Dwight Meston

The October Featured Writer is Dwight Meston

Please feel free to email Dwight at: dwightmeston@gmail.com


by Dwight Meston

He stood patiently watching, like a marine guarding that tomb in Arlington.

Used to, he thought, used to guard.

By now, that ritual, that nation and that tribe were long gone. Maybe those sentinels now roam the cemetery, having stumbled out of a mausoleum after hiding to death. Their tattered uniforms mixed in with the ragtag infected civilians wandering the graveyard, strong soldiers able enough to escape being eaten, but not lucky enough to be immune to a bite.

The water was flat as glass and it was quiet. Everything considered it was a beautiful day. This lake probably hadn’t been this peaceful since Europeans arrived. Sunshine made his bald head gleam and the trauma scar that went from his forehead to his ear look angry.

Maybe today is the day, if we can catch this thing we can start cleaning up the area, Doonie thought.

A few large bubbles broke the lake glass twenty meters out from the shore just past the heavy duty dock making the long board teeter just a little like a bobber. The surfboard was being ridden by a deer haunch basted with donated blood that teemed with flies like an offering to an evil pagan god.

The slight ripples, as if a bass had jumped, spread across the glassy surface then faded away, the circular patterns disappearing like magic. A few more minutes of silence passed before more air gassed up from the water, this time closer, maybe ten meters out to the left of the dock in between the reeds and lilies. The waiting hunter-fisherman squeezed the melee weapon in his hand.

From the depths a human head surfaced up, super slow like a giant snapping turtle. First a scalp of slimy seaweed appeared, then the rest of the rotting creature’s head emerged. The decrepit ghoul stuck out its tongue exposing a stainless treble hook stuck through the middle of it, glinting in the sun; like it was offering a token to Doonie’s humanity. It was one of those big ugly triple treble hooks. Old men on the pier gobbed rotten chicken on tackle like that, the scent was attractive to bottom feeders and, now it seemed, the undead.

It groaned the way they do, cartoonish and chilling. Through the rot and decomposition he recognized the face of a local surfer named Tommy. He used to surf alone, a good sign he didn't have friends with him. Sheathing his machete, he unslung his rifle, not able to take his eye off the creature’s fish hook. Line was still tied to it, snapped off and hanging.

He must’ve put up hell of a fight, he thought.

Doonie perked up when small wave patterns appeared behind the zombie surfer. There were just a couple fast ripples in vee shaped waves at first, then more and more oscillations formed until the water began boiling behind the dead treader as multiple zipping lines of wake criss-crossed each other. Crazy pointer dorsal fins like little sharks started to break the surface followed by explosive swirls. Then dark forms of wicked bodies started porpoising, exposing the swimming school’s makeup.

A tiny clawed hand reached out to the deer leg and grabbed the skinny part. It yanked the bait under the surface with a gushing downward pull. The long board took off with a shot toward the right, parallel to shore. It then stopped and the whole board went under a couple inches and sat submerged for a few moments then popped back to the surface at an angle. The line cut, it slid out towards the middle and started drifting off.

While the zombie surfer was concerning, those hybrids broiling the surface and the taking of the bait presented a greater danger. One of the creatures jumped high out of the water near where the empty board broke off. Vicious piranha teeth gleamed in the sun and its eel-like skin glimmered iridescence.  A pack of hybrids that big was something he couldn't handle by himself. It also meant something else was probably lurking nearby... what they were looking for.

Then, as if things couldn’t get worse. another underwater zombie appeared out of the water to the right of the dead surfer, then another and another. Not liking the turn of events he began backing up while grabbing the Motorola.

“She’s here,” he said into the walkie.

“Copy that. Get out of there, we got you covered,” replied the voice.

The sound waves from their radio exchange hit the hybrid pack in the water. The frenzy of the denizens amplified as they began launching and swirling at terrifying speeds towards shore.He turned and started running at the dune. Splashing and the slapping of multiple webbed feet from the dock followed.

“Oh crap!” he yelled, beginning to sprint uphill.

A shot rang out followed by several others. He felt relief at the sound of the little ghouls getting dropped behind him. It was followed by the scampering pitter patter of retreat and splashing as they fled into the depths taking the surfers with them.

“That was close, Doonie,” Bev said, approaching from the top of the dune.

“I’ll say; that’s too close for comfort. These guys smell like rotten fish, uh!” Grant said, pushing the carcass over to reveal the creature that was a cross between a reptile and amphibian. Its large frog like eyes, gills and multi fanged bucket mouth were frighteningly alien.

“She’s gotta be close by, I’ve never seen hybrids this big,” Doonie said.

“There’s getting to be more of them,” Bev said.

“They’re getting hungry, moving from the city,” Grant said.

“I meant more of these little ones,” Bev said.

“Yeah I don’t like it; a couple of them looked young,” Doonie said.

“You think this one’s a personal guard or something?” Lauri said, pointing at the big one.

“Could be, I can still hear the big lake rocking waves, even after the storm, maybe a pod got pushed in here for protection,” Grant said.

“Or they’re here to eat,” Ace said.

“Or both. Who knows. We should think about heading back to the safe house. We can get a bigger hunting party going,” Grant said.

“Yeah, you’re right there’s too many of them. We don't want to deal with that after dark. We definitely have to let the others know what happened, besides we’re going to need a lot more fire power,” Laurie said, looking to Doonie, “If we’re going to take down the queen.”

They were hoofing it through the sand to the safe house which was a couple miles inland.

“Those little dudes are super creepy,” Laurie said.

“You’re right, there’s getting to be too many of them. We have to find the queen,” Doonie said.

“If she even exists,” Ace said.

“Don’t start that crap with me. I know what I saw,” Doonie said.

“An evil mermaid, was it?” Ace asked.

“Eat a tallywacker; there’s living dead people walking around, what do you think caused that?”

“Cut it out, knuckleheads,” Grant said.

“Ooh her beautiful eyes! She had hypnotic eyes, it was love at first sight,” Ace said.

“Hey! I said knock it off! I thought I heard something,” Grant said, he stopped and held up a fist.

“Doonie and Lori, go left,” Grant said.

They didn’t get a chance, as a woman appeared over the dune ridge with her arms up. Everyone scanned the surrounding landscape in front of them; small dunes and hundreds of the large beech trees gave plenty of cover for other people.

“We want to talk,” she yelled.

So there were more people lurking nearby and the group continued to eye the surrounding cover.

“Who’re we?” Grant asked.

“Friends with guns, lots of them.”

“Lots of friends or lots of guns?”


Two people popped out from the sand behind them. More stepped out from behind trees and a couple more appeared on top of crests in beach grass, all armed.

“Drop your weapons,” the woman ordered.

“Do it or I shoot one of y’all,” a rough looking dude behind them said.

“Hey if you want our food, you can have it,” Ace said, turning to the threat maker.

“She wants to meet.”


“The mother…”

“Oh hell no!” Ace shouted, spinning upward with and firing his full auto submachine gun, dropping the two closest ambushers that were behind them.

Chaos ensued and everybody ducked, but Ace’s brash move cost him as a sniper popped him one in the chest, the high caliber knocked him off his feet. Bev shot at the woman and the guy that had appeared by her side. Grant did the same by firing in the direction of the shooter that took Ace down getting the bandits to drop behind cover.

“The pines!” Doonie yelled, bailing out towards the forest.

The other tribe took some pot shots at Grant, Laurie and Bev as they high tailed it towards the soft forest. A random bullet hit Bev and she fell onto her front, planting her face into the sand and beach grass. There was a growing red stain on her back.

“Dammit!” Grant shouted, but they kept going. He had to tug at Laurie’s arm to get her to move.

Doonie, Laurie and Grant ran for about a mile over the soft pine needles until they exited the trees at the base of a dune. The three had backtracked a little to the south towards the big lake, while they caught their breath and kept an eye out for pursuers, Doonie spoke up.

“I can’t believe Ace just started shooting it up.”

“We’d be dead right now if he hadn’t,” Grant said.

“We don’t know that, maybe Bev and he would still be alive if he hadn’t,” Laurie said.

“I don’t think they’re following us,” Doonie said, not worried about the what-ifs of the action, after watching the trees for a few moments. “We’re off course, but if we leave now, we can make it back to the safe house before dark. We should head out, go north a couple clicks then go east…”

“We should find a house for the night, we’re close to the Duncan Woods projects,” Grant said, talkin over Doonie.

“You want to go away from the safe house?” Doonie asked.

“I think it’s a good idea. We’ll never make it back in time. I don’t want to get caught out here after dark,” Laurie said

“Let’s go to the Bear Lake House then; we know that’s safe,” Doonie said.

“That’s towards the group that just whacked our friends. No, we’re heading to the housing,” Grant said.

“All right, I guess,” Doonie said, looking at the other two like they were making a mistake, “but I don’t like it.”

“I don’t like any of this.”

The big lake sunset from the top of the dune was incredible. Doonie admired it for a second then scanned the rich cribs below with his scoped rifle. The white house looked the safest but Laurie and Grant wanted to get to the one furthest south closest to the beach. He didn’t argue with them this time, they seemed hell bent on playing devil’s advocate with him.

An untraveled path led down which was good, no human activity is good, Doonie decided. That was the first hostile group they had met, but it had been discussed that as food pantries went bare things were sure to get heated. It seemed a little early for turf wars, but some things never changed.

The white house clean up started with the ground floor without any action, Doonie went upstairs and the other two went to the lower level. After checking the bedrooms and the views of the lake he went to meet the others downstairs. He found Laurie and Grant just staring at a couple zombies.

“What the…” Doonie said.

Grant snapped out of it and got busy with his machete.

“You guys all right?” Doonie asked after it was over.

“Yeah. Let’s get this orthodontist and what looks like his wife out of their kick ass basement with a view.”

“You sure you're good? Why were you just standing there?”

“What do you mean? We cleared ‘em didn’t we?” Grant said, wiping down the blade.

“Yea, I guess, but…” He scratched his head, “you cleared them...”


The last of the sun disappeared and Laurie said, “We should check the pier in the morning.”

“Are you nuts?” Doonie asked.

“The southside is teeming with the dead, but this side is good. We can get a peek at town across the channel to see, you know, if the herd is still walking around,” she replied.

“That’s a really bad idea. The north beach is right there, why go there unless we’re clearing out the dead?”

“She’s right. We’ll see how many there are on both sides of the river while we’re here,” Grant said,

“Until we get the queen, it’s not safe.”

“Why do we need to get the queen?” Laurie asked.

“Pfft, because she’s the one that started the zombie apocalypse!”

“Now, we don’t know that. Maybe she’s been in the lake keeping out of sight and now that humans are pretty much toast, she’s back out.”

“I don’t know. You didn’t see her.”

“Well, maybe we will, maybe you’re just overreacting to…”


“Yeah, you know, making a bigger deal out of something than it is.”

“Screw you, Grant. She’s dangerous.”

“Hey, relax. Why don’t you stay here? Me and Grant will go by ourselves, leave at first light, and you can wait for us here,” Laurie said.

“You’re kidding, right? I’m not staying here by myself.”

“Ok. It’s settled then; we leave at dawn.”

“I don’t believe this,” Doonie said.


Grant volunteered for the first watch. Doonie locked himself in an upstairs bedroom and fell asleep with a bad feeling about the day's events, worse than usual.

Why go to the pier? He thought as he dozed off.

When he woke to light, he panicked and rushed downstairs. Laurie and Grant were gone. He should’ve known they’d ditch him.

He decided to track them and see what they were up to. These were Doonies’ stomping grounds and maybe he was better off on his own, but those two were acting weird. He saw their tracks and stopped to get a better look at not two but three sets of tracks. One set looked smaller; the impressions were of someone or something much lighter.

What is happening here?

The small tracks came from the beach and stopped at the edge of the downstairs deck in front of the glass slider. Grant and Laurie’s tracks joined the kid sized prints and lead to the beach.


He took off. He kept to the tops of the dunes closest to shore jumping from steep drop offs landing in the soft sand, then quickly scrambling up the next dune. He found them on the shore. The pair were sauntering down the beach without a care in the world. It was unbelievable. They passed several of the undead without anything happening, just walked right by them. There was no fight, no attack from the stumbling dead joggers or beachcombers, but strangest of all was the pair didn’t take advantage of the inactions of the normally hostile infected. Grant had lost his whole family to them; he never missed an opportunity to put them down, now he was ignoring them like he was on a honeymoon walk with Laurie.

This is some weird shit.

Things got weirder as the woman from the ambush appeared on a deck at the bottom of a stairway which led up the dune to an old group of cottages. Doonie just could not figure out what those two were doing down there talking to the woman, and with zombies that close.

He remembered the guy saying something about a mother. He sheathed his machete and checked his rifle, clicking off the safety, and decided to drop back down a couple dunes and avoid the cottages by looping around them. The channel wasn't far and he could use the nature boardwalk that ran parallel to the river to get to the top of Pier Hill.

He kept the boardwalk in sight as he made his way towards the pier. As he got closer to the big lake he stayed hidden in between the mounds of sand and beach grass with constant vigilance for either human or nonhuman threats. A scent of fish in the wind triggered the memory of hybrids, not strong but close, probably on shore nearby, he snuck by crouching from berm to berm ascending the backside of Pier Hill.

He found a decent hiding spot to watch out for his old teammates. Peering through his scoped rifle he was given quite a show. Heat from the sand didn't help his vision but he was certain that on shore half a mile from the pier the survivors from the other band that ambushed them stood waiting for Grant, Laurie and what Doonie presumed was the other group’s leader walking towards the group. He got a sharp pain in his old head injury from the car wreck in the form of a splitting pain where his brain had sustained a wallop.

She’s here, he thought.

He scanned the rip rap boulders at the base of the pier and saw her.

The queen.

People stood about twenty feet from the queen, other survivors and a couple of the dead. Soon Laurie and Grant joined with the group who just stared at the monster.

No—join is the wrong word. Manipulated. Christ. Is she turning them into zombies?

Movement at the shore break drew his attention. Out of the lake hybrids emerged carrying things that looked like really slimy basketballs. They set about ten of them in front of the queen in a pile and slipped back into the lake while a couple took positions near the… mother.


The orbs started moving and splitting open and a man from the group of survivors walked into the pile of hatching eggs and then lay down. The baby hybrids emerged from their shells; inched over, and began to feed.

Doonie looked down in horror and then backed up. Wiping the sweat from his brow and then zeroing in on the queen, he set his sights on his target. Her head was mantis-shaped and her eyes, even from Doonie’s position, gave the impression that she was something very old and something very wise.


She was like the hybrids: half reptile, half mammal, with clawed and webbed feet. A sheen reflected off scales of various sizes, and the ones on her back were big.

He set up for a sniper shot but Grant shifted over for some reason and now was in the way. Doonie felt a twinge of panic, she could slip into the water at any minute. He low crawled slowly to a new vantage point. The group still just stood there unmoving in front of the creature and her feeding carnivorous spawn. Doonie felt like he was going to throw up as another person walked into the feeding frenzy.

It was going to have to be a hell of a shot. There was no wind, but the distance was concerning as was the angle from the top of the hill to the rocky nesting point. He paused like he had been taught, held his breath and pulled the trigger.

Bull’s eye.

It was a perfect shot between the creature’s eyes. She fell back; the hybrid guards squealed high pitched wails that made Doonie flinch. One of the screechers grabbed the downed creature and fled, pulling her into the water and disappearing. The hatchlings followed by slithering and popping like inchworms onto the shore then the lake. One of the hybrid guards jumped like a lemur and its fangs latched into Grant's neck and with a rip let him drop.

The group and Laurie snapped out of whatever spell they were under. She darted past two of the undead who had reverted back to their own feeding habits. One of the smaller gray ones pursued her. Doonie took aim and fired, missing but managed to deter its pursuit of Laurie. Doonie stood up and caught her attention. She made her way to the dune with Doonie protecting her from the ridge. He had reloaded and kept the weapon at the ready when she got to him.

“We have work to do,” she said, panting from exhaustion “There are more queens.”

Dwight Meston is stoked for his first published work “Doonie” to appear among the awesome works in The Horror Zine. He grew up in the wild and crazy town called Grand Haven, Michigan. Dwight used the GI bill to gain a degree in safety. He currently is an unemployed chemist living with his supportive wife while writing stories.