One of the nice little harbor seals, lying on the beach by the mouth of the Clallam River, face chopped off by a propeller. Probably asleep nose at the surface, when some fool came screaming over the surface on the way to the dock after dark, stayed out too late trying to get a bragging halibut or a salmon to leave rot in the boat.
I'm practically friends with the seals, who watch when I have a fire on the beach, so they can get the warm spot after I bury the embers. This just makes me sick.
But no use leaving a friend to rot, or the other animals hungry. it's a fresh kill, so I peel the hide off. I can get local salt to cure it, and I can trade it to people who make drums or floats.
I always have a little crooked ulu knife, so old it's got a rough-cut cedar handle, so I cut open the carcass, off some of the meat, and carefully lay out what's left, guts for the seagulls, fresh cedar bed for what's left of the carcass, chopped up into manageable pieces. I've done it before with a big octopus that washed up, some for me, some for them. Everybody needs to eat, and if you feed birds, they tell you where there's more food.
Nobody human here will eat seal, at least not in this town. But Starve To Death, that zombie food truck, might want it. It's not human meat, but it's meat. I clean it in sea water and pack it into a plastic bag.
No zombies around the truck right now, but the light is on, the shutters partly open and it looks like that skinny girl is inside. Did the zombie cook hire her? I hope she knows what's she's doing. The girl, not the cook.
Knock on the shutter. She jumps.
"Hi! Sorry! I'm not a zombie. Want some seal meat?"
About a half-dozen emotions are wandering around her face, fear, confusion, interest, and even recognition.
"Um - you're the boy from the bug. In the rain that night." She seems cautious. I hope I didn't scare her.
"Yeah. I'm glad you got a safe place, now." I look around, carefully, listening. Nobody there. "Are you working here?"
"Yeah, I got hired. The owner needed me for legal reasons."
Now I look confused. She explains.
"Couldn't get a license without a live person on board."
"A cooking license? Can you cook?"
She almost nods, then slowly shakes her head. "Not this kind of food. These - people - don't eat like usual."
"Do you want some seal meat?" I repeat.
She doesn't answer. She's looking at the piece of meat I've pulled out of the plastic bag.
"It's good meat. They'll probably like it."
She looks horrified. "Did you kill a seal?"
"No. Propeller strike. Zombie boater."
"Zombies have boats!?" I seem to be blowing her mind every time I open my mouth. I don't mean to.
"No, messed-up people up here, we call them zombies, too. A messed-up truck is a zombie truck."
But if a dead cook can get a food license, maybe a zombie can get a boat license? I've seen a boater on Lake Crescent run a power boat right through a bunch of swimmers, just so he could tie up to the Lodge dock where there was a bunch of young teenage girls. I just thought he was a creep, endangering all the kids so he could perv on the girls, and leaving an oil slick behind him when he left. But - him being a zombie would explain a lot. He didn't look like he smelled too good. Why else would a sports fisherman leave a good salmon in a boat to rot? Maybe he liked it that way.
The girl in the food truck is staring at the meat. Finally, she clears her throat and says, "Um - what do you want for it?"
"Nothing. I just thought it would help. It's clean meat, and pretty fresh. Real fresh, enough for them."
She doesn't look very sure. "I dunno...."
"You need meat, right? It costs money. This is good meat. Look, you can put it in the freezer, and if the cook doesn't want it, you can always give it to the dogs. What can it hurt? If she wants it, she wants it. If she doesn't, she doesn't."
She's off the hook, so she takes it, and puts it into the freezer. It's a good chunk of meat, but not so much it doesn't fit. She doesn't turn her back on me while she's doing it. In this town, I don't blame her.