Nuptials and Nosh

This is a follow up of a sort.

Way back in 2012, I wrote a delightfully grim little story called “Blood and Frosting.” It’s one of my favorite pieces of flash fiction that I’ve authored. Its dry tone is different from my usual writing style, but it was so much fun.

The story below has a similar voice, though it’s less humorous and considerably more tragic.

And, of course, there are zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.

nuptials and nosh

Few things make a wedding as memorable as a horde of zombies. Mike Jefferies and Christina Mendez know all too well.

Theirs was a typical American love story. They met at a Starbucks, both hurriedly ordering overly-complex drinks that amounted to little more than sugar, fat and caffeine. She spilled hers on him. When he didn’t rebuff her for the unintended beverage assault, she swooned.

He asked her out. Seventeen months later, he proposed.

Christina fancied herself a June bride. The ceremony was to be an outdoor affair, dicey though such arrangements can be. Lush flower arrangements, an ornamental gazebo, and enough ribbon to strangle every guest twice.

The minister had only just begun the exchange of the rings when a low moan emanated from the back of the crowd. Mistaking the death wail for commonplace sentimentality, Mike recited his lines while Christina’s eyes welled with tears.

And then there was a scream.

The couple turned toward their friends and family to find the entire back row in an awkward state of resistance and consumption. Pale-skinned undead were ripping into wedding guests like toddlers rip into birthday presents. Mike spotted one of his coworkers gurgling objection as his throat, complete with the windpipe, was torn from his neck. Christina saw her former college roommate lose a handful of fingers to the chopping maws of a swarm of pre-teen ghouls.

Both bride and groom knew the wedding day would come with surprises, but this was more than either could reasonably be expected to anticipate.

Having forgotten the ceremony, they bolted, sprinting from the gazebo toward the adjacent ballroom. Behind them was sheer chaos. The crowd was blocked from the rear by dozens of zombies, thwarted on the right by rose bushes, and hemmed in on the left by a series of thoroughly impractical ice sculptures.

The throng surged, blood soaking the well-manicured lawn as the crowd became a buffet.

Inside the reception area, ceiling fans hummed. The air conditioning was cranked to high, lending to the unnerving sensation that they’d just entered a meat locker. Which, in a sense, they had, for there, shuffling around over-priced baked chicken and assorted finger foods, were a dozen more newly inducted zeds.

The catering crew.

Christina screamed, quite possibly the worst reaction she might have chosen. The zombies turned as one and, smelling live flesh, let out a collective groan. Their wounds were fresh, blood still bubbling along the fabric of their cheap Oxford button-downs.

Behind the would-be wedded was a blood bath. Before them, twelve unsatiated newborns ready to devour their first grey matter.

They were trapped.

Turning to his beloved, Mike’s face hardened. “Run to the left,” he said before kissing her. It was not the kiss he’d planned for that afternoon. Not lingering and long, but panicked, full of desperate passion to protect the one he loved.

Christina shook her head, barely muttering, “No…” before he pushed away and sprinted into the former catering crew.

Bringing his shoulder down and charging, Mike managed to knock the first off its feet before careening to the right and throwing himself at the next two. Bodies spilled across the floor, mouths already gnashing. Blood erupted from his hands, his arms, his neck, and his cheeks as the zombies bore down their dull teeth, rending flesh and scarfing muscle by the mouthful.

Christina felt faint, but her survival instinct ignited action. She did as Mike instructed, kicking off her heels and hiking up her dress. She moved quickly along the left-hand side of the hall, unnoticed by the hungry horde as they dined on her almost-husband.

She made it to the door and out, down the cobblestone entry walk, all the way to the edge of the parking lot. But there, next to the valet booth, were positioned several more oversized bouquets.

Lilies and white roses. Her favorites.

She stumbled into one of the heavy arrangements as she moved past. It teetered and fell, tangling with her train as she ran before arresting her forward movement and bringing her ass into swift contact with the pavement.

Shins bleeding, tears and mascara streaming down her cheeks, she tried to catch her breath. That was when she saw it – a mangled hand emerging from behind the bumper of the nearest car.

She didn’t scream. Not when the valet attendant wrapped his dead fingers around her ankle, his death grip surprisingly strong. Not when he opened his mouth impossibly wide, splitting the skin along his jaw. Not even when he sank his teeth into her calf, crimson staining the concrete beneath her.

But she would scream before it was over.

She would scream when she saw Mike, one arm torn off, his tuxedo tattered, an eyeball plucked from the socket. She wailed like a baby as he stumbled out of the building toward her, his mouth lolling open, tongue hanging out like a dying dog.

She cried until he kissed her one last time, dead lips on the warm skin of her neck, a red embrace that united them beyond the scope of their incomplete vows, binding them together, even in death.