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"There's nothing you can do for her now" his neighbor Jim said. "We were
lucky to get her into the shed. Luckily for you I stopped by to borrow that
weed-whacker."

"How?" Robert asked, trying not to break down completely. He was exhausted,
having spent practically the entire time since dawn running from and fighting
off his wife.

"Who knows?" Jim said. "She must have been bitten by one of them, that
much is obvious. Did she leave the farm over the past few days?"

"Oh lord" Robert said, so softly that Jim didn't hear him. He remembered
that the other day Millie had gone into town to get her hair and nails
done. That was before the warnings came out about the disease. "She was
in town" he confessed. "But…she wasn't a zombie when she came back.
She was normal. I swear she was."

"It's hard to tell" Jim told him. "Any little bite. Even from an infected
mouse. The disease makes the mice crazy, just like humans. They become
like dobermans. Just a little bite. Millie might not even have felt it.
And the disease takes a few hours to infect a person, to turn them."

"She was chasing me all over the house" Robert confessed. "I could
barely fight her off. It was like she wanted to rip me to shreds and…"

"Eat your flesh?" Jim said. "Yes, and she probably would have. I've got
to get back home. It's getting dark. Tomorrow I'll stop by with the
shotgun and we will take care of Millie. It's kinder that way, trust me."

"I don't know if I can do it" Robert said.

"I think you can. It should be you that does it. But if not, I'll do
it for you. And I've got a spare rifle I'll bring too. You're probably
going to need it if this whole zombie business keeps up."

Jim drove off and Robert went into the house. He was numb, almost a
zombie himself. He found himself in the living room, running his fingers
over the keys of his wife's piano. He remembered how nice Millie's
derriere had looked as she sat on the stool and played, the way wisps
of her blonde hair fell over her cheeks as she leaned slightly forward
into the keyboard, the look of her eyes intent upon the sheet music.

But there had been little music in the house of late. Robert thought to
himself that perhaps it had been inevitable, with him living on the farm
raising sunflowers, and Millie being from the big city and all. After
the first year she really never did seem happy. Robert took to drinking
in the evenings at the local bar up the highway. At the same time Millie
turned her attentions on Leo Stradman, a lawyer in town with 20 years on
her. Learning of the affair increased his drinking. And his more frequent
nights out increased her distance. Everything, very slowly, seemed to
collapse.

After a while he went into the kitchen and heated up some soup. In spite
of not having eaten anything at all during the day, what with running
around trying not to be eaten himself, he brought the spoon up to his mouth
only occasionally. Finally, he threw down the spoon. Millie was gone. She
was alive but she was gone. Turned into some…thing. He remembered the
dinners they had eaten together in the early days, the good days, always
laughing afterward about how neither of them was much of a cook as they
did a couple of shots of tequila together.

"Tequila sounds good" Robert said to himself. He went over to the buffet
and poured himself a shot and belted it down. And then did a few more.
Finally, he walked into the kitchen and pulled out a box of Stouffer's
Swedish meatballs from the freezer. He opened the box and put the frozen
meatballs in a bowl and then, reading the cooking directions, put them in
the microwave on Hi for 4 minutes. When the meatballs were done he put them
on a plate and walked out to the shed. As he approached, his wife, hearing
his steps no doubt, or perhaps then being able to smell his live flesh, or
possibly the meatballs, once again began the hideous growling and again
started pounding on the door. One by one Robert dropped the meatballs into
the shed through a small hole in the door. He heard his wife snort and
chew the meatballs as he fed them to her.

Zombie she might be, but he loved her still, or the memory of what she
once was only a few hours or a few months or a few years before. He
went back to the house and laid down on the bed, not even taking off his
boots. It was going to be a long time until morning.

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