The car with Pearl and La Señora Falcón disappeared over a rise on Route 66 heading east toward Amboy. Gus Dominguez and Jimmy Yazzie sped behind them on their souped up Harleys. Filomeno and I were left alone in the empty parking lot across from the Ludlow café.
“Want some coffee?” Filomino asked.
“That’s what we’re here for, right?”
We had previously agreed that we would lay out a cover story so as not to arouse suspicion if there were any Oñate zombie spies nearby. We were a couple of movie buffs looking for the famed Bagdad Café on route 66, where the movie by the same name had been filmed.
Zombies hate coffee. It takes like watered down cat shit. Not like the delicate, full bodied taste of cow blood or even pig blood which I often used as my morning drink.. But I had gotten accustomed to drinking stank coffee when conditions demanded it.
Like right now.
The Ludlow café was a small place–a counter, two large rooms with chairs and tables and three waitresses attending to the clientele wearing Route 66 t-shirts. Being the only decent restaurant in fifty miles made it a very popular place.
As we sat down and ordered our coffee I surveyed the other patrons. They all looked like what you’d expect at a roadside stop–few rancher types, some truck drivers, a family of tourists.
Filomino asked the waitress for directions to the Bagdad Café. She directed us down the road toward Amboy. “On the left side of the road , you can’t miss it.” I noted the other patrons ignored our conversation. The place was probably safe.
After the waitresses left us, I turned to Filomino with a question.
“Filomino,” I asked in a whisper “Isn’t there a Marine base at 29 Palms, located just fifty miles from Amboy?”
“You got that right,” he whispered back.
“So the greatest military force in the world is going to let it’s guard down enough to allow an army of zombies to operate only fifty miles away? I don’t buy it. Where’s their security Don’t they have guards up for sabotage and terrorist and stuff?”
“Oh, they do.” Filomino said with a slow smile.”Let me assure you, Lazaro, the Marines at 29 Palms are fully aware of the secret Oñate compound under the Amboy Crater.”
That really startled me. They knew? What was going on?
“And?” I asked, trying not to sound too gullible.
“It’s true that there are Marines at the 29 Palms base that know about the secret Oñate compound,” Filomeno continued. “But they’re OUR Marines, our zombies Marines. That’s how we found about the compound in the first place.”
Suddenly I got it.
“Mano Poderosa inflitrated the Marine base like they did the Park Service at Joshua Tree.”
“Yes. And every other major important human institution in the world,” Filomeno said taking a sip of his coffee. “Geez, humans really like this shit, eh?
“Every human institution? I asked incredulously.
“Well, I wouldn’t say EVERY human institution but certainly the ones that might impact on Mano Poderosa’s long term mission. We’ve done heavy infiltration of institutions like NASA, the National Institute of Mental Health and other such places that might impact our search of the mutant zombie gene.”
“But Oñate can’t be that dumb. Wouldn’t he have infiltrated the 29 Palms base as soon as he knew he wanted to build his compound nearby?”
“And he did,” Filomino replied. “It took us quite a while to wrest control of the 29 Palms base from them.“
“So THEY know that WE know about the compound?”
“We don’t think so. Part of what too so long to get zombie control of the 29 Palms Marine Base was having to “disarm” each agent, and there were dozens of them, without letting Onate at home base fifty miles away know that we were taking over.”
“How did you kill them?”
“We didn’t– that would have given us away. We just convinced them one by one.”
“And the ones that you didn’t convince,?
“Yeah we did kill them and replaced them with look alikes that followed their protocol.”
“Why didn’t you just have some of these undercover zombies infiltrate the Oñate compound itself?
“Too risky. One thing to report by email and phone on current doings at the Marine base and intervene to squelch any military interest in Amboy crater. Something else to pass inspection entering and living in the Oñate compound. Whenever that became a problem we’d have the infiltrator called away to Iraq or Afghanistan.”
“So we don’t really know what’s in the crater?” I asked.
“Pearl and La Señora Falcón will be the first of us to find out. “
Filomino looked over the crowd at the restaurant and looked satisfied.
“I think we made our point,” he said. “Let’s get on to the rendevous point to wait for Pearl and La Señora.”
“Got to make a pit stop,” I said. Yes, even zombies have to pee.
While Filimono paid our bill I headed for the men’s room. It had two urinals one of which was in use. I went to the other.
I really didn’t notice the man standing next to me until he spoke.
“So this is you all grown.”
“Huh,” I said turning to face him. And then I got the shock of my life. I was staring into my own face!
The man standing next to me looked perhaps forty but his facial contours were unmistakably those of my own face, the familiar face I saw every morning in the mirror. It could only be one person.
Then I heard the voice in my head.
That’s right Lazaro, it’s me. Juan de Oñate.
Copyright 2014 by Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions, Inc.