Monday, 30 December 2013

Mander and the Plan

The plan was to leave this place because food and ink were running low and Dr. Bliffover had convinced us that if we could find a lab, he could study Klaus, our half and half human, and come up with a cure. The Times had a great resource department, but the maps of the building drawn by a former one-legged ballerina, who later spun herself to death, just led us around in circles, so it took us half the morning to find it.  There we discovered the locations of several nearby labs and decided to go to the one closest to an adult video store.  Hey, after looking at Mander for more than five minutes we males needed something to keep our minds from accidentally drifting her way during an apocalyptic sexual fantasy where we died of fright at the end.
The plan was simple, load us up in a few newspaper trucks and if the street got clogged we’d use the band to clear a path.  We also loaded each truck with plenty of Sunday editions in case we needed to flatten any zombies who got too close.
It only took an hour or so to load up the trucks, the Times’ workers union met and stated that they were off the clock so there was no need to drag things out.   We left through the rear loading bay and didn’t run over a zombie until we made it to the street.  I wish I could say that about the Times’ worker who was changing the oil.
By the time we reached the street there were hundreds of zombies, so in order to clear some space, we opened the windows and rear door so the band could scare them away. That’s when we realized a small over sight.  The bands instruments were left on the street, when they ran for the Times’ building.  Unfortunately for a few band members we had prepared ourselves for their musician ship and were wore earplugs.  We didn’t notice they weren’t holding instruments until a few guys playing the air trombone and air tubas were pulled from the truck.   Luckily what was left of the marching band realized that they also weren’t holding instruments and started tossing Sunday Times at the zombies, then closed the back door and pelted the monsters from the windows.   
Laura Lee, a quick thinker, but not very diplomatic, shouted, “Let’s put the ugly broad on the hood like a freak show ornament.
Mander wasn’t pleased about that, “Hey, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”
Skim Milk growled, “If the guy who made that statement took one look at you he’d scoop his eyes out.”
“Beauty is also only skin deep.” Mander said, as tear snaked around the crags on her face.   
Laura Lee countered, “They could dissect you and they wouldn’t find one cell that wouldn’t crack the lens on a microscope.”
“She does have a good point there, whatever it was.” Dr. Bliffover stated while I tried to remember if that was his name.
Skim Milk warmed up to the challenge. “I’m a Lesbo who’s slept with some toothless inbred horse face hillbilly bull dykes and I’d jump on the biggest ugliest cockeyed uncircumcised gorilla rather dick than touch you.”
Even Shrimp gave the insults a whirl. “Yeah, if a clock had your face on it, it would stop time and make it go backwards.”
I’m sure Mander had many other beauty quotes she wanted to say in her own defense but only got as far as “You can’t judge a book by –”before we wrangled her and then tossed her onto the hood, I’m pretty sure it was face first.
The zombies immediately backed away covering their eyes, including the eyeballs lying loose on the ground.  Some threw up.  It was working.   Even zombies have their limit. 
It was touch and go at times; we had to drive fast and make quick turns without Mander falling off the hood.  I think at one point she was getting into it, enjoying seeing zombies try to form the word “Ugly,” but not able to pronounce it. 
The entire trip took less than twenty minutes.  Mander had scared the zombies so far away there weren’t any in sight when we made it to the lab.  We all congratulated Mander, keeping our backs toward her face.  I saw her reflection in a shattered window and I think she looked proud or radioactive.  I asked her to stand guard while I took orders and headed for the adult video store.   I took a large almost machete size knife into the store in case there were any like-minded zombies browsing the dead girl section.  The others unloaded the vehicles and carefully entered the building through the revolving door -- checking for zombies and loose lab rats.  Laura Lee was deathly afraid of rats.  At the diner, before the zombie invasion, she told me she once went to a Halloween party dressed as a hunk of Swiss cheese and got caught by a guy dressed as a mousetrap and then was assaulted by three guys dressed as white lab rats.  Luckily a guy, dressed as a needle and his brother, dressed like a scientist, subdued the rats.  But by then Laura Lee said she was traumatized and to this day won’t go out wearing a yellow dress that had even buttonholes in it. 

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Times Building and Shrimp

The entire band also made it to safety, but thankfully none of the female singers went uneaten. In the band members’ haste to live, they left all their instruments lying dormant in the street.  Twenty of us joined the Times army of thirty-five, not exactly Woodstock in numbers, but in this environment, it was going be harder to feed 55 of us, well 54 and a half if you count our mixed breed.  He wasn’t noticed at first, but his attempt to say hello came out as a growl.  The Times people grabbed rolls of newspaper and backed away.  Trying to alleviate their fears the doc spoke up.  “Just keep to this one side of him and he’s harmless.  He also might be the secret to a cure.”
A guy big enough to house a dictator’s ego stepped forward holding a stack of papers over his head. “What if he isn’t a cure but one of the reasons this whole thing started?”
It was a good question, not game show good, but one that we hadn’t thought of nor did any of us have an answer to.  Laura Lee jumped in front of the Times guy and said, “You don’t look like Dear Abbey.”
The big guy wasn’t ready for that and didn’t utter a word.
“In fact how do I even know you work for the Times? I didn’t see any identification.”
Again the big guy didn’t have an answer. I think he thought he was thinking but wasn’t sure how. 
“Have you ever even had a date before?”
This time he was as confused as the rest of us.
“What is 5025 times 6398 divided by 4.987?”
The big guy put down the paper and started counting on his fingers. 
“You don’t have that many fingers dumb ass, although if you counted synapsis and nerve endings in your spine--” Laura Lee left the end of the sentence to our imaginations.  
The big guy stopped counting and started to feel around his spine. 
This time a little guy, just tall enough not to be crawling, came forward and with a voice that sounded like it had springs on it said, “You can stop counting, Ben.”  Then he turned Laura and spoke. “Ben’s OK. He can handle himself in a fight, but hasn’t quite figured out how to think yet.” 
“Yes, he’s on both sides of dumb. So squirt, where, when, and how do we start building our new civilization, free of war, disease, health insurance, car payments, state, local and federal taxes, not to mention” Laure Lee said looking at me. 
Before her looks could eat through me I deftly defended my online dating honor. “So, I used a picture of a male model who looks nothing like me, is a different race, and doesn’t have a double chin, a broken nose, cauliflower ears, a cleft pallet, scars on both cheeks, and isn’t crossed eyed.  And I’m not the CEO of Proctor and Gamble and Exxon…”
“Yes and what else?”
“I don’t own a private jumbo jet, my own island, a few slaves from the third world and have never climbed Mount Everest in sandals. We all fib a little.”
Before Laura Lee could beat me into something liquid the squirt interrupted. “Can you two stop this bickering, we have newspapers to deliver.”
“Delivering newspapers? Are you out of your mind, squirt?” I yelled. 
“It was a joke. And my name is not squirt--it’s Shrimp.”
“That can’t be your real name, who would name their kid shrimp?”
“Of course not.  It’s nickname.  My real name is Teeny Weenie.  Teeny Little Weenie is my full Christian name. I think it’s Italian, although with the vowel at the end can also be Corsican.”
We were waiting for him to say it was a joke.  When he didn’t, I don’t know how we did it, but we held in our laughter. It’s tough to do when you’re rolling around on the floor, pounding your fist, and trying to hide tears and a red face.
As we picked ourselves up from the floor, everyone started introducing each other by our full names and handing out business cards, a few even had resumes, so it took quite a while.
They had fortified all the doors and windows and had just painted a phony address number outside so we felt pretty safe.  They found us rooms and places to sleep, which I did as soon as I hit the wet men’s room floor.  I dreamed a lot, mostly about zombies, Greek swim suit models sloshing around in a vat of out of date yogurt, headless vegetarian strippers taking literacy tests, discount miniature hookers eating Quaker Oats, naked female locksmiths and the dental students they love, and the occasional transsexual rodeo clown in white go-go boots.”  Except for the zombies it could have been any regular night.
One of the Times’ workers, whose name I’d forgotten, and whose business card and resume I’d already lost, woke us up and took us to the cafeteria.  The food was free, probably because they couldn’t tell you what the hell you were eating.   But I was hungry and I ate, fooling myself into thinking I wouldn’t throw up.  One good thing, at least I might taste bad if a zombie got the worst of me. 
We had a pow-wow, which comprised of myself, Laura Lee, Skim Milk, Dr. Bllifover (I think I got his name right, but does it really matter)  Shrimp and a woman who might have been gorgeous in a previous life, but in this one she was making up for being given too good a hand in an earlier lifetime.  She wasn’t just hideous. She was drop dead ugly.  I mean her shadow, which had pockmarks, even looked the other way.  Her misshapen head looked like a bomb had exploded inside.  I’d be surprised if her face, which could be mistaken for a gas-mask, didn’t scare a zombie into vegetarianism.  Her name was Jeraminder or Jeramander (again does it matter), they called her Mander. 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Jingle and the Times

After about three miles the band members and Iranian singing group started to tire, so we rotated them (and our tires) and tried to think of songs that we could convince ourselves they were performing.  It was while I was imagining them playing a loud, drum and bugle core version of a Bach string quartet accompanied by a troupe of eunuch parrots, that it happened – a live radio broadcast.  Many who’ve never gone on a blind date and had it turn into a zombie nightmare, with a woman who hates your guts at first sight, might not have realized what the broadcast meant.   It was a man’s voice and he was definitely live, not a recording, since he stuttered and stammered and said he was live, also gave us the time and an accurate three-day local weather report.  He asked if any survivors out there wanted home delivery of the New York Times.  Sure it might be a few days late and have several of the pages chewed out and there wouldn’t be a sports or entertainment section, but we’d get the latest on who was eaten and if the chewing was done by a dead relative.  And best off all we’d save 50% off the first four weeks delivery.  Like I said it didn’t sound like much, in fact the guy sounded out of his mind, but he gave an address, a phone number, which didn’t do us any good since there was no cell power, and then he put a group of assistants on to sing a jingle.  “You’re family may be eaten, but it doesn’t mean you’re beaten.  So get the Times delivered to your door before you are never ---never more.”  It was a horrible jingle sung out of tune, and I thought I heard a back ground chorus of “Chew-Wop, Chew-Wop,” but it was people--live, tone deaf people.  Enough to put out a newspaper and stupid enough to deliver it, but hell, stupid is much better than dead, smelly, and lusting after your tasty flesh.
Believe it or not, our GPS actually worked, and we were only a few miles from the only remaining home of the New York Times.  I kept wondering if now was a good time to ask them if they would review my novel.   It was a science fiction/ brush fire cookbook/ historical novel about a Cinnamon breath mint empire. I know it’s not a new idea, but I figured by including a gumball trade show, a fructose for Finland marketing convention, and a bulimic eating and throwing up competition to the story it might put a new slant on an old genre.
We could make it to the Times building, all we had to do was keep the band and the singers alive and playing for another few miles.  Skim Milk had an idea that just might save our lives.  We’d ask the guys and gals carrying the heavier instruments to come into the vehicle for a rest, and then we’d toss them out to the zombies—keeping them off us, as our band, thinned out and our ululation gals ran out of energy. At first it looked as if the plan wouldn’t work when Klaus, our half-breed, tried to bite the bass drummer’s head off causing the other band members to back away. Skim Milk, had her wits about her and shouted, “April Fools,” instantly squelching their fears, while we pulled Klaus away. As the band climbed in and we selectively starting feeding members to the zombies, Dr. Bliffover explained Klaus’s reaction. He had lost his family to a base drummer high on animal tranquilizers laced with silly putty.  The guy beat to death his wife and then tried to bounce his kids off the walls and tile floor in the bathroom.  The drummer himself took his own life by diving out the window, six floors, then three floors and then two floors to his death.
About a mile into our final lap one of the ululation divas, who called herself Snara with a Snar, told us that they’d run out of songs and they never ever repeated themselves.  I said, “Snara—“
She quickly corrected me.  “Call me Snara with a Snar.” 
“Ok, Snara with a Snar, can’t you just do this once, after all, to us all your songs sound alike!”
“That’s it.  We quit!  I will not stand here and be insulted.  Next you’ll want to know why we all only have one wisdom tooth,” Snara with a Snar shouted.
Before I could say Snara with a S--- Skim Milk tossed her out the window and then proudly exposed her own celestial breasts.  Maria, not to be out done, pushed her aside and double mooned the zombies that had just started to eat Snara with a Snar.  Snara was about to sing, but before she had a chance to scare them away her vocal chords were chewed out.  A few zombies looked up at our exhibitionists, but at the moment preferred to join in on the feast 
The other singers, who were outside marching with the band began singing what could have been an ululation version of “Jingle Bells” or “Whiter Shade of Pale,” or “I Did It My Way,” or quite possibly an up tempo “Lady of Spain.” All I know is that Skim Milk’s deadly trick had worked.  The band did their best to match whatever the hell the girls were screeching, which scattered any zombies that dared approach our vehicle.   
Another mile and half and we would arrive at the New York Times building and maybe from the home of the best newspaper in the country we’d start a new better read civilization that featured home delivery.   
First one of the girls lost her voice and made the mistake of trying to reach our vehicle.  I held the door open, grabbed her hand and did my best to pull her in, she had just got one foot inside when a mob of zombies pulled her to the ground, and ravage her to the bone.  I don’t know what she looked like, because of that Arabian beekeeper’s stage outfit (or maybe it was just a Arabic prom gown possibly for bee keepers), that she wore.  I imagined she was cute—a women I’d probably easily be rejected by—one who would laugh in my face, make her tongue sound like a cop’s siren being played sideways and then call her brother over to cut off my head.  In spite of my good old red blooded American male thoughts, I still managed to feel bad for her, even a rooster with vocal chords made from broken banjo strings deserved better.  I was lost in thoughts of the shriek of Arabia when an older zombie in a hotel bathrobe, which wouldn’t be a pleasant sight even before his private parts were rotting, reached in and grabbed my shirt collar.   My leg was caught under the seat as his face came kissing close, his breath smelled like rubber being burned in a vat of Medieval sewage—a scent that would later be bottled and sold on the black market.  His jaws widened, ready to break his five minute fast.  I slugged him in the side of his face, but he didn’t take notice.  When his teeth started their final decent Jo shot him, not dead, but just enough to knock out most of his choppers and a decaying bridge and crown.  He gummed my shoulder like a red neck giving a hickey.  No skin was broken, not until Jo’s next shot which tore his head apart like a PiƱata full of tripe parmesan.  I quickly slammed the door shut –- I can take a hint.
“Thanks, Jo.” I said, although I also felt compelled to ask what his hat size was.
“Any time, by the way I wear a size seven and half hat,” in case you were wondering.”  In the heat of battle sometimes men can finish each other’s thoughts.
We were now only about a half mile away.  The band’s rhythm was somewhere between a waltz and the hum of an old refrigerator.  The girl’s voices were now only slightly more annoying than a great accordion player.  We had a real dilemma.  Do we just run over the band and singers and hope that the SUV can plow through the remaining zombies or do we stay with the status quo and hope enough live to get us to the New York Times Building?  The decision would have been made easier if someone in the band hadn’t stopped muting his trombone with a duck caller.  That would have been motivation for me to throw the car into overdrive and make the musicians one with their instruments. 
We decided to weigh our options, which didn’t work because we couldn’t agree on an appropriate rating system, so we tried to write down the positives and negatives, but that was even harder without a pen and pencil.  After three tries we finally figured out that odd finger doesn’t work well with over three people.  We didn’t have dice or cards, so we used our old standby and played a game of charades.  The driver, who at the moment wasn’t me, didn’t have to participate.   Movie titles we found too easy, the names of presidents too hard, so we settled on popular surgeries. We were all stumped on pubic hair transplants, even Laura Lee, who was good enough to go pro, but by that time we were just a block away and decided to let the exhausted band play on until eaten.  I know it sounded cold-hearted, but these musicians weren’t in a union yet, and why wait till they tried to organize? 
When we got close to the building the band members stuffed the plume from their hats in the mouths of ululation vocalists and then tossed them at the zombies and ran for the entrance.  We had driven the car to the only available parking space, about ten yards from the home of the New York Times and dumped some coins in the meter.  I wasn’t taking chances—who knows what parking fines might mean in these days of deadly choices.  With the zombies only a few yards behinds us, the doors of the Time’s building flew open and a gang of Times’ workers started knocking off our stalkers.  They’re aim was amazing, zombies fell prey to flying rolls of daily newspapers and the ones that managed to move closer got flattened by thick stacks of the Sunday edition.