Word Count: 600
“Tonk! Toooooooonk!” Victor’s voice rang through the parking lot as he approached.
“What?” I said when he was close enough to speak without shouting.
“What the hell, man?” he said. “You took down my flier!”
“Yeah,” I said, “about that—“
“You can’t just cancel the Hunt. It’s tradition.”
“We lost a lot of people last year,” said Victor. “And last year was the second year it existed. It’s hardly a tradition.”
“Come on, Tonk, we have to have The Hunt. It’s for morale.”
“Nobody important,” Victor pleaded.
“My answer is no,” I said.
“Please man, we’ll be more careful.”
“I don’t see how you could have been less careful before,” I said.
“Any rules you want to put in place—we’ll abide, man.” Victor was bobbing up and down on the balls of his feet in excitement. He would have made me nervous even if he didn’t have an AK-47 strapped to his back.
“Any rules?” I asked.
“Okay, write this down,” I said.
Victor pulled a flier out of his pocket and unfolded it. The back was scrap, but it was mostly clean. He found a pen and started scribbling.
“Heads only,” I said. “No complete zombies. No parts of a zombie. Heads only.”
“How will we do the zombie occupation judging?” asked Victor.
“We’ll have to do without that,” I said. “And there will be spot-checks on the heads—they had better be zombified, all of them!”
“Right on,” said Victor, scribbling. “Can we keep the celebrity look-alike contest though?”
“Absolutely,” I said. “With some stipulations.”
“Any group caught sabotaging another’s heads or raids will be immediately disqualified,” I said.
“Yeah, well, if you’re trying to find the zombie that looks the most like Bob Dylan, there’s going to be some infighting, you know?”
“Well, we’ll do this scavenger-hunt style,” I said. “Individual heads will get a straight up-or-down vote from the judges. Groups will score based on how many they find, not how good their finds are.”
“Some folks are going to be mighty disappointed to hear that,” said Victor.
“They can cope. And no creativity bonuses.”
“Awwwwww,” said Victor.
“Especially the celebrity-as-a-child entrants. That was just creepy.”
“Can we still do celebrity-as-the-other-gender?” asked Victor.
“As long as the resemblance is there, that’s fine,” I conceded.
“All right, what else you got?”
“Friendly fire was an issue last year,” I said, “we need fewer teams and we need to make sure they don’t run into each other.”
“Okay,” said Victor.
“And no stragglers going out alone after the rest of the team has left. Your team stays until absolutely everyone is accounted for.”
“And, most important,” I said, “any team that returns with fewer members than they left with will be automatically disqualified.”
“What?” asked Victor. “That ain’t fair, man.”
“If you can’t ensure the participants’ safety—relative safety, I should say—then there’s no way I can allow this event.” I said.
“Man,” said Victor, kicking the dirt. “This always happens. We get a fun idea, then someone dies, and then we have to be super careful, and then it’s just no fun anymore.”
“Sorry, Victor, but there are less than 50,000 Americans still living. We need to hang on to as many as we can.”
“But what if teams go around shooting each other just so they’ll be disqualified? You ever think of that?”
“Victor,” I said, “if that’s going on, if that really happens, then we’ve got bigger problems than a silly Hunt.”
Edited by Carolyn Abram.
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