A Mother’s Sacrifice

And when she made to close the door, this thing my neighbor had become threw its body against it and I unfroze from my stasis to help my mother who was screaming as she grunted, as we both put our back and shoulders into it. For a skinny thing, it was strong though, and got in anyway.

“Run,” my mother shouted, pushing me, and I hesitated.

“Run,” she shouted, throwing herself into its path, and I took off, through our back door, over the back fence, past the date palms and the lemon trees out back, past the mango tree that was just coming to come, and the soursop tree that never would in this perennially thirsty soil. I ran and ran, my mother’s dying screams like a siren in my ears, fear and guilt heavy in my heart.

When finally I stopped, submerged in an old water barrel in somebody’s backyard, breathing through a straw I’d found on the ground if I so much as heard a sound, shivering every time the breeze hit the parts of my skin that were visible above the water, the barrel was half full, I told myself it was what mothers did. But it was small comfort.

***

That was an excerpt from my story Zombie Island, currently published in Interviewing the Caribbean edited by Opal Palmer Adisa. In an interview also featured in the issue, she asked me this about writing a zombie story,

‘Your story, “Zombie Island,” seems to straddle genres, but more importantly tries to find a “logical” reason to explain the surge of violence in the Caribbean. Speak about the impetus for this story.’

My response?

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Zombies on one of my fave TV shows (in spite of the current season), The Walking Dead.

“I love zombie movies and TV shows. I wanted to write one. I like to try my hand at things I’ve never written before. That’s how I ended up trying my hand at noir, and the teen/young adult genre that resulted in my book, Musical Youth, a Burt Award finalist, or the faerie tale, With Grace, that’s shortly due out as a children’s picture book. So, it was that impulse to try something I hadn’t done, to experiment. It was also the reality of violence – everything that happened in that story including a raging man banging down my door happened in life, though none of it, as is always the case with fiction, happened as it happens in life. My irritation with the politics is there as well so it must have been political season when I wrote it. But mostly it was me wanting to see if I could tell a zombie tale at all, and then more specifically a zombie tale in a Caribbean space, not the snarling horror of it but the creeping awareness of it…and then of course the snarling horror.”

 

Also in the issue are interviews with Mervyn Morris, Kendel Hippolyte, Hope Brooks, Merle Collins, Patricia Powell; poety by Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro and Lou Smith; a story by Ivory Kelly; and more (I’m still reading).

Post-note:

With Grace is no longer “shortly due out as a children’s picture book”; it’s been out.
I also recently did a post on another newly published story The Other Daughter.
You’re welcome to check out my other fiction and, of course, my books.

Thanks for reading.

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It’s about character…really.

What is it about zombies?

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I’m marathoning The Walking Dead as I write this. I’ve been with this show from season 1 episode 1. I am a black Caribbean female who is not a huge fan of gore or slasher fics. But I do love me a good zombie movie so when I saw the first set of previews for The Walking Dead, I was in. Almost five seasons later, I’m still here. And it’s not for the guts and gore.

I love man of action Daryl but not just because he looks like sex on wheels and wields a mean cross bow. I like how his character has evolved from a loner and a little brother with self esteem issues balanced out by mad survival skills to a core member of the group who has proven his courage, his tenacity and his heart and shown his vulnerability.

I love that Rick struggles with trying to hold on to his humanity and continues to put one foot in front of the other even when he feels like giving up because he has a deeply rooted sense of honour and responsibility; and it’s that core that makes it that much more heart wrenching when he breaks apart – as he did when his wife died. Some were impatient with him, there’s no time to grieve loss and have breakdowns in a zombie apocalypse but he is just human…as are we.

I’m loving Carol’s season 4 arc. I’m a little ashamed to admit that season 2 Carol annoyed me because yes I see the contradiction in that, considering what I just said about Rick; she had just lost her daughter and maybe me and other viewers like me could have been a bit more patient with her, even if she did depress the hell out of us. In any case, this much more capable – if slightly more scary Carol (seriously, if she tells you to look at the flowers, run) FILE011– is much more entertaining to watch, and the trajectory of her journey much more interesting in the full. She has blossomed now that she’s no longer under the heel of her abusive husband though it could be argued that she’s past a tipping point where even as you applaud her strength and badassery, you mourn the loss of her humanity (killing for the greater good) – but, hey, if Carl can come back from the edge…

Michonne, watching her learn to become a part of a society again; Hershel, the conscience of the group and yet likeable in a way Dale never was (for me); and, yes, even Carl (from clueless kid to efficient killer-slash-child of the corn to tantrumming teen to boy becoming young man) are all interesting to me.

Point is, I love the characters’ journeys – the interactions and the inner journeying – and if I do get frustrated with anything it’s character contradictions that feel less organic or more like the character just jumped the shark – season 3 Andrea, anyone? I mean say what you will about Lori but she was consistently exasperating.

I love that The Walking Dead isn’t just about zombie kill after zombie kill, and that the producers, writers, directors slow the pace enough to force us, yes, the viewers, to confront who are you when all of society is stripped away – like a modern day Lord of the Flies. No, that’s not a stretch at all; think about it – who are you when no longer confined by laws and social protocols? In some of us, the survival instinct is strong, and we related to Shane’s ability to make tough, albeit highly unethical judgment calls (for the greater good); and isn’t that a bit unsettling. Because if we survive at all costs, how different are we from the dead, mindlessly seeking flesh, and if we do survive, find a cure, whatever, what of our humanity will be left, and can things ever go back to what they were?

I remain engaged by the Walking Dead because it places that big question before us – who are you?

All that and the thrill of zombie kills.