Drawing of a fresh grave in a cemetery. Caption reads: "He was dead and buried."

Zombie short story by Iris Carden

Five storeys below Brisbane’s Roma Street Police Station, is the headquarters for the Human Defence Unit. Its members are drawn from among the highest performing members of military, intelligence, and police forces throughout Australia, along with select highly specialised members of the civilian population. The Human Defence Unit and its elite staff are neither police, military nor intelligence. They do not exist.

Senior Agent Jo Burns closed her front door, and clicked the button on her key to unlock her nondescript grey sedan, as she walked toward the car port. She sensed the movement before she registered what she saw. I large, muscular man walking across her front lawn, with a strange, limping gait.

As he swung the knife, she reacted, grabbing the knife hand, pulling him forward off balance while she stepped aside. As he lost balance and began to fall, she kneed him in the stomach, to wind him.

In moments her attacker was face-down on the ground, with hands cuffed behind his back. She asked his name, and he just grunted. She turned him over, face upward, and asked again. As he made further noises, she realised he had no tongue.

She’d heard of this, but never actually seen it.

“Zombie, huh? Who is pulling your strings, I wonder.”

At the HDU office, pathologist Helen Thompson reported that person in the cells was Andrew Harrison, recently officially deceased, and even more recently buried. He was not dead, but under the influence of strong drugs which slowed all of his bodily functions so much he appeared dead.

Agent Marissa Tyler looked over Helen’s report. “Zombie, so he wasn’t acting of his own volition. Whoever did this to him wanted to kill you, Jo.”

“And they probably still do. So who would want me dead?” Jo asked.

“Everyone you ever arrested as a cop. Everyone you ever arrested here. Families of monsters you’ve killed. You’re a popular person.”

“That doesn’t help a lot. Although not many of them would have the knowledge or skill to create a zombie. We need a way to narrow it down. Maybe if Helen can find a way to reverse the effect of the drugs, Mr Harrison can give us some answers.”

In the lab, Helen had realised Harrison was going to go through severe pain as he withdrew from the drugs. She could not provide any pain relief because any drugs she could use would lower his heart rate and respiration further, killing him. He was handcuffed to a hospital bed, sweating, and screaming, as the drugs worked their way out of his system.

For three days, the agents worked through old case files trying to find someone likely to have the ability to create a zombie, while Helen tried to keep her patient alive.

Eventually, Harrison was in a state to write his story for them. He had been hired to do garden work. The next thing he knew he was being dug up from the ground, and being ordered to attack a woman he didn’t know.

He was able to identify the house where he had worked, and the woman who lived there and drugged him and gave him the order. It was the wife of a serial killer Jo had arrested years before, who was still in jail.

“What do we arrest her for?” Trainee Agent Harry Smythe asked. “Conspiracy to commit murder?”

“We don’t need a charge. She won’t be going through the regular system,” Jo answered.

“Someone who can make anyone around them do anything, is too dangerous to go to a regular jail,” Marissa explained. “She’s going to have to spend the rest of her life isolated in a high-security mental health institution where she can’t get access to people to influence or spell ingredients. She may even need to be gagged or kept sedated for the rest of her life, for the protection of everyone around her.”

Human Defence Unit Stories

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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