How it all falls apart

I wrote Squirrels, the latest story I’ve posted here, as a lark. Flash fiction, very short, meant to entertain. I was lucky enough to have it produced by the podcast Tales to Terrify last year.

I put it here because it seems fitting for a time when we’re all stuck at home worrying about the monster outside.

I never thought, when I was told to work from home nearly two months ago, the shutdowns would last this long. And I’ve been wondering if the apocalyptic scenario so many writers have tried to envision will arrive this way — in bits and pieces, with assurances that the problem is fully under control, rather than in one big boom.

In “The Walking Dead,” as I recall, Rick Grimes awakes from serious injury and coma with the zombie epidemic out of control. But what happened while he was sleeping?

I now imagine there were lockdowns that came too late. Promises that tests and vaccines would be there soon. Financial and food aid was on the way, assuming you could call your unemployment office and not get a busy signal.

Empty promises. So politicians looking for points offer their cities as “control groups” to see what would happen if we just let the zombies run amok. People march around with guns protesting zombie lockdowns. At least two dozen untested remedies for zombie fever are recommended and tried. Some places end the lockdowns anyway; with enough bites we’ll earn “herd immunity.”

And of course, some 97% of people decide to obey orders, stay inside and avoid zombies. Winning the right to get bitten last.

No, COVID isn’t the zombie apocalypse. Probably. But it does expose the lack in our divided country of any ability to prepare for a crisis, spot it when it arrives and attack it together.

That will get us before the zombies do.

Image from Wikimedia commons: Otchoc213 / CC BY-SA (


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