Catatonic Zombie

The sun shone brightly that Wednesday morning. No one had a reason to expect that life was about to take a turn of a lifetime. The night shift had no problems to report and the day shift took over calmly, tending to patient needs and handling the breakfast deliveries. Just as Nurse Margaret Jones sat down to enjoy a cup of coffee she heard her name paged to go to the Emergency Room (ER). Sighing, she set the coffee down and rushed to ER.

Upon arrival, she saw a SWAT team securing the door. Each member held a machine gun and wore bandoliers of ammo. She asked what was going on and they told her a very dangerous patient was inside the room. They allowed her to enter the ER where she saw a team of doctors standing back with a confused look on each face. Her nurse’s instinct had her stepping towards the table when she stopped in mid-stride. On the table lay a tall man; rather, what had been a man. Ragged clothes were on his body and pieces of flesh had rotted off. Bands of cloth held some of the pieces together. Margaret had seen moulage before but had a bad feeling this was not part of a training exercise. She quickly heard the story.

A group of zombies had wandered into the supermarket. Rather than attacking the customers, they headed right towards the meat locker. The butcher had attempted to stop them and they stopped him instead. The butcher had annihilated the other zombies until the one on the table had killed him. The Court had ordered the suspect brought to the hospital to be held until motions were heard and ruled on regarding a trial. If not a trial, the decision had to be made about what to do with the zombie, who was being called Tim. The doctors were to do everything within their power to keep the zombie safe until then.

Margaret was curious about why the zombie was so still. No one was sure, though all were grateful. The Chief of Psychiatry was on the way to shed some light on the case and when she walked in, she hesitantly looked at Tim. She pushed gently against the ragged tennis shoes. The leg stayed stiff and unbending. She waved a towel in front of his eyes. No response. “I think,” she announced to the room, “we have a catatonic zombie.”

At that moment, additional papers from the Court arrived regarding Tim’s care. He was to be cared for with the utmost respect and courtesy. Fresh raw meat would be provided for his meals daily. Right then it was irrelevant because there had been no twinge of movement from the zombie. A public defender arrived and wanted to be alone with his client. When shown the catatonic zombie lying on the table, he dropped the request to be alone. “Do zombies talk?” he wanted to know. Margaret answered that zombies only moan and never talk, probably because the speech part of their brain was gone. “Great,” he replied, and then started thinking. The lawyer light in his eyes glowed brightly. “So,” he demanded of the Chief of Psychiatry, “he is unable to reason or think?”

She nodded assent and he asked another doctor if he felt that Tim was aware of doing wrong. The doctor said he doubted it; if anything, Tim was defending himself, since the butcher was shooting at him. The public defender quickly excused himself and went back to his office to prepare motions for dismissal on the grounds of self-defense and the inability to know right from wrong. Another motion requested he be held in protective custody until the end of his unnatural life.

The District Attorney had also prepared motions requesting arrest and trial for murder. The judge saw the whole situation getting out of hand and turning into a media circus. After all, how many zombies attend hearings in the courtroom? The judge quickly turned the matter over to the Grand Jury to ponder.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Grand Jury, what is your decision?