I need a drink. Cases like these, they make you take a long, hard look into your soul, and you don’t always like what you find. Old keys, used gum, a hotel lotion bottle that exploded in there and left everything all sticky. A soul can get dirty real fast in this messed up, intoxicating city.
I go to the nearest bar I can find and take a seat. It’s the kind of place with wood paneling that smells like mahogany and a row of pretty little liquor bottles lined up on the shelf, each one more broken than the next. The kinda place with shattered glass all over the floor and no doors or windows and big signs plastered to the soggy walls that say, “Quarantined: Virus Present.” The kinda place where the barkeep will let you drink on credit so long as he likes the look of your face and he isn’t dead. Though this one seems to have died weeks ago.
“I’ll take a milkshake,” I tell him. His impassive face gives away nothing. Probably to tell me that he’s the kind of man who can keep a secret, but also because of the rigor mortis.
“Because let me tell you,” I continue, “I’ve had a helluva week. I can see you have, too.”
It all started seven days earlier. I was sitting in my office working on a big case, power ranking fast food milkshakes, when my secretary interrupted me. She’s this dame with soulful, brown eyes and a sweet, boyish face. She’s got broad shoulders for days, wear slacks, and always says spunky, no-nonsense things like, “Can you stop calling me toots? It makes me uncomfortable,” and “I’m not a woman. I’m a man. Come on, you know that. My name is Jake,” and “Seriously, I am a biological male. I identify as male. Jesus, it’s 2018. Just because I’m your receptionist doesn’t mean…”
Ha! That’s Jake for you: A whole lotta sass mixed with moxie. Women! Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.
As I was taking a sip of my milkshake, shaken not stirred, cold and vanilla (like I like my sex!), Jake opened the door. And in her deep, sultry voice said: “There’s a woman here to see you,”
“Is she a knockout?” I asked. She sighed… seductively.
“Once again, I’m not going to answer that about every client before letting them into the room,” she said.
“Sure, I get it,” I said with a wink. “But is she hot like the steam that rises out of the subway on a cool summer’s night?”
“This is a business,” Jake snapped, spicy as the day she was born. “Are you honestly telling me that you’ll only meet with her if she’s attractive?”
“Shoo her in, darling,” I said tossing her a shiny dime. “And get yourself some new pantyhose and a proper skirt while you’re out.”
“You’re a monster.” Jake slammed the door sensually, and I grinned, replaying our banter. Put a little more curves on the lady and take off the full beard and mustache and I might have given her the time of day.
In walked my next client. My pretty young secretary was bang on: This one was a real looker. Her dress clung to her in all the right places. She had a butt and boobs, all right. Both of those things in spades. More butts than I’d ever seen on a woman. And I’ve seen a lot of butts. I sat up a little straighter. The dame wore red lipstick, and had a jauntily placed hat, so I immediately knew that she was there to seduce and then trick me with her feminine wiles. Her sweet, sweet wiles. Wiles means butts, right? In any case, I was tantalized.
I leaned back in my chair and took a puff of my cigar.
“What can I do for you?” I said.
“Please help me,” she said breathlessly. That’s what they all say. I smiled, enjoying her flirting and the little “helpless girl” act she was putting on. “I’m badly injured,” she continued gesturing towards the place where her arm should be. “Can you call 911?” Her sparkling, blue eyes met mine and I could see that she had a deep need, a hole that only I could fill. A hole where her arm should be.
“How do I know you won’t double cross me, sweetheart,” I said. I’d been burned by dames before.
“I’m losing so much blood,” she said. But then, that’s what they all say. Still, there was something about her that pulled me in. And it wasn’t just her pretty face. I’m deeper than that. She had great legs too.
“Say I help you, sweetheart. What do I get in return?” I asked. I took in the clear human bite mark on her neck from which a black, viscous substance seemed to be spreading through her delicate lady veins just as white foam began spilling over her full, pouty lips. I’d have to be careful with this one.
“There’s something wrong with people, they’re turning into zom… zom…” She collapsed. I couldn’t even hide my attraction. This broad sure knew how to play it.
Jake came back in, and that’s when the dame reanimated, leapt upon Jake, and begin to eat her. Woah. That was different. I had to give it to Ol’ Astonishment, she had me intrigued enough to take the case. I threw my card into her mouth as she reared up with a gobful of Jake’s intestines.
“I’ll be in touch,” I said.
Then, I left to go drink more milkshakes. I always finish one case before starting the next.
I was off to a little gin joint called McDonald’s. As I drove, the sweltering city seemed to come alive around me. It was so sweltering. Pretty much everything was on fire. The houses, the street, most of the people. Just another day in the seedy, underbelly of the city, a place of fallen angels and broken dreams, I thought.
I headed into the restaurant for a little grub of the milkshake variety. But that’s when I began to notice something was amiss. On the surface, it just seemed like a normal day at Micky D’s. Just men, women, and children holding milkshakes, grunting, and eating the cashier in a throbbing, cannibalistic horde, blood splattering all over the shiny, white tiled walls. But my detective sense was tingling. See, when you’re a private dick like me, you notice the subtle changes in the air. And something about the little girl ripping a man’s head from his shoulders, and eating it was making the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
“I can’t quite put a finger on it,” I said aloud as a couple of fingers flew from across the room and dropped, splattering into my delicious milkshake. “But I know there’s funny business going on.”
I was right, of course. Something was going on. And it all led back to my newest client, I realized, as the soldiers pulled up in tanks.
“The jig is up,” I told one of the soldiers. “I’ve been tricked by a dame. There’s nothing wrong at all. She was trying to distract me from my big milkshake ranking case. Classic bait and switch. Sent to mess with my head, you see?”
“No,” the soldier screamed. “The thing that’s going on here is zombies! It’s the zombie apocalypse, man. You need to run. We can’t contain them! All of humanity is doomed!”
“You’re right,” I said. “It is impressive that she staged all this just to keep me from ranking milkshakes. She was quite the little minx. But I caught her. And now, she’s off to a place where the only bars she’ll visit are the ones on her cell. Now, if you’ll excuse me –”
“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? WHAT MILKSHAKES? YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE.”
“We all have to get some place,” I said with a smile. I stubbed out my cigar and started to walk away, stroking my milkshake glass.