I was laying on a red suede couch on Hollow Tree Lane nine years ago watching, with horror and astonishment, a movie called 28 Weeks Later. My best friend at the time- Amber, me, and her younger sister, Addison, were up late laying on that couch, as always it seemed, not knowing at all who we were or who we would become nine years later.
All three of us piled into Amber’s bed after the movie because we had scared ourselves out of our minds by watching it. It was probably around 4am when those two finally went to sleep. But I didn’t.
I remember lying there paralyzed with fear. There was a night light on but the only thing I could see were the images of sprinting, gnarled, bloody, lifeless-but-animate bodies on a never-ending movie-reel for my mind’s eye. The bodies were those of which belonged to my mother and father and brother and sister. I watched their eyes go wide and bloodshot with a viral living death that in one way or another, as my mind played it out -momturnsandbitesdadwhilehe’stryingtosavedaltonandellaandturnsandthenbitesdaltonwhobitesellaandthey’vehoardedintotheherd-, they were now coming after me. They were SPRINTING after me to tear away the flesh from my bones and turn me into something I am petrified of. I would have to kill them -the four people I love more than anything in this world- to survive, or die only to come back as a threat to the human existence. Lying there, I imagined that zombies -infected bodies as hosts to a virus that destroys life, soul, and personality – were hissing and growling just outside the window. I devised multiple elaborate plans to either quickly kill myself in case these nonexistent-zombies-that-were-just-outside-the-window got into the house, and then also fabricated multiple elaborate back up plans of action to escape and hide could I not execute a suicide. I watched the sun start to peak through the cracks of the blinds in Amber’s room before I could drift into a nightmare infested sleep.
I’ve had zombie dreams frequently and infrequently in spurts since watching that movie nine years ago. They still fester sometimes and I’ll wake up in utter panic, sometimes in a pool of my own sweat, and I’ll thank the universe that it was only a dream. But why? Why does the concept of a zombie haunt my subconscious on way deeper level than just a normal and rational fear of the living dead that most people probably have?
The part of the movie that got me the most is when the kids, who’s blood might carry hope for a cure or vaccine, (the very beautiful, very sexy) Jeremy Renner as a soldier named Doyle appointed to keep the children safe at all costs, and another female soldier who is injured, are running away from, not only zombies, but military personnel roaming the streets of the UK with poisonous gas and flamethrowers killing zombies and humans alike. Eradicating. With shirts pulled over their noses, the group finds an abandoned vehicle and they get in. It’s a manual and it won’t start. The soldiers aren’t far behind them and they will end anyone who could be infected. Doyle, in order to save the children, decides he must get out and push the car so the woman soldier can pump the clutch and move the gear shift to hopefully get the car started. He gets out of the car and starts pushing with all his might, yelling, “Go! Go! GO!” The children are crying and screaming. The military personnel with the flamethrowers see him and begin to throw. Just as his clothing and body catch fire, the car starts. The camera shows the children looking back in turmoil, it flashes to the view from the back seat looking back at his flailing, flaming, waving arms. He falls to his knees, and then to the ground. Dying. Burning.
All of this happened in what seemed like in-the-moment-slow-motion, and I was uncontrollably bawling. This is one of the few movie scenes that has had complete gut-wrenching, heart-ripping, empathy-evoking, soul-inspiring impact on me. Doyle gave his life to save those children, he sacrificed his life for the hopes of saving the human race. We’d like to think we could be so selfless in the same situation. In all situations.
Is this the reason I so deeply fear the idea of a zombie and a zombie apocalypse? You see, I live for those moments where I feel like being human has a purpose. That we didn’t evolve into this level of consciousness just for shits and giggs. That we can be transcendent, even if just for a few seconds. That we can sacrifice ourselves for the happiness and betterment of another’s life. That we can feel and love endlessly and unconditionally. That we are a part of that far-out-tremendously-deep kick. Vastly connected to one another and all things. To be a zombie means that there is matter (the body and physical identity pertaining to the recognition of who you are) without meaning. To be a zombie means to be void of all emotion. To be a zombie means you will kill your family. To be a zombie means to never love. To be a zombie is to never feel. To be a zombie is the annihilation of all communication. To be a zombie means loss of all hope for that transcendence. To be a zombie is to die without death. To be a zombie is to catapult into oblivion.
And I’m not sure why or when or what happened, but, I fell in love with an emotional zombie. I am sacrificing my every single heart’s desires, every sexual desire, my emotional desires, in the hopes to save the existence of a relationship that may or may not fail horribly, if it hasn’t already. The lack of communication kills me inside. The confusion is equivalent to my suffering. Will it really lead to an enlightened more knowledgable state of mind? I aim to find a cure, to mend, to vaccinate. The bite marks he left on my right forearm and left shoulder on Monday faded away Friday.
And though I am surrounded by them, lurking in every corner of this existence, some too far gone to come back; I have sworn to myself never to be one- emotional or otherwise. I would rather burn a thousand times to save a child from the same fate. To save human existence and consciousness. To save emotion. To save love. Even if all of this means nothing. To do that is to reach that transcendence, even if just for this or that moment. To be a part of that deep kick. It’s the running from the somnolence, the zombie-ism, that exhausts you to the point that you would almost rather be one than to endure the misery and torment of the end. It is that primal will to survive, to make things better, that may one day save us. How much time do we have left as a species, as humans, as consciousness? How much time do we have left. We all fear death, but I fear a living death far more.
Mental slope. Sloping.