Half-human, half-zombie, Enzo, sees the love of his life while visiting the Zombie Zoo. With the entirety of his half-beating heart, he believes love is true for the living, the dead, and the in-between.
Brains. Enzo didn’t crave them. Why would he? Humans don’t eat human brains and he’s at least half that.
Human. She was human. Man, was she human. Eva. Her name sparked warmth in his body, even throughout his dead side. She worked at the Zombie Zoo – the largest attraction in Enzo’s city. But Zombies weren’t the only creatures in there. Eva was a caretaker of probably the friendliest exhibit the Zombie Zoo had to offer: The HareBear House. Those soft, hopping animals made everyone smile with their long ears and puffy bodies. But not Enzo. Only Eva made him smile. His best bud, a Fully, often called Enzo a creeper. Enzo didn’t mind.
Creepy or not, he loved Eva.
And his heart beat as fast as it slowly could while he waited for the traffic light to turn green. A few more seconds and I get to see her, he smiled inside. But would she notice him? At school, she never did, and they’d been attending the same high school for three years now. It’s not like it’s a huge school.
Enzo was only half-human. The other half? A zombie. Most full humans, or Fullies, hated the Halfies. Rightfully so, Enzo supposed. When the dead rose, the zombies had eaten 3/4 of the population by the time the apocalypse ended. That was long ago. Then the mutation occurred, and the Halfies were born, along with dozens of other creatures such as one-legged giraffes, sharks with four heads (because three wasn’t enough), and of course, the HareBears.
The HareBear House was bright and pink and full of life – the exact opposite of the Zombie Zone, which was dark, decaying, moist, and truly smelly. But people liked to see those decaying bodies that had almost wiped out the human race. Perhaps it was to mock, or to mourn past relatives, or to simply learn. Enzo didn’t get it. Nor did he care. The only reason he went to the zoo was to see Eva. This was his third visit in two months.
Halfies weren’t allowed in the Zombie Zoo until a year ago. The Whole Heart Freedom movement was successful in getting equal rights for Halfies. Still, most Fullies wanted nothing to do with their lesser half.
When he entered the HareBear House, it was just about feeding time, meaning he would see Eva feed those clumsy creations their favorite food: Carrot-Steaks. Yes, even food mutated after the zombie apocalypse. Carrot-Steaks are disgusting. Never eat Carrot-Steaks. And it wasn’t because he was half-zombie that he hated such a food. He loved plenty of food humans ate.
Unfortunately for Enzo, the HareBare House was packed with Fullies. He had half a mind to leave, in order to avoid any conflicts.
But it’s Eva. He would take the risk and slip upstairs where less people watched the fluffy feeding. Pulling his hood tight, in order to cover up his ice-pale face, Enzo stumbled through the crowd, keeping his gray eyes averted from any Fully Bully.
Even more unfortunate for Enzo, the worst of the Fully Bullies was in attendance at the HareBare House. His name? Tully. Big, tan, muscular Tully.
Tully the Fully Bully.
Enzo didn’t even get a chance to see the HareBears, as Tully lifted him off the ground with the largest of lively smiles. “I was hoping you’d come again, you Halfer!”
Halfer. A derogatory name for Halfies. Others included Snow-skins, Dead Eyes, and Wobbly Legs. Enzo didn’t get the slur Wobbly Legs. He never wobbled. But somehow, whenever Tully said it, Enzo’s skin rotted.
Tully threw Enzo to the ground and his weak skin broke on impact. Enzo stayed silent, for he wouldn’t give Tully the satisfaction of hearing pain. Along with two of his cronies, Tully the Fully Bully hovered over Enzo. “Never come here again, got it? Eva is mine. And you’re donezo.”
His fist sent Enzo lights out.
When he awoke, her bright emerald eyes put more life into him than ever before. Her brown, sun-kissed hair was tied back in a ponytail. A long strand fell over her large forehead. He loved her forehead. It was usually so shiny. So living.
Eva pressed a cloth under his bleeding nose. “Tully really did a number on you. I found you out back after the feeding show.”
Enzo knew not what to say. They sat on a fluffy bench, in a fluffy room, in the fluffy HareBear house. “I-uh-thanks.”
“Been seeing you around a lot. You stalking me?” She smiled. Boy howdy, could she smile.
“Relax,” whispered Eva as she dabbed the blood off Enzo’s cheek. “I’m kidding.”
“Sorry, I just – I didn’t see this coming.”
Eva pulled the cloth away, flashing her white teeth. “That’s what she said.”
Enzo had heard the joke before. He wanted to laugh but he never laughed. Perhaps his humor was deader than his dead half. Then again, Halfies are considered the worst attendees at Comedy Clubs, and not just by Fullies.
Eva looked at the fluffy pink floor. “Right, sorry, bad joke.”
“No,” said Enzo and he was surprised he actually grabbed her hand. Her skin was so warm. “It was funny.”
“You’re cold.” Eva pulled her hand away. “I’ve never felt skin so cold.”
“It’s not much different than your own.”
“I know. It’s . . . very cold and very pale.”
Perhaps she’ll never love me for what I am. But I have to believe she’s different than most. I have to. “I’ll wear gloves when we hold hands.”
She raised a thin brow curiously. “Huh?”
“On our date.”
“Wow.” Eva stood with one of those soul-beaming smiles. “Asking me out already? You’re quick, Enzo.”
With a speeding heart, he released his first joke, “That’s what she said.”
And when Eva laughed for him, Enzo wasn’t half of anything. He was simply here. Full and alive.