Bowlesian! – Zombie Crave Human ExceptionalismPosted: October 5, 2022 Filed under: Bowlesian!, Humor, Short Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Stories, Zombie Fiction | Tags: Bowlesian!, Jeff Bowles, Short Fiction, Short Stories, Speculative Fiction, Writing to be Read, Zombies 3 Comments
Note: This is a just a fun little flash piece to get you in the mood for October. Happy Halloween, everyone!
Zombie Crave Human Exceptionalism
by Jeff Bowles
Dr. Everett J. Edmunds raised his zombies from nothing but spare parts and voodoo. He believed his living dead should crave the best, most exceptional brains. Therefore, in procuring their daily meals, he kidnapped only lawyers and doctors, novelists and scientists, Nobel lauriates, Olympians and the like. Late nights he’d strap these unfortunates to the chair in his subterranean laboratory and read them poetry whilst playing an old Bach vinyl.
“Why, Dr. Browning, you look pale,” he might say. “Perhaps some electrolytes before my darlings feast? Malaise in the system is no good at dinner time.”
And of course, upon devouring each subject, his zombies gained further appreciation for human exceptionalism, thereby endowing themselves with heightened intelligence, communication faculties, charm and wit. This was the theory, at least. Everett had found hard clinical proof difficult to come by.
One evening, as the sun set on his small, weed-infested home, his door buzzer rang, interrupting an attempt to teach his horde Calculus. Everett swore and hushed the zombies, climbing the steps into the house proper. All his life he’d been an achiever, which was why his bookcases and mantle were lined with trophies, awards, and certificates of excellence. The medical community valued his intellect, but people wouldn’t understand his true calling. Perhaps his walk-in freezer was full of arms and hearts and torsos, but he was no cold-blooded killer; rather Edmund was a brilliant scientist, the most exceptional brain of his generation.
He opened the door with a prolonged, rusty squeek. There stood the love of his life, the one who got away, a half-zombie named Camilla. If regret had a voice, it’d be soft and sweet as hers.
She cooed a loving, “Braaaaains!”
To which Everett replied, “My darling, you’ve come back to me!”
“Of course, my love. Come inside. Your horde misses you, as do I.”
She followed dutifully, through the house and back down into the laboratory. The rest of the horde would eat him as soon as look at him, but not his Camilla. She’d been so beautiful in life, his favorite nurse at the hospital. The car crash that claimed her life hadn’t been entirely accidental.
From the book of voodoo spells he’d purchased on Amazon, he’d selected a special hex he used just once: the half-zombie, or Death’s First Kiss. Though her skin had rotted and her jawbone flopped like the useless handle of a can opener, Camilla was still the most beautiful woman Dr. Edmunds had ever seen. He embraced her. She smelled wonderful … ish.
“Dearest, why don’t you climb back in the cage where you belong? Your brothers and sisters would love the chance to pick your–”
“What do you mean they won’t like you anymore? Have you really changed so much?”
Camilla indicated she had, and then proceeded to describe her adventures in the world of the living. Apparently, she’d tried to go back to school, and had even attended her nephew’s bar mitzvah, a ghastly affair which had seen her own family chase her into the night. The doctor opened the cage door cautiously, sensing a lull in his zombies’ aggression.
“Dear heart, please step inside,” he said. “When you ran away, I lost a piece of myself.”
“Brains!” she said, which translated loosely as, I’m wearing a wire, Everett.
“What do you mean you’re wearing a wire?” he asked.
“Brrrrrains!”—What do you mean, what do I mean? The police have already arrived, and you are going to jail for what you’ve done. It took me years to realize it, but you’re the monster, not me. Now don’t struggle.
The door to the laboratory burst open. Waves of gun-toting police filed in, barking for him to hit the floor and put his hands behind his back. Dr. Edmunds refused. Though he always suspected this day might come, he somehow thought he’d be the one to betray himself, not his dear Camilla.
Everett ran into the cage, slammed the door, pressed in tightly with his zombies, and bellowed, “Take me now, my beauties!”
But his zombies ignored him. In fact, they paid him no more attention than Camilla paid basic rules of variative syntax. This, of course, was the real tragedy. For if they didn’t want to eat his delicious, fertile, exceptional brain … well maybe he wasn’t so exceptional after all. The police urged Camilla to yank him from the cage. She did so and they placed him in handcuffs.
“That’s the way the cookie crumbles, doc,” said one of the officers, brutish man with coffee stains on his uniform.
“How dare you!” Everett spat. “If they ever ate an imbecile like you, I’d burn my diplomas!”
The cops led him from his home. After reading his miranda rights on the street, they gathered around their police cruisers and watched Night of the Living Dead on a smart phone. Camilla wept softly from afar. Movie looked so fake.
Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!
Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!
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Good luck. This is fab. I love reading FF and writing it. Very satisfying I think. Have a great day xx
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Thank you, Jane. I like writing it as well. Challenging and satisfying on different levels. You have a great day as well. 🙂
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Thanks so much, keep safe. x
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