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 9: A working lunch
Over the next few weeks, Brian began to order more brains on his weekly trips to the farm outside town. At home, he divided the brains into single meal sizes. He labelled each meal 'chicken', 'duck', 'pig' or 'sheep', and stored them in his freezer.
From Monday to Friday each week, Brian took orders from his new zombie friends - Mark, Sally and Nadia. On Friday, he took the meals in to work and delivered them to those who had ordered earlier in the week. The next week, the process started again.
Brian's three zombie friends were very thankful. As working zombies, they didn't have much time to hunt for their own food, so they used to buy bags of brains from underground zombies. But these brains usually came from sewer rats, lizards and who knows what else - all minced together in a bag. They were not particularly tasty and their freshness was questionable.
During this time, Brian began to experiment with the flavour of his brains. Each week, he added a different herb or spice to the mix. The following week, he would ask what Mark, Sally and Nadia thought about the new taste. He listened to their opinions and used this information to improve the recipe.
News of Brian's fresh, tasty brains spread quickly. He began receiving more and more orders from zombies across the company. Soon, he was receiving more orders than he could manage and needed to create a waiting list for new customers.
Brian realised he needed help.
One day, he met up with Steve and Susie for lunch. He explained the situation to them.
"Oh my gosh, Brian. That's incredible!" said Susie. "You really have been busy these past few weeks."
"I know," said Brain. "It's just all happening so fast. All I wanted to do at the beginning was help out a few friends. Now I can't keep up with all the orders!"
"You've certainly found a gap in the market," said Steve. "You could create a business out of this."
"A business?" said Brian, scratching his head. "I wouldn't know where to start."
There was a short pause. Susie took a sip from her glass of water and Steve had a bite from his sandwich.
"But you already have started, Brian," said Susie. "And you're doing a really good job of it."
"What do you mean?" asked Brian.
"She's right," added Steve. "Look, you've found yourself a good supplier for your product."
"Yeah, but that's just a farm I used to work at," said Brian.
"Exactly," said Steve. "You managed to find a supplier from your network of contacts. Not everyone has those kinds of contacts, Bri."
"And look at what you've been doing recently," Susie said. "You've been getting feedback from your customers and using that feedback to improve the product. That's called 'customer research'."
"I just wanted to improve the recipe, that's all," said Brian.
"If you already have more orders than you can manage," Susie went on, "then that's a great sign that there's a real future in this."
Susie continued, looking into the air and drawing imaginary pictures as she spoke.
"Don't settle for sewer rats! Take your pick from our selection of free-range brains!" she said powerfully.
Free-range, huh, thought Brain. Well, it is a free-range farm - the animals can walk around freely outdoors.
"Fresh from the farm! Ordered to your office!" Susie continued.
"I think I'm going to need more people to help manage these deliveries," said Brian.
He continued. "But I don't have any more space in my freezer."
"What you really need is a building for storage and distribution," said Steve.
"Storage and distribution?" asked Brian.
"Right," Steve continued. "You'll need a kind of warehouse to store and freeze the food. And if this warehouse is nearer the city, you'll be able to make faster deliveries."
"Fresh from the farm! Delivered to your door!" Susie added.
Brian thought for a moment.
"I like the idea. I mean, the farm is pretty far away. It would be more efficient to order more product, store it in a warehouse, then deliver directly to customers."
There was another pause while Brian took a bite of his cow brains.
Suddenly, he put down his fork and looked up.
"I'd need someone to manage the marketing side of things," he said, looking in Susie's direction.
"And I'd need someone to find a suitable property," he continued, looking towards Steve. "Someone with the experience and knowledge to pick the right location around the city."
Brian continued, "But to start with, we'll need some time to get more customers and get a bit more money coming in."
"We?" said Susie and Steve at the same time.
"Right, we'll need to use both your freezers as well as mine," Brian went on. "And we'll need all three of us to help make deliveries around the office."
There was another pause as Susie and Steve looked at each other with eyebrows raised.