Friday, May 23, 2014


There was a little place near Penn's campus, or perhaps it was Temple's. I can't tell you, because they don't want people to know. A vaguely Middle Eastern band played 'World Music,' drums... ouds... guitars and finger cymbals, as they rhythmically chanted old, Berber poems. Young people from the university gathered 'round low tables drinking arak, smoking Turkish cigarettes (rules weren't followed there) and nibbling sweet, glazed dates and salty, roasted peanuts.

A wide-eyed Opal sat in the back with Lars and Uther. The lights were low... all orange and dim. Few noticed her age. Some freshmen were little, skinny things. Seniors too, for that matter. Who cared. Those cigarettes were close to pot. Well, they made people feel sick and dizzy, so you could sort of pretend. Opal drank grappa, a clear, wine based, Italian intoxicant. Her more practiced handlers made do with a clarified slivovitz, a plum brandy-like liquor from Bohemia. They waited for fourth person to join them and appeared essentially human.

Opal kept her head down, studying the intricate floral pattern on the tablecloth.  She couldn't look at Uther, not after the stories... not after what went on in the caves. Oh, flesh she would eat and a zombie she was... but not like him. He relished the kill. He lived for the terror. She just craved the food.... a ninth grade carnivore with a taste for her own kind.

Then she came in. A woman walked through the door. Spare and fit, with a gaze like a hungry cat. No zombie, this one, just a scientist in search of knowledge. Doctor Franklin and his crew in the complex under The Navy Yard knew about her, but kept their distance. Twisted, she was... a cruel thing intrigued by poisons, legends and monsters. They say she once artificially inseminated a deranged, homeless woman with a sample from a young bonobo. Now the odds of success, if you could call it that, were infinitesimal, but this time it happened. The woman conceived and was bundled off campus to a remote house in the Allegheny Mountains. They watched her 'round the clock and kept her chained. Bettina, they called her. She was fed a specially prepared diet, outlined by the spare woman. They gave her supplements, exercised her. After eight and a half months of fresh air, walks in the woods, good food and daily massages she gave birth... a four pound, eight ounce 'baby' called Pee-Wee. But Bettina called him 'Stevie' and cried when they took him away. For two months they let her live, aspirating milk for the baby. After he'd absorbed sufficient immunity and other benefits they dropped her down a damp, dark, deserted mine shaft and left her for whatever lived in the blackness. Then they resealed the heavy, trap door, packed everything in a van and went back to the city.

Uther respected her know-how. He wanted this to work. A fertile zombie is a rare thing... a 'queen bee' if you will. And the spare woman had a plan guaranteed to make it so.

She approached the table, shook hands with the males, appraised Opal and sat down....

A waiter brought ice water. They knew her there. She never took strong drink. Then she and the males conversed in an unknown tongue.

Opal just sat there... and the band played on...


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John L. Harmon said...

Loved how you introduced the scientist...

Billy Kravitz said...

Sorry for late reply.. Took a couple nights off to decompress... Attended Memorial Day/Hello to Summer events. hope season dawns bright where you are too. My Two favorite times of the year are summer and late fall (after Halloween) when 'The Holidays' begin to manifest... up til January 1st...then it's an endurance test til the 1st flicker of spring in March...September is my least favorite monnth. Everybody 'pretends' it's Fall, but it clearly is not. Still HOT.. Still summer, but they make believe so businesses and schools can rev up again...Don't mind the cold of winter, but hate ice and snow.. Light decorative 'dustings' are fine, anything else it torture..And I hate tornados and coordinated zombie attacks. Zombie projectile vomit is the worst. they use it as a weapon. Acid level is sky high. Melts toupees and weaves right off people's heads....Funny to watch, though.