Los Muertos

It’s been quite a while that I’ve written a story from a prompt here on this blog, so I think it’s high time I dusted off the ol’ cobwebs and gave it a go. I present to you: Los Muertos. Here’s the prompt…

I always had the worst hangovers the day I came back from the dead. The others had it easy; they’d crawl out of their shallow graves, stretch their atrophied arms, and stumble back to work. Me? I felt like I’d been hit by a freight train–again.

Don’t get me wrong. Coming back from the dead isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, once the living learned that death was temporary it became a little easier–they buried us in shallower graves, gave us regeneration healthcare plans, set up halfway living houses–but that doesn’t make it easy by any means. Every single one of us once-dead still has to dig our way out of the dirt, work the kinks out of the rigor, and find our way to safe passage.

It wasn’t always this way. Death used to be seen as permanent. Once you’re dead, you’re dead. That’s it. Anything else was seen as either a God-given miracle or a preternatural nightmare.

Then people started coming back en masse. Funerals became too costly to bury the dead quickly, and mortuaries were charging out the nose for expedited cremations. If you couldn’t afford to stay dead, eventually you came back. It takes longer for some than others, but sure as shit if you’re not interred in a timely fashion you’ll be back. The living considered us abominations, and re-kills were pretty common, along with decapitations and bonfires.

The Great Zombie Scare of 2057 finally proved the living wrong.

The backlog at the cemeteries had reached an all-time high by then, and a few people started to twitch. There was your stereotypical moaning and groaning and shambling, yeah–but what do you expect when you’ve been decaying for weeks? I feel kinda sorry for the embalmed back in those days. The practice has gone by the wayside, but they say the you never get the taste out of your mouth…not even several deaths later.

I guess I was never embalmed. The past is a bit fuzzy, though. Neural atrophy and decay and all. It leaves us a little, well, dumb. For a time, that is. I guess that’s why the “zombie” trope stuck around for so long…but c’mon, you try talking in complete sentences when your mind hasn’t regenerated yet, let alone your tongue.

But I digress. I’ve been alive again long enough this time to tell my tale somewhat coherently, so here goes nothing:

The first time I died, I was twenty-seven. That was pretty young to go in those days, but there were extenuating circumstances. Like that freight train I mentioned. You see, I was a little bit tipsy that night. Okay, I was hammered. And it was during the early days, when people didn’t realize that not everyone who was stumbling along in the dark wasn’t un-dead. The conductor decided it was safer to run me over than bother with the brakes.

Maybe that’s why I always feel hung over when I come back. Maybe, like the embalming fluid, that hangover never really goes away.

Dying isn’t as bad the second and third or so time around. By the fourth, you’re sick of it. I’ve died one hundred and fifty-three times now. This hangover can go suck it.

Today I have a job interview with the local Living-Impaired Financial Entity. LIFE centers get us un-dead work when no one else can. Let me tell you, it’s hard as hell to get a job without a right arm. Sure, you can say you’re left-handed until the cows come back from the dead, but unless you can use your remaining toes to make up for the lack of a second hand they really discriminate. I can still type, though. A little slower than a two-handed un-dead, sure, but well enough to find work.

I found an apartment the other day. The landlord was real nice, an un-dead guy himself, and he let me move in without a deposit. The un-dead don’t really need homes, per se, because we don’t need to eat or sleep, but it makes things seem more…normal, I guess. Just like the jobs, having a place to stay gives us a routine and a purpose. Get off the couch. Get dressed. Lock your door. Shamble down the road to the office. Clock in. Do your thing. Then shamble back home and get ready to do it all again in the morning. Un-death is so boring without a job to keep you going.

I gotta admit, I’m kind of nervous about today. It’s not like it’s my first job interview–I’ve lost count of those. But this one’s different. It’s for a living company. Yeah, I know, hard to get my hopes up when I have half a face and no right arm, but maybe–maybe I’ll get hired.

What’s the worst thing about un-death, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s not the bits and pieces falling off. It’s not the looks you get from the living. It’s not even the hangovers. It’s the loneliness. You see, un-dead can’t procreate. Some of us can’t even–well, you know. Depending on your cause of death, you might not have the, er, equipment necessary for that kind of thing. So relationships are a bitch. What’s the point, right? Can’t start a family unless you want to adopt a bunch of un-dead kids. And kids are the worst. They never really grow up. They kind of just whine and cry for decades. Centuries eventually, I guess. Anyway, not many of us once-living have the patience for that.

Ooh, they’re calling me back now! Wish me luck. If I get this job, I’ll be able to start this un-life off on the right foot.

Well–if I still had a right foot.

The puns don’t get any better after the third or fourth time around, either.