The story so far:
What does one say to the corpse of his wife as she stands in the hospital room he’s earned because he’s very possibly cracking up and slammed his car into a nicely solid structure? I hesitated, and then shrugged my shoulders. As long as she didn’t try to bite me, I imagined being friendly wouldn’t hurt.
“Hi, Honey, of course I missed you? Where have you been?”
“Silly, you know where I’ve been,” she said as she cocked her head to the side a little.
“I don’t actually. Tell me about it.” I mean we both knew what was going on here, right? Why mince words? She took a deep breath and cocked her head to the other side as she raised her arms. She started to walk toward me.
“Give me a hug at least. It’s been so long,” she cooed. The image was a little Dawn of the Dead, but I raised my arms, the little heart monitor on my right index finger blinked a steady red as she kept walking forward. And then she was in my arms. No gnawing. No growling. She smelled good, just like I remembered. She started to nuzzle my neck. The heart monitor beeped a little faster and I pushed her away. She rolled her eyes.
“I’m not going to eat you,” she paused, and blushed, “but maybe later you can, um… eat me?” She giggled and turned her face away. She had always been shy about that stuff. I thought it was sexy, though, a grown woman giggling about anatomy. Sort of coy, like she knew a lot more than she let on. She did too. I loved that about her. And she stood there in front of me, not pale, not stiff, appendages still intact, and warm. Beautiful as ever. God what torture. I recalled the preachers words:
‘When I merge the worlds under the moon in scant days, you and your family will once again be whole. Dead...living....all will be together!’
I tried to make sense of it. Was there a third state of being I didn’t know about where the dead and living can come together? A gruesome love fest. I wondered if the Grateful Dead were really the preacher’s minions and laughed to myself thinking of skeletons on stage while zombies dropped acid at Woodstock 2008.
“Peter, what are you laughing about? I was being serious.” Elaina pouted a little, making me want to reach up and bite her lower lip. I noticed she had her hand on my leg. I looked up at her, she smiled a devilish smile and started sliding her fingers up my thigh. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back. I had no idea what was real anymore, but her hand was getting closer to my sex starved member and it felt so good. God it had been so long. I couldn’t even masturbate for months after the accident, I felt too guilty. Her hand reached my crotch, I inhaled as her fingers slid up the hard length. I opened one eye and peeked at her, with her other hand she started unbuttoning her shirt. Soft, ample cleavage appeared. She slipped her hand inside and under her bra and caressed her nipple.
“Haven’t you missed me, baby?” she whispered as she leaned in closer to me.
“Uh, huh,” was all I could manage as her lips began to close the insurmountable distance to mine. The door to the room slammed open and my rotund Florence Nightingale stormed in looking harried, pissed off, and much less excited than before. Elaina let out what sounded like a short hiss and sat back on the edge of my hospital bed. I could hear my heart monitor beeping like crazy and hoped that wasn’t what tipped off the nurse.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, visiting hours are over,” she said, her words coming in breathless gasps as she looked me over from the door while I tried to hide my erection. Elaina got off the bed and stood in between it and the nurse. She looked at me, pleading with her eyes. I looked at her, something was missing, wasn’t it?
“Elaina, where are the kids?”
“The Reverend Anton is watching over them. He loves children, Peter,” She moved toward me, but then stopped and looked at the nurse, who fixed her with a mean stare, “I meant to bring you a message.” She clasped her hands in front of her, eyes meek and still pleading. That wasn’t my wife. My wife didn’t cower in front of me. My wife didn’t leave my children with creepy preachers either.
“Hurry it up with the message, hon. You got ta go. I got all you crazy **** cult people out here and I don’t know what the in the damn hell is going on, but I ain’t havin’ my patients disturbed by you wackos,” she wagged her finger at Elaina, “and I don’t know how ya’ll are doin’ it, but pretendin’ to be folks’ dead relatives? That ain’t right.” The nurse swiped her forefingers under her eyes, “My granddad just came through that front door spittin’ some nonsense about the mingling of souls in the hear and now. He been dead two years now.” She held her hand to her face, covering her quivering mouth and took a deep, controlling breath. Elaina jumped in.
“That’s right, mingling of souls! The dead and living all together. The Bible says ‘The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.’ Peter, it’s happening.” She took a step toward me as I lay in bed, still visibly aching for the wife I used to know. I wondered, was this madness? To make even those you long for undesirable? To end the emotional torture by ruining the memories? It didn’t seem insane, seemed to be a desperate gamble for sanity. I wanted to grab her, shake her out of this trance and, what? Out of the trance and back into the grave? What the **** was happening? I pressed the palms of my hands into my temples.
“I know the Bible too, lady,” the nurse said from the door, “and them that’s raised from the dead ain’t hanging around dis **** hole. Ever hear of the rapture? If you dead, and you stickin’ around, sums wrong with you. Now git outta my hospital.” She stepped away from the door, pulled a cross out from in between her huge breasts, and held it out to Elaina. Elaina hissed, showed her teeth, pointed and sharp, and bolted for the door. My head hit the pillow, the room spun. My Elaina had fangs. The nurse shook her head and ambled over to me. She had a beautiful face, soft skin, and really pretty eyes.
“How you doin’ boy? I know they said you a criminal, but I can see you jus a good boy caught up in sum bad.” She checked my chart and pulled a syringe out of the pocket of her scrubs. I tried to see her name on her nametag, but her long hair obscured my view. She struggled a little with the pink protective cap on the needle. It came off with a little pop and her hair swung free of her name: Nurse LaVey. She moved toward me with the syringe.
“Wait, what is that?” I asked. She smiled.
“You ask me to give you sum to make you feel less crazy,” she said and started humming something.
“No, but what is it?” I asked, trying to back away from her.
“****,” I said and jumped off the other side of the bed. I had to get out of here. What kind of nurse doles out Thorazine upon request? Under arrest or not. Real zombies or fake. I’d feel better if I were doing something about it. It wasn’t hard to maneuver around the fat Nurse LaVey and finding clean scrubs was easy too. The halls were swarming with smiling zombies leading loved ones around by the arm or pushing them in wheelchairs. I must be crazy, I thought to myself, zombies are brainless man eaters, what the **** was this? Outside the hospital, I could see them, droves of them heading east, toward what I wasn’t sure, but if following them lead me to the preacher, and the end to this madness, then follow them I would.