Happiest Girl in the World
Silence all around, and then as if out of nowhere a crunching of snow and a passing wind. A figure draped in darkness wearing a little bow peep poncho with a hood stepped onto the stage, out of the streetlamps ambivalent glare. Passing back into the darkness of the alley, blued by the moon now high in the sky beaming down. Visceral cold but white hot light like the gleaming teeth of a giant singing fee fi fo fum hungering for the blood of Englishmen.
His vision blurred and she split, she was everywhere all at once like a reflection in a funhouse mirror. His blood ran cold like the rest of him, he could feel little fingers working at the back of his neck, spiders hairy legs creeping up his spine. But then he could hear a voice he recognised and a wry smile danced on the tips of each syllable.
“Can I get that back?” The voice said.
“Huh?” Said no one in particular.
“The bat, I guess I should have said ‘mind your head’ or something” She giggled mirthlessly barely able to finish the sentence.
“Are you?-“ Juanita stuttered raising a fat digit in the direction of the hooded figure.
The hooded figure, lacking all credulity, pulled the hood down, shaking a thick shag of bright green hair in the brittle moonlight. A pixie smile and small razor sharp canines and said “Expecting a pizza?”
“It’s you! Bbb-ut you’re supposed to be dead!” Juanita stuttered.
“Yeah well, you’re supposed to be running” Sunday’s smile got wider and toothier and she tilted her head like a twilight villain.
“Nita, I think we should take her advice” Jaclyn squeaked trying to sound together.
“The fuck are we doing debating this, lets get the fuck outta here.” Kat exasperated.
“Bbbut, she’s right there.” Juanita tittered, lock jawed, her eyes fixed on her pale reflection, soaking up waves of naked of ambivalence flowing from Sunday.
“We need to regroup” Roch agreed grabbing Juanita’s flabby arm and pulling her out into the street. “We can’t fight that thing like this.”
Sunday watched them go and then turned her eye on TJ standing dumbstruck like he’d seen a ghost. She walked around him stepping over the corpse of Garylynn. “Hey aren’t you forgetting something?” She called out to the fleeing possee of angry women.
“You’re, err, whatever the fuck this thing is.” She said as she reeled back her leg like the pendelum on a grandfather clock. Applying a black army boot to the head of the felled giant like she was kicking a field goal. Lobbing it in an arched path into the street. It rolled and bounced in a macabre fashion due to it’s lumpy unorthodox dimensions, the wig getting wet and matted as it tossed up snow and black ice. It’s face frozen in a painless grimace of wordless peace.
The fleeing women watched the head of their champion roll into the gutter and then looked back frozen stuck in a miasma between fight and flight.
“Well come on, you gonna pick this shit up or aren’t you?” Sunday waggled her head mockingly, putting her hands on her hips under her poncho.
They looked at eachother without words, only animalistic nods and grunts. They slowly approached the downed giant dipping their heads. Each grabbing an oversized limb and dragging it out into the street, and around the corner out of sight. Only Jaclyn popping around the corner to pick the head up out of the gutter. First trying with her finger and thumb by the hair but the head was enormous and as heavy as it looked so when that didn’t work. Feeling the urgency of Sunday watching her she balled the head up hiking it up onto her hips hugging the dirty head close to her and waddling out of sight.
Sunday tutted and laughed, turning back to TJ who stared mouth gaped. She cocked her jaw to the side and tipped her head back. “You mind?”
“Huh?” TJ gawped.
She tossed her eyes up and blew a quaff of toxic green hair out of her face.
He turned to look where she indicated seeing the bat still lodged deep in the wall.
“Oh yeah, you want me to-?” He said pointing awkawdly at the stucco wall.
“Uh huh” She said.
“It’s kinda high up there, I mean” He stuttered.
“Just gimme a leg up there stud” She sighed.
“Oh sure”. He said as flattened against the wall, then leaning forward and cupping his hand. She stepped into his hands steadying herself. She straightened putting her weight on the bat handle and jerking it loose with a sword in the stone satisfying chipping crumbling noise.
She got down and TJ stood up dusting himself off “I crown you the new king of England” He said nervously.
“What?” She squinted.
“Err nothing” He said.
“Well” She said and shrugged “See ya” She turned to walk away.
TJ ran after her “Wait, how did you-? When did you-?”
Sunday turned looking at him, her eyebrows brought together. “Sorry, do I know you?”
TJ’s heart sank, his mind reeled, he felt like he could taste sick of some strange food he didn’t remember eating in his mouth. Did he know this girl? Was this the same Sunday? Did his Sunday ever exist?
Just as his mind was regressing, losing all grip on reality, attributing everything to a sad dream he had. She layed her hand on his shoulder and shook her head smiling “TJ, I was fucking with you”
“What?” He swallowed.
“I remember everything, it’s me, Sunday.” She smiled, some of the ice chipping off, melting becoming warm but still guarded.
“But I saw, I saw you die” he said, his voice rising at the end like it was a question.
“Yeah and it hurt like hell but look for yourself.” She lifted her poncho and her white cotton shirt underneath to show him her milky white belly. There wasn’t a mark. “See not even a scar, the doctors they have in that facility are straight out of star trek or some shit” She laughed and dropped her shirt.
TJ felt his blood pressure rising. “I think I peed myself” He said almost to himself.
“Gross dude” She took his hand and scrunching up her nose looking at his wet sweatpants. “Come on, we’ll get you someplace warm and get you something to eat and we can talk.”
“Oh there you are, I was wondering where you got to. I tried to go back into the store but the door was locked. They’re closed early I guess, heard some weird noises or something. What did I miss?” Jimmy was standing on the street in front of the alley eating an icecream. “Who the hell is this?” he said motioning to Sunday.
“Jimmy where the hell have you been man?” TJ said airing his wet crotch.
“I was just getting ice cream, you want some?” He said holding out the well licked scoop “Did you pee yourself?” He said reaching out as if to poke the wet patch.
TJ pulled back instinctively and tried desperately to change the subject. “Nevermind about that, I spoke to the guy, he said there’s a diner around the corner he wants us to go to for the next call. ‘Reverse cowgirl coffee’ or something.”
“’Cowgirl coffee’ I passed it on the way back.” Jimmy said licking an icecream cone.
“Why are you eating icecream, it’s like really cold out here” Sunday said watching Jimmy licking at the cold goop.
“I like icecream” He said without a hint of credulity in his voice.
“The guy?” Sunday said.
“You know your backer guy, he’s backing me and Jimmy, he said he could help us, don’t you talk to this guy all the time?” TJ asked.
“No, he’s never spoken to me once, I didn’t even know that was allowed, first for me” She said tossing the bat over her shoulder.
“Woah, who is this chick man? What the fuck is that, thing, where did you get that?”
“Oh this” She said motioning to the bat “I made it in the autoshop across town, cool huh?” She said as she bounced the violent piece of metal on her shoulder playfully. “So what did you guys pick up?”
TJ rooted around in his pockets and took out the crappy pen knife.
“Is that it?” She said.
“Blame that asshole, he spent all our money.” TJ said tossing an accusatory look at Jimmy.
“I didn’t spend all of it” He said licking at the icecream. “Stores closed now anyway, we’ll just come back tomorrow.”
“There won’t be a tomorrow Jimmy, don’t you get it? Didn’t Dp explain any of this to you?”
“Explain what?”He said licking the icecream casually.
“Dp?” Sunday said.
“You know zombies, ring a bell? Stores don’t stay open in the zombie apocalypse dumbass!”
“Don’t you go calling me a dumbass, if there are zombies all over the place we can just come here tomorrow and take whatever we want. That’s how that works.” Jimmy said nibbling at the cone of the icecream.
“Where did you find this guy?” Sunday asked.
TJ sighed and said “Let’s just get to the diner and maybe I can get a change of underwear or something.”
“We’re here with Macintosh Lysander, son of the famous billionaire tech giant Monarch Lysander. He’s the head organizer of the protest here outside of Pudgiwara techs lab in Austin texas. He’s out here today protesting the use of Zombies in their experiments and cosmetic testing.” The camera panned out from the peppy blonde reporter’s overstarched smile. It centred on a beardy hipster with lenseless glasses and a homeless looking beanie on his head with a smug smile. The dull hollow eyes of the morally righteous staring into the lense. Just picture the biggest smuggish millennial douche you can image and you can’t be far off. “Mr Lysander, do you want to tell us why you’re out here today” The reporter asked.
“I do indeed Carla.” He said in a high effeminate voice making a loud sucking clicking noises everytime he ended a sentence, like a verbal full stop. “The reason we’re here today, as you already said” He made that annoying sucking sound after every pause. “Is to stop the unjust oppression of the living impaired.” Pause sucking “We think it’s animist to treat the living impaired as if they’re less than human”.
“Animist? What does that mean.” The reporter asked.
“Prejudice against the reanimated by the animated.” He stopped to make that annoying noise again. “Hate from living people for people of undeath, or POU.”
“So your group is here today to protest cruelty against zombies, but doesn’t your father do the exact same thing in his labs? In fact isn’t his the leading company in the field of zombie research?” She asked.
“Well Carla we’re not here today to talk about my father, I’m not my father”. Another pause, a moment of sad self reflection. The camera panned out a little to show how small and pathetic the crowd of protestors was. About five skinny guys and bunch of fat chicks with ZLM signs. They were standing outside a giant megastructure that looked like something Judge Dredd would use to scrub his back in the shower with. Chanting some inane drivel. “As you’re well aware; our post-post-apocalyptic society, now utilizes POU.” He paused to make that irritating noise “-for testing and entertainment. It vilifies the participants as braindead, flesh eating monsters.” Irritating noise “We at Zombie lives matter are here to put a stop to that and end the negative stereotypes surrounding POU individuals.”
“Thanks Mr Lysander, back to Cathy with the weather.” The reporter said with a confused smile.
“ZLM, that’s a, that’s a little on the chin?” TJ said as their attentions fell away from the tv hanging on the wall and he swivelled back around to face the table in their booth in the cowgirl café/diner.
The cowgirl was one of those cafes that looked like it packed up and moved but didn’t for some reason but probaly should. It was like a fifties diner had drunk sex with a texas steak house. Chincy chrome metal everywhere and sqeaky booth seats with formica table tops. Applicances that said ‘smeg’ on them unironically, could have sworn they saw some Bakelite somewhere. But on the walls there were pictures of ranches and cowgirls, bull horns, texas flags. And they sensed if they were allowed they would have put wood chips on the floor.
TJ was sat on the edge of the booth, Sunday was next to him by the window, her bat under the table leaning against the wall. Jimmy was on the otherside sitting in the middle of the booth seat looking at the menu. TJ was staring at him through the menu, it was laminated piece of card with a blonde cowgirl in cow chaps riding a steak yeehawing with a Stetson in the air.
“What?” Jimmy said as he noticed TJ looking at him.
“Do you have any idea what’s going on?” TJ asked.
“Yeah, sure I do” He said still parousing the menu.
“Ok” TJ said clasping his hands on the table.
“This is like a reality show right?” He said after TJ didn’t say anything else.
“Right” TJ said stroking his chins.
“So, what’s the big deal?”
“The ‘big deal’ is we have three days to survive waves of flesh hungry monsters, psycho’s, and mutated freaks. And we now only have one baseball bat and a pen knife between us, that’s the big deal Jimmy.” TJ Sighed.
“Hi yall, why so glum” The waitress said out of sheer courtesy quick to get back on script. “Are you ready to order”.
“Three Yehaww burgers and milkshakes please” Jimmy said smiling handing her the menu. Looking back at TJ and Sunday he said “On me.”
They watched the waitress walk back to the counter and TJ leant in to whisper harshly “We’re fucked!”
Jimmy leant back in his seat and said “Come on man, we’ll just go to the cop shop, they’ve got guns. They’ll protect us, the whole thing’ll blow over.” He said putting his arm across the top of the seat and gesturing lazily.
“That’s not how this works, they expect a show, we have to win or we don’t go home.” TJ said, his voice slackening at the end as if he had any hope at all.
“Go home?” Jimmy leant in and said “Our ‘home’ doesn’t exist anymore, wiped off the fucking map. The news said it was a oil pipeline fire or something.” He leaned back again and said “There aint nowhere for us to go back to.”
“This is a waste of time, TJ what are we doing here” Sunday chimed in peeling her face off the cold window.
“Dp told me to come here and wait for a phone call.” He said, a tone of anxiety in his voice.
“He told you to call him ‘dp’” She said raising an eyebrow.
“It’s just a codename, or whatever” He said hoping for a subject change.
Sunday went back to staring out the window following something strange she caught in the corner of her eye.
“What?” TJ asked as he watched her eyes following something outside.
“Nothing, I just could swear I saw a giant plush unicorn and purple cat running down the street”. She said, as if the words tasted bad.
“Is there a Hi Yu Phat Phucc here?” The waitress called over the counter. “I’ve got your brother Hoh Lee Phucc on the line he wants to talk to you about some Chinese food or something, it sounded important.”
“Err that’s me, TJ said awkwardly squeezing his fat ass out of the booth and waddling over to the counter. “Err hello?” He said as he took the corded phone out of the waitresses hand. She smiled scrunching up a face that looked like it had the consistency of individually wrapped cheese slices.
“Oh herro, it’s me again” Dp said in his kim jong un voice.
“Can we get past this stupid shit?” TJ said deadpan.
“No why would we do that? You used to be cool TJ, one zombie apocalypse and you’ve lost your chill bro. What mommy dies and you forget how to take a joke you fucking pussy?”
TJ seethed silently gritting his teeth, breathing in and out. The phone creaking in his hand as he squeezed.
“Hah, I’m just fucking with you dude, come on bro. You found her right?” Her said, a bounce in his voice like a kid kicking a clown on his birthday.
“She found me.” He said looking over at her like he was in different movie. She was still looking out the window but she cast a glance back and smiled impishly.
“Yeah about that” Dp croaked.
“What?” TJ said.
“Nothing, so, what’s she like?” Dp did his best impression of a cheerleader.
“Whatdya mean?” TJ didn’t feel in the mood to play games.
“I dunno, I just, nervermind-“ There was an uncomfortable silence “Did you get the tracking chips?”
“Not yet.” He said deadpan.
“Well make that your next mission after you eat some yeehaww burgers. Then you’ve gotta get yourself down to the cop shop for the next part.”
“Police station? Why?”
“Cops picked up someone important” It was down to business now, straight normal voice.
“You don’t like surprises do you TeeJayy? You were one of those kids opens his presents on Christmas eve, reads the ending of the book first.” There was another uncomfortable silence. “I’ll just say, he’s been at this longer than you”
“How long?” TJ was curt, losing his patience.
“Ahh give or take fifteen years.” He said sucking his gums.
“Fifteen years? There’s no way this thing is that old, was the internet even around?” TJ said looking around like there anyone else could hear him.
“Eh you’d be surprised, either way you’re not getting out of here without him on board, ya feel me?”
“I don’t get it, this just sounds like an arbitrary filler objective.”
“Guy survives in here fifteen years and you don’t think he has something of value to pass on?”
“If he’s been here fifteen years that means he’s spent fifteen years losing. If he had anything of value to pass on he’d be out already.”
“Oh it’s so simple to big bad internet tough guy TJ. You wanna know why you’re gonna go to that police station, full disclosure, all the cards on the table?”
“Sure” He said staring at nothing with a glazed over expression, knowing what he was gonna say.
“Because I fucking told you to, that’s why.” The phone clicked off.
It was cramped in the bathroom of the cowgirl café. It wasn’t a full rest room life you have a chain restaurant. It was basically a large gender neutral disbaled porta potti. It had a mirror and a sink that smelled like disinfectant and all the hot foods combining into one putrid smell.
“Can you see it?” Sunday said as she looked back holding her hair up so TJ could look at the back of her neck.
The situation wasn’t the most romantic. The bathroom kinda smelled, on top of the food smells, like sick and drunk girl. Nevertheless the back of Sunday’s neck hummed like the wooden seat of a park bench soaking up the summer sun all day. Smelled fresh and earthy and her skin was soft and natural and alive.
His hand shook as he gripped the knife, the blade rattling in it’s cheap handle. “I can see it.”
He was nervous to say the least, even without piss drying on his underwear this would have been awkward. He put his hand on her shoulder, she had her jacket off and she popped her shoulder out of her shirt to expose her neck and shoulders. Her shoulder was cold to the touch, but as he gripped it, it started to warm and he felt like he was getting hot. The underwear situation was getting tighter, her smell and the close proximity.
“Can we get this over with?” She said.
“Err sure, let me just-.” He said as he tried to tunnel his vision on the lump on the back of her neck, just below the shoulder line, gently prodding it with the point of the dull blade. “Here goes”.
“Do it” She said.
He stuck the knife in and dug the bug out as gently as possible, popping it out like a dentist removing a tooth with a blunt chisel.
“Fuck!” She squealed.
“It’s ok, it’s not even bleeding, it was just under the skin”
She turned and put her hand on where it was and looked into TJ’s hand at the tiny device, just looked like a black grain of rice. “All this trouble over this little thing.” She said as she picked it up, her eyes shot up to meet TJ’s without warning sending waves of heat all over his body.
He swallowed loud and she got closer to him. Too close, he could barely breath he closed his mouth. She was in mistletoe range, she stuck her tongue out and licked her front teeth and said “Now you.”
Jimmy sat eating his burger, silently, looked around and stole a few fries off TJ’s plate because he chose onion rings and was now regretting it. He dropped them as he heard blood curdling girls scream coming from the bathroom a lump of food cooling in his open mouth.