By Jack Randall
It was early dawn, and traffic was a nightmare. Mornings are mine, and they have no right being out this early on a Saturday, congesting a two-lane highway through the generally desolate forests a few hours outside New York City. I had a train to catch—ZombieCON 2009 waits for no man, especially the living.
Fighting through the traffic I managed to make it to the platform just in time, but I was not destined to be on this train. A sip of rum from my flask drew the attention of an MTA Police officer. My patience was being tested, which is never a good thing. It has been tested many times before, and I have failed most of those.
“Sir, there is no drinking on the platform.”
“But I can drink on the train.”
“Sir, you cannot drink on the platform.”
“The flask stays with me.”
After trying my best Labyrinth-inspired recitation of what I can only hope was ancient poetry, culminating in “You have no power over me,” I realized I had learned the second major life lesson from this film—the first lesson should never be discussed in public—quoting Labyrinth lines when not confronting a Goblin King is an ineffective way of getting what you want.
I drove back to my office to finish off the rum. The zombies would have to wait.
Two hours later I met my contact Alexis at Grand Central and we had mere minutes to catch a cab up to The Carriage House for the start of ZombieCON 2009, a depraved pub crawl through Manhattan featuring the coolest of the cool dressed up as zombies. Arriving late as always, it was time for a few rounds of whiskey, Bloody Mary’s, and orange vodka and tonics for my associate. Then it was on.
We ambled determinedly towards Bloomingdales in order to wreak havoc on the throngs of tourists and shoppers looking for a taste of what they consider upscale shopping. Shocked faces from out-of-towners, New Yorkers looked at their feet and hurried past, as is the norm when you see a bloodied corpse shuffling down 59th Street.
In one end and out the other, we were on our way to the next bar. Connolly’s, an Irish pub. I know this because the sign had shamrocks on it and the interior was quaint and wooden. Disgust from the staff turned into disdain, morphing gradually into acceptance when they realized we were not leaving and had brought money. Between four and seven shots of whiskey later I had little recollection of the experience and had managed to order them all on someone else’s tab. I considered it karmic retribution for his shortcomings, which were many, and a balancing out of the morning’s injustices. Mumbling and covered in blood I was becoming part of the degenerates, not quite living dead yet not fully alive.
Back onto the streets, enter pure chaos. If there were a leader to this pack they were certainly doing their best to keep their presence from us. Apparently there was a text widget or some such other form of communication to relay the next destination, yet neither me nor my partner could be bothered to try signing up for it after a cursory and unsuccessful attempt the previous day.
In the madness we may or may not have ended up in another bar. If so, I have no means possible of knowing which or where this was. Pure mechanics of kinetic energy transferred into motion kept me going, becoming more zombie-like by the minute. Grunts, cries of brains, and the smell of fake blood were all around me and I could only cry out for more whiskey. I ended up on 9th and 63rd pissing in the downstairs toilet of another quaint, wooden Irish pub when Alexis called to ask where the Hell I was. Madness was where! Where are you? East Village. Come now.
A few zombie stragglers had followed me, mistaking me for their leader. I needed to ditch these leaches and move on. Outside the sun was trying to shine through dark, grey rain clouds and it was temporarily blinding to us all. In the confusion I hailed a cab, leaving my Zombie Legion flailing in the street like a sack of discarded puppies.
“Sophist zombies!” I yelled out the window. “You require cleansing via Mayan virginal sacrifice! Cabbie, ignore your baser instincts and run down these zombie hoards! Don’t think twice! Only the living have the luxury of cabs!”
Back in the East Village, raving madly about jackals to all who would listen. ZombieCON had succeeded. I was a blood-covered, incoherent, mindless zombie. My own thoughts were totally useless. I needed a brain.
I needed a drink.