Meanwhile not so far away, John “Duke” “Eagle” “Two Nicknames” Wayne is sitting on the edge of the famous Sueno Beach Founders Fountain. Duke used to work at the video store across the street from Sueno Beach Video Rental, SB Video Premiere Rental, but they were put out of business by Ela’s underhanded tactics and violent smear campaign. When asked why she hates Duke so much and is always trying to ruin his life, Ela will typically go on an epic, largely nonsensical, profanity-laced tirade that explains nothing. For Ela when it comes to Duke, there is no line between “perseverance” and “insanity”.
Which is why instead of renting out copies of Spaceballs, the Duke now hands out menus for Taqueria Viva México Restaurant all day. Which is why he’s setting on the edge of the fountain rubbing his calves, he’s beat. Being on your feet and dancing around to attract attention all day is bad enough, but the giant burrito costume is hot as hell in addition. The poor bastard bakes alive in that foam rubber monstrosity under the hammer falls of the relentless Florida sun. He shakes his head sadly and thinks back to the good old days. Duke looks up at the sound of approaching footfalls – someone in heels from the clickity-clacking sound. “Serpent” Tina comes sashaying out of the darkness wearing a stunning green cocktail dress and holding a matching handbag. Her hair is done up in some trendy elaborate cutting edge style and she looks like an actual honest-to-god fancy lady.
Duke tugs at the overly tight crotch of the burrito suit “Well if it isn’t Serpentina, long time no see, how’s the world treating you?”
She starts to answer him, but then stumbles on her heels and pitches forward. Duke catches her and helps her to take a seat on the edge of the fountain beside him.
She nods to him “Thanks. Stupid heels, what kind of fucking genius ever thought that would be a good idea? Let’s make shoes that slant forward and put tiny little stilts on the back – only a man would think of something like that. It’s almost enough to make you want to drag some random guy into the street and shoot them in the face.”
Duke looks down at her legs “They are sexy though.”
Tina slaps him sharply across the face “Shut your mouth, burrito-boy!”
Duke rubs his cheek with a wounded expression “Good to see you haven’t changed, T. I know that I, Duke, do not have your superior intellect and education. But could it be that once again, you are angry at something else, and are looking to take it out on me?”
Tina sighs heavily “I’m sorry Duke, the bodyguarding business so far has sucked worse than the new Adam Sandler movie. Tonight I had to ‘guard’ that spoiled little asshole at his high school prom! The only reason I was there was to impress all his stupid little friends. I swear to god I’m going to break his fucking arm before this assignment is all over. The only person there my age was some hooker a kid brought as his date – what the hell am I going to talk with her about?”
Duke has a few ideas on that subject, but he wisely keeps them to himself “What kind of school has prom on Halloween?
Tina scowls “I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t prom, maybe it was homecoming or some other shit.” She throws her hands up in exasperation “How the hell am I supposed to know what it was?! Quit asking stupid questions.”
“My kindergarten teacher told me there are no stupid questions.”
Tina snorts “Yeah, well your kindergarten teacher sounds like a moron. If things don’t get better soon I’m going to quit and come hand out flyers with you in a taco outfit – anything’s better than being some rich little snotty-nosed bastard’s dress-up doll.”
The duo is transmogrified into a quartet when Lucien and Elvis come walking up the dark streets and into the light illuminating the not at all waste of taxpayer money extravagant fountain/statue of the founders of Sueno Beach. Elvis is wearing a bee costume, that of Sueno Beach Easyriders mascot of “Bee-Z Rider”. Why is a bee the mascot? Who knows? What even is an Easyrider? A motorcycle guy? Lucien is wearing his formal whites, as befits his status as a Good Humor man.
A smile creeps onto Tina’s face at their approach “On the other hand, I suppose it could be worse.”
Elvis laughs weakly, trying and failing to find some humor in his own situation as he drops down next to them by the fountain “The dang game went into three overtimes – I thought it was never going to get over. And after all that I found out someone broke into my locker and stole my clothes.” He plucks at his bee-suit. “I just thank god it’s Halloween and I don’t look completely stupid walking around like this.”
Lucien grins and says something in Canadian to Tina, they both cast looks in Elvis’s direction and laugh.
Elvis looks at them plaintively “What? What did you say? I like jokes, you can tell me.”
Duke looks up at Lucien “How’s the ice cream business these days?”
The big man shrugs “[Untranslatable Canadian gibberish] you know how it goes. It’s not the greatest [untranslatable Canadian gibberish] in the world, but for sure better than yours, eh? This is kind of like a little reunion we got going here, anyone know what happened to anyone else from the old days?”
Duke bites his lip as he thinks “I seem to remember hearing that most of them fell off a cliff and died on impact, I think I saw something online to that effect.” He frowns and points “And actually, that’s Ela and Martialla right there, running at us with horrified looks on their faces.”
They all look and they see Ela and Martialla come running around the corner like all the forces of hell are snapping at their heels – they’re booking like they’ve never booked before. Almost as if their lives depended on booking so hard. Martialla looks like she’s seen a ghost – her face white as a sheet and fearful. Ela seems concerned for sure, but she doesn’t seem panicked – more like determined. Ela is somewhat hampered by her one giant clown shoe and so Martialla gets there first – slamming into Lucien’s back and knocking herself on her ass as she bounces off the immovable giant of a man.
Lucien whirls around “[Angry untranslatable Canadian gibberish]”
Martialla grabs at his tree-trunk-like legs frantically “No, no, no, you have to save me, you have to protect me! You don’t understand, they came through the glass! And they reached! And the hands and the stink and entrails hanging out! OMIGOD, OMIGOD, OMIGOD, OMIGOD, OMIGOD! We’re all going to die!”
Ela comes skidding to a stop in front of them and yanks Martialla to her feet, slapping her crisply across the face “Get a hold of yourself, woman!”
Duke frowns “What are you talking about?”
Ela scowls at him “I’ll tell you what we’re talking about you ugly piece of garbage , we’re talking about the possible doom not only of Sueno Beach, not only of Florida, not only of the US, not only of . . .”
Lucien gulps as he also points at something “[Untranslatable Canadian gibberish] . . .”
Ela turns and looks “Yeah, that’s what we were talking about.”
On the street from where Martialla and Ela came running, a good thirty or forty shambling mounds of rotting human flesh are staggering towards them – emitting a hungry groaning sound and reaching out imploringly for sweet, sweet flesh.
Martialla joins in the pointing and shrieks like a banshee “ZOM-BIESSSSSSSS!!!”
Ela looks around wildly “Lord sweet pappy Johnson with an erection! They’re all around us!”
Indeed the walking dead are all around them, zombies relentlessly putting one foot in front of the other to move down every street towards the Founder’s Fountain and the town square. Lucien and Duke move protectively around Martialla, Elvis, and Tina, crowding close to them and all of them fearfully clumped together. Ela hops up onto the fountain’s edge and takes a quick look around before hopping back down.
Ela addresses them like she has a powerpoint and this is the morning meeting “Alright, here’s the situation, we’ve got unholy creatures from beyond the grave closing in on us from all sides. We’ve got no transportation and no way to communicate with anyone. We have to assume that everyone else in town is already dead or has fled the area. Now what we have to do is . . .”
Martialla jumps in the air like a startled rabbit “Hide! We have to hide! We have to get in one of these buildings and barricade ourselves in! We just have to sit tight until morning and then we . . .”
Ela grabs Martialla by the collar and slaps her several times “Are you crazy?! Didn’t you see Night of the Living Dead?!” She slaps her again and then lets her loose “What we have to do is make a run for it – don’t you remember? The red-haired chick said they should run, everyone else wanted to hole up and wait somewhere. They holed up and everyone died but her – and she made a run for it and lived. What’s the one thing we know about zombies? Zombies are SLOW! Ergo logic dictates . . .”
Duke is hiding behind Lucien and peeking out like a gopher “Shouldn’t we get some sheets and boil some water?”
Tina scoffs “That’s for when someone has a heart attack, not zombies.”
Elvis looks confused “I thought that was for when someone goes into labor”
Martialla’s voice is high and panicky “Okay, so what then? We just run out of town and then what? We sleep out in the middle of nowhere?! Great plan, Ela! Here in town we can find somewhere safe, here we can find food and water and . . .”
Ela backhands her “We don’t have time to discuss this in committee! The zombies are closing in right fucking now! We’re running and that’s that – you can stay here and die if you want Martialla, but I for one am getting the hell out of here, I choose life!” She shakes her head sadly. “Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking.”
Lucien looks around – zombies have them surrounded on all sides about twenty feet away “And how exactly are we going to run at this point? It looks to me like our chance to run has come and gone.”
Tina also looks around, starts to make a move and trips on her heels again and stumbles to the ground with a loud exclamation. With an angry growl, Ela yanks off one of Tina’s shoes and hurls it with a guttural shriek of rage. The shoe flies straight and true, the heel burying itself several inches deep in the eye socket of a zombie. Not only that, but the power of the throw rips its head clean off and sends the aforementioned head spinning through the air, spattering a putrid black mist of blood and other unmentionable fluids in all directions. The zombie body drops like a ton of bricks, and the other zombies nearby immediately jump on him and start feasting. Ela is surprised for one second, but then she runs like a startled jackrabbit.
She waves for her companions follow her “Come on! Move it, you dogs!”
Lucien immediately follows after her, the majority of the zombies on that street pre-occupied with eating their fallen brother. The other four follow after a stunned moment of inaction. Ela agilely leaps over the pile of zombies feasting like a graceful hare and is confronted by two more like a demented jack in the box. She viciously swings Tina’s other shoe at one of them, the heel punching through its skull and sending it down like a marionette with cut strings. The other one grabs her and she starts pummeling it with useless punches. As it bites at her, Lucien flies over the pile and slams into the zombie, knocking it sprawling. The rest catch up and they hurry away.
Ela is gasping for air but manages to speak “Well, we know that high heeled shoes will kill them, but we’re all out of those so we need to know what else works.”
Ela yelps as a crawling zombie seizes her ankle and she takes a bad tumble – Lucien tripping over her as well. Elvis manages to avoid getting tangled up in the mess as Martialla and Duke go down in the pile as well. Elvis is immediately confronted by a pack of zombies coming around the corner – a few of them still munching on quivering limbs. He screams in terror and back-pedals, throwing a piece of his bee costume at them. Ela pops back to her feet and lets loose with her clown seltzer bottle. Surprisingly, these deadly attacks have little effect. They’re done for it seems, but Lucien comes charging to the rescue – bowling the zombies over like pins. He starts throwing them with mighty sinews and broad manly shoulders, which doesn’t seem to hurt them, but it does keep them off-balance.
Martialla gets to her feet, dusting herself off “Well now we know water doesn’t hurt them.”
Ela scowls at her “Shut up Martialla, you never know until you try.” She addresses the group, oblivious to Lucien struggling with a mob of zombies left and right behind her. “Now, does anyone have anything else we can use as a weapon?’
Duke checks his pockets “I don’t think so.”
Martialla also checks her pockets “No.”
Ela gives Tina a hard look “Aren’t you a bodyguard? Don’t you have a gun or something?”
Tina scowls back at her “Does it look like I could hide anything in this get up?”
Elvis points behind Ela where Lucien is struggling with six zombies “Uh, shouldn’t someone be helping Lucien? He looks like he’s getting a little tired.”
Duke points back the other way “Yeah, and we have a lot of zombies coming up from that way too.”
Ela takes off running again “Come on, you idiots!” They take off running as Lucien is hurling zombies around like rag dolls. “Stop fooling around and come on, Blue! We have to go!”
Lucien turns to say something to her and a zombie on the ground chomps into his calf like a kid at weight loss camp biting into a Klondike Bar. Lucien’s eyes bug out and he screams at the top of his lungs, falling to the ground in front of the rampaging zombie horde. Ela quickly runs over and kicks them off, grabbing Lucien and hauling him up to his feet with a massive lunge. As they run, one zombie catches a fistful of Ela’s hair. She pulls away, leaving it with just a handful of her lovely auburn strands. Lucien hobbles along leaning on her heavily – at this speed they aren’t much faster than the zombies.
Lucien gasps in pain “I’m done for Ela, I can’t go on. Leave me, I’ll never make it anyway, save yourself.”
Ela drops him like a bad habit and springs away like a wily alpaca “You got it pal.”
Lucien sighs “I should have seen that coming.”
I’m placing the Ela-pocalypse story on hold for October so I can present a special Ela Halloween story. This idea tested very poorly with focus groups. Please note that his takes place in 2002 before zombies were gauche. That’s how writing works right, your work is judged by the standards of the era it’s set in?