The Paddle, zombie Nella
“Exactly how much am I prepared to open up?” Like so many writers-in-the-making, I have visualized my possible roads to success more than once. It was at a time when I still attached importance to the concept of friendship.
Now that my biography of Zombie Nella - unsolicited, and compiled by very wrong writers - is at the printer, I realize that I asked all the wrong questions back then.
I did not know then what I know now. One of the most important life lessons in this life that has stayed with me, is that love and hate do not exist; that they are fabrications of our minds to offer us comfort, or to be used to manipulate others.
The road to success seems only ridiculous and infantile now.
I searched and found a way that I liked better; ideal for random writers like me. Linguistic nit-pickers, philosophers or language professors call it ‘The Stream of Consciousness’. I dived in and lost myself in it. It felt like fresh water, cooling, cleansing and virtuous. The stream has cleansed me. Thoughts can do that.
My dive into the stream was not entirely voluntary. I initially only wanted to take a boat trip. At the waterfall, I lost boat and paddle. I found a tree trunk and held onto it for a long time, until I had to let go at the next cascade.
I woke up on an embankment with lots of pebbles. The paddle lay right next to my face. It took a while before I realized that I was dead.
That death brings peace is a foolish misunderstanding. Now that I am in the situation myself, I can confirm this comprehensively.
The afternoon sun is scorching. The pebbles underneath me are getting too hot. I get up and stumble towards the vegetation a bit further in the distance. New clothes are hanging for me on the shrubs. I can choose between a baggy dress with a floral print, a striped tiger print or a black sheet with a likewise hoody ... Sigh. Not my cup of tea at all. Next to it, on the ground, I find a pair of sturdy walking shoes and a small pink briefcase.
I open it immediately, curious as I am. The small briefcase resembles that of presidents. Inside is a little black box with a red button, a notepad and a red pen.
I don’t like the clothes. They are as ugly as sin. I also wonder why I actually need them, now that I have no body.
The shoes are a bit more to my liking, more useful, especially, as protection against the prickly substrate. I put them on and I put the clothes in the small briefcase. Maybe I will find a good seamstress in this new country and maybe something more beautiful can be made of the three different fabrics.
An unknown road lies ahead of me. I take this bizarre turn whilst being naked and invisible, wearing only a pair of shoes. I find it a hilarious idea. Until I realize that the small pink briefcases in my previous life have almost always caused serious problems…
I’m doubting. Shall I go back and take the paddle with me on my journey? You can ward off annoying people with it… I shake my head. No, it will be different now. Considerably more uncertain, I continue the way.
It is as I feared: I am not alone here! Bleeding zombies conscientiously observe me whilst drooling, rotting, malodorous, emanating obtuse sounds. Some miss a few body parts… Only those who wear a hood seem to be equipped with a head… And then I understand it: insane visibility textiles. That must be it. There is no other possibility. Perhaps they see me as a zombie of which only a pair of feet is left over…
The ghouls want to take the briefcase away from me.
The stench around me is inhuman. The zombies cannot keep their hands to themselves. I am sure that I will not be able to endure their unwanted intimacies for very much longer.
I climb up a tree, they climb up after me and in the meantime, I am trying to think. I could surrender the briefcase or… I kick a groping hand away with my feet. I climb further up the treetop up to where the branches are still prepared to bear my weight. If I do not do it, then the others will do it in my place… A death wish in a dead world is certainly not as bad as a similar desire in the land of the living.
I only feel haste. No love, no hate. I open the briefcase and I press.
No bang. No dust. No sigh. No flop. Nothing. Then you press the button, for the first time in your existence… Once again, I kick a few zombies away from me.
Damnit. I’ve made a mistake. Zombieland is getting insanely busy. More and more spirits rise from the water. The shrubs suddenly turn out to be hanging full of the most unbelievably ugly clothes. The red button has exploded in the land of the living. That is not what I expected. Something is wrong, especially with the clothes that they are wearing. Some of them are carrying a small pink briefcase.
The newly dead have brought their fears and their anger with them. They are charging at my tree. And they shake it. Until I fall.
The white is blinding. It takes a while before I can focus. I am in a classroom. My little briefcase is on the table in front of me. My heart makes a leap of joy when I recognize the people in front of me. My two dead girlfriends bestow me a fleeting glance. From their behaviour, I realize that we will finally be able to speak to one another after this crap. Mister Kawashibai turns around and he quickly winks at me before he gets a slap from the gentleman with the white straw hat who is rushing towards me.
Sheets are in fashion over here. Everyone is wearing a sheet. Including myself and the one who is floating around with an air as if he wants to indicate that he is in charge here.
“Take your pen and the notepad.’ He takes my briefcase with him. His sheet flutters as I look at his broad back. “Here, we only write about love. You may not use names and any forbidden words in your stories, write in your book and fill it up right to the last page. Thereafter you are free to go.” The instructions sound cold.
“Forbidden words?” I ask. He turns around abruptly. ‘Be quiet. I have told you everything you ought to know. We only write here.’
There are no days and no nights here. I have been here for centuries already. Stuck with the wrong vocabulary and a red blood pen that has grown into a sixth finger of my right hand.
And, do you know what? I don’t mind at all. It feels as if I’m in heaven.