The next morning came, and wth it the new mission for the day:

"Snippy and Engie! Go look for Zombie, my minions! And Pilot will help me building a moat for the Royal Peach castle." obviously Captain hadn't given up on building his zombie army, yet, as Snippy had thought, and he made a mental note to check for water filled pits around the hideout, when returning later.

"Why looking for him? Don't stop a traveller I say. And if he wants to find that guy that bad, why can't Seven look for him himself." Engie's mood seemed to be even worse than usual today.

"If I didn't know you better, I might say you didn't sleep last night, Gromov, nightmares?" Snippy inquired.

"Well, why would I have nightmares of let's say zombies hunting me to consume my brain or something after all what happened yesterday, Charles?"

"Heh, well if it helps you, Zombie didn't seem to be interested into eating my brain, when he had the chance."

"That's not really comforting. Obviously you and the other morons wouldn't be in any danger since you don't have brains to be consumed to begin with. So any suggestions where we should look?"

"The one with the brain asking the brainless one for directions? Well I have a few ideas contrary to you. Let's start with that pit he was digging."

The pit was still where it had been yesterday, obviously. This time though the wheelbarrow and the shovel were gone. Snow had already begun to cover the soil that had frozen over night. There was no trace of anyone working here during the last hours. Snippy wasn't overly disappointed. It would have been far too easy anyway.

"Well, as expected. Next stop is the shopping street. If nothing else, there will be a few useful supplies."

"Absolutely thrilling." Was the only answer by the engineer.

The shopping street looked a lot like yesterday, snow was drifting through the empty display windows, the only difference was the huge cadaver lying in front of the electronics store and... Photoshop the Captain's and Pilot's mutated worm pet happily devouring what was left of the bloody mass that had once been a beast.

"Okayyy... We do NOT want to disturb her. Let's just stay out of her way." The engineer watched in morbid fascination as the shard like teeth rippped the meat apart.

"I was wondering where she had wandered off to. At least we don't have to feed her for a while. Too bad, though, I wanted to take a look at the dead monster. On the other hand as long as Photoshop is here, we don't need to worry about anything else ambushing us. She'll make hell of a noise if anything tries to sneak up on her and her meal."

So the marksman and the engineer checked the stores systematically for clues about Zombie's whereabouts. The first thing the sniper noticed was the half open door of the toystore – he was sure he had closed it after him before. He made a gesture for Engie to follow him. Their cautious investigation brought not much of a result though, somebody, probably Zombie had left some tracks in front of a shelve with small gimmicks. A few items had been put aside, obviously discarded. I were seals supposed to stamp funny animal pictures on paper.

"What could he want with one of those?" Snippy wondered.

Engie just shrugged.

The zombie seemed to have been very busy in the night. From the flowershop it had taken wrapping paper and a pack of Advent wreath candles.

The wheelbarrow which had been used to transport Snippy back to the base had come from the home improvement store, as well as the ducktape, it didn't look like Zombie had been back to the place since.

This wasn't true for the bookstore, though, as the mass of left open books and the half burned candles, broken pencils and torn wrapping paper arranged on the floor betrayed. The zombie had spent several hours in this place. Resting in the middle of the chaos was a small parcel.

Snippy hesitated for a moment, then he picked it up.

It was pretty light, felt like it contained something soft and had been neatly wrapped with paper from the flowershop and adhesive tape. Furthermore it had been sealed with wax from a red candle, the wax was showing the imprint of a grinning skull. An adress was scribbled: To the Captain, 4th and Maple ave., floor 13. As clarification a little portrait of the Captain had been drawn next to it.

In the meantime Gromov had inspected the books.

"'How to write buiseness letters', 'Modern language dictionary', 'Monsters manual', 'A history of pandemics'? What the hell?"

"Let's get this thing back to Captain, I don't think we'll find anything else here." The sniper stored the parcel away in his backpack and waved for the engineer to follow him.

"Are you joking? Don't you want to look inside that parcel first?"

"Hell no! Captain would probably show up out of the blue in the middle of me unwrapping it, besides I don't think I could reseal it without leaving a trace anyway. We'll find out what's inside soon enough I guess."

They found Captain and Pilot in front of the base. Pilot was making use of the wheelbarrow and moving dirt from the under construction moat around, while Captain was holding a deflated rubber crocodile, he had found somewhere.

"Ah! You're back in time minions! Engie repair that! It's loosing air." Captain shoved the rubber crocodile at him, then turned towards Snippy, looking at him expectantly.

"Here, I guess this is from Zombie for you." The marksman just handed over the sealed up bundle.

"For my eyes only? What could zis be? A love letter? A mail bomb? We shall see!"

Snippy doubted it was any of either, but said nothing as the Captain turned back into the base to inspect their finding.

Spending the afternoon making fun of Gromov, who was struggling with the inflatable crocodile, the sniper subdued his curiosity for the time being.

When the three minions finally went inside, they found their Captain sitting in his armchair sipping on his tea.

"And?" Snippy inquired.

"And what mein sniper?"

"What about the parcel, what about Zombie?"

"He eez sorry but he can't join our squad for now, so there eez no longer need for looking for him Mr. Snippy."

"And that is all there is?"

"He was worried about your health."

"... That is... Okay, forget it!"



Later that night, when the Captain had gone wandering around outside to inspect their progress on the moat, and Pilot and Engie were sleeping – the latter with the still deflated crocodile wrapped around him – Snippy went for answers.

Captain's room wasn't locked and actually all the contents of the mysterious parcel were lying out in the open on the table.

First thing was a piece of shrink-wrapped black cloth. A sticky note attached to it, as well as a 'Property of Captein' note.

The sticky one read:

"I only found your message attached to my back, when I checked my air-tanks. I'm not sure why you want my old t-shirt, but if you don't mind, take my spare one instead, it's the same design and size. "

- Air-tanks? Then that isn't a gas mask but an oxygenmask he's wearing? – Snippy wodered briefly. And tanks in plural? If he had two, it was possible to use one separately for searching for the lost gas mask, without fearing to run out of air.

And a t-shirt? The shirt in it's plastic folder had a peculiar design.

- I knew it! I saw bones before passing out. He was wearing a ribcage t-shirt! Who would have thought of that? So he is indeed not a real zombie, just some creepy fellow with a strange taste in fashion. No surprise if Captain was disappointed. -

But was that the only reason no longer to look for Zombie? From what Captain had said earlier there should be... Ah yes, there it was a full lenght letter.

"Dear Captain,

I am truely sorry to have to give you a negative answer upon the matter of recruiting me for the amazing army of Captania. Please excuse my former ignorance concerning the bakground and purpose of zombie units, I am not sure as of why the term was unknown to me but my vocabulary seems to be lacking at times. I made sure to gather the necessary information about by now. My reasons for declining your kind offer are connected to those new informations and are the following:

I am not sure I am a zombie at all, what would defeat the whole purpose of recruiting me as a zombie unit. Some of the described syptoms of zombification fit me, some don't. So I'll try to have my status confirmed before enlisting.

Second I endangered the life of the supporting sniper unit, by needlessly delaying completion of the mission. I may not be made to fit well into a team, if I can't ensure my coworkers personal safety.

Third I couldn't help but notice that your squad is reaching a critical count of crewmembers already. From my observation of groups of human survivors, I found that groups consisting of more than six people have trouble finding enough food in most areas. As long as there is no replenish-able source of food available for you, I can only advise against recruiting me - especially since your sniper unit shows signs of malnourishment already.

The last reason is concerning, what information I was able to gather about zombies in the short time at hand. While I still don't know what 'necromancy' and 'vodoo' are supposed to be I can't exclude a pandemic virus to be the cause of my current condition. I might be highly contagious, if so I am a high risk for your and your squad's health and/or lives. This alone should be reason enough for me to stay away from your squad until my condition has been validated as no risk for your wellbeing.

I hope next time we meet I have more information and we can become... what is the word for 'not enemies'? The dictionary suggests 'allies' but I'm not entirely sure that is the word I was looking for.

Your's sincerely

Unit: Igor GD, EE-department, known to you as Zombie.

PS.: I had to give my oxygenmask to your sniper unit for a while, since I don't know how contagious I actually am, keep an eye on him for any symptoms. Should his blood turn black and his eyes milky within a week, please tell him I'm sorry."