Can it be a co-incidence that the week bleeding-from-every-orifice disease, Ebola, jumps from Africa to Europe is the SAME week AMC's Walking Dead resumes on TV3? I think not. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this zombie-apocalypse-themed television series is actually a cleverly disguised public service announcement.
“If this is true, what do we learn?” asked the economist.
“That everyone's going to die,” I said. “And then they're going to come back and start eating the living.”
“No, sweetie. We learn guns are useful and its important to get on with people.”
Well that's me stuffed. My relationships are constantly going pear-shaped and needing to be repaired. That's why I wrote a book about relationships. It wasn't because I was an expert. Sadly, the neighbours probably have guns they now won't lend me.
“If Ebola goes airborne...” continued the economist.
“What are the chances of that?”
“And 'non-zero' isn't good, right?”
“Right. Stop interrupting. If Ebola goes airborne you can lean over and kiss your ass goodbye.”
I haven't seen the economist this ramped up since 2009's swine flu epidemic. Approaching all viruses within the parameters of zombie movies, the economist tends to blur the lines a tad, failing to distinguish between actual dead people rising from their graves and the just plain sick. “Zombieland instructs us in the vitals,” he says. “Cardio. Double tap. Never go to the toilet alone, and always check the backseat.” You should really do this anyway – who hasn't seen that scary movie where the murderer is hiding in the couples' backseat, popping up with a chainsaw and a maniac grin just as they drive away?
As in Shaun of the Dead, it might initially be difficult to tell that large scale corpse reanimation has broken out (particularly if, as we do, you live close to South Dunedin). So, before you start shooting, check the shambling masses are real zombies and not just devastated post-election Labour party members or recently evicted Housing NZ tenants.
Ebola rules are simple and, you'd think, easy not to mess up: don't embrace the dead and, if you feel sick, stay away from others. Isolation is the first step of any virus control and New Zealand is a long way away from anywhere. Although, as Liberian health authorities have learnt, containment is futile, so once the virus takes hold, its best to board up the windows, booby trap the lawn and hunker down for the long haul.
With this in mind, we stocked up for the End Times. Again. “Shop as if we weren't paying for it,” said the economist. “We'll need enough supplies to hold out should we get quarantined. Put down that Woman's Day. Plenty of canned goods. Not chocolate. Oh, alright, it will cheer us up when we get despondent. Do we need a stash of money? Currency will soon become worthless. Just how accurate are you with a can of chickpeas? Remember, head shots only.”
I retreated into my favourite fantasy: Hot Widow. All the possessions and none of the mess.
So convinced is he of impending doom, the economist tried to track down his fathers' 308. Because having an unlicensed WW2 relic around the house is always a good idea. He also attempted to assemble a crack team with the necessary skills for a post-apocalyptic world. That ruled out everyone in the School of Business. “We'll need a doctor (not of economics) a mechanic, a survivalist and a paramilitary. Get your paramilitary sorted and the rest falls into line.”
“What about me?”
“We don't need women, and nobody needs writers. Later on we may wish to breed with you to re-establish society. And if someone gets bitten ... listen, this is important, kill them immediately – don't let sentiment get in the way. You've got to be cruel to be kind.”
I could see it all: as Ebola mutated and hungry bands of shuffling zombies roamed the countryside pulling the boards off buildings to get at the inhabitants, like sugar fiends peeling the shell off a Mallowpuff to scrap out the fluffy stuff; the economist, armed only with a shovel, would pick off ravenous, grudge-holding neighbours as they climbed over our defenses – the Camry parked on a diagonal – intent on our store of Watties.
“Atishooo!” said the economist. His eyes were a bit red. I didn't hesitate. Cruel to be kind.