Vol 1, Ep 2: A young man adjusting to undeath has an unusual encounter on his way to work.
|Boy, have I outdone myself this time. Not only did I screw up, but this was a doozy. First off, I managed to get myself killed by running after some lady. Then, I get brought back to life in some weird shit that reminded me of “Night of the Living Dead” meets “The Avengers” meets “X-Files” meets whatever-the-hell-else. But, being a radioactive Super -Hero-Zombie wasn’t all bad. And it wasn’t all the movies made it out to be, either.
Technically speaking, I had died, but for all intents and purposes, I was alive, again. Just that I had a terrible addiction to some radioactive process that kept my cells regenerating and growing. I still had to eat and drink, still needed sleep (though not as much as I used to), and my heart kept pumping, etc. In fact, if you hooked me up to standard medical equipment, they’d say I was in good health. Could still die, per se, but as long as the total damage to my body wasn’t significant and I got to the treatment in enough time, I could be brought back.
Of course, I was dead. Even worse, if I missed that radioactive treatment, I’d die for good. Not a pleasant sounding fate, I’m told. I’m told it’s very similar to feeling your body tear itself apart all while you’re conscious. Not fun. Could be worse, I guess. Could be at a Justin Beiber concert.
It was about a week later when Ashley came to me about the mission at hand. Although my ears were acclimated to the serum now, I still found it funnier to be going against John Reno instead of my former boss, John Rioux, so I kept referring to the target as Jean Reno. This did nothing but piss off Ashley, who kept glancing over her shoulder from time to time. I’m certain she was making sure the stick was still there.
“You need to take your assignment seriously. In case you weren’t keeping score, you need us way more than we need you. How long do you think this “game” lasts if you’re useless to us?”
“Hey, I’m focused. Taking this guy out is top on my mind. Just give me a weapon and this guy is toast. You know he actually called me a “slacker” when I got back to work? Said he was going to “keep his eyes on me”, too. Personally, I can’t wait to bust a cap in his ass and teabag him while he’s down.”
I have actually gotten really used to that look that Ashley was giving me now, but this time was a little annoying to me. She glared a bit longer and then handed me a small vial.
“Get him to drink that. It causes cardiac arrest but is undetectable during an autopsy. It’ll simply look like he had a heart condition. Think you can do that, Slacker?”
“Hey, now, that’s not a nickname!” I grabbed the vial from Ashley and gave her a dirty look, for a change, “Yeah, I can do that. He’ll be dead by the end of the week.”
“No, he’ll be dead by the end of the night. We can’t wait any longer. His cell is planning something soon and if he’s alive after work, something’s going down. You work at five, take care of this.”
I took the vial from her, looking at the small amount of liquid in there. Looked like one of those little droppers of breath freshener. “How much of this do I need to use?”
“One drop should be enough. Use two drops to be sure.”
“Alright, I’ll call you as soon as I’m done.” I put the vial in my coat pocket and left the hospital, which I found out just a couple weeks ago was used by the Agency(an Agency, by the way, I had yet to be told the name or even the cool letters of) for temporary assignments such as this one. It was a very odd feeling knowing that a super-secret, government agency used your hospital for a hideout. Okay, so the hospital wasn’t mine per se, but it’s the only hospital I go to. Therefore, it’s mine.
I started walking to work, focusing on the previous week and everything Ashley had been teaching me. “Your emotions are going to be heightened, almost out of control. Keep focusing and when your emotions begin to fade, you’ll be ready for it. You will fail during this time, but you’ll come out stronger than you could ever imagine. The emotions will fade and as long as you focus on your determination, you will overcome yourself.”
I looked at her and asked “You mean I’ll lose my emotions?”
“No, they won’t be lost. Dulled is a better word. They’re still there and you’ll still feel them, you just won’t feel them as sharply. Most agents tend to start dulling after about a month or two. You won’t have to worry about your emotions after three months, for sure.”
I still can’t believe my response. It hit Ashley and I like a ton of bricks, and I certainly didn’t mean to offend her. But it was all I could think of since she told me what was going to happen.
“I don’t want to lose myself.”
Ashley turned away an odd look on her face. If I were dealing with anyone else, I’d have sworn I offended her. If she had been anyone else, I suspect I would be telling her not to cry. But she wasn’t just anyone. She was an Agent. Her emotions were dulled. But they weren’t gone. Even if she’d forgotten how to express it, I’d hurt her.
“You don’t lose yourself.” She blurted a bit angrily I thought. Maybe she didn’t forget how to express them after all. “You just gain an insight beyond mere emotion. Emotion clouds the mind, making us far more analytical and better at what we do.”
“So the emotions going away is a good thing? And is it because of the job or the zombification?”
“We are not zombies.” There was the familiar glare. Funny how easily she could feel annoyance and how hard it was for her to feel anything else.
“We die. We come back to life. Without a dude that turns wine into water, mind you. Sounds like zombies to me.”
“That’s because you’re an idiot who fails to comprehend certain things.” Ashley was starting to get really pissed off so we agreed to turn away and call it a day. It was an entire week before I heard from Ashley again, calling me in today for this assignment. She was all business, of course, but I couldn’t help but feel that she was still mad. Like the idiot I am, I didn’t say or do anything about it. Just took the vial and left the hospital.
I was feeling bummed because she was right. I was a complete screw up. I actually had some promise back in high school. I was scouted by several D-1 schools back in the day to come and play basketball, but I didn’t go. I could’ve gotten an education and ended up doing whatever I wanted. But then I blew my knee and rather than keep up with the exercises, I blew them off. Yep, that’s right. Chance of a lifetime and I chose not to bother.
Now here I was, two weeks after dying (which I couldn’t even do correctly) I’m on my way to a crappy job at Retail Mart so I can murder my boss. How the hell does that rate? You think you have crappy days? I don’t even want to hear about your day, because there’s no way in hell yours is a worse day than mine. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Of course, when it rains it pours, right? Yeah, cue the pouring rain. Literally. As in it started to rain on my way to work. I had to put my iPod away so it wouldn’t be ruined. So what noise greets my ears after a thunderclap wakes them up? Some girl screaming. Okay, I may be dead and I may have walked out on my future, but now that I have super strength and reflexes, I’m not letting someone else’s future go to hell.
I turned the corner in time to see some guy in a baby blue jacket holding a knife on some girl like he was some kind of a gangster from a ‘60s musical or something. Seriously, I didn’t realize that was an actual way to hold a knife threateningly. I would’ve laughed at someone if they’d held a knife on my like that even before I died.
I guess the first sight that made me worry about time being a factor was the sight of blood on the girl’s skirt. It was an orange skirt, turned dark orange in spots because of rain and even darker orange because of the blood. I ran up in between the two and looked at the guy. Then, mustering up all my bravado, decided to try and end this without any more blood being shed.
“Dude, what the hell?” I thought it was a compelling argument.
“Get the hell out of here, this doesn’t concern you!”
“Are you seriously going to drop clichés like that? You’re an idiot and you need to go away.” I don’t know if he was going to listen to me, but nothing pisses me off like some douchebag going all cliché on me. Come on! ‘This doesn’t concern you!’ is supposed to intimidate me? Yeah, maybe if thousands of movie villains hadn’t already said the exact same thing!
“What are you talking about? Dude, I’m not telling you again! Scram or I’m gonna cut you, too!”
Aargh! The clichés are just too much! Now I found myself wanting to bait him into attacking me just so I could snap that stupid, little blade off in his ass cheek.
“What I’m talking about, “Dude”, is that this is my business because you’re an idiot and I’m making it my business. If you have a problem with this, perhaps you should take your business elsewhere. Like off a skyscraper. I’m sure you can find one a short walk from here. Oh, look! There’s one right there!” I pointed at some massive high-rise a block over.
“Listen, Man, you’re about to have some damn problems if you don’t get out of my sight!” This thug was about to get a lesson in problems.
“I’m going to have problems? I’m sorry, did you say problems? It’s funny you say that because I thought I had enough problems already! You know, working a piece of shit, dead end job for minimum wage and not having a car.”
The guy gave me a funny look, one of those “Is this guy serious?” looks. I liked it. I was in this guy’s mind and I started pushing the buttons. I walked toward him slowly, keeping up my tirade.
“Yeah, my Dad left when I was young and Mom busted her ass off to raise me. She’s been pretty sick lately, so that’s just another problem!”
I could feel my eyes starting to water, so I must’ve been really selling this. The guy got a really sad look on his face, too, so I figured it was time to close the deal and spook this guy into running.
“Oh, and let’s not forget that earlier this week, I died! That’s right, broke my damn neck! Dead as a doornail! Oh, but I got better because some people don’t get a break from their problems. Some people have to actually work them out! But not you! No, you don’t have to work your problems out, you’re just going to run around and pass your problems onto others. Why? Well my guess is you’re some low-life piece of shit that just needs a serious ass-beating! So unless you want that reckoning right now, I suggest you turn around and get the hell out of here!”
Yeah, I’d be shitting my pants right about now, and I could see this guy was, too. I was pretty damned impressive, if I might say so, myself.
Unfortunately, I may have been a little too impressive. I was expecting this punk to either drop his knife and run or maybe even pocket the knife and run. Either way, I thought running would be involved in the equation because if he saw me as a threat, he’d want to leave, and if he didn’t see me as a threat, maybe he’d just see me as crazy and not want any of this. Nothing in my wildest dreams prepared me for what happened next.
The young man, tears pouring out his eyes mouthed the words “I’m sorry” to me, then in the quickest, most violent movement I’ve ever seen, drove his knife right into his own throat and ripped the blade across as hard as he could before he fell to the ground in a bloody, convulsing mess.
For a moment I stood there, stunned into silence. The world fell still, no sound, no taste, no smell, no sensation at all registered in my mind for what initially felt like an eternity. Then everything caught up to me and I reacted the only way I could.
“What the hell are you doing?!” I screamed the question very loudly, grabbing my own hair to show the bloody corpse how serious this question was.
“What are you, stupid? What the hell part of my story told you to do that? I mean, yeah, you seemed to be a dick, but there’s no call for that! How fucking crazy do you have to be to do that? Oh my!” Sadly that was all I could get out before I started throwing up all over the place.
It was between heaves that I finally remembered the girl who’d taken advantage of my loss of lunch to bolt. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her round a corner and she was gone. Well, at least she was safe. I’m pretty sure she was cut, but hopefully it wasn’t too deep. To be honest, I suspect that seeing a dude shove a knife in his own throat probably damaged her more than a cut from that knife did. I know it screwed me up.
“You stupid bastard!” I said as I gathered my strength and kicked the dead guy, still pissed. Sadly I’d forgotten the part where us zombies have super strength and rather than simply roll over or anything like that, the body flew a few feet and was stopped by an old Toyota. Yeah, it was time to leave. I simply ducked my head down and walked away. I never even heard sirens the rest of the way to work.