Dear readers, tonight we feature an ex-reporter specialising in zombie turkeys. After being fired from the newspaper, he decided to give being a detective a try — but found that people are only interested in hiring him for his experience in dealing with zombie animals
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
This’ll be short, since Midley, Illinois is a very small town (510) and there’s not much to it. I grew up on a farm, but I went to town several times a week with my parents and then every day when I started school. There’s only one street, one high school (300 students), one junior high, and one elementary school. We also have a hamburger stand, a gas station, and a post office.
People are basically the salt of the earth, in the sense they talk about fertilizer and farms and corn and bean prices.
It wasn’t bad at all. I got to drive my dad’s tractor by the time I was ten, and the grain truck by the time I was fourteen. We had a creek and swamp to play in and I could ride my bike to my school friends.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I loved playing with my trucks and cars in the sandbox. I played a little pickup baseball and football, but I was never any good. But I was always picked for the teams by my friends, so I had fun anyway.
I remember going to the big town of Peoria for special dinners with my family, like my parents’ anniversary. I got to see the Caterpillar Power Parade and the Heart of Illinois Fair.
What do you do now?
Until yesterday, I was a reporter for the Midley Beacon specializing in tracking and reporting on zombie turkeys. They’ve pretty much died out, that is, they’ve been ground up for sausage or whatever. They don’t really die without a LOT of encouragement.
This morning I was fired by my wife, Lisa Melvin, who’s the editor of the paper. She said the paper isn’t making enough to pay me. I’m worth more drawing unemployment. I’m going to give private investigation a try now. I’m good at asking questions and getting to the bottom of things. Lisa said she’d make it all legal, somehow.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
After chasing zombie turkeys, even investigating murders will seem tame. But my first case is from a dairy farmer whose cows keep escaping. He thinks some zombie animal is involved. Could be. I’ll find out. Can’t be any more dangerous than zombie turkeys, can it?
What did you first think when you first ran into zombie turkeys?
I was mad as hell. I drove through a flock crossing the road and they broke my windshield—by pecking at it. That cost $300 to replace. That was my first clue they were really dangerous. Then when all the turkeys I smashed with my car disappeared from the road, that was my second clue. They come back to life unless you grind them or chop them into pieces.
Then things got really dangerous when domestic turkeys turned zombie. Brrr! I shudder to remember it.
Now can you see why being a private eye seems tame to me?
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
I got asked this by Oprah Winfrey too, when Lisa and I were on her show. It was probably when Lisa and I were doing our last stand at Navy Pier in the Shakespeare Theatre. The flock of 100,000 zombie turkeys had broken the window and were coming in. I ran out of ammunition and was using my knife. I still marvel that we survived that.
What is the worst thing about being a zombie turkey reporter?
Probably the fact you never know when you’ll be fighting for your life. I spend most of my time looking for them, but when I find them, then I spend the rest of my time fighting and running from them. Running out of shotgun shells or napalm for your flamethrower really sucks, then.
What is the best thing about it?
Being a zombie turkey reporter? I have to say, I’ve grown to be an adrenaline junkie. I love driving fast into a flock of turkeys and see them scatter. I love squirting them with napalm through a crack in my car’s window. You never know what will happen next.
Tell us a little about your friends.
My best friend is my wife Lisa. I guess she’s the opposite of me in just about every way. She’s like a super genius editor, entrepreneur, and writer. She edits all my articles. She got all straight As in high school and college. Her only problem seems to be her people skills. As far as I can tell, I’m the only person who likes her—or loves her.
She hired me as her first employee at the Midley Beacon. She also hired me as her reporter when she ran the Midley High paper.
My best male friend is Bill Westcot, the coroner of Midley, Illinois. We’ve been friends since elementary school. He’s friendly, a lot like me, only smarter. He went to college, but he still likes me. I guess that’s true for Lisa too.
Any romantic involvement?
I only had eyes for Lisa since I met her in high school. She kind of looks like Julia Roberts, only angry all the time. I never dated her or anything. I thought she was out of my league. Imagine how surprised I was when ten years later she proposed to me, right during the zombie turkey apocalypse.
It’s funny, but the apocalypse brought out a lot of unlikely romances. Andy Zach wrote about two other ones in Zombie Turkeys. Of course, I gave him all the material for his book from my articles in the Midley Beacon.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Well, let’s start with zombie turkeys. They’ll eat you alive, if they don’t kill you first. Usually their spurs rip open the carotid artery and you mercifully bleed to death first. They’re what I really hate.
Moving on to ‘dislike’ there are a few people who get under my skin. Usually it’s politicians or national guard generals who downplay the dangers of zombie turkeys.
I can’t imagine what’ll happen to me as a private investigator. I know criminals can be pretty skuzzy, but I try to get along with everyone. If I run into zombie animals I know what to expect. I can’t imagine how zombie humans would behave. The zombie disease gives super speed and strength to turkeys. A human like that would be terrifying. I suppose I’d still have to investigate it.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
An ice cold beer and a burger are my ideal combination. Shooting the breeze with my friends from Midley is my idea of a good time. And having a steak dinner or steak and eggs for breakfast is the top of the world for me, especially if I’m with Lisa.
Colors? I kind of like two-tone brown cars, like they had in the 70s and 80s. I’m old-fashioned that way. I own a 1982 Lincoln Town Car which is my pride and joy. I love driving it around at high speed. It’s my favorite method of dispatching zombie turkeys.
What does the future hold for you?
Ask me tomorrow after I investigate this dairy farm for zombies. Imagine a zombie bull! That’d be twice as strong as a regular bull. Also, the zombie disease makes turkeys more aggressive and hungrier. Not a good combination in a bull.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Huh. I already told you I had a crush on Lisa since high school. That was my biggest secret. I’m often called brave, but it’s more like I just focus on the danger in front of me and I don’t worry about what might happen. I guess that’s my secret—I don’t think too much, I just live in the moment.
That’ll help me face the dangers as a private investigator. I don’t worry about them until they’re attacking, or pecking, or biting me. Lisa’s the one who worries all the time. She encouraged me to become a private investigator.
Andy Zach was born Anastasius Zacharias, in Greece. His parents were both zombies. Growing up, he loved animals of all kinds. After moving to the United States as a child, in high school, he won a science fair by bringing toads back from suspended animation. Before turning to fiction, Andy published his Ph.D. thesis “Methods of Revivification for Various Species of the Kingdom Animalia” in the prestigious JAPM, Journal of Paranormal Medicine. Andy, in addition to being the foremost expert on paranormal animals, enjoys breeding phoenixes. He lives in Illinois with his five phoenixes.
Join us next week to meet a warbot facing new waves of human settlers. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.