Chapter 2: Ethereal

Recap:

Last post we decided that zombies are created by:

Medical errors

Which transformed the living into:

Hungry dead

Post-Apocalyptic Psychology:

The human brain plays tricky games when all that is known has been destroyed. A number of theories have surfaced about the event of a zombie apocalypse. Much of these research have been directed at the idea of fear. However, this concept has been narrowed down to the relationship between the living and the undead. Professor and chair of psychology at the State University of New York, Glenn Geher, Ph.D., wrote an interesting think piece about The Evolutionary Psychology of the Zombie Apocalypse. In the article, Geher mentioned that he did not believe that this apocalyptic takeover will occur but still offered some insight about the issue.

The two emotions he discussed were fear and disgust. The first factor is the dynamic of the prey predator relationship that is ingrained in every living organism just like the fight or flight response. He argues that this innate reaction is cultivated by survival. His second point relates to the idea of corpses becoming a common sight. The reaction to dead bodies has over the centuries been linked to death, disease and bacteria. Needless to say, we have no more love for the rotting flesh than embracing it on the open streets.

However, what this perspective fails to mention is the social dynamics of a zombie apocalypse in living communities. In a public discussion about the direction of The Walking Dead, the users of SciFi Stack Exchange critique about the dangers posed by men in power rather than zombies. In the recent events when the main cast were filmed killing people to achieve a personal agenda, viewers were left in a pool of thought as to whether zombies are even a danger in the series anymore. This theory is not at all farfetched because the latest season of The Walking Dead have shown that threats are posed by other communities instead of zombies.

In the trailer breakdown by Emergency Awesome, the speaker introduced the issue of community structure in post apocalyptic societies. When social orders were torn apart, people were left running for their lives. As time passes on, history repeats itself and hierarchy rebuilds itself in civilization. A monarchy of fear and respect manifests in desperate times to bring unity.

The principles mentioned above are sound and will be incorporated to the ongoing craft of the novel.

Chapter 2: Ethereal

Nebraskan weather is as unpredictable as the next showing of Game of Thrones, one minute a pleasant sunshine and the other sends me running dripping wet into the hallway. As I made an effort to dry my sleeves, the silence caught my ears. Turning my head, I inspected the empty classroom that was usually filled 10 minutes before class. I scanned the vacant chairs lining the auditorium again before coming to a stop at a coiffure of blonde buried in a textbook in the front row.

“Sarah?”

The woman turned around and waved.

“Where is everyone?”

Since the semester started, I had relied on Sarah to tell me what was going on in our stats class. Dr. Richards was not a boring person, but my lack of sleep and ADHD made it hard to concentrate so early in the morning. Particularly when my interest lies elsewhere.

“Richards cancelled because he came down with something.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Because like you, I don’t read my emails.”

I tried not to laugh, but the idea of Sarah not checking her email is crazier than how she looked this morning. I’d just noticed it. Sarah wore skinny jeans with an oversized green plaid button down, a color I’ve never seen her in.

“Lets go celebrate. Chipotle’s having this thing for students.”

“I’ve got class after this so I’m not off the hook yet.”

“Don’t you ever feel like skipping?”

Sarah’s expression changed and she put down Introduction to Behavioral Statistics.

“You know me. I’ll die before I miss a day.”

She sounded almost tearful when she said it, the blue in her eyes seemed to fading.

“Well, I’ll be at the Union if you need me. You know, having fun.”

She grabbed my hand as I turned away and I let out a scream.

“OUCH!”

I shook her fingers off this morning’s burnt marks and set it against my lips.

“Sorry?”

“I burned myself this morning.”

“Oh.”

“It’s nothing. Sup?”

“Maybe we could go somewhere?”

“You mean somewhere other than class?”

She nodded.

The rain subsided when we walked out and decided to stop by her place to drop off the books. The women’s dorm smelled much nicer than the men’s and the décor was less Star Wars and more Harry Potter. Sarah’s room was blue throughout aside from the pictures she had stuck on the wall, a few of which showed her family enjoying a vacation.

“Maybe I’ll skip out on lunch, I’m not feeling too well.”

“Whats up?”

I could sense something was wrong. As the words leave my mouth, Sarah turned away and looked at the pictures on the wall.

“Sarah?”

Then it all came to me, something happened to her family. All this time binge watching Sherlock and I couldn’t realize soon enough that my friend was in grieve. Sarah never forgets emails, nor does she own a single pair of clothing in green. The pile of undone laundry in the corner and the mounting trash in the bin.

“Is it family?”

She burst into tears. I didn’t know what to do. I stood behind the woman I claim to care so much about and I’m powerless to her needs.

“Talk to me.”

She turned around and hit me in the chest. For about 5 minutes, she leaned against me and wet my t-shirt with tears. Finally, she spoke into my shirt.

“My dad has leukemia. We couldn’t afford 80,000 for the remaining treatment so he signed up for a clinical trial. They said it will be alright, he was the third wave of people they had used it on. My mum called over the weekend. He’s dead Mike. They killed him.”

I tried to say something, but I knew it wouldn’t help.

“Why would they lie. Why.”

“Sarah… I’m so sorry. Please don’t cry”

She looked up and realized I was in tears. I hadn’t told her, nor did I ever mentioned it to anyone.

15 years ago, my dad came home with his tie undone and his hair windswept. He held me to his chest and cried. I’ve never seen dad cry. He kept repeating to me that everything was gonna be alright, that nothing will change. But nothing was alright, and everything changed. For 5 hours he sat in my bed, holding my hand. 5 hours till I realized that mum wasn’t home. 5 hours till I realized that she wasn’t coming home. He never told me why, but I found out that she’d taken the wrong dose for her thyroid. She didn’t die because of a mistaken prescription, she’d died because radiation treatment had slowly killed her body. She was suffering every day, and she didn’t even let me know. That one day where she fell to the floor in the doctor’s office was the day I realized, and here I was reminded. The dead never die.

Next week:

We talked about post apocalyptic thinking in this post. Although our novel hasn’t delve into zombies yet, I find myself carried away by the character development and frankly can’t push aside the back story. All these things might seen irrelevant but I feel connected to these characters as I write this and it’s just not right to leave out how I see them. Although I am questioning myself if it’s wise to put so much grief before the story even starts. Next week, we’ll have our first zombie encounter as well as discuss the solution the the undead crisis.

Reference:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201309/the-evolutionary-psychology-the-zombie-apocalypse

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1520211/

http://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/80951/why-are-the-survivors-in-the-walking-dead-tv-show-so-keen-on-killing-each-othe

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