Night of the Living Date

     by Aidee Ladnier


Zombies and speed-dating definitely mix.

This was the thirteenth place winner in 13th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition, 2013.

To DH for being my first and my last.
To Andrea for taking the time to make it better.


“Okay, guys, remember the rules—five minutes and then you move on to the next table.”

The host’s smile didn’t reach her eyes. It hovered on her carmine lips, too bright on her washed out face. The severe platinum bun on the back of her head pulled the skin tight against her temples, making her cheekbones stand out in relief.

Lisa’s speed date slunk off to the next table. These guys were all the same. My name is blah. I work at blah-blah. I have a degree in blah. I like to go blah. What she wouldn’t give for a little excitement!

Lisa sighed and drummed her red polished nails on the tabletop. The low lighting in the bar couldn’t disguise the cracks on the thin wood paneling of the wall beside her. Or the smell of spilled beer on the floor.

The next guy who sat down looked nice, if a little nervous, and kept glancing over his shoulder at the door. He needed a haircut. His shaggy auburn hair brushed the collar of his striped shirt and made his light blue eyes pop.

“Hi, my name is Lisa. I’m looking for a little fun tonight, nothing serious. I’m not a vegetarian and I like sunsets on the water. Tell me about you.”

“I’m Michael.” He fixed her with wide eyes. “I chose the wrong reading material for a literature class in college and accidentally called up a monster that’s now stalking me.”

“Really?” Lisa grinned. Okay, finally someone who wanted to play. “Is it chasing you now?”

“Yes. I moved all over Europe trying to escape it, but it’s followed me here.”

“It got on the plane with you?”

“No. It walked across the bottom of the Atlantic.”

“So it doesn’t need to breathe?”

“It might be a zombie.” Michael cut his eyes to the side. “It moves really slowly, like in those Romero movies.”

Lisa leaned across the table. “You might need to move to Australia.”

“Agreed.” Michael grinned, his eyes dancing. But then he frowned. “Crap! I’ve got to go.”

Lisa followed his gaze to the entrance of the bar, where a rotting, hulking form swayed in tattered clothing. It spun from side to side, teetering on stiff legs before locking onto Michael, and shambled toward their table. A scream pierced the air as a female patron caught sight of the monster, and the room began to empty.

“It was nice to meet you, Lisa.” Michael kissed her hand, smirking up at her as his lips touched her skin. Around them, speed daters screamed and scrambled out of the room.

“Nice to meet you too,” she said. He released his grip but she squeezed his hand. “Wait! Did you use the Bergin incantation or the Phineas?”

Michael did a double-take, the smile growing on his face. “The Phineas.”

Lisa flirted back with a coy grin. “That was no book report. You know, all you need is a silver knife.”

The creature was almost upon them. Michael vaulted over the table, away from the slow-moving hulk to stand beside Lisa.

“You’re kidding! I’ve been dodging this thing for four continents.”

Lisa dug around in her tote and pulled out a large Bowie knife. She threw it deftly, sinking the blade deep into the monster’s forehead. It gurgled and then fell forward, stilling.

Michael and Lisa came out from behind the table. Michael prodded the motionless zombie with the rubber toe of his high-top tennis shoe. When it remained motionless he turned back to Lisa with a grin, clapping his hands together.

“We seem to be alone.” Michael’s words echoed in the empty hall. “Would you like to have dinner?”

“Sure. I know a great little place on Elm. Let me just get this.” She levered the blade out of the creature’s rotting forehead with a sharp tug. “My grandmother gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday.”

Lisa wiped the blade on the tablecloth and straightened her skirt before turning back to her date.

“So tell me Michael, what did you get your degree in?”


Copyright 2016, Aidee Ladnier. All rights reserved.

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