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The Fates of Atomic Zombies

by John Van Allen


The three sisters stood together with other bystanders on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. Flashing red, white and blue lights reflected in the window glass and in their eyes as they watched emergency workers load the remains of the brave but unfortunate Vito into the ambulance.

“What did you think was going to happen?” Morta said. “I would marry some mortal and settle down?”

“No, not at all,” Scarlett said. “We just thought you’d have a good time.”

“She did have a good time,” Vivienne said. “Right, Mo?”

“He was such a nice boy,” Scarlett said.

The ambulance drove off in no particular rush, and the crowd dispersed.

“That is what happens when you tempt fate,” Morta said. “It was not fair, your presenting him to me like some sort of sacrificial lamb.”

Scarlett shook her head. “All those hours in the lab, getting the gene splicing just right.”

Vivienne continued. “And those long days in the gym, on the track, learning to use what we’d given him.”

“And yet, all your work came to naught. Be honest, sisters, this had nothing to do with my happiness. You merely used me to test your work product.”

“So what if we did?” Vivienne stated, flinging her arms out wide. “That’s all you’re good for anyway.”

“Viv!” Scarlett exclaimed. “Don’t say that, she’s our sister.”

“I don’t care,” Vivienne roared, her golden eyes flaming like a Jinni. “She’s just a... a terrorist!”

With that, Vivienne stormed off down the sidewalk, weeds and wild flowers springing up from the cracks in the concrete as she passed. Scarlett followed, leaving Morta hovering there alone for a moment before disintegrating into a swirling cloud of black ash.

Shortly, Vivienne and Scarlett stopped at a small park. Sitting together on a bench, the sisters silently enjoyed their creation. Trees big and small dotted the emerald grass, and cottony clouds hung in a peaceful cerulean sky. Children played while their mothers read books, lovers cuddled, pigeons cooed, and dogs cavorted in the soft light.

“I thought I had it,” Scarlett said, shaking her head.

“Immunity to Morta’s touch is illusive,” Vivienne said. “But we must keep trying.”

A shadow descended upon the idyllic scene, and a chilly breeze brought with it the foul stench of decay. A blotch of darkness spread out before Scarlett and Vivienne like a stain before resolving into the tall, thin form of their grim sister.

“Morta!” Vivienne exclaimed. “Have you no social perception whatsoever? Can’t you see we want nothing to do with you?”

“My work is a natural process. Chaos and entropy dominate the universe.”

Scarlett swallowed hard, as the skies darkened further. Dogs howled, babies cried.

Morta continued. “And need I remind you, Scarlett, the death of your beloved creatures on this planet represents a design flaw on your part?”

A wind gust sent paper cups, newspapers, and plastic bottles tumbling across the park, provoking a mass exodus of people, dogs, and most of the pigeons.

Thunder rumbled as Morta droned on. “And you, Vivienne... If there were no death, there would no need for change, no motivation to improve upon the design. In short, no need for you.”

Vivienne sprang from the park bench, hands clinched into fists. “How dare you lecture us, you abomination! Take off those gloves.”

“I fail to see what that will accomplish,” Morta said, scowling.

“A duel to the death, once and for all!” Vivienne shouted.

“Again?” Morta snorted.

“Vivienne, wait!” Scarlett called.

But it was too late. Vivienne leapt at her dark sister, eyes blazing. She grabbed Morta’s bony hands, intense heat meeting icy cold, electrical charges spitting out as they made contact.

“You waste your time on these creatures,” Morta cried.

“You’re a heartless blotch on the universe!” Vivienne shouted.

Lightning ripped across the sky, and Morta gasped. Her cheeks flushed pink, her pale eyes darkening to aquamarine.

“What have you done to me?” Morta rasped, her face a combination of confusion and terror.

“That’s what life feels like,” Vivienne roared.

Morta’s mouth contorted, tears formed in her eyes, and she began to cry. As she sobbed, great glops of rain fell exploding on the sidewalk like tiny bombs.

“Stop it!” Scarlett cried. “You’re acting like children.”

Morta growled, leaned her head forward, and launched the long strands of her hair at Vivienne’s head where they intertwined with her sister’s blond mane. Vivienne’s lively golden locks withered like dead vines and turned white, and her fiery eyes faded to a smoky gray.

“Whoa,” Vivienne said. “I feel a little queasy.”

Through the park and down the sidewalk they staggered like drunken dancers. Flowers sprang up and bloomed wherever Vivienne moved, only to shrivel and die a moment later as Morta crushed them under her feet. Back and forth they grappled, Life and Death locked in a clench, shouting increasingly blunt insults at each other.

“Bitch,” Vivienne shouted.

“Whore,” Morta bellowed.

A young man with his nose in his smart phone, oblivious to the storm and clashing immortals, dropped dead of a heart attack as Morta collided with him only to rise dazed and confused a few seconds later as Vivienne stumbled over his body and Scarlett helped him to his feet.

The sisters clashed in a battle of wills past Notre Dame Cathedral, the wind howling, lightning streaking overhead, knocking out the power and darkening the City of Light. Across the Seine River, down shadowy streets they struggled.

“Enough!” Scarlett screamed, lifting her hands to the sky.

The atmosphere tore apart above them revealing the stars and darkness of space. A few seconds later, the three of them floated in the ionosphere, subatomic particles swarming around them like fireflies. Vivienne shoved Morta away sending both of them tumbling backwards high above the blue and white sphere below.

“Why?” Vivienne demanded. “I had her where I wanted her.”

“You delude yourself,” Morta said.

“Clearly, a change in perspective was in order,” Scarlett said.

The three of them descended, eventually touching down on the asphalt of the Rue de Repose near the gates of the Père-Lachaise Cemetery. The storm had ceased, leaving a mere cool breeze rustling the trees as the sun peeked out from behind gray and blue clouds.

Morta, her complexion returning to its normal pallor, slipped her gloves back on, turned and pointed at the cemetery gate as if declaring victory.

“Behold, the great symbol of inevitability.”

Vivienne’s golden eyes flamed, her lively hair once again rippling over her back. She raised an accusatory finger at her sister.

“You know, Morta—”

Scarlett stepped between her sisters before their hostilities could resume. “Come with me.”

She led her combative siblings through the cemetery, pausing near the tomb of Jim Morrison of The Doors fame.

“Look,” Scarlett said, pocketing her glasses and gesturing down at the granite grave.

Morta and Vivienne both frowned.

“Stone,” Morta stated.

“Dead rock star within,” Vivienne said. “Is there a point here?”

“Look closer,” Scarlett said, taking her sisters by the hands. At Scarlett’s touch, they perceived the cloud of molecules oozing from the ground, collecting in a fog around the stones and monuments. “Living things aren’t actually destroyed. They’re merely disorganized.”

“You’re just splitting hairs,” Vivienne said.

“My point is: atoms get recycled. I’ve been re-using the same materials for eons. See there, all those little atomic zombies escaping from the grave?”

“Resurrection?” Morta snorted. “Ridiculous.”

“Observe,” Scarlett whispered. “Fate approacheth.”

A middle-aged woman in a light blue pants suit and wide-brimmed hat strolled along the path, umbrella in one hand, leash attached to a small white poodle in the other. The animal pranced into the cloud of refugee molecules, sneezed, peed on Morrison’s headstone, then continued happily on its way.

“Those atoms, some presumably from Mr. Morrison, are now part of that poodle.”

“Huh,” Vivienne grunted. “Reincarnation?”

“As a dog,” Morta deadpanned.

“So the Hindus got it right after all,” Vivienne said.

“I’m sure the outcome is a little more random than they hoped,” Scarlett said.

Vivienne turned to Morta. “So much for inevitability, dear sister.”

Morta shook her head. “The irony.”

“That’s life,” Scarlett said, grinning.

“What utter nonsense,” Morta scoffed. “I have no time for your antagonizing. I have work to do.”

Their dark sister disintegrated into a cloud of black ash and was quickly dispersed by the wind.

“Life goes on,” Scarlett whispered. “Until next time.”

Copyright © 2017 by John Van Allen

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