By Sonia Aurora
When The Walking Dead premiered, a friend commented about the fact that as much as she enjoyed the show, she always felt that the problem with zombie lore is that they always picked up after the onset of the invasion. Usually, an infected animal gets let loose or a news anchor gives a concise synopsis of the viral outbreak, and suddenly we’re fighting off zombies. There is very little preamble to the zombie apocalypse, and it got me to thinking – what about the in-between? What about the progression, as you watch your loved ones turn, as the country goes from a nation of the living to a stand-off against the undead? And then, even more precisely, what determined the survivors?
After I read Stephen King’s The Stand, that last question really worked my brain. In the story, a rash of people die from a deadly plague, but some are immune. But what determined that immunity – Fate? God? Luck? The sheer genius of an ex English teacher’s imagination?
And then I watched a 1000 Ways to Die episode of Typhoid Mary, who was a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. Alive in a time before science could properly study why, she managed to infect everyone she came to close contact with but died years later of pneumonia. And still, I wondered why…why her? What made her impervious?
I also just started to really observe crowds. After all, it seems that zombies hunt in packs, or droves. I started to play a game I used to: as a horror movie buff, I often broke people up into two categories – the ones who lived and the ones who got axed. While waiting at the airport, I started to pick out people – if zombies started lumbering through security, who would run, who would fight, and who would turn?
(And it became abundantly frightening to me to watch people pre-coffee – if there is a potential for creating an army of zombies, start running out of caffeine).
After all this thinking, my paranoia-infected mind started to foresee the zombie effect, and I’m here to tell you how to stay on the side of the survivors: embrace germs.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking: ewww. Truth is, I’m not a germ-o-phobe. I adhere steadfast to the “3 second rule” if I ever drop food (but it could go as long as a minute, determined by how good the dropped food is, and the floor on which the food falls). I cut out the rotted parts on tomatoes and apples and eat the rest. I…ok, sometimes I don’t wash my hands after going to the bathroom – I rinse, I just don’t always use soap (I feel a collective drawback of friends shaking my hand in the near future).
This is how far I will go: I attended a wine tasting in the fall, and at our first stop the glasses they gave us had lip print remains on them. I was grossed out, but you can’t just dishwash out the good lipstick (put that in your ads, Cascade). You do have to hand wash and scrub away that stuff, and this winery didn’t. So I took a napkin and wiped, but more smeared the leftover lipstick. So I twisted my glass and drank from the other side, pushing away the nagging awareness that I was out making out with Ms. Lipsticker and who knows how many people before her.
And yet….I’m pretty convinced that because of that I will be my own Zombie Mary, if you will.
We are often at the brink of some kind of outbreak. It’s due time before some potential epidemic reaches our shores again, since we’re in a lull. Swine flu flew off into the ether, and the bed bugs in New York City have been all but squashed, at least in the media. But there’s always been a pervading sense that the best way to bring down people isn’t so much through physical means (guns, bombs) than with internal ones (disease). Biological warfare is a logical mode of attack – incapacitating on a vast yet intimate level – remember how frightening opening mail after 9/11 with the Anthrax scare? And yet, we always seem to just miss any pervading damage….so far.
I watch coworkers work hand sanitizer hand over fist every day, four, five times a day. I also saw many of them still get sick with the common cold throughout the season. I remember the buzzing need to get the flu shot – able bodied people much older than 5 and much younger than 65. The ages in between should allow to get themselves the flu, in order to build the natural immunities that don’t require it by proxy. There is the philosophy of better living through chemistry, but what happens when that very chemistry makes your body its own weapon? Just as you build an immunity to viruses, you can build immunity to medicine. So what happens when you are so chemistried up that you can circumvent the cure?
I think it’s ok to be a little dirty, just as I think it’s ok to be a little sick. I’m not sure it’s safe to go the radical extreme and refuse vaccination of any kind, but getting laid up for a week with the sniffles seems a small price to pay, especially if the next virus to hit the breathing waves is the Zombie one. And so, I will skip the harsh alcohol of Purell and eat my fries with the hands that have been typing away all day. I’ll make my body a fighter from the inside. And I promise, if we’re shaking hands, I’ll use soap right before our meeting, just for you.
About Sonia Aurora: Aspiring screenwriter and seamstress, Sonia’s dream is to write life-changing films while product-placing her own line of handbags. In 1999, she wrote, co-directed and co-starred in the short film Dr. Lovestrange, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bug, a satirical homage to Stanley Kubrick set amidst the panic of Y2K (Featured on ifilm.com & Coming Soon to YouTube!). While Sonia waits patiently for the Studios to call, she continues her selfless, humanitarian efforts (think Mother Teresa) through her scripts, short stories and sewing (a true triple-threat!), knowing all the while that someday her efforts will indeed save (or at least mildly tweak) the world. She still struggles with which picture to kiss before bedtime: her boyfriend’s or Bruce Campbell’s. And, in the interest of time, she’d like to start thanking the Academy now.