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Bloated, post Thanksgiving zombie. Word count: 41,792

Coming into the home stretch here. All these threads of plotline (chasing Tim Stimph; the Zombie Hunter) are loose…. Potential for each of them. Maybe Tim Stimph started the virus himself? Maybe the Zombie Hunter kills him? Maybe maybe maybe….

Meanwhile, I seem to be content to just write dialogue between Zach and Westy.

Awkward silence extended into a full-fledged cessation of conversation. I guessed that Westy finally listened to me.

Which was all well and good, and what I had wanted, obviously, but I had to admit Westy had given good advice on getting me into the building, and probably would have an idea or two about how to get us into Stimph’s apartment. Also, I was never happy when I knew someone was mad at me, or giving me the silent treatment. I’d do whatever I could — assuming I gave a shit about the person’s opinion — to make amends, to keep the peace. Besides, even though Westphail had turned me into whatever it was that I currently am, I’d grown accustomed to Westy’s voice. While I valued moments of silence, this one was different: intentional, weighty.

“Westy, look. I’m sorry. I’m sorry about what I said up on the roof, and just now. I know it seems like I’m a solid, well-adjusted, mentally stable rock of a man –” If Westy had a face, I know he’d have a confused look on it, as if to say, “Brains.” Are you sure you’re talking about yourself? — “…or maybe not so much. But, you have to admit I’m taking this pretty well. I know this isn’t how you planned things. I know you expected to invade my body, shut down all my vital systems and carry me along on a mad kill-crazy rampage until I got decapitated, eviscerated, and incinerated, or until, I don’t know, whatever grand master scheme you had in mind was completed, and that having a still-sentient, thinking, somewhat-feeling thing who has yet to even try to sample the brains of a human being doesn’t really line up with your goals of the day. I know you must be frustrated, and yeah, I’m frustrated too. I mean, don’t think there isn’t a part of me who doesn’t wish that I was just a brainless automaton shambling around town, tearing into human flesh without a care in the world. Sure, that sounds like fun, like maybe a better way to spend my time than climbing buildings, jumping between rooftops, trying to kick down doors, all that. Really, I’d rather just be back in my apartment, waiting for the end to come. I’d gottten pretty good at that. But, hell, this is how it is. This is the new reality. This is what’s what. We’ve got to just make the best of it. Bickering back and forth, trying to hurt each other, what does that accomplish? I know, yeah, sometimes we’re going to get on each other’s nerves and say things that we might regret, but let’s not forget that we’re on the same team here. We’ve got to make the best of it.”

I took a deep breath. There were some moments of silence then, and I wondered if I’d said too much, or come across as weak, or just been completely wrong. Maybe all my reasoning had falled on deaf ears. Maybe Westy didn’t give a shit about peaceful cohabitation. As a matter of fact, I thought, why would he? He was just a virus. It was just a virus. Fine, if it wasn’t going to make the effort to make things tolerable for the both of us, then I wouldn’t either. See how it likes it when I don’t ever eat a single brain. When I go around just —


I was too wrapped up in my thoughts to catch the nuances of the word. “What was that, Westy?” I asked.

“Brains.” You are right. We are sorry. You do not need to ‘grow a pair.’

“Well alright!” I shouted. “I wish we could high five. Or ‘hug it out.’”

“Brains.” That is not necessary.

“No, I suppose you’re right.”

“Brains.” So….


“Brains.” The door.

“Yeah. Another door.” I tried the handle again. Still locked.

“Brains.” Perhaps there is a key.