I’m surrounded by the undead, and yet I’m not scared.
I look outside of my window and into the clear blue skies, the occasional fluffy white cloud floating along the horizon. I look outside at the streets, and watch them shamble around, emitting guttural groans and moans. Their bodies have been mutilated, and their souls extinguished into nothing. Their lifeless eyes glance over to me, and stare for a while. Then, they turn and continue to walk down the street.
At first I was terrified of what I saw. These abominations surrounding me, waiting to infect me with their sinful desires, transform my soul into a tainted, dark spirit. The first few days after I realized that I was surrounded by these…hideous creatures, I stayed in my home and refused to leave my room. I didn’t want to be infected. I couldn’t be.
As the days and weeks went by, I began to realize that the food in my home was running terribly low. I ventured outside the door, carefully walking down the street to the market. The beasts did nothing but glance at me with those same, glassy eyes. Yet, they didn’t attack. In fact, most of the time they stayed far away. It was as if they were scared of me.
I got what I needed and came back home as quickly as I could, processing everything that had happened. I was shocked. They should have pounced on me, turned me into one of them. Yet, they did not want anything to do with me.
What kind of undead were they?
The weeks turned into months. I became much more adventurous, and I walked to the store almost daily. I stayed away from them out of instinct, and yet I simultaneously started to know for a fact that they wanted nothing to do with me. Eventually, I became adventurous enough to return to my work place, only to find that the undead had taken over. Yet, just like the others among my street, none of them cared. I was able to work in peace. I would get my paycheck at the end of the week by one of them, as he spoke to me in a monotone voice that I tuned out.
It had to be a year before the truth slowly began to dawn on me. As I looked out of my living room window, I saw one of them. They were clean shaven, in a dark black suit and tie. His eyes were looking nowhere but forward, and his skin was mutilated by scars that could never be fixed: Mental scars, and the scars given by time.
It was in that moment that I finally realized. It was like a flash of light in my head.
They weren’t undead.
None of these people, not one of them were the textbook movie version of “zombies” or “undead”. These people were very much alive. Their hearts were beating. Their breathing was fine. They had no physical injuries. Yet, at the same time, they were undead. Somewhere, at a certain point in their lives, these people walking down my street, all of them lost something truly important. Their flesh may not be rotten, and they may not bite people, but deep down in the recesses of their brains they were most certainly not alive. They had died a very long time ago.
Those glassy, lifeless eyes that always turned and stared at me was a perfect example of how undead they really were. And it was then that I realized something too.
We are all undead, deep down inside. Our souls are tainted by death and grief, by heartbreak and rejection. I too am undead, and have been for a long time. I just never wanted to admit it.
All this time, I was infected.
I walked to the doorway, and I turned the golden knob. I walked outside, and I just…kept walking. I kept walking with my brethren, marching with them. My people. The undead.
I’m not scared anymore.
Written by Kain Coffey