The Master gathered them from Everywhere, All Over.
There was New York, once a speechwriter for the Mayor of New York City.
There was The Texan, a warmonger, whose frustration at barely getting a chance to unload his arsenal on the brain-thirsty undead was graced with a second opportunity on another team.
There was the receptionist, Rebecca, from Iowa and also the hippy from Portland.
Each had heard his voice, cast out across great distances that came as gentle whispers in their very special heads: we have things to discuss.
And discuss they would, in the abandoned ruins of Baltimore City Hall.
New York shuffled through the masses of dead standing aimless around City Hall. He’d been walking for tens of miles, his frustration at constantly running out of petrol and a few too many spills on the pushbike relegating him to this safe yet slow mode of transport for this most important meeting. The occasion dictated a need to impress and look professional, and this was why, despite the decay of the world around him, New York had donned himself in a suit, foul odour notwithstanding, to match the briefcase that carried his future plans.
As the masses of dead, eyes glossed over and direction aimless grew denser, New York could not help but curse his fellow countrymen as he tried to make his way through. “Every freaking crowd,” he muttered in frustration. “Please shuffle on the right side, c’mon, people—yes that’s it. Quit standing around and do something useful. Don’t moan at me, wasn’t my fault you were too slow.”
He finally made it to the giant front doors of the entrance only to be met by an impenetrable crowd of zombies like the front of a rock concert, this lot as immovable as they were stupid. New York sighed once more and raised his arms to grab their attention.
“Anyone with a hankering for brains of the day: If you go three blocks down and make a left, on the other side of the intersection there’s a lovely last stand running out of bullets. I’m sure if you all hurry, you’ll each get a piece.”
The crowd merely moaned at him. Some scratch their heads. New York then grabbed one by the shoulders, pointing off towards downtown.
“Brains,” he directed.
“Braaiiinnns?” the former retail manager queried, though this was barely audible.
“Brains,” New York confirmed.
The zombie’s eyes lit up. “Braaiinnns!”
New York nudged him off down the steps and then painstakingly directed the rest of them. They all started moaning and followed the first zombie.
“That’s it, go on, left-foot right-foot, all of it could be yours if you just shamble hard enough!” he said as he rolled his good eye and shook his head. The door now clear, he pushed it ajar and slid on in.
The halls were empty and his footsteps echoed.
After getting lost for a bit, he eventually found some stairs that hadn’t been barricaded and carried his fragile frame upward to the main chamber. He soon found himself in the reception room.
The Texan was sitting down, as if waiting for an appointment. He wore a General’s uniform, complimented with a white cowboy hat.
Sitting behind the desk was the receptionist, Rebecca. She wore an old school Polka dot dress with white spots. She was busily typing away at laptop, though New York couldn’t figure what it was she could possibly be typing.
The Texan and Rebecca stared at him in unison. It was at this point that New York came to realise two things: they were both like him; dead, but with a full command of the alphabet still on their resume. He hadn’t had many conversations with people ever since his party went on without him after a stray bite, and yet now, after all these long and lonely months, knowing he would finally be able to speak to someone and they would be able to speak in kind, he couldn’t but help take up an immediate disliking of the two.
Texas was the first to speak. “Are you the Master?”
Before New York could respond, Rebecca answered for him. “That’s not him. I already told you, Master wants us all to reach here before we get started.”
The Texan was about to growl at this snappy response. Clearly he’d already tired of the receptionist too.
“Well, who are we waiting on, honey?”
Rebecca cringed at the pet name. It had been overused with great zeal. “I’ll check with Master, you two can get talking with all your agendas and ideas.”
The Texan waited until Rebecca stepped into the main chamber before he breathed a loud sigh of relief. “She’s a head case that one, though I must admit…” he said before using his hands to outline her body, making sure to emphasize the ass, “Worst thing since I got bit: Got no libido left. Just bloodlust.”
“You don’t strike me as someone who’s willing to wait in a lobby,” said New York, trying to gauge the cowboy.
The Texan threw his hands up.
“The goddamn apocalypse—and we still have to make appointments, ha! But you picked right, sport, I aint usually the sit around-n-wait type, that wasn’t how we took back Dallas. It was all about grabbing the bull by the horns and taking them all on! But I know I got to respect that airhead because I got to show my respect to our newly elected Commander-in-Chief.”
“How’d you end up like this, a zombie, if you took back Dallas?”
The Texan stared at him in confusion. He then waved him off. “Ah, hell no. Dallas was after I got bit. Which side you on, boy?”
New York shifted uncomfortably in his stance. “Well I was hoping to discuss that with ‘the Master’.”
The Texan couldn’t help but scowl at New York’s apparent lack of faith in their new team, but he kept talking because that’s what he was fond of doing.
“What’s in the briefcase?” he asked.
New York drew the briefcase closer to him and brought it round to his back, away from the Texan. “A few ideas I want to run past the… Commander-in-Chief.”
The Texan nodded at New York following suit with the term “Commander-in-Chief”, though he was definitely on the whole, unimpressed with New York’s overall attitude. It was at this point that he came to the conclusion that he did not like New York.
Rebecca stepped back into the reception. “Master has decided we will begin discussions while we wait for our last guest.”
New York raised the eyebrow on his good eye, “Who were we waiting for?”
“Our last guest,” said Rebecca.
“…Yes, who is the last guest?”
Her eyes widened, as she finally understood. “Yes of course! A Mr. Addams from Portland.”
The Texan whistled, clearly impressed. “Goddamn. He brought us from all over…” He then turned to New York. “Say, boy, now that the thought strikes me, where you from?”
The Texan, while not surprised by this, made no comment other than a fake ‘ahh’ of recognition.
They shambled on inside, New York keeping the briefcase as far away from the Texan as possible. The room was monstrous; a high ceiling bestowing it the grand gesture of a place where history was made, or at least used to be. A coldness had developed within the walls, little light entering its dark manner, with only one work lamp shot upward into the ceiling.
The Master sat in a motorised wheelchair across from them on the long conference table at the centre of the room. The Master’s head drooped to the side, and he resembled a zombie Stephen Hawking to both New York and the Texan.
The Master groaned, a guttural groan, and from this typical zombie groan, New York, Texas and Rebecca found his voice entering their ears.
Please, sit, said the Master.
New York and Texas took a seat opposite the Master.
The Master nodded at both of them. There was a long silence as each waited for their chance to speak. Then, after some very awkward silence, both Texas and New York tried to speak at the same time.
New York wanted to go first, but the stink eye from Texas stopped him in his tracks. (Technically, though, the term stink eye need not apply here, given that both their eyes happened to stink too, what with the decay and all.)
Texas cleared his throat, a hint of nerves surprising New York. “Master, or Mr. President, if I may. You brought us here for discussion. Seems we still got our heads working and I’m grateful for that…so I’d like to get straight to the point. Mr. President, we need to strike while the iron is hot. We need to start teaching our boys how to use the weapons we’ve got lying around this land to truly give ourselves the advantage we need. Lord knows they try hard but shambling forward in reliance of great numbers would be greatly supported with some firepower, maybe even air support.”
“You want zombies flying fighter jets?” asked New York.
Texas brushed this off and tried to keep the Master’s attention. “I’ve tried to teach them myself. Their coordination isn’t quite all there. They find it hard to retain basic training.”
“Because they’re dead! They’re zombies!” retorted New York.
“We are zombies! Or haven’t you looked in the mirror yet?” shouted Texas, his face snarling at New York. He then turned back to the Master. “I can’t teach them that well, but you—you’re some kind of other power. Maybe it’d be different with you?”
Rebecca had been typing away profusely, trying to capture this bustling exchange, but now had to stop, a lost look now placating her face. She held her hand up, just as New York was about to make his imminent rebuttal.
“Okay, guys! Just wondering if we could slow this talk down. I can’t seem to keep up,” she pleaded.
The Texan sighed, clearly displeased but also unwilling to lose it in front of the Master. “What part you missin’?”
Rebecca returned her eyes back to the page for a while. “What came after ‘while the iron is hot’?”
Texas and New York rolled their eyes. “Really? Mr. President, is getting every word really necessary?”
The Master nodded and then groaned at the girl in his usual manner. Just the talking points, dear. Rebecca beamed at this and continued typing away.
They waited in silence for her to catch up. She eventually gave the thumbs up.
Texas threw his hands up in relief, ready to continue, but New York cut him off, having finally found his voice.
“Now just hold on a second there! What you’re suggesting we do is unfeasible. We may have the US mainland in our hands but you’re forgetting about the rest of the world. They’re going to be looking at reclaiming their territory when they find their feet and, as much as I’d love to, there won’t be much we can do to stop them really.”
“That doesn’t mean we give up. That’s just why we NEED to train our people. Why we NEED to strike while the Iron is hot!”
“Our ‘people’ are zombies. Zombies. We are not the good guys here. And they will annihilate us if we don’t play ball.”
Texas began thrusting his fingers in accusation at New York, “I knew it! Is that what you got in that briefcase of yours—a white flag?”
New York ignored this childish aggression and directed his plea to the Master. “What I have in this briefcase are contingency plans: all the options we can use to leverage ourselves out of the strange position we find ourselves in.”
They both looked towards the Master, waiting with baited breath.
The Master was expressionless. New York froze up for a moment as the lack of a reaction pumped shit all over his nerves. Texas noted this and smiled, enjoying himself.
New York started to fumble, “We uh…” but Texas cut him off. “Aint no point negotiating with humans, boy, lost cause if ever I saw.
“But there isn’t any point trying to fight them either! They will win in the long run. Listen, if we cooperate and we let them take back the land peacefully, they may just give us some nice little bit of land where we can live out the rest of our lives in peace.”
The Master grunted and his thoughts filled their heads. Say we play ball. What stops them from changing their mind once they get what they want? What stops them from turning us into guinea pigs?
New York scrambled to open his briefcase, and began to suggest the notion of offering a slave labor force before Texas cut him off in seeming agreement with the Master. “See, Master’s thought of it all and then some, you can take those papers and wipe your ass with them!”
The Master rolled his eyes at this crudeness before groaning. But in fact, we do have the leverage, because I have all the launch codes…
New York, eyes wide, shook his head in disbelief.
“Now we’re talking!” cried Texas.
As New York tried to contain his terror, there was a knocking on the big doors behind them. One side of the door drew open and a scruffy bearded man in a sarong emerged. The Texan immediately hated the sight of this newcomer. New York, believing it couldn’t get any worse, was a little more hopeful.
“Sorry I’m late,” said Portland. “Have I missed much?”
Before anyone could respond, the sound of helicopter blades descending on City Hall had everyone raising their eyes to the ceiling.
The Helicopter People
There were four of them. One TV reporter from NICE documentaries and the crew that helped bring his stories to life. There was the cameraman, Greg, the producer, Lindsay, and their helicopter pilot, Paul. Chad, the TV reporter, wore a bandana. His news was the cool news.
They’d been searching for stories for a while. Of course, everywhere was still ‘dangerous’; the roads in the city were made of zombies and therefore like lava, but all the stories had dried up once the survivors had too. They’d been circling for a while until Paul noted they were getting low on petrol. Usually he would’ve gotten them back to base by such a stage but the apparent lack of urgency could only be caused by a sense of comfort in how under control they had the situation. Any sense of anxiety at having to land on the top of City Hall to wait for a fuel drop was really more just annoyance than anything.
Lindsay, the producer, held the most reservation, “You’re sure it’s clear, given all the zeds on the steps?”
Paul shrugged. “It’s as safe a place as any.”
The Helicopter set down on the pad. Outside the Hall, thousands of zombies on the street were drawn to the noise and began their usual fanfare of arrrrrgghh and garrrgghh.
Chad and the camera man, Greg, hopped out and immediately made it for the edge of the roof, unnecessarily climbing over the main ledge and looking down in wonder at the crowds. Lindsay stayed in the chopper to confirm Paul’s communiqué about a three-hour wait before turning her head and noticing Chad hanging off the side of the roof. “Fucking idiot,” she cursed from her seat and opened the door, glancing at her assault rifle before deciding she had no time. She was soon bolting across the roof, trying to save an idiot from being himself.
“Chad! Don’t you fucking dare!” she commanded.
Chad leaned back, camera in hand, all smiles. He motioned over to Greg, “More excellent shots to add to the portfolio.” He then gave his puppy dog eyes to Lindsay, “Don’t give me that look, Linds. It’ll look great in the report!”
“I guess ‘reporter falls to zed pit’ has a nice ring to it.”
“Ah don’t be that way. What’s the point of coming over here if your not willing to throw a little caution to the wind?”
“Well, if there was a little more wind…”
Lindsay came to the edge and helped Chad climb back to safety, if not sanity. “Listen, I know it’s not your fault,” said Lindsay, “we just haven’t found the stories we’re after. There’s nothing new to add. It’s already been covered by the majors.”
Chad’s face grew serious, realising the slump Lindsay was in. “No, hey, it’s all good, Linds. Look, I know where we stand. I know you want more serious shit with a different audience now—and shit, I knew there was nothing else to cover here, but this is the goddamn zombie apocalypse! I’ve been planning for this kind of thing since I was a kid. Let’s try to have some fun, yeah?”
Lindsay could do little but agree. “I guess…”
Chad asked how long they had on the roof. When Lindsay told him three hours—if Delta approved the rescue for twilight—Chad’s eyes lit up and then reverted back to those puppy dog eyes. “Can I at least pop a few heads from the roof?”
“Fine. But keep it to 10 rounds max.”
Just as Chad pulled his weapon, stuck his tongue out and lined up his pistol on some zeds for his amusement, the fire-escape door behind them was swung open, bursting forth a flood of zombies.
Paul the Pilot, smoking a cigarette, had said cigarette fall from his mouth as he scrambled for his pistol while running to the chopper.
Greg the cameraman, now taking a leak off the other side of the roof for privacy, struggled to zip-up under pressure while simultaneously reaching for his gun.
Chad and Lindsay ran back towards the helicopter, Lindsay firing away with headshot after headshot while Chad screamed away like a city-slicker cowboy with no aim in sight. Despite their efforts, the zombies had cut them off from the chopper and they were forced to turn and run around to the other side of the chopper on Greg’s side. There were screams and nobody could hear a thing. Paul tried to reach for the assault rifle next to Lindsay’s seat but the zombies were all over the front of the chopper. All four fled the chopper and began running around the rooftop, around the large roof dome, looking for a way down, the zeds hot on their tail.
“They’re faster than I thought!” shouted Paul.
“Fucking A they are!” howled Chad, jumping around in almost a gallop. “Wooo!”
“There’s no way down,” said Greg.
“We’ll double round and get the chopper running again,” said Lindsay.
They were about to turn past the dome and enact their plan, only to find that the zombies had cornered off the other side. They were now hemmed in from both sides of the dome. They fired off the rest of their rounds in desperation.
But the zombies had done something peculiar. They halted their advance, as if they were waiting for approval. A voice emerged from the crowd.
“How many rounds you got left?” asked the voice.
The four shared glances of confusion between themselves.
“How many?” the voice repeated.
“Who are you?” asked Paul.
“Why did they stop?” Chad whispered to Lindsay.
“How many rounds?” the voice repeated, this time angrier.
They were like school kids unwilling to answer their teacher.
“I’m going to count to three…” said the voice.
“We’re out!” Greg finally blurted. “Just tell us what’s going on!”
The crowd of zeds split down the middle, making way for a zed in a military officer’s uniform, a white cowboy hat sitting firm on his head. The four gasped in shock as this zombie sized them up, studying each of them carefully.
“Who’s the pilot?” asked Texas.
Paul slowly raised his hand.
“Could you take a step to your left, please?”
Paul took a nervous step to his left while looking at the others.
Texas turned back to the horde and pointed at Paul. “Master wants the rest of them alive. The guy on the right is all yours.” The zombies then sprung into action, moaning and spluttering their way toward the three still in shock, while Paul scrambled back up against the edge before trying to climb down it and escape. He slipped and fell fifty feet into the Zed pit outside. His screams rung loud in all their ears.
There was much flinching and unease when the zombies grabbed the petrified Chad, Lindsay and Greg all by the arms and attempted to drag them away. They were highly uncoordinated, pulling each of them this way and that, while Texas had to keep reminding them not to bite.
As they were led down the fire stairs and inundated with the guttural moans of the undead, Chad shared a glance with Lindsay. “I think we just found your story.”
The remaining humans sat tied up in chairs on one side of the long conference table, while the Master, Texas, New York and Portland regarded them from the other side. They’d been patted down and had their phones and radios smashed in front of them, just to drive the point home that they were very much alone.
The receptionist broke the silence, bringing in a tray of mugs filled with boiled water. She was all smiles and warmth as she placed the tray on the table and began to pour it, with little coordination, down their mouths.
Pouring it all over Greg’s lips, Rebecca hastily added a warning, “Now be careful, it might be a little hot because I just boiled it.”
Greg struggled to move his lips, pleading, “Ahhh! It is! It is!”
Rebecca recoiled in remorse, “Oh, dear! My apologies; I don’t have much feeling in my skin anymore. Just let me know when you think they’re ready.” Rebecca then made her way over to the typewriter to record the historic first notes of human-zombie diplomatic relations.
Lindsay was the first to get the ball rolling off to a cordial start. “So, you freaks some kind of mutation, or what?”
Texas slammed his fist on the table. “You will not speak to us like that!”
The Master groaned. Settle down. Ask them who they’re with.
“Is Stephen Hawking your leader?” asked Lindsay, nodding at the Master.
“I got half a mind to eat your face,” said Texas.
“You’re probably right about the ‘half’ part.”
Texas rose up and snarled at Lindsay, ready to reach across and tear out her throat. Chad and Greg flinched, but Lindsay just smirked. New York, sensing that the proceedings could use a little more formality, pulled Texas back. “Texas, let’s not go down that path. Let’s start with the formalities of old instead, shall we? You guys have names?”
Lindsay and Greg softly repeated their names, but when Chad repeated his, Portland’s squinting eyes opened wide, his hunch correct. “It’s Chad Wright, right?”
“A fan? Ha. I don’t believe it.”
Portland looked at the other zombies staring at him, dumbfounded.
“Chad’s one of the leading reporters for NICE Documentaries. His reporting on dope was the freshest and most exposing of the Dope industry in Columbia.”
“You know your stuff, my man.”
It was at this stage that Greg began muttering to himself, “Why did you have to kill Paul?”
Ignoring this mumbling, because it made him feel unpleasant, New York tried to move things along. “Well it’s great we’ve got a celebrity in here, but what are guys doing in our neck of the woods?” asked New York.
Lindsay stared at New York and decided here was someone she could negotiate with and come to some understanding, if there was to be any at all. “I’ve asked myself that same question,” she said, “Now that we’ve ran into you, seems like it was worth it.”
“You realise your very life is at stake right now?”
“Goddamn it!” interrupted Texas. “Let’s quit pussy footing. Where’s your base—where’s the rest of your people?”
“Base is fourteen clicks south of here, in Ashton Park,” said Lindsay.
“Anyone know where you are?” asked New York.
“No.” Lindsay lied.
Rebecca butted in: “Could you guy’s slow down?”
Master rolled his eyes. Talking points, dear!
“What’s with Stephen Hawking?”
“We ask the questions here! And stop calling him Stephen Hawking!”
Portland had enough. “Okay, guys, let’s like, just back it up here. Keep it chill. Everybody be chilling, guys.” All the others stared at him, and took stock of the fact that a zombie in a sarong was telling everybody to chillax. Funnily enough though, everybody did chill.
Portland took this opportunity to lead the peace circle. “So, like, what we want to know, guys, is what you’re doing in our neck of the woods?”
“Oh for god’s sake,” muttered New York, “what happened to the rest of the world? Has the virus spread past the Atlantic?”
“The quarantine was mostly effective. We maintained control over most of Europe. Africa had some issues.”
“Well, when haven’t they?” said Texas, pleased with his smug self.
Lindsay ignored this comment. “But on the whole, everywhere is already recovering and we’re already looking at reclaiming here.”
“Looking to carve up some new land.”
Lindsay smiled at New York, “Think of all the free space.”
“Is there a cure?” New York probed.
Chad shook his head before Lindsay had a chance to play with their heads. “No. But what if you guys are it? Like the missing link or something?”
We will not subject ourselves to that kind of testing. Those sick fuckers would open us up, the Master groaned in an agitated fit.
“Though we want to help assist in the finding of a cure, I don’t know if we would feel safe confirming that,” said New York, in translation for the Master.
Texas banged his fist on the table then pointed at New York. “Don’t mince the Master’s words. We aint got no interest in a cure, and we sure as hell won’t rest till the world’s a zed haven!”
Greg stopped his mumbling about why they had to kill Paul and opened his eyes. “You like being zombies?”
New York said, “Not at all,” while Texas stated, “You’re goddamn right we do!”
Texas clenched his teeth as soon as he registered what New York had said. “Don’t mind him; New York here is a disgrace to himself and his people. He’s a pithy coward if ever there was.”
“Are you going to eat us?”
“Depends,” said New York.
“Depends on what?”
“What you can do for us…”
Chad’s voice perked up in a beautiful sycophant symphony. “We can help you guys. Yeah, we can help present you to the world, get some dialogue going! Just don’t eat us.”
“There’s no dialogue necessary!” declared Texas, drawing his oversized, large magnum. New York was losing control of Texas and turned to Master.
“Hold up! Master, can we not discuss this all over in private? I had some things I don’t believe I had a chance to discuss…”
“Excellent. I’ll take our guests away. Portland, you want to help me?”
Texas wagged his finger and raised his gun, just by a little but just by enough. “Ah, hell no! I’m not leaving you with them. And they’re prisoners, not guests.”
New York cringed. “But who’s going to keep Master safe?”
“I can do that!” the receptionist piped up.
Stop bickering. All three of you go. Just get it done.
The three zombies then dragged the three humans on their chairs outside, Texas keeping an eye on New York the whole time. They then returned to the conference room, leaving the humans tied up outside.
Show us what’s in the case, groaned the Master.
New York began shuffling through his papers again. “If I could address that thing you mentioned with the Nuclear Launch codes: I don’t think it will have to get to that as you can see…”
Texas ignored this and asked the Master if he could read the humans’ thoughts. New York stopped his shuffling, curious to hear the answer. The Master shook his head slowly.
Texas then motioned towards New York. “Can you read his?”
New York froze up. If his brain was working at this tightrope second, it would have recognised that his heartbeat had come roaring to panic-stricken life. The room grew painfully silent as the Master stared at New York, no change in emotion, no thoughts expressed as they usually were. Even Texas got uncomfortable. After too long of this suffocating moment with nothing clear given away, New York decided to tiptoe forward and press on. “…What I was going to say was we have a labor force that you can control. We can get a lot of multi-nationals interested in our proposition — wages next to nothing! They could rebuild this city and we’d do very well from it.”
Portland, who had initially sided with New York, knew he’d heard this kind of reasoning before. It was THE MAN, trying to rise up from the ashes and capitalise, capitalise, capitalise. “No way, man. You’re talking about bringing back slavery. We’re not going to line the pockets of those fat cats anymore. This is the revolution in human history we’ve been waiting for. This is a simplifying of the mind in harmony with the environment. It’s Gaia’s wish.”
Texas shook his head. “You’re yellow and he’s green. Has the world gone mad?”
“Says the zombie wanting to nuke the rest of the world.”
“A nuclear wasteland plays to our advantage. It’s our natural environment.”
“There’s nothing natural about that, man!”
Master groaned, this time a high pitch, almost like a deaf baby trying to talk. His eyes were bloodshot and most displeased.
ENOUGH! I brought you all here to decide where we go from here. For whatever reason, we have ourselves the chance to build something from all this destruction. When my voice carried from great distances you were the only ones to receive the call. You’re all very lucky that your brains still work. Now put them to use, please!
The room fell silent. New York made the first move.
“Ok, so, for whatever reason, a news crew has fallen into our laps. This is a real chance to reveal ourselves to the world. We can use those people in the other room. I can get them on our side; I just need to convince them that we want to negotiate with the humans. They can open up our lines of communication with the world leaders. Let me have some alone time with them. Get them on our page. And if all else fails, we have Texas’ way anyway.”
“I don’t trust you for one second alone with them. You’re just going to cut your own deal. Don’t buy his shit for a second, Master. You can read his mind, right? You can see his deceit!”
“Fine! Let’s bring them in here and we’ll all talk to them like civil folk—maybe keep off the nuclear surprise till we know more. Would that be too much to ask?”
“Sounds better,” said Texas.
The two of them walked briskly to the door and bumped into one another going for the handle. They began to squabble pathetically as a clumsy slapping match ensued.
The Master turned to Portland. Assist these idiots, please.
“Sure thing, man.”
The Master rolled his eyes at the use of the word ‘man’. As they left the room and he groaned out his frustration, he called out to the receptionist.
Rebecca dear, please get the tape. My arm’s loose again.
Outside, the prisoners discussed their options, though Greg was still mumbling away, asking why they had to kill Paul.
“That was fucked up I know. But you gotta focus on the now, man. How you going with the tape, Linds?”
Lindsay sighed and strained as a broken shard of debris was thrust up and down her tape, the friction cutting her skin the harder she rubbed. “Getting there—mother fucker,” she gritted her teeth.
“What if they come back before you finish?”
“Then we play along with whatever they want until I spot an opening. I don’t want any of you to do something stupid unless I do it first, is that understood?”
“Course, boss…” said Chad.
“How do we play along?” asked Greg.
“Chad, tell him. I need to concentrate.”
“We got a camera right? So we film some propaganda for them or something? Or like do a live broadcast. Can you fix that up, Greg? Greg!”
Greg’s head had dropped downward in total despair.
“Can you try to keep your shit together and help us sell the propaganda offer?”
“I’d need a fair bit of help,” said Greg.
“But we could set it up, or at least make them think so?”
“It’s either that or end up like Paul,” remarked Lindsay. Greg and Chad both turned to glare at Lindsay, who stopped squirming with the tape.
“Sorry. That was cruel… The rifle might still be in the chopper. If you can get it when you get the camera, then I think it’s the time to do something stupid.”
“What about the fuel drop? Did they get the request off in time?”
“Three hours they said. It’s a back up plan. Not sure if we can stall that long though…”
They all froze as the doors to the conference room opened up. Portland, Texas and New York appeared and silently grabbed each of them by the chairs and dragged them inside.
Chad aimed his plea at Portland. “We’ve been talking and we think we can help.”
“I’d love to listen. I just hope the others will too.”
“That’s unfair,” said New York, while Texas just rolled his eyes.
As he dragged Lindsay, New York noticed that she was halfway through her tape. Making sure that Texas was preoccupied with dragging Greg, New York removed the debris and placed a pen in Lindsay’s hand. Lindsay got the message and concealed the pen as best she could.
Once more, the three humans sat across from the three zombies, each silently watching their counterpart.
The receptionist brought out the tray of tepid water, offering each of them the water.
“Is it cool now?”
“Why of course, Hun!”
Chad and Greg accepted the water, Rebecca spilling it once again as she tried to pour it down their throats. Lindsay did not accept the water to which the Master instructed Rebecca to assure Lindsay the water wasn’t poisoned. Rebecca repeated this to Lindsay, reminding her with pride that she boiled it herself. Lindsay still declined, and the receptionist was clearly offended by this. “Well okay then…”
Once this awkward moment in the long line of awkward moments had ceased, New York took the floor. “What are the odds of a film crew landing on our roof—the very roof for which we try to create a new nation? Truth is, I don’t believe in destiny. Things happen and then those things cause other things to happen—like a virus that affects the brain and changes the world. Life moves on. So when we find ourselves here today, let’s respect all the strange things that got us here and run with it. You’re a film crew and we’re your story. And the story we want you tell is one of understanding so that you know us and we know you—”
“And you know what we’re capable of,” added Texas.
“Yes, of course,” New York appeased, “Are you getting what we want?”
“Do you come in peace?” asked Lindsay.
New York and Texas responded at the same time with somewhat opposing answers: “We’d like to; absolutely not!”
New York scolded Texas, raising his fist. Texas struggled not to laugh at this measly intimidation.
“We’re trying my way first, remember?”
Let him speak, Texas.
New York re-adjusted his suit. “So, as I was saying, we know what your people want to do to us. Like you said before, our land is up for grabs in your eyes. And sure you could try taking it by force, but why not let us let you have the land without casualties?”
“What do you want in return?”
“We want safety—like all living things—from scientific experiments, and the like. And we’d have our own protection strategies, naturally, to ensure our safety, which, if we’re being reasonable, is not too much to ask.”
“So do you want to be hidden or out in the open?”
“We’d want our existence kept to only the highest levels of leadership, and from there we’d keep a line of communication of mutual interest.”
“What else you got? We’ll take the land back eventually,” said Lindsay, making it known how unimpressed she was.
Texas was indignant. “Like hell you would! Master, we’ve got a snake oil-salesman on our side. He’s going to destroy the pride of our people.”
Let him finish.
“But he speaks so blatantly against us. I’d bet he was a politician or something before it all happened—that’s how sleazy he’s sizing up.”
New York raised both hands as if to say he was coming clean. “Full disclosure: you’re almost correct. I was a speechwriter for the Mayor in New York City. I thought things through and I did a great job. We had a great record up until it hit…”
New York then turned to the humans, ready to present his capital idea.
“What we can offer is this: we have ways and means of controlling those masses, and I think some of your leaders would find that more than helpful.”
Portland and Chad were incensed, though Chad could only nod as Portland spoke for the both of them. “Oh come on, Man. The end of the world and you’re still trying to get those profits? What will it take for you to learn, man?”
“The leaders might bite, But the people won’t,” added Lindsay.
Dismayed by this response, New York couldn’t help but get snippy.
“That’s the first alternative. The smart alternative. We can always go Texas’ way…”
Texas was touched, “First thing you said all day that makes sense. Can I tell them, Master?”
The Master was silent in thought for a moment. Everyone stared at his droopy face, drool slowly seeping out. The Master eventually nodded.
“It’ll be my pleasure. As of 2015 the United States was in possession of over 1750 operational nuclear warheads. We’ve got those launch codes. Lets see how your kind like a little radiation therapy.”
All the human’s eyes opened wide, their jaws hanging loose.
“You’re bluffing,” said Lindsay, her lips quivering, “the president still had control of the launch codes before he left the White House.”
“Well it looks like that liberal piece ’a shit has lied to his constituents once more,” retorted Texas, mightily pleased.
Satisfied they were now aware of the implications, New York pressed forward. “This is why negotiation has to happen. This is why we need you to present us to the world, before something… irreversible occurs.”
“We’ll need equipment; time to prepare…the stuff we need is in the chopper,” said Lindsay, her sudden cooperation relieving the zombies.
New York shuffled through his papers until he found the page of best-fit. He handed Master the page, or at least tried to, before he realised that the Master’s hands were rather flimsy, some would even say detached. New York held the page up in front of the Master to read. “We can add in the bit about threatening nuclear annihilation, but I think it’s pretty good if you like the main points and benefits I believe it’ll give us.”
“Don’t you mean the points that’ll benefit just you?” sniggered Texas.
“I mean all of us, including your lovely self,” said New York, turning to Rebecca. “Miss, would you care to help the master read this while I help the others get all the equipment set up?”
“I’m coming with,” piped Texas.
New York produced his fakest grin. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The roof was just as the humans left it, chopper door wide-open and a horde of Zombies left over from the hostage taking still ambling about. Lindsay and Greg, both with their hands tied in front of them, were taken up to the roof. Texas, taking care of Greg with a silver handgun pushed him along to the chopper. “Don’t try anything up here, lest you want one of these guys to have a nibble.”
Meanwhile, New York and Lindsay lingered by the fire escape door. New York whispered, “If I save you, will you save me?”
“How are you going to save us?”
“Either a drawn out affair of negotiations or you help stage a coup de tat.”
“The Master needs to be taken out, doesn’t he?”
“There’s a rifle in the chopper.”
New York grabbed her arm. “No. He’ll see it coming and flood the halls with zombies. You either need to be close or escape on that chopper.”
Texas was getting impatient with Greg’s ineffective mulling. “What’s taking so long?”
“I need help carrying all these things,” said Greg, holding his hands up to remind Texas of the cuffs that impeded his carrying ability.
Texas sighed and turned back to Lindsay, “Honey, help your friend here.”
Lindsay stumbled over to Greg, sweat lining his forehead as his eyes pointed at the rifle. Lindsay shook her head as subtly as possible.
Greg mouthed: why not?
Lindsay shook her head again and reached for the recording equipment. Greg reluctantly did the same.
It was just as they exited the roof, New York in the rear and Texas leading in front, when the radio in the chopper crackled to life. Everybody froze.
Paul this is Whiskey Kilo Foxtrot, just an update. We have been given permission to launch an early fuel drop. We are heading over to you in one hour. Please copy. Over.
Texas swung back on them, his gun raised. “You dirty little son’s a bitches.”
Texas paced up and down the conference room.
The humans had been retied up, this time re-enforced.
Portland eyed Chad with disgust. “Did you know about this, man?”
“No, man! Well, erm, it may have been mentioned in passing…”
“I thought we were cool. I thought we would be able to work things out, man. Bring about the final revolution for peace.”
Chad nodded up and down. “And we can! We still can!”
Fuming, Texas threw his accusations down at New York, because of course he must’ve had something to do with this. “Did you know about this?”
New York backpedalled. “How would I have known about this? Master, given their fear, surely we could understand what they’ve done. I don’t want them to get away with what they’ve done, but we need them. And, more importantly, we need to move now.”
“We don’t need them. How hard could it be to work a camera?”
This was Greg’s time to protest, to explain the intricate techniques, learned over a lifetime, that were required to point a mirror at its subject and make it look ‘professional’. But this was a petty objection and New York cut him off anyway. “It’s not just that anymore. We need hostages now.”
Lindsay struggled to look at New York, fed up with his constant side-swapping. She was sick of all this pussy-footing. She was ready to take charge of the situation, and if they didn’t like it then they could just tear her limb from limb. “Listen, Stephen Hawking: We can get something filmed in less than 20 minutes. I can film whatever you want. Just promise our safety and that you will let us go when it is safe for you to do so. You need someone to stand in for you: Texas is your man.”
New York was impressed with her cahones up until her last recommendation. Texas? What was she thinking? Why not him?
“Texas will strike the fear of god into our leaders. You want people to know you mean business—he’s your guy.”
Texas beamed at New York. “Well, how ’bout that?”
Chad liked the agreeable vibe Lindsay had opened up and wanted to contribute. “I could do an introduction. Give it some star power too if you need.”
But Portland was having none of it, still hurt from Chad’s betrayal. “Is your career all you ever think about—even when I could chow down on your arm at any given moment?”
“I know you, dude. And I know you’re better than that.”
“What about a picture of the nuclear missiles?” asked Rebecca, “do we have any of those?”
“Picture of the launch site could let them know you’re not bluffing,” said Lindsay, but her cheeky ruse was laughed off by the Master (or whatever his grunting and groaning passed for laughing). Nice try.
Lindsay shrugged. “It was worth a shot.”
Everyone else looked at her, surprised she understood the Master.
“I was just guessing what he said.”
They were marched for several miles, surrounded by a sea of the undead, to an abandoned local news station. Clearing up the set was a grim experience, the humans forced to remove one of the anchors who had given up on the air in their final broadcast. While Greg and Chad familiarized themselves with the equipment, Lindsay, New York and Texas grated over the script, New York growing more despondent as his beloved idea was slowly transitioning into a war cry championed by that fat-faced Southerner. Getting the power back on for the recording equipment took longer than expected, with Rebecca, Portland and the other horde zombies bumbling about to find a generator.
Soon they were ready to record, and Chad got comfortable in his camera personality. The idea was to run it like an interview. Chad would present and set up Texas for his pro-zombie remarks, culminating in their threat of nuclear annihilation.
The interview began. New York had flash cards for the Texan to remember. Lindsay directed Greg with her usual poise. Everyone was focused.
Texas was clearly enjoying himself, a righteousness coursing through every inch of him as he answered each question with fervent vigour.
Waiting until Texas was too swept up in his grand purpose to notice, New York pulled Lindsay aside to talk. Lindsay told Greg to keep it steady (as if there was anything else he had to do). They shuffled back until they were right up close to the horde of zombies that made up their audience. Lindsay made sure it was safe to speak before she had her go at New York.
“You fucked us.” She accused, putting him on the back foot.
“You mean the relocation? We had to do that.”
“We’re dead now. There’s no way Texas will let us leave.”
“Well you sold him on the interview idea! Now look at the face of ‘us.’”
“Lindsay recoiled, her back brushing up against one of the horde, making her flinch. “My god—are you jealous—are you out of your mind?”
“Why not interview me? I mean, him? Really. He’s no damn negotiator.”
Lindsay shook her head. “I don’t believe it. You want us to stop this madness and then you take us away from the one place we had a fighting chance to escape! And now you’re complaining you don’t get to be in front of the camera!”
New York threw his hands up. “They were coming for us. How was I supposed to suggest we stay there for coffee and biscuits without it sounding suspicious—without me looking like an absolute idiot?
“You better suggest something quick. You don’t help me—I’ll throw us both under the bus.”
“The hell you two talking about over there?” shouted Texas, just having noticed his director not paying attention to his brilliant performance. He pulled his gun out and aimed it at the two, squinting and swaying as the lights blinded his aim. Chad threw his hands up, more irritated than scared.
“Jesus Christ—cut! You can’t be pulling out a gun like that. You were doing so well!
“Get the hell back over here!” Texas ordered, before realizing what Chad had said. “Wait, you really think so?”
“Absolutely, man. I ain’t even blowing smoke. Linds, we almost had that in one take! Greg?”
Greg mumbled, “Yeah…was real good.”
Lindsay rushed back to appease Texas, “Sorry, we were discussing some line changes but decided it’s good how it is. You were doing well. Greg, can we cue from the ‘Nuclear Annihilation’ threat?”
Chad resumed his professional stance and turned to Texas, who had lowered his magnum.
“So, you have something to say to the world’s leaders?”
Sometime later, they were all huddled around the screen, watching the final product. On the screen Texas concluded with, “And that is why we believe we are not demanding, but merely insisting that our survival and your survival be to our mutual benefit. We wish to begin negotiations right away and are willing to send our best to the table.” The footage then cut to black.
“You’ve done well,” said New York, disappointment clear in voice.
Texas turned to Master, eager to gauge his reaction.
The Master’s hand rose shakily and hovered, like a roman emperor in a coliseum, before his thumb was barely raised upward. Everyone, including the humans, breathed a sigh of relief.
“Excellent…so how do we get it to the press?” asked New York.
“A siege of your base will do it,” declared Texas.
The humans were aghast. “There’s no need for that,” said Lindsay, “you can send us all to the base and we’ll get it to the right people.”
Texas was not amused. “Quit foolin’. We’ve worked so well together, let’s not belittle our cause now.”
Chad was confused. “Hang on, Texas. If we needed to disseminate it from the army base, did we really need to film it like we have? How were you planning on them responding to you?”
The zombies all traded looks between one another, wondering who to accuse of this slight oversight.
“Well… it’s a good video; you said it yourself,” said Texas.
“But how will they get in touch with you guys?”
“Do we have to siege?” asked Portland.
“I don’t see any other way,” shrugged Texas. “You got anything, New York?”
“Embarrassingly, I didn’t really think that part through, either.”
They all turn to Master. He did his best to shrug too, clearly stumped.
“Okay, so siege?”
Pandemonium quickly swept Alpha Base when the zombies that had been idling about outside the walls instantly became aggressive and swarmed the base. Corporal Tate rushed to the command centre to relay the info to Colonel Bob.
“Sir, they’re breaking through. It’s crazy, It’s like they’ve just woken up or something!”
“What’s the status of air evac?”
“It’s the fall of Saigon, sir. We won’t get half the people out.”
“Right, we’ll hold them off till we get as many out of here as possible, has FOB at Fort Benning been notified?”
“They’re readying to receive us and scrambling air support. ETA: 12 minutes.”
Amidst the thunder of gunfire and moaning zombies came the sound of a megaphone in the distance.
The Colonel stood from his desk. “What in God’s name is that?”
“I’ll go check, sir.”
The corporal went out and checked. He returned, trying to downplay his shock.
“Sir, it appears that the zombies, at least one of them, has gained the capacity of sentient thought, and is now using a megaphone to express their sentiments.”
“And what are their sentiments?”
“Well, they seem to have a few human hostages and they’ve parted all the other zombies like the red sea, and it appears they are making their way towards us… The man, err, the zombie with the microphone has stated that they have us surrounded.”
“This is a turn for the books.” The Colonel muttered, rubbing his chin at the compound chaos.
“Sir, maybe this will present us with the unique opportunity of negotiating our safety?”
“Or it’s the beginning of human existence under our new zombie overlords.”
The Corporal nodded, “Or that.”
The gunfire inexplicably ceased and the megaphone screeched, before the voice of Texas made his demands. “We want to speak to the people in charge!”
“I believe that’s me,” said the Colonel, the resignation drooping his face.
“Good luck, sir.”
“Talking zeds… It’s a mad world, Corporal.”
“And we must all play our part.”
The Colonel appeared on the outside railing of the command center, set up to overlook the entire base. He gazed down to see Texas, New York and Portland each training their guns on Lindsay and Chad.
“Portland, get a weapons round-up,” said Texas.
Portland nodded and began running around instructing the hiding soldiers, “If you look out into the masses, you should see some of our friends wearing blue hats and carrying garbage bags. If you could all just place your weapons and ammunition in these bags in an orderly manner, we would really appreciate it.”
Soldiers glanced up from their foxholes, their brains cross-wired in a shit storm of confusion, dumbfounded at the speaking zeds and their formal request.
Portland grated into the megaphone once more. “I would like to repeat that this is in your best interest as we have you surrounded.”
The Colonel yelled as firmly and as calmly as he could. “Do as he says, men.” A couple of zombies emerged from the horde wearing baby blue hats and holding garbage bags out in front of them. The soldiers put their pieces inside the garbage bags.
“Thank you,” said Portland to those that complied.
Texas raised the megaphone and aimed it at the Colonel. “Let’s have that talk.”
The Colonel and Corporal sat opposite the hostages, with the zombies standing behind the hostages.
“This is most perplexing,” said the Colonel.
“I took quite a few of these bases in the South,” remarked Texas, “Did you take any bases up North, New York?”
“Oh, hardy ha…” said New York, before addressing the Colonel. “Colonel, the reason for our visit today is that we’d like to make contact with the remaining world leaders, including the president of the United States, if possible.”
“Former President,” corrected Texas.
The Colonel leaned back, almost relaxed. “I’ve never had to do that, but you know what, I think the president would be more than willing to have a chat with you.”
“Err, right, of course.”
Texas produced a USB and carefully placed it on the desk in front of the Colonel, with pride. “We’ve made an introduction recording. We would like the president to see it.”
“You could just tell us what you want,” said the corporal.
Texas persisted, “It was a very good video, though. Isn’t that right, Chad, Lindsay?
Chad gave the thumbs up, “We helped with the production and editing. It’s pretty slick.”
“We also want it to be a video conference, so we know who we’re talking to,” said Portland.
“We don’t have anything like that here.”
“Best thing we could do is Skype it,” offered Lindsay.
“We also have a projector,” added the Corporal.
“Correction. We do have something like that here. Corporal, can you set that up?”
New York put his hand up. “I’ll go with the corporal. Lindsay will come too to help with carrying.”
Texas scoffed. “Right…No, I think Portland should do that.”
“Well I’m doing it. And I’m going to get it done, OK.”
Everyone hesitated, as the corporal and colonel began to notice the clear friction between New York and Texas. New York left with Lindsay and the corporal and while Texas wanted to stop them, he paused, unwilling to show the divisiveness in their cause.
The Colonel began rubbing his chin, “So, you can talk…”
New York, Lindsay and the corporal walked over to the rec shed, the corporal sharing glances with Lindsay, trying to confirm that what was happening was actually real. Lindsay simply said, “Afraid so,” and then turned to New York, “well?”
“Well, think faster.”
“What’s on this tape of yours?” asked the Corporal.
“Nothing your leaders will agree to,” said New York. “Listen, where are your choppers located?”
“Whatever happens we’re not leaving Chad and Greg.”
“Chad, maybe, but Greg’s a lost cause. You know that.”
Lindsay didn’t say anything, knowing full well that Greg, waiting back with the Master and Rebecca, was indeed unrecoverable.”
“Besides,” New York continued as they entered the Rec shed, “are you forgetting about the threat of nuclear annihilation?”
The corporal stopped unplugging the projector, “I’m sorry, did you say nuclear annihilation?”
“That Texas asshole wants to discuss the terms of your conditional surrender by threatening a nuclear holocaust.”
“As if the living dead weren’t bad enough,” muttered Lindsay.
“Exactly,” said New York, “So if we can get you some guns we can shoot that cunt in the face and then fly away far enough for them to firebomb the master to hell. Then you send me to some tropical island in the sun for the rest of my days.”
“The tropical sun will rot your skin worse.”
“You’d like that wouldn’t you… and before we all probably die I just want you to know that you didn’t have to reject me so coldly back at the studio when we were setting up.”
“I already told you: I like women—and you’re a zombie!”
“But we’re all about to die anyway!”
“Are you even sure it still works?”
“It’s always worth a shot.”
The corporal waved his hands about to get their attention. “Sorry to interrupt, guys. You’re on our side?”
“He’s on whatever side suits him best,” said Lindsay.
“There’s nothing wrong with that!”
“Well, should we get the guns then—and the equipment?”
New York waved the gun at the corporal, “Yes, yes go on then.”
“If we’re on the same side, you don’t have to wave the gun at me,” the corporal noted.
“Oh, just hurry up and let’s get on with it…Oh. One more thing: We only use the guns as a last resort if it looks like Texas is going to pull a fast one and asks to launch the nukes. Otherwise we’re all fresh meat for the zombies — including me.”
Lindsay agreed. “Hate to say it, but you’re right. I’m not down for a suicide mission unless we’ve got no choice.”
The corporal nodded and went off to get some sidearms, but before he did he turned back to them. “I’m sorry to interrupt again, but did you say nukes?”
Back at the command center, the Colonel was on the landline phone with his superiors. Texas sat on the edge of the desk, the large magnum dangling in one hand.
The Colonel was having a harder time than expected getting his superiors to believe his situation “…Yes, well, we have someone here who I personally believe the president would like to address over the phone…Now look, I tell you this is something we’ve never seen before and I goddamn well mean it…Yes, zombies that can talk! There’s about three of them by my count…Are there anymore of you?”
Texas was tight lipped. “That’s for us to know.”
The Colonel rubbed his temple in frustration and returned to his call. “He’d rather not say… Look! Where is the president? Tell him to stop whatever he’s doing because this is a goddamn game changer… He wants a conference with the other world leaders too… He wants the G8… uh, uh, uh… I’ll ask him. Would you settle with some members of the G8?”
“The US, Britain, Canada and France.”
“You know what, France will be unnecessary.”
“Umm, okay…The zombie representative from Texas says President Claude will not be required for this meeting… That’s just what he’s asked… uh-huh… yep… okay… They want to know if you have any other powers?”
Texas crossed his arms. “That’s also for us to know.”
The Corporal, Lindsay and New York entered the command centre, the Corporal and LINDSAY holding a whole bunch of wires and a projector in their hands, and pistols concealed behind their waists.
Texas regarded their light haul and sneered. “Did you really need two people to carry all that?”
“Did you get through to the president?” asked New York.
“We got the US, Canada and Britain,” said Chad.
“What? The G8 too good for us?”
“Apparently so,” said Portland.
They set the equipment up and it was soon all ready to go.
“President’s been briefed and we’re going to get a four-way video conference,” advised the corporal.
Texas picked up the USB and held it up as a reminder. “Before we speak, we want you play a pre-recorded video. Go on, put it in when we go live and have Chad introduce it.”
Chad’s eyes lit up, blown away by the opportunity, despite all the crumbling matters. “The mother fuckin’ president. If my mama ever knew… What an honour.”
The Colonel was playing with the computer until he startled himself and threw a hasty salute into the screen, before the president of the United States, the British PM and the Canadian PM were blown up on the wall from the projector.“Mr. President, Prime Ministers.”
The president spoke first. “Thank you, Colonel. Who is the zombie I need to speak to?
“He goes by ‘Texas’, Mr. President.”
The British PM was visibly seen rolling his eyes on the projection.
“Put Texas on then,” said the president.
The Colonel motioned for Texas to stand in front of the computer but Texas remained hidden, urging the Colonel to play the recording. Chad quickly rushed over to seize his chance, pushing the Colonel out of the way.
“Uh, hi, Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, and Mr. Prime Minister of Canada.”
The world leaders were confused. The man in front of them didn’t look like a zombie but a hipster. “Are you Texas?” asked the president.
Everyone else was also wondering why Chad needed to jump in. Chad was already shaking about on the screen, way in over his head. “Uh, no, the Zombies, err I mean, Texas would like to play a pre-recorded message that we’ve pre-recorded for you.”
The British PM was not amused. “If I may be so brash, let’s get this show on the road.”
“Right, of course, without further adieu, I present to you our message.”
Chad played the video. The leaders resettled into their chairs. Texas waved Chad off with the gun and everything went quiet as the message played…
Chad is on the screen.
My name is Chad Wright from NICE documentaries, and here with me today is a very special guest: A member of the living dead who has retained his brain function and is able to communicate for the first time the thoughts of his people… He goes by the name of Texas and this will be the world-first, exclusive interview with a talking zombie.
(The video cuts to a wide shot of both Chad and Texas sitting to his right behind a news desk.)
Texas, what is it like to have no heartbeat?
Well, Chad, it’s not too much different to being a human, though in some ways it’s much better. The zombie lives a simple life, a pure life of, “eat or be shot by misunderstood parties.” Gone are the complexities of modern life—we don’t worry about those things anymore.
But what kind of existence is this? Most of the zombies that you control can’t think for themselves. Surely this is an empty life, with little choice.
It’s freedom from choice. And it must seem scary to humans, but I can assure you: it is true bliss.
Wow. That’s incredible. We’ve would have never known.
The British PM had enough of this hogwash. “Oh, really—must we watch this propaganda—get to the bloody point! What do you want?”
Annoyed that they were weren’t paying attention to his superb performance, Texas hissed into the Skype cam, “Keep watching!”
CHAD (on the video)
…And what would you say to our leaders.
That we have become a proud nation, a sovereign state, and we must be recognised as such by the rest of world. This means the removal of foreign forces from our land.
“But they’re not foreign forces!” the president protested. “We are just trying to reclaim our land!”
“Let’s just hear them out,” said the Canadian PM.
Texas paused the video and stated, desperation escaping his voice, “Listen to the Canuck!”
“Or else what?” challenged the British PM.
Texas was fuming at the nerve of the British PM. Did he forget that they won their independence from those silly redcoats? “Or else this:” said Texas, un-pausing the video:
And if they don’t recognise your reasonable request, what will you do?
TEXAS (on the video)
Then we will have no choice but to launch the nuclear arsenal at our disposal to defend our new, sacred way of life.
The eyes on all the Leaders light up in shock horror, the president especially caught out with his pants down.
“Oh Bugger,” Said the British PM.
“‘Oh bugger’ indeed,” sneered Texas.
The president rose from behind his desk and pointed his finger at the screen. “This is an absolute outrage. How dare you threaten us with this nonsense—I will not bow down to these acts of provocation. In fact I’m more than happy to tell you that we were able to disarm all nuclear weapons on US soil before our temporarily relocation—and I say temporarily because by god, son, I am coming back there and I will be coming back for you!”
Texas flicked between the colonel and the president, trying to decipher whether it was true that the nukes were disarmed. The over-the-top indignation told him otherwise. Texas paused the video and turned the Skype camera on himself. “You’re lying.”
“I… I most certainly am not!”
“Well then there’s no harm in me launching a test shot at Canada, is there?”
“Whoa now, hang on a second!” said the Canadian PM.
“No harm at all!” exclaimed the president, his face flustered.
Lindsay looked at New York, urging him to take charge. She wanted to pull her gun, but she was admittedly scared, just like the rest.
“I’ll do it!” threatened Texas.
The Canadian PM was screaming into the microphone, pleading for clemency. The British PM also has his hands up, his reserved nature shed by startled panic. The President was fuming, his cheeks puffed up like he was about to explode.
Texas snapped. “That’s it—Master!”
Sensing it was now or never, the corporal flew into action, reaching behind for his weapon. Texas saw this and sprung the magnum on him, blasting away, striking the corporal with two thunderous shots to the chest.
As the corporal dropped to the ground, Lindsay reached for her gun, aiming at Texas and popping a shoot off, grazing Texas in the neck (and thus missing the brain), before Portland crashed against her onto the floor.
Seeing Texas drop to his feet, the Colonel seized his chance, dropping down and engaging in a wrestle to get his gun.
Portland took a chunk out of Lindsay’s neck before Chad grabbed Portland by the neck and ripped him off her. Portland fell to the wayside, looking at Chad.
“I thought we were buddies, man.”
“We were, dude.”
Lindsay, grasping at her neck in one hand, blew Portland’s brains out. They then heard a shot from behind the desk.
Unable to see who had made the shot, they waited in agonising silence. until Texas’ voice confirmed it: “FUCKING BITCH!”
Chad dropped down to help Lindsay, blood gushing from her neck. She crawled up into Chad as he cradled her.
It was at this stage that New York became unfrozen and realised he’d pissed himself.
“What’s going on in there?” asks the British PM.
Hearing this, New York sprung to life. He was about to answer before Texas butted in.
“You can’t stop me—Master! Do it now!”
New York snapped. “Now wait! Everybody just wait a goddamn second! Master if you’re listening to this, please just wait and let me try the other way. Let’s see what they have to say…” He then turned to the screen to address the world leaders. “Before the Master drops the nuke, maybe there’s another way—the way I was talking about. Maybe we can come to some understanding, one that’s beneficial for both of us. Now here me out…what if you could use the zombies as a labor force?
The president, a bullet hole plastering the wall right near his projection, asked, “Like slaves…?”
“Let’s not put it like that. Let’s call it a green solution. An example: The zombies could be connected to hamster wheels and produce all the electricity for the entire world. You don’t have to feed them or anything.”
The British Prime Minister, truly a miserable bastard, as New York had quickly decided, smirked. “Well now that is a novel idea, but if we could do that, why would we need you?”
New York was stumped. “Well… slaves need masters—and what better masters than those that can really speak the language?” The silence that followed was excruciating.
The president was a little more diplomatic, “Well, it’s not the greatest idea in the world, but with a little bit more ironing out we could definitely make an agreement along those lines—it’s certainly better than the alternative.”
New York glanced at Lindsay and Chad. Whether it’s from blood loss or what, New York couldn’t tell, but he reasoned that the relieved look in Lindsay’s face was surely a response to this change in fortune. Just as he was about to agree, Texas popped up from the table and shouted, “He’s lying! Master, fire the missiles!”
Texas fired at the projector and blasted it away, the projection going dead. Texas then turned his gun onto New York, who still hadn’t fired his gun.
“Benedict Arnold!” Texas howled at New York, who braced for the end.
There were Three loud bangs and the back of Texas’ head sprayed black blood, as Lindsay made sure she didn’t miss a second time. New York turned to thank his saviour, who spat blood and smiled, her eyes fading. “Thanks for rolling your sleeves up.”
New York smiled back, “Didn’t need to. I know you had it covered.”
As Lindsay’s eyes closed, Chad asked, “Did he launch the nukes?”
New York tried to listen for the Master’s voice, but heard only silence.
Staring at the blank screen that engulfed them, unsure of the outcome, the British and Canadian Prime Minister then turned to the president, deep in thought.
“It’s not possible what he said, about the nuclear weapons, is it?” asked the Canadian Prime Minister.
“Surely not, right?” said the British Prime Minister.