3 of 5 stars.
This very short story is included in Extreme Zombies edited by Paula Guran. The zombies in this tale are neither the brain-hungry agents of an apocalypse or pandemic, nor the voodoo [Obeah] variety undead. These are the works of a dodgy Reverend Thomas, a Christian revivalist that has experimented with creating various recipes for an Elixir of Life to reanimate the dead into his Born Agains for paying living customers. The Born Agains that stay with the reverend’s traveling tent city smugly refer to his latest good-looking male “miracle” as Prettyboy, since most of the undead are in a state of rot that would not attract followers. The revivalist camp tends to move on with regularity to stay ahead of Born Agains going bad. The good-looking female Born Agains are called Angels and kept away from the males just in case reproduction could still happen.
The narrator is Zeke, a Born Again that was revived under an older, discontinued recipe of Elixir. While his senses are dulled, he seems to not rot like more recent creations. Also, his body parts, should they fall off, will return to him and fuse back to him seamlessly. This is not true of any others. Even the Prettyboys go bad. But not Zeke, some cannot believe that he is even dead. Zeke is also not a believer in the reverend, and he’s a former death row murderer.
The themes, while not deeply explored, are plain: what is Christian or moral about the actions and characters involved? A murderer is saved and “Born Again,” but does that absolve him of his crime in taking a life? Lives are taken and re-given in this tale like a commodity at the opening scene’s poker table. The miracle witnesses, the reverend, and even the revivalist followers all have ulterior motives. Questions are raised; answers are not provided.
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