Undead Dating – Collaboration!

Hello everyone! Back in June, which already seems like a lifetime ago, I attended the Blogger’s Bash in London and met some fantastic bloggers and writers. One such blogger was Steve, who with whom I clicked right away. Steve’s blog, Talk About Pop Music, is great fun and provides some well-informed information about a a variety of successful pop songs. I’d thoroughly recommend a visit! Anyway, we got chatting and Steve suggested that we collaborate in the future. I was happy to take him up on the offer.

Steve’s suggestion was that I write a short story based on the lyrics of a song of his choosing. He chose “Here in my Heart” by Al Martino, which interestingly was the very first UK Number One!  The subject matter of my story is perhaps not what most people would think of when hearing Mr Martino’s dulcet tones, but I enjoyed the way it unraveled for me regardless. I’m going to post it on my below but please do visit Steve’s blog for the original post and for some pop music entertainment! Cheers, Steve, I’m excited to finally work with you!


Undead Dating

By Adam Dixon

Horatio Brudenell-Cavendish shambled across the half-destroyed streets of Brighton, his undead heart heavy in his chest. He raised his head to watch the dark, churning thunderclouds and the flames dancing across the sky. Before he had perished in a drunken accident in 1756, he hadn’t expected his afterlife to be lonelier than his mortal existence, but here he was, reborn into a world where humans had been utterly vanquished with no-one to talk to. His black thoughts and self-deprecation had pursued him into this new awakening, and he doubted that this time he could end it so effectively.

“Oh, Lord, what a cruel joke you have played upon me!” he said, staring with dry, withered eyes at the terrifying flashes of light and fire which lit up the sky. “Was I so detestable to you in life that you must punish me so in death? Am I never to be loved?” The last sentence Horatio whispered, the sound barely audible and barely escaping the confines of his ruined throat. He saw the now familiar sight of hundreds of undead staggering across the remainder of the town and ignored them. He would not speak with them, and why should he? They were probably still rabid from the looks of them, and he had no desire to spend his time with such brutes. He dragged his feet aimlessly until he stood before a burned shell that was once a modern church. Even the holy places hadn’t escaped divine justice, it seemed. His sad eyes caught sight of a bright, cheerful poster which proudly announced that “The Brighton Undead Speed-dating Service is operating once again!”, and would take place at eight o’clock that evening on Brighton Pier. Horatio stared at it for a few moments before sighing and heading off in the direction of the pier. He had little hope of finding someone to spend eternity with, but he couldn’t allow himself to give up completely. Besides, he’d see Elsie again, and that alone was worth it. With that thought in mind, he smoothed the creases of his dirty waistcoat and tightened his frayed, mud-covered tie as best he could and pressed on.


The dating hall took place in the remains of the old arcade on Brighton Pier. Horatio still wasn’t certain he knew what an arcade was, but judging by the strange, oddly-coloured machines guarding the perimeter of the room he thought it must have been a forbidding place. The Pier had mostly survived the End Times, but everything past the hall had been destroyed and fallen into the ashen sea. The putrid odours of rotten and burnt wood hung heavy in the air, wrinkling noses which ought to have been used to it by now. The harsh wind screamed around the room from the gaping maw at the end of it, and coupled with the rough splashing of the waves it made it difficult to hear what was being said.

“So, have you been to one of these nights before?” the werewolf seated in front of Horatio asked in a loud growl. Horatio nodded, a greasy lock of black hair falling across his mottled forehead.

“Yes, I have tried my hand at these evenings thrice now,” he shouted, trying to sound interested. His eyes kept flicking back towards the zombie who stood at the door, watching the proceedings like a proud mother. Despite the disfigurement caused by her reanimation, Horatio thought she was beautiful. Her clothes, which had been in the ground a far shorter time than Horatio’s, were the brightest garments in the hall, regardless of the mud stains. Elsie Cartwright was like a shining beacon to a man adrift in a storm.

“Can’t’ve been much of a hit with the ladies, then!” the werewolf barked, shaking her great snout. Horatio’s attention snapped back to her and he forced a smile.

“Evidently not,” he said with a sigh. The werewolf cocked her head and gazed at him, a strange look coming into her yellow eyes. Horatio fidgeted, wishing the bell would ring again and signal the end of their three minutes together.

“Can’t think why, though,” she said, her pink tongue lapping at her chops. “You’re more interesting than most of the groaners I’ve met. Better looking, too.” The wolf huffed and turned away in embarrassment and Horatio grimaced. In life he had been tall, dark and handsome, but in death he was just as repulsive as everyone else.

“Ahh…well, thank you, madame, you are most kind,” he said, wondering whether or not he should return the compliment. The wolf certainly looked expectant. As he struggled for something positive to say about her, the bell rang.

“Oh, time’s up!” the werewolf said reluctantly. “Nice meeting you. Don’t be a stranger, now!” She gave what Horatio assumed passed for a wink. He smiled back and nodded politely, thanking her for her time. Standing up, he shambled over to the neighbouring table and approached the next eager face. The hall became animated as several others did the same, albeit rather slowly. The participants were obliged to endure an extra two minutes of “walking time” as the zombies present took a while to change tables. Horatio felt as if it would be a very long night. He looked up at Elsie as he sat down in front of his next “date” and she smiled and waved at him. Horatio felt his undead heart soar and he smiled back. He then forced himself to focus his attention on the newest bag of hideous in front of him and resolved to wait to speak to Elsie. She would be much more agreeable company, he was certain, and he would feel better for hearing her voice.

“’Ello ‘andsome!” the zombie in front of him leered. It had one good eye and its jaw was hanging by a few rotted threads of sinew. Horatio wasn’t sure if it was male or female, but he suspected that asking such a question would not start their meeting in the most positive light. Just another hour and a half, Horatio¸ he thought to himself, then you may speak with Elsie. Steeling himself, Horatio began conversing with his next “date”.


“I beg your pardon, Miss Elsie,” Horatio began once the “dating” had finished. “May I help you in any way?” He had managed to politely decline the werewolf’s offer of a night-cap without causing offense and had waited with impatience as the undead made their snail-like progress back to town. Horatio had taken a deep breath and shuffled over to Elsie. She turned to look at him and smiled.

“Oh, hello there, Horatio!” she said with genuine pleasure. “That is very kind of you! Yes, if you don’t mind, I could use a hand clearing away the tables. I’ll be here all night by myself, you see.” Horatio nodded, knowing all too well the limitations of their reawakened bodies. He set to work aiding her and worried over what to say. I must begin a conversation, damn it! He thought to himself with irritation. Why am I such a damnable bore? A bolt of lightning darted across the sky and struck a building somewhere in town, a tremendous crash filling the air a moment later. Still Horatio was mute.

“Any luck tonight?” Elsie asked, saving him from the awkward silence.

“Not especially, Miss Elsie,” he replied, spreading his arms wide. “Perhaps I am not good enough for the creatures of this new world. I daresay that I wasn’t much of a man for my betrothed in my former life, either, being a drunken scoundrel.”

“Oh, rubbish! I’ll not have you sayin’ that!” Elise chided, swatting him lightly on his shoulder. “You’re a strapping figure of a man, or at least you were, an’ anyone can see that! You’re a fair deal more agreeable than most of the folk from your time an’ all! An’ from my time, too, as it happens. My old hubby never spoke to me the way you do.” Horatio blushed, feeling what little blood he had left rise to his face. Elsie had died in the 1930’s, and she had lived a life destined to be frustrated by social barriers. They had become greatly reduced when compared to Horatio’s time, but they had not progressed enough for a strong-willed woman like Elsie.

“You have my thanks, Miss Elsie,” Horatio stammered. “Have you…have you had any potential…suitors?” he asked her, afraid of the answer but needing to know. Elsie looked at him and a shy smile crept across her face.

“Actually, there was a charming ghostly fella who spoke to me tonight,” she said. “I know it’s not my policy to get involved but he was ever so nice. He was a Frenchman who died whilst visitin’ the area centuries ago. Very polite an’ not at all high-an’-mighty, much like yourself, Horatio! I think I might like to see him again.” Horatio felt panic flood his body and he was struck dumb by the feeling. Come on you, fool! His mind screamed at him. It is now or never!

“Miss Elsie, I…” Horatio began, chewing at his lower lip. It tasted awful and the shock of it made him forget his embarrassment. “I wonder if you would consider spending some time with me instead?” Elsie paused during folding a chair.

“With you, Horatio?” she said, her eyebrow rising and her mouth opening slightly. Horatio cleared his throat and continued.

“Yes, I understand that it is somewhat improper of me,” he said, smoothing the front of his half-rotten suit jacket. “But, you see, I have been…in love…with you for some time now.” Horatio looked at Elsie with sincerity in his eyes. Elsie’s eyes widened and her hand flew to her breast.

“Miss Elsie, since I have reawakened I have been so alone,” he said, stepping towards her. “My heart is lonely, and my soul although it be damned cries out for a companion. I…wish to spend the rest of my unnatural life with you, Miss Elsie. You would complete me.” Horatio trailed off, surprised by his tenderness and feeling the beginnings of panic returning. Oh, Lord, what if she denies me? He thought with desperation. I will die all over again! Elsie stood watching him, her undead eyes blinking rapidly. The wind howled around the arcade in a mocking laugh and the pier creaked ominously as if it were about to collapse. Horatio almost wished that it would.

“Oh, Horatio,” she whispered. “You do have a way with words! Any girl would be lucky to hear them!”

“Miss Elsie, I will give you my arms gladly if only you will restore this blackened, un-beating heart of mine,” Horatio said, reaching out a wasted, green-hued hand. Elsie laughed and seized it, gripping it tightly and beaming like an angel. Horatio felt his shoulder groan and worried that he might live up to his promise in a more literal fashion than he had intended.

“Horatio, you’ve said enough pretty words,” Elsie said, gazing into his eyes. “We’ve time enough for those and more besides! Truth be told, I’ve not had eyes for anyone else since you first walked in here. I’ll share your arms an’ give you mine also, you silver-tongued charmer!” Horatio felt his spirit dance and his heart suddenly flutter in his chest like a phoenix arising from ashes. He had never felt so happy, even in his mortal days. Elsie took his other hand and smiled at him.

“But let’s take it slowly, shall we?” Elsie said with a sly wink. “No need to rush when we’ve got all of eternity before us!”

“No, indeed not, Miss Elsie!” Horatio said, his own face breaking into a wide smile. He ignored the unnerving creak as his jaw stretched and he stared deep into Elsie’s eyes. Happiness, I have found you at last! he thought. Perhaps the new, dead world would not be so bad after all.


Blessed Night

Blessed Night

By Adam Dixon


Andi strolled through the forest clearing, a filled satchel on her back and a bright smile on her face. Bathed in the pale glow of the full moon and soothed by the cool wind blowing through her dark hair, she was content as she collected the various flora which grew there. Her satchel was full to bursting with nettles, wildflowers and mushrooms, as well as with more valuable items such as blisterweed and Lady’s Folly posies. Already her mind raced with the potions she could brew from such a spectacular haul. She smiled and congratulated herself. Nice one, Andromeda, she thought, business is looking good!

But one item still eluded her, and it was the ingredient which had brought Andi so deep into the forest in the first place. It was the Moon-Spun Lily, a beautiful, delicate flower which only bloomed once a month; during the full moon, naturally. Andi had pinned down the area in which the flower would be likely to bloom and her collecting so far, although fortuitous, had simply been a way for her to waste time before the moon had risen. Now that it had, Andi could freely collect her prize. She strode eagerly towards her destination, her eyes flicking to the red compass point on her smartphone screen. She grinned at the device. How did the alchemists of old manage to find anything in the dark? She wondered, shaking her head at the thought. Thank the Maker for modern technology!

Andi passed through the clearing and penetrated the thickly wooded forest. The air smelled wonderful, with wafts of damp leaves, soil and the aroma of dozens of night-flowers filling her expectant nostrils. She breathed deeply as she walked, savouring the fresh air, the night sky and the freedom of being away from her laboratory. She lived for these excursions, and she refused to permit anyone else to undertake them on her behalf. This was what real alchemists did, and she was one of the best. She’d never catch her esteemed father taking the easy option! She imagined her father’s stern face observing her, just as he had done when she had stirred his bubbling cauldron as a child. Well, Dad, here I am! She thought triumphantly. Getting the job done properly, just like you! Her phone pinged, and she banished the image and looked around.

She gasped as she beheld the Moon-Spun Lily nestled between two small trees. Its milky white petals glowed with an inner luminescence, quivering as the breeze caressed it. Andi noticed the tiny droplets of pollen leaking from its flowers as they danced in the wind, only to be picked up and swirled off to another part of the forest. As well as being stunningly beautiful it also looked incredibly delicate. Andi raised her phone and snapped a picture of the flower; it was a poor substitute for the real thing, but she wanted desperately to capture the moment in her memory. She longed to stay and watch the flower as it swayed in the night, but she had work to do and a deadline to keep. Steeling herself, Andi withdrew a small pair of pruning shears and a silk bag from her satchel. Leaning forwards, she carefully snipped the stalk of the Lily and let it drop into the bag. Now that the flower was gone, the space between the two trees looked desolate, as if the life had faded from it. Andi felt a little sad, but she abruptly shook it off and turned to leave the forest.

A long, loud howl pierced the stillness of the night. Andi froze, her eyes widening. Every hair on her forearms stood on end and her heart hammered in her chest as the howl continued. The noise was answered by a similar howl, this one higher in pitch. Andi realised with terror that they were both close by. She slipped a hand into her jeans and pulled out a tiny vial filled with a gelatinous blue liquid. Her hands were shaking as she unstopped the vial and raised it to her lips. She threw her head back and downed the potion, feeling it burn as it slid down her throat. She crouched and leaned forwards, fighting the urge to choke and splutter. Oh man, I forgot how awful this one tastes! She thought, disgusted. The howls came again, nearer still. They were getting closer! Andi shuffled into the thickest section of trees, cursing the potion for not taking effect sooner. As she began to notice her hands and torso losing their definition, a huge shape crashed through the undergrowth and came to a halt where she had been standing moments before. Andi’s breath caught in her throat; it was a werewolf.

Standing on powerful hind legs it towered into the air, fully eight feet tall from its pointed ears to its claws. It gazed around the clearing with eyes of a deep red and saliva dripped from its gleaming yellow fangs. By the Maker¸ Andi thought to herself, transfixed. It’s beautiful! The creature possessed a savage beauty that Andi had never seen before, and the descriptions she had read about such beasts did it no justice whatsoever. It pawed at the ground impatiently and growled deeply from the back of its throat. A freshly-killed young doe was grasped in one if its giant paws, carried as if it were no heavier than an apple. A crash of branches announced the arrival of a second beast, this one just as majestic as the first and even larger. The two wolves faced one another in silence, crimson eyes locked together. Andi wiped a bead of sweat from her eye and realised that her potion had taken effect: she was invisible.

The wolves growled and padded closer, neither one breaking eye contact. Mottled brown fur swayed in the wind as it sighed through the forest, and fallen leaves crunched underneath massive paws. The wolves stopped within an arm’s length of each other and continued their rumbling observations. Suddenly, a gravelly voice issued forth from the maw of the first creature.

“Evenin’, Moon-Sister,” it growled. “A fine night for a hunt, eh?”

“Too right, Moon-Brother!” the larger werewolf said, its eyes tightening and a coughing sound racking its body. Andi looked on in amazement. It’s laughing! She could hardly believe what she was seeing. The first werewolf tossed its head and lowered itself into a crouch. It still stood over six feet tall even then.

“Ahh, but it’s nice to see another of my kind!” it said, the growl in its voice sounding pleased. “As much as I enjoy these evenings, they can be lonely.”

“That’s never bothered me, to be honest,” the female werewolf said as she joined him in a crouch. “My other life is always noisy, so I enjoy the peace, but I am pleased to meet you! It makes for a refreshing change.” The first werewolf acknowledged the gesture with a nod of his great head.

“Have some of my catch, if you like,” he offered the doe to his companion. The female laughed again, the strange guttural sound sending a shiver up Andi’s spine.

“Don’t mind if I do, Moon-Brother! Thanks!” She accepted the bounty and tore off a large piece of flesh with her razor-sharp fangs. Andi felt her stomach perform a somersault inside her. Oh, the poor thing! She thought, turning her face away from the scene. The sound of ripping meat and crunching bones assaulted her ears, and she fought hard to keep from retching.

“We know you’re there, human,” the female’s voice growled. “You may as well join us.”

Andi’s heart plummeted in her chest and an icy shock hit her in waves. She began to tremble and slowly turned to look back. Two pairs of blood-red eyes were looking straight in her direction. She gulped and tried to respond.

“How…how can you see me?” Andi managed to squeak.

“We can’t,” the male werewolf answered, his pink tongue lapping blood from his jaws. “But you reek of fear and excitement. We could point in your direction from a mile away.”

“Come and join us.” The female repeated. It did not sound like a request. Petrified, Andi made her way towards them on legs which threatened to buckle under her at any moment. She stood before the two creatures, clasping her satchel with both hands in an effort to compose herself. The female leaned forward and inhaled deeply through her wet nostrils.

“You smell like a garden centre,” she said, amusement in her tone. “Have you been rolling around in the meadows?”

“No…no, I’m collecting wild flora,” Andi replied, still struggling with her sentences. “You see…I’m…an al-alchemist.”

“Ahhh, one of those!” the male guffawed and chomped down on another piece of the doe. “That explains it, then! What’s your name, alchemist?”

“I’m…Andromeda….Andi, for short.” Andi replied, unsure where the conversation was going. “Do you…erm…do you have names?” She nearly bolted from the forest as the two wolves threw their heads back and howled in unison. She stood shaking, hoping desperately that she hadn’t offended them.

“No, Andi the alchemist, we don’t,” the female said with good humour. “Of course, we do as humans, but we don’t use those names during the Blessed Night. That would be wrong.”

“This is the one night we can forget about those lives of weakness and boredom; we can truly be free.” The male werewolf added, gazing up at the moon with a sigh. Andi thought about this, her fear lessened by this information.

“I see…” she said, rubbing her invisible chin. “So you enjoy being werewolves? I always thought it was a curse.”

“Some people will see it that way, obviously,” the male answered, shaking his head. “But for me, this is when I’m really alive. As a human, I’m weak, unfulfilled and miserable. Getting bitten by a Moon-Sister was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“It’s the same with me,” the female snarled in agreement, tossing the remainder of the doe away into the trees. “My other life would seem complete to some, but I’m not valued as an individual. These evenings are my own, and I love them dearly. They make me feel alive!”

“I see…” Andi said again, shocked at their frankness. She was fairly sure by now that they were not going to eat her, but she didn’t want to risk upsetting them. She began speaking, addressing them very cautiously.

“So, erm…you don’t want to stop being werewolves then? You wouldn’t want to find a cure?” The professional in Andi was considering how a potion might be brewed to that effect, but both beasts shook their heads.

“Not unless I find something in my human life which makes me feel so free,” the male wolf shrugged. He fixed his frightening eyes in Andi’s direction, and she saw the pain within them. “But I really doubt that’ll happen. Nothing completes me like this change. Nothing.” Andi stood still, absorbing this information. The wolf regarded her, silently crouching in the moonlight.

“So, what happens after tonight?” Andi asked tentatively. The wolves looked at each other, and Andi felt a spark of understanding pass between them.

“We return to our other lives,” the female said sadly. “We go back to being human.”

“Back to wishing the days away until Blessed Night comes around again,” the male added, his ears drooping. Andi was moved by their profound misery and was at a loss as to what to say.

“Stay with us whilst we enjoy the last few hours of moonlight, Andi the alchemist,” the female said. “We will not harm you.”

“Are-are you sure?” Andi asked, brightening at the idea. “Wouldn’t I be interrupting your solitude?”

“Nah, not at all,” the male werewolf replied. He patted the ground next to him with his blood-stained claws. “It’s nice to have company for a change.”

“Oh, alright then.” Andi smiled and sat down between the two hulking creatures, her fascination returning and her fears vanishing. She considered asking the beasts if she could take a selfie with them to preserve the moment, but she quashed the idea as quickly as it came to her. Best not push it, girl! She thought

Andi sat with the werewolves for several hours, listening to them describe the freedom of prowling the night as its ultimate predator, of how the soaring wind felt on their fur or how the moon called to them prior to their transformation. Andi was mesmerised, mentally noting down all of the information they provided. She was almost certain that her situation was unprecedented in human-monster interaction and so she intended to remember as much as possible. She gradually pieced together that the male werewolf was an undervalued, underpaid accountant whose wife had left him penniless. It also turned that the female was the wife of an extremely successful business tycoon, and by being so found herself in a constant state of near-invisibility. Andi in turn told them about her alchemy business, and her initial struggle to get out from underneath her father’s shadow as a potion-brewer. She even shared some of her more scandalous business requests, at which the wolves howled into the night once again and laughed. She found herself enjoying their company immensely, and as the light began to return she felt sadness at the inevitable ending approaching. The female stood up, stretching her long, hairy legs as the sky began to change to a pinky-grey hue.

“It’s almost time,” she announced with resignation in her voice. “I’ve enjoyed sharing Blessed Night with you, Andi the alchemist, and with you, Moon-Brother. Let’s all meet again some time, the Maker willing.”

“I’ve enjoyed it too!” Andi said, leaping up. “I’ve learned so much from both of you! And thank you again for your gifts.” She patted a pocket in her satchel, where a tuft of werewolf hair and a vial of saliva could been seen poking out of the folds.

“It’s a pleasure, Andi,” the male wolf bowed his shaggy head in her direction. “Thanks for a pleasant evening. Now, I’d better head home. Moon-Sister, may we meet again.” With that, the male bounded off into the trees, his heavy footsteps echoing around the rapidly lightening forest. Andi turned to speak to the female, but she was also out of sight. Andi felt very alone in the large forest, despite the sounds of its denizens waking all around her. She looked up at the sky and saw that the sun was rising sleepily in the horizon. She sighed heavily and looked at her feet, noticing then that she was not invisible anymore. She stooped to pick up the silk bag she had rested on the floor, and her thoughts turned back to her delicate treasure. The Lily is just like the two of them, she thought sadly, beautiful and fleeting. She turned wandered despondently out of the forest, her heart going out to the two poor souls who lived their lives perpetually wanting to be something else. She found herself wondering how many other people felt the same way, but didn’t have the brief luxury of a magical transformation to escape their misery. She shook her head, a single tear running down her face.

“Goodbye, my new friends,” she whispered. “Until we meet again on Blessed Night.”


If you enjoyed this story, why not check out Andi’s introductory tale?