DISCLAIMER: This story was inspired by seeing the first trailer for Zombieland and helped me get over a stint of writer's block. Any resemblance of the main characters to a certain Warrior Princess and Battling Bard is purely intentional.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Dial Z for Zombies
"And the kitchen, as you can see, is all real cherry. The counters were redone about five years ago, at the same time as the downstairs bath." The bemused young couple being led through the house merely nodded as the chipper blonde real estate agent pointed out the room's various modern conveniences.
Monica was smiling as much inside as she was outside; a young couple with disposable income buying their first house and looking to start a family at some indeterminate point in the future was every realtor's dream. To the blonde, this had the smell of a fat commission.
That is, until the husband cleared his throat.
"Yes, but what about zombies?"
Monica had to force her smile to remain in place. "Excuse me?"
"Zombies. How would the house stand up to a zombie attack?"
The blonde took a deep breath, doing her best to keep her discomfort and annoyance from showing. Of all the things they could have asked aboutÉ
Monica let out her breath. "Well, as I'm sure you know, outbreak levels are going up across the state. As a neighborhood, the hills are actually a little behind the curve. That said " Monica cleared her throat. "The house hasn't actually been occupied since Incident Zero, so there aren't any specific anti-zombie measures in place."
The couple shared a skeptical look, and Monica could practically hear the sale slipping through her fingers. "Oh!" In a sudden burst of nervous energy, she hefted her purse, digging through until she found the business card wedged at the bottom. "Here's what I can do. This is the management service my partner and I use. They're cheap and courteous," and they owe me a favor, she added to herself, "and I'm sure they'd be willing to come out and do a complimentary appraisal. Of course, we'll figure out how any modifications they recommend will affect the final price."
Hesitantly, the husband took the proferred card. "Okay." He and his wife looked down at the plain black lettering. Above the phone number were printed four words:
DIAL Z FOR ZOMBIES
The clattering of the phone pierced the silence of the office, and the blonde perched behind the receptionist's desk tapped a key and adjusted her headset.
"Z for Zombies, for all your zombie control and disposal needs. This is Gabby speaking. How may I direct your call?" The garrulous Texan listened for a moment, then smiled and turned to the computer in front of her. "Actually, it just so happens we have a spot open this Saturday afternoon. From three to five. And what's the address?" She listened a moment longer, then grinned. "All right. We'll see you there. Thank you, and good luck. Goodbye."
Gabby ended the call, pulled her headset off and shook out her boyish, straw-blonde hair as she leaned toward the half-closed door to the tiny kitchenette beyond. "Z?"
The statuesque brunette appeared around the edge of the door, a mug of coffee in each hand. "Hey baby," Z leaned in to greet Gabby with a soft kiss on the lips, simultaneously depositing one of the mugs into her hand. "Coffee?"
"Thanks." Gabby took a sip. "We got a job for Saturday."
"What, are they planning outbreaks in advance now?"
The blonde chuckled. "No, it's an appraisal. A referral from Monica."
"Oh, great, another rich suburban couple who can't be bothered to read the God damn ZTI for themselves." The brunette hopped up to sit on the edge of the desk. "How late are we going?"
Gabby favored her lover with a wry look. "Three to five. Still plenty to time to make it to dinner."
"Well, I don't know, we'll have to open a new case file and write up a report, and it would be better to do it while everything was fresh "
Gabby rolled her eyes and playfully shoved Z off the desk. "Z, we are gonna have dinner with my parents and that's final. I don't see why you always get like this."
"Because your mother hates me."
"Momma doesn't hate you. She just "
"Wishes her head cheerleader, homecoming queen daughter grew up to marry a doctor and provide her with a statistically above-average number of grandchildren," Z was bashfully avoiding her eyes, "instead of slumming around with a bulldyke zombie exterminator who never even finshed high school?"
Gabby slowly rose, draping her arms around the brunette's shoulders. "I'm the co-owner of a small business in America's fastest growing industry. I have a partner I love with whom I have mind-blowing sex." The two women shared a grin. "And I'm happier than I've ever been in my life. Anyone so much as implies I'm slumming, I'll punch 'em out myself."
Z smiled, her eyebrow rising in silent challenge. "Mind-blowing?"
Gabby grinned coyly. "You have your moments."
"Oh, really?" Z lifted the blonde onto the desk and leaned down over her with a smirk.
"Let's see hypothetical doctor-man do this "
As the dirty white pickup rolled up the driveway and the yuppie couple looked on in trepidation, Monica jogged forward to greet her old friends. Gabby met her with a warm hug as soon as she hopped down from the passenger seat; Z merely grunted and nodded.
The real estate agent turned back to the Texan. "You made good time."
"Yeah, Z likes to ride the shoulder. How you doin'? How's Emily?"
Monica sighed. "Still pregnant. Still a pain in my ass."
Gabby grinned conspiratorially. "Yeah, but you wouldn't have it any other way."
Z came around the front of the truck, settling her revolver snuggly in its shoulder holster. "So whatcha got for us, Mon?"
"You tell me. Pre-Zero home, no modifications, nice couple who are smart enough to complain about that but not smart enough to do anything about it."
Z scowled playfully. "Oh, so kind of like every other time you've called us."
"Hey, that's not fair," Monica parried with a look of mock offense. "Nor entirely accurate, I called to invite you both to that charity dinner in April."
"Why do I think Z's havin' more fun now?"
The Amazonian brunette had already moved out of range of the conversation, making a beeline toward the happy couple. Monica realized this with a start and practically jogged after her, fully prepared to do some damage control.
Gabby, sauntering along behind her, merely smiled.
"Closed basement, concrete foundation. What do you think, panic room with a keypad?"
Gabby didn't look up from the notes she was taking. "That'd mean swapping out the door, plus a lot of new wiring."
"Only if they want cameras. You folks want cameras?" The prospective buyers were standing behind the two women with glazed looks on their faces.
Gabby sighed gently, and put down her legal pad. "Surveillance cameras generally aren't necessary if you're only worried about zombies. And really, a panic room is only one option. We generally recommend them for particularly high-risk areas."
The wfie cleared her throat. "Is that going to be expensive?"
"Generally." Z turned back from her appraisal of the house. "What's the ZTI here, again?"
"14.2, but it's been going up for the last year, like everywhere."
The brunette let out a thoughtful hum. "Might not be necessary. I mean, if either of them knows how to shoot you know how to shoot?"
The couple both shook their heads, and Monica dropped hers into her hand. In this day and ageÉwere they trying to get their flesh eaten?
Z, however, merely shrugged. "Well, if you'd be willing to learn, we could probably just go with some good fencing around the property line, electric maybe, and a gun rack or two." She turned back toward Gabby. "Two?" The blonde nodded. "Two. That would be a lot cheaper, even with training for one of you, which we can provide without a subcontractor."
"How much is this going to add to the price?"
Z leaned over, taking a quick glance at Gabby's notes and bobbing her head as she did the calculations. "Lot this size, I'd say maybe ten, twelve thousand. We'll run the figures and get Monica a final number by Tuesday."
Monica nodded gratefully. One of the other reasons she loved working with Z and Gabby: their folksiness always made the number sound lower than it really was.
The real estate agent was about to suggest they call it a day when her cell phone began to vibrate. As she fumbled for it, she realized that hers wasn't the only one.
She didn't need to glance down at the screen to know what the text message would say.
SPONTANEOUS INCIDENT IN NORTH HILLS NEIGHBORHOOD
ZOMBIE THREAT INDEX 97.25
ALL CIVILIANS REPORT TO ZOMBIE-PROOF SHELTER
Monica looked up to find her buyers sharing a look of horror that she couldn't help but share. A ZTI that high meant they'd be almost everywhere. The realtor looked across the room to the two exterminators, about to ask for advice.
Z and Gabby were grinning.
The streets were quiet.
Slowly, the shambling shell of what had once been a middle-aged businessman kneeled down, the exposed bones of his fingers beginning to tear into the carcass splayed out in the middle of the road, all that remained of a shopper who had been too slow in answering the summons of the ubiquitous sirens. The zombie let out an appreciative moan as his rotting teeth sank into flesh.
Then, he exploded.
Z skidded the truck to a stop, letting out a loud whoop as bits of zombie settled on the pavement. "Now that was a good one!"
The two women opened their doors, Gabby pocketing her cell phone. "Just got another update. They're pretty much contained in the suburbs. Looks like we're just moppin' up here."
Z sighed; in the time it had taken them to get Monica and her blithering clients to the safety of Monica and Emily's Cold War-era basement, they'd apparently missed out on all the fun. With a shrug, she checked the feed on her assault shotgun while Gabby finished loading her father's antique Winchester. Gabby gave the weapon an affectionate pat before slinging it over her shoulder.
"Y'know, I can't believe you're still lugging that old thing around."
Both Z and Gabby looked up at the sound of the voice, and a delighted grin split the blonde's face. "Ollie!"
Gabby greeted the stout blond man with an affectionate hug, followed by the smiling giant standing next to him. "Bonjour, Hercule!"
"Bonjour, mes amis!" Before Z could stop him, the imposing Frenchman had pulled her into their hug. "Always good to see you."
When they pulled back, Gabby slapped Ollie on the arm. "And you, don't you go talkin' about my weapon that way."
"Weapon? I was talking about Z."
The brunette responded with a not entirely good-natured slap to the back of the blond's grinning head. "You boys seen much action today?"
Hercule shrugged. "Some. The incident was widespread, but the numbers were rather low."
Gabby nodded. "Yeah, all over town, I hear. We had some civvies to lock up first, but what do you say we help you clean up?"
Ollie grinned, slinging his favorite light machine gun casually over his shoulder. "Nothing would make us happier."
Gabby turned to find her lover already strutting toward the sound of distant moans, shotgun at her hip. "Looks like you're not the only ones."
Gabby allowed herself one lingering moment's stare at her lover's swaying backside, before following after her with a grin, the sweet sound of gunfire echoing in the distance.
At seven thirty, Z and Gabby stood in front of the white door of a powder blue house with lace curtains in the windows, the brunette fidgeting as the blonde tried to hastily undo the damage Z was doing to her outfit through her attempts to straighten it. "Baby, it's gonna be fine. Remember, Daddy loves you."
"It's never been your father I was worried about."
"Z, if you can handle flesh-eating zombies, you can handle my mother. Everything's gonna be perfect."
Z turned her eyes down to meet the blonde's earnest and adoring gaze. Taking Gabby's hand, she smiled as she rang the doorbell. It just might at that, she thought.
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