Remember When

Glossy put his shovel back on his shoulder. “Remember when people used to have to take medicine to lower their cholesterol level?”

Glossy put the point of his shovel on the ground but did not dig. “I remember when children used to cry when they were hungry,” replied Candy.

“I got one. Remember when the Space Shuttle used to launch, and no one ever noticed it?” responded Glossy.

Candy shoved the shovel into the ground. “I remember when dogs didn’t try to rip your arm off if you got too close to them.”

“Remember when the biggest crisis in America was who was going to win American idol?” Glossy countered.

“I remember when the fleas used to stay on the pets. I’m really friggin’ sick of wearing a goddam flea collar,” Candy spat, then threw the dirt and foam behind him.

“Remember when, if you wanted to, you could unload a clip of ammo on a stationary target that wasn’t trying to eat you?” Glossy continued.

“I remember when I could walk through Armory Square without carrying a baseball bat,” retorted Candy.

“Remember back in the aughts or the naughts, or whatever they called that decade that started with a zero? Remember the nine percent unemployment? Ninety people in a thousand could sit around a collect a check while they looked for something to do? Remember when home values plummeted, credit disappeared, and the automakers went out of business? Remember the swine flu?”

“I remember when Cunegund didn’t try to rip my face off when I’d kiss her. I remember that we’ve got a ditch to dig. Why do you have to keep bringing up the past?”

“It’s just… It’s just… I miss the old days.”

“Excellent insight.” Candy tossed another spadeful of dirt. “But we’ve got a sewage drainage ditch to dig.”

Sweetheart Corner

sweetheart corner

“God, this is boring,” said Martin as he smashed another Z just above the right eye. “I’d really prefer to expand my horizons a little.” His sledgehammer’s backswing caught another Z in the temple. “You know, tackle some new challenges, like the State Legislature or maybe working at the DMV.” His hammer came down on top of a zombie whose mouth was dangerously close to his groin. His three kills had been done in less than three seconds and there was no shortage of new victims.

“Martin, think about it.” Glossy managed to hit two Z’s in the nose at the same time, crushing both skulls and earning a moment’s relief, which he spent lecturing his true nemesis. “The Blue Zone is the best thing in the world for all of us. If it weren’t for the Zombies, you’d be sitting at home editing Wikipedia pages and making comments on USA Today. Now you have a life that is full, challenging and complete. You’re alive for the first time in your life.”

“Glossy, you probably think that the ghouls have turned the water from Ley Creek into Chardonnay. Have you ever considered that…” He got one right in the eye socket but had to put his arm over his mouth to block the clotted gelatin that arced toward him.

“Would you both shut the hell up?” shouted Lisa. “We’re in up to our eyeballs, and all you do is talk.” Her spade severed the spinal cord of a zombie that Candy had knocked to the ground with his so-called shield. “I want to die in bed, not listening to you two idiots.” She arced her shovel upward, catching a lunging Z in the jaw, knocking it backwards but not killing it. It lay on its back, flailing its arms, its bottom jaw flapping uselessly. “I swear, I’d rather let these ghouls rip me apart right here, right now than listen to another word from you morons.” She backhanded the flat side of her shovel into the face of a sixty-year old man. He twitched once, heavily, as though having fallen from a great height and stopped moving forever.

Candy stood with his eyes barely open. He used the garbage can lid to protect his torso against the zombie coming at him from his blind side, hitting the Z straight in the forehead. He swung his machete and went through the jaw and up into the brainpan of another. He had a faint smile on his face; he was, after all, thinking of nothing but Cunegund’s demure smile as he put his machete through the open mouth of what once would have been considered a soccer mom.


“Neither need you tell me,” said Candy, “that we must take care of our garden.”

“You are in the right,” said Glossy; “for when we were put into this garden of Eden, it was with an intent to dress it; and this proves that mankind was not born to be idle.”

“Work then without disputing,” said Martin; “it is the only way to render life supportable.”

The little society, one and all, entered into this laudable design and set themselves to exert their different talents. The little piece of ground yielded kept them secure from external threats. Chuck indeed was very ugly, but he became an excellent hand at zombie elimination: Pacquette built fortifications; the old woman had the care of the linen. There was none, even Father Tutombo, but did some service; he was a corpse burner, and he was an honest man. Glossy used now and then to say to Candy:

“There is a concatenation of all events in the best of possible worlds; for, in short, had you not been kicked out of a fine house for the love of Miss Cunegund; had you not been put out into the Panic; had you not traveled over Central New York on foot; had you not run those zombies through head in North Syracuse; and had you not lost all your possessions when you were mugged, you would not have been here in the Blue Zone to eat mysterious-looking soy protein and wild asparagus.”

“Excellently observed,” answered Candy; “but let us cultivate our garden.”