9 to 5 ZOMBIE
Technically speaking, I’m not alive—but I’m not dead, either.
Well, I guess no one's technically alive or dead anymore—not since the Infection anyway.
It all started back in 2011, when the Center for Disease Control posted an article about zombie preparedness. People laughed it off as some kind of stupid joke. And then there was that news story, about the naked Florida man who attacked a homeless guy by eating his face. In retrospect, these were just a few of the warning signs that the Infection was coming. We were just too busy Instagramming, Facebooking, and Netflixing to notice.
And so the homeless guy whose face got eaten? Well, he “lived” but went on to eat another guy's face. Then that guy ate some other lady’s face, and… you get the picture. The government tried to keep it a secret, but doing that caused the Infection to spread even faster, because nobody made the connection until it was too late. Now here we are: a world made up entirely of zombie citizens. (Zombitizens?) There weren’t any survivors; there isn’t anyone left who didn't become Infected.
However, the whole zombie thing didn’t exactly play out like in the movies. Yeah, the virus causes a strange penchant for eating living human flesh. Yeah, once bitten by an Infected, you too become an Infected. And yeah, your organs and cells stop functioning normally--yet if your brain is intact, it inexplicably continues to control your body.
But unlike the undead we saw in classic films like Night of the Living Dead and Evil Dead 2, it turned out that an Infected’s cannibal cravings are satisfied after just a few bites. Then the desire to eat people oddly goes away and you sort of just… hang around. And we're not stumbling around, arms out, moaning like tortured cows. Quite the contrary. We pretty much act like our normal selves. The scientists that are still around (Infected too, of course) are baffled.
That's not to say that everything is returning to “normal” though—far from it. Like I said, no one really “survived” the Infection. Although we’re still able to walk around and function on a basic level, our cells are no longer living and repairing themselves. Our bodies are gradually decomposing with each passing day. In other words, we’re fragile as fuck. Bumping your funny bone could result in a compound fracture. Stubbing your toe might make your foot fall off.
In fact, the other day, when I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I broke my left wrist when I tried to open the jar of peanut butter. I tried duct-taping my wrist bones back into place, but it’ll never work the same again. (You can bet it’s been a bitch typing this, by the way.) And the best part is, I didn’t need to eat that peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
That’s another thing that's funny about all this… You might be missing your intestines, your torso, or your face, but as long your brain is working, you'll linger on with all your memories and old habits. Our bodies don’t get hungry or thirsty, but our brains do. It’s like we’re on autopilot. No one’s really dead, but no one’s really alive either. We persist without purpose.
So instead of Phantom Limb, we suffer from Phantom Life. Every morning, even on weekends (days don’t matter anymore), I wake up, have a cup of coffee, make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and drive to work. And I’m pretty sure I don’t get paid anymore.
But hey, at least it’s something to do.