|The Dreaming Fire|
|Against a Diamond|
|A Fisherman's Guide to Bottomdwellers|
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
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
‘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
‘Either I get a complete refund or a suitable replacement. It’s in the
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
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
‘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
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
The following day to my horror I found that the zombie was vacuuming the house
‘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
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
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
‘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
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
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
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
‘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
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
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘I don’t think you want to go in their Mr. Brown. He doesn’t really like
‘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
‘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
‘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
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.
Read more stories by this author
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.
laurabeaz - very funny story!
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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Raymond Coulombe, Michael Gallant, Timothy O. Goyette
|A Felony of Birds|
Timothy O. Goyette