Rok made dinner last night entirely in the easy bake oven. Rok is pretty big and tall, so seeing him eat itty bitty plates of macaroni and cheese made him look like a giant. We also had enough pizzas to feed a miniscule village. I’m getting concerned. Seeing Rok hunched over a tiny pink oven, tenderly easing out little heart shaped brownies is downright eerie. Now he’s looking at me while he does it. Stop. Stop it.
I think the most depressing thing I’ve had to do so far in the apocalypse (that’s a bold statement. I’m probably wrong) is killing the formerly homeless. I was never really all that charitable. I never felt like giving someone money was all that helpful. Food? Maybe. Hours out of your day? Obviously. Money? Not really. It’s impersonal, and they’re probably not that good with money if they’re in this position. I always felt like they could make use of the services left in place for them better than they could use my money, except that they didn’t use those services, or the services were inadequate. I would feel bad, but I made it a practice not to carry cash, so I didn’t have to lie. The guilt is worse now. I’m not sure why. I never paid attention to them in life, and now in death I kill them.
You might be asking yourself, how can you tell which of them used to be homeless. It’s still obvious. Even with the decomposition and the wounds, the clothes that were previously rotting are still worse, as is the hair, and the smell is unique.
I fought two of them today. Not sure where they came from, or why they were together, but there were two. Every strike was met by an echo of who they once were. “I just got out of the hospital.” “I just need money to get home.” “I have a family that needs me.” “Hearken all ye followers of Satan. The end is near!” It was sad, really, how little appeared to have changed in their lives over the last few months.
Since Zoic’s recent discovery, I’ve done my best to understand why a family would buy gifts a year in advance. Further, I’ve tried to understand why this isn’t weird to Zoic. She explained to me that her family used to stockpile gifts all year, and then unload them at the end. Apparently she got pretty decent at finding them early. I’ve done my best to explain to her that this is isn’t normal. I’m not sure what the odds are that another family would do the same thing. Also, I can’t understand why a family would have presents in December that they weren’t going to give their kids. New Year’s is only a week after Christmas. Would those presents even be good the next year? Well, I can’t say I’m not enjoying them.
Today I made a pretty awesome discovery. There are still some closets Rok and I haven’t been through. I think Rok likes to pretend nobody else lived here before. I like exploring the remnants of other people’s lives. I’m bored. After killing reanimated corpses not much is sacred anymore. Anyway, I went through one of the closets, and I found some of the Christmas presents that were put away for next year. They must have been the type of people to buy presents for next year at the day after Christmas sales. It was depressing. We got over it though, and I wrapped some of the presents for Rok. He got a telescope and a pink easy bake oven. I gave myself the present of a sea monkeys set. Freeze dried pets! I had sea monkeys when I was a kid. I raised them in the bathroom to cut down on mess, and I was really into them, but my dad knocked them over and most of them spilled down the drain. I never really loved a crustacean again. Are they crustaceans? Brine shrimp? So I was really excited to put them in the tank and see them swim around while Rok made brownies. They’re adorable. I’ve collectively named them Eric after our little tree. It’s good to see a society that is still functioning well. Even if it’s really small. This is probably the only pet I’ll have for a while, so I’m keeping them away from the drain. Oh. Rok made chocolate cake. I’m so happy.
The definition of “value” is completely different now. The things everyone considered as cheap are worth everything, and all the stuff people spent their lives working for isn’t worth anything at all. Canned food is worth more than food that spoils, a good Jeep is worth more than a delicate, flashy sports car, and walkie-talkies are more valuable than a network cellphone that needs both service and a charger. Computers are one of the few things that relatively keep their value. I dumped a lot of my stuff after the first week, mostly sentimental shit. First thing I threw out was a collection of shells my dad used to send to me on holidays; they’re in the bottom of one of the canals downtown. I don’t regret it though ’cause they would have just made me feel worse. Everything now looks like empty torn up shells. All the buildings, all the people. Maybe if you put your ear against a zombie’s mouth, you can hear a city, or a ringtone, or maybe a youtube video, some sign of civilization. All you’d really hear is the zombie chewing on your head, though. I really like looking through old houses, which is sentimental, I guess, but it’s something I would have enjoyed a couple months ago but never would have been able to do. It’s cheap amusement; I can follow the lives of people through the empty husks they left behind. It’s kind of like my TV. The rich houses on hills are nice if you can get them, the zombies have to do manual labor to get up there. They have good stories, and sometimes I keep the keys of certain ones for when we move around. I also take things I like, jewelry mostly. The more worthless something is, the more I like it. I have a mini toaster that’s one of my favorite possessions. The only measurement of value nowadays is how much you like something. I find it refreshing; my opinion is important now. I can’t keep too much anymore, but small, light things are alright. Jewelry is particularly funny to me since it’s worth less than trash now and there’s hardly anyone to appreciate it besides yourself. Zombies aren’t going to care about how pretty that Tiffany’s necklace is. I collect diamonds when I can find them, mostly out of spite. I know how to check houses for “valuable” stuff really well, which is surprising because I never looked through houses before the apocalypse. It’s psychology more than anything. I might have made a fairly good burglar. It bums me out though when I can’t take cool stuff with me. I have run into a couple of things that are too big or impractical to take back. There was a really nice Star Wars pinball machine that I’m still bitter about. I can’t decide if life is more meaningful now or not. A couple months ago it was like when you say the same word over and over again until you can’t remember what it means. Now all the words are new again, but there’s hardly anyone here to talk to.
- Maintain a fresh supply of brains
- Lube, lube, lube.
- Perfume keeps the smell of death at bay.
- Be understanding.
- Lower standards of cleanliness.
- Lower standards of humanity
- Talk enough for two.
- Take romantic strolls through the wreckage.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Don’t sweat the big stuff either. Your lover is a zombie.
(Neither one of us has ever been intimate with the undead.)
When I was younger, I was confused by the word “utilize”. I thought, we’ve got the word use, do we really need a longer version? I looked it up. As it turns out, utilize does not mean to use. It means to make use of something in a way it was never intended to be used. Like a fax machine as a blunt object for killing infected. I did that. I’ve also used a three-gallon jug of water, which was spectacular to say the least, and several well-placed sharpies. I won’t explain. So this post is for my all time dream weapon-that-isn’t-a-weapon, the claw machine claw. It’s general inaccessibility is what makes it so desirable. Its near impossibility is alluring. Under what circumstances would one be justified in using such a weapon? But the possibilities are endless. The cable that it rests on can be used to swing it. The cable inside that cable can be used to clamp down on an unsuspecting zombie face. I was never any good at the claw machine games, but this is one that I would put the practice time into. You might be thinking to yourself, “that doesn’t seem to be a great weapon at all. I don’t trust this Rok guy anymore. What kind of a name is Rok anyway?” Please, consider to yourself the glory, the prestige. If you have killed the infected with this weapon among arcade attractions, you win at the apocalypse. When people gather at the end of this ordeal, as they certainly will, perhaps around a campfire, they will tell stories. “Week one. Lawnmower.” “Week three. Rear View Mirror.” “Week six. Five Iron.” Then, “Week thirteen. Claw Machine Claw.” A hush falls over the crowd. Surely he didn’t say what we think he said. Indeed he did. “Claw Machine Claw.” And he reaches into his bag, pulls it out by the wire: a Claw Machine Claw, still holding the head of a dead infected. The women begin to cry. The men throw up. The children spontaneously combust. And all because of the beauty of it. Nothing can ever be that cool again. I see Zoic shaking her head. Maybe not everyone agrees with me. But I hope one day to have the chance to pull the still beating heart from one of those walking corpses. If their hearts still beat. I’m not actually sure of that one.
There are certain places that I don’t like going to anymore. It’s not the creepy places like abandoned alleys or junkyards or anything. There’s nothing sad about those places, they’re empty, but they’ve always been like that. You can’t ruin them; they look positively cheerful compared to some of the spots I used to like before civilization made a quick exit. I minored in art history in college so I used to do all of my projects at the art museum downtown. I spent a lot of time there. They had a simple but really pretty Chagall and Khalo’s “The Suicide of Dorothy Hale”. Really nice pieces. I tried to copy Frida Kahlo’s piece once without much success. I had a morbid fascination with it. The way she painted death was honest and plain, and I thought maybe the painting could help me understand it better if I tried to recreate it, but I could never get a good grasp of it. I bet I could paint it without any trouble now. Frida wouldn’t have questioned taking up a few guns if Zombies had attacked in her time. She thought the mystery in life was stripped away from her after her body got mangled in her bus accident. Everything had lost its romanticism and the world was horrifyingly clear to her perception. I didn’t really know what that meant before.
I went back to the museum with Rok a couple of weeks in. It’s a mistake I repeated a few times: going back to places that used to be important to me. Needless to say the museum is mostly destroyed from the inside out, someone had used it to hole up in and take out as many zombies as they could, probably a few different people. Maybe they liked the bright lights and open spaces, or maybe they got stuck by a hoard or some other circumstance beyond their control. Most everything had substantial damage. The paintings had bullet holes if they were lucky, but others were completely unrecognizable, blown to bits or covered in dried up gore. A lot of stuff was probably stolen. Though I don’t see why someone would take anything so fragile through the apocalypse. Maybe to protect something. A few glass cases were left unbroken, but the glass was cracked to the point of shattering, so I let them be. The museum was always a little cold, but now it’s a big empty building. There aren’t any paintings, just big pieces of cloth or board with some paint, whatever that’s been spared bullets and intestines and blood. I spent a long time trying to find pieces that hadn’t been damaged at all. I found two. Most of the statues had chips or bullet holes, many were in pieces. A few of the modern art statues looked somewhat improved. It made me think of the Venus de Milo with her missing arms. Would anyone ever find a statue from our time, with bullet holes through the stomach or missing body parts from a misfired automatic weapon? I did get to do one thing I always wanted to do. When I was walking around the museum during college, I always had a temptation in the back of my mind to touch some of the really beautiful, historically significant paintings. I wanted to feel like I touched a piece of history, of something that had been important and would become more important as society continued forward. Now, there really isn’t any reason not to. I found a Monet landscape, a garden with one of the floral arches and a pond. It had a red hand print on the corner, over a particularly pretty waterlily floating on the pond. I don’t know if it was a zombie, unintentionally touching, and destroying, an object of singular beauty, or maybe it was someone dying and touching the painting as a last connection with something not completely fucked up. I let myself touch the floral arch and feel the texture on the pond. Just a little. The blood will do more damage than the oil of my still human hands will. Besides, it’s not going to be a part of the future anymore, probably no other living person will come visit it. I couldn’t find the Frida, the case was smashed and empty. I hope that someone stole it, a morbid reminder of the unabashed destruction chasing behind them, trying to swallow up any and every living thing. The Chagall wasn’t so lucky. I found some of the pieces, blue background, a horse’s ear. I put all of them in a ziploc bag. I don’t have any place safe to put it, so I just keep it as secure as I can, but it will decay like everything else. It’s living some weird other life now, all broken and abstract. Nothing is safe from the virus, you don’t even need to be a living creature to be undead anymore.
When the infection first hit, anyone’s first instinct was to check the radio and television and every other method of communicating with the outside world. There is nothing left. It poses an interesting dilemma. If every part of the state, the country, perhaps the world, was affected simultaneously the same way, then what caused all of this? I’m not a scientist, so I can’t really explain what happened, but I lie awake at night sometimes. Zoic and I compete to come up with the least believable theories, but even the really bad ones (moon rays) don’t seem that bad. We’re completely in the dark.