"This is..." Sophie swallowed, forcing her voice to remain neutral. "rather unusual."
Sophie stepped up to the clear glass of the room in which the Zombie was housed. It swung its' head back and forth rhythmically, its' eyes wide open, but pupils whitened with cataracts.
"Is it aware of us?" Sophie asked, fighting the tide of panic. She forced herself to inhale from her nose and exhale from her mouth... the way the Toucher-clinic had taught her.
Dr. Methen shook his head. "Only peripherally. For Zombies, scent becomes the dominant sense, while hearing and sight take a back-seat. Touch is almost all but lost. I haven't been able to requisition a functional magnetic resonance image scanner for some time."
Sophie glanced sideways at the doctor, who stood too close, trying to use his height to loom over her. He studied her features closely, eyes darting back and forth, looking for some sign of fear. But Sophie had spent six months in a low-town clinic, documenting the treatment of Touchers. She knew how to school her emotions. If he was sizing her up for a quick feed, she'd prove terribly disappointing.
Sophie reached her hand into the folds of her jacket and activated her throat-mic. There was a moment of feedback, as the mic adjusted to the acoustics of the room, then the beep that told her she had good pitch.
"So... why show me this?" she asked.
"Let me start with an outlandish claim." Dr Methen said. "I have evidence that will prove that DOR is not a natural occurrence. There are specific markers in the cerebrospinal fluid which indicate that the bacterium involved were specifically engineered to--"
"Wait a minute." Sophie raised a hand "You're telling me someone is making Zombies?"
"Oh yes." Methen leered. "Zombies, Touchers and Victims. Miss Hudson. All of them. Effects of the same bacteria."
Sophie narrowed her eyes and cocked her head to one side. She had introduced herself as Sophie Coran. The letter she'd received had been addressed to her with that surname.
Few would ever connect her to the Prima Ballerina of a previous century, her mother. Yet--twice now--Methen had addressed her as Miss Hudson. Had he known Sophie's mother?
"You've definitely piqued my interest." Sophie smiled and looped her arm through the crook of Dr Methen's skeletal arms. "But the question remains. Why show this to me?"