If you’d like to see ‘The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum’ featured in The Guardian…

The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

If you enjoyed The Zombie Adventures… parody novel, which I blogged here chapter by chapter last year (each post written straight off the top of my crazy head) you can now nominate it to be featured in this new Guardian series

Update: Until the end of July 31st 2013, you can download the eBook from Smashwords in their sitewide promotion for free using the promo code SW100

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Pyganglion: A Zombie Parody

Britney vs. Ke$ha – Piece of Blah Blah Blah mash-up…

“Where are the others?” Ace asks, as we reach the bottom of the steps, heading back up into the giant pyramid shrine aboard the barge.

Carvery shrugs.

“Never touched ‘em,” he grins.

Uh-oh. I wonder if that means the crocodiles have had an early breakfast…

A figure appears at the top of the stairs, silhouetted against the flickering torchlight. The outline of a regal headdress stops my heart dead in its tracks. My kneecaps file against my body for divorce.

“How the Hell did she do that?” Ace gulps. “Next time, I’m bringing ketamine as well…”

The figure takes two paces towards us, and raises an arm imperiously, to point in our direction. I clutch the mechanical clockwork hand to my chest – but it is dormant, no sign of helpful magical activity coming to our rescue from within it at all…

Gooood,” the distant shape groans.

Then trips over its skirts, and falls flat on its face. A very impressive stair-tumble follows, shedding bangles, headddress, pendants, and unravelled silk.

“Homer!” we all shout, as the now semi-naked gray zombie arrives at our feet.

“Ouuuuuch…”

“Well, we know what he’s been up to,” Carvery remarks, as we help the bedraggled, undead transvestite Dry brother to his feet. “Found his mother’s closet again, by the look of it.”

“Do you think we could use this?” Ace suggests, picking up a tail-end of embellished white sari, or toga, or whatever it is. “Seeing as Homer likes to dress up as his mother already. Could be our ticket out of here.”

Home!” cries Homer, and we have to stop him, as he spots the distant bath-tub.

“Risky,” Carvery replies, shaking his head. “The guy can’t stay upright and facing in one direction all at the same time. But I reckon Sarah could do it.”

If my mouth could drop open any further, I’d be obliged to fit it with a manhole cover.

“Cool.” Ace holds out the toga and headdress, towards me. “Get your pyjamas off.”

Again – not the way this fantasy about Ace Bumgang was meant to happen!

“No!” I cry, more in frustration with the way my imaginary future love-life seems to be getting bulldozed at the moment, than in response to the request.

Which, under other circumstances, I’d have no problem with at all…

“Come on, Sarah.” Carvery waves the shotgun in my general direction, gesturing up and down. “It’s not like we haven’t seen it all before. Like, when you’re asleep. Or sending Ace Bumgang pictures of it, playing Draw My Thing online.”

Does this guy stop at nothing??!

“They were good drawings,” Ace nods in agreement. “All I had to do was colour them in.”

“For the last time, it was a picture of a taco!” I nearly scream at him. “Didn’t the clue ‘you eat this’ give you any ideas?”

“Yeah,” he says. “But not food-related ones. And I guessed the letters C and T, remember?”

“Wasting time, Sarah,” Carvery reminds me. “Time in which we might all get eaten, by zombies and crocodiles and stuff.”

He’s right. The zombies at the far end of the great hall by the marble bath-tub are trying to organise themselves, bumping into one another and attempting to haul the black onyx body of their zombie queen, Lady Glandula, out of the water. They’re like honey-bees, prioritising their queen first – luckily for us…

“Okay,” I relent at last. “But you guys have to turn around. No peeking.”

“NOW you don’t want us to look?” Carvery chuckles, as he and Ace, smirking, turn their backs. At least now, they can keep an eye out for danger.

Oh, God, how does this sari-toga thing work? Maybe I could just wrap it around over the pyjamas… but Homer joins in once he sees what I’m doing, flinging the fabric expertly around me, over a shoulder and under and through, pleated here and tucked in there – and in the process, my borrowed pyjamas from Crispin Dry drop discreetly onto the floor.

Phew. No more work for the lawyers of Angelina Jolie and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider at the Mutual Film Company today, then…

And now the bangles and headdress… strange. The bangles have the same sort of surface engravings and gemstones in as the golden clockwork hand. Maybe it was procured to co-ordinate with the queen’s wardrobe, when it was being made in Switzerland?

“You done?” says Carvery Slaughter, and I realise he’s been peeking all along. “Let’s go. Try to act classy. That means – not like a pizza-delivery girl. Or an alcoholic, sexually-frustrated, closet necrophiliac.”

“And Lady Glandula isn’t one, I presume?” I retort.

“Good point,” Ace agrees. “Just march right up there and ask if anyone wants to see your Thing.”

“In a classy accent,” adds Carvery.

“Just you wait, Carvery Slaughter,” I scoff at both of them. “And you, Ace. When we get back – just you wait…”

I turn around, head held high – and with Homer attending carefully to the longer bits of my gown, which would have made Pippa Middleton professionally envious – I start to ascend the grand stairs, back up into the pyramid.

“You know she rolls around naked in the cheese before they put it on your pizza?” I hear Carvery telling Ace, behind me.

…And if I ever find out who invented the idea of keeping a ’secret’ diary, I am going to travel back in time and give them a big piece of my mind…

Restored Audrey Hepburn vocal on ‘My Fair Lady’ version of ‘Pygmalion’ – Enjoy 🙂

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords

Pretty Warm One: A Zombie Parody

Nine Inch Nails, remixed by Reaps…

I jolt awake, at the sensation of sliding helplessly down off the washable hospital-hospitality chair. Quickly catching myself, and prising my eyes open, I’d much rather be in a hospital-hospitalised bed right now, the way I feel at the moment.

Blimey. Did I actually kiss the zombified Crispin Dry in the elevator, while helping him with his little (okay, not so little) localised rigor mortis problem, or did I dream it?

I run my tongue over my teeth, thankful to find that there are no bits of zombie tongue left lodged in there. I remember that overwhelming mossy scent, of old black wool suit, and even older Old Spice. The sensation of falling into those two hypnotic pools of jet that his eyes had become…

My stomach feels strangely empty, and even my head feels weightless. I feel as though if I try to stand up and walk anywhere too soon, I’ll be lurching uncontrollably all over the place.

Slowly, bits of my memory return. Oh yeah. I’m here to sit with my dear housemate, er… fuck… maybe I never even knew her name in the first place. How does she expect people to remember her anyway? She’ll be a statistic sooner than a bride, with the ones she can pick. What was it today? He bit her thumb off during sex! I grin triumphantly, as my brain gets something right for once.

I look across towards where her gurney should be, but there’s just a space in the bay. Odd.

Maybe she went to surgery already.

*  *  *  *  *

I think she was pleased to see me. Hard to tell with her head being the shape of a football at the moment. The only expression she could do being ‘half-finished Halloween Pumpkin.’

“Don’t you think it’s time you dumped him?” I remember saying to her, when I was shown through. Crispin excused himself to find a vending machine that would meet his exacting requirements, leaving us to our girls’ talk.

“Oh noooo,” Dufus-Features protested, waving her bandaged club-hand, in defence of the sadist currently fulfilling the job-spec of ‘abusive boyfriend’ in her life. “He really loves me. And I can handle him. You have no idea how bad he used to be. He’s really making an effort to change. I’m his best therapy, he says.”

“By which you mean, he uses you as his punch bag?” I remarked. My stomach growled weirdly and horribly at the sight of all the blood-soaked gauze, and I had to sit down on the horrible Health & Safety hazard of a chair, more slippy and slidey than trying to ride an eel. I was feeling dizzy already. I wondered if I should have asked Crispin to sneak some more booze in with us. It looked like being a long night, on only one Sloe Gin Sling. “I hear his last dumb slut, Chelsea, now has a smile to match her name that he gave her. As a parting gift.”

“Exactly. He’s SO much better now, you have no idea,” Brainwashed Prick said, her one bloodshot eye (that I could still just about see) all misty with delusional erotomania. Or maybe it was only the Chloramphenicol. “Remember, you have to kiss a lot of frogs, before one starts to turn into a prince.”

“I really don’t want to know about your Batrachiphilia as well,” I replied. “Don’t you ever watch CSI? Guys like him don’t get better. They’re serial offenders. They get worse. Soon as you’re trapped in a false sense of security with them, you think everything’s hunky-dory because he hasn’t slammed your head in the washing-machine for a few days, and the next thing you know you’re flying out of the woodchipper all over the garage ceiling.”

“Oh, Sarah, you’re so melodramatic,” Miss Dunce’s Cap of the Year told me.

“One in three,” I warned her. “The statistics say one in three murders isn’t a domestic. The two in three are the ones that don’t get on the news. The open-and-shut cases. Phone call to the police, confession, arrest. Is that how you want to end up?”

“Now I think you’re just being mean. Because if you’re a woman too, really you’re only jealous,” Shithead snapped. “Don’t deny it. Every woman I see is secretly eyeing him up. You could never handle a bad boy. You’re going to end up a lonely old spinster, with a room full of eyeballs in jars. Whereas I’ve been designing my wedding dress, Googling honeymoon locations, and planning baby names.”

“Really?” I asked, not feeling the slightest inclination to prove my gender to her current state of mind. Which seems to include the fantasy that every other woman around fancies a bit of assault and battery. “What did you name the one you had sucked out at the clinic this morning, because your Mr. Perfect was about to cut off your ears and nose and feed them to you for forgetting to take the Pill?”

*  *  *  *  *

Maybe I was a bit harsh on her. But seriously, the guy doesn’t even deserve the honour of ending up pinned out as an actual anatomical diagram on the body farm. If something happens to him, I hope it comes with the label Body Never Recovered. Maybe I’ll ask Ace Bumgang whether they have one of those things that crushes cars into a small cube at the breaker’s yard. Then Miss Fucktard could get herself referred to a hostel or refuge, or for counselling (instead of the morgue) by the police or her doctor or whatever – to stop her hooking up with the next optimistic slimeball psycho who stalks her with the best intention of adding her to the notches on his shovel-handle. They must think all their Christmases have come at once when she stumbles half-deliberately into their laps, having spiked her own drink to make it that bit easier for them. I’d have to get another housemate, but the way things are going in Super-Twat’s life, that eventuality doesn’t look too far off anyway.

Hmm. Crispin Dry is taking a while. I can see a nurse and a receptionist at the far end of Accident & Emergency, but otherwise it’s strangely quiet. What on Earth could there be to take up a zombie’s time in a hospital?

I slide off the slippery chair and decide to have a stretch, and a wander around. I do feel a bit of vertigo as I stand. Yeah – one drink and then fall asleep, always a sign of a crap night. I lurch slightly as I aim for the nearest door into the corridor, and follow the EXIT signs, meaning to get a nip of fresh air.

The doors are still open, as the Emergency department is 24-hour here, what with the plethora of brain-dead hopeless romantics getting methodically dismembered by their choice of partners these days. So it’s a relief to step outside into the front car-park, and feel the cool night air blow away the cobwebs between my own ears, taking my housemate’s idiotic illusions with them.

The breeze also brings the sound of a distant piano from across the main road. Feeling in need of a musical ear-worm (to remove the remaining irritating echoes of Douchebag’s recital of gross sexual perversions she chooses to list as her boyfriend’s ‘good points’) I head over there, to get a better listen.

It’s Hookah’s, the Cypriot restaurant. The waiters are just starting to clear and re-dress tables for the next day, while one couple still sit at the bar, finishing their coffee.

And in the corner, through the window, I see the grand piano. My breath stops altogether as I see the pianist is none other than my new zombie acquaintance, Crispin Dry.

I push the door timidly, and bells tinkle to announce my entrance. He stops playing abruptly, and turns.

“No, it was good,” I say, encouragingly. “I love Franz Ferdinand…”

A takeaway box is by his feet, and I see him nudge it under the piano, embarrassed. As I get closer, I think I see a restaurant logo I’m not familiar with… Yuman Tisseus, or something exotic like that.

“I came back earlier, but you were asleep, Sarah Bellummm,” he says, reproachfully. “They took your friend to surgery…”

“I guessed as much,” I nod. “Budge up. More music, Maestro, please.”

He fondles the piano keys lovingly, as I park my still decidedly dizzy butt on the tapestry seat beside him.

“I remember… learning,” he ponders aloud. “While I was alive. But it’s so hard to tell now. Memories after death are not the same as living memories. They are mixed up with the total memory of Universal life. So they may not be my memories at all.”

“I agree. I think you may be channelling Bladerunner right now, in fact,” I remark.

“I was worried that you might not be happy, after the elevator thing earlier,” he says sadly, not meeting my gaze.

“What?” I reply, amazed. “No! You give great elevator thing. No complaints there.” I’m secretly relieved, as I’d been worrying about the same. My advantage in handling corpses regularly, seems to have made up for my lack of relationship experience in that department. I mentally notch another one up on my list of skills. I decide to push for yet one more, while the mood is right. “Do you think the waiters would mind if we make out on this piano?”

The strains of Do Ya Wanna hesitate slightly, as his prehensile gray fingers seem to lose track of the keys.

“I think perhaps it would be an idea if we close the lid first, Miss Bellummm,” he nods, eventually. “No point tempting Fate…”

If you’re over 18, you might be allowed to watch the original above…

…And if you are affected by any of the horror in this horror parody, I suggest you talk to the police…

More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

Also available for all other devices, and online reading, on Smashwords

50 Shades of Gray Matter: A Zombie Parody ~ Chapter One (Extended)

I look in the mirror. I do it every day. Pretty much most people look in the mirror every day.

I see a girl. That’s a relief. A girl with hair, two eyes, a nose, one mouth, and as I push the hair back as I’m brushing it to check – yes, still got two ears. Phew.

My housemate, whose name escapes me most days, has forced me into this, the reason I’m awake and brushing my hair at the ungodly hour of ten a.m. How dare she go for her abortion today, and pack me off instead to do her media studies homework? Couldn’t she have had her termination some other time?

I have to go and interview some vending-machine business mogul. The company is called Dry Goods, Inc, and the owner, Crispin Dry, supplies our University with all of its vending machines. He’s notoriously hard to get appointments with. When you ring his office, you have to press so many buttons on the phone to finally get through – only to be told that your selection is no longer available, and to choose an alternative.

Miss Whatsername, my housemate, says that she’s got to get this interview for the University paper. I don’t know why, they only use it to wrap take-out cartons in the refectory. Maybe it’s to promote a new drinks machine range.

So I’m having to forgo my weekly visits to the body farm and the morgue for my own research project. I don’t even know if I’ll be back in time for work later.

She’s going to owe me big-time for this. If I don’t get to see a corpse this week, I don’t know what I’ll do. There’s one I’m rather fond of in a wheelie bin under a silver birch tree at the body farm, where I like to sit and eat my sandwiches. He’ll have changed so much the next time I see him…

I leave Whatserface, my best friend, packing her nightdress for the clinic.

“Good luck!” says Thingummyjig, as I head out. “Make it a good interview!”

“I’ll bring you back some sanitary towels,” I concede, and slam the front door.

*  *  *  *  *

It’s a long drive to Seaford West Industrial Estate, but luckily I have my father’s trusty bullet-proof Hummer in which to navigate the rain-soaked roads. I don’t think my Pizza Heaven scooter would have made it. When I put my books in the insulated top-box, it always skids over in the wet. And sometimes nasty people put other things in there, when I’m doing a delivery.

Dry Goods House is a huge monolith of connected storage containers, converted into offices on the seafront industrial park, an illegal immigrant’s dream. Mirrored glass windows inserted into the corrugated steel keep out any prying eyes.

The revolving doors swish as I enter the Customer Enquiries lobby. A brain-dead-looking blonde is sitting at the stainless surgical steel counter.

“I’m here to see Mr. Crispin Dry,” I announce. “I’m Sarah Bellum. Miss Thing from the University sent me.”

“I’ll text him,” says Miss Brain-Dead, picking up her phone. “Have a seat.”

She eyes me as I sit down on the plastic chair between two vending machines, one for hot drinks, the other for snacks. I feel over-dressed. Maybe stealing my housemate’s Christian Louboutin studded Pigalle pumps and Chanel suit had been taking it too far. The receptionist looks cool and comfortable, in turquoise blue overalls and a neon yellow hi-visibility industrial vest.

“He’s on his way down,” she says, after a moment. She reaches under the desk. “You’ll have to put this on.”

I get up again to accept the hi-visibility yellow vest she hands me, which has VISITOR stencilled on the back. I pull it on grudgingly over my borrowed Chanel.

The adjoining door creaks, and I turn, still adjusting my Velcro.

I know, the moment I see him.

The black suit. The pallor of his skin. The attractively tousled, unkempt bed-hair. The drool. That limp… oh, God, that limp…!

“Crispin Dry?” My voice catches in my throat.

“Miss… Bellllummmm,” he moans softly, extending a dirt-encrusted hand.

My heart palpitates wildly, noting his ragged cuticles, and the long, gray, prehensile fingers.

“My housemate,” I begin. “Miss Shitface – she couldn’t make it today. Got the uterine bailiffs in…”

I grasp his outstretched hand in greeting. So cold… and yet so mobile… a tingle crawls deliciously up my forearm, and I snatch my hand away quickly, scared of showing myself up. His jet-black eyes glitter, equally cold, and his upper lip seems to curl in the faintest suggestion of a smirk. Or is it my imagination?

“Were you offered a refreshment, Miss Bellumm?” He gestures towards the famous vending machines.

I shake my head, and he turns to glare at the receptionist. She cowers visibly, and I’m sure I hear him emit a long, low, guttural sound. The receptionist scrabbles in her drawer and holds out a handful of coin-shaped metal tokens.

“I’m fine, really…” I croak, although in all honesty, my throat does feel terribly dry.

“Very wellll…”

My knees feel weak as he holds the door open, and beckons, his head at a quirked angle.

“This way, Miss… Bellummm.”

How he rolls my name around his mouth makes my own feel drier than ever. I stumble hazily through into the corridor, hearing the door creak closed again behind me, and the shuffling, shambling sound of his footfalls in my wake.

“Straight ahead, Miss Bellumm.”

His voice is like sandpaper being rasped over a headstone. It tickles my inner ear and the back of my throat, sends chills down my vertebrae. It resonates with my deepest darkest thoughts.

Things I had not even entertained notions of while eating sandwiches under the silver birch tree, beside my dear Mr. Wheelie-Bin…

His arm extends past me to swipe his security card in the lock of the next door, and a waft of his moss-like scent washes over my strangely heightened senses.

“Go through, Miss Bellumm,” he practically whispers in my ear.

The door clicks open, and I step through. Murky grey daylight filters through the tinted windows from the seafront, and I gasp. Another brain-dead blonde is banging her head repeatedly on the steel wall, not three feet away from the door.

“Debbie,” Mr. Dry says. Is that a tinge of disappointment, or disapproval in his voice? “Take Miss Bellum’s coat. You will not need the yellow site vest either while you are with me, Miss Bellumm.”

Debbie turns to look at us, her flat bleached-out bloodshot eyes registering nothing. She holds out her arms to accept the navy-blue Chanel and hi-visibility vest as I shrug them off, feeling exposed now in my Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe t-shirt. Miss Brain-Dead Mark II takes my jacket with a soft grunt, but goes nowhere, turning back to face the wall instead, contemplating the smear where her head had been rebounding off it just a moment before.

Crispin Dry takes my arm to steer me past, the unexpected contact eliciting another gasp from me. Those long, cold, prehensile fingers, closing around the soft warm flesh of my tricep…! I trip along the next corridor, trying to keep pace with his rolling, loping gait, like that of a wounded panther.

“My office…” he hisses, swiping his security pass a second time, and ushering me through.

It is black. Everything is black, from the desk, to the leather seating, to the vertical blinds. The only colour in the room is a giant white canvas, on the wall facing the long window, upon which a modern meditation in red is represented.

“You like my art, Miss Bellummm?” he murmurs, seeing my open gape at the piece.

“It’s yours?” Wow – now I’m really intimidated. The only art I see is on custom car bodywork when passing the breaker’s yard, hoping to catch a glimpse of the fit mechanic. “It’s beautiful…”

“I call this one… ‘High-Velocity Spatter’,” he confides in a husky voice. “Sit.”

I plant my quivering haunches onto the soft leather, and start to take out my notes. The only sound otherwise in his office is the eerie call of gulls, from the windswept pebble beach outside.

Crispin Dry watches me, calculatingly. He circles around the sofa opposite, not yet seated.

“Would you like something to drink, Sarah Bellumm?” He moves languidly towards the huge, black, state-of-the-art vending machine in the corner.

The sound of my full name on his lips is like the opening of a beautiful white lily…

“I am a little parched,” I admit. “Yes, please, Mr. Dry. Thank you.”

“What would you like?” His hand hovers over the illuminated keypad. “Tea, coffee, hot chocolate? Iced water? Chicken soup? Gin and tonic? Bubblegum? Breath mints?”

Mmmm – a vending machine with everything!

“A chicken soup would be lovely,” I hear myself say, and my stomach grumbles in agreement, recalling the last slice of cold Pizza Heaven pizza I ate for breakfast, many hours ago.

“Chicken noodle, chicken and sweetcorn, Thai chicken and lemongrass…?”

“Yes please – the last one…”

I watch as his clever fingers dance over the keys. There is the faintest hum from the machine. In a trice, a large fine china mug appears, steaming, on its own saucer, garnished with fresh chives and coriander. There is even the traditional porcelain soup-spoon on the side, intricately decorated.

I wonder what sort of businesses he supplies this particular machine to. All that the University ones dispense, is various colours and temperatures of pond-water à la Styrofoam. We must be at the very bottom of their budget range.

He brings it to the low onyx table in front of me, and presents it with the gallant flourish of a red napkin. Something of the gesture, and the way he arranges himself laconically on the sofa opposite, makes my heart sink slightly.

Oh no. He’s so gay…the way he’s fidgeting his earlobe in that I’m-ready-to-listen way and stroking his knee with his other hand – that’s at least fifty shades of gay…

I struggle to focus on the list of questions that Knobhead has written out for me. I’m starting to worry that maybe I won’t enjoy finding out the answers to some of them.

“It’s very hot,” he says, in a warning tone. It startles me.

“Hmmm?” Am I always this jumpy?

“The soup, Miss Bellummm.” His mouth twitches in the corner, and his black eyes crinkle slightly. It’s as if he can see into the dark shadows at the back of my own mind.

“I can get started with the questions while it cools down,” I say, brightly, batting away the shadows in my head at his curt nod. Definitely gay. I look down at the sheet of paper. “Now… the first question. Is it true that you employ foreign child labour in the construction of your vending machines?”

“No.” The answer is as cold as ice, and as solid. “There are other ways of manufacturing our machines to a budget that is mutually beneficial, to the product consumers, and the workforce.”

“Right…” I scribble this down, in my best pizza-order shorthand. “And is it also true that you sub-contract your perishable goods supplies, for human consumption, out to companies who deal in black market foodstuffs and out-of-date stock?”

“Our sub-contractors are fully vetted,” he assures me. “If any sub-standard products are finding their way into my machines, it is usually the fault of the site owners, outsourcing to cut-price vandals who access the machines without our endorsement. Quality control is of paramount importance in this business.”

The aroma drifting up from the soup is certainly backing up his argument. But still…

“Are you saying that the recorded cases of food poisoning at Cramps University, and at other sites, is the faculty’s fault?” I ask.

“I am not saying anything, Miss Bellumm,” he muses, his eyes still faintly entertained, his head still quirked. “But you are, it seems.”

I stare down at the page. Twat. That last question was me, my stupid mouth running away with me. Not one of Miss Fucktard’s questions at all. Double twat.

“Moving on,” I say swiftly, aware that his eyes are mentally dismembering me. I look at question number three. “How do you explain your current one thousand percent increase in profits in the current financial climate, Mr. Dry?”

“With excellent book-keeping.”

I look up at him, uncertain whether this is merely a stab at humour. He is still lounging on the sofa, the jet black of his eyes resting on me steadily. My own eyes follow the line of his jaw, and the rumpled Bohemian mane of hair, still intact. His square shoulders in that black suit make me feel weak. What’s wrong with you, girl? He’s still walking around and talking! You’d be bored sick of him within minutes, same as all the others…

I press on with the questions, covering the various charges of tax evasion, pollution, carbon footprint, and illegal immigration, and he has a cool answer for every single one. I’m relieved to turn the page, and find the closing questions are brief.

“…Finally, Mr. Dry. Can you tell me your favourite colour?”

He indicates the décor of the office.

“Black,” he confirms. “With a little fetish for red, occasionally. And sometimes…”

His face darkens. He looks away.

“White?” I suggest, thinking of the painting.

“When black meets white, there is a certain shade – a very delicate and vulnerable shade – that illustrates humanity in its most primitive state.”

“You mean gr…”

He puts his finger to his lips.

“Best left unspoken.” Those black eyes burrow into my head. “A colour for the mind. Not for the lips. Only… under very special circumstances… should the matter pass the lips.”

He’s bonkers. Just what we need right now. Another gay eccentric. I return to the final questions.

“And what music do you listen to?”

“Soul.”

“And last question. What car do you drive?”

“I have a number of cars, all black, and a chauffeur, who drives very sedately. You must allow me to take you on a tour of the rest of my complex some time. I may have an opening for a new PR girl soon.”

Outside the window behind him, something turquoise blue and neon yellow crashes wetly onto the pebble beach from above. Without looking around, he produces a remote control, and closes the vertical blinds. Automatic halogen lights phase on overhead, so there is no change in illumination inside the office.

“Thank you, Mr. Dry.” I’m on my feet in that instant, suddenly wary of being in an enclosed office alone with him. Those dark shadows have all sprung to attention in the back of my mind, at the closing of those blinds. “You have been very accommodating, but really I mustn’t keep you any longer.”

“Indeed?” he asks in turn, rising out of his seat. For the first time I notice how tall and manly he is… was, I correct myself angrily. “Keep me for what purpose, I wonder?”

So arrogant!

I just nod, blushing fiercely, and head for the door.

“I will have to show you out,” he reminds me, taking out the security pass again, and lurching forward to accompany me. “It has been a pleasure, Miss Belllummm.”

His voice is driving me crazy. And his hand on my arm again, guiding me out of the door and into the corridor. I practically scamper ahead, snatching my coat back from Brain-Dead Blonde Mark II.

“Thank you for your time, Mr. Dry,” I say, back in the near-safety of the lobby. There is no sign of Brain-Dead Blonde the receptionist, and I can’t wait to get away. “It has been very educational.”

“I’m sure it will be,” he agrees, with a courteous nod. “Au revoir, Miss Belllummm.”

I run to the Hummer in my pointy Pigalle pumps, and lock myself in. I can see gulls flocking to the spot on the beach outside his office, on the far side of the building.

Those shadows in my head – I fight to control them. How dare he hijack my fantasies, my pure and innocent thoughts of the dead? How dare he make a mockery of it all by walking around in broad daylight and touching me??! There ought to be a law against that sort of thing…

As I drive home again, all I can see through the rain bouncing off the road in front of me, is his gray and amused, sardonic and demonically attractive face.

See the movie ‘Secretary’ (trailer above) for the original Mr. Grey, if copyright law is what lights your candle… and you may find a few more movie tributes, amongst those in the following zombie parody… 🙂

To read on, see the opening chapter ‘Filthy Shavings of Gray Matter’ in The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum:

The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum

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