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Artur could smell them as soon as he walked into the house. They almost masked the scent of decay he was growing used to. “Mom, did you bake cookies?” Tamara Harper shambled out of the kitchen, her gray skin showing her bones in even more places. She smiled, unable to speak since her jaw had long ago locked into place. “They smell wonderful.”
She pointed one rotting hand to the plate. Artur went over, dreading what he’d see. The chocolate chip delicacies were surprisingly free of flesh, muscle, hair, and bone. He turned to look at her. She pointed again, this time to a pair of long gloves, an apron, and a shower cap.
“Good thinking,” Artur said. He picked up one of the cookies and took a bite. “You definitely haven’t lost your touch.” He paused. “Where’s dad?”
Tamara looked sad as she pointed out the back door. Artur shook his head. Would the man never learn? Artur finished his cookie before heading out to the backyard.
Gil Harper was digging a grave under the apple tree. He looked up from his work and scowled at his son. “You ever going to let us go?” His words were slurred. His tongue was half rotted and his lower jaw was beginning to fall off.
“Why should I?” Artur asked. “After what you all did to me?”
The bitterness was still there. Tamara, Gil, and Artur’s younger sister Cassie had turned on him when he came out as both gay and desirous of a college education. Gil had already picked out the trade school he was supposed to go to so Artur could become an electrician like his father, just as Gil had become one like his father.
His family were also devout Christians who believed Artur was an abomination before the sight of God. They took them to their pastor, who tried to “pray the gay away.” When that didn’t work, they locked him in the basement and tortured him for months until Artur’s then-boyfriend Dario and a few others had broken into the house and rescued him.
Tamara, Gil, and Cassie had died in a car accident a year before, and Artur took his revenge. He and his now-husband Dario were skilled necromancers and had raised them from the dead as sentient zombies. Tamara accepted her fate first. Gil still struggled. Cassie went mad and was currently locked in her room, fed raw ground beef and chicken by Dario every few days so she wouldn’t starve. They could release her, of course, but Artur wanted her to suffer a little longer.
“You can’t escape me that way, Dad,” Artur said, putting the scorn he felt into the last word. “You bury yourself, Dario and I will just force you back to the surface. You almost killed me. In fact, I think that was your intention. So now you can rot in this house. When I’m done with you, I’ll release you and burn your rotting corpses with the house. I think that’s a fitting punishment for these scars.” He gestured to the remnants of the third degree burns on his arms and face.
“You are a demon,” Gil said.
“I am what you made me,” Artur said. “You are responsible for all of this.” He turned and walked away, leaving his father spluttering behind him. Dario was standing in the doorway, smiling, a cookie in his hand.