I wrote this story a couple years ago for a flash fiction contest that required a 500 word story and have always wanted to expand it. This week I did just that because The Bone Festival is taking longer than expected to edit and I have a deadline I must meet by the end of this month. Besides that excuse, The Bone Festival will be a two part story, maybe three, and next week our theme over at the Vamplit Blog is Somnambulist (säm?namby??liz?m): noun sleepwalking, inspired by the old silent movie, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. So this way I’ll be able to publish both parts without a break. Now enough with the excuses. Here’s the revised Blush of the Dead.
Fallen chairs and shattered wineglasses scattered across the wine tasting room floor told of a hasty retreat. No invited guest would dare re-enter after witnessing the pouring of the first varietal. Still, the party had just begun for the undead, who once lay contorted and buried beneath the hearty vineyard that covered their mass grave.
* * *
Earlier that evening, the undead had been awoken by the uncorking of a blush white Merlot. The bottle was set to breathe as the head of the first corpse, Emil, escaped the mass grave site. He surveyed the surroundings, now covered with vines, where the very grapes had been harvested to produce the wine.
A slight mixture of cherry and rotting flesh called out to Emil, his brother and a hundred other men, as they smelled not the spirits of wine, but the fragrance of their own life blood that had nurtured the grapes. The still tears of their loved ones granted the men the strength to claw through dirt and decomposed limbs to meet the sun for the first time in fifteen years.
During their awakening, they remembered their fate. Lined up in front of a ditch and shot. A massacre by evil-doers, certain the existence of outspoken men was a threat to their own political agenda. These were the same power hungry followers who had kept the secret of their gendercide and entombment to this very day.
The undead continued to wrestle with vines and roots until they reached their freedom. While inside the tasting room, the guests gathered around the sommelier.
Tasters readied their glasses as he prepared to pour the blush Merlot. But when a rancid and thick crimson poured from the bottle and into the first glass, the guests were aghast. The woman holding the plasma-filled stemware recoiled as she dropped it. Her screams were heard throughout the room as shards of glass and blood united in splatters across the concrete floor.
The crowd turned against the sommelier.
“Is this a joke,” another woman said with a shriek.
Before he could defend himself, the doors to the tasting room burst open, announcing the arrival of an undead throng. Emil and his brother both limped and dragged their feet, while they headed toward the tables that displayed the wine. The others followed behind them at a sluggish pace.
Heads turned. Then a momentary silence, before a resounding uproar as the living scrambled for the exits.
While the room emptied, the owner of the vineyard picked up a bottle and swung it at an invader, hitting him in the skeletal cavity that once held his missing eye.
The undead man wavered, then stumbled and fell to his knees. But, to no avail, the corpse lifted his rotted flesh and bones, grinned at the man, and recommenced along with his comrades to the side of Emil.
The owner coughed and covered his nose with the back of his hand. The smell in the room putrid, he could no longer stand it and followed behind the remaining guests.
A quiet murmur was heard across the tasting room, while Emil and his brother passed bottles of wine to their mates. The undead corpses took their turns, filled their glasses and held up the fruit of their own blood in preparation for a toast.
Emil stood at the front and lifted his glass. “To all of us who have arisen from our shared place of unrest.”
The undead responded with cheers and their claps sedated.
“A toast to those who put us there. And to those who did nothing to stop them.”
A moan replaced the cheering.
“Be not weary, my friends, for their evil misjudgments will not go forgotten, or forgiven. They await punishment for their atrocities.”
Glasses lifted and clinked, and they drank to the toast, the blood that was once theirs.
Then Emil lifted his glass once more. “Follow me my friends. To our revenge.”