“We need to stop being treated like second class citizens!” Evan Osgood shouted into the microphone. He stood in front of a podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This was the same spot that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his monumental, “I Have a Dream” speech. There was only one key difference—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t give his speech to zombies.
The crowd groaned in unison at Evan’s words. They numbered in the thousands and swayed from side to side in the cool November wind. Some of them couldn’t keep their balance and leaned into each other for support. Zombies weren’t used to standing in one place for too long. Their bones needed constant movement. It’s why they never slept.
Evan himself had been up for the past five years. Shortly after he was dug up and reanimated, he literally fell to pieces. His left arm became detached at the elbow after being forced to lift a rock on a farm that was too heavy, and a crow stole his right eye. His once beautiful skin had suffered, too. It turned green and stiffened considerably, becoming so tough one winter that his right ear broke off when he banged it against a bathroom stall. But ever since he started fighting for his brothers and sisters, he became reinvigorated. He was a lighter, healthier shade of green now, and he barely dragged his left leg anymore when he shambled. You could almost say he walked! This fight for equal rights saved him from total deterioration. He should have died (again) at least a year ago. The zombie’s life expectancy was only three years max if they were kept in a safe and controlled environment, and a lot less if they weren’t, mostly due to lack of self-preservation and maintenance. But the zombie’s lifespan was getting shorter and shorter with this freedom movement. Some were only lasting a few days before some punks came along and took them back out.
“Too many of us are being set on fire or bashed over the head with cinderblocks, just to see what would happen,” Evan continued. “But we’re people, too, dammit; albeit, undead ones. Just because our hearts don’t beat and our blood doesn’t flow anymore, that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel pain. I mean, we don’t feel most of it, sure, but that’s beside the point! What we’ve gone through over the past twenty years is unjust and we’re tired of living in fear! Are you with me, my brothers and sisters?”
The audience groaned again.
Evan wasn’t much of a public speaker, but he thought he was doing a pretty decent job. He stopped reading from the speech he had prepared almost instantly when he realized that a number of blood stains made it unreadable. He should have checked that pocket for blood.
While peering through the crowd with his one eye, Evan noticed that more than a few of the attendants gnawed on each other’s arms and necks. Evan cringed, as this wasn’t the best representation of zombie-kind. This was being televised, after all, and people, both undead and alive, would be watching this. But he certainly understood where they were coming from. Very few zombies only ate animals like he did. Most devoured human flesh. But ever since their protest began three years ago, Evan had coerced them to stop consuming humans altogether. If they wanted to coexist with the living, then they had to stop eating them. It was as simple as that. The thing is, animal flesh just didn’t have the same taste as human flesh, and it’s been hard for many of them to switch over. Heck, it’s been hard for Evan to switch over. Every day he thinks about human intestines with some cocktail sauce. So biting one another was their substitute. As much as zombies craved human flesh, they craved freedom even more.
“I know the hardships many of you have had to go through to be here today, so I’m happy to see that so many of you are present. I—”
“Go back underground, ya worm eatin’ scumbag!” a voice shouted from within the crowd.
The police officers who stood at the foot of the stairs didn’t make a move. The other officers, who were stationed all around the area, didn’t move, either.
Evan’s eye darted past the officers’ backs in front of him and combed the crowd like a hawk. He finally saw the problem. It was a man with a twirly, Hipster mustache. He wore a long, colorful poncho that looked like a rug with a hole in it, and he was alive. Very alive. The zombies shifted aside but their eyes grew wide and hungry as he made his way through the crowd. Seven living people followed him. They snaked their way to the front and held signs like “Go back to Hell!” and “Eat dirt, not humans!”
Some of the officers formed a barricade in front of the steps, while others made a perimeter around the crowd, but they still didn’t make a move. They had their shotguns—their dreaded shotguns—ready and Evan grinded the few teeth he still had. He knew that if anything went down, the cops would start beating the zombies, and not the troublemakers. Over the years, Evan had seen the boys in blue literally bash his people’s brains in with their nightsticks or run them over with their cars. The cops didn’t want to be here, but they had to be, President’s orders.
Stay calm, Evan, stay calm, He thought, but it was hard to stay calm with this recent development. His unbeating heart wanted to tear these humans to shreds, cops included, as he hated humans. All zombies did. But his brain, his fully functioning brain, told him to stay focused on everything that they’d worked toward these past few years. He knew that he was his people’s leader, and that he had to stay strong for them.
Evan taught Zombie Studies at NYU and was also the founder of B.R.A.I.N.Z—the Brotherhood Regarding Any Indecent Negativity toward Zombies. He had stood with his brothers and sisters when they had been threatened with flamethrowers, and he ambled right along with them when the cops sicked their dogs on them. It had been a long journey, but a worthwhile one. He had even spoken to the president (that delectable, juicy, blood-filled, Democrat) on a number of occasions. Together, they fought to end the illegal necromancing trade that had been running rampant for years, but the bill had been shot down. To this day, people in every state were still allowed to bring people back to life and put them into cheap labor to avoid breaking immigration laws. It had to stop, and no lousy protestors were going to ruin it for Evan. Especially not one wearing a filthy poncho.
“My brothers and sisters, let’s not be antsy,” Evan said, but it was too late. Three hungry zombies who apparently had had enough of nibbling on each other, dragged down the woman in the rear of the group and began tearing her to pieces and eating what they could. The gushing viscera and bloodshed flew everywhere.
The group of humans didn’t even turn back to save her. Instead, they began bashing zombies over the heads with their signs. These people had an agenda! The zombies went into a feeding frenzy when they saw the carnage. They clawed and grabbed at the people and the cops began firing their shotguns. But not at the living who caused the problem in the first place. Oh, no, no, no, they started firing at the zombies, blasting heads off at whim and shooting holes in them the size of Kentucky.
“My brothers and sisters,” Evan said, trying to calm his people down. “Brothers and sisters!”
But the bloodshed continued no matter what Evan said. Zombies were killed with impunity, and Evan saw red. Who was he kidding? Things weren’t going to change between the undead and the living. As long as zombies were brought up from the dead to work on farms or in the back of kitchens, then there would never be peace.
“Ahh, screw it,” Evan finally said. He pushed the podium aside and lunged on top of the cop right in front of him. He chomped into his throat and blood gushed. The taste of human flesh and veins filled Evan with fire.
If this is how they wanted it, then this was how they were going to get it.
The zombie apocalypse would begin today on November 14th, 2063. Evan Osgood would see to it. His people would fight back and take over the world. He would make certain of it.
He was their leader after all.