It’s morning. You shuffle out of bed, moaning. All you want to do is sleep, but no such luck. With a dull thud, your feet hit the ground and you shamble over towards the stairs. As you walk, mottled flecks of your flesh peel off, leaving pieces of yourself behind you.
Gripping the railing, you cautiously maneuver the stairs. It’s harder to do now that rigor mortis has set in, but you slowly make your way down. A smear of blood slicks the hand railing, trailing from your arm. On a fresh corpse like you, cuts just sort of slowly ooze blood, without a heartbeat to really pump it out anymore.
When you arrive at the landing, you trip a little on the stair and step down way too hard. You wince as you hear the now-familiar sound of a toe crunching. Sighing, you bend down and grab the injured digit. With a wrenching motion and a sharp crack, the toe is gone. You can’t go walking around with a broken toe, the bone jagged and catching on things as you step. In terms of hygiene, you could really use a shower. The smell of your three-day old corpse is getting quite rank.
You attempt to right yourself, but realize that you can’t. When you bent over you stretched your vertebrae too far without realizing it, and now your back refuses to cooperate. You try to go toward the kitchen, hunched over, but you keep bashing into the chairs of the dining room. With an exasperated groan, you take a few steps backward and try to swing your torso side to side. Unfortunately, instead of loosening your back like you had hoped, you twist and end up with your torso no longer being aligned with your legs. Now that you are bending over to the left instead of above your feet, you will have to walk sideways. You bash your head into several chairs and even the dining table but, to your frustration, not hard enough to put you out of your misery. Damn rigor mortis.
Finally in the kitchen, you shuffle sideways over to the counter. Placing both of your hands on the countertop, you proceed to push yourself up as hard as you can. With a pop you are suddenly standing upright, but your body is still twisted to the left. You grab the counter again then shove and spin your torso to the right. It works, and you’re standing upright and even facing forward. You’re feeling pretty clever for having figured that mess of anatomy out, until you notice that you seem a little taller. You look down and realize that your vertebrae came out of your legs a little and now small portion of bone is visible between your body and your pelvis. Sometimes, being a zombie makes you want to crawl into your bed like it was a coffin and never, ever leave.
Too late for that now, you suppose, but there’s always hope. You yawn out of habit, but your useless lungs rebuff the sweet air that used to be so vital. At least, you assume it tastes sweet, nothing really has any flavor to you anymore. Besides, with a corpse ruminating in the house for a few days and none of the doors or windows open, the air is probably as foul smelling as you are. One more benefit to the rotting of your olfactory organs, right?
Your jaw won’t close, but you’ve had all you can take without your morning coffee. You start a fresh brew with your mouth lamely flapping open. You open the cupboards, but realize you haven’t taken the time to clean the dishes in a while. In fact, it’s been a long time since you did any housework at all, or anything else productive for that matter. It’s hard to be bothered to care about that sort of thing when you’re an undead corpse walking around trying not to fall apart.
You grab one of the used cups from the sink, fairly confident that any germs from a dirty dish can’t give you anything worse than what you’ve already got. You’re careful not to smear any of the blood from your hands onto the cup, and move over to the coffee machine to pour. A pleasant curl of steam rises from the cup as you hold it between your fingers. You raise it to your mouth to take a drink, but it all pools in your lower jaw and overflows onto your shirt. You forgot to unpop your jaw. Not that it matters, really. You wouldn’t have been able to taste it anyways and it would have just pooled in your stomach and sloshed around. However, you feel it’s good to maintain your routine. You try and appear to still be your normal, cheerful self so as to prevent concerned neighbors, doctors, scientists, or would-be zombie hunters from realizing what’s going on. Also, finding out that you’ve become an undead shell of a person, a necromantic ghoul that plagues the living with death and terror, was a bit of a shock so you’re going through some serious denial.
You debate eating the food in the pantry, but decide against it. It wouldn’t help your self-esteem at all to become one of those fatso zombies, and your body is already working against you with the gasses inside your stomach making it swell up like a balloon. You can feel the hunger growing, gnawing away at the inside of your stomach. In an odd way you kind of like making it wait. You’re so numb to everything else that you relish any sensation, even if it is painful.
You manage to get through the dining room without further incident and sit down in the living room chair, wondering what to do with yourself. To be honest, you don’t feel like doing much of anything. You don’t particularly want to go outside, and it wouldn’t be advisable even if you did. Nothing seems to have much meaning anymore, nothing has any point. You’re already dead, so why bother doing anything? You look around the room, with the sunlight casting a grey light on everything through the window shades.
You seem to excel at brooding, but even then you only seem to be able to dwell on the negatives. Mistakes you made, things you should have done better or differently, unhappy memories surge forward to swallow your mind. The problem with being a zombie isn’t the boredom, it’s the Goddamn melancholy. You’ve got to do something to shake this apathy.
You’ve considered going and seeing a doctor, but can’t see that it would do you any good. Penicillin doesn’t do much for undeath, and they’d want to keep you for experimentation and close study. Who are you kidding, they’d just do what they always do: throw more pills at you, then throw you out the door. You consider hanging out with some of your friends, but don’t want to risk a broken neck. Besides, they’re never any real help anyways. One of the rules of the undead is that they don’t talk about being dead. That way they can pretend everything’s normal and never have to have any uncomfortable conversations about rotting skin, the hunger, or, worse yet, feelings.
Thinking about the hunger seems to summon it up, and it rampages angrily in your stomach. You get up and go to the fridge in the kitchen. Sitting on a plate next to a carton of spoiled milk and a container of rotten eggs is a head. You managed to find the energy to go out of the house last night long enough to do some hunting. Poor guy never saw it coming. Just because you’re a zombie doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten your table manners, so you go and grab some utensils from a drawer. With a knife, you carefully carve off the scalp and lay it aside. You never did like eating the crust. Then you lay a napkin down upon your lap and dig in. This is how you keep going, by feeding off of other people. It makes you feel like a parasite, but you don’t have any other choice. Besides, it’s always nice to dive into someone’s head for a little while to escape the problems in your own.
After your meal, you figure you don’t have anything better to do, so you wander over to the computer. Your hands streak blood on the keyboard and mouse, but it doesn’t bother you. You watch videos and laugh when you know you’re supposed to, you scroll through Facebook and perform the perfunctory “likes” and make the expected comments. None of it matters, but at least you can afford to be brain-dead for a while.
A while turns out to be longer than you thought it would, and when you pull yourself out of your digital tomb, the room is dark. You shamble through the living room and back up the stairs. The climb is not easy, but you manage to keep all the toes you have left.
You climb into bed and pull the covers over yourself, not that you can even feel cold. There’s little that’s colder than death.
Maybe zombies can’t sleep, but sometimes you sure wish that you could cry.
—Nicholas Anastasia is an LSA sophomore.