It was Thursday morning at 10:53am when my office phone rang.

“Hello, this is Robert Dingle, District Department of Undead Management,” I answered.

“Hello Mr. Dingle, this is Bill Straus at the ZCA, I was calling about the memo you wrote to the Mayor last week..and…” said the voice.

“The ZCA?” I cut him off.

“Yes Mr. Dingle, the Zombie Control Agency,” Straus replied authoritatively.

“The what? Where are you calling from?” I asked, confused. I’d never heard of any agency besides DDUM.

“The Zombie Control Agency, Mr. Dingle – the Federal Zombie Control Agency,” he said, slightly annoyed, “We have jurisdiction over all zombie related issues in DC, Maryland and Virginia. I was calling about your memo…”

“Wait, wait. Let me get this straight,” I said, cutting him off again, “there is a Federal zombie agency? I thought this was just a DC thing?”

“Mr. Dingle, please tell me you are pulling my chain,” Straus said, growing more annoyed.

“No sir, I just started working here a month ago, but this is the first I’m hearing of this.” I stated, still confused. If ZCA has jurisdiction over DC, who the hell am I working for?

“Well, that’s something you’ll have to talk to Jim about. But I’m not calling for your edification. I’m calling about the Memo.”

“Um, ok,” I replied, feeling quite embarrassed now.

“Who has seen the memo?” Straus asked.

“Well, sir, I sent it to Jim, and he sent it to the Mayor, I’m guessing.”

“Has anyone else seen it?” he demanded.

“Not to my knowledge, sir. Can I ask why it matters?

“Good, I need you to delete it from your computer and email. I’ll talk to Jim. Do not discuss this with anyone, I’ll be in touch. Good day.” he replied and hung up.

“Ok,” I said to the silence on the other end of the line.  

I was getting up from my chair when Outlook beeped and I saw that I got an email from Jim. I sat back down and opened the email: “I’ll be out of the Office on Sick Leave for the rest of the week,” was all it said.

This can’t wait, I thought to myself. I have to catch him before he leaves, I need to figure out who the hell that was from ZCA. I got up and walked out of my office, right as Jim was walking past. He was walking quickly and almost plowed right over me. He looked pale and nervous.

“Jim, can I talk to you real quick before you head out?” I called after him. He didn’t respond, just kept walking.

I jogged up behind and got next to him as he was leaving the lobby. “Jim, I need to ask you about…” He cut me off. There were beads of sweat forming on his forehead and he was breathing heavily.

“Dingle, I can’t talk now. I have to go.” The elevator doors opened and he got on. “Everything is going to be fine Dingle.”

I walked back into the lobby and Betsy was giving me a look that read, “can you believe that asshole?”

“Do you know what that was all about,” I asked her.

“Not a clue, Robert, he’s probably just got his panties in a twist because the shredder is clogged again…”

“I, um…”

“Oooh, look Robert, Mayor Diggs is on!” she pointed to the lobby TV and grabbed the remote to turn up the volume.

“My fellow residents of the District,” he began, “I’d like to take this opportunity to formally announce the passage of some very important Emergency Legislation. I’ve been working very closely with members of my Cabinet and the Council, and it is my hope that this Act will bring us up to speed in addressing the concerns of residents of this fair city.” He towered over his podium. Behind him to his left stood Dr. Cadore. To his right were three men in dark suits that I’d never seen before.

 “The Healthcare Confidentiality Modernization Act of 2011 will ensure that patient medical data remain properly confidential and out of the hands of insurance companies and the general public. The District Government respects the privacy of every resident, and it is my belief that this Act will provide that privacy.”

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to discuss an update to the Criminal Code. Effective immediately, eating and or drinking on the Metro Bus and Rail system will be upgraded from a citation notice to an arrestable misdemeanor. This will be strictly enforced.”

“Finally, I am, today, issuing an Executive Order imposing a city-wide curfew. The curfew time will be from 12am to 5am Monday through Thursday, and 2am and 5am on Friday through Sunday. I know this will not be popular, and members of the Council spoken to me against this, but I know that it is in the best interests of you all. This Executive Order will be effective immediately. Thank you for your time, God bless you all.”

Mayor Diggs stepped down from the podium just as the crowd of reporters erupted with questions. He stepped into the crowd and it parted for him instantaneously, he was like a wolf among scrubs. The camera followed after him as a black towncar pulled up to the curb. The door opened and he got in, just as the car was driving off.

The camera panned back to the crowd of reporters, now buzzing with shock and awe. The TV cut to commercials and Betsy turned it off.

I turned to her and mouthed the words, “what was that?”

“Baby, let me tell you something,” she said as a matter of fact, “When you pass an accident on the side of the highway, you can slow down to watch, or you can keep your eyes on the road. To hell with this place, I’m going to the I-HOP.”

She stood up, grabbed her purse and walked out the door, patting me on the shoulder as she went by. “Take it easy, hun!”

The door closed behind her and all that was left behind was silence in the office. Pancakes were the last thing on my mind.

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