Outside the studio.
The streets and alleys were clotted with the freshly undead, staining the air with a stink not imagined by God. In their palsied search for peoplemeat, they moved and rubbed against each other with synchronized moans, an a cappella performance composed by Hell. Most of the minds had been completely washed away, but not all.
Inside the studio.
Morgan’s nickname as a child had been Pygmy Squeak. He was short and the kids tortured him for it. Television made him a giant and gave him a taste for crushing people. He was tiny again, and horrified. Even though he had put a chair under the knob of the Studio B Door, it shook and trembled, as it cracked and shuddered.
The studio audience was silent, offered no sympathetic awwws.
Lower lip trembling, Morgan broke his gaze from the door and fled toward the set. The abandoned cameras focused on an elaborate dining room, fake mahogany table and chairs underneath a fake crystal chandelier. The table was set for four, with plates and silverware. The last Sunday newspaper rested at the head of the table. A huge grandfather clock stood along a wall, weights and pendulum painted within the case. Squeaking, Morgan opened the case and squeezed himself inside and shut the glass front.
The chair splintered, and a crowd of undead exploded into the studio. They milled around the threshold as they sniffed the air. After a few moments, all but three lost interest and returned to the feast outside. An adult male and female, and a child saw the cameras and shambled to the set. In a shadowed moment, their eyes shone with imagination and remembrance of uninfection. Each carried a gnawed limb to the table. The male sat at the head with an open newspaper and made a show of his mumbled reading. His nose fell off onto the sports page.
The child sat at the center of the table, his small, pus-filled face immediately took on a sullen expression as the female admonished him with a wagging finger that hung by an inch of flesh from her knuckle.
Morgan trembled in the clock, staring at the wormy calves of her putrescent legs.
The woman pushed the gory haunch away from the child, and broke off a leg of a chair and dropped the wood onto the plate.
She pointed at the plate and slobbered, “More fibber. Dite too much meat bad. EEEET MORE FIBBER!”
The child shut his lipless mouth and shook his head, causing his ear to fly off.
The male slammed the paper down and stood up. “Not nobay mudder! NOT NOBAY MUDDER! Eat fibber or spank!”
The child rose and howled, a long, low sound from deeper in the dark heart of the world than any human has ever been. “NOOOO FIBBER! WANT MEAAAT!”
The sound and the word broke their performance.
Morgan squeaked, and six ravenous eyes found him.
* * *
Todd Austin Hunt has been publishing speculative stories since 2003, Hunt won an Honorable Mention in the 2003 Annual Ray Bradbury Writing Contest and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2007. He lives at the edge of the Wando River, amid the shrieks and squawks of unimagined wildlife.INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO by Todd Austin Hunt,