Archive for August, 2008

The Reluctant Zombie

(based on a true story)

My name is Lance Corporal Daniel Prophet.  I served with Easy Company, Second Battalion, Second Marine Regiment during the summer of 2007 in Mahmudiya, Zadon, and Falluja.  I am now in a freight box headed for Dover Air Force Base.  From there, they will ship me to my home town, San Diego, California.  My body is 22 years old, but my mind is timeless.  That’s correct.  I am one of your fallen heroes.  How can I be talking to you like this?  Let me tell you one little secret they don’t tell you when you’re alive:  you don’t get to see the big picture until you’re dead.

For example, I cannot leave this body of mine until I have been given a proper burial.  This doesn’t mean that I need a big deal burial.  No, it just means I must be given the respect that the dead deserve.  And, in this instance, it means the respect of being allowed to return home.  That’s my problem.  Since the United States Government does not want you to see my dead body, for political reasons, I am being transported home as freight.  That’s correct.  I am now right next to boxes of beef jerky, canned ham, condoms and new issues of the horror magazine, Shroud, which has an awesome story in it by Brian Keene about a zombie that loses his will to kill.  The reluctant zombie–that’s me!

I read mostly science fiction and horror when I was alive.  I used to get a lot of it off the Internet, as most publications now have their stories in full online.  As a communications technician, I was able to use the Internet quite often as part of my job.  That’s part of the reason why I now have this ability to see the big picture now that I’m dead.  The Buddhists must be partially correct, also, because the book I was reading when my Armored Personnel Carrier hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was an old one by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Called Slaughterhouse Five; or the Children’s Crusade: a Duty-Dance with Death.  By the way, the word “crusade” was blacked out on my copy because the government censors did not want the word to be used over in the Middle East.  The Buddhists say that the last thing you’re concentrating on when you die determines what you will be in the next life.  I was concentrating on this book wherein Billy Pilgrim, a sensitive Chaplain’s Assistant in World War Two, is able to slip in an out of time, and he simultaneously lives as a human zoo specimen on the planet Tralfamadore and as a prisoner of war inside a slaughter house below the ground in Dresden, Germany.  It’s an awesome book.  I learned that we experience life from what Vonnegut calls our “peephole” of reality.

Paul Lazarro was Billy Pilgrim’s nemesis in the novel by Vonnegut.  Sergeant Steve Haggard was mine.  Steve was like many of the other big guys I knew growing up.  He liked to pick on small guys.  In fact, I joined the Marines because I was small, and I wanted them to make me a man, as they claimed they could do in their ads.  However, although I did become much stronger, and I had big muscles, I was still a short dude, only 5 feet 3 inches tall.  Sergeant Haggard liked to play practical jokes on me.  He was always putting itching powder in my desert boots or holding a Chinese Fire Drill, whereby his squad would wait until I was on the commode and they would toss a burning paper bag under the stall and Haggard would yell “Fire!”  The rest of the squad then threw helmets filled with water over the stall and onto my head.  Once, when I was doing duty in the mess hall, Sergeant Haggard super glued some silverware to the table top.  When I went to pick-up the spoons, knives and forks to take them to the scullery, he laughed his ass off, as I tried to pry them off the table.  Haggard, my squad leader, always forced me to sit near the center of the APC whenever we traveled in Iraq.  This was the most dangerous spot, and this was where I lost my head from flying shrapnel.  They sewed my head back on my body for the trip home.  I never got to kill a single insurgent.

But Haggard’s final joke was to fill-out the chit that sent my body state-side.  Instead of having my body shipped to a funeral home in San Diego, he had it sent to Sea World, marked as “Killer Whale Food.”  Thus, instead of having my body get the proper ceremony it deserved, I was headed to an amusement park.  This also proved that Haggard had become a psycho.

I can feel them hauling me off the plane.  After the bumpy ride, I can hear the top of my container being pried open.  I can see light pouring down on my face, and my infinite mind can see the person bending over me.  She is about 25 years old, blonde, and she begins to scream as she sees that I am not sea food and that I am naked.  People begin to scurry around my box, and then someone with a suit on says, “Ship him to the coroner’s office.  There’s no return address on this shipping bill.  Where the hell did he come from?”

I have ended up in a poorly constructed, refrigerated trailer outside the San Diego City Coroner’s Office.  I can hear the rats eating into my box, and I want to say that I am frightened, but it’s actually kind of cool to be in here.  It’s like the end of some horror story that I would have read when I was alive.  Maybe something by H. P. Lovecraft or George Orwell.

As I pointed out, it is now my duty to haunt you in your world.  I will begin with Steve Haggard.  He will see me in his dreams over in Iraq, and this will lead to his getting a mental discharge, but he won’t get one cent of disability because the shrinks will claim he was crazy before he came into the Marine Corps, and it’s actually true.  He played many other pranks on animals and humans when he was a civilian.  As a result, Steve will get drunk on leave on a half-day fishing boat out of San Diego, and he will jump overboard, where he will be eaten by sharks.  We Buddhists call this type of revenge “karmic justice.”

As for the rest of you, I will also enter your dreams, showing you pictures from the dark side of our global quest for wealth, power and industrialized greed.  These are pictures that were taken by a Canadian who wanted to capture the real scenes of environmental devastation caused by Globalization.  He called it “Manfactured Landscapes.”  He said his epiphany to take these pictures came as he was driving his car, with its plastic steering wheel, and its gasoline, and its oil, and all the other connections he personally had to our petroleum-based economy.

But I’m not buried yet.  You could discover me and give me my burial.  There’s still time for you to wake up and use your infinite mind and forget your lousy peepholes.  There’s still time to release me.  Are we there yet?


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