The end of the world wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
Years of movie viewing had led Shawn to expect certain things from a post-zombie-apocalypse world. And some of those things had panned out, it's true. The deaths of thousands of people and their subsequent transformation into the brain-craving undead? Check! But there the similarities came to an end. Where was the collapse of the government – of, in fact, civilization? Where was the plucky band of survivors who banded together to fight the evil hoards and live in abandoned shopping malls? Where was the action? The adventure? The blood and gore? Where was the zombie movie romance?
How could pop culture have led him astray? But, sadly, life with zombies was less Dawn of the Dead and more Shaun of the Dead. Not even Shaun of the Dead, which at least featured characters with excellent taste in first names. No, this was pure Night of the Comet, but without the awesome people-who-weren’t-zombified-crumbling-into-dust-except-for-the-heroine-who-was-only-saved-because-she-fell-asleep-in-a-movie-projection-booth part. In other words, totally lame.
The thing was, zombies? Were actually kind of stupid.
Shawn looked at the animated corpse standing between him and the Psych offices and sighed a deeply-aggrieved sigh. "Gus," he whined. "There's a zombie on our doorstep again." He took a sip of his smoothie. Mmm, pineapple.
"I can see that, Shawn," Gus said calmly.
"And me without my chainsaw." Shawn opened his eyes extra wide. "Please?"
"Pretty please with sugar on top?"
"I said no. It’s your turn to distract the zombie! I did it last time!"
Shawn added a pout to the puppy-dog eyes. "Pleeeeease?"
They engaged in a brief, undignified scuffle, from which Gus emerged victorious. Shawn consoled himself with the thought that Gus was sneaky and underhanded, like a jackal, and totally willing to engage in hair-pulling. Besides, Shawn still had half of his pineapple smoothie left. He didn’t want to spill it; that would be a real tragedy.
They headed up the walk toward the zombie together. It shuffled towards them, arms stretched out in front of it. "Brains," it moaned. "Braaaains."
Shawn cleared his throat. "Sorry," he said. "No brains today. We're fresh out."
The zombie paused in its advance, clearly thrown by this response. "Brains?" it asked tentatively.
"No," Shawn repeated, speaking slowly and clearly. "No brains. We. Do. Not. Have. Any. Brains. Today." It just looked at him, clearly confused. "Come. Back. Tomorrow."
"Don't tell the brain-eating monster to come back later!" Gus whispered furiously. "We're trying to get it to go away, not schedule a dinner reservation!"
"Dude, nobody likes a backseat driver. It's a zombie; there's no way it's going to remember this conversation tomorrow. And if it does, who cares? I think even you could take this guy in a battle of wits."
"What do you mean, even me?"
"Nothing," Shawn said innocently.
"I have plenty of wits."
"I know you do."
"I have wits coming out of my ears."
Gus glared at Shawn. "Okay, get ready for a wit smackdown."
"I take it back!"
"Darn right you do."
Fortunately, the zombie ignored this byplay, preoccupied as it was with some intense intellectual labor. It contemplated the problem with a furrowed brow, and eventually came to a conclusion. "No brains?" it asked plaintively.
"No," Shawn said firmly. "No brains."
The zombie drooped visibly and made a sad little sound.
"Try the police station," Shawn said. "I hear they have lots of brains down there."
The zombie brightened and shuffled off down the street, moaning happily to itself.
"Ask for Detective Lassiter," Shawn yelled after it. "He's brain-a-licious and nutritious!" He watched it go, shaking his head. "Seriously, Gus, Night of the Living Dead lied to me. 28 Days Later is nothing but a web of falsehood and deceit! I feel so betrayed!"
"Not me," Gus said as he opened the door. "I hate those movies. You know the sight of blood makes me woozy."
"True," said Shawn, who still remembered the Great Nosebleed Incident of ’86 in vivid detail.
"If zombies were like the movies, I'd probably be killed off in the first five minutes."
"Don't say that, Gus."
"Don't worry – I'd die heroically, sacrificing my life so you could escape the zombie menace and eventually repopulate the human race."
"I'd rather you didn't die at all!"
"Well, yeah, of course not. You’re my best friend. Who would I hang out with if you were killed by zombies?" Gus smiled, and Shawn felt reassured. "Who would I play trashcan basketball with? Who would watch old episodes of Thundercats with me? Who would laugh at my jokes? Well, everyone, because I am a laugh riot. But who—"
"Thanks, Shawn," Gus said sincerely, totally derailing his train of thought. "I love you too."
"I'm touched, Gus, truly."
"Whatever," Gus said, clearly embarrassed. "Touched in the head."
"No, really," Shawn insisted. "You got me right here." Dramatically, he pressed his hands against his heart and pretended to swoon.
"Oh, just -- drink your smoothie."
Shawn grinned widely and slurped his pineapple-y scrumptiousness. "Mmmm, irradiated."