Edwin Quay, AKA “Deadwin,” has never felt so good. He hasn’t smiled this wide and pure in all his long and sordid years.
Pure might be a stretch—let’s say manic.
He screams a meaty, wet scream and feverishly slaps the steering wheel of the 1970 Cadillac Hearse (that he stole fair and square) to the beat of Fisted Sister’s underground hit, “Five Finger Love Punch”. God damn but he feels good! The drugs and booze surge through his barbwire veins like a Nikola Tesla wet dream. Deadwin rarely indulged in those who indulged, but tonight he feels like he’s got nothing to lose.
You see, this is Deadwin’s last night on Earth. He’s tired. He’s so very tired. And he wants to have a little fun before he fucks off to the hereafter. He doesn’t believe in an after-afterlife, per se, but he figures if there is one, the only button on his elevator will be down. So he’s indulged in a bit of the old bedlam and mayhem. He tongues the corners of his mouth, dislodging the drying and caked blood. It’s like the time he and his friend from the Old Country were youths and stuck a pepper up a donkey’s ass. The donkey kicked his friend square in the forehead. Out cold. Woke up an hour later covered in piss and sporting a dented dome. His friend spoke differently ever since. Okay, this is nothing like that pepper/donkey fiasco, but Deadwin remembers it like it was last week. He doesn’t remember how long ago it really was, but it’s still really funny. Especially the part where he pissed all over his unconscious pal.
Police lights from a dozen squad cars dance the go-go in the hearse’s cabin. The sirens blare while the siren on the radio banshees lyrics that Deadwin mostly gets right. The drugs make his vision precision-sharp then cataract-opaque. The hearse smashes through an intersection. Bodies ragdoll. The police slow down, uncertain—coordinating their way past the human debris. A few squad cars have no choice, and stop to help. Deadwin chuffs and hits the wipers.
Skreeeeee the wipers smear a healthy amount of blood and ass across the surprisingly non-shattered windshield. Deadwin cranks his driver-side window down and gives the gore a bread in marinara swipe with his fingers.
“You pathetic, feltching, scrote-skulled, dog hemorrhoid!” a voice from the back shouts. Deadwin completely forgot about how he had thrown the hearse’s owner–zip-tied–into the rear.
“Gah! What? Oh, right, the little beauty I saved for a mid-mayhem snack! How you doing, back there?” Deadwin throws his right elbow over the seat and stares maniacally at his verbal abuser—a five-foot-two hellcat named Slay Belle. Her haircut and clothes make Deadwin think about the movie Road Warrior, if all the characters were Gothabilly. He plays with the wheel willy nilly, causing the hearse to rock left-right-left, giving him a better look as she tumbles. Slay Belle’s clothes are all black and shredded (a style Deadwin never understood), her head is shaved saved for a long, purple horse tail on top. She’s got tattoos, but mercifully no piercings (one of Deadwin’s pet peeves).
“Go shit yourself!” shouts Belle. “Goddamn, needle-dick, undead piece of idiot fuck! You have any fucking idea what you’ve just done?”
Deadwin turns his eyes back to the road. The interstate on ramp is coming up fast, and he notices a drastic absence of police. He hits the ramp hard, causing a brief moment of oh hell, before he gets that big bitch back under what he considers control.
“I stole a hearse from a Ghoulie Girl!” he laughs. “Surefire death sentence! A one way ticket to fuckedville!” He’s right—you don’t pick a fight with the Ghoulie Girls and live to tell the tale. They’re a gang of malicious mamas, deadly dames, and chaos candy, whose sole imperative is to keep the para and normal worlds playing nice.
And spank the ever-loving hell out of those who can’t share the sandbox.
“You also kidnapped a GG, you vitamin D deficient perineum! That means your death sentence will be slow and fucking brutal.” Belle says. She tries to work her wrists from the zip ties but they only dig deeper. She thinks about how unlikely it would be to survive if the dead sled gets totaled with her bound and banging around the back. She also thinks about how far she might be able to shove her boot into Deadwin’s ass once the opportunity arises.
Deadwin loses his super happy fun time kill sheen. His demeanor has become serious. “As long as it gets done…” he grumbles. He sees a sign that reads Marina 10 miles, and he grins. The chemicals tug at him once more. “Marnia! Isn’t that the place where those Christian kids came out of the closet and got mauled by a lion named Ass Land? Reminds me of Rome…”
“Marina, idiot!” Belle shouts. “You’re driving towards the ocean!”
“Good! No shade on the beach! Perfect spot to share the sun, so to speak.”
“What are you talking about? Share the sun?”
“It’s an old dueling term…hold on…” Deadwin notices a cluster of headlights belonging to motorcycles and muscle cars moving in from behind. “Your gang’s finally joined the party!”
“Pull over then, so we can get working on your deranged suicide!” Belle laughs, knowing that this entire inconvenience is about to come to a close. A motorcycle closes in on the left. Deadwin gives the wheel a jerk. The GG on the bike swerves away with an inch to spare. The rider pulls a pistol and fires three times into the driver-side window. Glass showers over the two in the hearse. “Fuck! I can’t believe they’re shooting my fucking sled! Who’s shooting?”
“She’s on a motorcycle…Tattoos up her arm depicts cartoon characters in various positions of BDSM. I think I can make out…Olive Oil giving Popeye a golden shower..?” Deadwin squints. His vampire eyes are still under the fading spell of the drugs.
“Fucking Stacy!” Belle rages and struggles to her knees. “That bitch hates my ride! Says it’s too chunky to be badass. Fuck off, Stacy!”
“Yeah! Fuck off, Stacy!” Deadwin shouts at Stacy as she aims her pistol at his head. Deadwin reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out his lighter—a Flippo™ brand with Out With a Fang! engraved on it. He wings it with brilliant accuracy into the side of Stacy’s head, sending her and the bike to the pavement. The tumbling, scraping debris of body and bike cause a few more of the Ghoulie Girls to swerve and collide. He worries that there won’t be enough of them left to properly finish him off. Belle sees the chaos from the rear window and winces.
“They’re gonna kill you reeeeeaaaal slow now.” She says.
“Good! Fuck! I don’t care! That was my favorite lighter! Sacrificed to save this majestic monstrosity! Given to me in 1929, by F. W. Murnau himself, it was! You’re welcome!”
“Why do you want to die so badly?” Belle asks. She’s managed to kick her combat boots off, thereby freeing her feet from their zip-tie shackles. She attempts to shimmy her hands from her back to her front like they do in the movies. She gets her hands over her butt and down to the back of her knees. Then she’s just stuck. She curses herself and her non-committal attitude towards yoga.
“I’m tired, alright?” Deadwin shouts. “I’ve seen the empiric pendulum swing countless times over the throats of countless societies! I have born witness to the folly of mankind over and over and over. I’ve feasted on kings and whelps alike. I was present when arrows screamed over Carthage, canons over Azincourt, muskets over Michigan!”
“You looking for some sympathy?” Belle grunts, still struggling.
“Funny you should say that! I considered suing the Stones when I first heard that song, but my lawyer said I was delusional. He dropped acid like vitamins, and hug out with deranged journalists, but I was delusional!”
The entourage reaches the entrance to the beach, and the hearse smashes the wooden saw horse barricade at the ticket booth like so many toothpicks. Belle can feel each scratch on her poor baby’s chassis as if it’s her own flesh. Deadwin blasts down the main drag, headed for the end. Beach field after beach field rush by—the roar of the pursuing cars ricochet off the sand dunes. The GGs are hot on his ass.
“So you’re bored? That it?” Belle asks.
“No, not bored!” Deadwin replies. “Frustrated and fed up! Humans have become so banal! Hive-Minded. Devoid of purpose. Professional Victims. You have become a society of soulless shits who expect everything and deserve nothing! I can’t even kill and feel a life snuffed out anymore! It’s more like licking a drained 9 Volt battery. There’s no jolt! And the idiot pantomiming life on the business end of my fucking fangs is taking a selfie with a goddamned sparkle bunny filter! And everyone tastes so terrible these days. IPA, spiced latte fucking—fucking—”
“–Normies,” Belle offers. “They’re called Normies, or Basics. They are numerous and they are pointless. And I take offense at you lumping me in with them.” The hearse screeches to a halt at the end of the drag. The Ghoulie Girls close in. Deadwin puts it in park and turns it off.
“I’m sorry,” he begins. “You and your ilk are not like the others, but I am done. I want off, out, whatever—and you are the only ones I respect enough to see it done.” Deadwin watches all the guns get drawn and all the knives slide out—everybody’s ready to do the good work. He smiles and crawls over the seat and into the back of the hearse with Belle. He takes her hands in his and takes a deep breath.
“What are you doing?” Belle asks.
“Letting you out,” Deadwin practically flicks the zip tie off with one finger, and Slay Belle wastes no time. She begins to punch the hell out of him. “Not yet!” he shouts, catching her fist and then her throat. He pulls her in close and snarls. “Not. Yet.”
From the East Deadwin sees a glow that once would fill him with dread. Now he feels a swell of joy. The hearse doors swing open and Deadwin pours himself out feet first. Sand crinkles under his dirty dress shoes. He pulls Belle hard by the hand, skittering her across the concrete to the feet of her sisters.
“What the fuck is going on here?” shouts Ms. Carrie, a tall drink of poison dressed like she’s out of a Frank Miller yarn. She pumps her shotgun and trains it on the tip Deadwin’s blood soaked tie.
“Asshole wants to die,” Belle states. She’s helped to her feet by Mutilina, a Russian spitfire, and an amalgamation of Xanadu and The Matrix. She hands Belle one of her guns: a Taurus Judge she affectionately named Bitch Maker.
“Could’ve just asked…” Ms. Carrie says.
“Right? S’what I told him.” Belle shakes her head.
“Enough talk! Let’s go already!” Deadwin demands. He hears a thump from behind, and spins to see a GG standing on the hearse with a goddamn crossbow. She let’s fly. Deadwin catches the bolt and winces. “Fuck! Force of habit, sorry! Next time I won’t dodge.” He feels Bitch Maker’s barrel press against the back of his head.
“Nope.” Slay Belle says and pulls the trigger.
Sounds, though…that’s strange. The crunching of sand under boots. Wood now…planks, maybe. Fingers beginning to twitch. Damn it, death didn’t take. Sounds of skull growth like tectonic plates—flesh mends like spaghetti stirring in a pot and…seagulls…? Skin itches. Sun is rising. Maybe death comes after all.
Deadwin opens his eyes. He’s a fool to think a weapon like Bitch Maker could fell a creature so old. He’s tied down to something, facing up towards a burgundy dawn. Chains with silver inlay—that explains the itch and immobility. Classic, he thinks, the ol’ tie the vampire down and let the Sun to the dirty work maneuver.
“You’re up. Just in time.” Belle takes the last gulp from her beer bottle and tosses it overboard.
“I’m on a boat?” Deadwin shouts. “Why am I on a boat?”
“Correction,” Ms. Carrie interjects. She sits on a bin marked ‘life jackets’, with one long leg draped over the other. She looks like she’s modeling for an issue of Goths Ahoy. “You’re on a coffin that’s on a fishing boat that the good Captain Aukan here has let us use.” She points up to the enclosed cockpit where the Captain waves.
“Dra til Helvete, vampyr.” says the Captain via loud speaker.
“What..?” Deadwin cranes his neck and sees that he is indeed strapped to a beautiful, metal coffin.
“I dunno, he’s Norwegian.” Ms. Carrie shrugs.
“No, cow! I was referring to the fact that I am strapped to a motherfucking coffin on a boat in the middle of wherever the greasy shit we are!” Deadwin roars. Even in his current situation, a vampire this old can be highly dangerous and intimidating. The Ghoulie Girls, however, have seen it before.
“You wanted to die, fuck sock,” Belle begins. She opens a new beer and sips it. “You messed with us because you wanted to die. Last goddamn thing we’re gonna do is let that happen.”
“Doesn’t it make more sense to trap me inside the coffin, idiots?” Deadwin mocks. Mutilina lights a cigarette for the sole purpose of putting it out on the vampire’s forehead.
“Can’t,” says Mutilina. “All full.” She knocks on the shiny, black metal, causing said ‘contents’ to stir.
“Please let me out.”
“Let us out, you mean.”
“No, I don’t care what they do to you. Please let me go.”
“There’s no need for rudeness…”
“Shut up and die right, you assholes.” a third voice from within grunted.
“Besides…” Slay Belle brings her face in close to Deadwin’s. Not the smartest move, but anger > sense sometimes. “…You hurt Hearseton Howell the Third. Un. For. Givable.” Belle nods at Mutilina, who opens the loading gate at the stern. “Any last words?”
“You named your Hearse after a character from Gilligan’s Island. Just push me in.” Deadwin sighs. Belle and Ms. Carrie each grab a side and get to pushing. Mutilina pitches in for the last hump overboard.
Deadwin watches the glow of the morning sun pull further and further away. Few more minutes and he’d have been off the hook. Ah well, he thinks. The cool rush of water feels nice, at least. Combats the silver’s itch. The coffin hits bottom with an anticlimactic thump. Once the silt cloud settles, Deadwin peers out into the brackish deep. Even with his preternatural vision he can’t see too far. Just as well, he thinks again. Down here there aren’t any Normies. No hive-mind zombies shuffling about, spreading the virals. It’s quiet. Peaceful. Maybe it won’t be so ba–
“We’re sealed in…” a voice from the coffin makes its way through the lid. Crystal clear, thanks to those heightened senses.
“Won’t matter once we run out of oxygen, fuckface.” the second voice states.
“And you talking is only making it worse.”
“Exacerbate.” offers the first voice. “Oh, and I don’t breathe…well, I don’t have to.”
“Would you two shut the bloody hell up?” The third voice grumbles. “I’m trying to eat, here!”
“What do you mean, you don’t have to breathe? And what the fuck do you mean you’re trying to eat?” The second voice shouts.
“Well, I’m pretty much just your run of the mill, black magic, hexually transmitted, reanimated corpse. I mean, maybe not run of the mill (it’s really an interesting story), but I don’t like to toot my own horn. But I can say with authority that I am more ‘living dead’ than our ornamental friend outside.” The first voice carries like a deranged cartoon character. A knot builds in Deadwin’s guts.
“And what about you, Mr. ‘I’m fucking eating’?” shouts the second voice.
“Leach Person.” says the third voice with a mouthful of moisture. “I think that’s why they put me in head to your feet. Been sucking at your ankle for about an hour.”
“Wh-what?” The second voice panics.
“Yeah, you can’t feel anything because my teeth are so sharp.”
“My apologies! Where are my manners?” The Zombie chimes. “Tell me about yourself! What brings you to our little predicament?”
“Don’t go into shock, please, you pansy.” Leachman says. “Harder to feed when you’re all twitchy and shit.”
“Mafia…boss…I did—I did—tried to muscle the Ghoulie Girls out of Brooklyn. S—see where that shit got me?”
“Neat! So…good news/bad news situation, I’m thinking–” The Zombie begins.
“Mr. Leach will most likely drain you before you suffocate, which, If you ask me, is the way to go. Slowly, painlessly drifting to sleep…But that means you’re going to suffocate eventually, Mr. Leach—or starve. Can’t feed on ol’ Karl with a K. No sir! That’s me, in case you didn’t realize. Cadaver Karl, as I’m known in certain circles. Which brings me to Mr. Vampire out there. Sooner or later it’s just going to be you and me…and I can tell you all about how I came into this predicament. Believe you me, it’s a doozy of a yarn! Don’t go pissing off the Voodoo King himself; Papa Boomslang! I’ll give you that advice for free! Gosh, you know what? I know there’s no rush, but with a segue like that, I’d be remiss to keep you hanging until these other fellows die. So there I was, in The Big Easy, when…”
Deadwin’s eyes scan for salvation in the form of sharks or ghost pirates. With the last shred of hope floating from his mind, he also allows a bubble to pass his lips. As it rises higher and higher, the barrage of Karl’s words cut his peace to pieces. By the time the bubble breaks surface, no one is around to hear Deadwin’s final words as it pops: “Fuck. Me.”