Honestly, I’m not much fond of pranks or jokes any time of year. They’re embarrassing at best, and cruel at worst. But it is April Fools, so…
* * *
Marci and DeAnna clicked down the concrete path running alongside the back of the office buildings, returning from lunch. They had a few extra minutes left after scarfing down their soup and sandwich combos at a nearby deli. Enough time to take the long way back to work, away from the road and the rushing stink of traffic.
Behind the buildings, only the occasional delivery truck passed through. The concrete gave way to brick as they approached the little garden tucked behind the building, dotted with soda cans and cigarette butts.
DeAnna dropped her gaze to her feet, her practical low heels having caught seams in the bricks one time too many. Unlike her friend, Marci wore unfashionably practical flats, and focused her attention on her surroundings. So she saw the dead body first.
A man wearing a suit sprawled on his back on a path half-blocked by a tree. Red ran down his chest from a knife lodged in his once-white shirt, pooled underneath him, and zig-zagged between the bricks. The edges had dried to a tacky, dark red, the center a brilliant, wet scarlet.
Both women stopped a few feet away, suddenly aware of the cloying coppery smell of blood. Just moments ago, the air had smelled of asphalt, rubber, and flowers, but the new scent overwhelmed the rest.
Marci gagged, turning away and clutching her stomach as she tried to keep her lunch down. After a few tense minutes, she succeeded, straightened, and fished in her purse for her cell phone. Her fingers fumbled with usually familiar objects, scrabbling uselessly over the same items again and again.
“Omigod, omigod, we have to call the police!” She finally clutched her phone, staring at its shiny purple case blankly. “Omigod…”
“Wait.” DeAnna carefully edged closer to the man, and sniffed the air. She bent, peering closely at the corpse. “This isn’t funny. Don’t you know you can get in trouble for filing a false report?”
The corpse’s eyes, glassily fixed on a point beyond them, blinked and focused. “I wouldn’t have let her call the police.” He pulled the knife from his chest, revealing a bloodless wound that sealed shut, leaving pale unmarked skin behind.
“Really?” DeAnna shook her head. “I hope you plan on cleaning this mess up.”
“How did you know that I wasn’t dead?”
“I mean, really dead,” he corrected.
“I’ve worked as a nurse. You don’t smell… dead.” DeAnna glared at him. “And you’re hardly the first zombie to think with was an original April Fools joke.”
“Aw, hey, I was only–” He paused when DeAnna took Marci’s phone and snapped pictures of him, the blood, and the knife on the bricks, then grabbed her friend by the arm, and hustled her away.
“We’ll be reporting you!” DeAnna called over her shoulder.
His shoulders slumped. “That went well.”