THE WORSE DAY OF MY LIFE.
At seven on the dot there was a group of about eight of us sitting around a large conference table in room 27 of the secret Mano Poderosa underground laboratory under the General Hospital. I recognized the teenager who I had seen months ago in the downtown alley, and one of the younger kids that had been introduced to us at the La Familia meeting as coming from San Antonio. No one said much. We just sat and waited.
Vida, the vegetarian zombie dog who followed me around everywhere I went, was on her back, demanding that I scratch her tummy. I complied. Pearl caught my eye and smiled.
Finally Mr. Nez walked in, looking gaunt and tired.
“Thank you for coming,” he said. He sat down at the table and I could see a sense of relief spread over him as he took a long breath.
“As you know.” he said, “ we have been at war with the Oñate zombies for over a hundred years. We split with them at the time of the Mexican Revolution. Until now there have been occasional assaults on individual members of La Familia.”
He nodded to me. “Like the ransacking of your apartment, Lazaro,¨ he said.
“But these have been individual cases, isolated. The Oñates have been busy with their prime goal, the acquisition of freshly killed humans… or living humans. They’ve been so intent on conquering humankind, they’ve pretty left us alone. And this is good. It has allowed us to continue our research uninterrupted.”
“But,” I interrupted, “how can they kill humans and not be found out after all of these years? Surely people must miss relatives or loved ones who have been killed by the Oñate zombies?”
“You would think. But they haven´t stayed below the radar for long by being stupid.” Mr. Nez continued. “They wait for natural calamities and…war. They move in and kill and ravage and then cover it all up by whatever earthquake, fire or battle has occurred.”
There was a moment as this news sunk in.
“Yes,” Mr Nez continued, reading our expressions, “it´s a little hard to believe. But they have developed a sophisticated way of moving around the world. They have key individuals in law enforcement, travel, government. They hear of impending conflict and they move their members to the region where their local counterparts facilitate their murders and abductions.”
“Abductions?” Someone asked.
“They recently taken to kidnapping humans and keeping them imprisoned until its time for them to be…eaten.¨
“And this war with the Oñate zombies has been going on for a hundred years?” Pearl wanted
“Since the time of Porfirio Diaz,” Mr. Nez concurred.
“Oñate saw that a revolution in Mexico was inevitable and positioned several zombies to push events forward. He had zombies in the ranks of Villa, Carranza, Huerta….Every battle of the revolution was an opportunity for human flesh. Soon, their numbers began to grow.”
“They can procreate then?”
“Just like us. Except they have a have a full scale proliferation plan. They kidnap human females and use them to breed more zombies. When they are finished with them, they are killed. The children are raised in zombie youth camps. We think we´ve located one of these camps out in the mountains near Big Bear.”
“What about tonight´s explosion?” Someone asked.
“Tonight was the first direct assault on us at our home base. It was brazen but it reflects their keen surveillance of our own activities, where we meet, what we do, and of course…this lab.”
“Do they know where this lab is located? Pearl asked.
Mr. Nez shook his head. “If they knew they would have hit us here long ago. But they do know about our experiments and research and eventual goals for human kind.”
“I wanted you newcomers to know about all of this. In the future things are likely to get rough. We may have to move the lab. For now we´ll be planning a counter attack, were going to hit this youth camp we’ve discovered. See if we can salvage these kids before they turn flesh eaters. If we can put Oñate on the defensive that will buy us the time we need to move the lab to another location and bolster our security.”
There was silence as we considered what Mr. Nez had told us. He looked thoughtfully from one person to another.
“I had hoped we´d have more time to integrate you all into the group. I had hoped many of you could become involved in the work of the lab. But it´s clear we´re at war now. We need you do your part.”
Signaling that the meeting was over, Mr. Nez got to his feet.
“Tomorrow we move out. We saw this day coming and have set up a training camp in the desert near Joshua Tree. You’ll start your combat training there. You´ll be part of the our attack team on Oñate youth camp. That is all.¨
The group slowly started to dissipate. Everyone discussing the significance of the attack and our new role. Mr. Nez came up to me.
“Lazo,” I need a moment with you. He gave Pearl a “leave us” look. Pearl got the hint and walked away. Mr. Nez took me into a corner of the room. Suddenly I was afraid. What did he have to tell me? The look on his face was somber and serious.
“Lazo” he said, placing his hand on my shoulder. “I don´t know any other way to tell you this.” He paused and looked deep into my eyes.
“You´re mother was with La Señora Falcón at this night´s meeting. She asked to be there, she told La Señora Falcón she wanted to know your world better, so she could be supportive. Lazo, your mom was standing next to the cluster bomb when it went off.”
I could feel tears welling in my eyes.
The look on Mr. Nez’s face left to doubt.
“She died instantly,” he said. “I´m sorry.”
Copyright 2013 by Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.