Noah watched his mother make dinner.
She opened the Spam with a box cutter, turned over the can and dumped it onto a piece of cardboard. This new house was different than their last one. Smaller, older, almost empty. It’s not that he didn’t like it, but to his three-year-old mind it was spooky, he hugged his stuffed Husky ‘Wolfy’ to feel safe again.
“Here, baby. Time to eat,” cooed Noah’s mom Jocelyn. She sat beside her toddler and Wolfy on the floor. He opened his mouth as she fed pinches of the slimy meat into his mouth. It had been six weeks since they had to leave their comfortable apartment. The city was no longer safe, though their journey to refuge had to stop in this abandoned shackle once the van ran out of gas.
“Jocelyn, help me!” Noah’s dad, Austin, sauntered recklessly into the dusty kitchen space. He gripped his arm tightly, blood seeping between his fingers.
“Austin!” she gasped standing. “Were you…?”
“Bit?” He choked up, “I didn’t know what to do. I’m so sorry I came back but I couldn’t do it. You’ll have to…”
“Go outside, Austin.”
“Can I at least say goodbye to Noah?”
“First Jessi, now you?!” Her bottom lip trembled as her eyes watered, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Look at you, you’re already pale and jittery. Go outside now!”
“Yum!” Noah poked the spam chunks before sticking another salty bit into his mouth, chewing softly before looking up. Mom and dad had left the room. He looked about curiously before stumbling onto his feet. He circled the empty room in confusion.
“Mama, papa.” He opened the cabinet under the sink, but they were not in there. He wandered into the living room, “mama? Papa!”
Outside he could hear muffled sounds. He cringed, worried that they were the monsters again. He didn’t like them, they were loud and scary. He especially didn’t like it when they got too close; they smelled of rotten meat.
Noah went to the window by the front door, though even on his tip-toes he couldn’t see out. He looked about the space; papa’s box of supplies caught his attention. He stumbled over, pushed it towards the window and climbed on top. There he could see them in the driveway.
“Mama, papa!” he cheered as he tapped the glass. He put his face against the window pane, straining to see them. He knocked harder and harder to get their attention.
“You shouldn’t have come back,” Jocelyn held the shotgun to her husband’s head as he kneeled before her, eyes casted. Her arms shook as tears streamed down her face, “you just had to go, didn’t you? I told you we were fine but you wouldn’t listen!”
Noah looked beyond his parents, they were being so strange, but there was a squirrel. He giggled, he remembered one time throwing peanuts for the squirrels in his backyard with Jessi. He excitedly tapped the glass, he wanted his mama to see the cute squirrel too.
Jocelyn turned briefly to see what the tapping was about, it was Noah in the window. Her heart sunk to her stomach, he shouldn’t have to see this. She waved him off, “just a sec, honey. Mommy will be back soon!”
“Mama, squirrel!” he cheered now that his mom was looking, he tapped and tapped.
Austin, who was no longer himself, felt a burning sensation in his stomach. Feed, a thought overtook him, feed. It was all he could think of as he looked up.
“Wait, no!” cried out Jocelyn as Austin, growling and foaming at the mouth, pounced.
He knocked the gun out of her hands before grabbing hold of her neck. She struggled against him as he brought his drooling mouth down on her arm. He bit into her soft flesh, pulling back fiercely with bloody veins and torn skin in his mouth.
Jocelyn screamed in agony as her husband began to profusely chew on her shoulder. Her body spasmed as he swallowed chunks of her warm flesh. Every bite brought satisfaction, but it wasn’t enough to silence the voice. Feed, feed, feed. Even when Jocelyn went quiet, he wasn’t done.
Noah watched from the window, horrified and confused. He didn’t like the game they were playing, acting like the monsters that had chased them out of the city. He fumbled off the box and ran back into the kitchen.
He cried for his plushy, “Wolfy, Wolfy!”
Noah found her by his abandoned plate of cold Spam, he hugged her close. Her faux grey fur became wet as he wiped his teary-eyes on her. He trembled, unable to understand the situation let console himself.
Bang, bang. Jocelyn and Austin, both controlled by the need to feed, threw their bodies against the front door. They couldn’t work the door, but the faint memory of living flesh inside drove them to throw their bodies harder and harder. Bam, bam.
Terrified, Noah ducked under the sink with Wolfy. He held her tight in the darkness as the cabinet doors shut on him. He wedged himself behind the pipes and closed his eyes, pretending to be asleep as the mean mommy and daddy crashed through the door. His little heart thumped hard and heavy in his chest as they growled, hunting through the shack.
In the kitchen, Jocelyn circled the space with starved eyes. Her stomach churned, aching for hot flesh. Even in her zombified state she could remember him, the darling little boy with chocolate curls and the button nose, she ached so painfully to gnaw that cute little face.
Feed, her thoughts prompted her into the next room, feed.
As Austin and Jocelyn roamed the house, then the yard in search of flesh, Noah fell peacefully asleep. In his dreams everything was the same as before the virus. His papa flipped pancakes on the skillet while mama read Dr. Seuss to him and his older sister Jessi. It was a dream that kept him warm through the night as he slept tucked under the sink with Wolfy.
Growl, Noah’s stomach woke him. His body was sore from the cramped position. Nervously, he poked his head out of the cabinet. The shack was quiet, no thumping, no groaning. First, he set Wolfy out. She would keep watch and bark if mean mommy or daddy came back. Next, he unfolded himself from under the sink. His tummy growled again, he was so hungry.
Across from him was the cardboard with the Spam chunks from the night before. He crawled closer, mouth salivating, eyeing the stinking meat. His chubby hands shooed away the flies before hastily taking the Spam and shoving it into his mouth. He made a face, he wanted to spit it out but he was too hungry, so he swallowed.
He looked back to Wolfy, offering her a piece, but she only stared with glossy black eyes. He giggled as he finished off the meager meal, “come eat.”
“Let’s go,” Noah announced as he got onto his legs and picked up Wolfy. He didn’t know what to do or where to go, so he wandered into the living room. The front door was in parts on the ground, wood shavings everywhere.
He oohed and awed as he walked through the jagged doorway. Outside brought a new excitement, he hadn’t been out in days. Maybe in forever, he wondered.
The sun was bright, peaking over the tall trees, bringing more light to the grey-blue sky. Noah stumbled down the blood-stained driveway. At the road he froze,
“oh, squirrel!” He looked both ways before crossing. The squirrel was young with a bushy tail and light-brown fur. It dug about the ground in search of seed or little insects. Its little ears twitched as the toddler came closer.
“So cute!” Noah cooed as he bent down to touch the squirrel; it sprung out of reach. Dismayed, he scolded it, “no, bad!”
The squirrel hopped into the underbrush, chippering and squeaking as Noah followed. He wanted to pet the silly thing.
The squirrel halted, eyes scanning the ground, nose quivering as a baby Garter snake slithered over mossy stones. Its little green body wiggled quickly, tongue flicking, in anticipation of finding tall grass to hide behind safely. The squirrel pounced, gripping the end of the snake that coiled and thrashed helplessly.
Noah watched as the squirrel chewed on the tail-end of the snake, working its way to the head as if he was slurping a spaghetti noodle. Noah’s stomach churned as the little squirrel became less and less cute. He backed away slowly, hugging Wolfy tightly, till the snake-eating rodent was out of view.
Anxiously, he ran away. His little legs carried him deeper into the woods. He pushed through the tall ferns and scratchy bushes, panting laboriously. Twigs snapped under his bare feet, leaving splinters to dig into his skin. When he broke through the trees he found another road.
“Uh oh,” he whimpered.
Up and down the road were abandoned cars. Around the wreckages loomed the living dead. Their haggard faces frightened him, they were the worst he had ever seen. Rotting wounds, sagging grey skin, exposed skull. Tears swelled as his little brain tried to comprehend the monsters who were beginning to catch his scent. They groaned and hissed as they limped towards him.
There, he thought with urgency when he noticed a green car with an open door. There were no monsters inside, maybe he could hide inside. He hustled down the road towards the open door, heart racing, legs pumping. Tears of terror blurred his vision.
“Ahh!” hollered a freshly-turned truck driver as he lunged at the little boy. Noah tumbled to the pavement, skidding his knee, and, much worse, dropping Wolfy. As bloody fingers reached for his soft arms, Noah bolted for the green car. He slammed the door before cowering at the foot of the driver’s seat.
He was terrified and alone, he couldn’t believe he had left Wolfy! But he had been too scared to grab her, Noah couldn’t stop sobbing. He wiped his snotty-teary face on his shirt but it did little good for him as the monsters circled the car. They banged and clawed at the windows, rearing their grotesque faces closely just to catch a peak of the warm, whimpering flesh inside.
Horrible hours passed before they grew bored, ready to move on, goaded by fleshly desires. One by one they turned away, the herd shambled down the road. Though even when the frightening faces were gone from the windows and all was silent, he still waited before making a move.
He slowly crawled into the driver’s seat, peering out with wide eyes. They were gone, though there was Wolfy! Trampled and dirtied, he trembled as he imagined running out to grab her. He moved about the car, tumbling into the backseat, just to get a better view of the road and the surrounding woods. Certain that the herd had cleared the area, he opened the car door enough for his little body to slip out.
Noah’s body trembled as he crept towards Wolfy. As the distance became shorter and shorter, a rustling in the bushes froze every muscle in his body. Were they back? He was terrified, unable to move, as more tears threatened to surface. The bushes shivered as something moved through them. Thinking quickly, Noah grabbed Wolfy and ran behind the nearest car.
He shook as he waited, not sure where to go. He peaked around the corner, gasping with wide eyes as a large creature trotted onto the road.
He cried out, “woof, woof!”
The black husky with white patches sat back on her legs, perplexed. It was a human child, giggling as he dropped his toy and charged for her. Her ear’s pressed back as she arched her spine, ready to fight. Though even when she bared her teeth he laughed and petted her. The soft touch of his hand soothed her, but she shook her head before walking away. She didn’t have time for this.
“Woof, woof!” Noah laughed when the dog froze.
Her ears twitched, something else was coming closer, she circled the boy urgently. She sniffed the air, growling, back arching again. Bad meat, her senses warned her. Wolfy’s guts twisted in anticipation of meeting another biter.
“Uh oh,” panicked Noah as a monster broke through the other side of the woods. Noah’s soft cries flipped a switch in the husky’s brain. Her maternal instinct to protect the young surfaced.
Wolfy howled as a warning, but that didn’t stop it. Noah cowered behind Wolfy, tears streaking down his face as the dog barked harshly. Drool hung off her bared teeth as the adrenaline kicked in.
When the biter in an officer’s uniform got too close, scraped-raw hands within reach of Noah’s head, she lunged for its arm. Sharp teeth sank into decaying flesh, as she pulled back so did its arm. She jumped forward, mauling its face. This was her boy, she wouldn’t let any biter take him away.
Noah covered his eyes as the husky brought down the monster as it pushed against her. She bit and scratched around the head till she had ripped it clean off. The body went still as she dropped the mushy, moldy head.
“Wolfy!” Noah, now believing that the lost husky was truly his stuffed friend brought to life, hugged the blood-soaked dog. Wolfy gave him a few licks before trotting onward. It brought so much comfort to see her that Noah gladly left the original Wolfy on the ground to walk and pat the dog that had saved his life.
“Good girl,” he said while scratching her ears.
She panted, she didn’t mind that, it felt nice, even if he did reek of filth and sweat. A few more rounds of scratches was enough to win her over wholeheartedly, so together they walked the road towards the biter-infested town in search of a friendly new face.
The sun beamed over them, Wolfy and Noah, together forever.
Interested in reading more stories like ‘Noah & Wolfy’? Check out ‘Deadman Creep Show’, an anthology of horror. Horror is waiting for you.