1) Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
Breaking out of your grave will be the hardest part. Remember not to panic; you’re already dead. Once you punch and kick and claw your way to the surface, enjoy the serenity of Forest Lawn’s rolling hills. Don’t bother looking for her; she wouldn’t visit your grave if she could. Do check in on your famous neighbors like Lucille Ball, Liberace, and Buster Keaton. They’ll be home. Only some newly dead celebrities shamble over the hills to feast on the brains of star-struck tourists. Though small, these brains are highly prized by Los Angeles area living dead.
2) Hollywood Sign
You took her to this iconic spot for your first date, but you weren’t looking at the fifty-foot letters then. You’re not looking at them now; you’re remembering how, even years before the change, she loved to bite. Gaze down at Los Angeles spread before you. A carpet of lights twinkles through smog and thin columns of smoke. For now.
3) Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
If you still have shoes, see how they compare to Steven Spielberg’s prints in the forecourt. Imagine your life as one of his films: would you be happily ever after, or spattered with unnecessarily red blood? Be careful comparing hand prints; if your fingers get stuck in too-small spaces, they’re likely to fall off. While in Hollywood, enjoy a fine foreign meal. Even a shambler can catch the sight-seers gawking at costumed cretins in front of the dramatic theatre. They’ll see you coming, but they’ll only be amazed by your costume, posing for a picture with you while you gnaw on their ears.
4) Venice Beach
She used to perform here. You used to watch her, you and the other men, as she twirled and danced in her short shorts and tall skates. You used to taste her skin down on the hot sand, feel her teeth tickling yours. Go there now, moaning and shuffling along the concrete paths. With so many garish street performers, body builders, and ragged homeless, no one will notice the grave dirt and blood that streak your face. Wander the canals where feral alligators choke on the occasional floating body, and realize how far from the real Venice you are. You will never go there now, and neither will she. You will never have a tenth anniversary.
If you need a pick-me-up, try the Happiest Place on Earth. Zombies get in free; simply chew your way past ticket-takers with pith helmets and fake-looking elephant guns. Try to hit weekends and school breaks, when the park is mobbed with children and their smug, fat parents. Kids make excellent snacks, and it’s fun to watch Disney security in cartoonish riot gear scramble bodies off-site even while parents wail and rend their clothes, becoming a kind of zombie themselves. There is no death here, or so the guards say. Stand under the Matterhorn (you will never see the real Matterhorn) and remember the feel of that ring in your fingers as you held it up to her. Remember how her yes sounded like a maybe.
6) Watts Towers
In life, you were afraid to go there, though she loved the place. The neighborhood is too rough, you said. Look up now at Simon Rodia’s bizarre masterpiece, see the spires like antennas broadcasting to an absent god. Walk among arches and touch the bits of tile and broken glass and garbage so lovingly arranged. But be attentive: the neighborhood is rougher now than ever before, fortified against your kind with sawed-off shotguns and machetes. If you are spotted, run. If you lose a rotting limb in your flight, leave it where it falls. As you run, imagine what a lovely wedding site it would have been.
7) The Queen Mary
Some love it for its history, some for its grandeur. Some are drawn to this stately ocean liner by rumors of hauntings. You thought it would be the perfect place to wed, but now you’d like to torpedo the whole thing, sink it finally beneath the placid harbor. Go ahead and rampage; bite and tear. Knock drinks from elegant hands and swab the decks with blood.
8) Farmers Market
Fresh, organic food is the name of this game. Ironic that the rotting scourge caught her here, among the snobs and foodies. She wasn’t one of them when you met, nor when you married. He was the one who got her interested in cooking. He was the one who dragged her here. And the biting—well, you can’t say that was entirely his fault. She always did have an inviting mouth, a generous, promiscuous, wandering mouth.
9) Union Station
This Art Deco classic was the last place you saw her, leaving you. The zombie rage was starting to take her over, but your rage was entirely human. To leave you? With him? On a train? Their laughter had more than a hint of the groaning sickness, but still it echoed lightly in the great hall. You confronted. They attacked. And the next thing you knew you woke up in a grave.
10) LaBrea Tar Pits
Or was there one more chapter between the train tracks and the graveyard? Recall the last of her yellow hair as it sank into oily mud beside plastic mammoths tethered to the shore. Remember the blood on your hands. Your wounds were deep, but you thought you’d survive. You were wrong. Watch now as bubbles of gas blub up from the stinking, shimmering pit. If you stumble into it, no one will question your motives. After all, zombies do not think. Driven by demonic hunger and rage, they are clumsy beasts.
Think on this as you fall.
Emily C. Skaftun lives in Seattle with her husband and their child, a cat who thinks he’s a tiger. When she’s not teaching or writing, she dabbles in roller derby, flying trapeze, and other absurd activities. But mostly she writes, because the world is a better place with monsters and flying tigers in it. Emily has an MFA in Creative Writing and is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Ideomancer, and FLURB, to name a few.