The unmentionalbes hands were flapping at waitst level, gaze titled downward, as if the creature had been fumbling clumsily with the doorknob. When it looked up and saw Jane frozen pop-eyed before it, it hissed like an angry cat and lunged forward.
Jane ducked to the side and gave the thing a shove as it hurtled past. But the dreadful stumbled only a few steps before it whipped around and charged again, hands slashing.
Jane hopped onto her bed, grabbed one of the posts, and launched herself up atop the canopy frame. She meant to try a Panther’s Bound down again, hopefully within grabbing range of one of the weapons strewn about the room – a battle axe propped up beside the bedside table was particularly tantalizing. The unmentionable didn’t give her time, though. It began umping up swiping at her, tearing down ragged strips of cloth as Jane scuttled this way and that to avoid its raking nails.
Looking down on the zombie’s upturned, hideously decayed face, Jane though she saw a flash of something familiar – although with no nose or mouth or eyelids to go by, and the ears dangling from flaps of loose flesh like grisly jewelry, recognition was impossible. Still, Jame began to feel like she might have known this girl.
If only she’d stop jumping around for a second. If only she’d stop trying to kill her…
“Oooo, I hope I’m not interrupting any-AHHHHHH!”
Both Jane and the dreadful turned toward the doorway. Standing there, the tray in her hands loaded with another bottle of brandy, was the plump chambermaid.
The unmentionable rushed toward her with a snarl. So shocked was the girl she didn’t even turn to flee but simply stood there, motionless, as if calmly offering the thing a drink.
Jane flipped down from the canopy, snatched up the battle-axe, and used all her momentum to bring the blade down into the zombie’s skull. The chop split the dreadful down the middle like a rotted-out log.
The two halves splayed out on the floor at the chambermaid’s feet.
“Ahh … ahh … ahh …,” the maid sputtered, too breathless even to scream. Her hands were shaking so violently the decanter danced around on her tray, rattling and sloshing and threatening to topple over.
Jane tried to think of something comforting to say. To her surprise – and vague consternation – she realized that she needed no comfort herself, and in fact she found it difficult, for once, to commiserate with someone who did.
She searched for words another moment, then put down her axe and placed a firm hand on the girl’s trembling, fleshy-soft arm.
“Why don’t you take that back downstairs?” she said, nodding down at the tray. “I don’t even like brandy, you know.”
Quirk Books, $12.95
More on Techland: