Chapter 1:

Chapter 1

The Three Deaths

The Three Deaths

"Right through that door, Zina," the voice said into Zina's earpiece.

"Got it." She said, taking point while walking through the abandoned building. The smell of death and rot filled the air. It was hard to distinguish if the stench was from dead animals or dead people; the fact of the matter was that it was disgusting. Zina was used to it, though. This wasn't new to her; it was just another day on the job.

"Be ready, Bao," Zina said to the 6 foot 2 inches Chinese woman with long black hair.
"I have your back, Zina," Bao said with a deadpan tone and no feeling whatsoever. Zina could tell that Bao was used to this as well.

"I hear you out there! Freedom won't be stifled!" A voice yelled from the other side of the door. Zina could hear the sounds of movement behind the door. It was clear that the person who yelled at them was looking for some sort of weapon or shelter.

"I guess I owe you twenty bucks, Aisha," Zina said into her wireless earpiece. She was completely unfazed by her current situation, and what annoyed her more was losing the bet to Aisha.

"You should never doubt your wise leader," was all the voice in her ear said. She also heard a small adorable laugh; it was clear she was trying to stifle it, unsuccessfully.

"In we go, Bao." Zina brushed the laughter aside and got her game face ready for what was about to come.

"Right," Bao said, standing behind Zina with her M-4 rifle at the ready.

"Remember, wait until I'm done," Zina told Bao.

"Right," Bao confirmed. Zina was used to her emotionless and curt responses at this point.

Zina kicked the door open and walked in.

A fat, little man stood there shaking with his M-1911 .45 pistol pointed awkwardly at her.

"Come any closer, and I'll shoot you!" He yelled at her. Zina could tell that his hand was shaking, and he was scared, despite his best efforts to hide it.

"Go ahead. It's not gonna make a difference." Zina walked toward him with all the calm and composure of a Buddhist monk.

"You're crazy! Who walks into the range of a loaded gun?!" The man asked, shaking even more uncontrollably than before.

"I'm not crazy. My sister, Bao, on the other hand... She's always talking about how great a hippie's live intestines feel in her hands. To be honest, I'm pretty sure that's the only time she ever shows emotion. She's a serial killer, by the way. She's right outside. She's waiting for her turn."

"What?!" The man was very visibly shaken and confused at this point by what he had just heard. Zina could see his eyes darting all around the room, trying to find an escape route. Little did he know that there was only one way out of this.

"Hey, don't tell him what's coming. That ruins the thrill for me." Bao yelled from outside the room. Zina turned to respond to her, and the man took this opportunity to try and make his escape.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Bullets ripped through Zina's body. One to her head right above her left eye, three into her chest, and one into her shoulder.

"Ow! That shit hurts, you know? I may already be dead, but getting shot never feels good." Zina said, walking towards the man, brushing the bullets aside. They were as effective as dead flies pelting a windshield.

"What the hell?!" The man fell to his knees and almost dropped his gun. He was shaking uncontrollably and had no idea what had just happened. Zina could smell the faint odor of urine, and she looked down and noticed that the man started pissing himself.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Click! Click! Click!

Three more bullets tore through her body. The indistinguishable click of an empty clip reached Zina's ear. She could see the puddle of piss growing more pronounced around the poor man's legs. There was nothing funnier to her than a guy pissing himself in desperation.

"Hehe! He's out of bullets, Bao. You can come in now." Zina turned towards the door to speak to Bao, peeking her head into the room from the doorway.

"Awesome!" Bao said with uncharacteristic joy. Zina knew that this was her favorite part of their missions.

The sizable Chinese woman skipped into the room like a giddy schoolgirl who was just confessed to. The only real difference was that Bao had a scalpel in her hand. Although Zina had seen plenty of yandere anime, this was normal for her.

"Remember, you can't kill him. Daddy needs him alive." Zina says, pointing her finger at her giant of a sister's face. The man dropped his gun and just stared in terror at the giant towering over him.

"Right," Bao said with a smile on her face. The man knew that was the face of a true psychopath, the last thing their victim sees before it all ends. All Zina saw was her sister getting ready to enjoy herself.

"I'm gonna go find something sweet to eat or drink. Did we pass any vending machines on our way up here?" Zina asks Bao. For this poor man, this was the most terrifying day of his life; nothing will ever compare to the fear he would feel that day. For Bao and Zina, this was just Tuesday.

"I remember seeing a soda machine on the second floor," Bao said, bending down to inspect the man who was now cowering on the floor in fear and covered in his own piss.

"Okay, thanks," Zina tells Bao as she skips out of the room.

Zina walks out of the room and heads back down the hallway they came. Body after body littered the floor as Zina skipped all around them. Some girls skipped through a field of flowers, some through a field of dead soldiers. Bao made short work of them on their way up. She rarely showed emotions, but when she had her "fun," she went all out.

"Hmm. Seems to be more than usual." Zina thinks to herself as she heads towards her sweet reward.

Zina walked through the now-dead hallway of the once thriving Presidential Palace. Everyone was either dead or had abandoned the palace as soon as the fighting started. Zina realized she was terrible with directions; she chalked it up to being shot in the head one too many times.

"Hey, Aisha, where's the cafeteria in this place?" Zina asked her brave leader, who couldn't even bother to be there with them.

Zina waits patiently but receives no response.

"HEY, AISHA! GET OFF YOUR FUCKING PHONE!!" Zina yells into her communication device.

A second later, she hears faint static as a voice speaks into her ear, "Sorry, what was the question?"

"I need my sweets to heal. Where's the damn cafeteria?" Zina asks her, a bit more annoyed.

"Let's see. Walk about two hundred feet straight down the hall, then take a right, and you'll see the cafeteria entrance on your left." Aisha explains the route to Zina.

"Got it, thanks," Zina responds and skips gleefully down the hall.

"Oh, tell Bao to remember the laptop this time. Dad got pissed when she forgot it last time." Aisha tells Zina.

"Sure thing." Zina is more concerned about getting her sweet fix than helping her sister from getting punished.

"Tell me when you're done so I can summon you and Bao back here," Aisha tells Zina as she signs off.

Zina takes a right and sees the door to the cafeteria, "Okay, will do." All she cared about at this moment was getting her sugar levels up.

Zina walks into the cafeteria and heads straight to the kitchen.

"I love these industrial freezers," she tells herself. She was wondering if she could order one for personal use and write it off as a business expense.

"I hope they've got Vanilla ice cream." Zina was already making plans for all the ice cream she would hoard in her room with one of these freezers.

Her dead body had slowly started to regenerate, but she wasn't fully healed yet. The wound above her eye was almost completely healed, the hole was barely visible.

Zina opens the freezer and walks in. "Oh, there is vanilla! Yay! Eew, it's next to the pistachio, though!"

She picks up the giant ten-gallon vanilla ice cream container and walks back toward the dining area. She sits down, placing the spoon she picked up on her way out on the table. She opens the giant container of ice cream and digs in.

"Ohh! It's so good!" She flashes her vanilla-covered smile to the empty dining room. This was bliss, this was paradise, this was worth getting countless bullet holes all over her body.

Zina makes short work of it as she chows down on the vanilla ice cream like a monster possessed. She finally reaches the bottom of the container and tosses it aside.

"Aww, no more? I better get back to Bao then," she tells herself.

"How's it going, Bao?" She says into her communication device.

"I did a bad thing," Bao says, emotionless, like always.

"It's all right. We all make mistakes. Some more than others." Zina knows full well that the man is no longer among the living.

"I'm gonna get Aisha to summon us back to HQ. Remember the computer." Zina knew there was no point in even trying to scold her; it would have no effect.

"Okay," Bao replies.

"Did you get that, Aisha? Go ahead and summon us back." Zina hopes Aisha is not playing on her phone again.

"Got it. Give me about ten seconds." Aisha responds.

After a quick ten seconds, a summoning circle surrounds Zina. What looks like blood-red fireflies encompass Zina. A strange pulse shakes her body, and it feels like she just got a straight punch to the stomach. Then a bright flash of light washes over Zina as she collapses.

She opens her eyes and sees her sister Aisha standing over her, still playing on her phone. Aisha was from Kuwait and the de facto leader of their group; Zina herself was from Japan. She thinks back to her life before she met her father, Grant Shipman.

After her mom died, Zina became somewhat of a recluse. All she did was sit at home reading manga, light novels, and watching anime. She was the quintessential weeb.

After years of being a female otaku, her depression finally got the best of her. It really shouldn't have come as a shock with all the anime and manga she consumed. She had become delusional about reality and figured if she died, she'd end up in a fantasy world as an overpowered main character. Truck-kun; that was the only answer. Sadly for her, things don't work that way in the real world.

She doesn't remember much after jumping in front of the box truck. Someone later told her what had transpired after her death. Her father, Grant Shipman, stole her body from the morgue and put her back together.

She was later told that he spent about 6 billion dollars and used classified alien technology to bring her back from the dead. Well, he can do what he wants. He's technically the ruler of half the universe. Rules here on Earth really don't apply to him.

Zina remembered when she was a newly born-again zombie and had a craving for brains. Her mind was right after being brought back, but she needed brains as a food source to survive. Her father came up with a pretty simple solution: Cow Brain Hamburgers. At first, she couldn't get used to the taste of them, but after some time, she couldn't tell the difference. At the end of the day: brains are brains.

Her father sent her to his patented Knowledge Centers, and over the years, she learned many new skills and gained lots of knowledge. She did so by using the Learning Machines (LM) found at the Knowledge Centers; what a horrible name. She learned a vast array of things, ranging from every known language to every form of martial arts from across the known universe. She could drive or fly any vehicle, from Queen Cobo's starships to personal submarines. She was taught how to use every kind of weapon, but she never had the talent for weaponry her sister had. Her aim is always completely off, no matter how hard she practices. She prefers to leave that shit to Bao.

"How'd it go?" Aisha asks as she helps her up to her unsteady food.

"Ugh, good," she tells Aisha. She always felt groggy and dizzy after teleporting.

"Looks like Bao had too much fun," Aisha tells Zina. Aisha was looking at Bao standing next to her.

Zina looks over at Bao and sees her covered in blood from head to toe.

"Looks like she got the laptop this time, though. So that's something." Zina tells Aisha. She was barely getting her feet under her and didn't have any strength to try and reprimand Bao, not that it would do any good.

"Good job on the laptop, Bao!" Zina joyfully yells at Bao, who is ten feet to her left.

"Thank you," Bao says emotionless. As soon as she was done killing, she went back to being the emotional robot she always was.

Any man looking at Bao would automatically fall in love. She is Chinese, tall, and gorgeous. Under different circumstances, she would probably be a world-famous supermodel. But alas, that wasn't the case; being born to a Chinese prostitute and having been physically and mentally tortured daily by the Chinese Communist Party to turn her into the perfect killer had caused something to snap in her mind. Bao did turn into a serial killer, but a serial killer with a taste for hippie blood. Bao had a collection of hundreds of blood-soaked tie-dye t-shirts that she had slowly been collecting from her victims over the past few years. From drum circles to liberal protesters, they were her ultimate prey. She carried a scalpel with her everywhere she went, just in case. You never know when you'll run into a hippie.

"Why don't you two take a shower and get out of your nano-outfits?" Aisha instructed them. Of course, she was clean as a whistle, perks of being a leader and conducting the mission from HQ.

Aisha was the total opposite of Bao. Her mother is part of the Kuwait Royal Family. Grant, has always been in her life. Aisha's mom and Grant weren't married or anything; Grant didn't like sticking to one woman. He was always more of a wandering nomad, impregnating women all over the universe; as a result, he had a lot of kids. Some are just nourished and loved more than others. Being the richest person in the universe and a madman to boot has its advantages.

Through Grant's teachings, Aisha became one of the world's most brilliant military minds alive today. She was always reading every book about war and tactics she could get her hands on. That is why she now leads "The Three Deaths."

"That's a good idea," Zina said to Aisha. The world stopped spinning around her so she could take a shower without fear that she would fall on her ass.

Zina and Bao walked out of the war room and headed towards the locker room down the hall.

"Was there anything left of him when you were done?" Zina asked Bao as their nanosuits fell to the ground. The nanosuits automatically crawled their way into a small box on the floor. They had a mind of their own; they were truly technological wonders.

Zina inspected herself in the mirror to make sure there weren't any injuries left on her. Zina was short, about five foot six inches only. She had somewhat small perky breasts, a downside of being an undead zombie. She had her hair in a short pixie cut and was bright silver. Her eyes were silver as well. They had a metallic glow to them; another side effect of being a zombie.

"Not really. I tried to see how many organs I could remove without him dying." Bao said to Zina.

"What was the final count?" Zina was genuinely curious to find out.

"Four," Bao said as they walked into the shower.

The water turned on automatically as they stepped into the shower. It splashed off their naked bodies. The warm weather felt great on Zina's skin. She might be undead, but she could still enjoy the little things in life. There was nothing like a nice hot shower after a busy day of getting shot.

"I figured it wouldn't be much," Zina says to Bao. Bao might seem uncaring because of her tone, but Zina always tried to make conversation with her. They were sisters, after all.

After the shower, they got dressed in their pantsuits and high heels.

"I am going to my office to reflect on this experience," Bao said to Zina.

"Okay. I'm gonna go find Valentina," Zina told her.

Zina walked down the long, endless corridor, going from bulkhead to bulkhead. Definitely the headquarters of an evil madman. She walked past countless numbers of clones; they were the worker bees of her dad's organization. They were all clones of people from her dad's enormous distant family, cousins, nieces, and shit like that. The one clone she could tell Grant liked the best was this cute little tomboy with short red hair. Grant always treated her differently from the others and almost seemed to dote on her as if she were one of his many daughters. Zina had heard Grant refer to her as Charlie.

Zina walked up to a huge oak door that had the words "Executive Vice President" emblazoned in gold trimming on it. She put her hand on the doorknob without any hesitation and opened the door. There was no need for her to knock, and she just walked in.

"Hey, are ya here?" Zina asked as she confidently strode into the office.

"Hey, you're back," replied a tiny aqua-green-haired loli sitting behind a desk that was way too big for her. Valentina was undead like Zina. She was the clone of a great vampire named Nauaiasa. Valentina wasn't a full-blooded vampire, though. Because of this, she didn't need to drink blood to survive. She was somewhat allergic to the sunlight. After ten years of UV light therapy that Grant had been giving her, she was able to withstand five hours of sunlight without dying. Valentina was twenty-four years old but looked like she was about twelve. A lot of folks didn't take her seriously because of her demure size. Zina knew from past experiences that you shouldn't mess with her. She was extremely strong, deceptively strong. She's able to lift over seven times her own weight. Zina actually saw her lose her temper once; she ripped a clone's arm straight off without any effort whatsoever. Grant also appreciated her strength and even stronger business acumen, and he made her third in command at Shipman Enterprises.

Shipman Enterprises is Grant's public aviation company. He uses it as a cover-up, along with his countless other shell companies, to make the world think that he is just rich. They have no idea that, in reality, he rules the world with an iron fist.

"I want a milkshake. Do you want to go with me? You can get some coffee." Zina says to Valentina.

"Yeah, sure. I'm almost out anyway, plus this spreadsheet is pissing me off." Valentina says to Zina. Even if they were members of an evil organization, they still had simple everyday office issues. "Where you thinking, Shake Shop?" Valentina powered off her computer and stood up to stand next to her undead companion.

"Definitely," Zina says to Valentina. Even though she had just put away 10 gallons of vanilla ice cream, she could always go for more.

Valentina had become Zina's best friend since returning to the land of the living and moving to the United States. She was the one who helped her when her craving got really bad and was always there to cheer her up when she was sad. Plus, she's a loli vampire. There was nothing else that needed saying. Zina had read about a lot of them in her manga and light novels; she never thought she'd become friends with one, though. How her world has changed.

Valentina and Zina walked out of her office and headed straight for the elevator. They took it all the way to the ground floor.

"I swear, even though this elevator goes like 125 miles per hour, it still feels like it takes so long to get to the surface," Valentina said.

"I know, right? It is smart to have the HQ underground, though." Zina said to Valentina. Zina felt calm being so far underground; perhaps it could be because she was a zombie.

"That is true," Valentina replied. She shared her friend's love of being underground.

*DING!* The telltale sign that they had reached their destination. The two undead friends had made typical small talk during their long elevator ride. Your usual teenage girl's small talk, their favorite color of nail polish, the latest fashions, and how to get blood and guts out of your favorite dress.

"Ah, here we are," Zina said. She enjoyed chatting with her best friend, but her sweet tooth was overpowering her.

The doors of the elevator opened, and they were left standing in the middle of a field. It was just your normal, everyday, unassuming country wheat field. The elevator rose out of the ground into a wheat field. It was the perfect hiding spot for Grant's headquarters.

"I hate having to walk," Valentina says to Zina. Zina wondered how someone so small would have any issues walking around anywhere.

"It ain't too bad. The car isn't too far away. Just think of it as a really huge parking garage," Zina tells her. It could be because of her penchant for sweets, but Zina had a very sweet and friendly disposition as well.

"Fine. I just don't see why I just can't fly? There is no one around. Besides, if there was, we could just kill them." Valentina grumpily says as she looks at her feet.

"You can always just hover above the ground a pretend you're walking, Val," Zina says smugly. Since they were best friends, she knew just how much she could tease her and get away with.

"You know what. That's what I'm gonna do," Val says. It seems her plan had backfired on her, and she ended up encouraging her friend's laziness. Oh well, she was already dead, so what's the harm?

Valentina begins hovering about an inch from the ground, and the two "walk" out of the field. Zina walks about half a mile to a megachurch called Persistent Christ Church as Val giddily floats next to her. Of course, Grant owns this megachurch; the most diabolical and cynical man in the universe needed to control the masses somehow; what better way than through religion? He let his good friend, Luci, pretend to be a preacher there. In reality, the main purpose of this megachurch was the same as any other, to take all of its followers' money. Zina always found it ironic that her dad let the Devil himself pretend to be a preacher. Luci was the nickname Grant and his employees used to refer to Lucifer.

"He is a nice guy," Zina thinks to herself. She knew personally how quick society was to jump to conclusions. They see a demon or a zombie and are quick to label them monsters and evil.

Zina and Val walk up to a jet-black 1967 Chevrolet Impala. She loved the show "Supernatural." Zina might have been an otaku, but was very much obsessed with western pop culture too.

"Hey, Baby," she says as she pulls a set of keys out of her purse. The lewd bunny girl key chain didn't go unnoticed by Val, nor did the fact that she named her car Baby.

"I'm glad you didn't forget them like last time," Val says to her. They loved to tease each other; they did it all in good fun. Deep down, both of them knew they loved each other dearly.

"That happened one time," Zina replies. She makes a mistake once, and she's never allowed to live it down.

Zina unlocks the car door and gets in. She reaches over and unlocks Val's door. Val plops down into the seat with a sigh of relief; her feet must be killing her after floating through that wheat field.

"Okay, seatbelt!" Zina says as she puts hers on. They might be undead, but Zina knew that wasn't any excuse for not following proper safety precautions.

"I still don't understand your fascination with things that keep people alive when you're already dead," Val says to Zina. Zina didn't have to take her eyes off the road to know that Val was rolling her eyes at her.

"Agh, it's nostalgia! Plus, I don't want to get a ticket." Zina replies with a smile on her face. Every ticket she got meant less money for Nendoroids and anime figures.

"Dad owns the police, court, and the district attorney! You're not gonna get a ticket." Val replies. She sometimes wondered if Zina's brain was too far gone; maybe they left her dead for too long.

"Just put your damn seatbelt on, my car, my rules," Zina yelled at her. She hated when Val used facts and logic to poke holes in her extremely convoluted reasoning.

"Fine," Val said as she put on her seatbelt. She knew there was no point in arguing with her. Once Zina got an idea in her cold dead head, there was no getting it out.

Zina put the key in the ignition and turned Baby on. The 327 engine and four-barrel carburetor engine roared to life. "VROOOOM" Zina knew that the purring of the engine was better than any orgasm.

"I still can't get over the sound of that engine," Zina thinks. She loved the car almost as much as she loved her dad.

Zina backs the car out of the parking spot and leaves the church parking lot; she rolls onto the streets of the small town of Carboner, Ohio.

Carboner, Ohio is a small blue-collar town in the northwest part of the state. There was nothing there but farms and farmers. They were about thirty miles away from Fort Wayne, Indiana; just across the border. Carboner was also the last place you would expect the headquarters for the biggest evil organization in the universe to be, hence why it's there.

Almost no one in town knew that just below their feet were some of the most fiendish and evil group of people they could ever possibly imagine. In fact, Carboner was such a small town that Zina and Valentina knew most of the people in town, and they knew them. They don't know what they do for a living, though. If they knew, they might freak out and want nothing to do with them. The tight community of Carboner was a god-fearing one; it was just too bad that the devil was hiding among them.

Bao and Aisha live in Fort Wayne, but Zina and Valentina live here in the small town of Carboner. Zina wanted to try living in a small town after being brought back from the dead. She was used to the big city life of Tokyo; she wanted a change in her life. She was physically, spiritually, and emotionally reborn. She had to do shit differently. She didn't want her life to end up like it was before; that part of her was dead, just like the rest of her. She looked at the Rudias Greyrat bobblehead on her dashboard and smiled. Even if that part of her life was dead, one thing remained for sure: she's still an otaku.

After driving two miles down the road, they pull into the small parking lot of your average mom-and-pop brick building. Zina knew they were in the right place as she saw the neon red milkshake on the side of the building. Right below the giant milkshake was a sign with the words, "Billy's Shake Shop." Billy's Shake Shop is the oldest continuously running restaurant in Pauling County, Ohio. It got its name because it was situated right next to the railroad tracks, not because of the delicious milkshakes. When the Norfolk Southern trains go by, they shake the entire shop. Of course, back when this place was built it was the Nickle Plate Railroad. It makes for a great dining experience for any tourist making their way through Ohio, but it was hell for the workers.

"Trains are cool," Zina thinks to herself. She was from Japan, so her love of trains was ingrained into her very soul. So was her fear, and slight arousal, at the sight of cephalopods.

One of the cool things about living in Carboner was seeing the Nickle Plate Road 765 heading to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and back in the fall. The NKP 765 is an "S-2" 2-8-2 "Berkshire" Steam Locomotive built on September 8, 1944. It was world-famous; even those not obsessed with trains would know about it. One of the reasons Zina loved this small town was the fact that she was always trackside when she traveled anywhere. She knew Japan had some nice vintage steam locomotives, but they couldn't hold a candle to what the United States had. A couple of years ago, Zina drove Baby to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to see the King of the Trains run for the first time since the '60s. It is one of her fondest memories of her undead life. The King of the Trains went by many names, including being called the Big Boy. It was a 1,198,500 pounds, 117ft, and 7in long 4-8-8-4 behemoth. The largest steam locomotive ever built, the Union Pacific #4014. It was definitely a sight to see. She will never forget the view of that gigantic machine. She couldn't understand why more people weren't into trains; standing in the shadow of such a colossus left her in awe and admiration for the perseverance of men.

Zina knew that if she didn't snap out of it, they would be here all day, and Valentina might get a bit perturbed at seeing her friend moan as she stared at the train tracks. Zina brushed her fantasies aside and stepped out of the car. She and Valentina walk into the Shake Shop and are quickly greeted by their friend Caly.

"Hey, girls. How's it going?" Caly says to them. She had grown accustomed to seeing the pair walk into her restaurant every day.

"Hey, Caly. Doing good," Zina replies, waving to her. A dark thought quickly went through her head, what would Caly think of them if she knew just who they were?

Caly's family went all the way back to the frontier days of western Ohio. They've been here for as long as Europeans had been in the county. Her dad is the local police chief. Caly herself is a mom of two rambunctious boys and is married to a town councilman. She's tall with brown hair and brown eyes and in her mid-30s. She's pretty well known in this town of only three thousand. The locals were very much set in their ways; once they found a restaurant they loved, they would not deviate.

"As usual, just sit anywhere. I'll be right with ya." Caly says, walking over to attend to two tough-looking men in flannel and ball caps. They were definitely truckers; it was easy to spot them. They made up all of the tourism and outsiders around these parts. Route 24 went right through the county, it wasn't an Interstate Highway or anything, but it was still a pretty busy road. It was four lanes wide, like a regular highway. These middle-of-nowhere roads saw a lot of truckers moving products across the country. Places like the Shake Shop survived on these truckers, the bloodline of America.

"Hey, Zina!" A man in the back of the kitchen yelled to her, waving a steel spatula. He seemed happy to see some of his favorite regulars.

"Hey, Ben! How's it going?" Zina yelled back at him.

"Doing good. Just cookin', cookin', cookin'." He replied, laughing at his own terrible lines.

Ben was in his forties. He was fat and balding. He had worked as the cook here for about twenty years. Zina knew he had a crush on her; he made it obvious. Retarded folks aren't her type, though. Okay, maybe he's not full-blown retarded, but he is really slow. All that shaking from the passing trains couldn't be doing him any help. Fast cook, though.

"You want your special meat today?" Ben asked her. She could see a twinkle in his eyes; she could only guess what he was imagining and what type of meat he was thinking of giving her.

"Please. Thank you," she replied. Zina knew that she couldn't kill him, and besides being a bit lecherous and having a wandering eye, he was mostly harmless.

"You've got it!" He said joyfully. He thought he could win his way to her heart through her stomach.

Most restaurants in Carboner carried her special meat. She could eat regular meat just fine, but every now and then, she got a craving for cow brains.

"Hopefully, no one else orders it by mistake. They'd be disgusted," she whispers to Valentina. All the businesses around here were told to carry the special meat, but they weren't told exactly what it was.

"I think they'd find it interesting," Val replied. She had been living among humans for a long time and had seen way too much FoodTV and food porn. She knew that humans would put absolutely anything into their mouths.

They sat at their regular booth, with a window view facing the railroad tracks.

"Vanilla milkshake for ya, Zina?" Caly asked as she walked up to the pair, ready to take their order.

"Yep," Zina replied, smiling. "You know the routine by now, just keep them coming one after another."

"You have heard of diabetes, haven't you?" Caly says jokingly. Zina and Valentina had been regulars for a while now, but she was always amazed by how many milkshakes the small girl could put away.

"Yeah, I wouldn't worry much about her health. She's pretty fit," Val tells Caly. It might not be very believable, but it's easier to tell her that than to explain to her that she's already dead.

"Okay," Caly replies, smiling. Caly was the quintessential southern belle with a smile and attitude as sweet as the apple pie she sells. "What about you, Val? Cappuccino?" She was also an adamant professional and had already memorized all of her regular's usual orders.

"You know me so well," Val says to Caly.

"I still say that a twelve-year-old little girl like you shouldn't be drinking coffee," Caly says to Val. Zina could see that she was trying to put on a concerned look, but it quickly gave way to giggles as she couldn't keep a straight face.

"Yeah, yeah, I look like a kid. Yes, it's funny," Val replies. She had to temper her bloodlust and resist the urge to rip her throat out.

"I'm just pulling your leg," Caly says. "Quad caffeine shot?"

"You got it," Val says a bit curtly.

"Well, I'll bring you your drinks shortly; I'll let you gals decide on what you're gonna eat," Caly says.

She quickly turns around and heads towards the main counter to get their drinks ready.

"Thanks, Caly!" Zina says to her as she walks away. Caly almost seems to gracefully glide across the restaurant.

"So, how'd the mission go?" Val asks Zina.

"It went okay," Zina replied, shrugging. All her missions seemed to blend together to her. It could be due to all the headshots she had incurred or the fact that she paid little attention to her work.

"Did you girls remember the laptop this time?" Val asks her. She hoped they had forgotten so she could poke more fun at her friend.

"Yep, now we have all the nuclear codes. No more nuclear weapons on Earth." Zina replies. She was more occupied people-watching than going over the minute details of her mission.

"Awesome. Just conventional weapons from now on," Val says. She turned her attention to Caly, trying to see if she finished making their drinks.

"Yeah. Dad may be a crazy madman, but he does help the world when he can," Zina says. She stared at the imposing-looking truckers and wondered where they were heading. Were they picking up cargo on the west coast or delivering to the east coast?

"I mean, he is evil, but still, he can do some good," Val says gleefully. For all of Grant's many faults, she admired and cared for him deeply.

"Right? He's done more good for this world than 95% of most of the old world leaders combined," Zina says. She might not show it very often either, but she loved her dad and all he had done to bring her back.

"I know. I wish we could tell everyone," Val says. She joined her friend people-watching; it was the same group of people as always. The weather-beaten locals who were here every day and the odd collection of truckers making their way through the country.

"Quiet is king and helps with peace, dad always says," Zina replies, shaking her hand at Val. She tried to mimic her dad's mannerisms to really drive the analogy home.

"Yeah, yeah, I know. I just wish we could get some recognition from the world once in a while," Val says, looking down. Zina knew that Val's small frame always bothered her, and she craved the attention and adoration of others to make up for her shortcomings.


"Hold up," Zina says to Val, reaching into her purse to get her phone.

"GOOD JOB ON THE MISSION. TAKE A FEW DAYS OFF AND RELAX. I'LL CONTACT YOU WHEN YOU'RE NEEDED." Speak of the devil, her dad just texted her. Zina realized that saying doesn't really work once you met the actual devil. She quietly snickered at the thought.




"GOOD IDEA! WE'LL DO THAT. THANKS, DAD." Zina responded.



Zina puts the phone back in her purse and looks up at Val.

"Dad says he has a new sunscreen for you to try, don't worry, he said it was tested this time. He also says we should go to the beach. What do you think?" Zina asks Val.

"Awesome! Let's go," Val says joyfully. Even if she was a creature of the night, she wasn't averse to such creature comforts as a nice day at the beach.

"Wait. What about work?" Val asks. She got excited at the prospect of spending some fun in the sun; she almost forgot she was actually an adult and had to work, no matter what her body led others to believe.

"He told us to take a few days off. He'll call us when we're needed." Zina tells her.

"Oh, okay. Cool." That was another perk of the job: you could take some paid time off.

"Okay, here ya go. One vanilla milkshake with extra whipped cream," Caly says, putting the gigantic milkshake in a beer mug in front of her.

"And here is your Jumbo Cappuccino, Val." Caly places the humongous coffee on the table in front of her.

"Yes!" Val says happily, pumping her tiny fist in the air.

"I still can't imagine how big your bladder must be, Val. You know, for someone so small." Caly couldn't resist the change to needle Val some more.

"It's big," Val replies. She didn't care if Caly tried to make fun of her right now; her only concern was enjoying the delicious rich nectar of the gods sitting right in front of her.

"I'm sure it is," Caly says. "So, what do ya two want to eat?" She pulled out her pen and notebook to take down their order.

"Your normal double cheeseburger and cheese sticks, Zina?" Caly asks Zina, writing down the order before she even has a chance to respond.

"You got it," Zina replies, in between mouthfuls of milkshake.

"Ketchup, mustard, and extra cheese?" She asks without even looking up from her notebook as she jots it down. She was saying it out loud more for herself than anything else.

"Yep," Zina says to her as she almost polishes off her first of many milkshakes today.

"What about you, Val? You're always different." Val was one of the few regular customers that always threw her for a loop.

"Hmmm..." Val thinks for a second.

"Grilled cheese with tomato soup, crackers, and apple slices," Val tells her after a few seconds of examining the menu.

"Do you want me to peel the skin of the apples, too?" Caly jokingly asks. It brought back fond memories of her two boys growing up.

"Actually, yes," Val smugly replies.

"See! That's what a twelve-year-old would say!" Caly says, pointing at Val. She couldn't hold back her laughter at the unexpected response.

"No, they wouldn't! They'd ask for french fries," Val says with her arms crossed. She looks away from Caly, trying to hide her blushing cheeks.

"Actually, modern twelve-year old's would ask for apple slices. They're much more healthier than the previous generation." Zina says to Val. Caly is surprised she even had time to breathe, let alone speak, as she slurped down her milkshake.

"Seriously?" Val asks Zina with her arms still crossed. Zina could feel her staring daggers into her, but her sublime milkshake demanded all her attention.

"She's right. They would. My two kids love peeled apple slices," Caly says to Valentina. She joked with her a lot, but she reminded her so much of her kids and she had an inane instinct to mother her and tease her.

"Hmm. In that case, two fried Twinkies instead of apple slices." Val says with two fingers up. Caly had to resist the urge to point out to her that using her fingers to point out the numbers was such a childish thing to do.

"Okay. Y'all ain't gonna make it to the age of thirty, but okay." Caly says walking away laughing. The girls were always a highlight of her day, and she enjoyed talking with them.

"Damn. Caly can be a bitch sometimes," Val says to Zina. It didn't escape her that Zina basically threw her under the bus back there.

"I think it's just your small stature. She can't help but tease you." Zina says as she puts a bendy straw in her milkshake, trying to suck up every last drop of it.

"It's not my fault vampires grow slower," Val says, still pouting.

"It's just funny to see a tiny girl like you with a gigantic grown-up drink. It's hilarious." Zina says, smiling at Val.

"This coming from the zombie girl drinking a massive milkshake bigger than her head?" Val replies.

"Hey, I've got a medical reason for eating and drinking sweets. Dad gave me a health card and everything. Sure, he might have forged it, but it still counts!" Zina says.

"I think he did that to make fun of you," Val replied. She takes a sip of her coffee; unlike her friend, she was more civilized and took her time enjoying her drink.

"Seriously?" Zina asks.

"Yeah. I hear the clones joke about it all the time. Aisha finds it pretty funny too." Val responds, sipping her coffee and enjoying the warmth it provides.

"Damn it!" Zina says, her mind blown. A part of her doesn't want to believe her friend, especially since she appears to be in one of her moods, but she also wouldn't put it past her dad.

"Have you actually read what it says?" Val asks her.

"No," Zina says.

"Why don't you read it?" Val responds.

Zina reaches into her purse and pulls out the health card from her wallet.


"DAMN IT, DAD!" Zina yells. Everyone stops what they're doing and looks over at the pair.

"Sorry," Zina meekly replies. She's not sure what's more embarrassing, the scene she just caused or the fact that it took her so long to realize she had been tricked.

"I thought the cartoon pig hologram in the background would have given it away," Val says, smiling. She had to use all her strength not to burst out laughing right now; she would just end up spilling all her coffee if she did.

"I thought it was the company logo!" Zina says to her. She can't believe her daddy would trick her like that.

After a few minutes of Zina explaining how her dad is a jerk, but she still loves him, Caly comes back with their food.

"Alight, here ya go, sweeties," Caly says as she puts the three-fourths pound double cheeseburger in front of Zina and the grilled cheese on Texas toast and soup in front of Valentina.

"It's a shame both of y'all gonna die of a heart attack before you turn thirty, but enjoy!" Caly says jokingly in her sweet, dulcet voice as she walks away.

"Yum," Zina says as she digs her teeth into the massive burger. There was nothing quite like a nice, bloody cow-brain burger.

After eating, Zina and Val order another drink and then pay and leave. Zina drops Val off at her home, an old farmhouse on six acres of land. Valentina had taken to the quiet small-town life just like Zina had. She enjoyed the calm and tranquility that came with living in the middle of nowhere.

"You want to come in? We could watch some TV." Val says, holding the door open. There was nothing better than relaxing in front of a TV after a hard day of work and a nice meal. It doesn't matter if you're a human or a vampire, that was just the best way to relax.

"Nah. I need to get home and get some sleep. The nightmares are back," Zina tells her. She would love nothing more than to spend more time with her best friend, but she knew how bad her nightmares could get and just how comfy your own bed can be.

"Oh, shit. I forgot it's that time of year again; I'll let you go. Unless you want me to come over? I can help you through it." Val asks. She knew this was a tough time for her friend and wanted to be there for her. Val also knew that Zina might not show it often, but she had a lot of pride and didn't want to rely on her too much.

"Nah, I need to face them on my own. You've helped me too much already. Thanks for the offer, though." Zina says with a smile. She knew Val would always be there for her, but she didn't want to take advantage of her kindness. There were some things she needed to do on her own.

"Alright, but if you need anything, call me. It doesn't matter what time it is, day or night." Val tells her best friend.

"I will," Zina says to Val; glad to have her support.

"Well, I'll see ya this weekend then. Bye," Val says, waving to Zina as she closes the door of the Impala known as Baby.

Zina waves and drives off. It had been a long day of getting shot and eating sweets; she couldn't wait to get home and just relax. She knew that relaxing wouldn't be easy around this time of year.

The nightmares come around the same time every year, just like clockwork. What made this time of year so special? It was the anniversary of Zina's death. Death is the most traumatizing thing a person can go through. It was supposed to be the ultimate finality, but Zina knew that wasn't the case for her.

The thing is, the longer your body stays dead, the more traumatic the resurrection will be. Most people who have had near-death experiences aren't dead for long; a few minutes at most. Zina had been dead for three days and is still technically dead. Grant had used repurposed alien technology and supernatural powers to bring her back from the grasp of death. Some aliens that Grant was friendly with and the Devil himself had helped in bringing her back to life. Grant had said the Devil could have done it on his own, no problem. Grant was as prideful as she was, though, and wanted to do it himself. He just needed a little help to get things started. He spent two billion dollars on three hundred and seventy-two gallons of ectoplasm. He also spent a quarter of the world's gold reserves to pay an alien named Jerry, for some experimental artificial blood his species had created.

After a small zombie outbreak in Nevada, and two years of being unconscious, Zina was finally back. She was almost like a wild animal at first, but with the help of Grant and Valentina, she was eventually able to adjust to being a normal teenage girl. Well, as normal as someone can be being the daughter of a megalomaniacal madman. But the first week of September is always hard on Zina.

Zina pulls up to her home, a dark blue barn that had been converted into a house on 3 acres of land. She parks Baby next to her house and gets out and walks to the front door. She heads inside and takes off her shoes, a habit that she carried over from Japan. She takes a moment to admire her little home again.

Even if she hadn't been back to Japan in a long time, some hobbies were hard to shake. This was the house of a neet. Zina's salary is twelve million dollars a year; half of that goes to Japanese anime, manga, and light novel memorabilia. Zina took her hobbies seriously and didn't mind spending some cash to live in Japanese luxury. She had a handmade leather Sailor Moon inspired couch as the centerpiece of her living room. Her kitchen was custom painted with characters from Mushoku Tensei and she had katana and kunai adorning the walls. She also had a smattering of random Japanese collectibles all over the house. Anybody who walked into the house would believe it was actually a museum or shrine dedicated to Japanese culture.

Zina puts her keys and purse on the Berserker hallway table and walks upstairs to her bedroom. On the wall to her right, going up the stairs, is a custom-painted mural of most of the characters of One Piece, in a Last Supper pose with Luffy as Christ.

"Ugh, so tired. Must sleep," Zina says to herself as she walks down the hall to her bedroom.

Her bedroom is the same as the rest of her eccentric house. Anime figures packed tightly in multiple bookcases, anime posters adorning the walls, and a closet full to the brim of sailor uniforms and kimonos. Even her bed sheets are anime-inspired, adorned with images of Zero from The Familiar of Zero. Zina was a weeb right down to her core.

She groggily fumbles her way towards her bed, acting more zombie-like with every step. The weariness of the day finally caught up with her tired, dead bones. As soon as she reaches the edge of the bed she collapses on it and instantly falls asleep.