His name was Bartley Crowfield. He was working late. He was a scientist working on a machine that would simultaneously induce a coma, feed the patient, give him a foot massage, perform Reiki and give him a manicure. It would revolutionize brain surgery, and Bart was determined to be the first to design and build it.
He was sitting in a computer lab used for biomedical engineering research on a large university campus. There were two long tables with state-of-the-art computers on them. On one side of the room was a window. The blinds were up, revealing a large full moon. There was a door on the other side, with a lock that was hard to open once it was locked and hard to lock once it was opened.
A rock came sailing through the window and crashed into the door opposite it. Bart jumped out of his chair.
“What the hell!” he shouted.
A tall figure slipped through the broken glass, entered the room and stood by the window. It was a woman with very pale skin, dark rings around her eyes and wild, straw-like blond hair. She was wearing a little black dress. Bart caught an overpowering stink that made him dizzy. He covered his face with his hands.
“Where do you keep the brains around here?” asked the woman.
“What brains? This is the Biomedical Engineering Department,” said Bart.
“Oh crap!” said the woman. She picked a cell phone from the bosom of her dress, punched in a number and put it to her ear. “Central, you’d better pick up! … It’s me. Guess what? You sent me to the wrong freakin’ lab! Now what do I do? What are you laughing at? Oh, go to hell!” She hung up the phone and put it back into her dress. “Well, I guess I’ll just have to take your brain and hope it’s clean! Man, I hate this job!”
The zombie began to lurch toward Bart, who jumped up out of his chair and backed toward the door.
“Whatever you are, don’t come any closer!” he said.
The woman stopped in surprise. “Bartley? Bartley Crowfield? You bastard! You stood me up on prom night and took that slut Brianna Bryant instead!”
Bart’s mouth dropped open. “Doreen? Doreen O’Reilly? You … you’ve … changed!”
“I know,” said the zombie woman. “Death does that to a person.”
“No. I got like this from eating too much health food! What do you think?”
“Hey, I’m sorry,” said Bart. “I really thought Brianna dumped me, you know?”
“You still shouldn’t have stood me up!” said the zombie. “I had this new dress and great hairdo and everything! Now all I want from you is something to eat, you jackass! I’ve got five hungry zombies waiting for me in the Command Central breakroom! They’re going to be pissed if I don’t bring back any takeout!”
Bart’s brain began to race, trying to think fast. “You wouldn’t want my brain.”
“Well … uh … It’s a used brain. It would make you sick, like drinking sour milk. You need to find somebody stupid, or someone whose brain has never been used, like a politician or a college president. That way you’ll know it’s fresh. You need a brain with fewer thoughts, ideas, emotions, no logic … that kind of thing.”
“You won’t find that perfect moron, though, unless you go back outside and look. So go! You’re wasting valuable time!”
Suddenly, a bat flew through the broken window, past the zombie, who screamed and jumped aside.
“A bat!” She screamed again. “Get it out of here! Get it out of here!”
The bat morphed into a tall, good-looking, white-faced vampire, dressed in black.
“What the hell is your problem?” he asked the zombie. “Who are you?” The zombie tried to answer, but couldn’t. The vampire turned to Bart. “Who is she?”
“My ex-almost-girlfriend,” said Bart
The vampire looked at the zombie, then back at Bart. “You have a highly weird taste in women.”
The zombie began to cry. At first her sobs were soft, but then she began to bawl in loud, broken howls.
“Ah, cut it out!” said the vampire, who couldn’t stand to see a woman cry. “Here!” He took a large handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to her, being careful not to touch her. She took it from him.
“Thank you,” she said. She blew into the handkerchief and continued to sob. “Nobody loves me. Everyone runs when they see me. If I have to hear the word “apocalypse” one more time, I’m going to start one, I swear! I have to eat people’s brains. I HATE ORGAN MEAT! I want an Almond Joy! You know what else? I don’t like taking brains from people. It hurts them when I do that!”
“Yeah, so what?” said the vampire. “It hurts people when I bite them, too. It’s not personal. It’s just business.”
Bart had an inspiration. “I have a solution for both of you,” he said. “Doreen, you stop eating brains and eat walnuts instead. They’re just as nutritious and they look like miniature brains, so you’ll feel like you’re still eating brains, right? And you, you could go to a butcher shop and get some chicken blood. You could get enough to last you for a month. Then you wouldn’t have to bite anyone, including me.”
The two looked at each other, then back at Bart.
“No!” they shouted in unison.
The vampire suddenly squinted and looked more intently at Bart. “Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?”
“I hope not.”
“Crowfield!” shouted the vampire. “You borrowed five hundred dollars from me. You owe me everything, plus a 20 point vig!”
“Marty the Bat?”
“Yeah, you piece of deadbeat trash!”
“I told you I’d pay you back when my invention took off,” said Bart. “I even offered to give you shares in the profits. You would have been a millionaire.”
“I don’t need future money. You pay on time or you get your legs broken. You decide.”
Bart was becoming terrified. “Oh, but you can’t use money anymore. You’re dead, right? You can’t take it with you. Please don’t hurt me.”
“Don’t be a smartass! Pay me!”
“Uh … uh … uh … Do you take Paypal?”
“What do I look like, some online shopping site?”
Bart made a sudden dash to the door and tried to open it. The lock was stuck. He shook the door violently, but the harder he shook it the more it stuck. The vampire began to laugh, while the zombie watched with intent interest.
The scene was interrupted when yet another creature appeared at the window and crawled inside. This one looked something like a man, but was covered from head to foot in thick fur and had feet and hands shaped like huge paws. It was a werewolf.
The werewolf saw the others staring at him, and decided that a greeting was in order. “Oh, hi,” he said.
“You might as well join the party,” said the vampire.
The werewolf was pleased. “Gee, thanks. Nobody ever invites me anywhere.”
Bart was almost passing out by this time, but he figured he had better divert this new guy. “There are some sheep over in the School of Agriculture, if you want some. You’d better get over there before they’re all gone.”
“No, thanks,” said the werewolf. “I just ate. Hey! I know you!”
Bart whimpered. “You, too?”
“Bart Crowfield!” said the werewolf. “You miserable bully! You kept giving me wedgies in the hall and slapping me with wet towels in the locker room! You told all the girls I had The Clap, so nobody would go out with me. I hate you! I’m Skinny Scavone. Remember me? You all got me drunk one full moon night, then put me out of the car in the middle of nowhere! Guess who got bitten!”
“Ah, gee,” stammered Bart. “I’m sorry. It was just a joke.”
The werewolf wasn’t laughing. “I hope you had fun, because I’m going to bite YOU now!”
“Oh no!” piped up the zombie woman. “I was here first! I get dibs!”
All three monsters descended on Bart, grabbed him and tried to fight him away from the others, while shouting demands and insults and throwing furniture around. Suddenly, there was a wind, and a ghost appeared. The three monsters and Bart froze and stared at the newcomer.
“What’s all the noise?” shouted the ghost. “I can hear it all the way to the museum!”
The ghost saw Bart and her face broke out in a wide smile. She opened her spectral arms.
“Barty-Warty! It’s you!”
“Oh no!” howled Bart. “Aunt Alice?”
“Yes, you dear thing!”
The ghost rushed over to Bart, grabbed him in a tight hug and planted a big loud kiss on his forehead.
“Mmmm-WAH!” She pinched his cheek. “And how is my Barty-Wartykins? You’ll always be my Little Barty, even though you broke my heart. You unfriended me on Facebook! But that’s okay. Auntie Alice knows you don’t want to hang around with an old lady, even online. Even an old lady who always gave you such nice Christmas and birthday presents that you never even thanked her for. Oh, but you look stressed! Tell Auntie all about it!”
“I’m supposed to be working,” said Bart, “but these three have other ideas.”
The three monsters began to talk all at once, each one trying to outshout the others.
“Let Auntie Alice handle this,” said the ghost to Bart. “Marty, I know all about that account down in the Cayman Islands. You leave my nephew alone, or I’ll tell everyone, and you won’t have any money to wish you could still spend, even though you’re dead. As for you, get over it, Sweetie. It happened ten years ago! And you, you little wimp! You were taking karate lessons! Why didn’t you just knock him down and get it over with?”
“I had no self-esteem,” said the werewolf.
With a shrug of his shoulders and a rolling of his eyes, the vampire turned himself once more in to a bat and flew out the window. The werewolf climbed out the window, then helped the zombie woman, who had trouble with her wild hair getting caught in the window latch and her tight black dress limiting her mobility.
“You want to go for a hamburger?” asked the werewolf.
“Why not?” answered the zombie. “Something different than brains for a change!”
The werewolf finally managed to extricate the zombie from the window, and they walked off.
“Those mean monsters won’t bother my Barty-Warty anymore,” said the ghost, who gave him another loud kiss on the forehead. “Well, I have to go now, Sweetheart. It’s my turn to haunt the museum tonight, and I only get a 20-minute break. Oh, but now that I know you’re here, I’ll be back every day. Bye-ee!”
The ghost dematerialized and disappeared.
The idea of being smothered by Aunt Alice’s oversized, domineering affection sent Bart into a panic. He darted over to the window.