Nothing For It

Warning Contains some PG13-level “naughty words.”

We're in a newly-hollowed-out mid-sized asteroid in the Glark system.

Pat is leader of the small team of Humans preparing the asteroid to assume the mantle of the Galaxy's largest shopping mall.

“Pat? Control. Where are you? Your shuttle will be leaving within the hour.”

“Looking over the final work in the eatery section.

“Don't worry about me missing that shuttle; I am really looking forward to a rest on good old blue-green Terra. I do not intend to miss it. Gloria would skin me alive if I did.”

Pat looks around the huge lobe-shaped cavern; trained eyes looking for flaws in fit and finish take in various sights:

“Hey Control, gravity's a bit high here…dial it down a notch, will you…OK, that's it. Thanks.” All is in order. He has a good team.

Looking along the length of the liquid helium fountain running upstream outside Egon's Ethereal Energy Emporium Pat's evaluating eye sees…zombies.

“Control? Looks like we've got a zombie infestation here.”

“Again! I thought we had the pest guys in last week?”

“I thought so too. Must be a fresh outbreak.”

Pat turns off his safety helmet, wipes his brow, turns the protective field on again and sighs. There's always something…. He'd liked some of those guys, darn it.

“Control? Time is a-wasting. Read the transponders on each corpse and get HR working on the paperwork will you: insurance, notices to relatives, all that guff. Hope they were all backed up properly!

“Tell you what: I'll round em all up into sector 24 and you can evacuate the atmosphere; flush 'em outside.

“Won't take more than 10 minutes, I'd say.

“Wait for my signal. I don't want to be flushed outside by mistake.”

“Are you sure? I can get Joe down there in 10. Don't forget about your shuttle. It won't wait. You know that.”

“By the time Joe gets here, they will have spread out. Best to get 'em now. Don't worry so much, Control. I won't miss the shuttle. I need that holiday.”

A veteran of many past zombie infestations, Pat knows what to do. He is quite confident that he can get the drop on any of the living dead that may come his way.

So Pat drops his buggy down to the floor, and walks toward the nearest Zombie. “Well Dave, I guess that you don't have to worry about that hangover anymore, do you?”, he says softly. With that, Pat stands still, claps his hands, whistles, stamps his feet and yells “Coooooeeee! Come on you cretinous corpses. Come and get me.”

He runs over to M'larn's shop-front and yells: “Hey zombies! Fresh brain this way.”

Jogging past Straaaarg's Semi-sentient singing shrubs he briefly brushes into a lone zombie partially hidden behind one of the pale blue cones, yelps: “Phil! Shit, man! You always were an asshole.”, and quickly jumps out of range of the zombie's flailing arms before shouting out: “Steaming hot sentience centre. Free to all comers.”

Outside Shaduluuub's he starts singing: “Pat's Perfect Pondering Protein Pack over here.”

With each witticism the small pack of undead shuffles after him, moaning and groaning as they gather into an ever tighter knot. With each move, he brings the knot a little further from the eatery section and nearer to the enormous soon-to-be entertainment precinct for the denizens of various gas-giants that is sector 24. The huge area has not yet been fitted out and can easily withstand evacuation.

Well within the allotted 10 minute period, the practiced Pat has all the zombies gathered neatly in cavernous sector 24. Pat runs full-pelt back across the entrance which irises shut and locks behind him.

Slightly out of breath but also elated, he fingers his communicator and says: “Control? Time to crack open the outer doors to sector 24.”

From his position of safety, Pat watches a maelstrom of flying undead bodies as they are sucked out of the huge portal opening in front of him.

He feels content.

“Control? Thank you.”

“A pleasure. A job well done.”

“Now I have a shuttle to catch and a holiday to enjoy.”

“Have fun, Pat. See you next shift.”

Some 30-plus minutes later, Pat is on the shuttle, slipping back towards Terra and ensconced in a soft, luxurious, form-fitting travel field. He is sipping a Martian Mudslinger, feeling increasingly mellow and planning a suitably hedonistic near future.

As he raises his Mudslinger to his lips, Pat notices a new—small but oddly livid—scratch on his pinkie finger. While pondering on this, he becomes aware of the beginnings of a headache and a strange, gnawing hunger.

Pat's memory flashes back on the brief and apparently uneventful collision with lone zombie Phil near Straaaarg's pale blue semi-sentient singing shrubs.

“Damn and double damn!”, he says slowly to himself, “I was really looking forward to some good old shore leave. Being restored from backup is not my idea of a holiday. Gloria's going to kill me as soon as I step out of the restoration tank. Maybe the insurance payout will help keep her happy…maybe.”

Nothing for it, then: “Oh stewardess, there's something you probably should know…”