Read all the Zombie Presidential Candidate Episodes!
Lizzie was bored. After spending months touring the United States in an Airstream, laying low in Bumfuck Oklahoma was a torment beyond her capacity to bear. The Demon was simmering beneath the surface, breaking through on an increasingly frequent basis. The doublewide that served as housing and a laboratory for the Scientist, Charlie, and Elizabeth Warren was torn up, courtesy of the Demon. Maybe it didn’t look any worse than the neighbors’s trailers, but it was horrific enough for these upper crust New Englanders to constantly be at each other’s throats. A Lizzie drifted off into the nightly ether of terror tshe listened to the Scientist and Charlie bicker about her. The destruction she had wrought, the plan for her future, parenting style. The analytical style of the Scientist clashed against Charlie’s bond with Lizzie, and the results were often explosive. Lizzie, still not entirely understanding the subtleties of human interaction, vaccillated between hating herself, hating the Scientist, and hating the world. She channeled much of that hatred into studying human behavior so that she could create a relatable, even charismatic, public persona. Wearing a mask made unsuspecting people trust more freely.
As it became painfully apparent that their assassination-related exile was going to last a while, Charlie made a concerted attempt to get Lizzie out into the real world. Her cloistered upbringing, if you could call it that, led to crippling social anxiety. Lizzie could be out in public if she had a mission, but unscripted social interaction was still hard. Her personality was an undisciplined mix of egotistical leader, lecturing scold, insecure 12 year old, and naive shut-in. Of course, the Demon surfaced from time to time to make its presence felt.
One particularly warm day, Charlie goaded Lizzie out of the trailer and into the real world. Everybody was outside sitting under the sprawling live oak trees, soaking up the wispy breeze that carried off the stagnant swelter of early summer. Muttering invective under her breath, Lizzie began an unmotivated shuffle that all parents of teenagers would instantly recognize. The “chuff, chuff, chuff” of her Chuck Taylors kicking dust into the air warded off any would be passersby, not that anybody was walking around in the sun that mid-morning.
Despite her obvious pouting, she didn’t make it far along the road before a calm feminine voice reached her.
“Little girl! Little girl, come over here for a moment,” the voice cajoled. Lizzie cringed at the diminutive, but felt a small jolt of pride. She had noticed that her appearance was trending younger ever since the Demon began to eat its fill. Charlie and the Scientist didn’t even expect that she was feeding the Demon, as demonstrated by their recent admonitions to stay out of the Scientist’s anti-aging serum.
Lizzie, originally looking a haggard, scarred 40 when incarnated, now looked a homely, if cute, 14 or 15. Many women of the Tulsa underworld sacrificed for the greater good of making Lizzie look like one of those pretty girls in Cosmopolitan. She licked her lips as she thought about trying to sneak out to eat another one. In the back of her mind, a disembodied memory plainly explained “they must be alive, or there are unforeseen complications like in the Kennedy creature.” Every time that memory surfaced, she wracked her brain for the context. It sounded like the Scientist, but she couldn’t figure out when or why he would say such a thing.
Lizzie, after a perceptible delay, turned to face the speaker. It was an old indian woman, dressed in a linen shirt and trousers tattered into short shorts. The wrinkles hadn’t yet consumed her face, but one could see her hard life imprinted in her facial features.
“Young lady, come over here and help an old woman out.” She melodiously beckoned, the mischievous undertones eluding Lizzie’s underdeveloped social senses. Lizzie, her sense of curiosity overwhelming her teenage angst, cautiously approached the old indian, ducking under a low hanging branch and narrowly missing a talisman hanging from a branch. The entire underside of the tree fluttered with movement, a whole host of talismans and dreamcatchers and other paraphenalia gently drifting in the wind.
“Young woman, go inside my home and grab a glass from the kitchen counter. Bring the green bottle as well.” The old indian coaxed Lizzie into compliance. Lizzie, not used to doing anything but the bidding of others, complied, despite noticing that a glass already sat mere inches from the indian’s hand. She pushed the bead curtain aside and her senses were simultaneously assaulted and deprived. The trailer was dark enough that her eyes had trouble adjusting enough to avoid tripping over the shadowy furniture between the entry and the kitchen. Her nostrils filled with the discordant note of multiple incense sticks broadcasting their scents throughout the trailer.
Lizzie found a stack of glasses, and pulled the top one off the stack. They were probably “clean”, but living with a meticulous scientist and his assistant had developed a standard in Lizzie where oily fingerprints and specks of detritus were not acceptable. She wiped the glass clean on her shirt, simultaneously finding the green bottle. It was not hard to find the bottle, a translucent glass apothecary implement, ringed by crudely painted native designs, and corked shut. Like everything else in the trailer, it was covered in a layer of smudges and dust. Lizzie grabbed the bottle and walked back out of the trailer.
With a clink, the indian woman put out two settings and began to wrestle the cork out of the bottle. She motioned Lizzie to the other chair, but Lizzie missed the subtle indication.
“Here you are, ma’am. Is that all?” Lizzie’s tone betrayed her desire to leave. She began to turn away when the indian woman’s voice cut through silence.
“Come join me young girl, there are many things we should discuss.” She finally dislodged the cork from the bottle and dosed out a generous portion of elixir in each glass. “Your spirit is fractured and I see a great darkness in you. You must be quite tormented.”
The trap being set, the indian woman sat silently as Lizzie processed her statements. Lizzie was conflicted. Her cloistered upbringing and general disdain for people told her to walk away. Her insecurity, curiosity, and boredom told her to join the woman. She sank into the chair, eyes darting from side to side like a raccoon getting into the bird seed container.
“Take. Drink. We shall confront your demons together.” The indian woman opened a wooden box, smoke billowing from an impossible fire, embers moving as if attracted to Lizzie.
This one tries to separate us. Destroy her. Absorb her essence.
Lizzie twitched as she tried to ignore the inner voice of the Demon. She calmed her mind and employed the tricks that Charlie taught her to retain control over her actions. With a sip from the red solo cup, her self-control slipped.
The indian woman had closed her eyes, swaying and chanting nearly inaudibly. Lizzie was transported from the plains of Oklahoma to a desert cliff dotted with adobe huts. The swirling incense from the wooden box transformed into a campfire flickering its last life away. The Oklahoma swelter was replaced by a dry Sonoran chill. The ambiance reminded Lizzie of some of her nightmares, but she was fully lucid.
Across from Lizzie, the old woman looked older and more decrepit, a faded aura surrounding her. A spotlight glow caught Lizzie’s peripheral vision, another person standing behind her casting deep shadows across the indian woman’s face. She turned to see a striking man that reminded her of a certain Twilight Zone episode. The Demon was a handsome man, much different from the caricature she had conjured up in her mind.
This feeble wretch dares challenge us.
Despite the incarnate form of the Demon standing behind her, the voice echoed in Lizzie’s mind as if it originated in her hippocampus.
“Be gone foul thing! Your presence is not wanted!” The indian woman screeched, a wave of psychic energy hitting Lizzie like a breaker in a gale. The Demon absorbed the energy without the slightest flinch. The next few moments passed in anticipatory silence, the tension building as the indian woman’s impotence sank in. Lizzie, despite her inner conflict, just wanted to be a normal girl, sans demon. Her face sank as she saw the last chance to be rid of the spectre slip away.
After a pause that probably had more to do with gloating than preparation, the Demon set off a nuke. A literal flesh-vaporizing nuke. Lizzie simultaneously was and wasn’t. She watched the indian woman dissolve into nothing, rearticulate, and dissolve once again in a blinding flash of fire and heat. Lizzie wanted to scream out in pain, and she wanted to laugh at the silliness of it all. As fast as her world had exploded, it sucked back in, collapsing within her, balling up tighter and tighter. With a nearly audible pop, all of the tension was gone. An uncomfortable warmth spread across her exposed neck.
She opened her eyes and looked up. She was slumped across the table. The mottled shade of the live oak had moved off of her, and she was quickly overheating. She looked across to the indian woman, only to find a chair knocked carelessly to the ground. A streak of red ran across the table, intersecting with Lizzie’s arms. She picked up her hands and ran her thumbs through the thick viscous blood. She looked on the ground and saw a finger, the last vestiges of the indian woman.
In the past, Lizzie would be beset with a combination of anxiety and terror when the Demon satisfied its hunger. This time was different. There was no fear, only resolve. She finally had focus. She finally was whole.
It is time. The paleface must pay for his transgressions. I am Cherokee. I am vengeance.
The Demon, the indian woman, Elizabeth Warren; once three in conflict, now one in harmony. With a determined swipe of her fingers, Lizzie put on her warpaint.