As I said last week, Jess Walter read a genuinely creepy zombie story at the Hugo House recently. It wasn't disturbing in the same way that all the other thousands of zombie stories published every year are disturbing; it was something completely different.
That particular day, I’d had a doctor’s appointment, a battery of tests, and was already late for work. I popped into the Starbucks-Financial near my office and who should greet me behind the counter but a guy with all the symptoms: translucent skin, rotting jagged teeth, skim-milk eyes, whole deal.
Full zombie. Voice like ice in a blender. “I help you.”
I sighed. “Grande. Soy. Cran. Latte.” I said it 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 he must’ve heard the impatience in my voice—“No!”—because he started humming the way they do right before trouble starts, “Gran-maw!” he yelled, and the manager, standing behind him, gave me a look like (Dude …) and I looked back at the manager, like (You’re blaming me for this?)
I understand the economics—I work for a multi-corp, hell, anyone with a job works for a multi-corp. More than that, I get the humanity of hiring zombies—listen: my ex-girlfriend started shooting Replexen after doctors announced it was dangerous. Andrea actually chose to go zombie. So I know how their brains work; I know abstraction and contextual language give them problems; I know they’re fine as long as you avoid eye contact, speak clearly; that as long as they’re not drunk or riled up, zombies can be as peaceful as anyone.
But come on? Gramma sing con verde? What does that even mean?