Brains: A Zombie Memoir - By Becker


WHAT YOU HOLD in your hands is a zombie memoir, the touching postlife story of a walking corpse and his journey toward self-acceptance and knowledge, told honestly and in the first person, straight from his skeletal hand to your plump one.

What you hold in your hands I wrote and left on top of the desk in my hideout, a log cabin in the northern wilds of Canada. It is nothing short of revolutionary. Revisionist historians, prepare to revise.

In life, I was an English professor at a small college in rural Missouri. My mind retained information like a steel trap: No one played six degrees of Bacon better than I. No one knew more about Walt Whitman, the New Testament, or B movies from the 1950s. In conversation, I relentlessly sought the upper hand, whether discussing the best method for making flaky piecrusts (use Crisco, not butter) or the cultural importance of Freud (as massive as his cigar).

In death, I am a flesh-eating zombie with a messianic complex and these superpowers: I can think and I can write.

My name is Jack Barnes and I am a survivor. This is my story.


BRAINS. AFTER I was resurrected, my first thought was, Brains. I want brains. Give me brains!

The imperative seemed to come from outside of my body; it rang in my head like the voice of a god I had no choice but to obey. Brains: I heard it clearly, simply, plainly. Brains! And I immediately set out to procure some.

Now that I have analyzed this hunger, this twisted form of cannibalism, I realize it does not reside in my stomach, the typical seat of appetite; it stems from a deeper place, my divine core, what some might call the soul.

It is a small price to pay for immortality.

Brains. More dear to me than my wife. More precious than my intellect and education, my Volvo and credit rating—all that mattered in “life” now pales in comparison to this infinite urge. Even now, as I write these words, my lips quiver and a drop of saliva—tinged crimson—falls onto the paper, resulting in a brain-shaped stain.

Stain, brain, rain, brain, pain, brain, sustain, brain, wane, brain, refrain, brain, cocaine, brain, main, brain, brain, brain, brains!

Oh, how I love them.

THE VIRUS HIT the world like a terrorist attack.

Lucy and I—both still warmly human—were holed up in the living room watching news reports of the zombie invasion. It wasn’t confined to the Midwest, as they originally thought, but had spread all over the United States. Indeed, all over the world. And it happened in a matter of hours.

Brian Williams looked wan, scared, a little boy in a grown-up suit, the endearing humor in the corners of his eyes lost forever. Lucy clicked over to Fox. I always suspected my wife of secret conservatism, but I said nothing. Because there was Geraldo Rivera, out in the street, interviewing a she-zombie. A zombette.

“Why are you doing this?” Geraldo asked the creature. “Can you even talk? Everyone thinks you’re a monster.”

The zombie groaned and grabbed the reporter’s cheeks as if to move in for a kiss.

“That zombie must’ve been an athlete in life,” I said. “She’s quicker than some of the others I’ve seen.”

“The poor dear,” Lucy said.

Geraldo bludgeoned the zombette with his microphone, but to no effect. The mic merely sank into the undead’s head, disappearing like a baby thrown into quicksand. Geraldo wrestled it out and the camera zoomed in; the mic was covered with tufts of hair and bits of gore. Geraldo shook it like a rattle and the zombie struck, biting his hand. Geraldo shrieked—high-pitched, girlish—and Fox cut back to the newsroom, where a generic blonde warned viewers of the dangers of conversing with corpses.

“Now that’s the kind of reporting I expect from Fox,” I said. “Stating the obvious with bimbotic style.”

“Do you think they could be here?” Lucy asked, her eyes darting around the room. “In our town?”

“Of course not,” I said. “We’re in the middle of the middle of nowhere. The flyover zone. No one comes here if they don’t have to, not even dead people.”

I heard a noise, as if Hook Man were scratching at our roof. I turned off the idiot box and threw open the drapes.

Lucy and I were surrounded; there were zombies at the windows, zombies at the doors, zombies coming down the chimney like Santa Claus. It was just like the movies.

That’s the genius of George Romero. His initial trilogy—Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of