Sleep and you’re dead. It’s that simple.
Or, even worse, you join the ranks of undead.
As I never was a sci-fi fan before it all went to shit, I had never considered what I’d do in a zombie apocalypse. I was surprised to find out when it actually came that there were people who had put in real thought behind it, even going as far as to stock up rations and train in weapons.
Of course, just like Sun Tzu says, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Let alone when that enemy is that sweet grandma from across the street now gnawing on your leg with only her gums, or that shitty little girl that screamed all day during summer but is now sneaking up on you to bite your nose off and you’re hoping she went back to screaming.
I’m rambling, aren’t I? It’s the lack of sleep.
People think that the edge humans have over the animal kingdom is our smarts and our logic. Sure, there’s that, but it’s not what actually helped us survive. Every animal in the wild has some edge, some breed like there’s no tomorrow despite being fluffy and so, so delicious, like the bunnies. Others have carapace, others have spikes on their backs, other can bite you with venom, and others are so powerful they can smash you to pulp. Some, more graceful ones like the antelopes, simply dash away from danger.
But the humans survived by hunting these herds. How did we do that?
Simple. Not many people realise that yes, that lion is a motherfucking killing machine for like ten minutes or so. If you manage to outlast that by any means, by setting traps, running away or by using crude tools, then it simply drops to the ground, exhausted. You can practically walk up to it and punch it to death, it will probably already have had a heart attack.
Or the antelopes. Sure, they can outrun any human. But the human simply keeps walking behind the animal, following the tracks, keeping up the pursuit. The antelope, terrified, constantly glances back at that bipedal that just. Won’t. Give. Up.
Imagine what goes through that poor antelope’s mind at that moment. There she was, proud and majestic with her trusty and swift legs, running away from danger. She reaches a clearing, panting, feels safe. Then she hears a rustling of the leaves. She looks back, and there it is again, the bipedal danger with the rock and the pointy stick. So she runs away again, this time slower, but still fast enough to let the stupid bipedal eat her dust. And she reaches a river, and takes a sip because she’s so damn thirsty, and she feels safe again. She hears rocks falling, and it’s those stupid bipedals again, waving their pointy sticks, stumbling down the ravine, so clumsy they are.
So she runs away through the river. This time, much, much slower. She’s exhausted. She wants to sleep, but she knows that if she closes her eyes, if she sleeps, she’s as good as dead. So she runs up a hill, finding her second wind. Those bipedals couldn’t possibly still be on her tail, can they? That’s impossible, it’s unnatural. Even the biggest and growliest predator in this jungle can’t keep up the pursuit for so long. She’s tired, so tired, but somehow she manages to get up that hill, that final place of safety where she can rest, get some sleep.
And as she’s about ready to pass out, she hears the bipedals again. They’re coming up the hill, their pace slow but steady. Nothing seems to stop them, they walk around the rocks, they push through the bushes, they break twigs that are in their way. They make sounds to one another, looking as if they’re bored and needing something to communicate about.
And the antelope’s legs give in and she falls on the ground, and finally, blissfully, shuts her eyes to sleep.
The bipedals surround her and wave their pointy sticks around. They give the task to the smallest one, who cries that he doesn’t wanna do it, daddy!
But he has to learn.
So the young one kills the antelope, and she finally gets some much needed rest.
This is how every single animal in the entire animal kingdom sees us. Not as apex predators, but as zombies. Relentless, hungry, moaning, never-tiring zombies. We just keep up the pursuit for days until the biggest of preys simply falls dead from exhaustion.
And this time, for the first time in human history, we got a taste of our own medicine.
Because nothing works against zombies. Sure, some planned it out, tried to take them out, kill them, trap them, blow their brains out.
Oh it works, for a while.
Then your ammo runs out or your guns jam or your barricade breaks down and they crawl through, hungry, gnawing, decomposing.
They just keep on coming and coming and coming. They enter your nightmares, that’s all you ever see from that point on. Your loved ones, eaten. Your friends, eaten. Your wife, coming to eat your arm. Yourself, smashing her rotten brains beneath the fridge.
And all you can do is to utilise that one advantage we humans have over the animal kingdom, to keep walking.
Nothing else works. We just roam the lands in big packs, setting up camp for a few hours of rest and then carrying on, like nomads. We try to stay away from the main concentrations of zombies, and we’ve had a few close calls where we were almost wiped out. But now it’s getting easier. We don’t sleep much, we don’t eat much. Like marathoners, we’ve all become thin and bony, withered down to a husk. We walk, sleep only for a few minutes, then someone wakes us all up and we walk again. Some people just want to give up and sleep. We prod them to wake up a few times, and if they still don’t want to come, if they bitch and moan and shoo us away, we bitterly say ‘alright’ and then smash their skulls in when the sweet sleep takes them away. Because, we can’t leave them, we know that. Every one who is left behind will inevitably become another zombie, another one to run away from, to fight, to get eaten by.
So, why am I telling you all this, young man? Because you need to wake your mother up. There’s no time left, I’m sorry. And if you can’t wake her up, if you can’t get her to come with the pack and keep walking, you need to learn to kill.
Here’s a hammer, kid.