bar-b-que, a plate in her hand.
Igor set off another round of fireworks, which seemed to please the crowd of carcasses that had stumbled from the graveyard. The Ghoul and her grandmother both applauded and Hugh smiled, content to know that his sacrifice years ago had helped lead to this great day. It was a different world than it had been back then.
“Happy Fourth of July,” Hugh yelled, then ducked as some explosives nearly missed his head. God, he loved this neighborhood!
Copyright© 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar. All rights reserved.