Assignment: Informative Essay. Topic of choice; zombies.
Date Written: January 13th, 2009
Title: You've Got Red on You
Summary: By the end of it, exactly 59 minutes after we had started, I basked in the triumphant music that played while our statistics were displayed and slowly looked over to my father before asking quietly if we could play again.
You've Got Red on You
As a child, I was as impressionable as any other. I repeated swear words, secrets, and my name, age, and favorite colors to cashiers at Kroger. I was nearly fearless when I played my father’s video games while he wasn’t looking — first-person shooter games like Quake, where the enemies were violent, bloodied, and looked thoroughly inhuman. I remained unfazed. However, throughout the years, I developed a fear for the living dead that only increased in seriousness with the barrage of my persistent father’s seemingly never-ending suggestions of “Let’s watch Land/Day/Dawn/Night/Twilight/Mid-Afterno
I’ve partly overcome my fear — although, without doubt, “partly” is the keyword. Due to the influence of certain video games and movies, I’ve begun to accept the fact that zombies are…well, somewhat fantastic and that perhaps my father isn’t as misguided and lacking in taste as I originally thought. Despite not knowing what caused the fear to harbor in the first place, I have actually found myself pondering the possibility of a zombie apocalypse and how well I would fare in it.
Zombies, before the last month or so, terrified me endlessly. I couldn’t stand to watch movie previews and video game trailers that had anything minutely related to them. My father’s constant jabber was something I suspected he did only to provoke me, finding pleasure in my fear of what he loved. My only comfort was my mother who either felt pity for me or grew tired of my opposing parent’s antics and interfered sharply with a simple retaliation — his first name, said in a chiding way that demonstrated her annoyance, exhaustion at the topic, and unintentional, instinctive protection of her only daughter. Soon, “Joseph!” would stop. My fear, however, did not. It grew tenfold and would continue to gradually increase for a number of years.
In the first week of December ’08, I was faced with the truth that my computer may have finally kicked the bucket for good after a number of close calls. My father, being a computer specialist, managed to repair it in the span of a few hours and in order to repay him for his evening lost, he requested a favor of me. It could be anything, called at any time, and I, despite protest, was bound by gratitude to adhere to it. Expecting it to be used during karaoke or some other activity that would embarrass me, I almost immediately put it out of mind until a few days later when my father opened my bedroom door and grinned at me wordlessly. I stared back, slowly stopped typing at my newly revived PC, and questioned his intent. I learned the favor was being put to use and he simply wanted me to play a video game with him. I initially agreed, finding it unfair once I considered how hard he had worked to save all my files and programs. At least, I did until I discovered the title — Left 4 Dead, a game he had mentioned before that was about four survivors who fought their way through a zombie-invested apocalyptic wasteland in order to reach a rescue destination. Seeing Shaun of the Dead a year or two before, I had experienced my first mature venture into the world of the undead in media and I found it more interesting than terrifying, but this was an entirely different matter.
Staring at the image that appeared on the TV screen while the level loaded, a possible film poster with the would-be title of Dead Air and the tagline “Their flight is about to be delayed…permanently” filled me with dread. I looked helplessly into the cold, lifeless eyes of the remaining survivors who were posed together on the knock-off poster, wishing for an excuse to spring to mind that could save me from this inevitable nightmare. Yet, upon noticing the determination that also accompanied the deadness, I reminded myself “it’s just a game” and half-heartedly decided to try my best. I slowly inhaled and exhaled, savoring my last moments of slight relaxation, when the noise that signaled the start of the game sounded. Collecting supplies and making my way through a greenhouse, I followed my father’s lead. The first half of the game mostly consisted of my inability to allow myself to aim, in fear I’d see more than I’d care for. I was reduced to only shutting my eyes when I was overwhelmed and pulling the trigger button when it was required of me. Eventually, I grew comfortable with the controls and began to watch as my bullets penetrated their rotting flesh and they fell to the ground, dead once again. All sadism aside, it felt rather good and continued to.
By the end of it, exactly 59 minutes after we had started, I basked in the triumphant music that played while our statistics were displayed and slowly looked over to my father before asking quietly if we could play again.
Since then, I’ve re-watched Shaun of the Dead, appreciating it for what it truly is as a comedy, and have spent my time playing other games like Dead Rising and a special level of another game eloquently titled, Nazi Zombies. I’ve also been trying to get my hands on a copy of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks, which is self-explanatory. If there ever were a zombie problem to arise, I would hope I would have better luck obtaining it. The book includes the top ten lessons for surviving a zombie attack:
1. Organize before they rise!
2. They feel no fear, why should you?
3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
4. Blades don’t need reloading.
5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
9. No place is safe, only safer.
10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.
I consider those words to live by — pun not intended. Personally, I don’t think I would do all too well if there ever were an outbreak however unlikely. I lack physical strength and a calm mind when under pressure so chances are I would be tremendously paranoid and end up exploding a gas station or car, consequently taking the lives of uninfected individuals near me. Single-handedly, I could decrease the world’s likelihood of ever recovering because of my own human inadequacies.
Despite the horror I was tormented with for years, I’m glad I still hold some fear towards the undead. It makes for interesting conversation and a refreshing topic for essays such as this. My father still laughs at me and my mother still orders him to be quiet, but I can now join into his conversation with friends and receive “good offspring” points. The lesson to be learned, however, is that the cause of such an outbreak is unknown and it has the capability to vary from case to case. Therefore, be prepared. It may just happen to you.