Travis White was feeling a little piqued. The convention and long flight back from New York had seemed to take a lot out of him. All the shop talk, and partying was just a little too much. He must be getting old, he chuckled. Shoot, he'd only slept with one hooker this time. His wife was out of town, at her mother's for another day, so he was home alone. He figured that he would sleep it off, and be fresh in time to go to work in the morning. He didn't eat dinner; even though there was a de-thawed roast in the fridge for him to cook. As he lay on the couch, flipping through the channels, he barely noticed the 5 O’clock news story about strange attacks on the East Coast. He had broken out into a fever, and was preoccupied with that. He seemed to be going down hill, quick. At 10PM, he stumbled off the couch: barley making to the restroom to wretch in the toilet. He tried taking some aspirin, but his hands were shaking violently. In the end, he dumped the bottle into his hand, and crammed the pills into his mouth; many spilling onto the floor.
Had he not been on the verge of delirium, he probably would have called his wife, or the 24 hour nurse. As it was, he careened towards his bed, knocking some items off the dresser as he went. His knees hit the edge of the bed, and he pitched forward, losing conscience at some point before he hit the bed. As the night wore on, his fever continued to go up. He sweated profusely and shook hard enough to make the headboard rattle against the wall. His breathing became labored. Eventually, though, it was nothing more than a hitch; barely noticeable.
Travis didn't hear the alarm, when it went off. When his work called shortly after 10AM, to see where he was, he didn't answer. He was close to death. Shortly there after, his body spasmed and he drew a strangled breath then expired. As his body lay there cooling, the Orpheus Virus continued to work its way through its system. After some time, the eyelids began to flutter and the hands began to twitch. The eyes opened. The body sat up and slowly surveyed it surroundings. Saying that nothing was behind the eyes that used to belong to Travis White would not be exactly correct. There was something there, but it was not human. What was there could best be described as a feral hunger. The body let out a low moan and clumsily crawled off the bed.
Melinda White arrived home from her mother's house late that night. She always went to her mother's house when Travis was away. She was a little ticked at him, as he hadn't answered the phone all day. She knew he was home, because she began to receive a busy signal late in the afternoon when she had called. She had given up some hours ago, as she was headed towards home. He could be an inconsiderate prick sometimes, but she loved him. As she pulled in to the driveway, she noted that all the lights were off, except for the glow of the TV in the front room. Travis's truck was sitting in the driveway, so he was home, probably asleep, after a couple of beers. She turned the car off and went to the front door, quietly opening it so as not to wake him, and went inside.
She set her bag down inside the door and quietly went around the corner. The couch was empty. She looked around quizzically. There was a faint glow from the kitchen, at the end of the hall. She softly tread towards the kitchen; expecting to surprise Travis. She rounded the corner and pulled up short, in shock. The kitchen was a wreck. Travis sat on his knees in front of the open fridge. Its contents had been spilled out onto the linoleum. Egg yoke, broken glass and spilled milked made a mess across the kitchen. She could hear a wet smacking noise as Travis put something to his mouth, with both hands. The tone from the phone receiver that had been knocked to the floor sounded distant.
"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!!!” she loudly proclaimed, her face flushing with anger. With a start, Travis turned towards her. By the light of the fridge, she could see that he held the roast she had left him in both hands. Blood from it ran down both of his arms, and was smeared across his face. He chewed twice then looked at her slack jawed; half chewed meat and saliva running down his chin. He let out what was a cross between a mournful groan and a growl. Travis stiffly began to get up off the floor. Melinda stood transfixed, her right hand fumbling for the light switch. "Travis..." she said suddenly afraid.
Travis, or more rightly the body that used to belong to Travis White, made it to its feet. It stood 6 inches taller than Melinda White. It took a step towards her, with a hungry growl. The hands twisted into claws, and its lips turned into a snarl. Melinda's hand found the light switch and flipped it on. As the light came on, she lost her breath. Before her was Travis, only it wasn't Travis. The eyes were clouded over, and the skin had a grey pall to it. A look of savage hunger crossed the face, as the body lunged. Melinda was able to make a half turn to escape, before her former husband slammed into her. The momentum knocked her off her feet. Out weighing her by more than 80 pounds, the wind was crushed out of her lungs as they hit the floor. She tried to scream, but it was choked off.
Melinda heard something snap, and felt a sharp pain in her ribs. She didn't have time to dwell on it though, as that pain was replaced by others. Her attacker's hands raked at her; tearing her clothes and ripping her exposed skin. She felt a fetid breath on her neck, a mere fraction of a second before it exploded in pain. This time, she was able to scream. The two bodies tumbled on the floor, the larger one wrapped around the smaller one. Blood fountained in the air, as Melinda feebly tried to push her attacker away. Her throat and shoulder continued to be ravaged. Melinda's struggles quickly became weaker, as her heart pumped her blood out her torn arteries.
It took less than a minute for her to lose consciences. After she stopped fighting, her attacker went to work on her; as it didn't have to hold its prey. It went about tearing at the soft tissue on the body; ripping pieces off where ever it could. It stuffed those pieces hungrily into his mouth. After a time, it felt a change in its prey. The body it straddled began to stir. The eyes opened, and they were clouded over. Melinda White's former body let out an angry growl and clumsily swiped at the larger one's face. The attack had no meaning, as the larger body had begun to move away; having suddenly lost interest in its meal. It stood up and looked around the room. It spied the discarded roast sitting half eaten on the floor. It paused as though contemplating something then turned towards the back door.
Its hands fumbled with the door knob, and finally succeeded in opening the door. It was early spring, and the night air was chilly. It stepped out onto the back deck. Dead eyes took in the surroundings. The house was situated in a new development. There were no back yard lights to be seen in the neighborhood, and the close vicinity was quite. The yard sloped downhill and disappeared in to the dark woods. The creature cocked its head, as though listening. In the distant, there was the thrum of traffic. It had no idea what it was. Somewhere deep inside what remained of its intellect, though; it was able to equate the sound with food. Hunger arose inside it. It let out a mournful moan and stumbled off the porch. It trod purposefully down the yard and entered the woods.
Author's Note: I changed the original title from Undead Vignette: Homecoming, to what you see here. As I've written several of these stories, I decided to link them together. Each one is separate; a vignette within the larger story of the Zombie Apocalypse. They each carry the story forward; each one a stitch in the larger piece. The name will denote stories born from the original Orpheus Reborn story.