Glasses clinked at Piers’ quintuple-yearly graduate student party, celebrating… whatever.
“Well, I object to your use of the term ‘zombie,’” said Piers. “I don’t know if you know, but it’s really quite offensive.”
“B-but my point—” said Phonse. “—Isn’t it simply dangerous to have living humans and… the dead work side-by-side?”
“Ignorant!” said Piers. “Just ignorant! I won’t dignify that with an answer!”
“Have you worked alongside a dead person?” asked Phonse, gaining back his steam. “I’ll bet you haven’t even dealt face-to-face with the dead.”
“Well, ah, I have my own way of helping my much maligned brethren…” said Piers evasively.
“Your activism is just a function of your guilt as a living person!”
“I’m a dedicated ally!” protested Piers.
“I refuse to debate with you further until you correct your serious hypocrisy,” said Phonse.
After the party was over, Piers should have let the conversation go. Many in his place had, either accepting that they couldn’t fully appropriate the voice of the voiceless dead, or, rationalizing that some would always use an angle like this to undermine the dead cause. But Piers was of that particular social class which defines itself by winning debates at parties. He burned with embarrassment in ways that you or I can only imagine, erasing all thoughts of safety or prudence.
By the time he was on the street, Piers had cooled down enough to feel pangs of apprehension. The nighttime streets were not his place, per se. He’d never been accused of having “street smarts.” He’d never even had it implied. As far as Piers could see, however, those who did have them were lesser humans, so how hard could it be?
Piers walked tentatively, not wanting to disturb the denizens of the night who were not his current quarry. He began to feel like some ancient predator, ears pricked forward, intent on tracking down his prey. Piers had to remind himself he was not hunting to harm, but to help. At last he heard the telltale moans of diseased and rotten mouths emanating from a deserted lot ahead.
“Be not afraid,” said Piers, walking amongst these poor unfortunates with arms wide. “I have come.”
“Grr,” said one of the dead.
“Arrgh,” said another.
And then they all turned towards him, and the meat that was his only real contribution to their lives.
Late at the next party there came a slow, methodical knock at the door. Phonse opened it to find a familiar, if dead, person slouched on the other side.
“Oh, Piers,” said Phonse. “What did you do to yourself?”
The dead man smiled. He had won.