Reaps007 remix of ‘Halo’ by Depeche Mode…
“Keep this,” my zombie host says, handing me the CCTV image, from the printer. “Remember that face. He must come to no harm.”
“Of course,” I agree, studying the hard copy, before pocketing it. “He’s your brother…”
“Not only that,” Crispin interrupts. “He is the first zombie to respond – at least partly – to treatment. He is thinking and plotting… see how he concealed himself in the mansion? We must find him – and ascertain how much of his faculties have recovered.”
“Sure,” I remark. I’m relieved. Perhaps now something else seems to be effective, that rumour about virgins as medical therapy will finally go away… it’s not as if we’re living in the Middle Ages. Although by the behaviour of some of the men I know, you’d think it still was.
He gets to his feet, starting to shamble back through the vast underground cavern.
“Come, Sarah Bellummm,” he hails me, over his shoulder.
“Yes,” I respond, but not before bending to retrieve the other piece of paper, balled-up in the waste basket. Curiosity having got the better of me, I unravel it, flattening out the creases, and turn it over.
TAKE OUT TRASH.
Well, that was an insight that could have been left undisturbed. I toss the piece of paper into the basket again, and head after him.
“We must be cautious, Sarah,” he warns me, as we go back up the stone steps, out of the deep echoing basement, and into the slightly less enormous house. “My brother Homer has always been nervous in company. He may go to great lengths, to maintain his privacy.”
“I can tell, by the way he covered up the cameras in his room,” I say, thoughtfully. “Will he lock himself in there indefinitely, do you think?”
“It is not his ability to covert himself away that is of concern.” Crispin stops and turns to face me in the grand entrance hall, his hands on my shoulders. Those fathomless black eyes seem to burrow into my skull once more. “It is what he may do in order to protect his concealment.”
I get a familiar chill in my veins, at his words.
“Is your brother violent?” I dare to ask.
Thoughts of my housemate, Miss No-Knickers, and her ABH-on-legs boyfriend, Carvery Slaughter, flit across my mind. I wonder if she’s managed to keep all of her stitches intact in the last few hours, in his company?
“He is – creative,” Crispin Dry admits. “Stay close. If I give you an order, or tell you to move, act immediately. Without question.”
Hmmm. I can see where this might be open to abuse…
“So long as you’re not just grabbing me to try and cop a feel,” I say, pointedly shifting slightly away from his hands, which seem to be heading for the direction of buttons and buttonholes again. “I know all about those guys who get reported on TV, for telling girls they’re in imaginary mortal danger – so they can be persuaded to hide in the trunk of an unlicensed car, and be driven to cheap motels in the middle of nowhere.”
“Be vigilant,” my zombie says in warning, and turns away, to lead me upstairs.
“Exactly my meaning,” I mutter, but hang close behind, anyway.
You never know. In my housemate Wossname’s case, quite literally. She falls for that macho bullshit game every time…
As we scale the next flight, up to the second floor, the lights start to flicker in the entrance-hall chandeliers, at our eye-line from the gallery. Although aiming for steely determination in our climb, I still jump.
“He will not be successful in disabling the lighting,” Crispin assures me. “It is all supplied with back-up reserves…”
Then he hesitates, and a faint clicking noise reaches our ears – gradually getting closer…
“Against the wall, Sarah Bellummm!” he hisses. “Do not step on the carpet!”
“What is this, nursery games now?” I ask, incredulous.
“You could say that,” he nods.
To my alarm, he looks terrified. I press myself likewise, against the flock wallpaper.
The clicking becomes louder. I look down at my feet.
Dozens of glass marbles suddenly roll past, in a steady stream. They carry on with their own momentum, and start bouncing down the ostentatious staircase, smacking and cracking loudly where they strike the actual marble, either side of the carpet-runner.
“We will proceed with caution,” he says at last, as the last few Dobbers and a Thumbelina Milky trickle by. “Be careful to step only where I step…”
There is a sudden twang, and he is flat on his face, prostrate on the rug.
“…Except there,” he amends, as I help him up. “Hah! Tripwires… a spell in cold storage has evidently done nothing to improve his tactics…”
At which point we both have to duck abruptly, as a remote-control Spitfire zooms down the corridor towards us. I feel my hair flatten in the downdraft, as it whines overhead.
“His aircraft are occasionally armed,” Crispin announces, as dumbstruck, I watch the Spitfire do a circuit of the biggest chandelier, and hightail it back, for a second assault. “Now, I suggest, we should run…!”
He doesn’t need to repeat the idea. I hurtle after him, down the long corridor, lined with doors. The cockerel bursts out of a cat-flap in one of them as we pass, and joins us in our escape, flapping its panic-stricken wings, squawking and scattering loosened feathers.
“He has been attacking my chickens!” Crispin rages. The Spitfire’s high-pitched whine seems to get higher, as it approaches from behind. “One of these doors will be safe – the rest will be booby-trapped…”
“In what way?” I pant, limping to keep up. I stumble, to the sound of a strangled cluck. “I think I tripped over your cock…”
Crispin yanks open a door at random, and leaps aside as a large ironing-board pops out, with a clang. Seizing it, he wrenches it loose, and hefts it in both hands.
“Duck, Sarah Bellummm,” he orders.
“No, definitely a cock. I thought you only kept chickens?” I say, confused.
He swings the ironing board with a grunt, and I do indeed duck. There is the dull smack of ironing-board cover against RC Spitfire, and the whine stops dead. Bits of Airfix kit land in my hair, and slide down the collar of my borrowed pyjamas.
“I know where he will be hiding,” Crispin says, tossing the ironing board aside, and offering his gray hand to help me up. “It is the same, since we were children. Quickly – this way…”
He drags me to the turning at the end of the corridor, and we hurry into another glamorous, expansive suite of rooms.
They are decadently decorated in pink and white silk, with a rose motif, and the scent of lavender hangs in the air.
“This isn’t your bedroom, is it?” I gulp, thinking about those ‘fifty shades of gay’ again.
“No,” he says, to my relief. He lets go of my hand, and almost strides into the walk-in closet. “It is – or rather WAS – our mother’s room.”
He stops by the slatted white wooden doors of the built-in wardrobes, running the length of the wall. Seems to pause, to sniff out the immediate area – and flings the doors of the closet wide.
“Homer…” croaks a strange voice. “Home… home…”
A single, gray finger points out from the depths of the closet, reaching up to Crispin’s face in an unearthly appeal – for help, perhaps?
“Yes, you are home, Homer,” Crispin sighs. “And you are in Mother’s closet, dressing up in her clothes, as you have done for the past forty years.”
Shocked, I cannot resist a peek past him, into the wardrobe.
There indeed, is the poor emaciated gray zombie – the billionaire Crispin Dry’s brother, Homer N. Dry – resplendent in a pink dress, white crochet shawl, a blonde wig, and a rather fetching summer hat.
Wait for the tune change in this fan edit – great choice! Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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