by Tim Frank, 31st October 2022
When the boring zombies roam the uneven contours of this land, they won’t act like the undead on the silver screen.
Because if you live life to the extreme — drive through red lights, run naked on football fields, or sit proudly on a pile of gold bullion — the zombies of ennui will feed on your body until you become a dullard too. Then you will spend your afternoons sipping tea with your elderly folks, while wading through taxes and thinking about smelly socks.
So, the bungee jumpers, rap stars, sprinters, firemen, and presidential bodyguards are all under threat. They’ve had their day in the sun, they’re too much fun and it’s time for the boring to reign.
Eliot is a nuisance and a school bully but he lives an interesting life — tripping off hash cookies in French class, and spitting at crazed Rottweilers in the park. But when he is bitten by a kid named Smith, well known for being just blah, and sharpening pencils all day – Eliot suddenly feels no need to dish out wedgies or force-feed the school fish to the quiet girl in 7th grade.
The day he is bitten nothing much happens. Yes, there’s some blood spilled but he doesn’t end up lurching about with his arms outstretched, groaning like Frankenstein’s monster. Instead, he plays a game of solitaire on his phone and returns home to complete his maths assignment. When he’s finished his algebra, he curls up with War and Peace and is put to sleep like a patient in an operating room.
When Eliot wakes, he dutifully does his chores — takes out the trash, wipes the surfaces and then fetches a cold plate of deli meats from the fridge. He climbs the tall stairs into the loft conversion to meet his grandpa, who does nothing but eat, sleep and wait to die in a room full of his own farts. Eliot’s parents are out for dinner, trying to reignite the spark in their miserable marriage and so it’s the boy’s turn to feed the old man.
Eliot’s grandpa wheezes in a corner and Eliot can just about see heaps of folders stacked beside him — remnants of his grandpa’s secret government job that he won’t allow anyone to discard.
Eliot doesn’t need to bite his grandpa —he is mind-numbingly tedious, and yet the urge to draw blood wells up inside the boy for some strange reason.
A beam of moonlight illumines a noticeboard in the corner of the room with pictures of men in fatigues – sunken eyes, gaunt faces and their brains blown out on the concrete.
“Ah, the memories,” croaks the old man with a playful smile, hands shaking as he stuffs fatty meat into his salivating mouth.
A bolt of fear shoots through Eliot’s skinny frame, and as he takes a step back he falls into a stack of files. A pile of black and white photos flop onto his face, smothering his eyes. There are images of slaughtered soldiers from unknown wars, all with strange blunted looks in their eyes.
Eliot has seen enough. It’s time to leave his grandpa to his archive of death, but not before the child sinks his teeth into the old man’s neck, squirting blood like water from a hose — because his grandpa has lived a dramatic life, and still does. Now, overwhelmed by a force he can’t control, the urge to shred flesh and unleash the dreaded stench of exposed brains to the world, Eliot puts an end to his grandpa’s death lust.