“Brent Abel has a remarkable sense of how to combine history, alternate timelines, and horror into a coherent, deep and heartfelt story. Reconstruction of the Dead continues the Southern Devils series and really amps up the stakes in this excellent zombie horror alternate history saga. He left me at the end of this one hungry for the third book.” — Jay Wilburn #CaptainThreeKidneys
Excerpt from Southern Devils 2: Reconstruction of the Dead by Brent Abell
Constable Moses Murphy strolled around South Street. He fiddled with the whistle hanging around his neck and waited for a drunk or a prostitute to cross his path. He’d only been on the job for a few weeks and all the other constables gave him constant grief over his large frame. He only appeared over-weight and was deceptively quick. Now, he needed someone to break the law so he could prove himself to his cohorts.
The hour grew late and many of the pubs and taverns began to regurgitate their drunken contents out into the streets. Murphy stuck close to the alley and waited for one of the working women to grab an easy mark and take them in the darken alleyway to earn her pay. He scanned the streets looking for any of the known workers and spotted three working close to the corner. In the lamplight, his badge glimmered and he carefully flipped it over into his open uniform pocket. He knew the uniform gave him away, but in the dark most drunkards didn’t pay him any mind without a badge. After a few moments, he witnessed Molly Stone pull a stumbling Thomas Young into the alley.
“Finally,” he muttered and slowly began to walk upstream as the people filled the streets to head home to sleep off a Saturday night’s drinks before rising for church in the morning.
A stench filled his nostrils and he shook it off. The more he closed the gap to the alley, the worse the smell became. Over the buzzing conversations of the masses going home, he heard moaning and loud noises from behind the alley’s black veil.
I’ve got that harlot and the scum with her red handed; he thought gleefully.
He turned into the alley and the light from the lamps remained in the streets. Not a single beam followed him into the alley’s dark gaping maw. In front of him, he heard loud slurping and his stomach churned from the thought of what was going on in the black. He pictured her with Thomas in her mouth and shame filled him.
If only Father Peters knew of my unclean thoughts.
Murphy signed the cross on his chest and reached in his pocket for the matches he kept on him at all times. His fingers found the small thin wooden sticks and he pulled one out. Striking the tip across his badge, the flame flared casting long shadows around the brick alley. When his eyes fell upon the couple, he saw her head buried deep in his throat and when she looked up, skin and meat from his neck were still clenched in her jaws. Blood stained her cheeks and dribbled down her chin. Her filthy wet dress clung to her and she looked like she came out of the harbor. Her bangs were pasted to her forehead and he couldn’t tell if it was from blood or the water. Crimson liquid pooled on Thomas’s chest and Murphy dropped the match in the standing water left from the previous night’s rain. It hissed when it extinguished; plunging the alley in total darkness again. Quickly, he pulled out another match and struck it.
In his shock in the first match’s light, he didn’t notice the face glaring up at him wasn’t Molly. A crumpled heap lay behind the gruesome sight and Murphy could make out the dress he saw Molly wearing when she pulled Thomas into the alley for her services.
“Step away,” Murphy stated and moved closer.
The woman stood and her head hung limply to the left. A low deep snarl escaped her twisted lips. It reminded Murphy of a hungry feral dog prowling the winter downtown streets. She took a half step toward him and drug her other foot behind her. Her outstretched arms weakly grabbed at him, but he backed away before her gnarled fingers could catch him.
“Take it easy now, lass. Let me see if we can get you some help,” Murphy said. He stepped closer and the forgotten match in his hand burned down to his fingers. With a surprised yelp, he dropped the match. He heard the woman move and he felt her teeth sink in his arm. The strike came faster than any snake he’d ever heard of and her venom pumped into his veins. It burned as it raced to his heart and rushed to his brain.
Murphy couldn’t move. A paralysis settled over him and he tried to stay on his feet as she ate into his wrist. The warmth of his blood flowing down his arm brought calmness over him and he slowly sank to his knees. In the dark, he began to see clearly. He watched the woman pull away from his wrist and take leave of him. Inside his body, a feverish fire burnt him up and collapsed onto the wet bricks.
He gave two more labored breaths and when his heart stopped, the hunger in his gut drove him to get up and head to the streets.