DENVER, COLORADO

[Susanne Davies' living room is the same one she has lived in all her life. Her small, single-story 1940's house stands alone in the middle of the Valverde neighborhood, though nowadays she has no neighbors to speak of. Inside, Mrs. Davies sits in candlelight and offers me a seat on her sofa. The leather has been completely removed and replaced with a chintzy fabric curtain. The room is otherwise bare, as if no effort has been made to restore it. She lights a cigarette with shaking hands.]


I prefer to live alone. I don't really get on with anyone else. Last January they actually offered me a free room out near Victory Park, but I said fuck 'em. You see, Americans aren't the same as they used to be, you see? I don't mean us, specifically; nobody is - look at the fucking Cubans. Everyone who survived has changed. The Ruskies found Jesus, the Chinks did... their thing... I didn't really follow it. Serves them right for fucking starting the whole fucking thing. And we got ourselves some self-respect. The ones who are still here are the tough ones, the fucking pioneers. Now we're a nation of quietly-spoken, educated, world-weary fucking... smart-asses. And even when there were no more Living Dead to weed us out, the ones who weren't quite man enough for the new world managed to crack open their own fucking skulls!

But not all of us who didn't get eaten just adapted naturally. I'm sorry, I keep swearing. I'm sorry. Talking about the war is still very difficult for me. I was trying to say that... not all of us are still here because we earned it. Some of us were carried. I just prefer to live alone. We actually haven't seen any attacks or even had a warning since November, I think it was. People are different now. I've never even killed a Living Dead. I must be the only one in the country! Ha ha! I never fled to the Rockies, either. It's almost like I missed out on the whole experience. That's not to say that I haven't trapped my share of rats and wild dogs, goodness me. It wasn't easy for me either, but... the stories you hear about people in the war. Is that what you're doing? Judy called from the clinic again today to check - she said you were writing a history book?

Yes, it's an oral history. Please continue.

An oral history, I see. Super duper. Fuckin'... collecting sob stories from big, macho survivors across the country and see who got fucked the hardest and came out the other side? Outstanding. Let's get all these assholes together and compare dick sizes, right? Oh and throw-in the crazy lady from Denver, too! The one who sat-out the whole fucking ordeal without ever leaving her fucking couch, that out to be good for a laugh!

Ugh...

It wasn't a war - they were animals. Fucking 'war'? Wars are fought against fucking armies. Armies are composed of people. Just more uplifting bullshit from the Suicide in Chief. Make like it's a world war - people will think we can win! Does it count as a civil war, then? I mean, those things were our friends and neighbors - even after they died they were registered as American citizens, right? So it's a civil war, is it? No, it's a fucking disaster. It's an apocalypse. It's fucking millions of fucking human corpses fucking EATING our fucking BRAINS. [1]

God, I'm sorry. [She takes a long drag of her cigarette and nervously ties-up her hair.]

I was hoping we could talk about Zack.

We ARE talking about fucking Zack! Who the fuck did you think I was talking about? All anyone ever talks about is fucking Zack.

I meant your husband.

Yes, I'm sorry. Zack was... well, obviously he's the reason I'm alive today. He was a good man. A little old-fashioned, but well, that was always fine by me. All my memories of him are kind of... sweet? We met at school. Well, night-school. I finally figured I wanted to do something with my life and went to study nursing. He was teaching in the room next door and I must have caught his eye. Our first date was dinner and a movie. It was all... you know, I don't know how folks now would describe it. I'd say 'perfect'. My parents left me this house, and I was glad when Zack agreed to stay here with me. For the longest time I was certain he would get bored of this life and of me, but somehow he never did. He was very different. Special. Ha. I'm sure this isn't going to be very helpful to your history book. We were married, we were in love.

And yes, his name began with the letter 'Z'. I know. You don't need to fucking stare at me like I don't fucking know! People fucking mentioned it. [She closes her eyes.]

When the first reports of the Living Dead started coming in on the news, we actually laughed. It was like something off of the SyFy channel, you know? It just seemed like some silly April Fools' joke. I can't even say at what point we started to believe it was real, but I remember the look on his face when he boarded up the windows. He just switched off the television, very calm, and headed outside. When he came back he had a heavy stack of timber under his arm. I was too scared to turn that TV back on. Scared of Zack, I mean - he had one of his dark moods on. He was just trying to protect me, but it was frightening.

During the Great Panic, all the nicknames for the creatures started coming out. One of them happened to be his name, and understandably just hearing it put him in one of his moods. I dreaded hearing the word. Maybe we both did. Yeah.

I don't have many stories. All I did between trapping, cooking and cleaning was wait. Sometimes I heard that awful moaning in the distance and he would stop whatever he was doing and silenty leave the room. I would close my ears and then later he would come back and he would bathe. That was all. Of course, they tell me that his survival skills were truly remarkable. That he shouldn't have been able to fight so many off, especially after the ammunition ran out. That we should have starved. We lost some weight, I can tell you! Good grief. But apparently we should have starved. Oh, and we should have frozen, every winter. It was incredible, they said, that we made it. That's why I loved him. One of many reasons. There was something powerful inide him, driving him. Something that men have - strength or... competitive spirit! I could never understand it. He looked after me.

It always bothered me that the Living Dead had human faces. He would burn them, you see. When I came out and got a peek, it was... horrible. Sometimes there were animals attacked us, and that was just great because it kept us going for another week! Sometimes there were even people who attacked us.

I used to hum, you know. Drown out the sounds and the thought of it.

And, well, that was our war. He and his improvised weapons kept this one small section of the world safe - a little clear spot in the middle of the nation, in the middle of it all, long after we were abandoned by our government.

Did you consider moving to a secessionist zone?

We never even heard of such a thing until it was too late. But I don't think Zack would have liked the idea. This was our home. He liked to think he was proving the President and his 'Redeker Plan' wrong by staying put. He had such anger.

When were you rescued?

Fucking 'rescued'? Are you fucking...? [Susanne sighs.] Apparently the army got to us very early-on in their campaign. They even dared to say we were fucking lucky!

They just arrived and kicked the door open and screamed at us, looking very closely at how we reacted. I was just numb, as ever, but Zack... they knocked me down and killed him.

Those lousy fucking army cunts! They just fucking killed him, that instant, before I even knew what had happenned, and dragged me out. And he was just fucking gone forever. And it was just me, fucking... alone and surrounded by every fucking thing...

I'm sorry, this is very hard. Talking about those soldiers, you know. I remember them laughing. Not at first, but later. Sharing jokes, making up all those silly little nicknames for their guns. Megs and Lobos and PIE and Triple... I don't know, nineties or something. It all just seemed so inappropriate. I heard them call me a 'LaMOE'. That's another of their f... of their code words. Eventually I found out what it means. I remember that.

They took me to their camp, but I got back here eventually. And I stayed. It's not difficult, living here. Not now. I'm close enough to the city that I can get supplies once a week. I like the walk. And they actually come out to see me now, from the clinic. All the time. I'm getting better. Everything is just so different from the way it used to be. This isn't my home. I shouldn't be here. I didn't survive what happened, I just shut it out.

I understand. Thank you for sharing all of this.

I shouldn't be here.

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[1. Despite the increasingly popular stereotype, there is absolutely no documented evidence of zombies specifically consuming human brain tissue. Furthermore zombies have never been known to speak - either the word 'brains' or any other word.]

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MAX - I checked with the officials at Denver and there doesn't seem to be any record of Suzanne Davies ever being married. Her story might be pure fabrication. Do you want to leave this chapter in the manuscript? Get back to me ASAP.