Jun 27th 2011, 14:48 by E O Hatterpol | 1228 AU FROM SUN
"Get thee behind me!" I shouted, stepping in front of Nixie. I looked the monster straight in her eyes; she looked like a pale folkloric demon from a Japanese horror flick. "Who the shell are you and what's wrong with your face?" I demanded.
"E O!" said Nixie, tsking. We hadn't even kissed yet & she was already giving me the look!
"It's OK," said the girl. Her voice was so small it sounded like she was at wit's end. "I didn't used to look like this before... before Master Bokor came."
"Master Bow Core?" I said. "That sounds like an exercise machine."
Nixie gave me another sideways look. "Who is this Master Bokor and what has he - or she, I guess - done to you?" she asked.
"Master Bokor... Master Bokor came in the night. Master Bokor whipped me. Master Bokor whipped me so hard I lost my mind. Master Bokor took it and put it somewhere and I'll never find it again."
I quit telling jokes. This was getting serious.
"Somebody came in the night and whipped you? With a whip? Somebody carries a whip on Starbase Octopus?" I asked.
"Can't resist Master Bokor's will. Master Bokor has made me... into a zonbi."
I jumped back ten paces with a girly scream. Did she say zombie?!
"Eww-huh-huh-huh-hewwww," I said, bouncing on my tippy-toes. "That's gross, that's gross, that's gross! Don't touch me! Don't eat me! I don't have any brains! I don't wanna be a zombie! I saw 28 Days Later, you freaks are freaky fast now!"
"Stop it, E O!" Nixie told me. "She's not a zombie! Zombies can't talk! Zombies can't think! Zombies are undead, and this poor girl is clearly alive!"
"Yes," came the small voice again. "I am not a zombie. Zombies don't exist. I am a zonbi. Had my self-awareness, my free will whipped out of me in the night with... with a bullwhip. Can't think for myself. Can't do what I want. Master Bokor came in the night, Master Bokor whipped me until my back bled."
"We got that part," I said. "What are you doing here, in the DSOD?"
"Been fighting Master Bokor's will, but the effort is killing me. Master..." she stopped to catch her breath. She looked really pale. "Master Bokor is taking girls. Master Bokor is turning girls into... into... into Master Bokor's army."
She collapsed. Nixie caught her in her arms.
"Stay with me!" she said, wiping the girl's matted hair off her forehead. "The Help & Welcome Department has never lost a single soul and we won't today! Stay with me!"
"Please," the girl croaked. "Help us. Find and kill Master Bokor. Release us. Give us back what we've lost. Master Bokor keeps us at-"
And then she died. Nixie shook her limp frame, shouting into her face: "Stay with me! Stay with me! Stay with me!"
I put my hand on Nixie's shoulder - the furthest one from that pasty demon. "Hey," I said. "I've seen dead bodies before. She's gone. Look, Nixie - we need to figure out what to do. Help me figure out what to do next."