Ten Zombie Twists That Haven’t Been Done To Death
Forget fast zombies and fungal zombies. Imagine the horror of having the items on this list come back from the dead.
You’re having a celebratory dinner at the Cheesecake Factory when your Factory grande burrito starts wriggling on your plate. The ground beef has been reanimated. Your wife’s miso salmon flops to the floor. As you watch the bacon on your daughter’s BLT thrash, you feel the Buffalo wings in your stomach begin to flap.
You’re giving a work presentation when you feel a slithering on your stomach. You look down and, instead of the sleek business suit you put on this morning, you’re wearing a cold-shoulder top and LulaRoe leggings. You gave this outfit to Goodwill three years ago, you’re sure of it. But somehow it has returned. In your peripheral vision, you see that your hair is again dyed with chunky highlights. From the corner of the room, Mila, your nemesis from payroll, softly scoffs.
You’re at the grocery checkout when you feel a popping in your face as pimples burst out. A layer of oil moistens your skin and hair as braces snake themselves around your teeth. You’re hit with a wave of angst and self-loathing. The elderly cashier greets you and, when you answer her, your voice cracks. You hold a bag of Doritos at waist height to hide your erection.
All the trash you’ve discarded in your life—Styrofoam to-go containers, paper napkins, milk cartons, batteries you weren’t supposed to throw in the garbage, disposable diapers, office paper that should have been recycled, unflattering photos of yourself, plastic straws, kale you never ended up making into a smoothie—merges into a mountain of stinking refuse that follows you wherever you go. Everyone who loves the earth shakes their head in disgust.
Habits you’ve kicked
There’s a sudden weight in your front shirt pocket. How did a pack of cigarettes get in there when you haven’t smoked in fourteen years? Your mouth fills with an ashy taste as a smoldering cigarette nestles itself into your mouth.
Every first draft you’ve ever written, full of typos and meandering thoughts, is resurrected and replaces the final draft. Deleted writing, too, reappears and sends itself to the originally intended recipients: a whiskey-fueled rant to your boss about a co-worker, a Facebook brawl you decided against joining, an overly flirty thank you note to your child’s teacher. They all will outlive you and forever define you as the thirsty, unhinged woman who didn’t know the difference between ‘than’ and ‘then.’
All the weight you’ve ever lost
Seventeen pounds through Weight Watchers, eight pounds through Noom, thirty pounds from a low-carb diet, three pounds from Covid, and six from a smoothie fast—all the fat you’ve lost over the decades is back. It has congealed into a half-ton quivering mass that oozes toward you, dead set on a reunion.
Your feelings for your ex
You wake at 3 a.m. dreaming of Jackson: his intense blue eyes, his easy laugh, the time he surprised you with a trip to Key West. Wait, he was an arrogant tool who tried to make you feel stupid. You dumped his ass years ago after he maxed out your credit card on Nintendo games and Adidas. You cried for three months after the breakup, but you got over Jackson, haven’t thought about him in ages. Why can’t you stop thinking about him now? Your fingers move of their own accord to text him.
The mess in your house
You just finished cleaning the house and your neighbors, the Hannigans, arrive for a cocktail party. You watch in terror as dirty coffee cups crawl out of the dishwasher and make their way onto the kitchen island. Fingerprints reappear on the windows and droplets of toothpaste re-speckle the bathroom sinks. Dust spreads across end tables as the rug darkens with cat hair.
Discarded body parts
Remember that skin tag you had removed? It remembers you, and it wants nothing more than to snuggle into its warm onetime home on the back of your neck. The tonsils you had taken out in third grade, all the fingernails you’ve carelessly clipped away, the arthritic knee you had replaced…they’re back. You feel your old wisdom teeth prying at your lips as an excised pre-cancerous mole creeps up your thigh.
Chris Eno McMahon is a comedy writer, Yooper, and erstwhile Homemaker of the Year. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Points in Case, Slackjaw, and more other humor publications than she can count, because she’s terrible at math.