It was eleven at night when I got off the bus at the corner of Huntington Drive and Poplar Blvd and started out on the familiar five block walk to my home on Sheffield Street. My head was spinning as I considered the events of the evening. First off, meeting Mr. Nez, head of La Familia, a secret society of several thousand zombies living under the radar in the United States. Oh, they don’t eat humans like you see in the movies. As near as I can tell, these are the good guys.
Then the troubling news that there exists a human eating group of zombies, headed by the patriarch Juan de Oñate– the bad guys for sure. The Oñate human-eating zombies are at war with the La Familia group of zombies that had rescued me as a child and had safeguarded me during my childhood without me even knowing it.
Lastly, the revelations about my own identity. Apparently, there have been only six distinct zombie mutants in history, six zombie bloodlines. All the rest of the living zombies are their descendants. Oñate is one of the six, Mr. Nez another.
And then there is me.
According to La Familia, I’m supposed to be the new mutant on the block. Only the seventh human being that has been born with the zombie mutant gene. And everyone realizes that I can be the progenitor of yet another line of zombies. And they wondering, does this kid do the human-eating thing? Will he beget generations of human eating zombies or is he like us?
Hey, that’s a lot to think about for a seventeen year old Chicanito from El Sereno.
Earlier, at the La Familia meeting, after la Señora Falcón had finished her report, there were other reports to be heard. Some alluded to Mission Poderosa. From what I could gather some sort of scientific medical research that was supposed to transform the world as we know it. Pearl promised to fill me on the details the next day at Wilson High School. Mr. Nez concluded the meeting with a peculiar caution.
“Hermanos y hermanas” he had said, “be wary. Look over your shoulder. Remember that we are all potential targets.”
I was wondering about Mr. Nez’s words when I walked up the stairs to our second story duplex apartment and knew instantly something was wrong. The hand carved Mano Poderosa symbol, which ‘ama had secured to the side of the front door of everyplace we had lived, was gone.
At the top of landing I saw something else that alarmed me. The front door was ajar. When I had left for the zombie meeting earlier in the day, I had locked the door securely. The lights were on in the apartment, but whenever mom was home, she always kept the door locked. There was no reason for the door to be open.
I cautiously walked into the living room and stopped in my tracks. I felt the air suck out of me as I took in the sight before me. The living room was completely trashed. Furniture was upset, my ‘ama’s photos and ceramic bric-brac were broken and strewn about the room. The curtains had been torn down from the windows and on the wall, clumsily written in red were the words, “Die Mutant!”
Mutant! Someone knew who I was.
As if in a trance, I walked through the apartment. I checked the bathroom, my mom’s bedroom, the back washroom, the kitchen. Each room was equally ransacked. When I entered my own room I saw that all the bureau drawers were spilled onto the floor. My zombie posters and photo of César Chávez were all torn down from my wall. My school books, and rat tail collection were all scattered about the room. And on the wall, the same message in red, “Die Mutant!”
“‘Ama!” I cried, “ ‘Ama! Are you here?”
There was no response. I looked at my watch. It was 11:20 PM. My mom got off of work at 9PM. She should have been home by now. Where was she?
“‘Ama!” I cried again. I raced through the apartment and checked each room again. She was not here.
I could feel my heart pounding as I consciously forced myself to sit down and think this through. What had occurred here?
I checked the living room for the TV, it was still there. The stereo, still there. Then I checked under my ‘ama’s mattress, where she kept her emergency money. The bundle of $20 bills was still there. A simple burglar would have taken all of this. This was no burglary.
And there was the message they had left.
I walked back to my bedroom and examined the message on the wall closely. It was red because, I now saw, it was painted in blood. I brushed my finger across the “D” in “Die”and tasted it. I knew what animal blood tasted like. This was different. I looked down at the blood on my finger as it suddenly hit me that this was human blood! I ran my tongue across my lips, savoring the blood.
“No!” I screamed.
It was not the terrible trashing of the house, or the terrible intent of the message on the wall that revolted me. It was the question that Pearl had asked me earlier in the evening. “Everyone wants to know are you one of us or one of them. Will you kill human beings to satisfy your zombie urges?”
I had just tasted human blood for the first time. And I wanted more!
Copyright 2013 by Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions, Inc.