Part 10:

That hallway was dim. I stared at Brigitte, who I could only see in kind-of-a-silhouette. She stared back at me.

“What does he mean, Brigitte?” I asked her in as steady of a voice as I could. I looked down at her stomach, just a little bulging. Was she really pregnant? “Are you?” I asked.

Brigitte looked confused for a moment. “Am I what?”

I pointed at her stomach. “Are you pregnant?”

“Yes, Rachel. Yes, I am. Very much so. And I’m in love with you.”

“Why’d he say that, then?”

“Because he’s a liar!” Brigitte looked angry and waved towards Samson. “Don’t listen to him. He’s just trying to tear us apart so you’ll help him and his stupid plans and God and you don’t want that. Do you remember when we first met?”

I did. I do. I wanted to believe her.

But I did remember when we first met.

I had been walking for a week, maybe, or so, sleeping outside, and stealing food, when I could, and being confused. I was more confused and more tired than I thought anyone could be, but I didn’t know whether that was the way things were or what. I didn’t know anything. From that moment when Doc had told me to walk South, I had begun learning about life, because when I woke up in that diner, I didn’t know much about nothing.

Doc had said Go south, and so I did. I didn’t even know why. It just sounded like a good idea to me. So I’d stood up and started walking. I’d walked out of New York City, entirely, just started walking from downtown where the buildings all had 200 stories or more, walking through the night with the lights that glowed very dimly. There were lights only about every five hundred yards or so, and not much light in between them. I wasn’t scared of the dark, not at all, and I just walked and walked and walked. Eventually the 200-story-tall buildings became 100-story tall buildings and then smaller and smaller until I was walking through a residential area and then, hours after I’d started out, I was walking through an area that wasn’t quite just nature, not just trees and grass, but was pretty close to it.

Doc had given me guidance, telling me which way to go, helping me to cross streets safely, and had gotten me onto a country back road. He beeped and whirred and floated along and played some music for me from time to time. I didn’t say much of anything that first night. I didn’t know what to say. Everytime I looked at my body I would shudder. Do you have any idea what it’s like to literally wake up in someone else’s body? Or more than one-someone-else’s body? I would look down and see my body, its mismatched feet, the various parts, and start crying, and Doc would play some soothing music and we kept walking.

I got hungry but we were in the middle of nowhere, and I finally got tired. The sun had been up for hours and I told Doc that I had to sit and rest for a moment. He led me to some bushes. That was the second time I remembered going to Hell.

I woke up from that, crying and shaking.

“Doc,” I said. “Doc.” It was all I could say for a while. Doc hovered near me and didn’t say much of anything. He played some music that I liked, a pretty-voiced singer. “Doc, I was in Hell,” I told him.

Doc hadn’t answered, maybe because I hadn’t asked him a question. I asked him, then, how I could get something to eat.

Steal it, Doc told me. So I did. We’d found a convenience store, a lot like the one that Samson’s HQ was behind. I’d gone in there, looking for all the world like someone who had every right to be considered a normal person. I wondered if the clerk there—it had been a woman, and I’d thought she was pretty but sort of underdressed—would notice that I had different body parts, would think it was weird. I just walked to the door. Doc said he would wait outside to avoid attention.

Octopi are somewhat rare, he said.

I didn’t think then: How do I have one?

I’d gone in and done what he told me to do, gone through the aisles looking for something small and easy to carry that wouldn’t spoil. I’d settled on a couple of packages of crackers and then, like Doc had said to do, I’d slipped them into the waistband of my dress and had walked to the other aisle and looked at some things, then had gone to the bathroom and used it and then come out and left. Doc had said:

That will make it look as though you only went in there to use the restroom but wanted them not to know that

And it worked. I left with my crackers and we walked all that day, stopping once at a little building, a library, to get a drink of water, in a small town.

When it came time to sleep that night, I was starved again. But I was also scared because of what I wanted to believe was a dream the night before, that trip to Hell, a dream that was a lot like the first time I’d gone to Hell. I sat down off in the grassy area Doc had picked out. He was playing some talking program, something with news on it that I wasn’t really listening to but I liked the background noise.

“Doc, am I going to go there again tonight when I sleep?” I asked him.

Yes, Doc said.

I hugged my knees to my chest and listened to the talking. I couldn’t follow it. Visions of Hell ran through my head, the sights and sounds and smells. That was what really made me realize it wasn’t a dream, that it was more than a dream, that I’d actually gone to Hell: The smells. Who has smells in a dream? And smells like that? I didn’t know then, and I don’t really know now, because I can’t remember life before I became this, but smells made it real. Like if you ever eat something really disgusting or weird, like when a few days later I tried beef, you always describe it first by telling someone how it smelled.

I did go to Hell that night. That was the night I met Bob. But I tried and tried and tried to not go to Hell. I tried and tried to listen to Doc’s little newscast, focusing on the words: someone had been kidnapped or something. Kidnapped. I couldn’t follow it. But someone famous. I just stared at Doc’s little orange glow as he bobbed up and down lightly and tried not to nod off. I talked to Doc, asked him questions, but I couldn’t really think of anything. Like I asked him:

“Where am I, Doc?” and he said:

Pennsylvania but that didn’t mean that much to me, so I said:

“Where’s that?” And he said

In the United States of America.

“What is that?” I asked. “A country?”

It is a country. Yes.

It wasn’t very interesting or helpful but it kept me awake a little longer. I couldn’t remember how I knew what countries were. I sat and tried to keep warm and tried not to think of how hungry I was and asked Doc to tell me about the United States and he told me about its government and the police forces and how its economy was primarily something or other based, I think he said entertainment it all made little sense to me and eventually he droned on and on and I couldn’t follow it and I woke up in Hell for the third time with Bob staring at me and leaning down over me and I screamed because I didn’t know what he was.


There's something they didn't let him know.

New Today: Meanwhile, In New York!

Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over the World

A serialized story updated 1-2 times per week.

Two weeks ago, Rachel was a waitress in a coffee shop in New York City. She doesn't remember anything in her waking life before that. Now, with some help from her Octopus, Rachel is on a mission to find out what the heck is going on-- and all the Revenants and cops and ministers and Valkyries in this world and the next won't stop her.

The story is told in parts (click the title to go to the chapter)

Rachel wakes up one day to realize that she doesn't know anything about her life. On the advice of her octopus, she walks south and meets Brigitte. And the revenants.

Part Two: In Hell:
Running from the Revenants, Rachel wakes up in Hell and seeks help from a Valkyrie.

Part Three: Heading East:
With Mr. Damned Soul tagging along, Rachel and Brigitte go where Doc tells them to go.

Shot down by ray guns, Rachel is taken to be interrogated.

Part Five: Threatening This Existence.

Reverend Tommy can't help himself when he tries to stop Rachel from leaving, and she takes them all back to Hell.

Part Six: Get the Heck Out of Chicago!

Part Seven: Now They're All In Hell.
Shot by Samson, Rachel and the others find themselves out of the frying pan... but into the boiling cauldron of souls?

Part 8: Where It All Began. Back from Hell. Dropped into the southwest... with even more people trying to get Rachel.

Part 9: Meeting God. Rachel, Brigitte, and Samson hole up in HQ and wait to see what God wants to do.


Thinking The Lions is the only website where you can find out why Velociraptors are fake, learn how to play "Cloverfield," and otherwise follow the hilarious adventures of a guy with a lot of kids, a lot of love of 70s music, a lot of time to watch Battlestar Galactica, and a very patient wife. Life, only funnier.

Meanwhile, In New York...

Meanwhile, In New York:

He wished the men and the revenant would leave. He did not like being watched while he worked. He did not like it at all. But they did not leave and they would not. So he had begun the procedure under their watchful eyes. He had sawed off two of the limbs…

“Why are you doing that?” the revenant had asked him. He had shrugged.

“Because it has to be done.”


The man shrugged again. “At least two have to go. That’s the rule.”

“You can’t leave him whole?”

The man shook his head. No. He didn’t answer, though. He was tired from the process of sawing off the leg. He looked up, after a while, wiping sweat and flecks of blood off of his forehead. “It would be better with three, or even four. And the head. But I suppose you want the head to stay.”

“Would it be him without it?”

“Hard to say.”

Silence. He decided that he would saw off a third limb and did so. That took a while, too. It had to be done manually, that was what the Lieutenant had always impressed on him. Whatever the process was, however, it worked, however the souls were called back into the body, fusing the body together, causing it to reanimate but be more docile, however that worked, it could not be done if the disintegration of the body was done by machine or with lasers or mechanical saws. It all had to be done manually, no power involved.

It was tough. But he was strong and he got the third limb off, the other leg. He left the arm on, the left arm. It was tricky replacing left arms and he tried not to do so anymore. Left hands were always evil. Left hands were where evil resided.

He looked up at the small box, the metal case with its gold lining. He wondered again where she had gone. He wondered if the left hand would win. He regretted caving in and saying that he would use that hand. But the money. The money had been so much! And then he hadn’t gotten any of it because before he was sure she was trained she’d left.

And she’d been so beautiful, too. He could almost, then, see the appeal when he’d created that one. She had come out perfectly. And then she’d run off. Too perfect, he thought. And that was the end of the reverie because it was on to the other part of the tasks. It was on to sprinkling the dust on the corpse, which lay dismantled on the table in front of him, the stumps of legs dribbling blood, the left hand looking as though it should be holding something. The eyes closed and the face peaceful in its repose. He took the green powder from a jar, grabbing a handful. Unlike some practitioners, he did not just waft it over. He carefully sprinkled it down over the centerline of the body, and then brushed it off to either side, rubbing it into the naked body on the table.

Then the yellow powder, with which he was equally careful. The body in the right light would glitter a little, until the powder sunk in.

He did not know, either, what the powder did. The lieutenant had impressed on him the importance of the powders, of which he had a large stock left to him by the Lieutenant (at least five large barrelsful) and he was not imaginative enough to wonder what he would do when it ran out. He had not even used the first barrel so far despite a thriving practice.

The salve was next, rubbed in carefully into every part of the skin until the body looked coated in oil, gleaming and slick in the light of the basement. He washed his hands so they were not slippery and walked back. He took a brighter light and perched it over the table, above the body’s forehead. He took a small scalpel.

“What are you doing?” the revenant asked. He jumped. It had been quiet for nearly an hour, the length of time he’d been doing the powder and the salve.

“Taking out the chip,” he said.

“Won’t that cause problems?”

“Got to be done.”


“Because I always do it.”

“But why?

“Because that’s the way it’s done.”

“It will keep him from sharing.”


“That’s not good. His daughter will figure it out right away.”

“I do things the way they’re supposed to be done.”

“Will he reanimate with the chip still in?”

“I don’t know.”

“What? How can you not know?”

The man was sitting on a stool, hands dry and cracked from so many washings and so much blood and tired from the cutting. He was not arguing and was not offended by the revenant’s questioning. He was merely tired. His eyes flicked over to the half-finished order from the night before. This would be several nights and days in a row without rest, he realized. I should call and postpone that order. He’d never done that. But he didn’t want to make mistakes.

“I don’t know,” he said now, to the revenant.

“But this is what you do.


The revenant stalked around and fumed. He heard its breath hissing in and out through its lips. He saw its eyes flaring, the torn-apart eyelids that were one mark of a revenant, because when they opened their eyes into their new horrid half-life the eyes were never cut open gently or unsewn – the revenants simply ripped the threads and sometimes their eyelids, so that all revenants had a tattered-looking face.

The revenant looked at one of the men. “Get me Supervisor,” he said.

The man went to the screen in the basement and waved a hand. It flickered on and the man furrowed his brow. Images and numbers flickered on the screen and then there was a woman’s face on the screen. It was Ms. Hold – one of the computer-generated proxies that people could select when they did not wish to be bothered. Ms. Hold informed them in the generic voice she had that Supervisor did not wish to be disturbed. As she did that, one corner flickered with an image of the person the man assumed to be Supervisor, and underneath the image the word “DOING THINGS” appeared in the status bar.

“Override,” the man said into the screen. Ms. Hold’s CGI features were implacable. The man looked back at the revenant, who could not operate the screen himself, of course, because there were no electrical impulses flowing in his body between his nerves. Zombies could not share or use screens because they had no chips. Revenants could not use screens or share because they did not move or think or act using nervous impulses conducted via electrical means; their bodies did not produce electricity, the man knew from the classes the Lieutenant had given him, and the electric currents in the body, combined with the chip, allow access to Sharing and screens.

How do they move and act?” the man had asked the Lieutenant, as they’d been sitting in a trench underneath a sky cut by periodic bursts of gamma explosions and hot with ray gun beams. What makes them go?”

“Spite and fear,” the Lieutenant had told him. Spite keeps them moving, to spite the living who created them, and fear of stopping moving. Spite and fear are powerful motivators.

Now, the revenant in his basement, powered by spite and fear instead of electricity, shoved next to the man and said a word. Ms. Hold did not react. The revenant elbowed the man and the man repeated the word. Ms. Hold’s eyes popped open.

“Interrupting,” she said, and a new man appeared on the screen. He was sitting in a leather chair, looking off to his right, and sipping from a coffee mug that glowed slightly red. He looked at them, annoyance and surprise on his face.

“Why are you bothering me?” the Supervisor said. The revenant explained the problem.

“Put him on,” the Supervisor said, and the revenant grabbed the man’s shoulder and pulled him, a move that was unnecessary because the man was already leaving behind the body and coming to the screen. He wanted this done. He wanted this job over, to finish his new job, and then to sleep for a while.

The Supervisor eyed him up and down. “You don’t look like much,” the Supervisor said. The man did not react. He knew it was true. “Still,” the Supervisor said, “You’re supposed to be the best and know what you’re doing. What do you recommend?”

The man’s opinion was almost never asked. For example, nobody had ever asked him about the left hand on the last one he’d made. They’d just told him.

“I always remove the chip,” he said. “I always do.”

The Supervisor considered. He looked in his screen so that he was looking at the revenant. “He’s the expert,” the Supervisor said. “He may come across as a moron, but he knows what he’s doing. Do what he says.”

“Yes, Supervisor. I apologize for bothering you.” The Revenant saluted.

The Supervisor gave a magnaminous wave. He was wearing the same kind of polo shirt the others were. Behind him was a large symbol or logo that matched the logo on the polo shirts, and the man could see it clearly in its enlarged form: A white-metal gate with a bar across it. “You did the right thing. It was a big question. Rather have you ask than screw it up. Good work. Now, is there anything else?”

The Revenant said no. The man, though, spoke up: “There is something else.”

The Supervisor looked surprised, again, and said “So you can think. Well, what is it? What else?”

“I need limbs,” the man said. “The only limbs I have are women’s limbs. Do you want me to attach those?”

“No. No, no, no,” the Supervisor said, his voice trailing off as he thought. “Already bad enough this thing won’t share. Can’t have it going around with breasts and shapely ankles.”

The man was going to clarify that he was not doing the torso on this one, but the Supervisor interrupted him. “You’ve got no men’s limbs at all?”

The man shook his head.

“What do you need?”

“Two legs and a right arm.”

The Supervisor considered. “Awfully hard to get that on short notice without drawing attention to things.”

“I don’t want police attention.”
The Supervisor laughed. “They haven’t told you?” The man simply stood there. He couldn’t say if they’d told him something unless he knew what the thing was he was or was not told. So he didn’t answer. The Sueprvisor did not clarify. Instead, he said “Well, I suppose they wouldn’t. You don’t need to know. And the other two groups might find out and send their own guys. Might even dress them up as cops. I forget whose month it is to do that.” He thought again, then took a sip of his Red Drink, and then said “Well, nothing we can do about it. Use theirs,” he said, and pointed at the men behind him. The screen clicked off and the Revenant turned and shot two of the men standing there, dropping them to the ground swiftly and silently.

To the third henchmen, he said “Start cutting” and pointed to the two dead men.

The man went back to the table and began cutting out the chip.

There's a lot to tell...

“Rachel and I are leaving,” she said.

Whatever it was she was holding, Samson respected it. He had his hands up and was backing away. Doc whirled and clicked around me and was lighting up and beeping, too. He was more agitated than I’d seen him in a long time.

“Don’t do anything crazy,” Samson said. He did not move, beyond that.

“Don’t you,” Brigitte said.

A movement off to the side caught my eye. I looked at the screen and saw the manicured woman doing something,

“Brigitte,” I said, not sure what was going on but sticking with her. “That lady’s up to something.”

Brigitte looked over at the screen and said “What are you … no. Wait.” The woman reached, though, and Brigitte took the little device she had and pointed it towards the screen. I saw her thumb something and Samson yelled.

An arc of some kind of current or power or something went from the little thing that Brigitte held to the screen, It also shot up a little ways on Brigitte’s arm. It was red, so it looked like her arm was glowing red a little, crackling, and then the power went to the screen where the screen went red.

On the picture I could see the woman; her head turned red, too, with the crackling-power, and she snapped back and rigid like she’d been paralyzed. Her eyes fluttered and flickered and she slumped down.

As that happened, though, Samson dove at us, and he timed it just right that as Brigitte’s red-flare thing died out, Samson dove through the gap left there. I yelled Brigitte’s name but he wasn’t heading for Brigitte, he was heading for me, and he tackled me, hard, and I fell over on the ground, hitting my head against the floor. A door opened and Naked Girl was standing there. It wasn’t the same door that had opened before, either. So I had been right that there was more than one door here.

Naked Girl stood there until Samson said “Take her down,” and then Naked Girl grabbed me and dragged me through the door. Samson scrambled after me and the door slid shut. I heard Brigitte pounding on it.

“When this thing reloads, you’re in trouble, Samson,” she said. “I can’t believe you did this!”

Naked Girl was dragging me down a hallway that was only dimly lit by floor panels glowing below us. Samson stood near the door and listened. I heard that same sonic boom sound again that the jets had made before, and I knew what was happening. All those sounds started up again and I suddenly realized what the lady on the screen had been doing – she’d sent back the drones, sent them back to attack Brigitte.

“No!” I yelled, and started struggling, but Naked Girl was strong, and I couldn’t get free of her grip. She was pulling me further away. We were already about 100 feet down the hall and I was dizzy from hitting my head but I pulled and pulled and then realized she does what I say, so I said “Let go!”

And she did.

“Go get Brigitte,” I told her. “Keep her safe and bring her here.”

“Stop that!” Samson yelled, running towards us. He had his ray gun out again. “Don’t fight me on this, Rachel. You don’t understand.”

“I understand that you’re going to kill Brigitte,” I said, “And I’m not letting you.”

Naked Girl and Samson met in the hall, each running towards the other. Naked Girl grabbed Samson and threw her to the side. Man, she was strong. She got to the door as he sat up and pointed the ray gun at her and I yelled “Don’t you DARE!” and ran towards him as fast as I could.

Naked Girl did something that opened the door and Samson shot her just after that and I got to Samson just after that. I jumped on him and so I didn’t see what happened up front. But there was that sound like when the giant hand was attacked and there was that electric-static sound and there was a rush of air and heat and light, and Samson was rolling around, and I heard the gun clatter away, and I heard footsteps and the door sliding shut, and I got a wave of jarring, stinging feeling that I guessed later was that electrical stuff that had melted or baked the giant hand, and Samson punched me in the stomach and I rolled off of him, panting and gasping for breath and sucking wind and leaned against the wall as he got to his knees and then there was a red flash and he dropped, too, eyes shutting and body twitching and then I threw up from being hit in the stomach.

Brigitte was kneeling in front of me.

“Are you okay?” She asked. She put her hands, her soft lovely hands (that smelled a little like me) on either side of my face and stared into my eyes from a few inches away. She leaned forward and touched her head to mine. “I wish you could share,” she said, and pulled back.

I swallowed and rasped out. “I’m all right, I think. I think I’m okay.”

I started to stand but she held me down. “Breathe,” she said, and sat down next to me, holding my hand. Samson lay a little in front of us and off to the side, twitching and slightly red-tinged. I tried to get some air into me and settle down.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Breathe,” Brigitte said. Doc hovered over to us. “Doc?” She asked. He beeped. “Status report.” Doc whirred and glowed brighter, a little.

Drones have left, he said.

“Directions?” Brigitte asked.

Doc spun and two tentacles lifted up. One got a red glow at the end. Then they drooped back down and he raised a little.

This way, Doc said, and scooted down a little to my left, the direction that Naked Girl had been taking me. That made sense, I supposed.

“Can you walk?” Brigitte asked.

“Yeah,” I said, and stood up. I looked at her and wondered how she was doing all of this. She’d been so… helpless seeming in Hell.

“Brigitte?” I asked.


“Who are you?” I asked.

She put her arms around me. “I’m the girl that loves you and is going to have your baby,” she said.

Her hands were shaking, just a bit. I pulled back and looked at her.

“You’re scared, aren’t you?” I asked her.

She nodded.

“So all this…” I didn’t finish. I waved my hand in what I figured was the general direction of Samson, and the drones, and Naked Girl, and all this, and she bit her lip.

“I’m scared, Rachel, but I love you. So I do what I have to do.” She hugged me and pressed her head into my shoulder blade.

“But in Hell…”

“Hell was different. I was never there. This,” she pointed to Samson. “This I was prepared for?”

“Prepared for?”
Doc came back and said

Communications intercept. Playing and then a new voice broke in, through his speakers, saying “Drone attack successful but communications with HQ Down. Static attack on Dispatch successful. Sending personnel in.

“What does all that mean?” I asked Doc.

Brigitte still was hugging me and I felt her trembling stop a little.

Additional men are coming. We must depart.

“Do you know the way, Doc?” I asked.


“Should we bring Naked Girl?” I asked him.

Yes, Doc said.

“Yes,” Brigitte said at the same time.

I looked at her again. She was looking up at me. “You want to bring her, too?” I asked.

“It’s what I was told to do,” she said.

“Told?” I asked. “By who?”

“By my dad,” Brigitte said. “There’s a lot I need to tell you, Rachel.”

“Yes, there is,” said Samson, and we both pulled back and looked at him. He was sitting up and had the ray gun in his hand and was pointing it at us. He still glowed a little red, and his movements were all herky-jerky and he crackled whenever he moved, but he was looking at us and pointing the gun at us. Samson went on:

“Start with how you were told to make Rachel fall in love with you.”

Rachel and Brigitte are leaving.

That's when all hell broke loose just outside the door.


We heard it, and smelt it, at about the same time. There was a horrible tearing crashing roaring buckling sound, and also an overpowering smell of sulfur just ballooned out. Doc flew up and stood sentinel near my shoulder, beeping and whirring, and Samson whirled around.

“Don’t move,” he said, and waved a hand towards the door that was not that far away. The door opened and I saw through the door we’d entered that the entire convenience store was being sucked down, slowly, into a swirling whirlpool of slowly-liquifying matter, like the store was melting and being pulled down a drain, while sticking up through the drain was a hand, a hand that was larger, even, than the 100-foot-tall demon’s hands had been. I could only imagine how large the thing on the other end of that hand might be.

I screamed and tried to scramble back from the doorway as the hand came towards up.

“Relax,” Samson said calmly. “The door’s not open and I doubt it can get in here.” For a guy who’d only just escaped from Hell… four? Days ago, he was awfully calm. I stayed pressed up against the wall and flattened my hands.

“What is it?” I asked, barely controlling my hysteria.

It is a demon said Doc. Approximately 400 feet tall extrapolating from the hand. Home dimension = number 4, code named: Hell. Breathes sulfur. Eats flesh.

“What?” I asked, and then the door to the bedroom opened and Brigitte stood there, going from sleepy-and-sexy in a flash to scared as she took in the hand that was pressed up against the translucent door.

“What is that?” she yelled, and moved over by me and put her arms around me.

“It’s a demon,” said Samson, calmly. He stood there, with his hands on his hips, shaking his head. “Those idiots. I mean, they should have known better, because this thing’ll never get to me, but the attention they’re drawing.”

“Kill it!” I yelled.

“Kill it? I can’t kill a demon. I can drive it back, probably.” Samson peered a little and said “And the van’s gone. I’m sure. Great. That’s going to slow us down.” He took a step or two over by the monitor while the demon hand became a fist and pounded on the door and the wall. THUD THUD THUD THUD THUD it hit faster than I could have imagined. The whole structure shook. Dust fell from the ceilings Samson got near the screen and snapped his fingers. It came to life with a bored-looking woman on the other side.

She snapped to attention. “Lieutenant,” she said.

“Private,” he acknowledged, and gave a lazy salute.

“Sir, we did not expect…”

“I got out earlier than expected. No time for that. I need an airstrike.”


Samson mumbled something and she said “Fixing location.”

Then, a pause, and we could see her looking at some other screen. “Drones on the way.”

Another pause. She typed. Samson turned back to watch the fist. Most of the building was gone. We were tilted towards the hole, now, and the melting sidewalk and rest of the street were pulling in further.

“Do something,” Brigitte said, but she said it through clenched teeth. I knew why she’d spoken, now: we were tilted far enough that we could see around the edges of the hole that the hand reached through which meant we could see into Hell, the red glow, the acid-water, the horrors, and Brigitte didn’t want to go back there. Neither did I, especially not with my body.

It might be patched together and a zombie body, but it was the only body I had.

“Report,” Samson said.

“Drones en route. Mark, now.

As the woman on the screen said that we heard a high-pitched sort of buzz or whine, rising from behind us, getting louder and louder. There were two booms

“Going supersonic,” Samson muttered. “Good. Could’ve been faster.”

And then the whines were fading away off in front of us. Samson watched the hand, which had changed tactics and was not wrapped around our part of the building and was pulling.

As we watched, the sounds of the drones faded away.

“That didn’t do anything,” I said.

Just as I said that, though, the hand started to glow blue and crackle and there was a sound like lightning. Electricity crackled all over it and the hand shot away from the building. It began writhing and twisting and as it did it shriveled and turned black and began to look crispy and burnt. The blue-crackling stuff still flickered all over it and glazed it as the hand straightened up and shrunk.

I knew where I’d seen things just like that before, too: Reverend Tommy’s praying power.

The hand was now only about ten feet tall and appeared to be in pain. I didn’t know a hand could broadcast emotions like that but this hand was certainly doing a good job of conveying what it was like to be in an extreme amount of pain and dying and being sent back to Hell, which it was. It shriveled more and then sucked into the hole, which sealed up, leaving a depression in the earth, a twisted spirally hole that looked exactly like a whirlpool would look if you made a very realistic sculpture of it, provided that the whirlpool was also a convenience store that sold cheap sodas. And squid jerky, which I’d never learned to like though I’d eaten it three times on the way to Brigitte’s.

“Do you work for the government?” I asked, looking at the monitor where the woman sat again, alternating her attention between looking at us and looking at things off to her right. She wore a black jumpsuit with a label on the right shoulder that said GI in stylized lettering and her hair was long and curly. She had her nails done. I thought that was weird for a soldier.

“Government?” Samson asked, and laughed. “No, no, no. I work for something much more powerful than the government. Well, that’s for certain. That poor boy who worked the counter out there, even under the hypno that made him ignore me and anything I did, even he was more powerful than the “government” that people think exists.” Samson looked out at the frozen-rock-store-whirlpool, where, again, people were starting to gather and stare and point. “Poor kid. He really didn’t deserve that. I doubt he was going to go to end up in Hell if he’d hung on a little longer.” He snapped out of it. “Oh, well. That’s what we’re working to fix, right? Maybe he won’t be there long. Or maybe he will be. Who knows. I don’t know anything about that kid. Other than that he really was prone to hypno and was a great kid to have working the counter. I never liked having to fire people who noticed things, especially because I’d have to fire them and then have them deported to France, and who wants to live in a cave for the rest of their life? But I’m a soft touch. I know. I didn’t want to kill them, especially not now when the gate is blocked.

“But I’m rambling. No, Rachel, I don’t work for the government. I work for someone with actual power – a corporation. In this case, a paramilitary organization that uses a corporation as its profit-making, public-friendly arm to market products it comes up with in this never-ending battle, thereby raising money, and also helps hold the “land” so to speak in this battle, the “land” being not only the physical world that you know, the dimension we’ve tabbed “One” only because it was discovered by us first, which is only natural because we lived in it, but also the minds of the people in dimension one, and also something more important than their minds, which is their souls.

“I work,” he finished up, with a flourish, and I got the feeling that we were being given a pitch or recruitment speech,” For God.”

We just stared at him, Brigitte and I. On the screen, the woman watched him and smiled.

“Actually, to be more correct, I work for God, Inc.” Samson said, with a little less flourish. He seemed disappointed that we did not seem more impressed.

“You work for God?” Brigitte asked, in disbelief. She seemed angry. “How can you say that?”

“What do you mean, how can I say that?”

Brigitte shook her head. “You’re not doing God’s work. Not for real.”

“But I am,” Samson insisted. The woman on the screen nodded, I saw. Then she peered closer and looked from me to Samson.

“Lieutenant?” the woman inquired. Samson held up a hand.

“I work for God, and I can prove it, Brigitte.”

“Why?” Brigitte asked.

That kind of startled me as I tried to follow what was going on here. Brigitte asked why? I looked at her. That was a strange question to ask, especially for a girl from the south who’d attended Church, even a terrible hating church like the Church of Our Savior Of Living People Only, to ask why someone would work for God. Which I didn’t believe Samson was, not for a second.

“Because it’s the right thing to do. Did you see Hell? Did you see it? Is that what you want people to end up in? Is that where you want them to go?”

“No. No, I don’t, but that’s… that’s…”

“That’s what?”

”Sir. Lieutenant.” The woman was looking over at me and at Brigitte and then peering to her right more, and I could hear sounds and beeping and she was doing something with her nicely-manicured hands.

“Not now, Private.” Samson held up his hand again. “What’s wrong with you? Brigitte? Why are you so angry?”

Brigitte was angry. I had my hand on her arm and she was tense and quivering. Her voice, when it came out was low and calm. “I don’t think you should work for God, that’s all. I really think that is a bad idea.”

“How can you say that?” If Samson hadn’t asked, I would have. Brigitte, I could recall, told me that morning we were getting ready for Church, that the “Savior” was more important than anything in the world and that was why she went.

“It’s the wrong side,” Brigitte said.

Sir!” the private interrupted. “I apologize for ignoring orders, sir, but I must. Sir, I’ve been checking and it’s her.” The woman on the screen pointed. It was difficult to tell who she was pointing at because the screen was two-dimensional and all but it was kind of in my general direction.

Samson sounded irrirated: “Private, yes, I know. Quit interrupting. I need to talk with Brigitte. I am aware that it’s her. I’m the one who found her and brought her back here. Why do you think she’s standing in my headquarters?”

I felt a little miserable at that, to be the center of this stuff that I didn’t understand again.

“Not her, sir. Not the zombie. The other one. It’s her.

Samson looked from the screen to Brigitte.

“Are you sure,” he said, slowly and carefully.

“Yes. I’m certain,” the private said.

Brigitte suddenly held up a little device no larger than my thumb and pointed it towards Samson.

“Rachel and I are leaving,” she said.


While I sat there, trying to make out words, I suddenly realized that Doc was not around. I bet he could have amplified or translated for me. I needed him and didn’t know where he might have gone off to. I felt awfully alone, sitting there in the dark, hearing just a mumble in the background and the low hum of the television playing music and images. Music videos, I guessed, they were called. I heard that a few times on the television, the phrase music videos every now and then.

I couldn’t make out what Samson was saying. He didn’t sound excited. He sounded like he was reading a list. I don’t know if he was or not, he just had the tone of voice of someone who was reading a list. Once I heard a squawk of static. Then I heard a chair creak.

After a while, I didn’t hear Samson anymore. The only other light in the room came from the low runner edging that glowed a soft violet and made everything in the room hazy and kind of flowery looking, and that softened the harsh white light of the videos that kept showing.

There were a lot of videos of the guy and girl singing, and I watched some of them but couldn’t focus on it. After about fifteen minutes of that, I got up and walked back and forth to keep from falling asleep. I didn’t want to go to Hell. I didn’t want to leave Brigitte, or Doc, again, and I didn’t want to take the chance on taking them all with me.

That was another thing, I realized. I couldn’t go to sleep anymore with Brigitte in my arms, or even touching her. Before, I’d been able to do that but now that I was bringing people in and out of Hell, could I risk it? Brigitte should not be taken to Hell again. So I’d never be able to fall asleep holding her in my arms again, never be able to snuggle up to her from behind and put my face into her hair and sniff it and then play with it and twirl it around my finger and then intertwine our feet the way I did that one morning so that it was hard to tell where she left off and I began…

… I was crying again, quietly, and I didn’t want to sit down on the bed because Brigitte was sleeping so soundly. I paced back and forth and then went to where the door was, when we’d come in. I figured I’d have to force it or find a lock or something but I walked up to it and put my hand out to see if there was a handle or button or what and instead, the door just slipped open, letting me back out into HQ.

There still wasn’t much to see. Just the desk and the screen and the door back to the convenience store. It was still small and still felt and smelt dusty and unused. I wondered how long it’d been since Samson was here.

That little phone thing he had was gone.

But Doc was sitting on the desk near the screen. I walked over to him and picked him up. Doc,” I whispered.

Lights flickered and Doc’s voice, quietly, said Updating.

“Sorry,” I said, and held him in my hand while I looked around. There were a few desks in the drawer. I didn’t feel like I should open them, but then I wondered why not. Wasn’t I supposed to be on Samson’s side? Besides, what would he do to me? I got the feeling he needed me. So I opened them, but nothing. They were empty. There wasn’t anything else in the room to open or look at. I guessed that there might be at least one more door on top of the two that I knew about, because Samson must need a place to sleep, but I didn’t want to open it if there was and I wasn’t sure.

I sat down in the chair in front of the screen and waved my hand at it, the way that I’d seen others do. It didn’t do anything. Most of the time, other people would go up to one of these screens and hold up a hand or just get near it and it would flicker into action and they could control it, searching and computing and things. I could not do that. I tried touching it and looked behind it and figured there must be an on-off switch somewhere, but there wasn’t. There was just a screen, on its little pedestal. I couldn’t even tell how it got power.

Doc flickered brighter and said Updated.

“Doc,” I asked. “How come I can’t work this thing.”

Doc hovered next to me and pulsed softly. His voice was quieter than usual. “You have no chip,” he answered.

“What’s a chip?” I asked.

Doc buzzed a little. “Beginning several hundred years ago, computer processing chips became powerful enough that a chip smaller than 1 cm in size could handle millions of functions per second, and the technology was adapted to make chips from a combination of silicone and DNA.”

“DNA? Like human DNA?”

“Human DNA was retroengineered to grow human flesh and nerve viruses that were genetically indistinct and could be implanted into any person without fear of rejection. The technique was first used for chip technology and eventually was modified to allow silicone artificial organs as well.”

Doc went silent and I realized I’d interrupted his first answer. “The chips,” I prompted.

“The chips were first created as silicone based artiflesh, semi-living tissue implanted with the circuitry to perform the calculations handled by supermicrocomputers of the time. They were initially attempted to be placed into persons who had suffered brain damage or damage to the nervous system, in an effort to allow the chips to take the place of damaged organs or nerves. Because they were partially organic, the chips and the human body began to adapt and the chips began integrating into the nervous system. Total integration was never achieved with a fully-formed adult but tests showed that the longer the chip was in, the more integrated it became.

“150 years ago, the chip began to be implanted into human babies to take advantage of undeveloped nervous systems, and the result was that human babies would grow a second set of nerve links that were attached to the chip, integrating it with the human brain, to allow cybernetic connections between humans and computers while bypassing ordinary interfaces such as keyboards. Shortrange transmission technology allowed human beings to control computerized devices through their chips.

“Is that ‘sharing?’”

“No, it’s not,” said Samson’s voice behind me.

Doc buzzed up to sit by my shoulder. Samson came out and I spun around in the chair. I hadn’t heard a door open.

“Why are you awake…never mind,” he said. “You don’t want to go back to Hell. Well, I don’t blame you. What are you doing at my desk, searching it?”

“Yes,” I said, a bit defensively.

“For what?”

“Answers,” I said.

“Ask Doc for answers,” Samson said. “He’ll give you as many as he can.”

“That’s what I was doing before you got involved,” I said, a little more defensively. What did he mean as many as he can?

“I’m surprised to see how much you don’t know,” Samson said. He peered at me. “I’d like to really examine you.”

I became aware that I was wearing very ragged clothes and not much covered up. I felt a little uncomfortable around him.

“Don’t worry,” he said, noticing me tensing up. “I’m not going to hurt you. I’ve been waiting too long for you to show up.”

“You keep saying that,” I said. “But what for? What do you need me to do?”

I figured he’d never tell me, but he did. He said:

“I need you to control the lesbian zombies so that I can take over the world.”

That's when all hell broke loose just outside the door.