I hate my job. I know everyone says that. If you liked it, it wouldn’t be your job. The doctor dreams of a living where they can serve coffee exclusively. And the Barista works 70 hours a week to put themselves through med school. In the end we are all after what we don’t get in our lives. I heard it’s like an evolutionary imperative that we are hard wired to pursue what we don’t get in our lives in order to continue to drive for what we want. But in this regard I think it’s warranted. I’m generally bored with the whole thing. The irony is I actually work one of my fantasy jobs from when I was younger. Used to kill time at work wondering how cool it would be to kill zombies for a living and now that it’s exactly what I do, I can’t stand it. You see, in my head this job was all about the fighting. Dodging and weaving through hordes of snarling hunks of rotted flesh as I deftly maneuver my sword (or what ever other weapon I chose) into their soft bodies, killing them in droves. I would return to a small but warm group of survivors with a loving wife or girlfriend who would sit with me by the fire at night as we laughed and exchanged stories of our day over earthy home-cooked meals. The reality is I spend 6 hours burying a pike into the heads of the walking undead and another 6 hours patrolling long rows of traps for stragglers or those who could not hack it, so to speak, through them. Bottle necks are probably the deadliest thing to zombies, but if pushed too hard they might flood and just bad things happen then. That said though, as long as you follow the routine and keep your head down, it’s ok. When the pike is full the bodies get dropped into a furnace room where they deal with the stragglers or crawlers and burn the remains, after stripping clothes and anything else that might be of use off of them. For the most part undead clothes are just used for things like incendiaries and such as no one wants anything to do with them, but some times if you’re cold enough you’ll take a jacket. No matter where it’s from. Open warfare with the hordes of undead is way too expensive and deemed wasteful and pointless. Their strength is their numbers and we almost literally don’t have enough bullets for them. But we do have a lot more sharpened metal rods and ability to pull a lever. At the end of the day I go home. To a warm fire and boring food. Flat bread (apparently yeast is not a commodity we can find) with beans and a modest amount of water. We exchange conversation around the fire (that part I did get right) but don’t talk about interesting things. Mostly just make up stories about tv shows or gossip. And when I say “make up stories” I can not undersell this fact. It’s not the great days of recanting the adventures of Hercules or Odysseus. No, this is making up boring things about our day. To inject some spice to things. Or just discussing things like the past tv shows, but people try not to delve too much in the past. Better to keep your eyes forward than risk feeling sad about humanity’s current disposition. I can see where they are coming from in some ways but it’s still hard to be around. Like living in a Lifetime horror movie. I miss fine things though. Coffee, for example. I used to never like the taste of the ones that weren’t flooded in sugar and flavors but I still liked it. And hot showers. The current showering option is every other day I get a bar of incredibly painful lye and have to cause massive systemic skin irritation all over myself. And cartoons. I don’t even care about making them fun any more. Would watch something like a cat and mouse chase each other around and try to murder each other. Tex Avery’s greatest achievement (may he rest in peace…dear god please let him be too dead. I don’t want to be the one who killed zombie Tex). I wonder if I’ve dispatched any celebrities actually. I thought I saw Jon Stewart once but someone shot him before I could check. LA amiright?
It’s the same thing every day though, and to most that’s a comfort. The average survivor wants to be just a survivor, but I have loftier goals. I still insist that there is more to humans than numbers. My opinion is not a popular one though, and gets me…looks some times. Mostly I suspect because of my…condition…but we’ll get into that one later. I’m not eager to turn you against me as well just yet. I end the day in a small ramshackle…um…shack where I try and remember which of my 3 books I have read the least and read using a small piece of the fire pit that I stole with me. I can hear families either fighting or fucking just tents away from me. The two Fs that can keep a group together. Try to tune it out or pretend it’s just a set of particularly aggressive crickets or something and focus on Dragonspear Tales volume 14: The Aggressor of Count Barony Lord and pretend I don’t have every plot device memorized by now. It’s not that bad, really. I don’t want to sound so condescending. It’s just after the 84th time, no book can retain the original entertaining nature.
The morning sun finds me groggy and annoyed at its light. I rise to a comforting breakfast of beans and flatbread (someone changed up the order, I see) and it’s off to my incredibly fulfilling job of pushing metal. Today is Tuesday and I’m actually lucky to know that. My watch is pretty accurate and solar-powered. Aside from the eventual degradation of the band, it’ll run pretty much forever. Tuesdays are my second favorite day of the week. For two reasons. One, they make the most interesting use of vowels, and the second is I get to work next to Thomas Z. When I ask him his last name he just says “Z,” and stares off into space. But Tom’s a good guy and I figure everyone in this world deserves a chance to be just who they want to be. I know I would love that chance. We some times talk to each other as we shove sharp objects into zombie flesh and sometimes we even joke. Tom is probably my best friend in that we share the fewest awkward silences. He’s a bit of an outcast in that he’s gay, both happy and sexually attracted to males. Most of the group are uneasy about it but I don’t mind. He’s funny but there’s an edge of sadness to his remarks sometimes that I don’t pursue. Some sweaters don’t deserve to be unraveled. He sometimes helps me pick out good outfits, and in that we mean, which beat-to-shit t-shirt and one of my 2 pairs of pants do I wear today. But I digress. Today we talked about flowers. Tom used to be a gardener and when I ask why he wasn’t on farming detail rather than head-sticker detail he just shrugs. He taught me a lot about plant cycles and how to properly water and rotate the crops to ensure longevity of the soil. I suspect he’s making most of this shit up but he sounds pretty legit about it so I let it go. Besides, he’s the one dude who will still talk to me and look me in the eyes so I can’t complain too much.
The day progresses as normal. I will say that the apocalypse has had me in the best shape of my life so I can’t complain there really. But still boring. I take my shift and walk long treks around the fenced trap area watching for Snaggers, as we call them. Everything appears to be ok and, in fact, quieter than normal. I whistle lightly to myself. We get in trouble if we are too loud on the guard sections. Don’t want to lure them to the wrong section of course. That would be a tragedy. We might have some blood-quickening action and I might just have to look like a productive member of the group and not just a member of the group that everyone can say, “Well at least he does that.” Like the roommate that never pays rent on time and almost never does dishes, but occasionally scores some good weed. I finish the rounds with little activity. Only had to put down one, got two others untangled. Putting down one always looks bad though, and might end up getting me latrine detail (I haven’t checked my numbers lately). That’s the worst part. Even in the apocalypse there are still “stats”. How well we do our job is used to measure whether or not we have to continually do our job. Can you believe that shit? I can’t completely blame them on that one. Every time a zombie is put down we have to send in a group to burn the corpse and they have to babysit the fire to make sure it burns down the majority of the body. Usually it’s only one Molotov, but not necessarily all the time, and they are particularly grumpy if it is more than one. Like the fact that they can’t aim is my fault. I offered to do it. I’m actually a pretty good shot but they don’t want me anywhere near the weapons, which I find appallingly offensive, but they don’t care. At all.
Same dinner, same book, same sleep, same wake up, same dawn, same job of making amateur zombie skewers and practicing crudely effective lobotomies. Wednesdays I’m next to Gus. Gus is jovial but takes a little too much joy in his job. It’s off-putting. He claims he’s just freeing angels but I don’t know. He’s not a bad man but he always looks at me like he’s aiming at me. I can’t describe it but it’s unnerving. I get the feeling that so many animals must have seconds before black consumed them. We spend the majority of the day in silence except for the occasional hymnal he sings or mutters to himself. I count the thrusts and try to remember a good song that would match its tempo.
The days are slowing up for zombie incursions, which is sad to me. One or two might shuffle in per hour. It is incredibly boring now, but two people have to be watching the perimeter. I can remember when I spent the day literally just jabbing in and out of faces with my hard rod. A euphemism that used to make me giggle, but now I just sigh uncomfortably. Walk the perimeter (only one Unstuck and no Put Downs). Yes, that last Put Down put me over my limit, and now I dig and move latrines. Someone thankfully found a shit-ton of chemical latrine cleaner and the job is now quite likely going to kill me faster than the hordes of undead. I can’t stand that thought. I do it…because…I don’t want to be that guy who whined his way out of latrine detail, but I hate it even more than my other job. Trade a shit job for a shittier job. Sounds so much like my life I can’t stand it. After the eighth hole is dug and prepped I decide I need to go speak to the Magister of the group.
Thursday finds the same events following me around. Thursday is slightly more interesting though, since I’m with Gladys who loves to talk about her puppies. But in the future tense. That’s right. She likes to talk about the dogs she will get. She’s sweet and very nice and polite but steers, violently some times, the conversation to puppies every time.