Back To School September / October

Every couple of weeks, I hope to post a Back To School blog for US, THE PARENTS.

* One week, I will introduce you to amazing, relaxing products with a special interview by the products creator.

* Another week I will give you tips and quotes from parents who got off of drugs for their kids, and stay off of drugs for their kids.

* Tips on dealing with Children’s Services.

* Pets and kids.

* Making sure your kids actually do their homework

* Kids and bullies

* Anything readers suggest.

Send suggestions to:

Zymere Perkins: Another Child Dies Due to ACS (from October, updated November 2016)

From 11 October 2016:

Zymere Perkins, age 6, is the latest victim of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). The mother, 26 year old Geraldine Perkins had 5 (five) founded cases against her. When neighbors of this Harlem child tried to report the abuse done to Zymere by his mother and her boyfriend Rysheim Smith, 42, they were ignored. In April of this year (2016), a school social worker called ACS and Nitza Sutton was assigned the case. As Sutton was up for a promotion, she had to close out her cases. Despite the overwhelming evidence that Zymere was being physically abused, and the previous founded cases (meaning there was evidence of abuse found; a first time offender can get a warning but after that there are mandated parenting classes, anger management, and removal of the child. This is usually done with the first or second “founded” case. I have no idea how Ms. Perkins made it to five founded cases and still had custody of Zymere. I was unable to find any reason for this red flag oversight and as I am not a relative, was told that I could not get information over the phone.) against the mother, the case was closed. And Zymere was beaten to death with a broomstick handle.

“Neighbors saw repeated abuse of Zymere…”

So WHY weren’t they listened to? A neighbor, the mother of the son in the above photos with Zymere, claims she called the police and ACS.

Nitza Sutton, Zymere’s ACS / Children’s Services worker, closed his case early due to overwhelming evidence of serious physical abuse. Why? Because she had a chance at a promotion but had to finish up or close out all of her cases first. Now, I can understand wanting a promotion. As someone who had to go through eleven cases against my son’s dad (none of which were called in by me; only the first 3 workers spoke to my son’s dad and only the 1st saw him where he lived, but even though the cases weren’t against me, we — my son and I — had to deal with home visits, school visits, meetings at the ACS offices, etc, for 6-8 weeks each time), I know there are many cases which the worker doesn’t even look at the abusive parent unless the child is living with that parent. But Zymere was living with his abusive mother and her abusive boyfriend. He was six and had nowhere to go, nobody who could help him — except Nitza Sutton, his ACS worker. But she had that promotion dangling in front of her, so what’s one more abused kid? Giving her the benefit of the doubt, which is more than she deserves, Ms. Sutton probably figured there would be another call from the school or a neighbor to open another ACS case and it would be another worker’s problem. Why should she care about a bright eyed little boy when she had a promotion coming her way?

Medical Examiner Says Zymere Perkins Died Of ‘Fatal Child Abuse Syndrome’


ACS Workers in Zymere Perkins Case Return to Job (16 November 2016)

The Following Links Were Accessed in October 2016:

* ACS In Recent News:



* ACS – What is Child Abuse/Neglect?

* New York City’s history of failure to prevent fatal child abuse – NY Daily News

* ACS 20 Milestones


* Neglect of Children’s Services contributed to deaths of 8 kids: report | New York Post

* Innocents lost Database: Children who will never grow up |

This Is What It’s Like (Updated)

I still need a good ending; I’d really appreciate any help you can give as a writer or editor. Thanks!


He showed up early for his weekend with your son.
You’d told him to call from the train. That way you could have your son dressed. That way, he wouldn’t see the crying, the begging, the pleading of your son not to have to go with his dad.
You know what is happening there. You see the bruises on your son. You take photos before and after.
You have your own bruises, now healed, and missing teeth, and carvings. But the court insists on the visitation, so you lie, you lie so well to convince your son, to convince yourself, that it’s not so bad and when he gets older, he’ll see, his dad will realize how wrong he was and he’ll be so sorry. So very sorry for what he’s done.

This is what it’s like to have your son abused by his father.

Hell, his father has bragged about beating your son; how he lets his girlfriends beat on your son.
His dad doesn’t even want custody. When you asked what he would o if you gave him full custody, he shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Give him to my mom?”
You ask why he’s dragging you thru court, wasting tax payer dollars, and he laughs. He tells you that he’s hurting your son as revenge because you didn’t love him enough. And your son gets the worst of it.
You tell Childrens Services, your lawyer, the court. But two liars are more believable than one telling the truth. They say you are jealous; that you are upset about the “break up”. Explaining that you ended it, and never loved him in the first place falls on deaf ears. And now he’s here early.

This is what it’s like to be scared of your son’s father.

You stand in the doorway and urge your son to hurry. Your son is 6, and is crying he doesn’t want to go. In the hallway, his father hears and, maybe, for the first time…
You hear, from behind you, “Fuck this,” and then an arm around your throat pulling you down, down, it’s all so slow, and then the *crack* as your lower spine hits his knee and there’s this blast of pain your spine is on fire and then everything goes black.

This is what it’s like to be crippled by your son’s dad, in front of your son.

When you come to, you are lying in the public hallway of your building with your son standing at your head as if he is blocking you, protecting you, and he is screaming, “I hate you! I hate you, dad! I never want to see you again!” And his dad is standing there, silent, holding up his phone to record the entire thing.
You know you have to get up but your whole body is Pain and there is a terrifying numbness below your waist but you need to get up you have to protect your son so you roll onto your stomach and fight your body and force yourself to stand and you pull your child into the apartment and you call the police.
The police come and cuff both you and your son’s father and they bring you downstairs and your baby, your only child is clinging to you, shaking and crying and they crowd all of you into the same small elevator and your body is trying to collapse under you but you must stand, you have to stay up for your son.
Downstairs they let you sit on a stoop, with your son, while they watch the video. The sound is muffled, but you hear the crack, the snap that was your spine.
As they put him in the police car, he tells you, “Your lucky I’m so nice or else I’d have them arrest you, too.” Three police officers laugh. They laugh so hard, two have to lean on the hood of the car. They remove your cuffs, and your son begins crying anew when he sees the marks they’ve left and you comfort him, and you watch your arms hold your son, and rub his back, but there’s this strange mix of pain and numbness.

This is what it’s like to lie to your son.

You now have your son for the weekend, so you refuse the ambulance that is scaring your son, everything is scaring him and you want to tell him that you can’t hold him up, you can barely hold yourself up, but you are his Mother and you hold him even as you are barely holding on yourself.
You tell your son you’re fine, that it was nothing, that the sound he heard was something, anything, but not your spine. You suggest a “Lazy Weekend” in bed so that your son won’t notice that you can barely walk, that you have to lean on furniture, hold onto the walls. But he sees, and he knows.
You get tests done: CT scans, MRI’s, electric pulses that check for nerve damage.
You are told you now have three herniated and two bulging discs in your lower spine. The pain will be a constant companion to your recently diagnosed Fibromyalgia.
You bring the medical and police records to court. But there is no restraining order issued. No end to the visitation. Instead, the court decides your son should be picked up by his father st school giving him an extra three hours.
Your son regresses, again.

This is what it’s like when the court treats all cases the same.

This is what it’s like for many single parents.
If you have been or currently are in an abusive relationship, get help. My biggest fear growing up was being in a homeless shelter. But I did it. So can you. Remember: the people in a Domestic Violence shelter are there to help you; if I’d listened to them, and cut off contact with my son’s dad back then, I wouldn’t be permanently crippled and, most importantly, my son would never have been so horribly abused.
If you’re in NYC, contact Safe Horizon.. Nationally, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)



Blessed Be,

D. K. Stevens

To The Woman Below Me In E11:

To The Woman Below Me In E11:

[From November 2016]

Two weeks ago, at the beginning of November 2016 (it’s taken me time to write this as well as get the previous dates of your harassment correct), you physically blocked me from entering the building my son and I live in to make one of your crazy claims: when we take a shower, you claim it drips down into your bathroom. Did you tell the Super? No. Did you tell the Landlord? No.You waited until you caught me and my son coming home from my son’s Dr to harass us — AGAIN.

This is not the first time that you have harassed my son and me — banging on my door, trying to stop me from entering the building or the elevator — and, as I did not wish to physically touch you, I had to work my way around you. This, despite my being physically crippledwhich you are aware of. I said my usual, “Call the landlord”, although I’m guessing they no longer listen to your insanity, as well as asking if you wished for my son (who was with me at the time) and me to, “stop taking showers”.

Since we moved into this Hellhole (song by Spinal Tap) in June 2006, the walls and floor of my bathroom have been knocked out, leaving large, unsafe holes for months at a time, at least three (3) times due to your paranoia and insanity.

1.) LESS THAN 24 HOURS AFTER WE MOVED IN YOU BROKE THE LAW BY ENTERING MY APARTMENT WITHOUT PERMISSION: My son, aged 1.5yrs at the time, and I saw the apartment above you for the first time on Monday or Tuesday 29/30 May 2006. We filled out the papers and signed the lease at the end of that week, and I picked up tbe keys Monday 5 June 2006. We were to move in that Wednesday and were looking forward to having a bathtub as my son was too big to be washed in the sink and the shelter we were in only had a stand-up shower stall. Due to a SNAFU, we were moved from tbe shelter to the apartment around noon Tuesday 6 June. We immediately went out to purchase a queen sized mattress to sleep on that night and, after a late afternoon delivery, bought sheets at the Atlantic Mall and had dinner at the pizza place on West 7th and Kings Highway. We picked up some essential food and liquids to get us through the night at the bodega across the street and came home between 7 or 8pm. My son was in diapers so the only water usage was when I brushed my teeth (I don’t leave the water running), and washing my hands after I peed, although I didn’t flush as my son was asleep. The next morning, just after 7am, my son and I were awoken to a banging on the door.

“Super!” yelled the Super. We jumped up and ran to open the door to find not only the Super, but you with your huge Russian-English Dictionary. I stepped aside so the Super could come in, and you pushed your way in even though I didn’t know who you were and didn’t invite you in. (Going uninvited into someone’s apartment is illegal in this country.)

“There is leak from this apartment from past two weeks,” the Super said. I reminded him that I had seen the apartment for the first time the week before and had only had the keys since Monday. You tried explaining the water was causing damage and, not realizing what a horrible person you were, I helped you piece together that your kitchen cabinets were coming loose. I would learn to regret that help, not just because you never thanked me in English or Russian, but because the Super proceeded to knock most of the bathroom wall* out on the right side of the toilet, as well as some of the floor, before realizing the leak was from the kitchen and he went in there to knock out some more walls. You gave yourself a tour of the bathroom while my son burrowed in my arms. Finally you and tbe Super left, telling me that the holes would be fixed “soon”.

For the next three months I had to pee and poop sideways on my toilet with my feet in the tub (facing the normal way meant my feet would hang in the floor hole). I had to keep my son out of the tub as I had no room to kneel beside it, and I had to keep him out when I went to the bathroom. Showers were quickly done when he was asleep. And he got washed in the too-small sink.

2.) The wall in my bathroom was knocked in (or out) due to a potential fire from your place. I never complained to you. You never apologized or came to see if  we were ok.

3.) Not sure if this happened before or after the fire, but, again, I was the subject of you and the Super shoving into my apartment. And a large hole that had garbage bags over it held by duct tape for months. No thank you, sorry or ANYTHING polite ftom you.

My son used to have nightmares of “La Bruja Russe”, which is technically “Red Old Lady / Witch”… My son had heard me praying*** for help from the red-headed bitch downstairs and that’s what he heard. You and your tacky red hair taunted his dreams and mine. Even before you saw us, your face was turned to a nasty look. And then you would see us, usually in the lobby, and you would light up and srart some tirade against us.**

4.) And so it begins again. Sorry, but no leaks here. I refuse go let anyone in to check your made up stories anymore. “Move kn. G ed t a lufe.” = “Move on. Get a life.” I’ve never had so many problems typing a post.

* Let me briefly describe the bathroom. It is very narrow. It is just under six feet across. Standing in the doorway, the sink is on your left, next to the bathtub going the long way. On your right is a towel rack and two steps bring you to the toilet. There is a window behind the toilet but people on the street can watch you pull down your pants to sit on the toilet. (Thank you to a sralker who let me know.)

** I’ve had typos in my Free Write blogs. But never this bad. I’ve corrected almost every word in this blog.

*** My biological mom is, minimum, 3rd generation New Orleans. (We’re Choctaw on her dad’s side so much more than 3rd generation). Normally I stay away from Dark Magick, but mess with my kid and I’ll take what comes back three times.

Meeting My Characters

I was waiting in my pain doctors office when a beautiful girl sat next to me. She didn’t appear crippled.
Large brown eyes, skin that made Herr appear to have a slight tan, wavy dark hair falling to the middle of her back. Her figure was slender but had some curves in the right —
“Are you thinking weird thoughts about me?” she whispered, leaning in towards me as if we were going to have a private conversation. “I’m Maria,” she added. “And I’m not. Not, um, crippled.”
Bonita popped into my head.
“We want you to write about us.”
I looked at her.
“It’s been years,” she continued. “You’ve got our family tree, births, deaths, even a map of the apartment I grew up in.”
I stared. Yes, I had a story in my head about Maria and her family, but this was nuts.
Before I could do it, she reached over and pinched me. Hard. “See?” She smiled prettily. “I’m not a figment of your imagination.”
I rubbed the red mark. “Obviously not,” I muttered under my breath.
“Look, we’ve waited a long time. We haven’t read all of your notes — we don’t need the future,” she said, probably thinking of her maternal aunt who made a living telling people their future
. “But you need to get started or we’ll go to another writer.”
“You can do that?” I asked.
“Of course! Well, maybe. Ok, maybe not,” she pouted.
“I’m getting to you,” I said.
She brightened. “Really? That’s great!”
“But it’s going to take some time,” I said.
She tried to hide her anger. “Look, all we ask is a post about each of us,” she gritted out thru her teeth.
“Each of you! There are over thirty main characters,” I laughed.
“Thirty? Where’d — How can there be so many main characters?” I’d apparently caught her off guard.
“Ok, maybe they’re not all main. A lot are minor.”
“Better get to work then,” and she pinched my arm again for good measure.

That’s not the real Maria. I’ll write about her tomorrow and you’ll see. She’s so sweet — normally — that she can cause cavities.
I swear.

Blessed Be,
D.K. Stevens

Gathering My Zombie Bits

As anyone who is familiar with my Free Write blog, I’m a huge Zombie fan. Unfortunately, I’m a fast reader and found myself at a loss for a good zombie novel / series: one that made me care about the characters, but also one that gave me “thrills and chills” with the zombies; one that was “realistic” about lack of food, running out of ammunition (I don’t know much about guns, but I know they run out of bullets!), and maybe, just maybe, a book / series that delves into Where the zombies came from! I’ve seen some of my ideas used (a mutation of rabies was one), but I figured I’d just have to work on my Zombie Bits (working title).

And then I found Doug Ward.

It starts with Parasite; The True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse . Followed by: Symbiote, Creator, and Predator. I tore through these books as if my life depended on it, becoming attached to the characters, watching as they changed due to their situation and the loss of those close to them. These books were as real as any Zombie Apocalypse books could be. Characters were realistic, and didn’t immediately go from out of shape nerd to Rambo in a day. We watch how they each learn how they fit in with their group, utilizing their strengths and making up for others weaknesses. Mistakes are made, lessons learned. While you can read just one, I highly recommend getting them all (preferably from Amazon or somewhere Mr. Ward can get some financial benefit!)

Anyway, here are some of my attempts. One is from a male p.o.v., which I have problems with; another from a Y.A. (Young Adult) perspective (they make money); and two I was going to use for the novel I refer to below — but now I plan to rewrite them both. Editing, the bane of a writer’s existence!

Excerpt from: Pen and Paper and Zombies: Journal Wed 10 Feb 2016

I’m not sure why I am so fascinated by the whole zombie genre. My son and I live in a six-story building with a pharmacy downstairs. I’ve told my son that if the zombie apocalypse does happen, we will wipe out the pharmacy and use the pills as currency. What I don’t think my son wants to admit is that I will not survive very long in a zombie infested world: my disabilities and dependence on medication would slow me down. I plan on finding someone trustworthy to take care of my son, handing over the meds, and taking a bullet to the brain.
Unfortunately, my son has said that if I get bitten, he will have me bite him so we can “be together”. I do not approve if this, although if he gets bitten I would have him bite me, though not before tying us together at the waist so we will “be together”.

I’m also slowly working on zombie short stories, held together by the thread of a main character who is in her first trimester of pregnancy when all hell breaks loose. She is saved by a nurse who takes her to a compound the nurse’s father has set up. (This is where se meet the other characters and hear their stories.) The problem is that the nurse is hiding a secret — her father, who spends his time in his lab working on a cure, is one of the scientists who created the virus in the first place. *dum dum duuuum*
I’ve posted a couple of these Zombie Bits, like Zippo and Apocalyptic B.S..

Apocalyptic B.S. (or, another attempt at a Zombie story, this time told by a ditzy teen):

So the Apocalypse has happened.
People who died don’t (or won’t) stay dead.
They bite and eat the living.
Those that had enough of a body left became one of Them: Zombies, Undead, Shufflers, etc.
Whatever you want to call them.
Only when it “started” I, well, I happened to be cutting school, sitting in on of my mom’s latest husbands huge boats– oh, excuse me, her latest husband would be my step-father. He has a thing about my calling him “daddy”. As in, I have to or else we take one of the boats with a bedroom. Alone.
So when I saw him shuffle (They really do shuffle. It should be a new dance craze.) towards me, towards his boat, and his head was at an awkward angle, his tongue–black, swollen, hanging out– coming down the extra-long pier, I thought, No. This time, no.
And I started cutting at the ropes holding the boat to the dock, wishing I’d paid more attention to perv-faces’ “Rope 101” lessons.
Jeez, how many ropes need to hold the goddamn boat to the pier? I wondered.
I knew I was in trouble for cutting school and being on his “precious” (Yes, he’d say it like Gollum til the next new toy became his “precious”.) But I’d been helping myself to the “wine cellar” (a.k.a., 12–make that 11– bottles of awesomely expensive wine kept at a certain temperature at a certain angle…) since about 10am and was more concerned with the coming hangover than anything.
Mind you, I still didn’t know about Them. He always liked scaring me. And grossing me out. And getting his friends in on it. Hence, the other guys who looked like they were bloody and gross.
“You look like extras from The Walking Dead,” the wine made me yell at them. No, not the wine. I always believed that if you drink or do other drugs that if you don’t take responsibility for what you do while on them, you shouldn’t do them. So I guess it was the stupid make-up and the ropes not getting loose fast enough and the knowledge of what was going to happen in exchange for me cutting. The fear somehow gave me a sense of what-else-can-go-wrong?
One or two turned towards my voice, but since the group was already looking at me like a juicy steak
As he got closer, I saw that “daddy” had recieved the best make-up job. It actually looks like his neck has been chomped and there seemed to be mising bits on his arms.
Just as Shuffle-Perve gets a leg up on the ladder, the boat pulls out and it looks like he’s trying to do a split, but then he falls into the water.
I laugh and point and laugh, which had to be the wine (sorry!) since he was a great swimmer and would probably be climbing on the boat yelling for a towel any minute. But he just sank like a rock, followed by two more who didn’t so much fall as shuffle right off the pier, never taking their eyes off of me.
They sank, too.
I went to the other side of the boat to steer the thing and tried, really tried, not to scratch his boat as I pulled out of the small boat area (marina?) and into the river. I figured I couldn’t get in to any more trouble and, like I said, wine does strange things. In vino veritas or something.
Then I did something stupid. I curled up on a chair and passed out.
It wasn’t until much later, the next day, actually, when I turned on the tv to see my favorite show that I found out what was going on and that I realize he wasn’t just being an arse. I think. I’m sure in his undead state he was still an arse. No zombie virus could change that.
The dead had come back to life.
I’m sure that thought would’ve scared me more, alone, on a yacht my, um, step-dad owned, floating down Ol’ Miss (the Mississippi to you Yankees).
But it was the quiet that scared me. I put on some music and I searched above the deck, and below. If they were serious, I needed to check for food and water. I also helped myself to another bottle of wine.
As I was passing the linen closet (who has a freaking “linen closet” on a boat?), I heard a noise.
Just my effing luck, I think. A zombie.
I’d never been the athletic type.
I did try out for the cheerleaders,  figuring my gymnastics background would help. I didn’t make it as they were more focused on slutty dance routines. Not that I’m biased.
We don’t talk about it in my family.
My family! Crap. I realized my mom was probably worried by now. Especially with what happened to her husband. I pulled out my phone and found I’d missed about ten texts– from my ex. I can’t say I was too upset to find there was no service. But how would I get in touch with my mom and little sister? Technically,  she was my half sister, but I adored her anyway. I tucked that problem awsy for later.
The linen closet doors bang against me, and I hear muffled gibberish from within. Oh, yeah, zombie aboard. Maybe it was my wine diet for the last day and a half, but I didn’t freak like I thought I would.
I backed away slowly, and pick up an ugly statue. The doors burst open, and I slam the statue down on his head so hard it breaks, and suddenly there’s all of this blood all over the place.
It’s bright red.
The dead thing puts his hands to his head.
“Ow. Damn. I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be here when I’m not working but I was supposed to meet this hot chick and she didn’t show but you did and I didn’t want to lose my job and why’d you hit me so hard? Oh, G-d, I’m bleeding!” He’s going on and on until I finally interrupted him.
“So, you’re not one of Them?”
“One of what?” He asks, looking up at me with blue eyes so light, they melt my knees. I remember him; the head of something to do with keeping the boat together.
“Brian?” I asked, holding what’s left of the ugly statue in my hands, which are raised above my head. “Why didn’t you come out sooner?”
“When Khloe didn’t show, but you did, I hid down here. But the stupid closet locks on the outside,  so I was stuck.” He moves a hand from his head. “Oh, G-d, you better go back to the dock. I think I have a concussion. ”
I turned on the radio to give him his answer.
“The TV isn’t working? ” he asked, trying to stand.
“Just listen, will you?” I stand and look for towels in the closet.
I purposely grabbed a white one, knowing it’ll drive my step-dad crazy until I remembered yesterday,  and then I’m running for the bathroom to throw up everything I ate in the last month.
When there was  nothing but dry heaves, I lean back on my knees and almost scream.
“It’s just me,” Brian said, continuing to pull ugly statue pieces from his scalp, which, as I easily remember, has dark hair.
Great, dark hair, blue eyes, Zombie Apocalypse.
Which brings us up to now. In the bathroom of my zombie-turned hopefully-really-dead step-dad.  Drunk and hungover on wine. Sitting next to a toilet filled with my puke, while the cutest guy my dad employs picks ugly statue bits from his scalp.
“I’m sorry, ” I say. ” I thought you were one of Them.”
“It’s not that bad,” he says. ” I’ve had worse.” He smiles at me. “You know, this whole Zombie thing is probably a hoax. Like whats-his-name.”
“Do you mean ‘War of the Worlds’?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he’s holding a towel to his head. The other towel went in the hamper.
“You obviously didn’t see my, um, your boss yesterday, ” I say quietly.
Brian flushes the toilet, and wets a hand towel, which he offers to me. He sits cross-legged in front of me as I wipe my face. I don’t want him looking at me now, gripping the toilet, puke breath…
“Yeah, he tried getting on the boat but I got it away from him.”
There’s a long pause, where all I hear is the radio, “if you can get to a city center, please do so for your own protection…”
Brian snorts, or maybe it’s a laugh.
“Yes, folks,” he says like a radio announcer. “If you know nothing about the undead, go to a place where it will spread the fastest.”
“So, you know about these things? ” I asked.
“Only from books, tv, movies, ” he said.
“Ok,” I said. “What now? ”
“We check our food and liqyid supply. Figure out how long it’ll last us. ”
He followed me up the stairs so we could check out what was in the kitchen.
[End of intro.  Comments appreciated. ]

I have a virtual notebook that I use for ideas, bits of writing that aren’t fully fleshed out stories. I realize that the zombie thing is over-played, but there’s something about a zombie apocalypse that makes me want to write about it (not live it).


He kept playing with a zippo lighter. Flipping it over, under, around his fingers. It was mesmerizing, hypnotic. Flicking it open but stopping at the last second; he never lit it.
“Does it still work?” Serena asked.
He paused. Got that look we all get at times when we remember a close call with the undead.
“Don’t know. Don’t think so,” he paused and she thought that would be all he said. He leaned over and showed it to her. It was plain silver, but had the initials, “M.C.” with a heart. “It was my wife’s. It was the first gift I got her, back when we started dating, as teenagers.” He barked out a sound that could’ve been a laugh. “She took such good care of this thing. Said every time she used it, she’d think of me. We were married as soon as we were legal. Would’ve been twenty years if… If this hadn’t happened.”
Serena didn’t say a word. She knew what was coming.
“They got her, early, two of those fucks got into our house and they, well, I woke up and they were on her. Didn’t even notice me in the same bed. And I… I knew what had to be done, but even though I bashed those two fucks’ heads in, I couldn’t do that to her.” He shuddered a sigh, but he was on a tangent. It was as if he’d forgotten Serena was there; had forgotten the other survivors in the bunker. It was like a poison that he had to get out. “She was unconscious, or dead, I don’t know. I tied her to our bed. I poured gasoline I’d siphoned from one of our cars around the bed. I couldn’t, oh, god, I couldn’t pour it on her. I picked up the lighter — this lighter,” he held it up, “And I bent over to give my Marcy, MY Marcy, my love, one last kiss. I must’ve had my eyes closed because I heard this growl and jumped back just as she lunged for me but the ropes held her back. I lit the lighter and touched it to the rug… She was struggling by then, thrashing, her eyes had that film and she was growling and I watched the flames get closer to the bed…”
“That’s when we showed up,” Jim came over and put an arm around the guy. “Me and Mikey see the door open and smell the flames. We run upstairs and find this guy about to jump into the flames.”
“What reason do I have to live without her?” He mumbled, and resumed doing his Zippo tricks. “None.”

[Taken from my old writer’s group blog, originally published 23 February 2015]

Zombies in New York, Chapter 1a:

I threw my alarm clock against the wall when it went off at 6:30a.m.
This wasn’t new- I bought a new alarm clock from the dollar store weekly due to my habit of breaking them. (One day, I was going to point out that it was a dollar store, yet my alarm clocks cost $5.99, a.k.a., $6. But not today.)
I stretched in my queen-sized bed and forced myself to wake up by muttering, “Wake up, wake up,” under my breath. Yes, I talk to myself. A lot. I spread my legs, closed them, rolled from the edge of the bed to the side by the wall, and back. I slept in a queen sized bed alone. Sad, i know. It’s not that I hadn’t gotten over my ex, David. He had stayed with me half the week while keeping his apartment on the upper east side, “just in case”.
Well, “just in case” turned out to be when I sat him down on the futon couch in the living room to tell him I was pregnant.
“Who is the father?” he asked.
I wanted to scream, “You, you dumbass!”
Instead I told him I had to pee and, with my jeans and underwear around my ankles, I heard the front door quietly open and close.
David was gone when I emerged from the bathroom, as I knew he would be. A week went by. Then two. I had a sonogram appointment, so I tried calling him. His number had been changed to an unlisted number. His secretary at work said he wasn’t in, but she’d gladly take a message. I don’t know why I wanted him there, but I left the information anyway: Beth Israel, the one on Union Square, sonogram, October 8, 9:45am.
That was 3 days ago, and the appointment was today. I slowly got up, and placed my hand on my belly. The doctor said it was too soon to feel a bump, and I felt it was too soon to feel through the extra weight I carried around my middle, but I felt nothing. “Well, kid, today we find out if you’re a boy or a girl.”
A siren drowned out the end of my sentence, and it wasn’t the first I’d heard this morning. As I turned on the hot water in my shower, I was shocked to hear what sounded like gun shots. I ran to my bedroom window to witness two police officers on one side of their patrol car shooting at a woman on the other side of the car. She was in what i called a “haus frau” dress. The police had shot her in the knees, two shots, and she was still moving towards them, pulling herself with her arms. The dress was soaked in blood and the officers were telling her to stop and lie on the ground. I shoved open my window and yelled, “Spanish! She speaks Spanish! That’s Mrs. Garcia!”
As one of the officers looked up at my 2nd floor window, Mrs, Garcia gained a burst of energy and, going under the squad car, bit the officer looking up at me in the ankle.
“Awwww! What the–” , he yelled, stepping back, into traffic, and shooting her in the head. Her body twitched, and lay still, but the officer who had been bit fell backwards into the traffic on 14th Street. A car filled with five people and a lot of suitcases screeched to a stop, but ran over the leg Mrs. Garcia had bitten. I was horrified. His partner ran to his side, and checked his pulse.
“You bitch-” he screamed, not noticing as his partner sat up and bit into his neck.
The officer Mrs. Garcia had bit in the leg, who had then had his leg run over, was gnawing and chewing through his partner’s neck as if he hadn’t eaten in days.
I stepped back, away from the window, and repeated, “This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening, that did not happen.” I reached forward, closed and locked the window, and closed the blinds, all without looking out the window. Backing away slowly, still muttering my mantra, I took my shower.
An hour later, I was walking through Stuyvesant Town, trying to forget what I witnessed this morning. But it was like a movie that wouldn’t stop: why had the police shot Mrs. Garcia, anyway? And how much adrenaline must have been in her system to pull herself like that?
One of the great things about Stuy Town is each building had two entrances/exits. My window, and one exit, faced 14th Street, where I had planned to catch the M14 bus up to Union Square, but after the scene this morning (did that officer really bite his partner’s neck?), I decided to leave the other way, which led into Stuyvesant Town. If you knew your way around, you could exit multiple different ways. I was heading for 16th Street and 1st Avenue exit.
As I walked past one of the playgrounds, I saw a mother literally beating her toddler off of her. There was red liquid everywhere, and it seemed to come from both of them. The mother would smack the child to the ground, then try to run away. The toddler, acting like nothing had happened, let out a growl (a growl? Who knew toddlers growled?), and jumped onto his mother’s back.
I glanced at my watch, and saw I was running late.
Most likely that was Jell-O or fruit punch on the bench, and I needed to stay calm. I kept walking west, seeing a few more odd sights on my way.
Of course, the “End If The World” people were out in full force. A block from my appointment, I suggested to one that they should simply write, “Told You So.” He moved his sign from in front of his face, revealing completely white eyes, and black stuff dripping from his mouth.

He growled as a man in a suit came over and smacked him on the head, although the blow didn’t seem to phase him.

“Don’t get too close, pretty girl, one bite and you’ll be like them.” He used the stick again to move the creature back, and I heard the clinking of metal chains. The man in the suit noticed me looking at the chains and said, “We’ve got to keep them chained, or who knows what could happen?” He added a tight smile that didn’t reach his beady blue eyes.

“Uh, yeah, pretty scary. Good makeup and special effects, but i have an appointment,” I began to cross the street to get away from him, from them.
“This is Gods punishment for the non-believers. If you believe, if your faith is true, you’ve got nothing to fear,” the man in the suit yelled. “Just don’t get bit.”
As if the four chained up creatures understood him, there was a sudden pull at the chains. There was a horrible sound of metal bending. One of the chained man lost his hand, while another pulled so hard that the chain around his waist dug into him, spilling his guts on the sidewalk. All four men surrounded the man in the suit and all I could hear was the slurping and chomping.
My instincts screamed to run, but the baby had other ideas. I grabbed a pole and heaved and wretched the saltines and juice I’d had for breakfast. Morning sickness.
And then I ran.
I ran up the block, around the corner, and into Beth Israel. I used the stairs to get to the second floor. As I walked in i heard, “You’re late.”
I turned and, sure enough, it was David. I signed in and sat next to him. That was when I noticed his left hand.
“What happened to your hand” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“Your directions weren’t very good, so I wound up in the ER. it’s a fucking mad house down there! As I was leaving, this guy tries to tackle me, and he nearly bites my hand off!”
David adjusts the dirty looking paper towels to show me. There are black lines going from the bite across his hand leading up his arm.
“You’ve no idea how much this hurts. I feel like I’m burning up.”
I wanted to comfort him, even if I didn’t love him, and after what he’d done…

Then I heard, “Jill? Jillian Mahoney?”
“That’s me,” I said, as if reminding David who I was. Six months wasted. “Will you be ok here?”
He looked up at me, sweat covering his face, soaking his shirt. A day ago he wouldn’t have let himself be seen like this: slack-jawed, bloody (i think; it was almost black) napkin on the floor, sweat stains. “Yeah, yea, uh-huh, Jullll I be finnneee–” and then he began throwing up on himself, on the floor, black gook that I’d never seen before.
The nurse came up to me. “Jill, let’s have your boyfriend moved to the ER. We’ve been seeing this all day. And let’s get your into the room. A virus isn’t good for a ten-week old baby!” She was so cheery, I followed her and forgot about David. How he’d actually shown up.
A few minutes later, after lowering my pants, lifting my shirt, and dealing with the cold KY jelly used to see the fetus, the machine was moved slowly across my stomach, trying to get a good picture
“You’re having a boy, Ms. Mahoney, a healthy, and big, baby boy. Now, i just want to take a few more measurements, due to his size, nothing to worry about.”
“So, have you noticed anything, um, weird going on?” I asked.
“Pregnancy wreaks havoc with.our hormones, Jill- may I call you Jill?- it’s nothing to worry about.” Her smile could have lit up all of NYC.
“I’ve been, um, i think I’ve been, well, hallucinating,” I stammered. “I think I’ve seen people bite other people, and, well, eat other people.”
Sunny, as I’d named her in my head paused for a split second. Then she turned to me, bright as ever, “Oh, you’re thinking of that virus going around.” Big smile. “Go home, get some rest — and stock up on food! — and it’ll be over soon.” She spun around on her stool to face me and hand me paper towels to wipe off my belly. “Nothing to worry about. Here.” She scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it to me.
“Just in case,” she whispered, before chirping loudly, “Any names yet?”

The paper said: “Cameras. Smile!” There were cameras watching us. But why?
I made up some boys names, then said I should check on David. Sunny smiled and said she’d be glad to take me, but her grip on my arm indicated differently. “Since you’re feeling so well, we’ll take the stairs, ” she said in her cheery, sunny tone.
We walked down one flight before Sunny pushed me up against the wall. “Can I trust you?” She hissed, so different from her upstairs demeanor.
“Y-Yes,” I sputtered. “Why?”
“You’re not hallucinating. It’s real. All of it. Don’t know why or how, but we’ve got to leave. There are cameras everywhere. Play along, and do what I say.”
“David?” I have to know. My sons dad.
“Dead. Or one of Them,” she
said, pulling me down to the 1st floor.

[To be continued…]

Zombies in New York, Chapter 1b:

The stairwell on the first floor had two doors: one leading directly to the ER, the other to the employee parking lot.
“My name is Elizabeth, by the way,” the woman I’d named Sunny said. “But call me Liz.” She paused and looked up to make sure we were in a spot the cameras couldn’t see.
“So, who are ‘they’?”
She looked blank for a moment, so I added, “You said David was dead or one of them.”
She looked a bit relieved, which was odd, and said, “The monsters, the creatures, you know, ‘them’.” She did a quick glance around. “Look, we don’t have much time, and there’s a lot of echo here, so we need to talk quickly. You already know not to get bitten. But this is going to spread quickly, so I need to know: do you want to live thru this? Not just survive, but live.” She emphasized the last word.
“Of course I do!” I exclaimed.
“We don’t have time to explain this now, Jill,” she said fiercely. “I’m about to open that door-” she pointed towards the parking lot. “And if one of them is there I’m going to shoot him between the eyes. It’s the only way to really kill them. Then I’m going to get my dad, and hole up with some of our friends. I’m offering you a chance to live, but it’s not going to be easy or pretty for a while.” As she spoke, I absent-mindedly rubbed my belly.
“Why me, Liz? Why not a coworker or a boyfriend?”
“Everyone I care about has been given directions to where we’re going. But when I saw you, and I saw how you treated that ass who got bit-”
“David,” I interrupted. “My son’s dad.”
“I figured as much,” Liz said, tucking a stray piece of blond hair behind her ear. “I read your chart: no family left, a co-worker as an emergency contact,”
“Hey,” I poked a finger into her chest. “How do you know she’s not a friend I work with?”
Liz moved my hand effortlessly. “Do you think this is a joke? You’ve seen what they do. They don’t tire or feel pain. If you think he’s so good for you-” But Liz never finished her sentence as the door to the ER started rattling, as if dozens of people were pushing on the door to get out. She grabbed my left wrist and away – hard.

[To be continued…]