“Do you honestly think that this will work?”

“Just another minute, so that I can rig the generator!” I shouted over my shoulder at my pale-faced assistant, Dave. “We can take out the zombies and bring down the source of the brain wave generator, all at the same time!”

Dave stared back at me, struggling to hold the lab’s door shut against the groaning, mindless bodies throwing themselves at it from the other side. “Jerry!” he yelled.

“What?” Connect the wires, being careful to avoid the live ones. It’s like Operation, but lethal…

“Do you honestly think that this will work?”

For just an instant, that comment, desperate and panicked, made me stop. “You know, people say that a lot,” I remarked, slipping the last couple of wires into position and throwing the switch on the main ignition. I immediately threw myself away, my hand closing on the scruff of Dave’s lab coat and dragging him down to the floor with me, below the generator’s concrete base.

For a moment, every one of my senses overloaded as the generator short-circuited- and then promptly exploded. With a deafening roar, a massive jet of foul-smelling flame spewed above us, slamming into the oncoming horde of zombies. By the time that Dave and I staggered back upright, the attacking monsters had been reduced to little more than crispy ashes.

“They keep on asking me that, if I honestly think that this – whatever ‘this’ might be – will work,” I continued, as we snatched up our makeshift weapons and continued out of the lab. “And you know what?”

Dave smacked a zombie in the head with the sword he held in his hands, not slowing as he sprinted to keep up with me. “What?”

“It does, a lot more than they’d expect,” I answered him. A zombie sprang out of nowhere at me, but I managed to catch it with my cricket bat, knocking out its teeth. “Heck, that’s how I got hired here.”

Behind us, we both heard the ominous creaking sound of the very beams of the building’s structure giving way, caving under the heat of the still-burning generator. We saw the final doors up ahead, and doubled our speed. I felt my legs burning as I pumped them, but dove forward, sliding to knock the door open. Dave followed, just a step behind me.

“What did you suggest? To get hired here?” Dave asked, when we finally lifted our heads from the dirt where we’d both face-planted.

“Programming solution,” I answered, spitting out a clod of grass. “Multi-language, that was the whole point. The guy hiring me just stared at it. Asked that same question.”

“Which is…”

Now sitting up, we turned and looked back, watching the lab building collapsing behind us. The huge radio tower on its roof bent forward, toppling with deceptive slowness into the growing inferno. “Your question,” I repeated. “He looked at the solution I’d put on the board, then me, then asked, ‘Do you honestly think that this will work?’.”

“And did it?”

I gestured down at my own dirty, tattered lab coat. “You can see the result, assistant of mine.”

After another minute, we looked around. Thankfully, there seemed to be a distinct lack of zombies lunging forward to eat our brains. “Looks like bringing down the antenna worked,” Dave remarked.

I shrugged modestly. “Thought it would. But we’ve still got to rescue Eliza from those government agents who kidnapped her.”

“And I was hoping that maybe you’d forgotten about that,” Dave groaned. “Come on, she was the one who spearheaded this entire zombie-making project!”

“Not her fault,” I defended her. And, I added to myself, I was thinking about her value as a scientist, her honesty and integrity. Definitely not thinking about that night together when we stayed up until nearly four in the morning trying to solve Maxwell’s Unexplored Equations, drinking too much coffee and leaning together, her clean, floral scent clinging to my skin wherever her body brushed against mine…

“Fine. We didn’t just stop the zombie horde that these damn government guys unleashed. But we’re also going to go rescue our lab’s Nobel egghead.” Dave winked at me. “And your office crush, by the way.”

I grimaced. “You know about that?”

“Boss, everyone in the lab knew about you two.” Dave stabbed his shovel into the ground, using it as a cane. “So, what’s our plan?”

I stood. I thought for a minute. And then I told him, dragging my cricket bat in the dirt to outline how all the different parts came together.

When I finished, Dave stood in silence for a minute, his mouth hanging open. “That – that’s insane,” he finally managed. “There’s no way – the timing that we’ll need – do you honestly think that this will work?”

I just waggled my finger at him. “And there it is again,” I noted.

He sighed. “Hey, our lab might have just exploded, but you’re the boss. Let’s go save the world.”

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