What would be the first thing you’d like to hear during a zombie apocalypse?
How about something reassuring and reasonable… or loving and kind? To make you feel safe.
How about fifty years after the apocalypse war is over? What if the results weren’t something you’d be happy over?
Especially if you were a human?
What do you think was the outcome of such a war between humans and zombies?
Well, I will tell you these answers and more.
And I will tell this in my own unique perspective—-as I myself am a zombie.
I was born one.
What’s my problem? Am I supposed to have one?
Zombies shouldn’t have problems. We all walk past each other, moping around, not needing to eat or drink or feel anything—-but I do. I feel things.
I feel something.
I feel anger.
A burning, red, black—-intense fire inside.
To some extent, even as we are the majority living amongst the hidden, small populace of humans—-I feel for them. Even as they despise us, and want to maim us, and destroy us.(so I am told!)
I understand them.
So, to answer a few more burning questions in your mind—-yes, zombies dominated over humans over fifty years ago. I don’t really understand how or why this all started… and it’s not like I’m the best communicator unless through writing… but, I feel like this is unfair to humans that we are the majority.
I know, I know—-then I wouldn’t exist if they had wiped us out like they intended fifty years ago. But, still, I see them and I know there’s something good there. I just feel it.
Even as my mind feels like blankness… as my limbs feel sporadic and twitch and sometimes make movements I cannot control…. And even as I sometimes feel like I cannot control anything about myself—-I know who I am.
I’m Bexley, by the way. I’m a girl zombie and I’m in love with a human guy.
No, I don’t need to eat brains.
No, my parents don’t eat brains either.
That’s outdated zombie folklore hogwash.
I’ll tell you of two different times before I fell in love when I started to understand humans.
One was a page of something that was ripped and wet on the ground near where I lived, and by my own curiousity I picked it up. I became so enamored by it, the pictures, the feelings it evoked, that I learned how to read and write by extension.
Once I learned what the words and sounds were, I started understanding what they meant. What the feelings the people were feeling. What happened to them. How I almost pictured my love and myself in between the lines, in the black and white spaces---so close and yet so far.
It all came to me like a wave—-and it erupted something deep inside of me.
It was like fear. It felt like love. The understanding of loneliness. The crashing tides of something fractured or broken that you couldn’t quite put to words. Or even something you could hope to fix.
I didn’t know what love was.
Until that day with the cookie and the children.
They were human children, running and laughing—-a sound my kind said they hated, but one I loved in secret.
I saw them run into me, and as they realized their mistake in running off to far—-I tried to take a few steps back, to show them I meant no harm. I smiled and bit, and they smiled back.
They seemed wary of me, yet stayed in the general vicinity.
One child said, that looked very young, “I’m so hungry!”
The other kid that was around, who looked just as hungry, shrugged and handed him this half broken cookie.
“Here, take this, kid!” She said, brushing it off.
“But it’s your only food!” The little one said.
The older girl nodded. “But, we all gotta take care of each other. That’s how we get a better future.”
After this, I couldn’t stop thinking of that and how much it effected me.
Zombies only live up to twenty five to thirty years. Humans—-longer. But, not so much anymore.
I wanted to understand myself, too. What was I? Was I a virus inflicted on humanity? A plague?
Or a cure?
My parents tried to show us about history—-of wars humans fought and how many died. How humans killed each other over petty and evil reasons. For money, love, relationships, greed—-all the things zombies didn’t care about. The war zombies won because they were inherently better—-morally and otherwise—-how we were merciful when they were not.
But, I know Stan. He isn’t like that at all.
He is a good person. He is a good friend.
I’m only nineteen years old. Stan is twenty and a human.
He is… something called beautiful. I heard a human say that once about the sun setting. But, Stan is beautiful too.
He has long, black hair and big brown eyes, and with this perfect smile I fear will leave me one day.
And I’m trying to learn to speak, as Stan is teaching me in private. He told me I will meet his best friends tonight—and he told me, please do not be afraid. He wants to bridge the gap between zombies and humans.
“One day, our love will not be seen as strange,” he whispers in my half rotting ear. “And Bexley, dear,” he says as our eyes meet, “we will finally be happy. And everyone can be safe.”
Oh, Stan. You make me wanna believe these impossible things!
But, up until six months ago—-I couldn’t even say a word. But I managed to tell him my name, call him dear as well and also say his name! So… progress!
We cannot kiss—I am afraid of turning him—-but we hold hands.
I write him a question and ask him what I look like. I have no idea!
He answers, “You look like a dream wrapped in my most beautiful memory. Your hair is yellow like the narcissus flower. Your eyes are still and quiet—-green and blue mixed together with a bit of red—-but still so expressive when you want to be,” he sighs and smiles. “You have a cute button nose even if the flesh is discolored—-your flaws and my flaws do not make up our soul—-but they give us the representation of what we are to the world. What we are to each other is something unbreakable. Tethered by the force of physics and the temerity of our passion. Our trust is the true chain that cannot be unmade.”
I nodded, but also tried to give him a look of faux-incredulousness.
He laughed. “You don’t believe me, my blossom?”
“S-Stan… n—no…” I winked.
He grinned. How I loved his smile. But it pained me that I had to see him in secret. To hide our interactions.
One time, Stan found a way to play something called “music” for us.
It was from this old device that was square and white and had a round button on it. He told me he was able to charge it just enough to play a song his mother sang to him before she passed away(from a bad fever).
And with just a few inches away—-he held onto my thigh, and our other hands firmly grasping, and he taught me to dance.
“Well, more like swaying…” he laughed.
He sang along and almost… almost kissed me… but I had to turn away. I don’t want him to turn. I don’t want him to ever change. I almost hit him several times, on accident, from my arms and body twitching and going crazy without me even noticing. I wish I could stop it. He never is upset. He always understands.
That’s another reason why being a zombie is hard. I know Stan said human beings have it hard, too.
To me, he is perfect the way he is.
So, anyway, I get up from my room (zombies live in a nicer area away from ‘dirty, violent humans’… as humans live in caves and underground bunkers), and sneak out to meet up with Stan in our usual spot. It’s late at night and we meet in the forest.
I see Stan’s best friends. One is tall human man holding hands with a slightly shorter human man.
My vision was a little bad—even in daylight, but I can still make them out.
Stan told me beforehand what they were named (tall one with straight brown hair was Hudson and slightly shorter one with very curly, long brown hair was named Asher) and that they all knew each other all their lives.
Stan took my hand as they came toward us.
“Dear, they are dating in similar circumstances like us, so they are kinda sensitive too,” He whispers, and I nod. He explained to me a little about how gay and lesbian couples used to be accepted better(but not perfectly), but now people wanted to preserve the human race and keep it going—-even more so now since humans were scarce, and LGBTQ support was at an all-time low.
But, Stan supported them. So did their families. It was just more of a secret. Like my love with Stan.
I saw that it was all the same, their love. Just as important and just as wonderful.
“I’m not…. We won’t catch anything from her… will we?” The curly haired one said frankly and with an hysterical edge, and the other one gently nudged at him.
“Babe. Seriously. Calm. Down.” Hudson looked at Asher softly but sternly, and he took in a deep breath. “Stan wouldn’t let us meet his girlfriend if that was the case. Jeez. I swear!” Hudson laughs and then looks at me. He is trembling, even as he puts on a brave face.
“Uh… nice to me-meet you?” Hudson says to me.
I decide to play it casual and lunge at his hand, growling. He lurches back, almost falling on Asher, and Stan hits his knee, cracking up.
Then, I stand up and smile at them.
Asher starts to laugh—-Hudson is pale white and as he realizes I played him, he laughs too.
“Oh, she’s wonderful, dude!” Asher says in between cackles and howls. Hudson is standing stony faced now, his arms crossed over his chest.
Asher gives Hudson this look that’s pouty and big eyed, and Hudson’s serious facade cracks—-and he nods, chuckling, “Yeah, she got me pretty good. I’ll give her credit there.”
“Bexley… is my blossom,” Stan says sweetly and I smile again.
“Awww!” Asher sang out.
Hudson was more stoic. “Nice.” His voice had a more calm and level tone than Asher, who was all over the place. But they seemed to compliment each other anyway.
“Ain’t I your bloom or blossom too, puddin’?!” Asher said to Hudson, swooning over him, acting like he was going to faint on him.
“Ugh.. more like some kind of annoying weed I can’t get rid of!” Hudson grumbled.
All of sudden I hear a noise come out of my mouth that feels abnormal.
It tumbles out and I cover my mouth as quickly as possible.
“Holy shit! She laughed!” Hudson said, his voice actually rising instead of being one pitch.
“I—I thought zombies couldn’t laugh!” Asher said.
Stan looks at me and is the most shocked.
“Uh… Bex…. Did you just laugh?” Stan asks me, his voice breaking, and I see tears running down his cheek. I gently wipe them off his skin.
“Y-yes, S-S-Staan, de-dear,” I said as eloquently as possible.
This time, Stan looked at his friends carefully.
“Dude, I know, you told us… she could talk but… holy cow man! That’s crazy,” Hudson said, grabbing Asher’s hand again after finally regaining his composure.
“She’s more than what you guys think. More than what anyone thinks,” Stan says confidently, and they both nod in affirmation.
We all decided to sit under the huge apple tree and talk.
“We think we can change things,” Stan motions to me and him, “Zombies don’t need to think that humans just wanna destroy them all. Humans aren’t just like in movies or in the wars from the past… we are good, too. And we can show them that,” Stan starts and Hudson rolls his eyes. Asher is listening intently. I am watching them all. I am especially watching my lovely Stan.
“That’s exceedingly naive, man,” Hudson says, and looks apathetically at me. “What makes you think that just because your girl over here understands us that all her people will?”
“With this…” Stan says, holding up his hand locked with mine. “We can show them that we are the same.”
“That is adorable. I kinda agree with Hudson though that having an actual plan would give us a better edge than you two holding hands in front of two angry mobs,” Asher says in a more mature tone. “The juxtaposition of two mobs—one a zombie mob and two, a human mob, mixed with one from each group entangled in a love affair sounds mildly interesting and super romantic—-but just not what we need in terms of liability and tactics here. But if I had paper and pen, I’d draw that like in a comic!”
I smiled and jumped up and down.
“What’s up?” Hudson asks us, his brow raised.
“Uh, I’m not sure,” Stan says, looking at me oddly. “What, dear?”
I went in my pocket and took out the old, crinkled up panels of that black and white comic that I loved, showing it to Asher.
Asher looked at it and said, “This is awesome, Bex! Cool art!”
I shrugged and grinned. Stan nodded, now understanding.
“She loves that comic. If only we could find out where it came from…” Stan says, and we both look at each other knowingly.
“If I ever find out the name of the book, I’ll tell you!” Asher says to me, and I jump up and down again excitedly, making Asher laugh good-naturedly.
“You are just full of life, Bex!” Asher says with a soft smile.
“Babe, didn’t you tell me your uncle might’ve found a way to de-zombifie people?” Hudson whispers, but I hear it with wide eyes, and Stan shoots them down. Asher looked like he wanted to say yes, too—-Ugh! That sounded promising!
“Bex here was born this way, guys!” Stan says in a hushed tone, and they both stop talking.
“Sorry!” Hudson says apologetically. Stan nods. I can’t say much, but I am still holding Stan’s hand.
We all stay quiet for a little.
“Babe, come here,” Hudson says to Asher.
Asher nods and lays on Hudson’s chest.
“I’m gonna get you one of those fancy gems. And marry you,” Hudson says to Asher.
Asher spits his tongue out at him. “I thought I was a no good weed you couldn’t get rid of!”
My eyes go wide at the mention of gems. Only my people kept gems. For “purification” purposes and supposedly it kept zombies living longer… I don’t know if I believed it.
“Nah, you are my desert flower, my Jewish desert flower! Three years of being watered by my incessant nagging and logic… you keep me growing and dreaming of the sky while I keep you grounded with my permanent roots!” Hudson teases, and leans in close. Their noses touch.
Asher laughs saying, “You sleazy, mushy jerk!” and pulls onto Hudson’s shirt, and their lips touch. They deepen the kiss and Hudson runs his fingers through Asher’s messy brown curls.
I feel a pang of jealously. Why can’t I kiss Stan like that?
Suddenly, Asher, pulls away, his cheeks red. “Sorry, guys! It’s just.. we can never really be alone and it’s hard to find the time to just be together—-Damn, we’re sorry!”
Hudson nodded. “Yeah. We’re sorry. We know it’s hard to maintain intimacy with your significant other… if anyone understands,” he points back and forth between him and Asher, “We do!”
Stan nods, holding my hand tightly, “It’s no problem. We’re all friends here.”
“Bexley, I wonder if zombies can be gay?” Asher asks me all of a sudden, and Hudson shoves Asher.
“Fuck, babe! What kinda question is that?!” Hudson says, his distaste apparent. I laugh again. It sounds like a mouse squeak to me, and I feel embarrassed.
“Oh, man—-that laugh is too cute!” Stan says near my ear, and I feel something even stranger. Warmth in my face.
What is wrong with me?!
I shrugged at Asher. “Ma—-may—-maybeee?” I answered.
Asher smirked. “Oh yeah! That’s awesome! High five for gay zombie possibilities, Stan!” Asher held up his hand and Hudson did not look amused. But, Stan never was one to refuse a high five, as he told me once, so he slammed back. Asher was obviously pleased by the reciprocated bro move.
Hudson finally cracks a grin—-both him and Asher are both sitting up now, next to each other but not lying down anymore.
“I like Bexley, Stan,” Hudson started but cleared his throat. He looked at me. “I mean… I like you. We like you, right, Ash, babe?” He looked over at Asher and then at me again.
Asher nodded. “Yes!”
“Zombies are cool!” Hudson said, almost too rowdily, and Asher shushes him.
We all laugh and talk longer——and we say goodnight after awhile.
They actually both shake my hand and Stan is so happy.
“Those guys are my best friends ever. Like the brothers I never had. I’m so glad they support us. I mean… I know I would be with you no matter what… but still…” he says happily and I nod and smile back.
Suddenly, I feel a whoosh of emotions flood my whole body. I feel like I am melting. Is it my flesh falling off me finally? My mom told me this might happen….
No. It’s not. It’s something more wonderful.
What did my beautiful Stan do before we departed for the night?
He jumps in behind me, and kisses my cheek, softly—-I almost don’t feel it. It’s like a whisper, a fluffy cloud, a perfect distant memory or galaxy—-and in floating in a sea of stars and planets and darkness—-and he whispers,
“Bexley, I love you.”
I try to say it back, but Stan knows it is true.
And I do, Stan. I truly do.
Later that week, I recieve horrible news.
Stan sends me a message to meet in our secret spot.
“Oh, God, Bex… Hudson is missing!” Stan says, his chest heaving, and his breath rapid.
I hold onto to his shoulders and pretend to make a slow breathing sound. He understands and takes in a deep breath.
“Asher thinks Hudson went into that huge mansion where those elite zombie guys live… to get some gems for Ash,” Stan looks at me nervously and desperately, “Please, dear… can you look for Hudson? Ask around? Use that sign language… ask where a human might be…. Ugh, I don’t know. I don’t want you to get in trouble either, dear,” Stan looks at me hopelessly. He is referring to human sign language(American), which some zombies adopted as their own with some modifications to communicate only amongst other zombies.
Stan starts talking again, quickly and with a level of anxiety and fear that tears through my very being. “Asher is sobbing non-stop and can’t be helped. Hudson’s family is getting ready to go look for him. It’s been over… been like two days since anyone has last seen Hudson. Will you be okay to ask about Hudson among your people?” He asks carefully.
I nod, and try to look as confident as I can.
Stan looks at me silently. He is completely shocked.
That’s the clearest I ever said anything.
As I leave the love of my undead life, I hear the voice of that girl who gave up her last cookie in my head, cheering me on.
“But, we all gotta take care of each other. That’s how we get a better future.”
Author note: The comic in the beginning is a panel from the graphic novel Blankets by Craig Thompson. I really recommend anyone to read this as a young adult or older. It was a bittersweet and honest portrayal of young love---poignant and sweet. I am Bexley will continue with a second part! -Melissa
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