On a private island in the Caribbean business guru Doc Papa has reinvented the zombie as a role model for the super-rich. The world's business elite come to St Ignatius to study the Way of the Barefoot Zombie and interact with a captive colony of zombies. They live with them, dress like them and act like them in order to free their own inner zombies. Once they've learned to harness the zombie's single minded lust for blood nothing will stop them from making a killing on the global markets.
However, Doc Papa's plans for dominating the world's business arena go awry when the island is infiltrated by undercover operatives from the Zombie Liberation Front and a rogue priestess from Doc Papa's past. Real Voodoo and social satire collide in this gore drenched tale of greed and global profit.
Newbies were so dull once they'd popped their murder cherry. You'd think they were the first people to ever tear someone apart with their bare hands and teeth.
Samuel Palmer raised a glass to a group by the bar who caught his eye. They were flexing their muscles and pulling their guts in to impress some Swedish escorts.
He was obligated to attend these functions as part of his job. Another fifteen minutes and he'd have done his time. Then he could slip away for a little celebrating of his own.
The strangest thing about killing someone is the huge appetites it awakes in you. To begin with a lot of people throw up. But when the nausea wears off the hunger kicks in. You want to eat and fuck like they were Olympic events.
It was probably something primal, Palmer had decided. Some throw back to Cro-Magnon times when killing your opponent meant you got to fuck his women and steal all his food. It meant you were a victor and not a victim. That you deserved to propagate your genes and gorge yourself on the fruits of your kill.
Whatever the reason, St Ignatius made certain to cater to those appetites. It was all part of the process and it made what came later that much more effective.
So they laid on a buffet of the rarest delicacies, prepared by chefs so talented they wouldn't demean themselves by appearing in a Michelin guide. For desert they flew in an army of high class escorts trained to cater to every taste and persuasion.
There was even a dispensary providing designer drugs. From the finest Colombian coke to Viagra, E and narcotics that weren't available on any open market. All washed down with vintage Champagne.
God he found these events tedious.
Bessie Smetherington, the boutique queen, sauntered past him and winked. The dyed red hair and the expensive boob job weren't fooling the two Brazilian hunks she had on either arm. Palmer saw her stop and chat to an Amalgamated Plastics heiress – what was her name again? Moira Jacobs, that was it.
"Fabulous arm candy darling," said Moira. "Where did you pick up such exquisite ornaments?"
"Aren't they great?" said Bessie. "I think they'll look fabulous in my room. I'm surprised you haven't picked out a bargain for yourself yet."
"Well the night is young and I'm feeling a little curious this evening. Think I might choose myself a his and hers set, if you catch my drift.
"Taking the rough with the smooth are you?"
"Darling, I'm taking more than my fair share, like I always do," Moira said and went to ogle some Thai women. Bessie left with her hands on two perfect Brazilian butts.
Palmer did one more circuit of the room. He slapped backs, kissed cheeks and generally pressed the flesh. The party was beginning to move up stairs. He wouldn't be missed when he left.
He went through the kitchen and out into a service corridor. At the end was a goods elevator. He rode that down to a sub-basement.
No-one else came down this far. He was the only one on the island with the access codes. He punched them into the keypad and the reinforced steel door slid open.
The room beyond the door was lined with huge metal draws like the ones found in a morgue. He breathed in the sweet mortuary smell – disinfectant and dead flesh.
It always triggered the same memory in him. The first time he'd ever smelled it. His third year at Harvard. He'd been drinking with one of the med students, James something-or-other.
When they were good and tight James revealed he had the key to the place where they stored the cadavers for the students’ exams. He invited Palmer to come take a look, just for kicks. It sounded fun so Palmer agreed.
It was the second time he'd ever seen a corpse. James pulled out several for him to see. One of them was hot. A girl in her twenties who'd choked on a doughnut when her boyfriend did the Heimlich manoeuvre wrong.
"Hey, you wanna see something cool?" said James. He picked up a large hollow needle. "This is a trocar, they use it to get fluid out the corpses." He slipped it down the end of one corpse's penis, making it stand up. "Look. He has a boner."
"Hey, you know what we oughta do?" said Palmer. "We should get the hot chick out of her draw and make him bone her."
"Man, that would be awesome. Wait, wait we're gonna need this." James opened a draw and took out a tube. "It's lube."
Palmer didn't ask what it was doing it in the morgue.
He got incredibly excited as they lifted the hot chick's corpse out of her drawer. The smell of her dead flesh, the pliant way her body moved in his arms, it turned him on.
A tiny sliver of blood escaped from her mouth as they slid her onto the dead guy. Palmer had never seen anything so beautiful in his life. The sagging flesh of the dead guy just sank beneath her weight.
Look at the useless prick just lying there, not even knowing how lucky he is, thought Palmer. He realised he was eaten up with jealousy.
James was giggling fit to bust. Palmer was pissed at him. He was having an erotic revelation and James was killing all the romance. He was about to pop him one right in the mouth when they heard footsteps.
"Shit it's the guard," said James. "We gotta get outta here."
"Wait, shouldn't we put the corpses back."
"There isn't time, c'mon man we gotta leave now!"
Palmer took one last look at the hot chick's corpse. He was filled with longing as James grabbed him by the collar and dragged him out of the room. They got out of the building without being caught and went back to their frat house.
There was a minor scandal on campus when the bodies were found. However it was soon put down to a student prank and the faculty preferred to brush the matter aside to avoid bad publicity.
Palmer always avoided James after that. James didn't make any effort to see him either. The two shared a guilty secret that they'd both as soon forget.
What Palmer couldn't forget was the hot chick's corpse. The way it felt in his arms. The odours it gave off. How cold it felt against his skin.
He'd lie in bed at night and fantasise about breaking into the morgue on a white charger and rescuing the corpse from its slab. He'd picture himself riding off into the sunset with the corpse in his arms. Her mouldering head resting gently on his shoulder. His nostrils filled with the sweet scent of her decay.
He even found out where they buried her remains, after she'd been dissected by some student. He used to visit the grave and dream about digging her up. Tracking down all her body parts and stitching her back together. The ultimate act of love and devotion to the object of his desire.
After a while he realised his obsession was never going to come to anything. So he put it out of his mind and shifted his desires elsewhere. But the fantasy never really went away. Like a tap that drips just as you're about to sleep, it would wake him up in the middle of the night. It was getting so he couldn't ignore his desire for the dead any longer.
Leaving college, he found he had a talent for playing the market. It was like a beautiful and harmonious machine to him. It operated according to perfect laws that carried people and nations along in its wake. It's workings beguiled and enchanted him. Everything was ordered according to bottom lines and balance sheets.
His star rose on Wall Street and so did his portfolio of holdings. As a treat on his thirtieth birthday, when he'd amassed more wealth than he could ever spend, he bought himself a chain of morticians.
He took to making surprise inspections of these establishments. Late at night, when the staff had gone home. That was when his second life began. When he found the space to be the person he truly was. Where he could indulge all those fantasies he hadn't dared admit before.
As befitted someone with his wealth and ability, Palmer did everything with class. He chose his lovers very carefully. He didn't want just any old cadaver. He went for a certain type. She had to have a hot body. He preferred blondes, but he could always have the hair dyed or buy a wig. And she had to be under thirty, preferably twenty five or younger.
This made his quest for love a little more tricky, but he was a resourceful man. He expanded the chain of morticians into twelve more states and instigated an aggressive campaign for new business. As a result his investment thrived. And so did his opportunities for romance.
He scoured the obituaries for new conquests. When he found one he would take personal charge of the burial. He even liaised with the family and helped them through their time of grief. He would comfort a mother at a graveside while he was secretly preparing her daughter for a passionate encounter.
He would start by buying her gifts. A Prada evening dress, with matching heels or a set of diamond earrings. She had to be properly kitted out before she could be wooed.
He had a private room built into each of his mortuaries. He prided himself on the decor of all of them. Each was unique and done out with perfect taste.
He would have a meal sent over from the area's finest restaurant and set a table for himself and his date. Only when the correct rituals of courtship had been observed would he think of touching her.
It made the whole experience that much more exquisite. He would luxuriate in his new love for days on end. Hardly leaving her, except to deal with pressing business. But eventually the blossom of his passion would fade as her flesh began to decompose.
By their very nature, his romances were fleeting. At times his heart would be broken. But there was always the obituary page. Another sad loss would catch his eye and the thrill of the chase would begin again.
As his mortician empire grew so did the occasional problem with staff. It seemed men and women of his persuasion were often drawn to the profession. In much greater numbers than most people suspected. Palmer would be especially vigilant for the tell tale signs. No-one knew them better than he.
He couldn't be everywhere though and he couldn't check every person who worked for him. It never crossed his mind that they would be just as wise to him. He had been so careful for so many years that he was surprised when he received the first e-mails.
They were from an online group called the American Necromantic Adventurer’s League. They had set up a forum and were campaigning to rehabilitate necrophilia. They aimed to change its public image from a sociopathic act to a lifestyle choice. They claimed necromantics were using their sexuality to come to an emotional and spiritual understanding with death.
The e-mails revealed that certain anonymous employees had highlighted him as a possible patron for their activities. They suggested that he shared certain values with the group and that sponsoring them would be the best way to maintain the secrecy surrounding his own love life.
Palmer was not intimidated by their veiled threats. He defended himself by going on the attack. He led a prominent campaign against ANAL members within the industry as a way of deflecting attention from himself. He paid private investigators to hunt them all down and had them arrested. His wealth and influence guaranteed stiff sentences for all of them. Then he sold his holdings in the mortuary business.
Palmer was in his forties by this point and had begun to tire of the bachelor life. He started to long for a more permanent relationship. His dilemma was that he didn't feel any attraction towards living women and he didn't want to give up the variety of bodies and experiences he was used to.
That's when he was approached by Doc Papa. It seemed another group of people, with whom he shared common interests, had been watching him – the super rich. They were head hunting a CEO for a private enterprise in the Caribbean. One that would cater exclusively to the monetary elite.
When they described the proposition to him in full, he was struck by two things. It had a sound business model and it would transport his love life to a whole new level.
Palmer savoured the mortuary aroma for a few seconds longer. Then he opened the door of a large refrigerator and took out a bucket of fresh human brains.
He pulled open a drawer from the middle row. Inside his current favourite concubine strained against her straps and snapped her teeth at him in greeting.
"Hello my sweet," Palmer said stroking her bleached, straightened hair. "I know, I know I've missed you too, but Daddy has to work, yes he does."
Palmer reached into the bucket and chose a ripe, fresh brain. The concubine's nose twitched as she smelled it. She rolled her milky white eyes in their encrusted sockets. She was coming on to him. She was such a minx.
"Patience my sweet," Palmer said, dangling the brain over her mouth like a bunch of grapes. "Eat your brain first. They're good for you. The doctor told me so. They're the best thing to slow your decomposition, yes they are."
The concubine tore the spongy, pink tissue of the brain with her dead teeth, swallowing each mouthful as quickly as she could. Palmer dabbed the blood and brain tissue away from her mouth with his handkerchief.
"There that's better isn't it? You're all hot for Daddy now aren't you? I can tell you are."
Palmer unbuckled his belt. The other concubines caught the scent of the brains. They got excited inside their drawers. All of them writhed and kicked in excitement.
"Wait my angels, wait. I don't have anywhere to be until five am. I will see to all of you soon enough."