No one expects they're gonna be a suicide bomber. Not in the beginning at least. It's a gradual process. It takes grooming. Killing is hard. I popped my cherry shooting a seven-year-old girl, execution style, in a grocery store. I barely remember it. When I think back now all I can recall is how the color of her brains matched the pink Hostess Snowballs she'd been carrying. David tells me I did the right thing, shooting that girl. He says I'm a hero. Maybe he's right. It's hard to tell what's right or wrong anymore. My moral compass is a little off.
David wants me to put on the bomb jacket and make the ultimate sacrifice. He needs to hit his numbers.
I can hear my mom's voice telling me this is what happens when you hang out with the wrong crowd. Although when she said that I suspect she was more worried about me smoking a joint than strapping an IED to my chest.
The thing about suicide bombing, it's not as easy as strolling into a shopping mall and pressing a button. No one ever thinks about that though. You never hear people talking about radio detonators and range issues. They don't discuss the merits of bomb casings and shrapnel material. You don't hear them debate blast radius, never mind how volatile it is storing the explosives. Just putting the damn jacket on you have a 3% chance of exploding on the spot.
David loves talking about blast radius.
David used to be a web entrepreneur. He probably built Facebook or Twitter or something. What he does now is more or less the same he says, only instead of web views and average revenue per user he's measuring average number of targets killed per detonation.
This is what a zombie apocalypse does to people, it brings out your best and worst and mixes them together until you can't separate the two. Before all this I hardly had the confidence to ask a girl out let alone shoot a kid in the back of the head. Zombie apocalypses are a lot like suicide bombings, if you focus on the logistics the inhumanity goes away. Like David says, set a goal, determine the specific actions to achieve that goal and get to work. Things are always easier with a to-do list.
About zombie logistics, there's a bunch of stuff they don't cover in the movies. Like what happens to a Nuclear power plant when the lights go out. Let’s just say you don’t want to be around. The point is, everything goes away, either in silence or in flames. Food. Water. Humanity. But it’s the stuff you don’t expect that ends up killing you. No antidepressants or antibiotics for example. When the shit hit the fan everyone ran for guns and food when they should have gone to the pharmacy. Out here we lose as many people to the common cold as we do to zombies. Then there's suicide, and I'm not talking about the bombing variety. There's tetanus also, which I thought that was just a shot the doc gave you every 10 years, until I saw a 4-year-old in camp with his head bent half around, like Linda Blair in the Exorcist.
The fundamental problem, according to David, is that we're going extinct. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing doesn't really matter to David. It's an idea, another start-up, something to do. Besides, he's right, we are going extinct. He's got the numbers to prove it. He showed me the Power Point Presentation running on his solar charged MacBook Pro.
Here's the thing, the average survivor kills 1.3 zombies before they die. We're outnumbered 10 to 1. David says we need to go on the offensive. We each need to kill at least 10 zombies if we expect the human race to take back the planet. On slide 3 of the presentation, he points out that when a survivor is bit morale drops, rates of infection go up, accidents go up, productivity goes down. Seriously, there's a graph. However, when a survivor is bit and decides to put on a bomb jacket and walk out into a swarm of zombies, it's the opposite. On average a bomber takes out 27 zombies. That's a 20x increase over the average kill rate of a survivor. Not only that, slide 5 says morale goes up, rates of infection go down, the bomber becomes a hero. According to slide 7 it takes the average person 3.6 days after being bitten to turn into a zombie. That’s long enough to get you ready for the big bang. That's what we do here, teach you how to be the most effective explosive delivery mechanism possible.
Which brings us back to me, it’s been 18 hours since I was bit and it’s about time for me to go do my thing. We have this memorial wall here. Everyone who wears a jacket leaves something on the wall. Usually it’s a piece of jewelry or a picture. I don’t have anything like that, so I’m writing this. In a few minutes they’ll come get me.
I’ll put the jacket on in a old refrigerated meat truck. It’ll be reinforced with steel plates and surrounded by a fence. Safety first. One of my fellow survivors will help me. He will also have been bit. It's important we don't risk the lives of healthy survivors. Playing with bombs is dangerous business.
The jacket will need to be tight, David’s data suggests that a tight jacket has a slightly larger blast radius. The detonator switch will be tested and the backup radio detonator will be activated. That one’s just incase I chicken out and they need to blow me up.
As he tightens the jacket, the one helping will ask, "How does that feel?"
I know this because we’ve done the dry run. We’ve rehearsed this like it’s a royal wedding. It’s the question that sums up this whole goddamn mess.
How does that feel?
How does the bomb you're wearing feel? Do you feel like a hero? Are you scared? Is this right? Is this wrong? What is right? What is wrong?
Claire was her name, the girl I killed. I lied when I said I don’t remember much about killing her. It’s the opposite actually.
She was bit when I found her. Not a zombie yet, but bit.
Her father left her at the grocery store. He told her to run in and get supplies. Then he abandon her, his seven year old daughter. She was alone. Crying. She had a backpack stuffed with candy and she was holding those goddamn Hostess Snowballs.
More than anything I wanted to leave. But I stayed and I lied. I told her she was gonna be alright. I told her I could help her. I said her dad was across the street trying to get gas. I told her to go to front of the store and she’d see him pulling in.
She hugged me, and as she stood at the door of the grocery store waiting for her dad, I shot her in the back of the head.
How does that feel?