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Consciousness: A Study

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(From a collection of vignettes.)


Analysis of the Self


âWeâre like zombies

Like the walking deadâ

-Cool Hand Luke, âZombiesâ

A zombie is a being who can take a form of a human. It can recall memories, it learns from experience. It even reacts to pain yet has no consciousness. They drift through the world, blending into our society. You might be a zombie and not even know it. They are parasites which already have one hand on the steering wheel of our existence. If nothing is done they will drive humanity to extinction, leaving nothing but former echos of our lives. I've been fighting them for as long as I can remember.


It's nights like these that make me reminisce and reflect while staring into puddles on the streets. It's almost closing time, which means free food. I've been standing in front of this Starbucks for an hour now, and the girl inside keeps giving me worried looks. I suppose I look hungry- but I am not hungry for what she thinks I'm hungry for. Just food. Last time a bunch of punk kids swooped in at the last minute and took the garbage bag full of those tasty treats. You'd pay for them what, five bucks each? This city is full of vultures and their talons are taking over.


As I approached the bag which was now with the rest of the trash being brought out by the girl, she quickly turned and went back inside as if frightened. I can imagine her chest dropping with relief upon reaching safety. Her manager, an overweight man pushing forty-five with a developing bald spot, what is he asking her? âAre you okay?â To him, her inner fears are foreign and he could never do what I just did. Really step into a different person's shoes; be that bum, be that guy in the suit, be that professor, be that student who waits 'til last minute, be that man in robes who raped children, be those children. Be all of them for a little while.


I cannot name anything I love more than riding the metro. Well, one thing: killing zombies. Trains are full of them. Doors open and a party of four enter, three young women and a man. They are all stereotypically beautiful which makes them suspicious. If zombies know how to do anything, it's to take the shape of someone considered good looking. Yet even I am having trouble determining which one of them is a zombie. A minute has gone by and now I know it has to be one of the women, yet they are so similar. It's as if the zombie has convinced the other two to act and look the same as her to increase her chances of survival.


They have blonde highlights, wear miniskirts of the latest fashion. One of them has to be a model since her legs are stick thin. They don't seem to notice other people. My eyes cover their bodies for clues but I have to stop because I am utterly revolted. Tons of makeup concealing what is within. I shouldn't even assume there is anything deeper then skin. They wear faces of slight dissatisfaction, especially the slightly chubby one. Her round face tucked in to look more oval, panda-like eyes from all that eye-shadow looking with desire at her skinny friends. Their conversation is hollow which makes tracking difficult. They get off the train and I breathe from relief, as if I've been submerged in their vanity.


I get into my house and turn on the only light I have. It's a ceiling light, a bare bulb in the middle of my one room studio. After a quick snack I head for the shower. The cold water felt like hundreds of needles poking and prodding my rash. With clenched teeth I quickly attempted to get the dirt off. I remember seeing something similar to this when the police would hose down the colored and sic German Shepherds on 'em. A force much stronger than any shower-head could produce, blasting your ribs with ice cold water as you fly off hitting the wall or the pavement from impact, only to be chewed up by the dogs. I stand still thinking about it, the cold water gushing, hitting the rash on my side like daggers for hours.


Sometimes, perched on the roof of a loft somewhere in Brooklyn looking over the river, I think to myself: âWhy is no one after me?â It's like the city forgot I exist. Instead of burning light-bulbs in a basement in Harlem, I am killing zombies, and no one cares. Are the people secretly cheering me on, âLet him do what we can't!â For some reason I don't feel the love and support that kind of agreement would make me feel. As I look unto this city, these towers burning lights every day and night, I think, âwhat a cemetery!â Lights from every room like epitaphs saying âI'm dying in this tomb everyday!â We even wear the same clothing as our deceased counterparts. The tie, the shoes, the white dress shirt. It seems we are a parody of death itself, staring it right in the face, yelling âBring it on you bastard!â


And it will. Life is after all a slow death. It's sadomasochistic by nature because we realize that there will be no one to remember us, and that all we have ever done won't matter in the end. Picture yourself ten seconds from death, consciously knowing that nothingness awaits yet comforting yourself with fantasies still. The constant beeping sound in the hospital room fades out and you realize that it is you that's fading out, not the sound. The doctor shoots you up with morphine, so you get high, exhale your last breath, and die. You may be alone, or perhaps your family is by your side, clutching now a lifeless hand, crying. They will push it out of their mind, but they'll die too.


As you zoom out to view the earth as a whole you realize that humanity is nothing more than a mold growing on round bread, constantly dying and being born again. You finally notice that there are two kinds of molds and they are competing for space. Humans giving way to zombies, then taking it back some. This cycle happens for a billion more years before earth gets uncomfortably hot. Then in three billion years you see the sun flicker and expand, the yellow ball that has been preserving life, now red and violently taking it away, burning it off, the greatest holocaust. It explodes and it all goes still for a while. Drifting far out in interstellar space in a few more billion years you can see our âhome sweet homeâ galaxy collide with it's neighbor, their arms twisting and locking together in a suicidal embrace, creating a massive black hole deep within. Fast forward further and all that ever was is now forgotten, as the universe expands endlessly, everything drifting further and further away from everything else. That which was once a singularity now stretching distances inconceivable by our imagination. All around you is absolute darkness, cold and still. At least finally there won't be any more zombies.

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âHey, hey, hey. What's in your head,

In your head,

Zombie, zombie, zombie?â

-The Cranberries, âZombieâ



Tuesday. It was the day to ride trains. All day the train would be his roller-coaster, going below, then coming back up again, maybe dipping back into the darkness. He liked riding above ground. The windows turned into a panorama of human existence. The dark tunnels held creatures of their own, some who thought they were above everyone else. But this story is not about vanity, it's about love.


He sat in the corner seat, one leg on the other, reading the 1994 first issue of âJournal of Consciousness Studiesâ article by Todd C. Moody. Resting his eyes by lifting them off the page and focusing on something more distant, he read the cover of a magazine across the isle. People magazine. His eyes then wandered past the cover and unto the reader. A young woman approximately his own age, olive skin tone (for no good reason he assumed she was Dominican), in a bright red coat and small cat eye glasses.


She looked back. She didn't cringe or change her seat, just glanced back. They continued glancing back and forth until it was her stop. His eyes followed her to the door; she was a goddess! There was some meat on her bones for one, and underneath all those clothes he could tell that she was just his type. As he watched her walk away he felt even worse for not talking to her. Although what would have happened? Even if they both found each other attractive, aesthetically and otherwise, it was only train ride for Pete's sake! If he piped up; âI like people too,â she'd smile uncomfortably because even jokes don't penetrate these florescent lights. But then again, we've already won the ultimate lottery. Competing against a million cells you made it, beat the odds and won the most important lottery. So the questions should be, how can you not find the love of your life on the train?


About two weeks later he tracked a zombie he'd known to exist for a quite some time to a party. It was an arts collective featuring urban-themed work. It seemed a lot more casual than he had thought. In fact, most guests after viewing the artwork, were in the backyard of the venue, smoking, drinking and hanging out. He already had another zombie lined up. His mind began processing ways to kill this one on premises. His thought processes stopped when he saw the girl from the train again.


Cuddled in layers, as if protecting what she's got, she peered at the paintings. He stood next to her looking at a particular piece by Emma Pritchard called âDriving to the city.â The city seemed to melt in it's own rain, and perhaps it's a prophesy, rain turning into acid from all that pollution. He looked over and it seemed as if she was thinking the same thing. Or did he just want her to? It was blurry.


He couldn't find the courage to say anything. How would he begin? And how then to presume? It all comes down to forcing a moment to it's crisis. He found himself recalling a poem by some famous writer and before he remembered it all, with the intention to wow her by reciting it, she began: âHey, don't you take the seven train?â


The rest of the night played itself out naturally like a good chess game. The zombie soon left the party while his killer spoke with the girl. Yes, he lost the rook but sacrifices had to be made to win her over. Hope was her name, and in the upcoming months she became an important person in his life. He lost the lead on the zombies he wanted to get rid of, but chalked it up to sacrifices. You can't win a chess game without having them.


A few months later she became exposed, physically. Those layers peeling off one by one. He knew now why she was so covered up. Beautiful as she was to him, a jagged scar ran down deep on both of her inner forearms, down to the wrist. We all hate ourselves so pick your poison; blemishes, eating disorders, drug abuse, low self-esteem, body image issues. For her it was a deep case of depression along with suicidal tendencies, no supervision, and a seven dollar box of a hundred single-edged razors.


September. It had been two moths since he last killed a zombie. Hope was hope for a life without zombies. Yet like most hopes, this one won't last either. Sex to him was a battle, a brutal act. He had to show indomitable strength and will for her to finally yield. He would look at a mirror while doing it, glancing at himself giving it all he got. She thought it was hot. Her fingernails dug deep into his back, giving him scars too. But what did he see in that mirror today, September 10th? He watched them go through the motions as if doing it mechanically. He could almost predict what was going to happen before it happened. How long has he been in this trance?


âBaby? Why did you stop?â


âOh you want to make me beg for it?â

âShut up.â He put his hand over her mouth, leaning in and coming inches from her face, staring deep into her brown eyes.


Why has he been so blind? It all made sense to him now. Why would such a beautiful looking girl ever go for a guy like him? He had no money, hated his long nose, chipped tooth, he knew that he didn't satisfy her in bed regardless of what she told him. Not to mention the rather nasty rash on his side. He was the biggest pessimist and cynicism poured out of him like oil from a busted offshore oil rig. It was black and soiled everything.


Now he knew that he was staring into the eyes of a very strange creature. A zombie whose purpose it was to trap people like him, prevent him from killing more zombies? He jumped back in awe of this realization. Her words now meant nothing to him as she pleaded for mercy. She still had futile hope that it might all be role-play. He crammed her body into a nearby garbage container. The next day the smell of death was everywhere. In the city streets, humans and zombies alike were covered by white ash, a proper funeral for Hope.

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  • 1 month later...


âZombie no go think, unless you tell am to thinkâ

-Fela Kuti, âZombieâ

The intruder checked the barrel of his old .45 Colt revolver to make sure

everything was alright. He took a deep breath and kicked open the door. Lisa was on

top, her head turned to the side in surprise. Bob, the man with the âOâ face, didnât quite

know what was happening. Now you are staring into the strangerâs cannon. You see the

barrel shift, the chamber with the bullet served up like a torpedo. You are at the opening

looking in, a mere dust particle. The intruder squeezed the trigger, the bullet flew out

and you are at the business end of it. The distance between the gun and the girl is a blur.

You hit something hard but donât stop as a subtle sound of a bone crack is heard only by

you. Everyone else is deafened by the âbang.â She collapses onto the bed. The red sheets

turn even more crimson. You are stuck there in what is nothing more than goo inside her

skull. Her blank eyes are lifeless two-way mirrors, and through them you can seeâ¦


Perhaps we should backtrack. Bob graduated with a Business degree and now

earned a stable living in his nine-to-five job over in midtown. Every weekday heâd take

the LIRR to his newly purchased home and his recently-wedded wife. Bob came home in

his newly bought suit, settled his black leather briefcase on top of the shoe rack which

also served as a bench in the little hallway just inside the house. His wife, Lisa would

cook him a chicken dinner and theyâd watch TV. Later they would usually have sex.

Today Bob went for cocktails after work with his co-workers. Thatâs what he told

Lisa anyway. He was really interested in his boss, who had a nice rack. They passively

flirted but at the end of the night Bob felt the weight of his wedding ring in his inner

pocket and went home. At nine twenty he was home, putting down his briefcase. He was



A lanky figure walked up the block Bob lived on, peering into his windows. They

were watching TV. âNot yet,â the figure muttered as he surveyed the sky and his pocket

watch. Two hours later, the man showed up again. This time he came closer to the

windows in which the lights have just gone out. They werenât downstairs. Going through

the back left the intruder out of breath, but he pressed on. The back door slid open (it was

one of those sliding glass doors) and the man proceeded cautiously inside. The house was

new because the stairs were silent as he walked up to the second story. Their bedroom

door was left ajar, but only a crack. He counted the number of bullets he had; two.


âWould it be right to kill her too? She shows no signs of being one of them,â he thought

to himself.


âI love it when you do that,â her voice resonated from within the room.


âShe is with him though. Maybe they trick people to think they are just like everyone

else, and thatâs how they reproduce.â


âOh god, donât stop. Right there! Right there! Right there!â The sounds of passion

emanated from within.


âWhat if she is with his child? One more reason to kill her,â the intruder nodded.


âIâll ride you now, have you been a bad boy?â Lisa whispered to her husband.


âYes,â he whispered back. It was true, and at that moment it was okay to tell the truth.


âA zombie lover should be punished for being so ignorant. She risks giving birth to one.â With that the strangerâs internal dilemma was resolved. He kicked open the door and

killed both of them.


The gunshots have revived a monster which our hero, the zombie hunter, didnât

anticipate. A small black dog ran inside the room, barking. The intruderâs heart started to

pound so hard he must have heard it himself. He obviously didnât plan for this, and right

now he hated himself for not considering this possibility. Guilt had begun to germinate

within as he anticipated the outcome of this random encounter.


The dog, whose name tag said âLuckyâ gnarled and displayed a fine set of teeth.

She stood her ground, the little one, looking fierce. The killer aimed the gun at the dog,

shut his eyes and pulled the trigger. Dry fire. He recalled the two bullets he had were now

lodged into the zombie and his brood mother.


He grasped a lamp whose base was heavier than he had predicted and threw it at

Lucky. He didnât mean for it to hit her head the way it did. A dent, lots of blood. He could

imagine the fracture, the fuzzy gray matter within, firing electricity back and forth trying


to figure out how to repair the damage. Lucky whimpered. The intruder quickly ran up to

the fallen dog, examining it to see if he could help her in any way. Even half-dead Lucky

still had hatred in her eyes, her teeth still out in a menacing way as if she meant to

say âIâll get you yet.â His time was up, he had to leave. His heart ached for the dog lying

on her side, already half as angry and half closer to sleep. He reached for his revolver and

bludgeoned Lucky.

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