Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ remixed by Reaps007…
We leave the quarantine area, and Crispin heads directly for one of the computer workstations, where a number of virtual monitors display live feed from various locations on his property. A 3-D walk-through image of the house and underground bunker on a projection interface shows where each image is taken from. It looks as though there are no blind spots at all.
“How many cameras do you have in this place?” I ask, in awe.
It’s like being in the control room of an Oceana nightclub. Only tidier, without the detritus of Starbuck’s cups and McDonald’s wrappers, or stripper’s thongs pinned to the notice-board. I notice that the one solitary thing in the zombie businessman’s waste basket, is a single screwed-up ball of paper.
“Over three thousand, Sarah Bellummm,” Crispin tells me, tapping quickly on his interactive screen. “As well as six thousand hidden microphones, motion and pressure sensors, temperature gauges, light-sensitive triggers, laser-interrupter switches, automatic deadbolts, emergency power back-up, automated instant police and fire control call-out, intercom, sound-system, and mood-lighting throughout. There is also a chicken-feeding station and egg-laying coop in every room, should one of my pets accidentally be shut in.”
“You have thought of everything,” I nod. I glance at the screen, where I notice the cockerel chasing one of his harem along an unknown corridor. “Do you keep any other pets, besides chickens?” I gesture back at the quarantine bay. “…And dormant zombies…?”
“I used to have homing pigeons on the estate,” he reminisces distantly. “But one day, they failed to come back. I was informed that they had landed at the nuclear power-plant, and were all shot by the Hazardous Waste-regulation snipers. I was too sad to replace them.”
“Ah,” I say, realisation dawning. “So that’s why you keep the birds indoors now…”
“Oh, no.” He shakes his head, in that attractively arrhythmic, wonky fashion. “The chickens have special… scientific significance. They are allowed anywhere they please.”
“Scientific significance?” I repeat. “What significance does a chicken have to a Zom… oh. Of course. West African witch-doctors. I suppose you’re trying to distil the essence of Voodoo, to help with your research for a cure?”
He shuffles awkwardly, in his seat at the console.
“Here,” he says, avoiding the subject, pointing to a segment of the 3-D image in the main house. One of the rooms in the interactive graphic is glowing red. “We have the location of our breach.”
He taps on the virtual model, and the camera views pop up, on a giant ether screen in front of us. The room of interest is in complete darkness.
“Initiate emergency lighting,” he orders.
The model room glows green, but nothing happens on the monitor.
“He has covered the cameras,” Crispin murmurs. “Go to heat sensor view…”
A white line of light scans back and forth over the 3-D model, but again – nothing on the screen.
“All the equipment is functioning,” Crispin murmurs. “Which means only one thing…”
“That room,” he remarks, tapping on the screen again. “It also has significance.”
I wonder what he could mean.
“Is it a shrine?” I ask, nervously.
It hadn’t occurred to me that the enigmatic entrepreneur Crispin Dry might be religious. Or what that might entail. Never mind the wonderful world of Voodoo, it’s the other sorts of religion that scare me. The religions that come with men in long dresses, fancy headgear, and spending a lot of time on one’s knees for no useful purpose… not even a bit of ‘wax-on, wax-off’ while you’re down there…
“A shrine would indeed be one way of describing it,” he murmurs, stiffly. “Show footage from two weeks ago today, 0600 hours.”
The screen clears, and reveals what to my relief looks like a normal, ordinary – if somewhat large and elegant bedroom. Within a few seconds, something dark moves over the screen, rendering it black again.
“Run sequence again,” says Crispin. “Zoom in on reflection, upper left.”
The image reappears. The footage expands, increasing the size of a large vanity-unit mirror, on the far side of the room.
A shape moves across it swiftly, causing me to jump and gasp.
“Stop!” Crispin snaps, and I nearly swallow my poor tongue, before realising he’s still talking to the computer. “Run again, quarter-speed…”
The image of the mirror refreshes. Expecting it this time, I wait for the anticipated shape – and sure enough – the side-view of another zombie steps into view, reflected in the glass.
No wonder there was no heat signature detected…
“So…” Crispin whispers, as the frame freezes. “It is him…”
“Who?” I ask. There is a long pause.
“The zombie I revived,” he sighs, staring at the image. “He must have remained hidden in this house for the last two weeks – possibly recuperating and convalescing – until the motion sensors detected his movements in the room just now.”
“How would he know about the cameras?” I demand. “Do zombies have incredible intuition?”
Crispin shakes his head, and moves the footage forward, one frame at a time. The zombie’s head turns, with slow precision, to look directly into camera – via its reflection in the mirror.
And it grins.
“No,” Crispin says, grimly. “He knows about the cameras, because they are in his bedroom.”
“His bedroom?” My brain can’t keep up.
Is he sub-letting to zombies as well?
“It has always been his bedroom,” Crispin nods. “That is my brother… Homer N. Dry.”
I have to grip the edge of the console. My knees have handed in their notice, both at the same time.
Crispin continues to stare impassively, at the grinning image of his brother’s face on the giant screen.
He was experimenting on his own family… his own flesh and blood…
“Print me a hard copy,” he says at last, and the appropriate equipment hums into life. “Right there.”
The original scene from Blade Runner above – enjoy 🙂
Also available from Smashwords for all other devices and online reading