Brraaaiiinnnssss…We already know what’s coming. The word hisses across our mind like a cold snake. It sends chills down our spine. If we turn around and look, there’s going to be a rotting, slimy corpse on the other end of that muttered word. The fear is a primal, gut reaction that turns our bowels to ice. It’s the fear of our cave dwelling ancestors when they hear that growl from the back of the cave in the deep of night.
We have deep rooted primal fears in our brain-stem. Our reptilian brain that is all about instinct and survival keeps us alive with these fears. Good movie makers and writers know this, and know how to tap into it. Probably our biggest fear is the fear of death. It’s taken a lot of forms over the years, from giant cave bears, to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, to vampires, to now zombies
But right now, zombies have become the biggest thing in niche lit. They’re everywhere. They have zombie walks, (actually a damned good excuse to get dressed up and shuffle downtown and drink with some good friends) zombie apocalypse marathons (the first rule: Cardio) and magazines. Can’t really say that about too many more monsters in the genre out there. I mean, yeah, you’ve got vampire balls here and there, and nightclubs, but it’s mostly goth and emo kids out looking to hang with others of their type. It’s not really a come one come all kind of thing. And really, I don’t think it’d be all that fun sitting around being moody and elegant all night. Not when I can get all cover in blood and go shuffling off down the street with my buds. And when was the last time you saw anything major done for werewolves
Thing is though, the overpaid researchers who look into this kind of stuff have been scratching their head, trying to figure out where this is coming from. The literary snobs who predicted it would die out, as it was just too ridiculous are puzzled. They don’t get it. They don’t understand. They’ve spent all this time and money studying the phenomenon in the research area, and making fun of it in literary circles, and they still are no further ahead than when they started
Well, here’s a clue: It’s something the 99% of us can relate too. Zombies are mindless creatures shuffling around from one place to the next trying to find a meal. When one zombie finds a meal, everyone else shuffles over for a bit. There’s not much out there in the way of food, so competition is fierce. One has to force his way through the pack to get the tasty bits to himself. Eventually, there are more zombies, and less in the way of food, so the weaker zombies get left behind
Replace that with jobs, and you’ve got the picture of why 99% of the world can relate to zombies. We’ve all got our degrees. We’re all competing for jobs in a smaller and smaller market. For each job out there, there are thousands, literally in some fields, or applicants. One person is able to get the good job, and the rest of us shuffle on through our crappy job, or unemployment until we stumble across the next hot lead. We go week to week trying to pay bills on our paycheck that doesn’t cover cost of living, and hasn’t increased since the 1980’s
Hell, we are the zombies. Yes, they represent death. They represent an unstoppable enemy that is going to kill you. They’re a force that even after you’re dead, you’re corpse is going to stagger back to life, and try to eat the rest of your family
But they’re us. We get up every morning and head off to our rotten job that pays the bills and buys food for the week, and if we’re lucky, we can take the wife and kids to a movie. We do it every day while looking for that one promotion or transfer that makes life better
And in the meantime, there’s some bloody good fun involved. You can’t take it too seriously. There’s now a whole circuit of zombie-thons going on throughout the US. There’s one coming up in August not too far away, and I plan on going. I’m not much of a runner, but I can dress up and shuffle after people with the best of them. And it’s a damned good excuse to meet up with my buddies down in St. Louis and have a good weekend
And if anyone is wondering why I have anything to say about zombies in the first place, find a copy of Snareville or Snareville II: Circles. I got REALLY tired of zombies invading New York, LA or Chicago, so I stuck them in a small town similar to the one I live in. Funny how things are a little different where people actually know how to get by in the first place.
©DM Youngquist, 2012. All rights reserved.