Julius Pepperwood: Zombie Detective
The night was inky hot. She strode into his office with a sense of purpose, place, passion. She had zombie legs that went on for miles. They were the kind of legs you could sink your teeth into.
"Ain't you a sight for sore eyes," he took off his sunglasses and smirked, "What's your name little lady?"
She rolled her eyes, "The name's Bebe." She suddenly plopped down the missing person poster on his desk. He raised his eyebrows as he looked down at it and saw the picture of his familiar friend in a suit giving a GQ-esque pose. He posted these all over town with his office address. He waited there every day for a few hours in case anyone would respond. This was the first time anyone had come into his office.
"You know Mitt?" He asked surprised.
"Yeah. A few weeks ago we..." she gestured with her hand searching for the right word to use, "you know..." she finished.
"Atta boy Mitty!" he chuckled.
"Listen," she looked down at the poster's contact person, "Zombie Detective"
He clarified, "I don't tell strangers my name."
Bebe continued, "I've got an itch that only Mitt can scratch if you know what I mean and I need to find him. Capiche?"
"Oh so you like him."
"No. No. No," she laughed at the absurdity of such a statement, "It's purely physical. I'm headed down to San Diego to find him. I'll be back in a week, two weeks tops, but I need someone to keep an eye out here."
Pepperwood nodded seriously, "I've been looking for him too. When you saw him, was he with Watson?" he pulled out the other poster from his desk.
"No," she looked at it, "but he told me about you both. I'm guessing you're the pudgy bartender and he's the competitive Latvia basketball player,"
"What? No," he laughed, "I'm the outlaw. The kick ass rebel outlaw."
She gave him a look.
Pepperwood pounded his fist on the desk and crossed his leg, "Don't worry Bebe. I promise I'll find your man."
"He's not..." she let out a sigh, "Ok. See you in about a week," as she left his office.
The next morning it was hot. Like an LA heat wave zombie blood in the air type of hot. He opened the door of his RV and walked a few yards down the hill and leaned against the "D" of the Hollywood sign. He adjusted his Chicago Bears baseball cap and looked out at the view of the city and picked up the binoculars from his neck and saw them. Tons of them slowly roaming the streets. He could imagine that all too familiar sound of their grunts and growls.
"Zombie bastards," he whispered to himself.
Pepperwood liked living alone above everything. Away from the city. Away from zombies. Zombies were the worst. He considered himself like a young Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, except he killed zombies. Obviously he'd never admit that it got lonely sometimes. Never.
His stomach growled and he headed back into his RV. He took the cereal box from the top of the fridge and poured it into his bowl.
"Free Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The best damn thing about this zombie apocalypse," he said out loud to himself. He opened the fridge door and realized he forgot to get milk on his last grocery run.
"Gahhhhh!" he shouted in frustration and kicked the fridge. Accidently stubbing his toe he squealed in pain.
It was all the same. Each day he looked for Mitt and Watson, did a grocery run when he needed, headed to the office, then back to the RV when it got dark.
Today he wanted that milk for his cereal. He parked his car and saw about four of them lingering in front of the grocery store. He strapped on his long gun which he of course named, Arnold, around his chest and took a deep breath. He quietly got out of his car and tiptoed awkwardly to the entrance. One of the biters made eye contact with him. An ugly male one with a bony face and tattered clothes hobbled over growling hungrily. Pepperwood hurried and ran into the grocery store and made a barricade of shopping carts to block the way.
He braced himself with his gun and gave a quick look around. Everything looked safe. He opened his backpack and started going down the aisles taking things and talking to himself, "Oh! Velveta."
He grabbed a few more items, beans, pork rinds, pop tarts, beer. The essentials obviously. Suddenly he heard a can fall somewhere in the store which spooked him. He cocked his gun and was ready to fire. He began walking around the aisles slow and alert.
"Is anyone there?" he called out pointing his gun. He walked closer to where he thought the sound came from and made his way to the edge of the aisle. He heard sniffing but was too afraid to look.
He closed his eyes and whispered a pep talk to himself, "Let's do this Pepperwood. Let's do this."
He jumped out and pointed his gun out at the aisle and shouted, "Ahhhhh!"
"Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" she yelled in fear. She was wearing a white blouse and a polka dot skirt and was sitting on the floor surrounded by a few grocery items. She had tears in her eyes and was sniffing softly.
Pepperwood closed his eyes in relief, "You scared me half to death little lady," he put down his gun and noticed she was still crying looking down at a jar she was holding in her lap.
"Oh geez," he walked over to her and kneeled down by her not knowing what to say. He wasn't really good at this stuff. "Uh, what's the matter?"
She sniffed and looked up at him. She had pale skin, pink cheeks, and big doleful blue eyes wet with tears. She whimpered somewhat pathetically looking at the jar, "Marshmallow fluff reminds me of Spencer."
Pepperwood scrunched his eyebrows confused, "Who the heck is Spencer?"
She sniffed and sniffed, "My boyfriend. He got bit and turned a few days ago." She began sobbing hugging her jar of marshmallow fluff tightly rocking back and forth.
Suddenly he heard the sound of his shopping cart barricade fall and he quickly helped her up whispering, "Ok. It's ok. We gotta get out of here. Let's go." She was still crying as she quickly put her groceries back in her bag. She showed him where the back door was and they ran out and saw a few zombies headed towards them.
Pepperwood looked her over, "Where's your gun?"
She sniffled and said, "Oh," and pulled out a Ziploc bag from her purple flower purse and threw a raw hamburger patty as far as she could.
His eyes widened, "Are you kidding me?!"
It seemed to work. The zombies headed for the patty instead. The girl pointed saying, "My car's this way."
They ran and made their way to a yellow VW bug with a pink peace sign sticker on the back. Pepperwood let out a heavy sigh and shook his head as he hopped into the driver seat. She gave him the keys and he began to drive off in a hurry.
After a few minutes during the drive she had calmed down and stopped crying. She looked out the window and finally broke the silence.
"I'm Jess by the way. Jessica Night."
Pepperwood grumbled, "I uh – I don't share my name with strangers."
"Oh," she said a little hurt and she looked out the window.
Pepperwood took a breath feeling a little bad, "I'm sorry about your boyfriend."
"Thanks," she half smiled.
"What happened if you don't mind me asking?" Pepperwood continued to look out at the road, occasionally weaving between walkers.
She sighed, "Well ever since the epidemic started we always tried to follow what Oprah suggested. To keep living our normal lives. So a few days ago we were riding our bikes in the park laughing when Spencer stopped and saw a cute bunny." Her voice quivered, "He went over to pet it and before I noticed the bunny was…one of them, it was…it was too late."
Pepperwood started laughing. It was one of those silent heaving stomach uncontrollable kind of laughs. Jess started laughing a little uncomfortably and asked him, "Ha. Ha ha. Why are you laughing?"
He snorted, "I'm sorry," he wiped the tears from his eyes, "Why are you laughing?"
Jess kept laughing a little saying, "Ha ha ha. I always laugh when people laugh. I'm a contagious laugher." They both continued to laugh and she interjected mid laugh, "You're kind of mean."
Pepperwood sighed, "Sorry. Sorry about your boyfriend that got bit by a zombie bunny." He giggled a little and cleared his throat, "Sorry."
Jessica smiled, "So what's your story, man with no name?"
"No, I don't have story. I'm an outlaw."
"Oh c'mon," she turned towards him more, "Every outlaw has a story. What's your story?"
"Nope," Pepperwood made a pouty turtle face.
She just looked at him and then sung out the question, "What's your stoooooory? Stoooory!"
He cringed, "If I tell you, will you stop singing?"
He looked over at her and she smiled quietly. A totally dorky smile.
He sighed, "I'm from Chicago."
She interjected, "I can see that by your hat. I like it."
"Thanks," he continued, "I was in law school there for a while but I dropped out and moved here about 6 years ago to live with my two buddies Mitt and Watson. A month ago when everything started getting bad we got caught in a brutal herd of biters on the 405 freeway and got separated."
"Oh," she pouted, "That's so sad. I'm sorry."
"Yeah," he looked back at the road, "I know they're alive. This girl Bebe is looking for Mitt in San Diego."
Her eyes widened, "Bebe! Is she tall and gorgeous?"
"Well…yeah I guess," Pepperwood answered.
She hopped a little in her seat in excitement, "That's my best friend!"
"Oh," he raised his shoulder, "She's coming back in about a week."
"Yes!" Jess clapped her hands together in excitement.
As they continued to drive she offered, "So where are your digs?"
"Where are my digs?" he repeated mockingly.
"Yeah! Your crib, your home sweet home, your living sitch" she said perkily with lots of hand gestures.
He rolled his eyes and looked out the window and pulled over.
She got quiet and nervous, "Hey man. I thought you're just taking me home. I uh –"
"Stop it will ya?" Pepperwood handed her his binoculars and pointed up, "There's my digs."
She looked through them and saw his broken down RV parked by Hollywood sign.
"Nice!" she smiled, "Livin' that Hollywood life."
"Pretty sweet right?" Pepperwood beamed proudly.
"Why'd you choose there?" She asked.
"Well Mitt, Watson and I always said it would be our meeting spot in case we ever got separated. I'm gonna find them."
"I'll help you find them," she said sincerely and she smiled at him sweetly, "Hey! Why don't you come see my digs! I live in a four bedroom loft. I'll make you some tea and I've got cupcakes! It's the least I can do to say thanks for helping me during my emotional breakdown."
He narrowed his eyes, "Yeah I don't drink tea or eat cupcakes." He looked at her grocery bag and realized he forgot milk again. He changed his mind, "Well, do you got milk?"
"Got milk?" she repeated in a deep voice and then she laughed at her own joke, "Milk moustache. Cracks me up every time. Ha ha, yeah! I use it every day for my Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Best. Cereal. Everrrrr," she sang out the word "ever."
Pepperwood smiled and her genuinely, "Ok. Just for milk."
On their way to the fourth floor Pepperwood was surprised to see there were tons of walkers roaming around her apartment. He became very worried for her as they headed up the stairs.
"You really live in this kind of danger and don't have a gun?" He could feel his heart stressing out.
She smiled, "Yeah! They're just hungry. That's why I throw them raw meat," she shook her purse towards him.
He shook his head, "Jessica, they're not just hungry. They're deranged, evil, brain hungry monsters."
"Pfft, I wouldn't say that. They're just…sick. I'm sure the government and doctors will clear this mess up in no time."
"How have you survived this long?"
Suddenly he heard the noise of a zombie growl coming closer and closer. He grabbed Jess and hid them both behind a trash can. As the zombie approached he could see he was a tall overweight man. He pulled out good ol' Arnold and shot his gun at him and missed.
Jess covered her ears. He shot again and missed. Again and missed.
"Come on!" he grunted. He finally shot one more time and the zombie fell to the floor.
Jess stood up and saw who it was and gasped, "Hey! You killed Remy!" she rushed over to him.
"This guy is not Remy anymore. He's a no good rotten biter."
Jess kneeled next to him and put her hand lovingly on his shirt, "He was my landlord. Bye Remy."
"Oh my God," Pepperwood muttered, "C'mon Jess. Let's get you inside. It isn't safe out here."
She opened the door for him and he took a look inside.
"Welcome to our home," she said.
Pepperwood began walking around like a Sargent going through inspection, "Well your doors are definitely not secure. And these windows. Yeesh, maybe pre apocalypse this is a bad ass view but this is a walker disaster waiting to happen," he shook his head in disapproval.
He looked around at her place, "Hey it's nice and homey in here. Kind of reminds me of my grandma's. Why do you have so much old stuff?"
He turned around back to her and saw her face was scrunched all weird and she was making sounds that sounded like a dying cat.
"What is that? What are you doing? Are you crying again?"
She burst into sobs, "I said our home."
Pepperwood shrugged, "Oh no."
"Spencer and I's home!" she cried, "I'm ah-loh-oh-oh-oh-ne!"
He walked around her place, "Tissues. Tissues. Where are the tissues?"
She cried, "I'm all by myself now!"
He sat down with her on the couch and ungracefully wiped her eyes and nose with the tissue.
"Ow! You poked my eye!" She cried more.
"Sorry," he couldn't really look at her. He didn't like seeing girls cry. He awkwardly patted her back to comfort her. He looked away and caught a glimpse of her Hello Kitty calendar on the table that had days crossed off.
"Hey, you should correct your calendar."
She sobbed into her tissue and said meekly, "What?"
"Your calendar says it's Friday, but it's Wednesday." He pulled out his little calendar in his pocket and showed her his dates crossed off to Wednesday.
She giggled a little and it was helping her to cheer up, "No it's Friday."
"No way! Hello Kitty is wrong! It's Wednesday!"
"Well you must have forgotten to mark your calendar twice because it's Friday," she stopped crying.
"I can do this all day!" Pepperwood warned.
"So can I!"
"TGIF? It's the middle of the week!"
Jess began singing "Friday," by Rebecca Black while Pepperwood raised his voice and complained, "I marked this calendar every day. Maybe I got drunk a few times hanging out with those Marines that were looking for zombies to bring back to the lab, but I am ninety ni-…ninety two percent sure that I marked this every day."
"It's Friday! Friday!" Jess continued to sing, "Partying partying yeah!"
He grew frustrated and finally yelled, "It's Wednesday or I swear my name isn't Julius Pepperwood!"
He suddenly shrugged realizing what he just did. Jess stopped singing and her eyes widened in excitement. "Julius Pepperwood, huh?"
"No, I…" he shrugged.
"Julius. Can I call you Jules?"
"Jules and Jessica," she laughed.
"You can call me Pepperwood," he shrugged.
"Pepperwood and Jessica!"
"No, I'm gonna call you Friday," he decided.
"I like it!" she beamed, "I've only ever had the nickname Jess!"
"You're alright, Friday," he laughed lightly.
She smiled, "You too."
Pepperwood smiled at her again genuinely and she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as she smiled back at him. This is the most fun he'd had in a long time since the world got all screwed up. He broke their glance and looked around at the apartment, "Look Friday, if you're gonna live here I really think I should be close by. I gotta help you get this place secure."
"Why don't you move in?" she offered, "There's three extra bedrooms. Plus I could use the company. It gets lonely sometimes," she smiled, "We could be…roommates."
He made his turtle face nodding his head, "That doesn't sound half bad."
She laughed, "Pepperwood and Friday. Zombie detective roommates."
Even though Mitt and Watson were missing, Pepperwood now had two friends; one if you count his hat. The other was his gal Friday, Jessica Night. She was small in stature but not in spunk and a super annoying know it all.