(© Calvin Voxx)
ĎCause see, the
messed up thing about this one is, youíre both victim and tornado. You get to
didnít tell you about that part. All the movies weíd been watching about the
zombie apocalypse hadnít prepared us for that. Thanks, Alex Garland. Thanks,
George A. Romero. Thanks for nothing.
I wonít tell you
how it starts. You already know that part. It starts with an isolated case in
rural China. Then a freak face-eating incident in Southern Peru on one of those
rickety buses that winds over the mountains. Then a business man blows it at an
airport in Manilla, just after landing from an intercontinental flight.
Before you know
it Ė global pandemic.
much how it unfolds in the movies and thatís more or less how it unfolded in
real life. I mean, it took weeks. We all watched on the news. At first, with
voyeuristic glee. Who doesnít like a good pandemic scare? For a while there had
been avian bird flu and swine flu and ebola and mad cow disease and there had
even been the first variant of the so-called "zombie flu," which had turned out
to just not amount to much if you were a healthy individual Ö and then it just
went quiet for a while. So when this came along, at first it was a break from
the regular doldrums of the news of the day Ė politics, murders, the economy
channels went nuts. They trotted out the "experts." They read us the comments
in their email inbox from every random idiot under the sun, as if learning how
to operate email somehow makes your opinion newsworthy. They even had Max
Brooks up there telling us what kind of hand-held weapons we should own.
Everyone was having a grand old time.
Which was fine
for a while. And then about three weeks in, it started to sink in: this was for
mandating blood screening before traveling overseas. Airports emptied out as
all non-essential travel shut down. The entire southern half of Brazil was
quarantined. Kids stopped going to school. People stopped coming into work. Everybody
was into telework all of a sudden.
dropped plain off the grid. Locked down. The only footage that made it out of
the whole country was a single five minute clip from a shaky handy cam with
that one scene the cable news kept playing over and over again. The body lying
in the alley, suddenly pulled around the corner by something unseen.
And thatís how
it was everywhere. You saw the helicopter footage of rioting in the streets,
burning cars and coils of black smoke rising from S„o Paulo, but you didnít see
them. They were there, in the darkness, sometimes heard but rarely seen.
You wanted to.
There was a sickness to it all, a perverse voyeuristic glee in seeing it all
come to life, the very same scenes you had watched on television and movies all
these years. And now it was here, but so much more exciting knowing that it was
though, is that itís only safe and good when you have the barrier of your TV
screen between you and reality. The TV screen leaches out the texture of the
horror. You can see the curved bit of white in the distance and you think it
might be a human rib bone, which is kind of titillating, but you donít know for
sure. And you definitely canít see the teeth marks on it.
You can imagine
the horrors inside now-abandoned buildings, but you canít actually smell the
ripe stench emanating from a daycare center.
Ö Or the sounds
coming from within. The crunching.
everything down. But, as you know, it was all for nothing. By then, itís too
late. Youíre chasing the back-end of a wildfire, waving a garden hose. Whatís
One day I came
into work and the building was shut down and there was a splotch of blood on
the sidewalk in front of the lobby. There was blood on the doors too. The
building was locked and a hastily drawn sign simply said: "closed." There was a
phone number written underneath. I called, but no one answered.
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