by Joyce Zhang
Art by Grace Chu
Issue: Kalopsia (Spring 2017)
Opening title sequence.
A flash of images: destruction, nature, monsters, technology, death, love.
Over the course of a week, life as we knew it crumbled piece by piece and finally died. But, as long as the iCloud still worked, we were Snapchatting each other kissy faces to our dooms, until the Internet finally died. And after that, because electricity coursed through the wires, we continued to watch romance movies on cable, until that finally died. And since phones have forty-eight hour batteries, we continued to listen to our only stored album, X by Ed Sheeran, over and over again, until our phones finally died. It was only when the sky turned to ash, the military tanks stopped moving, and the last flip phone (after surviving falling into a toilet last month) finally died, that our universe was changed forever.
Thanks, zombie apocalypse. Thanks for nothing.
Cut to Heather’s room as she is writing in her diary.
I’m in love with Brandon Carmichael. But I have a small problem — I’ve never met him. Am I sure that I love him? Well, we write letters, and it seems like love. I know when I don’t like something. I’ve never met a zombie and I know I dislike them. And I just know I’m in love with Brandon.
Brandon drops supplies off for the people in my compound, well, it used to be my apartment building. It’s now protected by the remaining military… okay, it’s really just surrounded by a fence… and sometimes a few guys with golf clubs.
Anyway, Brandon doesn’t enter my compound and I never leave. That’s the way of the apocalypse. We’ve all become isolated, which doesn’t lend itself to dating. Of course, if not for the apocalypse Brandon and I would have never become pen pals. It all started when I asked our building leader for a special delivery. Brandon found what I needed and he wrote me a nice note. We’ve been pen pals ever since. So, something good came of this horrible mess. People once used Single Mingle to find love, but for me the apocalypse is my dating site. I should name it! Maybe, ZomBieTogether.org or CouplesSurviveTheEndOfTheWorld.com…
Well back to Brandon, there has been a cruel development! Because of a stupid disagreement, his group will no longer trade with us. If I don’t do something soon, I’ll never meet him! My foolproof and completely original plan is to escape the compound, find Brandon and declare my undying love (despite having no map or zombie fighting skills).
Jump cut. Time passes. Heather is watching zombies from her window. For the last time, Brandon’s truck makes a delivery. Close-up of Brandon. He fits the bill: tall, dark and handsome.
Jump cut. More time passes.
Brandon drives away along the dirty highway.
Heather grabs supplies for her escape. A flashlight, three chocolate bars, a sleeping bag, her Tempurpedic pillow, a baseball bat, and one hundred dollars (obviously all crucial item for the apocalypse). She appears beyond the fence after a dramatic escape sequence with intense spy music. Fade to black as she runs down the dirty highway after Brandon.
TWO DAYS LATER just before sunset:
Wide shot. Heather walking in the middle of the street. There is nothing around. Her hair is out of place, dirt is on her face and there are dark circles under her eyes (we can only wonder why people always looks so fashionable in action movies). She drags her baseball bat behind her and she eats the last bit of chocolate, dropping the wrapper. It blows away in the wind (obviously, symbolizing the loss of her old life). She’s lost.
Close-up of Heather. Gradually shot pulls out.
Inexplicably, in the once empty street, there is a lumbering Zombie mere feet behind Heather. As the shot pulls out, even more zombies are revealed following slowly at her heels (Because it makes perfect sense for zombies to catch up out of nowhere).
Heather is unaware. A zombie reaches out and almost touches her. She screams, it lunges, and she falls. An intense struggle ensues with near death experiences and shrill violin music in the background… until, of course, a lone stranger saves her with an axe. He’s either a friend or a foe (most likely friend — you know how these things turn out).
Thank god you came along.
Are you alright? He helps her up. Heather has blood on her arm. He promptly notices and gets into defensive position. Are you bitten?
No, it’s just a scratch. He doesn’t believe her (and for a good reason: when is it ever just a scratch?). Honestly, look! Rolling up her sleeve. It’s not a bite. I just cut myself. I promise I am not in denial! It’s not a bite I’m hiding until I turn into a zombie and kill everybody. It is just a scratch, for the first time ever.
STRANGER, lowers his weapons:
Are you alright?
STRANGER, walking away from Heather down the highway:
I’ll live. As any rugged, life-saving stranger would say.
HEATHER, stumbling after him:
Wait? Where are you going? Are you just going to leave?
STRANGER, without even looking back at her:
I’m not contractually obligated stay with you. This is the apocalypse. There are no rules.
But… I need help.
HEATHER: Very desperately.
I need to find someone. Please, I’ll give you anything.
STRANGER, he turns and faces her:
What do you have? Heather hands him the money. Money? This is the apocalypse; I’m not buying a greeting card or milk. Heather frantically dumps out her bag. I don’t need any of this stuff. Gestures at the Tempurpedic pillow: You don’t need any of this stuff. With these supplies you won’t survive a week. He turns around and keeps walking. Good luck.
But… that’s why I need help…
She gives up. But, she is going, the same direction he’s going. She trails after him awkwardly (not unlike when you say goodbye to someone and then realize you’re parked next to each other).
Stop following me!
HEATHER, close-up, she’s flustered:
I’m not following you!
The stranger rolls his eyes and keeps walking.
They begin to walk past cars. Heather starts to scout through each one, looking for keys.
STRANGER, really irritated by Heather:
What the hell are you doing?
HEATHER, trying the door of a locked car.
I’m looking for car keys, duh. She tries the door again. A zombie finally awakes in the back seat for the inevitable jump scare.
There aren’t going to be car keys.
HEATHER, after trying another car. She sits in the driver’s seat and pulls down the visor, keys fall into her lap with a quiet jingle.
I bet it won’t have gas.
HEATHER, feeling good about herself she drives up next to the stranger:
Now I have something to bargain with. If you help me, I will give you my car.
Jump cut. Heather and Stranger in the car driving down the highway, as it gets dark. Heather is driving because he insisted. They are uncomfortable.
HEATHER, tries to begin again:
Hello, My name is Heather McKinley. It’s very nice to meet you. The stranger says nothing and looks more uncomfortable than before. Heather anxiously keeps talking. She spews information at the stranger, explaining her life story including her plan to find her love Brandon.
This is absurd! You want to give me this car, so I’ll help you find some guy you might love named Brandon?
I need to find him and I do love him! She continues to ramble.
If you say another word, I’ll just take the car. So drive.
A long time passes. The stranger finally speaks. I’m Tristan.
They continue to drive in silence (because what would the apocalypse be without angsty and detached people?).
After nightfall: against all odds they conveniently come across a house (since there hadn’t been a building for miles).
Inside the house. Tristan leaves the room to look for supplies. Heather is alone and setting out a sleeping bag.
There is a sound. Heather looks up from what she is doing and of course, finally, notices a door to the basement. Which was so ominously prominent. As expected she approaches and reaches for the knob. Tristan enters.
What’re you doing?
What do you mean, ‘what am I doing?’ I’m going to investigate the basement. What’re you doing sneaking up on me?
You’re going to investigate the basement?
Yes. There was a sound.
Okay. Okay. Let me get this straight: you’re going to investigate the dark basement because there was a scary sound. The scary sound was most likely a zombie, since we’re in a zombie apocalypse. And after you’re last run-in with a zombie, you thought it was good idea to go down alone. You didn’t even call me…
Well, you were busy.
And you were armed with only a flashlight. Wait, where’s the flashlight?
HEATHER, pointing to the other end of the room.
Okay without even a flashlight. What were you thinking? “Let’s split up and look for clues in the dark so we can be eaten by a zombie?”
When you put like that… are you going to help or not?
As long as the car is still in the mix, I’ll help you. But I can’t help you find this guy, Brandon, if you get us both killed. You’re going have to carry your own weight. I’m teaching you to protect yourself tomorrow; we’ll look for a secure place to practice. And then we’ll talk about how to find Brandon.
Jump cut and panning of an abandoned carnival with a secure fence. How convenient, a run-down carnival. A perfect training spot, aside from murderous clowns and creepy conjoined twins. It’s also a most romantic spot: nothing screams romance quite like riding the Ferris wheel or winning a giant plush toy. So, of course, fighting zombies in the apocalypse goes hand-in-hand with a carnival.
Heather and Tristan are in the shooting gallery. Tristan is laying out weapons on the table. Heather picks up a gun and pretends to be cool, of course, not to impress Tristan… psh…
Okay, to get to Brandon you need to be able to defend yourself. No more walking into basements with eerie flickering lights, unarmed and in your underpants.
That didn’t happen!
It might as well have. So you need to learn how to fight zombies instead of just standing and screaming. (Standing and screaming is represented in horror movies as an ideal protection strategy. But that never works. You usually end up getting killed). So take the gun, point, shoot, repeat. If you hit the target and maybe I’ll give you a stuffed bear.
Cue generic workout music. Montage of Tristan teaching Heather combat skills. She improves over several days even after many comedic fails. Their camaraderie grows (one might even call it romantic chemistry…).
Jump cut. Close-up of a neon sign “SAFE” shot widens “SAFEWAY”. Shot of Heather in the driver seat with Tristan riding shotgun. They enter the store cautiously. Most of the shelves are empty (no surprise since everybody seems to go to the supermarket in an apocalypse). They scavenge together. A muffled sound echoes into the store. They freeze. People enter from behind them. Everybody immediately raise their weapons. But, Heather is the first to lower her weapon.
HEATHER, recognizing someone. It’s him.
Brandon! She pauses. It’s me, Heather, your pen pal.
BRANDON, happily surprised:
Hey what a time to finally meet you. I thought we’d never meet. I didn’t think you’d ever leave the safety your apartment.
Something important changed my mind. And I’m happy I left.
Brandon and the others rummage for supplies while Heather stands motionless.
Brandon, Brandon could we talk? I’ve been hoping to find you… and I wanted to tell you… I, I love… your letters. Would you like to get food or kill some zombies together, sometime?
BRANDON, smiling apologetically:
I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m with my group and you know… Sorry.
It’s all good.
Brandon and the others leave with their supplies.
That was a sorry excuse for a proclamation of love…
Yeah. I changed my mind. I don’t think he’s the one.
HEATHER, handing Tristan the keys to the car:
Well you kept up your end of the deal, so here’s the car. Thanks for the training. I’ll probably survive now.
TRISTAN, looking at the keys:
I don’t know how to drive. Both hesitate.
I really didn’t hold up my end of the deal, you didn’t find your true love.
You really didn’t. And it would be great for me if we hung together a little longer. So I could continue training, of course.
Yeah. I could train you a little longer.
It’s settled then.
Tristan hands the keys to Heather and they collect their supplies. Just as they’re leaving the emergency alarm and sprinklers go off. (Perfect! It’s time for the wandering travelers next crisis — perhaps, they’ll catch colds. Nobody has time to be sick in the apocalypse –there are no tissues). All the water looks like rain. Heather and Tristan look at each other. The zombie blood on Tristan’s sweatshirt is beginning to bleed down. Their hair is plastered on their foreheads and they’re looking gross. Contrary to the movies, killing zombies is sweaty work.
Should we kiss?
No? Why would we? The alarms on, we got to get out of here!
TRISTAN, likening himself to Ryan Gosling:
‘Cause it’s raining and people kiss in the rain.
But we’re not in the movies.
But your life should be a movie. You wanted to confess your love to a complete stranger.
This is too cliché even for me. We beat the zombies and it starts to rain so let’s kiss… nah. How about we just high five?
Closing shot of their hands meeting in mid-air.