The meeting of La Familia, the secret society of Zombies, began with Mrs. Falcón rising from her seat to address the gathering. There were two hundred of us there. She took a moment to look over several sheets of papers she held in her hand. Then she turned and smiled in my direction. She was looking directly at me.
She knew me!
“Tonight is an exciting night for me,” she said to the audience. “As you know from my weekly Watch reports, for many years we have been monitoring several younger zombies. Last year we introduced you to Pearl Gonzales and she is now an active member of La Mano Poderosa. Tonight we welcome another young person, someone The Watch has been monitoring since he was five years old. You all know him from my reports. I present to you… Lazaro de la Tierra.” She turned and smiled at me.
“Lazaro, please stand up, ” she said.
I felt a lump in my throat and couldn’t move. All these years I had been trying to find La Señora Falcón, the elusive midwife to my resurrection. And now here she was in the flesh, and introducing me to my new family of fellow zombies. My heart was thumping and my mouth dry. I couldn’t move.
Finally, Pearl pinched my arm. “Stand up, menso!”
I stood up and turned to face the room. Suddenly everyone in the room started to applaud. Soon the two hundred or more people were standing up from their seats and clapping their hands. Above the din of the applause I could hear individual voices, “Welcome Lazaro!” “Finally great to meet you!” “You’re going to love your new family!” “We’re here for you!”
I smiled and sheepishly waved to the entire room.
“You can sit down now,” Pearl said. And I did.
“What’s The Watch?
“La Familia has a team of observers who monitor all known or suspected zombies. We watch over them, make sure they don’t get into trouble. Eventually, when they die and are resurrected, we pull them into the group–like we did with you.”
“You’ll all be able to meet him after the meeting.” Mrs. Falcon continued as the applause died down. “We must proceed. First up I want to give thumbnail reports on several of the chrysalis we have been watching.
Pearl nudged me and whispered in my ear.
“Chrysalis are people who are zombies but don’t yet know it. Some are young like you and me, but others are already adults. They won’t know they’re zombies till they die. That’s when La Familia steps in.”
Mrs. Falcon proceeded to read of a list of names. After each name she commented on the status of the particular zombie.
“All of these chrysalis have been introduced to the Mano Podersa in subtle ways,” she said.. “We expect that when the time comes they will be receptive to our intervention due to this careful preconditioning.”
“The Mano Poderosa, the open palmed hand, “ Pearl whispered to me, “it’s a familiar symbol that we introduce to zombies who don’t know they are zombies yet. We get them used to the symbol. When these zombies “die” and then are resurrected it’s the first thing they see. That’s when our emissaries step in and begin the job of explaining all of this to people like you and me.
I recalled what La Señora Falcón had said to me in her letter.
“The butterfly emerges when the time is right,” I said out loud. Pearl turned to me and nodded her head knowingly.
“I am happy to report,” La Señora Falcón went on, “that we detected two new children zombies this week. One in San Antonio and one in Almagordo, New Mexico.”
Someone in the audience raised a hand to speak.
“Does this support the pattern we’ve seen emerging in younger zombies?”
“We can’t say for sure,” Mrs. Falcón replied, “It may just be an anomaly. But on the surface it does look like we’re see more resurrections among the young. The folks at the Mano Poderosa Center are doing studying this now.”
I gave Pearl a questioning look.
“The Mano Poderosa Center,” she said, “is the big project that the entire group has been working on for the past forty years. We call it Mission Poderosa.”
“What is it exactly?” I whispered back.
“Later, I’ll tell you later,” Pearl said. “It’s complicated.”
In the audience someone else raised a hand and La Señora Falcón acknowledged him.
“Señora, does this mean that there are more of us being discovered each year?
“Yes,.” she replied. “Exactly. The staff at the Mano Poderosa Center have done a statistical analysis and seem convinced that each year more and more zombies are being born and that is why we are detecting them earlier.”
The man who had spoken looked really Caucasian. He stood out among the brown skinned Latinos in the room.
I leaned over to Pearl.“I though the zombie gene pool was only Latinos?” I said.
“No,” she corrected me, “only people with Native American blood. That’s Mr. Johnson, he’s 25% Cherokee. Apparently that’s enough Native American blood to kick in the zombie gene, cause he’s one of us”
Now the question that had been bothering me all night suddenly went away. Mr, Brown, my old boy scout leader, must have Native American blood in him as well.
“Do we know how many are being born to the Oñate line?’
A hush fell over the room.
I didn’t know what was going on. What did he mean by the Oñate line? And why did it upset everyone so.
“The Oñate line,” Pearl said, seeing my confusion, “is one of the distinct zombie blood lines. It was started by Juan de Oñate when he died in Spain in 1626.”
“The conquistador?” I asked.
“Yep,” Pearl replied. “Turns out he was an original mutant. But he and his descendants have gone crazy.”
“The Oñate blood line broke away from La Familia about a hundred years ago. They have become our arch enemies. We’re at war with them.”
Boy, this was news to me. There was a war between the zombies?
“Why a war?” I asked.
“Everyone in this room belongs to one or another of the five zombie family lines. Daughters, sons–all descendants from the five original mutant zombies. We all eat carrion and the raw body parts of all manner of creatures. But there is one thing we don’t do.”
“And what’s that?” I asked.
“Eat human flesh,” she said. “The Oñate line craves human flesh and their members purposefully kill people to get it,. That’s why we are at war.”
Boy that shut me up for a while.
“To answer your question,” Mrs. Falcon continued, “We don’t know how many new zombies are being born into the Oñate line. We hope that it is not many.”
“And that’s why everyone is so interested in you,” Pearl said in my ear.
“Huh?” I said turning to her.
“You are a new mutant line,. So everyone wants to know are you one of us or one of them. Will you kill human beings to placate your zombie urges?”
Copyright 2013 by Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.