It was one of those Mondays. The week usually begins with such promise. However today it was thrown into flux from the minute I walked in the building. The knock on my office door as the day was at an end, prolonged the agony.
I had planned on working on the Johnson case, prepping it for next week’s trial. Typical domestic violence case. My job as a constitutional warrior is to defend the indefensible. But my secretary had other ideas – like trying to devour me.
I had visited a couple of clients in the county jail on Friday afternoon, leaving Shelly in the office alone. I didn’t return after having decided to start my weekend early. But when I entered the building Monday morning, she looked up from the desk, and her eyes grew large. Her skin was gray.
The guys from the Hazardous Human Disposal (HHD) unit who came and picked up her body said that she had likely become infected a couple weeks ago, died in the office on Friday then reanimated either Saturday or Sunday. They didn’t find any bite marks on her flesh however scientists have discovered that the disease can be passed through saliva and other bodily secretions. She hadn’t mentioned anything to me about any lovers or relatives falling prey to the disease, however it was not something a lot of people liked to talk about.
I had used my 22 caliber pocket revolver, the one I’ve carried with me everywhere I go since the outbreak of zombie plague, three years ago, to fire a couple of bullets into the zombie’s brain. Most of my morning was spent trying to work around the HHD men cleaning up my office and removing the corpse.
I missed Shelly immediately. She was an attractive woman, intelligent, and most of all, reliable. After the HHD men left, I had to access Shelly’s computer to pull up my calendar.
That was how most of this Monday was spent. But it wasn’t over. I had to address the person knocking when all I wanted to do was go get dinner and drinks.
“Come in,” I shouted, putting the Johnson case file in the black, four-drawer cabinet in the corner of my office.
The door opened and there stood a young woman. Her green eyes looked at me through a pair of egg-shaped glasses. The color of her long straight hair matched the cherry wood desk in the office. She wore a white, short-sleeved blouse and a black skirt that hung to just above the knee. Her presence strongly filled the room with a patchouli aroma.
“My husband needs your help,” she said. “The attorney he retained is quitting the case, and we haven’t found anyone to help us.”
This was always a bad sign. Either the guy or this lovely woman was hell to deal with, or he was guilty as sin and wouldn’t accept anything less than a jury verdict to confirm that.
“Is he with you?” She nodded. “Bring him in and both of you have a seat.”
I sat in my chair behind the desk as she turned and guided the man in. They sat down as I pulled the client in-take forms from the drawer to my left. When I set the paperwork on the desk, I pushed my chair away, halted by the wall behind me.
“Please help us,” she said, with a tear rolling down her angular cheek.
“He’s a zombie!” I said, now standing.
“Just barely,” she said with a quivering lip.
The man sat there, fighting the urge to rise. I could see the hunger in his eyes. He wasn’t about to bite anyone, as she had affixed a dog’s muzzle to his face, allowing him air through his nose and mouth. His skin was a soft blue. He wore a white Oxford long-sleeve shirt, and black slacks. His wrists were cuffed in front of him, the sleeves of the shirt covering the shackles.
“Has he bit you?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “He was charged with assault and battery. Almost two weeks ago he was at a bar, struck out at a guy he thought bit him, when it was someone else. Now — now he’s like this.
“When’s his next court date?” I asked, slowly lowering myself back into my chair, watching the zombie. He moaned at me, and glared, saliva oozing over the metal cage of the muzzle.
“Next week,” she said. “The attorney we retained lost the preliminary exam. He was going to file a Motion to Quash, however when Andy died, I took him to the attorney’s office after he arose. The attorney said wanted nothing to do with the case now and told me he was going to file a Motion to Withdraw.”
I liked her voice. Clear and articulate. Her pointed chin and prominent nose framed a sweet mouth. I wanted to look more at her however my survival instinct kept me alert to Andy.
“Why do you want to do this?” I asked. “Andy’s not there any more.”
“I’ve known him all my life,” she said. “We started dating in high school. We got married out of college. He’s been the only love of my life.”
I started to reach over and touch her hands which rest upon the desk top, holding the forms I had set there. Andy let out a growl, as if there was some semblance of humanity still within him. I retracted my gesture.
“Miss — .
“Carpenter. Mrs. Emily Carpenter.”
“Miss Carpenter. I know what you are going through. I’ve lost my brother, my uncle, and just this morning my legal secretary to the disease. Once they’ve passed, the being that revives is not them anymore. I wasn’t there when my brother or uncle was put down, however I had to take care of my secretary.”
“He’s a lawyer, too,” she said. “Real estate ‘” commercial and residential. I was his secretary. It’s hard,” she said and started to cry. I pulled a tissue from my desk drawer and reached across the desk to hand it to her. Andy let out another groan, this time more fierce than the previous.
Mrs. Carpenter looked at the reanimated body of her husband. It looked over at her, drooling through the muzzle. He started sizing her up as an appetizer, with me as the main course.
“I guess I really can’t help him,” she said.
“But I can,” I said.
She looked at me, a glimmer of hope glistening in her eyes. Then she realized what I meant, her lips pouting into a frown and her eyes closed.
“Yes, I guess you can. I guess you should.”
With that, in a fluid motion, I drew the small 22 caliber pistol from my pocket, as I had this morning, pointed the business end of it between the eyes of Andy, and pulled the trigger. His head lashed back then slumped to the side.
I let her weep until it was out of her system, which lasted a couple minutes. Long enough for me to go to the restroom and gather a healthy wad of paper towel. I used it to remove the muzzle. She handed me the key to the handcuffs and I removed them from his wrists. I tossed the muzzle wrapped in paper towels into a garbage bag. She kept the handcuffs.
“How are you?” I asked.
“I’ll be okay in a few days. I know I lost the love of my life a few days ago. Actually, I knew it when he told me that he was bitten. He knew it, too. It’s been terrible the last week and a half. No kissing. No sex. He slept in the guest room. But still, I just couldn’t let him go.”
I called the HHD to come and get him. Before they arrived, I reloaded my pistol then went out to the alley to toss the muzzle in a dumpster. None of the three HHD men that arrived were the same as the morning unit. Within thirty minutes, they had the body out of there and the place disinfected.
“It’s been a helluva day,” I said. “I’m about to go get something to eat. Care to join me?”
“I am a little hungry. Running from law office to law office with Andy, I didn’t have time for lunch.”
“Good. You can tell me about your secretarial experience. I’m looking for one, you know.”