Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Truth Is Way Out There...

Zombies in the streets!
This is a true story. It was suppressed by the government and the media. No one has had the courage to tell the truth about it. Until now.

It started innocently enough. People developed mild, flu-like symptoms that passed in a few days. Many didn't even miss work since all they had was a little coughing and a sore throat. Over-the-counter medicines helped enormously.

As usual, the elderly and infirm were most at risk and a few deaths were reported as those with pre-existing respiratory problems succumbed. But most healthy people shook off the mild illness in a few days - until it returned with a vengeance after a second incubation period.

Even now we don't know if it was a bacillus or a virus, but the effect was deadly. People developed deep, wracking coughs and high fever. Most died within a week. Most died. Not all. Hospitals were overwhelmed, and just like during the WW1 flu epidemic, bodies were literally piled up in the streets. For once, people were grateful for cold weather.

Those who survived were ravenous as they improved. Mexican restaurants and all-you-can-eat cafeterias were especially hard hit. We heard darker, gruesome stories about some survivors, but like all urban legends, they were disbelieved. People laughed nervously about those 'insatiables' who returned to the grocery stores and restaurants dozens of times because they were always hungry, their faces nearly white and their eyes sunken and hollow. They were easy to spot because the disease had some lasting effects on their coordination and motor skills. They walked with a stiff-legged gait, and their speech was halting and sometimes garbled. Kids called them zombies.

The horror started one sunny winter afternoon.

One of the insatiables pushed a grocery cart along an aisle, munching handfuls of caramel corn from an open bag. He'd piled the cart with a dizzying selection of junk food: popcorn, candy bars, doughnuts, ice cream, and cases of orange soda. A normal person's teeth would hurt just looking at it, but a dentist would be secretly thrilled.

The assistant manager saw him wolfing down the caramel corn and said, "Our new store policy forbids customers eating in the aisles. You'll have to pay for all that and leave, and you'll never be permitted to set foot inside this store again!"

The zombie looked puzzled for a moment, seeming to take some time to understand the manager's words, but as the import sunk in, his face contorted with rage. He lunged at the assistant manager, grabbing his shoulders and shaking him like a rag doll. Other shoppers turned to watch the scene unfold, and to their lasting horror, the zombie suddenly stopped shaking the assistant manager and plunged his teeth into the man's neck! Blood gushed over the zombie's face and onto the floor. The onlookers turned to flee, but the sight and scent of fresh blood acted as a trigger on other nearby zombies. They attacked shoppers and store employees. People ran from the store screaming, pursued by a slower-moving zombie pack.

A grocery cart bumped down the staircase to the lower parking lot, abandoned by a panicked shopper. Most of them reached the relative safety of their cars and roared away, driving over some zombies and a few of the slower shoppers. The hungry pack fell on the injured, devouring them while they still lived.

The next few weeks were a dark time in America. The zombies roamed the streets, and since they were American citizens, they still had civil rights. That didn't stop vigilantes from lynching some of them. Politicians loudly demanded that they be put into camps, then quietly killed any funding earmarked for building those same camps. Preachers proclaimed the end of days and prepared their flocks for Armageddon, and always passed the collection plate, never quite explaining the need for more cash as the world was about to end. Self-proclaimed 'real' Americans demanded the government erect fences on the borders to keep out any foreign zombies bent on over-running the country. And the Boy Scouts of America declared that zombies could not be scout leaders.

Out on the street, the zombies covered in blood had obviously committed some crimes, chiefly murder and cannibalism, but often when the police tried to apprehend them, the arresting officers were eaten. Eventually, the worst were rounded up and put behind bars. Oddly, the free zombies still went to work on time. They were hard working, if only to afford the vast quantities of food they consumed, and businesses were glad to have them, except for the meat packers. Zombies were regarded as potential safety hazards around all that meat.

A curious thing happened then, and despite all the analysis of so-called experts it's never been satisfactorily explained. The still free zombies began to coalesce into interest groups. They developed spokesmen who espoused zombie interests and even zombie 'rights'. But which political party best represented zombie interests? That was a tough call for the political elite. Zombies had little interest in foreign affairs, war and peace, immigration, or Social Security, but they did have a keen appreciation for farm subsidies and other agricultural issues. Both mainstream parties had small, vociferous factions opposed to zombie rights, but when they totaled up the balance sheet and realized the zombies were able and willing to provide enormous amounts of campaign cash, the small, noisy factions were hushed up and hidden away somewhere. Zombies couldn't reproduce, so without the burden of children, they had a great deal of disposable income. A nebulous PAC released an attack ad asking, "Would you let your daughter marry one?" and was soundly denounced from both the left and the right.

Advertisers were quick to realize the potentials of the zombie demographic. The airwaves and cable channels filled up with zombie entertainment. Oh sure, at first it was mostly zombie boxing and wrestling, but as they grew more powerful and became a sough-after demographic, television began to cater to the zombie audience, with ever-more game shows, reality shows, and soap operas. Jerry Springer's ratings went into the stratosphere. Sure, the zombies couldn't reproduce, but they still enjoyed a bit of fun, so specially formulated zombie Viagra became a best seller. We realized the zombies had arrived at mainstream America when Larry King conducted a satellite interview of Michael Jackson, the chief spokesman for zombie rights. Dr. Phil hadn't suffered any drop in popularity after becoming a zombie, though to be honest, it was hard to tell the difference. And when Jerry Falwell said that he was coming out of the closet to declare himself openly zombie, most people figured he was just pandering again.

Parents were dismayed by the appearance of zombie chic. Their kids walked and talked like zombies. MTV offered popular zombie music to the teenage wannabes, though it sounded like a tornado inside a machine shop.

But the worst aspect is that all those zombies are still in possession of valid driver's licenses. They have poor coordination, lousy judgment, and can't drive worth beans. And then there's the nasty prospect of being consumed by another driver after a minor fender-bender. Cyclists, in particular, have to be careful.

(Acknowledgements to George Romero and his "Night of the Living Dead" - which terrified me as a teenager. "Shawn of the Dead" for it's wickedly twisted humor. And Stephen King for "Cell" - a real page-turner in the zombie genre. Most of you thought these were works of fiction when in reality they’re clever disinformation campaigns conducted by our government and the media.)


Blogger Fritz said...

Heh, I love it.

1:39 PM  

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