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Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies Preview

Posted on November 2, 2009 by Flames

Edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes, ZOMBIE RACCOONS AND KILLER BUNNIES is a collection of anthologies that explore the darker side of your favorite woodland creatures like raccoons, bunnies, snakes, bats and more! For this collection, the short stories range from humorous to gory and everything in between. Additionally, the stories explore multiple genres like modern horror and science fiction. Before we offer you a few samples of select short stories from this horror anthology, we’d like to highlight the titles in this book, which was published by DAW in October 2009.

Introduction by Kerrie Hughes
Death Mask by Jody Lynn Nye
BunRabs by Donald J. Bingle
for lizzie by Anton Strout
Faith in Our Fathers by Alexander B. Potter
Bone Whispers by Tim Waggoner
Watching by Carrie Vaughn
The Things That Crawl by Richard Lee Byers
The White Bull of Tara by Fiona Patton
Dead Poets by John A. Pitts
Super Squirrel to the Rescue by P.R. Frost
Her Black Mood by Brenda Cooper
Ninja Rats on Harleys by Elizabeth A. Vaughan
Bats In Thebayou by Steven H. Silver
Twilight Animals by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
The Ridges by Larry D. Sweazy

Ninja Rats on Harleys

Written by By Elizabeth A. Vaughan

It was a dark and stormy night.

Well it was, damn it. The cold air slapped me in the face as the glass doors of the ER waiting area slid open. Any warmth my tattered bathrobe held was gone in an instant as the wind wrapped around me. The rain had stopped for now, but the entire parking lot gleamed under the lights, as did the ambulances, their flashing lights reflecting off the puddles and my van.

My bloodstained slippers were soaked as I slapped across the parking lot. I cradled my purse and those damned discharge instructions as I fumbled for my keys. I opened the passenger side door, set the purse carefully on the seat, and then slammed that sucker shut with all my strength.

I was pissed, and who could blame me?

Nothing like being attacked in your own home by a hideous, stinky white possum and his ninja hench-rats at an ungodly hour of the morning. We’d fought them off, Wan and I, with naught but our bare hands and a bottle of toilet cleaner.

Well, okay, Wan had a sword. And he killed most of them. But I’d done my fair share, although it was my own blood on my slippers.

Wan is a mouse. An ancient Chinese mouse, as far as I can figure. He hasn’t been very forthcoming. He’s been good company since he moved in about a month ago. He was teaching me tai chi and I was teaching him football. I had to admit, it was nice to have someone around…to have company. And yes, my social life does suck that bad.

He talks. Did I mention that?

At any rate, a few hours ago, we’d been attacked by people…animals…who also talked and who clearly knew more about Wan than I did. One of the rats had bitten through my finger, hence the visit to the ER.

Slamming the door had not been the best idea, since Itty and Bitty, my poor little white dogs had been cowering under the seats in the back. They scrabbled up, put their feet on the window and howled for attention.

My cowardly fat white Westies, who tend to fart when under stress. I opened the rear passenger door and petted and cooed over them for a minute, paying attention to the slash on Itty’s nose. The possum had gotten her at one point in the fight, but it was only a slight scratch. I got them calmed back down, shut the door, and headed around to mine.
Wan was standing on my purse when I heaved my weary body into the driver’s seat. He stood at the summit, his sword over his back, his arms crossed over his chest. “We should stay and talk with the learned doctor, Kate.”

The doctor also seemed to know more about what was going on than I did. I sighed, looking at the ambulances. “Wan, he’s going to be busy for quite some time. I want to go home and take a shower.”

“He possesses knowledge that we do not have,” Wan argued. “Why do we leave a potential ally behind us?”

“Because my hand hurts,” I snapped. “Because I’m filthy, and tired, and the dogs are scared.” I struggled with my seat belt using my bandaged hand. “Because that nurse said that the Doctor would be working on those accident victims for hours. Because I’m not drinking that hideous coffee, and because…” I snapped the belt in place and turned to glare at Mr.-Holier-Than-Thou-Talking-Mouse. “Because I don’t know who is friend or foe until you tell me what the hell is going on!”

for lizzie

Written by Anton Strout

Godfrey heard the sound of a voice calling his name before noticing someone standing next to his giant oaken desk, but as usual his brain didn’t register it or the fact that it was female until the sound of it became more stern.

“Godfrey!”

Before looking up, the senior most archivist finished scribbling down the last of his thoughts into the moleskine notebook in front of him. One of the newer assistants in The Gauntlet stood there. She was an Asian girl with dark brown almond shaped eyes and long black hair pulled back into a pony tail. Probably to keep it out of her face or to keep it from falling against the pages on some of the older books, Godfrey thought. He was pleased to see that she had taken the precaution, given the stack of books she was carrying. It didn’t take much to set off rapid deterioration down in these caverns beneath the Department of Extraordinary Affairs and the oil in hair could be just as destructive as fire.

The girl was definitely attractive, maybe only a few years younger than him, but right now, she looked a bit perturbed.

“Yes…?” he started, fishing around for a name in his head. Godfrey thought it might be Clarice.

“Chloe,” she offered.

So close, he thought. “Of course,” he nodded, causing his straight black hair to fall across the top of his black horn rims. He pushed the hair away from his face. “Can I help you?”

She hoisted the stack of books in her hands up. Against her tiny frame, they looked like she had stolen them from a giant’s library. “These are for you. From those two guys up in Other Division. You know…the one with the stripe in his hair and that other guy who’s always in the leather jacket? He looks like one of the Village People.”

Godfrey smiled. “That would be Connor and Simon.”

Chloe stared at him blankly.

“They’re two of the few people around here who treat us as something more than glorified librarians,” he said. “They’re okay. They were my personal saviors during that whole zombie debacle during Fashion Week, one of the few times I ever saw any action around here.” He stood up and took the books from her. “Thank you.”

Pushing piles of notebooks, file folders, and other tomes out of the way, Godfrey placed the new pile down on top of his desk. He arranged them carefully, making sure his view of the small glass terrarium wasn’t obstructed. Once Godfrey had sat back down, Chloe pulled the top book off of the pile.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you,” she said, holding it up. “Fairy tales? Since when does the Department of Extraordinary Affairs keep fiction on hand? Especially down here with all the serious research?”

Godfrey pulled it away from her and placed it back on top of the pile. “Who says it’s fiction?”

Chloe smiled at him.

“Great,” she said. “When I get back to the coffee shop, I can’t wait to see what fairy tale creatures start chatting me up.”

Godfrey laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. The actual creatures from those books don’t really exist…that I know of, anyway. But the object lessons inside those stories…well, that’s a different matter. Some of our field agents could learn a thing or two about leaving a trail of breadcrumbs…”

“With my luck, I’d end up getting the Three Little Pigs instead of Prince Charming,” Chloe said, giving Godfrey a look of bemused frustration. An awkward energy passed between them, one that Godfrey couldn’t quite put his finger on. All he noticed was how long and painful the sudden lull in the conversation was becoming and also how red Chloe’s face had become.

Thankfully, Chloe’s eyes shifted to the terrarium as if noticing it for the first time, and Godfrey felt the sensation ease. She knelt down in front of it, searching for whatever was inside. Godfrey felt a swell of pride when she finally spied the tiny golden creature curled up in one corner.

“Is that…a snake?”

Bone Whispers

Written by Tim Waggoner

Kevin Blancmore slowed as he approached the old graveyard. It had been almost forty years since he’d been here last, and the place looked as if it hadn’t changed in the slightest during that time. It was not a thought that provided comfort.

Kevin braked and pulled his Nissan Altima—on which he was two payments behind, not that it mattered anymore—onto the side of the road in front of the graveyard’s black wrought-iron gate. There was no parking lot—the graveyard predated the road by nearly a century, he guessed—and Kevin scarcely had enough room to get his car off the road. There wasn’t a lot of traffic out here in the country, and he doubted he’d have to worry about someone coming along too fast, not seeing his car, and broadsiding the damned thing. But even if they did, what did he care?

Kevin turned off the engine and pulled the keys out of the ignition, but instead of getting out of his vehicle right away, he sat for a moment, staring out the windshield and listening to the car’s engine tick as it began to cool. He wasn’t sitting there because he was afraid, though he supposed he had good reason to be. And he wasn’t nervous, not even a little. He felt nothing, and that was the reason he sat behind the wheel of his car, hesitating. Considering what he had come here to do, or more to the point, to find, he should feel something. A moment like this…well, it was why the word momentous had been created, wasn’t it? It was potentially life-altering in the profoundest of ways and should be marked as such, if only inside his own heart. But just because he was aware that he should feel something didn’t mean he would. It seemed he was as dead inside as any of the graveyard’s residents, and all that remained was for the rest of him to catch up.

He unlocked the driver’s side door and climbed out of the car.

The weather in southwest Ohio in early June could range from cool and mild to hot and sweltering. But that was Ohio, where the weather changed as often as people’s minds. Unfortunately for Kevin, it felt more like mid-August, the air steamy, thick and damp. Even worse, he still had on the suit he’d worn for Nancy’s graduation, and the instant he emerged from the Altima’s air-conditioned environment, sweat began beading on his forehead and pooling beneath his armpits. He considered leaving his jacket and tie in the car and rolling up his shirt sleeves, but even though he would be more physically comfortable, he decided against it. A momentous moment like this called for a certain level of formality, so the suit would stay on and he’d just have to endure the discomfort. He could do that; after all, he’d had a lot of practice. An entire lifetime’s worth it seemed sometimes.

Let’s have a pity party for Kevvy-wevvy, he thought. One, two, three—awwwww!

Half amused and half disgusted at himself, Kevin walked across the uneven grass that covered the small strip of land in front of the graveyard—Looks like the county’s behind in their mowing—and stepped up to the gate. The graveyard was enclosed by a salmon-colored brick wall that measured five feet high, nine feet on either side of the gate and at the wall’s four corners where conical black-brick turrets pointed skyward. Kevin thought the graveyard’s designer must’ve been going for a somber yet dignified effect, and he couldn’t say the man had missed. The gate was in fact a pair, held shut by an ancient rusted padlock. Not locked, though. The padlock hung open on the gate, just as it had done during Kevin’s childhood. He wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that the padlock rested in the same exact position that it had then, untouched by hands all these long decades. Human hands, anyway.

A metal plaque was bolted on the turret to the right of the entrance, its surface dingy, the letters worn some but still legible.

QUAKER BRANCH MEMORIAL BURIAL GROUND. EST. 1957.

Kevin knew the date referred to the construction of the wall. The graveyard itself was much older.

Click here to order ZOMBIE RACCOONS AND KILLER BUNNIES. This preview for was provided and published with express permission from Tekno books and Kerrie Hughes. ©Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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