“Alright Fred, Bobby it is time to go find a DSD and Gameboy at the store, if you guys are ready.” said Jimbo.
“It is a ‘PSP’, not ‘DSD!’” cried Bobby, “I keep telling you!”
“Whatever, get your hiney moving out before I change your mind.” laughing Jimbo was amused that being a kid was the same whether you were a zombie kid or a living human, how would Bobby ‘grow up’? “C’mon Fred lets go, there is smoke over that way, that means activity and probably human activity, so we can eat along the way.”
The trio set off towards the smoke and soon enough they spotted a gang of zombies stopped in the front yard gnawing on a couple of bodies. Jimbo stopped when he saw them and hissed at Fred, “It is her Fred! It is Nancy and that gang of girls she has! Can you get her from here? And stop her? Like we practiced?”
Fred stopped, crouched down and concentrated on the group. “There is something Jim, something, but it is like she is strong or something, I feel she belongs to me, like a daughter or something, kind of like you only stronger, but man Jim she is strong. I..I think she notices me trying too.” Sure enough one of the women stood up and glanced in their direction. She stood up and it was like Jimbo could see the strings pulling the other girls up and into formation behind her. They all looked around warily and then Nancy started coming tentatively in their direction. Jimbo sent Bobby off to hide in some bushes to the side, thinking the boy was probably not strong enough to be of much use mentally or physically. Nancy looked huge, her size was the same, but it was like she was ready to burst out of her body. The girls behind her looked the same and Jimbo knew if it came to a fight that they were probably out matched. Mentally he felt Nancy’s icy grip straining at his mind, he resisted and he could hold her of, but just barely, the fight that took place in his head at that instant left him as tired as if he had been running all day long. Jimbo staggered to his knees as Nancy walked up to them.
“Jimbo, Jimbo, Jimbo, you dirty little fuck. After all I did for you? And this is how you repay me? By nurturing Fred back to health?” turning towards Fred she said, “Hello daddy! It is so bad to meet you at last! I was hoping you would be much less challenging. Oh I feel you, you dirty little slobberer! Get. Out. Of. My. Head!” Nancy then screamed as Jimbo yelled, “Yes Fred, get her Fred!”
While Nancy was fighting for her mind with Jimbo she had scant mental ability left to direct her girls to attack Fred, ‘Screw that fuck Jimbo, get this maniac off me!’ she screamed to the girls. The girls were not affected by Fred, as he was concentrating fully on Nancy and winning too, until the girls jumped him.
Jimbo leaped on one of the girl’s backs, bringing her to the pavement, but not taking her out of the fight completely, he assaulted another girl mentally, although he was technically her ‘sibling’, both of them having been created by Nancy, he employed the techniques he had originally used on Fred, getting his mind around and through the cracks of the girl’s mental armor in about half a minute. Her shields were surprisingly good, then again it was obvious she had been building herself up to repel Nancy. Jimbo stopped the girl, Julie in her tracks mentally, though the effort at slowing the girl, Trish, whom he was fighting and stopping Julie cold left Jimbo physically and mentally exhausted. Fred was having his own problems and in virtually the same boat as Jimbo, one opponent he had to hold off mentally, the other was getting ready to hack him apart physically. Jimbo wrapped his arms around Trish and held her down on the ground, pinning her. It was all he could do to keep both girls pinned and hope, beyond hope that Fred would win the battle.
As he lay there holding the girl down Jimbo contemplated bringing Bobby up behind Nancy, the problem was Bobby was weak, probably not strong enough to kill a zombie even if he had the jump on one and definitely not strong enough to take out a zombie as tough as Nancy, his use would be only as a distraction and he knew Fred had to have contemplated the same strategy and discarded it as well. Bobby remained hidden in the bushes, while Jimbo watched the melee and mental combat between Fred, Nancy and Veronica.
In the melee that followed Jimbo could barely follow what was happening. Veronica jumped Fred, but he sidestepped and ducked, throwing her off with apparent ease, only then a large rent appeared in his shirt, as if by magic and Jimbo realized Veronica had made the jump look easily blockable so she could slice Fred as she was ‘thrown off’, Fred staggered, prompting Veronica to roll towards him and swing the blade she had up towards his groin. Only Fred’s ploy was a feint too, instead of being down in easy slicing distance he lashed out with his foot kicking Veronica in her unprotected head, a blow that would probably have knocked a normal human back dazed or perhaps even unconscious.
Veronica rolled away and regained her feet, Fred did not follow up on his advantage and Jimbo could see/feel with his mind that Fred was still pressing his advantage on Nancy, trying to deliver a mental knockout punch so he could deal with her girls afterwards.
Jimbo realized this was a mistake, Nancy was pretty well cowed and Fred probably could have kept her incapacitated while he diverted some of his energy to defeating Veronica. Jimbo tried to compensate, but he was having trouble just keeping the two girls he had mentally pinned and physically he could see he was no match for Veronica. Soon enough Veronica was back on top of Fred, sliding to the side at the last minute while striking his leg with her hand, embedding the blade deep in Fred’s thigh. In exchange Fred bitch slapped her so hard that Veronica literally spun a half circle in the air before staggering away from Fred about ten feet. Fred stumbled, unable to follow up on his Herculean blow, this allowed Veronica the time to pull out another long kitchen type knife and run a half circle out around Fred, instead of striking at Fred Veronica feinted towards him and then did a flying leap at Jimbo! Jimbo tried to shift Trish in front of him but Trish moved at just the right time and Veronica ended up stabbing through Jimbo’s chest, through his shoulder blade and into the lawn beneath him!
Howling like a banshee Jimbo tried to keep his mental and physical grips on the girls, but he could not. Veronica joined the fight to free the girls from Jimbo’s mental hold, she must have sensed Fred was busy dealing with Nancy. This was a terrible risk for her to take, it left her wide open to Fred, however he was too busy trying to break Nancy to thrust in Veronica’s direction and as a result Jimbo was walled off from the girls. He knew he could regain control, he was more powerful than any of the three girls, in fact more powerful mentally than any two of them, maybe against all three with the tricks he know, however against all three it would take a little time. The girls, it seemed, were not going to give him even a little time. Leaving him pinned to the ground, watched over by Trish, Veronica and Julie leaped at Jimbo. Veronica pulled yet another kitchen knife from her clothing, whereas Julie just leaped at Fred. He almost ducked her, but in the end her hand latched on to his shoulder and spun him around, presenting his back as a perfect target for Veronica’s knife. She angled the sideways into the top of his spine, almost at the neck. With his spinal cord severed Fred toppled over and both girls jumped on top of his body and tore it apart.
Jimbo laughed at the triumph he felt Nancy feeling, knowing the minds of the girls he had so recently been inside of he knew there would soon be a rebellion that would take her down. He struggled to his knees, pulling the long knife out of his shoulder and letting it fall with a dull metallic clunk to the sidewalk just in front of him.
Jimbo sent Bobby a quick thought message, ‘Stay hidden Bobby, then get out of here when they are done with me, and get your PSP, if Nancy sees you, she will kill you, so stay away from her’ He also made a mental thought and removed what he thought of as his back door into Bobby’s mind, shutting down the rainbow, there was too much to do in the short time he had and as he was trying to build up Bobby’s mental defenses he was shocked back into focus by Nancy’s hand slamming across his face.
“What Jimbo? Too dazed to say ‘Hello’? You should never have come looking for me.” While she said this out loud her mental assault continued, her efforts were joined by the girls, particularly the one called ‘Julie’ who were acting on their own. ‘They know!’ Jimbo thought, ‘They know I can resist Nancy’s orders and are trying to figure out how I am doing it before she kills me.’ He laughed out loud.
“Hello? Jimbo when someone is hitting you in the face you don’t normally laugh. What is so funny you little shit comedian?” As Nancy said this she stopped hitting Jimbo and he could refocus and see that she was genuinely confused by his behavior and exhausted too, from the mental fight for control they had just had, he knew she would not be able to dominate him, she did not have the strength, he also knew he was probably dead anyway, he could maybe outrun Nancy, but not the girls, who seemed to be in even better shape after having consumed parts of Fred.
Nancy’s glowing, otherworldly hugeness had disappeared, she just looked tired now, but still human.
“I don’t suppose it would do me any good to tell you I could still be useful to you?” asked Jimbo.
“Well normally Jimbo I would be inclined to say, ‘sure’, but you? You? You left me in a bad spot, found the one person who could dominate me, nursed him into consciousness and obviously tried to use him against me. Was I that bad? I mean really?”
“Yeah. Yeah you were Nancy, never let me quite rise to myself, withheld food. Made me do the shit jobs. You think you will get loyalty that way? Oh and you are wrong anyway, he had me too, Nancy, Fred could do to me what you could. Only he didn’t, he would have been better than you. You know what that means, huh? Yeah I see you do.”
“So whoever made Fred is who I should be gunning for now, right? I get you Jimbo. But I don’t care, you know why? No? You Jimbo, I could not get into your mind, it is all smoke and mirrors in there, nothing to grab onto anymore. Where did you pick that trick up in the last twenty four hours? It don’t matter really, if you did it, I can learn it too and when I do, no one will have me. No one.”
Jimbo started laughing again and when Nancy raised a questioning eyebrow he just pointed at her girls. “Them Nancy, how long until they can keep you out? Then what do you do?”
Nancylooked thoughtful for a full minute, then said, “Well thank you Jimbo, you have opened my eyes to the reality of the situation.”
Turning to the girls she said, “I see it now, what he is saying, it is only a matter of time, isn’t it? So. We have to come up with a new deal, a better deal than me bossing all of you around, so how do I make it work, what do you want of me?”
Jimbo felt hope, almost he could envision himself getting out of this situation no more dead than he already was.
“Well c’mon, as Jimbo said you will either tell me now or stab me in the back like this mother fucker later. What can we do to have a more equitable relationship? You, Veronica, you have been with me the longest you tell me what you think.”
“Ah, Nancy, we want control, not you in our heads making us do everything. We would rather be officers than grunts and we, I, want to be asked to do things, not made to do things I detest.”
“The toddlers. Yeah I know that was a tough call, but what? You would have left them there to die? Or found some humans to take them in? If it was not us who did it, not you, then who?” asked Nancy.
“I don’t know, but not me. Not me and never again. You don’t seem to understand, things have changed we are not human anymore, I know that, but just because you have that power over us, however little it is, does not mean you should be boss. What are your plans? I hear you mumble about getting Fred and Jimbo and Max and what? What Nancy? Things have changed, what are we going to do?”
“Well for now I am not giving you control, your attitude needs to improve a bit. Can’t you see I am trying to build an empire here? You three are the start, and will be the generals in the new world order, I want to find the people who are a threat to me, to us, and eliminate them first, then go after fuckers like Dave and take them down while building us up. I can’t have people not following orders, the kids were a lesson to you, that is all. Don’t fuck up and it won’t happen again, right? You learned your lesson and it won’t happen again.”
“No Nancy, try it, just try it now, I could walk away right now, I can SEE your strength you are recovering, but I could have taken you the minute Fred’s blood touched my tongue. The very minute. So what are you going to change right now to make me happy?”
Nancyagain paused and looked the girls over. This was not going as planned, but they were not walking and they were not ripping her limb from limb, so maybe a compromise could be worked out.
“Well fuck me, this is what I get for bringing you into the new world, huh? Fuck your own mother over will you? Okay. Okay, I get it, you don’t like being bossed around, so what? We rule by committee? We go our separate ways? We don’t eat babies? What do you want?”
Veronica looked at Julie and Trish, “You two agree to let me do the rest of the talking? Or do you feel differently?” The other girls stammered that they agreed with Veronica, who turned to Nancy then continued, “Okay what I want is for you to stop being such a dumb ass. Could you do that? You’re gonna crucify Jimbo here when he obviously has the smarts to get away from you, and the cleverness to find the guy you were looking for since you smarted up, and he figured out how to block a dominate zombie from jerking you around. And you are going to kill him? Right? Right? Fuck that, you are one dumb ass manager, even I, working in a goddamn coffee shop can see talent when it walks up and spits in my face. We don’t need him.” Here she cast a glance at Jimbo. “As you said whatever he learned he figured out in the last day, so could we, but when he is gone where do we get our next bit of inspiration from? If you kill the talent you will surround yourself with idiots who are worthless when push comes to shove. I say we make him an offer, put him on probation, lop off an arm and say ‘naughty-naughty Jimbo don’t do that again’ and make damn sure he is grateful for it. He can show that gratitude by teaching us what he knows, oh sure I expect him to hold out on us, but if we can all teach each other eighty percent of what we learn, we will all grow more powerful. I say it is time for recruiting, Jimbo here, he gets to be the spy master maybe or the chief wizard of information or whatever the fuck you want to call him. I get to control the Army, Trish and Julie, what do you want?”
Trish answered, “Like a government, I want to be the judicial branch. Nancy you get to be president. Julie?”
“I don’t know, this is happening too fast. Do I have to be anything? Can’t I just choose later?”
“Now is not a good time to sit on the sidelines Julie.” responded Veronica, “You better chose a force and grab your area of power now, before it is too late.”
Still Julie hmmed and hawed around, she could not make a decision, finally Veronica said, “Okay fine, I will take you as an administrator in the ‘army’, you want to be in charge of recruitment? Training? We’ll figure it out later, now we have to see if Nancy is going to remain the ‘president’ and what to do with our Benedict Arnold here.”
“Remain the president? Oh of course I am! I mean who better to lead our nation back to greatness? I can do this V, you know I can and you are right, even dumbfuck over there is right, it was just a matter of time. I mean I couldn’t expect to keep a lid on you girls forever. I still think we should off Jimbo though, he is too much of a risk and has already proven he can be treacherous.” said Nancy, not quite whining, but something in her voice led Jimbo to believe she was aiming for a concession, like if she didn’t get to kill him now, maybe she could do so later, or maybe it was something else.
“No Nancy you still don’t get it. We are going to need treachery and the only reason he did what he did was because you were such a bitch. Do you think we like running around hungry with half our brains working? Hell no! You drove him to it and if you don’t see that you really are not good for us. My only reason for even considering staying around is that you are ruthless enough to get the job done. You also seem to have a goal: Eliminate your enemies and gain power. For what? I don’t know, but it is better than running into the Dave’s of the world and getting fucked over when they are more powerful than we are. I want you to think longer term than that. I will be a commander of your, our, military forces I will hold considerable power to balance you. We need Jimbo, he is not optional. But do we need you?”
“Fuck you drive a hard bargain, you love this don’t you, having me over a barrel? You would not be talking to me like this if I hadn’t wasted all my efforts protecting you from Fred and Jimbo. No! Don’t even start it, I know you need me to change and if we can work together I will. You get your Jimbo.” She spat in his direction. “But I get to lead us and until someone comes up with another plan we still follow my lead.”
“Fine” said Veronica, “I can live with that, Jimbo teaches me first, then Trish, then Julie, you last, I don’t want you backing out after you get your strength back.”
Nancylooked at her with disgust, then chuckled, “Yeah, yeah, okay. You got me covered don’t you? You do know I always intended you to be my right hand woman don’t you? And I meant what I said, they would have been my generals anyway, I suppose this is worth the price of not having to wait until the next time one of you pull a ‘Jimbo’ on me.”
Veronica turned back to Jimbo, “You can get up now, you good with this? No one killing you again, you teaching us and leading up our spy services? You will have to keep us fed by finding humans, keep us safe by making sure we don’t fight other zombie gangs too strong for us to take on and pretty much do everything else we ask. Otherwise just say the word and walk away now. If we see you again we will kill you, like anyone else who is not with us.”
“Uh, when you put it that way, it seems less appealing. I think it could work Veronica and if you can keep Nancy working with me instead of bossing me around you can count me in.” He turned to look at Nancy, “You are a grade ‘A’ bitch, but I could work on your side.”
“Thanks Jimbo.” Nancy said sarcastically, “I love you too.”
“I think the first order of business, for our security, is to find who started this mess. I mean Fred didn’t, and I kind of doubt the guy who bit Fred started it either. Who is the head guy or gal? And where are they, we need information and I am going to make tracking that person down my all time second priority after doing the other things you mentioned: Food, teaching, short term security, intelligence work.” said Jimbo. “We need to figure out a growth strategy too, how many, how soon, do we accept volunteers or must everyone we take on be our ‘children’? We need to do this pronto, before we are overwhelmed by the humans striking back or some other gang wiping us out. I saw what happened when you girls ate Fred, you gained something, like eating a normal human only more so, that means our smartest and most developed will be targets for other smart zombies. We need a base of operations too, where do we make our hideout or fortress of solitude?”
“Good questions Jimbo and a good start. Nancy?” said Veronica.
Grudgingly Nancy replied, “Yeah, okay things I had not considered, but the situation is rapidly changing. Look around here, have the suburbs been good? Sure they have, but half or more of the houses are abandoned right now, no one there to eat. I think we need to move to a different suburb at the very least, if not to another city altogether, does anyone know if the Springs has been infected? No? Yeah I have to admit I have not been watching FOX News much lately either. Instinctively I would say move to Aurora or out east into the sprawl, but that might not be a good move. Everyone will think the same way, north east is pretty much a huge population center too, so the same rule applies, so I have another idea.” When no one asked or replied to her Nancy continued, “Let’s go look up Max, Arvada is a smaller suburb, maybe there will not be so many people there and even if Max did not survive, well he had a wife and kids, so we could get a couple recruits out of the deal, assuming she was smart enough to lay low. If Arvada was picked clean we head further west into Golden or up the interstate seventy corridor, eating our way west, or maybe we head to a ski town, smaller population but big enough for our shorter term needs and how many zombies will think the same way? Hopefully fewer than head south or north along the front range. Any comments?”
Jimbo raised his hands, “Just one, it sounds good - better than my thought of ‘hunting for our maker’ anyway, but how do we find Max’s house?”
Smiling Nancy pulled out a pad of paper and waved it in front of Jimbo’s face, “See? They left it when they fled MAC Co., it has their addresses on it, Max’s is the last one. If they are lucky they will survive to walk into an ambush, if we can get there first.”