I am reading World War Z. After a semester of reading nothing but Gothic literature and journalism theory, post-apocalyptic zombie plague doom and gloom is actually quite a refreshing change.
Nowadays if you’re going to end the world, zombies is the way to do it, and Max Brooks is a master of the craft. His novel has all the requisite skull-crushing gut-spilling gore, along with some of the most truly terrifying scenes I’ve ever read, all cleverly woven in with political and social commentary. And that, I think, is where the real horror of his work lies – it all seems so real.
Naturally, with doomsday and zombies on the brain (pun intended), it got me thinking about endings. I’m coming up on a turning point in my life. In a few months I’ll be 21, and shortly after that I’ll be wrapping up my Bachelors. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was approaching the end of high school and terrified of What Came After. Now, just as Im getting the hang of this ‘adult’ thing, I once again have to decide what I want to do with my life when the safety bubble of university is gone.
At some point I’m going to move out of home and leave my job and hope I get a new one, and who knows how many relationships I may have started and ended by then, or if I’ll ever finish my book and if it’ll actually be any good, and we’re all going to die anyway so is it really worth the worry?
I struggle with fear – fear of inadequacy, fear or loneliness, fear of loss, fear of uncertainty. Maybe that’s why I enjoy disaster films and end-of-the-world novels so much. They give me somewhere else to direct my fear, even if it’s only temporary. In that way, I suppose, zombies (and vampires and aliens and unstoppable viruses) (but mostly zombies) are oddly comforting. It’s easier to be scared of something you know will never be real.
Maybe we revel in our fantastical fears because our real-life worries are too terrifying to actively face. For me, zombies are a thrilling kind of fear, distant enough to enjoy and set aside. But if I look at zombies as a metaphor, like the shambling flesh-eaters of World War Z, I become all too aware of the fact that my future as a supposed grown up is looming closer and closer and I haven’t got the first clue about mortgages or credit ratings, and does anyone really understand their taxes anyway?
In the face of all that, maybe the zombies aren’t such a bad option.