The oversized LCD screen stood proud at the entrance to the Wilson Building. In large, bright letters it declared:

“Washington, D.C. – Zombie Free for  26  Days.”

The sun set, the sun rose.

“Washington, D.C. – Zombie Free for  27  Days.”

At first each passing day was a blessing. A reminder that we’d seen the worse and lived to tell about it. Things were bad, and now they were good, and we should be content with that.

But I wasn’t content. I wasn’t feeling better with every passing day. I was feeling worse. My commute to work brought me past the containment site in the morning and in the evening. I passed tens of thousands of faces all filled with hope and promise and purpose. After a few weeks I began to recognize some of these faces. They began to recognize me. And I began to wonder:

What was the difference between these people and the zombies on the other side of the fence? Besides the obvious affliction, I don’t know. Were the zombies previously stupid people who got attacked while doing something, well, stupid? Were the people in the crowd smart because they had done something to avoid the infection? Was this simply natural selection sped up and thrown in our faces, or just random chance.

I had pretty much made my mind up years ago that human evolution had come to a grinding halt after World War, Take Two. [And after working for a few months for the District Department of Undead Management, I was 100% convinced it had.] With the advent of modern medicine and vaccines and air conditioning and industrial agriculture, we ensured that pretty much everyone would live at least as long as it would take to convince someone else to have sex with them. If everyone gets to reproduce, there can be no evolution through natural selection. Is the Zombie affliction just nature correcting us?

Looking out at the crowd and the contained horde I was curious why some came out completely unscathed while others didn’t. And because of the cure, we’d actually get the change to interview all the ex-zombies and find out just how it happened. But without more research on the cause and spread of the affliction, we’d never truly know why it spread. I know he hates me, but I hope that Dr. Cadore will get to the bottom of it…

Day after day I wondered about this as I walked by. But after a while, my thoughts and questions changed. I wanted to ask the crowd where they were and what they were doing when their friends and co-workers and family were infected. What did you do when the plague hit? Did you run off to Virginia and leave everyone else behind? Were you looting a liquor store while your wife was being bitten and turned?

Everyone’s a mourner at the funeral, but where were they when there was still time to make a difference?

That’s what I wanted to know. I didn’t have the balls to ask. So I didn’t.

My questions remained unanswered. Just like in high school calculus class, too many variables in an equation made me nauseous. But it didn’t go away and I couldn’t shake the feeling. I just felt bad all the time, and it showed.

The sun set, the sun rose.

“Washington, D.C. – Zombie Free for  28  Days.”

Walking to work that morning, I noticed that the crowd was lighter than usual, I guess after a month, people start losing hope.

Betsy was at the reception desk taking calls as I walked into the office lobby. She took one look at me and said into the phone, “I’m going to have to call you back, sir,” mouth agape.

“Daggon boy, you look like something the cat puked up.”

“Um, good morning to you too, Betsy. Geeze, if I look as bad as I feel, maybe I should just turn around and go home.” I quipped.

“Oh no you don’t, half the office already called out sick. You’re staying put!”

“Shit, really? I was just kidding anyway, but damn. I guess it’s just going around,” I replied.

“Yeah, well, just don’t go turning into no zombie or nothing on me…”

I let out a big, uncomfortable laugh at that. There’s no way, right?