2 of 5 stars.
Included in Extreme Zombies edited by Paula Guran, this short story is told through the food-deprived haze of Officer Mike Francis who is jittery with the only sustenance he could find–two energy shots. He is working the night shift, which is when the zombies make their daily emergence. The protagonist’s distracting hunger provides an interesting tint to the POV and comparison to the implied hunger of the zombies.
The officer answers an APB about a domestic abuse situation that involves a 12-y.o. zombie that takes him into the privileged neighborhoods where they don’t want for food in these lean times. It is also often the case that the privileged do not want their zombies put down–a turned child may be protected behind a wall of denial and excuses. True to form, the corpulent, arrogant man who answers the door at the McMansion denies that his daughter is a zombie and doesn’t want her harmed despite laws that all zombies are to be put down, burned or blown up.
The story’s premise is handled well, despite the lack of nuance in setting up the contrast between the officer and the unnamed man-of-the house. From there, the story breaks down into a muddle of unanswered implications. The zombie-daughter is said to have volunteered, for what is never made clear. The wife is present and in a state that is never explained. Most confounding is the father. His actions and intentions seem to waver between guiltily implicating himself in the state of his daughter [or the entire zombie apocalypse] and lashing out at Officer Francis. Terms such as necromancer and scientist are thrown about without resolve. Even the officer’s hunger-haze cannot account for the lack of answers provided by the story’s end.
[Check out my other reviews here.]