Jacob P. Silvia
Jacob P. Silvia lives in Houston, Texas, where he works for a NASA contractor. He spends his free time writing, but he would like to eventually make writing his full-time career, and launch space shuttles as a hobby. He enjoys a good cup of tea, a decent movie featuring the shambling undead, and an occasional book about the Perl programming language. His website may be found at http://jacob.silvia.googlepages.com.
The last time I counted, Bramblehorn, Texas had a population of 10. Though most in Texas pride themselves as the biggest and the best, there is something to be said about being the smallest city.
If you look in a book, it'll probably tell you that the smallest city is Los Ybanez, but that's just a myth brought on by the Big Liquor industry. That and I'm the only one here who knows anything about reading and writing and mathematics, and I was out hunting when the census man came around. I think Jem or Lem might have given him a bad count, that or they shot him.
We're honest people, really. We just don't favor outsiders. Needless to say, this results in many people not trusting us.
People don't trust us especially about the occurrence at Oakpost Sundries.
Zeb ran the Oakpost Sundries, and he'd always greet you with a toothless smile when you'd walk through the door. Though one day, he heard the little bell above the door ring, and he looked up, smiled, all gums, and stared right in the face of a space zombie.
Could he have screamed, I bet you would have heard it all the way in Lubbock.
Though the space zombie didn't do much. He only purchased a few items and left, shambling off into the morning mist. When I came into the shop, Zeb was shaking. He made signs letting me know what happened, and nodded every time I guessed correctly.
"A space zombie? You don't say." I called up the mayor.
Ben sat in his fancy wooden chair and smoked a corncob pipe. "A space zombie? You don't say!" he said to me through plumes of cherry-scented smoke. He sat and thought about things for a while, and finally said to me, "Son, I want you to write me up a bill. One that protects us from the likes of space zombies. Bring it to the next Town Hall, and read it out there. If everyone agrees to it, we'll put it to a vote, and then I'll sign it."
When I got back to my house to write the bill, I wanted to make sure that I didn't overwrite any existing laws, so I pulled out the copies of the two legal documents I had: the Constitution and the Ten Commandments.
Space zombies have blue skin. That's how you distinguish them from American zombies. Those ones are usually brown or gray. But, if I remember correctly, we're not allowed to make laws about skin color. I believe they're called de jour laws, which is French for "of the day."
Also, space zombies are from space. That's another way to distinguish them from American zombies, since American zombies are from America. Though, Big Liquor et al. reinterpreted the Fourteenth Amendment and the Tenth Commandment to cover people not from America, preventing non-federal governments from enacting laws prohibiting or restricting freedoms based on origin, be it from space or otherwise.
So, I was left with one choice. I had to discriminate based on living status. I mean, dead folks can't vote, so I suppose they shouldn't be allowed to do other things too.
I took my bill to Ben. He had me read it out loud to him before he put his big X on the signature line. "I'll definitely have you read it at the next Town Hall," he said.
The town hall was laid out with two rows each of four chairs on either side of an aisle. With Ben and me sitting on chairs on the stage, half the seats were filled. Ben said that I was here to read a bill I just wrote to protect us from further interference by the space zombies.
"Space zombies? You don't say!" said Jen, the schoolmistress.
"Yes, space zombies," I said, "and I drafted a bill to protect us, and Ben here signed it. I wrote it in fancy speak, like all legal documents are supposed to be written, so I'll just give you the gist of it now. See, space zombies are dead folk, and thus, shouldn't be allowed the same rights as other folk, being that they're dead. So, this bill increases the level of discrimination we may legally show to them."
Zeb was the first to stand up an applaud. He applauded the loudest, since he couldn't cheer.
Not everyone applauded. I saw Zed shamble out during the applause. Nobody ever saw Zed again, except for Ned. The boy let me know that Zed told him he was leaving, since a town that discriminates against the dead is no town for him.
"Why would he care?" I asked Ned.
"Don't you know?" asked Ned. "Zed's a zombie himself."
After that, we didn't see any more space zombies, or any other zombies for that matter. It also reduced the number of ghosts that people reported, and further resulted in the cemetery having to be re-zoned, so that the deceased still had the rights to a decent burial.
Bramblehorn never had a town millionaire, but Zed was the closest thing you could get.
In the end, though, we got rid of the space zombies, so I suppose that makes it all better. Right?
copyright © 2008, Jacob P. Silvia