Attack of the Mutant Space Zombies

I was quite alarmed when I read this story from Peru today. A meteorite falls to earth and hundreds fall ill; how long before the alien virus (for that is what it surely is) starts turning people into crazed mutant zombies? Sure, Peru seems like a long way away, but this kind of infection tends to have an unpredictable incubation period, so there are probably already symptomless carriers spreading the contagion. We’ll see cases in Lima, then fleeing tourists will take it to North America, and from there it will go global.

Like most municipalities, my home town is woefully unprepared for mass zombie attack. I can only hope that, faced with a rising tide of the undead, the authorities will relax our strict gun-control laws, and issue firearms to surviving citizens. Based on extensive experience of playing Doom and Resident Evil, I would favour a pump-action shotgun, though I guess a good 9mm pistol would do, so long as it had a 25-shot magazine, since zombies can usually take a few bullets before they go down. The whole situation is likely to be fairly chaotic, so I think I could depend on finding plenty of ammunition just lying around.

I’m probably more prepared for this sort of emergency than most people, having suffered from zombie-phobia since childhood. As phobias go, it’s quite a good one to have, since it doesn’t really impact much on my day-to-day life, and an extreme aversion to animated corpses is likely to be quite adaptive once the damned start wandering the earth, feasting on the flesh of the living.

I can trace my fear of zombies back to my first viewing of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, when I was in my early teens. I’ve seen the film several times since then, and while I can appreciate Romero’s sly critique of consumer culture, my visceral reaction is still “Arrrgh!! – Zombies!!”.

My condition seems to be getting worse as the years go by. I haven’t been able to see any of the more recent zombie flicks, like 28 Days After or Shaun of the Dead, and I’ve had to give up playing zombie-themed video games. Even writing this post will probably give me nightmares.

Why do I find zombies so scary? The idea that friends and neighbours could shed their veneer of civilisation and try to kill and eat me must tap into some sort of subconscious paranoia. There’s definitely a sexual subtext too – a fear that libidinal energy might overwhelm the ego and allow the unrestrained id to act out its destructive impulses. (I’ll blame that on watching Cronenberg’s Rabid at an impressionable age). Then there’s the pitiless and relentless nature of the undead, which surely echoes the creeping reality of human mortality. Or maybe it’s just because the putrefied complexions of the living dead look really unattractive.

Anyway, I’m going to go out to the shopping mall tomorrow, to check out how easy it would be to block all the entrances with big lorries. I might look into learning how to fly a helicopter too…

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