Wednesday, April 30, 2014

DER 800 JAHR ALT FLEISCH ESSER (zombie) UTHER aus ULM Comes to Town... 4/30/14

Let me tell you something about our visitor. Zombies rarely survive more than four hundred years. They're not like vampires. There's little real magic involved. Such beings are not paranormal. They're just special. But a few are extra special and Uther aus Ulm is one of those. In case you don't know, his name is pronounced OO-ther and tonight's title means - The 800 Year Old Flesh (actually 'meat' but, you know) Eater, Uther from Ulm. He's legendary among zombies. Not those cheap models who shamble around and fall apart. Uther belongs to a somewhat higher caste (as does Ralphie and Ezekiel and all them). His kind regenerates. Rotted flesh, gristle and extremities quickly fill in and grow back. 

Scientists who've studied the phenomenon believe a certain microscopic nematode acquired along with other dirty- little-soil-cooties (their taxonic term) combine to form a heady cocktail transforming most surviving premature burial victims into, well... 'zombies.' .... And now he's here... Uther, I mean. Actually, he's more than eight hundred years old. That's when the 'zombie' thing started, way back in the year 1214.... before the Magna Carta... before the travels of Marco Polo, who was not the first to visit exotic realms. He just got good press.

Meant to be a squire he was. Promised to a lesser, though rich nobleman down the river, toward Bavaria. Ritter this, or Ritter that. What difference does it make? But he ran away, Uther, I mean, to join the monks. For he craved knowledge more than battle. Though after acquiring enough of that was not adverse to a bit of empire building of his own. They had to pay recompense to the Ritter and give him another son. Uther's family, I mean. The younger boy grew to be an acceptable, if uninspired knight and did manage to carve out holdings near Sant Jean d'Acre toward Galilee during some Crusade or another. Jewelbox of a castle they had. Done up in the latest Levantine manner... mosaics, fountains, central atriums.... Rather like the commodious villas of the House ben Macabi (the vampire Jonathon's people) in Al Andalus. But that's another story. 

The monks taught Uther geography and theology. But he cared more for mercantile practice than devine.  And soon, with the help of a cabochon sapphire or two given him by a young prioress (who was also an heiress) in return for evening dalliances, he invested in a ship bound for England and the fabled fleece (wool) markets of  the place.  Not only did he back the enterprise. He sailed with it too. And on a fine April day in the sixteenth year of the life of Frederick the Second, son of Barbarossa and claimant to what was still just unofficially known as The Holy Roman Empire, set sail from a little known Piedmontese port. 

Thus a stalwart young man, not yet bound by vows... a lay brother with a rapidly filling in sandy tonsure crossed the western Mediterranean on a seventy foot long 'Cog.' Imagine a one mast, primitive cousin to Cristobal Colon's (Christopher Columbus's) lesser ships and you'll see what we mean. Fourteen men embarked. One hand proved to be a maid fleeing an arranged marriage. But that was common. They survived on thick, bland crackers, dried meat, water and wine, plus whatever might be available along the way. There might have been barrels of pickled cabbage too. And a semi-enclosed, crude shelter under the aft deck was all they had.

At this point you must know that 'zombie mongers' were abroad in the world snatching victims for flesh-eating clans eager to grow and expand. Uther aus Ulm would fetch a fine price, indeed.

Thus were Fleisch Esseren 'born.'

And now, many centuries later, perhaps Uther has plans for Opal too?

(more tomorrow)
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