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She stood in front of him, dressed in a stereotypical old-lady dress that came from Laura Ashley in the early 2000s and stinking a little bit too much of perfume, and moaned:


Nothing changes, thought Huu as he walked around, admiring his handiwork. The smell was the hardest thing to cover - in every other way he doubted anyone could tell the difference. Even his siblings would be hard-pressed to notice when they came up to visit. Which they would, in three weeks, for his mother's birthday.

The fact that she was standing for so long was in fact, an upgrade on her previous life. It had been almost half an hour on her feet, and there was no way she'd managed that in some years.

"Sit down, mother," he muttered, more to himself than the zombie, but to his surprise, immediately she did exactly that; perching on the edge of a dining room chair.

"Wave your arms," he said tentatively.

And she did, flailing them in the air like a demented four-year old desperate to get his attention. Huu laughed as she continued to gesticulate.

"OK, you can stop now," he said, resulting in her frail arms dropping to her side with a light thump.

Interesting, he mused. For a moment he considered having her dance a little jig in the centre of the room, but not only was it a little too abusive for his liking, it also wasn't something he particularly wanted to see. He'd never been a fan of his mother's dancing and her being a zombie wasn't likely to change that.

Instead, they returned to her bedroom where he had her stand motionless in the corner while he stripped the bed and made the place bright and aired. He tucked her into bed just like he'd been doing for years; the point was, after all, to maintain the status quo.

Dawn was breaking through the window when he went to bed himself.

* * *

Thursday started for him slightly after 2pm. He stumbled out of bed desperate to clean his teeth and made his way to the bathroom reminding himself that he needed to tidy the house. His morning routine was rushed from a desire to check on his mother (something that had never happened before!) and he went into her room slightly hopping as he pulled on his jeans.

She was still there, lying in the bed, her eyes open and staring blankly at the ceiling - just as he'd left her.

For God's sake, close your eyes, it's eerie, he thought.

The zombie turned her head towards him slightly and then closed her eyes - other than the lack of snoring a perfect image of his sleeping mother.

At once he realised he'd given her a command telepathically. Huu grinned. Pick your nose, he thought.

The sight of his prudish mother digging her index finger around her nostril was a little too much for him. He laughed a little hysterically before commanding her to stop and walking out of the room in a rush.

Too much, he thought, just too much.

* * *

Cleaning was simplicity itself. Hubert watched from the sofa while his mother moved with surprising efficiency around the house, picking things up, hoovering, and even doing the dusting that had gone undone for the longest time. Despite being dead, and despite not really being his mother any more, she seemed to retain a strange sort of muscle memory for undertaking the tasks and a simple command of 'polish the side' resulted in a level of perfectionism that he'd have been unable to replicate.

She was, he reflected, a far better cleaner even in death than he would ever be in life.

By 4:30, the house was spotless and she was tucked up back in bed while Hubert showered. It had been a very long time since he had been able to just go out and shop and he was relishing the idea of visiting the supermarket rather than ordering online. It was a strange sense of freedom that he'd not felt in so long. He would order her to stay asleep in bed and go out into the world refreshed.

The sun was still bright in the sky when he stepped outside the door. He glanced over at the pub and wondered if any of his friends would be up for meeting up for a drink and a game, but before that he was eager to just walk away. He hadn't realised how he had missed the outside world, but he had spent months practically a prisoner. Once she had really started to decline, his mother had effectively become his jailor. Online shopping had made it practical to never bother to go anywhere and without that enforced need, he just stopped going into town. Food, entertainment, cleaning products, clothes; all had been a couple of clicks and a short wait from arriving at the door. Trees and bushes weren't something he thought he had missed until his hand brushed the foliage that marked the edges of people's gardens.

It wasn't far to the Tesco Express that marked his first stop on this voyage. A can of Monster and a sausage roll marked the first in what would become a run of greedy unnecessary purchases on his meandering walk through the streets. The little Premier shop yielded a Magnum, he availed an unnamed corner shop of a packet of Doritos and some small gummy sweets, and by the time he reached Morrisons he was too stuffed for any casual buys and stuck instead to his more mundane shopping run, an impulse copy of SFX feeding his need to spend money just because he could.

The evening had settled in by the time he turned into his road. There was no need to cook dinner after all the pickings he had had, and his mum no longer needed tending to in that way. Alex and Dan had both replied to his texts indicating they'd be up for something and would meet him in the pub in an hour.

His jubilant spirits faded as he opened the door to his home. On the hallway carpet, discarded and settling in a small pool of its own blood was a severed human arm, its fingers bitten off savagely.

Oh God, Mum, he mentally whimpered to himself, what have you done?

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