Necrobros, by Trelana Daniel
Photo by Yohann LIBOT on Unsplash
I sat in my living room on a corduroy couch with a katana pointed at my sternum while my estranged brother held the handle- or tsuba, as they call it in Japan. He had grabbed it off the decorative display on my living room wall and pointed it directly at Luigi’s head on my Super Mario Brother's shirt. I grumbled as I looked down to see a hole instead of Luigi’s head on my favorite childhood shirt. Our Grandma Bella was standing to the side, watching with a gleeful eye, while her greying skin oozed a strange puss from the open sores on her arms.
“Do you want some lemonade?” Grandma Bella asked. I nearly lost my lunch at the sight of a cockroach crawling from her eye socket. I wanted to ask her to leave. Liam, my estranged brother, nodded in the affirmative to accept the lemonade offer. Sticking my tongue out in disgust, Liam cocked a smile and dropped the katana from my chest. As Liam left the room, I finally felt the freedom to take a deep breath. I dropped my head between my knees contemplating if saying a prayer would be worth my time.
Being in the same room with Grandma Bella, or Nana as I affectionately used to call her, made my skin crawl. Three hours ago, I’d seen her on a fresh, metal slab in a freezer drawer of the city morgue. Her skin had been gray, and her eyes had been glossed over. Creepy isn’t the exact word to describe the sensation, but it’s the closest I can think of to describe what it’s like seeing her walk around my house.
After several minutes of taking deep breaths to slow my heart rate, I walked into the kitchen to join Nana and Liam- my legs were shaking from the adrenaline coursing through my veins. My1980’s style kitchen was complete with yellow cupboards and light green appliances- I hadn’t changed it much since I bought it two years ago.
As I watched Nana make lemonade from a pouch, I slowly grabbed her hand and took the pouch from her tight grip. I moved quickly to grab a chopping knife and cutting board from the slightly open drawer to her left. My intention was to intimidate her, which must have worked, because she flinched and tightened her dead muscles. I watched her shoulders sink back down when I reached for the lemons sitting on the kitchen table.
“If you want lemonade, you need to make it the right way," I said. I took the lemons off the table and began to slice them in half. “Liam, put that katana to use and pick some mint from the herb garden, would you?”
Liam didn’t speak but walked outside toward the backyard with a tool that was too big for the project. Being alone with Nana, produced a sense of terror but also a slight feeling of guilt. I loved my Nana, but she didn’t seem like herself- she seemed like some crazy zombie lady from a movie. I watched as she grabbed another large knife from the drawer- I took a few steps back.
“Are you worried I’m going to hurt you, Sonny?” she asked. She had been calling me “Sonny” since I was five years old. That was about the time my parents had died from causes that were never explained to me. I had been under a hazy understanding that my parents died in some freak circus accident, but Grandma Bella began changing the story once she arose from that slabbed frozen drawer earlier today.
“You said you wanted to kill my ex-wife,” I said. I involuntarily squeezed a lemon out of frustration and watched its inner liquid spill onto the kitchen floor.
“Yes, your ex-wife stood by and watched me get murdered by an orderly at that dreaded hospice you had me in,” Nana said. “I know she saw him slip that poison into my food. That along with her cheating ways is reason enough to get rid of her.”
I grabbed another lemon to squeeze while contemplating how to disarm my Nana- I'm happy to say the lemon juice made it into the pitcher this time. My ex-wife had left me to be with a nurse at the hospice they both worked at, and while I hated her indiscretion, I didn’t want her dead. Looking at the kitchen knife in my grandmother’s hand, I recalled the peculiar start to my day with the knife I was holding in my hand.
Earlier in the day, I had used this knife to cut into an insulation barrier in the basement when I saw an old bone necklace fall onto the concrete floor. When I picked it up, I couldn’t figure out what animal the bones might have generated from nor why someone would fashion them into a necklace and stick it in the basement insulation. Like an idiot, I put it around my neck which would prove the first step to the impossible disaster that was about to come.
I wished I had a normal superhero power- like flying or shooting cobwebs out of my wrists. Bringing dead people back to life was the last thing I wanted to do, and it was proving to be more complicated than I ever expected. If Nana hadn’t promised Liam that she would tell him how his parents died when she was on her death bed, maybe we wouldn’t be trying to kill each other.
Liam came back inside with the mint for the lemonade and gifted it to me by pointing the katana at my throat with the mint lightly positioned on the tip. “If you kill Nana, we will never find out what happened to our parents,” he said. I contemplated his words. Perhaps we wouldn’t want to know the truth. Nana smiled with her decaying teeth. A single tear rolled down my cheek.
Trelana Daniel earned an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2020. She enjoys writing mysterious short stories with elements of science fiction. David Philip Mullins selected her piece to win the prose category in CONCURRENCE vol 3 in 2022. She served as a fiction editor for the Good Life Review from 2020-2022 where she also focused on establishing a strong social media presence and promotion schedule for the newly established literary magazine. You can find her on twitter @trelanad.
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