This is only going to be a short one today. I had planned something grander. Something a bit more intelligent, with something to say. Something that would have been on time. Only, inevitably, the germs got me.
I say inevitably because I’ve been around sick people for a while. Weeks, in fact. I had to sit and watch, day after day, as the damn virus came at me from both sides of the office where I work. I tried to pretend it was nothing for as long as I could. I tried to ignore the sneezes. I sat at my desk, clinging to my bottle of First Defence, convincing myself that I only had a dry throat because I’d not drank a glass of water in a while. Sadly, in the end, it was no good. My immune got sick (no pun intended) of playing The Alamo and finally waved the white tissue flag of surrender. Since then my past times have included groaning, not sleeping and trying to sneeze my head off my shoulders. It’s been a wild and crazy time.
Now, being a horror writer, I suppose I should have been fine with all of this. After all, there is plenty of scope for sickness in my world. Vampirism is a form of blood disorder. True, it’s often peppered with doomed romantic intentions or teenage angst, but it’s a disorder none the less. In extreme cases, it can even lead to record breaking nail length and spontaneous bat wings. Werewolves are a form of lycanthropy, which is that terrible moment when the dog lover realises they’re the one who ate the postman. And let us not forget the zombies. Ah yes, the zombie. The newly crowned, freshly decaying undead kings of horror.
I’m still not entirely sure how the zombies pulled it off. For a while there, they were a bit of a relic. They were only really there to be sniggered at. It was them and The Mummy, and even he got a trilogy of movies released somehow.
The zombie seemed to have become a firm fixture in our computer games and cheesy movie nights. Then, as if by magic, that all changed. They had clearly gotten themselves better representation. Shaun of the Dead. Dead Rising. Dead of Winter. 28 Days/Weeks Later. The Walking Dead. They’re everywhere now. It’s as if their recent, meteoric rise is a metaphor for the very disease which creates them and allows them to spread. Whatever that disease might be exactly. The details can get a little sketchy there.
I should probably confess, before we go any further, that I’ve gotten a little bored of the zombie renaissance. I loved the first few collections of The Walking Dead comic. I loved it when Romero came back and gave us a new Living Dead movie. I watched Shaun of the Dead the night before I got married. For a while there, I very much hearted zombies. It was The Walking Dead TV show that finally killed the genre off for me. Over the series, I saw the zombie pushed to one side and replaced as the main threat by a succession of mean men with gangs.
I really got into the first three series of that show. The second and third series, in particular, were a must see fixture of my week. But, after a while, I found myself starting to get a bit bored. I mean, they’re basically just playing Zombie Tag, right? You have to run to a base to be safe from being tagged and turning zombie, but if too many people get onto a base it collapses, meaning you have to run onto the next one.
Sure, they can amp up the violence and the soap opera twists, but that’s the pattern I feel the show has gotten stuck in over the past few years. Run, safe, paranoia, zombie attack, run. The poor old zombies barely even get a look in now. From what I can make out, the main thing to be afraid of now this year is sporting equipment.
The other problem is that The Walking Dead, like a lot of other zombie related stories out there now, plays it so straight faced all the time. Half the time the people in a zombie story seem to have never even heard of a zombie before the apocalypse happens. Surely, by now, we should be getting characters running into zombie filled streets and lamenting about how good they were at Resident Evil 2.
Then again…maybe I’ve missed the point of all this. Look at how I caught this bloody virus. People get sick and they still come into work. They decide that either they’ve got something to prove or that they don’t want to squander their precious sick days, so they come into work still ill. Day after day. Working themselves into the ground. Making themselves feel worse. Spreading their germs around the place as they sneeze and hack them past their stiff upper lips.
Oh my God, that’s it, isn’t it? That’s how the zombie plague will really spread. Not with some monkey forced to watch a lot of loud television in one sitting. Not with evil corporations conducting experiments or strange stories of graves being found empty across middle America. No, it will spread when the jobsworth people get bitten on the bus or the train one night. They’ll shrug it off, pound back a dissolvable aspirin and go into work the next day. They’ll joke about it as they grow paler and reassure everyone that they’re using the antibacterial stuff as much as they can, only it’ll make no difference. It will be too late. They’ll be looking at their colleagues and wondering what their brains taste like. It won’t take long for the virus to get loose. It won’t take long for the world to swept away by a tidal wave of pale faced, stressed out office staff and shop workers. The Walking Disenfranchised.
Holy hell! Where are those throat sweets? I need to get myself fighting fit and start practicing with that crossbow. We don’t have long!