Love is Blind
“Welcome to the ‘Smythley Smith Show’ here on the BS Network. I’m your host, Smythley Smith, and I’d like to introduce our 2 guests, Karen and Howard. Their names have been changed for their protection.”
Karen looked at the studio audience and gave her husband’s hand a short squeeze. He made no response but gazed blankly at the people in the studio through glazed, filmy eyes.
“So nice to meet you both. Let’s get right to point. You say you’ve experienced discrimination?” asked Smythley Smith.
“Oh, definitely, there’s all sorts of prejudice against the undead. It’s dreadfully unfair.” She gave the grey hand another reassuring squeeze. Bits of skin flaked off and floated to the floor.
“Well, what discrimination are we talking about here?” asked Smythley.
“You should see the looks we get in public. It’s terrible! I mean, people shy away from us like we’re contagious or something. It’s not like zombie plague is catching.”
“But the plague is transmitted by bites…”
“Of course, but it doesn’t turn you into a zombie until you die. They’re called ‘Walking DEAD’ for a reason.”
“Are you saying that zombies are harmless?”
“Well, they’re people; aren’t they? Sure, they’re slow, have bad skin and chronic bad breathe, but so does the average teenager and we don’t hold that against them.”
“What other hardships have you experienced as a result of your…uh, relationship?”
Karen looked at her husband with adoring eyes. Love is blind, and she was obviously a woman in love. “Well, poor Howard has certain… ah… medical conditions as a result of his disease that require…”
“Yes?” prompted the host.
“Well, he’s on a special diet,” she said. She paused, then added, “For his health.”
The talk show host looked at the audience a moment before replying. Already several of the live viewers had been quietly sick into the provided bags while others looked queasy. He wasn’t sure how much the networks would allow. “You are referring to the zombie taste for brains and entrails…” It wasn’t a question.
“Well, he needs them. I mean, most people have no problem eating body parts. Fried chicken’s just muscles and…”
“But those are birds- not humans!”
“So, what’s the difference? It’s simply unfair to draw that distinction in light of my poor hubby’s condition. Right, Howard?”
Howard’s glazed eyes wandered to his wife. He felt her scalp with meaty fingers.
“Surely you aren’t suggesting people let him eat their brains…?”
“Braaaaaainnnnnssssss,” moaned Howard.
“Stop it, Howard,” said his wife. Addressing Smythley, she continued, “No, of course not. Well… yes, but not while they’re alive.,”
Karen smiled. “Not a good position for a talk show host to be in.”
Smythley glared at her. Howard continued picking through Karen’s hair, but she batted his hand aside. “Stop that, Howard! Not here,” she whispered. Then, more loudly, “He’s still affectionate, still loving. He’s every bit a man as the day I married him.”
“Every bit the… Did you say EVERY bit?”
Karen blushed. Smythley wondered if he should ask about rigor mortis. “Well, anyway… let’s get back to the question of sustenance. Should I ask how you get Howard’s…his, um, diet?” Smythley watched Howard’s eyes follow a fly that had been flying close to his face. He made a grab for the offending insect, missed, and fell heavily to the floor. Howard turned glazed eyes on Smythley. The little man squirmed in his chair and adjusted his collar.
“Mortuaries, cemeteries, places like that. But we’re hoping hospitals will soon start donating body parts to those in need,” said Karen.
“Are you saying you dig up graves?” asked Smythley.
“No, don’t be ridiculous,” she said.
“Well, then what?”
“Some of the deceased have their organs donated. It’s hard to come by at the moment, since there’s such a stigma on donating your body to zombies, but a few kind hearted souls have helped us enough to get by. We’re also looking into vat-grown meat.” She beamed and swatted Howard’s hand away from her blouse.
“That sounds disgusting,” said Smythley, unable to hide a grimace.
“No more than eating muscles, which most people do anyway and they don’t bat an eye about it,” she said. “No dear, I wasn’t telling you to bat your eye, please stop,” she told her husband. Comprehension slowly dawned on Howard. He put his eye back in the socket.
A few more audience members turned pale and ran for the doors.
Smythley was cutting it close with the censors but still felt he could pull off the rest of the show. Oppressed minority fighting for their rights- it was a good angle.
He asked, “So, what do you eat, Mrs. Howard?”
“Me? Oh, I’m vegetarian!”
That was it. He might be able to sell the zombie thing, but vegetarianism would offend too many sponsors. He made the kill sign to his producer, which Howard took quite literally, and the show ended.
*UPDATE (2010-05-31) I feel just terrible that I forgot to include credit to my ‘beta reader’, VeganTexan, of the Vegan Represent Forums. He made helpful suggestions, offered encouragement, and I value his expertise as an avid lover of zombie literature. My sincere apologies that it took me this long to post my thanks here. My only excuse could be that a zombie ate my brains. Thank you again, VeganTexan!
*This was actually my very first attempt at writing a zombie story, though it’s the second one I’ve ever posted on my blog. It hasn’t been quite right for any of the markets I’ve submitted to, but I’m really fond of this so I wanted to share it. You know what they say – you never forget your first zombie…
As always, I beg for welcome feedback. If you liked it, wonderful. If you didn’t, I still want to hear from you. Thank you for your time.
**Microphone photo courtesy of hidden hiddedevries under Creative Commons