Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Zombie Month: Apperances and Shells
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Zombie Month: Apperances and Shells

Dead North is out this month! You can purchase it at Chapters and Amazon.com. To celebrate, several of the authors in the anthology are guest blogging about…zombies! Today, brings us Ada Hoffmann discussing her dislike of zombies. I’m not too fond of zombies either, but I guess we both a way to channel the undead!

By Ada Hoffmann

Zombies are the least realistic of all monsters ever, even chimeras and shoggoths, because zombies are humans without the humanity. No mind, no feelings, nothing pretty or interesting about them, not even any powers except for sheer numbers and the ability to make you one of them. There is no moral dimension to zombies. The sweetest, kindest Final Girl can wade into a horde of zombies and smash skulls, rend limbs, spill guts with neither viciousness nor guilt.

Zombies are not realistic because their insides match their outsides. A zombie’s outside says, “Kill me. I am disgusting; I am unnatural; I am infectious; at best, I am pitiable; there is nothing inside me that actually wishes to live.” In real life these outsides do not match the insides. In a zombie story there is no inside worth worrying about.

In reality the people who shamble and groan do have minds, and would generally prefer to live. Sometimes we wish for more than mere survival, though this is not polite to talk about.

In reality the most dangerous people are not the ones who shamble and groan. The most dangerous people have the prettiest outsides. These are the ones who walk tall, who smile, who speak fluently and convincingly about how wrong you must be to point out that they are hurting you.

But a pretty outside is not a reliable marker of danger, either. It is more of a shell game. Pick one, peel off the skin and what do you find? A monster? A friend? Or another outside. Some of us build a pretty skin to hide the shambling and groaning. We do not want to know what you will do, what hidden heroic Final Girl strength you will find to wield against us, when you see the first hint of a shamble.

Reality is a game of guessing and hedging one’s bets. Not a zombie apocalypse so much as a zombie standoff. We get in the habit of not meeting your eyes. We get in the habit of not testing your skin, even when you swear that your inside is a friend and not a monster. The question: will you believe that we are not a monster, either. The question: can we walk past each other, this three-thousand-six-hundred-and-seventy-first time, without a skull being smashed or a limb being rent. I would like today not to be a zombie story.