Traduction par Ninefifteen, with B’s help – original en français
Ever since he was a child, Christian had been harbouring a deep fear of the living deads. He had bought survival kits, had immersed himself in everything that pop culture and the Internet had invented around this topic – and that was a lot of material.
He had written several books, each of them a best seller – the most famous being “Those Deceased Watching Us”. He sold millions of them, earning a colossal fortune – colossal from a writer’s standpoint anyway. It was enough for him though, to build his dream house. Which means a zombie proof shelter, designed with taste.
He had carefully selected the place to build it: a deserted mound in the middle of plains, with no tree to interfere with his visibility, and no neighbour to either contaminate him, or over-chat about him.
Everything in Christian’s life — his job, his hobbies, his culture — had been shaped by this ferocious fear of what looked, more or less, like a corpse in the making. Even the people surrounding him had been chosen with this fear in mind. There were only a few: the risk of getting infected in case of an epidemic was way too high, and the propagation speed, exponential.
He ended up cutting himself off from the world. His savings would allow him to do so, while keeping his usual comfort. Even though he lived in the middle of nowhere, he had had the optic fibre installed in his remote location to keep in touch with the latest wild ideas roaming around the Internet. He read everything carefully, as if each piece of information were vital. He also ordered all the latest books exploring zombie related topics. Each package had to go through two decontamination chambers, one before opening, the other after.
Finally, he had hired a butler, who was the only human admitted into his comfort zone. He chose him for his brevity, dedication and his house keeping skills. This brave man would fetch food for him, he would clean the house, and look after the gardens. Christian strongly believed that organizing nature, rationalizing it would be the best way to postpone a hypothetical contamination, by preventing the disease’s effects.
Obviously, the butler — whose name was Donovan — could not avoid the decontamination chambers, even after a two minutes outing in the courtyard. That made him the cleanest man in the universe, maybe even cleaner than Christian himself.
Christian moved from fear to paranoia when he heard, on an obscure forum, about a first case of Human Morbid Mutation — or “zombie-fication”.
At first he kept his paranoia to himself. He didn’t want to believe in a simple thread message, posted on an unknown forum and not passed on by any other website.
Then people started spreading the foul news that message initially came up with. This moment was also, coincidently, the start of the HMM epidemic.
For as long as he could, Christian acted like nothing particular was bothering him. He didn’t forbid Donovan to go out. He still got his supplies from the outside, to delay the moment when he would have to start on his emergency rations of water and freeze-dried food.
But when the epidemic stepped from a marginal phenomenon mentioned on the Internet, to a real epidemic covered on regular TV news, he definitely cut off ties with the outer world. He forced Donovan to stay home, as if he were under house arrest. Christian demanded several decontaminating showers a day. He shared his time between reading news — that caused him to panic — and crawling from window to window to scan the outside world with his high-tech binoculars.
He didn’t notice when Donovan became purely mute, nor when his moves slowly got less accurate. He didn’t see how Donovan’s abilities slowly, very slowly, decreased.
They did not exactly decrease — they changed.
With the butler, the metamorphosis happened very slowly, silently, with no visible sign. Christian had always been right on something — dominating nature would delay its progress. Controlling their bodies with antiseptic products had delayed, reduced the HMM development.
But the mutation somewhat took advantage of this slowness, and grew other strengths — deviousness, particularly. Thus Donovan did not contaminate his master. He did not touch him and didn’t even bite him during his sleep. However, he soiled the food, the water, and above all, the shower — as Christian considered it as his only way to survive.
A long time after the outbreak of the epidemic — at a point when humanity had lost hope of finding a cure — Christian woke up in an unusual state. He felt hazy in his mind and uncomfortable in his body.
When he looked at his reflection in the mirror, he had to face the facts: his skin was peeling away from his face in long, thin whitish filaments, showing his raw rotting flesh.
Disbelief struck him, prevented him from even screaming. And suddenly he noticed Donovan was behind him. The butler slipped in there, as silent as usual. His face too was slowly crackling, as if it had waited all this time before showing. He put his hand on Christian’s shoulder, who shivered in front of the absurd horror they were facing.
Then Donovan shone a smile, an atrocious smile showing his gum. Gum that was rapidly getting darker. For a moment he seemed to wonder about what to say — actually he was searching for his voice — a voice that he had decided to silence months before. And with this stumbling, hollow voice, he simply said:
— Welcome home.
T0106162015 – T1007161830