further tales of the zombocalypse: fifth columnist

The face of love. (Check out more of Ian Strandberg’s art here.)

Hollywood pulled a fast one on us—convinced everyone the zombie uprising would end with an all-out, final war between the living and the undead. We all did what we’d been programmed to do: ransacked gun shops, improvised flamethrowers, lurked outside cemeteries in order to “get them before they get us.”

What no one suspected was that the zombies, far from pouring over humanity in a fetid tide, would instead assume pathetic shadows of their former lives.

I admit a little disappointment—huddled in my bunker of an apartment with a shotgun quivering in my hands, I thought destiny had been thrust upon me, then snatched away. Some of us get off on Armageddon fantasies.

Then things changed. Then I met her.

Sure, most of the living won’t even talk to me now; they avert their eyes in disgust, then return to their “living-only” compounds, still sure the zombies will at any moment commence the attack. But understand—I’d just come off a brutal divorce, was questioning whether I’d ever find another woman, when I stumbled into her house. I’d only come to do a little looting, but one look in her sunken eyes compelled me to stay.

She has this—oh jeez—look: I like liberated, modern women, but there was something so reassuring (in a June Cleaver way) in watching her putter about the house—running the vaccuum, baking casseroles, feather-dusting. Given her decomposition, it was impossible to tell her exact age, but obviously she’d come up in the housewife-o-matic 50s. And, after the debacle of my marriage, that suited me just fine.

So we had a May-December romance—it’s not like we did anything. Just a peck on the cheek when I’d get home—she’d do this adorable little thrust of her neck for the kiss, all the while never leaving off stirring the pot of meatballs or beating the eggs. True to her generation, we slept in separate beds. It wasn’t—was not—disgusting. It was—comforting.

—Until her husband showed up. Turns out he was a traveling salesman in life. A jealous, alcoholic, suspicious traveling salesman. Now we’ve got trouble.

Where’d I stash that flamethrower?


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