Episode VIII

Living on a survival diet doesn’t have to be all freeze dried blandness. In fact, the horror of virus Z has an up side, believe it or not. Beyond just burning and burying all those infected corpses, you can use ’em as fish bait.

Paul discovered just how attractive zombie flesh is to salmon and other fresh water critters the hard way. It was a gorgeous spring day not long after virus Z had hit the Pacific Northwest when he was out on the river fly fishing. He was having no luck at all, which was no wonder. That piece of river was a salmon stream. But, there he was, hungry and slinging that fly like a pro anyway. He’d been stranded out here when the virus downed the air traffic. This was before I met him. He’d hailed from the Pennsylvania foothills, been trout fishing his whole life but never even looked a salmon in the eye much less caught one.

So, he’s out there waded thigh-deep into the icy water in a set of adhoc waders constructed from several layers of trash bags lined with bunches of moss and old socks he’d pilfered from a cabin somewhere in the vacinity. He was casting and waiting, casting and waiting with no luck. He was getting mighty frustrated, about to pack it in, when the brush behind him errupted in a clamor of groaning and snapping. One lone Zombie crashed through the bramble, lunging to the water’s edge just a few feet from where Paul stood.

Paul nearly jumped out of his waders in fear. He dropped his rod and yanked the hatchet from his belt loop. The zombie hesitated, then stumbled into Paul’s arms. Paul narrowly avoided its teeth as he cracked open its skull with the hatchet. Its blood mixed with bits of bone spilled into the current. He dropped the corpse where he stood at the water’s edge and stepped back. His breath was coming in gasps as the shock of the event rippled through him. He looked for his rod. It’d gotten hung up on willow a few yards beyond the zombie. He’d just started toward it when the water began to roil. He said salmon by the thousands converged on that corpse and tore it to bits almost as voraciously as a school of hungry piranha.

Now, I had a hard time believing him on the intensity of the salmon and their number until he took me fishing last spring. Maybe he’d exaggerated on the number, but I can tell you that salmon will devour any zombie corpse they can reach in no time flat. It’s amazing. Truly amazing.

We’ve since experimented with zombie as bait for a number of fish and their cousins. Salmon and craw dads are by far the most attracted to it, but it works as well as worms or mayflies for trout, and small mouth, too.

You might now be asking yourself if eating salmon or any other fish caught using virus Z-infected flesh is safe. I sure did when Paul first mentioned it. I don’t know why, but so far, so good, Neither Paul nor I have contracted the virus after two or three years of baiting our hooks with zombie flesh.

Smoked_SalmonJust to be safe, I highly recommend cooking your zombie-caught fish with protective herbs. Sage-stuffed, grilled salmon is one of my favorites. After you gut and clean ’em, stuff a layer of sage leaves inside then you pop them on the grill. Sage blends well with salmon plus offers a little extra protection from all normal viruses and maybe virus Z. Our favorite preservation method is Five-Z’s vinegar marinated salmon jerky. Omit the mugwort vinegar, making it really a variation on Five Z’s vinegar, and marinate the gutted and cleaned salmon for a few hours, then lay it out in the sun to dry. For those of you with generators and a dehydrator or an oven, dry it as you would any jerky. It’s tasty, but more importantly it retains the protective powers of the vinegar. That ought to help put your mind to rest.

May You Be Well,

Zombie Hunter C

Publisher’s Disclaimer: This column is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locals or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.