Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Zombie Hipster Novel

Last week, as I drove through the SXSW-clogged Austin streets, I sent a couple of tweets that would become by far my most popular and re-tweeted messages to date.

Driving through downtown has made me realize how perfect and terrifying a hipster zombie novel would be.

They're wearing ironic sunglasses and they're coming to eat your braaaaains!!

Obviously I had struck a nerve. I was immediately besieged by pleas to write this book.

But since I’m lazy and a little bit busy with another book at the moment, this will have to do:


We’d all encountered one before.

I’d seen one just that morning, the barista who’d made my mochachino before school. He was wearing Elvis Costello glasses and had a thin little mustache. When he asked what I was listening to on my iPod and I said Snow Patrol, his furry lip curled up into a snear.

Sure, he was irritating. But he was harmless.



The picture shook and lurched wildly before the cameraman found his shot. Josh and I, alone for the weekend while our parents “reconnected” in Vale, had been glued to the news ever since they’d broken in with a special report about a killer mob roaming the streets of Brooklyn. This was the first piece of live footage.

“Oh my God,” my brother whispered as the picture came into focus.

The throng was at least two hundred people deep. They all had sickly pale skin that seemed to hang from their bones, and the whiteness of their faces made the red bloodstains across their mouths all the more vivid. They lurched down the street to some demented beat they all seemed to hear, smashing windows and knocking over trashcans with limbs they could barely control.

The newscaster’s voice was hushed. This army of monsters had been growing under our noses for years. It looked like one shuffling organism instead of the individual people that made it up.

“They all the look the same,” I said in horror.

Josh’s eyes were wide as he nodded.

“All those skinny jeans,” he said.


I told Josh not to leave the house. We’d barricaded ourselves inside when the growing mob reached our neighborhood. We were six floors up, but we could still hear the crashes and gunshots and screams from the street.

But we were out of food and wouldn’t last much longer. The power had died a week ago, so we had no way of knowing what was going on outside our apartment, but the streets had been quiet for days. Josh kissed my forehead, dug his old baseball bat out of a closet, and told me to bolt the door behind him.

I waited for him for two days, hope fading every hour.

On the morning of the third day I was jolted awake by a crash in the next room.

I ran into the living room to find my brother swinging his bat at our parents sound system. Slivers of smashed CDs littered the floor.

“Josh!” I cried, rapturous with relief at the sight of him.

He didn't turn, and a prickle went up the back of my neck.

“Josh?” I repeated. He took another swing at the CD player. “What are you doing?”

He turned slowly to face me.

“From now on, we only listen to vinyl.”

I screamed and ran for the door. Josh’s pale face transformed into a howl as he lunged after me.


A hand shot out of the alley and grabbed me. Before I could scream, the hand was clapped over my mouth and my back was pressed up hard against it’s unseen owner’s chest. The pack of zombies on my trail lumbered past us and down the street.

I turned to my savior, barely able to make out his face in dimness of the unlit street.

“Thank you,” I breathed.

His voice was low and rough. “We better move.”

His hand wrapped around mine, and he began pulling me through the maze of dark Brooklyn streets.

“Who are you?” I said.

“Just a friend.”

He was so mysterious, so incommunicative! My heart pounded in my chest.

He led me to a basement apartment near an abandoned subway station. The windows were blacked out, but the inside was aglow with candles and battery-powdered lamps. A half a dozen people of all ages and types turned to look at us when we entered. One was heating soup on a camping stove, while the others sharpened knives or spoke in low tones over a map in the corner.

“Everyone, this is Sarah,” my protector said. He turned to introduce me to the group, and I got my first good look at him.

A v-neck tee and cardigan, worn Converses, and dark hair that was artfully sculpted to look like he’d just rolled out of bed.

I gasped and scrambled back towards the door.

“You’re one of them!”


Damien turned his face away from me, his eyes hidden behind the sweep of his emo-bangs.

“You shouldn’t care for me,” he said. “I’m no good.”

“Of course you are!” I put my hands on his cold cheeks and forced him to look at me. “When we went looking for supplies and stumbled on that nest of zombies arguing about Nietzsche, who distracted them with a question about Thus Spoke Zarathustra and gave the rest of us time to get out?”

“Me, but—”

“And when Stephen was bit, who was the only one of us who had the strength to put him out of his misery before he could put on that tweed fedora?”

“I was.”

I pulled his face closer to mine, resting our foreheads together. Damien was a noble zombie. He wasn’t like the rest. I just wished he could see it as clearly as I did.

I leaned forward to kiss him, but he jerked away.

“Don’t touch me, Sarah,” he said. “I’m a monster.”

Tears sprung to my eyes. “Don’t say that!”

“It’s true! I’m dead and cold and starting to decay a little.” He brushed back a piece of his hair. “I had to super-glue this ear back on yesterday.”

“I don’t care!” I sobbed, even though, yeah, that was a little gross.

“All I care about is indie rock and post-modernism!” he continued. “And I don’t even really know what that means! You deserve better.”

“Maybe,” I said. “But I love you, Damien. Now kiss me before anything else falls off.”


“It’s the only way!” I said, tears streaming down my cheeks. “The whole country has been taken over, and the rest of the team is gone. This was always how it was going to end. I don’t want to fight it anymore.”

Damien’s grip on my hand was bruising. “Please, Sarah, don’t give up! I can’t live – er, you know – without you!”

I tried to smile. “This way you’ll never have to. We’ll always be together. And, hey, we’ll finally have some common interests!”

I picked up the oversized pink Ray-Ban Wayfarers and put them on with shaky fingers.

Damien began to cry. “No, Sarah, please. I love the person you are now. Please…”

I couldn't say anything. His tears hurt me, but I knew I was out of options.

“You’ll start to like Belle and Sebastien,” he continued with increasing desperation. He grabbed my shoulders. “You’ll shop at Whole Foods!

I nodded and wiped the tears off my cheeks. “I know. But I have no other choice. Now, will you help me or will I have to find some guy off the street to do this?”

He closed his eyes and finally said, “I’ll do it.”

We cried and kissed as we said our goodbyes, and then Damien sunk his teeth into my arm and my vision went black.


When I woke up, he was beside me, his eyes wide and anxious.

“Damien?” I said, sitting up. “Is it over?”

“Sarah!” He grabbed me into a fierce hug. “Is it really you?”

“It’s me. Of course it is!”

He laughed and kissed me. “Thank God! Oh, thank God!”

I swallowed uncomfortably. Dying was dehydrating.

“How about some coffee?” I said. “I’d kill for a free-trade vanilla soy latte.”

I turned to search for something suitably ridiculous to wear and missed the dawning horror in Damien’s eyes.

--The End

... or is it?

Dun dun dunnn!!


Like my hipster zombie novel? Check out my list of other books that have never been written.

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