Monday, December 24, 2007

Last minute gift ideas from your friends at PODM

Motor Oil: Everyone has a car and the lines are short at auto supply stores this time of year. A colorfully wrapped case of 10 w 40 has a pleasing heft and you can’t beat the look on their faces when they unwrap it.

Live Bait: Again the short lines are appealing and it’s convenient for friends that live near a pier. Make sure it’s thoroughly iced and water proof wrapping is recommended for this sure fire holiday pleaser, everyone loves to fish on Christmas Day just ask Scott Peterson.

Fire Arms: Hand guns preferred but long arms will do. Don’t bother wrapping, just put it in a brown paper bag and pass it to your friend outside a convenience store and see what happens. It’s a gift! It’s a gift card that never runs out of cash and works all year long!

Linesman Spikes: Ever want to see the view from the top of a telephone pole? No problem, just don’t touch the high voltage.

Fire Extinguishers: These abundant, free and handy devices are available in public buildings, hospitals and schools; anywhere liability insurance and local regulation require them. Slip one under the coat after midnight mass and you’ve got something for that forgotten somebody on your list. They are especially appreciated under trees where the low priced, Chinese manufactured, string lights arc and the tree goes up in a festive holiday conflagration.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Recently, from our overseas corrispondent:

A fresh look at an old topic.

Child Custody Landmark Case
Philadelphia (AP) -
A seven-year-old boy was at the center
of a Philadelphia PA courtroom drama today when he
challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of
him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the
judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with
child custody law and regulations requiring that family
unity be maintained to the degree possible. The boy
surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat
him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live
with her.

When the judge then suggested that he live with his
grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him.
After considering the remainder of the immediate family and
learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life
among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of
allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

After two recesses to check legal references and confer with
child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody
to the Philadelphia Eagles, whom the boy firmly believes are
not capable of beating anyone.

Look Out For Zombies!

A special report on The Armstrong County Zombie Out Break, by the style editor of the Kittaning Herald:

It was just your standard Zombie outbreak in Armstrong County until the government got involved. That spring brought rebirth, the fresh young buds, the new grass in the fields and the reanimated hands of the long dead, poking their way up through the earth, clawing their way to the air, relieving themselves of the restraints of the tomb and going for a hellish gambol amongst the living. The eternal care plots were particularly hard hit this year leading some folks to doubt the wisdom of the extra chemicals applied to those burials.

By ones and twos the Zombies started reviving and pretty soon a goodly percentage of the residents of The Happy Valley Cemetery were out of their crypts, back on their feet and looking for live human brains to eat. Now brain eating ghouls might seem a bit disconcerting anywhere else but they are an old story around Armstrong County. The folks from Brick Church to Kittanning know the drill: If confronted by anyone known to be departed, take your deer rifle or other large caliber weapon and bust a cap in its head and drag the recently resurrected carcass of the dearly departed to the nearest bonfire.

Zombie snuffing a popular Western Pennsylvania tradition:

Until the fuss started, Zombie snuffing was something a father and a son might enjoy, stalking and bringing down the undead as they shambled about in the crisp morning air. Zombies walk real slow and are kind of guileless so even a youngster could pick off a goodly number provided the ammo you selected had the proper heft and penetrating power. The kids might be tuckered after a day in the tree stand plinking the undead but come deer season they'll be ready, willing and raring to go after real game.

The one thing about Zombies you have to remember is Zombies swarm and are attracted to loud noises like shooting, you can knock‘em off all day long provided you don’t take too long reloading or run out of ammo. You capture the attention of enough of them though and they’ll surround you, swarm you and eat your brains. While having your brains eaten might seem unpleasant enough, the aftermath is plain diabolical, the Zombie turns others into their undead type by their bite.

After lying as dead as God intended a person to lie after having their gray matter devoured, the poor soul re-animates and becomes just like them, an undead fiend stalking the innocent until someone hunts him down and sees that the soulless cannibalistic Zombie is devoured in the cleansing flame of a county sponsored bonfire or alternatively put through a wood chipper and reduced to a harmless pulp. Death is the sobering fate that awaits the wretched victims of a Zombie bite no matter how superficial. Despite the efforts of science and the claims of tonics and specifics in the back every gun magazine no medicine has ever been shown to avert the progression of this terrible ailment. Although, one man down in Overmeyer Valley claimed he was bit and recovered thanks to a bread poultice soaked in equal parts kerosene, Raleigh’s Ointment and Epsom salts. His family claims he is doing fine now, excepting he drinks paint.

Zombies, smarter than expected and slow of foot but still brain hungry, shooting seems best:

Folks down state always think Zombies are stupid but it isn’t so, they can talk and do mechanical things depending on what parts had moldered away. A ghoul whose hand has fallen off isn’t likely to sit down and play the piano but he might be able to swing an ax with his good one, to some purpose I might add. Some could still remember little bits of when they were alive and could be proper cunning, even deceitful. A percentage were definitely brighter than Vo-tech graduates, the tragedy being they couldn’t control themselves. Folks said it was a shame because they could have had useful productive deaths if they weren’t just so single minded and easily distracted, especially by fresh brains.

A hot meal of living brains was pretty much all they were interested in and much time and effort has been wasted on the question of what it was about human brain tissue that made it so damned irresistible to Zombies. Cow and sheep brains were just as repulsive to Zombies as they were to any living person out side of France. The brains of other deceased people were of even less interest, which only makes sense considering they wouldn’t be able to congregate and prey upon the living if they were simultaneously devouring each other.

The ones we were able to question said the taste of brains made the pain of rotting go away. It was a pathetic situation really but as much as we could sympathize we weren’t about to join their hellish carnival by giving up our brains to satisfy their cravings. Likewise the Zombies continued their fiendish slathering, chanting “brains, brains, brains” endlessly, ignoring our questions and refusing to understand our reluctance to part with our gray matter. Try as we might, there was no reasoning with them when they had a taste for brains, which was frequent, so instead of wasting the time we just shoot them.

Zombie disposal, an unexpected dilemma:

Originally we tried putting them back into their old graves but they had no attachment to their previous resting place and soon resumed their brain hunger driven ramblings. Eventually they were rounded up and soon every lock-up, livestock pen and silo in the county was filled with homicidal re-animated corpses. They tried tossing the writhing mass into a deep trench and re-burying them but most of them were out and about in no time. Drowning them didn’t work because the folks down river complained it made the drinking water taste funny and Zombies don’t breathe so if they remembered to keep walking up hill eventually they’d emerge from their watery abyss soaked, angry and more brain hungry than ever. Herding them into worked out coal mines and dynamiting the opening was popular until the price of coal went up and they started working adjacent pits. Zombies are persistent tunnelers and more than a few miners got an unpleasant surprise digging away in an abandoned pit. Finally anti-Zombie efforts returned to its roots as a more or less, one on one, man versus ghoul affair followed by a festive bonfire of unholy corpses.

Folks in Kittanning got pretty good about rounding up the annual crop of the rogue ghouls. Abandoned houses with interracial couples holed up inside were the likely places to find them congregated. They’d corner their victims and shortly begin their unholy banging on the walls outside. It's amazing how they can recall that people lived and sheltered in houses but forget what a doorknob is for. Even so the outlook for the living folks trapped inside is pretty grim unless somebody notified the proper authorities. Then the Zombie alert siren would sound down at the firehouse, the men would fetch their weapons and the women would fix sandwiches. Everybody’d muster at the Armstrong County Courthouse and pretty soon the deer stands would go up and everybody would be in their favorite trees popping off trophy-sized zombies all day long.

Now trophy is just a figure of speech, it wasn’t like a deer you were killing and putting the head up in your den. The Zombie you're killing had previously been somebody's beloved old granddaddy before becoming a horrible ghoul so you had to be respectful. Besides most were too far-gone and rotten to go up in a rec-room after they come back from the dead. Also they let out a stink that would knock a buzzard off the shit house and once it was on you the stench was nearly impossible to get out your clothes. It's hard enough to get that smell out of your memory without being reminded of it by a grinning souvenir hanging over the fire place that’s giving you a refresher whiff every time you sit down to watch a game.

Society blamed for undead problem getting out of hand:

I blame society for the hunt getting out of hand. And the liquor. Hunting is hunting and nobody blames the sportsman for taking a nip to steady his hand after sighting a twelve point buck. It didn’t occur to anyone that discretionary imbibing would be a problem but that just goes to show how wrong you can be. Admittedly, some of the men liked to drink too much, and usually got into trouble even during doe season, but where the authorities faltered was, they’d forgot this wasn’t a regulated hunt. Nobody alerted the fish and game department, and as there wasn’t a Zombie Season per se, no Zombie wardens would be coming around to confiscate liquor and making sure folks weren't too lit up to hunt.

It started when the VFW had a contest, all the hunters paid an entry fee and who ever bagged the most undead got a prize. They wanted to put wheel chair ramps in down at the hall so the disabled could to enjoy a Sunday cordial or aperitif, Armstrong County still having the Blue Laws and such, so it was for a good cause. Still some folks didn’t understand that it was in the nature of a charity they were shooting for and got competitive and rowdy. Some ugly accusations were made about some bodies in the count not being technically Zombies when they were taken and there were arguments as to whether a complete Zombie body counted more than a partially dis-assembled one. Some of the boys had just loped off the heads as they drove by and thrown them in the back of their pick up trucks. Of course that just pissed people off as the headless corpses were now wandering around the county, knocking over corn ricks and scaring the dogs and children.

Things got nasty and soon the veterans and the hunters were down rolling in the dust and making a racket, which of course attracted the Zombies and they got pulled into the melee too. Pretty soon Zombies were biting veterans and veterans were biting them back. Since many of the veterans were in states of decay resembling that of the Zombies the hunters didn’t know who to bite. It was an unholy mess but the sheriff kept his wits about him and got the National Guard to turn a flamethrower on the Zombies then run over the smoking remains with their big water truck. Things quieted down after the Zombies got cooked but the Sheriff still had to put down a couple of people on account of they might have been bitten by Zombies.

A clarion call across the republic or fire bell in the night: The Zombie outbreak; a quiet before the storm awakens the sleeping giant of Democracy:

Any way some visiting city people video taped the fracas and the station in Erie ran it although folks in Baltimore told me they saw it too. It caused uproar. Somebody famous out in Hollywood raised a stink because he came from Orchard Run and he might have seen a relative get incinerated on the tape. He was more irate than you’d expect considering the respect the citizens of Armstrong County had shown dealing with his long deceased relative, who had after all returned from his final resting place and became an acknowledged threat to the public health and safety. We treat all the Zombies just like they were our own kin, we might have some innocent fun with the friskier ones but that’s only to be expected, they all get a bullet in the cranium and a decent burning just as soon as we track them down. It turned out the Hollywood fellow was promoting a similarly themed movie.

At any rate he, Mr. Hollywood, has prevailed upon Mr. Tom Hayden, the well known communist from Pittsburgh but lately Democratic Politician of Hollywood, to do something about it. Tom figures there’s publicity in it and seeing how everybody’s forgotten about him being Mr. Jane Fonda, he figures to profit from the turmoil. He pulls some strings and soon got an investigation going which of course woke up everybody in the state capital.

Harrisburg took one look at this and realized that it’s a bunch of Communists trouble makers from New York or Philadelphia, undoubtedly with ties to the Democratic Political machine, making all the noise. The investigators’ cars were all impounded for non-payment of the Out of State Investigator Tax and towed to New Jersey. The investigators were then given twenty four hours to get out of state, a neat trick from Kittanning on foot. They were last seen on a Butler Coach Company bus junket headed towards Las Vegas; it was the first thing out of town.

The Lieutenant Governor sent a carload of Statees from the Butler State Police Barracks to investigate the investigators and by the end of the week things were quiet and the entire ruckus was a faint memory except for some broken bones and a sucking chest wound or two. Folks were pleased when the Statees carted away some bikers, beat up some Negroes, and even got the local kids to stop loitering around the Videomall but meanwhile we got the Zombies everywhere with more coming out of the ground everyday and nobody was culling the herd. The Statees killed a fair number of Zombies and normal people during their day to day function of keeping the peace, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep them from over running Apollo and Connellsville.

The Statees weren’t much interested per se in the Zombies, unless they exhibited Communistic or terroristic tendencies. They rounded up a handful of Zombies they mistook for French Tourists because they were wearing hats but after interrogating them, they released them. However, even that little bit of attention seemed to have a salutary effect on those Zombies which were last seen clawing their way back into their graves apparently to avoid any more questioning by the State Police.

Praiseworthy as the effort was, there were just too many Zombies and too few Statees and more of the former popping up each day. People were divided as to whether the Statees on balance were a net positive or negative regarding the Zombies. Granted they had got rid of a fair number but likewise created a similar amount on account of what they called “normal wastage”, by which they meant the soon-to-be-Zombies, the bonus deceased people they killed in the course of maintaining order.

Most folks were just getting plain impatient and were anxious to get back to the job of snuffing Zombies. There was little hope in that regard while the Statees were eyeing everybody with a gun with suspicion. It got so that totting a shooting iron and giving a little bit back talk would earn you a five-dollar beating and a month in the county lock up. The abundance of Zombies clambering out of the ground caused a lot of grumbling but we came to rue our discontent considering the the whirlwind that followed after we pressed our petty grievances, as it says in the good book, nothing harvests the media like the wind of discord.

The media reaction to Zombiegate: Circus or Firestorm?

Brick Church and Armstrong County were taking a beating from the national liberal press on account of the cable news outlets had picked up the video tape of the First Annual Creek Side Park Zombie Shoot and Potluck Dinner disaster. FOX News called us boobs because we’re all a bunch of dumb ass crackers and need a guy like that Giuliani fellow, to deal with Zombies or as they were calling them, internment challenged Americans.

News crews started following the Zombies to see how they were being treated and decided right off that they were being abused, which spawned outrage in an uninformed nation. The stories continued to pour out until a reporter drew too near, got bit, and turned into a Zombie. Poor Geraldo thought that the Beretta he got in Afghanistan would protect him from Zombie attacks. As Geraldo learned, while he was blazing away at the swarm of lifeless evil dead that buried him and consumed his struggling, writhing body, volume of fire is a fools paradise, you could empty a nine-millimeter clip into a Zombie’s head with out ever coming near his poor old desiccated brain. With Zombies you need stopping power, something big enough to make the head fly apart.

I give Geraldo credit though; he continued to report on the state of what he called the Zombie Nation, live during the Bill O’Reilly Show. He would frequently do his stand up while eating the brains of the interns dispatched by FOX to deliver tapes, per diem checks, plates of Deli food or what ever the folks in New York felt they needed out in the sticks. Geraldo came to believe he was the Zombie king as what was left of his parietal lobes decayed and he departed more and more from this reality. Oddly enough even as he grew madder, he was still able to control his subjects by the sheer force of his terrible will. It didn’t hurt his ratings either; his reports made a big impression and galvanized a nation to action. The response was immediate.

Pretty soon everybody on TV was yelling at one another like they did when Clinton was president. They’re arguing about how the dead are people too and they have rights even though the Declaration of Independence said Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness which being dead kind of nullified. The constitution didn’t say anything about being alive to have rights so all the lawyers and pundits were having a high old time in that legal playground.

Some other TV reporters persisted in trying to talk to the Zombies despite Geraldo’s fate and devised clever blinds and ploys to deceive and protect themselves from the Zombies. Geraldo had taught his Zombie subjects well, they would listen politely for a while but when they surrounded the reporter, they’d eat their meager brains. The producer, cameraman and crew were converted into compliant slaves for Geraldo’s hideous necrophiliac desires, afterwards they were forced worship Geraldo in ghastly cannibalistic rituals until they were ceremonially sacrificed and eaten. It made for great television.

Some people in the Media believed that Geraldo may have exceeded the boundaries of journalistic integrity and he was questioned about it on The Factor. He got so upset at Bill O‘Reilly’s line of questioning that he ate Ann Coulter, who was only there because of her well known resemblance to the undead. The suddenness of it shocked the nation. One minute she’s gabbing away, a pretty little waif like thing, not a care in her pathetic little brain, all worn down as it was by years of ill use. The next minute she’s an unclean ghoul watching helplessly as her gray matter is scooped out of her brain pan by the Geraldo’s withered skeletal hand and popped into his rotting mouth, a morsel barely a big enough to keep a Zombie alive.

I still recall her lifeless, now even more cadaverous looking, body still talking, staring into the camera and offering strange and unnerving opinions as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. When security tried to drag her corpse out of the studio and replace it with another blond talking head with an eating disorder, the ghastly Coulter summoned up strength from whatever demonic pit she had come from and fell upon them.

She dispatched her bubble headed competition and minimum wage security guards with a savage fury, ripping flesh and sinew from living bone, and devouring the remains while her victims’ pitiful pleas and screams rang in the background. The now re-animated Republican Activist then returned to her place on camera with a decidedly non Zombie like glint of vengeance in her eyes, flicked a bit of offal from her teeth and continued to deliver reasoned concise commentary on the events of the day. It was a ratings bonanza.

A healthy lifestyle = More vibrant re-animation? Some say yes.

There was a lot more press coverage but it didn’t come to anything. We had a late frost that year, which made the roads slick and with Zombies wondering around you know there's going to be some bizarre traffic accidents. Harrisburg issued travel advisories that warned holiday drivers to avoid them and gave tips on how to deal with the re-animated dead if you should encounter them. But there were still Zombies wandering around the countryside, nabbing the stray tourist or two, causing all sorts of accidents and generally being nuisances. Eventually they caused a bus load of Adventists to go off a road near Mederer's Falls, killing a bunch that really confounded things as the dead ones were in and out of the grave before the injured ones were out of the hospital.

That’s how it was with Evangelicals, the whole congregation would appear as dead as a post and next thing you know they’d be up and out of their sepulchers wandering around the highways praising Jesus and looking for brains to eat. Some people think it’s because they believe in bodily resurrection but in the Adventist Case, I think it was their vegetarian pre-mortem lifestyle and restraint from spirituous liquors. They were certainly perkier than your average Zombie and in general required a bigger slug to bring down. They were in the county to investigate whether the Zombie outbreak was a sign of the Second Coming. Early on, as we explained to inquiring Pentecostals, the Zombies had been coming round as long as anyone could remember and it didn’t require a special occasion to get the restless dead up and about and milling around.

Human tragedy always attracts the lunatic element and the Adventist Misfortune as it became known, was no exception. Some Australian nitwit tried to tag them with radio collars as they crawled out of their coffins, he thought they might be migratory or something. He didn’t last ten minutes before they ate his brain so now he’s wandering all over the county with radio direction equipment that is fouling up everybody’s satellite reception while he’s molesting reptiles. The sheriff is trying to get permission from their president or premier or head Kanga Roo in charge or what ever, to shoot him, without causing an international incident.

The debate about what to do with the Zombies had by now stretched into bass season and folks started getting upset as more and more opinions kept weighing in on both sides of the controversy. The country was evenly divided over whether to reimburse us for the ammo we expended to keep things manageable and the market roads open or whether to bomb us back to the Stone Age for oppressing the rights of the living dead.

We were hopeful maybe a judge would tell us how far we could go in suppressing the unholy curse. Some folks, taking a tip from the Ausi, had put blinds up just outside of cemeteries and caught the Zombies just as they was hatching out. The game warden thought differently and said it was unsporting and had issued citations in lieu of a hearing and judgment.

Federal response surprises few, worries many.

Little did we know the government was hard at work behind the scenes while all this was going on and in record time they were able to get down to the business of blaming the most expedient party. It turns out the undead come under the Interstate Commerce Commission’s jurisdiction as they move and conduct their business via public thoroughfares. Since they’re dead they ain’t: endangered, protected from any work place hazards, required to be paid minimum wage or eligible for any insurance or pension. They can vote but the guy the league of women voters sent around to register them got ett, so none have ever shown at polling places or on jury roles. They do count towards congressional apportionment so we picked up three seats in the legislature, as did Clark County around Chicago. They could sue in Federal Court if they’d stop eating the clerks and learned to file a proper brief. Congress offered them an amnesty and restoration of their living rights if they agree to pick some vegetables, not bring over any dead relatives from foreign lands or join any unions. No word on how any of this went over as, predictably, anyone whose gotten close enough to ask has been eaten.

It finally dawned on people that as much had been done as could be done without actually doing something. We couldn’t just shoot them anymore as they were back to being citizens, sort of, that just wanted to eat brains but we couldn’t just do nothing either since if you let down your guard for a second they’d nip away with your brain. Finally the FEMA people sent some real Army guys from Indian Town Gap to round up the Zombies for reburial in federally financed re-internment projects, sort of high-rise mausoleums that HUD was building. It was a big fiasco. At first the Zombies would be all docile on the way to the enclosure but as soon as they got together in a bunch they’d surround the Army Guys and eat their brains. But the Army persisted and kept at it until the Zombies ate through a goodly percentage of the force structure and the job was handed over to the Coast Guard, who at least could keep a number of them on boats and in lighthouses. Turns out Zombies are adverse to water and are mesmerized by lectures on boating safety.

Federal response: We’re here and we are going to help you.

While the legislatures met to nominate scapegoats and apply the blame, the President appointed a Zombie Czar, or Tsar, to contain the outbreak. He created a series of anti-Zombie commercials and identified two leading causes of the outbreak: A foreign cartel of Zombie manufacturers and dead people that come back to life. He appeared on Nightline and promised to end the Zombie blight once and for all. A grateful nation turned its weary eyes to the man who promised a final solution to the Zombie problem.

He set up shop in Brick Church and pretty soon there were more federal workers around than you could shake the shovel they were leaning on at. It was like when Roosevelt tried to put a canal from McCann’s Run to Jarvis Creek, we never knew why they did it but folks were grateful for the work. To show our appreciation, we held a parade and barbecue in the Czar's or Tsar's honor which of course attracted Zombies which we of course shot by way of making a demonstration of how we dealt with the Zombie before he got here, sort of a lesson in Zombie history. Imagine our chagrin when our new Czar or Tsar got mighty exorcised, even bent out of shape, by the demonstration. He immediately called a halt to the unauthorized shooting of Zombies and started profiling the residents to see who was the most likely to exhibit Zombie characteristics and who was most likely to exhibit the characteristics of someone who'd shoot a Zombie.

We tried pointing out that the surest indicator of future Zombie behavior was a current state of deadness and the likeliest candidate to shoot a Zombie was any male in the county healthy enough to carry a gun. He ignored us. Later we found out he had a theory about a worldwide Zombie conspiracy that controlled world events by placing indoctrinated Zombies in decision-making positions. He wanted to uncover the evidence here, in Brick Church, and then breed a race of super Zombie Clones he could turn on their Satanic masters and over throw the epitome of all evil. Who says Republicans lack vision?

After he rounded up everybody that was shooting his evidence, he deployed his Special Forces, the specially trained operatives and covert specialists that would get to the bottom of the Zombie menace and crack the case wide open. They silently slipped out of town disappearing into the countryside to track the Zombies to their lairs and uncover their secret plans. Unfortunately later that night his entire cadre of highly trained undercover Zombie infiltrators was eaten and turned into actual overt brain stalking fiends. The Czar, or Tsar, had a change of heart regarding the menace and went back to his Washington DC drawing board to concentrate on stamping the Zombie scourge out at its source, somewhere over seas. He declared the Armstrong County out break contained and left a deputy Czar, or Tsar, in charge.

But the Zombies kept coming. It got so a person with a living brain couldn’t go anywhere in the county without trailing a hungry string of the ghoulish beings behind you like the tail of a hideous kite. You couldn’t get a decent night sleep in certain neighborhoods without them banging endlessly on the doors and windows all night long demanding your brains, it was like Zombie Halloween every night. It was ruining people’s rest. People were forced to ask for assistance as Zombies were everywhere and the citizenry that remained was pretty helpless given they couldn't shoot them. As acute as their distress was, no aid was forth coming since the security forces designated to protect them were deployed around fortresses and gated communities where the Government people lived and worked.

Early on the Government fellows decided that if Zombies ever developed the capacity for strategic thinking they would concentrate their forces and attack Government compounds and installations. We always liked to point out that the Zombie aggregations were kind of ad hoc, at least since Geraldo’s skull had rotted off his brain stem, and the only strategy Zombies were interested in was one that got them more fresh brains. The Government disagreed and to impress upon us with the progress they had made, the Czar or Tsar took a walk down to the new park by the Allegheny and was promptly eaten. They appointed a new tougher deputy Czar or Tsar the next day.

Nothing attracts the vehement and complete authority of an ineffectual government agency as an accessible powerless citizen and since the Government was unable to do anything about the undead, the new deputy Czar, or Tsar set about devising effective regulations for the law abiding living citizens of Armstrong County. They were able to enforce the hell out of those regulations.

Neighborhoods were declared Zombie Free Zones; zones from which Zombies were to be strictly excluded which impressed everyone but the Zombies who wondered about them as they pleased. The Government concluded from this that some citizens were, for their own unclear reasons bringing Zombies into Zombie free zones. Soon conspiracy to commit Zombieness was outlawed, as was aiding and abetting Zombies, the new laws were backed by the full power and authority of the State.

The new harsher penalties reflected the seriousness the Government regarded the offenses and indicated that the powers that be thought the situation was deadly serious. Suspicious citizens were rounded up and placed in compounds. Citizen meetings to discuss the Zombie problem were organized by the government then carefully monitored by the police, as they were a common source of rumors and misinformation that had lead to any number of bad out comes. The community's guns were collected to prevent unauthorized hunting of the Zombies until the Government deemed it appropriate and any resistance was dealt with rapidly and severely, as this was a national emergency.

It was felt that the citizen’s time was better used if it was focused on the job at hand so pornography and abortion were outlawed within the Zombie Zone. A bounty was paid to those who uncovered secret opposition to the government's program and miscreants were re-educated by specially trained government counselors and brought around to a proper point of view by a program they called 101, named after the room they held it in. All incoming literature was carefully screened, broadcasts censored and the local newspaper were seized. When bleeding hearts for the first amendment objected it was pointed out that only commercial speech was being regulated and all other forms of speech remained free as long as no one was willing to pay for it.

Eventually all the Zombies in the ground were up and around but meals of fresh brains were harder and harder to come by, as all the living citizens had eventually come under suspicion and were concentrated in government run camps. The Zombies drifted off into adjacent counties and stopped being much of a factor in county life. Unfortunately the Zombie Czar had become a cabinet level position and was funded annually so even though we weren't exactly Zombie epicenter anymore the restrictions and supervision of Armstrong County remained in place.

Lacking Zombies to pursue in their jurisdiction they concentrated on the citizens they were holding. Questioned, under a special exemption of the Geneva Convention approved by the President’s counsel until they revealed the location of their secret Zombie Cells, some local folks confessed again and again but were kept locked up anyway just to keep things orderly. Of course the expense of keeping us in the camps and passably nourished threatened the solvency of the county so eventually they gave us simple jobs in manufacturing to offset the cost of incarceration.

If you worked hard enough you could even be set free, at least that’s what the sign over the camp gate said although we never heard of anybody that did. A lot of folks didn't even work hard enough to stay in the county lockup, they got sent away to other camps for special handling. I worked hard making inexpensive electronic gadgets we could export to the Chinese but also signed a paper agreeing I wouldn't sue the government or talk to the press if they let me stay. Eventually they let me out under my own recognizance and if I keep my nose clean they'll let me vote again in ten years.

An Epilogue: the final word.

The last of the Media left the county when Scott Baio was accused of shooting his wife and never came back. The government left when their appropriation was cut for domestic Zombie abatement. They issued a statement that thanks to the efforts of these government employees, which they then listed; the curse of Zombieism in Armstrong County was ended. A Zombie special interest law firm sued immediately saying that calling Zombieism a curse was discriminatory. There was some ambivalence about the statement as some folks in Armstrong County were grateful for the government's help but all in all most preferred the Zombies.

People in the adjacent counties hunted down the rest of our runaway Zombies and things got back to normal but things, such as they are, were never the same. You have to get a permit to go after Zombies and there’s a strict limit per hunter. It keeps the situation a manageable size and the Zombies don’t attract as much Government attention. Everybody is happier about that, including the locals, the hunters, the Zombies and even the government. Sometimes we get a few more than our normal crop, when we do we quietly put them in the trunk and drop them off in New York, so far no one has noticed.

We had a bumper crop this year, so even after issuing special permits we had more than we thought Manhattan could handle. With Cats closed, we thought New Yorkers might notice an influx of Zombies downtown if they didn’t have that crowd to blend into. So this year we rounded up the extras and put them on buses. The first lot we sent to Washington D.C. via the Butler Coach Line, the Adventist can take turns spelling the driver. They should be arriving pretty soon.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mud Flap Girl

When ever you feel small and insignificant it helps to remember that most of the people ignoring you don't even know you. At least your friends have good solid reasons for avoiding any association. My latest collaboration in a life of noisy desperation: