THE COLD SEATTLE RAIN beat down with a sad rhythm. Life is never easy; and life as a zombie had proven to have more twists and turns than an episode of General Hospital. Hands in her pockets, Liv thought about all the people who had been affected by her foray into undead territory: Lowell, Major, and Evan.
She had almost forgotten about her little brother.
Talk about Sophie’s Choice; hers was more like Romero’s choice: let her brother die or make him undead like her. And she couldn’t forget how Major had reacted to being turned without asking.
An ambulance screamed past, as if yelling at her, reprimanding her for her choices. When she had told her mother that a blood transfusion was out of the question, Eva Moore simply would not hear it.
“Liv, what are you talking about?”
Liv remained quiet, uncertain how to explain something that would sound crazy.
Her mother grabbed her by the shoulders. “Your brother is dying in there…what are you waiting for?”
“It’s tough to explain. I…”
Eva interrupted her. “There is nothing to explain. You follow his doctor and do exactly what he says, and save your brother. There are no reasons, no explanations. He’s family. You don’t think about it.”
Liv allowed herself to be led and silently cursed her existence as she let them take her blood. The nurse looked at her funny as she drew the blood. It was like tapping a tree for sap.
“I exercise a lot. Low blood pressure,” Liv joked, not really sure how to explain her low pulse and near-comatose blood pressure.
Returning to the present, she looked up at the pregnant sky and sighed. “What do you have for the second act, huh?”
BLAINE’S RAGS-TO-RICHES STORY had taken a turn back to rags. The stitches along his side throbbed angrily as he stumbled through the alleyway, feeling the effects of alcohol for the first time in a very long time.
“A cure. Really? She goes for a cure after all this?” he mumbled to himself as he took a swig from an empty bottle.
With a hiccup and an irritated huff, he threw the bottle against the wall, smashing it to pieces. This jostled a vagrant from his dilapidated cardboard estate with a series of incoherent shouts. Three coats thick and two sheets to the wind, the homeless entrepreneur shambled forward. What spilled from his mouth was equal parts drunken exposition and drool.
“Afraid that my dance card is a bit full, my colorful friend,” spoke Blaine with a viper’s smile. “There is vengeance to be had; and a new empire to build.”
The vagrant took another step forward and then fell into an uneven stack of garbage cans. A plastic bottle filled with amber-colored liquid, and the label peeled back, slipped to the ground.
“I see that you have offered liquid courage to my campaign. A thousand thanks.”
Blaine staggered on, looking more the part of zombie than he ever had before.
RAVI LOOKED AT THE BODY for what seemed like an hour. Three long, jagged slash marks tore what had probably been a beautiful face to shreds. And in a macabre way, her beauty made him think of Peyton, who had yet to return a call. A troubling sign if there ever was one.
The voice jostled Ravi’s from this thoughts. Turning around, the good doctor Chakrabarti looked at the irritated and expectant look on Clive’s face. Fists firmly pressed into his hips, the detective was the very picture of intimidating.
“Pardon me,” replied Ravi, still thinking about Peyton.
“Major. Have you seen him?” pressed Clive.
Ravi walked to the computer and pretended to work, a task that did not prove too difficult. “I dunno, detective. I haven’t seen him in a while.”
Clive looked Ravi up and down. “How about Liv?”
“Has Liv seen him?” parroted Ravi.
Clive frowned. “No. Where’s Liv?”
Ravi bit his lip and busied himself with nothing. “I haven’t the foggiest.”
“Yeah. Well, if you see either of them, let them know I was looking for them.”
“What happened? Should I be concerned?”
Clive turned and walked up the stairs, stopping at the top. “Just let them know I want to talk to them. Both of them.”
Ravi gestured to the new body. “Did you want to know about our new arrival?”
Clive shook his head. “Not just yet, doctor. I need to see something through.”
“Right, well, when you do…”
Clive continued out the door, not letting Ravi finish.
SOMBERNESS REDOUBLED, Liv returned to the one constant in her life since being turned into a zombie. The sterile and quiet environment was what she needed right now. Thinking about everything threatened a full-on zombie episode, something that would not benefit anyone. She made it exactly three steps inside before Ravi bolted around the corner, concern framing his features.
“Gods, Liv. Where have you been?”
“Out,” replied Liv without much enthusiasm, and then walked down the stairs toward the new body.
Ravi circled in front of her. “Detective Babineaux was looking for you.”
“And Major. What’s going on?”
“It’s….” began Liv. She stopped and supported her body against the gurney. “I can’t talk about it right now, Ravi. I need time to process. I need the routine.”
Ravi watched her sadly, knowing that something awful must have happened. He considered prying, but knew it would do no good. Liv would tell him when she felt comfortable doing so, and not a moment sooner. He walked up next to her and gestured to the body. “Donna Summers. And no, not the singer. They found her on a jogging path.”
Liv was thankful for the new body, something she had become too accustomed to. “What happened to her face,” she replied, tracing the air just above the lacerations.
“I suppose that will be for you to figure out over dinner,” he returned with a smile.
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON was just the right mix of horror and humor, which had, as of late, been an apt narrative for her life. The hunger never stopped and, ironically, it was veggie chili, and a whole lot of hot sauce, that proved the only palatable way to choke down the brains of the recently departed.
Everything felt so far away, like she was in a tunnel out of which she would never emerge.
The movie undulated between silly and stupid, a welcome mix given the circumstances. The aptly-mocked ominous tones began as the camera shakily chased a poor actor through the woods. Then, it was suddenly in technicolor and surround sound as Liv’s heart thundered as much as a zombie’s was able. She felt the fear; something was chasing her. Heavy, frightening breathing chased the poor woman through the woods.
A growl filled her senses.
Turning around, Liv experienced the unadulterated fear the woman felt. The growl stopped and she felt something heavy strike her, tearing through her like paper. Looking up, Liv got one good glimpse of gnashing jaws and blood-red eyes before it flashed forward and ended the trip.
Liv floundered on the couch, trying to catch her breath.
“Where did you go this time?” called a familiar voice.
Turning around, Liv witnessed the unbelievable.
Lowell stood there, as clear as the morning sun.