August 30, 2011

a fragment of the end

Yep, more of the zombie book.  It's looking less and less like a young adult novel:

The soldiers neither wept nor wailed nor wrung their hands. But in unison, they spoke a stoic silence. It’s not my fault. I was just following orders.

Nobody spoke.

A moment of silence, not for the dead or for the living, but for the sense of relief that they had done their duty without blinking an eye. They slipped on their headsets and sighed a collective breath. By fear or by conquest or by dawn’s early light, it made little difference. Let the dead bury the dead. There’s a six-inch cheese steak waiting for me.

They walked in an un-zombie-like trance, unaware of the present, detached from the past, victims in their own minds of a go-to-college-free scam. Young men. Boys almost. Disconnected from time and space and place, feeling neither the relief of innocence or the remorse of guilt.

Mostly they were just tired. Maybe they would make love to a flickering image or get lost in a battle of apparition ideals. Or maybe they would talk about the Dodgers or the Packers or Manchester United and embrace the mirage of the mundane and ever-so-gently turn away from their memory.  Maybe later they would reconcile their actions and their humanity, but right now, my God, what they would do for a steak and cheese and a bed with real pillows.

The viewers at home were tired, too. The food was burning and they were fighting an insurmountable battle to keep a three-year-old from throwing his food on the floor and so they turned away, ever-so-slightly; amused, but mostly relieved that yet another monster had been slain. With every tug at a shirt or story from school or did you know what Margaret said about you yesterday, they soon forgot what exactly they were supposed to be afraid of.

The linguist sketched out a scene, grappling with his loss of words, until finally penning, with poetic precision, a piece on pretentious personification, "Death is not the battle cry and bag pipes offering the Dirge of Destruction.  Death is Apathy, arriving in plainclothes, drinking sweet tea and greeting us in denim jeans, slipping in with a seductively silent soliloquy. She lulls us into a dazing, dozing, dreamy denial. and steps into the calm complacency. Then finally, she asks us to kindly sit still as she taps her syringe  and then walks away. I am Apathy.  I have become Death."

Then he closed his book, refusing the silence of the semantic environment. His victory would be one of clarity.  “We witnessed genocide. We saw the death of a culture.”

“The truth is that cultures change. They die. They transform every time we rewrite our stories. To say that a race is dead or a culture is dead or a society is dead denies the deeper reality that a father and a mother and a son and a brother are dead. Today, humanity died,” the anthropologist answered.

“Maybe Apocolypse is the right word for it,” the linguist replied.  Then looking away, he whispered, “Maybe we shouldn’t try and put words to it.”

a tender man.

He spoke. Tears fell on his torn black coat. “I fell from her grace and she won’t let me return. Banished from her presence forever I wander eternally in a haze of regret. Her silent coldness shatters my heart.”

Affected by his brokenness the sovereign monarch wept with him. Her graceful empathy was the very thing that put her in power. She sheltered the poor man in her kingdom and nothing was withheld from him. Her pity, though, soon turned to envy. And she too, had him banished.

August 29, 2011

This is a small excerpt from my story... I started writing it not thinking it would be in the story initially, but loved it so much I had to find room to add it. There is much more to the piece but just wanted to share this moment. :)

As the new morning broke through the sky Ryell walked outside on his way to work. He looked to the East and there he could see a handful of people walking up towards the mountain. Every morning those same people made the hike and every morning Ryell watched them. Today they were noticeably one less. Clio, would never take that hike again.
                Ryell looked back at the small apartment they shared and looked upon the tiny addition that was built in the corner next to the alley way. When Clio had become too sick to make the hike Ryell made a bamboo mat and placed it in the corner. He used old ply wood and cloth to create a room. A little shrine for her to prey in. It was not the same as the vigorous walk up the mountain. Breathing the frosty mountain air and existing amongst the dew moist trees, but he wanted Clio to feel like she had a place to go. He remember how he placed the wild mountain flowers, in recycled tin and jars that he had found along the roads, around the tiny lot. He had bartered for a single stick of incense and let it fill the room with strong smoke of jasmine and wet wood. He put his bedding in a corner for her to sit on while she meditated and prayed. The room was peaceful and in its own way pretty.
                She had been sleeping when he came in to get her. He was so eager to show her the new studio. Something he could give just to her. He picked her up and carried her lame body across the apartment and through the door outside. Her arms were wrapped around his neck and she nestled her head into his neck as she watched happily to see where he was taking her. The morning was cold and the frost pinched at her nose and made her eyes dry. Even in her sickness, Clio was unaltered by her unjust fate. She smiled, laughed, and then cried as Ryell gently placed her upon the mat. She looked around the tiny temple with awe and excitement.
 “Is it wrong of me to be so happy thinking it is a gift for me, when it is really meant for God?” she asked smiling at Ryell.
He stood leaning against the door looking down at her on her knees, smiling as he shook his head. 
“No,” it’s not wrong he replied. He had never thought of it as a gift to God. It was in Ryell’s mind for Clio, and nothing more.

August 21, 2011

Reflections of a Zombie

The following is a first-person character study for a third-person novel I plan to write:

He calls the concoction a “suicide,” and surrenders his taste buds to the random sample of corn syrup and coloring. His is a world of plastic fragments and vivid chemicals.  It's a fountain whose blue is too vivid for any natural competition.

We cram into the plastic shell of the SUV and begin the journey of release. While other boys will be dressing as zombies and using extortion for free Fun Size Snickers, we’ll be celebrating the autumn equinox by breathing in the steamy vitality of life, recognizing the vapor of existence and the illusion of eternity forged in plastic.

He’ll cry.

I did the first time.

On some level, I still do. It’s just that surrounded by a hyper-macho group of men, tears are not an option and within minutes of the Flesh Feast, I experience the paradoxical sense of losing and gaining, living and dying, destroying and creating.

Still, it will be harder for a child raised around pets and petting zoos and animated cartoons. He understands personification without ever knowing the meaning of person, uninhibited and unfettered. He experiences animation without knowing the animism that makes his story real.

He’ll sink his canines into the raw flesh and feel the steamy sanguine fluid dripping down his lips. He will be at once repulsed and intrigued and in the process he will know something about humanity buried under the pavement of the Magical Kingdom.

Don’t get me wrong. We won’t kill a human.  Zombies aren’t canabalistic. We are human.

We don’t go on murder binges and terrorize cities.  I suppose some of that might have been true in the past. We would line up in rows and hunt an entire village. However, one must consider the cultural context. This was an age when Aztecs would sacrifice prisoners to their gods and Europeans would burn those who didn’t agree with their theology and slavery, rape and mass genocide were all fair game in war.

This was before the Age of Progress. We’ve developed antiseptic ways of committing mass murder. Nowadays, we press buttons and hit targets and use drones, but I suppose shrapnel is simply a more evolved version of an arrow - one that allows the user to sit comfortably from a plush chair in an air-conditioned room, drinking Red Bull or stale coffee with fake creamer.

We’ve evolved.

Zombies, however, have not evolved. We still use our canines for cutting meat. I know it sounds primitive and upsetting that we hunt with our hands and suck the warm blood in the moment. Instead of thinking “backwards” and “primitive,” consider it “vintage” or “classic.” We’re organic. We’re into raw food. It’s just that we tend to go omnivorous and sometimes that means attacking large game. (Incidentally, no one seems offended by our collective cultural salad binges)

You can fault us for eating meat that runs free range. I suppose if killing is wrong, then we are murderers. But the human body requires death. We are covered with bacteria. We inhale micro-organisms. You can’t go a minute without participating in the life cycle. So we’re all killers, I guess.

However, I miss the ethical argument that it’s better to eat meat that was once crammed into a tiny space and is now chopped up, days later, and placed on styrofoam and wrapped in cellophane. The Zombie culture doesn’t have quite the same affinity for petroleum-based products that one finds in most of the Western world.

If it were raw fish wrapped in seaweed, we would be trendy hipsters on the cutting edge. If it’s a wildebeest or a deer or a polar bear and we’re attacking as a pack, well then it’s repulsive. Note to self: next time we attack a wildebeest, make sure that we don a flea market jacket, an ironic t-shirt and waver between self-loathing whining and sardonic comments about the world. Maybe we’ll play a vintage record and politely pull apart the animal flesh while discussing whether or not the Green Party is a viable option in this next election.

Or maybe we’ll just pump it full of phosphates and toss it onto the grill, cover it in some artificially-flavored corn syrup mix and then toss place it on a paper plate. I’m sure the earth will understand.

Another misconception is the intellectual capacity of the Zombie culture. This again stems from the inherent xenophobia and ethnocentricism of European missionaries. Our language is nuanced and layered in metaphor. Missionaries missed that, claiming we mindlessly grunted about in lined formations.

It takes awhile to grasp the guttural sounds or to decipher the tonal language. In some ways, our language is actually more developed in the Latin-based languages that are all the rage in Europe. We have not only a second person plural (missing in English) but also a verb tense that allows for the second person to be addressed while removed from the first person. We also have verb tenses differentiating between definite, paradox, contradictory thoughts and cognitive dissonance. Layers. It takes awhile to comprehend the language.

Now, what about the myth of stealing the minds of humans and turning them into mindless walkers? It’s true that we are reminded that "the mind is a feast."  But we've never asked anyone to drink our blood or break our body.

What about the inconsistencies of slow and fast zombies?  We meditate.  We experience a collective trance.  Then we explode in shared energy, being fully present, full active.  We become the living dead, the voice of autumn.  

Yes, we believe in magic. We believe in a world surrounded by animism. Superstition, you call it. And maybe you are right. But we are under no illusion that the dots and ones and zeroes are the same as the flesh and blood terrestrial terrain of our human condition. We stare at the stars. You stare at a screen. Both of us believe in magic.

Perhaps the Zombie culture is indeed backward. Perhaps I am being ethnocentric in my own right. However, last time I checked, it is more inhuman to split apart and atom and blow away a city than to attack large game with our bare teeth.