How did the sphere work?
Frank Shelley didn’t know.
All he did know, was that he put it on the corpse of a postman, and he was now following him like a puppy.
Frank turned back to look at the dead guy. He wasn’t completely dead, since he was walking. But he was definitely dead in the medical sense if you took out the spherical helmet from him. The red lights on the sphere only made him look even more menacing. Dressed in his work uniform with a logo and a tie, you could barely see the bloodstains on his shirt.
“Stop following me!” he screamed at him, and he listened to him. So he went, ‘Huh,’ and ran away. But it was as if there was an invisible tether, because as soon as he got to about fifty metres away, the zombie started following him again. He tested the distance, it was almost exact. Giving up, he threw his arms in the air and said, “Fine, you wanna follow me around? Come along, then!”
It was night, thank God for that, and Frank took the usual route back home, unable to think of any alternatives. Along the way he did manage to get himself out of the shock and had a thought or two. So, he took an alternate route that was definitely less frequented.
It only took him five minutes to get mugged.
“Oh, right,” he said raising his hands, “I remember now why I don’t walk this street at night.”
The mugger waved a cutter knife at him. It wasn’t as intimidating as a blade, but it sure could cut skin and do a lot of damage. “Your wallet and your phone, right now!”
“O-Okay,” Frank stuttered and pawed around his pants, looking for his belongings. He found them and threw them at the mugger, who caught them on his chest in an awkward grab.
“Nice, don’t move, stay right where you are or I’ll cut you, you skinny fucker.”
Frank did exactly as ordered. He was far too shocked to even try something, he simply obeyed.
The mugger found his cash and pocketed it, then looked up and his eyes went wide. “Who the fuck are you?” He raised his cutter knife and Frank flinched away from it, but it wasn’t aimed at him. No, the mugger was looking shocked at a person behind Frank.
How could he have forgotten about the postman?
He must be in a deeper shock than he thought.
“Get back!” the mugger demanded, waving his little cutter around. “I’ll fucking cut you, you hear me? I’ll cut-“
The zombie-postman didn’t break his stride. Which was pathetically slow, and apparently only a complete moron could actually be caught standing by it. The mugger screamed as the bobbly-headed zombie grabbed him and didn’t let go, no matter how much he fought back and cut at it. He sliced the postman’s shirt. There was some blood but it was pudgy, dark and thick. It wasn’t running in veins no more, it looked more like jam.
The sphere’s lights illuminated the shocked face of the mugger, bathing it red.
The zombie killed the mugger, snapping his neck without hesitation.
“Fuck, man!” Frank said and paced up and down, holding his head. “What do I do now? What do I-“
He stopped and looked at the mugger. The zombie stared at Frank, tilting its head like a bobbly idiot, waiting for him to tell him what to maybe?
“Fuck this night, man!” Frank complained to the heavens and then rifled through the dead mugger’s coat. He only got his own phone back, his own cash and his wallet.
He wasn’t gonna loot a dead body.
He looked around, making sure nobody saw him and then walked at a brisk pace back towards home.
He heard a dragging sound behind him. “Fuck, no…” he said, turning back.
The bobbly zombie was dragging the dead body of the mugger.
“What are you gonna do with that?” Frank squealed. Then he shut his eyes and turned away, throwing his arms in the air. “You know what? I don’t care. I don’t fucking care. I just wanna go home, take a shower, get in bed, forget this nightmare. That’s what I’m gonna do.”
He walked back home, followed by a postman zombie that was dragging a mugger’s corpse.
He shut the zombie out the door. “No, this is stupid, stupid!” he said, slapping himself. He opened the front door to the garden and waved the zombie in.
It stared at him, tilting its bobby head.
“Come in, you fucking moron,” Frank angrywhispered.
The postman zombie complied. Huh, it needed verbal commands, it couldn’t understand gestures and whatnot. Frank shook his head, he didn’t really care. He just wanted the two dead bodies out of his front porch.
The zombie shuffled inside, dragging the dead mugger. There was no blood so all it did was to bring in some dirt inside, which was the least of Frank’s worries.
“Stay here,” he said in the face of the bobbly zombie, pronouncing the words very, very clearly. “Stay. Do not move.”
The zombie shuffled a bit on the spot but didn’t move his legs.
“Great.” Frank left them in the kitchen, pulled down the blinds and left them there. On the way to his room, he tripped on his flatscreen TV and almost toppled it over. “Phew, that was close,” he said, pushing the TV back in place. It was his pride and joy, along with his gaming system. He never actually watched TV, mostly played online to blow off some steam. Usually, online shooters with incoming zombie hordes.
The irony was not lost on him, but he was too fucking tired to care.
He took a quick shower with cold water, he had no patience to wait for the boiler to warm up some, and then fell into bed in horizontal oblivion.
Frank woke up from the sounds of something breaking in the other room. He groaned into his pillow. It couldn’t be a burglar, he couldn’t possibly be that unlucky. He checked the clock on his phone, the sun had barely peeked out of the east. “Why is this happening to me?” he shouted in the pillow, muffling his discomfort.
There was more crashing and breaking from the living room.
He raised his head. He had a bad feeling about this.
Darting out of the bed and into the living room, he found what all the commotion was about. “No, no, no, what the fuck are you doing?” he cried out softly, walking incredulous towards the middle of the room.
There it was, the postman zombie with the big sphere on his head, breaking apart his flatscreen TV and making something. There was more debris lying around, his washing machine, an old radio from his dad which he never used anyway, his toaster, his coffeemaker.
“What are you doing?” Frank said, lifting the electronic guts of his appliances. There was no salvaging this, the zombie had broken everything down to their individual components. It stopped screwing something on a circular gadget, stared at him with his blank, red lights, nope, that wasn’t a dream last night Frank realised, and then turned back to building.
“You know what? I don’t care. I don’t fucking care,” Frank said, showing his palm to the zombie.
He went to the kitchen and stumbled over the dead mugger. “For fuck’s sake!” Frank cursed and stepped over the dead body. It looked pasty and… well, dead. The neck was bent at an unhealthy angle.
He spat into the kitchen sink disgusted, and then went to make some coffee for himself, because he was fucking tired and didn’t get enough sleep.
He held the coffee pod in the air and blinked, not finding the coffeemaker in its proper place. “Fucking zombies!” he breathed out and looked around. He really needed some caffeine. “This is the only type of coffee I have in the kitchen, you fucker!” he shouted across the rooms to the postman zombie. He got no reply, so he shrugged and inspected the coffee pod. He pierced it with a knife, then slurped the thing down as it was. It… wasn’t drinkable. “I don’t care,” he said out loud, then licked the remains. “It’s caffeine, and I’m gonna put it inside me, even if I have to inject it into my veins.”
He then slurped another one.
Blinking, stretching his back, he stepped over the dead mugger and went back to the living room.
The postman zombie was done with his gadget. “What is that you’re making, really?”
Frank got no reply. The zombie stood up and carried the electronic jumble he’d just made over to the kitchen. Frank stepped aside and let it go to the mugger’s corpse. Then it knelt down, lifted the man’s stiff head by the neck and put the spherical device on the corpse’s head.
The electronic helmet the zombie made turned on, there were some blinking red lights like his own, and then the corpse jerked its hands and its foot kicked.
Frank paced around the house. He now had two zombies following him, shuffling their legs and tilting their bobbly heads. He paced up and down, came face-to-face, or rather, face-to-bobble with his first zombie, cursed out loud, stepped aside and carried on with pacing.
What was he going to do? Sure, the zombies listened to him but they always followed him around. He couldn’t go to work, the eight-o-clock for that was fast approaching, he couldn’t leave the house. The zombies would follow him, even after ordering them to stay put.
He fell on the couch, feeling mentally exhausted.
How would he take these bozos outside? Their bobbly heads were a dead giveaway that something was wrong, pun intended.
Wait, did he care? Perhaps he could just shrug it off as some sort of cosplay or other. People did dress up in stupid ways. Okay, none of them put a big sphere of electronics on their heads, not as far as he knew.
Frank sighed, then slapped his knees and got back up. He was gonna dress up, comb his hair, and just go to work.
Just like any other day.
He walked to work, he didn’t wanna take the bus and risk seeing what the bobbly heads would do. They followed him. Despite being dead and being very, very conspicable, the people in the streets had shit to do and chores to get to, so they didn’t care.
Frank got to his place of work. His shoulders always seemed to sag whenever he got to that entrance, the place was depressing. A dead-end job like no other, a filing clerk for the city in a place where nothing really mattered, just a way to generate paperwork.
“Stay here,” he told the two zombies in a strategic corner. It was the wall just behind his desk, so he should be able to leave them there, walk around the front entrance, get to his desk and work all day without straying further than fifty metres. Should be easy, right?
He got inside.
“You’re late, Shelley,” his boss spat out as soon as he saw him. He was dressed in his cheap suit and tie, as usual. Always waving a bunch of folded up papers around, always threatening to hit something with them, like swatting a fly.
“Yeah, I had to walk all the way over here, there was an issue with the buses,” he lied and went to his desk. He looked around, satisfied with the mental math he’d ran earlier. The distances checked out, he was fine. Nobody really went back there, not since Rachel got fired after taking far too many smoking breaks, and the zombies should be out of sight from the street. There was an issue with the far copier machine, but he could use the smaller one closer to him.
“So, you’ll punch out fifteen minutes later?”
“Of course, sir.”
“What’s what I like about you, Shelley. You never say ‘no.'” He swatted the desk with his bunch of papers.
He pulled his incoming files and started to process paperwork, stamping and signing and inputting protocol numbers on the system.
Three files in, he realised that he was the zombie.
Dead. Repeating tasks. No future in sight.
The boss came over and kicked his desk. “Shelley, I want you to run up the Acquisitions Department, get something for me. The receptionist should have it ready for you.”
He stared in horror. “I-I can’t,” he stuttered.
The boss’ face turned into surprise. “Shelley, this isn’t a question. Go the fuck over and get me my files.” He waved his bunch of papers around.
Frank looked at his feet. “Yes, sir.” He stood up, doing the mental math. What was he going to do?
He walked out and went towards Acquisitions. He kept staring back. Perhaps this time the zombies would stay there, perhaps they learned to listen to him better after issuing a bunch of commands.
“Yeah,” he chuckled, “and perhaps that cute receptionist will ask you out on a date.”
Frank kept walking, kept checking his back.
The zombies shuffled around the corner, as if knowing exactly how far away he was. “Dammit!” Frank kept on cursing, checking his surroundings. There were many employees parked out there but thankfully none were outside at that moment. Maybe he’d get lucky. He ran to the other department, he could get inside from the far left, keep the zombies out of sight, get it, get the file from the cute receptionist, get out, go all the way around again close to the treeline, and leave the zombies back behind his department.
Yeah, he could do that. He ran and did just that.
Panting, he went inside. The cute receptionist raised her gorgeous blue eyes at him. “Hello, Frank. Here’s your file,” she said. She was in front of a room that was filled with electronic equipment, computers, data entry, obsolete equipment that the state paid to maintain and nobody used, the works.
“So organised,” he panted, grabbing the file from her hand.
“Why in such a rush?” she chuckled, and that too was cute.
“Oh, I… You know how my boss is,” he frowned.
She nodded and mouthed, ‘I know.’
And then she smiled at him, and his heart fluttered.
He shook himself out of his bliss and remembered the zombies. Fuck. “Bye!”
Frank ran outside, still no employees, that was good. He went all the way across the treeline, the zombies bobbed their heads after him.
He was nearly there.
And then his boss came out of the front entrance of the department.
“What the hell?” his boss said to the two bobbly heads behind Frank.
He shut his eyes, unable to think up an excuse. “They… uh… we’ll, you see…”
The boss went around Frank and whacked the mugger zombie on the bobbly head with his bunch of papers. “What are you supposed to be?”
Frank saw the cutter’s blade flash but it was too late. The zombie stabbed his boss, again and again. He killed him on the spot, and it was very bloody and messy.
“Nonono!” Frank said, unable to stop it now.
The bobbly mugger looked up at him, tilting his head.
“Stupid pile of shit,” Frank went on, holding his own head. He ran back inside, the zombies followed. The mugger zombie dragged the bloody corpse of his boss inside.
“Fuck…” Frank kept on saying, “I can’t believe this is happening. Fuck!”
The zombies stood there in his place of work. He sat back on his chair, slamming his head on the desk, trying to think his way out of this mess.
He heard the zombies moving. “What are you doing?”
They didn’t say anything, and they went to the big copier. They dismantled it withing seconds and started to build up something with the salvaged electronics.
Frank waited, horrified. He knew what was going to happen, but he couldn’t look away.
The two zombies finished their gadget, it was a rough sphere of salvaged parts, and put it on the boss’ head. They turned it on, and the boss stood, blood still dripping down his elbow, his suit a mess of little cuts and patches of red.
The three zombies stood inside the office, staring at Frank with their red indicator lights.
Frank straightened his back. He stood up, raised his chin.
“Wait. I can control them. I have three of them, and they are strong. They somehow multiply using corpses and electronics…” he thought out loud.
And then he had an idea.
It was acquisition time. Conversion of analog to bloody digital.
He stormed inside the Acquisitions Department.
“Stop screaming,” he said to the cute receptionist.
“What are those?” the receptionist asked, horrified.
“My techno-undead army. And I’m here for Acquisitions of machinery and personnel,” Frank said, and started on his plan to conquer the world.