A new season of life, re-entry and preparing for a zombie apocalypse
It was November of 2020 when we finally arrived. We had all had a rough year and most people had no idea what to do about the world and it’s implosion. I had many reasons for fleeing the city, but my greatest calling was to prepare myself for a zombie apocalypse or mass genocide.
Most people think that’s a stretch, but so did Germany. And that belief Americans have — that something so unspeakable and horrendous could not happen here — well, it has always appeared a tad grandiose to me.
Furthermore, a majority of the population thinking mass destruction couldn’t happen would be a win for any oppressor attempting to covet nations. And no matter how small that chance was, there was a chance. That was inevitable.
Yeah, sure, it probably wouldn’t get that bad in my lifetime. Maybe. But I didn’t want to be the one saying that when they started putting us in literal cages and discarding our figurative ones.
Regardless what the secret plans of the people behind the madness were, or weren’t, I did not want to be a part of those plans. It was clear that someone in high places did not have our best interests at heart, and whichever Trojan Horse the masses were choosing to accept, both were packed with something ravenous to the human spirit. You could already see the foam coming from the mouths of many.
As I sat for months in a monomaniacal obsession with any shreds of truth I could get my hands on, I watched. I had always known that for any smaller population to control the larger one, they must divide. I mean, Good ol’ Abe taught us that in grade-school.
A house divided among itself cannot stand. — Abraham Lincoln
They didn’t teach us though, the extent to which Abe placed unity above all else. It was made out as if his sole aim was to dismantle slavery. That was hardly the case. He knew what mattered more than the abolition of slavery, and that was unity. He knew our greatest threat was not immorality, but division, although he wasn’t a fan of immoral behavior either. He simply knew that our ethical values would not matter if we destroyed each other, and — by acquiescing to mass division — gave away our power as a people.
That was what terrified me — more division. So much more.
So I watched and I watched. I watched the people as they trampled one another for toilet paper. I watched the presidents every movement and facial expression as I listened to his press conferences every day. Not only him, though, all his people too. And his enemies. And their people, and their people’s people.
I watched New York fall apart and listened to them pleading for help. Cities were burned to the ground. People were hating their neighbors and their families because they were arguing about who was right instead of figuring out what was right. I watched the hospital hallways in Italy and the videos of hundreds of civilians who were dying or losing their loved ones. Crime rose and rose. Hate grew and grew.
I studied viral transmission and vaccines, brushed up on a bit of history, and, for the first time, I dipped the terrified toe of my horrified brain in the cess pool that is American politics.
I get it, many people will think that I am an irresponsible American for the many years in which I discarded politics completely. And maybe they are right. But to me, the political arena never looked like leadership, and I was never fully convinced that the politicians had much of a say in things, anyway.
Because I value my life force beyond measure, I didn’t see a pissing contest as being worth a drop of it. So for the first 35 years of my life, I just ignored it. But perhaps that was the most crippling privilege that we had in America — the ability to pay no attention whatsoever to the government and still live a relatively decent life. Well those days have been gone for me since March eighteenth, 2020.
So I had sat and watched and studied long enough to know that I didn’t know enough. And, there wasn’t enough time to know enough. There was just too much to know that I didn’t. In which case, the smartest thing to do would be to air on the side of caution. I must get to safety. I must get my children to safety. And I must do it quickly.
The first time I saw the town was in the midst of absolute delirium. I mean, I was so delirious that I felt dizzy and almost drunk. The definition of delusional. The hills probably helped, but I had driven all the way to Ohio with no sleep and, due to the thick night of fog and deer in Appalachia, the drive from Texas took nearly 24 hours.
We had arrived early in the morning and not slept until well after sunrise. But when I finally got a nights sleep and awoke the next morning, it was as if I had been catapulted into the next dimension.
The tiny shoe like apartment of my mom’s was completely quiet. Silence. I hadn’t heard it for a while.
Her apartment had two bedrooms, but they were as tiny as the kitchen and living room. It was nestled on top of a giant hill, at the very front, and that hill overlooked the entire town. You walked into a kitchen so tiny that you couldn’t open the dryer and the cabinet at the same time, then into a living room that was one sixth taken up by steep stairs and railing made of dark wood — the same color as the flooring. The cute design in the railing made it almost like a wall, and there were candles and decorations lining that side of the stairs, dancing between diamonds of wood.
The place was tiny, but it was wooden and warm and safe. Tucked away on the top of a hill, far away from the big cities, and even separated from the small one below. I could finally breath completely, I could finally stop holding my breath.
If there was a zombie apocalypse, I wanted be tucked away somewhere like this, around people who owned their own guns and knew how to use them — people who aren’t so attached to the world and have a deeper relationship with their land, the local community and family units. They still use paper files here, pay bills at a physical drop box, and eat food that they grow and raise themselves. They are, collectively, much less dependent on society and media than the people of most places. Some people may complain about many things being twenty years behind, but you have to think big picture here. The benefit is that if the world goes to hell in a hand-basket, these are the only neighbors I would ever want. One would have a much better chance of survival living here when everything went to shit, where more people know how to take care of themselves.
As I walked down the stairs so steep that I was sure I would fall forward at the slightest misstep, I wondered why. Of course, they take up less space that way. But I would soon find out that the people around here were not intimidated by steep inclines.
Finishing my dangerous journey down the stairs, I could see a color in the air that I had never seen before. It was almost gray, but still white, and the sun was on it’s way up, but the almost-gray made it a powder light pink that was almost peach.
I walked out the front door, and took a deep breath of what felt like the most oxygen that had ever entered my lungs.
There was a dense fog that covered different parts of the town in different layers. I saw barely any traffic down below and virtually none where I stood. More silence, except the sounds of the birds and crickets. More birds than I was used to — perhaps they liked being high up too.
After spending most of my life in desolate flat lands and the rest of it in Texas cities, I could barely register what I saw before my very own eyes.
The city was beautiful, especially still. The tops of the eighteenth century church buildings, hotels and clock towers poked graciously, yet proudly and decisively, above the rest of the quaint and historically preserved town of brick. Behind and all around the town, as if the earth was presenting this gem with reverence, stood the green and living foothills of the Appalachian mountains.
You could see two rivers meet, and on the other side of the bigger one, was West Virginia. I felt like I could throw a stone at it. I had never seen anything like it.
I made my way down the sidewalk, made of deep orange brick, and ran my finger across the strong and ancient black fence that surrounded the neighbors yard. Apparently, it was an old famous bed an breakfast from the early settlement days. Someone bought it and people live in it now. But the people here still liked to talk about the history behind it.
Most of the roofs had giant tops on them, like a balcony but instead of sticking out from the side, it was built upward onto the very top of the roof. I hadn’t seen these anywhere, besides the tops of expensive hotels and luxury homes and apartments in fancy places. This was different though. These were just humble, single family dwellings that were all built with these rooftops, like it is just what people did around here — no big deal. It made me chuckle. The entire place was endearing, even the roofs.
It made sense, since this was the lookout point for the settlement, back when people had things to look out for. Or perhaps they just appreciated the view enough to do it. Either way, very cool. I wondered if they were in working order and daydreamed of the day I might step foot on one.
I tried to get there faster, so had just missed fall by the tail end. Everything was already dead, but the barren trees were just as beautiful as I was sure the green ones would be in spring. And there was something that felt perfect about my new life beginning in the dead season, directly followed by the coming to life in spring. My old life was, in fact, dead. It had ended with covid. And my new one would come to life as soon as I breathed into it, as soon as I got myself nestled into this place. Winter was the perfect beginning.
Written by Holly Kellums