Ever since Proposition 22 had been passed, the undead were turning up in the most unlikely places. It was the main reason I’d returned to L.A. after almost fifteen years. I’d taken up studying the law as it pertained to the undead.
Tommy sat on a stump in the woods watching the girls play hopscotch. His big sister Carla was one of them, and she had told him to get lost. Carla was in first grade; that was why she bossed him around. However, he wanted to be with them, so he hid in the woods as close as he could and spied on them. He swung his legs inside the itchy jeans that were too long—new blue jeans—and hummed to himself as he played his number game: one boy on a stump, four girls playing hopscotch, one man watching the girls play, and one white car.
ANTHONY LUMIS has posted a message on your wall: hey Sam sry for not getting back to you, my phone broke when Ben thru it @ the wall. using his phone txt this #
The boy watched the man in the long coat and snap-brim fedora insert his ID card and lay his palm into the lower-district security gate controls. He’d spent the past week walking the streets, wrapped in dirty brown rags with old shopping bags tied around his feet, waiting for this man, so obvious with his antiquated apparel.
“Coach? You going to let me play, finally? My family knows it’s my chance. My Daddy’s going to be there.”
“We’ll see, boy, we’ll see. Damn shame you hurt that ankle. Damn shame. At least you got the scholarship locked up.”
“I told you that was the off ramp,” Jean said.
“Yeah,” Ryan muttered, “right after we passed it.”
Jean and Ryan were celebrating their twentieth wedding anniversary. It would be the first one they had ever celebrated entirely alone.
He waited for it to be four so he could go home, and when at four Maya came to fetch him, the lump inside his chest disappeared and he went to the pig, still huddled behind the door, and touched its skin. It was cool and smooth, like he had thought it would be. Maya stood at the door and asked Kristy all the questions. Had he eaten? Did he sleep? Did he have a good time? Kristy said yes to everything though Arya had neither eaten nor slept nor had a good time, but he did not mind. He poked the pig gently with a finger, and when it grunted, he laughed.
The machine hummed with power so strong he felt it deep within his chest and saw the floor shake the embers of dead skin from its surface. Nothing happened initially, aside from the ripples on the water increasing under the violent vibration below.
The old man sighed again and flopped backwards. As he did, an armchair appeared behind him and he landed comfortably in it. “I am Peter, Guardian of the Gates of Heaven,” the old man intoned. Jackson could almost hear the capital letters falling into place. “Name?” the angel demanded for the third time.