Joey and Overgang and Rita and Molly and Zombies
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"Well, fuck me."

Overgang Dood was sprawled across the backseat of the van, waiting for the rest of the crew to wake up. They were in a Dakota, though he wasn't sure which; yesterday had been less about precise navigation, and more about getting as far away from Seattle as possible before the Men In Black caught up.


Molly stirred in the driver's seat. She'd fallen asleep as soon as they parked, without even turning off the engine.

"Don't worry about it, go back to sleep."

"Nnnn. 'M awake." Molly's eyes cracked open. "Hmmm. Dark."

"Yeah, it's like…" Overgang looked over his sunglasses at the tiny digital clock in the dashboard (his laptop was locked on the 24.5 hour Martian day, and wouldn't be anywhere near in sync with local time for at least a week). "Four-thirty. You've only been out for a few hours."

"Ugh. Why'd you let me sleep up here?" She was sounding more coherent now. "My neck is gonna be so goddamn sore in the morning."

"Rita tried to move you downstairs, but you sleep-threatened her with a palette knife."

"Yeah. That sounds like me." She stood up with a groan, stretching as best she could in the cramped van.

"How are ya now, dad?"

She flipped him off. "So what was that earlier?"


"The 'fuck me'. Unless you were cybering with some hot elf babe, in which case I don't want to know."

"Oh, uh…" Overgang turned his laptop screen around. Molly flinched back, covering her eyes.

"Fuck, too bright, too bright."

"Shit, sorry." He turned the brightness down, and tapped the screen. "This thread."

"Nnnnhn still too bright. Read it to me."

"Remember Ruiz Duchamp?"

"Uh. Vaguely?"

"Kind of an asshole but good with exploits? Hate-boner for the Critic's clique? Offed himself a few weeks after the Exhibition We Don't Talk About?"

"Oh, yeah. Weird dude. Actually, like, had shows in real galleries. Who does that?"

"Yeah. Anyway, someone stole his corpse."

"Huh." Molly's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You're not fucking with me 'cause I'm half asleep?"

"Scout's honor." Overgang pressed one hand to his heart and raised the other in a two-fingered salute.

"You were never a boy scout."

"Cub scout for like, six months. I think my dad's still got my uniform somewhere in the attic."

"Still can't tell if you're fucking with me. Need more sleep." Molly pulled open the trapdoor and started heading down the ladder into the non-euclidean mansion beneath. She paused when she was about neck-level with the floor. "You should also probably sleep?" She didn't seem quite sure that was the case.

"I'm nocturnal now." (He was also locked on the 24.5 hour Martian day, and wouldn't be anywhere near in sync with local time for at least a week.)

"Oh." Molly took that one in stride, and finished her descent into the basement. Overgang kicked the trapdoor shut after her, and went back to the internet. The internet never doubted him.

It was a good four hours after Overgang's chat with Molly. He hadn't moved from his seat or taken his eyes off his laptop screen since then. The trapdoor swung open, and Rita peered out, squinting at the sudden brightness.

"Mornin', Rita."

"Gh." It was barely even a grunt. "Breakfas'."

"There should be food in the kitchen, unless you want to try and find the nearest Denny's or whatever."

"No." Rita glared at him. "Joey. Food. Now."

Overgang nodded, and followed her down the ladder. By the time he made it to the kitchen, she was already asleep at the table. Joey was by the stove, doing something eldritch to a pan of bacon, and Molly was glaring at the coffee machine like it had killed and eaten her family.

"Overgang. Fix the caffeine before I do something drastic."

He reached over and plugged it in. It played a cheery little jingle and started brewing.


"You're welcome. Hey, so, remember what I was telling you earlier?"

"No." Molly was maintaining eye contact with the coffee maker, as if it would suddenly stop working when not observed. "I remember nothing between the exit ramp and my bed."

"Oh. Well, that's fine, I can tell you guys too. So remember Ruiz Duchamp?"

"Uhhhhhh." Joey flipped his bacon, a pensive look on his face. "Betamax guy?"

"Yeah, Betamax guy."

"Betmax guy?" Molly’s face was practically pressed against the coffee pot, watching it fill.

Joey nodded. "Betamax guy. Like every other time he was in a show, or at a party, or whatever, he'd show up with all his work on Betamax. Never brought his own player, and like, who has a Betamax player? So I've never actually seen his stuff. What's he up to?"

"I dunno." Overgang grabbed a seat, nudging Rita's head back to make room for his laptop. "He's been dead since like, a few weeks after the Exhibition."

"Oh. How'd he die?"

"Suicide. Froze himself with liquid nitrogen."


"Yeah. Anyway, yesterday someone stole his corpse." Overgang turned his laptop to show Joey and Molly a local news article. Grave Robbery At Holy Cross Cemetery. At the top was a photo of a freshly dug grave, under a headstone reading “RUIZ EDWARD DAVID WILSON”. Someone had crossed out the “WILSON” with spray paint, and written “DUCHAMP” underneath.

“Double-dang.” Joey poked at the bacon, and seemed to come to a conclusion. He dropped some on a plate and slid it over to Overgang. “Here.”

Overgang prodded it suspiciously. “… What does it taste like?”

Joey shrugged. "No clue. I’ve been trying a new thing. Randomizing my flavors."

"Hmmmm." Overgang sniffed the bacon. It smelled like bacon. He took a bite. "It… It just tastes like bacon."

Molly finally had her coffee, and was looking less murderous by the second. She dropped a second mug by Rita's head. "Lemme try." She chewed for a moment. "It's… Turkey bacon."

"You made pig bacon taste like turkey bacon?"

"Not intentionally. I told you, I randomized my flavors. I'm trying to be more spontaneous."

Rita, eyes still closed, reached out and cradled the coffee mug. "Mmmm. Whatabout betamassguy?"

"Drink your coffee, kiddo," Molly said. Then she stole another piece of turkey-bacon-flavored-pork-bacon from Overgang's plate.

"Notakiddo." Rita sat up, eyes still closed, and took a sip of her coffee. "Jus' turned twenny. Adult. Betamax guy?"

"Betamax guy."

Rita's answering glare would've killed a lesser man. Thankfully, Overgang had spent the last several years developing an immunity to Rita's glares. "What. About. Betamax. Guy." She punctuated each word with a sip of coffee. It definitely didn't have the effect she was going for, unless that effect was "mild secondhand embarassment".

"Someone dug up his body. OR SO WE THOUGHT." Overgang opened another tab, this one a YouTube video. "This morning, copies of this video were found in the offices of Anartchy, the Village Voice, the Augur-Haruspex, DVORAK, the Soho Chronicle-Press, and probably a number of other newspapers, magazines, et cetera, that I don't follow on Void."

"Aren't the Press a front for the MIBs?"

"Yes. That's not the point. The point is that they all got a copy of this video…" He paused dramatically. The others seemed more confused than excited, so he ended his pause a whole half-second earlier than his customary 2.3 seconds. "On Betamax!"

"Other people can use Betamax. Hey, Joey, I think this one is soy bacon." Molly held out a half-eaten rasher for inspection.

"Hmmm." Joey grabbed it with his tongs and sniffed. "I think my randomization algorithm didn't go far enough in flavor-space. The ones I've tried have been fried ham, pancetta, and pork rinds. So what's on the video?"

"A whole bunch of pretentious bullshit about the need to revitalize the anart world after the collapse of Are We Cool Yet?" Overgang took a bite of bacon, so he didn't have to deal with the punctuation of that sentence. It tasted like salt-cured pork. "It's a manifesto. But it's a manifesto delivered in Ruiz Duchamp's voice!"

"Who's Ruiz Duchamp?"

"Betamax Guy, Rita."

"Oh. Betamax Guy. Right."

"So," Joey said, cracking an egg over a fresh pan, "he's come back from the dead? After like, three, four years?"

"He'd be pretty gross, wouldn't he? Like, full zombie-mode." Molly poured herself another cup of coffee, and very pointedly ignored Rita's pleading look and outstretched mug. As soon as she put her own coffee down on the table, it started inching slowly over to Rita, as if being pushed by an army of highly trained invisible arachnids. Molly was too busy contemplating Ruiz's state of decomposition to notice. "Plus he froze himself to death. So total frostbite-face. Gnarly."

"I mean, he's still got vocal cords, I guess. Maybe he was brought back to life in a non-zombie manner. Divine intervention, or superscience regeneration, or dark sorcery." Joey flipped his egg. "No, I guess dark sorcery would probably zombify him. Unless he's a lich?"

"Or a revenant. Or a wight. Probably not a vampire, I don't think you can vampirize a corpse," Molly said, reaching for her mug. It wasn't there. "Rita, I swear to god, I will put down spider traps."

"First of all, you wouldn't dare, I taught them to avenge their fallen sisters like, ages ago. Second of all, those are from D&D, not from real life, and third of all, he's not a zombie, because he didn't dig himself up."

"Hold that thought." Overgang spun his laptop around. It was showing a Void thread about Ruiz's resurrection. Someone had managed to get crime scene photos of the grave, and an email from the Archbishop of New York to the head of the Pontifical Commission on Necromancy and the Undead. "The Church thinks he did. And these photos are pretty convincing."

Molly was on her phone, furiously googling. "Last night, there was an assault in Soho. A couple coming back from a play was attacked by, quote, 'some homeless guy with a skin condition' who 'smelled like death' and who 'tried to eat my brain, swear to god'. Height and hair color match Betamax Guy."

"I mean, it's a weird correlation, but it's not like it's gotta be him," Joey said as he slid the egg onto Molly's plate. "Maybe it was just a homeless guy with a skin condition. Hey, Moll, what's this taste like?"

Molly took a bite. She took another bite, and contemplated it for a little while. "… Laminar flow."

"Too abstract?"

"Mhmm. Confusing. Oh, and the attacker was shouting about Dada and postmodernism, which is not a typical random homeless guy move, but is absolutely a typical Betamax Guy move."

"Could be worse," Rita said, sipping at Molly's coffee. "I mean, a single zombie artist? What's the worst he could do? It's not, like, zombie plague apocalypse time."

Overgang froze, staring at his laptop in sheer terror. "There have been," he said, after few deep breaths, "three new exhumations in the city of New York in the last 24 hours. One of them was a mausoleum. The door was shattered. From the inside."

"So that's two of the rifles, three of the tomahawks, one shotgun, the harpoon launcher, six cases of fireworks, one broadsword, the cattle-catcher for your van, a couple rolls of razor wire, a nail gun, three packs of Pokemon cards, a tank of propane, and the mentos. I miss anything?"

Overgang shook his head. "Nope, that should be it. I just stick my card in here?"

"No, the chip thing's broken, sorry hon. Gotta swipe it." While Overgang swiped it, the cashier looked over at their overloaded cart. "So you folks starting a militia? Because my cousin up near Devil's Lake has a whole compound all set up, if you want to join."

"No ma'am." Joey was probably laying the country on a bit too thick, but the cashier seemed charmed by it. "We're going hunting."

"Well gosh. What are you gonna hunt with all that?"

Joey looked at Overgang. Overgang looked at Molly. Molly tried to look at Rita, but Rita had stayed in the van, so there was nobody to pass the buck to. "Uh. Zombies?" She froze. "I mean, uh, zombies aren't real, haha, I meant… Zebras?"

The cashier winked. "Can never be too careful. End times are just around the corner, and the dead'll be rising to eat us any day now. You kids have fun. And thanks for shopping at Walmart."

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