What Dr. Cadore lacked in stature he made up for in creepy old-guy factor. His beady eyes, his gray splotchy beard, his tiny hands – none of these were particularly charming or comforting. Yet, I followed this man through the security coded door and down a winding, narrow corridor out of curiosity and desperation.

“Where are we going?” I asked. Cadore didn’t answer, he didn’t even turn around to look at me, he simply raised his left arm and shook his wiry hand forward twice. At the end of the corridor we came to another unmarked door, this one with no handle (turn to page 89 to go through the door, turn to the next page to go back to your office).

He retrieved some sort of ID card from his lab coat pocket and waived it in front of the card reader.

<Clank> The sound of the bolt lock retreating echoed down the corridor. Dr. Cadore pushed on the door, which gave several inches, then slid it to the right where it disappeared into the wall. “Come with me,” was all he said, as if I had a choice to make.

Through the door was a huge glass wall and behind it was a sprawling sterile laboratory. It was teeming with dozens of intense looking scientists hovering over test tubes, incubation thingies, giant machines that probably did something I’ll never truly comprehend, and gurneys – wheeled, metal gurneys with white sheets and thick black locking restraints.

“Welcome to my office, Mr. Robert!” he said boastfully, “I believe you will find my work to be very…engaging. But first, we must take some precautions.”

“Precautions?” I parroted.

“Indeed, we must protect ourselves so as to not become infected. We must always be cautious and diligent Mr. Robert. It is a foolish scientist who allows his research to consume him.”

Before I even had time to ask (what would surely be a stupid question), Dr. Cadore handed me a matching white lab coat, a pair of purple nitrile gloves, and a facemask.

“You should wear these,” he suggested, and winked. Shivers ran through my back and into my legs and arms. I complied, and followed him into the laboratory.

“Much of what is going on here is above your intelligence, but suffice it to say that we are working on a cure to the infection. We have made a lot of progress recently, thanks to a beautifully tragic coincidence.”

“There’s a cure?!?!?! Why hasn’t the Government told anyone about this? Why haven’t you told me about this!” I demanded.

“No, there is not a cure, not yet at least,” he corrected, “what goes on here, we do not talk about to others because…well…it would be best to show you.”

We walked through the lab, past the other scientists who looked up at us briefly then returned to their labor. We walked past the gurneys and cabinets filled with chemicals with names that are too long to speak. Some that I recognized: penicillin, amoxicillin, Zythromax, Levoquin, Cipro, tetracycline.

“Doc, what’s with all the antibiotics?” I spoke without thinking.

Dr. Cadore stopped walking and turned to me: “When building a new house, do you forgo wood and nails? No, you do not. Old tools are sometimes the best tools…” He looked at me, mouth still open as if he was going to say something else, but he didn’t.

 I followed behind as we walked through yet another set of security doors and into a smaller laboratory. There were several more technicians hovering around a gurney in the middle of the room, and there were three security guards lining the walls.

We walked closer.

“This, Mr. Robert, is my beautifully tragic coincidence of which I spoke earlier. I’d like you to meet Emma.” Dr. Cadore motioned forward with his boney hand and one of the techs moved to the side. There, strapped to the gurney was an ash colored woman, no more than 25 years old. She was a zombie. She was thin, except for her abdomen, which extended from her body.

“She’s…pregnant?” I asked in horror and disbelief.

“Yes, indeed!” Dr. Cadore replied, beaming with excitement, “We estimate that she is a full seven months into the pregnancy. We found out about her during the sweeps conducted by the ZCA, and after some negotiation, we acquired her from the containment site.”

“Acquired her?”

“Yes, there are strict rules about removing the infected from the containment site. But we were able to persuade the right people once we explained the nature of our interest. You see, we have been running this lab for several years now, relying mainly on samples collected from the field, and they are rarely of good quality. There aren’t exactly a lot of willing donors…The opportunity to work with an intact subject has been extraordinarily beneficial to our research. So much so that we’ve since been able to acquire roughly a dozen more ‘patients’ as I like to call them.

“But what about…” I started to ask, but he cut me off.

“And Emma! She is the best patient a doctor could ask for! You see, Robert, she is a zombie, but she was infected several months into the pregnancy. She, we don’t think we can save, not yet at least. But her child! Her child is not infected. In fact, the child – a boy – is developing just as a normal fetus would!”

“You mean…when…if she gives birth, the baby will be ok?”

“That is exactly correct, Robert. A mother shares no blood with the growing child once the placenta fully develops at 4 months. The placenta does not allow the infection to pass! Now you understand how remarkable this is. We have learned more in the past few weeks from Emma than we have in the past 12 months! We have placed her on antibiotics, and antivirals, as we still don’t know the nature of the infection. We also give her prenatal vitamins when we feed her!”

“This is a little more than I can handle.” I said, “I have so many questions…”

“Don’t worry so much! I still haven’t told you the best news!”

“There’s more?”

“Yes. There is always more.” Dr. Cadore stood up as tall as he could and said:

“Emma is getting better.”