Larry Hodges has sold more than seventy stories, including seven to Galaxyís Edge. His third novel, Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, was recently published by World Weaver Press.

Larry Hodges

A zombie has no moral compass. That's why I had no compunctions about eating David, my best friend, and his tuna fish sandwich. Apparently there's something morally wrong with this, but I'm not sure why. When I was cornered by zombies in front of his house, David let me in and saved me. We discussed the situation while eating lunch. We didn't realize I had been bitten until after I turned. Perhaps it was wrong for me to eat his tuna fish sandwich, since it was his, but I was really hungry.

I was a little full when I cornered his daughter Suzy in her bedroom. She was screaming like humans do when faced with a zombie. I don't know why. Her mom had also been screaming when she ran out the front door. There seemed something wrong about this, but I'm not sure whyóshouldn't moms and daughters stay together, like mashed potatoes and gravy? But gravy is good, even ŗ la carte.

I figured I'd eat only some of Suzy and leave the rest for later. Or maybe notóeven zombies can overeat, and I had a lot of David in me. She was eighteen, with pale, juicy skin, dressed in a red polka-dot party dress. Spattered blood would ruin the aesthetically pleasing white dots. I remember many years ago my mom making smiley faces out of my food on my plate, and I still ate it, so I guess that's the price of eating.

"Why aren't you eating me?" asked Suzy as I paced about, figuring how much of Suzy I could fit inside of me. I was once a math professoróDavid and I were colleagues at the university and we were both still wearing our tweed jackets with the elbow patchesóand being a zombie didn't dull my three-dimensional geometry skills. Any more than an arm or a head and I'd burst. Of course, that would just let out some of David, allowing me to eat more of Suzy, so there was that. I continued to pace about, opening and closing my jaws in silent calculation. Every time I used pi in an equation it only made me hungrier.

"Professor Wills, I'm guessing you ate so much of my dad that you don't have room for more," she said, trembling slightly. "Am I right?" A smart child. Her long blond hair would be convenient for holding her when I ate her, like a stick on a lollipop.

"I've known you all my life," she continued. "I don't think you want to eat me." Perhaps not so smart after all. For what possible reason wouldn't I want to eat her just because I'd known her a long time? Would she avoid eating canned tuna just because the can had been in the pantry a long time? I didn't see the logic. Even zombies digest food, and soon I'd have room for her to join her father. V=4/3πabc doesn't lie.

"There's a program for people like you," said Suzy. "Zombies Anonymous. It's a step-by-step program for zombies to recover and stop being zombies. Would you like to learn more about it?"

I vaguely remembered hearing of this, but only as a joke spread at horror conventions. After the Zombie Apocalypse, it might have been taken more seriously, but most of us were fixated on avoiding zombies and staying alive, though I don't remember why. It sounded like Alcoholics Anonymous. I stared down at her, my head tilted slightly sideways like my dog when she wanted a treat. I wonder what canine tastes like. I held up ten fingers, and then two.

"No, it's not like the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous," she said. "Those steps rely on God saving you. If there were a God, there wouldn't be zombies running around eating people, would there?"

That did raise an interesting question. A benevolent God would have hobbled people so we could catch them more easily. But this raised a separate question. Was there any reason why I wouldn't want to continue being a zombie? I couldn't think of any.

"There are only three steps to Zombies Anonymous," continued Suzy. "First, you must admit you are powerless over being a zombie."

I could agree to that. After all, I was a zombie. Does a tuna have to admit it is powerless over being a tuna if it wants to stop being a tuna? Did you know human brains taste like tuna? Yum.

"The second step," Suzy said, "is to decide that you don't want to be a zombie."

Hold the tuna sandwiches! Why wouldn't I want to be a zombie? What were the alternatives? Going back to being a human chased by herds of zombies? Feeling pain? The constant constraints of a moral compass? I'd managed to navigate life as a human right into adulthood, but it hadn't been easy. Getting my PhD in math would have been a lot easier if I'd been able to cheat on exams and eat the bad professors. But for the sake of argument, I'd conditionally accept the idea that I didn't want to be a zombie.

"The final step," Suzy said, "is to stop acting like a zombie."

No eating people? Learn a moral compass? That was a bit much. Would you ask a tuna to stop acting like a tuna? Would that change the fact that it was still a tuna?

"You won't eat me," Suzy said. "I know it. You've been a friend of the family for years. You only ate my dad because you were in a zombie frenzy, but you're over that now. Before you turned, you were the nicest person I ever knew; you were my hero. You even inspired me to get this." She held out her arm, showing me that tattoo on her forearm of the famous math equation, eπi+1=0.

I had been a nice person, though of course "nice" is just part of that moral compass thing. But I remember being proud of being nice. I could still be nice. And so I took Suzy's arm in mine.

And took a big bite out of it. It was all part of Humans Anonymous, that one-step program I'd just invented to introduce weak, moralistic humans to the freedom of zombiehood. In just minutes, Suzy would stop screaming, and then, together, we could hunt down her mom (mashed potatoes!) and the neighbors, and if we still had room, maybe get a tuna sandwich.

Copyright © 2017 by Larry Hodges





The Editor's Word

by Larry Hodges
by Nick DiChario

by Mercedes Lackey
by Liz Colter
by Kevin J. Anderson
and Neil Peart


by Marina J. Lostetter.

by Edward M. Lerner
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

by Fabio F. Centamore

by Paul Eckheart
by Michael Swanwick

Robert Silverberg

by Joy Ward

Double Star (Part 1)
=Heinlein's First Hugo Winner=
by Robert A. Heinlein

From the Heart's Basement
by Barry N. Malzberg
Science Column
by Gregory Benford
Recommended Books
by Bill Fawcett & Jody Lynn Nye








Copyright © Arc Manor LLC 2017. All Rights Reserved. Galaxy's Edge is an online magazine published every two months (January, March, May, July, September, November) by Phoenix Pick, the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint of Arc Manor Publishers.