DISCLAIMER: Xena Warrior Princess and its characters are the property of Renaissance Pictures and MCA. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Part of the 'Ground Zero' series and Vampires, Ghosts and Zombies challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Ground Zero - Upper Ruritania, 4:40 p.m.
By Vivian Darkbloom


Another skirt torn, another pair of glasses broken, another blouse soiled and ruined. And the worse offense of all: Her favorite pair of heels irretrievable beyond all hope, as they were buried in the sticky mass of a crushed zombie skull, deflated and rotting like a pumpkin long after Halloween. Here they were, barricaded in an abandoned farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, charged with the dreary and disgusting task of dispatching the zombies that had taken over the tiny rural village of Blahvidia.

It was not the romantic getaway that had been promised to Melinda Pappas.

For what was easily the hundredth time that day, she glared at her easily pleased and cheerfully murderous companion, Janice Covington. From the only unbarred window in the tiny house, Janice was gleefully shooting zombies with an old rifle and cooing like a baby with candy as the heads of the undead exploded in a miasma of grayish gore and blackened blood.

Janice did, however, spare Mel a guilty (if not secretly pleased) look. "You have to admit it's an interesting vacation."

"You said we were going to Paris."

"We are. Eventually." Janice took aim again, fired, and admired her successful if revolting handiwork. "We just took a bit of a right turn…"

In response, Mel began her usual litany, which had been repeated at increasingly furious intervals during the entire disastrous trip: "First it was the vampires. Then it was the werewolves. Then it was the Nazi werewolves. Then it was the Shriners—"

"Don't get me started on them," Janice warned as she fired off another successful shot.

"What do you have against fezzes?"

"They're stupid, that's what! They look stupid!"

This coming from a woman known to wear mismatched argyle socks. Mel buried her face in her hands.

"Y'know," Janice accused petulantly, "instead of sitting there bellyaching you could try to help me."

"Before we became trapped in this hovel, I used every sharp implement in my purse to kill every zombie within my reach. I don't have a gun. I don't even have shoes now, for God's sake. And they were my favorite ones too—gone. Out there, in service to your silly cause." Melodramatically Mel pointed to where, outside, one fallen zombie among all the others was distinguished with a pair of black pumps sticking jauntily from his skull, as if he sported the latest fashionable hat from Milan.

"You could go out there and get them back," Janice suggested. "I'll cover you."

"Cover me? The way you shoot, you'd probably kill me."

Janice could not ignore this jibe at her questionable marksmanship. "Don't tempt me, smart ass. Look, they're slow as hell—you already outrun them easily, and there's not that many left. You can take the tennis racket, just in case."

The tennis racket had been a gift bestowed upon Mel during their arrival in Ruritania's capital city Vlah where, because of a rather remarkable physical resemblance, officials mistook her for the Ruritanian national heroine Zacharia Zidanyia, a tennis player disqualified from the fourth round of Wimbledon for beating senseless an umpire. Despite her fervent protests to the contrary, Mel was feted in a state dinner where she was compelled by etiquette to eat a stew of bat meat and turnips seasoned with paprika, forced to sign fraudulent autographs, and given the abovementioned racket made out of krakeze, a mighty wood of the Ruritanian forest. During this entire escapade Janice was largely ignored although given the official title of Zacharia'tsynevoke, which translated as "The Holder of Zacharia's Racket." Rack, racket, it was all good, Janice had thought, if only because she did not have to eat the bat meat.

"You have to bring that up again!" Mel snapped.

"No, I'm just sayin'—"

"You're just saying what?"

Janice snared the filthy blouse of her irritable lover, yanking Mel both forward and down to her level, so that they were eye-to-eye and within a hairsbreadth of kissing. "The sooner you help me, the sooner we get out of here, the sooner we're in a four-star hotel eating good food and drinking good wine and taking long hot baths together and doing all sorts of wonderful but unmentionable things to each other. In fact," Janice lowered her voice for maximum effect, "I promise I'll let you do whatever you want to me."

Instead of melting at the mere thought, Mel looked genuinely puzzled. "But you already let me do whatever I want to you."

"Well, uh…." Janice nibbled her lip. Being easy sometimes had very distinct disadvantages. "Wouldn't you like to do all those things again? Repeatedly? In Paris? Live to screw another day and all that?"

There was no need for a harder sell. Mel seized the racket, kicked open the door, and—for the cause of fine footwear and her seemingly unquenchable desire for a short, infuriating, and most troublesome woman—began bashing zombie skulls with a ferocity that would have made Zacharia Zidanyia very proud.

Janice sighed happily. "That's my girl." She took careful aim and fired. One more down.

They would be in Paris by morning.

The End

Return to Xena and Gabrielle Fiction

Return to Main Page