Do you believe in zombies?” I asked Sanders, a private detective.
“About as much as the Easter Bunny,” he replied.
“My fiancée, Dr. Helen Harlow, believes they exist.She took a sabbatical from the university and went to Haiti to find one. She wants to bring it here to Phoenix to conduct experiments. Look, I feel the same way you do about zombies. I tried to reason with her, but she wouldn’t listen. So, I figured I’d stand aside while she got it out of her system. I got emails from her several times a day until a week ago. Then, nothing. I called her hotel a hundred times, but she hasn’t answered my messages. I think something terrible’s happened to her.”
“Maybe she changed her plans, and went somewhere else.”
“She would’ve told me. We’re supposed to get married in four weeks.”
Sanders agreed to go to Haiti to find her. Three days later he called from Haiti.
“Sorry, but I got bad news. The few people who knew of her said she disappeared. The clerk at her hotel said she never checked out. He pointed me to a chambermaid named Bahody, who cleaned Helen’s room. Interviewing her was a waste of time. All she’d talk about was zombies and how they kidnap people who venture out at night — especially white women. I ran into dead ends and a bunch of superstitious jerks. This is one helluva weird place. I can’t wait to get outta here.”
Feeling desperate, I decided to look for her myself. I took two weeks’ vacation from my job and flew to Haiti.
When I arrived, I showed Helen’s photo to taxi drivers and street vendors. They shrugged indifferently.
I headed to Hotel Balzac where Helen had stayed. As soon as I arrived, I asked for Bahody, the chambermaid.
“Who are you?” Bahody asked.
“Ed Walsh. Dr. Harlow’s my fianceé. I’m sure she mentioned me.”
“Many times. She’s crazy in love with you. But it’s too late for love. Take my advice, Mr. Walsh. Go home. Forget her. She’s gone forever.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“You can look from now until doomsday. You’ll never find her.”
“How can you say such a thing?”
“It’s not me who says it. My sister speaks to voodoo gods. They told her Dr. Harlow is lost forever. Zombies stole her.”
“Nonsense. Zombies don’t exist.”
“Is that what they taught you in America? If so, they teach lies.”
“Okay, let’s say zombies kidnapped her. Where would they’ve grabbed her? Is there a place in the city where zombies prowl?”
“There’s not just one place. Zombies are everywhere in Haiti.”
“Tell me what happened the last night you saw her.”
“It was the night of the full moon,” she said. “The air was foul. The drums spoke of doom. I begged her not to walk to Café Blanc alone. She wouldn’t listen.”
“Why did she go there?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where is it?”
“Don’t go there,” she said. “You’ll lose your soul.”
“Stop talking nonsense, and tell me how to get to Café Blanc!”
“No. It’s an unholy place. Even rats die when they get too close.”
“Then I’ll get directions from the concierge.”
“If you must go, take this for protection.” She tried to push a small, black, red-eyed statue into my hand.
I called her a stupid, superstitious woman and stormed out.
A waiter at Café Blanc remembered Helen. “She drank much rum with a voodoo priest, a dangerous man from Destrudo. They left together.”
“In the jungle. They say it’s a terrible place with zombies and terrifying voodoo ceremonies.”
I couldn’t find anybody who’d risk driving me anywhere near Destrudo.
“Perhaps Mobu will take you,” someone whispered. “They say he’s from Destrudo. A strange man who talks slow like a zombie. Some say he’s husband of a white zombie. There he is now.”
I approached his battered jeep. Waving twenty dollars, I said, “I hear there’s a white woman in Destrudo. Take me to her.”
“You...not...fear...ride...in...dark...with...zombie?” he asked with breath reeking of jungle rot.
“Save the baloney for gullible tourists,” I said boarding the jeep.
“Nope. Let’s go. I don’t have all night.”
I snickered at his ludicrous words and slow speech.
Ten minutes later, I was on the verge of screaming. While driving manically through jungle paths, his skin took on a greenish glow and vibrated. Weirdest thing I ever saw.
“I changed my mind,” I yelled. “Stop the jeep!”
But he went faster. I figured my only escape was to jump. Just as I was about to, he slammed the brakes.
“White...woman...there,” she said, pointing to a jungle clearing.
Something with the same greenish glow approached. It had Helen’s face!
“Helen,” I called. “It’s me, Ed.”
Moaning, she touched my face. Her fingers were icy. Their stench sickened me.
When I tried to shove her into the jeep, her putrid teeth ripped flesh from my cheek. The pain was horrendous. I tried to get away, but tripped.
Suddenly, Helen and Mobu were biting my face and howling.
I don’t know how I broke loose. I raced through the jungle until I blacked out. I’m not sure how I got back to the city.
* * *
Since that horrible night, my cheeks have dripped pus continuously. Modern medicines can’t stop the flow.
Shamans have exorcised me. I’ve sacrificed chickens to voodoo gods. I’ve consumed putrid, hoodoo potions. But nothing heals my wounds, or stops Helen and Mobu from invading my dreams and feasting on my flesh.
Last night when I looked in the mirror, my pus-filled face was glowing...and vibrating.
Copyright: © 2010 Michael A. Kechula
Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His stories have been published by 128 magazines and 36 anthologies. He’s won first place in 10 contests and placed in 8 others. He’s authored three books of flash fiction, micro-fiction, and short stories: The Area 51 Option and 70 More Speculative Fiction Tales; A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales; I Never Kissed Judy Garland and Other Tales of Romance. eBook versions available at http://www.booksforabuck.com/ and http://www.fictionwise.com/ Paperbacks available at http://www.amazon.com/.