Mary finds the source of the zomby outbreak.
Mary works her community connections. She asks every one she knows if they've seen anything unusual, trying hard not to say the word zomby. After many interviews she is able to find a pattern of "unusual undead sightings." With this information she finds where most of the reports come from.
She follows the pattern she's uncovered. She finds the highest concentration of reports come from the Northeast edge of the city. She spends some time here house hunting. Another pattern develops as she explores this area.
There are only a few houses. Not only that but the few that are here are empty. Some have fallen into disrepair while others look like they were abandoned yesterday. Mary also notices that there is an eerie emptiness here as well. Very few birds sing, no dogs bark. Despite the sunshine it seems like a surreal blend of the world she knows and a sterile miniature community.
Suddenly she sees a large house on a hill. There seems to be activity there. Activity in a place nearly devoid of all living things. Mary gets a closer look. She sees people chained to trees. Or more precisely, zombies chained to trees.
This must be the place. This must be the center of the infestation. Mary, using every stealthy ninja skill she posseses, carefully enters the castle-like home.
She manages to dodge a guard here or hide from a random zomby there. Her senses on peak alert, she manages to hear them before they see her. She holds her breath with each near encounter, hiding around a corner or in the shadows.
Mary hears music coming down one of the corridors and follows the sound. She peeks around the corner of a large open doorway into a big, banquet room. Here she sees the source of the music. Dudley Mankel-Punter is sitting on a stage doing his best to see over a drum kit that makes him look like a garden gnome, as he bangs away.
A sound system fills the hall with music. The drummer does his best to match it beat for beat, adding a few snare or cymbal stabs for good measure. The light show is fantastic. Every beam of light is well timed to the music. When those lights sweep across the hall Mary can see figures swaying from one foot to another. As her eyes adjust to the darkness she realizes they are "previously alive people."
Mary shudders and turns her attention back to the music. She recognizes the song but can't remember the name. Mary taps her foot as she tries to name that tune. As the song ends Dudley launches into a drum solo that in no way matches the original. In a frenzy he pours his heart into hitting or smacking every drum, cowbell, wood block and every other percussive device in his kit. Mary is mildly impressed at the passion he displays.
In spite of being lost in his percussive frenzy Dudley ends the song on the same exact beat as the original song. He thrusts his hands toward the ceiling, quite pleased with himself. The zomby crowd imitates him and they emit any sound of which they are capable.
Mary, used to praising small children, applauds, despite herself.
No sooner has Dudley's head snapped to his right to see where the applause came from then he is grabbing Sister Mary's arm. She pulls it from his grasp. The undead dancers begin a slow march toward them. Dudley has hold of Mary's shoulders, pushing her against the wall. He says, "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
"I am Sister Mary and I came to ask you why you are terrorizing our city", says Mary, shakily.
Dudley looks at the advancing zomby throng and shouts, "stand down!" The zombies stop.
"Did your precious church send you as an emissary with a proposal of peace?"
"No. I came on my own to ask the questions every one else is too afraid to ask."
"'Why am I terrorizing your fair city?'", he mocks.
"I am trying to save them from themselves. They don't know what they want. All the fine citizens of this city say they just want to be happy. Right. Every morning they go to jobs they hate to come home at night to take their frustration out on their families. What kind of happiness is that?"
"What are you offering?", asks Mary a bit pointedly.
"A chance at immortality, a life without death. And the cherry on top? No thinking. You never have to make a decision again. That's what I call happiness."
"It sounds like slavery to me", Mary says, without sparing the sarcasm.
"You amuse me. I would like you to be my guest." With that Dudley escorts Sister Mary to chamber fit for a political prisoner.
Time passes slowly here. Dudley brings Mary her evening meals.
"Thanks for joining me."
Mary replies, "I didn't have much of a choice."
"That's true. But I hope you will come to see the wisdom of my philosophy."
"Your philosophy, uh? Do, tell me all about it."
"What's your name, again?"
"Mary. I'm Mary."
"Nice to meet you Mary. I'm Dudley. I think you will find that my point of view is well thought out. Like you I seek to help mankind."
"Scaring people with zombies is helping mankind?"
"The 'Formerly Alive' people that make up my group chose this form of existence."
"They chose to be this way?", Mary asks incredulously.
"Absolutely. I give them a chance at immortality. They have chosen to live forever."
"How did they reach this enlightened state of 'existence?'"
"I made them this way.", Says Dudley glowing with pride.
Mary has no reply to this revelation. She is left momentarily speechless.
"I stumbled upon a formula of herbs and medicines, while volunteering in the Caribbean, allowing a measure of mind control over others. On-going experimentation has lead me to help many people who wish for me to show them the way. Freedom from desire, drudgery and every-day decision making."
"Isn't that what television is for?", asks Mary dryly.
"That seems more like a copy of life, a facsimilie thereof."
"You will come to see the light and the way, in time." Dudley walks away and turns a tap to let water drip in a sink nearby.
Dudley visits Mary every evening. They debate the meaning of existence and its merits. Dudley harangs Mary with long rants about a better life and making the right choices.
He plays music to prevent her from sleeping through the night. His henchmen gather outside her door at times to taunt her and bang on her cage. Time passes slowly.
"But I have the answer. It is my duty to show the world a different way. How many people will try my way voluntarily?"
So it goes. Night after night Mary and Dudley debate the merits of different philosophies and states of existence. Mary enjoys the lively conversations but worries the city underestimates the threat posed by this eccentric zomby master and time may be running out. She must get herself back to the nunnery.
Mary, bored with philosophy, turns nightly debates toward music. Asks Dudley if he will perform for her.
Meanwhile, Brother Jacob sorely misses his meetings with Sister Mary in the apple orchard. He has been caught teasing the novices more than usual. He does not know what to do with himself.
He can't understand how someone as well known in the community as Sister Mary can simply disappear.
Brother Jacob, tired of praying and frustrated at not being able to see Mary, heads out looking for distractions. He wanders around and finds his feet taking him to the old part of the city. It is not a part of the city that has been restored to look as it did when it began so much as a recreation of a European city during the renaissance.
Cobblestone streets are lined with tightly packed businesses with signs having large symbols as well as old fashion text giving the name of the establishment. This village-size city turns nostalgic every year when it is over run with knights errant, tinkers and the other renaissance fair regulars.
As Brother Jacob crosses the bridge into the narrow streets he sees a crowd of people in the central square. Being as curious as any other curious person at seeing a crowd, he goes to investigate. The crowd is already two deep and it's hard to see anything. Brother Jacob in his polite but firm manner pushes his way into the onlookers.
There he sees a sight to behold. An oddity read about (perhaps even dreamed of) but never seen. It's a street circus alive in its graceful horror. Composed of freaks on a leash. Slowly, automatically juggling, jerkily posing and pirouetting and keeping one eye hungrily on the assembled snacks, uh people, in front of them. One petulant child leans forward and yells, "faster, do it faster." Another leashed creature growls, swinging claw-like hands at the boy.
The boy growls in reply as he quickly shuffles backward into the crowd.
Brother Jacob is mesmerized with morbid fascination.
He sees this spinning out of control; hungry zombies plus curious people could equal disaster. Brother Jacob tries to distract the crowd by singing popular songs. The crowd just boos. One of the zombies takes a swing at Brother Jacob, ripping his cassock. Jacob rolls away.
The zomby breaks his bonds and shambles after Jacob, at a surprisingly quick pace. Brother Jacob is faster than the creature and ducks down an alley way and runs into the next street over.
Screams start to rise from the village square. Brother Jacob isn't sure what to do. Should he go back to witness the horror? Should he make is way back to the cloister as fast as possible? Jacob hears sirens in the distance. He knows there isn't much he can do. Jacob takes a deep breath and tries to remember the way back to the monastery.
Rattled and dazed Jacob follows the narrow, deserted street in the direction of home. He is certain the bridge which he crossed into the village should be just around the corner. His head down, contemplating his guilt, Brother Jacob doesn't notice the end of the street is occupied with figures he has never seen before. Rattling chains command his attention.
Brother Jacob looks up to see zombies with collars around their necks. Chains are attached to these collars and held by unhealthy looking men in military camouflage. One of the men in fatigues says, in a monotone, unnatural voice, "We do not want to harm you. Come with us or be attacked by my friends."
Feeling like so much prime rib, Brother Jacob looks down the street the way he just came. At the other end are more figures in camouflage with chained creatures looking at him hungrily. Brother Jacob sees no way around it, he complies.
A candle stands as straight as a saluting soldier. It's flame flickers gently making shadows dance from its sconce on the wall. The shadows belong to the Abbot of the cloister and the Abbess of the nunnery they meet and complain about their foiled strategy to control the city council. When this topic has been flogged and trodden endlessly, with nothing new to say, the conversation turns.
They wax nostalgic reliving the budding relationship they had at one time. Enjoying the sexual tension and the thrill of an elicit affair until it overwhelmed them. They could stand it no longer and acted on their overwhelming desires. They were then surprised that nine months later they saw the "fruits" of their labor.
Multi colored lights rake the ceiling and rake the crowd swaying to the strains of 1980s Heavy Metal music. White lights flash to the beat. Mary is trying to enjoy the spirit of the moment.
She is hooting and applauding as one song finishes and another begins. She raises her arms and turns and twirls.
Mary weaves through the swaying figures, waving her arms and encouraging the other dancers to do the same. Reactions are slow, but the others prefer to reach out to her. Mary glances around the walls as she avoids the probing hands. Mary does her best to shake her booty right to the back of the crowd. Her host the drummer is consumed by the enjoyment of the moment.
Mary is now boogying for her life. She slides across the floor and gives the wall a kick, she stops and listens. She gives out another hoot and throws up her arms. Some of the dancers do their best to do the same with weak moans and feeble attempts to raise their arms. Sister Mary tries it again, louder. The same reaction follows.
Mary backs into the corner and takes a break. She recognizes the last drum solo coming up. She wonders if she will ever get out of this place alive. Mary rests her arm on a globe of the world that stands next to a file cabinet. Fascinated, Mary turns the globe. She hears a grating sound. Running a hand along the wall she's certain that she made it move.