An Excerpt from ‘The Zombie on Cuenca Street’ | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

“MA’AM, how do you know it’s a zombie?” the officer- in-charge asked her, when she rang up the homeowners’ association, and Ayen was frankly stumped. So she shouted at him, which obviously is not the brightest thing for anyone to do when hoping for prompt service.

It’s been two hours since her apology call, having attributed her rudeness to the bout of perfectly-natural panic which she has yet, in fact, to actually experience. She isn’t sure why; possibly it’s because she already had the shock of her life just over seven weeks ago, and maybe the silver lining to that is that nothing is likely to ever so completely floor her again, not even a ravenous monster on her front lawn.

It does not really seem all that ravenous, on observation—only persistent. It just keeps bumping its face against the stone wall of the haha, trying to walk on forward even though, at that depth, there is no clear “forward” for it to go. In relation to the house, it is now actually moving backward—or specifically, she supposes, it’s attempting to move toward Ayen, who is crouching, iPhone ready in a death grip, at the far edge of the haha, because that concealing rim of grass blocks her view of the creature from every other angle.

No doubt Papa and Rico and probably even her attorney would have a great many words to bombard her with, regarding such risky behavior, but the OIC’s question struck her—how does she know it’s a zombie? She’s never even seen it full-on; she was just heading out for her morning run when she heard something vaguely like someone’s voice, somewhere nearby. It took her several long minutes to discover where the sound had come from, and by then the figure in the ditch had already been performing its tenacious two-step, face turned resolutely to the wall.

So for all she knows, it could actually be a vagrant, or a would-be robber—only the night before, she would have said that no such person could get through the village’s vaunted 24/7 security, but that was before she found herself waiting hours on end for the supposedly on-call association to respond. It might even be a neighbor or friend—she thinks she warned everyone to stick to the paved brick footpath when dropping by, but if the latest, lamentable events of her life have taught her anything, it’s that she is capable, evidently, of overlooking a great many things.

Maybe the—visitor, she decides; it’s a usefully generic word—was concussed, falling down the haha, and that’s why they can’t speak coherently or seem to stop trying to become one with the wall.

So she calls, down into the darkness, “Hello?”

And the “visitor” looks up.

Its eyes are not sickly yellow or bloodshot red or glowing green, like in a movie; they’re simply filmed over, like those of an old person with cataracts. Its skin is not moreno brown or the “rosy-white” attributed to meztisas, Caucasians, and dedicated users of Pond’s whitening solutions, but neither is it deathly gray. It’s just a desiccated cream, something like the thick, textured, my-lawyer-costs- more-than-your-lawyer stationery that was used for the annulment papers which she desperately wants to sign, so she can get it all over with.

But she can’t, because the negotiations “continue to be ongoing”—and, as far as she’s concerned, threaten to be ongoing continually—because no one seems able to agree on a damned thing, except for the single obvious point that she must have done something or failed to do something, which caused her apparently-perfect marriage to dwindle into such insignificance that it was easily packed away into no more than nine balikbayan boxes.

She just doesn’t know what.

What she also doesn’t know, still, is whatever it is the zombie is trying to say. But from the elongated vowel sounds—and, yes, from the many sterling examples provided via various forms of video—she assumes that it has to be “brains.”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.