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 8: The sunrise
The bar was just a ten-minute walk away.
When Brian, Steve and Susie reached the building, they looked up to see a bright yellow sun on a red signboard. The sun's rays spread out and off the edge of the signboard. Next to the sun were the words 'The Sunrise Bar' . The sound of live music was coming from inside.
Steve held the door open for Susie and Brian. They walked in to see a bar straight ahead of them. A barmaid was cleaning glasses and placing them on shelves, while a barman was taking someone's order. To the left were several long wooden tables with benches to sit on. A group of five people were sitting at one of these tables playing a dice game. To the right were several smaller tables with wooden chairs. A couple was sitting at one table and a group of three at another. Behind them, on the far right wall, was a stage where a woman in her twenties was playing the guitar and singing.
"Here for the social?" called a woman from one of the long tables on the left.
"Yes, that's right," said Susie, walking over. Brian followed.
As they got closer to the table, they could see the five people more clearly. A tall man and woman were sitting at the far side of the table, facing them. On the near side were three more people. Well, I say people. I mean, there were two people and a ... well, a shirt, a tie and trousers floating in the air.
Brian had heard about ghosts before, but he'd never actually met one.
"Linda!" said Steve loudly as he entered behind the other two. "I didn't know you were coming!"
"Hey Steve, me neither!" she replied. "It was actually my Bill who asked me to join. Bill and his workmates arranged the event."
Bill was sitting immediately beside her.
"So this is THE Bill then? Finally we get to meet. I'm Steve - I work with Linda," said Steve, shaking Bill's hand. "And this is Brian from HR and Susie from Marketing."
"Steve, Susie and Brian," said Bill.
"Great to meet you guys," Bill continued, shaking Susie's and Brian's hands. "I'm Bill and this is my wife, Linda. And this is Arnold, Lisa and Julie - they all work with me in IT."
The group put their dice game to one side and made room for the three newcomers to join their table.
"Drinks anyone? Food?" asked Linda.
Brian's stomach made a sound of complaint.
"You'll eat, Brian, won't you?" said Susie. She brought a hand towards her mouth and spoke to the group in a pretend whisper. "He was so nervous, he forgot to eat his lunch! He's brought lunch and dinner with him!"
"Susie!" Brian complained.
"Don't worry Brian, we're all friends here," said Linda, pulling something from a plastic bag. "We're really glad you all came along. We've been wanting to do something like this for ages."
Linda placed three bottles on the table. Each bottle was full of thick, red liquid.
"There's more where that came from if anyone wants a try!" said Bill, smiling.
Nobody said anything.
"What! It's not human blood," said Bill, looking hurt.
Vampires. Brian used to know a vampire a long time ago, but they lost contact. I wonder what Victor's up to these days.
"And did you bring anything, Brian?" said a male voice coming from the floating shirt.
All the heads at the table turned to look in Brian's direction. The shirt and tie seemed to move up and down with laughter.
"You ALL know already, don't you!" said Brian with a laugh, before pulling his lunchbox out of his bag and placing it in front of him.
"Fresh cow brains, come and get them!" said Brian.
As the evening went on, several more people joined their group until there were around twenty in total. Of these, eight were undead - three vampires (Bill, Linda and Jeffrey), one ghost (Arnold), four zombies (Brian, Mark, Sally and Nadia).
"Oh, I'm starving!" said Nadia, as she arrived at the table with her boyfriend, Gary. "I'd absolutely KILL for some brains", she added.
The living humans at the table gave her a nervous look.
"No, I meant," said Nadia, "I just meant that I'm hungry. Not ... THAT."
There was laughter all around and Susie reminded Brian that he had another meal in his bag.
"Here, you can have this," said Brian, handing Nadia his other food box.
"Are you sure?" asked Nadia. "Wow, thanks."
A few seconds passed.
"This is AMAZING, Brian!" said Nadia, speaking with her mouth full of food.
"Seriously guys, you just HAVE to try this," she added, holding her fork out towards Mark and Sally - the other two zombies at the table.
"She's right," agreed Mark as he chewed on a long piece of pig brain.
He passed the fork to Sally.
"Wow, this is much better than the stuff I'm used to," said Sally. "It's just so fresh and juicy. Where on earth do they come from?"
"Oh, I get them from some friends of mine who own a farm," Brian replied. "It's all I eat really."
"They're ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS," said Nadia, as a piece of brain fat dropped onto her blouse.
"I'm SERIOUS," she added, licking the last few bits off the lid of the box. "I would PAY for brains as good as these."
The event was a complete success and the group continued to chat and laugh all through the night and into the early hours. Barry the barman, it turns out, was a vampire and joined the group after the normal closing time when most people had already left.
Brian, Steve and Susie were the last few people to leave the bar. By the time they left, it was already getting lighter outside.
As Brian walked out through the doors, he was greeted with an amazing bright, red sunrise.