“If you thought it was alright to be a zombie...” Bruce pumped his shotgun for emphasis, “you were dead wrong.”
“Aaah!” yelled the zombie. “Not the face! Not the face!”
Bruce jumped in surprise, accidentally pulling the trigger, but only after he had also made an ungainly flailing motion with the shotgun. The result was that he not only missed the zombie, but the recoil caught him completely by surprise, prompting further flailing. All in all, it didn’t really fit with the badass action hero persona he had been trying to cultivate since the start of the zombie apocalypse.
“Stop! I’m not a zombie!”
Whether or not this was true, the slightly-rotten figure in front of Bruce was cowering, and since he had already ticked “shoot first” off his mental list, this seemed like a good time to start asking questions. “What are you, then?”
“Would you believe that I’m a guy with really, really bad eczema?”
Bruce looked him up and down. There was a worm poking out of his forehead, waving around comically. “No.”
“Elaborate Halloween costume?”
“Undercover secret agent trying to bust a zombie crime ring?”
Bruce pumped the shotgun again.
“Okay okay!” The zombie put his hands up. Or rather, one hand and a decomposing forearm. “I may have exaggerated my non-zombie qualities. Strictly speaking, that is to say, one way of looking at it would be that—that’s a great shirt you’re wearing, by the way—I am actually a zombie. Kind of.”
“What does ‘kind of’ mean, exactly?”
“It means I am, you know, a member of the zombie community, but I’m not a braindead monster. I’m an intelligent zombie.”
“That sounds really dangerous.”
“Wait wait wait!” The zombie waved his hand in a “seriously, please don’t shoot my face off” kind of way. “I can help you! I know how the zombie apocalypse started.”
“How?” Bruce wasn’t sure if this was something he actually needed to hear, or if it was just a ploy to delay the face-shooting.
“I may have kind of slightly—seriously, love the shirt—maybe started the whole thing. Please don’t get mad!”
Bruce honestly wasn’t mad. For one thing, if what the zombie said was true, it could be extremely important. For another, Bruce was kind of enjoying the zombie apocalypse. It had explosions and witty one-liners. “How?” he asked again.
“Alright. You know the Necronomicon?”
“Well, I got hold of a copy, right?”
“And I covered it with foil...”
“And I put it in the microwave.”
“Alright.” Bruce took a moment to process this. “Why, exactly?”
“Look, I said I was an intelligent zombie. I didn’t say I was intelligent before I became a zombie.”
“So what do you do now that you’re an intelligent zombie?”
“I read,” the zombie shrugged. “I paint...pretty much anything to get the slime-like brain juices flowing, really. I’ve got a lovely collection of pressed flowers if you’d like to see.”
“You’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and you’re pressing flowers?” Bruce gave him a look. “That’s stupid.”
“Hey, I’ll have you know that zombie apocalypses leave you with a lot of time to fill when you’re undead. And pressing flowers is nowhere near as stupid as letting a gang of zombies sneak up on you.”
“Wait, what?” Bruce turned. Sure enough, a big group of shamblers was making its way slowly down the hallway towards him. “Oh no. Oh no no no.” They were on the third floor, and the mass of zombies had already blocked off the only route to the stairs. Rushing forwards to a fire door in the middle of the hall—the closest thing to a choke point there was—Bruce started firing at the crowd.
Click click click.
He really wished he’d had more than four shells.
The intelligent zombie stepped forward. “May I?”
Putting a hand out to stop the first zombie that reached the narrow doorway, he waited until the second was also trying to get through. He pushed back against these two zombies until those behind them had begun to pile up in the doorway. The intelligent zombie slowly stepped away, leaving a big pile of less than intelligent zombies all trying—and failing—to get through the door at once.
The intelligent zombie smiled, though it looked pretty messed up because he had no lips. “I got the idea from The Three Stooges.”
“Wow,” said Bruce, genuinely impressed. “That is intelligent.”
“Sure is.” The intelligent zombie sank its teeth into Bruce’s scalp. “More brains for me!”