On a dark and dreary night, when not even the rats come out to play, there are creatures that lurk in the parking lots and alleyways of each and every town. There are the ones that are cunning and sly, avoiding detection and therefore destruction. And then there are the others. Like Hector.
Hector never asked to be a zombie. In fact, Hector never asked for anything. In life he had been a quiet, unassuming bank clerk who neither felt nor inspired passion. When he died at the tragically young age of 34, victim of a drunk driver, it was generally agreed that the world had lost a 'decent sort of chap'. Six months later few people could remember him. Six months after that nobody remembered him.
When he rose from his grave, the first thing Hector did was try to get back into it. He had been at rest, peaceful in his own little corner of the after world. He didn't know for certain, but he didn't think he was in Heaven. He was pretty sure he wasn't in Hell either. He supposed that his existence in the hereafter had been as mediocre as his life had been, uneventful and just this side of pleasant. The rude awakening he had experienced was so far out of his field of experience he didn't know how to deal with it.
Still, Hector dealt with his newfound status the way he had always dealt with crises. Whenever there was a panic at the bank, or when his neighbour's bathroom flooded, Hector was there to be called upon. His calm, level-headiness made him the ideal anchor in a storm. And it was this attribute that helped him through his first few weeks as a zombie. But it didn't mean he was happy.
He was surprised to discover there was a place for things like him in town. He fell in with the zombie set, quietly ingratiating himself with those he felt he might be useful. He slowly learned the whys and wherefores of being one of the undead, a phrase which he hated with a passion hitherto unknown. And he finally learned of a way he could be helped – the Winchesters.
His problem now was how to find these two brothers. Word in the underworld that he now dwelt in, was that they were bad news. You didn't mess with the Winchesters and if you saw them coming, you ran in the opposite direction. They didn't stop to consider whether you were evil or not, they were the shoot first type. Hector didn't want to run. He wanted to see them coming and face them head on. He was at the stage where he would even pay them. He just had to attract their attention.
So Hector did what he always did. He researched. He read every newspaper account of bizarre occurrences. He surfed the internet daily for signs of the Winchesters. He talked to zombie communities across the country, steadily gathering information. He travelled from town to town until he caught sight of a distinctive 1967 Impala.
Once Hector had found the brothers, his next task was to make their acquaintance. He knew he didn't look like a text book zombie. In the failing light of the day he could easily pass for someone suffering a bad cold. He had kept up his clear speech and good manners. Death, he felt, was no excuse for bad etiquette. His parents and teachers had drilled him on minding his P's and Q's and, for that, he could only thank them. Hector had always been a good student.
Dean Winchester, it appeared, had an addiction. Every morning, just before the sun rose, he would leave whichever motel room the brothers were habituating and head for the nearest coffee bar. He would return with two large cups of the strongest coffee Hector had ever smelt. Hector had always thought that zombies lost their senses but it turned out that, although his eyesight was no longer 20/20, his sense of smell more compensated for the loss.
He followed them through four towns, just to be sure that the older brother's routine was set in stone. He was a patient man and he had plenty of time. It took him six weeks before he was happy. On the first day of the seventh week, Hector developed a taste for coffee himself. He made sure he was in the queue behind Dean. He studied the man in front of him carefully. There was much to be said for being Hector. Being unnoticed was one of his best attributes and the one for which he was most grateful. Dean Winchester was a man who let little get by him, but even he seemed unaware of Hector's proximity.
Making contact with the Winchesters proved easier than Hector had been anticipating. Although the older one had been paying him little to no attention it turned out that the younger Winchester, Sam, had been watching his brother. And apparently, anything bizarre involving his brother, concerned him. Strange men standing behind him in line at the coffee bar for six straight days would appear to fall into that category.
As Dean left the coffee bar on that final day of waiting, Hector was disconcerted to see the younger brother standing on the sidewalk, opposite the doorway. He was even more disconcerted to find that Sam Winchester's gaze was not upon his brother, but upon the zombie following him at a discreet distance. And once eye contact had been made, Hector knew that there was no turning back. The fates had decided that contact was to be made.
It turned out that the Winchester brothers were not unreasonable men. All the tales that Hector had been told were, in Hector's recent experience, unfounded. They listened to his story quietly and thoughtfully, only interrupting occasionally. Glances were cast between them, meaningful and private, not intended to be interpreted by man nor beast, Hector decided. He was pleasantly surprised to find that they acquiesced to his request with very little discussion. He was also surprised to find that the brothers were, in fact, very good company.
It was decided, without Hector's input, that the quickest way to deal with his unwanted zombie status was to stake him back into his original grave. Hector didn't like the sound of being staked but, given the alternative of a mundane forever being undead, he decided that the pain was probably worth the gain. A few drinks beforehand would probably help him through the situation, or so Dean told him. Repeatedly. So often, in fact, that Hector began to wonder who was going to need the drink most. He wasn't an expert but he thought maybe Dean was embracing the idea of a pre-staking drink a little too enthusiastically.
But Hector wanted to be really dead again so he agreed.
The drive back to Hector's hometown was uneventful. They stopped a few times, drove mostly through the day when Hector could sleep, untroubled by the daylight, Nighttimes were … fun. Hector couldn't remember having a good time after hours. He supposed it reflected badly on his choices that he was beginning to consider these two brothers, unorthodox as they were, to be friends. He'd never really had a friend before but he wondered if this was what it would have been like if he'd let his hair down once in a while.
But it was too late for regrets. Hector understood that. He'd made his decision and he wasn't one for going back on promises, even if they were only to himself. So they travelled onwards, two hunters and a zombie. If he were inclined to romantic notions, Hector might have imagined it to be a final roadtrip with his buddies. But Hector had never been romantic and he'd never had buddies.
The trip home took twelve days. If Hector was honest he'd have to admit that they were the best twelve days of his life. Or death, to be more accurate. By the time they reached their destination, Hector and the Winchester brothers had formed an unlikely alliance. Friendship wasn't something that had ever come easily to Hector but he felt comfortable with these two men. There was laughter, and banter, and drinking, and pranks, and hustling, and a finality about the whole thing that Hector felt reassuring.
When it was time to put Hector back in his grave, he went happily. He had achieved in death something that had eluded him his whole life. He had found a camaraderie and when he lay himself back in his grave, when Sam Winchester came at him with that stake, all he could think was 'now I have truly lived'.