I’ve mentioned in some interviews that I’m working on a new zombie chick lit, comedy novella. It started as a short story about zombies but by the time I finished the short I realized that I really loved writing this character and I want more.
In its current form, it is a satirical zombie short about how a narcissistic, emotionally detached woman deals with a zombie outbreak. I can almost guarantee you that this character is not going to grow, change, or become more likable. She is, and will remain, a shallow, self-centered woman.
Here it is as a short. This will likely end up being the first chapter or two of the actual novella.
Early Day at the Office
“No. No way. No. I cannot believe this!” I stared down at the jagged edge of my once perfectly manicured index finger and felt my brain squeezing tight in frustration.
“You sonofabitch. Do you know how much this manicure cost? How long it will be until I can find an experienced manicurist who is alive and able to fix it?” At the sharpness of my tone, the flesh-eating cadaver stopped moaning and reaching around the chair I held between us for a moment. Even dead he could tell he had really fucked up. But his pause was short lived and he immediately began trying to chomp down on my head again.
“Oh no you don’t, John. You are not going to get away with this.” I looked to my right and saw the umbrella rack outside of Mary’s office which, conveniently, held an umbrella; an umbrella that one of these people-munching bastards must have brought in this morning, just hours before the world fell apart.
I grabbed for the dark blue umbrella while keeping the wheeled office chair between us and without taking my eyes off John. After a little bit of blind groping, I felt the wooden surface of the umbrella handle. I closed my hand around it, raised it up with the sharp metal side pointed down and thrust it deep into John’s eye. He dropped like a 5-pound bag of potatoes while eye-goo and blood spatter added a Pollock-esque design to the polyester surface.
“That’s better than you deserve, John,” I droned, holding up my ruined manicure as evidence of his misdeeds. “I should have made it last longer.” I pushed the chair aside, stepped over John’s body and craned my neck to look down the hallway on my right. It was all clear and I decided that it was about time for me to leave the office complex. Unfortunately, I was paying so much attention to the hallway that I missed the stealthy movement of the now undead office assistant, Mary, as she reached for my unguarded left shoulder.
It wasn’t until I heard the shlocky suction sound of Mary stepping on John’s head, crushing his jaw and getting her foot stuck in the bile from his wet, mutilated mouth that I even knew I was in danger. I watched as she struggled to free her foot and once I determined that she’d be stuck for a couple of minutes, I crept backward into her office to look for an instrument to use for her death.
It was ironic that Mary was now trying to eat me since, like me, she had been one of the survivors. Apparently, she and I were both immune to the biological warfare chemical sprayed by… well, I don’t know who the hell sprayed what the hell. What I do know is this:
I came to work on Thursday, as I would any other day although I did look even more gorgeous than usual. I had a date later that night and no time to change between work and meeting the young doctor who’d be buying my arugula salad for dinner. So I wore a little black dress with a Hermes scarf and a small red jacket over it to work, intending to remove the jacket and scarf for the date so my cleavage would be properly displayed. In honor of the momentous doctor date I’d just gotten a manicure and blow-out at my favorite salon, Roberto’s, the day before.
About midday, while I was on the phone with a client in London, I heard some loud airplanes. It’s no surprise to have airplanes in the area since there is a small private airport nearby, but these planes were so loud and so close that I couldn’t hear my client very well. I mentioned to him that I was having trouble hearing him due to some planes in the area and weirdly, he said that he was having the same problem on his end. The hairs on the back of my neck raised as I thought of September 11th and wondered if there was a new attack—this time on America and London. I started to lift my head and look out the window, trying to get a glimpse of the imminent disaster when I saw the sky fill with different types of airplanes. It was like an air show in a no-fly zone. I glanced around the office and saw everyone on the eighth floor—from my small department to the large call center beside us—standing slack-jawed in their cubicles, staring toward the windows. Suddenly I heard a splat and turned my head back to the windows in time to see a viscous green-tinged fluid hit all the windows simultaneously.
I looked beyond the planes surrounding the building and saw billowing clouds of green filling the air and falling all over the city. It would have been funny and reminiscent of Oz’s Emerald City if it weren’t so ominous. Then, almost everyone around me began coughing.
The coughing attack that was seizing almost all of my coworkers wasn’t affecting me, Mary, John and a few people in the department next to ours. I looked around, unsure what to do and made eye contact with Mary. “What do you think that green stuff is?” she asked, as if I would know more than she did even though I was standing in the same building as her, watching events unfold at the same pace.
“Does it matter? It can’t be good.” I said, drawing my eyebrows together and moving my open hands around to use the coughing people as an illustration of the ensuing not-goodness. She ran into her office and got the first aid kit—an OSHA required box that had bandages and some rubbing alcohol but, as far as I knew, no cough syrup or anti-biological warfare juice. Still, I guess she was trying to keep her head together by going back to basics and keeping busy. She started asking everyone who was coughing if they needed anything—water, soda, coffee. None of them could answer her or even bothered to indicate that they heard her. Some started falling to the floor, twitching while others plopped into their chairs, all of them tearing at their throats. The air filled with the sound of hissing, scratchy, desperate breaths. Soon, they were digging their fingers into their necks as if to use their nails for emergency tracheotomies.
As all the coughers finally dropped to the floor, it made those of us unaffected even more nervous and obvious, since we were the only ones left standing. Looking over the expanse of low, grey cubicle walls, I made eye contact with each of the unaffected. Some, like Eloise—a 70-year-old grandmother who had a tendency to knit and eat chicken soup in between calls—looked frightened out of their wits. Others, like myself and John—the manager of my department—looked confused. Then there were those, like Mary, who looked as if they were not going to accept what was happening and would distract themselves with the mundane…like first aid kits. Not helping ease anxiety was the fact that the air began to fill with the scent of copper as my coworkers bled out from their failed alternative breathing plans.
For a moment, I wondered if I should call the young doctor to make sure our date was still on, but I thought I’d wait until everything settled down at work before I made a personal call. I figured at this point, there was really nothing left for us to do but survive until we could get to safety. After seeing how many planes were in the sky and how much of the green liquid they had spit out, I assumed that “safety” was going to have to be a relative term. At this point, Mary was walking from desk to desk, picking up every phone and clicking the hang up buttons over and over again so she could call emergency services. It was spooky listening to the last, rattling breaths of the infected combined with the clicking of buttons and an increasingly frantic, “Hello? Hello?” as Mary tried to reach a world that was likely caught in the same cycle we were.
John walked away from the window where he had posted himself and tried to grab Mary’s arm to calm her down. She freaked out and hit him in the head with a receiver. Of all the weird things I had seen this afternoon, that really took the cake. For some reason, seeing a supposedly normal person hit another was worse for me than any weird cough-inducing liquid or self-administered fingernail tracheotomies.
I looked away from John and Mary and the blood dripping from John’s forehead, and glanced around at the coworkers who had fallen during the coughing wave. It was then that I noticed that the coughing had stopped. As had the twitching. Looking closer, it also seemed that the breathing had stopped too.
They were dead. All dead. I reached my hand down to my cubicle mate Tony’s neck, and tried to find his pulse, but there was none. As I was pulling my fingers away, his hand suddenly rose and grabbed onto my wrist with vice-like strength. At first I felt relief washing through me. He’s alive, I thought. Maybe everything will be okay. I looked down to make a joke about Tony being lazy enough to take a nap during the middle of the day and noticed that he was slowly pulling my wrist toward his mouth. Which was open. And making chewing motions.
I struggled and tried to get my wrist out of his grip, but Tony wasn’t giving it up. With no small fear of criminal prosecution, but a strong gut feeling that I was on the right track, I picked up a letter opener from my desk with my free hand and stuck it in his wrist. He didn’t even pause in trying to bite me. So I pulled the letter opener out and was aiming for his cheek when I accidentally rammed it into his right eyeball. That apparently did the trick because his hand went limp. Since I had continued to try to pull out of his grip while stabbing him, the moment his hand went limp the force of my pulling brought me right onto my ass.
Not wishing to remain at eye-level with the newly departed and revenant, I jumped up and looked around. I could no longer see any survivors, but I sure heard a lot of moaning. And lip smacking. The hungry kind. Suddenly, heads began popping up all around me making the office look like a life-sized whack-a-mole game. I stood there, shocked and silent, as my obviously dead coworkers—some of them so obviously dead from the self-imposed, bloody gaping wounds in their necks—rose and looked around.
But it didn’t seem like their milky, unfixed gazes were actually looking. Instead, their heads were cocked as if they were listening to a high-pitched frequency only the undead could hear. Some of their noses twitched as though they could smell too. I struggled to make my breathing quiet, which is not the easiest thing to do when you are right in the middle of a nightmare. All of the sudden, about forty of my former coworkers simultaneously turned their heads toward my department and looked at the small alcove to the side of Mary’s office. Then, they ran. It was like watching a pack of dogs that had just sniffed out a rabbit.
They ran together in an almost organized way right to the alcove where, apparently, John and Mary were hiding. Because Mary had hurt John, he was bleeding and I guess the undead coworkers smelled it and, I further surmised, its smell had a different quality than that of the dead and infected. I turned slowly, trying to remain silent and unsensed, and watched as they descended upon John and Mary. The Zombies (yeah, let’s just go ahead and get that word out of the way) surrounded them and began… well… feasting on them. John and Mary tried to fight back, but from their position they were at an extreme disadvantage and neither one of the idiots had considered taking anything to use as a weapon with them when they ran away to hide and left me as Zombie bait. I couldn’t see exactly what was happening because cubicle walls were in my way, but from the crunching, slurping and chewing noises drifting through the air, it didn’t sound hopeful.
At that point, I decided that I needed to take advantage of the Zombies’ focus on John and Mary fricassee and get out of the building. Just as I was about to sneak away, Eloise, the kindly call center grandmother, freaked out. I don’t blame her, really. But unfortunately for her, her freak out was loud. She started screaming and ran down the side of her department, toward the common area. The Zombies, including those busy eating Mary and John, all stopped what they were doing and turned toward the powerfully tempting noise of fresh, free-range food. Then, as if sharing a form of silent communication, they all ran after her.
At this point, I mistakenly assumed that the coast was clear. What I didn’t know was that those of us who were seemingly immune to the effects of the gas were only immune while we were still alive. And that’s how John caught me off guard. I was walking quietly, well, maybe slinking is a better word, past the supply area. I had reached the doorway to Mary’s office when John, his neck bloody and chewed looking, caught up with me and grabbed my shoulder. I turned around quickly, knocking the uncoordinated Zombie back and grabbed a wheeled office chair that had been pushed into the corridor. I put the chair between us and John bumped into it at just the right time to ruin my nail—but you already know how that turned out.
So now it was Mary’s turn to try and eat me. And I no longer had a convenient office chair to push between us. I backed into Mary’s office, reaching behind me as I worked my way to her desk. She had disentangled her foot from John’s mouth, and although her Michael Kors Mary Janes were now covered in gore, bits of bone and a few random teeth from John’s mouth, she was once again moving toward me. For a moment, I was transfixed, just staring at her shoes. She loved those things and the squeaking noise they made each time she stepped onto the linoleum in our kitchenette didn’t seem to bother her at all. Covered in gore and body mush, she sure had found a way to stop that annoying ass squeaking.
She wasn’t moving as quickly as some of the “older” Zombies (sophomore Zombies?) but I didn’t know how long her learning curve would give me. As I patted around her desk looking for some object to prolong my life while hastening her death, my wrist brushed up against her glass candy jar. God I hated that thing. Usually she kept suck-ass hard candy in it, stuff that was easy to walk away from. But it seemed like every time she heard I was going on a diet, she would suddenly fill it with chocolate. It was like the most passive aggressive weight loss sabotage ever.
I picked up the large glass jar in both hands and cracked it over her head as she closed the distance between me and her mouth. The bitch’s hard-ass head broke the jar and she was showered in Jolly Ranchers as she blinked her milky eyes and paused from the force of the impact. All that was left of the jar were broken glass shards, the largest of which I held in my hand. Quickly, without letting myself get too squicked out by it, I jammed the glass in her eye and she crumpled onto a pool of shiny, multi-colored hard candy.
Resenting Mary’s passive aggressive attempts to ruin my weight loss efforts were one thing (and if I were honest about it, I’d already paid her back months ago by pouring sugar in the no-carb lemonade mix that she stored in the office kitchenette), but killing her was a whole ‘nother. I couldn’t pause to think about that, though. I had to keep going. I gently tugged my Hermes scarf over my nose to block out the sweet, stale smell of old hard candy mixed with the coppery smell of blood and turned around to look for a weapon that I could carry with me through the building while I made my escape. I opened her middle desk drawer and saw a steak knife, the most important tool in an Atkin’s dieter’s office arsenal, a letter opener, and a Swiss army knife that she used to cut her nails at her desk while taking calls. I scooped up all three, putting the letter opener and Swiss army knife in the pocket of my blazer. That left me armed with the steak knife, whose serrated edge still had bits of meat lodged in it from Mary’s last low-carb lunch. I was about to close the drawer when I noticed a folder that said “Annual Raises.” I took the folder out and looked at the paper inside. It was a list of all the people in my branch—all men except for me—their salaries and the percentage raise they were going to get at the annual review meetings.
I fucking knew that I made less money than those cocksuckers, and she had crossed out my 5 percent raise and penciled in 3 percent with a small note next to it that said, “Suggesting 3% raise due to tardiness on 10/17 and 11/12.” Leaving her office, I kicked Mary in the head one more time. Women have to stick together—that she would try to keep me underpaid for coming in late when my male coworkers never showed up on time made me want to kill her all over again. As I headed toward the outside with its bright green clouds, zombies and unemployment, I comforted myself with the knowledge that I was leaving early today and Mary…well…Mary was never leaving here again.
Please note this is not a pro edited version, so it’s a little rough. Planned release date for this book is February or March of 2012.
While this book may not yet be available for purchase, remember that you can get my other novella, The Vampire Relationship Guide, Volume 1: Meeting and Mating, at Amazon , Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.