Cobb traced the thin wire hovering at nose height with his finger, followed it to the wall, behind the shelf, and then ducked under the counterweight, avoiding the precisely stacked pile of books at the last moment. He wasn’t entirely sure what their purpose in the grand design was, but the last time Eames “accidentally” knocked over one of Ariadne’s engineering projects, there had been consequences.
Ariadne smiled, a fast flash of acknowledgement, then her expression dropped into the grimly determined, business-like mask she’d been wearing lately. “If we time it right, we should be able to take out fifty, sixty percent of them at the door.”
“I don’t see why it had to be a Mall, though,” Yusuf said again. “Have none of you watched any Zombie movie ever? The Mall is where they get you, with the whirring, spinning blades of death and-“
“I don’t think that was the Zombies,” Arthur said as he duct-taped another axe to another rake. “Anyway, the gear we need is here.”
There was a knock at the door, their heads jerked towards it. Zombies weren’t really known for knocking.
Ariadne opened her mouth and then closed it. Shrugged and said, “Hello?”
“It’s Eames. If I open the door, am I getting a brain full of something pointy?”
Cobb found his voice, just about. “Yeah, Eames, you are, because you’re a Zombie. So why aren’t you – what’s – you’re dead.”
“Oh, very nice,” Eames muttered dryly. “No, no, please – let’s not have any tearful exclamations of joy at my recovery or anything.”
Ariadne edged closer to the go-switch for her latest contraption. “You tried to eat Arthur,” she pointed out. “That’s not symptomatic of the freaking flu, Eames.”
“But in fairness, that hair gel does smell delicious. Doesn’t taste as good though. It’s like those fruity teas.”
Arthur raised a hand to his head. “My hair is not fruity.”
Even through the door, it was possible to somehow tell Eames rolled his eyes. “I never said it w-“
Cobb had the distinct feeling he was losing control of the situation. He rallied. “Eames, I have no idea what you’re doing here, and I’m sorry you’re dead – I really am - but you can’t come in and we will kill you on sight. Again.”
“Yes, about that.” Eames took on an injured tone. “You couldn’t have come up with something more dignified than a ballistic Barbie doll?”
“Probably,” Cobb conceded, “but we were a little pressed for time.” This time he resisted the urge to apologise to the walking dead.
“I took its clothes off, though,” Yusuf said, trying to placate. “I thought you’d appreciate that, at least.”
“Well, that was thoughtful. At least one of you was using your braa-ains.” Eames coughed and then rushed on. “Look, clearly it’s been a misunderstanding – let me in, yeah?”
Ariadne frowned. “What was that?”
“What was what?”
Yusuf glanced at Ariadne, both sets of eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Say ‘brain’,” he said.
“Ah HAH!” Yusuf beamed, scientific method triumphing again. “He’s a Zombie!”
“Of course he’s a Zombie,” Arthur said. “We covered that.”
“It’s a speech impediment,” Eames offered, but not with a great deal of effort to be convincing.
“Go away, Eames.” Ariadne checked the time on her watch and suppressed the shiver of relief she got every time she saw it ticking backwards. “There are rules to the DreamSpace and we can’t fraternize with the enemy. Especially one who didn't tell us he'd been bitten until he got hungry.”
“So what am I meant to do for the next week, then?” He grumbled. "I'm not exactly hanging out with the world's greatest conversationalists, here."
“Well,” she said, and pressed the button to start the machine. “You could start with ducking.”