Zombie Zack had eaten his girlfriend’s brain, again. Of course, if you look at it, it really wasn’t Zack’s fault. It was almost like Jenna was asking for it. You don’t date a Zombie if you’re the kind that scares easily. Or even worse, gets disgusted. Now that’s just cruel, and impolite. So what if you burp and slurp a lot and your ear comes off occasionally during sex. If anything, a bit of compassion would be nice. There is only so much hate even a Zombie’s heart can take.
But he hadn’t really gotten over his dead-girlfriend-tragedy when the Alpha Zombies discovered a hitherto undiscovered school. Quaint, in the midst of the woods, not really keyed in on the apocalypse. That was some screaming and scampering. And kids, they are just human versions of veal, only more free range and pumped up on cholesterol… those were the days of plenty. And no one really caught sight of the anorexic cook that quivered in the school kitchen. He hoisted her onto his shoulder, with not much of a resistance apart from her arms flaying like fleas on his back, and her butt cheeks nudging his left cheek like starved dumplings (Yumm, still). He stuffed her into the cupboard for future use, and promptly forgot about her for a few days.
To be hungry on a sweltering afternoon is a dangerous affair for the undead, and he was contemplating on how long he could starve and stay safe in the air conditioning, when he remembered Cory. Of course, they hadn’t exchanged pleasantries and names at this point, and it was more of him opening the cupboard, and her tumbling out too starved and too exhausted to even weep… made him feel kinda bad for her. It was just plain mean of him to have left her in there for that long. And he wasn’t that kinda Zombie. So he fed her some left-over Cheetos, and asked her name, just to get her into a mood that would be more pleasant for (his) consumption. Rookie mistake. The thing about food is, it’s best not to play with it, feed it, or worse give it a name, because very soon you find something endearing about it, and then you just can’t eat it, (at least not without saying teary goodbyes). He reminded himself that he’d not even gotten over the Jenna-heartbreak, and also that the temperature outside was over 40 degrees and hence not apt for an unplanned romance. But he was a sucker for a damsel in distress. Even if he were the cause of the distress. And so he freed her from his cupboard, and brought her more Cheetos to celebrate her freedom. He loved the way she chewed, like each morsel was her last, and ended up feeding her Cheetos all night… the desperation in her eyes making him forget his own grumbling tummy.
Cory could have left him after that. But she didn’t. And Zack liked to think that it was because he had an endearing personality, and not just because there was a Zombie apocalypse outside. And when the sun was down, he went out and foraged for fresh meat and more Cheetos and on a special day, chicken, (which he couldn’t eat), but when she got down to cooking it, he could smell the glorious aroma, and remember a time and taste that was forever lost to him.
To him, Cory was cute, caring, and perhaps even kind. Human kindness was something he had forgotten. He felt almost sleepy with pleasure when she combed his hair, and sometimes, he let her wash him, let her run down her wet fingers over his bloody chest. Yes, he started to look and even feel better. But one thing she could never get him to do was floss. Coz there is something to be said about a mean pair of canines that just made other Zombies back off and take you seriously, especially around a kill. Cory wouldn’t get that.
Then one day, she made the most amazing Chocolate Blood Pudding, inspired (she said) by a Hannibal Lector cooking tip. That was the day! He took one spoon, and his whole world trembled, tears fell from his eyes, and he wept for a world where he still had a choice. It was also the moment Zombie cuisine was invented, and as his senses tingled, he dreamt of chocolate dipped fingers, honey basted breasts, roasted thighs, and a world of possibilities that were held in the magical tiny hands of this food goddess. At that moment he felt that he was a Zombie with a purpose (besides eating and sleeping, which were primary Zombie purposes), a higher purpose, to protect this goddess – from himself, and from the 20,000-strong Zombie army that was camped around him. There would be no more brain eating, well, at least not this girlfriend’s. And yes, he would floss (Because Cory had a strict no-dessert-if-you-don’t-floss policy).
Looking back, he remembers these as the happy days. Humans were aplenty, and Zombies few. And on a gloomy day, (when the sun wasn’t hell-bent on decaying their flesh), they called a couple of his friends over, and had barbeques in their backyard, with blood wine, and pickled liver nuggets. Of course on these public occasions, Cory had on her social avatar, a pretty skirt of pure human skin (a rare Zombie fashion that hadn’t caught on), and molar ear-studs, that helped keep her own human smell at bay, and let her pass off as a Zombie, that just smelled really good. And they passed off many a pleasant afternoon snoring on the lawn, passed out after a noon of gourmet feasting.
But happy days never last. And there was the issue of Alpha Zombies, Zombie wars, cornered terrified humans screaming at their food orgies, and the worst, hunting and maiming just for pleasure. A small movement put forth the great pro-Zombie, pro-kill argument. It kinda went like, hunt discretely, preferably separately, kill the humans you hunt, and keep down Zombie conversions. Too many (stupid, over-driven) Zombies translate to lesser partying-sloshed humans and more terrified ones hiding in mall bathrooms, under the protection of lemony air fresheners masking their smells. Needless to say, the sniper-kill movement got little traction, and the Zombie famine hit the Zombies as ruthlessly as faulty air-conditioning.
Hiding Cory amidst all this (and not eating her) was hard. Cory, however, didn’t seem to think that way. She was tired of being stuck at home, now that cooking and parties were passé, courtesy the famine. And for humans, boredom is a bigger problem than staying alive. So she began the fights, which meant her yelling and him grunting. Always on the hotter days. When it was best to sleep. When she yelled that he did nothing but eat and sleep (whatever that meant), and she was stuck in the relationship with nowhere to go because there was a fucking apocalypse out there.
Then one day, he was lying half asleep, half awake, wishing for the cold, barely in his senses, when he heard her holler and throw around a few bones. He woke up startled, worried that some Zombie had snuck in and found Cory, but instead there she stood over him, waving a skull, and he hoped that meant food, but then he quickly identified Miss Ex-girlfriend Jenna, Carcass version. How Cory found the damn body or recognized it, he didn’t know (probably the sexy lingerie that still clung to the rest of her), but before he could say anything, Cory had stomped out with her bags, saying that she’d rather be eaten by a mob of Zombies than her own boyfriend.
He couldn’t get out before sun down. And when he did, the Zombies were on the move. Rumours had it that Humans were at the Mall. Cory! Was Cory amongst them? He joined the crowd, grunting, and huffing, as fast as he could, and even overtaking a few party hopping tortoises that were heading that way.
If you asked Zack, human preys were as dumb as Zombies. When they were scared, their best defense was to form large crowds that were visible from a mile. And if that’s not enough, they’d start to cackle. So that in the off chance their predators couldn’t see them, they could hear them loud and clear. Malls were a favourite human hideout, and Zack assumed that it was so they could go shopping in the intervals when they weren’t being hunted. He was damn sure Cory was in there, trying on clothes and makeup, and he hoped to the devil she’d had the sense to carry the human-skin skirt with her.
Once a human and his companions enter the Mall, he gives the order to “seal the exits”, and by exits, humans means the ones that they can enter and leave. And this part would be hilarious if Zombies had a sense of humor (they don’t), but humans forget the one crucial entrance that Zombies preferably take. Pipes. Humans can’t really comprehend how a kind-of-human-creature can squeeze itself through a pipe, ligaments and all, and come out at the other end of a plumber’s spectrum. It’s just that Zombies don’t really care about a few lost appendages unless of course, it’s their mouths, not even their brains (coz they don’t bother to think so far).
Zack’s path takes him into the Mall’s restroom, specifically the commode exit, where his head bumps up a human ass, and hungry as hell, he takes a giant bite off the fair soft meat. He loves ass. And out jumps the human with a squeak, and Zack himself, jack-in-the-box style, and follows human out of the restroom, and into the kiddie toy section.
Much fear and hand-flayings-yelps, Zack loves this part… the grand entry, and all the attention. Ass-Boy grabs a (toy) baseball bat and starts beating the shit out of Zack in front of all the kids and Zack puts up with that kinda shit, coz he feels the crowd loves the theatrics of a dying villain. And there’s the tear stained girl clinging on to Ass-Boy, terrified, and screaming “Mikey, Mikey”. At this point, Mikey figures that Zack is not really dying and just playing along, and takes two dice from the board game shelf and throws it down at Zack and that’s when Zack loses it. Zack is a patient Zombie. But nothing riles him up more than a human who’s played too much Zombicide and thinks his best defense is a Molotov from a double dice. Zack takes a perfect bite off the guy’s thigh to teach him a lesson.
‘Mikey’ drops the baseball bat. He’s entering what Zack recognizes as Zombie shock, which is like being hit by a good-quality bong, and having an elephant-sized migraine at the same time. The room takes a little spin around you, you can hear phantom whistling, then you are suddenly on a merry go around, and there are red butterflies dancing around you. Only they aren’t so much dancing but splaying about. And they aren’t butterflies. It is blood. Your blood. And then you realize you’re dying, and press play on the ‘my whole life flashing before me’ reel that’s ready and waiting. And somehow the whole thing seems funny.
But then things happen quickly. The girl screams again, and before Zack can finish wondering why girls have adopted screaming as their primary form of communication, he sees that Mikey has climbed out of the window and onto the narrow ledge, his back to the wall, looking down at the abyss of traffic below him… and everyone else has put their heads out of the window while begging him to stop, even Zack… but the boy’s too far gone, the ledge is thin and he’s barely balancing, and mumbling, maybe praying, he’s sweating, possibly terrified… and Zack wishes he could explain to Mikey the futility of actions, (not that he could find or say the words for it), that being a Zombie wasn’t all that bad, it’s not really a path to hell and stuff, and even if it was, was it really so bad? He really needn’t… oh no, too late… needn’t do exactly that… jump off the ledge. Now the girl is screaming again. And Zack hates tragedies, it kinda makes him wanna cry and wish someone had warned him before he’d started watching.
He looked down, to where Mikey, or whatever remained of him, lay, a sad mass of leg and head and blood and shirt that had all become one. He twitched a little. And the Zombies, a hundred odd ones that clambered over the abandoned cars, devoured him in seconds. Like fleas around a piece of fruit.
Then he saw her. Cory! She was inside, what Zack understood as a food truck, because it said FOOD TRUCK, in all caps, (A great way to market yourself to Zombies if you happen to be Zombie food). And as Zack looked at Cory, terrified and crouching from the thousand Zombies zoning in on her, he experienced a strange sensation. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead and his hand, and his rib cage, which once held his heart, trembled. He also developed an urgent need to jump five floors. And that was what he did.
The minute he landed five floors below, he sensed a light headedness. He looked at a revolving door-mirror in front of him and realized he had a new look. He had lost a bit of head. It was like a haircut, but with more head involved. He scooped up the rest of his head from the pavement, and bagged it for future use (Cory would stitch it up later, if she survived the apocalypse that is. Shit, Cory). A thousand Zombies were still swarming around the food truck. And then something weird happened. Zack felt teeth on his ass, and he looked at his ass and it is clearly in the mouth of a Zombie kid who couldn’t get to a piece of the mess that was Mikey and hoped Zack would make a close second.
Now, Zombies aren’t cannibalistic. Mostly because Zombies have a sense of taste, and aren’t into rotting food. Anyway, the Zombie kid spat Zack’s ass out quite gracelessly. And somehow, the whole episode distracted the crowd into a sort of existential haze. That’s how bad they all tasted? Dead meat? Or maybe it was just the idea that they could all just eat one another instead of eating one puny human in a food truck.
In the existential pause that diverted attention from her, Zack noticed Cory drive the food truck into the Mall, breaking down the revolving doors. And Zack felt the need to jump up and down in joy. His ass had saved her ass. And what a beautiful ass that was.
Seconds later, there was a hunt launched for Cory. Zombies scattered everywhere searching for the girl that had given them the miss. They went by the scent. And the scent was no small one. Surely, it was not the smell of an emancipated school chef. But it drove the Zombie masses wild. They scattered about in desperation, trying to hunt the scent that seemed to come from everywhere. For days they hunted. The Malls, the suburbs, the streets. Hunted, found, and ate every human in the vicinity. But even then, the scent did not subside. It wafted around them, called to them, and tortured them. Without solace.
And then Cory arrived. Parked her food truck in front of the Mall. Along with the glorious smell.
And without so much as a cue, the unruly Zombies formed a line before the truck. And somewhere along that line was Zack. He watched from afar as Cory handed out food for the Zombies. Honey Basted Wings. Glazed Zombie Thighs. All of his favorites and more. And the Zombies were ready to give an arm and a leg for it. And Cory was taking it. The arm and the leg, that is. Frying it in a bloody batter of secret spice. From each Zombie to his brother. You could even have a piece of yourself in your next meal. A perfect Zombie-eat-Zombie solution to a Zombie apocalypse: a Zombie food heaven. That could take Zombies to heaven.