Post-Mortem: Charity Pollack

Phoenix Matchmaker (PM): It can be a complicated proposition. Phoenixes value tradition. They rarely accept new techniques or ideologies.

Fan of Phoenixes (FOP): That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? Phoenixes have proven to be surprisingly adaptable over the millennia.

PM: Some would say that. I would say, if you compare them to other kinds of people, they can be downright hidebound.

FOP: How do you match a phoenix to a companion? What do you look for?

PM: There are major issues and there are minor issues. A Phoenix concerned with sustainability won’t pick someone who isn’t careful with resources. A phoenix whose priority is security of the national interest won’t pick someone who harbors illegal immigrants.

FOP: Have you ever found a match that worked initially but fell apart later?

PM: Very few of my matches break down.

FOP: Of course, I know. In general, have you seen matches like that.

PM: There was a memorable case where the phoenix cared a great deal about medical self-determination and the companion refused to euthanize a patient…the phoenix abandoned her.

FOP: What would you say to someone seeking your services?

PM: Know yourself well. That’s the key with phoenixes. They hate self-delusion most of all.


Post-Mortem: Berserker Task Force

Leader of the berserker task force stops by to have a chat

Me, Former Berserker (FB): Good morning. I’m sorry about the timing, it was just the only way our schedules lined up.

Randall Tandy: More my fault than yours, buddy.

FB: I guess it is. You have a pretty hectic schedule, actually. I was surprised to learn that. The berserker task force may serve an important function, but I wouldn’t have imagined you were very busy most days.

Randall Tandy: Your first guess was right. We’re not usually busy. Most of my free time is spent doing talks, lectures, and interviews about our work.

FB: You’ve had a bit more than fifteen minutes.

Randall Tandy :I won’t lie, it’s been a hell of a journey. Nothing I’m doing is really special, it’s all a matter of knowing how zombies work.

FB: Most of the early pioneers in the anti-zombie movement were incompetent at best; they didn’t know how to handle a rogue berserker.

Randall Tandy: No, they didn’t. We have much better techniques to handle them now. And I have to contest that, I’m not anti-zombie.

FB: Most critics of the task force would disagree, and I’m not sure I see your point of view as clearly here as I do theirs.

Randall Tandy: I have nothing against zombies if they can co-exist with all the other people in this world. Some of them can’t do that, and those I do have a problem with.

FB: Berserkers.

Randall Tandy: Berserkers are zombies who’ve given up on their humanity. The thing that we didn’t realize early on was that the process is reversible. So many bureaucrats and soldiers gave up on the victims of this disease because they thought they couldn’t be saved- or that it was too expensive.

FB: How would you handle a berserk zombie? Walk me through the process.

Randall Tandy: The most important thing to get right is containment. Berserkers will break through any barrier you put in front of them, or hurt themselves trying. Something like sedation is more effective because it minimizes harm to everyone, but not all drugs will work on berserkers. If containment fails, our primary concern is evacuating the area. A successful evacuation can leave us with enough room to let the rage play out. If a berserker acts without anyone to injure, there’s no reason to do anything about it. Harmless property damage is much better than carnage.

FB: That’s surprisingly enlightened of you. What about if evacuation fails?

Randall sighs.

Randall Tandy: Then it fails, and we move from there.

FB: Thanks for giving us some insight into your organization, Mr. Tandy. I think it should help some of my readers out.”

Randall Tandy: Thank you for letting me.


Post-Mortem: Sinew

In this interview, I talk to a zombie who’s learned how to adapt his old lifestyle to his new condition.

Vanilla Civilian: So. BDSM.

Sinew: Yes, that is our topic of discussion today. Is there something funny about that?

VC: Not at all, it’s…fascinating.

Sinew: Of course. I live to fascinate.

VC: I think you probably want to  start with why it appeals to you generally.

Sinew: Do I. Well, if master insists. BDSM appeals to me because the act of subjugation is a subversive way of engaging with traditional sexual dynamics. And it’s hot.

VC: Oh-okay. Um. So that, what kind of stuff do you do with that?

Sinew: Wax, clamps, petplay, hand-feeding, collars…I try to keep things a little interesting.

VC: Right. Uh, how did things change after you turned?

Sinew: Zombies have completely deadened sensation. Pain no longer worked the same way, and neither did pleasure.

VC: How did you cope with that? How did you adapt?

Sinew: I got creative.

VC: …

VC: Thanks for stopping by.


Post-Mortem: Keith Roland

Law-Abiding Citizen: Tell the people what you do.
Keith Roland: I’m Keith Roland and I head up the federal death fraud investigative unit.

Law-Abiding Citizen: Death fraud?

Keith Roland: Death fraud is a particular type of insurance fraud. An individual fakes his or her own death and then collects. Sometimes their beneficiaries collect for them, but sometimes they find a loophole so that they can take the money. We mostly focus on people who become zombies to take advantage of the law.

Law-Abiding Citizen: Why is there a loophole to exploit? Zombies have been common knowledge for a while now.

Keith Roland: Zombies don’t relevantly count as the same person as before they died. That means you can inherit and it’s totally legal.

Law-Abiding Citizen: So people are committing suicide, ressurecting, and collecting on their life insurance in a perfectly legal way?

Keith Roland: Yep.

Law-Abiding Citizen: That doesn’t sound like fraud.

Keith Roland: Not yet. The law here is undefined territory. We’re pushing to get this recognized as a crime, and in the meantime we’re handling it like good old-fashioned insurance fraud.

Law-Abiding Citizen: Why has it become such a problem?

Keith Roland: There were people committing fraud before, but now it’s possible to fake our death really well. They actually die to make it look real. Now we see it more than ever.

Law-Abiding Citizen: Why is it so hard to catch them?”

Keith Roland: There are zombies who don’t do anything illegal, so we can’t just detain all of them. Discriminatory practices.

Law-Abiding Citizen: What is it that we, the public, can do to make your job easier?

Keith Roland: Call your congressmen. We need to close these loopholes sooner and not later.

Law-Abiding Citizen: Thank you for your time.

Keith Roland: Same to you.


Post-Mortem: Ron “the Big Cheese” Chiswick

Cheese Connoisseur (Your Host): Most people probably haven’t thought about cheese as much as you have. It’s one thing to be a cheesemonger, but on top of that, you’ve revolutionized the market.

The Big Cheese (My Guest): That’s mighty kind of you to say.

Cheese Connoisseur: What brought you to cheese?

The Big Cheese: Well, I always liked the stuff. Put it on everything. When I first tasted the real foreign stuff, I was hooked. Cheese is the only thing that always tastes the same but still changes so much. It’s always cheese.

Cheese Connoisseur: Tell us about how you made your mark.

The Big Cheese: Most cheese makers don’t think of using necromancy. Everyone in food thinks about it, you know, but most people don’t try it. Cheese is special, though. It’s the only food where you want it to age.

Cheese Connoisseur: There are vineyards that have started following your lead. Which cheese would you say is the best to revive?

The Big Cheese: Softer cheeses, especially bloomy rind. The flavor gets even more intense.

Cheese Connoisseur: Mold and aging, that’s common in cheese generally. What do you do that’s more innovative?

The Big Cheese: Doing it this way, there are some cheeses you can let rot and then revive to get a completely new taste. If you kill a cheddar or parmesan and then use necromancy, you get something softer, kind of like a cake sort of feel to it.

Cheese Connoisseur: And if anyone stops by your shop, you’ll help them make a selection?

The Big Cheese: Every day of the week, except Sundays.



Post-Mortem: Max Pasternak

Your third favorite zombie learns about buildings.

Third Favorite Zombie (TFZ): Sorry about that.

Max Pasternak, the Architect: It’s fine, don’t worry. The caffeine is the same.

TFZ: So, Max. I brought you here to tell me about your buildings.

The Architect: That’s right. I won’t go into my background here, but I made it a priority when I was getting started to only design with accessibility in mind. It can be hard sometimes, but that’s what consultants are for.

TFZ: In this case, zombie consultants.

The Architect: Yeah, so in this case I recruit zombie designers and decorators and city planners and architecture students to help me figure out how to design with zombie senses and ambient magic in mind.

TFZ: What are some major recurring concerns when you design for zombies?

The Architect: Most zombie senses are rather different than human or selkies, whose senses are basically the same. Shadowalkers and phoenixes are their own kind of unusual here, but they tend not to come up. For example, when I’m considering the size and shape of rooms, I need to account for a zombie’s visual acuity. Night vision is just as important for lighting. I usually don’t consider smell when I’m designing, but hearing matters plenty. Theres’s also the magic issue. Zombies react differently than humans do to magic in their environment, so I have to account for that.

TFZ: The world is designed with humans in mind.

The Architect: Not anymore.

TFZ: Thank you for the conversation, and sorry about the tea.

The Architect: Glad to be here.


Post-Mortem: Beth Shoemaker

Founder of the first zombie group home shares her wisdom

Big Fan: I’m glad to get a chance to meet with you, Ms. Shoemaker.

Ms. Shoemaker: I’m pleased to meet you too. Do I have to look over there?

Big Fan: This isn’t filmed, I just transcribe it.

Ms. Shoemaker: Of course, dear. My mistake. Should we begin?

Big Fan: Right, uh. We should start with where you’re coming from. What brought you to this path?

Ms. Shoemaker: There exists a certain level of wealth at which you have the money to pick a pet project and invest in it. This is mine.

Big Fan: Why? Why this project? There are other issues that need attention and other communities that need intervention. Why this one?

Ms. Shoemaker: I chose the building because of its location, but that’s not what you meant. You want to know why I dedicated myself to this purpose. I was born into ninety, and earned my own when my book finally started to sell. When you have more resources than others, philanthropy is the obvious choice.

Big Fan: It may be obvious, but it’s not common.

Ms. Shoemaker: Someone will have to lead the way. I suppose that’s me. If the question is why I focus on zombies, it’s simple. Zombies are uniquely vulnerable. Their support systems are hobbled because of how they enter this world, and any vulnerable person needs an advocate. That’s what I aim to be.
Big Fan: Thank you for all the work you’ve done. It’s more than we’ve come to expect. I have to ask- I have a copy here, if you don’t mind-

Ms. Shoemaker: Of course, dear. Just here, on the first page? There we go.