by Ruth J. Burroughs

She plodded along to work, scuffing her shoes as she entered the back door of the Monster Sushi Bar Café. In the rear of the kitchen she slouched on her clean happi coat; no matter how often she washed it she could never remove the smell of the undead seafood.

She hated waiting on the obsequious Zombies in the restaurant. Their pliant manners and self-deprecating jokes fogged the air with the stink of their cigarettes and the sharp tangy smell of their highballs. The gin sloshed about in their glasses as they awkwardly kissed up to their sleek vampire cousins.

The local blood blank dried up as her regular customers sucked down gallons of real blood in their bloody Mary drinks, night after night, year after year. Most of the toothy high rollers came in after a workout at the gym—buff, immortal and lean, while the Zombies—hangers-on as usual, hung on every word, every breath, every hiss of air these pale and vain creatures spewed into the greasy atmosphere.

It chipped away at her self-image every time she looked at her decrepit Zombie skin and frayed hair in the mirror. It could never compare with the translucent, flawless skin of the ageless and celebrated vampire. Hers was nothing like their passionate and celebrated lives. She felt invisible; a life with no meaning. But they did like her Zombie bouillabaisse which required the most freshly caught swimming-dead. With the practiced ease of a pro she heated up the shallots and vegetables on the sizzling hot metal surface. She poured the fabulous saffron flavored broth onto the saucepan and crackling steam erupted with the fiery aromas of the undead screaming seafood.

Although her vampire customers liked to blend the stew with their corpuscle gravy–they raved about her cooking, all while it struggled into their sharp toothed mouths.

But she wanted to be more than just a waitress cooking Zombie, despite the nature of her disintegrating body, which never ceased to fall apart and yet somehow stayed together. That’s why she had been taking those marine biology classes during the day and waitressing at night. She’d felt a calling for it long ago but that state of being a Zombie had frozen her in a kind of limbo.

The day the call came she jumped up and down, squealing but lost one her arms; it took quite a while to get it back on. She’d gotten the job down at Miami Seaquarium, training her very own dolphins.

The job was better than she could possibly have hoped for, entertaining in the sun, swimming and teaching her cetaceans. True, living-dead killer whales were quite different from vampires, but they loved her bouillabaisse. Even her dolphin loved her cooking, and now, every day, she’s a Zombie with a porpoise in life…