“I Am Legend”, and so Might Everyone Be…

I have just finished the novella I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.  Like World War Z, the Hollywood movie version of I Am Legend is nothing like the book.  The movie, which stars Will Smith in the role of Robert Neville—the last “uninfected” man on Earth—features plagued multitudes as “thinking” zombies, whereas the book defers to a new species of intelligent vampire that has morphed from the virus-infected human race.  The book is overwhelmingly sad and disturbing and presents a philosophy that is as horrible as it is truthful.

The book and the movie are alike in the heart-breaking dog character—the last of his kind, and the last of the friends of Mankind.  In both movie and book, the dog’s death moved me to tears.  While it is possibly the worst moment of Neville’s dreadful story, the entire ambience of his tale is lump-in-throat. Worse than the constant fear of the creatures out there, the relentless worry of checking and re-checking his safeguards in here, the madness of frustration as he tries over and again to understand the virus, is the thought of his unimaginable loneliness—perhaps the best reason why the loss of the dog is so terrible.

The only thread where the movie could be superior to the book is the portrayal of Neville’s debilitating isolation. The whole world now belongs to him.  Literally. All its wealth, power, knowledge, and history is his, and he can take anything he wants with impunity.  But it means nothing to him, and this is depicted with bitter poignancy by the countless thousands of dollars strewn about a bank’s floor, trodden underfoot, muddy, torn, and rotting in the elements.  At the end of the day, what Neville truly wants, NEEDS, is the company of another human being, and takes to irrational acts of futility like setting up mannequins and talking to them, repeatedly watching Shrek and old news casts, carrying on conversations with his faithful dog and, of course, talking to himself.  Neville’s hitting on the female mannequin and weeping when she (it) will not/cannot answer him is gut-wrenching, and the audience sees acutely that he is driven to despair by his hopeless solitude.

It is the unmerciful philosophy of the new-world-from-the-old created by Richard Matheson that is so profound and maintains its appeal, and it is this: Human beings had their shot, and they screwed it up. They went too far in their abject disrespect for Nature. They did something foolish without thinking of the consequences, motivated by greed and an outrageous sense of entitlement, and caused the irreversible, incurable, and absolute beyond any salvation, extinction of the human race as it exists today.  There is no possible recovery.  And that is the message of the book—human beings can destroy themselves and be forever lost. There is no ray of hope in that, and the perception of utter hopelessness experienced in the book through the character of Robert Neville is overwhelming.

By not sharing Matheson’s powerful admonition with the audience, Hollywood dropped the ball so completely that they should have just called the movie something else—because it wasn’t I Am Legend.  It’s not enough that Robert Neville dies—there is a woman and her son who escape to a safe place where the human race is already starting again. Neville—by virtue of the fact that there are other living human beings—actually dies an incomprehensibly foolish death, instead of relinquishing Manhattan as a dead zone, and choosing to survive in order to continue his fight against the virus, but at a safe distance.  It’s inexplicable since, in the book version, the woman who actually appears one day is revealed to be a vampire who has developed a tolerance for sunlight with the help of medication that the vampires themselves have created. She is sent to spy on Neville, and it is discovered to the horror of Neville and the audience that the vampires are far from mindless blood-suckers, and are instead organized, intelligent, and not completely unlike the humans they once were.  The woman is capable of compassion for Neville, and allows him to commit suicide rather than be executed.  Because Neville is immune to the virus that turns folks into vampires, he is now the monster, the Other—that Thing, since day is now night, that hunts them while they sleep—and must be destroyed.

So, now adding to my recent contemplations on fear and the politics of the monstrous, I will add loneliness and despair.  And I will also point out that the above is self-inflicted.  The monsters have arisen, so far, after humans metaphorically shoot themselves in the foot, and then wage war on those same “monsters of repercussion.”  Monsters of repercussion… Very interesting, and I begin to feel like I am closing in on something.  Hmmm….

Next, I am reading about another monster of human imagination…  Looking at fear, despair, loneliness, life beyond control, moral ambiguity, and becoming the Other, I will be exploring the Werewolf.  My first stop will be Guy Endore’s The Werewolf of Paris, followed by Jonathon Maberry’s The Wolfman.  If I have time, I will look into Stephen King’s Silver Bullet.  Aside from Guy Endore’s book, and several very good short stories from the likes of Alexandre Dumas, Rudyard Kipling, and Edgar Allen Poe, I have not found many what could be considered classics on the topic of werewolves.  That’s odd to me, since all of the other ghouls out there have a place in the canon: vampires, zombie-like creatures, evil aliens, a multitude of ghosts, witches, mad scientists, a host of psychotic murderers, and other metamorphic beings like our naughty Mr Hyde, but werewolves? No so much.  So if anyone knows of any good ones, I’d love to hear from you!

Actually, werewolves scare me, so I will start reading while it’s still light outside. (nervous giggle)

Frankenstein, Impatience, and Precipitous Blogging…and a bit of Panic.

So, it has been pointed out to me, very correctly, the many flaws that pepper my last blog posting.  I say “flaws” when really I should say, well, I’ll just call them “boo-boos.”

Okay, for the record… Mary Shelley did indeed write Frankenstein.  Like most married people with supportive and pro-active spouses, she shared a lot of her work with her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Shelley did help Mary, and encouraged her with her writing.  She did not, in fact, credit him with writing any part of it, but I thought she had said something like this more as a sweet and romantic platitude, than as a statement of fact, ie “without him, my heart does not beat.” These are her exact words:

“At first I thought but a few pages–of a short tale; but Shelley urged me to develope [sic] the idea at greater length. I certainly did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor scarcely of one train of feeling, to my husband, and yet but for his incitement it would never have taken the form in which it was presented to the world. From this declaration I must except the preface. As far as I can recollect, it was entirely written by him.” (Shelley ix).

So, Mary is saying here that she thought up Frankenstein all on her own.  However, she is saying that it was due to Percy’s constant encouragement that it was finished and published.  Where I messed up was in the last two sentences: “From this declaration I must except the preface. As far as I can recollect, it was entirely written by him.” Yeah, she’s talking about the Preface that Percy wrote for her novel under the pen-name “Marlow.” Nothing romantic about that.  Just honest. And also a bit of an indication that Mary wanted it to be known, for the record, who did what.  I have looked just a bit closer, and I see that there were some initial “discussions” about the authorship of Frankenstein.  What is also interesting is that its first 1818 publication was published anonymously.  It wasn’t until the 1823 edition that Mary’s name is actually affixed to the title.  And it is the third edition published in 1831 that has become the standard read for the novel, although there are some 1818 editions still floating about for the Frankenstein aficionados out there.  So, boo-boo number one.

Boo-boo number two is that Mary published the novel when she was not quite 21, but wrote it when she was younger.  She began writing it during a holiday she spent with Percy, her step-sister Claire, Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Matthew Gregory “the Monk” Lewis at the Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816. Actually, Mary and Percy were renting a neighboring house, and Byron rented the Villa.  But anyways…  The story goes that this group of writers were stuck inside because of the awful weather. So, at night in the spookiness of stormy candlelight, they shared a number of German ghost stories and basically freaked each other out.  Then Byron suggested they play a writing game–everyone was to write the scariest story they could think of and then share it with the rest of the group.  Lots of creativity happened that weekend.  What happens when the best writers of their era, with nothing better to do, and already scared of lurking ghosts, are challenged to write ghost stories?  Essentially, they give birth to a genre.  It’s like asking Einstein and his cronies to come up with some math.  🙂  Byron wrote his Fragment of a Novel. Inspired by Byron’s wicked character, Polidori wrote The Vampyre: A Tale.  And, after a nightmare brought on, no doubt, by the German ghost stories, Mary sketched out the beginnings of Frankenstein. The genre was the “Gothic Horror Novel”, and Frankenstein became its flag ship.  Mary was only 18 when she wrote it!! So, even more amazing.

Boo-boo number three is actually not really a boo-boo.  It just needs some clarification.  While there were a limited number of copies in the 1818 edition, the novel still attracted the notice of the critics.  Among them was Sir Walter Scott who admired Mary’s writing style, and the underlying themes.  He only criticized the implausibility of the Creature’s learning to read and write English by eavesdropping on the family of Felix, his sister, and their blind father.  Another critic said that the novel and its author were both insane.  Hahaha.  I think it is safe to say that the book was immediately read, but gained in popularity until it became the irreplaceable piece of English literature that it is today.

With these boo-boos now tidied away, I can now get back to my reading.  Lol.  Not to say that I obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…obsess over things…

I will also say a big thanks to my “pointer-outer” (you know who you are) for reading my blog AND paying attention AND giving me a head’s up.  Perhaps a lesson (and reminder) on getting my facts straight first.  We live and we learn.

:p

Work Cited:

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. Print.

Musings on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

I have just finished reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. At first, I was transfixed by an impossible level of utter boredom.  I must say that Mary did not reach any point hastily. Then I reminded myself that I am also a product of my Western pop culture.  Often, if it is not condensed into the 120 minutes of film, then it is simply too much effort.  Who has the time to spend lazing upon an extensive and complicated text? Well, the folks of Georgian era England certainly did.  Novels were their movies, television, internet, radio, CD player, you name it. Novels were, well, novel.  They were purely superfluous, indulgent entertainment in a time when everyone who could read did read.  When it is considered that, before electricity, and by oil lamp or candlelight, people read for maybe an hour or two each evening at the end of their day, then a long detailed novel was welcome.  The more detailed, the better.  People got lost in their novels—swept away—and Frankenstein is most definitely sweeping. And tragic. And of a brand new up and coming genre invented by its author and her companions during a stormy weekend on the shores of Lake Geneva. The Gothic Horror novel is born with Shelley’s Frankenstein and Polidori’s grim tale The Vampyre. I don’t know what the Georgians thought of Mary’s nightmarish invention yet, but I’ll wager a guess that they were horrified, terrified, thrilled, offended, unnerved, and thoroughly entertained.

As for me…I think the book is absolutely extraordinary in that Mary was only 21 when she wrote it. The first edition was published 1818, but with the help of her husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, she made changes to the novel, and even accredited him at one point with the writing of it. What is also extraordinary about the book is that it is original and bears a multi-layered complexity that is shocking because it is produced by a 21 year old girl. I don’t know if Mary was a genius. Her husband probably was, as was his buddy Byron.  Mary was a political radical though. A feminist like her mother Mary Wollstonecraft. A believer in free love—kind of a Georgian era hippie. She also saw three of her four babies die, and survived the accidental death of her beloved Percy.  I knew that Mary was an essayist and worked with her hubby on his poetry, but I wasn’t aware of her list of novels—other novels.  In fact, Mary Shelley was quite a prolific writer: 6 novels, 1 novella, 2 travel books, 3 children’s books, a good number of biographies, and numerous short stories, poems, and other articles.  Until I looked more closely, whenever I heard Mary’s name, I thought Frankenstein. Clearly, my bad.

As for Frankenstein itself….

Here, there are two: there is the brilliant young Victor Frankenstein and his re-animated, equally brilliant creature who was and was not Adam.

There are many themes happening at once.  There is the broken father/son relationship.  The reader sees the very best of this relationship in Victor and his father, and the very worst in Victor and his creature.

The story raises a question about what good and evil “look like.”  The old notion that “what is beautiful must also be good” is challenged by the wickedness and despicable cowardice of beautiful Victor Frankenstein, and his persistent refusal to take responsibility, his initial cruelty toward his creation, his foolish presumptuousness, and his abandonment of his obligations. He is a very unlikeable, spoiled whiner who makes feeble attempts after great torrents of self-pitying diatribes, but really accomplishes nothing.  He wants only to escape what he has done, no matter what, without looking like the scaredy-cat he is. In many ways, Frankenstein got what was coming to him.  Unfortunately, everyone else died too.

There is the political story.  The creature represents the poor, destitute, and diseased in an era that supposed that poverty was the fault of the poor.  This was the age of Debtor’s prisons, Workhouses, Bedlam, and child labor.  It was a bad time for poverty in England, where the poor were often criminalized just for being poor. Just as orphans were blamed for being orphans.  Thus, the creature, no matter his kind intentions, good deeds, or words of reason, is driven out by Felix based solely on his appearance.  The creature rescues a young girl from drowning only to be shot by her young man who is terrified by the creature’s face.  The message is that poverty and deformity are inescapable bottomless pits in Georgian society.

Of course, Frankenstein is the definitive “Zombie” story.  The creature is a reanimated corpse—or patchwork of corpses.  While zombies have evolved from Mary’s erudite, sensitive, and vengeful monster, he is still the first and best of them all.  This is because the creature offers the reader a glimpse at one who thinks from a clean slate and can articulate his innocence.  Who am I?  What am I?  Why am I cursed this way?  Who is responsible for me and to whom am I responsible?  If my Creator is imperfect and aloof toward me, what is my recourse?  The more the creature seeks answers, the more he realizes that the only one who can give him answers will not answer him, and he falls into despair, rage, and violence.

I am still sorting my thoughts on Frankenstein. Feedback is welcome.  Is the creature evil? To what extent is he responsible? I have a lot of side-reading to do on this novel that will hopefully lead me to answers for my questions.

Next up…Werewolves.

There is Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself…

So, I’ve been watching old horror movies lately—the schlockier the better.  Mostly, I have been watching some TCM classic scare fare.  Among the best of the worst were The Living Ghost, The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, Spider Babies, and the absolutely mah-velous Night of the Lepus.

The Living Ghost is a zombie flick, The Brain that Wouldn’t Die is a ‘head-transplant/zombie’ flick.  Then there is creepy/crazy Spider Babies, with cannibalistic little girl lunatics, their creepy/crazy brother, the monstrous creepy/crazy uncle who lives in a hole in the creepy/crazy basement—all watched over by the equally mad, creepy/crazy butler played by creepy/crazy Lon Chaney Jr. This film can be described as Alfred Hitchcock meets Ed Wood.  But, I have to say, that my favorite was the wonderful Night of the Lepus.  Yes. Lepus.

Clearly having lost a bet, this movie’s stars are, shockingly, Academy Award Nominee Stuart Whitman and Academy Award Nominee and Golden Globe Winner Janet Leigh—how the mighty have fallen.  And, best of all, Deforest Kelly—Yes. Dr McCoy his very self—Damn it, man! I’m a Star Trek icon, not a third-rate horror film hack! This movie sports enormous, genetically mutated, carnivorous rabbits on a nocturnal rampage through the American mid-west, killing anything that moves, and holing up in an abandoned mine during the day. I have two favorite scenes in this movie that I just have to share. (No spoiler though for those of you who will now certainly want to see this movie immediately.) Number One: The killer rabbits run down gun-fire and manage to attack and kill several armed men.  Yet, Janet Leigh manages to hold off an entire troupe of said rabbits with a little red flare.  Number Two: A lone police man drives into a drive-in theater (remember those?) and announces the following:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we need your help.  Please roll up your windows, and turn on your headlights.  There is an army of killer rabbits headed this way. Please follow the police car at the exit. Thank you. Do. Not. Panic. Do you understand?”

At this, all the lights go on and the good, obedient, white, middle-class, movie-going citizens all honk their horns in unison—ready to do their patriotic American duty. Of course, none of them stop to question the ‘police authority figure’ about the ‘army of killer rabbits headed this way.’ I guess this must happen a lot there. Okay, so I just loved this movie. I laughed and I laughed. I was, naturally, rooting for the rabbits.  Get ‘em, Bugs!  I must add that a lot of perfectly good ketchup was splattered about. Oh, the Nahuati!! Oh, the Solanum!! Oh, the Tomatoes!! I recall thinking that I should just call the whole thing off.

So…why did I do this to myself?

Last year, I watched an interesting documentary called Scared of My Own Shadow, which discussed how North America has mutated from a society with neighborhood kids playing road hockey and bike-riding to one with deserted playgrounds and “bubble-wrapped” children cloistered safely in the family room in front of video games.  The kids don’t go out to the park, meet other kids, and learn to negotiate terms of friendship and the rules of game-playing anymore. Now kids go to the park when their “helicopter” parents can take an afternoon away from the office, or arrange a “play date” with other helicopter parents.  This generation is sending kids out into the world who have no understanding of risk-taking, social consequences, the hard-learned knowledge that the world is not always fair, and the truth that not everyone gets an award just for standing around taking up space.  And, why has this change happened?  One word: FEAR.

In keeping with one component of my big project—“fear” in popular culture—I watched these old movies to see what scared people 50+ years ago.  I have found zombies, blobs, mummies, vampires, werewolves, ax-murderers, demoniacs, mad scientists, big bugs, dinosaurs, apes, witches, aliens, and big-ass, man-eating, bunny-rabbits that all the close ups and spilled ketchup in the world could not make scary.  Every one of these movies have four things in common: First, the bad guys die and the good guys win.  Second, all monsters are evil. Third, white alpha males are the saviors and women/beta males/children are the saved. Fourth, the hero wins by bringing something subversive under patriarchal control.

These four essential aspects of most of the old horror movies speak to the world of their era.  As always, popular culture determines what the audience will comprehend as important.  Naturally, in a society that still very much believed in “evil” there was the standard “good versus evil” trope.  And, in a society that had not yet embraced gender/racial equality, the white patriarchy was still firmly in control.

In modern day movies, we have mostly all of the same monsters but the rules of engagement have changed.  The first rule is that the good guys—if there are good guys—don’t always win. No one is safe. Second, not all monsters are necessarily evil.  I will argue that “evil” is a state that comes as a result of a choice(s) made by rational sentient persons. Thus, zombies and werewolves, for example, cannot be evil. Third, it is the white alpha male stereotype that is, quite often, the first victim of the particular monster attacking at the particular time.  Today, the hero/anti-hero might be an orphaned African-American child, a cannibalistic psychiatrist, a sparkling vampire, a racist red-neck, or—most blasphemously—a woman.

All of this is because what scares audiences in 2015 is as different as their value systems.  The bad guys are badder.  The ketchup is now chemically created and very authentic-looking “blood.”  The color is now high definition.  The sound is high tech surround sound.  In some theaters, the seats move and vibrate.  Movies today are designed to be ridiculously, crazy real.

Today, horror movies scare audiences just as they did 50 years ago, but today, audiences are scared differently.  Today, there is much that cannot be controlled and put into its place. Today the audience MUST have the unfathomable wizardry of state of the art special effects, otherwise the movie is no good.  Today, there is a detached feeling of loneliness.  Helplessness.  Therefore, anyone willing to step up with an answer can be the hero—even a one-time monster.  “You’re forgiven. Now save us.”  There is no pattern anymore—or perhaps it’s a brand new pattern that is not yet fully seen.  But that’s because fear is so blinding.

Fifty years ago, people didn’t live with fear that permeated everything.  And I’m not talking about the fear that comes from the horror and mayhem seen on the nightly news—although that is certainly part of it.  It’s not the Youtube videos of a ninety year old lady being punched out by a young man for the ten dollars in her handbag—although that might also be part of it. It’s more than that.  It’s more than the posts of paranoia and rage on social media, or the dubious decisions made by our leaders, or the chants of religious fanatics to whom no ambition is more precious than the utter destruction of Western society’s culture.  It’s not just the missing/murdered children, or the sexual predator living on the next block, or the parent-police informing on parents who let their eleven year old kids ride the city bus alone to school.

It might have something to do with the insane level of violence on prime time television that displays everything from pedophilia to gang rape to torture to dismemberment.  I remember a time when it was shocking to see someone shot in the head on television during prime time.  Today, they show not just the head shot but the glorious spray of blood, skull fragments, and brain matter across a white wall.  And this is the major networks during prime time! If you want to see exceptional gore and guts, check out Showcase or AMC some time.  Because damn.

Then back to the movies.  The graphic over-the-top violence of the movies.  And, I’m not talking about just the horror movies, although the horror movies today are resplendently bloody.  No, I’m talking about the dramas, the comedies, and even the love stories.  Has anyone seen a Quentin Tarantino movie lately? Or a Coen Brothers film? And don’t get me started on 50 Shades of Grey.  Don’t. Just don’t.  The movies are not merely violent. They also reveal a deep and repulsive delight toward sadism, psychological damage and anguish, and an attraction for the rejection of reason in favor of mindlessness.  Meaningless death, pain, degradation, and sorrow.  A devaluation of life.  The abandonment of the sacred.

As for literature of late.  Most of the big series books are violent to some extent:  The Twilight Saga, The Harry Potter Series, The Mortal Instruments Series, The Resurgent Series, The Maze Runner Series, The 50 Shades Trilogy, and of course, The Hunger Games Trilogy…to name a few.  Among the stories in these books, a fisherman is attacked on his boat and torn apart by hungry vampires; after his parents are tortured and murdered, a young infant is attacked and left for dead by an evil wizard; a young girl must participate in gladiatorial games to the death in order to save her family and community.  And these are the books the kids are reading.  The 20-30 set are reading a ‘love story’ about a young virginal woman who gives herself willingly to a rich man who enjoys inflicting pain on her body.

Then there’s the video games.  Is it just me, or didn’t most games require at least two people to play?  Aside from Solitaire, I suppose.  And for some games, at least four players was needed.  These games required a family room or basement ‘rumpus room’ (remember those?), usually a table of some kind, chairs maybe, a big bowl of chips, lots of fizzy drinks, and music in the background. Games required a lot of conversation.  Sometimes whispering and scheming. Lots of laughter, cheering, finger-pointing, and booing.

Of the video games today, the ones that are especially disturbing are those that are ultra-violent, sexually sadistic, phantasmic, and amoral, and are single-player games.  I give you the 32 year old guy living in his parents’ basement playing video games night and day because he doesn’t have a job, has never lived on his own, had a lover, or travelled anywhere except maybe to Comic Con… It’s kinda creepy just thinking about it, isn’t it?  J  Not to be hard on the nerdy guys out there, and I have no problem with them, Star Trek, World of Warcraft, or Comic Con…not really.  I have a problem with the aloneness.  The lack of personal society, and thus, the lack of accountability and social sensibility.

Even though some video games are rated R, video stores and merchants maintain little control of who they are giving these games to, and this is because the mindset is that “they are just games with animated characters.” This is how a 10 year old boy begins to play games where he is a bank robber who scores extra points for raping the bank teller or beating the prostitute to death with a baseball bat.  Yeah.  I’m not kidding.  If there’s no one looking, and it’s just a game with animated characters, why not beat the scantily clad whore to death if it means topping the last score?  What could possibly be at risk there?  And still, it is not just this.

I think, it’s all of the above.  To my mind, it’s the steady, long-term inundation of fearful ideas, images, sounds, rumors, and theories from every corner. I think it is the normalization of violence that must constantly be challenged—improved upon as it were, like a better, faster roller-coaster. Furthermore, this fear is NOT imaginary. Yet, it’s not like the West has not been here before.  After all, there were two World Wars, Korea, Viet Nam, the Gulf, Afghanistan, September 11, Hurricane Katrina, Ted Bundy, the Boston Marathon, Global Warming, Sarah Palin.  Closer to home, there was Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olson, and Robert Pickton.  Several floods in Manitoba and Alberta. The murder of women in Montreal, and the murder of unarmed soldiers in Ottawa.  Canada too has had its eye blackened and its nose bloodied on more than one occasion.  So what is different? Nothing is different, except that fear, like never before, is beginning to take its toll.

It was Franklin D Roosevelt who coined the phrase, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”  It was said to his nation in 1933, during the Great Depression, after the ‘war to end all wars’ was done, when the American Dream was losing its truthfulness, and trouble was brewing again in Europe.  It seemed like 20 minutes later that the Canadians were re-arming for yet another war.  Yet, there was a genuine and certain feeling that if we all banded together, if we all scrimped on the luxuries, if we all prayed hard enough, and loved our country enough, and sacrificed all we had for the cause, then victory would surely be ours.  Canada simply couldn’t lose.  Canada believed together and united against a common “evil.”  There was fear certainly, but not a mindless terror.  The fear was obviously over the loss of life and the vague notion of defeat, but Canadian society acted definitively, smartly, assuredly, and with a clear purpose in mind.  There was no flailing about like those without direction, who are blind with terror.  Therefore, Roosevelt’s words at the time might have sounded profound and cool, but a bit rhetorical.  But today, not so much.  Today, those words mean something else.

Fearing “fear.”  Fear as an inclination. Fear as a pandemic. Fear as a dark entity that gets inside and underneath, and rules decisions.  Fear that becomes normalized until it melts into the walls—with eyes that follow and can be felt, but invisible.  Fear as the motive and motivator.  Fear as a punchline.  With fear like that, already instilled, imbued, fused in bone, in stone, what need is there for a new enemy? What is needed now is a survival bunker with automatic weapons and canned water.  The zombies are not just out there…they are in here.  There is no escape…nowhere to turn.  There is no turning back to the God so forsaken.  Or the innocence so cast off.  Or the unity so greatly prized once.  Everything is undone.  There is nothing left but numb fear.  Save us…anyone.  Return our reason and remove our fear and we will follow you…whoever you are.  If you solve our problems, we will gladly write your name on our right hands or our foreheads.  Fear itself will fear.

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