Dr. Positron arrived for their date half an hour early, so excited was he for a reply to his zombie lovers ad. He didn’t expect any of them could read, and the prospects of a zombie girl whose brain was that much intact set every cyborg part of his husk to tingling. Even his remaining biological organs thrummed in their semi-stasis, hoping to finally find someone who enjoyed haunted house movies as much as he did.
He was then somewhat disappointed when the mummy-girl made her way to his table. Even with crumbling vertebrates, she had regal posture, her face obscured in a gold and turquoise burial mask. Either out of royal conviction or because a curse affected her grip, she held a golden crook in her left hand. They sat in silence for 242 seconds – his internal clock timing the awkwardness, and his disappointment, and analyzed what appeared to be disappointment on her part. Maybe she’d been expecting a zombie boy.
The three remaining fingers of her right hand toyed with her wine glass. She hadn’t drunk any. He’d ordered for her in advance, figuring zombies would prefer red wine. But she wasn’t a zombie. She was some crazy Egyptian sorceress with a name he couldn't pronounce.
“You don’t have an eternal mate?” he asked, breaking the painful silence with what felt like even more painful talking. “A pharaoh or something?”
“I did,” she said in a ghastly voice that echoed through her gilded mask. It bore eye slits, through which he could see her crusted eyes rolling at him. “His head was stolen in the 13th century by North African tomb raiders.”
“That’s terrible. Just terrible. There ought to be a law.”
“There is.” She remained rigid.
“Well, there would be.”
“I mean, he was an artifact. Old-fashioned, too.”
“You know, old-fashioned zombies were defined as…”
“Not as robotic freaks with half their bodies replaced by metal.”
“This is awful,” he said, pushing his wine glass across the table cloth. Alcohol didn’t have any affect on him anymore, and his prosthetic eye revealed that the waiter had spit in his wine. The living sucked. He could at least be honest with the dead. “Listen, I don’t want to run you around. I put out the ad hoping for a zombie whose parts I could harvest. I’m trying to go more organic. Metal limbs are so… eighties.”
The mummy-woman smoothed out her thigh-wrappings and sighed, sounding tinny behind the burial mask. “Then I’m going to be straight with you, too. Would you mind being possessed by my husband? I thought you were going to be a zombie, an empty husk, and could serve as his vessel.”
Dr. Positron only had one eyelid left, but it squinted for two at the mummy-woman. “How would I have written the ad if I was a brainless husk?”
“All those ads read like husks wrote them. No offense. Or maybe you had friends write it for you?”
“Zombies don’t have friends. They have packs of other zombies they shamble around with, mindlessly biting bystanders.”
“Then why did you call yourself a zombie in the ad?”
“Well,” his fleshy remains formed half an awkward face. “It’s a term.”
“You’re undead, not a zombie.”
“Neither are you, and you answered the ad.”
“So you’re not thinking about sheltering my husband’s soul?”
“I mean, I could give you a flashdrive. Ancient curses aren’t lossless, so he could probably fit on there.”
She rubbed at her collarbones, the remaining flesh and wrappings nearly tearing from her massage. She groaned. “Being a zombie is such a mess.”
“Well, you’re not a zombie.”
“Neither are you, but we’re both pigeonholed. Welcome to the culture wars.”
“It was nice meeting you. I’ll pick up the check,” he said, signaling with an iron hand for the waiter. “Good luck with your… thing.”
“My zombie thing?” she asked with a smirk. He’d been about to rise and wave more insistently for the waiter when he caught that – her smirk that warped the turquoise lips of her burial mask. Magic, sure, but sexier than any robo-lady he’d ever built. It gave him pause.
He chanced, “So your husband…?”
“What about him?” she said, fingering her wine glass.
“He’s headless. Needs a host. So he’s not… around?”
When she narrowed her eyes they went entirely to black, with an utterly otherworldly sheen that set his circuitry a-tingling. She asked, “Why?”
“Well,” he said, setting his cognitive processes to check available showtimes, “how do you feel about haunted house movies? And how did you pronounce your name, again?”