Welcome to Monster Mingle, a place for urban legends to find romance, where full moons lead to fuller hearts, and all the thirsty singles have fangs. This is how it works: illustrator Bryan Politte comes up with the creatures and I (Drew Chial horror author) give them a backstory.
Meet the third. He’s a punk, a vegan, and one other thing. Just wait until you get to the end before you decide if you’re smitten.
Let’s rip this Band Aid right off: I’m a zombie, a reanimated stiff with all the stigma that comes with, a Type-A Necro-Mortis if I had to put a label on it. That means I died and something else brought me back to life.
I was on a first date with Sadie, a pleather clad, tough as nails, woman of principle. She’d gotten word of an illegal animal testing facility by the waterfront. She wanted to break in, take some snapshots, and get the place shut down. Together we biked along the river, cut through the fence, and trekked through the ruins of the abandoned warehouse district.
When Sadie pointed out the facility it felt like someone down there was smiling up at me. I’d been to that building on an urban exploration expedition and I knew a way in. I pried a utility hole cover open, took Sadie’s hand, and eased her in. We skipped through the sewers, our flashlights danced across the tunnel walls, until we came to a submarine door marked QUARANTINE.
“That wasn’t there before.”
“That’s probably just to scare us, like a sign that says ‘This home is protected by Sentinel Security’ when all they’ve really got is a sign.”
“Well, good thing I brought a key.”
I drew a crowbar from my messenger bag. From there we ascended through an M.C. Escher etching of grated platforms and spiral stairs until we came upon a lab with biohazard symbols on the doors. There was a chamber, with a sign that read INSTRUCTIONS TO BE FOLLOWED TO THE LETTER. Sadie wasn’t in much of a reading mood so she zoomed right through.
The lights went on the moment we stepped in and the vents sprayed us with a chemical bath. When the gas cleared there was a maze of cages before us. They looked empty, but Sadie was determined to find something worth freeing. She dashed in. I struggled to keep up and it wasn’t long before I lost her.
“Look, Monkeys!” Sadie shouted from somewhere around the bend.
Just then a chimpanzee charged at his bars. I stepped back, slipped on a banana peel, and fell over a railing, down a flight of stairs, and snapped my neck like a drumstick.
I’m not sure what happened next. I heard Sadie call my name. Maybe she thought I’d chickened out and bailed. Maybe she figured photos wouldn’t get the job done like some good old-fashioned eco terrorism. All I remember was an alarm, men’s voices, then shouting, gunshots, and screams. Before it all faded to black, I saw a troop of red-eyed monkeys lining the railing above me.
The next thing I know I’m having a panic attack in a pine box. I scratched the lid until the wood thinned, my fingernails were thick with splinters, and I was swimming in worms. The soil was wet with rainwater and I could just make out the faint claps of thunder. It took hours to claw my way out of the muck and when I emerged in the cemetery you better believe I was hungry.
Nobody told me I was infected with a weaponized pathogen bioengineered to amp up my aggression. I found that out the hard way when bloodied my fist, trying to sucker punch a cherub off its stand.
In my delirium I tripped over a bench, slithered along the ground, and gnawed on a bouquet of rose pedals, but when I happened upon a flock of goslings, something inside me knew to leave them alone. My infected instincts were telling me to chomp their necks to bits, but my heart was able to resist.
The rage virus, with all of its augmented aggression, couldn’t bypass decades of vegan conditioning.
I’d been an herbivore for twenty years and counting, and knew that whenever I had an overwhelming urge for meat it was because I wasn’t getting the right nutrients. Fortunately, the cemetery was near a GNC. So, I hopped the fence, scurried across the lot, and dove into the dumpster. Bon appétit.
To be clear, that’s not blood on my collar. It’s gazpacho. That isn’t brain matter on my sleeve either. It’s tofu (and maybe a little cauliflower). And no, that isn’t a length of intestine draped around my collar. That’s a vegan sausage length and I’m saving it for later.
As for my other features… If you like body mods you’re going to love me. I’ve got a barbell in my brow, a lip ring, a tongue stud, a septum piercing, helix piercings, and a 10-gauge plug. Oh, and those monkeys were into scarification so I’ve got a lot of that going on.
As for my body itself, the rage virus makes me super athletic. Unlike those other zombies I’m a sprinter not a limper. Like a hummingbird seeking nectar I’m always on the way to my next protein source.
My Perfect Match
I’m in a subculture within a subculture within a subculture, which makes it hard to meet someone similar. Most living dead girls aren’t that into lentil.
My perfect match would have a reverence for all living (and unliving) creatures. She’d be outspoken and have a strong drive to change the world. She’d be open to punk rock, a vegan diet, and the strong vanilla fragrances I use to mask the stench of death.
My Intimate Details
The average person needs 2.4 micrograms of Vitamin B12 a day. I need several hundred milligrams. Otherwise all those joggers in the woods will look like cartoon chicken drumsticks and I’ll run the risk of breaking my vegan commitment. Most zombies don’t burn too many brain cells thinking about where their nutrients come from. They see their livestock crammed onto escalators or huddled into movie theaters, and just pig out, but I’m a necro-core herbivore. I have standards.
My DIY system for managing my symptoms keeps me out of the tidal wave of ravenous slam-dancers, but the urge to join them is there. After all, my life has gotten harder since the grocer started bleaching their old produce and GNC started locking their dumpster.
I run the risk of going full GG Allin unless my partner can keep those vitamins coming. A punk rock botanist capable of synthesizing B12 from chlorella algae would be like a goddess to me.
My Ideal Date
We’ll get Impossible burgers at a joint with tagged up toilets and live music. Preferably a place with lots of exists, leading to wide open lots and not narrow back alleys.
There were a lot of cages in that facility and a lot of monkeys on that railing. It’s only a matter of time until the virus finds its way downtown. Then all those fancy butcheries, where hipsters cure their own meats, will spill out onto the streets and everyone will see how the sausage is really made. Had these carnivores gone vegan they’d remain functioning during the zombie Armageddon. Instead they’re going to give into their baser instincts and flame broil everything.
Let’s bike up to lover’s lane, roast a couple of gelatin free marshmallows, and watch the world burn.
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?