Night Of The Living Love, Actually

Penelope was a vision of sheer perfection. A beautiful English rose, with porcelain-white skin tinged only with the softest of pink blushes, her dark eyes framed by her long, dark-blonde hair that fell around her shoulders in silky curls. I had never been in love before, but as soon as I saw her I knew I had fallen head over heels. It stirred feelings within me that I never anticipated feeling – my heartbeat fluttered when I heard her name or saw her face; hearing her voice was like listening to a choir of angels chorusing in beautiful harmony and when she spoke to me, it was all I could do not to go weak at the knees and fall at her feet.

Of course, she never noticed me. It's a common theme in all love stories; the beautiful woman never notices the awkwardly shy man who watches them from afar. It makes the whole relationship – or, I should say, lack of a relationship – quite uncomfortable really. After a while, the novelty of watching the woman of your dreams sitting at her desk from behind a pile of papers and a wilting spider plant wears off, and you're left feeling like a creepy stalker. If things don't improve soon, before long I'll be appearing on Crimewatch, wanted for grand theft of underwear or something like that. I wish I was joking.

I was just about ready to give up hope when, at thirteen minutes past twelve on Friday, the thirteenth of July, Penelope approached me at my desk, nibbling the corner of a granola bar seductively. At least, it looked seductive at the time. Thinking back, I don't quite know how a granola bar can be seductive, but I'm a man in love, so I'm allowed to lose my rationality. My Nutrigrain fell from my mouth to the floor as I gaped at her in stunned silence. A smile graced her cherubic lips and I felt my heart fill with adoration. Before I could open my mouth to say anything, she silenced me with a finger against my own lips.

'Don't say a word,' she whispered softly. 'Arthur, I've seen you watching me for a while. The spider plant doesn't give brilliant coverage'. A thousand words rushed into my mind as I struggled to find an explanation, but the words became a mess of apologies, and I knew that if I managed to utter anything, it would be completely incomprehensible. Thankfully, she relieved me of my agony by continuing to speak. 'I don't mind. You don't need to explain or apologize – I find it endearing, really – and I was just wondering if you'd like to go out for a drink one of the days?'.

A drink!? She wanted to go for a drink with me!? Me, Arthur Stephens, a shy, bespectacled weed of a man with no social skills whatsoever, a man who still cringes at anything that could be interpreted as being even mildly sexual, a man who still lives with his mother and has never even held hands with a woman, let alone kissed one? In all of my thirty-six years, never had I felt so wanted; so wonderful! I'd resigned myself to a life alone – I'd never have my first kiss, or know what it feels like to be loved by anyone other than my own mother (and even that was dubious at times).

Finally, things were looking up! Move over, Colin Firth – it's time for this shy, bumbling, socially-awkward man to meet his love and live happily ever after!

And that's when everything went wrong.

That's when the sirens began to sound from outside, and a scream began to grow louder and louder. It began on the first floor, Reception. I heard the unmistakable screech from Judy, the woman who could never tear herself away from discussing the soaps and whatever man – or men – she'd slept with the previous night on the phone to her friend – to help anyone; and I knew it was serious if whatever was happening was enough to stop her wittering on. Then, the second floor – Human Resources. I heard the shouts and the screams rising like a tidal wave, approaching without mercy, and we were all stunned into silence, left to wonder what could possibly be tormenting our colleagues so. Floor four, Accounts. What was next? Floor five...

Oh. We're floor five. Before I could even think coherently, the zombies burst through the door, and I didn't even have time to wonder how they were fast enough to demolish four floors of businessmen within the space of a few seconds, before one was on top of me, biting at my face, tearing away until I went numb.

There was darkness for a moment. Then, as I arose shakily to my feet, wondering how on earth I had survived, I realized that my vision was strangely tainted. It was as though I was looking through a sheet of green cellophane, everything slightly misty and blurred. I was a zombie.

Then I saw Penelope. She was hunched up against the wall, sobbing and crying as the chaos erupted around her. The other zombies seemed to be ignoring her, and I seized my chance to run towards her and take her in my arms, holding her tight as she gazed up at me with eyes filled with hope that perhaps I was here to save her. It was then that I realized something.

As well as being beautiful, her brains tasted lovely.