Archive for April, 2011

Pleasure to Eat You

Posted: April 20, 2011 by zacharyandgillian in April 2011

He hadn’t expected them to smile.

He had been told that they were different up in ol’ K-town.  He had seen a lot of things in his brief time.  But nothing like this.

How do you kill a thing that smiles?  Two bullets into the brain?  Shotgun to the mid-section?  Poison?  Starvation?   Boredom?  Maybe it was special.  Maybe the smiling ones needed a 5 hour lecture on the mating habits of the sloth.  Surely that would wipe the smile off their faces.

Personally, his first instinct was to go with a shovel against the bloody carcass of its smug face.  But then he stopped.  Hung paralyzed for a moment in confusion and analysis.

Since the moment he had stepped off the plane, he was amazed.  They were everywhere: that was obvious.  The airport was littered with walking bodies that looked like they had just decided that, mid-surgery, they didn’t need any operation.  Or a change of clothes.  Classic zombie, like a page right out of Dawn of the Dead, or the Zombie Survival Guide.  And, at first, they were as obviously mindless.  Bloody messes, stumbling around, eyeing him with a kind of vacant hunger right before he decapitated them.  (Please wait behind the line, miss.)

But, as he headed down to the town center in his hotwired hot-rod, he noticed first that the main highways were not abandoned.  The closer he got to the city, the more the streets filled with cars – driving cars.  The kind that stopped at red lights and only turned left on the left turn signal.  None of them were fleeing for their life.   A few of them were even heading in to town.  The devastation and desolation he had come to know as a requirement of a zombie infection was simply non-existent.

He had even begun to worry that he had missed something entirely – imagined the zombies at the airport, or something as equally dumbfounding – when he looked to an adjacent car at a stoplight.  In the driver’s seat was one of the creatures, half its face a mess of death and muscle.  The other half was chewing some limp pound of flesh, letting it drip from its mouth.  He was definitely not hallucinating.

After that, he made for the town center with all haste.  His goal was by the waterfront – a mere 6 blocks away from the central monument.  He abandoned his car at a local supermarket parkinglot after removing a couple of tools he had found stowed in the trunk; a rope, a bottle of anti-freeze, and a shovel.

As he began to run the few blocks, he noticed that the city streets were just as occupied by pedestrians as the roads had been by cars earlier.  Only now it was clear, they were all zombies.  They seemed to pay him no heed, walking to and fro, faces blank.  So, he disturbed none, knowing that if they had no interest in him he had no wish to cultivate any attention.

But, as he passed a local coffee shop, something caught his eye through the glass.  Zombies – the walking dead with hair knotted and eyes darkened – were ordering coffee.  And they were drinking it.  The whole store was filled with talking patrons of the undead.

That was when he opened his eyes.  These things were different;  different than he had ever seen before.  They were expressing, they were talking normally.  They were acting human.  If not for the blood pouring down their shirts and the look of death upon their faces, one could almost mistake them for human.

This… this was truly scary.  A virus, an infection that mimicked humanity was a serious danger to life as he knew it.  They could possibly infiltrate actual living beings.  They could infect silently, before the world’s population even had a chance to react.  Society had long been ready for the invasion of zombies – through traditional sci-fi methods, or though more modern, virus-gone-wrong approaches.  But they’d never considered the potential for secret-agent zombies.

Perhaps they weren’t even dangerous?  Maybe they were the Louis to Ann Rice’s Lestat.  There was much that could be discovered here;  a lot of potential to answer long unanswered questions.  They drank lattes, they ate at restaurants, walked in groups, and (he couldn’t be sure) but they appeared to be talking to each other.  And they smiled.

He hadn’t noticed the smile until one of the zombies seemed recognized him.  It turned to meet him face on, locked eyes, and smiled.  It was one of the most chilling things he had ever seen.  Extending its hand, the sunken-eyed monster appeared to invite a handshake.  Or a mindless grip of doom.  No way to be sure.

Yeah.  Shovel to the face.

Photography: Gillian Berger
Writing:  Zach Webster

That Fine Ol’ Wheel

Posted: April 9, 2011 by zacharyandgillian in April 2011

My father told me once, that we just keep reinventing the wheel.

Time after time, the world goes ‘round, and we find new solutions to old problems.  Those solutions then turn to problems of their own in antiquity, and we scramble fix them with more “new and improved” solutions.  I can think of many examples off the top of my head. 

Take economics, where once we bartered our goods and services, we found it too slow and unsafe a system – dividing an ox for a dozen pairs of shoes is an economic nightmare.  And so, we introduced currency, to expedite the process.  But, in time, that very currency which we used became a good, traded and divided, and it became equally volatile and slow.  In a world where we couldn’t possibly buy everything we wanted, we invented credit.  Now, credit itself is a good and service, burdening the process even further.

Finnegan begin-again.

Take labour rights.  Where once the serf was oppressed, living off of the mere gratuity of his or her master, mercantilism arose and men beholden to no one but themselves and their businesses success became champions.  But those champions in turn became masters, and named their serfs “employees”.  Employees living off of the oppressive “agreement” of their necessary employment.  But then unions of working men and women arose, to protect the rights of the workers and ensure that they were respected as people in their own right.  Now, Unions are big business, willing to throw out the baby in order to get rid of the bath water.

Finnegan begin-again.

And take our beloved faith.  Where once pagan beliefs were rampant, we found the stifling oppression of their “backward” beliefs intolerable.  Slowly, from the ashes of defeat, depravity and scorn, rose messages of hope and sincerity under one god and one Christ.  Suddenly, there was a definable, clear way to live and to love, despite our otherwise foul nature.  But way gave on to way, and the rightness of an idea resulted in the oppression of thought.  Our otherwise foul nature soiled the previously pure message of honest blood and sacrifice.  And so, we rejected that too – favouring ourselves as the leaders of our destiny, trusting our own thoughts to ever respect a message of hope and charity beyond any ordained “system”.  We called it atheism.  And now, now charity is put aside, and atheists crusade as foolhardily as their predecessors – murdering beliefs blindly in the name of “reason.”

Finnegan, you know what to do.

For a long time, I argued with my father that it was not a cycle, but a spiraling staircase.  That a wheel is circular, but it is going somewhere.  The most optimistic description that philosophy (a word I believe synonymous with “genuine wonder”) has always held is that knowledge is a spiraling process.  That its progress is so slow that it appears circular, but when closely studied it is revealed as a Socratic process.  Carefully and critically rising to the challenge put before it – to learn, to understand, and to grow.

I’m not sure which one of us is right.  As the days go by, I often find myself marveling at all the real-world examples of our re-invention.  Though in my heart I earnestly hope that our round-abouts will amount to an eventual ascension into the heavens, I cannot reject what I see before me.  Reality provides proof that the dusk of today looks very much like the dawn of yesterday, and that we are not so different as we’d like to believe.

But, you know, there is a certain beauty to it.  A certain grace in our invention.  We are all artists in our respective fields really – taking what we know and re-arranging it.  Telling the same story a new and improved way.  That’s what I think of when I imagine a smith forging a wheel:  though it may be nothing new under the sun, we have taken something that was once meaningless to us, and made it our own, and made it with purpose. 

A wheel has a way of implying both a circular nature, and the promise of a journey.  I can respect a wheel, for it was a thing made for motion.  We may not make it to any new destination, but we will make it to the trip.  We will have learned the art of travelling and of experiencing.  And though philosophy may never truly learn of what it wonders, its students will learn of wondering.   And that is enjoyable.  That is, in itself, meaningful.

So I think if my dad is ultimately right, and we are destined to merely roll around in the mud forever, I can be at peace with that.

Writing by:  Zach Webster
Photography by:  Gillian Berger