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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Quantum Musings

by
Raymond Coulombe, Michael Gallant, Timothy O. Goyette
Outrunning the Storm

by
Michele Dutcher
Stormcastle: And Other Fun Games With Cards And Dice

by
Jeromy Henry
Time Wars & other SciFi Tales

by
Gordon Rowlinson

Slacker Zombie

by

Stephen Hernandez



Slacker Zombie


I had been working for the Zombie Employment Agency for just over forty years when Mr.. Solkstezk walked in with his zombie. I gave him the usual plastic welcoming smile and the, ‘What can I do for you this good to be alive morning sir?’

 Mr.. Solkstezk, a thick necked red-faced man, came straight to the point. ‘It’s this zombie you sold me. It’s no good.’

 ‘In what way is it defective sir?’ I asked politely, giving the zombie a quick once over. Mr.. Solstezk had chosen to dress his zombie in a plaid shirt and blue dungarees. It looked alright. It was a tall one with no excess fat and no sign of maggot or worm damage. A strong looking male zombie in peak condition.

 ‘It’s bone idle. That’s what the problem is.’


I tried to keep my smile from appearing too condescending. ‘Well sir all zombies are idle it’s pretty much their natural state. You just have to keep reminding them to work or they stop. Have you read our brochure?’

 
I went to hand him one off of my desk but he pushed it aside. ‘Of course I’ve read it. Any fool could follow those instructions.’

 
‘Perhaps you’d be more happy with a golem. It means using written instruction but they’re more reliable and in fact longer wearing.’

 ‘This isn’t the first zombie I’ve had. Most of my workforce is zombie. But this one’s different I tell you. It’s just, well - plain lazy. That’s the God’s honest truth. You tell it to do something and the moment your back’s turned it stops. Or it just plain ignores you if it feels like it.’ Then Mr. Solkstezk leant forward as if to impart some dread secret. ‘It even yawned at me! In my face!’ His voice lowered to a whisper. ‘And I’m sure it smokes.’


I looked at the offending zombie out of the corner of my eye. It seemed innocent enough. It was just standing there staring into the distance like zombies do, waiting for an order to perform a task. ‘You try telling it to do something,’ Solkstezk said.

 
It was against company policy but what the hell it was a quiet afternoon and I was bored.


‘What’s the trigger word?’

 

 ‘Goldilocks.’ Solkstezk whispered in my ear. I decided to give the zombie a try with a simple task like emptying my ashtray. ‘Goldilocks,’ I said loudly and clearly just like the manual instructs, ‘empty my ashtray in the wastepaper basket next to this desk.’


The zombie nodded slowly. It had responded well to the trigger word. Now we would see how long it took to complete the task. The zombie picked up the ashtray and emptied it into the wastepaper basket and replaced it on the table. I raised an eyebrow at Solkstezk, so far so good. But then the zombie did something strange; it started rummaging in the bin and then to my horror produced one of my boss’s old stogies. It then proceeded to light it and sat down putting its boots up on my desk. It blew a smoke ring at me. I was dumbfounded. I had never seen anything like it in my life. Solkstezk looked triumphant.


‘Either I get a complete refund or a suitable replacement. It’s in the warranty.’


He was right. In all my years at the Agency we had never had to replace a unit. Sometimes we had to relocate them, if for example a relative recognized them and felt disturbed, but it was rare. After all, the zombie’s family always got a percentage of the unit’s wages and, providing they weren’t too disfigured, there was nothing to be upset about. But this was different. It was as if the zombie had retained living characteristics. This would have to be investigated immediately. I gave Mr. Solkstezk a coupon so he could go to the warehouse and get another zombie out of cold storage. He was happy but I was not. And I knew for sure my boss wasn’t going to be.


The zombie had finished its cigar and was sitting there staring into space just like a normal zombie. I checked the records to see where we had got it from. Nearly all zombies were imported to avoid upsetting any locals who might have known them during their live period. It was originally from Canada and only recently deceased as I had guessed from its pristine condition. After a few years service a zombie will usually show signs of wear and tear due to accidents or infestations and when they become completely useless they are destroyed by incineration. But during those years a zombie can provide much needed labor at a fraction of the cost and it didn’t matter how dirty or dangerous the job was. I checked to see who had issued its resurrection ticket and much to my annoyance found that it had been me. Of course I had no way of knowing that it was in anyway defective. I just issued the ticket and the resurrection and delivery guys took care of the rest. But sure as eggs are eggs my boss would blame me. There was only one thing for it I would buy the zombie myself. Our one was getting a bit tatty and my wife had been complaining that it didn’t hear too well now due to having had its left ear nibbled off by mice.

 
So I took it home that evening. As I expected, my wife was over the moon. I had been promising her a new one for ages. And it was a fine looking fellow, blonde, six foot four and still with great muscle tone. It must have been a bit of a looker in its living days. If it had been alive I would have been a trifle worried about letting it near my wife. I’m nearly twenty years her senior and I must admit a bit on the short side and inclined to be a bit on the plump side also, but I have always put this down to my wife’s excellent cooking and the desk job. On the plus side I have provided her with a fine home and a son, and now even a brand spanking new zombie. I got a big kiss on the cheek and made a mental note to slip a Viagrax that evening just in case.
She immediately phoned for an incineration team for the old zombie. We stored ‘Goldilocks’ for the evening in the now empty upright coffin shaped refrigeration unit in the outhouse, a Zombidaire 3000, complete with drip feed and evacuation chamber. My wife would start him on his chores the next day. Tonight she said she wanted to spend alone with me. I slipped the Viagrax straight away.

 

The next day I was particularly chirpy as you can imagine. I was sure there was nothing really wrong with the zombie. It must have been Solkstezk’s fault. God knows what he made them do at that sewage farm of his. All in all I had made myself a good deal.


When I got home Goldilocks was out mowing the front lawn in the usual slow methodical way that zombies have of doing things but it was making a decent job of it. As soon as I got in the house though I could see that something was wrong, I had been expecting another hug from the wife but instead she was bustling around the kitchen in a very nervous fashion.

‘Anything wrong dear?’ I asked. For a while she didn’t answer and carried on bustling as if she hadn’t heard me. Then she suddenly turned on me and to my surprise she was blushing.


‘It’s, it’s the new zombie,’ she stammered, ‘this morning it did something.’


‘Well of course it did something. That’s what it’s here for isn’t it? Did it do it wrong or something?’

 
It wasn’t unusual for a zombie settling into a new work routine to make mistakes to begin with. You just had to be patient and correct them. They were slow learners but usually got the hang of it. She blushed an alarmingly shade of red and blurted, ‘Not that, it came up behind me and patted my butt as it passed.’


‘You’re overreacting dear, maybe you got an instruction mixed up or its hand slipped or something.’ I coughed discreetly. ‘You know zombies can’t have those kind of feelings. They don’t even have thoughts.’


I gave her a little cuddle and she seemed to calm down a bit. ‘Maybe you’re right. I just wasn’t expecting it and it is its first day here.’

 ‘Of course dear just look at the fine job it’s making of the lawn.’ She looked tentatively out the front window. Goldilocks was still at its methodical work. ‘There’s nothing wrong. It just needs settling in.’ She seemed more reassured now.


‘Yes, honey I’m sure you’re right. I mean if anyone should know about zombies it’d be you.’


She went back to the kitchen and carried on making dinner whilst I sat down contentedly in my armchair to watch the news on the vid screen. The next few weeks were thankfully trouble free and I was beginning to believe that we had found ourselves a zombie that would last in good condition for many years. In fact, my wife would sing its praises to me every evening telling me this and that about how well Goldilocks had done a particular job. I think she was almost beginning to like the poor thing and I often had to remind her that it was just one of the walking dead and she might as well get attached to the toaster as to the zombie.


It wasn’t until I came home on a Friday evening, looking forward to a relaxing weekend, that the trouble started. Goldilocks was outside the garage washing my wife’s automobile and as I drew up I noticed something strange strapped to its forehead. On closer examination I saw it was one of the latest Apple 110 X IPods. The damn thing was listening to music! I removed it immediately of course as obviously someone was playing a prank, although why they would risk such an expensive piece of equipment on a zombie beat me. Out of curiosity I had a listen to the music it was playing. It was that strange hullabaloo they call music nowadays, the sort of stuff my son likes. I marched into the house where my wife was busy preparing the evening meal as usual.


‘Look at what some idiot put on our zombies’ head,’ I said tossing it on the kitchen table.

My wife looked at it extremely coolly and said, ‘That idiot was me, I bought it for him. I thought he deserved a present after all the good work he does around the house.’


I was so taken aback I literally staggered momentarily.


‘You bought that for a zombie! They can’t appreciate music. They only follow command protocols. You know that. Why, you might as well have taken the garbage bin to a Beethoven symphony.’


And then for the first time I saw something approaching anger in my wife’s eyes. After thirty years of marriage it was the first time she raised her voice to me. ‘Well, I’m pretty sure he likes it and who are you to say what zombies like and don’t like.’  She swept back her hair and stared defiantly at me. ‘Goldy is the best zombie we’ve ever had and he deserves some sort of treat for all the nice things he does.’

 

I was so aghast at this outburst I had to go and pour myself a stiff drink. It was only when I was a finger down on my whisky I realized that she had even called it him like it was a person, and Goldy like some sort of term of endearment. ‘This has got to stop,’ I shouted at the kitchen. ‘You can’t go round treating zombies like human beings. They’re dead for Christ sakes. We only dress them so they have a semblance of humanity and don’t upset kids when they’re out and about.’


My wife appeared from the kitchen wearing what I can only describe as a sinister smile.  ‘You’re right as usual dear. I’m fed up with all the dress commands; it just takes so long. Why bother unless we have to take it out. From now on I’ll treat it like you say.’


She retreated back into the kitchen. I must say even with the warming effects of the scotch I felt somewhat disconcerted by her readiness to suddenly agree with me.
The following day to my horror I found that the zombie was vacuuming the house completely naked.


‘Have you gone mad woman? I didn’t mean literally that they don’t have to wear clothes. I don’t want to have to look at that in my own home.’ I pointed to the obscene thing dangling between its legs, which I may add was huge.


‘Alright dear, I’ll have it wear underpants when you’re in the house.’


There was obviously no point in arguing with her as it was partly my fault for having suggested that they didn’t need dressing in the first place.
‘But it’s more open to infection that way.’ I pointed out, trying another tack.


‘It’s alright I’ve rubbed it all over with insect repellent - that should do the trick.’


Now when I came to think of it his skin did look kind of glossy. It was repellent alright. Now the zombie looked like some kind of German porn star. But there was no arguing with her logic, so I sat and watched the vid screen and I can’t say I enjoyed a single moment of it and I normally enjoy watching my weekend sports. To make matters worse my teenage son came storming down the stairs at lunch time.


‘I obeyed all your stupid rules about not smoking in the house and now you’ve gone and taken my stash. That’s not fair. Where is it?’


I should explain that my son like most teenagers enjoys his occasional bit of weed, as he puts it, and let’s face it most of us have tried it at one time or another. Although as an undergrad I didn’t because I have rather weak lungs and even a cigarette sends me into a choking fit. The one rule was that we would allow him to get occasionally ‘zonked’ as they call it but not in the house, but he could keep it there in his bedroom in a safe place and take some to smoke with his pals when he wanted to as long as it didn’t interfere with his college work. My wife and I stared at each other in bewilderment.


‘But darling we never touch your stuff you know that,’ my wife said.


‘It must have been one of your zonked out pals,’ I added.

 
‘My friends would never do something like that!’


And with that he stormed out of the house leaving his lunch to go cold on the table. We both looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders, after all - teenagers will be teenagers.


‘I’m pretty sure it was one of his pals,’ I said, ‘or he’s just forgotten where he put it,’ at the same time helping myself to my son’s lunch which was going to waste.


It wasn’t until the evening when I was escorting Goldilocks to the outhouse and had placed it in the refrigerator that I noticed the smell. Someone had definitely been smoking weed in there. I searched around for evidence and found two of what they call ‘roaches’ on the floor. So this is what my son was up to; accusing us of stealing his weed whilst he was secretly smoking it in the outhouse. I would confront him with the evidence as soon as he arrived back home. He had calmed down a bit when he arrived for supper but when I showed him the roaches he flew into a rage again saying he would never go near that morgue (that’s what he liked to call it), in the first place, and from now on he was keeping his stuff at his friend’s place so we couldn’t get our thieving hands on it. He even accused me of being a secret reefer smoker and that I was trying to lay the blame on him. With that he stormed up to his room and locked himself in. Supper was a quiet affair after that. I was pretty sure my son had learnt his lesson and would not be taking the rules of the house for granted again.


It was in the middle of the week that I arrived home only to find that the zombie was mowing the lawn clad only in a leopard spotted spandex thong which did nothing to hide in my considered opinion his oversized and obviously deformed member. With its glowing skin from whatever my wife was rubbing into it and its long blonde hair waving in the wind it looked more like some male model than one of the walking dead. I stormed into the house determined to put a halt to this fresh outrage.


‘Have you seen what our zombie looks like out there, it’s positively obscene.’

 ‘Don’t be ridiculous darling he looks gorgeous.’

 
‘But what about the neighbors?’ I spluttered.


‘Oh yes, Betty next door wants to know if you’ve got anymore like Goldilocks and so does Carol down the road.’


There was nothing more I could say, obviously the whole neighbourhood had gone insane. This time I poured myself an even larger shot of whisky than usual and watched the vid screen. It wasn’t until I was half way through my drink I noticed that I hadn’t even turned it on. My wife seemed remarkably cheerful at our following supper and my son was his usual morose self. I guess he still hadn’t forgiven me for uncovering his little game. But something was nagging me that I couldn’t quite put my finger on and I ended up falling asleep in front of the vid screen after consuming nearly half a bottle of my finest malt whisky.


Needless to say I did not feel well the next day and at lunch time decided I had to go home and lie down. I put one of the juniors in charge; we weren’t too busy and he was a capable young fellow. I let myself in and was immediately surprised to hear giggling from our upstairs bedroom. My wife’s giggling. She hadn’t giggled in years. Obviously there was something funny on the vid but all I wanted to do was lie down and get some shut eye. Whatever she was watching she would have to continue seeing it downstairs.
I opened the door to our bedroom and much to my horror discovered my wife in the French maids costume that we had bought years
back in our first throws of passion and worst of all there was Goldilocks stark naked making the bed with her and they weren’t making a good job of it either because it looked extremely rumpled. ‘What on earth is going on,’ I tried to shout but my head was hurting so much it only came out as a murmur.


My wife just looked straight through me as if I wasn’t there.


‘What are you doing home so early? And for your information I’m just showing Goldilocks how to make the bed.’


‘But you always make our bed yourself and you said you’d never have a zombie in the bedroom and you’re wearing that French outfit that’s just for us and its’s naked, why it’s almost like I’ve walked into my wife having an affair. If it weren’t for the fact it’s a zombie, why I don’t know what I would think...’


She walked over to me and patted me on the cheek.


‘Oh, honey you’ve just got to chill out a bit that’s all. You take your job too seriously, working with all those dead people. Zombies can be quite good fun once you get to know them better.’


She smiled sweetly in Goldilocks’ direction. The zombie of course ignored her completely. It was concentrating on making the bed which I must say it was now making quite neatly. I was in no mood for arguing as my head was now throbbing violently. I couldn’t even make sense of my wife’s words anymore. She had never used words like ‘chill out’ before, to start with. I ordered the zombie out of the bedroom and my wife took it downstairs for some more chores although I insisted she change out of the French maid’s outfit first.
‘Of course, honey. I’ve had enough fun for one day.’ She said, as she put on a simple bath robe and sauntered out of the room. ‘Anyway, I think I’m going to relax in the hot tub for a while. Do you think it would be good for Goldilocks?’ She casually asked over her shoulder.


‘Certainly not, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Its daily disinfectant scrubbing is the proven way to maintain a zombie.’


‘All the same you never know...’ she murmured as she closed the door behind her.


I collapsed fully clothed on the bed and fell into a trance like sleep in which hundreds of Goldilocks-like zombies ruled the Earth and we were their slaves.


The week went by swiftly enough after that little episode although it was still disconcerting for me having a half naked zombie wandering around the house. My retirement was coming up soon and we had invited the boss over for dinner. My wife had insisted that we hire a tuxedo for Goldilocks who was to be the butler for the evening.


‘But my boss is used to seeing zombies in their work clothes, not in tuxedos, he’ll think I’ve gone crazy.’


‘I don’t think so, on the contrary I think he’ll be impressed about how good our zombie is. You never know you might even get an extra bonus on your retirement.’


There was no reasoning with the woman. She had become very stubborn of late. We didn’t even have our monthly naughty night anymore. Well, things would change when I retired I was determined to see to that. The first thing I was going to do was trade Goldilocks in for a golem. There were going to be some big changes in the house I can tell you that.


My wife turned out to be right. When my boss and his wife arrived for dinner they were escorted into the dining room by Goldilocks who looked incredibly sharp in the gear my wife had hired out for it, so much so, it made me feel positively shabby. My boss shook his head.


‘You sure know how to pick ‘em Arnold, keep the best ones for yourself eh.’ Giving me a friendly nudge.

 
All through the dinner Goldilocks behaviour was immaculate. It served us like a maitre d’. It seemed to anticipate everyone’s needs, especially my boss’s. It didn’t even need to be reminded to refill the wine glasses. One command had sufficed. By the end of the evening and after a couple of bottles of wine I must admit I was even beginning to feel a bit proud of Goldilocks myself. My wife positively radiated charm singing Goldilocks’ exceptional talents at every opportunity. My boss said he was even tempted to have a zombie himself. You see although my boss owned the agency he didn’t like keeping zombies himself. I guess he was just one of those old fashioned guys. His wife though was very enthusiastic as long as they could have one like Goldilocks. I was tempted to offer it to them there and then but I somehow knew my wife would never agree and there would have been an embarrassing scene.


After the meal my boss said he’d like to have a few words with me in my study as he had a few papers he wanted me to look at. I commanded Goldilocks to escort him to the study whilst I mixed us some after dinner cocktails. My wife and my boss’s wife were giggling together stupidly on the sofa as women do. And even though they were practically whispering to each other I heard Goldilocks name mentioned more than once and what tremendous physical shape it was in. They were talking about it as if it were a real live human being! Well, you can never fathom women.


It was when I arrived in my office that I got my real surprise. My boss was sitting in my office chair staring dumbfounded at Goldilocks as though he had never seen a zombie before. ‘You see these papers.’ He pointed to some figure print outs on my desk.


‘For some time now I’ve been kind of suspicious that our accountant is screwing us. All the figures add up right but something just don’t feel right. Anyway, whilst you were gone I gave this here Goldilocks a command to pinpoint inaccuracies in the maths. Just to pass the time, you know, while you were fixing our drinks. I thought it would be a good joke.’ ‘Well blow me down with a feather if this here zombie highlighted all the discrepancies within a couple of minutes. And it was right too. I’ve just been using your calculator. Take a look if you don’t believe me.’


He pushed the papers towards me.


‘What kind of zombie have you got here? I’ll be darned if it ain’t quicker than a computer.’


I glanced through the papers where the wrong figures had been meticulously highlighted in red. I didn’t need to check them with the calculator. A deep dread inside me told me they would be correct. Goldilocks could actually think! A wave of nausea hit me and I nearly vomited over the desk.


‘Well, it’s sort of a freak I guess. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s wrong with it for some time now.’ I managed to say, stemming the vomit in my throat.


‘Wrong with it! My God man don’t you see what this means? If we can find more like Goldilocks here it would revolutionize the zombie trade. We’d be the biggest goddam agency in the world. Say, could you drop it over at my office tomorrow I’d like to borrow it for a day.’


‘Sure thing,’ I said.

I didn’t add that he could have it as long as he liked. The repulsive creature terrified me. It was like some kind of Frankenstein’s monster. And there it was standing still as a statue waiting for a command. What thoughts were floating about in that head? I shuddered. It might even be thinking about my wife for all I knew.


‘I think I’ll put it in the refrigeration unit now so it’ll be good and fresh for you tomorrow.’


‘Good man.’ My boss patted me on the shoulder. ‘I think I’ll go and join the women for a bit. You can’t leave them alone for too long you know.’
He winked jovially at me to which I managed a weak smile in return. ‘That’s for sure.’ I muttered.


My wife was very unhappy when I carted off our zombie for the day. ‘I need him for my chores,’ she complained. She always called it a him now.
‘You’ll manage fine honey. Remember it is for my boss. I could hardly say no. I’ll have it back safe and sound this evening.’


‘Well, I hope so’, and she gave me a scathing look as she slammed the front door.


She was sure acting weird lately; the same as I was sure it was all to do with the thing I had in the trunk.


I picked Goldilocks up from my boss’s office after I finished work. I was expecting the worst. My boss was bound to discover how defective it was in reality and would no doubt take it out on me. But my boss told me it was the best zombie he had ever seen and told me that it put his living employees to shame. This should have come as some relief considering the reasons I had for having obtained the zombie in the first place. But it was my wife’s joy at seeing Goldilocks emerge from the trunk when I arrived home that most perturbed me. It was almost as if she was more glad to see it than me. I could even say that I felt a hint of jealously, which of course is ridiculous in the case of the undead. The evening was worse though as I got a call from the boss summoning to his office first thing in the morning. Either he had met Solkstezk or somehow gotten hold of the report of the zombies’ unusual behavior.


I entered the office with some trepidation the next morning because I must admit I was not one of his most outstanding employees. I was not known as being a go-getter, if you like, but I had been a steadfast and loyal employee for all the years I had worked there. My boss, however, greeted me in the most courteous manner.


‘Arnold what a pleasure to see you in our living days,’ he said, offering me one of his fine Cuban cigars; which I could hardly refuse, he never gave them to anyone, but I was careful not to inhale the noxious stuff.


‘Now, I know you’ve still got a year or so to your retirement, but how about if we bring it forward with full pay and your pension. I think you deserve it.’

 
I was astounded, and felt like leaping of the chair with joy and if my health were any better I would have. I contained my contentment well though, but nearly choked on the cigar. But my joy was short lived.


‘Guess who I’m putting in charge of our accountancy office here?’
I could only thing of Gutthold who had been after the job for years and was a prime arse licker, but I bit my tongue and just said:
‘I’ve no idea, but I’m sure you will have made the right choice.’


With that my boss stood up. ‘I told you this was going to be a revolution in the zombie trade, I’m actually going to place a zombie in charge of accountancy, your very own Goldilocks, you’ll be on double pay my man because I will lease it off you.’

 
This did start me on a coughing fit.


‘But it can’t even talk.’ I managed to splutter between breaths.

 
‘No,’ my boss agreed, ‘but it can manage accounts like no one I’ve ever seen. We’ve got plenty of men to do the sale pitches. That was why I was wondering if you’d like to take an early retirement, you’d be fully compensated of course, and you get to spend more time with that lovely wife of yours.’ He even went so far as to wink at me. ‘We’ll see about some new arrangement for your agency.’ He said. ‘All you’ll have to do is bring in Goldilocks from time to time.’


I was of course overwhelmed. It was the best news possible. I heartedly accepted and seemed to float out of the office, my steps felt so light. My wife to my surprise was less enthusiastic about the great news. My health hasn’t been good for the last few years and now I could finally rest and spend more time with her which I thought would make her as happy as me.


‘How long will Goldilocks have to be away?’ was all she commented.


‘What does it matter honey? Think of all the time we’ll have together.’


Suddenly she seemed to brighten. ‘Well, I guess we ought to celebrate then. Why don’t you take one of your Viagrax pills. In fact, why not make it two, we’ve got a lot of celebrating to do.’


And then she minced up the stairs swinging her butt like she used to in the good old days. I couldn’t believe my luck, today was turning out to be one of the best days of my life. I found Goldilocks naked as usual, scrubbing the kitchen floor, and took it to its refrigeration unit. Then I did as my wife had suggested and slipped two pills. I knew it was a bit of a dangerous thing to do as my old ticker is not that good and my Doctor had warned me about Viagrax. But what the hell, I thought, today is a special day. And boy was it special! We spent all afternoon at it. But in the evening a terrible thing happened. I felt like I had to pee and was making my way to the toilet when I began to feel a sudden numbness down the side of my body and then I just fell to the floor.


The next thing I knew I was being woken up by a nurse and a Doctor in a hospital room.


‘What happened?’ was all I could manage to say.


The words came out slurred as if I were drunk. The doctor looked down at me quite severely.


‘You had a stroke, Mr. Brown. I gather from your wife you had taken a very high dosage of Viagrax. A man of your age and physical condition should not be touching the stuff at all. I’m afraid to tell you that you will have semi-paralysis down the right side of your body and you will be confined to a wheelchair and will probably have to use it for some time.’


I stared at the doctor in disbelief and then the nurse injected me with something and I was asleep in the twinkling of an eye.


When I came round again it was to find my wife sitting next to me and Goldilocks at the end of the bed, (fully clothed thank God).

 
‘We’ve come to take you home sugar pie,’ she said gently stroking my cheek.


It was then I noticed the wheelchair next to her.


‘Do I have to go home in that?’ pointing to the object. ‘I’m sure I can make it on my own. It was just high blood pressure, that all.’


But when I tried to heave myself out of the bed I found I couldn’t move a muscle.


‘Maybe I do need a little help.’ I found my voice was slurring again as if I was talking out of the wrong side of my mouth.


My wife kissed me on the cheek.


‘There’s me and Goldilocks to help you through this honey.’


And without further ado she commanded the zombie to put me in the wheelchair. I had never realized how strong it was. It picked me up like a feather. And before I knew it I was laying back in my own bed. It took months before I gained some mobility again. In the meantime my wife had moved into our spare room and had turned more into a nurse than a wife. She made me mushy meals like the stuff they give old people in retirement homes and spoon fed me a lot of the time. Goldilocks took care of the bed pan and washing me. I had become to all intents and purposes an invalid. Even my son for once in his life seemed sympathetic. He would often pop his head around the door before going to college and give me a thumbs up, and he would always say: ‘Looking better pops.’ Inside myself though I knew I wasn’t. Despite the constant reassurances I felt like I didn’t have long to go. The old ticker had never been too good and what with my weight problem and all the stress of late I knew it wasn’t going to be ticking much longer. My wife had promised me that she would have me incinerated as there was no way after all my experience with them I was going to walk amongst the living dead. So that was some reassurance for me; anyway, we were well provided for so why should my wife want to hire me out.


However, surprisingly my health improved and I was managing to hobble around the house on a walking stick, although my wife insisted I should stay in bed. In fact one morning I felt so good I decided I would take a trip to the old agency just to say hello and thank my ex-employees for all the get well cards I had been sent. My wife was out, and so was Goldilocks, so I presumed it was probably doing the accounts for the boss. I called a taxi and set out on my walking stick to meet it. Everyone was very cordial when I arrived and greeted me like I was their same old boss. It was only my ex private secretary who seemed a bit off when I said I wanted to see the new manager and welcome him to his job.


‘I don’t think you want to go in their Mr. Brown. He doesn’t really like visitors.’


‘Poppycock,’ I replied, ‘any new manager likes to learn a bit about how the place was run.’

 

I rapped on the door and to my utter astonishment it was my wife who opened it. The secretary gave me one of those ‘I told you so’ looks, and then pretended to concentrate on her work.


‘What are you doing here,’ I managed to gasp.


‘I could ask you the same question,’ she coolly replied. ‘Now you’re here you’d better come in.’


And then horror upon horror - there was the monster itself sitting at my desk smoking, by the smell of it, an extremely strong reefer. I fell into the nearest chair.

 
‘What’s going on? Surely it’s not the new manager. It’s even smoking a joint at my desk!’ I managed to wheeze.


I took some of my heart pills as I could feel my blood pressure rise even as I spoke.


‘Yes, he is the new manager and I’m his personal assistant. It was your boss’s idea and he’s making a great job of it by the way. Profits are up nearly fifty percent. And as to smoking grass... well... it does seems to mellow him so.’

 
She smiled sweetly over at Goldilocks and sank pangs of jealously into my heart that made me take another pill.


‘Anyway honey you should be at home in bed you know that. I’ll get you a taxi. I really don’t know why you came here in the first place. You know you aren’t well. I was going to tell you all about it when I thought you were feeling better. It’s a great deal honey we’re making lots of money and think of all the nice things we’ll be able to do.’ She tapped me on the nose. ’No more Viagrax though.’


I took a last glance at Goldilocks. It was dressed in a fine suit, obviously tailor made, and I could have sworn it smiled slyly at me for an instant, but I guess that was just the effect of the pills I was on. And as my wife led me to the door it put its feet up on my old desk and leant back in my old leather armchair and if it had been human I could say it was with an air of contentment. My condition worsened considerably after that and now I lie in bed with insufferable insomnia because somehow I’ve gotten this idea that my wife won’t have me incinerated as promised when I’m done and somehow I would be seeing Goldilocks again.

 

The End


 


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2013-10-25 07:28:15
micheledutcher - Mark 211: One of the things I like about QM is that the quality of the submissions is of a consistently high standard even when, from time to time, a story would benefit from a tweak here and there. Notwithstanding that fact, I found this story to be exceptionally good. I have to confess I am heartily sick of the current trend for zombies and the undead and find it hard to see what people find so compelling in the genre so I began reading this a little reluctantly – but am now glad I did as this is really very well-written and realized.

2013-10-25 07:15:50
laurabeaz - very funny story!

2013-10-06 10:51:33
micheledutcher - Honestly, this is just hilarious. It proves that even the undead can get ahead if they just (don't) try hard enough. Hey!- I resemble that remark!




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