This is a piece of holiday flash fiction I wrote for the I Zombie I series, back in 2011. I thought it long lost, but, after much digging, it has been found. Enjoy.
Silent night. Holy night. All is calm, all is quiet.
The music gently massaged the ambiance of the holiday occasion. It was a celebration that would have profound and epic repercussions on the human race. And, most importantly, it might well be the only such celebration this holiday season.
My name is John Burgess. You should know that name. If you do not, it will only be a matter of time before you do. I am the leader of an organization that has been charged with a grand, sweeping change of the human race. A cleansing if you will. This organization is comprised of politicians, men of industry, philanthropists with particular desires – dark desires and darker designs.
We are the Zero Day Collective. We are remaking humanity, forcing it’s molecular biology to shift, proving evolution can be controlled.
‘Round yon virgin, mother and child.
We are currently tracking down a woman crucial to our goal. Bethany Nitshimi is with child. That baby is to be the first human born immune to the Mengele virus. That child holds within his DNA the cure which must not get into the hands of the people. That cure would undo everything the Zero Day Collective has worked tirelessly for.
Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.
With a tap of spoon to glass, I had everyone’s attention. God damn power is money, sex, everything.
“I want to thank you all for joining me for this Christmas celebration. But this is not just any holiday meal. What this meal represents is a new beginning for mankind and, more importantly …” I paused to take in the seduction of their rapt attention. “ … an absolute control over every consumer market, property, and person on the planet. This is absolute power and it will corrupt absolutely.”
Applause exploded and echoed off the walls in the room.
I had two big reveals for this auspicious occasion – the first was a video, but not just any video. With an elegant wave of a tiny remote the lights in the room dimmed. Candlelight flickered off the glasses and sequined dresses of the more feminine attendees. I would say ‘female’, but there were some, in attendance, of questionable gender. The moment was perfect, a romantic notion that was about to be juxtaposed with a slice of armageddon.
The video screen lowered in absolute silence. When the first images of of the video feed appeared, the audience wasn’t quite sure what they were seeing. The feed was live from Munich.
“Ladies and gentlemen, what you are witnessing is the Quantum Fusion Generator designed and built by our own Dr. Lindsay Godwin.”
As if on queue, Dr. Godwin walked in front of the camera, inadvertently blocking the view to the device.
“Ladies and gentlemen, what you are witnessing now is the ass of Dr. Lindsay Godwin.” The audience laughed – eating up every word I spoke. They were mine, the world would soon follow.
“This device has a two-fold purpose. The first purpose is a ruse to make the general populace think we are delivering a perfect source of renewable energy. It’s the second purpose that brings us all together.” Another smile. Another pause.
Finally Dr. Godwin moved away from the camera lens, giving the audience another glimpse of the future. Apparently (and unknowingly) the good doctor decided to give us a show by running some tests on the device. A brilliant red glow shown from the top of the generator. The glow was quickly followed by an almost sickeningly low thrumming sound. Secretly I turned the volume of the feed up. The noise began to grow uncomfortable. Patrons squirmed in their seats. Men and women alike pressed the palms of their hands to either their ears or their eyes.
Thankfully the lighting in the room was so dim, otherwise everyone would see the grin gracing my mouth.
“Jesus Christ Burgess, turn it off!” One of the board members yelled over the din.
I complied. As much as I was enjoying the suffering, I needed these people alive and on my side.
“That was only a glimpse of what is to come. Now I have something really special to share with you. In honor of this occasion, this Christmas dinner, I have arranged to give everyone a first-hand look at the future of mankind. I hope you all have strong constitutions.”
With a sotto laugh I waved the screen away with my magic wand. As the screen slid up into the ceiling, the wall behind it slid into the floor to reveal a three-inch plexiglass wall. The dramatic lighting left the secrets that lay behind the wall still in the dark. Only I had the power to reveal the sights that will forever change the lives of the people seated around the festive tables.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you … the Mengele Virus.” Another wave of the wand and the lights changed to reveal the first amplified human. To call the thing human was a bit of a stretch. It was still bi-pedal and remotely resembled homo sapien 1.0. But try to dig any deeper than flesh and bone and the similarities quickly ended.
The thing, the zombie … turned and raced at the clear wall. It knew. It could sense, smell, almost taste what lay on our side.
The Santa suit the beast wore was in tattered rags, the fake beard hung by a thread – it was left for effect. The effect worked wonders on the audience’s sense of irony. I couldn’t help but laugh. It was a thing of genius seeing a group of the worlds wealthiest, the kings and queens of capitalism, shrink in fear of the one man that saved their monetary system year after year.
Oh what would they say if they knew the ruined Saint Nick they were viewing was the very same man who’s lap their children had recently sat upon and who’s ear was whispered the secret of secrets by each youngster – what I want for Christmas.
The thing slammed a broken, meaty fist against the wall, causing nearly every member of the affair to nearly jump out of their seats. Women screamed, one man stood and slammed his hands onto the table.
God rest you merry, gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay …
The holiday music continued on in the background. What should have been a soothing balm for the attendees, went completely unnoticed. All eyes and ears were on the morbid horror displayed in front of them. The zombie continued pounding, the audience continued jerking and jumping.
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day …
The monster stopped his pounding and stared at his audience. He sniffed at the air; his eyes, his sour-milk eyes, were worthless, save for the ability to see light and shadow. I knew the delight the tickled his nasal passages. Beyond a sliding door a gift awaited my subject. That gift was my coup de tat and would serve to prove to everyone in the room just how serious the Zero Day Collective was about it’s mission.
To save poor souls from Satan’s power, when we were gone astray.
Yet another wave of my wand and a door hissed open. From out of the doorway rolled a remote controlled dolly, which came to rest in the center of the room. On the dolly was strapped a man. The man was alive, awake, and was about to witness, first hand, the new world horror.
Everyone immediately recognized the man with no future. Only yesterday, Tab Donagal sat at my right side … both literally and figuratively. It wasn’t until he began questioning some of my, shall we say, more fringe decisions, that I decided the man had to be disposed of. When the opportunity arose, I took it. That opportunity was here and now.
“John, what have you done? That’s …” The first of the audience recognized Tab with a shock.
The response to the realization had the exact effect I had hoped for – respect. Each and every member of the board knew not to fuck with me. If they ever questioned that, they wouldn’t now.
The zombie slowly approached the dolly, sniffing the air as it walked. The look on the things face was a mixture of confusion, rage, and bliss. It desperately wanted, it only had no idea what it longed for.
The poor man strapped to the dolly screamed out. He had no idea what was about to happen. One minute the board member was leaving his office, about to join his family and a caroling group to spread the holiday spirit to a home for senior citizens wishing life would just finally release them from their mortal coil. The next the man was injected with liquid sleep and strapped to a remote control dolly. Now the man was about to become the first undead Christmas meal.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy. O tidings of comfort and joy.
When the undead beast finally stumbled upon the dolly, it reached its bony fingers out so it could know what it was that beckoned. The greasy hands found the ex board member’s head and the rotting nose followed suit. With a great sniff the zombie took in the meaty smell wafting from the fear induced sweat on the man. It wasn’t the fear, or the sweat, or the skin, or the meat the thing wanted.
Without warning the zombie placed it’s palms on either side of the man’s head and began applying pressure. The bound man screamed out, but the undead Kris Kringle had not the power to succeed in its task
Never fear Kris, I have tricks up my sleeve to rival that of your magical elves.
The wand waved and the dolly’s straps were loosened. Donagal was free. That freedom would only buy the man his death. Slowly the mouse began to back away from the cat. The cat, of course, wasn’t finished playing with the mouse.
The man turned and ran toward the clear wall.
“Johnathan, elp me! Let me out of here!” The desperate pleas for help were delicious music to my ears. They sang out again, and again, and again.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light. From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.
The collection of board members around the table were back in their seats. It was clear, by the looks on their faces, they were enthralled with the spook show treat laid out before their eyes. Each attendee knew they were witnessing the fate of mankind, the new evolution of the human being, the perfect storm we brewed in petri dishes and lab rats. And as Zombie Santa was about to unwrap its first Christmas package and dig into it’s first holiday meal, the board members around me were drinking the Collective Kool Aid and worshiping at the alter of Armageddon.
Through the years We all will be together, If the Fates allow.
The zombie bull-rushed the Tab. The two bodies fell, clumsily to the floor – one screaming for help, the other moaning in some sort of post-life ecstasy.
“Johnathan! Why are you doing this? Help me! This thing is going to kill me!” The man’s voice was pure panic.
The zombie bashed the man’s head against the floor.
“Someone … help me.” Tab’s voice was growing weaker.
Again the skull slapped against the once-white tile of the floor. A hand reached out, hoping to grab purchase on something, anything. It found nothing.
The body went limp.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough. And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.
The next sound was a wet, slurping sound. The zombie had its gift unwrapped and was enjoying the sweet meats within. Members of the audience were practically standing on the table to watch the hunched-over monster digging into it’s first Christmas feast. When the zombie finally stood up, gray matter clung to its lower jaw as it roared its thankful approval for the gifts it had received.
Applause rang out within the room, sealing mankind’s fate. My life’s work, nay dream, was given wings and allowed to fly. With the acceptance of my peers came green light to move forward to the next phase of what I was called The Great Cleansing.
The monster ran at the window and began another round of pounding at the plexi. We had all seen enough of my morbid nativity. As the wall descended, hiding from sight the screaming beast, the audience reseated themselves and discussed the possibilities that lie ahead.
The wait staff drifted in, on silent feet, carrying trays of pure delight – our own Christmas meal. Before the first course began, I stood to make one final speech.
“Thank you again for attending this special occasion. What you have witnessed is only the beginning. In a matter of weeks the world’s population will be greatly reduced and the remaining humans will be desperate for salvation. That salvation will have a price. The wheels of commerce will briefly stop, but as Christmas time rolls around, capitalism will have a new savior – The Zero Day Collective!” As the last word rang from my mouth, I held a glass of wine aloft in a toast. The entire table joined me with a joyous hurrah.
“Merry Christmas to all!” I shouted above the excitement.
And so I’m offering this simple phrase, to kids from one to ninety-two, although its been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you.