Zombies Are People Too

1 April 2010

‘I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But I don't know much. Not about the bigger picture. I mean, I read the papers, once I was … better. But they didn't seem to know much either. Not what it was like. Not … during.'

The paddocks were full of rabbits, their little nibbly teeth sinking deep in valuable crops. Breeding, that's the problem; they multiply and eat everything in sight. It's bad enough with the drought and the prices being down but the rabbits were the last straw. We needed to find a solution and, as usual, science thought it'd found one. A test tube solution with federal funding. ‘Zombies Attack Capital: CSIRO Experiment Claims 157'. The bunnies are still fine though, so at least that's something.

‘My name is Jim Sanderson. I work, worked, for the Australian Taxation Office. That's where I was on the evening of the 14th of February. I was trying to finish up the new software installation. Everyone else seemed to have plans but I didn't mind staying back. It was nearly 8pm. I know because I was getting hungry. I'd looked at the time and decided to go get some pizza since I still had a few hours work left. That's when Dave … stopped by. Yes your Honour. David O'Connor. He was a programmer. Like me.'

Valentines Day. But I'm not the kind of guy girls like. Too ordinary. Too quiet. Never know what to say so I don't say anything.   Words bubble up, viscous, but break on the surface, unheard. Can't be good at everything, so I work behind while they take care of other matters. It's all about efficiency in the system. The smallest things make all the difference in this line of work. But when you have an off day it's the details that go first. Small slips that reverberate, replicate throughout the whole system. Rabbits breeding in your paddock.

‘No. I had no idea I'd been infected. Well, I sneezed when I made the tea. He liked tea. Had little packets of it in his desk but I just used the stuff they had in the kitchen. I couldn't tell the difference. But I made it too hot. Dave didn't take milk, you see. He winced when he sipped it, had to put the mug down in a hurry. A little bit of it splashed on the bench. No, your Honour. I suppose it isn't really relevant.'

Little packets with funny names: Darjeeling, Russian Caravan, Lapsang Suchong, Gunpowder Green. All lined up in the bottom drawer of his desk. The Department provided Bushels – good to buy Australian, keep the tax dollars from moving offshore. Milk gave it some body, stiff and thick, you'd think the teaspoon could stand up on its own as it spun in the brownish depths. Only people who take milk really have any use for a teaspoon.

‘It all gets a bit fuzzy after the tea. I know I was really hungry. Dave said he'd eaten already. I felt cold and sweaty, like I was going to faint. I think he tried to steady me, but I just needed to eat, it's all I remember thinking. So I used the teaspoon. First the handle bit, to get in. Then the spoon bit. And the hunger went away … for a while.'

Never liked liver. Or kidneys. Or all the other non-steak bits. They're more expensive and they taste stronger, wilder, like those animals that have spent their lives running around rather than standing about waiting to be eaten. The faster living has gotten into their muscles, filling them with experience. Funny, it's the taste of experience that draws me in now.

‘I don't know what else to say, your Honour. What more can I tell you? That I feel bad about it? That I didn't really know what I was doing? I was a zombie. I ate his brains. With a teaspoon. I do feel a bit sorry that it was Dave though. He sometimes played chess with me at lunch. Always beat me. Maybe I'll be as good as him now. No, your Honour, I'm not trying to be funny.   It's just not like in the movies though, with all the moaning and shuffling. I've had time to think about it, and it's not so bad – being like this. I don't feel bad because I don't feel anything really anymore. Except the hunger. And the injections take that away. Mostly. They even said I might be able to go back to work eventually. After, you know, the inquiry has ended.'

Designer drug. Designer apathy. Make the rabbits not want to celebrate Valentines Day either. Of course, not everyone likes to be poked. Not even with government funding. Little fluffy Moses came down from the mountain with our salvation. A bite only hurts for a moment. The serenity lasts a lifetime. The bubbled words can finally find their voice when there's nothing left to fear. It's so much better this way. So naturally they have to decide what to do with us.

‘During the few days before they rounded us up and started on the injections we all did things that are against the law. Maybe you might think of them as immoral. The lawyers are saying we were ‘temporarily insane'. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know about that.   But I don't feel insane. All I know is that I didn't see it that way. You know, that I was ‘murdering him'. That it was ‘cannibalism'. You don't feel that way either, about cows and sheep and such. Because you're human and they're not. It's the same thing. He was human, and I'm not. Anymore.'

I've worn glasses for as long as I can remember. When I look in the mirror now I don't look right. I'm still squinting to carry the weight on my nose even though it isn't there any more. Muscle memory. Still, no point wearing them if I don't need them. Last week I knocked over a chair. Not shuffling. Just not paying attention. I picked it up too hard and it fell over again, breaking off a leg. I used to get puffed walking up the stairs – hated it when the lift broke. After the chair I walked up and down the stairs for three hours just to see what would happen. Nothing did. I've lost 15 kilograms. Don't eat, just the enzymes from the injections. Maybe they could sell it in small doses as a diet pill. Recoup some of their losses.

‘I haven't eaten anyone for three weeks. I'd really like to be allowed to go back to work now your Honour.'

Besides, if anything happens I still have my teaspoon.

 


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