It’s a good thing that zombies aren’t smart; it means you can survive, as long as you are. Your natural instinct is to run away, to recoil from them, to scream like hell and climb the tallest tree you can find. These are bad ideas. If a zombie sees something running, it will chase it; if it sees something recoiling, it will bite it; if it sees something climbing, it will grab it – but if it sees something shuffling; something shambling; something groaning slightly; something that clearly hasn’t washed its clothes in over a week and smells like a dumpster, well, it’ll just shuffle and shamble right on by. So you learn to act like one. You develop a hunch and a penchant for drooling. You’re careful to find secure hiding-places to sleep, because, after all, zombies don’t. On a few terrifying occasions, a zombie bursts in on you; but each time they turned out to be another pretender, and, after a few moments of nervous laughter, you excitedly share your (frankly mundane and somewhat identical) stories of life after undeath and then settle down to sleep; going your separate ways in the morning. Zombies don’t have friends.
On one occasion, you actually meet a lady pretender. Despite the fact that she hasn’t bathed in over a month and has decaying rats in her pockets to better smell like the undead, you’re instantly attracted to her. You briefly imagine having a child and rebuilding the human race, but you realise it’s impossible before you can even mention it. Zombies don’t get pregnant. And how do you train a baby to act like a zombie? Do they even have baby zombies? You can’t recall ever seeing one. So you don’t bother even floating the idea; although you do get down to what most men imagine happens when a man and woman meet in the post-apocalypse. The next morning, before you part ways, you’re tempted to ask “same place tonight?”, but you don’t. Zombies don’t have routines.
Shopping, fortunately, is easy. The behaviour of most people in a supermarket bears a striking resemblance to the mindless, aimless shambling of a zombie, so every so often you stagger into one and wander the aisles, looking for non-perishables. Over time, the pickings get slimmer and slimmer. You begin to wonder just how many other pretenders there are out there, scouring these aisles. You start to wonder how you could ever know; what if they’re all pretenders? What if there are no zombies? But no. That doesn’t make sense, does it? I mean, why would people have started pretending, if they weren’t hiding from zombies? You struggle to remember how this all started; a confused jumble of hazy memories and Hollywood plot-lines. No, there’s definitely zombies out there. There must be, right? A rumble from your stomach brings your mind back to the task at hand, and soon you start wondering what you’ll do once the food runs out. Hunt rats? It’s a pity you can’t eat zombies, for fear of infection. Although, pretenders, on the other hand… You scold yourself. Stop thinking like that. What are you doing? Zombies don’t think.
You shuffle on.