[Friends, I apologize for the colorless, huge scribbling that is the picture for this particular snippet. I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems my trusty Paint Shop Pro hates me tonight and is refusing to even open. Then again, even the “crop” option in the WordPress simple graphic fixer-upper didn’t cooperate since this image remains huge no matter what I do. The freebee Paint program gave some result, but not one I’d be willing to post. So what you have here is the lovely pen and paper doodle I scanned into the computer in hopes of providing something a little less drab. Hopefully Paint Shop Pro and I will make amends during the week. In any case, graphic issues fortunately have no effect the actual story. Hmmm – thank goodness this isn’t a comic book I’m writing!]
“Uncle Albert, are you a zombie?” As strange a question as it was, Sylvia found it came out rather naturally; perhaps traveling with her unusual acquaintances had begun to affect what seemed normal.
“Well, it wasn’t anything I aspired for but-” Uncle Albert patted the front of his shirt, “-a sword through my heart a couple weeks ago changed that.”
“Who killed you?” she asked.
Bastiick raised his free hand, still keeping the other ready with a sword. “And why aren’t you trying to eat us?”
Uncle Albert raised a brow and nodded toward Sylvia. “You remember my apprentice, Caleb?”
Sylvia narrowed her eyes. “Yes, I never liked him. Always had the look of being up to no good.”
“Well since he murdered and tried to rob me, I would say your presumptions were correct.” He kicked at the dried blood under his feet. “This eyesore is his fault.”
“I believe my question is more important than this charming conversation.” Bastiick swung his free arm back and forth to get the zombie uncle’s attention. “Why aren’t you trying to attack the two living people standing in front of you?”
“Obviously, he’s had a spell cast on him like the one I used on Seth,” said Sylvia, rolling her eyes. “That’s the reason he’s able to talk instead of growling and groaning like an injured animal.”
“No, obviously that is not the reason,” corrected Uncle Albert in a scolding tone. “You’re too quick to assume magic is the answer to everything, Sylvia.”
Sylvia pouted at the reprimand. “But then how?”
“Science, dear, science.” He waved his arms at the vampires and Seth. “Magic may be the reason your friends and I became cursed monsters but science presented a way for me to regain my civility.”
“You created an invention of some kind to give conscious thought to zombies?” V lowered his sword.
Uncle Albert waited until Deigen and Bastiick gave the courtesy of lowering their weapons as well before answering. “Yes and no. I was every bit your typical zombie for a few days and wasted quite a bit of time stumbling around the house. But then, not having the best balance anymore, I tripped and fell onto one of my worktables. I’d been working on a mechanism to develop artificial light and dived headfirst onto two connectors still generating electrical currents.” Uncle Albert shrugged. “That managed to black me out again and when I came to, I had my charming personality back.”
“Uncle Albert, you didn’t use science to do anything!” Sylvia stamped her foot, wishing she hadn’t as it only caused a cloud of dust and dirt to rise up. “Falling on the connectors was a freak accident! I bet you can’t even explain how that helped you regain your awareness!”
Her uncle crossed his arms. “Young lady, I may be a zombie but I am still your elder. And if I’m not mistaken, your parents taught you better than to talk back and act like a spoiled infant.”
“Sorry.” Sylvia sighed the apology out, looking down.
“And as for understanding the nuances of how the electrical current from the connectors worked-,” he continued, letting the arms fall back to his sides, “-no I do not. But it was a scientific project that I fell into and so, it was science that somehow revived me from being a mindless beast.”
“But aren’t you still constantly starving?” asked Seth. “All I can think about is devouring fish!”
Uncle Albert shook his head and reached into one of his coat pockets. “Not anymore. I found a way to make appetite suppressants out of sand and a few simple chemicals.” He tossed a pellet-shaped object toward him, which the other zombie clumsily caught. “Swallow that and you’ll be fine for a few hours.”
Rather than swallowing, Seth munched slowly on the suppressant and made a face. “Tastes like sand.”
“That’s way I said to swallow the thing. But ah well, it’ll still work, just wait a little while.” Uncle Albert turned and motioned toward his open door. “And why are we all still chatting about out here? Come in and stay awhile. I have plenty more suppressants and lots of vegetables from the garden if anyone’s hungry.”
As he began strolling inside, Sylvia realized one expected landmark of her uncle’s home had failed to make an appearance – the large mutt that looked to contain a hundred breeds in his genealogy, every one of them inclined to jump up and lick to death anyone coming within hearing distance. “Uncle Albert?”
Her uncle half-turned, looking slightly guilty. “Well, I did say it took a while to get my bearings straight and make the suppressants.”
Sylvia’s jaw dropped. “You ate Rufus?”
“That mangy thing never did anything to make himself a good guard dog.” Uncle Albert waved his hand dismissively. “All Caleb had to do was toss a ham bone his way and defending the owner who fed him for several years was out of the question.” He turned back and continued into the house. “If you ask me, becoming dinner was the most useful thing that dog ever did.”