Christopher Nadeau is the author of the novels Dreamers of Infinity’s Core and Kaiju as well as over three dozen short stories in various anthologies and magazines. He received positive mention from Ramsey Campbell for his short story “Always Say Treat,” which he compared to the work of Ray Bradbury and has received positive reviews from SFRevue and zombiecoffeepress. Chris has also served as special editor for Voluted Magazine’s “The Darkness Internal” which he created.

You can view a list of most of his published work on his Amazon author Page HERE


by Christopher Nadeau


Tim missed the Apocalypse because he was sitting in a padded room, doped up on anti-depressants and screaming at the walls.

He looked up one day and realized he was clear-headed and nobody in the instituton had shown up to feed him or provide happy pills. In fact, he found that he had no idea how long he’d been in the room without any human contact which scared the hell out of him.

He jumped up and headed for the door. After an indeterminate amount of time kicking and hitting it as well as the nearby walls, he collapsed onto the floor in a heap and started sobbing uncontrollably. Was this part of his therapy? If so, it wasn’t working.

Then, much later, someone came.

Tim was asleep when it happened, the sudden sound of heavy, deliberate footfalls jarring him into a groggy consciousness.

“Who’s there?” he yelled. “Can someone help me?”

Need help?” came a distant, raspy voice.

“Yes!” Tim got to his feet, fully awake. “Help! Help!”

Need help,” the raspy voice repeated.

Tim emitted a loud whoop and thanked God someone had finally remembered him in this crappy, understaffed hellhole. Oh, the letters he was going to write when he got out of here. Heads would roll! Jobs would be lost! Articles would be…

What was that smell?

Tim gagged and covered his nose and mouth with the palm of his hand. Jesus Christ, it smelled like a meat locker whose refrigeration unit had stopped working.

“Here to…help,” the new arrival said from the other side of the door.

Tim spoke through his hand. “Thank you. Might wanna yell at the janitor while you’re at it.”

He heard the man on the other end turning the doorknob and took a few steps back. It was locked but for some reason the idiot just kept trying to turn it instead of using a key. Tim thought of saying something and decided against it; the last thing he needed to do was offend his potential savior, despite his dumb-ass status. He could wait a little longer.

The doorknob turning increased in speed and apparent force as it slowly turned more and more to the left and the right, finally giving with one final cracking sound. The door flew open to reveal a large male silhouette looming in the doorway.

“Need help?” it rasped.

Tim rolled his eyes. “Umm, yeah!”

Without another word, the orderly stepped into the room and suddenly Tim found himself fearful.

The orderly continued his slow advance, each step providing an even better look at what Tim wished he couldn’t see at all. He thought he remembered seeing the orderly a few times when he first got thrown into seclusion but it was difficult to tell. The man he’d seen was a large, muscular individual with a ruddy complexion and a seemingly eternal smile. The only way this could’ve been the same person was if the jovial orderly had been dead for months.

“Here to help,” it said.

Get away from me,” Tim said. “Go on! Get out! But don’t shut the door.”

The orderly stopped for a moment, his gray face looking over Tim’s far shorter height. Despite the fact that the room was filled with the stench of rot, Tim couldn’t look away from the orderly’s eyes. They were rolled up inside his head to the point where only the whites were available.

He should be on a slab, Tim thought.

Tim glanced at the orderly’s neck and realized it had been ripped apart, loose pieces of flesh dangling down his beefy neck and flaking off with each movement of that huge head.

Tim swallowed hard. “Help.”

“Yes,” the thing said. “Help.”

Tim involuntarily screamed as the thing reached out with its meaty hand and grabbed hold of Tim’s face, smothering him. Tim batted at the thing’s arm, trying to gain enough room to chomp down on the decaying bastard’s palm. The orderly merely maintained its grip, mumbling things Tim couldn’t hear but that he was pretty sure were about “helping” him.

A warm trickle ran down Tim’s legs just as both gave out and he fell back, forcing the orderly to stumble forward to compensate. That turned out to be a lifesaver, providing him with the opportunity to twist out of the orderly’s grip and lunge forward with a punch to the mid-section. It took a moment for him to realize his fist was stuck.

Slowly, Tim glanced down at the spot he’d struck and tasted bile at the back of his throat. His fist had punched a hole clean through the orderly’s mid-section and was currently stuck inside its decaying body. The orderly merely stared off into space as if no longer aware of its helpful imperative. Tim pulled his fist out of the creature with a deliberate slowness, taking special care not to open his hand until he’d retrieved it.

Don’t look at it, don’t look, his mind insisted.

Naturally, he ignored it and wound up projectile vomiting all over the inert orderly. He wiped the blackened entrails and blood on the latter’s tattered scrubs. Once he was convinced he’d wiped it all off, he ran around the unmoving creature and bolted for the door.

Uncertain why, he paused in the doorway and turned around in time to hear the creature say one last thing:



It didn’t take long for Tim to draw the conclusion that the world, or at least the United States of America, was overrun with really well-meaning dead people. What really struck him as bizarre was the way they conducted themselves. Like most of his fellow breathers, he’d assumed they were in a fight for their very survival as hordes of decaying marauders came to feast upon their brains or flesh. The reality was often far more mundane.

The undead seemed more interested in maintaining the status quo. They were often seen performing the tasks they’d performed in life before the Apocalypse, especially the more rudimentary stuff. Factory workers, for instance, would drift into their former workplaces ready to work on the line as if they’d never left. Since they never took breaks, management loved them…from a distance. There were, after all, incidents.

Much like the orderly who had been too willing to help Tim by smothering him, some of the undead were clueless about what their behavior could affect. Sometimes that cluelessness resulted in tragedy but it was often short-lived because anyone who was killed could come back anyway.

Tim did his best to keep his head during the social upheaval that resulted. He avoided the undead whenever possible and tried to pretend the stench of decay wasn’t slowly filling the air no matter where he went. And with that stench came a shift in the day-to-day operations of the world as he knew it.

The undead started moving into management positions.

From Tim’s perspective, it seemed to happen overnight. One day he went to work and most of the middle management was gone. The next day they’d been replaced by undead supervisors but Tim only discovered that a week or so later because it was difficult to tell the difference at first.

He supposed he was okay with that; corporations had the right to hire and fire whoever they wanted. Plus, the service jobs seemed to be safe. Not everyone felt that way, however. The guy in the cubicle next to him, Fred Goering, certainly didn’t.

“Filthy bastards,” he said between tech support calls. “Pretty soon they’ll be on the phones, too.”

Tim smirked. “Come on, Fred, how would that work? They can barely talk.”

Fred looked at him as if he’d sprouted genitalia on his forehead. “Has it occurred to you that they’re starting to outnumber us?” He glanced over his shoulder and rolled his chair closer to Tim so he could speak in lower tones. “They’re not gonna need us anymore.”

Tim responded with a half-hearted shrug. He couldn’t say anything because one of the managers strolled by, dragging its mangled foot along like a sack of old meat. Fred’s eyes grew large and he quickly rolled back over to his cubicle.

Have question?” it asked.

“No, sir,” Tim said.

The undead manager lingered a moment longer before continuing its cubicle patrol. Tim watched it go with a feeling of overwhelming dread. These things wanted to help but what if they interpreted helping as something that wasn’t beneficial to the living? As much as he wanted to give voice to his concerns, the only sympathetic ear was busily taking calls and pretending he’d never said anything.

The following week, Fred disappeared.


Fred turned out to be more correct than even he might have imagined. The undead soon outnumbered the living, due in no small part to a host of unexplained disappearances. Then there were the weirdoes who offed themselves in the hope of becoming undead as well. It turned out only about thirty percent of those that died came back and of those, very few were suicides. Those idiots reduced the living population even more until the undead outnumbered the living three to one.

Tim went to work, paid his bills, provided technical assistance to those few customers still calling in as if the world had not changed. Just because dead people roamed the Earth didn’t mean he could stop making a living.

His bosses seemed pleased with the work he was doing. Sometimes they brought him what they probably thought were incentives such as old limbs and rotted meat. Tim accepted the offerings, lit some incense and smiled and dialed.

Still, he was never able to stop hearing Fred Goering’s words all those months ago: “They’re not gonna need us anymore.”

Well, they certainly seemed to need him. In fact, they appeared to be rather fond of him. He’d never felt more rewarded in the workplace in his life. He just wished he could do something about the stench.

Tim was a bit concerned about the fact that his superiors were bringing human body parts to him when he did a good job but he assumed they were coming from the permanently dead. He also tried to ignore the once-a-day simultaneous rising his co-workers did when they all shuffled off into the lunch room and were gone for minutes on end. He figured it was like when you had people who had to observe religious rituals throughout the day; just let them do their thing.

None of his business what they were doing in there.

Then one day he heard the screams. He was on a call at the time and it caused him to lose track of what he was saying; it was the kind of scream that comes from the very center of a person, that place where a child still lives and is scarcely bothered. When that child is frightened, it has given up all hope. He started hearing that scream on a daily basis, the only difference being whose voice it was.

Try as he might, he could never ignore those screams. They became a part of him, something even more powerful than the stench of decay that had by now taken up permanent residence in his nose.

He told himself that one day he was going to jump up from behind the illusory safety of his cubicle and storm into that lunch room waving a torch and make undead-kabobs.

Instead he took calls from customers and provided tech support. What else could he do? There were too many of them.

The calls stopped coming soon after.

Tim still reported for work every day and sat at his cubicle. Now he didn’t even have the calls to distract him from the daily screamfest taking place in the lunchroom.

Someone placed a hand on his shoulder and he nearly fell out of his chair. He spun around and gazed up into the rolled-up eyes of his manager.

“Help,” it rasped.

Tim blinked and looked from left to right. “With what?”

“Help,” the creature repeated.

It reached out and grabbed him by the hand, forcing Tim to his feet and pulling him slowly down the hallway and towards the lunch room.

“I can walk,” Tim said.

If the manager understood, it did not react. Tim decided against struggling and just let the creature lead him where it wanted him to go. He wasn’t surprised to see the door to the lunch room wide open and within seconds he was in there with dozens of his undead co-workers. He gagged on the overwhelming smell of so many in such close quarters.

“What do you need?” he managed between coughs.

Helllppp,” his manager drawled.

All right,” Tim said in as agreeable tone as he could manage. “I’ll help.” He had no idea what they wanted but he knew he needed to show he was part of the team.

He followed the lumbering manager past reeking, white-eyed, unmoving co-workers, a flickering light overhead providing an eerie strobe light effect. Tim submerged as much of the feeling of dread he was experiencing. What possible help could the undead require from him? He was just a cube-rat.

Up ahead, his co-workers stood in a semicircle as if guarding something precious. The manager waved a hand and grumbled something that caused them to shuffle to the side, clumsily knocking into one another as they made way for Tim, who leaned around them impatiently to see what they’d been blocking.

Tim gasped with an intake of air so intense he became lightheaded and stumbled a bit. The manager pushed him a few inches forward.


Tim blinked; he’d never heard one of them phrase it as a question before. He looked back at the sight that had caused him to gasp and tried to not look away this time. Slowly, he knelt until he could get a better look at the...what was it? What could he call it?

It was a mass of quivering flesh, a collection of limbs from different owners connected at bizarre spots and falling all over one another, yet somehow still alive. All along the limbs were eyes blinking at different intervals, some leaking pus as if they were infected.

Tim’s throat stung from swallowed bile as he turned and looked up at the manager “There’s no help for this.”

The manager gazed down at him with its white eyes and that’s when it occurred to Tim what they were trying to do.

“Oh, no,” he says into his hand. “Oh, no. No way.”

It wasn’t Tim’s help they wanted at all. This abomination was supposed to help him. The way they stood away from it, distant yet seemingly in awe, made him think it was their god or at least something very much like that.

Tim had about five seconds to ponder this revelation before someone shoved him from behind and he found himself falling not only towards the quivering mass of flesh and limbs and fluids but into it. That multitude of eyes seemed to grab onto him and pull him deep inside, to the very core of something so alien and illogical he couldn’t even scream. In fact, he laughed.


Tim Hartford sat at his cubicle and smiled and dialed the way he’d been taught in training all those years ago. There were still plenty of customers who needed help out there. The whole world needed help. That’s why he was here. This was the best way to reach them.

There weren’t as many among the living as there had been and so Tim’s role in sales and support was a vital one. Those still living needed to be found. How else could they be helped? How else could the Helper grow?

He supposed it was a bit inconvenient to be attached to it the way he was but on the plus side, he never needed to sleep, eat or shit anymore. His productivity was through the roof!

And the smell, that awful, rotting stench no longer bothered him at all. He had indeed been helped.

Tim smiled and dialed; it had all been worth it after all.