We couldn’t handle Archie staring back at us with accusing eyes, and he stank, so I covered him up with a duvet. A pink one with polka dots, which is the only spare one we have.
Scott spotted what he called the girly duvet and screwed up his face. “He’s my mate. We need to show him some respect.”
I’m irritated his pal has bled all over the new rug, yet I’m the one getting all the aggro for using a pink duvet.
Instead of coming up with an alternative to cover up his friend, Scott stood there with a stern expression on his face and shook his head. “It’s just no right.” Then his eyes grew wide and staring as he gawped at the duvet. “I think it moved.”
I snorted and shook my head. “How can it have moved? He’s deid. His stomach’s on our carpet.”
Just because Scott didn’t consider the duvet manly enough for his pal, didn’t give him the right to try to freak me out. But I looked down anyway.
At first, I didn’t see any movement, but I carried on watching. Then Archie’s feet started moving, making a tapping motion as if dancing in time to music. Before I’d seen it for myself, I thought that what happened to all those others on TV was not the same as what happened to Archie, because making that connection would open a whole Pandora’s Box of trouble.
Denial is after all a way of shielding myself from the truth. But eventually realisation dawns, especially when Archie started doing a tap dance on my living room floor. “Fuck, he’s no deid.”
While he’s doing this I realised there’s one last thing we can do for him: cave in his head.
Scott gives me his teacher-doesn’t-approve stare. “Wish you wouldn’t swear, Emma. It makes you ugly.”
As if my swearing was our biggest problem right now.
I wanted to give him an earful for chastising me like I was one of his pupils, but I’m too busy watching as dead Archie takes a hacking breath and tries to get up.
I don’t say anything. I couldn’t breathe. I simply held out my finger and pointed as if auditioning for the National Lottery’s It Could Be You ad. But this was one lottery I sure as hell didn’t want to win.
Archie flung the duvet asunder. His ash-grey face was set in a grimace that reminded me of a Mayan death mask. He looked like hell, which was no surprise considering his innards were spread out all over our carpet. But it’s his eyes that were the real giveaway that Archie wasn’t Archie anymore. He had the bluest eyes I’d ever seen, but now those eyes were gone, replaced by dead orbs, as black as coal. They lacked that spark of humanity and self-awareness, whatever it is that makes us human.
Something clicked in that brain of his. He stared at us like a starving dog eyeing someone's dinner. His mouth dropped open and rancid black sludge spilled out. Then he howled.
I thought I was going to puke.
He grabbed for my arm, his blackened teeth as sharp as knives snapping at me. I managed to sidestep his reach.
A scream shrieked out of my throat before I could stop it.
HOW TO KILL A ZOMBIE
The thing about being confronted by zombies is that we all think we’ll know what to do. We’ve all seen the movies, watched the TV shows. To kill a zombie you need to splatter the brains all over the shop with a gun. But the reality is different for those of us living in
where we don’t have guns in our wardrobes or locked in a box, because we don’t keep guns, period. That makes killing the zombies damn difficult. Scotland
My boyfriend is useless as a handyman, so there’s no toolkit in our third floor tenement flat. We have no hammers, chisels, or drills to destroy the brain of the zombie who used to be my boyfriend’s best pal.
Okay, this so-called pal drives me mental, like the time he got Scott, who’s not a big drinker, steamboats one night and dragged him along to a lap dancing bar where he ended up slipping crisp twenties into Monique or Cindi’s g-string. (I know this because he kindly recorded footage on Scott’s mobile phone.) I’m still pissed about that, but I don’t hate him to the extent that I want to cave his head in.
So when the thing that used to be Archie, struggles to its feet and lumbers towards us, arms outstretched, as if pretending to be rent-a-ghost, I snatch the first thing I can get my mitts on, an iron I’d forgotten to turn off, and I scud him across the head with it.
There’s an almighty hiss as it scorches his flesh, accompanied by the smell of burnt barbecue. The iron trundles onto the floor where it lies, scorching the carpet. I can’t believe what I’ve just done, and my hand goes limp.
Archie’s makes a throaty noise and lurches towards me. That's when Scott gets busy, bludgeoning his best mate over the head with an ugly, heavy lamp his parents had bought us as a housewarming present.
Globs of sticky brain matter splatter the wall as though someone dumped mince in a blender without the lid on and switched it to turbo, but Scott still keeps whacking dead Archie, because dead Archie keeps coming at me.
My back's to the wall. Will he not die, again?
The Restless Dead is available on Kindle and in Paperback