- September 13
After a few hours restless sleep, I drove back to where I had seen the man last night. I wanted to walk the area in the daylight to once again look for any clues he might have left. It was a busy area for both cars and foot traffic so I wasn’t expecting to find much but I had to look. If someone was intentionally creating zombies, we needed to know.
Most people never know they’ve raised a zombie. People who can see or hear ghosts have a psychic connection with the dead. That connection, combined with enough emotion or fresh blood, allows them to reanimate the dead. They don’t even know they have awakened the dead, they think the ghosts were already there and they are just communicating with them. I raised my first zombie when I was 12. I’d always been able to talk to ghosts and never thought much about it until a camping trip with my dad ended with a zombie in my tent.
Our 16 year old dog, who’d been in the family since before I was born, had just died and the camping trip was supposed to take my mind off the loss. I spent the afternoon sitting on a mound, crying for my dog. The mound turned out to be a shallow grave and that night, a zombie walked into my tent. After my dad came charging into my tent, pistol in hand, ready to confront whatever had made me scream, it did give me something else to think about for a while. My dad was a police officer at the time and was able to solve a missing person case as a result of my zombie encounter. Of course, it was a few more years before I knew I had raised the zombie. My dad knew, though. When I was older, Dad told me what he knew about zombies, I learned the rest from personal experience. I eventually figured out the person who raised the zombie could control it if they were there when the zombie rose. When a zombie rises, its first priority is to find its creator, the second priority is eating. If the creator isn’t there, the zombie will be drawn to them, eating any living thing in its path along the way. I became a cop so I could help keep the city safe from the things that go bump in the night and to keep them from knowing about all the nasty things that really do lurk in the dark. Now I think there may be another nasty thing lurking in the dark and this one knows how to raise and control zombies. That just might make him the nastiest of all.
After an hour of wasted time looking for clues to the identity of the mystery man, I was about 10 minutes early for my meeting with McDermott. I could see he had someone in his office and was about to have a seat to wait when he noticed me and motioned me to come in. That’s when I recognized the other man in the office. It was Nick Matthews, one of the other zombie hunters. Our paths crossed on occasion at the station but we worked different schedules so we didn’t know each other very well. I’d always thought of him as a ruggedly handsome man with a nasty personality. I knew Nick had been an army Ranger before he became a cop but I didn’t know if that translated to confidence or arrogance on the job. Arrogance can panic and that can save your life.
‘Kincaid, I think you know Matthews, Hamilton’s unavailable. Tell us about last night.’
They listened quietly for the first few minutes. When I told them about zombie number 3 and the watcher, it was obvious I couldn’t have surprised them more if I’d dropped a bomb. In a way, I guess I had just dropped a bomb on them. “I think the watcher was the one controlling the zombie.’
‘Are you sure about that zombie? You really think it was being controlled?’ Nick asked, shock and disbelief clear in his voice.
‘I’m sure. It was like he was waiting for me. He just stood there. I walked up to him, slow, cautious. It felt like I was being lured in to a trap but I didn’t see anyone else until I spotted the watcher after. The more I’ve thought about, the more I’m convinced that he was the one controlling it.’
Captain McDermott leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath as he considered everything I’d said. “Explains the recent increase” he said, more to himself than to us. He lowered his chair and leaned over his desk, as serious as I’ve ever seen him. “If we’ve got somebody creating zombies on purpose, we’ve got big problems. Starting tonight, you two are partners and full time Zombie Squad. I don’t want either of you working alone, no matter how routine it looks. I checked with every dispatcher and every officer working that district last night, Dallis. None of our people called you, that’s why there wasn’t a patrol car there when you showed up. I don’t know what’s going on here yet but, until we know more, I want you two working together.”
I’d never heard the captain use that many words at one time, a tribute to how seriously he was taking the new developments. It took a moment for me to realize I had just been partnered with Nick Matthews. “What about Hamilton, Captain? Are we going to rotate as partners between the three of us?”
‘Afraid not, apparently had himself a little meltdown. We’ll have to count him out for now.’
Will was the newest member of our little group. Not everyone had what it took to accept the reality of the things that haunt the night and there are fewer still who can hunt and kill them on a regular basis without being affected. It helped that Nick had been a soldier. He’d already seen his share of nightmares so, for him, zombies were just another form of bad guy. I’d talked with Will a few times and thought he was a good fit for our little group. Now, I was wondering if he had been busier than usual as well and it was more than he could handle. Or maybe something else had happened that spooked him even more than zombies did.
‘Captain, I don’t mind babysitting Kincaid if you think she needs it but I think I can handle a few zombies on my own til you find a replacement for Hamilton.’ He gave me a not too friendly look. ‘Of course, you’re welcome to tag along if you can stay out of my way.’
I’d heard it before, he was just another tough guy who thought a girl would never be able to keep up with him. Without knowing anything about me, he had already assumed I was just another pretty face. He probably didn’t know that I’d done this job longer than anyone else or that I’d been studying martial arts since I was 4 years old. I was sure he didn’t know I could raise zombies myself or that I could sense them and I’d even been able to control a few zombies that were raised by someone else. No one else knew that. I knew better than to try to defend myself here, those words had no meaning to a guy like Nick Matthews. I’d have to show him. I hadn’t had a good sparring partner in a while, maybe it was time for Nick Matthews to show me just how well he could handle himself.
‘You’re partners because I say you are. You can go solo again when I say you can. You got a problem with that, you can quit now. Otherwise, starting tonight, you two are partners, eleven to seven shift, til this has been cleared up. Find out who that watcher was and why the zombie count is increasing.’ The captain looked at me ‘Work it out’, putting the burden of winning Nick Matthews’ trust on me. Captain McDermott and I had worked together a long time, he knew I’d do whatever was needed to make it work. ‘You’re both dismissed’.
I caught Nick by the arm as we left the captain’s office ‘look, I don’t want a partner any more than you do. If you really want to get rid of me, let’s go a few rounds on a practice mat. Afterwards, if you still think I can’t take care of myself, you can tell the captain I can’t keep up. I could use the work-out, how about you?’
‘Yeah, I can go a round or two with you. Not today, though. You set it up for tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be there.’