Zombie films vastly overrates the capacity of dim-witted dead people to throw down society. Society as we know it depressingly absorbs all but the worst revolutions or cataclysms and just moves forward the way it always did.

Zombie Professionals

Glancing at the undead horde was never a wise thing to do, you never really got used to it. Not really. Necro-human biologists had classified the reason for this as a mixture of deeply rooted instinctive reactions to being attacked by an overpowering, hostile opponent and common sense. They spotted him, or the young woman did. It seemed to him that even in death, young female zombies were the most attentive. She was stumbling around, as they do when no prey is to be found, when suddenly she turned her head around exposing the gaping wound where her right eye had presumably once been and bearing her teeth. Then proceeded the scream, or the Wail as some call it, which always chilled him to the bone. It was not the call of a predator, as most academics classified it today, alerting the pack to the presence of prey; it was hate. Pure hatred directed towards him and all things living for reasons he couldn’t fathom. Why did the dead suddenly hate the living? It wasn’t, after all, any living creature that had killed the young woman judging from the gaping eye wound. She hitched up her skirt and started the uncompromising sprint of the undead and he felt the familiar fear overtake his body, inducing panic. If you asked him, which he knew no-one would, that was why you never got used to looking at the undead: the mannerisms of the living still lingered in their movements and echoed in their decayed flesh. They were still walking testaments to the lives they lost, to the hopes they had and all the memories and ambitions that died with them in the hand of someone tearing at their flesh with the malicious disregard for compassion fitting a hyena. A lion and a real predator killed, hyenas and zombies just ate; devoured, and that’s what he knew to expect if one day they got to him and tore him to pieces with hateful nails and gnawing teeth. Sure, working with the undead was in most respects a lot less cheerful than the alternative but a man has to live and the money was more than decent.

The whole pack was alerted now and charged down the abandoned road towards him, climbing or even jumping the remnants of an inner city traffic jam that had undoubtedly caused more death and horror than anyone would care to imagine on that fateful day almost two years ago, the day when the dead rose against life. The young woman no longer led the pack as they made it to the edge of the bridge; young men had sprinted past her and were screaming with excited expectation as they neared within a hundred meters of him. He put his hand to the red emergency button and watched them closely. He could allow the front of the pack to get within twenty meters and by then most of the slower moving zombies should still have made it on to the bridge. In front of the pack was now, predictably, two young black men who outran everyone else as they always did. He didn’t feel bad about thinking such things; it was ok to be racist towards the undead. The two men had both their eyes still looking normal which he hated more than anything else. They were focusing on him as if they were people, as if they had some sort of reason for wanting to tear his flesh from his bones and end his life. He hated them, he really did. He pushed the button.

There was the usual half a seconds delay before the bridge collapsed as the machine responded to his command and retracted the supporting iron bars that kept the bridge from collapsing thereby sending the screaming horde of undead tumbling through the air into the moat below him. They hit the surface of the greenish water with loud splashing sounds and wails of despair and frustration. He watched them a few seconds as they splashed stupidly around in the water like ecstatic guests at a water amusement park. They clawed at the steep concrete sides of the moat to no avail and glared up at him with unmitigated hatred. He pushed the second button and the valves opened and poured in the acid. Slowly the acid mixed with the shallow water and started to take its effect. Flesh started falling of bodies and the zombies started coming apart. First their legs crumbled below them and soon they were splashing in the acid with wailing arms trying to keep their head above the terminal liquid. He absent-mindedly put on his breathing mask to ward against the fumes of the acid. After all, workplace safety always came first. Ten minutes later, an eerie silence had settled and extinguished the last desperate screaming of an old fat woman whose body was so large that she could hold her head above water even after her arms and legs and dissolved. Only when the acid had worked at her fat and ribs and the torso collapsed beneath her did her head sink into the liquid and silence followed.

He sat down on his little stool and started reading his book on his iPad in silence. In a couple of hours he could flush the moat and start over. It was good money, and it was easy money. He worried sometimes that there would one day be no more undead but the recent rise in Despairist suicides had done his profession a world of good. Despairists were people who had, either in secret or not, longed for something like a zombie apocalypse for a long time if not their entire lives. They were people who resented what society and civilisation had become, who felt on some basic level that they and all other humans deserved punishment; some felt it should come from God and others from Nature itself and they were both wrong. They had been very ecstatic during the first two days of chaos as most of the bigger cities were overrun by the sudden scourge of undead. but later on as society quickly adapted to the basically feeble opponent that is an unarmed, unthinking zombie, they despaired and some of them voluntarily ran out into the quarantined zones to get their well-deserved punishment. The problem was that zombies basically had no answer to armoured vehicles and especially not to simple traps such as the one he was guarding and by now they were no longer an apocalypse so much as a pest that needed, like any other, pest-controls. And that was all he was, a pest control officer. That was all.

It was just a job like any other and it paid the rent.

By Jeppe Grünberger