A Plague of Zombies in a City of Witches

October 20, 2015 — I was standing in line with a bunch monsters, waiting to see more monsters, when a parade of monsters went by. Salem.

I’d never witnessed a zombie walk firsthand before. And while that sentence immediately makes me want to launch into an Abbot and Costello routine with myself, I’ll assume it’s pretty much universally understood at this point in the cultural monster cycle that when I say “zombie walk,” I mean a bunch of people costumed as zombies parading through a crowded place.

And, of course, my first time happened in Salem.

I was standing in line to get into Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. The establishment had its own zombie stumbling around and entertaining the line (and getting my sweater red when I leaned too close to pose with him for a photo), when suddenly he got competition. Or backup. I’m not sure which. Flowing down Derby Street behind him was a dingy crew of walking corpses with white faces and ripped clothes, spangled in red from rotting head to rotting toe.

As they shambled and jerked, they mugged at the audience. Made guttural noises at each other. Feinted attacks when the living strayed too close. Every once in a while, one would check a phone. There were zombie brides and zombie delivery people (one of whom carried a box out which randomly and violently popped a monster frog), Victorian zombies, zombie hunters, and even zombie kids, their strollers and onesies sprayed with blood. Also regular-looking people, who I assume were there for either solidarity with the event or as a food source.

So what did I learn from my first experience watching a zombie walk? Well, first, that I want to be in one. But really, that the best part about a zombie walk is that brief instant where you can convince your brain that the zombie apocalypse has finally happened. Here they are, coming down the street. This is it. No escape. Brad Pitt or not, the world as you know it is over. As is probably your life.

Also, I learned that with a zombie walk, there are no levels of good or bad costume, just levels of good or bad enthusiasm.

I took some photos, but they were terrible because I didn’t want to lose my place in line. Fortunately, as so often happens in a zombie apocalypse, my wife was separated from me at the time, so she was able to capture it from a different vantage and in all its gory glory.