By Laurel Povazan-Scholnick

Cassie brushed her blonde wig as it sat on the foamy plastic mannequin head. She thought to herself, possibly for the hundredth time now, how much more human the generic face on the mannequin looked compared to her own. Cassie and Jack had managed to survive the messy time and reestablish a normal life.

During the messy time, zombies had been mindless killers intent on feasting on live human flesh and organs. After civilization had gotten back under control, humans had trained the remaining zombies not to kill and feast, then reeducated and reintroduced them to human society. It was a long and painful process for the zombies, but most of them weathered the storm admirably and rejoined humans as citizens within three years' time. Some zombies were even able to rebuild their former homes and pick up where they had left off, for the most part. Cassie and Jack were two of those lucky enough to be able to get their former home back. There were a few who could not hack the training and had had to be destroyed. One particular zombie had attacked his trainer and had consumed almost all of the man's intestines before being caught. Both zombie and human had had to be destroyed.

Part of the zombie reeducation had been on how to disguise themselves as 'normal' people. Cassie and Jack were perfectly happy to walk around in their own home without disguises, but they had the perfect clothing and masks that covered all of the injuries they had incurred as zombies. Cassie's face and body were horribly mangled in a chainsaw incident with a human during the messy time. Due to this, she wore long pants and long sleeves when she was out in public and a very natural looking human mask that made her quite pretty along with the blonde wig. As for Jack, he had some scars on his arms, most of which, surprisingly after all he'd been through, could be hidden under short sleeves. However he had also lost his left leg and his right eye, so he had a prosthetic leg and a glass eye.

Cassie and Jack had worked very hard to redevelop their appetite for regular food, and it was really more tolerance than anything else after all.The only thing was that neither Cassie nor Jack had ever completely lost their taste for human flesh, and raw meat only went so far when it came to sating the urges...

Cassie was excited about the coming evening. She and Jack had invited their neighbors, Lilly and Mark, over for dinner. At first the couple had been a bit wary of Cassie and Jack because they were the first 'reformed' zombies that they had ever met. During the course of a month or so, Cassie and Jack had chatted with Lilly and Mark in the hallway every other day or so and the four had gone to a daytime concert together once. Cassie and Lilly had become girlfriends and shared magazines and stories about married life. Lilly was very curious about what her friend's real face looked like, but she never dared to ask Cassie to show it to her.

Despite everything that Jack had gone through to become 'normal' again, which he considered to be his greatest achievement in his life, he almost couldn't handle his urge to eat human brains. He could smell brains the moment he was within six feet of a human and the thought of biting into human skulls plagued him everyday.

Lilly called Cassie to say that she wanted to bring something for the dinner. Cassie said that she had everything covered and that she was serving steak, baked potatoes and salad.The only way Cassie avoided throwing up in her mouth while describing this meal was to think about how she was going to pretend to cook hers and Jack's steaks while not really doing so.In light of Cassie's state of preparedness Lilly offered to bring a bottle of wine and Cassie agreed.

Lilly and Mark arrived promptly at 7 p.m. for dinner. Cassie was just finishing setting the table with her good china and her new silverware. There was a beautiful flower arrangement on the table. Jack could smell his guests' brains and he was going crazy inside. Lilly's brains were especially fragrant tonight, good thoughts maybe? Cassie turned to her guests and immediately started feeling very faint. She couldn't get over her need to sink her teeth into Mark's thick neck.The zombies seated their guests and then they began to have dinner.

© Laurel Povazan-Scholnick, 2011