1 of 5 stars.
Included in Extreme Zombies edited by Paula Guran, this short story splits its time between the characters of Wormboy and Jerry until they chance to meet at the climax of the story. Wormboy is a grotesquely obese young man who has holed up in a cemetery since the undead had already abandoned it in search of living bodies to feast upon. He has built up an arsenal and heavy defenses for his fortification including a spike-laden moat and landmines and trip wires. He revels in this post-apocalyptic world as he has outsurvived all the bullies that had tormented him. He wears the name they gave him, with pride: Wormboy. He has even prospered and grown larger in this apocalypse due to his habit of preying on zombies. Yes, eating them. He’s been eating his enemies since . . .
Jerry is an evangelist preacher not far from the cemetery [but unaware of Wormboy] who has a new flock of followers [Jerry’s kids] that are all zombies. He is able to keep them from attacking him by offering communion in the form of rattlesnake venom from serpents he tends and milks himself. For Jerry the entire zombie apocalypse is spiritual. The living are the sinful monsters; the victims are the judged sinners; the zombies are the risen chosen ones.
Neither character is believable in situation nor motivation, nor are they enjoyable. The lampooning of evangelists is too heavy-handed even for this atheist. Zombies eat man: man eats Zombies::man eats man; man symbolically eats man. Throw in snakes biting man and man consuming snake venom and you get fanaticism.
My aversion roots in that zombie stories are about the loss and struggle of humanity, but this story offers no humanity with which to struggle or potentially lose. Just gore. Lots of gore.
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