Before things went ass up, zombies were all the rage. By the later part of 2015, I didn’t know of anyone that hadn’t watched at least one TV episode, witnessed one movie, read one book on their iPads, Kindles, or Netflix.
I guess you couldn’t really call it a sudden phenomenon. The walking dead had been a niche center of interest since, shit, I dunno, the 1960’s? Night of the Living Dead? The entire concept was terrifying and intriguing, but ultimately asinine. Seriously, who could be afraid of lumbering corpses moving at a rate of three feet per minute? I mean, c’mon, just walk away from them.
It wasn’t until shows like The Walking Dead, movies like Zombieland, or books like World War Z came out that your average late night consumer got an actual idea of how dangerous they could actually be. Entire cities wiped out in the span of a few hours. Small, ragged bands of survivors hiding in treehouses. The complete breakdown of society.
I gotta call bull shit on a lot of it.
I will say this, though: when the combination of poisons that created an infection- that the immune system couldn’t stop, that then worked its way onto a military base full of Marines- really took off, it took off fast. The gestation period wasn’t immediate, but when the poison found a home, people started to turn as fast as a field of fleshy egg shells opening like a scene from an “Aliens” movie. Back when we had movies, that is.
I don’t know if you could really call them “zombies”, per se- at least by the definition of what the movies and TV shows and books had told us- but that’s what they were eventually called anyway. Personally, I blame the media for that little tidbit of propaganda.
Reports started out small, a simple outbreak of “something” at a military base in San Diego. Camp Pendleton, I think it was. Local news stations picked it up, giving vague accounts of it being a strand of tuberculosis that the CDC had never seen before. A few days after that it was rabies, maybe even an odd strain of mad cow disease. High end networks took over, highlighting the evening news, and began to label it as “infectious cannibalism.”
You get where I’m going with this, right?
It wasn’t long before the term “zombie” was used, and society ate it up like pizza on a Friday night…or a Tuesday night…hell; Monday lunch. All the Cretins swallowed it whole, sitting glued to their screens as the poison spread at an expeditious pace. Some neighborhoods decided to protest the infection of their neighbors, choosing to loot and vandalize the homes of the sick and turning as a form of resistance. Notable public speakers in five thousand dollar suits got on screen and implored every watcher to “stop the violence.” Hell, the President himself stood behind his regal dais and intoned that “change was coming.”
I still wonder if our dead president knew how right he was when he said that.
Now, like I said, the gestation period was gradual and hard to predict- it could be anywhere from two days to two weeks- but once it got going it was like a spark on dried tinder. It ripped its way across the country, eating- literally, eating- and infecting most of the people that it came into contact with. This is an area where TV, and the books, and the movies got it wrong. See, according to TV, every single person on the face of the continent should have broken out in mass panic. In our neighborhood it didn’t really happen like that.
Most people continued to go about their daily lives: working and drinking, smoking pot, playing video games, teaching their kids, and listening to any of the vomit that the internet spewed up…back when we had internet, that is. It only ever became a real issue when “The First Case” popped up in your state, your city, and then your neighborhood.
People didn’t panic, at first. They went out and stocked up on supplies, grabbing things that they knew they’d need. Eventually there was a decent amount of fighting, to be sure, and a lot of people did die as things started to hit closer to home, whether by the hands of their neighbors, or by being torn apart by the things that used to be their neighbors.
Granted, some people did flee, following the grandiose notion that they could “hide things out.” They went running off to the nearest mountain or lake. I don’t really know what they thought they would accomplish. After all, most of them were Average Joe’s that lived in the suburbs, and they didn’t have the first clue about surviving outside of organized society. I’m sure it may have seemed like an awesome idea at the time, but after a few days of “roughing it” set in and their cans of caviar and bottles of Dasani ran out, I imagine that the notion became a bit tiresome. They’d come limping back into town and run into a pack of deaders. I don’t need to tell you what happened after that.
It was laughably stupid of them, and I have no sympathy in me.
You know what it came down to? What really allowed those of us that remained to survive the first season of the zombie apocalypse? Any guesses? No? Please, allow me to tell you: common fucking sense.
I know; crazy, right?
TV constantly showed us groups of haggard stragglers hiding in the woods, scrounging off the land and struggling to stay alive. They were constantly bombarded by hordes of the undead, thousands of miles away from anything even remotely resembling civilization. Taking a piss out in the middle of an open field? Seventeen zombies pop up out of nowhere just to say hello. Taking shelter in an abandoned house? Wow, there’s at least three in that one room that they didn’t search. Dropping a deuce in a locked bathroom stall? Silly vagabond; there’s one hiding in the air duct right above your head.
Me? I still live in the same house I bought when I was twenty four, only a couple hundred miles from where the outbreak first originated. Am I sane? Well, that would be up to society to decide, if we still had a society to speak of. What I can tell you is this: never in my life have I felt so at home, so comfortable in my surroundings. The outbreak took away the laws; took away the politically correct moral perspective. I got to be, got to do, all the things that I’d ever thought about doing; thoughts that had always stayed well hidden behind the bright, plastic smile on my face that was deemed socially acceptable. Those same rules and restrictions didn’t apply anymore, though.Now, I’m an Exterminator, and God damn it, I love my work.