2,591
22.12.2018

FOURTEEN

Sinclair and I were rigid in our bed. For one of the very few times in our marriage, we had no interest in banging each other into semiconsciousness.

Nope. Thanks to the zombie who had the run of the house now, sex was the last thing on our minds.

"Okay, it's weird, right?" We were both staring at the ceiling. "It's just so creepy. He's our friend and I wanted him back-"

"Monkey's paw," Sinclair muttered.

"-but there's a zombie creeping around our house."

"He has to keep busy."

Boy, did he. Marc had explained that he needed tons of mental stimulation as a zombie, and thus was doing everything he could to keep his zombie brain sharp. Apparently the modern zombie fed from mentally taxing work (like accountants, I guess), which kept him from needing brains. Excuse me: Braaaaaaaains. Marc was a modern cuddly zombie as opposed to a revolting terrifying George Romero creation.

Okay. Fine. We could adapt. We had to adapt to weird stupid things all the time. But we still had the problem of knowing a zombie was creeping around the house trying to keep busy so he wouldn't rot.

I wriggled around on our new bed (Sinclair and I occasionally broke our beds, which was why we were on bed no. 7 … thank goodness Sinclair was rich!), which mussed our sheets.

"Now I'm apprehensive and my feet are cold," Sinclair sighed.

"You think I'm any happier? It's so creepy knowing he's creeping around being all creepy."

We stared at the ceiling for a few more minutes. "It may be psychological," Sinclair said.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"I cannot actually hear anything. We did not know he was in the house before he revealed himself. Now we know he is not only here, he is a zombie. Perhaps our tension is psychological."

"I have no idea what you just said. Oh, fuck."

"Was that a request, or an epithet?"

"My mom's supposed to drop BabyJon off tomorrow." BabyJon was my half brother/ward/son, kinda. But because I was a vampire, and all sorts of bad shit tended to happen around me, I often fobbed him off on my poor mother. The good news was, she'd had to baby-sit so often she was actually getting attached to the kid. "This is gonna be so lame … hey, thanks for watching our baby yet again, and by the way, you can't drop him off because now there's a zombie in the house and we're not sure he can be trusted, here's more money for diapers. Ugh."

"The alternative is even less pleasant."

"Dammit!"

We stared at the ceiling some more. "At least Laura called me right back."

"Yes?"

"Yeah. But she wants to meet at this farm outside the Cities, God knows why." My husband flinched at the G word, and I muttered an apology. To all vampires except me, the G word was like the lash of a whip, or a summons to traffic court: unbearably painful. "She said she's got stuff to show me and she wanted to meet on neutral territory. So some farm on the outskirts of Mendota Heights qualifies, I guess."

"I shall accompany you."

"Figured as much."

We examined the ceiling in silence for a few seconds, broken by Sinclair's hopeful "Perhaps, to take our mind off the problem, we could-"

"Uh, no. It's just too weird. I won't be able to not hear him while we're-nope. Sorry."

"I suppose you're right."

Stupid Thanksgiving.

FIFTEEN

"It's here, okay? Turn left here, that's what her directions say."

"Her directions do not say anything; they read."

"Oh, you're channeling Alec Baldwin in Malice now?"

"I do not know what that means."

"Means you're being a jerk."

"Is that more or less desirable than being a bitch?"

"God God God God God God God."

"Stop that at once!" My husband shuddered all over and we nearly went into a ditch. Served him right for taking the Volkswagen. He had a garage full of really cool cars and he picked the Jetta? The romance was dead. "Really, Elizabeth. That is beneath you."

"Ha! Shows what you know. There's not much that's beneath me." Wait. Did I just insult myself?

"Indeed," he muttered, finally turning left. We were in the boonies somewhere south of Mendota Heights, and the farm my sister wanted to meet us at looked deserted.

And it wasn't much of a farm, either. There were no barns, no outbuildings of any kind except a big cream-colored garage, no livestock, no hay sheds, no corn cribs, no bores (except the one I was married to-hee!). Just a garage, a driveway, a short sidewalk leading to the house, and the house: two stories, cream siding with dark blue shutters. The place was dark except for what I assumed was the living room.

"Why'd Laura want to meet us here?"

"I dare not guess."

"Well, dare not to park crooked again, too."

"I have never once parked 'crooked.'"

"Except for last week."

"I was following the lines! That was a forty-five-degree parking spot!"

"Crooked. Very, very crooked is what it was, Sink Lair, crooked beyond belief, as crooked as your dark, dark heart, and you just can't admit it, can you, how crooked it was?"

"Darling, do shut up." I could actually see his teeth in a snarl as he stomped on the brake and jerked the parking brake so hard I heard the metal groan.

"We should probably have sex pretty soon."

"Agreed. Just not with each other." He flung himself out of the car and slammed the door so hard, the entire Jetta rocked.

"Oh, real mature!" I shouted at his back. I considered sticking my tongue out at him, then figured one of us ought to act like a grown-up. Proof! Proof things had gone from bad to terrible: when I was the one trying to set the example of adult behavior.

Marc being a zombie was ruining my life. Also my sex life. I unbuckled my seat belt (old habits died, etc.) and followed my bitchy husband up the driveway. "This isn't a farm, this is just a house and a big smelly garage out in the country," I whined. "With dogs … I can hear yelping. Gross. Stupid farm dogs."

"Perhaps the Antichrist does not understand what a farm is."

"Oh, that makes a lot of sense," I snapped. "She might be the AC, but she grew up on Planet Earth just like you and me. She grew up in Minnesota! Gah, all I can smell is poop."

Sink Lair muttered something I couldn't quite catch … luckily for him.

"Her car is here," he said, eyeing the modest black Ford Fusion. "And there's a light on in the house."

"Great job, Nancy Drew!"

He ignored me. "Curious … why such a large garage for such a small house?"

"Yeah, that's the question that's burning me up inside, too … come on, we don't want to be late."

He was standing stock-still, sniffing like … well, like Antonia did when she was scoping out Zombie Marc.

"Are you going to stand in the yard all damn night?" I could hear how shrill and bitchy I was, but couldn't seem to stop. Who would have thought that not banging my husband would be so bad for our sex life? "Laura's waiting, and we've got mysteries to solve and bad shit to stop, so c'mon already."

"Ah," he said, then flipped the latch on the garage door and slid it open. The smell of poop got much worse, much quicker.

"Wait!" I cried.

"See?" he said with the first happy smile I'd seen all night. He gestured and-what the?-bowed a little.

"Don't!" Seconds too late, I figured it out. "Sinclair, you crumb! It's not a farm farm, it's a puppy farm, do not open that door any-"

Too late.