The stairs squeal beneath my weight as I make another trip to the basement. I know the fifth step is the loudest, but I never try to avoid it. Several times a day, I come down here with hope. I wish for a normal life and want to eliminate this loneliness. Most would seek a basement for solitude. I seek it for company. I sit upon the cold floor and stare at the far wall hoping to see signs of life. With only the sounds of rain to keep me company, I return my attention to the comic book. Today's friendship will be provided by a classic, Tales from the Crypt.
Scary comics in a damp basement are just the tip of the iceberg with me. Horror has consumed my life. If I find a scary book, I read it. If a new horror movie is released, I’m first in line to watch it. My DVR is overflowing with episodes of The Walking Dead, True Blood, and even old stuff like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know every line and scream from almost every scary movie ever created. I count down to each Friday the 13th and Halloween with hopes that a new scary book or movie may be released.
Now, I’m not a sick kid. I don’t fantasize about monsters and gruesome deaths. I really don’t even like horror movies or books. My obsession is out of necessity. You see, most people enjoy scary movies as entertainment or they relish the warm contact of a girlfriend who buries her head into one’s shoulder during a particularly grisly scene. Horror raises one's heart rate and offers a quick dose of dopamine and serotonin to which people become addicted. It’s Hollywood’s drug of choice for kids today.
But my obsession is different. I don’t immerse myself in horror to be scared. I do it to understand. I focus on the emotions and actions of people, not the monsters. I want to know how people will react to someone unlike themselves. Sure, Hollywood sensationalizes many of the monsters to be aggressive killers, but what if they weren’t? Would people still be scared of them? Would people run from them or try to understand them? Would society banish the monsters or accept them?
If there is one thing I’ve learned from the Walking Dead, it’s that people are terrified of the unknown. The thought of a contagious zombie disease forces everyone to eventually lose their morals and become mindless killers of the sick. Many of the “walkers” or “biters” don’t appear aggressive at all. If given the chance, they would probably be satisfied with a meal and a shower to eliminate their stench of death. But they are never afforded such a chance. The “living” always come to the swift conclusion that a shovel to the head or a knife through its eye is the appropriate way to deal with the undead.
Most fourteen year olds won’t think twice about it, but it brings great concern to me. To think that actual humans may eventually treat others like this is appalling. Is it possible that we're programmed with such malice or that today’s entertainment is so influential, we would assume this to be appropriate behavior? The world is broken, that’s for sure.
Staring back at the wall, I see a slight movement. They must sense my presence. I keep them chained in the basement for their own protection. They don’t make much noise and don’t try to escape. Their lifeless stare makes conversation difficult, but I keep trying. I usually tell them about my day or sometimes read to them so they remember my voice. Sometimes I think they hear me and understand me, but in my heart, I know they don't. I know I should ask for help, but the world is just not ready and I don’t have my answers yet. It’s been a rough 12 months, but I’m confident that I can help my parents lead normal lives again someday, even if they are zombies.