You see yourself standing at the crest of a hill, overlooking the empty streets of your next obstacle. It was once a town; not too large. Likely a simple place, where everyone knew everyone else. There was never any crime; never any reason to lock your doors. That is, until the dead came to walk the earth. Shambling corpses roam the landscape. A single bite, a single scratch, and it’s all over. You started out alone, but a small group has come to look upon you as their leader. You are the bravest. You are the best slayer of the dead. And that cute group member of the opposite sex has been eying you recently with a hunger greater than that of the hoard. And now, they are entrusting you to lead them through this newest obstacle. Chamber a round. Aim for the head.
Just who the hell do you think you are?
Let me start by emphasizing that I have nothing against the zombie sub-genre. I was first bitten (ha ha, zombie pun!) by the Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead, and I get my current fix through The Walking Dead. That being said, the only thing more annoying than the insane surge of zombie media and paraphernalia in recent years has been the fan response to it. There is nothing wrong with showing enthusiasm for what you love. Your ZRV, zombie response vehicle, has zombie family decals, and you love showing it off while driving to the theater for the latest zombie movie cosplaying as Zombie Number 3 from Latest Zombie Comic? Via con Cthulhu, my brethren. However, when that fandom devolves into illogical hubris, it’s time for me to apply the brakes.
Allow me to explain my issue. There are some out there (you know who you are) who legitimately train for, and even hope for, a real life zombie apocalypse. The kind of people who read Max Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide as an actual reference book. They seem to be under the impression their lives will be better, and they will become the mighty heroes of the undead wastelands. Assuming you will even survive the initial onslaught, you are in for a life of pure hell that will make you long for the days of your boring job with your idiot coworkers and your dull life.
What’s that? You say I’m wrong? Well, let’s jump right in and discuss the pros and cons of the zombie apocalypse.
Pro: A New Beginning. No matter who you were before Z-Day (or whatever the hell we decide to call it), you now have the best opportunity to change who you are since your college days. You were a socially inept weakling? Now, you’re a smart, fearless leader. You had a criminal history rivaling Michael Myers? Wiped clean. And if all else fails, let your actions speak for themselves.
Con: Everyone You Have Ever Loved is Dead. And they died in horrendous pain, suffering as no human being should ever be allowed to suffer. The ones eaten alive, piece by piece, are the lucky ones. The rest are doomed to wander aimlessly, forced to become the very monsters that changed them. They will wander in this hell until someone, or perhaps even you, is forced to put a bullet or a blade between their eyes. How many of you will hesitate when you are forced to murder a creature which was once your spouse? Your friend? Your mother? How many of you will be able to live with the guilt. Not only did you fail to save the ones you loved, but you had to be the one to end them. How long before you turn that weapon on yourself out of sheer guilt after crudely spelling out “Forgive Me” in your loved ones’ blood?
Pro: Whatever You Want Is Yours. So long as you are willing to take it. Perhaps even kill for it. Are you willing to slaughter an entire family in their home for a few cans of beans and a temporary roof?
Con: The Target On Your Back. So, you justified killing for food and shelter. You know that twinge of guilt you’re feeling? Don’t worry. That’s normal. But not everyone is normal. If apocalypse media, especially zombie media, has taught us anything, it’s that we have more to fear from our own kind than anything else. A zombie is a shambling shell, only dangerous in a group. Humans are pack animals by nature. They are brutal, sadistic, and show no mercy. History has shown us humans will pillage, plunder, rape, and torture even in the best of times and for much less. What are we capable of when the world has ended, and the simplest things are the most valuable?
Pro: A Return to A Simpler Life. Have you ever taken the time to just leave civilization behind? Have you ever wandered out beyond the borders of humanity and returned to nature? Human beings are probably the worst thing to ever happen to Planet Earth. In a zombie apocalypse, our meddling will have ceased, and we can enjoy Earth as she was intended to be enjoyed.
Con: Technology Has Ceased. Hey, what time is it? Where are we going? I hope you can read the sun and stars. Need to answer the call of nature? I hope those leaves aren’t poison ivy. You know that feeling you get when the power is out in your house, and you still flip the light switch? How long is it going to take for you to break that habit in a world without electricity? Here is a short list of technological conveniences which will no longer be available upon the uprising of the zombie hoard: electricity, indoor plumbing, the internal combustion engine, hot water, modern medicine (to include antibiotics, vaccinations, contraception, and pain meds), sterile cooking and cleaning, the tools of hygiene, and, of course, the Internet. Huh. Maybe that last one is a pro.
Pro: No More Pop Culture. Who else is sick of dubstep, swag, and Michael Bay films? Yeah, I thought so. The only thing that will die faster than a fat man in a zombie-infested gym is all the things we hate about our pop culture. This one fact may be enough to welcome the hoard.
Con: Human Culture is Dead. Sure, our idea of art goes through some rough patches. Not only will we miss out on all the greatest potential humanity had to offer (after all, all our future artists will be too busy fighting the hoard, too), but our best existing art will not survive. All the best works of art will rot, all our favorite movies will dissolve, and every book to capture our imagination will return to the ground from whence it once emerged. Imagine future generations not being able to share in what we have always loved. You couldn’t wait to show Star Wars to your future children? Well, I hope you remember the dialogue word for word because that’s all you’re going to have. Just do society a favor and leave out the prequels.
Pro: All The Time In The World. Spend all the time you want with your surviving loved ones. Take all the time you need to find yourself. Make all the time to make peace with the universe. Put aside all the time to read the greatest literature ever written. Just maybe get a strap for your eyeglasses.
Con: Everything is Infinitely More Difficult. Let me ask you a question. How many of you zombie lovers have actually fired a real gun before? Ok, a few. When was the last time you went to the range? Ok, the rest of you should probably hide behind those three. Why do I ask? It’s less about accuracy and weapon proficiency, and more about what comes after. The one thing everyone forgets: maintenance. Even Glocks and AK-47s need cleaning and maintenance every now and again, and good luck finding a bottle of Hopp’s three months after Z-Day. In addition, you won’t be able to just buy more ammo after every hoard encounter, and making new ammo requires a lot of supplies and cumbersome equipment. And that’s just guns. Let’s not overlook cooking adequate food, boiling contaminated water, keeping warm at night, building shelter, traveling long distances, and raising and educating your inevitable offspring. What? You thought you could hook up with that cute group member without consequences? I already told you contraception is gone. Raising a kid is tough enough. Try raising one in the wasteland.
Pro: Reshape the World. The world we live in is far from perfect. Bigotry, war, starvation, and corruption have been the plagues upon this planet since humans first learned how to kill each other. But now, we seem to have been given a fresh start. The majority of the population of our hateful planet is dead (or undead). Call it evolution. Call it a gift from the god you pray to. Call it a sharp slap from the universe. Whatever the cause, the slate has been wiped clean. Do with it what you will.
Con: Zero Chance of Recovery. It will never happen. It took humans 50,000 years to get to where we are today. Yeah, I’m less than impressed, too. We will have to relearn architecture, irrigation, infrastructure, economics, political science, medicine, electrical engineering, and agriculture. Oh, and that’s after we have successfully annihilated the zombie threat. That means one organization clearing every house, every apartment, every store, and every office building of each and every one of the undead. That process alone could take generations. And then there are the inevitable tribal wars as each collection of survivors attempt to establish dominance. It is likely we will kill more of ourselves than the undead ever managed to do. Assuming we somehow manage some kind of lasting peace, and we focus on relearning everything we have lost, what are we going to do with all of the corpses? There will be millions, maybe even billions of corpses rotting in our streets and our homes. The resulting diseases could be the final, silent epidemic that wipes out the last traces of humanity. After all, isn’t that what they say? The world will end with a whimper? More like a moan.
Do you still hope for this hell? Do you think you will be the one to survive? All of this being said, I think I prefer the world to end by the wrath of mighty Cthulhu. At least with him, we will all be devoured quickly.