Genetically modified corn has infected people with a virus that causes them to turn into zombies concerned only with the continuation of corn, while the uninfected continue to be concerned with the continuation of uninfected people.
This book is not about unicorns.
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Pre-zombification, my father was already obsessed with corn. He told me almost every day that corn was in control of us. Corn wants the world to contain more corn, so corn evolves us to agree with it: Corn tells us that we could make sugar out of corn, or fuel out of corn, or plastic out of corn, etc. The flu makes us cough, which spreads the flu. Corn makes us corn-hungry, which spreads corn. He got this idea from a book, and he never ceased to be amazed by it. For years, he would talk about it. We’d be eating mashed potatoes or something, and he’d say, “You know, potatoes are impossible without corn. That corn, it’s everywhere.” (He meant this metaphorically, although it is now nearly true literally.)
I think my dad was so fascinated by this idea because he realized on some fundamental level that he was not in control of his desires: I think he woke up every morning in his nice house with hardwood floors and granite countertops and wondered why he desired granite countertops and hardwood floors, wondered who precisely was running his life. Most people never stop to wonder why they like Pop Tarts or rainflow showerheads or skinny girls or whatever it is they like. Although my father never abandoned the narrowly circumscribed suburban life he was fated to desire, the why of it all nagged at him. I inherited that penchant for intellectualism, a character flaw that these days can only be thoroughly eradicated by getting Z’ed up.
Anyway, I have been thinking about the old man because it was a year ago today that I shot him in the chest with a hollow-point .45 caliber bullet. He kind of smiled as he fell backwards onto the overstuffed living room couch. He took a minute to die, and it was the smilingest minute I’d ever seen from him.
A lot of the Z’ed up smile when you kill them. I don’t know if they’re grateful or amused or what, but it helps with the guilt, which quite a lot of people feel. I knew a kid once who was the kind of sentimentalist who found it troubling to think of himself as a murderer, so he called killing Zs completing them. I liked that.
That kid — his name was Marcos Marcos — got Z’ed up somehow. We were living in a very nice heavily chandeliered Lincoln Park townhouse with a few other humanoid types, and then one morning Marcos Marcos made a go at my puppy, Mr. President, and I had to complete him. I completed his head all over the dining room credenza of that townhouse and then me and Mr. President bolted for the proverbial higher ground.
Newzies go for dogs and cats and cows first, when they’ve still got enough of a moral compass to recognize that separating human beings from their vital organs — aside from being ethically troubling — is cannibalistic.
It is my own moral compass that has done me in now, working through the last few gallons of the gas that runs the generator that pumps the putrid z’ed out air down here into my Lincoln Square cellar, eating through the last rusted cans of diced tomatoes and Spam, drinking very expensive wine at the rate of precisely one bottle per day, watching the shelves empty out, wondering — as my father did — what terrible monster lurking inside of me forces me to go on rowing against the current when I could just walk up a staircase, unlock this cellar door, and get Z’ed up like a normal person.