Mr. Neza led us down a dark hallway to another door. He opened it and led Pearl and I down steep steps. At the bottom was a long corridor. But this corridor was much more fancy. Carpeted floor, photos on the hallway walls, ornate overhead lighting from another era.
He opened a door to an office.
“Come in, sit down,” he said.
Pearl and I took seats in front of a beautiful old hand-crafted wooden desk. I looked around the office and saw it was filled with lamps, books, ornaments and furniture from many different time periods. There was a moment of silence as Mr. Neza settled into the chair behind the desk and looked me over carefully. Finally he spoke.
“Lazaro,” he said, “how much do you know about who you are?”
Well, that was getting right to the point alright!
I explained to Mr. Neza how I had died at age five, how my mother had sought out la Señora Falcón who had cast some kind of spell and raised me from the dead. I went on a little about my life since then. How I’d come to grips with my zombiness, the make-up to cover my ghastly skin pallor, the deodorant and later Pachouli to mask the smell of death. I concluded with a report of the changes that I had been undergoing more recently, the changes that made me look more human, what Pearl called zombie puberty.
“Lazaro,” Mr. Neza said quietly, “you got some of that right. But there’s a lot you’re mistaken about. It’s time for you to know the truth. First off, la Señora Falcón did not “resurrect” you.”
“Huh?” This was a total surprise to me.
“But my mother said they went out to the Evergreen cemetery and La Señora Falcóm cast a spell and then they dug me up. She’s told me that all my life!”
“Yes, and she believes it. And it is true that your mother and La Señora Falcón DID dig you up. But there was no mumbo jumbo, no magic spell that brought you back to life. “
Now I was really confused.
“I don’t understand.”
“It was La Señora Falcón that sought out your mother, not the other way around. She suggested to your mother that you could be resurrected and that she could do it She did this because she knew, WE KNEW, that you would be resurrected anyway.”
“Lazaro, your resurrection was the result of who you are. You were born with a mutant gene, a zombie gene. When you died, the zombie gene kicked in and resurrected you.”
“A zombie gene?” This was weird.
“Exactly. No mumbo jumbo. It’s all scientific and empirical. We don’t believe in magic–just science.”
“And La Señora Falcón?”
“She was our emissary. From our group, La Familia. She was there to make sure you didn’t spend weeks digging yourself out of your coffin. She arranged for your transition into some semblance of a normal life. Her main job was to help your mother understand your condition and become comfortable with raising you as a zombie.”
I was having problems taking all of this in.
“Wait a minute. Zombies are mutants?”
“That’s who we are. We’re totally human until we die. Then the zombie gene gets activated and we come back to life.”
“So some zombies live to be old?”
“Many of us live out long lives before we die and come back to life. Quite a shock for most of us. You and Pearl here are among the youngest zombies we’ve seen resurrected.”
I turned to Pearl and took her in with a new appreciation. She smiled back at me.
“And you’ve known about me all this time, then?”
“Yes. We’ve been keeping a careful watch on you. Protecting you. Making sure you were never found out.”
My head was trying to understand and absorb the implications of this new information,
“How many of us are there?” I asked.
“Several hundred now. Mainly here, in Mexico and in South America.”
“There’s no zombies in the rest of the world?”
“Not that we know of. We think it has to do with the Native American gene pool that we all derive from. We’ve run tests. Scientific–no mumbo jumbo.”
Then the question I wanted confirmation on.
“How long has this been going on? How long have we been going on?”
“We think I’m the eldest zombie. At least the eldest we know. I was born in 1402.”
“But you don’t age!”
“Some of us can change our appearance. That’s why I look so young now. You’ll find out about that later. The important thing is that you are with us now. We’re your new family and we will help you adapt to your new life in many ways.”
“Why are you doing all of this for me?”
“Lazaro. You are one of us. We help each other.”
There was a moment of silence. I noticed that Pearl was giving Mr. Nez an inquiring look. Like he was leaving something out of his explanation. I took Pearl’s cue.
“Is there anything else I should know?”
I could see Mr. Nez was deciding on how much more to tell me.
“He needs to now,” Pearl said firmly.
“Yes, he does,” Mr. Nez agreed. “Lazaro, we’re also very interested in you for one other important reason. You’re a very , very special person.
“How so?” I asked.
“Once you’re a zombie, you never die. But most zombies are sterile. They can’t have offspring. But a few rare zombies CAN procreate. They can have zombie children, they can keep the race of zombies going. We call them progenitors.”
“Progenitor,” I repeated, savoring the word. “How many of these progenitors exist?”
“To our knowledge there have only been six progenitors born since 1402. I am one of them, the eldest.”
“So you’ve had zombie kids?”
“Many. Some of the people you will meet later tonight are my children. Lazaro, we’ve taken a special interested in you because we think that YOU may be a progenitor.”
Copyright 2012 Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.