Thursday, September 18, 2008

This bodes poorly for the future...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I fear I have some terrible and terrifying news. You, as readers of this Illuminated blog, are certainly ever-vigilant against the hidden dangers of this world. Super villains, credit card fees, vampires, salmonella, spontaneous combustion. I regret to inform you that the leading threat against the status quo and every other quo besides has only become more dangerous. That's right. I'm talking about zombies.

As informed citizens, I trust you all own and have memorized The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. If you haven't committed its words to heart, you're just one more flesh-eating target when the time comes, and I will aim square for your head the second they bite you. That being said, those of you who have read it and learned its ways will no doubt usher in a new age of humanity after the inevitable zombie uprising. Even so, as Sun Tzu said, we must know our enemies. We have learned their ways.

They are learning ours.

While printing up glorious headshots of my friends and loved ones at Kinkos for target practice (I must get comfortable with blasting out their brains at a moment's notice), I happened to spot a discarded manuscript in the trash. I stole a quick glance at the title (attention to detail during the zombie apocalypse will be critical).

"Oh," I thought, "someone's been bootlegging The Zombie Survival Guide. Sure it's a little unethical, but think of the lives it will save."

Even so, beyond the legal issues of it being copied, something about it felt wrong to me. Something was a little... off... about it. And then it came to me. The title. I read it. Read it again. Read it closer. Took it out of the waste bin and stared in horrified disbelief. Someone had written The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection FOR the Living Dead.

I thumbed through frantically.

Chapter One: Know Your Enemy.
Page 3: "We know a great deal about humans, having all been in that sorrowful state at one time or another."
Page 7: "They're faster than us and they have better weapons, but we're nigh invulnerable and we scare them."

Chapter Two: Our Advantages
Page 26: "We can only be killed with a strong blow to the head, so wear a helmet!"
Page 28: "Remember, our senses do not depend on light; theirs do."

Chapter Three: General Human Hunting Strategy
Page 45: "Attack at night. They can't see as well as us, and the dark makes them frightened and superstitious."
Page 52: "Use psychological warfare tactics from history. Moan at all hours of the night. They won't sleep, they will mentally shaken by the sound of it, and they probably will not leave their shelters to come after you."
Page 53: "For heaven's sake, pick up your feet when you walk!"

On and on it went, detailing how to systematically pick us apart. I asked the clerk, a snotnosed college freshamn who was unaware of anything not on his iPod, about the manuscript. He told me some "smelly bum" came in and wanted to make a copy. He said the "bum" threw away the copy I was holding because the left margins were off. Guys like that are going to get us all killed. He had a zombie in his store and not only did he make no effort to destroy it, he allowed it to use his copier. He let it make duplicates of a book that could doom us all. I thought about shooting the kid in the head right there. It was only a matter of time before he goes zombie anyway, right? But I didn't. Something else was bothering me. Something big. Questions haunted me.

Where did it write this thing? Why did it need copies of this manuscript? Why would the margins be important?

And then it hit me.

I took another look at the manuscript. It all added up. The Courier New font, the double spacing. The margins were the key. One inch all around. The kid said the left margins were off. In standard manuscript format, all margins are one inch except the left one at one and a half. This zombie was looking for a publisher.

I don't normally advocate the burning of books, but so help me if this ever sees shelf space at Barnes and Noble, we're done for unless we make a bonfire so great they can see it from space and throw every copy on.

But then, maybe that was the plan after all. Book burnings are great for book sales. Somewhere out there, there is a zombie who either wants to destroy humanity or make a ton of money. Either way, I don't like it. Either way, we need to be ever mor cautious in our dealings with the undead.

You have been informed.

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