Episodes of Zara the academic Zombie
Part One: Meet Shani
In a little tucked away part of the Universe, dwarfed by many, seemly, more important planets was the world Elysium. This world was divided into four lands, roughly the size of large towns on our planet, and each of these towns were run by a University. These Universities towered over all the other buildings in their lands. Another peculiar feature of Elysium was the bowl shape of the planet. Two of the lands were located in the hollow and the other two were located on the base.
Zara slowly placed her book on her side table. It had been a strange fantasy book about a planet earth. The creatures, that lived there were absurd, adhering to odd politics that she didn’t quite understand yet. Nevertheless, it provided a break from the pressure of her own life. She checked her watch. She quickly twirled in front of the ornate gold mirror, in the living room, to if the greenness of her skin was showing. After a final twirl, she felt satisfied and yelled, “Hey Ma, I’m going to check on the shop”. Her mom replied in a muffled but concerned voice, “Okay, dear, just don’t stay out to late, they’re raiding the town tonight for…” Zara rolled her eyes, despite not hearing the last word she knew it would be the whispered word, “Zombie”. “Some people were actually really cool about Zombies now-a-days,” she thought with a mild irritation.
She quickly rode her purple scooter to the shop. The shop owners opened the “The Price” in the afternoon believing most University students bunked classes after lunch and would want to buy something for a night out at this time. Zara thought her bosses, were stingy and old, but “kind-of alright” because they were normals and knew that she was a Zombie. Zara began to think about all the University homework that she would have to do when she got home. She attended BricBrack Academy. She was officially registered as a normal, but the secretary was a zombie and often changed the details to hide their lower class citizenship. BrickBrack was the only university that Zombies could attend. Unfortunately, there was no secretary Petunia in these universities, just normals.
As soon as Zara opened, The Price’s door Mrs Price bowled her over with an enormous hug. Zara shuddered at the very old, fat rolls touching her young body. “Hi Zara”, How are you” “I’m good”, “The store is good”, “Everything is good”, she said with rapid speed. Mrs Price was one of those energetic personalities that constantly seemed to be bouncing up and down with excitement. One of the benefits of this, according to Zara, was that a person never had to pretend to be interested, because Mrs Price answered your questions, in a way that most suited her, before you had time to reply. “Oh, aren’t you looking slender” Mrs Price exerted while, pinching Zara’s cheek. “Do Zombies…” she said with a conspiratorial tone, quickly looking around the empty shop to check if there were any eavesdroppers, before continuing “ever get you know?”, “pudgy?”. “Of course they don’t” “Can’t can you, when you only eat brains”. Looking agitated, as if it finally dawned on Mrs Price that she might have said something offensive, “dead brains, of course”, “only dead brains”. “Common misconception, you see, that you people eat the living”. “Any which way” “You mind the shop now” she giggled nervously before somehow, with all her fat, pirouetting out of the rather large door of The Price. Zara thought that Mr Price had it specially made for his wife.
Zara slowly started doing stock take, when she heard the door chime. She turned around, inwardly exasperated that a customer would come in when the shop was evidently not open for business. She immediately turned a very bright shade of red, when she saw who it was. He was a very thin norm, who had tattoos of roses and thorn bushes on his arm. His blonde hair was coiffed in a comb over and fashionable shaved on the sides. His eyes clouded with mystery, but when the light caught them at just the right angle, a person could see flashes of danger and rage dancing in their depths. There was only one word possible to describe him, and that was “cool”. Zara was hopelessly smitten with Shani. She desperately wanted him to notice how cool and dangerous she was- it needs to be said, however, that the most dangerous thing Zara had ever done in her life, was submit a paper to the Ancient Cultures department without her usual second fact check routine.
“Hi Shani, how can I help you, we’re kind of not open, but um, you can have a look around and buy something anyway”. Shani, gave her an enigmatic smirk that most people would find obtuse and rude, but Zara just turned a deeper and more horrible shade of red, while emitting a high pitched, “Lemme, know if you need anything”. Shani, broodingly examined the clothes and miscellaneous objects on display. He turned around and smiled, a half smile that looked more like a grimace and said, “Hey Zara, I started working at the restaurant next door, my shift starts tonight. Come by and I will show you how to make coffee, that is if you like coffee”. Zara blinked stupidly at him, before her brain slowly caught up with the reality of the situation and felt compelled to blurt out a squeak. Somehow, Shani interpreted this as a yes, “see you there Zara”. Zara spent the rest of her shift in a dreamy haze, about cappuccino making. Luckily a Zombie could drink beverages, if she could slip in a powdered form of brain. No-one questioned her need for protein in her beverages. The norms did not know of powdered brain, they wrongly continued to think that zombies only ate brains in its original form. Some norms didn’t even know that Zombies ate dead brains, these norms were the most dangerous often advocating for the eradication of Zombies. Zara, however, wasn’t thinking of any of this, just about Shani the beautifully mysterious norm.
When she walked through the restaurant doors at 21:00, after her shift at The Price, she noticed that there was only one table, with two creepy looking guys seated at it. She wasn’t sure this was the right place, but he said next door and while the shop was between the two restaurants, this was the one still open. He did say night shift, she thought slightly panicked. “Whatsup”, she heard a voice say behind her. She quickly turned, heart thumping. She sighed with relief when she saw it was Shani. “Um, so let’s make those, um coffees, she said, slowly starting to feel that she had made a mistake in agreeing to come. Shani smiled his mysterious half smile and shrugged, “What’s the rush, let’s eat something”. “Um I can’t she said” thinking of how she would be poisoned if she at norms food. The powered brain could only help with the digestion of liquid, Zombie scientists had not quite progressed as far as finding a digestive for solids. However, according to the secret Zombie student scientists at Brickbrack, they were close. His half smile widened into a full smile that looked decidedly sinister, even to someone as smitten as Zara, “Of course you can, it’s not like you’re a Zombie”. Zara paled, and managed to force out a faint laugh, “of course not, haha, just not that hungry, ate before I came, you know. His smile became all the more knowing and predatory, “good thing, you’re here the raids are going to start soon”. “raids?”, she said stupidly, trying to will her brain not to break under the pressure. “Yes, the Zombie, police raids, tonight” It shouldn’t have been possible but her face went from a faint white colour to a more start white, as she remembered her mom’s warnings of staying out too late tonight. She tried to nonchalantly shrug it off, “whatever, let’s make coffee. I am tired and want to go home.” Sure” he said, in a purposeful tone.
He walked over to the coffee machine and proceeded to instruct Zara on how to make something obnoxious sounding like an “Americano”. “First things first, you…” His voice weaved in an out of her cognisance “I need to just do this coffee thing…” “…put the powdered coffee in…” “… must hell out of here” “…to steam the milk perfectly…” “… no raids before 23:00…” “… and there is a cappuccino” “Wait, I thought we were doing an Americano”, said quickly. Shani, gave her an odd look, yes we did, and now we’ve done cappuccinos, and are moving on to lattes. “Oh yes of course, sorry got confused for a moment, Zara said eyes moving towards the door. “Well, really I think that’s all I have time for…” She started to head to the door. “Wait” he said, while moving between her and the door, his face filled with an expression Zara did not understand. “Shani, you’re beginning to freak me out please move’, she said, trying to shove past him. “No”, he said coldly, while gripping her shoulder”. “Stop it that hurts” “I know what you are” She shuddered in fear, “ I am a norm, just like you” “Let me go”. “I know what you are”, he repeated menacingly, pulling her closer, in his uncompromising grip. She looked around, hoping against hope that the creepy men would intervene, only then did she notice. They were gone. She was completely alone with Shani. He started scratching at her wrist, with his surprisingly sharp nails, she struggled, with no avail. “Ouch, that hurts”. He started laughing, “I knew it” he said looking at the green skin exposed by the scratches.
“Sit down” he said flinging her by the chair. “Don’t be afraid”. “I’m like you”. He started scratching at his own wrist” exposing his green skin beneath the make-up. Zara only felt a little bit better. Her mother had warned her against normals, but also told her not to trust other Zombies, that at all times she should try remain secret. Some Zombies, exposed others to the police, in order to stay free. Even if they didn’t mean it maliciously, sometimes they would say it to avoid torture, if they had been caught. Only the most trusted could know. “I am not going to tell anyone” he said almost knowing what she had been thinking. “Then what are you doing? Why did you hurt me”. “As if you would have told me”. “I might have”, she said untruthfully. “I just want to speak to someone of my kind for once” “You know it’s forbidden, to keep us safe”, she said repeating her mother’s constant words about the rules. “Would you have liked me better, if I was a normal” he said in a hurt voice. Her mind was reeling with the gravity of this situation. She couldn’t possibly understand how he could expect empathy. She felt a heavy sense of foreboding. She sighed, trying to gather some sort of sympathy, perhaps, if she gave him what he wanted he would just let her go. “No, of course not” “it’s just…” “it’s just forbidden” she ended lamely. “Yes, but why?” She looked at him disbelievingly, because we are more noticeable together, and think about the dark ages, when we were hunted down and murdered by normals, because sometimes, we do bad things when we’re in groups” He scoffed, those are just lies that the Zombie counsel tells us to keep us weak and not questioning their powers”. “No, just no”, she said stubbornly. “Can I- Can I- go- go- now”, she stammered. “Sure”, “Can I phone you sometime”, he said with a pained expression. She caved in, part of her still thought he was a beautiful mystery, this was intensified, now that she knew he was a Zombie, part of her understood the isolation of being a Zombie, another more realistic part thought that this might be the only way he would be willing to let her go. “I will walk you to your scooter”. “Um that’s okay thanks” “ I insist, it’s dangerous out there. They really are going to raid tonight” “No kidding it’s dangerous” she replied, ironically. “You know, I’d never hurt you Zara, he said, taking her hand. She felt tingles all the way through her fingertips straight to her toes. She tried to push away the feeling, to not get carried away by the heady atmosphere he created, to be realistic and suspicious about his intentions, but she just ended up tired, conflicted and confused. This is just one of the little ways he eventually won her over.