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clude?"
"Whenever a normal, stupid one talks, there must
be a smarter one somewhere, sending the words."
"Like broadcasting a radio signal. We've been
working along the same lines. Do you think the
spider-minds do their own thinking?"
"Search me."
"They could be on the receiving end as well."
"So tell me about your zombies." I was truly
interested. We'd walked a good distance and still no
sight of the corpse-creeps.
"Well, we have a total of thirteen. We've run
identity checks. You know how impossible it is to
destroy information today."
"Yeah, the monsters can't rip a big hole in the Net,
even with their fat asses."
"They've slowed us down, but they can't stop us
cold."
"We'll stop them cold."
"Attagirl! Anyway, one of the zombies was once an
editor named Anders Monsen. He repeats phrases
from his profession. At least, that's what we think he's
doing. One of the women is Michelle DeLude, a
blonde. She keeps repeating how she must get to Las
Vegas in time for her wedding. Mark Stephens ran a
bookstore. Butler Shaffer was a law professor. Tina
Karos was a paralegal. She's the brunette. Both the
ladies were very attractive in life. Shame to see them
monsterized. The other eight were seamen stationed
right here in Hawaii. One was a huge man his friends
called Big Lee. Don't remember the names of the
others."
Ackerman could have been a teacher. He made me
want to meet his special class of dead people. I was
looking forward to it ... until the door marked Maxi-
mum Security swung open and a large shape filled the
doorway, swinging a meat cleaver with which it
hacked off Dr. Ackerman's head.
7
I'll never admit this to Arlene, but for the first
time I doubt my faith. I don't want to be Albert the
agnostic. I have to write this out of my system. When
I'm finished, I'll destroy it and write her a real letter.
It might seem stupid to write to someone I could
speak to in person, but when I look into her green
eyes, I become tongue-tied. The way she arches her
right eyebrow and smiles with a smile as hot as her
flaming red hair, I just can't talk to her. She offers me
herself, and all I can do is tell her about my religion.
She was the first sight I beheld after the operation.
They did what they could for my face, but I didn't
need to look in a mirror to realize I had permanent
scars. My face still burns. It will burn forever from the
new valleys and ridges etched into my forehead and
cheeks and chin. I suppose there is consolation in not
being as ugly as an imp. Of course, I'll have a head
start if I'm ever turned into a zombie.
I know it's wrong to worry about my appearance
when I could have been blind for the rest of my life.
May God forgive my vanity.
Arlene won't let me be sorry for myself. She bent
over my hospital bed, smiling like an angel, and
kissed up and down the tortured flesh of my disfig-
ured face. "You'll always be my Albert," she whis-
pered so that only I could hear.
We've shared experiences few mortals will ever
know. We've faced down the wrath of a spider-mind.
We've tasted the brimstone of a fire eater. (I can't
figure out why the scientists here call those things
arch-viles.) Together we've spilled the slimy guts of
pumpkins and princes of hell. I was willing to wade
through a sea of blood with this woman. But when she
turned her face to me and offered me her high
cheekbones to touch and her full mouth to kiss, I
pulled away.
She must think I'm a fool. A woman who has
proved herself in a world of men, she is not squeam-
ish about the human body. Women tend to be more
matter-of-fact about the body anyway. They already
live in the sea of blood so it must seem very strange to
watch men deliberately embark upon that crimson
ocean. Does a foxhole really compare to childbirth? I
was brought up to believe that the highest destiny of a
woman is to bring children into the world. The church
reinforced these attitudes. I can respect a woman who
is a fighter but I can't shake the idea she's shirking her
responsibility as a woman. It's like if she dies on a
battlefield, she gets off easy. If she's an officer, she
exercises a trivial kind of authority compared to what
God intends for her to do with her children.
So here comes Arlene Sanders with her high-and-
tight, tossing back her head as if she had long hair
down to her waist, showing off her long neck and firm
jaw, and shouldering her piece with as much authority
as any man. Yeah, I'll pretend it's the day after
Halloween and help her blow away pumpkins. But I
won't touch her with my naked hand.
Intellectually, I don't doubt the Book of Mormon.
History shows that a life of marriage and children is
intended for men and women on this earth. When we [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]