(I Heart Fingers)
Assisted Undead For The Currently Deceased
They’re delicious. They’re soft. They’re expensive. And they’re better straight off the bone. I have a distaste for anything de-boned. Especially fingers. I love to chew on the gristle right around the knuckles.
I thought they would be kind of tough at first bite but I was caught off-guard. Excuse the pun; Harold the guard from work turned me on to them. I still remember what he said; although my memory isn’t what it used to be.
“Fingers, man. Fingers are the best part. The pinky is the most tender piece. The way the meat slides off between my teeth. Try starting with the knuckle.” He licked his dry pale lips as he spoke. “Nobody thinks about the pinky, man. It’s hardly used, the meat is so much more tender. Try the Pinky Bits at Jethro-Pete’s Undead Buffet. Can’t go wrong. Stay away from the toes though. They can be tough.” He gravelly said as he waved me on through the gate.
So, I tried them and have been in love ever since. But none of that fake human meat bullshit—trying to sell undead-kangaroo meat as Crispy Finger-Tips. I know real Human when I taste it. I wanted to return the favor and give Harold some great after-life changing advice. Harold is missing his left eye to some bad rot. Looks like he hasn’t been eating enough to avoid decay. Thankfully for my access to the Zombiology department, I gave him one of those pills that they’ve been working on to regenerate dead tissue into something more living, just not exactly so…alive. It worked…for a while. I’m guessing they’re still in trials. He was thankful for it for a couple weeks though.
Harold has two more kids that he really can’t handle financially. He and his wife were looking to adopt and replace the two kids they had lost during the Last Days of Humanity. I don’t know what he was thinking. Maybe his frontal lobes are deteriorating. There is nothing I can do to help Harold unless I can cure the plague. That still wont help him with his kids though. Anyway, I told him all about Fried Liver and Pancreas Cakes. But he told me he’d ‘Been there, man. Done that. Gave me the blood-shits.’ Never gave me the blood-shits. Nothing much came out of me. According to my lab experiments, not many undead usually have a bowel movement. I think there is something wrong with Harold.
I work at Arizona Genetics and what I do is state funded. Once everyone stopped roaming the streets in an enraged hunger after killing off every human there was—save for the small pockets of humans that have managed to avoid being infected—we were able to begin to put things back together. I don’t know if everybody even wants a cure now. Things are starting to pick back up. It’s a slow start and it’s been forty-three years since people…were people. But nowadays everyone is slow. That’s where the U.S.D.A. comes in. They’ve long since switched over to being the prime regulator of the Human Capture and Breeding program to keep us alive in order for Arizona Genetics to fix this problem. Forty years ago this might be considered unethical, now it’s just our way of…life—so to speak. We still need food and unfortunately it’s only living human flesh that keeps us animated. Me and a few other colleagues along with the rest of the city have clamored back to conscience and fully aware we all took part in killing and infecting our loved ones. There’s a therapy group for it. I go to it on Wednesdays.
On a good note: Cancer rate is down. And I haven’t heard of anyone dying of a heart attack. And death is at an all time low now that we’re already dead. But things are still going. You know the saying, “Time stops for no one.” Time keeps ticking after we die. I’ve watched it myself and I’m very much dead.
I used to drink Coffee, but now I don’t really drink anything. Liquid diets were a fad among the living. Dice up some flesh and suck it down is how it goes now. But after I finally make it to the lab on the seventh floor, I’m already wishing I hadn’t come in today. Janine is here. She is always here.
“We—” Janine started to say But then forgot where she was going with it. She’s in her white lab coat stained with dry blood, who knows who’s it is, maybe her’s or some poor guy. I can’t imagine being bitten by that woman. Not much makes my skin crawl but thinking of being that close to Janine with her mouth on some part of me….just makes my undead cells shiver alive. “Im not sure.” She took a moment longer to gather her thoughts. We don’t move too well or speak a whole sentence quickly. But we are getting there. Janine got it bad. She’s missing the top half of her ear, and the bottom half of her earlobe sticks off the side of her head like a nipple. “We tested the two samples and found one to have two helo-dex’s instead of four.” She said. She was good with words. If we were on the phone and I couldn’t see the dead look on her face and the matted blood encrusted blonde hair on the right side of her head, I’d think she were alive. She was even getting a pep to her tone nowadays. She must be practicing the new Zombie Speech Dialogue Enhancement DVD I saw on TV. I could never have imagined that the world would be the way it is now. Could you?
On a side note: saying the word ‘specifically‘ is a milestone for a zombie. It’s actually a difficult word to round out with the tongue. The tongue gets tricky when you’re dead. There are other words that are a part of a list of at least 20 words that a zombie must be able to say before anyone can advance a Speech Level. I started at Level 7 and there’s only 12 levels. I’m a pretty smart zombie. Probably not as smart as they come though.
“Two Helo-Dexs is what we’ve been hoping for since the outbreak.” Every hope was bouncing around in my head; or maybe slowly crawling at first but gaining momentum. Of course it would still take an injection, an Undead mouse, and a resurrection to prove if what Janine said was true. There was plenty of previous “successes” and I had the collection of living but slightly not exactly normal mutant mice to prove it.
“I..” I had to pause a moment before my mouth wanted to work again. “..believe that two-helos will make it possible. But there’s no way we have the equipment to perform such a com-complex task-sk.” I can see the thought in her eyes as I say it, and I know she’s going to bask in the glory and usurp the name of the cure as her own namesake when all of us worked on it. She is thinking about how she’s going to get all the fame and glory and all of us will be left to eat at our fingers. Even Ted from the DNA department had the same idea and he dated Janine back when they were both alive. I think the fact that she bit into his neck and killed him is the real reason why he has such an inherent awkwardness around her, that and his reticent attitude at talking about anything personal when she is around.
Till death do us part, as they say.
Maybe Ted agrees with me but a part of me isn’t too sure its as credible when it took him a lot longer to come around after the virus released its hold on his body. He is visiting the Training facility two days a week to get his brain to tick a little faster and get his limbs more mobile. But I swear it’s not all in my head.
More importantly what was at the forefront of my dilapidated brain was that if this ‘cure’ worked in mice then who do we test it on? We have no test subjects that are human. Would Janine take it? Did she want to take it? She was doing the best out of all of us with being more living-human-like. But I gave up. I don’t have half of the will-power that Janine has even now when she’s dead. I had too many ideas that I knew it would take me hours to think about all of them until I came up with a plan. It was the Zombie disease that did this. I am, or was, very successful at what I do.
Throughout the rest of the day all of us continued our work and came up with what we thought to be the concoction that could reverse the plague.
It was getting so late into the night—not that it matters much when I can’t really sleep—that we began to realize we were starting to slow down and even Edgar Symparo, Head of the Zombiologist department and co-developer of the USDA’s Re-Life Program, was looking deader than usual.
“I really could go for a Three-Finger Meal Deal.” said Janine. It was almost a very well put together sentence except she spit up some dark, thick congealing fluid. I suspected it was blood but I thought it would be rude to comment on it.
“I-I-I’m…st-st-starv-starving.” I said finally. I just didn’t think I was hungry enough for a Meal deal. I hate that fake processed Human fast food. Very unhealthy for the Undead. Yes, It’s true. Things can still be bad when your body runs off of something whether your alive or dead.
For example: If I ate fast food for a week my limbs would start falling off. I’m still missing a quarter of my pinky. And when I showed Harold he told me, ‘that’s a shame. If I see it I can’t promise I won’t eat it.’ I’m sure he was kidding, I doubt what was left of his left eye could see anything.
“You go and get something for us. Here’s my card.” Janine handed it to me and she looked to Edgar. The way she snarled at him as she attempted to smile. I can tell she has a thing for him. I wonder if they would be able to successfully mate in their condition—the uninvited thought gives me an involuntary moan.
“Give me three.” I spoke to the intercom. It’s not exactly real Human meat. We are on a shortage of Human these days. It was Crusty’s House of Pancreas Cakes and Livers.
“You want Lips with that?” asked the woman’s voice over the intercom. “Extra full? Or thin?”
I’m not too thrilled with pancreas cakes because it leaves a funky after taste. “Thin will do.”
“That is a yes?”
“That is a yessss.” I confirmed.
“That be Two-Three-Nine-Five.” I can tell she is learning her digits, and her way of speech. She meant Twenty-Three dollars and Ninety-Five cents. Seems like prices didn’t go down since the End of the World. The woman at the drive-thru window gargles and points to the red digits on the electronic price indicator, it is falling off, same as her finger. This is not the same girl that took my order. This one makes loud tones and is missing a lower jaw mandible. I can see her throat and tongue as it moves like a worm in a large wound. I handed her the card and couldn’t help but look with a dead stare at the wound. Her eyes were glazed over and with half-minded gestures, picking up and filling cups, and handing customers their bags of food, I could see this one had just begun to come back from what ever Zombie pit she’d been in. There was a bite on her arm and three more on the backs of her meaty legs. I’ve seen worse.
On my way back, coasting and trying to avoid bumping into any slow-moving, and at times, slow-crawling zombies as they made their way in the world, I couldn’t help but wonder, what would the woman in drive-thru do with the cure? Take it and die? There’s no way she could walk around alive. Would she be allowed to live among the rest of us when or if we become human again? Or would she try to eat us…..again. I reached for the bag and I noticed the flesh above my wrist was beginning to peel. That was one of my trouble spots during the winter. My skin gets a little dry and begins to flake and then it just breaks apart. And this meal is not going to help me regenerate. But for now it would give me some energy that I needed or else I might pass out and become like one of those that end up never waking up at all.
That’s what happened to my wife. The picture of sleeping beauty. She still lays on our bed. She regained consciousness just like all of us but refused to eat. Then she lay down and never got back up. Her eyes sit a little open in the mornings but that’s the only movement I ever see.
I returned to the facility. Saluted Harold and managed to not lose any more skin off my wrist as I slid my card across the security pad. The others were still peering through microscopes when I got back and Janine had started to nip at her own fingers.
“Bout time” she said, only verifying what I thought as she began ripping through the bag. Ted came limping over and grabbed at his pack of finger crisps and Symparo dragged his torso over two sink basins, knocking a couple beakers off the counter and sending them crashing on the floor without a clue that it had just happened.
I had already finished my meal in the car. I didn’t like eating like a mad man in front of others. We, as zombies, gorge ourselves on a meal. Maybe we still have some clinging moral attributes and manners since the plague came and went. We may be what is left of humanity but we try to lead some semblance of what the world was. Society still exists, fashion is as dilapidated as our brains. Our creative side is less…creative. Money still rules… money, money, money. But we eat humans, you know, those things we used to be. The crime rate however is relative.
There’s always crime. A large percentage of it is perpetrated by the Living or the dead that have yet to re-awaken. Living Ones, as you can imagine, are alive and human vagabonds that drive through and shoot up the place. They’re so prejudiced. I can’t wait for Undead America to finally appoint a president who will speak up for us. We try to speak with them but before we can get a word out we get shot in the head. That’s when we die, cease to function whatsoever. We mean well but we’d probably eat them if they got close enough. A fresh Living One is just heaven to our taste buds. Granted we haven’t gotten around to fix windows and we are working on repairing what became destroyed in the Last Days but what can you expect from us. Anyway, It’s impossible when you’re hungry not to cram three fingers in your mouth at once and bite down.
To be continued….
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Writer, self-publisher, and author…and more! I enjoy horror, adventure, and science fiction and find myself drawn to write about other worlds and the impossible.