“Where the Heart Was” — David J. Schow

David J. Schow’s most recent novels are Gun Work and Internecine. He is also the author of the novels The Kill Riff, The Shaft, Bullets of Rain, and Rock Breaks Scissors Cut. One of the early innovators of zombie fiction, he is the author of the notorious story “Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy,” which, along with several other zombie tales, appears in the collection Zombie Jam. Schow has done a lot of work in television and film, including co-writing (with John Shirley) the screenplay for The Crow and writing teleplays for Showtime’s Masters of Horror. Schow is also generally considered to be the originator of the term “splatterpunk.”

Our lives are full of things that we wish would just go away: worries, fears, doubts. Also bills, advertisements, and enemies. And also, of course, rotting corpses. Them most of all. Alas, in the case of zombies, these things we never wanted to see again have returned, and while they may run amuck in our streets, cause our civilization to collapse, and bite and convert our neighbors and friends, at least we can be consoled by the knowledge that they can be stopped by a bullet through the brain, and that this time—dammit—they’re staying down.

It’s troubling when something you’re trying to get rid of comes back once when all the laws of reason and common sense say it can’t, but how much worse is it when that same unwanted thing keeps coming back over and over again? As children, many of us were given nightmares by a Warner Bros. cartoon in which a family goes to ever more elaborate lengths to abandon its incredibly annoying dog, only to have the dog show up at the front door again and again and again. If the cartoonists thought this sort of thing was amusing, they were wrong—it’s terrifying, a fact Stephen King well understood when he wrote his story “The Monkey,” about a cursed toy that simply cannot be disposed of. Our next story combines these two ideas. It’s bad enough when a rotting corpse comes crawling home. But what if it turns into a habit?