If you were not already aware of it, today is World Zombie Day 2009. And it is on this day that I, one of the planet's leading zombie watchdogs, must admit defeat.
You see, I am reasonably certain that the zombie apocalypse has already come and gone - the mutant zombie overlords are already in control, and somehow I missed the whole thing.
I say this because everywhere I turn I see zombies: people whose lethargic, apathetic demeanor leaves little doubt that they have lost all capacity for human emotion or motivation. The world around me has become a shuffling collection of beings with no apparent dreams or desires, no purpose in life but to slowly melt and devour my brain.
I notice it especially when I am driving. Detroit used to be the Motor City - a place where the goal of everyone on the road was to go as fast as possible, and where we had developed a cooperative system to do just that. We worked together to ensure that everyone got where they were going with as little to interrupt their progress as possible. People would change lanes to allow cars to merge onto the freeway, or to allow faster cars to pass.
Now I see people regularly driving ten under in the fast lane with no acknowledgment of the chaos accumulating in their wake. I see them straddling the line between lanes, either unable to decide which they prefer or all together oblivious to the concept of lanes to begin with. And I see them blowing through yield signs or changing lanes blindly with the express intent to kill me.
I don't think I'm being paranoid here. Other examples abound. At Kohl's a few days ago, I saw a free shopping cart and asked a group of women standing near it if it belonged to one of them. I said this in a friendly tone and with a smile on my face, but my inquiry was met with silence. They just stared at me with cold, dead, unfeeling eyes.
At the ice arena the other day, a boy walking by accidentally hit me in the head with his hockey stick. When his stick met resistance, he turned and stared at me with a blank expression. "Oops!" I said, laughing to put him at ease, "Be careful there!" he just stood there and stared at me, as did the adults with him, then they turned silently and left, no apology or empathy to be found in the bunch.
Those blank expressions are becoming commonplace everywhere: work, restaurants, even on the streets of my neighborhood. When I pass people, I always smile and make eye contact. Increasingly, no one smiles back. Zombies. When I hold the door open behind me for the next fellow, no one ever reaches out to grab it or says "thank you" - they just walk right by. Zombies. When I try to track down some frustratingly elusive piece of information at work, my coworkers just shrug and put their heads back down. Zombies. I used to have intelligent conversations with people about important topics, but now all anyone can do is repeat back to me the latest nonsensical rantings of Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann. Zombies.
I don't know how many other survivors there are, but if you're still out there stay strong! We non-zombies may be in the minority now, but we're people too. In time, we may find a way to survive under our zombie overlords, and maybe - just maybe - turn the tides once more.
There are others like you still out there, so don't give up hope! Keep dreaming, keep caring and be on the lookout for other survivors. We'll be the ones smiling, using our turn signals, and not trying to eat your brains.