“Hey, what took so long?” Stew asks agitated.
You give him a hard stare. “I’m here now, aren’t I?”
“Yeah, yeah, look,” he waves his hands in the air. “This is a really messed up situation, so you can’t go blabbing about alright? I mean it, if word got out...” Stew swallows nervously.
You give him a skeptical glare. “I thought you said this was the flu?”
“Flu?” Stew shakes his head. “I don’t know. I mean, yeah, it could be, but I don’t know.” He cringes and looks away. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen the flu cause a person to do something like that...”
“What aren’t you telling me?”
Stew fidgets. “She tried to bite me.” He rubs his neck as if to make sure it was still there. “She came back from the club around four. She looked sick, you know, just like a ghost. I figured she must have over done it. You know how these girls like to party. So I take her hand to lead her to her room, but then out of nowhere she starts screaming and puking everywhere. I mean everywhere - the walls the ceiling, everywhere. The other girls were screaming and ducking behind the furniture.”
“The other room. I had to close it off.” Stew shakes his head again. “It’s surreal. She started shaking like she was having a seizure or something, and then she dropped to the ground and messed herself.”
“Was she epileptic?”
“Uh,” Stew scratches his head. “I don’t think so. If she was, no one told me. I didn’t know what else to do so I dragged her to the closest bedroom. I tried to clean her up. But before I could do anything, she attacked me, I mean full on attacked me. I threw her on the bed, forced the door closed, and called you. You’re a doctor, so you’ve seen stuff like this all the time, right?”
“I won’t know until I examine her.”
“Right,” Stew nods. “Well, this is where I left her.”
“And she’s still in the room?”
Stew points at a closed door. “I had to lock it because she was getting so violent. I couldn’t let her hurt one of the other girls.”
“And you’re sure she’s still inside?”
You pause for a moment. “It’s quiet.”
“She must have fallen asleep. Probably wore herself out.”
“Maybe.” You gesture for him to stop. “You should stay here. What’s her name?”
“Brandy, I’m a doctor, and I’m here to help you. I’m coming in now.”
You push open the door. A woman is lying belly down on the bed. Her clothes are torn to pieces and scattered on the floor. The sheets are ripped too. It smells like excrement and vomit. The walls and ceiling are covered with it.
“Brandy, can you hear me?” You take a step closer. “Brandy, I’m not going to hurt you. I just need to check your pulse.” You pull the plastic gloves from your pocket and put them on.
Her legs hang off the bed. You see the rash spreading from her inner thigh, something like boils, but you aren’t sure.
You place your fingers on her neck to check her pulse.
Nothing. You wait a moment. Still nothing.
You’re too late. “She’s dead,” you say with a heavy sigh.
“What do you mean, she’s dead?”
“There’s nothing we can do for her now.”
“Are you sure?” Stew asks from the doorway. “You barely touched her.”
“She doesn’t have a pulse.”
“What killed her?”
“I’m not sure.” You walk to the other side of the bed and look at her face. “The rash on her leg and mouth look like some kind of STD, but I’ve never seen anything like it. You said there was no sign of it last night?”
“The rash, none. She looked like she was gonna have a bad hangover in the morning, but no rash.”
“What was she doing last night?”
“I don’t know,” Stew shrugs, “clubbing with some of the other girls.”
“And the other girls, have they shown any symptoms?”
“You mean like vomiting and all that? No, no, they’re fine.”
“I’ll call them and you can see for yourself.” He pulls out his cell phone and dials.
You look closer at Brandy’s body. Blood drips from her eyes and ears. Her skin is thin and almost clear, as if strands of it were ready to fall off. Her tongue is black and dangles against a thin layer of foam at the corners of her mouth. “We may have to call the CDC.”
“The Center for Disease Control,” you say.
“No way,” he jumps back into the hallway. “You mean this is contagious?”
“I don’t know. We have to assume it is.”
“I spent all day with her, dude, you know, cleaning up her vomit and mess. Oh, oh man, I’m gonna die.” Stew falls back against the wall. “I’ve got whatever she has, don’t I? You’ve got to give me the antidote. Come on man, hurry up and get out of there.”
“Calm down,” you say, trying to be reassuring. “We don’t know what killed her yet. We just have to wait. Did you call the other girls?”
“Yeah, they’re on their way.”
“Good. I’ll call the CDC.”
“Yikes,” Stew exclaims.
“She moved. Her arm, it just moved.”
“It’s alright. That happens sometimes. Her central nervous system is still shooting signals up and down her body. It should stop soon.”
“Oh golly, there it is again. Her head, the eyelid opened. I-I-I think she’s looking at you...”
“You’re overreacting. Just take a deep breath,” you say. “We need to stay calm. We don’t want to start a panic.”
“Panic?” Stew cringes. “Speak for yourself. I’m terrified. Hey, hey,” Stew waves his arm toward you. “Does that nervous system thing make bodies stand up?”
“No,” you shake your head. “That’d be impossible.”
“Well, then how come she’s standing up?”
“What?” You turn.
The woman, Brandy, she stands upright. Her eyes are wide and awkwardly examine the room as if seeing it for the first time. Black ooze spills from the corners of her mouth. She takes an uneasy step forward.
“Impossible,” you gasp.
She takes another step forward. The skin around her inner thigh slides from the bone. She stumbles into the wall.
Is she mumbling something? You can barely understand her.
“Ihg wanhnt seesxs,” she says, taking another step forward. “Ihg wanhnt seesxs,” she says again louder.
You half glance at Stew. “Can you understand what she’s saying?”
“I don’t know dude. It sounds like she said she wants sex?”
“Seesxs.” She hurls her body at you, grabbing at your shirt and jacket. You fall backwards. She’s on top of you, pulling herself closer, tearing at the buttons of your shirt, the zipper of your pants. You try to escape, try to pull away, but her grip is too firm.
Blood drips from her eyes and nose. It runs down her face and breasts. Is she smiling?
She straddles your leg and rubs against it like a piston. Faster and faster.
She’s definitely smiling, humping your leg?
The black ooze bubbles and foams at the corners of her mouth. The rash looks like it’s spreading. Right before your eyes, it’s spreading.
You have to get away.
You’re close to the door. If only you could reach it.
She grinds your leg harder. It’s starting to hurt.
You look down. The flesh and muscle have fallen from her inner thigh. It’s just bone. She’s humping you with her bone...and she’s smiling.
You have to get away.
You roll on top of her and push yourself free. She tears at your jacket. You let your arms slide out. She falls into the desk. The jacket covers her face. You run to the hallway, slamming the door shut as you sprint through.
“Lock it,” you shout. “Lock it now.”
Stew fumbles with the keys. “Which one, which one. There.” He locks the door. You hear Brandy slam into it. “Seesxs!” She screams “Seesxs!”
You lean against the wall and slide down to the floor.
“What,” Stew struggles for breath, “happened to her?” He looks at you with shock and disgust. “She was like some kind of sex zombie.”
“I thought you had my back?” You groan between breaths
“Are you kidding? I wasn’t going in there.”
You look down at your pants. They’re covered in blood and little bits of flesh. “I don’t think this is the flu.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Stew nods tensely. “Definitely not the flu.”
“No one’s allowed to open that door until the CDC gets here.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice.”
“Oh my goodness,” a female voice gasps. “What happened?”
You look up. It’s Playmate of the Year Sara Stratton.
She kneels down next to you. “Are you alright?”
You give her a hard stare. “Were you with Brandy last night?”
“Why, did something happen to her?”
You frown. “Just answer the question.”
She looks at Stew.
“It’s alright,” he nods.
She looks back at you. “Only for a little bit. We had a few drinks at the club then I went home.”
“But she stayed?”
“Yeah, she was flirting with some guy.”
“But you had never met him before?”
“No. And neither had Brandy, but it’s so easy for her to meet new people, especially guys. She has that kind of personality, you know? She’s just really friendly. Now tell me what happened.”
“Your friend Brandy is sick and I need to know everything she’s done in the past 48 hours.”
“Sick? How sick? Is she going to be alright?”
“I won’t lie to you. I think she’s already dead.”
“Dead?” Sara gasps. “Oh my goodness. But I was with her last night, and she was fine.” Tears gather at the corners of Sara’s eyes. She glances at Stew. Her eyes get wide. “Stew, your ear.”
He wipes the inside of his ear with the tip of his finger. He stares at the blood on his fingertip. His ears are bleeding...
He looks at you, his eyes are wide with terror. “It’s spreading.”
Working at the Playboy Mansion is the best. I’m making so many new friends and the girls are so nice. I’m spending a lot of time with Brandy. She’s already had to go to the clinic three times this week. I hope she’s alright. We’re all worried.
I still haven’t told her how I feel. There are so many men interested in her. I just don’t know how I can compete. Maybe when I take her to the clinic tomorrow I’ll ask her out to dinner. She might need a shoulder to cry on...but who am I kidding. She’d never go for a guy like me.
Tiffany and Marissa say I should just go for it. I should probably listen to them, but being around all these women is turning me into a girl. I need some man time.
Too bad all my buddies only want to stare at the girls. Maybe I should give Michael a call. I know he’d give me some good advice, if he’s willing to pull his head out of a medical book once in awhile.
I don’t mean to seem dreary. I’ve got a good feeling about tomorrow. I just have to keep telling myself everything is going to be alright. Fake it till you make it, right?
Well, until tomorrow...
“I’m gonna die,” Stew whines. “I knew I was gonna die. I told you, didn’t I?”
“Calm down and stop pacing,” you say firmly. “You need to keep your heart rate down.”
“Die?” Sara glares at you. “What does he mean he’s gonna die?”
“Brandy had a virus or,” Stew keeps pacing. “Or, or something, some kind of disease or something, and now I have it too. And I’m gonna die. Hell’s bells, I need to pray.” He drops to his knees, clinches his hands together, and looks up to heaven.
“You need to relax and breathe,” you warn again. “The faster your heart beats the quicker it’ll spread through your body.”
“What do you mean spread?” Sara demands. “What’ll spread? Tell me what’s going on.”
“I’m not sure. All I know is that your friend Brandy is dead and whatever killed her is working on killing Stew.”
“You mean it’s contagious?”
“It looks that way.” You turn to face Stew. “We need to quarantine you.”
“Can’t I just sit here and pray.”
“No. You’ll be safer in a locked room.”
“She touched you just as much as she touched me. You practically made it to second base.”
“You’re right.” You look down at the blood and bits of flesh caked on your pants.
Sara follows your gaze. “You mean all that...that blood belongs to Brandy?”
“Yes,” you sigh. “All three of us might be infected, just like anyone who was with her last night. Where are the rest of the women?”
“They’re in the middle of a photo shoot,” Sara says. “They said they’d be here as soon as they could.”
“That may not be soon enough.” You grimace. “We need to quarantine them, as soon as possible. Symptoms start to manifest within 12 hours.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means we may already be too late.”
“You called the CDC, didn’t you?” Stew groans. “Can’t they fix everything?”
“They can block off the mansion, but as far as the sickness goes, they know about as much as we do. The best thing we can do right now is isolate the people who we know had contact with Brandy within the last 12 hours.”
“But,” Stew scratches his head. “That’s like a quarter of the girls here at the mansion.”
“That’s not good,” you groan. “That’s really not good.”
“Wait. Quiet you guys.” Sara closes her eyes. “Can you hear that?”
“I don’t know. It sounds like scratching. I think it’s coming from behind that door?”
“No, don’t open it.”
“Why? What’s in there?”
“Trust me. It’s better if it stays closed.”
“Yeah, but the scratching’s getting louder.” Sara steps closer to the door and kneels. “It’s coming from down here. Listen.”
“No,” you growl, grabbing her by the waist, yanking her back. The two of you fall against the opposite wall.
“Ouch,” Sara groans. “What was that for?” She rubs her elbow.
“You just have to trust me.”
“Hey,” Stew points at the door. “Look.”
You and Sara stare at the door. There, by the carpet, a little finger works its way out from under the door. It pulls and claws into the carpet until the fingernail snaps off and a voice yowls.
The finger starts at it again, pulling and clawing. A whisper slithers out from under the door, “seesxs. Plaaeses seesxs.”
The voice gets louder. “seesxs. plaaeses seesxs.”
And then a BANG at the door, and another BANG, and another BANG.
Sara grabs your hand. “What is that?”
“But I thought you said she was dead?”
“I think she is.”
BANG, BANG, another BANG. The door splinters.
“What do we do?” Stew whimpers. “She’s trying to break out?”
Another BANG. The door cracks.
You shake your head. “I don’t know.”
“Do you have anything to barricade it?”
“I-I-I don’t know,” Stew stutters.
BANG. BANG. Another BANG.
“Christ on a bike!” Stew sobs. “What do we do?”
BANG. BANG. BANG.
The center of the door cracks apart. The wood splinters and falls to the floor. An arm emerges...and shoulder. It reaches out for you.
More of the door splinters free. Brandy tries to force her head through, but the wood tears at her face. Her cheek rips open. You see her teeth and black tongue through the jagged hole.
She pushes harder. It nearly takes her jaw off, but her head plunges through.
“Sseesxs,” she says, staring at you. Her arm reaches for you, clawing at the air. Her big breasts catch on the fractured wood.
She riles against the door. Up and down. The hinges shake. Her fleshy breasts rip and tear as the sharp edges of wood cut into them like a saw. Blood and black goo cover the door and carpet. She’s halfway through.
You stand, still clenching Sara’s hand. “Run,” you growl.
“Where?” Stew moans.
“The photo shoot,” you say. “Maybe we can get to the other women in time.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice.” Stew pushes past the two of you, and sprints down the hall, running as fast as he can.
You look at Sara. “Come on.”
You sprint down the hallway, turning the corner as the door splits and collapses. You hear Brandy scream incoherently, “Sseesxs.”
You run faster, tugging Sara as you go. You try to keep up with Stew. Down some stairs, through another hall, into a big room...you turn left, down another corridor, and finally stop in a smaller room where Stew is waiting.
Stew slams the door closed behind you. He falls against the wall exhausted. You and Sara hunch over, trying to catch your breath.
“Wow,” Stew takes a breath. “She really has the hots for you.”
“Yeah,” you take a breath. “I guess I have a way with undead, sex-starved, playboy bunnies.” You take another breath. “So where are we?”
“The photo shoot.”
“No one’s here.”
“That’s not my fault.”
Sarah tugs at your arm. She tilts her head toward Stew. “Look.”
“I know,” you say with a scowl.
“What?” Stew asks. “Why are you guys staring at me like that?”
“Your tongue,” Sara swallows nervously. “It’s black.”
Stew’s eyes go wide. “What?” He sticks his tongue out trying to get a glimpse of it. “Are you sure?”
“There’s still time,” you try to reassure him. “The other symptoms haven’t manifested yet.” You sigh. “Look, we have a plan. We quarantine anyone who had contact with Brandy so the virus, or whatever it is, doesn’t spread. Hopefully that will give the CDC enough time to get us the cure. You have to trust me. This plan is the best chance we have for surviving. Now,” you look over at Sara. “Where are the other women?”
She stares at the door. Her hands tremble with fear and adrenaline.
“Sara,” you say. “Sara snap out of it. Where are the other women?”
She blinks her eyes and focuses on you. “The other half of the shoot is at the pool.”
“Alright, then we go to the pool.” You motion for Stew to lead the way.
Stew stands up slow. His back and legs seem to be giving him trouble. “This way,” he says.
You walk out a side door and down a set of stairs until you’re outside. The sun sits on the horizon. Stew looks back at you. “It’ll be dark soon.”
“Then we better hurry.”
You jog down a grassy hill, through a set of trees, over a small wooden bridge until you reach the pool.
“Oh my goodness.” Sara gazes at the chaos.
Lights and Cameras are in pieces, scattered on the cement. Two girls lie face down in the pool, a trail of vomit leads from their submerged heads.
Screams and moans come from behind the bushes. A path of excrement leads toward the noise.
The other girls grab at their heads or crotches. “It burns.” They scream. “It burns.” Blood streams from their noses and ears.
Black goo froths around their mouths and drips from the insides of their thighs.
One girl cries so violently she can barely speak, “Please.”
She runs toward Sara. “Please.” She stops and clutches her mouth.
She can’t control it.
Black goo erupts between her fingers. She hunches over, vomiting up more black and green goo.
“Ugh,” Stew winces and looks at you. “I think we’re too late.”
You can barely speak. You can barely move. You stare at the vomiting woman in front of you. You’ve dealt with a lot, but nothing like this.
The girl convulses. Vomit shoots in every direction as she loses complete control of her body. You hear her scream between the painful eruptions of fluid.
Suddenly she stops.
Her body goes stiff.
Her skin looks pale and clear. The blue veins bulge in her arms and neck and stomach. Her eyes roll into the back of her head. The rash around the inside of her thigh has spread down to her knee.
Sara looks at you. “Is she-”
“I’m not sure.”
“I don’t know about you guys,” Stew says nervously. “But I don’t want to stay and find out,” he motions back toward the mansion.
“Hey, over there,” you point at the bushes as four women stand. Black ooze is caked at the corner of their mouths. Their skin is pale and clear. The blue veins bulge in their arms and neck and stomach.
Behind the rock waterfall two more women appear. Three more crawl out from the trees.
The two women in the pool convulse and splash wildly in the water.
“Look.” Sara points at the girl in front of you. “Her hand.”
The fingers twitch...and the arm. Her head twists. Her eyes stare at Sara.
Stew turns franticly. He counts four more infected girls approaching from the grotto. “We’re surrounded,” he moans.
The three of you stand back to back. You swallow hard. “At least it can’t get any worse?”
“Really?” Stew points at the top of the hill. “You just had to say that, didn’t you?”
“SEESXS,” Brandy screams, dragging the boney stump of her leg, crawling and limping her way closer.
Sara looks at you. “So when was this supposed to be a good idea?”
“Uh, hey, this is part of your plan, right?”
You look at the encroaching horde of undead, sex-starved, playboy bunnies. “Plan?”
“You know, quarantine, cure, and all that.”
“Right. Uh,” you shrug. “Oops.”
Sara grabs you by the side of the shirt. “What do you mean oops?”
“I think we’re all about to get humped to death.”
Stew grimaces. “I guess there are worse ways to go.”
Sara looks at the pale, blue veined girls, black vomit still dripping from their mouths. She looks back at Stew. “Really?”
He smirks. “At least we only die once.”
You motion toward the hill. “I wouldn’t be too sure.” The other two look up to see Brandy falling and flailing, the muscles of her arms and legs void of tension. She can barely stand, but somehow, as if by desire alone, she contorts her body onward. Her eyes are transfixed on you.
Stew sighs. “There’s no silver lining for you, is there?”
You glance at Sara. “We’re not dead yet. That counts for something.”
You back up shoulder to shoulder. Sara clutches your hand. “Goodness me.” The girls get closer, hunger in their eyes. “Wait, what was that? Do you hear that?”
You turn. There, at the top of the hill, it’s... no, it couldn’t be?
Hugh Heffner...driving a golf cart?
He zooms past Brandy, down the hill. “Come with me if you want to live.”
You run past the two girls climbing out of the pool. Sara jumps into the seat next to Hef.
You and Stew grab the back. “We’re on.”
Hef makes a hard 180, right of the grotto, up a small trail.
“Wait,” Stew shouts. “We’re going back to the mansion?”
Hef nods. “I know a safe place.”
He pulls into a small portico and slides out of the golf cart, still spritely at 83. “Let’s go.”
What else can you do but follow him...up a small set of stairs, down a hall. He stops. He smiles at the photo of Marilyn Monroe. He pulls it to the right. The frame clicks and part of the wall swings open.
“In here.” He motions toward Sara. “Ladies first.”
She steps inside. You and Stew follow.
Hef pulls the wall back into place behind him. “We should be safe here.”
Sara looks at the 1950’s inlaid bed, the mirrors, the lotions, the mood lighting. “Is this-”
“Yes,” Hef nods. “Yes it is.”
Stew smiles. “So it is real. Oh man,” he nudges you. “The world’s hottest women have been naked in that bed.”
Hef shrugs. “It’s been years since that bed’s been put to use.”
“Still.” Stew falls onto the mattress and curls his head into the pillows.
You give Hef a hard stare. “Do you know what’s going on Mr. Hugh Heffner?”
His smile vanishes. His head sinks. “Yes, I believe I do.” He sighs and sits down. “I warned her. I told her to pace herself.” He shakes his head with disappointment. “Brandy, she was just too beautiful and outgoing to stop.”
“Stop?” You take a step closer. “Stop what?”
Sara glances at you and then back at Hef. “What do you mean?”
“She just loved it too much. One day she came to me. She asked for my help. She said she had met a man, a stranger, who had given her crabs. I told her we would take care of her, and I sent her straight to the doctor. A few days passed and she returned. It was a different man this time who had given her Gonorrhea. Again, I sent her straight to the doctor. Over the next two weeks she returned. First with Syphilis, then Herpes, later Chlamydia and Hepatitis. Her desire for sex was...unapologetic.” Hef sighs. “Ever since the 60’s I feared this day would come.” He stands up. “Follow me.”
You follow him. He slides open a door, revealing an elevator. He motions for you to enter. He presses the B3 button. The elevator shakes to life and descends with incredible speed.
“Where are you taking us?”
The elevator jolts to a halt. He opens the door. “My lab.”
You gaze into a warehouse of computers, gurneys, microscopes, incubators, EKG machines, cages with mice, monkeys and cats and dozens of other machines you’ve never seen before.
Hef walks toward the nearest computer. “Well, come on.”
You and Sara follow.
Hef gestures at the equipment. “I’ve spent the last 50 years preparing for this day, and it’s all been for nothing.” He hits a few keys on the keyboard. “Look here. You see, this is Brandy’s DNA before her first encounter with crabs.”
“Wait, what are you doing with her DNA?”
“I take a sample of all the women’s DNA when I hire them. You see here, it’s completely normal. But see how it changes after the fourth, the fifth, the sixth introduction of the new strain of disease. The STD’s have merged and mutated into something completely new. The transformation was so violent it’s modified her DNA.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” you shake your head in disbelief. “So you’re saying that what’s happening to those women out there is just some kind of super STD?”
“Yes,” Hef lets out an exhausted sigh. “Yes, that’s exactly it.”
“And you’ve spent the last 50 years trying to create a cure?”
“Yes, why else would I have built the Playboy Mansion? It’s reasonable to say that the most attractive women have a higher probability of having sex and as a result, are more likely to encounter an STD; ergo they make the perfect test group.”
“So the nude photos and the persona are just a cover?”
“Scientific progress requires money.”
“Right, right,” you say skeptically. “Of course it does. So what about this cure?”
Hef’s head droops with shame. “I could not complete it. The disease is still mutating. I need a current sample of Brandy’s DNA before I can pin down a cure.”
You point at the blood and bits of flesh on your pants. “What about this?”
Hef bends down and examines the stain. “Yes, yes I think that may work. This sample was deposited right after her transformation?”
Hef scoops some onto a slide and pushes it under a microscope. “Hhm, this should help, but the disease hasn’t stopped its mutation cycle. I’ll need a newer sample.”
Sara beams with hope. “So you can make a cure?”
“Perhaps. I don’t know yet. We need to find Brandy.”
You sigh. “That means we’re going back out there, doesn’t it?”
“No, no, you stay in the room. You’ll be safe there. I can find her on my own. Come on, let’s go back. I’ll show you where the food is kept.”
You follow him into the elevator. He presses F1. The elevator ascends and then jolts to a halt.
Hef slides open the door. “You should be safe if you stay in this room. The food and water should last several months, and the oxygen is filtered with the same system as the lab. This is the safest place in the whole mansion.”
Sara pinches her nose. “Do you guys smell that?” She points at the bed. “And where’d Stew go?” She walks around the corner. “Stew?”
“Maybe he’s in the bathroom?”
“It sure smells like it.” You knock on the bathroom door. “Hey Stew, you in there? Maybe we should give you a pack of matches.”
A low grumble erupts from behind the door.
You take a step closer. “You alright?”
The door explodes forward. The hinges snap. The weight and force throw you flat against the ground. Stew stands over you. Black foam drips from his lips. His pants are at his ankles. His skin is pale and clear.
He stares at Sara.
“Gggrrrraaaahhh,” he screams, taking a step forward, almost crushing your chest.
You lurch forward. You glimpse the bathroom. The toilet is broken. Vomit and excrement are everywhere except in the bowl.
You cough and try to regain your breath. “Stew, no.” You roll onto your side.
Stew grabs Sara’s arm and breast and thrust her to the ground.
“No,” she screams. “Stew, don’t.”
Hef tries to restrain Stew’s arm, but he lacks the strength. Sara claws and punches at Stew’s face. It doesn’t slow him down. She manages to kick his leg and crotch, but his desire is unrelenting.
“Ggrraaaahhh,” he screams again, black goo spitting from his mouth, staining Sara’s pink tank top.
She tries to cover her eyes and mouth. “Help,” she barely whimpers. “Help.”
You stand, stagger, and fall into the wall, still out of breath. “No,” you tell yourself. You push your body forward. The momentum is all that keeps you going. You drive your foot into Stew’s temple.
Stew spirals off Sara, blood and black goo erupting from his head. Flesh slides from his skull and splatters against Hef’s face. Hef falls. Stew lands on top of him hard, and they collide against the wall.
You topple into the side of the bed. “Sara,” you cough. “Are you alright?”
“Fine.” She takes a difficult breath. “What about Hef?”
You look over. “Not good.”
Hef signals for you. “Closer,” he whispers. “Come closer.”
You crawl to him. Stew lays motionless.
“Yes,” Hef nods. “But it won’t do me much good.”
You grab Stew’s shoulder. “Just let me move him.”
“NO,” Hef painfully commands.
You immediately stop and examine Stew’s body. The bone in Stew’s left arm is shattered, and the pieces of bone are hooked into Hef’s stomach, pinning them both to the wall.
You look up at Hef. “You’re going to be fine. You’re,” you hesitate. “You’re going to be fine.”
Hef tries to laugh, but instead wheezes. “I’m old not stupid. Here,” his arm quivers and he can’t manage to lift it. “In my pocket,” he says. “Can’t reach.”
You pull a USB drive from Hef’s pocket.
Hef coughs. Blood squirts from his stomach. “My research,” he says agonizingly. “...is on a server. This--” His head droops.
You prop his head upright. “Hef,” you say. “Hef stay with me.”
Hef blinks back to life. “It has the codes to access the server.” Hef glances at Sara and then back at you. “Even if life is just a shake of the dice,” he wheezes. “Don’t waste your chance.” He smiles and coughs up more blood. “Go,” he groans. “Like you said, I’ll be fine.”
You watch Hef’s eyes close as his head droops against his shoulder. His body slumps to the left.
You take Sara by the hand and stand. “We need Brandy’s DNA.”
“How are we going to catch her?”
“The same way you catch anything, bait.”
Hef's Science Log
I have seen an unusual change in subject 173-12 (Brandy), but I have yet to pin down the root causes of her current mutation.
I am at a loss, and I fear time is too great an adversary to resolve this new strain. If my findings are accurate (God help us all, I hope they are not) then humanity has reached a point of true dissonance.
It has become apparent that I will not be able to save subject 173-12. Her contribution to science and humanity deserves recognition, but as is obvious, this information must remain classified. My only hope is that the subject’s sacrifice will bring this project one step closer to a cure ...a cure that continues to elude me.
I fear I am humanities only hope and the days to come will be too trying for my old and weary bones. Where does that leave the populace?
I do not know.
Death comes for us all. I accept this fact as a natural phenomenon, but this change...this mutation...is far from natural.
The future is full of monsters...
And we are the future...
Sara looks into the rear view mirror of the pickup. “For the record, this is a stupid idea.”
You stand in the bed of the truck. “I know. Just drive.”
She exits the portico and travels down toward the pool. The sky is dark. The moon glows, casting the yard with hard shadows. Trails of excrement, vomit, and blood lead in multiple directions, but the girls are nowhere to be found.
“Brandy,” you shout. “Brandy, sex.” You move to the other side of the truck and shout for her again.
Sara scans the bushes. “It’s really quiet.”
“Don’t let it bother you.”
“I can’t even hear the crickets.”
You swallow uncomfortably. “Yeah, no crickets.”
Sara brushes a strand of hair out of her face. “And what about the CDC or the military or the police? Shouldn’t there be lights and sirens? Shouldn’t they be here by now?”
You look out at the horizon. It’s dark. “Yeah, they should be here by now.” You hadn’t even noticed it before, how quiet it is.
People are dead, well, more or less dead and not one cop car, no helicopters flying overhead, no news vans or reporters. You shake your head. “We need to stay focused. We’ve got to get Brandy’s DNA.”
“You really think this is the best way?”
“No, right now, it’s the only way.” You walk to the edge of the truck. “Brandy, sex.”
You move to the other side of the truck. “Sex, Brandy, sex.”
“There,” you shout. “In the bushes.”
Sara flips on the headlights.
The shadows shoot in multiple directions. Four undead, sex-starved, playboy bunnies howl, stunned by the light.
They run at the truck.
“Uh-oh.” Sara puts it in reverse and hits the gas. The jolt knocks you forward. Your head hits the back window. The glass shatters. You fall hard against the bed of the truck.
Sara hits the brake and twists the steering wheel hard until the truck does a 180. She shifts gears and hits the gas.
Two undead, sex-starved, playboy bunnies drop from the trees. Two more emerge from the bushes.
The momentum is too much. “Sorry girls,” Sara winces.
She hits them head on. Two of the girls shatter on impact. The other two clutch the front grill. Their legs and feet drag under the truck.
Sara switches on the windshield wipers. “Hey,” she shouts. “You alright back there?”
The side of your head is bleeding. You can feel the hot blood stream down your chin. Your eyes won’t focus. You take a deep breath and get to your knees. Out of the corner of your eye you see them. Two zombie playboy bunnies climb up the back of the truck.
You can’t think straight. “Sara.” You clutch your head. It hurts to speak. “We have a problem.”
“Yeah, that’s understating it.”
The zombie girl on the grill, her hand slips. Her leg catches on the tire. She’s pulled under. Her body explodes in the wheel well. Flesh and black goo gum up the tire.
It loses traction.
The vehicle spins as if it was on ice. Sara turns the truck into the spin, trying to realign the wheels.
You fly against the side of the truck. You try to guard your head with your arms. The two undead bunnies grab at your pants and crotch. You see a group of trees ahead. You grab the metal ring welded to the side of the truck.
The truck continues to spin.
Until it slams into a tree.
The undead girls tear strips from your pants as they twist through the air. One hits a branch with such force it rips her in half. The other bounces off the ground like a skipped stone.
You let go of the metal ring. You cough up blood, roll onto your back, and rub your leg.
Sara blinks slowly. Her cheek and part of her ear are bleeding from hitting the door. She undoes the seatbelt. A long red stripe stretches across her chest, already starting to bruise. She tries to move. “Uagh,” she groans. She leans back in the chair. “Are you alive back there?”
“Yeah,” you moan.
“Next time, I’ll come up with the plan.”
You let your head fall against the metal bed of the truck. “Alright.”
Sara pushes her way across the backseat and through the window. She lies down next to you. She sighs.
The stars flicker and flash in the sky above. You glance at Sara. “You know, it’s almost romantic.”
“If I didn’t have bits of people in my hair I would agree.”
You try to laugh, but grab your chest instead. “Uagh,” and cough.
Sara looks at you. “Hey, do you hear that?”
She peeks over the side of the truck. “I don’t believe it.”
You get to your knees. “What?”
“Look for yourself.”
You peer over the back of the truck. In the distance, something moves. It’s getting closer. You can’t make it out. You hear a faint whisper of, “Sseesxs.”
You smile. “It worked.”
Sara looks at the smashed truck, the dead girls, the blood dripping from your head. “Yeah, that’s one way of putting it.”
You hop out of the truck. “Come on, let’s get that DNA.”
“Hey, be careful.”
You run closer to Brandy. She barely moves. Her leg muscles are gone, only bone remains. Bits of intestine trail behind her from the gash in her stomach. Her jaw is loose on one side, and her right eye hangs from the socket. A pool of blood expands underneath her, and a trail leads back up the hill.
She sees you...and her lips curl into a smile.
“Sseesxs.” As she says it, her jaw falls out of place and hangs from the side of her face. Her tongue fights against the air, but slumps against her neck. Drool drips down her chest, or at least what's left of her chest.
You kneel down near her. You take a long DNA swab and brush it against her dangling mouth. You slide the swab into a container, and stand.
“Wait.” Sara stares at Brandy. “We can’t leave her like this.”
“There’s not much else we can do?”
Sara hands you a shovel.
“You have to kill her.”
You look at the shovel and then down at Brandy. “I can’t. You do it.”
“I’m not strong enough. It should be done in one swing.”
You swallow hard and wipe the blood from your forehead. You walk behind Brandy. You line up the tip of the shovel with her neck. You look back at Sara, hoping for some other option.
“Do it,” she says.
You raise the shovel back.
“You have to do it now.”
You look down at Brandy.
“Sseesxs,” Brandy says solemnly.
You swing the shovel down hard, almost tripping as it sinks into the ground. Brandy’s head dips and rolls a few feet in front of her body. Her arms go slack. Her body lies motionless.
You open your eyes and let go of the shovel. “Should we say something?”
“Uhm,” you shrug. “Shouldn’t we say something longer?”
“No,” Sara points. “Behind you.”
You turn. “Oh god.” Three undead, sex-starved, playboy bunnies emerge from the darkness.
“Time to run,” Sara gasps and grabs you by the hand. She yanks you in the opposite direction.
You run, past the truck, the pool, the grotto, the mansion, down the entrance toward the city.
The whole city is dark, pitch black.
“I can’t even see the car lights,” you say.
“What do we do?”
You look back, up at the entrance. You see the undead bunnies. “We have to take our chances somewhere.”
Sara looks back. She sees the bunnies too. She looks down at the city. “City it is.”
You run down the street. The bunnies follow.
BANG. BANG. BANG.
Shots ring out.
You and Sara drop to the ground. You look back in time to see the heads of the bunnies explode.
“Look.” Sara motions forward. Three soldiers push forward with their guns drawn. An APC pulls up behind them.
“Keep your heads down,” a soldier shouts. More shots erupt. You hear the sound of bullets tear through flesh. The zombie bodies hit the ground.
“Sir, ma’am. This is a red zone. You should not be here.”
“We need to find the CDC,” you try to explain.
The soldier moves closer, his assault rifle at the ready.
“Wait, wait. I’m not infected.”
The soldier whistles. Two medics get out of the APC. They swab your mouth and put the swab in a container of liquid. They shake the container.
They do the same for Sara. “She’s clear too.”
“Alright.” The soldier motions toward the APC. “Get in. All civilians are being evacuated. The city is FUBAR.”
“What happened to the city?” Sara asks.
“I’m not at liberty to disclose that ma’am.”
“Well, where are you taking us?”
“Someplace safe.” He nods at two other soldiers. “Take her.” The two soldiers take her by the arms and put her in the APC.
“Wait,” you shout. “Wait. I need to speak to the CDC. I think I have a cure.”
“Cure?” The soldier grunts. “A lot of good that’ll do us. They already set off the nukes.”
Project STAG Memo
“What do you mean nukes?”
The soldier looks stern. His lips curl into a snarl. “Get them into the truck.”
The two soldiers grab you by the arms and force you into the APC. They slam the door shut. You sit down next to Sara. Three other people are in the vehicle.
You glance at them. “What happened to the city?”
An old man with blood and dirt caked on his face speaks. “I-I-I don’t know. The news said there was some kind of terrorist attack. And then everything went dark, the TV, the telephone, everything.”
“Was there a bomb?”
“No... I don’t know. Maybe.” The old man covers his face with his hands. “My wife, my wife was...” He sobs.
You grimace and look at the next closest person. It’s a teenage girl. “Do you know what happened?”
The girl stares vacantly at the floor. She doesn’t move her head or her eyes. She doesn’t even flinch at your voice.
You look at Sara. “I don’t think this epidemic started with Brandy.”
“Where did it start then?”
“I don’t know, but the soldier said something about nukes, which means the whole world’s involved now, that is, if they weren’t involved from the start.”
“What are you saying?”
You lean closer and whisper, “Maybe this was planned.”
“The virus, the super STD, maybe it was engineered.”
“I don’t know. Terrorists? An evil genius? A rogue government? I don’t know, but I’m beginning to think this was a deliberate attack.”
“What? Who would do something like that? Why?”
“Why? Why does anyone do anything?”
Everyone jolts forward and back as the APC moves forward. Sara grabs the wall and your arm to stabilize herself. “Does anyone know where we’re going?”
A middle age woman wearing pajamas looks up from the floor. “Outside the city. I think they said the mountains.”
You give her a hard stare. “Do you know if they have clinics set up?”
“Clinics? It sounds like you know more than I do.”
“What about a bomb?” You ask. “Have you heard anything about a bomb?”
“They said something about it on the radio; how we were going to nuke a country. I don’t know which one. They were using code.”
The APC pushes through abandon cars and piles of junk. You hear more gunfire.
The APC accelerates. You travel for several hours, maybe more. It’s hard to tell. The APC stops sporadically so the soldiers can clear an area, then you move on. You travel down a highway, maybe an off-ramp. You can’t see out the windows.
Finally, the APC stops, and the door opens. It’s morning. You must have been driving all night. You and Sara get out.
You’re in a forested part of the mountains. Thousands of people crowd between several large tents. Soldiers patrol the perimeter.
You take Sara by the hand. “We need to stay together.”
You find the soldier who escorted you. “Who’s in charge?” You demand. “I need to speak to the person in charge.”
The soldier motions to his right. “The big green tent.”
You and Sara walk inside. A group of generals sit around a table. You see a map of the United States at its center. New York, LA, Chicago, and D.C. have large red circles around them. A speakerphone is on the far side of the table.
You hear the voice of the President of the United States, “If there are no other options, then we must proceed. God help us all.”
“Wait,” you interrupt. “There might be a cure.”
The Generals turn in unison and stare at you.
“I have data and DNA that we can use to make a cure.”
The General with the most ribbons sighs. “No, there is no cure.”
“You don’t understand,” you plead. “I know this sounds crazy but Hugh Heffner was working on a cure for 50 years. All his data is on a server.” You pull out the USB drive. “We can access it.”
“We know,” the General says starkly. “Who do you think he was working for?”
“I admire your spirit,” the General leans forward. “But Playboy is a government funded operation. All the data you have, we’ve already processed. You should feel proud to have made it this far, but your work is done. There is no cure.”
“No,” you argue. “That’s impossible. Hef said there was a cure.”
The General stands. “It’s true, the disease can be halted, but it can never be removed. The mutation lays dormant until it’s passed onto the host’s children. Once that happens, the disease becomes irreversible.” The General walks closer to you. “We’d be giving life to a generation of monsters.”
“But,” you lower your head. “What you’re talking about is--”
“Necessary. We have to think of the greater good. We can rebuild. We’re the best nation there is at rebuilding.” He lowers his head and sighs. “But people need to survive if there’s going to be something left to rebuild.”
You grab his jacket. “You’re going to let thousands, maybe even millions, of people die?”
“No.” He pushes your hand away. “We’re going to save the billions of people that still have a chance.” He takes the USB drive and motions for two of the guards. “Get them out of here.”
“Wait,” you plead. “There has to be another way.”
“God help me, I wish there was.”
The guards take you and Sara outside and let you go.
Sara looks at you. “I can’t believe they’re just going to let them die.”
“I think it’s worse than that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Which direction is LA?”
“Uhm, the sun rises from the east, so LA is,” she points just below the intersection of two mountains. “Over there.”
“If a virus can’t be quarantined, there’s only one other thing that can be done.”
You squeeze her hand. “You burn everything it touched to the ground.”
As you say the words, the sky flashes. A faint boom echoes in the distance. A mushroom cloud rises between the two mountains.
Sara’s eyes go wide. Her face goes white. “Oh my goodness.”
The thousands of people on the mountain turn to see it. They gaze at the explosion. Their expressions are stark and stupefied. They stare at the destruction in silence.
Sara looks at you. “What now?”
You look at the mountains, the people, the tents, and then back at Sara. “We rebuild.”
And there it is ladies and gents, that’s the end, bikinis, babes, nukes, zombies and the apocalypse. Not bad for a short story...especially a free one.
You may be wondering how such a tale came to be woven into the words before you. It began as a challenge. I had gotten a silly notion in my head that all of my stories should be written for specific people, and so I started taking requests.
I required three details: genre, setting, and the main character’s name.
My cousin requested: horror, the Playboy Mansion, and the name Michael (which incidentally is identical to his name).
I wrote the story in five installments and posted them online over the course of a week. I can only hope you enjoyed the story as much as my cousin did.
In recent years, zombies have become the definition of horror (...and action, and entertainment in general). I’ve wanted to write an apocalyptic zombie novel for a long time, but as you’ve probably realized by now, this short story is more satire than suspense.
If you’re reading this, then I’m sure you’re as much a zombie fan as I am, so you know most of the great zombie stories make a point of avoiding the origin of their undead apocalypse.
I’ve spent many nights pondering possible zombie genesis stories (which, I’m sure, will appear in future books). “Dead Sexy” grew from one of my more ridiculous ideas.
The idea came about as a result of two questions:
How does the zombie epidemic spread?
And does the zombie virus occur naturally, or is it engineered?
In a sense, the first question answers the second and with a setting like the Playboy Mansion, it doesn’t require a mental leap to reach a one word conclusion: sex.
Zombies are driven by a singular and overwhelming urge. Typically that urge is hunger or blind aggression, but (if you believe Freud) sex is just as potent as any human drive, so why shouldn’t a zombie be motivated by sex?
A zombie more interested in a nightcap than your brains is a scary thought. And the irony that sex, an act which creates life, is the same process that kills and distorts humanity should be equally as scary. It might be the only time you’ll want to skip the foreplay...
What’s different in Edition 1.1?
I’ve made several major changes to “Dead Sexy” in this edition. The style, which was originally third person, is now second person (with a gender neutral protagonist). The story was intended for my cousin, but in this form (as an ebook) it’s intended for you loyal reader, whoever you may be.
The second major update is the addition of the four Found Documents: Stew’s Diary entry, the CDC excerpt, Hef’s Science Log, and the government memo. I hope they’ve helped to immerse you in this fantastically ridiculous story.
Lastly, I’ve revised dozens of sentences, removed some grating words, and generally made the story easier to read. I’ve done all this for you loyal reader. I want to make certain you get your money’s worth from each one of my books, and considering this ebook was free, I think you probably have.