Welcome to "Life in Zack's World".
Zack (n.) The military slang for Zombie used during World War Z.
Here I will be collecting and telling tales, stories and anecdotes from life in a world where the Undead Rule.
A world where Zombies, victims of a plague caused by the Solanum virus, roam at will, ever ready to attack and consume any animal that crosses their path. Especially living humans. A world at war with an enemy that does not sleep, does not need to eat or even breathe. An enemy that has none of the human military requirements to be "bred, fed and led".
Two years ago, I was given a copy of World War Z by Max Brooks. It was a brand spanking new hardcover, complete with that lovely, sickly yellow/orange cover with the blood splatters.
I had never much been a fan of Zombie movies per se; they were, after all, probably some of the cheesiest 'B' grade horror flicks out there when I was a kid. Max's book changed that. He described a world where Man, the pinnacle of the animal world, secure in his mastery of the planet by technology and arrogant in his ability to project force anyway he wants, was nearly wiped out by a plague that walked, shambled actually, and slowly at that.
According to Wikipedia, "World War Z" was inspired by "The Good War" by Studs Turkel, an oral history of WWII. Max's book chronicles the calamitous events of the Zombie War through the eyes of the survivors. Each section is ostensibly an interview with a key personage from the war. A fascinating look at politics and society, military actions, social effects, individual and collective remembrances from a time of desperate danger, it was a scary but compelling read.
To me, the idea of an enemy like Zack was the perfect nightmare: a human-like thing that shambles along inexorably, consuming all humans it can reach, but not subject to any of the controls any living thing normally has, The only way to kill it is to destroy its brain. You can't scare it away, you can't starve it, you can't even shoot it full of holes and have it bleed to death... because it doesn't bleed. Zack doesn't even get bored. He will continue to try and reach his target for days or months unless another target appears.
Max's book covers the big picture of World War Z from its beginning in China to its grinding, merciless conclusion nearly 20 years later. I highly recommend you get a copy and read it. You won't be disappointed.
So what do I hope to accomplish here?
I started thinking about the millions of untold stories of ordinary people caught up in this disaster.
Men, women, children from all walks of life, trapped in a world where Zack essentially rules. Sure, there are stories of fighting, grand battles and narrow escapes, heroic last stands and all that. The great adventure machismo stuff that makes for exciting movies and escapist reading. But there are also stories of ordinary people in an extraordinary world. A world where one still has to eat, sleep, work and play surrounded by the Undead.
Here you will read stories like the tale of Zack's iPod, where a message of hope is carried around the neck of a walking nightmare. Or a murder investigation in a city where the dead outnumber the living in the story I think this one is really dead.
Can there be humour in such a world?
Perhaps. I'm sure there are still love and hope. Those things never leave us entirely even when it seems to be the bleakest.
One thing is for certain: in the world where Zack seems to hold all the cards in his rotting cold fingers, the living go on struggling.
With luck, I will have some of these stories to share along the way. Stay tuned.