At night I deadbolt doors and hard-bar windows, and it’s not bad living in the city. I stay home a lot. Turn off outdoor lights, bring in garbage cans: simple, commonsense stuff. Obviously, I don’t have pets. I leave my car unlocked so they won’t break the windows looking for food and trinkets. Play music all night to drown out the yowling. But nights aren’t bad. Daytime is when I get fed up with zombies.
I know. I shouldn’t call them that.
I’m not one of those reactionaries who believe they should be locked up, or sterilized, or confined to Z towns. I think there are perfectly good jobs for people with hypo-endocrinal thyro-encephalitis: day labor, night janitors. But hiring zombies for food service? I just think that’s wrong.
That day, I’d had another doctor’s appointment and had gotten the unhappy results from a battery of invasive tests. I was already late for a sim-skype in Jakarta when I popped into the Starbucks Financial near my office. I got to the front of the line and who should greet me behind the counter but some guy in his early twenties with all the symptoms: translucent skin, rotting teeth, skim-milk eyes—the whole deal. Full zombie. (I know: we shouldn’t call them that.)
His voice was ice in a blender. “I help you.”
“Grande. Soy. Cran. Latte,” I said as clearly and patiently as possible.
He said back to me in that curdled grunt: “Gramma sing con verde?”
I stared at him. “Grande … Soy … Cran … Latte.”
“Gramma say come hurry?” His dull eyes blinked, and...