Zombie

   And catch up too quick. Enough so I can see them stilled and walk among them, one man mid-sneeze, another fumbling his drum, all of them with a foot in the air, Zhou included. She rests on his back, and, being dead, is the only one who looks alive.
   I heave an asthmatic sigh, suck on enough air to speak, need to work out more maybe. “You’re moving,” I say.
  “Nope,” she says.
  “You are. There’s tension in your arms.”
   She opens her eyes. “Fine,” she says. “You got me.” Her slide down off Zhou’s back is an awkward stop-start affair. She sways when she stands. Zhou remains crouching above his one foot. As a man he should fall over. They all should. But they remain planted like statues.
  “You’re looking better,” I say.
   She raises a hand, puts two fingers lightly to her jawline. Much of the swelling has gone down. Her skin remains discoloured but she, peering out beyond my shoulder, could pass for someone down with a cold.
   She glances across at me. “You’re not scared,” she says.
  “Maybe,” I says. “Let me check a minute.”
   Watching her, I do an inventory. It’s a curious kind of self-check. I can see everything in front of me, the girl, the frozen breath of each man, the nearly glowing greys and yellows of the riverside earth, the rubbery, jello-like water left in the lake, and without moving I walk back from all that, see it still but the consciousness is little more than a gateguard now, searching inside the factory instead: worn body, aches in my side, tension in my emptied gut, ramming heart, and a thoughtless immediacy that I suppose I can call wonderment.
   So “No,” I tells her. “Not yet.”
   But that’s a lie.

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