The Last Mummer

short story sample

I’d been doing the professional Splat Rally circuit for three years. My car, the Bangers and Mash—a hydrogen turbo with reinforced frame and gump scoop—gump being the trendy phrase for zombies these days—we were eating up the Sure-Kill Expressway, heading toward the last intact bridge to Jersey. There were usually twenty gumps along that stretch, but I couldn’t find a single one of them, and I was falling behind in the ratings. I needed to score big if I were to make the finals. I shot out of the underpass and a mob of them were loafing at the top of the rise—forty, fifty of them.

Sure, I drooled over all the points I'd rack up if I just plowed through them all—BA-BA-BA-BA-BANG like bowling pins—but all those bodies do crap for your speed. And you do not want to be puttering through a crowd of hungry undead cannibals in a car with no windows—for safety in case of a crash the contract says—so I cut around hard and swiped out three with Masher's tail, and I drove away slow, trying to get them to follow me.
None of them took the bait.

I looped around some access roads and drove back to the spot, and I had to stop.

I thought I was hallucinating.

In the middle of the expressway, holding a fireman's axe, a ring of twitching body parts littered around him, dressed in a blood-spattered rhinestone-and-sequined costume, stood a New-Year’s-Day-Parade-I-shit-you-not genuine living Mummer.

Mummers—that old Philadelphia tradition, where grown men dressed up in glittery costumes that would make Liberace swoon—they used to play banjos and brass and prance down Broad Street in mobs every year on New Year’s Day. The Mummers. It was a weird Philadelphia thing.

A crazy Mummer zombie-killer was standing in the middle of Route 76. He swiped blood off of his fire axe and hung it from his belt, pulled a banjo off his back and walked away, strumming a tune.

I thought the world was weird enough already. I just sat in the car and laughed. I think it was the first time I had laughed in five years. My ratings soared.




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