Sunday, December 13, 2009

Road Report: Omaha

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to post; but thank you to all the zombies who have been posting your memes. I asked Phoebe if she would post this for me when I was on the road, but she said that it was one I really ought to do myself.

I met a girl in Omaha. Her name is Christie Smith and she's a zombie.

I met her at a small gathering of zombies and we really connected. I'd really like to write more about her and how we met--I tried to get her to do Phoebe's zombie meme--but she's really, really shy.

But Christie and a few of the other zombies I met are going to be joining me on the rest of my travels. Right now there are six of us. I'm no longer hoofing it or catching Greyhound, either--the mom of one of the dead kids is driving us around in--get this--a white van.

Although, the van is so old it is really more of an off-white van. But I thought you'd think it was funny, anyhow.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Zombie Meme Redux


Last year Tommy posted a meme that I wrote. We now have over three times as many members on the Wall than we did then, so I thought it would be a good time to invite all you new zombie kids to post your meme into the comments.

Here it is, the Zombie Meme:

1. How did you die?

2. How long have you been gone?

3. Death age/true age?

4. What do you miss most about being alive?

5. What, if anything, is cool about being a zombie?

6. How did your family react to you coming back?

7. Most humiliating moment as a zombie?

8. Visible signs of zombiism?

9. Goals/ambition?

10. "If I were alive today, I would..."

Tommy says he has some "big news" about his trip to Omaha, and Colette has finished typing up her interview with the traditionally biotic members of Skeleton Crew, so we should have more news to post soon. Until then, post your memes!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Road Report: Cleveland

Hi, Tommy here with the latest from the road. Thanks(?) to Margi for filling in.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for my trip to Cleveland. My fiends in Pennsylvania arranged for me to stay with the Thomases (names changed to protect the innocent), who have two zombie sons who I’ll call Greg and Dave. Like me, Greg and Dave both died in a car accident. Unlike me, their injuries are both visible and horrific. Greg can still walk, albeit with a pronounced dragging limp, while Dave is confined to a wheelchair. Greg’s face was so disfigured in the crash that he wears a mask like my friend Melissa, although his is a Spiderman mask and not a white theater mask.
Greg doesn’t speak at all; Dave is talkative but isn’t what you would call a fast talker. Both of them are deadly poker players, however. I gathered that Greg and Dave had been popular students at the school prior to their demise; a photograph on the Thomas’s mantel showed them both in the school’s baseball uniforms, smiling for the camera on a sunny day. There was also a prom photo of Greg and a pretty smiling girl nearly a foot shorter than he was. No prom for photo for Dennis; he must have died too soon. Of course he died too soon.
I thought I would just be talked to them and whatever network of zombie friends and maybe parents that they had, so I was a little surprised when Mr. Thomas told me that I was invited to go speak at the high school where his boys still were allowed to attend classes. I said sure, I’d be glad to.
When I followed the Thomas family down the hall, with Spiderman Greg pushing his brother down the hall, using the chair to balance himself, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of their classmates that said hi or called to the boys by name. Dave always waved with his one good arm, although by the time he was able to raise his hand the person he’d meant to greet was already long gone down the hall.
I was thinking it would be something like Undead Studies class, with maybe fifteen students and a teacher or two.
I was wrong. There were over a thousand people in the school’s auditorium, students and many of their parents.
I don’t get sweaty palms or shortness of breath, and when my speech hitches people assume it is because I’m dead and not because I’m nervous, so overall the talk went pretty well. I spoke about what people were doing to zombies across the country, and I encouraged living people everywhere to try and be more understanding of the difficulties that undead Americans deal with on a daily basis. When I was done speaking, everyone clapped. The clapping wasn’t like I was at a U2 concert or anything, but I’d like to think the applause was more than polite.
The principal took the stage, and he shook my hand.
“Does anyone have any questions for Mr. Williams?” he said.
Lots of people did. The parents, especially. Questions about how they could get involved, questions about politicians I had never heard of that might be sympathetic to our cause, questions about how they might get laws to change.
Many of the people that spoke to me didn’t have questions as much as they did ideas, or statements about things that could help. A young girl spoke up and said that a city bus driver threw some “hoods” (her word, which I just loved) off his bus because they were making fun of a zombie and his mother. I told her that was the one thing that beating hearts could for us: speak out.
One elderly woman spoke up and said that she’d invited a couple of runaway zombies to stay with her at her house.
“I love those kids!” she said. “They’re quiet, respectful, and they take my trash out for me. And I don’t even have to feed them!”
That got a big laugh, but she wasn’t done yet.
“They’re so much better company than cats!”
After the applause died down, she looked around at all of her neighbors, her grip on her purse tightening.
“No one should be lonely,” she said, and she sat down, rather hastily.
I wasn’t sure if she was talking about “those kids” or herself, and clearly, it didn’t matter either way.
Like I said, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting out of my trip to Cleveland, but this sure wasn’t it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Margi Interviews DeCayce

Hello--I'm turning MSCU over to Margi this week for her interview with DeCayce! Hope you enjoy it!


Hi this is Margi Vachon and I am sitting with DeCayce, the lead singer of Skeleton Crew. If you aren’t familiar with Skeleton Crew—and why would you be, because it isn’t like you can buy their CD in a store or anything—they are a punk band from New Jersey that is unique because they have a zombie lead singer. DeCayce the zombie and this is my interview with him.

Margie: Hi, DeCayce
: Hi, Margi
(Note: DeCayce has a lot of pauses in his speech but I’m not going to try and type those out or anything. It is hard enough trying to type along with this stupid recorder. Sometimes I think the pauses are because he’s a zombie and sometimes I think it is just because he thinks a lot before he says anything)

Margi: So is DeCayce your real name?
: Sort of my. My real name is Casey Dimello. So, Casey D. D. Casey.

Margi: Well plus that’s like a cool name because it is like a pun about zombies. You know, like ‘decay’.
DeCayce: Oh, you caught that?

Margi: So anyway, you’ve been in Skeleton Crew for how long?
DeCayce: Since about a month after I died.

Margi: Seriously?
DeCayce: Yes. Before I died the band we were in was called The Polynesian Gods of Southern New Jersey.

Margi: What?
DeCayce: We were a surf band.

Margi: You were in a different band with the same guys? Before you died?DeCayce: Yes.

Margi: That’s so cool! How did you die?
DeCayce: I leaped to my death from a hotel balcony tower while shouting “I am a golden god.”

Margi: No way. Really?
DeCayce: No.

Margi: Come on, how did you die?
DeCayce: I prefer not to say.
Margi: Fine, be that way. Well, were you always the singer for the band?

DeCayce: Yes. When I was alive I also played guitar, but it is very difficult for me to move my fingers fast enough on the frets now. But I am relearning.

Margi: Wow. That’s kind of sad.
DeCayce: Yes. It is.

Margi: I heard that you write a lot of the songs.
DeCayce: Yes. I write most of the lyrics. We all help write the music.

Margi: What about I’m Only Dead on the Outside? Did you write that one?
DeCayce: Yes

Margi: What about Differently Biotic, Differently Neurotic?
DeCayce: Yes. The lyrics.

Margi: Living is Like Dying? Lost the Plot?
DeCayce: Yes. And yes.

Margi: Across the Universe ?
DeCayce: No.

Margi: Hah! Just kidding. That was Fiona Apple.
DeCayce: Actually, it was—

Margi: I know who it is dummy I’m just kidding you. So, do you have any wild stories about being on the road?
DeCayce: You mean like when bioist jerks throw bottles at me?

Margi: I was thinking like whether or not you have groupies. Other than Colette.
DeCayce: Colette isn't a groupie. She's my soul mate.

Margi: Ew, whatever.
DeCayce: I wouldn’t call them groupies, but we have some fans, I guess.

Margi: Do you have more dead ones, you think, or living ones?
DeCayce: Hard to say, because sometimes it is hard for differently biotic people to get to the shows. I’m glad we have so many traditionally biotic people cheering us on.

Margi: Lots of girls think you are really hot. Which I think is pretty weird.
DeCayce: Yeah. Thanks for that.

Margi: Even beating hearts. You guys are pretty good, though.
DeCayce: Thank you.

Margi: Not as good as the Misfits were, though. Or The Damned.
DeCayce: Well, those are great bands. Legends.

Margi: Or the Others. Or Blitzkid, or Son of Sam.
DeCayce: Those are some great bands, too.

Margi: Or. Michale Graves. Or the Morgue Staff Rejects. My Chemical Romance. Paramore.
DeCayce: Ok, I get it.

Margi: Green Day. You aren’t bad, though. For a local band. Buckcherry.
DeCayce: Yeah, thanks.

Margi: So what’s next for Skeleton Crew?
DeCayce: More practice, apparently.

Margi: Come on! Don't be so sensitive!
DeCayce: Well, we’re thinking about recording a CD once we have enough money to get the studio time. I’m not sure if we’ll do it as a digital download or what.

Margi: Any new songs? Or the same old stuff I’ve heard you play at your last three shows?
DeCayce: We’ve got a new song that Dominic wrote. It is called “Karen”.
Margi: No way.

DeCayce: Way. We’re not sure what we’re going to call the album, though. We’re thinking either “Love Never Dies” or “Generation Dead”.
Margi: Go with the first one. The second will never fly.

DeCayce: Yeah, thanks for your always trenchant commentary.
Margi: No problem. Just make sure you thank me in the liner notes.

That’s all for today, everyone! This is Margi Vachon, intrepid girl reporter, signing off! Skeleton is on tour right now playing all ages shows anywhere that will have them! Check local club listings!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Road Report

Hi everyone--

Phoebe here, with another road report from Mr. Williams. I have to warn you--this is not a pleasant story, definitely not for the faint of heart. I'm still disturbed by it.

I can tell you that Tommy made it safely out of Scranton, but I'm not going to say just where he is, yet.

He thinks he's being followed.

Keep him in your thoughts, please, like I know you do. And again, his report is a very frightening one, so think twice about reading it.

Stay safe,

The Road Journal of Tommy Williams

“We’re not in New Jersey anymore,” Jason said.

The funny thing was that I knew it even before he said it. It was weird, because northwestern New Jersey isn’t all that different from that northeast corner of Pennsylvania, but I knew we were in a different place. Something in the air, or maybe the highway signs were subtly different, or the composition of the asphalt beneath the tires of Jason’s car different that the roads we’d just left behind.

Or maybe we passed a big giant ‘Welcome to Pennsylvania’ sign and my conscious mind did not register it because I was so busy scanning the bare trees for villagers with pitchforks and torches.

I’d been warned about PA, you see.

Jason drove a bright yellow VW bus that he’d nicknamed the Hearse because he’d used it to smuggle at least five dead people out of the state.

“Scranton, PA may be the city most hostile to the undead in the entire northeast,” he told me. “And that’s saying something, really.”

Jason is nineteen. He’s from South Carolina but he goes to school at Princeton, where he wants to major in cultural anthropology. He refers to his trips into PA as ‘field work’.

“Pretty much everywhere is hostile to you guys, though. That school you have over in Connecticut is a rarity. You’ve got a decent db scene in New York, and I hear that there is an even bigger one in LA and in San Francisco. I think it’s because all the dead get chased out of all the other states.”

“Except New Jersey,” I said. “Netcong was good to me.”

“Yeah, ‘cept Jersey.”

We met at a party in Lodi (which I’m told stands for “Lots of Dead Individuals”), where I was staying with DeCayce and his family for a few days. A dead girl from Cleveland named Tanya introduced him to me as ‘the guy who saved my life.”

“I was a little late,” he said, looking self-conscious beneath the brim of his Nets hat. Tonya hugged him and was clearly totally in love with him. I found out later it was because he and a few of his friends have set up a sort of underground railroad for differently biotic people. He brings most of them to Lodi, but he told me that some he’s brought further. In fact, a few of his passengers are now staying at the Haunted House.”

“Scranton hates dead people, man,” he said. “And they are organized about it, too. I think there are some people there that do what I do, except the rides they give to dead folks end in Scranton. And they are definitely one way tickets. Stacey and Rick—you’ll meet them—are pretty sure there is some sort of group that meets weekly, and each week they’ve got a differently biotic person at the meeting. Not applying for membership, either.”

On the surface, it sounded ludicrous that a group could be destroying one of my people each week as a part of some weird ceremony—they’d probably have the whole state of PA swept clean of dead kids within a year if they were—but I knew in my still heart that things like that were happening all over the country, all the time. I saw more white vans on the Garden State Parkway than I’d ever seen before in life or death, and every time we passed one I’d wonder if it was filled with assault rifles and a flamethrower. I know many of you do not quite believe in what some blog trolls refer to as “The Tommy Williams White Van Conspiracy”, but maybe you should talk to Cooper Wilson at the Hunter Foundation for an eyewitness account.

My conversation with Jason would be halted every ten minutes or so for him to answer his cell phone, and every time a certain number came up he would answer the phone “Karen here.” First I wondered why he was giving the name of one of my best friends. It took me a few of these phone calls to figure out the code.

“Charon, as in Charon the ferryman of the dead?” I said.

“Yeah,” he said, looking at me only through the reflection in the rearview. “You aren’t insulted, are you?”

“How could I be insulted by something so corny?”

(And if you are insulted in reading this I ask you to reconsider, because I won’t be apologizing and I don’t think Jason should either. Sometimes a sense of humor is all we have to cling to; there have been times where I have thought it is the only thing keeping us alive. I also won’t be apologizing for fishing two pennies out of the cup holder where Jason throws his spare coffee change and putting them on my eyes as we went into Pennsylvania, even though doing so really seemed to freak him out).

Jason told me there was a sight he wanted me to see before he brought me over to Stacey and Rick’s apartment. What he wanted me to see was the towering, wrinkled face of Reverend Nathan Mathers, his five foot tall eyes still managing to look beady and empty as he peered down at us from a massive billboard, holding a copy of his wonderful book The Undead Scourge. For some reason, his greedy cold eyes made me think the title was actually The Uncle Scrooge. Maybe I’ve already been on the road too long.

“That was paid for by a local church group,” Jason told me as we drove by, “they raised part of the money by having bake sales and car washes that the parishioners’ kids did.”

We went past Mathers doing seventy, but his looming visage did not recede nearly quickly enough for me.

Rick and Stacy (who aren’t really Rick and Stacy, the same way Jason and Tanya have different names and the bright yellow bug that Jason-not-Jason drives might actually be a battered old pickup; the work they do being dangerous to themselves and the cargo they transport) are twenty-year old hippies, who speak with the same fervent conviction that I have seen Mathers (the actual six foot version) utilize, although you can see a light in their eyes that is absent even in the larger than life reproduction of Mathers. They don’t eat meat, they don’t wear leather, and they are involved in a number of environmental issues when they are not helping the dead escape to a better ‘life’ further east.

“We respect the sanctity of life and death,” Stacy tells me, her hand on my arm and her eyes scanning my face with an intensity I would find frightening if I were still alive and still fearful. “God created all things. Everything.”

“Yeah,” Rick said, his lips barely visible behind a thick brown beard that would probably let him run covert ops missions among the Amish, “the idea that you guys are some sort of demonic presence on the Earth is just crazy. I think the idea that anything other than God is responsible for creating you is even more blasphemous that what Mathers and those guys say. If God made the Earth and everything on it, and then someone says he didn’t make you and you are blasphemous, isn’t that blasphemy? I mean, what the heck.”

Rick was practically shaking with incredulity, but luckily I had Stacey’s steadying hand on my arm as she scanned my face, appreciating the sanctity of death.

“I could use some coffee,” Jason said, to try and lighten the mood, I guess.

“Man, that’s the most damaging drug of all,” Rick said. “The uptight drug, we call it.”

“You drink tea, though,” Stacey reminded him.

“Yeah,” Rick agreed.

I know my portrait of Rick and Stacey may seem a little unflattering, a little mocking. Don’t let it distract you from the fact that these people are literally the main reason why a number of us are still walking around. But they are real people, just like any of us, and for me to portray them as anything other than who they really are would be wrong.

Jason drove. I sat in the back with Stacey who was telling me all about her theory that we, the dead, were really some type of new human/plant hybrid while Rick cycled through the radio stations without cease. I think we were going south.

“Some plants, they die…as in actual death, roots dried up and all,” Stacey said. “And then they come back. With sunlight, or water. Or because someone is talking to them. Isn’t that amazing, the idea that you could bring someone back to life just by talking to them?”

“Pretty amazing,” I said. The car which may or may not have been a bright yellow bug was regardless cramped in the back seat. Stacey was wearing a peasant shirt and was not wearing a bra. I have a friend who has as many bracelets on her arm as Stacey had ribbons in her hair.

“Worms, if you cut them in half, each grow into a new worm. Energy can never be destroyed, only transformed. Maybe you have just found another way to transform your own energy instead of releasing it when you let go of your body. I see auras; that’s how come we can find the walkaways like we do. You all have this cool blue aura, like that new color of Gatorade or certain fabric softening agents.”

“Thanks,” I said. “What are ‘Walkaways’?”

She nodded vigorously. There were a couple feathers in the shrubbery of her hair that fluttered like tiny wings. “That’s what we call the dead on the lam. Not too many of you can actually run.”

“Oh,” I’d said. That one, at least, made some sense to me.

“I can’t tell who the bad people are versus the good ones. Jason and Ricky have such nice golden auras, really pretty. Most of the people in town have this sickly gray color. Like cigarette smoke or cancer. Ick.”

“I just think we are put here on earth to constantly renew ourselves, every day. Did you know that every seven years your body replaces all of its cells, one cell at a time? Living people, anyways. I don’t know if the dead actually do cell replacement. I’ve never studied the subatomics and molecular nature of the differently biotic before. I studied pre-law in school. Can you imagine me as a paralegal? Can you believe it?”

The funny thing was that I could, and in some ways I wished that she had become one. Jason told me as we crossed the border (after asking me would I please take the pennies off of my eyes) that Pennsylvania was one of the first states to pass legislation concerning the differently biotic (although in their laws the term used is “undead”). The law they passed actually made it illegal to “give occupancy” to an undead person, which meant that she and Rick had broken the law just letting me into their apartment, and it was probably a more serious crime than the one they were committing with their little horticultural experiments.

“They did it because there was a farmer in Bethlehem who was letting two dead people stay in his barn in exchange for free labor. His neighbors complained and lo and behold there was a fire of mysterious origin in the barn. Luckily the zombies weren’t in it at the time; they were inside the farmers’ house tiling his bathroom or something like that. I don’t even think I’m supposed to have you in my car.”

It was strange hearing the story from Jason, as it was one I had heard directly from one of the zombies who’d stayed on the farm, although in his version he and his friend (who never made it out of Pennsylvania) were scaring crows out of the fields. It was weird—so much of our history is an oral history, and hearing the tale retold by a traditionally biotic person gave me an odd little thrill of validation—if not vindication.

Somehow during the conversation with Stacey, we had drifted of Rte. 80 and onto some twisting and hilly back roads, roads more likely to be lined with brush and cattle fences than street lights.

“You are going to wish you’d taken the long way,” Rick said to me over his shoulder, “this isn’t pretty.”

Jason took a sharp left onto a “road” that was really just a set of tire ruts in a hard packed grassy field. He drove about a third of a mile in and stopped within about fifty feet of a metal pole set in a hillock of dirt as if hurled there by an angry deity. The dirt of the hillock, as well as the grass immediately around the hillock, was packed down hard, as though trodden frequently by many feet.

There was a blackish lump, about the size of a small suitcase, at the base of the pole. When I opened the door the smell of gasoline on the air was strong enough to hit even my less than sensitive nose, not the scent one would expect in the middle of an open field.

I looked back at my three living companions.

“I’m stayin’ here, man,” Rick said. Stacey, who was crying silently, squeezed his shoulder and followed me out of the car.

Jason reached the pole first. The suitcase was the charred remains of one of my people, just a lump of charred ash and bone. The pole, which in more human settings would have had a basketball net attached, was streaked with greasy soot.

“They chain them here,” Jason was saying, looking down at the poor thing that used to be a person, the pile listing to the side. “They chain them and douse them and light them up. End of story.”

“Every week?”

He looked at Stacey for the answer, but Stacey had knelt in close to the remains and I realized that she was saying a prayer. “Poor thing,” she said, “poor little girl.”

She stood, and beckoned me to the other side of the hillock. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw on the other side. I wasn’t really prepared for seeing the charred body, even though Jason told me that’s what we were going to do, but the trench on the other side of the hillock…I could not even guess as to how many bodies burned into ash it had taken to fill that trench, a trench that was long and wide and filled with a crumbling black substance that looked like charcoal until you realized that the dots of white, some as big as my palm, were bone fragments. I didn’t even know there were that many dead people living.

I thought I felt the wind then, looking down into that trench. At that mass grave.

Some people, the people who might be scared of us but not scared enough to want to burn us like monsters, say that we are ghosts wearing human flesh. Looking at the trench I could feel the ghosts of my people;they were tugging at my sleeves and whispering in my ear and urging me to do what I had taken this trip to do.

I don’t know how long I stood there. Eventually Jason said that we shouldn’t hang around.

I stopped at the burning post again on the way to the car, and when I got down on one knee I blinked; I thought I was hallucinating because I thought I saw a flash of light in the center of the burned remains. I looked again and saw that what had flashed was a tiny lump of metal glinting in the sunlight. I pried the lump, a flat melted disc of gold no bigger than my thumbnail, with fingertips that came away black with soot. The disc came free of its charred prison with a brittle snap.

A locket, I thought. This was once a locket, given to her by someone, a relative or a boyfriend perhaps, someone still living who had no idea that the little girl who they’d given it to would spend her last moments on this earth chained and aflame, ringed by a throng of blank-faced men.

I put the disc in my pocket and wiped my fingers on the sides of my jeans. Jason started the car and Rick, without turning around, said that they needed to get me out of Scranton.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Words From A Beating Heart: Round Numbers

Phoebe here, celebrating! Why, you ask? A couple reasons:

#1. There are now 1500 people on the Wall! Even though so many of my friends have traveled far from Oakvale, at least we've got so many friendly faces inside the Haunted House!

#2. This is the 100th post to! Yay!

On behalf of everyone here at I'd like to thank all our readers and Wall participants for your support and kind thoughts!

I won't be referring to you all as a "horde" like a certain Mr. Williams, however...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Words From a Beating Heart

Hi everyone, Phoebe here. I'm writing to let you know we'll be posting the newest road report from Tommy in just a few days. I don't want anyone to worry, but he had a very close call when crossing from New Jersey into Pennsylvania. Scary but everything is okay.

In other news, Margi told me that she talked to Colette a few days ago and that the Skeleton Crew tour got off to a rocky start. It seems that a club owner in Albany did not know that DeCayce was a zombie when he booked the band, and so he killed the band's power during their opening number. Well, turns out there is a small but very, um, energetic, crowd of pro-zombie youth in Albany and they kind of ran amok in the club. I'm afraid readers in the Albany area won't be seeing any shows there in quite awhile!

I'd tell you the name of the club but we have enough to worry about without being sued by bioist club owners.

And Margi said that she is actually going to write a piece for mysocalledundeath, can you believe it? She and Colette (who Margi is now calling "Yoko", ha-ha) are going to do two interviews--Margi is going to interview DeCayce, and Colette is going to be interviewing the living members of the band so each can find out a little about what "life" is like on the other side. It should be fun!

Although my big grumpy boyfriend is saying that they should call the interview "Open Hearts and Empty Heads".

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Road Journal

The Road Journal of Tommy Williams

Okay, I am perfectly willing to admit that that is a stupid title for my journal. How about this, we’ll have a contest where whoever sends in the best title will get a free Zombie-riffic T-Shirt sent to them, courtesy of the good folks at It’s death-tastic! Get those entries in!

Just kidding.

I’ve walked now for hours and hours. Mapquest tells me that New Haven is 50.46 miles away from my starting point, most of which is on Rte. 95. I’m actually far past that now, nearly in New York. I stopped at a rest stop on the highway for awhile to type some notes and charge my batteries (literally charge my batteries, the cell phone and the computer). Most of the folks that drifted into the rest stop were there to either use the bathroom or to get something to eat from one of the two fast food options inside, so I got a number of strange looks during my stay there, presumably because I don’t have to engage in either of those bodily functions anymore. At least one person saw me and decided to leave without buying any food. I wasn’t insulted, I was happy to think that my death might have contributed to at least one person living a little longer. Some scientists believe that certain fast foods are what cause American teens to rise from the dead, but I suspect this is a rumor circulated by the companies themselves. Yes, they are that insidious.

I spent some time just people watching, but, being dead, I needed to be careful that it wasn’t people-staring. Trads can get freaked out by that sort of thing. But there was this one guy who sat at a table not too far from me, and he had two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. I have to confess I watched very intently as he unwrapped one from the crinkly blue paper. I really liked Filet-O-Fish sandwiches when I was alive. I could smell it from where I sat and I think if he offered me one I would have taken a bite. I can honestly say that I have never felt like taking a bite out of anything since I returned to life. I have a dead friend who has eaten and drank a few things since coming back and she says there hasn’t been any ill effects but I just don’t know.

Anyhow, I must have been really staring because the man was talking to me and I wasn’t even aware of it.

“You dead?” he said.

“Excuse me?” I replied, trying to sound as trad as I could. The man was pretty big, he was wearing a cap that advertised some brand of heavy machinery above the brim and he wore a large stained army jacket, one that looked like he’d worn it as he crawled under vehicles. He looked like he was in his early sixties or so, but if he was he was a rugged, healthy sixty, overweight but with muscle underneath the extra padding. He had a round face that he shaved clean like a lot of rumpled looking but neat guys that worked with their hands. The Filet-O-Fish, which he hadn’t bitten yet, was almost invisible in his hand, like a baseball deep in the pocket of a center fielders’ glove.

He took a bite then, and chewed thoughtfully, “I said, are you dead?”

I said that I was. He nodded, and washed down his swallow with a big gulp of Sprite, just like I would have done.

“Thought so,” he said. “Got a nephew who’s dead. Stupid idiot brother-in-law wouldn’t let him in the house so my sister had to move out with him. She lives with my parents now. They’re in their eighties, still kicking as high as you please.”

“No kidding,” I said. “Whereabouts?”

“PA,” he said, pronouncing it “Pee-Ay”. “Scranton, to be exact. Terrible place for one of you to be living. Bunch of ignorant so-and-so’s out there.”

“Really,” I said. “Where were they from originally? Around here?”

He nodded. “Lived over in Groton with my dumb ass brother in law. She wanted to send him over to that school in Oakvale, the one where a bunch of you go.”

“No kidding,” I said. “That’s where I went. It’s a great school.”
Somehow he’d finished his first sandwich even though I’d only seen him take two bites.

“You don’t go there any more?” he asked me. I told him I didn’t and I tried to explain to him what I was going to try and do. When he was finished he scratched his jaw and squinted at me.

“No joke?” he said. “You’ve got some guts. There’s a lot of ignorant bastards out there. Especially down south. You’re going to have to watch yourself, you know?”

“I’ll be careful,” I told him.

And then the second sandwich was gone, and he was down to the ice in his soda.

“I gotta go jump a vehicle in Bridgeport,” he said,rising. “My name is Al Johanssen. You want a lift?”

I told him that would be great, and I started packing my stuff up.

He owned his own towing business, and he worked mainly taking calls for Triple A, jump starting cars and towing. He did most of the talking as we cruised on down the highway, which was weird because I got the sense that he wasn’t somebody who talked much. He told me that the tow truck business was a second career for him, that he used to have a pretty big heavy equipment and hauling business but he sold it all when his wife of thirty years “caught the cancer”.

“She’s been gone five years now,” he said, “That was the worst thing. The worst thing ever until Joe, that’s my nephew, got killed in a car wreck. He and a few of his buddies were goofin’ off and drinkin’ and they got in a car and that was that. Joey was the only one that didn’t walk away.”

He sighed heavily. “The only one that didn’t walk away alive, that is.”

I know this doesn’t really happen any more, but I thought I could feel the hair on my neck standing up. Most of you that read this column know that I was killed in a car wreck along with my father. I heard later the guy that hit us was drunk. I don’t remember what it was like being dead, at least before I returned, but I can remember the impact of when that car hit us, and I remember the car spinning around in a circle that almost seemed lazy to me. I remember a lot about dying.

“We never had kids,” Al told me. “Always wanted ‘em, just couldn’t have ‘em. I guess Jeanie’s plumbing was screwed up all along. Anyhow, we really spent a lot of time with Joey. Watching him for my sister whenever she wanted. I’d take him fishing. He loved fishing.”

By this time I wasn’t saying anything, I was just sitting and letting him talk. He was driving with a heavy hand slumped over the wheel. His eyes were focused on the road ahead but I could tell it was really the past he was looking into. I watched him swallow hard, and then he took a sip of the large Sprite he’d refilled on our way out.

“I really miss that kid,” he said. “He was a real comfort to me when Jeannie died.”

There was a lot he wasn’t saying, too. I could feel the weight of his silence hovering in the space between us like family ghosts.

He drove to a Wal-Mart parking lot where some harried Mommy had left her lights on while getting the shopping done. I saw her waving to us frantically from the center of the lot, breathless as she waited for Al to arrive with the big engine and the jumper cables. I pointed her out and Al nodded, but he drove over to the far edge of the lot and parked.

“I’m going to let you off here,” he said. “No offence.”

He didn’t want the harried Mommy to get spooked. I couldn’t blame him.

“None taken," I said. "Thanks for the ride.” I pulled my backpack from behind the seat where his tools were.

“You be careful,” he said. “Like I said there’s a lot of ignorant bastards out there.”

I told him I’d be careful. I had almost shut the door when for some reason, I stopped.

I don’t know why I stopped. I don’t know how the synapses in our undead brains still seem to fire and spark even though the blood and oxygen doesn’t flow. I don’t know what possessed me to say what I said, just like I don’t know why the Universe or the Fates or God or whatever force it is that came upon me when I died still allows me to talk and walk two years after my death.

“Hey Al,” I said. “You know that people in Scranton need their cars towed, too.”
And then Al looked at me, really looked at me and saw me, as though for the first time. I could tell. It was sort of like watching someone walking up. I could see something in his expression change, something beyond the smile that crossed his round, clean-shaven face as he held out his massive hand for me to shake.

“Stay safe, son,” he said.

“Thanks again, Al,” I replied, and then I started loping back towards the highway, thinking about how the dead could still influence the living, and the living still love the dead.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Words From A Beating Heart--Tommy's Travels, Adam's Observations

I just wanted to give you a quick update on Tommy. He’s safe with friends in Pennsylvania right now, and he’s going to be sending road reports pretty soon. For reasons known only to him, he was lucky enough to have caught a ride from a sympathetic truck driver he met at a service center on the highway. He said that so far just about everyone he’s met along the road has been very kind and helpful to him which has been great. But he also said he’s seen some horrific evidence of crimes against the undead. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.
Speaking of thoughts and prayers, Adam wanted me to thank everyone who has posted on mysocalledundeath for all of the kind thoughts you’ve sent his way. We both really appreciate it, and I really think it helps Adam as he tries to deal with things now that he’s on the other side of life. The thing that amazes me the most about Adam in this difficult time is how he’s kept his sense of humor. It shows up at really strange times in really strange ways. Like we were watching a basketball game (ok, he was watching a basketball game and I was trying to read) a few weeks ago and every so often he’d make a comment. He doesn’t speak all that much right now—it still takes him a great effort—but during the game he was practically chatty.
The first time it happened I was right in the middle of a really good paragraph so I hadn’t really caught on to what he said, just that he’d spoken.
“What?” I said, looking up.
He nodded at the screen, where a tall man in green was trying to in-bounds the ball.
“Dead…ball,” he said, not looking at me.
A few minutes later he spoke again.
“Watch,” he said. I looked up at the screen as another player in green was jumping and sort of falling back as he shot the ball from far away from the basket.
“Dead…eye,” Adam said as the ball left the player’s fingers. It sailed in a perfect arc into the hoop.
The other team called time out, and after some milling around the station cut to a commercial, and there was a three second gap between the broadcast and the advertisement.
“Dead…air,” Adam said. I made a funny face at him, but when he turned towards me he was completely free from expression.
“I’m trying…to…wink,” he said.
He’s a funny one, when he wants to be.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Words From A Beating Heart

Every decision we make in life has some element of risk. Faced with two choices, each contains risk, even if one path appears to be the safer of the two. What might seem the secure choice in the short term might end up being the one most fraught with danger down the road.

Tommy Williams is the first zombie that I became friends with. I suppose it goes without saying that this was a risky proposition for both of us, although it was far more dangerous for him than it was for me. Laws are in place to give me some protection, whereas for Tommy and other zombies, their very existence is considered to be an unlawful act by some. If I'm being honest, though, which is something I always try to be, our becoming friends didn't feel like a risky or radical act. It just seemed the right thing to do. I have many, many friends who are zombies now, and Tommy has friends and admirers among us "traditionally biotic" people.

But now Tommy is taking another risk. He is going to travel, alone, around the country. There's many reasons why he is doing this, and he has many goals, some of which he's talked about and some he keeps to himself. He's leaving a community where, although these sentiments are not universal, he is respected and loved by many people. He's leaving this environment to visit places in our country where he will not be welcomed. He's travelling to places where, if the reports are true, zombies are routinely destroyed or "reterminated" by people who have no interest in understanding "differently biotic" people.

So Tommy is taking a trip with great risk. But knowing him as I do, he doesn't consider the risk. All he considers is that it is the right thing to do.

I'm worried about him, of course, but I wouldn't try to stop him or convince him to do anything other than what he's doing. But in writing this, I'm hoping that I can convince others to help remove some of the risk from his journey. If you see Tommy "on the road", say hello. I think he lives a lonelier life than any living, breathing person can imagine. If you see him, let him know where he needs to be careful and where he might be in danger. Let him know also where he would be accepted, because I think that will help him on his way.

Karen and I will be moderating mysocalledundeath for the time that Tommy is on the road, and we hope to soon have some of his correspondence to post before too long--he's leaving tomorrow. We'll also be writing a few posts of our own to fill the time in between--but don't be surprised if the blog is "silent" for awhile--there's a lot going on here in Oakvale.

Thanks for reading,


PS: We're having a little trouble with the site, so comments might not be posted for awhile.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


One thousand people, zombie and otherwise, have now joined the wall. I can't wait to meet some of you out on the road.

Phoebe promises me that she will write an installment of "Words from a Beating Heart" for the blog by the end of the week.

Stay tuned...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Itinerary Completed

Thank you, everyone who sent in suggestions telling me where to go (everyone, that is, except poster "RevMathers"--you can guess where he told me to go.

Here are the final official stops for the Zombies Across America Tour:

Denver, Colorado
Omaha, Nebraska

Kelsey, MaliceinWonderland,Werewolf Moon and Sonakaru should all send me an email with an address I can send a Generation Dead wristband to.

In other news, we somehow had another 72 people post their names to the Wall in the past 8 days. Maybe we could get 1000 by the end of summer?

Rumor has it that I am not the only one taking a trip, btw. The word on the street is that Pete Martinsberg is also going to be leaving Oakvale for an undisclosed amount of time. Does anyone have any information on that?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Z.A.A. + The Growing Horde

800 people on the Wall! How did that happen?

A few more people will be sent wristbands if they email me at TommyWilliams17 at

CrazedKittyCat for suggesting Pekin, Illinois.

YourDeadFriendBee for suggesting Los Angeles, California.

Axel, for suggesting Marietta, Georgia.

On my swing into Georgia I might visit Montgomery county. I read a story recently about Montgomery County High School that disturbed me--the high school holds two proms, which are referred two by many students as "the white-folks prom" and "the black folks prom". I have to admit that I was amazed that there would be racially segregated events in any high school today;if America cannot clear these existing hurdles, I can't imagine that we'll ever see the day were zombies are fully included with living society.

You can read the article HERE.

I've got three more stops to select for Zombies Across America--keep those suggestions coming!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Zombies Across America

I'll be making a stop in Netcong, NJ. Thanks to SNZA for the suggestion. SNZA, let me know where I can send your wristband.

That's four stops locked up--I need six more. Please keep your suggestions coming.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


We've had a number of new people put themselves on the Wall--the horde is 750 strong!--so I thought I'd do a little updating for the newbies and newlydeads.

I'm Tommy Williams, this is my blog. I try to write about things that are happening in the zombie community. You can click onto the wall in the link at the right and join the virtual Wall, which is open to traditionally biotic and differently biotic people alike.

Every so often either Phoebe or Karen will write a guest blog. Come to think of it, neither has written here for awhile so I'll bug them.

I'm going to be taking a trip across America soon, and am looking for place to visit--if you think that your town would be a good place to check out, either because it is hospitable or hostile to zombies, let me know. Post to the blog and let me know where, and whether you think the town is pro or con zombie. Pro con zombie is not a delicious dip that tastes great with tortilla chips; that would be chili con carne.

Thanks to Lily Benan for suggesting a visit to Charleston, S.C. She, like the other nine people whose towns are chosen, will be sent a wristband from the Skip Slydell collection. So far I'll be going to Charleston, New Orleans and Memphis.

Stay whole,


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Can I Visit Your Hometown II?

I've decided on two stops of my tour, which I'm calling Zombies Across America.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Memphis, Tennessee

Many thanks to Gabrielle and Fantastic Book Review for the suggestions. If you are either Gabrielle or Fantastic Book Review and would send me an email with an address I can send you a gift--a wristband that shows your support of the undead--I'll get it in the mail right away. My email addy is

TommyWilliams17 at

I've still got eight more stops to locate, so please keep the selections coming. I haven't been through all of the posts yet, so if you've already posted your suggestion you still have a chance.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Can I Visit Your Hometown?

A few weeks ago I asked readers of this blog about how friendly/unfriendly your town is to the differently biotic. Now I have a new question to ask you, if you could help me out.

I'm starting to plan a trip across, and I'm looking for places to visit, the idea being that I would write about the places I visit and then post the writings on the blog. I'm looking to visit two kinds of places specifically:

1. Places that are very hospitable to zombies

2. Places that are very hostile to zombies.

If you would like me to visit your town, please post a comment to this blog with the following:

A. Your town and state
B. Whether your town is friendly or hostile to zombies
C. Why you think your town is friendly/hostile to zombies

I'd appreciate it. Phoebe and Karen are bugging me to do this as a contest or something, so if your town is picked for a visit we may end up sending you something for your trouble.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Membership Drive--Successful

Thanks to those of you who encouraged friends to join the Wall, which now has over seven hundred members.

You know what I don't miss at all? Allergies. Poor Margi has been sneezing up a storm.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Little Help Here

Um, could one of you get one of your friends to join the Wall? Right now we have a number that Reverend Mathers would have an apocalyptic field day with.

What do you suppose the events would be if there really was an apocalyptic field day? 100 Yard Flaming Dash? High Jump into the Pit? Nine-legged race? Javelin catch?

Sorry. Please get someone to join.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Strength in Numbers

Six hundred and fifty people on the wall...

I received a post to this blog from "anonymous" that suggested that I was basically undermining zombie/trad relations with how I presented information in my blog. Here's a quote:

"By hinting that every mention of zombies in the national media is another example of an anti-zombie conspiracy, and by constantly referring to so-called 'white van abductions'--no proof of which exists--you are actually doing more than just about anyone else to ensure that the living and the dead will not be able to coexist without fear and suspicion."

I get the sense that this post was from a basically well-meaning living person, but one who is truly ignorant as to the amount of very real ("alleged" white van incidents notwithstanding) violence done to nonliving persons daily. I don't have to look any further than my own town for concrete examples of such violence. Even so, I think there is a valuable point here--the line between "raising awareness" and "creating paranoia" may be a thin one.

What do you think?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Location, Location, Location

How hostile to the undead is your hometown? Oakvale is almost schizophrenic; on the one hand we have the Hunter Foundation and Oakvale school, two pro-zombie (at least, the seem pro-zombie) institutions, but on the other hand we've got a very strong undercurrent of bioist bias here.

In your town, is the "zombie phenomenon" well known, or (pardon the pun) underground?

Are people generally supportive of the undead, or hostile?

Are the undead generally permitted to be in public places (the mall, the library, the local bowling alley)?

Are the undead allowed to attend school?

I'm interested for a number of reasons. First, to be able to compile a list of areas that are not hospitable to zombies and steer them away from those areas, and second, to have a similar list for zombies needed to relocate.

Ultimately, it would be great to figure out why the pro-zombie areas are that way.

Any ideas or comments, please send them our way.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cheers? Jeers

Woody Hates Zombies

So apparently Mr. Harrelson's defense in what will almost certainly be an assault case will be "I thought he was a zombie", the implication being that if the photographer was "only", a zombie, it would be okay to beat him up.

It will be interesting to see how this clearly bioist defense will play out should the case go to court.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Numbers Game

I think it is very strange that we can't seem to get even a semi-accurate count of how many undead Americans there are. In the past three months I've seen two news articles that mentioned the zombie population, one of which estimated that there "may be as many as two thousand" zombies in the U.S.", and another which said that the figure was likely to be near ten thousand!

Quite a difference. What I'm wondering is, why such a discrepancy? Obviously, there are some factors that make an accurate count difficult--one being that in many states being undead is criminalized to the point where zombies need to go into hiding, and another would be that zombies are quite often destroyed within days after returning.

I'm wondering if this lack of accuracy with regards to a zombie census is a way for certain interests to keep the zombie community destabilized.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Message to the Horde

We are now six hundred strong--and so now it is time to strike! Arise! Arise, my undead brothers and sisters! Arise and FEAST on the FLESH of the LIVING! AH HA HA HA HAR ARGH NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM...

Just kidding. Honestly, after dying even having a hamburger sounds kind of gross, never mind "the flesh of the living". Yuck. I don't even know why I wrote that, I'm in a very strange mood lately. You know when you feel as though everything has changed, and yet, nothing has? Me, neither. I don't know what I'm talking about right now. I apologize in advance to all the trad folk on the Wall and here as visitors. I didn't mean to scare you or freak you out. Just having a little April Fool's fun.

But, on a serious note--six hundred! And it isn't just The Wall that is growing--we've had more permanent guests here at the Haunted House in the past week than we had in the first few months after we moved to Oakvale. The "official reports" say that there are less than two-thousand of us, but I think those numbers might be considerably off.

Like I wrote the other day...I'm feeling that it is time for a change. Many changes, even.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thinking Out Loud

I'm thinking that this might be a good time for a change...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dead Men Tell Slow Tales

In addition to the "expressiveness" difficulties with communication, zombies and traditionally biotic folks have the hurdle of our slower rate of speech to contend with. Please note, however, that most of us hear just fine, so shouting at the top of your lungs isn't going to speed the conversation up any faster than it would with, say, someone who only speaks Norwegian. Conversely, volume is a problem for us as well; many zombies can make their voices raise above a whisper only with great effort.

I'm afraid that our inability to speak at a normal speed causes many of us to not speak at all, unfortunately. To be dead in public is almost the very definition of being self-conscious, where the dead person is well aware that all the eyes of the living are upon them. Add to that the idea of speaking in public when you can't quite get the words out fast enough and you have many kids that would rather say nothing at all.

This doesn't mean we don't have anything to say.

The fact that typical communication happens at a much faster rate, perhaps, then ever before in human history only compounds the matter. ZOMG! Lol, srsly. We understand that it is difficult to go from speed-of-thought texting and near-telepathic communications with living friends to the slow, drawn out dialogue you may have with a zombie, trust me. It wasn't all that long ago when we were doing the same things as you were.

I have a friend, a zombie, named Melissa who lost the ability to speak in a fire. For the record, the fire that injured her in this way was not what killed her; she was hurt in a fire that was meant to destroy her and a group of zombies she lived with. A fire that was mostly successful--only she and a boy escaped a blaze that left many others reterminated.

Melissa communicates now with a whiteboard and marker. She can't write very fast, or very neatly, and it sometimes takes her longer to write what she wants to say than it does even the slowest zombie to speak. Communicating with Melissa, then, is an act of patience even for a zombie. But, like most acts of patience, it is always well worth the effort. Despite all of the pain and heartache she has gone through (or maybe because of it), the things that she writes are inevitably profound. I've talked to her a few times since she began taking classes at the Hunter Foundation, and she has often provided me the necessary insight to solve an issue that I or one of our zombie friends is dealing with.

I guess what I'm saying is, just like in my post regarding expression, patience is the key. I've come to the realization that, between two people, the listener has the primary responsibility in communication. The best, most erudite speaker in the world is going to have a hard time getting through to someone who isn't paying any attention, whereas a good listener--one who is patient, open, and making an honest effort to understand--can often hear even the things that the shy, still voice
isn't saying.


Monday, March 16, 2009


In less than two weeks another fifty people, living and dead, have added themselves to the Wall.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Care And Feeding of Your Undead Friend

I'm not really going to be writing about feeding zombies--we don't eat. Although some people speculate that we "feed" off of ultraviolet radiation, and others think that we actually absorb moisture and toxins from the air, sort of like undead air filters. I've got a friend who is testing the UV theory, using one of those lights that people use to grow plants.

But in terms of "caring"--I've had some discussions with folks at the Haunted House about a number of topics regarding zombie/trad relations, the difficulties and barriers that exist. One of the first--and biggest of these barriers is the difficulty most zombies have with expression. Our post death-bodies, for whatever reason, don't lend themselves well to expression, so if you have an undead friend, you are unlikely to be greeted with the smiles, lightening and softening of the eyes, and rosy-cheeked expressions you get from your trad friends, unless that undead person is trying really, really hard to be expressive. And we are well aware that the results of our attempts at expression are sometimes, well, grisly. Picture an eyebrow frozen in a permanent arch, a smile that reaches only one side of the face and shows too many teeth, an eye made permanently lazy. Most children learn expressiveness from their parents beaming down at them in their cribs; all of that needs to be re-learned, and the unwilling muscles retrained after death.

Undead people are frequently frustrated by the attempt to show expression. Karen, who is particularly good and "natural" at it, actually works pretty hard at making her facial expressions seem effortless, but for other kids it can take months.

Positive feedback, works. Saying something like, "Hey, Kev! You've been working on your smile, haven't you? Looks great!" can go a long way towards making a dead kid feel good about the effort they are making, whereas framing your comments in a negative manner, like "Yo, Sylvia, only half of your lip is working" is a guaranteed buzzkill. Never, never, never suggest to an undead person that they "turn that frown upside down". We can't be held responsible for the consequences.

And for zombies, I'd suggest that you stay patient with your trad friends who might be having a difficult time understanding you. A great deal of communication between people is exchanged non verbally; living people send out hundreds of different signals and cues from posture, expression, gesture, etc., so it can be very difficult trying to "decode" a person who doesn't exhibit any of those behaviors. Think of how easy it is to send mixed signals to people, even ones you know really well. Think of all the times you accidentally hurt someone's feelings when you were trying to do the opposite.

The key, for both living and dead, is patience. Ask questions, communicate often, don't be afraid. I think everyone will find it is well worth the effort.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Horde Grows

We now have five hundred people on the Wall.

I'm amazed and humbled. When I first started this blog, I did so really for my own sanity. If it weren't for a few people close to me in Oakvale when I started, I don't know that I would have continued. I had no idea there were that many of us; no idea that people would come once I started writing and posting.

The idea that my words have may have helped give zombies hope, and maybe helped them survive, as well as helping traditionally biotic people understand us a little more and have a little more compassion, truly astonishes me. I'm so grateful for all of you.

Thank you all so much.

But I feel like there's so much more to do, and so many of us out there, lost and without friends...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Zombie Social Networking

I just wanted to make everyone aware that a virtual Haunted House was created by a friendly zombie/trad coalition. If you ever want to hang out and discuss all things zombie on the web, it is a great place to be. They discuss books there as well so if you like to read, check it out. Zombies, living people, and yetis are all welcome.

Click the link and register today: The Haunted House

Friday, February 27, 2009

Death in the Family, Part 5

The final installment of the Dead in the Family transcripts, which features the second half of the interview with the "Utleys".

What was the hardest part about your son becoming a zombie?

Jeff: Everything about it was hard. Everything.

Rachael: It was difficult in so many ways.

Jeff: He wasn't allowed to attend school. We had friends--ha! "Friends" who ceased all contact with us immediately.

Rachael: It was painful, watching him struggle.

Jeff: I was harassed at work. Presents left on my desk. A dead squirrel draped on the hood of my car.

Rachael: (Looks at Jeff) I think the hardest thing of all was that his brothers were scared of him, at first.

They were scared of their brother?

Rachael: (Nods) And it hurt him, I know it did, even though he didn't show it. They were cruel about the way they treated him, not intentionally, but I knew they were avoiding him.

How did you help them get over their fear? Or could you?

Rachael: We were patient and didn't try to force acceptance. We tried to make it safe for them to talk about their feelings, while at the same time including Joshua in everything we did as a family. The interaction was helping Joshua regain some control, and as he "returned" in some ways, the boys were more comfortable being with him.

Jeff: The process fed itself.

Rachael: The boys had long talks with our rabbi as well, and that helped greatly. He has been incredibly supportive. It meant so much when others were turning us away.

Jeff: It's strange. Many people ran away, couldn't get away from us fast enough, but others stepped up. Neighbors. There was a petition to the school board to allow Joshua to attend school. And we won.

So Joshua is going back to school?

Rachael: We prefer to homeschool right now. (Looks at Jeff). We're considering moving to Connecticut.

Jeff: There's a program their with the Hunter Institute which fosters inclusion of differently biotic kids in public schools. We're considering it.

Do you have any advice for other families with differently biotic children?

Jeff: Read eveything you can on the subject. The bad and the good. Skip Slydell's books are great. (Laughs) But get the bad stuff at the library; don't give any of those jerks money.

Rachael: Forming a support group with other families with differently biotic children can be very powerful. We have two other families that we meet with on a regular basis in each other's homes, and we correspond with many others on the Internet.

Jeff: (Looks at Rachael, smiles) Rachael contributes to a parenting blogring where she writes about raising a differently biotic kid.

Rachael: I think the most important thing is to love your child. Never stop loving your child. No matter what he or she does, no matter what happens, he or she is still your child. They need your love and approval. Never forget that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dead in the Family, Part 4

Today's excerpt from the Dead in the Family features an interview with the "Utleys" (not their real name) Jeff and Rachael. Unlike the parents interviewed in the previous segments, the Utleys have taken their zombie son Joshua back in. They have two older boys, Albert and Paul.

How did your son die?

Jeff: Joshua died in an accident at summer camp. He died in a fall from a tree.

Did he become a zombie immediately?

Jeff: He came back a little over two days after his death.

That must have been difficult, waiting to see if he would return.

Rachael: It was awful. They wouldn't release his body from the hospital.

Jeff: Five days. They will wait five days now. The longest until rising is five days.

How did they notify you?

Rachael: A doctor came to the waiting room to tell me.

You were at the hospital?

Rachael: One of us was there the entire time they held him there. Jeff had just left to check on the boys.

What was going through your mind when the doctor told you? Were you happy?

Rachael: Overjoyed!


Rachael: Of course I was.

What did you think when you saw him?

Rachael: (tearing) All I could think was how lucky I was that I was able to tell my son how much I loved him again, so that was what I did.

Did he look any differently to you?

Jeff: (handing tissues to his wife) Of course he did. He couldn't talk, and he could barely walk. It was like the left side of his body had been paralysed at first. He didn't blink. And he had terrible wounds on his chest and abdomen. (Smiles). But who cares how he looked? Or that he was slow? He was back, that was all that mattered.

Rachael: He was smiling again in two months.

Jeff: Two months! Some differently biotic kids are lucky if they are expressing themselves within a year after their deaths.

So you didn't have any reservations about taking Joshua back in? No question about whether he was really your son?

Jeff: (waves hand) None whatsoever. Look, I'm not going to say it wasn't difficult. But the difficulties we had to deal with were societal--many of our neighbors were not thrilled about Joshua coming home. As though we were supposed to turn him out of our home just because he was different!

Rachael: It was hard seeing him that way. It was hard knowing that he was going to have a much different...time with things now that he was dead. He would get frustrated. He missed his friends, many of whom were forbidden to play with him now. And I'd watch him as he watched his brothers playing basketball in the driveway. They would include him, but it wasn't the same. He used to be quite the player.

Jeff: But to answer your initial question--what I think you were questioning, anyhow--there was no question that he was our son. I've read everything that's come out on the topic and I really have to wonder what is going on in the heads of parents who deny their children when they become differently biotic. It really makes me wonder about people in general.

I'll post more of the interview with the Utleys in a few days.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Horde-ing Friends

450 people up on the wall, some living, some zombies. Thank you for your support.

I'll post the third and final interview transcript from Dead in the Family in a couple days. I promise you a more positive experience than the previous excerpts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dead in the Family, Part 3

This continues my excerpting a program that ran a few weeks ago on television entitled Dead in the Family, where parents from three families were interviewed about their zombie children.

The following interview was with "Mrs. Smith". I'll warn you that this is perhaps the most shocking and horrifying of the three interviews, so please if you are sensitive or susceptible to nightmares you might want to skip this one and wait for the interview with the Utleys later in the week.

Mrs. Smith is seated on a bright couch with a floral pattern. She is a husky woman with soft features, except for her lips, which are compressed as though she is perpetually holding back something she wants to say. She looks to be in her early fifties, and we are told that Mr. Smith died soon after her only daughter Amber was born. Her hair is short and the lenses of her glasses often reflect the light and hide her eyes from view. She has made tea for herself and the interviewer. Vapor rises from the china pot.

How did you daughter die?

Mrs. Smith: Amber had fallen in with the wrong sort of people. Her death was not an accident.

How, then, did she die?

Mrs. Smith: I prefer not to go into the details. They are both embarrassing and painful for me.

I can understand that. Can you talk about when your daughter returned?

Mrs. Smith: My daughter never returned.

What do you mean?

Mrs. Smith: It was a demon wearing my daughter's flesh.

A demon?

Mrs. Smith: (pouring tea) Yes. Reverend Mathers is quite clear, and correct, on the subject. You are familiar with Reverend Mathers and One Life ministries?


Mrs. Smith: If not, you should read his book And the Graves Gave Up Their Dead. He illustrates the situation in an easily understandable way, even for more, shall we say, secular people.

By demon, do you mean...

Mrs. Smith: My personal belief is that my daughter let the demon inside of her heart when she was still alive. When she died, it was already there. The Reverend writes that the climate of the times is such that even the righteous may have their bodies usurped, but I am not so sure. I am beginning to think that all of the things that you call zombies were teens who allowed demons inside of them while they were still alive. (Smiles) You haven't touched your tea!

What...what did you do when you saw your...when you saw the demon?

Mrs. Smith: Did you see my gardens outside?

Excuse me?

Mrs. Smith: Please tell me saw my gardens! I spend so much time on them. The flowers along the walkway. I know your cameraman saw them; he was very careful when I asked him to mind my flowers.

I saw them. they are very nice. (Pauses) When the demon...

Mrs. Smith: Sometimes the blossoms on the flowers fade and die. I'm very careful to attend to my flowers when the blossoms die, because if left unattended the flowers would begin self-seeding. And they look terrible! I have garden snips that I sometimes use for deadheading. That's what you call it when you remove a spent blossom. "Deadheading." Sometimes I don't use the snips. I often just pinch the dead blooms between my thumb and forefinger. My hands are quite strong, you know, from all the years of gardening. When Paul died I really threw myself into my gardening. But sometimes I work with plants where my hands or the snips are not sufficient. I have many tools in my little shed. Did you see it? Gardening shears, an electric hedge trimmer. A spade and a trowel for digging out stubborn roots.

(sips tea)

Gardening has been such a comfort to me. I think it says a lot about a person, how they maintain their garden.

Are you...are you saying...

Mrs. Smith: Your tea is getting cold. (Pauses). I think that this interview is over, don't you?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dead in the Family, Part 2

Here is the second part of the Dead in the Family transcripts. You can read the first part HERE

What do you mean when you say he wasn't your son?

Steve: Just that. It was his body, but it wasn't him.

Erin: We could tell.

Steve: His eyes. They were flat, like there wasn't any intelligence behind them at all. There was nothing there at all.

Erin: He'd been such a funny boy. A happy boy.

Steve: The zombie was moving the way they do, staggering, like--and he reached for me. I thought he was going for my throat. (Pauses). It wasn't him.

Do you consider yourself to be religious people?

Steve: I know my son is in heaven, if that is what you are asking. But I don't know if that thing has anything to do with religion.

Many people believe...

Steve:That they are demons, signs of the apocalypse or whatever. i know. I don't know anything about that.

What happened after you saw your son? The zombie?

Steve: We told the hospital that he wasn't our son, and we left.

Have you had any contact with the zombie afterwards?

Steve: No.

Erin: He was staying with one of the other families that lost a boy in the crash.

They took in their son? And yours?

Steve:(angry) They took in zombies.

The interview was terminated almost immediately after this comment. The film crew leaves the camera on as they exit the house, and the cameraman turns towards the boy playing with his dog in the backyard. One gets the impression that the boy desperately wants to say something, but in the end he turns away.

In a few days I'll post excerpts from interview #2

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fueling the Fire

I know I promised more excerpts from Dead in the Family, but I thought it was important to share a breaking news article with you, which you can click HERE.

"Zombies! Run for your lives!"? Bad enough. "Nazi zombies", much, much worse.

We have friends in Austin. The message for them should be "Zombies, run for your lives!", as this attempt to further demonize us will no doubt lead to even more anti-zombie violence in Texas. Notice how the article talks about the crime of vandalizing the road sign, but makes no mention of the message being an anti-zombie hate crime? That's because--guess what--there's no such thing as a hate crime against zombies!

I received an email stating that there was a white van parked about a half mile down from the road sign, but I have no way of verifying whether or not that story is true.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dead in the Family

Another fifty people have joined the Wall in the past week...we've got enough for a zombie walk!

Did anyone catch the program Dead in the Family that ran on one of the news networks the other night? It was a profile of three families with who have dealt with the death and return of a child. Two of the families did not take their zombie child back while the third did. The program was fairly well done, and I think there was a lot to be learned from one the people profiled had to say, no matter which side of the issue you come down on.

I'm going to transcribe excerpts from the interviews over the next few days.

Dead in the Family, Excerpt One

The first excerpt was conducted with the "Joneses", "Steve" and "Erin" (not their real name), from Verona, Wisconsin. The Joneses look to be in their early forties, moderately well off (He has an IT job in Madison, she has a local state job). Their sixteen year old son "Rick" was killed in a car crash and returned as a zombie the next day. The interview is conducted in their house, which looks to be a comfortable upper middle class suburban home. They have another boy, "Steven Jr.", age 13. The camera occasionally pans to show him tossing a ball with a large golden retriever in the back yard. The woman conducting the interview is never shown and the camera remains fixed on the couple except for these few shots of the boy and his dog.

How did your son die?

Steve: Rick was killed in a car accident, along with two other boys, his best friends. They were on their way to a party. (pauses). Alcohol was involved.

Was Rick driving?

Steve: No, one of the other boys was. Josh. All three were drinking, though. (Pauses)He and Rick were co-captains of the school's wrestling team.

(His wife, Erin has begun to cry)

When did Rick come back?

Steve:(With irritation) That's the wrong term. I hate it when people use that term.

I'm sorry. What word do you mean?

Steve: "Come back." Rick didn't "come back". Rick left the moment he and his friends hit the parked car.

I'm not sure I understand.

Steve: Look, there's no such thing as "coming back". When someone dies, they die. Whatever those...those...zombies are, it isn't someone's deceased child returning from the dead. It is something else entirely. I think you people have to stop planting this false hope in people's minds.

Something else? What?

Steve: (Folds arms. Erin is drying her eyes with tissues) I've got no idea. All I know is that it isn't our children. And when you say "coming back", it makes us out to be the monsters, like we abandoned our children or something. But that thing was not our son.

Erin: We knew as soon as we saw him.

Could you tell us about the first time you saw him after the car crash?

Steve: It was the day after the crash. The call we'd been dreading came from the hospital the day after the crash, and the woman that called us said the same thing you said; "Your son has come back". Like we were supposed to be happy about it, or something. They told us to come down to get him. So we...

Excuse me. We?

Steve: Yes. Erin and I.

You didn't bring your other son. Steven Jr.?

Steve: No. Why would we?

Erin: He...the body had been damaged in the accident.

Steve: We didn't want our son to have nightmares for the rest of his life. Which he'll probably have, anyway. When we got to the hospital they brought us to this room in the basement. The zombie was there. They'd put a hospital gown on it.

Erin: His arm was broken. And his face...

Steve: They'd cleaned the body up some, but not entirely. (Pauses) I think it is disgraceful, what these people put us through. Bad enough that we have to live through the trauma of our son's death--now they want us to have to see that...that mockery of him? And they barely even clean it up first? It isn't right. It isn't right at all. (Pauses). They're lucky we don't sue them. I'm thinking that we should.

What went through your mind when you saw the zombie?

Steve: That it wasn't my son. That it wasn't my son at all.

I'll post the second part of the excerpt with "The Jones" in a few days.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sticks and Stones

A comment Annette (and why aren't you on the Wall with the 352 other zombies and friends of zombies, Annette? Join us...join us...) made the other day on the yeti blog reminded me of a blog topic I wanted to write about.

Why is it whenever there is a stofy about zombies on a television show, that the newscaster always wants to make some smarmy joke at the end of the story? I realize that they have to put a bow-tie on their stories (how else would we have closure?) but do they have to be so coindescending and insulting?

Here are a few I've written down in the past few weeks You can imagine the air quotes over the appropriate words:

After a story about a zombie-fronted punk band: "Well, Jane, I guess I'm surprised they are such fans of live music."

After a story a group of teens who cast a zombie in their youtube video serial: "That won't be making the jump to the Lifetime network.

After a story a group of teens who who created Zombie Zine, a magazine about zombie culture: "Would you call that a lifestyle magazine, Marianne?"

Look, I like a good joke or pun as much as the next dead guy. If Karen or Phoebe or someone said one of these, I'd probably laugh. I just can't stand these fake plastic people, most of whom probably couldn't stand to be in the same room as a zombie.

And then there's this comment, the absolute worst, that ran on a local news station after a story about two zombies hunted down and reterminated in Pennsylvania(their murderers have yet to be identified): "That's life!"

As a great man once said, common sense isn't so common.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Attack of the Yeti

Global warming seems to have given Oakvale a hall pass because we've had three solid days of snow. What, you might ask, is the favorite pastime of differently biotic youth when it is snowing outside? Making snow zombies? Cross-country skiing?

Nope. Snowball fight.

Snowball fights are pretty fun when you A). Don't get tired B). Don't get hurt and C). Don't get cold. We had pretty much the whole Haunted House crew out in the Oxoboxo woods bombarding each other. Tayshawn is pretty darn good with a snowball; he must have pasted me a dozed or so times.

The fight lasted for hours. One of the funniest things I think I've ever seen is when Kevin and I took refuge behind a snowbank to ambush Popeye and Tayshawn, only it wasn't a snowbank--it was Mal. He'd must have been hiding there for hours waiting for someone top come by, and when he rose up out of the snow, frost and ice clinging to him like a second skin, we were so startled we kind of just both flopped on our backs. Kevin had just enough time to scream "Yeti!" before Mal dropped boulder-sized snowballs on us. Mal paid the price later, because he's so huge all you have to do is throw a snowball in the same zip code where he's standing to hit him.

I guess it is supposed to stop snowing sometime later today, just in time to get the roads cleared so those of us that go to school can get there. Joy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Word About Adam

A number of you have asked via blog commentary how Adam was doing, something that I'm sure he and all of us here at the Haunted House greatly appreciate.

I'm not going to lie to you. Things are really, really difficult right now. I've been asked to respect his family's privacy so I won't go into any further detail.

But we all remain hopeful. The ability to hope is perhaps the most powerful ability that humanity, living or dead, has, after our ability to love. Exercise both abilities frequently.