A Plague On Both Your Houses – A Shakespearian Zombie Story

12 Jun

Mercutio struggled to break into the crypt which held the bodies of Romeo and his young bride. The fighting between their two families had gone on too long and had cost too many lives, including his own. The need for revenge burned deep within Mercutio’s body and it was this which had brought him back when he should have remained still and lifeless in his grave. He knew he wasn’t alive as such, instead he was little more than a walking corpse; he couldn’t think clearly, he couldn’t speak but he could move and what was left of his mind was consumed with an overwhelming desire to wreak revenge on those he blamed for his untimely death. With his dying words Mercutio had sworn to bring a plague on both their houses and now he was able to move again, he was going to make it happen. This wouldn’t be a biblical plague of locusts or some creeping disease; instead it would be a plague of his fellow dead, and at their head would be the two young lovers who’d died because their families bore a grudge for reasons none of them could even remember.

Having been dead for more than a week, Mercutio’s muscles weren’t as strong as they’d been in life and he struggled to get into the crypt. Somehow he sensed that since he wasn’t alive he couldn’t heal himself, and that if he damaged his gradually-decaying body he might not be able satisfy the desire for revenge he felt burning through every fibre left of his being. He knew this meant he should be careful, but this hunger drove him onwards. Risking injury, Mercutio put his full weight to the door. With a sudden groan he finally broke through and he tumbled forward. Instinctively he put out his arms to try to break his fall, snapping off two fingers as he hit the ground. Mercutio stared at them for a moment, watching as they skittered across the earthen floor and came to rest against the wall of the crypt. He wasn’t alive so it didn’t hurt; instead it was just inconvenient. Leaving them where they lay, Mercutio slowly pulled himself to his feet and looked around. In the moonlight spilling through the broken door, he could see the bodies of the newly-married bride and her secret groom lying next to each other. Soon, like Mercutio, they’d move again, and then he’d send them to do his bidding, bringing the same havoc to the lives of their warring families that they had brought to his. When he was finished with them, the Capulets and the Montagues would be no more and Verona would be a better place for it. Then, and only then, would he let these star-crossed lovers rest, side by side, hand in hand, for all eternity.


You can download a PDF of this story here.

Author’s Note: The idea for this Romeo and Juliet-inspired flash fiction zombie story was born out of a post by my fellow zombie author Jack Flacco on his blog. If you want to check out that post, and indeed the comments where the first seeds for this story were sown, you can find it here.

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

2 Responses to “A Plague On Both Your Houses – A Shakespearian Zombie Story”

  1. Jack Flacco 13/06/2013 at 12:36 #

    Took a while to get to this, but I’m here. Yay!

    First of all, thanks for the wonderful plug, I appreciate it, Colin! Secondly, and most important, great story! And loved the last words. So befitting of the pair. This is almost like an intro to a grand story of epic proportions. All the seeds are there. I can see this becoming larger, more brilliant in scope. One of my favorite phrases is: “moonlight spilling through the broken door”. It evokes all sorts of images, from the cold, dark night to the creepiness of what’s to come.

    Nicely done! I feel you fulfilled part of a fantasy of mine. To bring Shakespeare into the realm of zombiehood!

    • cmdrysdale 13/06/2013 at 13:38 #

      No worries, about the plug – I always like to say when I’ve taken inspiration from others! Good to hear you liked the story as well. I can also see this blossoming into a fully-fledged zombie sequel to the original R&J focussing on the dead Mercutio wreaking revenge on the Montagues and Capulets, with this short story acting as the prologue. This would be particularly poignant as he would not know that the deaths of Romeo and Juliet had finally re-united the two families and their feud was over. It might also be fun to introduce some characters from other Shakespeare plays into it, with the three witches from MacBeth being the obvious choice, as they could provide a mechanism for Mercutio’s resurrection, and his ability to raise others (such as R&J) from their graves too. Anyway, with the basic idea now in place, I think this is just a matter of me finding enough time in amongst everyone else to go back and read the original text again, and then sit down to write it. I’d also need to decide if I’d try and mimic Shakespeare’s language (which would be difficult to do well) or just to it in modern English (much easier!).

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