“If I were a zombie, would you shoot me?”
I often bother my husband with strange hypotheticals like this one. Several years into our relationship, we know most things about one another. I like searching for new, specific things. He doesn’t always get it—why I’m asking or what I’m looking for. They aren’t tests. I’m just curious. This time, though, he answered without much preamble. Yes, he’d shoot the zombie version of me.
“I’m not saying it wouldn’t be difficult,” he added. As per usual, he turned the question back on me.
We’d just been watching a video game streamer play The Last of Us online. The game takes place during a zombie apocalypse of sorts, but it’s more of a 28 Days Later situation as opposed to Dawn of the Dead. In other words, corpses aren’t rising from their graves. The enemy is a virus. The survivors are hoping for a cure. A vaccine.
Two decades after the initial outbreak, however, we see the protagonists face a world in which everyone is out for themselves. Almost everyone has resorted to murder at some point. As viewers or players, we can somewhat understand this. Animals will try to survive even as the world is falling apart around them, even if existence is miserable. Quoth the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, “Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”
Meanwhile, in the real world, the president of the United States has stated the COVID-19 pandemic is “over.” A hurricane just swept through the East Coast of Canada and, as I write this, most of my friends and acquaintances are back to their nine-to-fives.
The apocalypse of my nightmares never looked like this. As a teenager, I discussed “zombie plans” with my friends. We even penned short stories on the topic. The plan was simple: hijack a bus, gather supplies, then make our way to Georges Island in the Halifax Harbour. In this reality, zombies couldn’t swim, and we would not entertain the possibility. In fact, I never entertained any of the outcomes that would easily cost me my life. For example, I’m near-sighted. Losing my glasses would be a death sentence, sooner or later. Additionally, I don’t know how to fire a gun or use a weapon of any kind.
And, perhaps the most obvious oversight: what if we arrived on Georges Island and there were already people who claimed it as a haven, ready to defend their precious lives?
But I refused to imagine it, just as politicians and business owners refuse to imagine COVID-19 as a pandemic that continues to kill. A plague that could last years to come. In my home province of Nova Scotia, Premier Tim Houston has recently been shaking his finger at carbon taxes. All the while, climate change rages on. In this way, I guess, my fantastical apocalypse and the current landscape are not so different after all.
Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. I believe we will “business as usual” ourselves into oblivion.