Thursday, April 4, 2013

Every proper zombie family picnic basket should always include fingers.

Don't Forget the Fingers: A Guide to the Perfect Zombie Family Picnic
by Thomas Scopel.
(first published in Suspense Magazine - May 2011)

Just like most families in this current fast-paced, rat of a race day and age, quality time is a highly sought after, yet rare occurrence. However, all hope is not lost. With summer on the horizon, better and warmer weather is certain to allow the opportunity to tackle this dilemma head on with various outdoor activities. Picnic’s are one such activity that the living find to be relatively inexpensive and most rewarding. But, why should it be limited to the living? Zombie families have needs, desires, and wants too. And, there is no reason why a zombie family can’t also enjoy this activity.
However, unlike the living, there are certain considerations that must be addressed. And, with simply a little extra planning, it can be a most enjoyable experience for all. This guide, although not absolutely complete and subject to variation, is to be treated as an aid in that planning, and 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 often fright-filled, observers, do not damper the family atmosphere with their typical “HELP” cries. If or when this occurs, gather all family members and retreat immediately.

* Spots surrounded and covered by thick trees are ideal. Space matters and make every attempt to leave a considerable distance between you and the living. With any luck, they won’t even notice your family’s physical appearance differences, and leave well enough alone.

* Avoid shelters and picnic tables. Selecting a spot under or at one of these is simply asking for trouble. Granted, they are comfortable and nice, but they are also prime noticeable locations. It is a quick route to a ruined family adventure.

* While bright, sun shiny days may be ideal for the living; they are typically detrimental to non-living flesh. Sunlight, especially bright, hot, and glaring sunlight, not only warms, fast increasing decay and rot, but also runs the risk of sizzling your lighter shaded flesh. Kids are especially vulnerable and usually unaware of this hazard, 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 sun block available, or keeping the tattered clothing covering it completely. The latter is probably the most recommended considering that sun-block works in conjunction with embalming fluid and will usually and typically cause a speed increase in the decay process. Coincidently, sunlight is also hard on the deceased eye since the pupil was frozen upon death and does not allow screening. And, it may very well cause blindness. Therefore, for the living dead family, overcast skies will most assuredly be the wiser choice.

* Rainy days are another good choice since the living typically avoids these weather conditions when picnics are concerned. And, the opportunity for the family to utilize an open picnic table is optimized on these days. However, continue to observe the “no shelter” rule just in case a living family happens to be caught up in the rain and decides to seek a dryer location. 

Warning: It’s very possible that there will be the living closely 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. On 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, tide over 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 many opportunities to add to it. On the way, be on the look out for road kill. 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!

* While at the site, be sure to explore any nearby wooded areas’. They are superb locations for additions such as mice and insects. Be meticulous with your search. Dead rotted stumps, logs, and woodpiles, can offer a bevy and 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 fully aware to not lose any fingers’ in the process) underneath, around, and partially into the soil. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

* Vultures can provide a wonderful opportunity for an added meal addition too. With they’re tendency to linger around dead flesh, they are easily caught when one knows a simple technique. 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 and latch hold of it and wring it’s neck. It’s as easy as that. Imagine how proud and excited the family will be when you come lumbering up holding a freshly killed Buzzard carcass. (Side Note: Be sure to let the children taste the rot filled stomach. It’s the best part.) 

Although many typical picnic activities generally revolve around, entailing, and requiring varying degrees of quickness, don’t be discouraged with the living dead speed handicap. There are many slower activities that the family can partake in and share together.

* A leisurely family hike can be very 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, although not recommended, can also be an option. Of course, keep in mind that there are certain hazards to be aware of when doing so. For example, dead flesh does not harbor oxygen. Therefore, attempts at swimming will generally result in nothing more than 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. After all, it is too late now anyway. Saunter, as fast as possible, across the lakebed, up the slope at the waters’ edge, and make your way out and away from them reserving 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 will also be a learning experience for the children too. It inadvertently teaches them chasing and grasping skills that they will 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 flesh and you will feed them for a deathtime certainly applies.

Potential hazards & 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 are just a few to avoid. They require a substantial amount of physical excursion, from running to jumping, and the living dead condition simply cannot take the required forces. Partaking in these types of 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 and subsequently being forced to walk on a stump for the rest of their death will certainly be the source of a zombie parent’s regret.

* 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 who seek out living blood, is probably the most concerning. It is automatically drawn to your “death” aroma, and whole-heartedly wants to deposit its future generations onto and into you. They are viciously aggressive and basically won’t stop no matter how much shooing you do. Various sprays and candles on the market today will greatly assist in keeping them, as well as many other dead flesh seeking insects, at bay. Therefore, be sure to 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 aspects that should be considered and adhered to. Although it may not address and dictate all the endless possibilities and/or potentials, it is a wonderful start. By adhering to them, the odds of that family picnic becoming a memory of a deathtime will be greatly increased.


Until next time Boils and Ghouls....Stay Scared!


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