This is from the May 2011 issue of Suspense Magazine.
Just like most families in this fast-paced, rat-race day and age, quality time for you is probably a rare occurrence. However, all hope is not lost. With summer on the horizon, better and warmer weather will likely let you enjoy outdoor activities. Picnics are relatively inexpensive and most rewarding, for the living. But, why should they be limited to the living? Zombie families have needs and desires, too. There’s no reason why a zombie family can’t also enjoy picnics.
However, unlike with the living, there are certain considerations that must be addressed. With a little extra planning, it can be a most enjoyable experience for the undead. This guide, although incomplete and subject to variation, covers most aspects. Of course, be sure to use what little brain you have left to explore specific family orientations.
• Location, location, location. This cannot be stressed enough. Choosing the right spot is the most crucial aspect for an enjoyable family outing. Most often, the best location is one of seclusion, ensuring that living and oft en fright-filled observers do not damper the family atmosphere with their cries for help. If or when this occurs, gather all family members and retreat immediately.
• Spots surrounded and covered by thick trees are ideal. Space matters, so leave a considerable distance between you and the living. With any luck, they won’t even notice your family’s differences in physical appearance and leave you alone.
• Avoid shelters and picnic tables. Selecting such a spot is simply asking for trouble. Granted, they are comfortable, but they are also easily noticed. It is a quick route to a ruined family adventure.
• While sunshiny days may be ideal for the living, they are detrimental to nonliving flesh. Sunlight not only warms, which hastens decay and rot, but it also could sizzle your lighter-shaded flesh. Kids are especially vulnerable and usually unaware of this hazard. That’s because they’re primarily concerned with excitedly stumbling around until it’s too late. A couple of alternatives would be to coat the exposed part with the highest sunblock available or keep the tattered clothing over it completely. The latter is recommended, considering that sunblock works in conjunction with embalming fluid and usually speeds up the decay process.
Coincidently, sunlight is also hard on the deceased eye since the pupil was frozen upon death and does not allow screening. It may also cause blindness. Therefore, for the living-dead family, overcast skies is the wiser choice.
•Rainy days are another good choice since the living typically avoid them for picnicking. So, picnic tables are more available on these days. However, continue to observe the “no shelter” rule just in case a living family happens to be caught in the rain and in search of a dryer location.
Warning: It’s very possible that there will be the living nearby. DO NOT risk ruining the family outing and atmosphere by eating them. Resist the urge. You have your own basket. There will be plenty of days ahead to forage for living flesh.
There are many ideal foods that the zombie family can enjoy together. Think ahead. From prior prowling, capturing and eating adventures, try to save a few parts for the big day. Fingers, toes, ears and maybe even a few innard strips are ideal for a quick grab-and-go snack that will hold the kids before the main course is served.
• Even if the food basket may be overflowing with various tasty, blood-filled fleshy pieces and parts, there are still opportunities for more. En route, look out for roadkill. Various animals have different flavors and the older, more decayed ones are usually the best, already having added parasites and juicy, little, white crawling flavorful tidbits. The kids will thank you!
• On-site, be sure to explore nearby wooded areas. They are superb locations for hors d’oeuvres like mice and insects. Rotted stumps, logs, and woodpiles, offer a virtual treasure trove of crawling meal additions, from large moist grubs to beetles of all sorts and possibly even a snake or two. Get off the beaten path and venture deeper into the foliage. Try digging (being careful to not lose fingers in the process) underneath, into the soil. You may be pleasantly surprised.
• Vultures add to any meal. With their tendency to linger around dead flesh, they are easily caught. Using yourself as bait, lie perfectly still until one takes notice. The wait usually isn’t all that long and they will typically flock to you, thinking of nothing but a tasty meal. When they begin to peck, reach out, grab hold and wring its neck.
Imagine how excited the family will be when you come with a freshly killed buzzard carcass. (Side note: Let the children taste the rot-filled stomach. It’s the best part.)
Although many picnic activities require varying degrees of quickness, don’t be discouraged with the living-dead speed handicap. There are many slower activities that the family can enjoy.
• A leisurely family hike can be rewarding. From scourging to teaching the kids the proper hiding techniques to how to distinguish the most direct and least resistive path to a potential victim, the list is virtually endless. Hide-and-seek can be rather fun too.
• Swimming is possible but not recommended. There many hazards. For example, dead flesh does not harbor oxygen. Therefore, attempts at swimming will generally result in a quick sink to the bottom. Hungry fish will most likely take delicious notice and begin pecking and eating at you. When this occurs, don’t fret. Saunter as fast as possible across the lakebed, up the slope at the water’s edge and make your way out—resigning yourself to the fact that a part of you will now be missing.
• A friendly game of tag is not only a fun way to experience togetherness, but it can also be a learning experience for the children. It inadvertently teaches them chasing and grasping skills that they’ll use throughout their deathtime. The old adage—lead a zombie to a dead body and you will feed them for a day; but, teach a zombie to catch the living fl esh and you will feed them for a deathtime—certainly applies.
POTENTIAL HAZARDS AND WHAT TO AVOID
• Keeping the speed element in mind, most sporting activities are probably best reserved for the considerably faster living folks. Volleyball, badminton and softball, for example, require a substantial amount of physical exertion, and the living dead simply cannot keep up. Partaking in these activities, although enjoyable, is risky at best and will usually result in broken parts that will hamper future endeavors. As a parent, pay close attention to the children as they are the most apt to explore these types of things, obviously unaware of their limitations. A broken leg that forces them to walk on a stump for the rest of their death will certainly be regretted by any
• The living should be avoided at all times when on these family outings. Be chronically aware and constantly use your keen sense of living-flesh smell. “Smell them before they see you” is a good motto to follow.
• Pests come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and annoyances. The common housefly, unlike mosquitoes which seek out living blood, is probably the most concerning. It is automatically drawn to your “death” aroma and wholeheartedly wants to deposit its future generations onto and into you. They are viciously aggressive and won’t stop no matter how much shooing you do. Various sprays and candles on the market today will greatly assist in keeping them and other dead flesh-seeking insects at bay. Add this item to the top of your master picnic-item list.
As previously mentioned, this aid is simply a basic guideline covering some of the most common living-dead family picnic-outing concerns. By following them, the odds of that family picnic becoming a memory of a deathtime will be greatly increased.