Tammy Mason, 47. She was a day-shift cashier at the Onondaga Boulevard Wegmans. She’d been married to her second husband Bob for nine years. She was employee of the month in April, 1997 and June, 2004. She enjoyed recreational bowling. She was worried that her daughter Janie, 17, was not going to go to college, even though she’d been saving up for years. She and Bob enjoyed watching 50’s movies and had been going to the Syracuse Nationals since its first year. Bob had been restoring a ’63 Impala for the past four years that he picked up for $4500 just before the Panic hit. They had looked forward to entering it one day.
He was tall, thin, dressed in black, alone, and undead. But there was no mistaking him. Even for a zombie, he was an unusual shade of bright white. Under the gore, it was greasepaint. Under his right eye, a black isosceles pointed down like an inverted tear.
“Uptown! Check this shit out! It’s him!”
“That bum who used to beg tips off people. Here ya go, buddy.” Parker swung his pole towards the tall man’s face, breaking his nose. “I always wanted to do that.”
“From over by Carousel? The one with the cardboard sign?”
“Naw. This guy was downtown by the bus stops. Usually on Salina. Miming. Worst mime in the world. It’s a wonder anyone ever gave him anything.”
“Well, he isn’t miming anything anymore. Kill him before he calls for backup.”
“No way. This creep gets special treatment. Give me your rope.” They stepped back while Parker tied a bowline, then moved forward together as Uptown nicked the Zombie’s throat with a machete to stop the moan. Uptown slipped the loop over the Z’s head, jerked the rope, and secured the other end to a standpipe with a taut-line hitch.
They stood a yard from the zombie as it clawed the air uselessly, its mouth flapping up and down noiselessly, the rope working its way into the notch Uptown had cut.
“You know, this is the first time in my life I haven’t minded looking at a mime. That’s a pretty good invisible box he’s doing.”
“Dude, you can’t make eye contact with them. They’ll never let you alone until you pay them.” He karate-kicked the zombie in the chest, sending him backwards. “That’s all you’re getting from me, buddy.” The Z wasted no time and flew forward, straining against the rope.
Uptown grabbed his friend’s arm in alarm but did not swing the two-by-four he was carrying. “Dude. That rope looks like it’s going to…”
But the cord did not break. Instead, the zombie’s body pitched forward with the top of its spinal cord showing, launching its severed head toward Parker. Parker would later swear that its mouth had formed a perfect O.
“I have never seen anything as funny as that in my entire fucking life.”
“If I had a buck, I’d tip him.”
“I wouldn’t,” Parker said, lining up the severed white head with his shoelaces and sending it face first into the concrete wall of what used to be the Grand Central Deli. “Mimes freak me out.”
Clipboard knew something was up as soon as the 18th Squad came trudging down the boulevard. They were moving too slowly. The 18th had been becoming one of the best: they were going out farther and returning with more kills than any other unit. They were cold, efficient, and ruthless—just like everyone else in Corpse Corps. They did not carry guns. They didn’t need to. Their ZEDs—zombie elimination devices—always came back covered in gore.
They were never very loud, but today, they were noticeably quieter. Parker, Uptown, and Vannawhite all piled through the checkpoint and reported their kills. They marched silently on through toward the baggage claim to stow their weapons. Holey came through last.
“How many’d you get, Holey?”
“Sixteen personally. I split a couple with Uptown. Give them to him.”