The Essay is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at tgam.ca/essayguide.
When I moved to my new home in a safer area of town I became more afraid of the dark than ever. There was no good reason for it. I had an alarm, a well-lit doorway and neighbours who looked out for me. The problem was that I was now unprepared for the Zombie Apocalypse.
My previous home was a condo three storeys above ground with a heavy metal door double-bolted with a lock that even I found tricky after a glass of wine or two, let alone after coming back from the dead. I had an abundance of canned goods and full bookshelves. Everything I knew about zombies I had learned from the film 28 Days Later, so I figured they would starve before I ran out of beans and things to read. I felt safe. I would survive.
My new home is located on street level and has glass-panelled doors and windows that rattle in the wind. It was built more than a century ago, back in the good old days when people didn’t have to worry about zombies. Even worse, I learned from TV’s The Walking Dead that zombies don’t starve quite so easily. Apparently the only way to kill a zombie is to bash in its brains. This is not a skill I learned in grad school.
In fact, none of the knowledge and skills that I’ve spent years cultivating will be useful to me in the upcoming apocalypse. When the zombies take over, no one will care about my ability to speed-read, interpret information or write a grammatical sentence. It won’t matter that I can parallel park and make a mean lentil soup. No one will care that I can French-braid my own hair.
Just like when we divided up for sports teams in high-school gym class, I’m definitely getting picked last for the Zombie Apocalypse.
But the worst thing about the looming Zombie Apocalypse, aside from the flesh-eating undead, is that it makes me doubt everything I believe. I’m an equal-rights, pro-choice, vegetarian, gay-marriage-supporting, universal-healthcare-loving Liberal. I scoff at the notion that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” But I am quite certain that people with guns kill zombies, and the weaponless become breakfast. I care very deeply about animal rights, but I’d throw my cat into a zombie scrum if it gave me a five-minute head start.
My person-first philosophy won’t help me when it comes time to swing a baseball bat through a reanimated brain. It’s much harder emotionally to kill a “Person with Zombie-ism” or the “Circulation-Challenged” than a zombie.
I strongly believe in multiculturalism and I welcome opportunities to interact with and learn from people with different backgrounds. But on this topic, I must agree with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, who has stated on record that Canada will not be a safe haven for zombies. And my anti-capital punishment stance? Off with its head!
I even find myself waxing romantic about Daryl Dixon, a Walking Dead character and my dream date to the end of the world. In the early stages of the show’s Zombie Apocalypse, Daryl is a crossbow-toting, squirrel-eating, semi-reluctant neo-Nazi redneck. Of course, over time, he learns to recognize that it isn’t the colour of one’s skin that matters, it’s whether one has any skin at all.
I’m not the only one obsessing. The Zombie Apocalypse is now a multi-billion-dollar industry in North America. You can even go to zombie-survival training camps where you will learn such critical skills as building a shelter, firing a crossbow, shooting a gun, leading a team and packing a bag efficiently to “bug out,” British army slang for leaving one spot very quickly because your location has been compromised (I looked it up).
You can book a group training for a bachelorette party. This year, my home province of Quebec even planned a Zombie Apocalypse training exercise at an annual symposium on civil security to test emergency preparedness, hoping to inspire out-of-the box thinking and creative solutions. They eventually cancelled the plan when it elicited too much derisive laughter. And yet they keep hammering away with the Charter of Values. But I digress.
The beauty of the Zombie Apocalypse is that it provides humanity with a common enemy that isn’t about language, religion or race. We’re all equal in the Zombie Apocalypse. When we’re all just trying to scavenge, kill and survive, it won’t matter whether we’re white or black, male or female, gay or straight, rich or poor. We won’t care about the minutiae of life, like paying bills, wearing makeup, going gluten-free or breaking the glass ceiling. It almost sounds relaxing.
But until it happens, I’ll keep running mental drills to assess my own readiness for the Zombie Apocalypse: “What if it happens while I’m in the car?” I ask myself. Am I wearing appropriate footwear? (No. I can barely walk in these heels). What about while I’m asleep? Are my pyjamas escape-appropriate? (Not even a little bit). Do I have enough food in the house? (Do jujubes count?) Do I have anything at work that can be used as a weapon? (A pen? My smartphone? No).”
And maybe, when the day comes, I’ll be ready.
Or maybe I’ll just be a Conservative.
Jennifer Nachshen lives in Montreal.