Bob is a zombie with a rare condition. He does not eat brains. All he's after is a nice, warm, thumping heart. But why? And will he succeed in his endeavours? Or will he be blown up like the other brain-eating zombies? He's different and the real mystery is if it is for better or worse?
Bob is a common name among the zombie folk. Of course, you still have plenty of Johns, an occasional Oliver and even Pedro. But Bob is not just a zombie name, it is also like a sign of status in the brain-eating community. Or lack of it. A zombie named Bob is most likely an unlucky victim of grave-robbery committed by the living folk, and this means that the zombie cannot return to his grave for daytime hibernation as it has been ruined. A former Betty thus becomes a wanderer named Bob.
I know you will find it funny that names matter to them, but zombies have been witnessed to verbally communicate among themselves, however seldom that may be, in a comprehensive manner. It is thought that this is thanks to a sufficient supply of brains. However, the real reason for their unquenchable hunger for brains is still a topic of debate among some obscure anthropologists and Fox Mulder.
This is where Bob comes in. The one with a faded grey, moth-bitted suit.
He doesn’t look too bad for a zombie. One would say, judging from his dusty hairdo, that he was from the early 1970s, but his clothes have yet to be ripped and worms have hardly made a puncture in his thin cheeks. To tell you the truth, he looks more like a young rich guy who had spent the last three nights partying wildly in Las Vegas. And lost everything.
It was a heavily foggy morning at Peterstown village somewhere between Canada and U.S.A. There were hardly 40 residents, if you count the horses. Peterstown was a cluster of cosy shacks built near a big coniferous forest. Being on a high place as they were, misty mornings were common and often lasted until it became dark.
Katrina and her husband John lived at the edge of town, next to the trail that led out of Peterstown into the woods, among the rocks of the mountain. Katrina and John were in their fifties and had no children. They had a cow name Diva and three dogs; a foxhound named Loco, and two unidentifiable but epically furry mixed breeds named Ruby and Polly.
Every morning at 6:30 sharp, Katrina would slip out of her house, carrying an empty bucket, and hiked and walked to other end of Peterstown to milk Diva, who grazed in a fine meadow shared by other Peterstown animals.
But this strict routine was to be disturbed this morning, much to Katrina’s displeasure, for she saw Bob slowly emerging from the misty forest.
“mmmmhhh…” Bob moaned wearily.
“Fifth time this month!” Katrina shouted at Bob, noisily setting down her bucket and crossing her lumpy arms.
“mmmmmahhhhee…” Bob moaned again, stopping a few feet away, his head down and shoulders dropped.
“Don’t you mmaahhee at me!” Katrina scolded him. “How many times do I have to shoot you before you come back here again, eh?!”
Katrina waited for him to moan some more, but after futile silence, she sighed in aggravation and started back to her house to fetch her shotgun.
“Nnnnneeeehhhh!” Bob stumbled after her desperately.
“What!” Katrina stopped and faced him at the wooden gate.
“Nnneeehh…” He repeated.
“Alright, I won’t shoot ya.” The woman rolled her eyes. “But you’ll get no brains either.”
“Nnnnohh…” Bob slowly lifted his head and sorrowfully looked at her with his obsidian eyes. “Nnnoh brraain…… hhaaaaarrt.”
“Huh?” Katrina said in wild confusion.
“… hhhhaaaaaaaaarrtt.” Bob repeated again, trying as hard as he could to sound human.
Katrina couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “JOHN COME HERE!!” She called her husband, who was inside the house. He was there in a second, with a shotgun aimed and ready.
“Don’t shoot, John.” Katrina said to him breathlessly.
“This zombie here… He’s different.” Katrina glanced at Bob, with an expression of both fascination and disgust.
“How’s he differen’?” John asked, taking a more careful look at the zombie.
“He don’t want a brain.” Katrina said. “He wants a heart.”
“That ain’t a good thing, darlin’. He’ll still need to kill in order to get it.” Grumbled the sweaty, bald man and set himself up to shoot, with Katrina watching anxiously. She did have a soft spot, even when it meant killing something that’s already dead and wanted to rip your heart out of your chest and eat your heart while it’s still warm and thumping.
Bob knew well what he was in for, he was shot a few times before – twice in the chest, twice in the shoulders and once in his left leg. But Katrina’s husband was more determined to finish off the creature this time – especially because it was different.
But he couldn’t.
He strained to pull the trigger but as he watched his target – a pathetic, ragged creature that had once been a breathing, thinking man, he needed to remind himself that this zombie can and most certainly will kill. He is no longer a man.
Katrina noticed the flash of sympathy in her husband and before she could open her mouth to say something, John offered her the gun instead.
“I can’t do it.” He shook his head shamefully. “That look he has in his eyes…”
Bob stood unmoving before the couple, his eyelids heavy and his mouth a certain frown. His eyes were black as a starless night, but there still seemed to be some hope, John and Katrina thought.
“Do you have a name?” Katrina addressed Bob, speaking clearly and slowly.
“Mmmmh.” Bob mumbled. “Mbobm.”
Katrina and John exchanged anxious looks.
“Mmm..?” Bob moaned briefly.
“Sounds like Bob, or something…” Katrina said to John in a low voice, watching Bob watching them. John was mildly surprised that Bob was able to answer Katrina’s question, kind of.
“Where are you from?” John asked, though not as carefully as Katrina.
Bob didn’t react.
“Well, at least he doesn’t think like a man.” John sighed in relief. “Maybe he’s not that much of a threat after all.”
“Do you think we should kill him, then?” Asked Katrina, not very eager to shoot Bob either.
“Well, we can’t keep him either. The dogs will go berserk.”
“What do we do then?” Katrina asked John, wiping the sweat off of her forehead. “You know we’re not allowed to let him into the town – you remember what happened the last time we left a little zombie girl past.”
“Yeah, I remember.” Said John, fading in a sort of a blank expression.
“Hey, Bob?” Katrina called the zombie.
Bob mumbled and moaned something like a drunken guy – words of no comprehension. But Katrina was used to zombie-talk.
“Yes, I know you want into town, all zombies do.” She rolled her eyes. “But look – I have a gun which can make your brainless head blast clean off, so I suggest you go back to where you came from or go look for some other town to terrorize. You’re not gonna get past us.”