His mother sat in her chair rocking back and forth to some unheard music. Perhaps a Strauss waltz, he mused. They were her favorites. The glass fireplace cover reflected Jeopardy playing on the TV. Marcus remembered watching the game show with her. When he was younger, he would often sit on her lap. Later, he played games on his iPad or read the newest book in the AltLit Zombie Series. Her hands were out of view; but Marcus knew she was knitting something for the church bizarre, a duty she performed every year for as long as Marcus could remember. He missed sitting with her. He missed her laugh. He missed her fist pump paired with a hissing "yesss" when she got the answer to Final Jeopardy. He wanted to tell her what had happened, how he'd become one of them. He couldn't though. It was dangerous to be near her--dangerous for her, not him.
He thought back to his twenty-first birthday party. Zane challenged him to a drinking contest. Marcus agreed. He'd never heard of a drink called a Zombie, had no idea what was in it, nor what effect it would have on him. He felt wobbly after the first drink. Yet, when Zane offered a second, Marcus drank it down. The next thing he remembered was waking in Zane's apartment with a killer headache and no recollection of how he got there. Marcus didn't learn until later that Zane had spiked his drink and stolen his soul. Now, he would spend the rest of his natural life, and beyond, complying with Zane's orders.
Marcus' eyes focused back on his mother. He couldn't imagine how hard the last eight months had been on her. First, her only child disappeared. Then, unable to deal with losing his son, her husband drank himself into a stupor and drove off the road at Crist's Pass plunging to his death. Marcus wanted to hold her, to tell her how much he loved her, to sit with her again and watch Jeopardy. Most of all, he wanted her to be happy.
Marcus glanced up and saw the moon peek through a break in the clouds. It was time to leave. His visits had become shorter and shorter, as he found it harder and harder to resist the draw of a mother's love. Marcus stepped away from the tree toward the woods that provided a barrier along the back of the house. He needed to return before Zane came looking for him. He hadn't told Zane about his fortnightly visits to see his mom. Marcus knew how jealous his master was and feared what might happen to her if Zane found out. Marcus hunched his shoulders against the rain and bowed his head. He swallowed hard and struggled to keep his composure. He repeated Zanes' admonition, as he disappeared into the pines and spruces and oaks. Zombies don't cry.