Tales from a Zombie Dive
The Good Ol-Days: Tales from a Zombie Dive
You ever wonder what it’d be like, to go to a Zombie dive, sit at the bar, listen to the old Zombie-fogies mull over the good ol’days?
Imagine such a scenario. You have some time to kill, and notice a nearby dive. You heard it was rotten inside, only deadbeats frequent this joint. But you decide, What the hell, let’s take a look.
You go inside, instantly the rotten stench hits your nose. Holding a hand to your nose you walk up to the bar.
A zombie who was once a man sits on a stool. He wears a shredded business suit and has a pathetically shrunken face. Large white flakes of skin fall from his face, one eye has gone completely white, and his teeth glean from a large hole in his jaw.
He reminisces, “Back in the day, we moaned and groaned. We shuffled and crept along, took us ten minutes to cover a hundred feet. If you couldn’t get away by then, well, it was meant to be …” He miserly shakes his head, takes a drink from his glass, liquid slops out from the gaping hole in his jaw.
A fellow Zombie sitting next to him, looking even more horrific, chimes in, “Today’s Undead have no idea of what it was like in our time. Look at them! The damn whipper-snappers. They sprint around like they’re ass is on fire. And they’re not even decaying!”
An obese Zombie with eyes white as snow leans up on the bar. His deadness apparently has not helped cut down the weight. His large belly presses against the bar ledge. A stale fart sounds out, and the air becomes an even fouler stench.
He croaks out, “Now they just make fun of us. Make shows like Zombieland, rub our nose in it as they cast the waiter from that funny sitcom …” He tries to snap his fingers, instead rotten fingernails fly up in the air. He questions the air, “What’s that guy’s name? The one who played in Cheers-”
The bartender, a bent over shrunken zombie-woman has wobbled up. A few remaining strands of hair swing in front of her face, she offers, “Woody Harrelson.”
The business suit slaps the bar hard, and immediately a couple of fingers loudly crack. One finger dangles loosely as he brings his hand back. He exclaims, “Damn straight. Harrelson shoots us with no fear in his eyes.” He sadly shakes his head, saying, “We use to terrify them … now look at us? We’re oldies … we’re a laughing stock.”
You can’t help yourself. You offer, “Well, it’s boring to watch you all moan stupidly and stumble idiotically about. We need something with more … thrill.”
“I mean look at us now, man. We don’t have black and white TV. We got iPhones and Macs. Our minds are always running dude. We’re busy texting, tweeting, tumbling, and blowing the hell out of things on our game systems, well-”
What you said is all true though.
The zombie-dullards at the bar all represent the zombies of the 1960s-80s. These zombies were known for their slowness, stupidity, and hunger for human flesh. As long as you had legs that worked, you could outrun any zombie. But before them, there were even boring’r zombies. Slave zombies who were not even human-vores. Booooring.
The zombies from the old days, the early 1900s, were just dumb slaves who had no taste for live flesh. You see, in the 1930s, it was interesting to watch a witch-doctor using voodoo to raise a dead person from the grave. The dead person would then be soulless and enslaved to its new master.
The Undead was never a crazed, flesh-eating zombie, but just a stupid, decaying dead slave-dude. That friends is what caused our ancestors in the 1930s to stay awake at night.
Can you imagine their trauma had they seen zombies feasting down on a screaming human? Oh my, the horror.
The 1930s depiction, it seems, was based on the 1700/1800 Haiti folklore. In Haitian folklore, zombies came to life by sorcerers called bokor. And how did this folklore come about? Zombies, it appears, were an offspring from American slavery.
Slaves were brought from Africa to Haiti, and they had no escape from their master, save suicide. The myth that pervaded their culture, and prevented them from committing suicide was the thought that someone might use voodoo to raise them from the dead. Soulless.
They would be cursed forever, their soul lost, and they would never know true death. It was therefore better to be enslaved to a cruel master and be certain you would one day die in peace, than kill yourself and be risen as a soulless slave, existing forever.
This folklore filtered through our culture, and when films arrived many years later in the 1900s we were raising the dead from graves. Undead slaves who didn’t eat.
George Romero, in the late 1968 gave us the flesh-eating zombies we have come to love. He directed a family-like movie, a black and white film, called Night of the Living Dead. I mean, aren’t all black and white movies family oriented? Ok, so perhaps, this was not.
The Undead evolved from the 1930s days to 1970s/80s, and they changed once again in the 1990s and 2000s.
In today’s era, Undead are a bit more nimble.
We now have Zombies who shriek crazily as they sprint a terrific distance in a short span of time. Many of them, I’m guessing, could compete in the Olympics. They are lightning speed. They can leap like cheetahs. They can perform maneuvers on a dime that would leave gymnast’s mouth agape. They also work together with their Undead buddies, coordinating their attacks.
Look, the game has changed people. Zombies in modern day are pretty tight.
Nowadays, zombies careen into you, spilling you to the ground, and pound and bite. You’re lucky if they bite you more than once before they’re off again.
Zombies in modern day don’t fuck around. They play for keeps baby, and you better be ready.
Not to mention, Realism stands at the premise of most zombie books and films today.
We all know zombies are never going to exist. But isn’t it much more enjoyable to watch a person die from a scientific goof, causing them to re-rise. We like our movies to make some scientific sense dammit, even if it doesn’t make any sense to the science community. To hell with the scientists.
Damn it, we want a healthy dose of Science! But please, with an edge of non-fiction.
Resident Evil demonstrated that viruses do more than just kill you and make you a zombie. Viruses can turn you into a superhuman or evolve you into an atrocious creature.
28 Days Later showed us zombies that are not quite Undead. They are more or less humans who have had their adrenaline amped all the way up to red. They charge at you with their heads down, angry about something.
In I Am Legend, Will Smith finds zombies sleeping and swarming together like wasps. We later find out he has a little secret in the closet. He has a woman zombie tucked away in his home, and he’s using her to find a cure.
Brad Pitt, in World War Z, battles it out with zombies who are not just nimble but are collectively crafty. They manage to pile up and barrel over an enormous wall.
The TV show, The Walking-Dead, is an exception to this trend. They actually keep the zombies to the old-tested zombie template. They moan and groan, amble slowly about, and they like to get on their knees to hunker down for a prolonged meal. Finally, a film that the old Zombie fogies can relate to!
They never eat people down to the grisly bone. No, that would take too much time in our modern world of always being on the go.
The zombies of today are on the fly – just like us!
Sure, they slap you hard to the ground, and give you a good dose of pummeling with their fists. But once that’s done, they bite you and infect you, and then they’re on the move again.
It’s a busy world people, things to do, people to infect, and the next one to infect, and the next …
Is it just me, or are Zombies getting a tad impatient?
I’m also wondering, when we wander into a zombie bar-dive forty years from now, what in the world will our zombies of today be saying?
Bryce is the author of the Sci-Fi/ Dark Fantasy series AMEN to ROT. A six part series that goes beyond Undead, but takes us into a dark, sinister alien world that is using humans on Earth as raw resources to build a new army.