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Nov 19, 2019 3:39 AM
in which karen teller saves expat fairy celegorm from zombies
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Karen Teller is having a really, really, really terrible month.

(In the privacy of her own brain, she is willing to admit that if ever there were a month that was downright shitty, this would be it.)

Her sister is dead. Not, like, gone to heaven dead, stuck on earth as a ghost dead. Her niece is still a werewolf, and is making progress on her apparent goal of scratching up every piece of furniture in the house. Also she got a D on a history test. Just straight-up got a D, on a history test, because she's been too dead all month to even listen during lectures. And she's too - proud, or scared, or something, to call in her parents for help, so she's just living in this house with a ghost and a tiny werewolf and an elementary schooler and hoping that nothing goes horribly horribly wrong before she graduates.

She has a job. It even pays enough to hire the nanny all day. Which is, you know, super. It starts at six and ends at nine, and is all the way across town, and she can't drive, so when she's lucky she gets home around ten, and she mostly doesn't take a stab at her homework because by that time she doesn't want to do anything at all. She does manage to take a shower, usually, because she's been handling dead bodies, because, oh yeah, she works at a cemetery, which is why it pays so well.

Also, she finds out today, there are zombies. Just, y'know, actual zombies, wandering around the catacombs under the mausoleum, which is probably why the caretaker gave her a mace, although honestly this is a thoroughly ridiculous way to handle this problem and you would THINK, if you knew that there were zombies infesting your catacombs, you would be able to seal them off and move your business somewhere safer, or at least come up with a solution that's less completely stupid than arming sixteen-year-olds with medieval weaponry and expecting them to fend for themselves.

This is mostly what she's thinking about when she takes out the zombie that's about to take a bite out of her coworker's shoulder. She has to assume that the actual contact is, like, instinct, or something. She hits it again, after, for good measure, and again, until its face is completely smashed in, because maybe she can't beat the crap out of this horrible, horrible month, but at least she can make sure this fricking literal walking corpse isn't going to make anything any worse.

 

"There. Dead zombie. Hopefully it stays that way this time."

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If she is busy smashing the zombie into a pulp she won't have noticed that her coworker is standing very still against the wall staring at her.

"You saved my life," he says, not entirely happily.

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"I guess," she says, very tiredly. She picks up her flashlight. Doesn't see any others hiding in the shadows. "Well that goes a long way in explaining why this job pays so well, I guess."

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"I...guess? What d'you want, or should my parents sort it out -"

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Now that the adrenaline has sorted out the problem she mostly feels really tired and shaky. She sits down against the wall and breathes, still scanning the tunnels with her flashlight in case she missed any others.

It takes her a few seconds to process what he has said.

"...what?"

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"You saved my life," he says again, slowly. "Uh, where I'm from, that's very important, and I owe you something worth just as much."

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"Okay, well, I dunno if anything's worth as much as a life is? So I don't really know what - I guess if another zombie comes by you can yell?"

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"You can add stuff up until you get there but it takes a while. I'll just tell my parents to deal with it. If there's not - more zombies."

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"Okay," she says, even though she has basically no idea what this means. "Should we - get somebody, I don't really know what the zombie procedure is." She glances at her watch. "Shift's almost over anyway."

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"I think there's paperwork we're supposed to fill out for workplace safety incide - on the other hand, we could just go home."

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"Ugh. You go home, I'll fill it out."

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Twitch. "I owe you my life."

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"...okay?"

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"So I should stay and you should go home."

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"You really wanna fill out the paperwork?"

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"I just -  this is already bad enough, I should at least be trying."

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"Okay. I don't really know if it's even safe to ride my bike home until the adrenaline goes away, though, so like, whichever way."

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"Could call you a taxi."

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"Nooo, no no no. I'll be good in a few minutes. Probably. Never killed a zombie before."

She stands up and gathers her stuff.

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He...attempts paperwork.

As he cannot read, this goes poorly.

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She is still hanging out waiting for her shift to be over, because actually she feels really weird about leaving before the clock says she can.

 

"....you sure you got that?"

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He's written his name in the first blank and the date in the second blank and his address on the next row and is writing 'we were attacked by zombies' in all the remaining spaces. "Yeah. I bet they don't even read these."

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"...okay. See you tomorrow, I guess."

She bikes home.

Connor's watching Zana, because Connor is eight, but she doesn't have a lot of better options, and most stuff can get done by an eight year old with hands and a twenty-four-year-old ghost without them. She puts them both to bed and reads them a story. She showers. She's kind of scared of the dark right now, so she actually does her homework, for once, instead of going to bed.

She wakes up at dawn over the kitchen table, face smashed into her half-finished geometry homework.

She feels like it's not gonna be a great day. She writes some random nonsense for the rest of the problems and makes herself a microwaveable burrito and feeds her niblings breakfast and gets on the bus when it comes.

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Connor's not in school but he ditches school around half the time anyway so that doesn't mean much.

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Yeah whatever. She would ask one of his siblings if he's okay about the zombie attack, and stuff, but that would require talking to people about all the bullshit that happens in this town during school, which is impossible, and would relatedly require talking to people, which is only slightly less impossible.

She doesn't go home between work and school, because school is a lot closer to work. She does journalism club stuff, and then she spends a while pretending to herself that any minute now she's going to stop reading about ancient Sumerian burial rites and is going to get started on her chemistry homework. 

Eventually she bikes to work.

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He is at work.

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