Things change and that is constant. The Lord has put on my heart to take on less things and put my best into a few things. With that thought I began digging around in some of the old stories, poems, and ideas that have been in some dead files. You know, there is a time to clean out things out and let folks read them. This story is one of them. I am not a big zombie fan (my oldest son is) but there are a lot of analogies to life, death, and the afterlife associated with the living dead. This is a little longer than my normal post so I hope you will hang into the end.
ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE ZOMBIES!
It’s a horrible smell: The aftermath of the living dead. Finn Borland peers out of the dirty window shades and shudders at the scene before him. Life around Finn had changed. Colors are muted, fading into degrees of black and white. Distrust and paranoia seal up doors of houses and hearts. How did it come to this? Is the question that is on everyone’s lips.
The truth is the seed for this human carnage had been around for ages. It just took a disaster like this one to scatter the spores. Some say it was lurking in our DNA waiting for an opportunity to pounce. We created our own worst nightmare.
In no time Finn starts to see the effects of the disease. He watches it in the eyes of people on the street as they went about their day. One day Finn is looking into the eyes of innocent children, the next deadness is glazing over them.
Horrible! It’s bad enough to see grown adults succumb to this living death but to see children was a crime that I can’t fully-express. Finn tries to walk past without it affecting him but the horror of it burns down into his bones.
What was odder than strangers becoming the living dead? It was when it seeps into Finn’s friendships. He sits down to coffee with an acquaintance who, until not to long ago, was a close friend. There are engaging in this very subject when something abruptly changes. His buddy never takes a sip of the latte he orders. It is something in the way he carries himself, a crackling dryness to his words, which signals things are changing. Needless to say, Finn makes a fast escape from that sidewalk café.
However, the spear that truly pierces Finn’s heart is during Thanksgiving dinner. The infection isn’t shared through the generous spread, but in the laconic attitude of a few close family members. The normal jabbing and ribbing takes a turn that makes Finn’s jaw drop. Hateful words are thrown like daggers. If they could consume each other with fire, they would have. No one left with any leftovers from that feast. Finn and his immediate family loses their appetites. They all had horrible memories of that once bountiful celebration. Someone is hungering for things unnatural.
There is never any news broadcast announcing the epidemic. Finn thinks someone would have enough brains left to cry havoc.
Nope, I guess those of us not infected have to wisen up and decide how we have to handle this catastrophe. It’s funny how the more you see the subtle signs in people, the easier it is to classify them. (Hm, maybe funny isn’t the best choice of words).
Those who are still somewhat sane take on a defensive posture against the average person on the street. Finn doesn’t want to admit it but he has become more isolated and mistrusting. How many average people are sinking to levels like these? He thinks about the cold icy finger of fear slowly working its way towards the last piece of the living: their heart. Finn realizes these have become perilous times for all.
The newscaster’s plastic smile doesn’t cover the meaner undertones. The clerk at the store is robotically ringing up Finn’s milk, cereal, and huge purchase of batteries. She stares a moment too long. Finn sits on his porch checking his survival gear and observes a sweet-looking granny walking her four yappy snitzerdoodles. Finn holds his heart. What he hears coming from those wrinkled lips made him almost evacuate myself like the little doggies did. What a mouth that lady had.
That’s when Finn takes his family, leaves everything behind, and takes to the road. The four of them, oh, six including their pets, leave in tears. First Finn’s hometown town, then his state shrinks away in the rear view mirror. What are we doing? I can’t tell you exactly. I do know we are afraid of everything and everyone. Where are we going? Anywhere but here…or here…or there.
The mindless wanderers pop up in every town Finn stops in for gas then quickly flees out of. They have no rest outside or inside themselves. The family find others who still have their wits about them, but they have no clue what they were doing either. Those who have their minds and hearts intact, fear being attacked. Those who have lost their minds wander about trying to satisfy their pointless condition. It has become a cat and mouse game to many.
That’s how Finn and family end up barricaded in this house cut off from everything. They pray for some answer, some direction. It is the most helpless situation they have ever faced.How are we to survive this? What kind of future would we have if the whole world lived…(ah, I guess live)… as the living dead?
They eat their meals, try to hold each other tight, however always with that nagging apprehension in their midst. One night as they tiny family sits by the glow of a little portable TV set watching on old movie, Finn’s daughter catches his eye. There is a deep sadness in that pair of green eyes that he hadn’t stopped to notice before.
“Honey, what are you thinking about?”
“You look sad.”
“I am.” Her honesty shook Finn up a little.
“Is it because we are in this situation?”
Slowly she shakes her head. “No, we have food to eat, we have a place to live, and we have each other.”
“I know we have God watching over us too.” Finn wags his head. He had a sneaking suspicion where this is going. His wife and son soon turn their attention towards them.
“I am sad for the people outside.” She licks her lips. “They don’t know they are dead. They are looking for life, but haven’t found it yet.”
Finn realizes his daughter’s words are simple yet elegantly cut like a precision instrument. His heart feels that same peeling raw pain that she is voicing. She quietly goes back to the family movie night but Finn’s mind races.
Though the night is cold and bitter a fire began to burn Finn inside. He takes a heartfelt mental inventory. They have food enough for the winter. They can easily drive to and from any destination and close the doors leaving the world and its mounting problems outside. The little family is comfortable in their own little world ,but truly more isolated than an island in a sea of hungry humanity. This isn’t life either, no matter how safe we feel. The flicker of understanding dawns: To ignore the people outside is to already be one step closer to being one of the walking dead.
In those moments of quiet contemplation Finn finally gets the answer. More than that, God reveals the cure. He slaps myself like the big dummy that Finn feels he has become.
Maybe it was the effects of the disease but I know that I had been cured of my own deadness years before. I had been given THE cure. It was my job to share that hope. I just forgot that was why I was here. That was why everyone who was still in their right mind, the few of us left, were still here.
With trembling hands, Finn says a prayer with my family. He unlocks the seven different forms of locks and security devices. With a slow gaping yawn the front door opens. In the light of a beautiful morning, with a Bible in his hand, Finn walks right up to a group of lost souls. What fear he has melts the moment they stare face to face.