by Ricky Fleet
Let’s be honest, we all know the zompoc is inevitable. No matter how much the scientists assure us it’s preposterous, and despite the ‘fiction’ label attached to anything coming out of Hollywood, we know they’re real and will one day come for us. We also know we’ll kick ass because we’ve lived and breathed the multitude of scenarios in our minds a million times since we were old enough to form the word zombie on our excited lips. We know which weapon will be our go-to head crusher. Our bug-out-bags are crammed with survival essentials and ready to be slung onto our shoulder at a moment’s notice. We know the exact route that’ll take us to our fortress of choice. We know who we’ll want to stand shoulder to shoulder with when the undead rise from hell to devour us all. We know our shambling enemies’ strengths and weaknesses from the hundreds of books and films we’ve studied on the topic. It wasn’t for entertainment after all, perish the thought. It was survival preparation!
So, now everyone is dead. Well, kind of dead, and we are ducking and diving, our lank, greasy fringe hanging over our eyes as we scowl and send the abominations back to hell like our favourite TWD characters. But wait! While celebrating the latest perfect head shot, the wind changes direction and you catch a disgusting scent which makes you vomit in your mouth a bit. No, it’s not another corpse, but your best friend and zombie killing companion. While moving out of the tainted breeze, your eye begins to burn from the bacteria that is constantly dabbing into the moist orb from the hanging strands of filthy hair. What’s going on? Is this some mysterious devilry worked by the same forces which summoned the undead? Nope, it’s an utterly ridiculous concept called hygiene. But wait, I hear you yell, Rick Grimes is never inconvenienced by such frivolous annoyances! No matter how many zombies fall to his awkwardly angled revolver or the razor-sharp axe, the gore is gone in the next scene. Their location doesn’t have any influence on the miraculous transformation, the backseat of a car is no different to a gleaming house in Alexandria. It almost seems like after millennia of evolution, the human body has developed a method of self-cleaning. Sadly, no.
In the real world, as well as being a bad ass killing machine, we need to be a bad ass washing machine too. Here we look at a few uncomfortable realities of the zompoc.
Unless you’re a pubescent teenage boy, the reality of not showering or bathing for any length of time can’t really be imagined. We’ve all felt the grainy, itchy feel on our skin after only two days without the glorious, cleansing water running over our bodies. How about we take it to the extreme? What would happen if you were covered in not only the normal build-up of grime from the daily grind of survival, but the dried brain matter of Gladys, the crazy cat lady from down the street who had tried to eat you three days earlier? Forget the dangerous bacteria which are multiplying at an alarming rate on your grotty skin, bringing the risk of diarrhoea, influenza and other infections. Who knows what microscopic horrors lurk in the rotting grey matter of the lonely spinster from number 14A?
Even if you don’t fall victim to the plague, you will be a rancid, stinking version of your former handsome self. Forget repopulating the earth with the blonde stunner you may meet on the road one harrowing day. You’ll be lucky if she doesn’t shoot you to prevent you getting within twenty feet with your noxious armpits and cheesy feet.
Another of the drawbacks of not washing is a condition called dermatitis neglecta; a skin infection which leads to awful brown lumps forming on the skin. So, before you could even utter one of your well-rehearsed chat up lines; something like – “What’s a nice girl like you doing in an apocalypse like this?” – she’d have blown your head off in the mistaken belief you were already a walking corpse. And who could blame her? You look and smell just as bad as the rotters.
Brushing Your Teeth
We all know the worldwide generalisation that British men and women have far worse dental hygiene than their American counterparts, and unfortunately it is totally based on fact. Sadly, there is a stigma attached to the wearing of braces which has haunted generations of children with the cruel nicknames like ‘train track’ or ‘metal mouth’. I squint in jealousy at the dazzling, pearly white mouths which beam out from my TV screen. However, the zompoc is the great equaliser. Knowing a grand total of zero dentists or orthodontists, I still firmly believe they will not be the hardiest of folk to do battle with the zombie hordes. After they’ve all been eaten and rise to attack us with their perfectly even teeth and non-receding gum lines, we must still do our best to heed their advice.
Without flossing, whatever food you could forage would end up clogging up your teeth. That blonde lady you may meet on the road? Even if you could convince her to ignore the smell of your rank body and not shoot you, the halitosis spewing from the partially rotten meal trapped between your molars from three days ago would kill any romantic spark in double quick time.
After a few weeks of finding nothing but bottled soda, your teeth would be rotten to the cores. Lack of sleep from the agonising toothache would be the least of your worries as you searched desperately for a pair of pliers in an effort to do some DIY dental work. If one was to look on the bright side, after you’d pulled all your teeth out at least you’d be far less of a threat. The remaining survivors would only have to be wary of a wet gumming instead of a fatal bite wound. Realistically, though, after you were left looking like a 90-year-old missing their dentures, you’d probably struggle to find a working food blender to liquify your provisions, so it’s probably best to brush twice daily with any twigs available.
Forget the billions of lost lives. Forget the horror as the undead consume every living thing they can lay their flesh peeling fingers upon. What should fill each and every one of us with the utmost dread is the end of quilted toilet tissue. I shudder just writing the words! Forget food, water, territory and fuel. The human wars of the zombie apocalypse will be fought over Charmin Ultra Strong. When you’ve had the luxury of wiping your ass with the physical equivalent of a soft, summer breeze, nothing else can come close.
Should the worst happen and you end up on the losing side of the Global Tissue Factions Offensive, you must be careful. If the temptation to just squat and then pull your pants up runs through your mind, I urge you to reconsider. Find some leaves, but make sure they aren’t poisonous or you may develop a rash in a place you really don’t want a rash. Your inflamed pooper would lead to a world of hurt. Alternatively, use an old newspaper. Yes, the paper is coarse and rough but it’s your own fault for being on the wrong side in the war. Plus, most newspapers were only ever good for wiping up poo anyway with their propensity for bias and fake news.
If none of this sways you, I appeal to your baser instincts. You remember that gorgeous blonde you may or may not meet? If you manage to convince her to put a peg on her nose and avoid kissing altogether before she shoots you, what do you think her response will be when you both get naked and she sees the ‘stains’. Yep, that’s right: Bullet to the head!
You owe it to yourself to be a clean, lean, killing machine in the zompoc. Don’t let me down!