Writing | An Arrested State of Decay by Danielle Willis

"There's nothin' on the radio when you're dead
There's nothin' at the movie show when you're dead
There's nowhere left for you to go when you're dead"
-- The Cramps, "Surfin' Dead"

Jenny' s coming down with the Rot, her face mottled green and black, stomach swollen up like a greasy balloon. Reg has been injecting himself with embalming fluid he stole from the hospital, but all it does is make him nauseous and irritable and he's running out of it anyway. I wish he'd fucking get over it -- everyone starts to decompose sooner or later and it's not like life gets any better the second time around so what's the big deal? The only thing I freak out about is what it's going to be like when my brain starts to go bad -- I keep dreaming about fungus growing up the length of my spinal cord into the base of my skull and waking up sick with the stench of vegetation in my nostrils. I hope I'll have the guts to just douse myself with gasoline when it starts to happen. That's what Reg and Peter want to do to Jenny only they haven't been able to catch her and I won't help them because there's no way I'm going to risk major physical trauma trying to drag her out of that filthy hole she dug for herself under the rusting '72 Buick.

It's not like she's bothering anyone -- I mean, she comes up once or twice a day to pick around for carrion and that's it. I say just leave her alone, she won't last more than a week in this heat anyway. Reg says I'm helping to prolong her misery but fuck him, he's just a walking corpse like the rest of us even if he does have a degree from Stanford. It's his karma for being such a pompous asshole that he's living in a garbage dump with a bunch of fucking zombies.

Reg gets really pissed when I use that term because it's not scientific. He refers to our condition as being in "an arrested state of decay", which as far as I'm concerned is just a pretentious way of saying zombie. All I know is that one minute I'm lying in the bathtub pleasantly bleeding to death after five years of being too chickenshit to do anything but call my friends at four in the morning and threaten and the next thing I know I'm sitting up on a table at the morgue with a tag on my big toe that says Suicide. You know your life sucks when you finally get up the courage to kill yourself the very week people stop staying dead.

The papers are saying it's either a chemical spill or germ warfare, the Christians are saying it's the Apocalypse and Reg says it's "an arrested state of decay." I personally don't give a shit, but Reg and Peter are always conducting these sick annoying experiments "in order to better understand the nature of this aberrant biological phenomenon." At least that's why Reg does them. Peter does them for fun. Right now they're in the middle of a charming little game Peter calls Weebles Wobble But They Don't Fall Down, which is when Reg and Peter go crashing through the trash heaps hunting for rats, which they then kill and observe how long it takes them to resurrect. Then they kill them again and keep on killing them until they get bored and let whatever's left of the poor creatures crawl away.

I usually take refuge in my Frigidaire during these festivities but today I don't feel like moving so I just sit there and watch while Peter hauls a rat out from under some soggy cardboard boxes and dashes its brains out against the hood of the Buick. After about twenty minutes it starts flopping around and Reg, mistaking my apathy for scientific curiosity, asks me to "note how reanimation occurs even in cases where the central nervous system has been severely damaged or destroyed." I tell him to get a life and go eat people at shopping malls and he stalks away in disgust. Peter staggers after him moaning "They're coming to get you, Baaarr-bra."