After church, on the day when she celebrated her 101st birthday, Reverend Williams asked Ms Haven the secret of her remarkable old age. “Cigarettes, Whisky and… staying far away from miserable old men like you” she told him, her glassy, glaucous eyes not displaying even the slightest flicker of humour.

Naturally the real secret was a whole other rattle-bag of shenanigans. For Ms Branwyn Haven was in fact the last of the Christmas Island zombies. As a young, or somewhat younger woman she had been present at the first of the British Hydrogen bomb tests; a failure, or so they said. Though the wisdom of potentially eternal life had shown her that calling any bomb development successful was a massive oversimplification. There had been three of them, including herself. Three who through a domino toppling of unforeseeable incompetence had been showered by the full, ungodly light of an unsuccessful bomb test. All three had been partially blinded by the savage light. All three of them bathed in a cellular preservative which massively slowed their physical decay.

The other two had been men, a lowly corporal and a senior government official. Both were now long dead. The former because he had feared his newfound, unnatural, immortality, the latter because he had feared hers. She recalled the late summer day  when he finally caught up to her and she lay floating, face down, in the water of a mountain lake. She had been seventy three years old, but still with a strong, and ageless body.

As minutes passed, she had held her breath, a practiced skill. She imagined herself through his eyes. Drifting, limp and breathless, her wet shell-white skin was pierced with a single dark freckle. Then, when he was completely convinced that he had drowned her, when he turned to paddle away, she rose from the water, strong and sudden, orca-like, and taking the razor-blade from between her lips, she slit his throat. So many years ago, she had left him adrift, with his empty, wet, eyes glinting in the sun, while she swam to the shore and got on with living.

“Miserable old men” she said again, this time with a gorgeous smile, and the church door slammed sonorously behind her.

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