Andrew mulled a cigar, relaxing in his trophy room. Being there was a balm after a relatively unsuccessful hunting day, but with diminishing returns the longer this drought continued. Nonetheless, he meditated on the preserved female heads of the particularly pristine zombies he had come across, mounted carefully on his wall. “Immaculate” would perhaps be a better descriptor. Their beauty and serenity would not look out of place on images of the Madonna.

But looking at them now made him bristle. The latest forays into zombie territory had given up only decayed monstrosities. “Rotters.” Nothing worthy of immortalizing. The opportunities in finding and preserving female beauty as he had so done had proved a limited window.

A thought itched. A “what if?” He had dedicated his life too fully after this plague began to give up now that it seemed to be winding down. He placed his cigar in the ashtray, a decision reached. Andrew picked up the phone and dialled.

“Hello?” came an uncertain voice out of the phone.

“Maria,” said Andrew. “It’s Professor Dinklage. I apologize for how late is, but I just had the wildest idea about your thesis, and I wanted to strike while the iron is hot.”

“Oh, Professor Dinklage!” she said. “Of—of course. What is it?”

“I don’t think I can really get into it fully over the phone,” said Andrew. “Why don’t you come over to my place and we can hash it out here.”

“Okay…” she said. He hung up.

Andrew rose, took his machete from its place above the mantle, and sharpened it methodically until he heard the doorbell ring. He approached the door, the machete hidden behind his back, and opened it.

“Ah, Maria. Did I ever tell you how beautiful you look?” he told her.

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