Brian Barrymore is not a normal zombie - he doesn't live in the underground sewers surviving on the brains of rats, lizards and (once in a while) living humans. Instead, Brian spends his days working at the head office of a multinational company.
In this English B1 (intermediate) graded reader, we watch as Brian tries to live a normal life while keeping his true nature a secret from his workmates.
CHAPTER 10: Brian's Brains
Over the next few months, Brian, Steve and Susie all helped to collect orders and deliver food outside their regular jobs.
It wasn't long before they again were receiving more orders than they could manage. Their freezers were already full of brains and they found themselves busy all the time.
Brian was the first to leave his job, feeling that he needed to give all his time to the project to help it succeed. Susie and Steve followed shortly after. They put together a business plan, took out a bank loan and registered their business.
When it came to choosing a name for the business, the three co-founders didn't take long to decide.
The three began working from a small office in the centre of town.
Brian managed purchasing and product development. He was able to get a good deal with the farm he used to work at on the purchase of fresh animal brains. He also continued doing his customer research, slowly improving the flavour and style until it matched his zombie customers' tastes. Eventually, he created four different flavours that he was confident would delight customers: Cockroach Chicken, Dragonfly Duck, Pistachio Pig and Chardonnay Sheep.
Steve dealt with operations and property. He managed to find a suitable warehouse on the edge of town and hired a number of large freezers, which could be used to store much larger quantities of brains. He organised a delivery contract between the farm and the warehouse and used a delivery app to manage orders and deliveries from the warehouse to customers.
Susie was responsible for marketing and sales. She set up a website that showed all the products available at Brian's Brains and allowed customers to place orders. She managed the relationship with the customers, giving them the latest news and showing them how to place orders through the website or delivery app.
At the same time, undead-friendly events were becoming more popular around town. The three co-founders went to many of these events. They developed relationships with the organisers and were often allowed to give free brain samples to zombies. Many of these zombies became new customers.
Brain's Brains became more and more popular with zombies throughout the town and sales grew stronger and stronger.
One Friday evening, Brian, Steve and Susie decided to go back to The Sunrise Bar. They had heard that there was now an undead-friendly event every week.
As they walked towards the door, the sound of rock music grew louder and louder.
They entered the bar. Barry the barman gave them a friendly wave over a crowd of customers. To the right, a large group of people stood listening to a band playing on stage. The tables had all been cleared away.
"Look Brian, it's an undead band!" said Susie, excitedly.
"Wow! There's something you don't see every day," added Steve.
Brian looked up towards the stage, where he could see four performers. They were clearly undead. In fact, they didn't seem to be hiding their natural look at all.
The singer was a tall man with a pale face and red eyes. He was wearing black jeans and a black shirt and held the microphone with two bony hands. His long, pointed teeth could be seen every time he opened his mouth to sing. Standing next to him was a tall lady playing a bass guitar and dressed in red and black. Two vampires.
"It's Bill and Linda!" cried Susie.
Brian had to take another look. It was difficult to tell without the make-up.
"Oh my gosh, it really is them!" said Brian.
Next to Bill and Linda, there was a guitar floating in the air and rocking to the music. Immediately behind the guitar was a shirt, tie and trousers floating in the air and rocking with the guitar. A ghost.
At the back of the stage were the drums. A pale face looked out from behind them. A female face with large, dark circles around the eyes, colourless lips and loose skin that seemed to peel off her face and arms. A pale pair of hands sent the drumsticks crashing down in time with the music. A zombie.
For a second, Brian felt he recognised the face, but he couldn't seem to remember where he had seen it.
After ordering drinks, Brian, Steve and Susie bumped into some old workmates and enjoyed catching up on old times.
"Guys, it's just been AMAZING," shouted Nadia over the music. "The event has just got bigger and bigger."
"That guitarist. Is that ... Arnold?" asked Susie.
"That's right!" Nadia replied. "Bill, Linda and Arnold had been talking about starting a band for ages. They're just FANTASTIC, aren't they?"
"They're awesome," agreed Brian. "And do you know who the drummer is?"
As Nadia started to answer, the band finished their last song. People began to move past them and towards the bar. The group moved to a table near the stage and were soon joined by members of the band.
"Long time no see!" called Linda.
"You never told us you were in a band!" said Steve.
As the group continued to greet each other, Brian felt a light tap on his shoulder from something wooden.
"Fancy seeing you here, Brian," said a familiar voice.
He turned around to see a pair of pale hands holding drumsticks. Looking up, he saw a pair of colourless lips smiling at him. The smile seemed to spread from the lips, to the cheeks, to two large, blue eyes with dark circles around them.
He recognised that smile.
"Rachel?" said Brian.
"Surprised to see me?" said the receptionist.
"Just a bit!" replied Brian.
"I started coming to The Sunrise around a month ago and met the guys," said Rachel, taking a seat beside Brian and Linda. "Linda said they were looking for a drummer, so here I am!"
"And no make-up! That was pretty brave," said Brian.
"Yeah," Rachel replied. "Linda said from the start that they didn't want to hide on stage and it just felt like the right time."
Brian continued. "You know, I think I was so worried about other people finding out about me that I never stopped to think there might be other zombies working with me too. How's everything going at work, by the way?"
"Same old, same old," said Rachel. "To be honest, the only time I feel truly 'alive' is when I'm here at The Sunrise."
"I know the feeling," said Brian.
"I asked management about the dress code at work, but they weren't very open to making changes," said Rachel, looking down at the skin peeling from her hands.
"They said the undead look was too unprofessional," she added.
"You know, we've been looking for a receptionist at Brian's Brains," said Brian.
"And ... there's no dress code."