Ruminations. Well, a ruminating. Waiting and mundane, repetitive tasks encourage this sort of thing. One imagines Einstein daydreaming his way to relative theories while working in the patent office. But how did he get his hair that way? No matter. My mind had drifted. Off down a sidepath that felt ever so important. And it was asking me a question directly.  Who knows how long it had been asking. It was like someone steadily knocking at the front door during your nap. You come to knowing not how long this questioning repetition has lasted. And so I listened to this mind of mine and its ever-persistent inquiry: What productive job could zombies perform?

And then I sat back and let my noggin tackle this puzzle head on with all the seriousness one might need to understand the mysteries of the cosmos… They don’t talk. They don’t think. They tend to move only in the direction of a food source. But they walk. Which means they could be herded to step on things or power conveyor belts by way of treadmills. Stepping… Stomping? Do not grapes need to be crushed before being made into wine? Yes? Yes!! Meat could be hung just outside a vat of grapes or moved around the perimeter to guide these post-apocalyptic workers into mashing fruit. Wine of the Undead. It had a certain something to it. But this treadmill idea holds more promise, no? Generators of electricity. An army of zombies each on a treadmill powering the globe… Perhaps we could start with a single house first. How many zombies would it take to power a house?

“SHACKSMYER!!!”

“What?” I turned to find my supervisor red-in-the-face.

“WHAT IS THIS?!!”

Before me lay a dozens of boxes with colored straws strewn all over the floor.

“WE’RE NOT PAYING YOU TO MAKE A MESS!”

How would Einstein have handled this? My previous eight speeches on the increases in worker productivity attributable to daydreaming had fallen like so many lifeless straws upon the floor. And yet I dared not quit. And they dared not fire me since my uncle happened to be one of the company’s largest customers.

What came out of my mouth was not the poetic lament of exploited workers the world over. What came out was more like: “Uh… I… uh… ”

On the bus ride home I tried desperately to recapture my line of thinking on repurposing zombies. I believed wholeheartedly that there was nothing capitalism could not put to productive use. So why not zombies? I gazed out the window wondering whether this would be a defining moment in my life–the day I chose to dedicate the rest of my life to a cause.

Shit. I missed my stop.

Perhaps walking a few extra miles would give me the time to think through my plans. Several blocks disappeared behind me a I was lost in the thoughts of the new zombie-powered energy grid. Humans as fossil fuel. We could physically be the solution to our own problem. I chuckled.

And then a sound from the alley caught my attention. Was it a cat? Something halfway between a hiss and a feral shriek erupted again from a behind a nearby dumpster. The shuffle of feet. A man in a tattered coat stooped toward the wall as he approached a cat; itself, a tense arch with hair puffed out in all directions caught in that coiled moment between fight or flight. “Sir?” No response. I tried again: “Sir. Excuse me.”

POLICE REPORT #091913: Squad car #73 responded to an anonymous call citing a body in the alleyway on the north side of the 4700 block of Wilshire St. One white male was found DOA with what appeared to be numerous scratches and bite marks across his body. His abdomen had been torn open with several internal organs removed. A dead cat with similar injuries was found several feet from the male victim.

Early Termination is an experimental series based upon abrupt endings where pieces of characters, stories, conversations, or whathaveyous are cut short. Sometimes tragically. Sometimes comically.

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