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August 2008

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hackergroupie in wchallenge

All Aboard - - Challenge 27

Challenge #027
Title: The Newest Minority
Author: Hackergroupie aka LWS
Genre: Original Fiction
Warnings: Pretty mild for the most part.
Notes: I played around a bit with fragments and structure in my attempt to have a more "spoken" flow. I'm not sure it really worked. I'm not really a "first person" kind of storyteller. I'd love to hear what does and doesn't work for you when you read this. Just remember, all beliefs expressed in the story are Emily's not my own ;)

Seat 19B. All the way in the back, down the narrow hip bumping aisle and far too close to the small port-a-potty sized bathroom. Great. I have a heavy black purse that is loaded with snacks, my wallet, my book, and likely half of Los Angeles. It is so full I could barely zip it closed and I imagine its seams are crying in agony. At first I carry the purse over my shoulder and it smacks into the shoulders of all the poor souls seated on the aisle, but after the fourth dirty look I lug the beast in front of me and try to avoid knocking unsuspecting folk unconscious. I really cannot afford to be sued by concussed strangers.

Strangers. Even without assaulting them with a deadly, well, painfully large weapon, the lucky folk already boarded stare at me. I am a stranger, and worse, I’m strange. My clothing, for instance, often draws stares. Sometimes chuckles. And once in a while I’m looked upon as if I’ve just offended in some major way. Like I’ve kicked a puppy or possibly stolen money from the communion box. I’m neither tall, nor fat. I’m not short or anorexic skinny. I’m pretty average in most ways. I have brown eyes and hair, two eyebrows of the proper shape and form and last I checked had the full compliment of arms, fingers, legs and toes with none to spare. I don’t wear a hat, hat-hair is the devil, but it’s been pointed out to me that a nice bandana would go a long way. It makes people uncomfortable, I think, to see the asymmetrical hole positioned just below my hairline. Like it’s my fault someone shot me. It isn’t as if the thing oozes, the bullet manages to stopper the wound even now four months later. Man was it a bitch to get through security! Yet, I think, it’s my clothing that really eats at people: long pants, long sleeved shirts – even in the baking San Fernando summer. I’m a conscientious kind of gal. No one wants to see the marble, dead fish complexion death has given me. Pancake make-up on the face is one thing, but if you’ve even tried it on your arms you’ll know it stains everything.

Everything is different now that I’m dead. “They” say we’re the fastest growing minority in US history. “They” don’t know what they’re talking about. I haven’t seen a single dead person win an academy award and not even the CW has shows that regularly feature dead people who aren’t, well, dead. Of course I hadn’t noticed all of that until my unfortunate accident. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time or is it the wrong place at the right time? Either way, the end result kinda sucks. My alcohol tolerance has gone through the roof. I can drink out a bar and not get drunk. Or sick. Or die. Again. If I eat anything but rare meat I get gassy. I mean, I’m always gassy now but vegetable gas has got to be the worst. I swear the last time I ate a salad Hazmat teams moved in and cordoned off the city of Encino from Sepulveda to White Oak. Man was I embarrassed. Nothing is harder than going from an all vegan diet to an all meat diet. Believe me, I know.

Know how many Zombie stereo-types exist? I don’t, but there are a lot of them. The world is full of paranoid and totally incorrect assumptions about the dead. First off, we don’t eat brains. That’s just gross. I’d say that whoever invented that fallacy should be shot but, well, you can figure it out. Again, we DO NOT EAT BRAINS. A nice bloody t-bone steak wrapped in white paper from the butcher, however, is quite nice. Another untruth is that the dead are dumb and unable to communicate in words other than “ugh,” “unnh,” and “uhh.” I attend UCLA and get better grades now that I don’t have to miss class to nurse a massive hangover than I ever did before I died.

Shit! I’ve just realised that seat 19B is a middle seat. I hate that. Not only do I have to fight with idiots, usually, over the single armrest between seats and suffer from horribly limited personal space, but now I have to worry that the idiots will rub against me too hard and slough off a bit of my forearm. How much does that suck? There’s a little old lady with blue-tinged hair in seat 19A – the window seat. She’s wearing a print blouse with kittens marching down its shoulders. How… sweet. She probably smells like cat. I shouldn’t complain. After four months I no longer smell fresh myself no matter how often I bathe. Irish Spring does wonders, but it’s hardly miraculous. No one is in the aisle seat. I can only cross my fingers that the flight isn’t overbooked and the seat will remain empty. If I’m lucky no one will come and I can take the seat, give myself a bit more space even if it means I’m a little closer to the bathroom.

Bathrooms on airplanes always stink. I’m not certain, but I think smelly restrooms are actually part of FAA regulations. You know, to avert amorous couples into thinking twice about “getting it on in the john.” It takes a lot of will power to keep aroused while you’re breathing in stench. It kills my love-life, too. While I lived I always tried to get seating away from the bathrooms. I’m not so picky now. If I’m lucky my seatmates will mistakenly assume the rotting odour is escaping the toilet and not my skin.

Skin is a big problem for the dead. Not only does it colour change but it loses its nice, firm consistency. You know how your skin gets when you soak too long in the bath? Zombie skin is like that only worse. If you grab and squeeze my arm you’ll leave finger prints. It’s not pretty. A lot of dead folk use ace bandages. Tied tight enough it almost looks like you’ve got great muscle tone. The bandages also help keep skin and ligaments from peeling or falling off. Another problem, and one I don’t look forward to, is that our hair comes out easily. Pull a braid too tight and, oops, you’ve lost a chunk of silky hair. Hair that will not grow back no matter what lies people say about hair continuing to grow after death. I have my own hair so far, but I expect I’ll be wearing a wig in no time.

Time to buckle my seat belt. A huge immensely fat man has claimed the aisle seat. I’m stuck between granny, who thankfully looks to weigh 70 pounds soaking wet, and Gordo, who looks to have eaten a herd of wild elephants. He has six chins, complete with chin acne, and, strangely enough, smells like warm cinnamon. I push my purse under the seat in front of me and try to will myself smaller. Gordo overflows his seat and his left arm alone takes up nearly a third of my personal space. I glance at the old woman and wonder how far I can lean in toward her before she stubs out my eyes with crocheting needles. Not far at all, she takes a quick indrawn breath through her dentures but holds her ground rather than sinking into the wall like I’d hoped.

Hope is such a fleeting thing. One can hope to win the lottery or hope for a big pay raise. If you’re afraid to fly you can hope the plane you’re on doesn’t crash in a fiery ball of melting metal. And, if you’re like me and you’re dying or recently deceased, you can hope your family loves you enough to pay the fee to re-animate. Insurance doesn’t cover this, and more than one religious group has protested against the right to life after death. Telling someone “if Jesus can rise from the dead, why can’t I?” just doesn’t cut it. For now it’s a personal matter, like abortion, or maybe like choosing to have a boob job. It’s not for everyone, but for some it might as well be a way of life. I’m glad for my second chance. I should be dead, buried six feet under and my body nothing but worm feed. Instead I’m getting a college education, and right now I’m sitting on a crowded plane heading for Florida and summer vacation on the beach. If I were dead – truly dead and not the walking and talking dead, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to sit here between cat lady grandma and the Blob’s stunt double. I wouldn’t be able to go to the lovely Miami retirement community “Ocean Break Shores” and knock on unit 371 and smile at the newly retired cop who shot me. I wouldn’t be able to say, “Hi, remember me?” And, hey, if I were the rigor mortis style dead, I couldn’t “accidentally” startle said cop into having a stress induced heart attack like he “accidentally” shot me, the innocent bystander, during a robbery at the 7-11 I’d stopped in to buy a Slurpee. What can I say, I have plans.

Plans keep me going every time a part-time job refuses to hire me because I startle customers or my scent turns the stomach of a would-be diner. Plans keep me going when I don’t have a date on Friday night because no one wants to wake up next to someone whose flesh is slowly rotting away.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad to be alive, or, well, not truly dead. Its worth the cost. And to prove it, as the plane begins its journey down the runway toward my future, I turn to Gordo and extend my hand. “Hi, I’m Emily.”

I’ll let you guess on whether or not he takes it.



wow this story went somewhere I was not expecting. I loved the whole bitterness she has about the accepted prejudices against zombies. I love allogory stories, I also love stories that surprise me. A very good return to the comm I need to get writing too. Nuchtchas