This is the ninth in a series of posts featuring speculative flash fiction in translation. This series highlights both new and established spec fic writers from around the world.
Raquel Castro is an award-winning Mexican author for both children and adults. She won the Premio Aguilar in 2012 for her YA horror novel Ojos Llenos de Sombras (Eyes Full of Shadows) and recently co-edited an anthology of Mexican zombie stories with Rafael Villegas, Festín de Muertos (Feast of the Dead). She lives in Mexico City.
Lawrence Schimel writes in both Spanish and English and has published over 100 books as author or anthologist for readers of all ages. As a literary translator, his most recent translations are Nothing is Lost: Selected Poems by Jordi Doce (Shearsman, May 2017) and The Wild Book by Juan Villoro (Restless Books October 2017).
“Typical” by Raquel Castro, translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel
Typical: you wake up in a hospital, connected to a thousand machines, and you don’t remember how you got there. Thanks to the wisdom learned from watching more than eight hours of TV a day, you imagine you’ve suffered an accident. You look for the signal to summon the nurse, who (you imagine: it’s what’s typical) will be young and pretty, kind and sweet. She will cry just to see you (she’ll have fallen in love with you during the long nights of intensive care) and she’ll tell you about the accident you don’t remember: about the little girl you saved from a terrorist attack or the president who wasn’t struck by a Hummer because you pushed him out of the way just in time.
But (typical) the nurse never shows up. It’s only when you’ve grown tired of waiting that you realize that it’s too quiet. So you remove the cables you’re connected to and you get up, very slowly.
You leave the room, walking through deserted hallways, and you find a cadaver and then another and another and another, all of them with their skulls destroyed, and only then do you realize that something REALLY bad is going on. Typical.
So you search for a pair of pants and some sneakers, you put them on and go out into the street which, typical, is full of the living dead, slow and stiff but implacable, who can’t take their eyes off of you and start walking right at you.
You feel fear. As you should: there are cadavers with their faces destroyed, with fractured bones poking through flesh, with loops of dusty entrails. But you recover from your fright and you get ready to flee from them, because you think you can leave them behind. The difficult part can’t be now. It will instead be when (typical) you’ve found a young girl alive and alone, in need of love and company.
And you run.
And they pursue you.
And they reach you.
While they destroy your body you feel pain, but more powerful is your anger, your sadness, and even more, your disappointment.
Typical, only now do you realize: all zombie stories have thousands of extras, and you’re just one of them.