Zomb-eh Review of
“Belfour and Merriweather in the Vampire of Kabul” by Daniel Abraham
Undisclosed Government Facility
GWMT 1400 hours
Notes of Dr. Celebus:
The latest experiments with the new virus proceed faster than I had anticipated. We’ve already got a new test subject—a writer. Remarkably, the lack of hygiene in his new state isn’t that different from the original. Unfortunately, he’s more vocal than most of our subjects, and spends most of his time complaining about the facilities.
The committee decided to give him something familiar from his former life to test his cognitive abilities. Due to budget cuts, we can’t afford an e-reader, but instead will print out short stories from the web, then record and transcribe his reaction to them. It’ll be like the old days of the web, when everyone printed his or her bad jokes.
The short story currently in the test chamber is “Belfour and Merriweather in the Vampire of Kabul” by Daniel Abraham. The piece comes from the Fall 2011 edition of Subterranean Online.
Below is a transcription of the test subject’s reaction.
Test Subject 3X22
Hnnnnnngggggghhhh—head bad. Being a zomb-eh feels like being a frat bro; your head is full of fuzzy thoughts that all focus on one thing. Only, instead of breasts, it’s brains. Brrrrraaaaainnnns. Who would’ve thought it took undeath to fully appreciate a woman’s mind?
What’s this paper? Don’t tell me they’re feeding me copy paper now. You bastards already have me on dog brains, and they must be beagles because they fill me no better than ramen noodles.
Unnnnhhhh! It’s a story. I haven’t read a story since my conversion. Let’s take a look.
It’s set in Victorian Era London! Not much is done with the period, but it’s still fun. And a supernatural detective story at that! Well done for the genre: Lots of action, international intrigue, and a central mystery surrounding a unique villain.
The main characters are a bit bland, especially the one that brings a knife to a gunfight. The czarina steals the show—her brain would be juiciest, full of spunk and wit. There’s another (temporary) villain I love, but I won’t spoil it for anyone. She’s in the second fight scene of the first chapter.
My urge to kill rises when I see short stories with chapters. If it’s less than 15,000 words, section breaks are fine! Chapters push me out of the story, while section breaks encourage me to keep going. And when I’m out, I consider whether it’s worth continuing the story. Thankfully, it’s worth sticking to this one.
The prose itself works. Rhythmic exchange between action, dialogue, and description kept me riveted in the chapters. A rat in my test chamber snuck up on me during the second chapter, and I only noticed him during the chapter break. He smelled foul but tasted delicious.
Overall, the story is a savory action piece with the czarina adding a little spicy kick. The author’s mind would be delectable served as brain-bangers and mash.
After finishing the story, the test subject was no longer interested in his normal meals! It appears zombies can obtain nourishment through intellectual content, rather than just through the physical medium of that content. While exciting, this finding could dry up our military funding, since the weapon would be stopped by the mass production of books.
I will continue to test this hypothesis—attempting to decipher the mechanism behind this nourishment. This time, the subject went through four meal cycles before succumbing to hunger. Therefore, the story must have four brains worth of nutrition, and a zombie can go for a maximum of five before ceasing normal function.
Rating: Four out of five brains
Lee Lackey is a Grey Gecko Press author, with two short stories currently available under the GGP name: The Chittering Horror of the Ley House and The Eerie Coin of the Sea. You can read more about Lee here.