Hell Is Other People…And Maybe Zombies

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit.  They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Special credit to Chris Ode and Sarah Sanders-Ode for coming up with ninja assassin Emily Dickinson in the first place.  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!


“Because I could not stop for Death, He left me on the side of the road.”

Emily frowned and crumbled the paper under her hand. Deftly tossing it over her shoulder, directly into the waste bin behind her, she smoothed a new page of her journal and brought her pen down once again. Before she had a chance to start writing however, a sudden tapping on the window caught her attention. Turning in her chair, she came face to eyeball with a man doing a very good impression of a fish out of water, one eye pressed against the window, followed by half a nose and a slightly gaping mouth. Wild red hair stood straight up and poked out from his cap, which read “Western Union”, and one hand rapped frantically at the glass.

“Miss Dickinson, Miss Dickinson, Miss Dickinson! It’s me! It’s Bertram! Hello! Are you there! I have something for you! Miss Dickinson!”

For a brief moment she considered drawing the drapes and continuing on with her day. But she knew that that wouldn’t stop Bertram. He would stay right there, tapping away until the zombies came home. Closing her eyes, she gave a long sigh and said farewell to her peaceful afternoon. Slowly she rose from her seat and approached the window, Bertram practically licking it as he frantically waved a piece of paper at her.

“Hello Bertram.” she said as she opened the window, “Why are you banging on my window? Why didn’t you come to the front door?”

“Miss Dickinson! Hello! There you are! I have something for you! It’s a telegram! It’s marked,” and here Bertram stopped and lowered his voice as he glanced furtively around, “It’s marked Urgent and Confidential. So I brought it as quickly as I could. Urgently. And Confidentially.”

“Bertram, your job is running the Western Union office. Your business is in sending and receiving telegrams. Don’t you think that if you had just brought me the telegram, to my front door, that anyone who might have seen you would have just assumed you were doing said job?”

Bertram blinked, “Urgent and confidential Miss Dickinson! So I came as fast as I could and made sure no one saw me!”

She sighed again. It was no use. Extending her hand, she reached for the telegram and Bertram hastily gave it to her. He then reached into his pocket and presented her with a paper and a pen.

“Would you mind terribly signing the receipt, stating that you received your telegram?”

“You want me to sign a paper saying that I have taken possession of the telegram that you felt needed such secrecy that you accosted my bedroom window?”

“Yes!” Bertram smiled vacantly at her.

Rolling her eyes, Emily snatched the pen from him and scribbled on to the paper. On the signature line she made a very pretty show of penmanship and wrote “Bertram of Western Union”. Handing the slip back to him, she folded her arms and looked expectantly at Bertram until he got the hint.

“Ah, yes! Well enjoy your message!” Bertram said before turning and shuffling away.

Shutting the window, Emily opened the telegram and was immediately annoyed by its contents.

“Agent ED…STOP…Have new assignment for you…STOP…Visit Old Prospector for further details…STOP…Agent JA will rendezvous with you at sundown…STOP…Meeting place is watering hole alpha…STOP…Sincerely, Us…STOP”

Agent JA, the hippie, fantastic. She burned the telegram first, then went about gathering her usual supplies. Throwing stars, bullets, journal, all these went into the bustle. Her arm blades strapped on securely, she made sure the Derringer was loaded before she put it into the holster on her ankle. Smoothing her skirts over the leggings, she checked her appearance in the mirror before leaving her room. She was nearly out the door when her father called to her.

“Emily. Where are you going?”

She pulled back from the door, “Out, father. Just for a few hours. I thought I might take a walk. I need some fresh air and some time to myself.”

“You spend too much time alone. It isn’t right. You ought to spend more time with the young men in town. Perhaps you should walk in town today. You never know, you might encounter some eligible bachelor.”

Stifling a groan, she fixed a baleful look at her father who returned the look with one of steadfast patience. He raised his hands in a gesture of peace toward his daughter.

“You might just try.”

“Yes father. In the few hours in which I am away from our loving home, I will be certain to be on the look out for eligible men, courting rituals, and marriage proposals.”

“That’s all I can ask. Have a good time.” he said, almost cheerfully, as he turned back to his newspaper.

Shaking her head, Emily left the house and headed toward the outskirts of town, to a small watering hole that had been all but forgotten by the local ranchers. When she arrived there was no one else around so she took up a seated position under a small scrub tree and waited. She pulled the journal out of the bustle and kept working on the poem she had started that morning. After about twenty minutes she heard the sound of approaching footsteps and smelled the faint aroma of apples.

“About time you showed up.” she said without turning around.

“Hey there Em! Been waiting long?” came the cheerful reply.

She turned, “It’s not Em. It’s Emily.”

“Hmmm. I don’t like Emily.” JA smiled at her.

“Well then, Miss Dickinson if you prefer.”

“Naw, don’t care for that either.”, JA grinned at her, “I’ll stick to Em!”

She rolled her eyes and stood up, dusting off her skirts. As she reached for her journal, she found it missing from where it had been. Looking up, Emily was horrified to see JA leafing through the small book. Snatching it back from him, she hastily put it back into her bustle.

“What’s that you’re working on?”

Without turning around, Emily answered “Writing.”

“Writing what?”


“What kind of words?”

Whipping around she stalked toward him, spitting out her response, “Words. That make sentences. That make parts of a poem. That I am writing. Currently.”

JA cocked his head to the side, “Neat.”

“Can we just get going and get this over with? I really didn’t need a trip to the Old Prospector today.”

“What’s wrong with him? He’s nice enough. And he always has plenty of chili.”

“I hate chili. And he always wants to chat. I don’t chat.”

JA shrugged, “Well, I like him. He likes to hear about my adventures! I’ll have to tell him about my latest triumph! I planted fifty apple trees to stop a river from overflowing and saved the town! Or at least I assume I did. I didn’t stick around.”

“Sounds like a solid plan.” Emily said as they started walking, “I mean in about twenty, twenty-five years that is going to be a really heavy duty barrier. As long as the seedlings don’t wash away before then.”

“Hey! Don’t get on my case about the trees! It’s my thing. They’re whimsical.”

“I don’t know if I would call your brand of ecoterrorism whimsical.”

JA stopped short and stared at her, “My what?”

Emily looked at him, “Ecoterrorism. Well, maybe that is a bit harsh. Basically you are introducing non-native wildlife into an ecosystem that might not support it. Also you are running the risk of planting a species that could attract invasive species of insects, birds, and mammals leading to the possible collapse, or at the very least the destabilization, of the local ecosystem and biome.”


Emily sighed heavily, “You’re planting the wrong plants.”

“I am Johnny Appleseed. I plant apples. It’s in my name. It’s what I do.”

“Fine. I’m just saying, if in a few years you find that certain wildflowers no longer grow on this prairie you might need to consider what impact you had on that happening.” Emily shrugged and started walking again.

“Why do you have to be mean?”

“I’m not being mean.” she said, surprised, “If I was being mean I would have told you that your hat was stupid.”

They continued on the rest of the way in silence, which was much more comfortable for her anyway. She never liked talking to other people, too many chances to say something wrong or have them ask her questions.

Eventually they crested a low hill and spotted the familiar trail of smoke in the sky that signaled that Old Prospector was alive and well, and cooking chili. As they approached, Emily noticed that the old man was not alone. Near the fire crouched a man in a long coat with a large hat on his head and a long gun strapped to his back. Emily groaned internally. More people. Fantastic. This was going to be a team mission. She was about to say something to JA when her ears started to ring. Shaking her head, she tried to speak again but her head started pounding. They were almost at the campfire now and glancing over at JA, she saw that he was rubbing his ears as well. The stranger who was already with Old Prospector seemed to be having some issues as well.

“You know what? This feels like the beginning of that serial they write about in the papers.” yelled JA over the ringing in their ears, “You know the one! Professor Where!”

Emily turned toward him, a withering comment at the ready, but the world went white and she knew nothing more.

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