Who knew a song could kill you? I never thought this is how the apocalypse would start .......................................................................................................................................................
Chapter One: The day the first death occurred.
Every year, I partake in a seasonal tradition. It is one I never fail to miss. Fore it is one true to heart. A tradition shared by many brethren’s.. One where my thoughts dwell on others. Where they might be. If they are on the road, driving and causing congestion. Or which grocery story they might be headed for and at what time. Its a tradition based around rejecting social conformity but then complying to it last minute.
There are many like me. Which means there are many people who can be caught scurrying around the shops the day before our saviour’s birthday.
This year Christmas was going to be on Monday. I would have it at mine with my parents. This meant Sunday was the last day to enter the seasonal hellscape and ride the waves of end-year capitalism with my hardy crew of avoidalists. It was when reaching my local countdown that I saw the front entryway blocked off by tape with an ambulance outside. I waited near the tape, with a few others expecting there to be someone coming out. Like a customer or ambulance person. I shared glances with the few around me before hopping in my car to head to the next supermsrket down the road.
Traffic has always been a shitstorm at Christmas time. We all know this. But never have I seen so many fender benders. Left, right and centre, cars were sandwiched up like a catering service skimping on their packaging. I started passing two cars when I saw it. Red. Blood was coating the front drivers side window of a dinky Nissan leaf. I started looking round and began noticing a visual theme. Red coated most of the car windows. I looked back at the nissan leaf, I unbuckled my seatbelt and leaned over to my passenger window, my gooch clenching in horrific anticipation. As expected there was a dead body in the car.
‘Fuck this’, I said as I jammed my car into reverse and scooted back up the street. Everywhere around me were cars with blood filling the interiors. I passed a driver at an intersection, one of the onlookers at the supermarket. We locked eyes and I knew instantly he knew what I knew and that everything was fucked and the zombies were on us.
Back home I learnt the truth, as I instantly started soaking up the answers the internet fed me. No doubt the internet has some bullshit on it, but when everything everywhere is saying the same thing, you know it has to be true. Peoples heads were exploding all around the world whilst listening to Christmas music, some speculating that it can even happen the instant you hear Maria Carey. And a day before Christmas? Was Jesus punishing us? Was this some high concept lesson we weren’t getting? Was our lord and saviour trying to teach us something profound about our condition? Impossible as it sounded, I knew in my heart that this had to be the case.
Chapter Two: Three years on…
Graldyn sat beside me, her sheep hide coat warming my leg. Pindo stood beside us looking through his binoculars at the countdown supermarket below, a walky talky in his left hand. ‘The lights are back on. But no raiders in sight. Good’. he whispered. Pindo had been building to this moment. We all had.
The first Christmas after the incident. I had heard of survivors going into supermarkets after cutting the power. Expecting to hear no radio and no songs. But still, they would never exit. As if an evil power had sucked them in, never to return. Surely the songs weren’t still playing. Surely not. Some believed the CD’s, the advertisements preaching the insane discounts, the red and silver tinsel had something to do with it.
The second Christmas after the incident, I was planning to have a quiet Christmas with a few friends from various raiding tribes. Nothing too fancy, just a potluck. As the day went on, I realised that I didn’t want to make a pasta bake, instead opting for something lighter. I knew Scarab was bringing a carcass from the southern ridge so speculated there’d be a lot of food. I decided on a fresh salad but it meant I’d have to nip out to the shop. I put on my shoes and grabbed my headphones, selecting the gentle constant rumble of a waterfall as my white noise to play. Despite the climate, despite me having stricter rules about leaving the house, I was slow in getting my headphones sorted when I left the house and thus was exposed to a noise of someone gurgling. It was a fascinating noise. It’s as if someone was gurgling a tune. An old merry jaunt of some kind. My body’s senses went onto high alert: My eyes dilating in time with my puckering undershelf, I threw my earphones on. Did I just hear a Beatles song? I wondered. I replayed the three gurgling notes in my head. It was a Christmas song. I ran down the steps to the street, hoping to catch the lunatic who was being so irresponsible. There, in the middle of the street I saw it. An old grey husk of a body dragging itself toward me. It’s mouth moving, it’s hips swinging. It had a smile on its face which was an uncomfortable sight considering it’s eyes had decomposed long enough for the remnants to go dry and leather like. Zombies. Motherfuckers had come after all.
The zombie sauntered towards me. And just stood there. I just wasn’t expecting to deal with zombies today. Or any day. I had seen them in movies, and even with what had happened with the recent apocalypse, I had ruled them out. Evidentially, these thoughts were going through my head molasses like, because I was lost in a frozen daze, wondering how my life had come to this point, where I would be confronted by a dancing zombie. Now it was less than two metres away, yet I had only just begun to back away. The zombie broke from its dance and lunged at me. Not just me, but my headphones. It swiped again to flick off the headphones. This time I jumped back to a safer distance, propping up onto the balls of my feet like the fighters I had seen in movies. I took a quick look back at my house. I was just outside it on the street. ‘Fuck’, I thought. I knew I’d have to kill it. Else this zombie will be dancing into my house through the window. I turned to head towards my garage and grab a shovel or something. I bolted up my stares, turning back often enough to keep an eye on my targets' whereabouts. With what felt like less than a minute I was welding a pick axe. But I had realised, I had lost sight of the zombie. And no Christmas gurgles either. Through the trees I noticed a body laying on the ground, cautiously I approached. It was the zombie.
‘You need a better weapon’. A voice from my side.
Her name was Graldyn. She came to the potluck and would later introduce me to her friends. They were active in the community of zombie killing and were planning something big.
Graldyn introduced me to Pindo, a small fella who back in the day didn’t even celebrate Christmas. I couldn’t understand such an insane concept and suspected he was abused as a child. Especially when I learnt he was making bombs.
‘We’re bringing down Christmas’ he once told me with excitement one night after a potluck.
Chapter Three: The light show
Graldyn, Pindo and I gazed down at the countdown supermarket. ‘Are you ready for a light show?’ Graldyn said, her smile exposing her giddy excitement. God I loved her. And as Pindo signalled the green light through his walky talky. I kissed her. And When I did, a warm light lit up our faces, before the sound hit our ears. We watched on top of that hill many retail stores and supermarkets, all who had played Maria Carey and all that other tasteless bullshit explode into a million pieces: The Warehouse, Countdown, New World, Pak n Save, Brisco’s - petrol stations and shopping malls - none were spared. We levelled them all, melting Santa hats, the ancient CD’s stacked full of seasonal Buble hits festering under the cashiers counter waiting eagerly to awake from their off season hibernation - all melted in the heat. Graldyn was not wrong, this was a light show, a show organised by the survivors, the day-before shoppers, the headphone wearing punks and obscuratons who fought valiantly every year to keeping the jolly jingles out of their mind sponges, their awareness temples still pure from consumerism’s whip disguised as happy songs.
That night we all got together for a potluck at mine and danced to Prince.