“You can’t mean it!” little Miss Frankenstein said with a delightedly shocked giggle. “She married a zombie?”
“Yes, she did.” Mrs Jekyll leaned confidentially across the table. “Of course, it was a quite unsuitable match. Her family was shocked!”
“Did they disinherit her?” Miss Frankenstein asked, shivering deliciously. “I heard her parents are very strait-laced.”
“I don’t know,” Mrs Jekyll admitted reluctantly. “They don’t have any other children, though, so it’s unlikely.”
“Still...a zombie.” Miss Frankenstein pulled a face, but not too much in case it smudged her makeup. “It’s so...déclassé. I mean, who marries a zombie these days? You’d have thought she’d have had the taste to at least choose a werewolf or a vampire.”
“Not a vampire,” Mrs Jekyll said firmly. “My sister was in a relationship with one. She had to break up with him in the end.”
“Why?” Miss Frankenstein asked. “They’re so sexy. Those dreamy eyes, and the pale skin to die for. And I’d just melt if one touched my neck with his fangs, my dear.”
“Ha!” Mrs Jekyll snorted. “You don’t know the half of it. Oh yes, it’s all very nice from the outside, but when you’re together, that’s when the trouble starts.” She looked around conspiratorially. “My sister told me that vampires look great, but that’s all that can be said for them. You know they can’t see themselves in a mirror? So they can’t even shave themselves. Each night, my sister had to shave him.”
“Well, that doesn’t sound too bad...”
“Wait, I haven’t finished yet. Then, they can’t eat anything, just drink blood. His fridge was filled with bottles and bottles and bottles of blood. She said there wasn’t even room for a slice of cucumber between them. And she’s a vegan. She took it up as a fashion statement last year.”
They both contemplated the horror of this for a moment. “A vegan,” Miss Frankenstein repeated, aghast.
“And she loves garlic,” Mrs Jekyll said, “but she couldn’t even have it on her breath when she was around him.”
“Imagine that,” Miss Frankenstein murmured, shuddering.
“Then,” Mrs Jekyll continued with relish, “you can’t go for a day out with them, of course. My sister so wanted to go for a picnic with him...kept badgering him until he gave in, saying he’d do it as long as she made sure he wouldn’t burn.” She paused dramatically.
“And...?” Miss Frankenstein asked breathlessly, holding up her part of the drama.
“She got a sunblock for him...positively slathered him with it, from top to toe...but she missed the insides of his nostrils. The insides of his nostrils. So when they went out, the hairs inside his nose started burning, and he began breathing fire.”
Miss Frankenstein giggled.
“It’s nothing to laugh about,” Mrs Jekyll said severely. “He could have had a nasty burn. So they came in again immediately, and agreed to go out at night to the West Bank to see the opera.”
“But...?” Miss Frankenstein supplied.
“But he couldn’t cross the river. Running water, you know.”
“I’d still choose him over a zombie,” Miss Frankenstein said mutinously. “You know what zombie hygiene standards are like.”
Mrs Jekyll laughed unpleasantly. “I haven’t told you that he slept in a coffin on a bed of graveyard dirt, did I? No,” she sighed, “it would never have worked. I’m so glad she found a new lover.”
“Well, who’s he?”
“A centaur. She rides him, and they eat all kinds of vegetation together, and, my sister tells me, as for his, um...” She looked at Miss Frankenstein dubiously and shook her head. “Not for your tender ears, my dear.”
Miss Frankenstein, whose face had been pink with excitement, looked disappointed. “Well, I’m glad she’s happy,” she said. She returned to the original topic. “But how anyone could marry a zombie...”
“Why don’t you come to the party the Gorgons are throwing tonight?” Mrs Jekyll suggested. “I can get you an invitation easily. They’re going to be there, and you can see for yourself.”
Miss Frankenstein went through the motions of opening her diary to look at her social engagements, though Mrs Jekyll knew perfectly well that the pages were blank, and Miss Frankenstein knew perfectly well that Mrs Jekyll knew. “I’ll be able to make it,” she said, shutting it quickly. “I just have to make a few tiny adjustments in my schedule...”
“Make them,” Mrs Jekyll said firmly, and began to rise from her seat. “I’ll see you at eight o’clock, my dear.”
“Arrhng urnghh,” the zombie said, struggling with his tie. “Gnngh rnnng.”
“Let me help you, George,” his wife said. Expertly, she loosened and retied the knot. “Does that feel better?”
“Be...tter.” The zombie turned his head side to side experimentally. “Not...ssssstrangled.”
“Good.” Mrs Romero stood back and admired her husband. “You’re looking great.”
“Sssssso are you.” The zombie batted his eyelids in appreciation at his helpmeet, but not too hard, in case they fell off. “Ssssshall we go?”
Mrs Romero took his arm, smiling. She knew most people wondered what she saw in her husband. Well, she didn’t wonder, because she knew. And she was sure someday the wonderers would find out, too.
The party was already packed when the Romeros arrived. This was not surprising, because the Gorgons’ parties were always popular. At some point in the evening, they’d turn somebody to stone, and there were always bets taken as to who it would be this time. Several people had got quite rich by guessing right. Besides, they all wanted to see the infamous zombie-human couple.
The elder of the surviving Gorgon sisters, Euryale, met them at the door, wearing something flowing and Greek, except for her hair, which was, naturally, decorously covered, though it twitched and hissed a little. She smiled at them quickly. “Why, it’s the Romeros. Come on in!”
Stheno, the other sister, was across the room talking to a mummy. Leaving the Pharaoh to his own devices, she came rushing across to greet them, and Mrs Romero had to move fast to prevent her from wrenching George’s arm off with her enthusiastic shaking. “So glad to be here,” she murmured.
From across the room, little Miss Frankenstein watched them with keen eyes. She’d felt rather alone at the party so far. The Jekylls were there, of course, and Mrs Jekyll’s sister, Miss Hyde, with her centaur, who was a lot duller than Miss Frankenstein had expected. He never took his eyes off his lover, and she never got off his back, which meant that they simply stood in the corner with him looking over his shoulder at her. Miss Frankenstein wondered why Miss Hyde seemed content to simply sit on him rubbing herself back and forth on his back. Maybe she would ask her, if she got the chance later. Or maybe she wouldn’t. With her Goth getup, Miss Hyde wasn’t to her taste anyway.
There were plenty of other guests, of course. There was a pair of ghouls who skulked in the shadows and seemed to be waiting for someone to die. There was the mummy, who was accompanied by a retinue of animated figures carrying his organs in canopic jars. There was a huge shaggy werewolf, who trotted around the room sniffing people with his cold wet nose. When Miss Frankenstein rubbed his head and fondled his ears, he lay down at her feet and rolled over so she could scratch his tummy.
She’d only just finished playing with him when there was a general stir of excitement and the Romeros entered. Miss Frankenstein, who’d met Mrs Romero a few times before the latter’s marriage, was about to go over and greet her and get introduced to the zombie, but the crush around the couple was so great she had to back away after almost getting her toes trodden to splinters. Cursing in the properly ladylike manner in which she’d been trained, she retreated wallwards.
“So, you’re alone here, are you?” a voice asked. “How strange to see a pretty lady like you all by herself.”
Startled, she turned, and her heart leapt to her mouth. Dressed in jeans and biker gang regalia, flowing hair, beard, and all, was the most handsome vampire she’d ever seen.
“You were Miss Hyde’s lover, weren’t you?” Miss Frankenstein asked, feeling her knees grow wobbly.
“Does it show that much?” the vampire grinned ruefully. “Are you a friend of hers?”
“No,” Miss Frankenstein said quickly. “I only know her to say hi to.”
“Ah, well, you don’t have to worry. I’m no longer in love with her, so I’m not going to go over and make a scene.” The vampire sent a sardonic glance across the room. “And she seems fine with her new beau, doesn’t she? Mind you, from what I know of centaurs...” He broke off abruptly.
“What?” Miss Frankenstein asked eagerly.
“Never mind. It’s not for delicate ears like yours.”
“But,” Miss Frankenstein said, piqued, “your appearance is all right for delicate eyes like mine, I take it? Even when you’re hung about with biker patches and tattoos and things?”
“Touché.” The vampire threw back his head and laughed. “After she left, since I couldn’t shave myself without risking cutting my throat, I had to grow a beard. Since I had to grow a beard, I thought I might as well get an image makeover to go with the beard. After all, everyone knows that all of us vampires are suave, so we try to compete with each other in suavity. It gets mighty tiring to be cultured all the time, I can tell you.”
“So,” Miss Frankenstein asked, “what’s your name?”
“Alucard, of course,” the vampire said. “I thought you knew. All vampires are called Alucard.”
“Oh. And my name is...”
“Viktoria Frankenstein.” The vampire smiled at her expression. “I know all about you, my dear. I’ve been watching you for a long time.”
Little Miss Frankenstein blushed. “Why? I mean, I’m nothing special...”
“Aren’t you?” The vampire looked at her in a way that made her blush some more. “Ever been on a motorbike?” he asked abruptly.
“What?” She blinked. “No.”
“Right, then, come for a ride with me, and I’ll tell you all about why you’re special.” He raised an eyebrow. "Shall we go?"
"You mean right now?" She looked around at that party where nobody else had even looked at her. "Yes."
"You mean right now?" She looked around at that party where nobody else had even looked at her. "Yes."
Meanwhile, Euryale Gorgon had conducted the Romeros through the throng to a table which was covered only with brain dishes; stewed brain, fried brain, sautéed brain, brain centrifuged into a soup, even some raw sliced brain, pink and grey and quivering. “Specially catered for your husband, my dear,” she told Mrs Romero, as though George couldn’t hear and understand. “Please do ask him to help himself.”
The zombie looked at the crowd of people and non-people gathered round, eagerly waiting to watch him eat, and shook his head deprecatingly. “Not huuuuungryyyy...” he moaned. “Perhapsssss lateeeeeeeeerrrr.”
Disappointed, the crowd began to drift away, though not too far in case something happened at which to gawk. Mrs Romero, leaving her husband’s side for a moment, went to fill her plate at the human buffet. When she returned, it was to find George talking to the mummy.
“He underssssstandsssss me,” the zombie moaned, an arm around the Pharaoh’s withered, linen-bandaged shoulder. “He’sssss not like thossssssse othersssss.”
“Your husband, lady,” the mummy acknowledged, in a voice like the wind blowing across the Valley of Kings, “is the only one to appreciate just what it is we undead go through. While our experiences are somewhat different, of course, because...”
At that precise moment there was a terrific blast and part of the wall disintegrated. Before anyone realised quite what was happening, a squad of ISIS jihadis rushed in, wearing black flags around their heads. One jumped up on the nearest table, sending all the dishes cascading to the floor in a rain of smashed glass and stewed, fried, raw and sautéed brain.
“Ay up, you kuffars,” he shouted, in a strong British accent. “Anyone moves, and we blow the tosser’s ‘ead off before he gets done moving, you get me?”
“That’s right,” another yelled, and fired a burst from his AK at the ceiling. Plaster rained down. The werewolf, terrified at the noise, crawled under the centaur’s belly, whimpering piteously. “You’ll listen to what Abu Kameron al Londoni said if you know what’s good for you.”
“You bellends ‘ave it good here, innit?” Abu Kameron al Londoni surveyed the room from atop the table. “Live high on the hog on the proceeds of yer dealings with the devil, I shouldn’t wonder.”
“Don’t use the word ‘hog’, Abu Kameron,” the second ISIS jihadi called. “It’s haram. I mean, I do know your past history with the animal, but it’s still haram.”
“Bloomin’ brilliant,” Abu Kameron said, and shot the second ISIS man dead. “Nobody bloody tells me what I can say or can’t say. You hear?”
“What do you intend to do with us?” Dr Jekyll asked. His wife, by his side, clutched his arm in fear. Over in the corner, Miss Hyde was still rubbing herself on her centaur, oblivious. “Take us as hostages?”
“You’ll find out in a moment,” Abu Kameron al Londoni said. “The Caliph, ‘e said about you that...”
“Everyone shut your eyes!” Euryale and Stheno screamed, and whipped off their caps. Snakes writhed and hissed and snapped at the air with their jaws. The Gorgons looked at the jihadis, expecting them to be turned to stone.
No such luck. “What a pair of twats,” Abu Kameron al Londoni jeered. “What do they think we are, some chavs out of the EDL or something? In this day and age, they think we’re too fuckin’ ignorant to use anti-Medusa glasses.” He tapped the eyewear. “Proper ace, this is.”
Deflated, the two sisters put on their caps again. “I’m sorry,” Stheno said to the room at large. “This was the best we could manage, and...”
“Now shut yer mouf an’ listen,” Abu Kameron began. “I was sayin’ that the Caliph, ‘e passed sentence on you. ‘E thinks it’s time you abominations were removed from the world, and we’re here to do it.”
“Nooooot if we have anythingggggg to dooooo with it, you woooooon’t,” the zombie moaned. “You’ve jussssssst ruuuuuined my ssssupper, and I wassssss beginning to get huuuuuuungry.”
“I’ve also had enough of these morons defaming the Arab world,” the mummy announced. “In my day, we’d have them impaled.” Side by side, they advanced towards the ISIS men.
“Shoot, you twits,” Abu Kameron al Londoni yelled at the other ISIS men, suiting himself to his words. Bullets slashed across the room. The mummy, who had stepped swiftly in front of the zombie, took the brunt of the bullets, but continued unfazed. A moment later, he’d dragged Abu Kameron down from the table and began strangling him with his own black flag.
The zombie, meanwhile, had taken down a second ISIS man and was busily biting his head off, making a noise that almost sounded like a word. It sounded as though he was saying “Braaaaaainssss.”
With that, a switch seemed to have turned on in the room. The werewolf dashed out from under the centaur and threw himself at an ISIS man, taking a half magazine of bullets in the chest as he did so. Since none of the bullets was silver, they didn’t affect him at all. In less time than it takes to tell of it, the ISIS attack was done, and the ghouls were clearing up the remains.
“You two saved us all,” Mrs Jekyll said, hugging the zombie and the mummy. “How can we thank you?”
“No thanks will be necessary,” the Pharaoh announced grandly. “It’s all in a day’s work. However, my friend here could do with a little more appreciation. Zombies are people too, you know.”
“I think it’s great how you stepped in the way of the bullets fired at my husband,” Mrs Romero said, hands clasped under her chin in hero-worship.
“It was nothing,” the mummy said. “I was in no danger whatsoever. As I was saying when we were so rudely interrupted, being undead is a little different for your husband and me.” He jerked a withered thumb back over his shoulder. “All my vital organs, you see, are in the canopic jars with my attendants, over there.”
In all the rejoicing throng, there was only one unhappy voice.
“I’m ssssstilll hungryyyyy,” George moaned. “Thoooose ISIS had no braaaaaaaaaaaaaaainsssssssss insiiiiiiide their headssssssssss, you ssseeeeeeeeeeee.”
And, meanwhile, not too far away, there was some ecstatic moaning.
Little Miss Frankenstein was showing the vampire Alucard that there were certain things that were definitely not unfit for her tender ears, and other tender parts, at all.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2016