Long Haired Zombie-Killing Freak #3

I could have continued hitting him in the eyes with my Vorpal Towel of Testicles Dryin’ (+3 to hit, no saving throw), but he’d eventually get serious. I can’t match a zombie for speed or strength, but I could get him on technique. If I disabled him—no one walks away on a broken knee—I’d have time to snag a weapon out of my tent.

My opponent came up off the asphalt with one hand over his bleeding eye and the other slashing the air in front of him. I got a decent look at him for the first time, and it made me sad to see he was even younger than me. I guessed him to be somewhere in his early 20’s, and it sucks that someone so young died in the first place. Of course, the larger suck is that he came back to life and ended up on my roof.

“Come on!” He screamed and charged me. Did he think that I’m an idiot?

I’d studied Aikido for most of my pre-College life, along with a few other martial arts, and an opponent running towards you is one of those, “Thank you, God! I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time,” opportunities. Far be it from me to not take the chance I’d been given to get a let up on this little shithead.

I blended with his forward motion, captured his outstretched hand, and performed a wet “kote gaeshi” (a deceptively simple, completely awful, wrist turn).

He went airborne around the center marked by our hands, and hit the roof on his back with a wet thud. I followed up the technique with something I would never have done in a dojo setting: I rotated his wrist in the opposite direction as he hit the ground…tearing the ligaments in his wrist, if not shredding his rotator cuff at the same time.

It was a good scream of pain, even if the thunder drowned it out. I left him rolling around with one arm flopping and the other clenched to his face, and ducked into my tent as quickly as I possibly could. There was only one weapon in easy reach, and it certainly wasn’t my favorite, but I didn’t have time to be choosy.

Sure, our zombies weren’t what we’d been raised to expect. Ours were smart, cunning, full of personality, and verbal. The one thing that did hold true from fiction to fact was the sure method of returning your attacker to the afterlife: take the head and expose the brain to the world.

I walked back to where he was, still flat on his back. He’d let go of his face so he could cradle his arm. Honest to god, he was pitiful—in that I felt pity for him experiencing so much pain—and pitiable, too. Most of the zombies I’d dealt with in the past would be swinging that loose arm at me, trying to beat me to death with it, rather than stay still.

He was a newbie, and lame.

“Oi! Newbie!”

He looked up at me with his good eye, and saw the axe I held above my head as it started to fall.

You can’t say he didn’t see it coming. Sadly, I think he saw the second strike coming down, too. I’m approaching ninety percent certain that he didn’t see the third one: it took the top of his skull off.

He was done, but I had to do his victim, too.

After I was finished, I dragged the bodies to the edge of the roof and kicked them off onto the sidewalk. Someone would make them go away by morning. Maybe.

It was still raining, so I grabbed my abused bar of soap and got back to what I’d been planning to do in the first place.

As I scrubbed, I looked around at the neighborhood. It was so much quieter than it was when I was a teenager…not that it had been a major hub of the suburban social world…but people used to chill at the diner over past Glebe Road. There was a lot of traffic, too, since this area was the point where the residential and business worlds collided.

Straight down Glebe, you’d cross over Route 66—one of two major commuter roads into metropolitan Washington, DC—and right into the Ballston area of Arlington. There were more office buildings in Ballston than in some midwestern cities, and worse traffic. Turn left on Wilson Boulevard, and it just got worse all the way down into Rosslyn.

When I was in college, I dabbled in a lot of disciplines. Sociology was one of them. I remember reading a book about the phenomenon they call “edge city”. It is the city that exists outside the city limits. Washington, DC was actually covered in that book, since it had so many perfect examples of the thesis.

Arlington. Rosslyn. Tyson’s Corner. Reston. Alexandria. All of them were bustling Virginian micro-cities in their own right, feeding and being fed by the Nation’s Capitol.

Not anymore.

The last statistics I heard said that nearly 40% of the global population was infected with, or would be infected with, the unnamed contagion that brings the dead back to life. No one knew, or was telling us, exactly how the bug was transmitted. We just knew that some people were immune.

I was one of those people who appeared to be immune. I was lucky that way. Marvin and his wife hadn’t contracted the virus either. I considered myself lucky, there, too.

The night closed in, and the rain didn’t stop. It was fine by me. Sleeping in a nylon tent in 98% humidity sucked when opportunities to enjoy climate control were infrequent. A good, strong, storm would keep the temperature pleasantly cool over night and let me get some beauty sleep before attending to my job the following morning.

I wondered how Ms. Louise Malley, my client, spent her evening. Maybe, somewhere out there in the once-trendy Clarendon area, she spread her dim sum to the sky and enjoyed the rain? Crazy or not, I could have nibbled her Crab Rangoon, and rolled my face in her pork buns, all night long.

Laying on my sleeping bag as the rain came down, I couldn’t decide if it was Chinese food I was craving, female companionship, Chinese female companionship, or some fourth thing. Whatever it was, my imagination was snagged on it.

No choice but to sleep on it.

I woke up with horrible morning wood and a perverse craving for fried rice.

(Yeah, yeah. Copyright James Crawford 2012. Be nice or I’ll hit you with the wet end. @crawford4033 www.bloodsoakedandwriting.com)

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Why Do You Need Texting Capability When You Only Have Half a Thumb?

Rich or poor, living or dead, there’s one thing that all children have in common: they always want stuff they can’t have. I want this. I want that. Buy me this. Buy me that. It’s enough to make me lose my mind. Oh wait, there it is.
My son just needs to see a shiny button and he’s hooked. Doesn’t even matter what it is. Last week we were chasing some joggers through the forest preserve, and he came shambling back to me, grunting.
“Rughughughphtheppphhhh,” he said. (Translation: “I need an MP3 player!”)
“Lhyahhckhackach,” I replied. (“Like you need another hole in the head.”)
“Buhghloghthighghg!” (“The breather-guy who sounded like a police whistle had one, and it looks really cool!”)
“Dhuhyoughtheoksdzzz?” (“Do you even know what it does?”)
Blank stare. Nope, he had no idea. He just wanted one because someone else had one. It turns out that even home-schooled zombie children are not immune to that horrendous infectious disease known as the I-Wants. What happened to the days when he was happy to spend an hour playing with his fingers? Sometimes I’d have to give him a few extra fingers if he got bored, but expensive gadgets never even entered the picture.
My daughter, on the other hand, has her sights set on a cell phone upgrade. She owns a computer with an Internet connection, a digital camera, and a cell phone that is perfectly good at what phones are for—making phone calls—and so far has not been able to explain why I need to fork over more money so she can get all three things in one pocket-sized contraption. But if the neighbors are calling 911 on a fancy smart phone with a touch screen, then she has to have one too.
But I get it. The kids already feel different, being both home-schooled and part of a persecuted minority—the undead. They want to fit in with the rest of the world somehow, even on a superficial level.
As part of our compromise, the kids have agreed to do extra chores to earn money toward their dream-gadgets. This is the best possible solution, because it gives them time to really think about the value of their purchases. Already the daughter is wondering if her money would be better spent on a new game system or a Kevlar outfit. And the son asked me the other day: which costs more, an MP3 player or a slingshot? I think he’s already making plans for our next trip to the forest preserve.

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It Really Is About the Brains

Although zombie pop culture is full of ceaseless references to our never ending search for brains there really isn’t enough information out there covering what makes us tick, which is why we were surprised to come across the following article: A Harvard Psychiatrist Explains Zombie Neurobiology.  The article concerns a study by Dr. Steven C. Schlozman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, in which he describes the science behind our “disease.”  With his extensive background in neurobiology, he’s got some interesting ideas to explain away the more esoteric idiosyncrasies in our behavior.  Or in layman’s terms – a smart guy thinks he can describe why we zombies feel the urge to rip the living limb from limb.

We here at For Zombies would like to present our own highly empirical take on things.

First up is the interaction of the amygdala and the frontal lobe.  The amygdala is where all the base emotions begin – anger, fear and lust – they’re all here.  Under normal functioning, the emotions well up from the amygdala, and are then tamped down by the anterior cingulate cortex before heading to the frontal lobe, allowing people to carefully consider their actions before actually following through with them.  This is usually a good thing.  In the case of zombies, however, the good doctor’s theory is that the tamping down and careful processing by the anterior cibulate cortex and the frontal lobe is not happening and we’re being driven by pure anger, making us hyper-aggresive towards you all.

While this sounds good, let’s take a reality check.  Do these zombie look angry to you?

Zombies At Play

Threat to humanity or themselves?

Not too bright and a little slack-jawed maybe, but definitely not angry.

Let’s be clear.  We’re not attacking you because we’re pissed-off.  We’re just really, really hungry and we’ve got a slight hankering for meat.  This does not mean that we’re out of control, though.  In private, we often like to season our meat before we eat it.

Seasoning The Meat

Not one of our finer moments

Note in the above picture from Grilling for Zombies that our hapless griller has the salt grinder upside down.  Dr. Schlozman has an excellent explanation for this.  In our case, he points out that the basal ganglia which helps with coordinated movement and the cerebellum which helps with balance are very likely not doing their jobs.

Okaaaayyy – yes, we admit it – zombies are clumsy.  We’re not proud of it – but there it is.  Score one for academia.

While we might not fully agree with the doctor’s conclusions, the article did make for an interesting read and we would certainly enjoy the opportunity to have a sit down with him.  We could probably get him to see things from our point of view in no time at all.

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A Rumour of Apocalypse

Bath SaltsI’ve heard some cover-ups in my time, but bath salts?  I mean, what kind of insane conspiracy theorists do these government spooks in their large underground facilities hidden in plain sight on large industrial parks take us for?

Not content with hiding our existence for centuries, they’re now trying to convince the long-suffering –  and very gullible – living that we’re all just victims of our own chemical-addled brains.  And all this when we’re on the cusp of becoming acceptable and valued members of society.

The whole thing stinks worse than the balaclava of an undercover agent infiltrating an animal rights group.

As a result, the predictable and unnecessary knee-jerk reaction by authorities around the world has been surprising only in its rapid implementation.  The Australians have already closed their borders, using specially-trained sniffer dogs to weed out anyone vaguely smelling of rotten meat.  Even the living are being rounded up and thrown in the shark tanks – as an unfortunate contingent of African travellers  found out yesterday.  Too late for them, Customs Officers discovered the stench that had sent the dogs into a frenzy was in fact a package of ‘bush meat’, a banned cultural delicacy which had been hidden in the Africans’ luggage.

But don’t take my word for it, the front-page article in this morning’s ‘Australia Today’, shows our global puppetmasters’ attitude towards our Antipodean brothers :-

Those bloody refugees from the Southeast Asian Bath Salts epidemic – or whatever the hell it is – are being told to clear off until the authorities can figure out just what the hell’s going on.  Brian Rogers, Chief of Border Control at Sydney Airport filled us in.

“You see mate, we’re used to finding all kinds of weird crap in suitcases.  You know; rotten monkeys, boa constrictors and insect colonies – because these foreigners eat some bloody funny stuff.  But I have to draw the line at severed human limbs.  Call me old-fashioned, but that’s just not on, mate.”

Even the Chinese, known for their calm restraint in such delicate matters, have gone radio silent in the last week.  The place is as dead as freedom of thought.

And now my own British Government have fallen foul of the hysteria.  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office today warned the public against travel to Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos, despite a more cautious approach by the British Medical Association.  Earlier today, a spokesman for the highly-respected BMA said the Bath Salts epidemic was ‘nothing more than a fabrication by mindless armchair conspiracy theorists with no friends, and therefore nothing better to do with their sad, lonely and exceedingly desperate lives than to create fear and panic around the globe.   They should all be shot, or sold to vivisection laboratories for painful – and mostly  unnecessary – medical experiments.’

Where will it end, I ask?  We’ll just have to wait and see what else the Illuminati and their reptilian bedfellows have up their Bilderberg-sponsored sleeves.  In the meantime, I’m coccooning myself inside a thick roll of industrial-strength tin foil to block the Zeta Reticulians’ Jedi mind tricks.  I suggest you to do the same.

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Long Haired Zombie-Killing Freak #2

The government didn’t nationalize steak restaurants, but they did grab everything in the major infrastructure industries. In all honesty, that’s the only reason we’ve got a semblance of civilized life in the Washington, DC area. You can’t say that about things out in the country or the Midwest.

While I hadn’t bathed in days, we did have electricity and running water about twice a week. That’s more than most people could say.

“Great, Miss Malley. I’ll be there tomorrow.” I assured her. “My general method of working is to observe the site and the activity of my target. When I find an opportunity, I’ll take him down. Disposal of the remains is up to you.”

She swallowed hard. Nobody likes to consider the disposition of the corpse, but it had to be done or we’d be up to our knees in rotting bodies. You want to talk about disease, vermin, and insects!

“Do you have any recommendations?” She asked with a slightly quavering voice.

“Get in touch with Rancid Sam, if you can. He’ll bring around his garbage truck, pick up the bits, and haul them away for free.”

Sam was an interesting fixture in the area. He sported a huge pink Mohawk, impeccable clothes, and a mint-green garbage truck. His shtick was picking up bodies, rendering them down into fertilizer, and trading it to homesteaders and gardeners. According to him, zombie bodies do a treat for the soil in this area.

He’s a bit of an acquired taste, but no more or less than I am. Crazy people need to stick together.

I keep telling myself that, until someone else’s crazy pisses me off.

My client and I made polite goodbyes, and I watched her leave the bar. I finished off my beer, and didn’t put my feet up on the table. Marvin and Shirley tended to get angry when I put my boots on furniture. I never got up the nerve to ask if it was just the poor manners, or that there was usually dried blood and brains on my shoes.

“You do understand that contract is going to be trouble, right?” Marvin asked me from across the empty room. He adjusted his thick glasses on his bulbous nose, and wrinkled his forehead. “Strange hotties asking for favors is never a good sign.”

“Eh.” I raised my beer in one hand and waved my free paw around. “No contract ever turns out perfectly. I’ve got the scars to prove it.”

“Frank, I’ve seen you naked…Heaven help me…and for the shit you’ve done, you don’t have all that many scars.” Marvin scrunched up his face in disgust. His mouth looked like a skunk’s ass.

“I am not at all bad looking, I’ll have you know!”

“You look like a rangy hippie on a nasty peyote binge. When I first met you, you looked like Jesus after they beat the shit out of him. Then you washed off.” He stuck out his tongue. “Your look didn’t improve with soap and water.”

“Yeah, yeah. Be happy you and Shirley don’t have a daughter.” I flipped him the bird. “I’d seduce her, and all your grandchildren would look as rangy and messianic as me!”

He threw a bar rag at me with uncanny accuracy. Beer and water-soaked terry cloth slapped me across the forehead. It was wet, very cold, and smelled like booze fungus.

“I’d lock our granddaughters up so no one would have to look at the poor, ugly things. I think I’d stick the boys in, too. A little inbreeding might give us half-way decent looking great-grandchildren!” Marvin cackled at me, and I returned the towel to him with equal accuracy.

The rag caught him with his mouth open. Perfection! I laughed like a loon while he spat the funky fluid all over the bar.

I’m sure the play fight would have only intensified—and there was no telling what awful muck he had under the bar on his side—but the first peal of thunder ripped out in the humid air of Arlington. That meant one very important thing: naked zombie-killer time.

“Oops! Gotta grab my soap and a towel, Pops! There’s a free shower outside!” I yelled, and got up from my chair as fast as I could.

“Aw, hell. Just do me a favor, and wash on the roof. I’ll just stay inside and hope I don’t see anything else horrible today.”

Without another word, I high-tailed it out the back door and up the stairs to my little bachelor pad on the roof. I ducked inside, grabbed my necessary items, shucked my clothes, and got down to the work of making myself more presentable.

All things considered, it was a pretty great day. I picked up a potentially lucrative extermination gig, and I got the opportunity to get cleaned up. I hated going to work smellier than I absolutely had to be. Zombies don’t care, since they smell horrible to begin with, but I do.

Then I realized I wasn’t alone on the roof. Moments after that revelation, I was painfully aware of my nudity and appalling lack of self-defense weaponry.

A zombie was squatting at the corner of the roof, with a hunk of indeterminate internal organ in his hand. I bet it came from the body beside him. Me make good logic when me naked.

“This is an awkward situation,” I shouted at him through the pounding rain, “what with us meeting this way.”

“Yeah. I didn’t expect dinner and a wet peep show.” He yelled back. It didn’t look like he was moving, and I was absurdly grateful for that. “You some kind of pervert?”

“I came up here to take a shower.”

“Oh. Is that your tent?” He started to get up. Shit.

“Yeah. Why?”

Don’t look like you expect the throw down that is bound to happen. That is an important rule of zombie-fu. Another important rule is this: take inventory of the potential weapons at your disposal. In my case, the inventory looked like this: one bar of increasingly slippery soap, and one wet bath towel.

Score. I knew where my towel was.

“Well, I’ve needed a new place to stay since I came back to life in the morgue the other day. A tent would be swell.”

I may have mentioned that the revived dead are much faster than we are, and this guy was no exception. He was up on his feet and moving towards me almost before I could think. Luckily, I react faster than I think…sometimes.

I tossed the bar of soap at his feet like skipping a stone off the surface of a lake. He slipped on it, cursed mightily, and his bum rush became a well-lubricated slide into home base. I rolled to my right and let him slide right past me.

He stopped himself on the ladder I’d climbed moments before. Oh well.

“You chicken-shit bastard. I’m going to cornhole you before I kill you, and then I’ll tear the throats out of the old couple downstairs.” He snarled over the thunder.

“Look, Newbie, don’t threaten my friends.” I kept my voice cool.

“Why, soggy Christ?”

“I get really stubborn when people I like are in danger.”

He came for me, growling and spitting all the way. I snapped my towel at him, and tagged him on the eyeball. The growl turned into a long howl of pain as he clutched at his head and tumbled to the rooftop.

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