Not Exactly Dead
Submission for a weekly writing prompt by Writer's Crossing
NOT EXACTLY DEAD
Life (so to speak) in Necropolis
It's been a rocky five years since the sudden shift in the inner workings of life and death. As everyone knows, surely, fighting has been breaking out in the streets the world round, in which citizens are terrified by the sight of gruesome, reanimated corpses. Thankfully, things have stabilized lately, and the undead have even established themselves in a relatively remote city - dubbed Necropolis - where they can enjoy some semblance of peace in their isolation.
That's been the situation for the past year, ever since the city was founded. Few of the still-living have ventured to Necropolis, and fewer still have said anything about it. Naturally, this has caused rumors to circulate. As the goings-on in Necropolis become a hotter and hotter topic, we at GNN have decided to send in our very own Arle Vixine to the city and report on what life (so to speak) is like for the city's undead population.
During her week's stay, Arle noticed that many of the denizens of the city were quite shy to her. It seems most of the undead isn't interested in interacting with the still-living; no doubt, because of the fighting which has been known to break out due to panic. However, three citizens of Necropolis have stepped forward and offered to be interviewed. The first of these, Ronald Hazpin, a wight, sheds some light on relations between the living and the undead.
"It's all the same story you've heard in your history books a thousand times over," says Hazpin. "The more powerful group acts on wild ideas they get about the less powerful, and that leads to violence and prejudice. Honestly, I'd have been amazed if it didn't happen when, all of the sudden, undead became a thing. And now people are slinging all sorts of crazy names around for us, pulling titles out of their D&D books and building up some imaginary hierarchy of the undead in which weights are, of course, lords of it all! It's not true, it's not true at all. There's nothing special about us at all; we're just fresh zombies. Give it a decade or two and I'll look as rotted as Frank. Then they'll be hard-pressed to call me a wight."
When asked about the frequency of living people approaching Necropolis, Hazpin replied, "It's a rare thing, to be sure. Living creatures are hardwired to be afraid of dead things; if something is dead, that means danger is nearby, so it's just natural selection that your first instinct is to run screaming. Hell, you should have seen me when I was first raised; I was a wreck. The fact I looked in the mirror and saw a corpse took me ages to get used to. Anyway, as a result of all this, we don't get a lot of visitors. It takes an unusual kind of person to ignore that instinct; the more usual kind just shows up to cause trouble. Which is part of the reason you got such a cold reception when you first got here."
After the initial chat with Ronald Hazpin, Vixine went on to search for another candidate. Three days later, the next person to step forward for an interview was Alexander Rodriguez, a zombie and self-employed writer, who was happy to give some perspective on what life is like as a zombie.
(Please note, the written-in accent was actually Rodriguez' suggestion, and he personally approved of the current state of the interview.)
"I'd haff t'say that out ov all the undead, zhombiezh are the onezh who fashe the mosht phrejudice. Mainly, thish shtemsh from the famoush acshent, that makesh them zhound very shlow, pherhapsh even a little bit dumb. But, there'sh jusht ash much a mind in their shkull ash any other. Which ish why I love the written word sho much. Phen and Phaper have no acshent, no decayed thongue or cheeksh or larynxsh; it'sh jusht a direct line from the shoul, to the phage."
Rodriguez didn't have much else to say, as he was busy writing his newest novel - the title of which will not be revealed, as per his request. On the last day of her stay in Necropolis, however, Vixine was approached by a friendly skeleton by the name of Janice Hazley, and her wight friend who asked to remain anonymous, who were more than glad to provide more insight on what life was like for the undead - skeletons in particular. As it happens, since skeletons lack any vocal organs, they generally communicate using a code made in the assorted chatters, rattles and creaks caused by them moving around. Hazley's friend was glad to translate, as Vixine was unfamiliar with this method of communication.
In regards to general life as an undead, Hazley stated that "It's really just the same as living, only now you're very, very, VERY old. I finally got to catch up with my grandson after all these years, and meet my great grandson; that was very nice. I'm very proud of the man that he's grown into! That said, I wish that people understood that just because we don't have any basic survival needs, doesn't mean that services that would fulfill them aren't very pleasant creature comforts. It doesn't matter that I don't have any more skin; a hot bath is still just as lovely as the day I was born. And believe it or not, this ol' skull has taste receptors in it. I'm not sure how it works - probably about the same as how I see without any eyes - but I do enjoy a nice hamburger every now and then. Even if I have to clean it up after."
In reflection on her trip to Necropolis, Vixine has gone on record saying that "They really are just the same people as they were alive. Honestly, after just a week I can see it's really sad that we treat undead the way we do; why does it matter so much whether or not someone has a heartbeat when they're just as much a person inside as you are?"
The true answer is, it doesn't. Hopefully, things will turn up soon for those despondent post-mortals, but in the meantime, all can be advised that the undead are just another group of people. If you find that hard to believe, there's a fair chance your city has its own growing undead community; go ahead and mingle, see for yourself what they're really like.