How exactly do you kill someone who's already dead?
Playboy Police Chief Ian Dex didn't believe in zombies...until now.
An old necromancer has been summoning the dead. His goal is to overrun the world, one city at a time. Too bad he started in Vegas.
With the horde of zombies heading in from the old cemeteries, Ian and his crew soon realize they can't handle this threat alone. They need the help of the Vegas community. The problem is how to convince the people to shoot at zombies while not letting them know they're actually shooting zombies!
To make matters worse, the Directors want the job done, his mages are being drained, and there's a succubus who's dying to play a game of no-no with him.
Okay, maybe that last bit isn't so bad.
But no matter how you look at it, battling zombies sucks.
Release date: October 11, 2017
Publisher: Crimson Myth Press
Print pages: 246
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John P. Logsdon
One of the things I despised most about being on the Las Vegas Paranormal Police Department, better known as the PPD, was having to see the psychiatrist. Supposedly this was necessary in order to help us avoid losing our minds with all of the stuff that we see walking the beat, but most of us were inherently nuts anyway, which is why we made a perfect fit for the force.
But like any good cop, I took my place on the couch and let Dr. Vernon sift through my naughty thoughts. It was mandatory after any big cases anyway, and since it started a few hours after nightfall, I managed to be okay with it. If anything, I imagined that Dr. Vernon disliked having to stay late in order to take care of the PPD officers.
“For clarification,” she said in her bookish way, “the mage that you faced was more powerful than any you’ve encountered in the past?”
“By far,” I answered as the memory of Reese and his team of demons, or as I’d dubbed them “Admiral Psycho and The Four Demon Batteries,” were hard to forget. “The guy was supremely confident, up until the end anyway.”
“And this has led you to feel a sense of inferiority?”
“No,” I said, bolting upright and giving her a look that suggested maybe she should be the one in therapy. “Where’d you get that idea?”
Dr. Vernon peered over her book.
The amethyst eyes that sat nestled in her deep brown cheeks were mesmerizing. They played off perfectly with her studious outfits, today’s being a white button up shirt under a dark gray jacket that had a matching skirt. It was all rather form fitting, and she had quite a form. Unfortunately, she didn’t get involved with patients.
She flipped back a few pages and said, “You noted that you believed there was no way for your team to defeat him. Then you said that you feared that you, specifically, felt incapable of protecting members of your crew. And just a minute ago you expressed frustration over the fact that you couldn’t spend more time dealing with one of the mage’s minions.”
“So why would you need to spend more time with one of the minions unless you felt some need to connect?” She had an eyebrow raised. I was about to reply, but she held up a finger. “Mr. Dex, when a person threatens our very existence, it’s normal to want to identify with them. We seek to find a connection. Our psyche must deal with the fact that we’re about to end. We need meaning.” She paused, closing her book and leaning forward. “Do you understand what I mean?”
“Sure I do,” I said, having been in that very situation more than once, “but that’s not the case this time.”
“I’ve heard that response many times over my years in practice, Mr. Dex.”
“Not from me, you haven’t,” I replied, lying back down on the comfy leather couch.
“Okay,” she said with a sigh. “Explain to me why you believe you desired to spend time with this minion.”
I smiled to myself at the memory. “Because she was a seven-foot tall succubus with a body to die for…literally.”
She frowned and then groaned. “So you’re telling me this is some sort of sexual thing for you?”
“Well, duh, doc,” I replied with a laugh. “I’ve been coming to these sessions with you for, what, seven years? You know my genetic alterations not only make me the most unique supernatural in the world, it also makes me a major horndog.”
When joining the PPD, each officer is given genetic enhancements to accentuate their particular skills. Mages become more powerful, werewolves get added strength, vampires gain speed, and so on. We all improve, but there is a cost. Our libidos shoot up. I know it sounds odd, but it’s true. For each element of your genome that gets enhanced, you get a power point added to your sexual desire. So if you get bumped up in strength and stamina, you get two horny points along with that. Now, that may not seem like much, but it is, and I got it the worst…or best, depending on your perspective. I’m an amalgamite, meaning I have tons of genetic upgrades since I’m a jack of all trades. I have speed, power, night vision, special skills, the ability to do minor magic, and I’m a snappy dresser. Okay, that last one isn’t exactly a factor of my genome, but it needed to be said. Anyway, the point is that I’ve got a plus-10 on the horniness scale (well, technically it’s a plus-11, but who’s counting?). This is tough because a lot of the people who work for me are incredibly gorgeous and highly desirable. Unfortunately, I’m the boss, meaning they reside in the no-touch zone. They all play amongst themselves as they see fit, seeing that they’re peers, but being that I’m the chief…. Well, I can’t go down that road.
Dr. Vernon leaned back again and put on a wry grin.
“What?” I said, suddenly feeling like I was about to lose an argument.
“The minion was a succubus,” she answered while writing something in her book.
“So what does a succubus do, Mr. Dex?”
“Do you really want me to go there, Doc?”
“A succubus controls the one she is manipulating,” Dr. Vernon explained as if I didn’t know this already. “Therefore, I was correct in my assessment.”
I furrowed my brow. “Huh?”
“You were feeling a sense of inferiority!”
Technically that was true, but it wasn’t for the reasons she was originally claiming.
I rolled my eyes at her and faced the ceiling again.
It wasn’t easy being me, but it was fun. I had the best job in the world, along with a fantastic crew. Yes, I had an annoying psychoanalyst and my bosses, the Directors, could be trying at times, but they were all just a wrinkle in an otherwise dream situation.
“Babycakes,” came the voice of Lydia through the internal communications channel, “are you there?”
Lydia was a culmination of the best artificial intelligence available, 100% digital, a miracle of technology, and the only non flesh and bone member of the squad. She spoke to me through a device implanted in my brain called a “connector.” All PPD agents had them. They allowed us to communicate with each other over long distances without the need to carry additional gadgetry. Though Lydia was A.I., she often flirted with me. Specifically me. Everyone else on the force got the standard robotic drone whenever they spoke with her.
“…and this is why you still have issues, Mr. Dex,” continued Dr. Vernon.
“One sec, Doc,” I said. “Getting a call from base.” I adjusted my thoughts for a moment. “What’s going on Lydia?”
“We’ve received a report that there are a group of corpses digging themselves out of their graves in old town.”
“You heard me right, sugar,” Lydia replied sweetly. “Dead people are coming up in one of the cemeteries.”
“You’re talking about zombies, right?”
“You know it, puddin’.”
“Well, that doesn’t sound good,” I said as I stood up and looked at Dr. Vernon. “Sorry, Doc, I gotta run.”
“You do realize there is no such thing as zombies, Mr. Dex?” she said.
“Seems there are. My top-of-the-line A.I. doesn’t make mistakes. She’s the icing on the cake, the best of the best, and all that.”
“Aw,” said Lydia in response, reminding me that I was still talking to her as well, “you’re so sweet, lover.”
“But Mr. Dex,” Dr. Vernon exclaimed, “we haven’t dealt with your issues yet!”
I laughed as I stopped at the door. “Doc, you of all people know that I’ve got more issues than you’ll ever clear up in a lifetime.”
And with that, I rushed out of the building.
I took the stairs two at a time as I rushed down to the main floor. I had to get out of there before Dr. Vernon came after me. It wasn’t likely that she would, but why chance it? It was a certainty that she’d note on my record that we hadn’t finished our session. The Directors would give me crap about that, no doubt.
“Lydia,” I said as I pushed out the main door, “you’re a genius.”
“I know, darlin’.”
“No, I mean you’re seriously a genius.” I flipped open the door to my red Aston Martin Rapide S and climbed inside. The engine purred to life, reminding me why I’d purchased it in the first place. “Helping me get out of there by using a zombie reference? Classic!”
“Sweetie,” she said in a calmer voice, “I wasn’t making that up. There actually are reports of people digging themselves out of their graves.”
I laughed at that as I pulled out of my parking spot. “Great stuff.”
Anyone who knew me was aware that I loved a good gag. Pulling one over on Dr. Vernon was great. I couldn’t help but picture the good doctor sitting in her high-backed, leather chair right now while frowning at the door and wondering what the heck had just happened. Knowing her, she’d just write yet another note in my file about how I was unfit to be a public servant. Unfortunately for her, nobody on my crew was fit to be a public servant, which is precisely what made us so damn good at our jobs.
“Ian, you there?” It was the voice of my partner, Rachel Cress.
“Hey, Rachel, did you hear the gem that Lydia came up with to get me out of the psych eval? It was brilliant.” I cackled again. “She said that there are zombies climbing out of their graves. Zombies!”
“There are,” Rachel replied, deadpan, causing me to laugh again. “Ian, Lydia wasn’t making that up. It’s actually happening.”
At this point it was all I could do to maintain my composure.
My guess was that they were both playing off the fact that I loved zombie movies. All kinds, too. The old ones, the new ones, the silly ones…it didn’t matter. They were all fun to me.
“We’re not joking, Ian,” Rachel said tightly.
“We really aren’t, honey bubbles,” agreed Lydia.
“Honey bubbles?” Rachel had said it in a disgusted tone of voice. “What the hell does that even mean?”
Lydia’s voice returned to being pedantic. “They are bubbles made of honey, Ms. Cress.”
A little voice in my head noted something odd, which I wouldn’t have noticed if Lydia hadn’t called me “honey bubbles” and Rachel hadn’t grumbled about it.
In order for the zombie thing to be a joke, Rachel and Lydia would have needed to be colluding. That was fishy because Rachel and Lydia didn’t get along.
On top of that, Lydia had never lied to me before.
Maybe there’d been an upgrade to her software? That would be good, actually. It’d be fantastic to work with a flirty A.I. who also had a great sense of humor. Plus, if she’d learned to work more cordially with the rest of my team, that’d be a win. Not that it was her fault, of course. My crew, especially Rachel, tended to treat Lydia like she was nothing but a machine. While technically that was true, she did have a personality, and now and then she expressed emotion in such a way as to make her seem almost human.
So a software upgrade had to be it.
There must have been complaints put in about our friendly neighborhood A.I., most of them likely coming from Rachel. Fortunately, they hadn’t removed her ability to flirt with me. I kind of liked that, especially since I had a self-imposed restriction from flirting with anyone else on the force.
“Ian?” pressed Rachel.
“Hmmm?” I said, jolting back out of my thoughts. “Oh, yeah, right. We’ve got zombies on our hands.” Classic prank, but I’d play along. “Where should I meet you to see these creatures of the grave, Rachel?”
“King David Cemetery,” she replied without inflection. “I’ve got the rest of the crew on the way.”
“Oh, most definitely.” I rolled my eyes. “We’ll need everyone on this case.”
I cruised down East Sunset to South Eastern, making my way over to the cemetery. There was no point in rushing, so I took my time and let the wind blow through my hair.
If nothing else, it was a nice night for a zombie invasion. Of course it was almost always nice in Las Vegas, at least during the evenings, which happened to be when the Paranormal Police Department was primarily on duty.
I spotted the Don Tortaco Mexican Grill on my right and my stomach grumbled. A burrito sounded good right about now. I’d have to make a stop there on my way back from this practical joke my team was playing on me.
I grinned again.
Zombies was usually a joke played on new recruits, according to the notes I read from the previous chief of the PPD. It was done to make a person feel like they were part of the team. Apparently, though, a few recruits got pretty pissed off about it and so the previous chief had stopped the practice. This had all happened before I was born, though, so my team probably didn’t know I was aware of all this.
From my perspective, the thought of them setting me up like this was sweet. It wasn’t even my birthday or anything. Maybe it was boss-appreciation week? Is there even such a thing?
“The rest of the team is here, Ian,” Rachel said. “Just waiting on you.”
“I’m sure you are,” I replied, shaking my head. “I’m about a minute away.”
Taking a left on Eldorado Lane, I noticed a few people walking around in the graveyard. That was kind of odd, being that it was late at night, but some people worked days so visitation was done when it could be done. Of course, they could also have been actors.
My crew was really laying this joke on thick.
Finally, I turned right into the King David Cemetery, stopped my car, got out, brushed down my suit, and checked my shoes.
Then I walked up to the rest of the gang.
And that’s when my blood froze.
This was either the most extravagant practical joke ever played, or there really were zombies clomping around. My brain was having trouble accepting this, though, as it simply wasn’t possible. People died and that was that. They didn’t come back up out of the ground. That stuff just happened in the movies.
“Okay,” I said, feeling that I knew the impending answer to the question I was about to pose, “if this isn’t a prank, maybe it’s a flashmob thing?”
Rachel frowned at me while keeping her arms crossed. “In the middle of the night at a graveyard this far off the strip?”
“They could be practicing.”
I looked from face to face, seeing the same expression on each of them.
Rachel, Jasmine, and Felicia were leaning back against Felicia’s blue ’68 Camaro SS, looking like a Charlie’s Angels poster. That brought back memories that were ill-fitting with being in a cemetery. Rachel was a mage with blond hair and sapphire eyes; Jasmine was also a mage, but she had black hair and emerald eyes, and her skin was starkly ivory; and Felicia’s flawless dark-skin housed deep brown eyes that glowed red when she moved from her normal state into her werewolf one.
On the other side of me were Chuck and Griff, partners in the force and in life. How long they’d been dating, I didn’t know, but I’d found out about it during a recent visit to the supernatural morgue when we were trying to stop demons from taking over the place.
Griff wore leathers like Rachel and Jasmine—it was a thing with mages—but his were more refined and less revealing. He was a clean cut guy who you’d never mistake as being a magic user. He was just too prim and proper. If anything, he looked like he belonged on a yacht in some Caribbean island while being served caviar by his butler.
Chuck was a tall vampire who wore a black overcoat and a wide-brimmed hat. It was almost as if the costume crew for Indiana Jones and The Matrix had gotten together and set up an ensemble for Chuck. He also had a bit of a goatee going on, which I had to admit looked kind of cool whenever his fangs came out.
“Maybe there’s a movie being filmed?” I asked, but then looked around and answered my own question. “Nope, no cameras.”
“I know this sounds dumb,” said Chuck, “but is there such a thing as an apocalypse training exercise?”
The look that Griff gave him made me think they’d be having words later. “Even if there were such a thing, Charles, would those participating in such an event elect to be reanimated corpses?”
“Someone has to play that part, right?” Chuck countered.
“I have no response to that,” said Griff slowly.
I pulled out Boomy, my 50-caliber Desert Eagle, checked the magazine, and pointed it at the head of the nearest supposed-zombie. I still wasn’t 100% certain that my team was being on the up and up about this, but there was one way to find out.
“Right, then,” I said, knowing they’d put an end to things before I fired my weapon at some poor actor, “may as well just blow this guy away, right?”
“Do you think that’ll work?” asked Felicia.
“And should we do it anyway?” said Chuck. “It’s not like these guys are hurting anyone. They’re just walking around.”
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