If wishing makes it so, there is little doubt we will soon face the horror of a zombie apocalypse.
Many people consider themselves well prepared. We all have our preferred zombie hunting weapons: shotguns, cricket bats, golf clubs, longbows, a replica of a broadsword from any one of the Highlander films or television series. Basically, anything that is long and hard and/or fires a projectile. That’s normal and healthy. More on that later.
We all know where we would hole up to make our stand against the undead horde: Wal-Mart, K-Mart, The Big K, Target, Super Target, CostCo. Basically, any place that has a lot of food and would also be a depressing place to die. That’s just common sense. More on that later.
We all know who we would try to rescue and/or protect: our spouses, significant others, our children, quiet neighbors who keep to themselves because they probably have a lot of weapons in their basement. Basically, all of the important people in our lives who are still mobile or have tactical value. Grandparents are pretty much out of luck. That’s just good strategy. More on that later.
Say what you will about the lazy human beings of the 21st Century, we are physically prepared for the zombie apocalypse. But at the risk of sounding unmanly, what about our feelings?
Are we, as a people, EMOTIONALLY PREPARED for a zombie apocalypse?
Let’s start by reconsidering some of our cold, cruel, and emotionally distant physical preparations.
Do we have to slaughter zombies with phallic objects? What if we imagine hitting them with something soft and beautiful? A tulip? A handwritten letter? An unframed Monet print from a college dorm room? Would that be effective? Probably not. Does it make you sad that beauty is useless against zombies?
What if we didn’t make our final stand in a soulless big box store? What if we went to a happy place? A used bookstore? A locally owned homeopathic day spa? A patch of shade under our favorite tree? Would these be good fortresses? Probably not. Does it upset you to know your happy places make for great zombie feeding grounds?
What if we didn’t just rescue helpful people we love? What if we went out of our way to help a stranger? Or someone we know to be a jerk? What if we raced to a nursing home to protect the older generation from certain doom? Would a cranky wizened old man with a catheter and a penchant for racist slurs be a cheerful and valiant comrade for our desperate final stand? Of course not. Does it agitate you to think zombies might force you to die in the company of annoying people?
Zombies limit our options, don’t they? And it makes us angry. It makes us want to kill them viciously in a large well-lit retail environment.
Picture it: A reanimated heathen monstrosity shambles through Super Target. It’s Doug. Doug from that yellow house down the street. He gives out full size Snickers bars on Halloween, not just the misleadingly named fun-size. Doug is following you down the cleaning supplies aisle. His grisly arms outstretched as if asking for a reassuring hug. You savagely beat him about the head with a metal toilet plunger designed by Michael Graves until his skull caves in like a rotten melon.
Achievement Unlocked! You just killed (or re-killed) Doug, the full sized Snickers man, from down the street.
How do you feel about murdering Doug? He made you do it, right? But, still.
Those are Doug’s brains you splattered on the floor. You’ll be thinking about that when you get out that pole with the tennis ball on the end to rub the streaks off the cold unforgiving tile. And as you stare at your reflection in the Super Target floor, the horrifying truth wrestles its way into your conscious mind: ZOMBIES ARE US.
On some level, we are the undead and the undead are us.
And so we have to ask, “Why are we hitting ourselves? Why are we hitting ourselves? Why are we hitting ourselves in a Super Target with a metal toilet plunger designed by Michael Graves?”
Yes, the zombies make us do it. Yes, it’s us or them. Yes, zombies are murderous mockeries of our former selves–mindless, unreasonable symbols of death and decay. But they do have one thing going for them:
Zombies are goal oriented.
Zombies want to eat the brains of the living and that is all. No excuses, no bullshit.
Zombies don’t stand around at cocktail parties claiming they’re going to eat brains after they go back to school and get their MFA in theoretical brain eating.
Zombies don’t DVR episodes of The View to get step by step brain eating tips from a panel of experts.
Zombies don’t drop everything and move across the country because they think they’ll have better luck eating brains in Portland, Oregon.
Zombies don’t start arguments on the internet about whether or not they are eating brains ironically.
They just fucking eat brains.
And maybe that’s why we fantasize about killing them so much. The shambling bastards make us feel lazy.
Perhaps we should stop thinking about how successful we will be in slaughtering our reanimated friends and neighbors in the inevitable zombie apocalypse and spend more time with ourselves.
What if we all focused on our own inner zombies? What if we pursued our life passions with the indomitable ferocity of a zombie who wants to eat brains?
What is your eating brains? Is it climbing a mountain? Playing the tuba? Becoming fluent in modern conversational French?
Set your sights on your goal and let your inner zombie go! Stumble-walk as fast as you can! Smash through the glass! Rattle the fence until it falls over! If someone chops your legs off with a heavily discounted wood axe from Wal-Mart, then dig your fingers into the very ground and drag, drag, drag your chomping unyielding jaws to victory!
Because the only way to truly EMOTIONALLY PREPARE for the zombie apocalypse is to lead a life that is worth fighting to keep.
When you have achieved this goal, you can happily look forward to the zombie apocalypse–fully prepared to bash the heads of the undead with a toilet plunger in your hand and a bounce in your step!
But until that happy day, all you can do is get out there in our pre-apocalypse world and chase down your dreams.
Now, go, my friends, go out there and eat the metaphorical hell out of some jerk’s brains–like only you can.
A version of this story is also available in my book COMEDY OF DOOM.
Thanks for reading.