It’s not such a surprise that the zombies would be staring at the door. My illegal entrance hadn’t exactly been quiet. I would have preferred to have the zombies take shelter from the ruckus, though. It’s often possible to startle them with a loud noise and to get them to move out of your way.
But they just sat there, looking—well, zombie-like, which is to say both inexplicably gruesome and oddly eager to please at the same time.
Zombies don’t talk, or at least I haven’t heard them if they do, but some of them make a sort of ghastly wheeze that comes up from deep in their throats. They exhale a lot of air when they do this, and if you stand too close, it’s like being blow-dried by a burp. At least three of them, and maybe all five, started making that sound as soon as I walked in.
I still couldn’t come up with Beefcake’s real name, so I said, “I’m looking for the owner of this place. Is he here?”
I wasn’t, of course, looking for Beefcake. He was the last person I wanted to see at this moment, but I felt this statement gave me an air of authority and time to figure out what to do next. What I had envisioned after breaking in was walking around, unobstructed, picking up bits of paper—receipts and phone messages and revealing handwritten notes. I’d planned to take my time looking the place over and find out what he was up to.
“What are you doing here?” I asked the zombies, as if they were the ones trespassing. One of them rose up from the box and took a lurching step toward me, not necessarily in a threatening manner, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I tapped him on the chest with the business end of the golf club. The force of it knocked him back down to his seat.
Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.