Freitag, 28. Oktober 2011

Not a story, still writing


[I know, I missed several story-writing occasions I had intended to participate in. Strange thing, with me being on vacation. But, and that is the marvellous part, I am only two scenes away from finally(!!!) completing my novel manuscript - the story I have been in love with since I was a child, and which took me several years to write and which will end up with 90,000 words - I had aimed for 70K in a first draft, but obviously there was more to it. Tomorrow I will once more get up early and hopefully put everything where it belongs. Of course afterwards I will still have to go through the whole thing and polish it, smooth edges and overlaps and such, but right now I am tired in a happy way. Just thought I'd let you know, in case you were wondering what I was up to. In the meantime you can still admire our tomcat.]

Donnerstag, 13. Oktober 2011

People

The people recovered quickly from the outspread of the zombie virus. It was really surprising. No panic, no riots, no mob destroying the cities. Maybe it helped that the epidemic spread slowly, and there were - no, not incubation periods, more like long periods of slow transition. The people would die, conscious all the time, except for the fact that they would not be dead by the end. Eventually, though, they would rot and disappear. Once the flesh was off their bones, they simply stopped.

Of course there were the usual ultra-right nationalist calls for extinction of "these monstrosities". But the churches jumped right at the chance. If cities sent out zombie exterminators now, what would be next? Killing Alzheimer patients? Now, as formerly healthy human beings zombies deserved the respect of the population. And so they gathered them in larger nurseries and offered prison inmates sentenced to life the opportunity to serve a certain number of years as nursery staff, and after that their crimes were forgotten and they were free to go. Unless they were bitten first, of course.

And this was the place where they had brought Aunt Hanna. My therapist had suggested confronting her about her strict rules and frequent physical punishment inflicted on me and my sisters when we were children. The fact that she was, as some philosophers argued, dead didn't change the value of such a confrontation. Or that was the idea. Personally, I did not feel too hot about going in there now. I couldn't even stand visiting my grandparents at their senior people's residence, and now this? Wow.

My therapist looked at me expectantly. Obviously she was very pleased with herself for coming up with this. I couldn't even begin to imagine how much work it must have cost her to find Aunt Hanna. After all, the personal information on the zombies - uhm, life-wise challenged was kept top secret, to avoid requests by life insurance companies or such. Fresh zombies were simply declared dead and brought here, if they could be caught.

The walls of the visitors' room were pale green - the kind of color you expect in hospitals. Dark smudges were spread evenly, as if someone had put their hands in molten chocolate (or something else) and then leaned against the wall. I sat down on an uncomfortable orange plastic chair, still wearing my trusted leather jacket, when they brought Aunt Hanna inside.

She was the model for any zombie horror movie I had ever seen. One of her eyes had shriveled and lay in its socket like a sad raisin. The other one wandered as if trying to take in her surroundings, but it was milky and just plain wrong. Her skin looked like pork left out of the fridge over the weekend, blueish gray and smeary. She had been dressed in simple pajamas, probably by the six-foot monstrosity of a nurse who accompanied her, tattoed arms crossed over his ginormous chest. His head was shaved, his stare deadly, and I watched with surprise just how tender and gentle he was with my aunt. Okay, maybe he was just trying not to rip the flesh off her arm while carefully lowering her into her chair. There was a wet sound as she relaxed and leaned back. The front of her shirt clung to what once probably had been breasts.

I shook my head. This was absurd. Memories danced through my head, of afternoons spent in the closet, of homework forgotten and of the wooden spoon she sometimes used for cooking. "I forgive you", I mumbled and jumped to my feet, and then I left the room quickly. To any spectator it might have looked as if I was running away. My therapist had a hard time catching up. She was quiet as we returned to my car. Someone had slapped a sticker on my bumper. It read, "Zombies are people, too."


Freitag, 7. Oktober 2011

Boys will be boys

"Hey Teddy, are you home?"

Sarah slammed the front door shut and slung her purse across the hallway. With a soft THUD it landed on the pile of shoes and stuff which usually accumulated during the week. She'd clean it away tomorrow. Maybe. Having to choose between spending time with her precious little boy and a tidy home... well, if there was something like Judgement Day, God would probably frown more about a neglected child than about a messy kitchen. (And if he didn't, she didn't want to stay with him anyway.)

She hesitated, confused by the silence. Usually Teddy would fling himself down the stairs and right into her arms, never doubting for even an instant that Mommy would catch him. No matter how tired she was after a long work day or how extravagant the tune he decided to play on his mother's nerves, he knew she loved him and would never let him down. After all, he was the guy in her life, right?

With a sight, Sarah took off her high heels and padded upstairs to look for her boy. The door to his room was halfway open, light from the street lantern in front of the window tinting the carpet a sickly orange. A few toys lay scattered across the floor. What a relief to see a normal kid's room. In some ways, Teddy was just like all the big managers Sarah had to cope with all day long - selfish, childish, never bothering to pick up his stuff.

Teddy sat on his bed, looking at her with huge dark eyes. "Mommy, am I in trouble?"

She hugged him and smiled. "I don't know, what did you do?"

He did not hug her back. Instead, he handed her a crumpled piece of paper. "The teacher gave me a letter for you to sign. She said you need to talk."

Poor Teddy. He was used to being teased and being in trouble, and he constantly felt the need to prove himself in front of the other children. Sarah had never imagined it would be so tough for him to grow up without a father. Or at least not the usual kind of father. One could say that Teddy had been an accident - or maybe an unexpected gift. Sarah had been in college, a wild girl, and her experiments had included everything from beer to weird-looking plants her friends had bought in dark, shabby stores off main street. And her final, particularly wild trip, the one which caused her to vow never to take anything more sinister than Aspirin ever again, had somehow resulted in this cute little man, who was just like any other child, and yet so unique. Sarah remembered the look on her midwife's face when she had given her the tiny baby - surprise and awe and horror, all mixed into one.

She took her time to read the letter without switching on the overhead lamp. ... lack of discipline and modesty... got undressed inside the classroom... inappropriate use of Halloween equipment not approved by school rules... It took her a moment to understand what the teacher was talking about. Halloween equipment? No wonder that her little boy was upset!

Sarah turned around and hugged her son once more. She could feel the tiny bulges moving underneath his shirt. "Don't worry, honey. I'll talk to your teacher." She gave him an extra squeeze. "But how often have I told you? No tentacles at school!"