Tacos of the Damned
By Zack Morrissette
The man saw the creatures dribble from the tree line as though the woods drooled them from its maw. They’re gait was that of the recently injured, limping and dragging limbs as they staggered over roots and stumps. The fading twilight was giving into a deep moonless blackness that only October could produce. They wore rags and scrambled over the crunch of dead leaves.
They had tacos.
Where they came from was undoubtedly the hips of hell itself, birthed a fully realized nightmare onto our plane. But where they got the tacos, the man could not say. They lumbered on, uncoordinated but cradling their precious tortilla feasts. Taco seasoning caught the breeze and carried with it the smells of grilled onions and carne asada to the man’s nostrils, mixed with the earthy tones of dust and grit from a tomb.
A scream caught in his throat, for if he yelled in obvious terror, they would surely hear him. And though they ambled directly toward the cabin where the man resided, perhaps they would pass it by for a more tempting nightly haunt. He could probably outrun them as long as his strength held. But how long would it hold, for he had skipped dinner. Oh, why had he skipped dinner? There was no food in the cabin save for sparse condiments in the ice chest. Though even if he had dined, stepping outside meant exposure.
He opted for silent hiding. His stomach betrayed him, gurgling in anticipation. The mystery tacos smelled like the promise of a spicy fiesta. Were they hard shell? What kind of cheese had they? Was there a secret taco truck concealed within an enchanted glen somewhere deep in the woods? Some stand or hutch whose location was known only to the moon and also maybe sold churros and Diet Shasta?
He could no longer hear their approach once they cleared the edge of the woods. He dared a glimpse. Damn but they were close! Only five or ten of them, but in moments they would be at his door. Would it stop them? How long would it hold? Were the creatures sentient? Would they go for the windows instead?
Hard shell. The tacos were definitely hard shell.
There was no mistaking it now. No room for hopeful wishes of conflict free resolution, for the creatures were definitely heading straight to the cabin. He searched his surroundings for a weapon. The table! He kicked it over and pried a leg free. To his delight, a nail still protruded. He slid into position, out of sight between the front door and the window. He would wait for them and kick open the door and swing at their heads! No! He would wait for them to enter and then take them out at the bottleneck of the entrance like the Spartan army of old!
The porch creaked. His courage fell as flat as a tortilla upon hearing their footfalls as the ghouls shuffled and squeaked up the floorboards. He gripped his only weapon, his only friend, his salvation. The scent of Tex-Mex engulfed the cabin. Sweat beaded his forehead as his mouth watered. His stomach clenched with fear or maybe hunger. The footfalls stopped. He waited.
Bones protruding from crumbling fingers scratched at the window, like branches brushing up against glass. They all joined in, all the creatures, scratching and pawing at the window with their free, non-taco holding hands.
Their pace quickened. The scratching and pawing climaxed as their needs became desperate, urging his attention. He hid, stoic until he could take their incessant scraping no longer! With a fire in his heart and virtually nothing in his belly for he had skipped lunch, he turned to face his ghoulish assailants with the nailed table leg raised!
He froze as he locked eyes with the lead creature. It expectantly gazed at him as he and his frightening companions stopped scouring the windowpanes. The lead creature licked his lips with an ancient and desiccated tongue. It raised its taco and what was left of its eyebrows as it spoke!
And the man did.