The sun shares its warm rays with anyone who can appreciate its warmth. It’s a time for family vacations, grilling out, swimming, and romance. Couples are visiting local parks, holding hands, and sharing embraces. The dog walkers and elderly also enjoy visiting local parks. But only a few miles away, turbulence is stirring in the local boneyard. Silent chants float through the air.
A chilling breeze whispers, Brains! Brains! Brains! The chant becomes one with the old boneyard and caresses the remains of its residents. The remains are rotten and long forgotten.
Madness soon rises from underneath crusty ground. Dirt covered phalanges protrude through mounds of earth. Prodding fingers still wear wedding rings, necklaces, and other reminders of a former life. Other fingers clutch handfuls of dirt clumps encased with shreds of grass.
Skeletal arms puncture the soft dirt and raise their arms to the skies. These dead creatures once held jobs, wrote poetry, and held loved ones in what they used to call arms. Now, the dead fingers writhe and clutch dirt and shards of their rotting coffins. The living don’t hear the cracking phalanges and metacarpal bones. These creatures now seek sustenance.
Zombie skulls resemble burned-out Jack-o’-lanterns. The skulls no longer contain eyeballs or flesh. The worms have taken residence. In harmony, the dead have returned to lay waste to the living.
With tattered flesh dangling from bones like wind chimes, the dead silently infiltrate the surrounding subdivisions. Ragged burial clothing wrap long-dead skeletons like a bandage. These horrors do not speak or dance. They only exist to collect their pound of flesh. They will soon feast on blood, brains, and pale fleshy skin. The zombies are on the march.
Before 1968, zombies weren’t flesh-eating monsters. Director George Romero introduced flesh-eating zombies in a movie titled Night of the Living Dead. After Hell closed its doors, evil had nowhere to go. Their only recourse was to kill the living and inherit the planet.
Before Romero, zombies preferred to wash clothing or pick crops. The zombie legend originates from Haiti, where Bokors converted locals into mindless slaves. They are like witch doctors. They used Voodoo spells, chants, and superstition to keep locals in fear. Before Romero, zombies weren’t known for craving brains.
Zombies are lifeless creatures that live on instinct. They still have memories of their former lives, but cannot make a connection. Zombies must roam the Earth until someone destroys them. Many horror fans are comparable to zombies. Although they love gore, they don’t know why. True horror fans will enjoy any movie with a monster. Often, a rotten horror movie with horrific acting won’t deter a true horror fan from watching it.
Most zombie movie fans recognize the George Romero zombie: a dead creature with rotting flesh and a rancid odor. The creature seeks tasty brains from the living. Zombies are former parents, friends, or lovers. Not only will they invite you to dinner, but they will make you the main course. The Hollywood zombie is the flesh-eating monster we know, love and fear.
So what’s with our love affair with zombies? Zombies are an interesting bunch because they force us to face our mortality. Zombies represent death—something no one avoids. As we age, we realize that we already have one foot standing in the grave. This terrifies us because we do not know what happens to us after we die. We cannot accept that our bodies will one day rot away underneath a mound of dirt. Although dying is natural, death is still difficult to accept. Zombies give credence to our fears of the unknown.
Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page Life with Grandpa and he also just wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on Amazon.com.