The Undead Metaphor
My girlfriend picked me up from the train station and took me back to her house so I could drop my stuff off before we went to dinner. I’d been gone for two weeks, visiting relatives in California for the holidays. She’d lost some weight since I had seen her last and was looking more confident and gorgeous than ever. I couldn’t wait to get her into the bedroom. And when we arrived at her place and she said, “I’ve done something different in the bedroom. Can I show you?” with a mischievous glint in her eye, I figured she must’ve been thinking the same thing. I followed her in, watching her hips sway and her bottom move. She stopped and pointed to the bed, which now had a headboard.
“What do you think?” she asked. That’s when I caught movement in the corner.
“HA!” I said, jumping back and assuming a defensive position. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was a zombie, at least seven and a half or eight feet tall, all grey skin and buggy eyes and hunched over. It was slack-jawed, drooling, and completely naked. I could see its wang dangling between its legs. Surprisingly large and functional-looking for a zombie’s wang. “What the fuck?!” I said.
“Oh, that’s just Bill, my pet zombie,” said my girlfriend. “He’s new too.” She walked over to it and patted it on the arm. It looked down at her, its lips twitching in what I guessed was its version of a smile.
“A pet zombie?” I said. “Are you nuts?” I was pretty sure she was.
“Poor Bill,” she said. “Everybody misunderstands you, don’t they.” She turned to me. “I found him in an alley. He was all alone and didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t just leave him there.” She wrinkled her forehead at me. I could see I was going to have to play this one carefully.
“Well…shit,” I said. “But what does it—I mean, he—eat? I mean, don’t zombies eat brains?” The zombie’s head swiveled in my direction and a string of saliva detached itself from its lower lip and dripped onto the carpet.
“Actually he eats cats,” she said. “I help him catch them. He’s not very fast, you know.” She smiled. “It’s like a public service.” She never had liked cats.
“What happens when you run out of cats?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. I suppose he could always follow me into dark alleys and eat the people who try to attack me. That would be another good public service, don’t you think?” She grinned up fondly at Bill, whose buggy eyes continued to stare blankly at me.
“And when you run out of bad guys in alleys?” She just gave me this look, like she couldn’t believe what a dummy I am.
“I’m hungry,” she said, leaving the room. “You ready to go to dinner?” I glanced at the zombie as I left the bedroom. I could almost swear it winked at me, but when I did a double-take it was just standing there, head and arms limp, eyes glazed, drool sliding from its chin onto the floor. That huge, pale wang hanging down.
S. H. Aeschliman lived for a time in Bend, Oregon, a place of tumbleweeds and junipers, of empty back roads and long winters. On snowy nights the sky glowed orange and the world was wrapped in muffled silence. After everyone was asleep, she’d lay on her back in the yard, reveling in the strangeness. Early the next morning she’d walk through the misty woods toward school, hoping against odds that she’d emerge from the fog in a fairy tale land, a European countryside, or anywhere, really, other than the baseball diamond. She’s now a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter: @writelearndream