Lawrence Schimel translating Raquel Castro

The Attack of the Zombies, Part 1,523

by Raquel Castro, translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel

There are those who don’t believe in zombies, simply because of the fact that they don’t exist (o people of little faith!). To them I say: fine, zombies might not exist right now wherever you might find yourself, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t exist, a century from now, or a year, or even one minute. Any continued refusals from them will just mean that, when the zombie attack takes places, their denial will make them victims who are easier to devour.
       Then there are others who are completely obsessed with zombies. Their fixation is such that they can’t stop thinking about the living dead. And this, of course, affects their daily life, their romantic relationships, their careers: every night they dream of zombies. It’s pathetic but… what can these poor souls do? Would traditional therapy be the best option? Or should they turn to some alternative discipline?

“Doctor, do you remember me? I stopped coming some seven years ago because I had the feeling that, instead of helping me, you were looking for how to get more and more money out of me. Like when you sent me to that Family Constellations workshop in Tlayacapan that cost more than a vacation in Cancún, or when you had me study herbalism as a way of losing weight and improving my mood at the same time.”
       “Oh, yes, Raquel… of course I remember you. But, didn’t you tell me that you were stopping because you had a scholarship to study Esperanto in Finland?”
       “That… oh yes. That was it. The therapy I abandoned for those reasons I just gave was with another shrink, not you, haha.”
       “And how go your Esperanto studies?”
       “Just listen: Hefloffo. Hofow Arf Youf?”
       “Wow, congratulations, you sound like a native. Now, what can I do for you? Why have you returned to therapy?”
       “I dream of zombies, doctor.”
       “Listen, I don’t imagine you’re a Lacanian, Doctor. Give me something so I’ll stop dreaming of zombies.”

No. Traditional therapy is not an option.


       “Here kitty kitty.”

(Pitter patter of little footsteps running away.)
       “Damned cat!”
       (Of course: it only appears when it thinks I don’t want its company.)
       (Of course it doesn’t: instead of leaving, it climbs up onto me and begins its concert.)
       “Blasted cat, it has to be when you want, doesn’t it?”
       (Pet pet pet purr purr purr.)
       “Hmmm. I think this is working. I no longer remember about the… about the…. what was it?”
       (There’s a noise outside: the sound of slow footsteps and a grunt and something that sounds like blood dripping.)
       “Did you hear that, cat?”
       (The noise outside might be children playing; it could be an injured dog; but it might be….)
       “A zombie! It’s a zombie, cat, save me!”
       (Because of my fright I squeeze the cat to me. Because this frightens the cat, it scratches me. Because the scratch frightens me, I slap the cat. The cat turns into a little beast from hell who bites and scratches me until I’m all torn up. I save myself as best I can and discover that, after all, my zombies were the neighbor’s children, who are running around barefoot and fighting and grunting and peeing, which is what that dripping sound was.)
       (Although my intention is good–to tell them that these are not hours for them to  be playing and making such a ruckus–the kids take one look at me and the blood drains from their faces. They flee from me, shouting, terrified by my post-cat attack look.)
       “Heeeellppppppp us! A Zombieeeeee!”
       (I go back inside, defeated. I lie on the couch. The cat climbs on top of me.)

No… felinotherapy doesn’t seem to be a good option, either.

“No, Raquel,” my psycho-enterologist says, “zombies don’t exist, they won’t come for you, you don’t need to put up another gate in front of your house nor construct a tunnel leading to your car. Where would you go, anyway?”
       “Where? To my father’s house, of course. From there, hmmm… I think I would go to the mountains of Puebla. I have a theory that the zombie problem won’t last for very long. But it is vital to escape in the very first moments, which is when the majority of people will die or become infected. All because they don’t have escape routes. Or because they don’t react in time.”
       “This is pure madness. How would you manage to reach your father’s house?”
What a foolish man! The key to everything is to react in time: at the first sign of zombies, I’d get into the car, drive down the Anillo Periférico (preferably on the top level), and not stop until I reached my father’s house.
       “And your cat?”
       “What about my cat?”
       “Didn’t you say the other day that your cat absolutely refuses to enter her transportation cage? That the last time you tried to make her do so, she took out your eye with her claws and that’s why your left eye is made of plastic.”
       “It’s polished glass….”
       “…from Murano.”
       “Hmmm…. Do you realize that your story is increasingly less believable?”
       “Do you realize that we’re changing the subject? The problem isn’t for us to talk about my glass eye and filigree apliques: the problem is… the zombies!”
       “The zombies.”
       “Yes. That as soon as they appear they’ll try to get into my apartment and eat my brains.”
       “And the only solution is to put up another gate and to build a tunnel that goes from my apartment to the garage. Can’t you see that otherwise I am trapped without any escape?”
       “And your cat?”
       “He’ll understand. I have a theory that, as soon as the first zombie appears, Primo will have enough common sense to enter his carrier on his own feet.”
       “His own paws.”
       “That’s what I said. And once we’re in the car…”
       “You’ll take the Anillo Periférico and reach Iztapalapa in a heartbeat.”
       “And if Alberto isn’t home when the first attack takes place?”
       (Thoughtful silence.)
       (Challenging silence.)
       “Why wouldn’t he be home?”
       “He sometimes works elsewhere, doesn’t he?”
       (Silence to order thoughts.)
       (Triumphant silence.)
       “Then, are you suggesting that Alberto quit his job, because of some hypothetical zombie attack?
       (Open mouth.)
       (Furrowed brows.)
       “Doctor, I think I need to stop seeing you right now. I’d rather use the money for your sessions to build the tunnel…”
       (Copious tears.)

No. There’s probably no therapy that’s any help for this…

Raquel Castro (ciudad de México, 1976) es escritora, guionista, profesora y promotora cultural. En 2012 obtuvo el Premio de Literatura Juvenil Gran Angular y, dentro del equipo del programa Diálogos en confianza de OnceTV, ganó en dos ocasiones el Premio Nacional de Periodismo. Es autora de las novelas Ojos llenos de sombra (SM/CONACULTA, 2012), Lejos de casa (El Arca Editorial, 2013), Exiliados (El Arca Editorial, 2014) y Dark Doll (Ediciones B, 2014). Escribe sobre literatura infantil y juvenil en la revista Lee+ y platica de libros y gatos con Alberto Chimal en YouTube.

Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual (Spanish/English) author and translator, who lives in Madrid. He has published over 100 books as author or anthologist, for readers of all ages, most recently Una barba para dos y 99 otros microrrelatos eróticos (Dos Bigotes). His most recent translation is The Wild Book by Juan Villoro, the first title from Restless Books’ new imprint Yonder. He tweets in English at @lawrenceschimel and in Spanish at @1barbax2