I love zombies. This twisted love affair began when I saw Shaun of the Dead. Then I co-wrote Global Swarming with the multi-talented writer and Captain Morgan rum imbiber, Greg Crites. I found killing humans without spending time on Death Row to be immensely satisfying. (It’s a retail worker thing.) After watching countless zombie movies, along came The Walking Dead and the discovery that no matter how redneck, a man who carries a crossbow and knows how to use it is dead sexy. (Note to producers of the show: Next season; please have Daryl use his Boondock Saints accent.) Perhaps one of these days Norman Reedus will play Joe Ledger in a movie based on Jonathan Maberry’s fantastic zombie novel, Patient Zero. Typecasting shouldn’t be an issue, Norman. Cash those paychecks before more banal teenage vampire/werewolf love triangles capture Americans’ limited imaginations.
As a book store manager, part of my job is to recommend books to customers. Unfortunately, most of my customers are of the geriatric variety and I suspect a great novel like World War Z hits a little too close to home; walking dead and all that jazz.
Yesterday was supposed to be a Zombiepalooza for a writer trying to sell a zombie book. I talked Hans Bauer, who co-wrote an excellent young readers’ book, Fish Tale and also wrote the screenplay for Anaconda (the writer’s cut novel is coming soon!) to take me to Run for Your Lives, the 5-K zombie obstacle course near Austin. Hans takes photos and turns them into amazing works of art. He usually spends every weekend at the Renaissance Fair, but I somehow convinced him he could get some great shots of zombies. Either that or he felt sorry for me because my piece of shit car can barely make it across the street.
Per his instructions (he’s a bit bossy) our adventure was to begin at 6 am, so I set my alarm for 4 am. No way did I want to keep him waiting for a single second. At 6:20 am, he pulled up and I dashed out the door and hopped in his car.
“Good morning!” I perkily said, as if I didn’t hate the idea of being up that early on the first Saturday I’ve had off in over two years.
He grunted in reply. Okay…not a morning person. I fastened my seat belt and noticed he wasn’t wearing his. Half a mile down the road, I discovered he has the disconcerting habit of never fastening his seat belt until the car is in motion. This involves a certain amount of the car weaving at high speeds and cursing, as evidenced by his first words of the day to me. MOTHER FUCK! Yep, that pesky seat belt is difficult to attach with one hand. I feared for my life after each of our stops for directions. When we stopped for gas and he left the nozzle attached to the car after we took off, I spent a few seconds trying to remember if I’d updated my Last Will and Testament. I guess that incident explained not fastening his seat belt. While he would be blown free during the explosion, I would be trapped in my seat watching in the rear view mirror my flaming eyebrows and melting face.
He had a good reason for his absentmindedness. Brain freeze. Literally. 28 degrees with a wind chill of 12 degrees is as unsettling to a Texan as a luau featuring an entire roasted pig with an apple in its mouth is to an Orthodox Jew.
While the runners and the zombies were game and perhaps even worked up a sweat, Hans lasted about 30 minutes in those conditions. I don’t get cold, so I could have interviewed zombies and runners all day except that the ink in my pen froze. I’m not making that up. We left about eight hours early.
Hans took the photo of Maria and Pete, the zombie bride and groom. They graciously answered my questions instead of ripping my head off and munching on my few remaining cerebral bits.
After the zombie apocalypse occurred they lasted three days before being turned. In that time, Pete took out two zombies with a machete and Maria killed three with an axe. They had no time to change clothes for the honeymoon, so they were the best dressed zombies at the event.
I also briefly interviewed runners Joe and Michael. They both chose swords as their weapons of choice against zombies. Not independent thinkers, they both picked Daryl from The Walking Dead to be in their crew. (We’re all fans here, Norman!) When asked if their crew contained any celebrities, which one they would frag at the first available opportunity, they finally had a difference of opinion. Joe would kill Kim Kardashian in a frenzy of alliteration and Michael would waste Kanye West. Good choices, lads.
As we walked back to the car, I overheard three younger children who participated describing to their mother every step of their race against the zombies. They were so excited and her smile won her Mother of the Year status in my opinion. Seriously, what a great mom.
Our trip home was uneventful except for Hans pushing my menopausal banshee bitch from hell button. Apologies were exchanged and he not only bought me gourmet chocolate and fed me lunch, he gave me a Hanukah teddy bear and a DVD of the Bill Murray movie Meatballs. Both were in his car and he had no idea why. Peculiar.
It’s possible we’ll try it again someday when it’s not so cold. I hope so because I know Hans’ zombie photos will be amazing. But mainly because I want to sell Global Swarming to fellow zombie lovers so I can buy a new car.