Lunch With a Zombie: Chapter Eight

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(The picture is from the Book Launch at Baaka-Phoenix Bookstore in Toronto)

Tonya, Priya, Ducky and Ducky's friend Zain, were eating lunch in the cafeteria. The fourth wall of the enormous room was a floor-to-ceiling window giving onto the central courtyard. It was the first time Tonya had met Zain, who had shiny black hair, tied in a sleek ponytail. He was almost as tall as Ducky and just as slender, but unlike Ducky in his check shirts, Zain favored black clothing and a ball cap that said 'Director.'

Ducky pointed out the window. "Don't you love watching them scurry this way and that while we sit here and enjoy our mango shakes?"

"That will be us in another half hour," said Tonya.

"Not all of us," said Priya. "Ducky and I are skipping this afternoon so we can plan the digital part of my installation."

"I think it's a mistake," said Zain. "What if people break our cameras as a Halloween prank?"

"Too much horror is turning you into a pessimist. They won't even see them," said Ducky. "I'm going to mount them way up in the trees."

"They could watch us putting them up and steal them when we leave," said Zain, pointing an accusing French fry at his friend. "What would you do then?"

Ducky pointed a long fry at Zain's heart and put on a cheesy French accent. "I would defeat them with ze Blade of Orleans. En garde, coward!"

Zain brandished his own deep-fried weapon and they started to thrust and parry across the table. Ducky stood up to gain some reach so Zain leaped to his feet, and the two of them took the fight to the floor. Tonya saw people stare and giggle from all corners of the immense cafeteria.

"Would you idiots sit back down," said Priya. "You'll embarrass Tonya."

"Speak for yourself," said Tonya. She grabbed a fry and held it 'en garde.' "I was known as ze 'Ketchup killer' of Loon Lake High."

Priya and Tonya exchanged a look then started giggling, until Zain put a hand on Tonya's shoulder. His face was serious and he was pointing out the window.

"Isn't that your Professor?" said Priya.

Tonya saw Professor Rudolph in the courtyard. He was walking blindly up the path as students dodged out of his way. At the centre of the courtyard stood a statue of Mackenzie King, directly in his path. The Professor walked right into it, stumbled back and continued past, lumbering blindly into a student and causing her to drop an armful of books.

"He looks sick or something, c'mon." Without waiting for the others, Tonya got up and went outside to see what was ailing her beloved History professor. His eyes, when she caught up with him, were unfocused and dull, coated in a bluish film. He staggered blindly towards the edge of campus.

It wasn't difficult to keep up with him. He walked with all the grace of Frankenstein. "Professor Rudolph," she touched his shoulder. "Are you okay?"

This got no reaction. "Can you hear me? It's Tonya, from Philosophy of History."

He kept lumbering forward on heavy legs, unhearing as well as blind.

Priya and Ducky caught up. "What's wrong with him?" asked Priya.

"He won't answer," said Tonya. "Watch this." She waved her hands in front of his face. When he didn't react, she stepped into his path and stood there. Professor Rudolph was a very big guy. When she saw he wouldn't alter his course, she leaped clear before he plowed into her.

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