One Of Our Zombies Is Missing

“Yes?” Matt’s voice was a low growl. He had never been a morning person and as far as he was concerned five thirty was still the middle of the night. If his eyes were working he would have looked at the name on the display of his phone.

“Shit! Matt, it’s Tass. We’ve kinda… There’s been a bit of…” It was clear from the faltering words that Matt’s business partner had worked himself into a severe state of distress.

Matt took a deep breath and held back the abuse he was about to let lose. “Calm down. Where are you and what’s happened?”

“I’m at work and one of the bodies has gone.” It came out in a single stream of urgency.

Matt sat up in bed. “We’ve been burgled? Call the cops and don’t touch anything. I’ll be there as quick as I can. Oh, and get a claim form off the insurer’s web site.”

“It wasn’t stolen. It got out.”

The words were whispered but they were enough to stop Matt as he crossed the bedroom.

“Wait up. How could one of the dead ones get out? We’ve not left any of them half prep’ed.” A thought struck him. “Did you carry on working after I left last night?”

“I… It seemed like a…” Tass had returned to stammering. “Yeah, I stayed late. I just thought I’d get that new one ready. We’ve got such a crammed day, and I thought it would help.”

Matt resisted the urge to throw the phone at the wall. “You left a fresh corpse unattended when it hadn’t been bound! What were you thinking? No, don’t answer that. You weren’t thinking.” Tass tried to say something more, but Matt cut him off. “I don’t want to hear any of your excuses. Don’t call anyone, just get the file together and any other background information you can find on the net and the police database. I’m on my way.”

It took twenty minutes for Matt to reach the rundown warehouse they used as their business premises. In that time he had thought of a number of painful torture techniques he could administer on Tass; the least of them would result in only three weeks in hospital. He liked Tass, and the guy was good at his job, they worked well together, but nothing even vaguely resembling the consequences of his action ever popped into the man’s head. Each month it was another mistake; something Matt had to deal with while his associate stood around wringing his hands.

“Well you’ve topped every other fuck up you’ve ever done.” Matt’s words echoed around the damp workshop.

Tass jumped back from computer screen. “I can’t find much on the guy.” His voice was still edged with panic. “And the police system won’t let me in. I was going to leave a message for Detective Elton so he can get us the info’.”
Matt picked up the file on the corpse. “What are you going to say Elton when he calls back? ‘Sir, I just thought you should know that we’ve let an unbound corpse lose on the world. How quick can you get the closure form over to us ‘cause we’re tired of doing business?’” He gave the other man a stare that could have cut stone. “Don’t you think you’ve done enough damage already? Just keep doing background checks and then start driving around the blocks. It can’t have gone that far in the last few hours.” Matt flicked through the notes the family had given them. “I’m going to head over to the graveyard; that’s where most of them go to.”

The ground on Turner’s Hill cemetery was still soaked through after three days of rain. Try as he might Matt could not avoid the more marshy sections of the graveyard. Soon the bottom of his jeans were soaked through. Ten years as an Anderson Man and he was nearly used to the conditions; when he was not up to his elbows in dead bodies waiting to be re-animated so the corporates could fill their sweat shops with cheap labour, he was digging out the latest corpse from a six month old grave because someone in the family had finally decided they needed the cash more then they needed a husk below ground to cry over.

The graveside of the escapee turned up nothing. He had hoped to find the corpse attempting to dig its way back into its final resting place, but this one was obviously not following convention. Matt was still staring at the ground looking for inspiration when his phone rang. The number was a local area code but not one he recognised.

Matt flipped open the handset. “Hello.”

“Is that Re-Life Inc?” The voice was gruff and officious.

“Yep. You’re talking to Matt.”

“Sir, this is Westbury precinct. We have had reports that a zombie covered in a sheet with your company logo on it has been seen in Kingston Park bothering joggers. Do you know anything about it?”

The blood drained from Matt’s face. “No, sir. I’m not aware of any problems, but I’ll get down there right away.”

“You do that. A patrol will be on the scene.”

Matt ended the call without waiting for more to be said and turn back towards the car. He was just slipping the phone into his jacket pocket when it rang again.

He did not give Tass a chance to speak. “You’d better get your ass down to Kingston Park; looks like our corpse has turned up.”

“I was just ringing to tell you that’s where I thought he might be.” Tass had the audacity to sound please with himself. “I managed to find an article on the Globe’s web site. The dead guy is probably down there now re-enacting his last moments; he was shot by a vigilante while exposing himself.”
Any other day and Matt would have laughed at the thought of a zombie flasher.

—————

12 March 2010
Police in Cyprus have finally recovered the corpse of the former president Tassos Papadopoulos after receiving an anonymous call. The body had been missing for three months after being stolen from his grave.

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