“I don’t know Herb… I think he may be another one,” Marjorie tossed a scrutinizing glance towards their server while struggled to refill a partially empty water glass at the table across from where she and her husband were sitting. “We’ve got to get out of here,” she hissed to her husband as the server turned towards their table before continuing towards the kitchen.
“Ah come on, Margie, I just got my shrimp and there’s even a little burner for my butter sauce,” Herb protested as he dipped one of his shrimp in the warm butter before tossing it in his mouth as way of demonstration. “Can’t we just stay long enough for me to get a few of these guys in my gullet?”
“And let him get the chance to pounce on us, are you crazy? We have to leave now, Herb!” Marjorie flipped through her wallet, threw two twenties down and grabbing as many Sweet&Lows as she could, stuffed them in her purse while pushing her chair back from the table. Herb looked sadly at his plate heaping with shrimp and decided to throw a few in a napkin before taking his leave from the table. Shame he couldn’t take the butter, though.
Since arriving at the relatively quiet beach town of Coco less than two days ago, the couple vacationing down from Ohio had keenly noticed there was something ‘off’ about the locals. Brushing it off as a cultural difference, the two didn’t think twice about it until Marjorie mentioned it in passing during a phone conversation with her granddaughter Nancy.
“What exactly are they like, grandma? Give me a few examples,” Nancy a very bright nine-year-old asked when Marjorie stated the locals seemed strange.
“Oh I don’t know dear… they all seem to be wearing very old clothing, it’s ill-fitting, practically hanging off of them and most of the time their pants or sleeves have tears in them. Just about everything they have on is very worn, and faded and it doesn’t appear that much time was spent in picking out their clothes, it’s usually very mix-matched… and let’s see, what else? Most of them walk like new-born chicks, like their legs are jelly almost so they have a bit of a shuffle to their gait. Oh, and when you try to talk to them it’s the oddest thing… first they just kind of stare at you with this blank look. Their eyes all have a kind of, glaze to them… wonder if it’s the sea air? Anyhow, when they finally work through what they want to say, they speak very slowly and kind of mumble. I swear some of those words aren’t even English! Your grandfather tried to stop one on the street to ask for directions and all the young man could seem to say was, “waves… waves…. waves!” So odd…” Marjorie thought about it and wondered if all of this sounded as strange to her granddaughter as it did to her and Herb.
“Grandma, I don’t want to freak you out… but I think I know what’s wrong with these people. I think they’re…zombies,” Nancy responded in complete seriousness.
“Oh don’t be silly, Nancy, they’re not zombies, zombies don’t exist,” Marjorie nervously laughed into the receiver.
“Haven’t you heard, grandma? It’s been on all the new stations… they’re not calling them ‘zombies’ because the government doesn’t want to cause a panic, but basically a bunch of volunteers for a top secret study in Washington D.C. contracted some virus and now they’re… zombies,” Nancy went into further detail, making sure to include that the symptoms were the same types of behavior Marjorie had just described and by the end of her story she could tell her grandmother had bought the story- hook, line and sinker.
“Oh dear!” Marjorie cried into the phone, “I’ve got to tell Herb! Nancy, tell your mother I’ll call her later, I need to make sure your grandfather is ok in the swimming pool and then I think we better get out of here!”
Now, as the pair rushed out of the Coco Cabana & Fish Joint where they had stopped to grab a meal before getting on the road out of the zombie-infested Coco, Marjorie slid behind the wheel of their minivan and hit the automatic lock as soon as Herb was in next to her. “That was close, Herb… too close,”. Preparing to pull out of the space and back onto the highway, Marjorie pulled out her cell phone in order to let it charge and saw she had a new voicemail.
It was from her daughter (Nancy’s mother)- “Mom! God, I hope I caught you before you left. Nancy just let slip the story she told you… about the zombies? It’s not true, mom! Of course it’s not true! There are no zombies, there was no secret test or any of the nonsense she told you… I guess she’s going through some phase or something and thought it would be funny to trick you. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with Coco, or the locals there, they are just surfers, mom… that’s how they are. Laid back, a little slow at time (probably cause they are high) and they wear whatever they find on the floor just long enough to get to the water. So stay where you are, enjoy your vacation and call me to let me know you got this!”
Marjorie played the message for Herb and they both sat for a minute in the idling minivan completely speechless. Finally, Herb looked over at his wife and said, “Does this mean I can go finish my shrimp, now?”
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Today Andy and I joined his mother, her boyfriend, Andy’s sister and his grandparents (who Marjorie & Herb are loosely based on) at the beach. During several encounters with ‘the locals’ we were struck by how everyone we spoke to fell into that stereotypical ‘beach bum’ or surfer grouping. On the car ride back ‘to the mainland’ a song with the word ‘dude’ in it about 50 times combined with the fact Andy is working on a zombie movie currently, it seemed to me there were some notable parallels between the two groups- zombies and surfers. A stretch? Maybe… dude.
Love & Squirrels.