Zombies Don’t Smooch:
A Guest “Story” by Rusty Fischer
They stumble up, shoulder to shoulder, crisp dollar bills clutched in their eager young hands. I roll my eyes, which isn’t smart because I’ve heard that some zombies get stuck that way and, well, it’s bad enough shuffling around with grayish-green skin and Corn Pops yellow teeth without your eyes pointing in different directions like some cartoon character who’s just been bonked on the head with a rubber mallet.
I see their “PRESS” badges right away, but they’re bundled up against the cold in thick, black jackets with floppy red hats and cheap sunglasses, which is pretty standard fare since most chicks don’t want their significant others, or pretty much anyone else, for that matter, to know they trudged all the way out to the State Fair to… kiss a zombie.
Yeah, I was a little shocked to hear about this new “zombie kissing” trend, too. I mean, when the sign went up at Reanimation Reform School asking for volunteers to travel around the country and occupy so-called “Living Dead Lip Lock” booths, I thought it was a joke.
But when my best new friend Herbie signed on, he was pretty adamant I should follow. “What,” he nudged, shoving his extra hoodie and Army boots in his backpack in the dorm room we shared back at school. “You want to sit around here reading kids’ books all day and eating brain smoothies? Let’s get back out in the world. If crazy chicks want to kiss us because it’s the hot new thing, let’s suck the afterlife out before they remember we’re scuzzed out dead guys!”
His logic was hard to deny, and so here I am, three weeks later, standing in my very own Living Dead Lip Lock booth in my powder blue tuxedo with the frilly white shirt. No, I didn’t pick it and, yes, the carnies who run the joint thought it would be funny to do a kind of “zombie prom” theme because, as we all know, every zombie movie ever in the history of all time ends at a high school dance.
The new girls giggle and cover their mouths, looking around at the crowd. It’s the typical state fair scene; lots of bundled up folks eating kettle corn and candy apples and cotton candy and elephant ears slathered in chocolate pudding.
I watch them with a bittersweet gaze. While the smells of human food are vile to me, I remember the sensation of caramel sticking to my teeth, of the sweet drizzle of hot dog grease down the back of my throat, of the fizzy fuzz of cotton candy before it melted on my tongue.
“Girls!” barks Mr. Zane, the manager of the Living Dead Lip Locks booth. “Now, the zombies might live forever but they don’t have all day. Hurry up and give him a smooch, why don’t you? If you’ve got cold feet, there are plenty more lucky ladies in line to take your place.”
He’s got that showman’s voice, rich and syrupy, but there’s an edge to it as well, and not just for us zombies.
The girls blush and inch forward. Now that they’re closer, I squint to read their PRESS badges. One is named “Greta” and the other “Darkfallen.” Hmmm, I like both names.
Then I smirk; under each name it says, “Blogger.”
I smile, extend my hands, gray like wet cement, then groan, giving them the whole “to kiss a zombie” experience. They flinch a bit, but that’s normal. Ever since the New Government passed the Reanimation Reform Act of 2017, letting us back into society, everyone wants to get next to a zombie these days.
Yeah, I don’t quite understand it myself. I mean, I’m a zombie and, in general, I work pretty hard to avoid other zombies.
Town after town, booth after booth, the ladies line up; big ones, small ones, short ones, tall ones, old, young and everything in between. I’ve never been so popular before!
Then again, I’m one of the few living dead who actually improved over my “living” version. Pale and frail back in the day, I was a bookish type, 120-pounds soaking wet and fond of the very last cubby in the library, where I’d hide from the bullies behind thick sci-fi books almost as heavy as me.
That is, until that day the library got overrun in the second outbreak, making me what I am today; six-feet something of lean, gray muscle, a slab of tight, dried flesh without an ounce of fat and grinning under his thick, black sunglasses.
Bloggers, huh? I know the type; I used to be one! They’re probably here sniffing out a story, and will take a peck at my cold, dry lips and then run back and write all about it on their blog, giggling the whole way. What’s the name of their blog? I inch even closer, smelling their shampoo and creamy maroon lip gloss. Paranormal Wasteland? Is that what it says under their names? Hmm, pretty cool, actually.
I’d read that. If Mr. Zane ever let us look at a laptop, that is.
I stand up straight, lean in closer until I notice the little matching pink and black skull and cross bone stickers they’ve plastered all over their PRESS badges.
“Come on girls,” I snarl, laying it on thick. “I won’t bite!”
Wait. What? Did I just say that? Out loud? The girls stumble back, eyebrows arching over their private detective shades. Benjie stands next to me, gaping jaw even lower than usual and Mr. Zane, old and wise beyond his years, snaps his fingers and alerts two of the Sentinel guards the government insists accompany us on this cross-country venture.
“No!” they cry out, beating on the backs of the zombie soldiers. “Don’t take him away! He’s special!”
I smile, craning my neck for one last look before they drag me out of the booth. The bloggers stand there, cell phones up and flashing, taking pictures as the crowd holds them back. But I smile. I just can’t help it.
They… they called me “special.” Humans. Called. Me. Special.
Maybe, maybe they’ll even blog about it. Someone might see it, might hear me, and know I’m special too. Maybe, maybe they just saved my afterlife.
That is, if the Sentinels don’t re-kill me first!
Special thanks to Rusty Fischer for that great story!
Now, it's time for a giveaway!
One lucky Wastelander is going to win a copy of Rusty's book Zombies Don't Cry ! Open Internationally!!