⊰❀Not the Silmarillion❀⊱


Slow jazz music drifted across the food court, unacknowledged and possibly unnoticed by its trio of occupants. Dark wood paneling on the walls and a bar with tall red-cushioned stools lent it the air of an upper-class restaurant, belying its function of army mess hall. At one of the booths lining the walls, a couple sat over their food in silence, picking at their respective platters. Neither said a word until the proprietor behind the bar sneezed.

"Gesundheit!"

"Bless you!"

"Shut up, I was first."

"He can have two!"

"He can have two blessings or two gesundheits – not one of each."

"Oh, bull. That's not a rule."

If there was a mutual stink eye between them, it was invisible under their spacesuits. They merely leaned forward over untouched plates like a pair of rats arguing over the last Cheese Nip.

"Excuse me?"

Stink eye was transferred to the little green-suited intruder standing in the doorway.

"Right, so I'm supposed to tell everyone that you're supposed to find your assigned roommates and lock yourselves in your quarters."

"How come?"

"Zombie apocalypse."

Incredulous glares bored their way through two mirrored visors and into the third. The slow jazz emanating from the jukebox had been replaced by an ancient space rock ballad in which the warbling electronic notes - offset by a powerful saxophone - weaved apprehension through the air; the little green soldier fidgeted, glancing down briefly as though realizing the full impact of her message.

"Captain's orders," she said. "That is, he says to get with your roommate and get to your rooms; the whole zombie apocalypse thing is the professional diagnosis of the medical team based on some dead guys they found on the lower decks. If you see a zombie, run!" The door whistled shut behind the messenger and the pair sat back, absorbing the message.

"So," the man scratched at the pale yellow paint on his helmet, "how come the captain didn't put that over the announcement system?"

His companion shrugged and stood up. "I don't know. I'm gonna go unpack my stuff and take a nap." She retraced the green soldier's steps and the door whistled shut for a second time. The man shrugged and sipped his drink.


⊰❀Elsewhere❀⊱


"This is stupid. If I hadn't been there, I'd say we're being fed a load of stupidity." The pilot slouched on his bed, staring at a wall. "Only it is a load of stupidity. Real stupidity, which is, if you ask me, considerably worse than fake stupidity. I mean... a zombie apocalypse. If I hadn't had friends who played Resident Evil and such in high school, I probably wouldn't know what a zombie is. But I do. And now I've met some. And now you and I have to lock ourselves in our quarters until somebody figures out what to do about it. This sucks; right, um...what's your name?" He turned to look at his roommate, who had walked in shortly prior the rant and who sat on the floor unpacking a box.

As the pilot caught sight of the other man's diminutive stature and dark blue space suit, he lifted his gaze up to the ceiling and whispered "What did I do wrong?"


⊰❀Half an hour earlier, and in another part of the ship❀⊱


"Did you really need me to tell you that this man is dead?"

"Well, I -"

The medic, captain and company, and one of the nurses stood around the corpse. Dried blood spatters on the floor and opposite wall showed what direction the projectile had come at the victim from; there were some residual bits of head and helmet left scattered around the room, but most of it had been pulverized into virtual nothingness. A large metal cylinder of the kind used to store various gasses to meet the ship's needs lay nearby; anything in it had escaped through ragged gashes in the side.

"This must have happened when we got hit in the battle that one time – the torpedo that made that hole in the hull. One of the chlorine canisters that broke loose was what took his head... um... " The nurse shuffled his feet.

"Right," the first officer said dryly, "and that would be the source of Roddy's "chlorine-in-the-air claim. Speaking of: Roddy, pull up this guy's ID." He tapped his left arm, triggering a tiny screen to pop up from the suit. The AI's avatar appeared.

"{His name was Private Zosimos..}"

"...And?"

"{And what?}"

"Didn't he have a last name? Age, date of birth, gender, histo -"

"{Look it up yourself..}"

"Roddy – RODDY! Gah!" The screen folded back down into the forearm of his suit and refused to come back up.

"Roddy," the captain opened the screen on his suit and the AI appeared.

"Answer the questions."

"{Sod off..}" The screen started to fold down and the captain pried it back up.

"HEY! I'm your superi-" The screen snapped down and no amount of force would bring it back up.

The pilot remarked dryly, "I hate that robot."

The medic spoke up from where he knelt examining the corpse, saying, "Nurse, did you move the body? This isn't where he died. This totally isn't where he died. This isn't where he could've rolled himself. The blood on the wall and the location of his... neck aren't even remotely lined up. And... are those bullet holes? Nur-"

"Jeez! Finally. Do all of you promise not to interrupt or get sidetracked this time?"

"When did we -"

"You're doing it now - ! He moved himself. He tried to attack me and some of the other nurses. We had to shoot him, there was no other choice."

"Wait, run that by me again – he moved to attack you, you shot him, then he got his head blown off by a chlorine canister?"

"No, he lost his head first, then we came down taking the body count, then he got up and attacked us, then we shot him, then I called you. Then you cut me off and didn't hear the important bit about why I was concerned that he didn't have a head."

The incredulous group looked at the nurse in silence.

"Ask the other nurses. They're around the corner. They'll tell you the same thing I did." Defiance was in the tilt of his helmet.

A minute and a half later, the story confirmed and the incredulity abated as much as it could be, the group was abruptly silenced by a loud, metallic moan from one of the hallways.

A hand grasped the corner of the wall of the corrider where the other nurses had come from; two of the fingers gone, it was snatched back abruptly and a shriek split the air, followed by the sickening crunch of metal and bone. After a moment of silence, two metallic moans came from around the corner.

Fingering his gun, the first officer signaled the others to follow him quietly in the direction of the noise. When nobody followed, he paused uncertainly, not stupid or confident enough to investigate alone.

"Is anybody coming with me?"

Collectively, the group shook their heads. The next moan was a little closer.

"Pilot, come on." He grabbed the pilot, who was squawking protests, by the arm and drug him around the corner.

"Aw, shit!" Releasing the pilot, he bolted past the group and through the door to the stairwell. The pilot followed, and when the pair of decadent soldiers shuffled their way into view, limbs twisted at odd angles and one missing both arms, the rest variously screamed, panicked, and pushed their way into the stairwell after him.

Ten minutes later, locked up in one of the nuclear bomb-resistant weapon storage rooms, the group collapsed to the ground, all but the first officer unused to such physical exertion.

"So, in my professional opinion," the nurse panted, "those were zombies, like private Zosi-whatever was."

"Are you ser-"

"Yes."

The pilot leaned his head on a box of TNT.

"I don't want to be on this ship anymore."


Notes: Right... next installation, names of living characters. And zombies for sure. And probably explosions, but no guarantee on that one.

And, lizardbreath914, Star Trek is probably one of those... subconscious influences. Or whatever they're called. I've seen every episode in the original series at least five times. o.O "This is the journey of the USS Crown of Creation, on its four year journey to seek out a new planet, and new flavors of ramen. To boldly explore the outer limits of boredom where no man has gone before!"