Dirty Funker remix of Metallica’s Enter Sandman…
“Er…” I interrupt, before he gets any further. “I don’t think my organs are ready for that sort of intimate contact yet. I don’t carry a donor card, for one thing… and I’m sure I read somewhere that a tongue is not a recommended substitute for an organ temperature probe.”
Crispin straightens again in front of me, while I do up the one pyjama button that his wandering hands had managed to dislodge.
“I see you will need a little more convincing,” he says. “Allow me to show you something of interest – about my house.”
“A tour?” I ask, puzzled. What has a tour of his mansion got to do with him poking around at me like an unqualified masseur?
“Yesss,” he hisses, and his zombie fingers curl around my own. “This way, Sarah Bellummm.”
I allow him to lead me out of the opulent suite, leaving the disgruntled cockerel behind, and we go back down the grand marble staircase to the ground floor. Behind the stairs, next to the library, two doors are set into the oak panelling.
He takes out a set of keys, selecting one for the nearest door.
“This better be either the Bat-Cave, or a REALLY impressive wine cellar,” I warn him. “And not some kinky dungeon full of whips and chains – where you keep all your other delivery-boys and girls, because you’re too tight to pay for the pizza…”
He hesitates, the door half-open.
“Wrong door,” he says smoothly, closing it again, with barely a cough of embarrassment. “That was the broom closet.”
“Closet, being the operative word,” I mutter.
He checks his keys again, and unlocks the second door. A light illuminates the stone steps, heading down.
“After you?” he offers.
“Wine cellar?” I repeat, meaningfully.
“Better,” he tells me.
“You first, I think,” I suggest, wary. “Then if I trip on the way down, at least I’ll have a soft landing.”
“Semi-soft, I think you’ll find,” he smirks, and takes the lead.
We go down the winding subterranean route, around and around, until I’ve almost completely lost my sense of direction. Eventually, we emerge onto an underground landing. He stops at the railings, and I join him, peering into the gloom.
Lights start to flicker on automatically, the nearest first.
“Oh,” I say, surprised. “It’s your garage…”
So he wasn’t lying about the Lamborghini Diablo… or the others… there’s a top-of-the-range Hummer, but the rest are all performance cars. Why did I assume all high-earning billionaire CEOs only drove touring car models, like Renault and Audi, as if they’re imitating plain-clothes police speed traps? I must have read it in some badly-researched teenage Cinderella-based novel… Now I think about it, even my housemate Thingummyjig’s boyfriend, the psychopath Carvery Slaughter, has the latest Ferrari as his regular commuter run-around – and he just does paving and concreting for a living…
But the lights continue to flicker on, far into the distance…
“How big is this place?” I gasp.
“How big can you handle, Sarah Bellummm?” he chuckles, with that incredible sandpaper-rasping-a-headstone sound. “As big as it needs to be. More that just a garage, I think you’ll find. Follow me.”
We go down the remaining stairs, and walk between the many vehicles, glinting under the spotlights. It’s like the garage in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – only a hundred times larger.
This cellar is definitely bigger than the footprint of his mansion. It must cover half of the grounds as well…
“It’s like an ancient military bunker,” I remark. “Have you got your own subway down here?”
“If I did, I wouldn’t have to order in pizza,” he stops and says, a little coldly.
“No, I meant subway – as in, underground railway,” I explain.
“Oh.” He looks a little flustered, then shrugs, and continues trudging ahead. “Perhaps.”
The cars on show eventually end, but the underground bunker doesn’t. Suits of strange armour and battle-dress follow, along with displays of old weapons.
“You have a Gatling gun!” I exclaim, pointing at the wheeled military apparatus. “Goodness. All I’ve ever handled is a potato-pistol.”
“You like to shoot, Sarah?” he asks me.
“Well, the most I shot was a spider,” I admit. “I tried hunting rabbits, but with a spud-gun, they just thought I was feeding them. Especially when I ran out of potato, and resorted to using carrots as ammunition. They still come out and follow me around, whenever I’m in my parents’ field.”
After the armoury, the cavern suddenly takes on more of a science laboratory feel. Computers and technical equipment are set up everywhere.
Crispin takes down a transparent PVC lab coat from a hook, and hands it to me to put on over the Paisley pyjamas, before taking one himself. As he shrugs it on over his fine black wool suit, I imagine Carvery Slaughter wears one too, when he’s disposing of his ex-girlfriends’ bodies that he’s failed to resuscitate, for the last time. Hmmm. Still got to come up with a suitable plan to deal with him…
“As you can see, my interests go beyond the world of vending machines,” Crispin Dry tells me. “And the advice of West African witch-doctors, as you so insightfully noted… I too had a problem with the old wives’ tales of ‘sex with virgins’ being the cure for zombification. But unlike you, not from the point of view that such stories are medically implausible. My issue with those notions, was the shortage in supply.”
“That’s quite offensive and chauvinistic,” I observe, wondering where this exposition is heading. “But go on.”
“I decided to find out for myself if there could be better medical cures for zombies,” he explains. “Perhaps with transfusions – or transplants. You wondered why I was collecting organs at the hospital… well – this is why…”
We go through a double-seal air-locked quarantine door, and into a vast – store-room.
Refrigerated cabinets line the walls. Most containing sealed medical crates. But some – containing entire people…
“You were experimenting on zombies?” I whisper, shocked.
“Yesss,” he hisses, resignedly. “And that was when I myself became infected. Only two weeks ago… I had almost revived a subject – but his first instinct was to bite. I woke up dead, here on this very floor – and my patient had long gone.”
“They’re not your patients!” I say, horrified. “You’re not a doctor – or a surgeon – you’re a vending-machine designer! Okay, a multi-billionaire vending machine magnate… but what on Earth were you doing interfering with zombies in the first place?!”
He looks at me sadly, but before he can respond, a red light flashes over our heads, and a low siren sounds, intermittently.
“What is that?” I cry out.
“My security system,” he says, and beckons urgently. “But we are relatively safe – down here. We must check the CCTV immediately. Come with me – if you want to live…”
Fan edit tribute to Tim Burton’s 1989 ‘Batman’ – Enjoy (Copyright Warner Bros.) 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords