TIll Undeath Do Us Part

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic story that features zombies.... view prompt

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Funny Romance Adventure

Till Undeath Do Us Part

by

Eldridge Stimmel

Her description said, “Part dead, but still loving and vital.” The picture claimed ‘early virus,’ and showed a real babe. Blonde hair, natural judging by the eyebrows, porcelain skin, blue eyes, and very dangerous curves.

Even so, I’d never really put a lot into looks. I preferred brains and personality. With a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a winning smile, she seemed to have it all.

The ‘Looking For’ Section had a long column marked ‘any’ next to all the traits. In the paragraph section, she’d written:

I want a virus-resistant guy not afraid of love and willing to end it all without drama when that time comes. No other transitioning undead or squeamish, please. Nothing wrong with you guys, but I need someone I can count on to keep me off the streets.

Why not? The Asian, Latin, Mature, and Slavic sites had all failed me. The Pagan site held some appeal, what with the post-virus world and all, but all the women that tickled my fancy had a fetish for sharp knives and something against white cats. Who didn’t like kitties? Of any color?

Transitional States proclaimed itself as the source for “short-term relationships in an uncertain world” and possessed all the important security accreditations. Along with Holly’s ‘credentials,’ I stood convinced and used my debit card to buy a month on the site. Fifty dollars seemed like an exorbitant fee for the uncertainty of a relationship that could literally end at any time. But love, or the chance of it, trumped all.

After turning off the auto-renew setting, I added a few photos snapped with my phone and sent Holly several paragraphs about me. I talked about my job in an insurance call center and my hope to turn a love of illustrating into a career.

Despite my imperfect figure and low-paying job, sharing my name bothered me the most. Who the hell named her kid Wilburfranton Lesterforce? Add my last name, Bolegs, and it made for quite the comical conversation starter. And usually ended any hope of a meaningful relationship. The laughter when I dove in for a goodnight kiss said it all.

I thought about not telling her, sticking to just Wil, but it would come up, anyway. Probably sooner than later. Best to get it out of the way up front.

Holly responded within minutes, complete with a little, “Ha-ha,” over my name. But she meant it in the spirit of camaraderie. “Holly is short for Hollendaisy,” she told me in chat.

“What about the rest of your name?” I asked, happy to find common ground so quickly.

Holly squinched her eyes and wrinkled her nose. “Marilavender Checkers.”

I chuckled this time. “Do you think we’re related?” I couldn’t calculate the odds of different families with similar bad taste in names.

“As long as we don’t make any babies, who cares?” Holly said.

A sophomoric giggle rose in my throat. “Eeeeewwwww!”

“Gotcha!” she said with a hard belly laugh.

We talked until three the next morning. The warmth of our instant chemistry sent a cascade of dopamine rolling through my brain that my antidepressants never could. Holly possessed a voice sexy in its warmth and cadence, in an I-could-spend-my-life-with-you kind of way. The dry skin and cracks on her cheeks would quickly give birth to full-blown lesions, but a few cartoon bandages and an open mind would carry me past that.

“Hey, you want to get dinner sometime?” I asked. My heart soared hopefully, but my mind assumed crash position for the inevitable impact with reality.

“Sure,” Holly answered brightly.

“Really?” Had I just scored a date? “I mean, cool! How about tomorrow?”

The last few minutes of our conversation consisted of the what, where, and when of our upcoming meet. Giddiness coursed through my veins and flushed my face. I just hoped I could get a little sleep, so I didn’t look half dead the first time we met.

***

           I wanted to meet at an upscale seafood place and really go all out for our first date. Holly declined, pointing out that we’d spend so much time ignoring looks and half-whispered comments that she wouldn’t enjoy herself. Instead, we met at the Halfway House, an urban grill that made a point of welcoming those in between life and undeath.

She looked beautiful. Veins I hadn’t seen during our chat formed long blue streams on her cheeks and forehead, and darker splotches on her thick blouse attested to the lesions that came along with the virus. But I didn’t care. I’d finally met a vibrant woman with a personality most people would die for. I mean, would give an arm for. Oh hell. So far, I really liked her.

Holly dug into her rare T-Bone with gusto. I liked that. The few women I’d dated, even the bigger gals, ate like birds on our dates. It always left me embarrassed by my appetite and resulted in both of us leaving the restaurant hungry.

A drop of blood oozed past the corner of her mouth with one big bite and left a trail down her chin. Holly caught my eye and smiled. “Don’t worry. I’ve always eaten my steaks like this.”

So much for playing it cool. “Sorry. I didn’t realize I’d made a face.”

“It takes a little getting used to,” she said. “The first time it happened after my diagnosis, I locked myself in the closet for an hour, afraid I was turning.”

I thought of all the times I’d self-diagnosed my common colds as pneumonia. Or worse. I couldn’t imagine knowing some death-dealing virus ravaged your body. “You want to get out of here? Take a walk?” I asked.

I paid the check and left a generous tip for the wonderful service, and we headed to a nearby park to enjoy the sultry evening. Halfway into our walk, we found a bench and decided to relax a bit and look at the stars.

“Hold my hand?” Holly asked.

“Um. . .” I had her hand in mine already.

“Without the glove, I mean.”

“Oh.” I wanted to, but I could feel the outline of lesions and a damp heat through the thin fabric already.

“You don’t have to,” Holly said wistfully. “I just thought, you know.”

I did know. I hadn’t touched another human in longer than I could remember, and my immune system worked fine. “I want to,” I said, releasing my grip.

Her hand felt hot and sticky, kind of like a fish as it starts to dry. The lesions creeped me out a little, raw and wet, but I ignored them, enjoying the feel her palm against mine. Soon, I gripped her tighter. It amazed me how quickly the human mind could learn to ignore things.

Holly leaned over to kiss me, and I about wet myself. Her lips looked chapped, and she had bandages covering the cracks on her cheeks and forehead, but otherwise looked fine. My mind rebelled, but other parts of me responded as any healthy male would to someone as hot as her. So, I took the plunge.

           The soft inside of her mouth felt nice, and her velvety tongue sent me to heaven. But the taste took a little getting used to. I wondered at first if she had blood coming from somewhere, but her mouth felt pristine. Then I remembered how she liked her steaks and relaxed into it. And, man, could she kiss! It took me five minutes of thinking about earthworms and my grandma before I could finish our walk.

We ended up at her place, and she invited me in for a drink. What the heck. I’d just spent the evening watching a real babe put away a rare steak like a dude and necking with her in the park. I didn’t want the evening to end. Even if she was half dead.

Holly excused herself and returned to the couch in a see-through nighty. Neon pink, blue, and orange bandages flashed like paint streaks along her torso and thighs. “Normally I wouldn’t come on so strong, but who knows how long before things go bad down there,” she said with a nervous giggle.

She sat beside me, and we continued what we began in the park. She worked the buttons on my shirt with surprisingly nimble fingers. When she unfastened my belt, my heart skipped several beats.

Why not? I thought. I knew for certain she had nothing other than a virus I couldn’t catch. And even if I had something, which I didn’t, she couldn’t catch it. With all the suave and elegance of someone with my experience, read ‘lack of’ here, I carried her to the bedroom.

And thus began the best six weeks of my life.

***

I didn’t want to smack her with the hatchet we kept on the nightstand for just such an emergency. Sure, her teeth and my neck meant certain death, but that didn’t concern me. I still hadn’t faced the reality of our impending separation or made plans for how to deal with it. Could I go on without her? But I’d promised not to let her wander the earth undead, feeding on the flesh of the living. Several times during serious conversations, in fact. So, smack her, I did.

I wrapped my love in a dark sheet. She still looked beautiful to me, even with the new part in her hair. Anguish clutched my heart when her body slipped from my grasp and hit the bottom of the big trash bin with a clang! The camping fuel I poured over her flared with a whoosh. I’ll never forget the smell. My cheeks and forehead stung from the heat, but I stood firm, watching my one true love disappear in a gush of sooty smoke.

Before the end closed in on her, Holly made me promise to find another love. Or to try, at least. I knew I’d never find another like her. Who could ever match your first genuine love? But I knew I’d find another. If for no other reason, than I’d promised Holly.

###

September 25, 2020 01:49

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5 comments

Keerththan 😀
14:44 Oct 07, 2020

Online dating!!!! Wonderful story. This was very creative and I really love your writing. Please do a part 2 if you can. Keep writing. Would you mind reading my new story? Thanks!

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Allie Weaving
08:00 Sep 30, 2020

Absolutely loved this! Perfectly mixes that bizarre online dating experience with a touch of the undead. If you do take this further, I'd be keen to read it.

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Mariam Michalak
03:01 Sep 27, 2020

GAH! I fell in love with this, and I honestly didn't think I would! I never thought of having the 'undead' happen like a virus that people just got used to. You got it, then sooner or later you turned. However, you still live life until that happens. That's so cool! I like the idea, and it seemed to go pretty smoothly. I'll admit, I kind of want a sequel but I know these are simply short stories. Very well done!

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ELDRIDGE STIMMEL
20:50 Sep 28, 2020

Thanks very much! I had a lot of fun writing this one. I actually plan to flesh it out and turn it into more. These super-short prompts are great ways to explore an idea. I can see this going a lot of different directions.

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Mariam Michalak
02:22 Sep 29, 2020

Would you mind taking a look at my zombie one? I actually wrote it, read it, rewrote it, then scrapped the original and wrote it again! It almost missed the deadline! Still not exactly how I wanted it to go, but I did my best.

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