“Another Night at the Reiko” by Carlton D. Fischer from Glitterwolf: Halloween (October, 2014). Edited by Matt Cresswell.

There’s been a zombie outbreak, and ostensibly a long, terrible period of time where chaos reigned but, thanks to science, things have calmed down. There’s a pill the afflicted can take which halts the decay, quenches the urge to bite, and renders the venom (for lack of a better word) harmless. The amount of time someone was infected before taking the drug determines their state of decay. Consequently this is a world in which people are wandering around with body parts simply missing, rotted away. It makes me think of the television commercial (aired in the States, at least) that has a zombie talking to a co-worker in the break room and his arm falls off.

Technically speaking, those who are on the drug regimen are referred to as “UDs” and those who aren’t are called “Zs”, but the narrator uses the terms interchangeably because he objectifies all of them. He’s not alone. A whole industry has sprung up to cater to people like him. When we catch up to him he is in a club that features Z dancers.

Remember the “maintainable fear” and sexual longing that compelled the main character a couple of stories back? Those elements run all through this collection. This narrator entertains thoughts of UDs skipping doses and turning wild. It isn’t all that unlikely. There’s a black market where UDs sell their drugs to the uninfected because the drug causes a significant high. So it’s quite possible that a UD off his meds will go berserk. The idea of being torn to bits by a Z—or many of them—greatly excites the main character. It’s very similar to the climax two stories ago, isn’t it? And of course it has a parallel in the real world. So the question becomes, how far is this character actually willing to go?