Tim, Zack's younger brother, mentions that a mob of people gathered on Main Street dressed as zombies. "That should be illegal. If you show up in public acting like a zombie, I should be allowed to shoot you in the head. Simple as that."
No one disagrees. Zombies are the greatest threat to national security. People don't dress as members of al Queda and expect not to get detained and probed by the NSA. The same rules should apply to the reanimated dead.
"You can't be too sure," says Zack. "All of this could be designed to make us complacent for when the real zombies come, so we leave them alone until it is too late. I think you could at least get away with bashing one of their heads in with a bat." He mimes doing so, almost tipping his plate of pad thai, then apologizes to the invisible zombie protester he bludgeoned.
"What were they protesting?" Melanie asks.
Tim shrugs. "Who knows? I think they just wanted to dress up as zombies. They even had the police there, blocking off roads so they could shamble. Can you believe that? Police protecting these zombies. At least they were slow zombies."
Contrary to popular belief, I think that slow zombies are a lot creepier. The idea of being surrounded by something I should be able to outrun and definitely outthink is humiliatingly terrifying. Dying at the hands of a werewolf is at least manly and quick.
We move on, Tim espousing a theory I independently came up with, that zombies should get progressively stupider through the generations, since stupid people are generally bitten (the clever ones hide out somewhere until the zombie apocalypse blows over) and only especially idiotic zombies neglect to devour as much of their victims as possible. Eventually, the successive generations of zombies should be uncoordinated enough that they will just twitch on the ground until wild dogs and vultures tear them to shreds. My personal feeling is that wildlife and newly starved pets will play a decisive role in extinguishing the zombie menace, unless zombie flesh proves toxic.
A week after this conversation, Melanie and I visit Melissa. We'd been stuck in traffic for over an hour as several exits on a major road were inexplicably closed by an accident. Even the side roads we'd taken were crowded. In driving to Melissa's apartment, we'd passed several emergency vehicles going in the opposite direction. The songs of night animals were drowned out by sirens. When this went on for a few more minutes after our arrival and we discussed the traffic situation that wasn't reported as more than "an accident" on the police scanner, Melissa looks concerned.
"This is exactly what they talk about in the Zombie Survival Guide. Lots of police action that isn't reported. It's going down tonight. Where did you say the police were going?"
"My mom said something about a fire at Castle Point Hospital," I answer.
"That's exactly how it would start. The dead would start to rise in hospitals and start attacking, just like in the Dawn of the Dead remake."
Melissa gets the aforementioned book from her room and then bemoans the fact that Stevehen won't let her keep a gun in the apartment. "I've been shooting since I was three, I think I know what I'm doing."
"You are exactly the person I'd want on my team in the event of a zombie holocaust," I assure her.
Melissa thinks for a moment more. "We should go to my parents' house. My father has been planning for the revolution for years. He's got thousands of rounds of ammunition and the capability of making more. He's also got tons of bomb shelter food."
"Do you have any zombie killing weapons here?" I ask.
She goes back into her room and comes out with a machete in a green canvas sheath. "I sleep with in next to my bed every night. If I can't have a gun, I can still have something."
Melanie takes the machete out of the sheath and feels the edge, agreeing that it could undoubtedly split some rots' heads open. I flip through the book and notice it specifies the usefulness of such weapons because blades don't need to be reloaded, but I silently note that they also require the user to get within an arm's length of the walking damned. I would prefer to shoot from a distance, ideally from a roof with a good view of the surrounding area.
The sirens continue and both Melissa and I call our mothers for an update as to what is going on. As we are both met with promises that nothing is coming over the scanners, our hypothetical game takes on the edge of paranoia. Not admitting that we are entertaining the thought, we run through our assets and liabilities. We are on the ground floor and Melissa has a glass door. If the zombies come now, we are only going to get out by fighting. We only have a machete and a bat, which means one of us would have to go unarmed. Melanie and I aren't particularly good fighters, though she assures us she'd make a good diplomat (to which we remind her that you cannot reason with zombies). Our assets are that we have ready access to two vehicles that will get us out of immediate danger (though traditional automobiles can quickly turn to problems and should be ditched as soon as one can make it on foot). Melissa is trained on a variety of firearms. We are within a few minutes drive of more secure and defensible locations. Melissa and I know enough about zombie survival that we would avoid common pitfalls. I have taught a survival skills class, so I could keep us alive once we make it north (cold stops zombies from moving). Once we are in Canada, Melanie's French would immediately become useful as she could speak with the surviving Quebecois. I adapt well to situations and feel I could figure out how to thrive during a zombie infestation. All the same, I am willing to keep this in the realm of the theoretical.
We eventually are forced to leave to pick up Stevehen from work. There are fire trucks just outside the apartment complex entrance, which would explain the prevalence of sirens. This almost reassures us, but we pass four police cars by the side of the road on our way. Then we see a road cordoned off by the police and I can't help wondering who they are protecting.
Soon in Xenology: Beltane.