Man’s best friend, Zombie’s worst enemy Part 3

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on

The concept of zombieism first emerged in the 17th century in Haiti, but the popular depiction of zombies as disease-ridden shambling cannibals didn’t become popular until 1968 with the release of Night of the Living Dead. With the explosion of zombie culture predating spirochaete-12, or “Zombie Lyme” by decades, it can become difficult to sort out the medical science from the lore.

With the recent report of another student on campus afflicted with zombieism, the editorial board at the Romero Star wishes to remind the student body of the following facts about SP-12 as presented by the CDC:

  • SP-12 is the most contagious form of Lyme disease, and constitutes a growing number of cases since the first reported case in California in 2003. As of 2012, SP-12 constituted a plurality of Lyme cases, in 2016 it was a majority, and as of the most recent count in early 2020, it constituted seventy-four percent of Lyme disease cases.
  • Like other types of Lyme disease, SP-12 only causes its nightmarish symptoms if not treated immediately. Late-stage SP-12 is the only known cause of zombieism.
  • The symptoms of zombieism include low body temperature, a compromised immune system that leads to gangrene and a surface appearance that the flesh is rotting, and of course a heightened violence response and insatiable hunger.
  • Only twenty percent of people infected with late-stage SP-12 ever begin to exhibit zombieism symptoms. More commonly, the disease takes its usual course of joint inflammation and neurological issues. Even when one symptom of zombieism is present, other symptoms may never occur.
  • People reporting their bite from a zombie, the least common way to get SP-12, have a seventy percent chance to get zombie symptoms.
  • There is no known cure for Lyme disease in general or treatment for zombieism in particular.

Mr. Gobi pat Stacy on the back as Cody tried to lick Blas and jumped back from a threatening growl. “Excellent work. Really top-notch. You researched and wrote this in thirty minutes? You’ve outdone yourself.”

Stacy suppressed a grin. All in a day’s work.

The next day when the paper went online, the class could not stop talking about it. Specifically, they loved the new weather section. Blas barked at full volume at runners and their greyhounds and little babies in strollers with week-old-puppies curled up next to them as Stacy glued her eyes to her phone and scrolled down her paper’s comments section. Reader after reader raved about “the Weatherman.”

“What on earth is so interesting about the weather!?” Stacy demanded of Blas, who turned back to her and barked his agreement.

“Put a pretty face and a fluffy dog in a video and these Romero High morons will watch anything!” Stacy insisted as Blas barked more. Soon she was ranting at the top of her lungs while Blas barked up a storm alongside, jumping up and down with the chaotic energy swirling about them.

“I’m not going to kick Ethan out for having a section that’s too popular,” said Mr. Gobi. Cody was nowhere to be seen, but his distinct whine emanated from behind Mr. Gobi’s thick wooden desk.

“It’s reckless. He climbs to the top of a tree with his camera, points it to the horizon and says ‘Today’s forecast is sunny!’ He rides his skateboard off a ramp into a lake to say ‘Tomorrow has a 30% chance of rain!'”

Mr. Gobi answered, “you have to admit it’s cute how he trained his collie to point to the thunderstorm icon for Wendesday.”

“I don’t have to admit anything.” Stacy growled, Blas glancing confused in her direction and then growling with her. “I saved his life with that bear and now he’s just going to throw it away again for what? What does he even have to gain by cheapening my newspaper?”

“Consider asking him that,” suggested Mr. Gobi, reaching down to pet Cody, who had begun to yowl.

Stacy could hardly get close to Ethan all day, surrounded as he was by admirers between classes. It wasn’t until she was finishing up her day and closed her locker that she saw the boy hiding behind the door. His fluffy dog Princess Penelope Blackwater Stowe sat at attention next to him.

“Hey, stalker!” Ethan beamed.

“I’m not a stalker, you are!” Stacy scowled. Blas barked at full volume, and everyone covered their ears while Stacy said “stop, Blas! No!”

Ethan nodded, “says the girl in the corner of my eye all day today. Sure. Did you have something you wanted to say to me? Like, ‘thanks for making my boring newspaper popular, Ethan!'”

“Thanks for nothing. Just because you can’t read doesn’t mean the whole student body ignores the news. Oh, you’re welcome for saving your life, by the way.”

“Princess,” Ethan ruffled Princess’s brown-and-white mane, “and Blas saved our lives. You didn’t do anything. But that’s beside the point. I liked your style back there. Specifically your cool James Bond tools.”

Stacy tried to figure out what he was talking about, “You mean my tripod and camera lens?”

“Yeah. I think we could be an amazing team. I have the chutzpah and the brains, and the looks, and the street smarts, and the high-level strategy, and the fashion sense, and the charisma, and the video editing skills, and the people skills, and the business sense-” Stacy glared and Blas barked again and Ethan wrapped up, “and you can come along and bring the cool gadgets.”

“That’s a great idea, Ethan, except the actual accounting is that you bring the stupid risk to the equation and I bring the keeping you from getting yourself killed, which I don’t intend to do next time. Let’s see how your little Princess does against a bear without Blas to remind her how to bark.”

Ethan’s eyes shone and he struggled to keep another huge smile from blossoming across his face. When he got himself under control, he leaned against the locker. “Y’know, Stace, you are so right. I’m starving, wanna go talk it over over an early dinner?”

By Sam Munk

Science fiction and Fantasy author with a focus on philosophical inquiry and character-driven drama.

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