We are not what we used to be.

We do not breathe.

We do not eat.

We do not heal or grow, except in numbers.

Yet somehow we can walk and think and see. At least those of us who still have an eye or two can. The rumour that we hunt our preceding humans for brains is a myth really. I know, because I've tried and failed. Like I said, we don't eat.

We are (you guessed it) zombies!

We prefer to travel and/or settle down in an area in large groups. Some prefer smaller groups and so that's how they roll. Some people just go solo.

It was our youngest member's Deathday and I was responsible for the decorations. Becoming a zombie is not a painful process, but to come to terms with takes....too long.

A lot of people enjoy it, like you can jump from a building and "fly" for a while and not die on impact. You can swim around or lay in the ocean for hours and not suffocate, since we don't breathe to begin with. I've tried that too, it's awesome.

But a lot of people hate that they are the walking dead. They miss eating and feeling things, as most of us are literally not whole at all. The oldest ones among us barely have any rotten flesh on their skeletons. Those who cannot cope with being zombies just dig themselves a grave and stay there forever. We don't really sleep, but we can just lay down and never get up. Then those who are above ground plant a seed of the "grave man's” choice, and within some years we see them bloom into actual life. It's a good way to go really.

So anyways, it takes a toll on you, and so we celebrate the day we 'turned' instead of mourning it. Helps the youngies feel a bit more 'normal'.

So I got all the supplies; balloons, confetti cannons and gave them all to Dirt.

Some of the zombies changed their names and Dirt was one of them. She thought it was a good reminder of where we all will end up eventually.

By nightfall, our group had a pretty good party going for a zombie and we had all sorts of games too. We had set up a tent of sorts near the river and had lights and chairs and even some music. There was no need for any food items but we did make a toast with empty glasses just for the fun of it. Peter, the newbie, did seem to be having fun, but I could tell he was still trying to wrap his head around not being alive. He was in his 20s I think but his eyes seemed to hold the soul of someone older.

I saw him slip away from the crowd and sit on the bench near the river. I followed him and asked if I could sit next to him. He nodded and I sat down, looking at the river shimmer by.

"Time will help you accept and make the most of this, I promise you" I said out of nowhere. He didn't seem startled, instead he smiled sadly and said, "Oh I know, way too well."

I looked at him questioningly, he met my gaze and looked away. His smile widened as he leaned back on his hands. "When I arrived here, you people asked me who I was, all I said was that I was new and I was not sure where I was. Everything since has been a blurry haze of explanations and tours. But I'm not a 'newbie' as you call me. In fact, I am the oldest."

That just confused me even more. I stared at him for a few seconds. "You do realise that I don't believe you right? Most of the older ones here are literally see-through".

He laughed and said, "I am 87 years old. I was the first one they injected with the 'antidote' for the tumour in my brain. At first it worked, the tumour shrank and disappeared within a week! It was a medical miracle. Then, at my last brain scan, they realised that the grey matter in my brain had been decaying, yet somehow I wasn't dead. They couldn't explain it. Soon all the parts of my body began to die, but they did not rot and fall off. "

"Wait", I said, " If all that is true then explain to me how it spread? Scientists have been trying to figure that out for way too long! Most zombies stay away from living humans and I tried biting one when I was young and crazy. Nothing happened! If you're 'The One' then you should know our origin story, right?"

For the first time since our conversation he looked at me, with sadness all over his demeanour. It was quiet for a minute as we watched the river flow, a sort of tension in the air I didn't like. Then he spoke:

"The owner of the biggest pharmaceutical company at the time wanted to make a vaccine that could cure every disease there is. He was a young and successful prodigy and he worked like a mad man to make such an impossible thing, and to the best of his knowledge, he succeeded. He called it The Elixir. The antidote that they gave me was this same vaccine. I had volunteered to try it. When I didn't die, the rich mad man had started distributing this drug all over the world and had added it to all the medicine he could lay his hands on, very illegally ofcourse. He thought he had saved the world from sickness. But he had created and spread the End of the World."

"Oh wow, you know I had heard the rumour that some rich dude jacked all the medicines but I didn’t realise it was true. Who was this man? You must have met him."


Peter frowned and his eyes were deeper, he said with the gravity of asteroids in his voice,

"I was the madman."

Someone popped open the loud confetti cannons behind us, but it didn't faze me. I was too frozen in shock to register it in the first place.

Author: Iffah

Editor: Nandini Patil

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