“Hey, Barry, do me a favour would ya?”
“Sure, Tarquil, whatever you say.” Tarquil is pale, the bandage on his throat soiled with black blood from the bite. He lies shivering, his body rigid as the infection violates his every cell.
“When I change into one of those things, don’t you think twice about shooting me. Do what you have to do.”
“Sure thing, bro.” Barry feels his friend’s skin cooling. He knows what he has to do.
A portion of dialogue similar to this has been uttered in nearly every zombie novel or film ever. A character is bitten in that exciting action scene where they seem to have so nearly escaped the undead’s advances, only for them to not quite get away unscathed. Then there follows the downtime when they come to terms with the fact they are going to become one of the horde. Obviously they will change at some stage, and it’s important for the plot to establish the ambivalent emotions when the hero has to put a bullet in the head of their once best friend.
It’s the horror equivalent of the two leads hating each other at the beginning of a romantic comedy.
We all know the terrors that are awoken when the thought of a ravenous group of disfigured zombies plan on making us their light snack. It’s scary stuff, and it’s human nature to be scared, it’s what we do. But is it really such a bad thing to become a flesh-eating monster?
I would suggest the act of being devoured by the hungry bastards and having your entrails ripped from your convulsing body, is much scarier than simply the thought of becoming a rotting, shuffling corpse.
So what are these characters in these zombie masterpieces so scared of? Well whatever it is, they shouldn’t be. And I’m about to tell you the benefits of becoming a flesh-crazed zombie.
You get to experience horrific mortal wounds without dying. OK, so you’re already technically dead, but aren’t zombies undead? And doesn’t that mean not dead? Anyway, consider this. Have you ever half ripped a toenail off, or had a large crusty scab on your knee, and not had the curiosity to sit and play with it? Ever been tempted to pull at that nail or scab until it starts to smart a bit, before you realise that you may be doing some harm to yourself and stop? No?
Well I’m going to assume you said ‘yes’ just to illustrate my point. Imagine if, instead of a plaque of crusted, congealed blood, you could sit and play with an entire small intestine. That would surely make the day much more enjoyable and different, it certainly wouldn’t be boring. You could even make balloon animals with your entrails and entertain your cadaverous brothers and sisters with a little show, where the humans are defeated and the dead walk the earth forever more. Topical theatre, if ever I’ve heard it.
You can’t tell me that wouldn’t be fun.
You have no responsibilities. Have you ever heard a zombie moaning about household bills, the price of petrol, or there not being enough after-school activities for the kids? You’d have no job to get up for and you could spend your days just hanging with your mates, wandering the streets without a care in the world. You’d have no one to answer to; no boss, no wife, no taxman. I’m sure the majority of adults would find that existence pretty darn dandy.
It would be just like being a kid again. Just a ravenous, bloodthirsty and violent one.
You have no understanding of your own mortality. Animals have it easy in this life. Their whole purpose for being is to enjoy themselves (I’m looking at you, dogs). Every moment is a joy to behold, and life is great. There’s no perceived threat of disease and you don’t get told by the doctor that ‘it’s terminal.’ I reckon that this is similar for zombies. Are they more intelligent than dogs? That’s a question for another time, and one that probably can’t be answered come to think of it, because dogs are real and well understood. And zombies, well, are neither.
You would have no fear of death. This fear is one that, as humans, we have congealing in the depths of our minds every day, our one certainty. It seems that zombies don’t even appreciate mortal danger, as when a desperate human (or meal) is filling the heads of the monsters with shotgun blasts, there’s not one zombie who thinks to himself, ‘Fuck, I better get out of here, shit’s goin’ down!’ No, of course they don’t. They ignore the danger and instead continue in their quest for brains and other vital organs. Now that, is bravery.
You truly get to enjoy and appreciate your food. The average zombie does all the hard work himself when it comes to sourcing and preparing food. I’m sure they eat better than cave men used to. There’s no hassle about finding the food on special offer in the supermarket, no fiddling with overly-complicated packaging, no stress at having to make sure the oven’s on the right setting and that you don’t leave the food in for too long. And, of course, there’s no washing up to do afterwards.
Add to all that the satisfaction of having caught and eaten your food all by yourself, without the need for buying (or stealing) it from a shop. OK, so zombies aren’t particularly fussy when it comes to eating, as long as it’s alive they’re pretty happy. You wouldn’t see an undead monster complaining that his thigh steak was too over-cooked, or his still-throbbing heart canope was not ‘fair trade’.
You get to be famous, or is that infamous? All humans want to be remembered when they die, it’s something ego-related I think. Be that by their kids and grandchildren, or for the charity work they performed, or the great art they contributed to society. If someone says they don’t long for this post-mortal appreciation in some way, they’re lying. Hell, I’ll freely admit that I would love a gold statue of myself erected after my death for the amazingly brilliant and thought-provoking blog I wrote about how it’s not all that bad to be a zombie. There’s my ego again.
I’d add to this that most (probably not all, but quite close) humans would harbour the hope of being respected in this world. Maybe I could go as far to say feared. But not in a serial killer type way, although I’m sure this is one thing that boosts their psychopathic ego; the fear in the eyes of their victims before they are slain to some great cause or some shit. But being feared as someone not to mess with or to upset, is something that can get you places in life, like say, hard-assed businessmen, for example.
And what higher honour is there in the ‘being feared’ stakes than being a zombie and feeding on the life of your victim. You’d be the last thing this feeble human saw in their life. Quite an achievement really. And not only that, every one knows how scary zombies are, just imagine being part of that. Wouldn’t it be great? Better than being a shit-munching human.
You’d never even know. A notion has been explored in some zombie books and movies (citations needed) that the undead still regain some part of who they were before they changed, and this can add an interesting take to the genre.
But come on, zombies are stupid. They trudge around with bits falling out of them and other bits dangling off them in strings of festering gore. There certainly isn’t any danger of them being ridiculed by the Undead Fashion Police either, so you wouldn’t have to care what you looked like. And as the unfashionable brain-hungry beasts wander at an alarmingly slow pace, they probably ain’t thinking about how they could have done so much better in their lives.
You’d be dead with only one thing ingrained in your essence of being; eat. Find some alive bastards and change that fact, pronto. Keep doing this and you’ll be sorted. Until the humans run out. I’m not quite sure what happens then, but who cares? You’re a brain dead zombie aren’t you?
Hmmm, is anyone else hungry now???
Photo on Visual Hunt