The Prompt:In the zombie apocalypse, it’s usually very hard to come by useful items and people. Antibiotics, Doctors, penicillin, veterans, etc. But the one thing you’re in desperate need of is an orthodontist because you were meant to get your braces removed and the zombie apocalypse happened.
I leapt over another abandoned car that was more scrap than car by that point. Hundreds of them had been lined up to protect this place. Greenville Mall. It looked mostly like it did in the brochure. Except for the salvaged car doors and rubbish lining the walls. And how the “M” in “mall” had been turned around to spell “Greeville Wall.” I didn’t care about the state of the place as long as there was still an orthodontist in spot 42, like the brochure promised. And if they had a doctor for Peter, of course. That was the most important thing… Obviously.
“Hello, i/θ/ there anybody in there?”
A burly man appeared on the second floor. There had clearly been a glass front there, which they had shattered and mounted a cannon there for defence. The man wore a stained wife beater and a “MAGA” hat. “What do you want?”
Oh boy, I thought. I was hoping this wouldn’t get political. I pointed to my friend just behind me, dragging himself over the wall of cars. “Plea/θ/e, we need a doctor.”
“What’s wrong with your accent? Are you a foreigner or something?”
I sighed and flashed my teeth. “B/w/aces.”
“Oh, alright. Just as long as you aren’t a foreigner.”
“Nope, definitely aren’t foreigners.” Although, I didn’t see how it mattered to him since there were no jobs for us to steal. “Can you help my f/w/iend?”
He started working on a pulley for the garage door that had been fitted over the main entrance. “Sure. We only have one of those teeth doctors, but he should be able to help.”
“What kind of teeth doctor?”
“One of those orthodentists.”
“You have an orthodontist!” I slid under the garage door that was only still half open and was about to sprint to space 42 when Peter called from the outside, “Garry, wait for me.”
“Right, /θ/orry.” I stood in place and shook with excitement. The mall had been remade in a “doomsday preppers” fashion. The “Jim and the Juices,” had been lined with canned food. The “Gop,” was filled with military camouflage and the salespeople all wore gas masks. Nearly everyone had a gun, and even some of the few kids had knives larger than their forearms.
Peter caught up and we edged towards the orthodontist. He was sweating badly now, and he was pale as hell. “Thanks again for /θ/aving me earlier.” I started.
“Don’t worry about it,” Peter said. “I’ll be right as rain soon enough. And you’ll finally lose your braces.”
We hadn’t been traveling together for long, but Peter had been dependable. He had taken pity on me because of my lisp. Said he cared about those who couldn’t speak their mind clearly.
Space 42 was one of the few spaces that hadn’t been completely reconstructed for the apocalypse. Although a few utensils seemed out of place for a dental clinic. The bone saw came to mind. I plopped Peter in the dentist’s chair and knocked on the office in the back. “Hello, we need a doctor.”
A scrawny man in a white robe came out. “What is it?”
“My f/w/iend’s leg got hurt in a /θ/cuffle.”
“Hurt in a what?”
“A tussle, a fight, a brawl.”
“Ahh, a scuffle.”
He put his finger in my mouth and ran them across my teeth. “Do you need me to take those braces out?”
“Yes, plea/θ/e.” I pointed to the chair. “But Peter first.”
Peter’s eyelids were drooping as the dentist came to examine him. “Your friend doesn’t look so good. He hasn’t been bit has he?”
“No, that would be a /w/eally unsatisfying conclusion to this whole thing.”
“Where is he hurt?”
As the doctor examined Peter, I heard a loud bang from where we came from. And after that the shuffling of feet and gunshots. Our burly friend from before ran past and I called out, “What’s happening?”
“Liberals at the wall.”
I looked at him in disbelief. “Don’t you mean /θ/ombies?”
“Yes, but they’re all wearing ‘not my president’ t-shirts”
“How i/θ/ that even relevant?!”
“Clearly liberal zombies are worse than regular zombies,” he said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. And then he ran off.
This better not be an analogy for the pervasive nature of political fundamentalism or whatever, I thought.
Behind me, I heard a low growl and turned around to see Peter propped up in his seat. Except his eyes were a milky cataract and his skin a sickly green. The orthodontist was kneeling next to him, exposing Peter’s clearly bitten calf.
“Dentist,” I yelled as Zombie Peter bit a sizable chunk of flesh out of his neck.
“God damn it Peter.” I pulled out my revolver and shot him in the head. Then I rushed over to the dentist that was lying with his back to the medicine cabinet.
“You said he hadn’t been bit.”
“I didn’t know, I thought that was just a /θ/tereotype,” I said as I tried to apply pressure to his jugular. “You think you still have it in you to remove my b/w/aces?”
He leaned in closer. “No, you asshole.”
A loud bang came from the entrance again. I dropped the orthodontist and looked towards the scuffle. The zombies had broken the garage door at the entrance and were fighting with the gas mask wearing Gop employees. They really were liberal zombies. Some had their man buns intact and one even held a “Not my president” sign. Which was really quite silly since all the presidential candidates had become zombies and society as we knew had crumbled.
The things some people care about, I thought, as I snuck out the back to continue my quest for dental care in the apocalypse.
You are not sure what is more unbelievable, that a zombie seems to have full mental faculties and not a single hint of the usual hunger for human flesh, or that they are not at all aware they have become a zombie in spite of being dead for perhaps a week.
"Hurry, dear chap. Get this blasted beam off me, so that we may abscond."
Lying on the ground in front of me was a regal looking older man, wearing a purple two piece suit, complete with a brown herringbone pocket square and a tie that was tied in a perfect Windsor knot. He had grey hair and sickly green skin; because he was clearly a zombie.
We were in a hunting store, located in the middle of a row of stores in the commercial street of a small town. The back portion had collapsed at some point, probably because of the pickup truck that was halfway through it, and part of the wreckage lay on top of this guy. I had never seen a zombie that was so articulate. Sure, some of them could repeat some key phrases from their previous life, like, "Make America great again," or "Omg, I'm such a Libra."
I lowered my shotgun and sat down next to him. “Just a moment, what’s your /θ/tory?"
"What is that ridiculous dialect of yours? It's pronounced ‘Story.’" He emphasized the /S/ to a ridiculous degree, so that it seemed like he was hissing at me.
I flashed my teeth. "B/w/aces."
"Right, a deformed specimen." Somehow he managed to look down at me even though he was on the ground. And I came really close to shooting him then, despite him being human-like.
"Well," he continued, "My name is Mr. Vonderbolt, a German name, and as I was examining a beautiful Beretta, a vehicle crashed through the wall. That is how I had my unfortunate accident. I have since been trapped here for the better part of a week. Mostly the commoners have left me alone, but one of them actually bit me."
He pointed out through the hole in the wall at a zombie standing at a distance in the open field.
"Are you going to help me Mr. Braces?"
“It’s Gary. And why /θ/hould I?”
He raised one eyebrow “Am I correct in assuming that you would rather be rid of those braces?”
“Maybe we can help one another. My Jeeves is practiced in the art of dentistry.”
“My butler. He served as a dentist in the war. The commoners assaulted him when we were here, but I’m sure he made it back to the estate safely. In fact, I shall give him a good thrashing when we get there.”
“They had dentists in the war?”
“Sure, why not?”
I leaned closer and put my hands under the beam, when Mr. Vonderbolt lunged forward and tried to bite my arm while snarling madly.
“What the hell?” I said.
He snapped back into his regal attitude. “Sorry old chap. It seems I was consumed by my baser instincts. Shan’t happen again.”
I grabbed hold of the beam again, and lifted it slowly, all the while staring at Mr Vonderbolt. He seemed to be preoccupied with my flesh, and even licked his chapped lips. When the beam was high enough he slipped out, and I backed off and gripped my shotgun with both hands.
Mr. Vonderbolt dusted himself off. “Thank you kindly. Shall we?” He lifted his hand, which dangled at the wrist, gesturing to the door.
Outside, the buildings were in disrepair. A group of zombies with thick long hair and “legalize it” t-shirts stood outside a gas station. A hacky sack lay on the ground between them and they all stared at it. We walked down the road, into a forest.
“It’s just a little further,” he said.
I held my shotgun tightly the whole time and kept a distance of about two meters as we walked past the open gate and onto a massive estate. This guy was clearly wealthy in life. When we came to the front door, I waved him in with my gun.
“I’m not going to attack you, you know. It must just be that I’m famished after my ordeal. I’ll have Jeeves prepare us something.”
“Ju/θ/t find your man, he’ll get my b/w/aces and we’ll go our separate way/θ/.”
“Jeeves!” He called into the otherwise silent estate.
No answer. He shrugged his shoulders and we started up the stairs. The place was a mess. The paintings were scratched, patches of blood lined the floor. Definitely been attacked.
“Looks like the help has been slacking off in my absence,” Mr. Vonderbolt said.
Once we reached the upper floor, Mr. Vonderbolt dashed into a room on the left. I followed him into a spacious office whose walls were lined with bookcases, except for the rightmost, which had three arched windows. In the middle of the room was a zombie with no legs, crawling in my direction.
“Jeeves,” Mr.Vonderbolt said to the zombie, “what has become of you?”
I took aim at the zombie. “/θ/orry Mr. Vonderbolt, he’s turned. I’m gonna have to /θ/oot your butler.”
My first shot missed by a hair and I blasted the butler’s arm off. Closing one eye, and holding my breath, I shot again and hit him straight in the face, killing him. I opened my gun and let the shells fly out. When I looked to my left I noticed that Mr. Vonderbolt was lunging at me again. Having no shells left in my shotgun, I closed my eyes and braced myself for the worst, but when nothing had happened for a while, I opened my eyes to see him gorging himself on some pâté from a serving cart to my right..
“A bit stale to be sure, but Jeeves always did make the best pâté.”
“/θ/orry about your butler.”
“It is as you said, he had been corrupted by his baser instincts. It is unfortunate that he could help you with your braces.”
He licked the remains of some pâté off his index finger. “Say, I would love some carpaccio. Do you happen to know a good place around here?”
I let myself sink into the chaise lounge. “No.”
“Well then perhaps we go looking for one. And maybe we’ll find you an orthodontist on the way.”
“Really, that’s your raison d'être? To look for food?”
“I suppose it is. What do you say? It’ll be an adventure.”
I chuckled. “Alright, but we’re sleeping in separate locked rooms.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”