It was typical of that time of year, that season in which the tree, having foregone most of its leaves to brave the cold air alone and coatless like a suicidal nudist, cast a webby figure against the sky. Yes, the zombie, that feckless bastard who never knew when to quit, had returned, making all deathly and slightly unpleasant like yesterday’s chicken wrapped up in tinfoil, clabby with dried grease, good for a sandwich if you’re desperate and not averse to scraping with a knife. But then the chicken, fragile and tender, starts to fall apart, and thus we explain, so they say around these parts, the condition of the zombie’s skin, which cannot rightly be called skin, more like Skun, an off-brand imitation, ersatz.
It was during that particular instance of the zombie, not merely a zombie, but the zombie, for it is always the same one, that I was activated. My job, though I frankly hate it and wish everyone would die, is that of pizza delivery girl. I am not actually a girl and find it quite insulting that they would call me a girl, but they do call me a girl and show no signs of letting up on that front, the bastards. And speaking of bastards, though he is such a bastard, I owe my life, my “activation,” to the zombie, for it was he in his clumsiness that caused the electricity to surge and spark the volty watty shit and ohms in my head. He had, so I have heard it, shambled his way to the power station and gotten his curiously perky buttocks stuck in a doohickey as a result of walking backwards because he thought that was cooler than walking forwards, and now you know the truth, or at least the rumour surrounding the truth.
But the pizza business stops not for the zombie, no, not ever. We delivery folk, slice runners as we are known in the trade, remain a constant presence on the streets, delivering pizza to all who may need to ruminate in greasy guilt, for, it must be said, this long abused bready thing of Italian extraction has become, in all its mutant forms, the thing that binds the people of our nation together, like circular slabs of glue. Not patriotism, not hatred for brown people, no: pizza. So, rightly, I take my responsibilities very seriously, zombie or no, and on that day I entered as was my duty the Izza Pizza van which by that time had already been filled with boxes of steamy cheese-ridden bread made lumpen with unnecessary add-ons, and drove on into the night, fulfilling a ten hour shift and making many depressed people happy once more. I know what you’re thinking, you presumptuous, odious little twit, “The pizza must have become cold and unpleasant over the course of ten hours,” but that is where you are wrong. I do not deliver cold and unpleasant pizzas, the van’s thermally splendiferous rear enclosure makes sure of that.
At the end of my shift I started to feel the pangs of puberty, which was odd considering I was thirty-three years of age at the time, but I considered the possibility of delays in my system owing to the foul influence of that rumpleheaded shit I knew as the zombie. I did not know how I knew it was the zombie, nor that there was a zombie, for I had only just that day awakened, and there had been no time for a briefing by my “superiors” at the terrible establishment at which I work. Bastards. But yes, there it was, puberty, angst, hair, sweat, groin odour of considerable pungency, I had it all.
It was about that time that I encountered a man, smartly dressed and with a congenial smile and a handsome old face ─ he looked to me a pervert, but I engaged him in polite social intercourse nonetheless.
“Lovely weather we’re having, young lady,” he said.
“I am not a young lady, you shitty anus,” I replied.
He told me that he had recently had an injury involving his buttocks and had had to have skin reconstruction surgery. I told him that he looked like shit, which he seemed to take as a compliment, probably because he was old and stupid. He said he was pleased to make my acquaintance, and I said that I was not pleased to make his because I hate people. He told me it was okay to hate people, but it was even better if you could have a gun with which to express that hatred.
“It’s a pity this country has such restrictive gun laws, don’t you think?”
“Yes, I suppose it is, but fuck you.”
“Ah, I remember when I was angsty, I was fortunate enough to have a gun at the time, so I could take out my frustrations on passersby and so forth, but alas, you do not have that liberty.”
“Hey, what are you doing?” I demanded of him, as he opened up the back of my van and proceeded to take a slice of “Hawaiian Punch” style pizza.
“Mmmm, I love the taste of pineapple and anchovies.”
“Give that back, you foul fiend!” I reached out with a deft hand, but he backed up out of my reach.
He looked at me, and with a cold, cadaverous grin on his moribund lips, said: “From my cold, dead hands!”
It was then that I realised, not only had I been conversing with the zombie, the zombie had been Charlton Heston all along. I raced into my van and backed over him a good dozen times, took the pizza from his hand and said: “That was a pizza cake!”