Being Lucifer’s only son shouldn’t be so much work.
Christopher might be the antichrist but taking over the world and leading the minions of darkness sounds like a lot of work. And while slacking is a sin his supposed dad Lucifer approves of, his lack of goals is a problem.
Personally, Christopher would rather just work hard enough to make ends meet—and maybe buy a six-pack. But fate is conspiring against him. For some reason the dead won’t stay in the ground, apparently he’s not an only child, he has sisters and this hot chick he met in the cemetery refuses to sleep with him.
From an early age, Christopher knew there was something different about him, and not just because his mother told him he was special, which, he might add, she did quite often. For as far back as he could remember, things seemed to happen around him.
During his teen years in foster care, the social workers forced him to see psychiatrists, who tried to convince him that the strangeness he encountered—the really weird shit like seeing things no one else could—was his imagination. They claimed he lied.
For example, when his foster mother’s wig spontaneously caught on fire—hideous thing that looked much better as a pile of ash—they blamed Chris, claiming he must have tossed a match in the snarled mess.READ MORE
As for the kid who thought he could steal Chris’s homework and pass it off as his own, they thought it just a coincidence that the boy ended up sprinting naked across the football field with the words I’m a cheater emblazoned on his chest. They said a guilty conscience was to blame.
And they didn’t believe Chris at all when he claimed a creature from another dimension with razor-sharp teeth had stolen a pie from the counter where it cooled. Lie. That incident could totally be blamed on Chris, but in his defense, he had to steal it, because he was higher than a newt licking a toad. Everyone knew when a boy got a case of the munchies he had to feed it.
But back to his shrinks and their belief that the weirdness in his life was just a coincidence. They spouted things like logical explanation and vivid imagination. They seemed to think that Chris’s years as the only child in a cult that revolved around him and their belief that he was the Antichrist—I totally am—might be part of the reason why he felt the world behaved differently for him.
They never could grasp that the world revolves around me for I am destined to be the Destroyer of Nations.
More than one shrink had tried, using big words and sometimes dolls—“Has anyone ever touched you here?”—to convince Chris that he was simply a regular kid. They bandied words about, including dissociative disorder, religious delusions, and schizophrenia. One even called him a narcissistic sociopath, while another claimed he had Daddy abandonment issues.
Chris begged to differ. He really didn’t care who had donated the sperm for the egg that created him. In his world, it was all about him and the destiny his mother claimed awaited him.
From birth, the cult and his mother regaled Chris with stories and told him to expect great things of himself. Everything he did became a cause for celebration—bowel movements, a lost tooth, his first glorious F on a test. The detention for talking back to his teachers—he got a cake for that one.
Chris could do no wrong—or was that right?—because he made his own rules. He called the shots, which was why, for a period, the entire group that worshipped him ate pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
That all changed the day the cops arraigned his mom for murder.
In her defense, she’d only wanted to protect Christopher. It seemed Freddy, her boyfriend at the time, having had a near-death experience—and a wild trip while doing ’shrooms—had found religion. Freddy thought his mission in life was to rid the world of the Devil’s son.
In other words, he wanted to kill Chris, the Antichrist—whom his mother called the Sun of the Morning when stroking his hair during story time.
Of course, Chris’s mother, Clarice, hadn’t appreciated her boyfriend’s attempts to poison Chris with holy water. Damned stuff gave him a fierce stomachache. Chris simply said, “Make him go away. I don’t like him.”
So, his mother killed her boyfriend. Proudly announced it to the cops when they came to arrest her. Giggled during the sentencing and blew Chris kisses.
He was ten at the time, and to this day, he still made sure to visit her in jail on Mother’s Day, the only day they grudgingly allowed her out of solitary on account that she liked to sacrifice guards—since they wouldn’t give her goats—to read the future in their entrails. Being behind bars hadn’t changed her one bit. Bless her psychotic heart.
Having grown up as part of a cult, you’d think Chris would have a strong belief in God and the Devil.
You’d be wrong. He personally thought all religions were an epic hoax perpetrated on a world looking for easy answers—and idiots who liked to throw money at fat, pompous men in robes. Despite his cult years and the title of Antichrist, The Prince that Shall Come, and, his personal favorite, The Abomination of Desolation, Chris didn’t believe in anything but his obvious superiority to everyone else.
If only the world would recognize it.
Until they did and showered him with riches, Chris was forced to work and make a living. I know, the horror of it. If he truly was a prince in waiting, shouldn’t people be working for him?
Currently, Chris lived in South Carolina, more accurately in a cemetery, and no, he didn’t have a home in a box six feet under. Nor was he dead—even if the pile of empty liquor bottles outside in the recycling bins seemed to indicate a good job at pickling his liver.
Chris chose to live in a cemetery because, for one, it provided him the shortest commute to work and, two, it was cheap.
Funny thing, no one wanted to stay in the little caretaker cottage on the edge of the property because of claims that it was haunted. However, cold spots, doors that slammed shut, and the occasional rattle of chains didn’t bother Chris. He gladly took up residence, especially since he paid no rent and got a salary on top of it.
The gimmick? Dig the occasional grave when the machinery was on the fritz, and keep the teenagers from spraying graffiti or pushing over headstones. It only took him pinning down a few hooligans and using a permanent marker on them, drawing things like penises and happy faces on their foreheads, before the delinquents that would one day serve him gave up.
Then there was the unofficial part of his job that involved slaying the undead. Not that he’d met any yet; however, Chris knew the dead would one day rise, and when they did, he’d be ready. In the meantime, he practiced his zombie slaying skills, which had proven impossible to explain to Marty, the cop that used to patrol the area. When Chris had been found with the body of that girl, he’d tried to explain about the zombie slaying training and insisted that he was not doing his own live video of Mary Jane’s Last Dance. But the cop wouldn’t listen. Marty called him a pervert and declared that he would report Chris.
Which would have sucked and probably meant a stint in the mental hospital.
Alas, poor Marty never did file that report. According to the news, Marty never saw the groundhog that ran out in front of him and sent him flying into a ditch full of water.
A few days after, Chris buried him, and so far, Marty hadn’t risen. A shame because, as soon as Marty did, Chris planned to say, “Told you the zombies were coming.”
Zombies weren’t the only thing coming. His destiny would arrive one day, too. Eventually. Hopefully soon, because that was his life in a nutshell.
Boring and sucky.
No wonder he drank. Having reached his late twenties, the brash belief of his youth proved harder and harder to hold on to.
Where was this great destiny promised to Chris? The adulation? The women? Although, he should mention, getting women didn’t prove all that hard. Keeping them, though? Apparently, his Antichrist status freaked them out, although they hid it behind claims of Chris’s laziness and lack of goals in life. One by one, they all left.
Which was fine. Who wanted a clingy broad anyhow?
I do. Because then, perhaps he wouldn’t feel so alone—and he wouldn’t have to rely so much on his hand.
He also wouldn’t be sitting alone in his cottage with nothing to do.
It being a Tuesday, things were slow. As in, no bodies to bury, and even if there had been, the spring rains made the ground soft and easy to move with the machine. Evening fell. Another day done. Another night of watching mindless shows.
Little did he know, the lack of excitement in his life was about to change.
There arose a disturbance in the force. A real one. His phone pinged as the app he’d installed let him know someone had set off a motion detector. Yes, even the Antichrist had to rely on modern technology rather than an innate ability to sense things beyond the human veil of reality.
Magic didn’t exist. Not even the Jedi kind. If you wanted to see real magic, then you needed to chew on the wild ’shrooms that Chris cultivated behind a few of the older headstones. Those made you see some seriously fucked-up shit.
Just last week, while tripping hard, he’d seen a figure wearing a head-to-toe cloak, which undulated and shifted as if made of mist, standing outside the sanctified grounds of the cemetery. He could have sworn he heard her whisper, “Ssson…”
Crazy hallucination. His mother never stood that tall, and besides, the prison would have let him know if she had busted out.
Beep. Buzz. Beep. Buzz. His phone kept up its warning of an intruder. Probably teenagers again.
Rolling his lanky frame out of his reclining armchair, a wondrous thing covered in a patchwork of plaid because the fabric patches were easy to glue onto the worn spots, Chris slid on a pair of weathered, steel-toed boots—good for accidental shovel drops and in case of the apocalypse, zombie head kicking—leaving them unlaced. The effort to bend over and tie them? Not worth it.
Before heading out the door, he grabbed a thick, quilted lumber jacket because even this late in spring the evenings remained cool. Evenings were also usually work-free. It was the holidays that forced him to work harder than he liked. So who dared disturb his exciting evening of chilling with a movie and his hand? He tucked a permanent marker into his back pocket, just in case he needed to draw a lesson on someone.
The cemetery surrounding his home looked lovely in the twilight before true darkness fell—the grass, thick and lush; the worn stones, the engravings, faded by time and weather, oozed history. These neighbors proved quiet given that the occupants had long since crumbled to dust. People rarely came to this part, given that even the relatives of these dead folk were long gone.
The ping on his app indicated an intrusion in the newer section by the entrance to the cemetery. Some people might think it odd that Chris had taken the time to install motion detectors. Those people had never woken to teenagers causing him tons of work. Plus, one day, he was convinced his early-warning system would save him from the undead trying to eat his brain.
Hands shoved into his pockets, Chris adopted a lazy pace in hopes the person daring to visit at this hour would go away before he arrived. Small talk wasn’t exactly something he indulged in. He hated it, actually. Meaningless words. Platitudes. He’d inherited his cynicism from both his mom and her stream of boyfriends. Before he’d even stopped using diapers—a moment that had resulted in a massive celebration by the cult—Chris learned he could only count on himself. Even his mother told him to never trust her. After drinking a few bottles of hooch, his mother would hold him close and tell him to never believe in happy endings.
Happiness was not only fleeting, she claimed, but it could be used against a boy. So, Chris learned at a young age to not bother forming attachments. Besides, who needed happiness when one day the world would belong to him?
Maybe I’ll outlaw happiness. He also had plans to get rid of calories—horrible concept—and ban healthy chips and non-alcoholic beer. Why have beer unless you planned to get buzzed?
As the evening transitioned into night, the shadows grew thicker. All kinds of things could hide in those pockets of gloom. It was why he kept weapons stashed around the place—a knife pushed into the dirt with only the hilt peeping for the west side; a baseball bat above the lintel for a mausoleum in the northern part; and in the eastern section, where the freshest corpses were laid to rest, he kept his pride and joy, his shovel.
Laugh all you want. With its long handle and solid construction, he knew it would be the perfect weapon against zombies when the time came.
But he wouldn’t need a shovel tonight. He could have used a shower, and maybe a Tic-Tac, because kneeling in front of a grave, a grave he had dug himself less than a week ago, was a woman.
From a distance, he couldn’t see her age or her face. It didn’t matter. He ran some fingers through his hair, threw his shoulders back, and boomed, “What the hell are you doing here?”
The hollered query startled Isobel. She’d not expected to encounter anyone at this time of day. She rose from the fresh soil, the disturbance in it recent enough that the grass had yet to take root.
For a moment, she didn’t reply, instead focusing on the man bearing down on her—a young man, tall, and broad of shoulder, his hair dark as a raven’s wing. His eyes…she shouldn’t have been able to see the hue of his eyes in the gloom, and yet, they almost seemed to glow, something in them sparking.
Who is he? A breeze swept past her, a wind with a hint of warmth and the smell of things burnt. How strange.
The man who’d demanded to know what she did slowed his steps until he stood rather close. Too close.
He’s in my space. Isobel wanted to retreat, to move away from the strange energy pulsing from him. And he did pulse. She couldn’t see auras, not like her great-aunt, but she could feel it.
What is he?
Her grandfather might have known, even her mother or sister, who studied the magical arts. Isobel, though, her power was weak in comparison; she preferred to pursue other interests.
As quickly as she sensed it, the strange sensation disappeared. Vanished.
Did I imagine it?
“I’m still waiting for an answer, duckie.”
She blinked. “Duckie? Is that an insult or some sort of crude endearment?”
“It’s what I call anyone foolish enough to come traipsing into my domain after hours.”
“Your domain? We’re in a cemetery. Are you the grim reaper watching over the lost souls buried here?” Her lips twitched as she teased the man.
“Hardly grim.” He smiled at her then, a blinding, brilliant smile of a thousand watts that might have dropped the panties of most women. But this girl, raised with morals and a family that strongly insisted that “good girls kept their legs shut,” did not fall for the masculine charm.
“I did not realize the cemetery was closed at night. I am sorry to have disturbed you.” She kept her words polite because who knew what might set off this odd man. She didn’t get a sense of danger from him, and yet, at the same time, she prickled with awareness.
“It’s not safe out here at night,” he warned.
“How can it not be safe? The dead do not rise.” Not without help, and those who could achieve such a thing were rare.
“It’s not the dead you should fear.” He tried to sound ominous, and yet the twinkle in his eye gave him away.
“I just wanted to pay respects to a classmate of mine who died in a car accident. I was unavoidably detained.” More like locked in her room because her grandfather claimed the portents were dangerous for the family due to a certain planetary alignment. She’d finally managed to slip out once Mars moved into a more beneficial spot.
“Say goodbye to your friend then and go.” He crossed his arms and kept watch.
The ardent stare had her fidgeting. Her fingers rose to clasp her pearl necklace, running the smooth beads through her digits. “Must you watch me?”
“Yes, how else am I to make sure you’re not going to vandalize the grave?”
Her mouth rounded into an O. “Why would I do that?”
“Perhaps she stole your boyfriend. Or slept with your daddy. Maybe you want a place to express your artistic abilities.”
She blinked. “Do people seriously come here just to create art? Do I look like I have paint with me?” She lifted her arms and twirled, the cardigan over her blouse thinner than the evening warranted and lacking pockets. Her slim-fitting slacks didn’t bulge, and yet he eyed her intently.
Up and down his gaze roved. “Maybe I should pat you down to be sure.”
When he took a step forward, she took one back and crossed her arms. “You will not touch me.” Even if the thought made her shiver. I am shivering because it’s cold. Nothing else. “I’m not here to vandalize. And you’ve made it blatantly clear I should come back in the daytime. Sorry to have disturbed you.”
“Sorry you disturbed me. You’re cute. What do you say we go get a drink?” His lips once again unleashed his deadly smile.
The conversation veered, and she found herself confused, mostly because the right response involved her telling him to take a hike, and yet, a part of her wanted to say yes.
An even dirtier part of her thought she should have let him frisk her.
“No.” She shook her head. “I came here to pay my respects, not get hit on.”
“Who said anything about hitting?” He lifted his hands. “I don’t mind a bit of kink, but I draw the line at smacking. Unless it’s a slap on the ass. Then I’m all in.”
The urge to just gape at him proved strong. So strong. Was this man delusional? Pity because he possessed a handsome face and what seemed like a decent body under his bulky jacket. “I think I should go.” She turned away from him, and he grabbed her arm. She felt it even through her sweater.
Felt heat licking all her nerve endings.
The world around them hushed.
A strange prickling filled the air.
She might not have much of it, but she could feel it, especially when someone wielded it. Whirling back, she opened her mouth to ask the man what he thought he was doing, only to see his face creased in puzzlement. “I didn’t think it was supposed to storm tonight.”
Pulling her arm free of his grip, she addressed him. “It’s not a storm. Do you have a weapon handy?” she asked as a cool breeze, a wind carrying with it the smell of decay, brushed her face.
Before he could reply, a hand grabbed her ankle, a hand that projected from the freshly dug grave.
“What the fuck?” he exclaimed, his eyes wide with surprise.
Isobel, on the other hand, didn’t panic.
The sword she’d pulled from the ether—a scabbard that existed on another plane of existence—severed the limb, but it didn’t stop the body from boiling free from the earth. It wasn’t the only grave affected.
Isobel could only hope the groundskeeper ran and hid or knew how to fight because all around, the ground trembled as the dead rose in search of life.
Chris couldn’t help but stare at the hot chick because he really wanted to know where the fuck she’d pulled a thin rapier from. Her ass? Like, seriously, how did a girl in slim-fitting slacks, a blouse, and a sweater manage to hide four feet of gleaming steel?
And where the hell did she learn to slay zombies with it?
Because, yes, the day he’d predicted had arrived. The dead were fucking rising.
What the fuck?
Where is my shovel?COLLAPSE
The problem with being born with expectations is the failure to live up to any.