Our Otherlife

Part I - Intro to the Book

"… And so that's how the series ends. Sorry this took so long, Professor," Ian rubbed the back of his head apologetically. He was finally writing novels for a living, and his first book was a major selling-point. All he needed was a few sequels, a woman, some kids and a white picket fence and the American dream would be his for the living. He had returned to his state university to discuss in detail the ending to his major series to an eager professor, wanting an exclusive preview. Ian felt that this one in particular deserved nothing less.

All of his childhood to present-day friends were metaphorically an inch away from him due to his great success. It was all he could have ever wanted. That made him perfect for our studies. What better crop than the cream of it? We caught Ian by the Memorial Marketplace, coming back from the bookstore of all places. He was making sure the college didn't overprice his books too badly, as he wanted the world to read them. Such idealism…

"Mr. Sansouci," my associate pulled him aside. This associate of mine wore mirrored shades, a black business suit and carried a unique cell phone in his hand. He stood a towering six foot six and must have weighed an easy two-fifty in pure muscle. The author seemed mildly intimidated as he approached. "I was wondering if you could autograph this copy of your book," he started, causing our target to relax incredibly.

"Sure thing," Ian waved and reached for a pen, "Anyone in particular I'm signing it for, or do you just want my name?"

The associate called his partner over, holding a black, unidentifiable book. He then turned to Ian and smiled, "Just your name will do, Sir. You have no idea how long I've waited to meet you."

"Couldn't have been that long," he jested, "I only got this book published two years ago." He reached to sign when my associate stopped him, "It would feel much more significant to me if you used my pen."

Ian blinked, but after a few seconds, he saw no problem with it. Naive young man… He took the quill in hand and looked at the first page, as white and pale as salt. It took a moment, his last name taking longer than I expected to write, but his name was in our book. The two retreated slowly, only saying, "Thank You."

We never heard from Ian again until his obituary was in the papers the next day. By then, we could track his every move… hear his every thought… witness his every action. Sadly, but in the long run, fortuitous enough, no one really reads the papers anymore… otherwise they would've found it odd the late author was walking with the living. He stayed overnight in a motel in Orono that night, but awoke to find himself in a pool of blood. He smelt awful and his moves were sluggish at first. Suddenly, something unexpected happened. We noticed of all things, he was the one out of a thousand it could have happened to: he retained his brain. He didn't hunger, nor did he shamble like the other experiments we had. He was a true and living (so to speak) zombie lord. His stench of rotting organs ceased and a new blood system took over. This was the moment we had been waiting for. Pure and unmodified Undeath, the one common link we had found between us living creatures and the far superior undead race. Humans required Blood to live, but a Zombie Lord doesn't. It's Undeath that cycles through the remaining "vitals" and keeps them working well after the heart has stopped. It's more or less a living tissue within humans, laying inert.

Regardless, Ian didn't stay put for long. He instantly showered, which oddly enough, worked like a charm to get rid of the smell. With his organs no longer decaying, a few breath mints, brushed teeth and a cold shower was all he felt he needed. He didn't even pause for breakfast, though he hardly ever did anymore. Oh, the experiments we could put him though! A few of us down here at the lab got even more excited when we began dreaming of what he could do, or even if he found a Female Zombie Lord, if it was even possible they could breed! This is an entirely new species of undead, after all. Sadly, however, these are the minds of scientists. They only seek answers. I, on the other hand, am the only one who receives Ian's consciousness directly. Oh, what I could do to them… to him… dreaming and theories will do them no good if Ian and any other zombie decides to suddenly feed for once.

The first visit he made was the state university campus. The papers there circulated through the school, by the school, to the school, so news of the author's departure and second coming was yet to be discovered. He made his way over to a place his mind dubbed "The Couches." From here, all the rest is memories…

"Damn, where is he?" I scratched the back of my neck in anxiety. Hi, my name's Ian. I've so far written three stories, two of which parts of a major series, and I'm back at my school. Had a little bit of a shock, this morning. I guess I must've gotten drunk, or something, because I can't remember how all that blood got there last night on my bed. It was pooled everywhere… but I feel absolutely fine, to be honest. I made a note to tell the motel maid about it before I left… but I guess I kinda forgot afterward.

Anyway, I meant to see an old friend… but he hadn't shown up yet. The man I was supposed to meet was a good guy, Geoff. After college, I kind of lost track of him, but from what I hear, he hadn't lost any of his personality: he sounded as energetic and as outgoing as ever… and he still wore that damned hat I always loved. That tall, Abe-Lincoln Top Hat.

Looking down the hall, I could make it out… took him long enough. I started towards him when I saw the cause of his tardiness. He had a large gash on his left leg, but amidst how painful it looked, he was grinning from ear to ear, nearly laughing, perhaps because of the injury e had received. Regardless, I was in for a story. Something about that gash, I couldn't take my eyes off of it. It's not like I hadn't seen one before, in fact several injured of my own over my childhood years look more painful than that… but this feeling nagged at me. Geoff finally reached me, and thought it awkward I was fixated on his wound. He told me how he got it, but the words went in one ear and out the other. I reached out and touched it, saying the only remark I could, "Sure looks damned painful, bud."

Geoff hissed and swatted my arm away. It looked like he fit me hard, but I felt nothing. "Don't touch it, man, it still stings… now it's even worse…! Man, Didn't I just say I had just gouged that into that railing?"

I blinked, "What railing?"

Geoff went to explain, but sighed, "Nevermind… I just need to find some Neosporin. So how've you been, man?"

I nodded, shrugging, "Not too bad. Published author now."

"I heard, I heard…"

Well this was certainly awkward… nothing but snappy sentences. Time to start up a conversation…

"You seen the others much? Jen, John, Katie…?" I asked and I leaned on a couch, trying to stare at Geoff's face and not his wound.


You're a big help… c'mon, Geoff, tell me something! "I'm sure you've seen them more than I have, what're they up to, nowadays?"

Geoff reached for his gash and crouched down, speaking while tending it. It must've really stung since I touched it. "Jen and John are living together now.. no news about how they're doing. The last person I saw was Katie and Ali, over at John's summer party. You were invited to that, I think…"

I nodded, "Had to turn that one down, my job was hounding me. Deadlines and all. Who showed up?"

"Everybody, man, you should've gone."

I smiled, looking around as Geoff's attention wandered elsewhere. I spotted a booth down the end of the hallway with a memorable event sign-up. 'HVZ', the renowned tradition of "Humans verses Zombies." That certainly brought back good memories. I pointed to the booth, and Geoff caught a glimpse of it and smiled, "Last time I played that, I totally owned…"

I smiled deviously, "yeah, but the first time I saw you play it, you got totally owned. Out on the first day?" I chuckled as his face flushed red and he swung to swat me again, holding back a laugh.

"The others should be around campus, they should know we're here." Geoff smiled, occasionally grimacing.

"Shouldn't you take care of that, first? It looks incredibly painful…"

Geoff tilted his head as opposed to shrugging himself, "It's starting to numb, I'll just hit some Neosporin and an ace bandage in the bookstore before we head out."

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