You Might Be a Zombie . . . (2 page)

BOOK: You Might Be a Zombie . . .
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A number of striking similarities jumped out immediately. In addition to being old as shit, we noticed that all four endeavored to answer some of life’s biggest questions. After literal y hours of brainstorming, we sent off the first draft of our book proposal and began taking out sizable loans and buying tiny expensive jets (to serve as fuel for our larger, also expensive, jets). Unfortunately, some guy named Webster had somehow retroactively stolen our idea

“What Words Mean” and had even found definitions for real words rather than ones he’d just made up. After fol ow-up cal s with publishing houses failed to turn up a single major religion looking to join forces with Crackedism, the official religion we promised to make up, one of the publishers said something that made us realize that life’s “big questions” had changed.

“Life’s big questions have changed,” she said. “Why don’t you write a book called
You Might Be a Zombie

Whether she realized it or not, that lady (whose name now escapes us) had given us the idea for our book. Nobody needs to know the meaning of things like existence and words anymore. Hollywood has already answered those questions for us. Modern people have more-pressing concerns, like

“Seriously, I’ve been sprinting for like ten minutes straight. Why won’t this enormous hornet stop chasing me?” and “Did . . . did it just shoot poison at my eyes?”

The answers to those questions and more are contained somewhere in the fol owing pages. We don’t want to spoil it for you, but the short answer to the second one is yes, that giant hornet did just shoot poison at your eyes. That shit happens
all the time


You Might Be a Zombie
should be read in a seated position.

Due to risks posed by rapidly descending jaws, males are advised to wear an athletic supporter.

Females are advised to wear as little as possible, though that’s more of a marketing thing.

During the course of reading, you may find yourself motivated to lead a torch-wielding mob to the home of every teacher who failed to tell you about Teddy Roosevelt’s life. Our legal department asks that you resist this impulse or, at the very least, that you blame it on
Catcher in the Rye


are about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 insects on earth at any given moment. Seriously, that’s a real number. For every one of us, there are 1.5 billion bugs.

But some of them are so horrifying, just one is too many. Here are five you’l want to avoid at all costs.


It’s the size of your thumb, and it can spray flesh-melting poison. We really wish we were making that up for dramatic effect because, goddamn, what a terrible thing a three-inch, acid-shooting hornet would be, you know? Oh, hey, did we mention it shoots the acid directly into your eyes? Or that the poison also has a pheromone cocktail in it that’l cal every hornet in the hive to come over and sting you until you are no longer alive?

Also, it can fly fifty miles in a day. It’d be nice to say something reassuring at this point, like “Don’t worry, they only live on top of really tal mountains where nobody wants to live,” but no, they live all over the freaking place. They kil more people in Japan than all animals—venomous, nonvenomous, irradiated mutant—combined. At least forty people die that way every year, each of them horribly.

You’d think the fact that humans aren’t their favorite target would provide some measure of consolation. You’d think that until you heard what they do to bees. An adult hornet will fly miles to pick a fight with a hive humming with thousands of them. Outnumbered, the
Vespa mandarinia
sprays the nest with some of the acid/pheromone and brings in reinforcements, usually thirty or so fel ow hornets. They then descend upon the beehive like an unholy plague of hel -born death engines and proceed to make this world a scary place.

In three hours, thousands of adult bees will be lying around, in piles of limbs and heads and bits of things that could possibly have been alive at one point, and the hornets will have stormed the hive and flown away with all the bee’s children, who will then be eaten.

Yeah, nature is hard-core.


It’s a ful inch long, lives in trees, and can and will fall on you to scare you away from its hive—the one you didn’t know was there, because it’s in a goddamn tree. Before it does this, it shrieks at you. This ant, you see, can shriek.

It’s called a bul et ant because its unusual y severe sting feels like you’re getting shot. On the Schmidt Sting Pain Index (yes, somebody with the worst job in the world has calibrated the relative pain of different insect stings), bul et ants rate as the number one most try-not-to-shit-out-your-spine painful in the entirety of the phylum Arthropoda.

Also—and we do feel the need to stress this—they f**king shriek at you before they attack.

Some of the peoples indigenous to the Central American rain forests, where bul et ants live, use them as part of their initiation-to-manhood ceremony.

You know the kind. In the West it’s a big party where your relatives give you money. In bul et ant country, they knock out a few hundred bul et ants with natural y occurring chloroform, weave them into leaf sleeves so their heads are stuck and their stingers are facing inward. They then wait for the ants to wake up cranky, put the sleeves on their arms, and immediately have the holy bejesus stung out of them by—and this is important—the hundreds of bul et ants woven into the sleeves, stingers inward. The goal is to leave them on for ten minutes, after which the young man’s arms are stiff, useless lengths of twisting agony, and his body wracked with uncontrol able spasms for days. In order to actually become a man, they have to endure this ritual twenty times.


You know how you can spot one of these? You can’t. There is no physical way to determine the difference between an Africanized bee and a common European bee.

You can, however, easily tell the difference based on their behavior. Regular bees will give you about nine seconds of being too close to their hive before attacking you. They’l typical y consider you chased off after about three hundred feet.

Africanized bees do not rol like that. They give you half a second of being too close before they decide it is time to completely mess your shit up. They

empty the entire hive—tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of angry, angry bees. When you run, flailing and crying and soiling yourself screaming, “Jesus Christ, I’m covered in bees!” they will chase you for over half a mile.

Africanized bees owe their existence to science. Warwick E. Kerr created them in Brazil during the 1950s by crossing a European bee with an African bee. He wanted a bee that could live in the jungle. He got a bee that swarms by the hundreds of mil ions, is insanely territorial and mindlessly aggressive, has already kil ed more people than European honeybees in a relatively brief time in existence—and can live in the jungle.


By now, you will not be surprised to hear that these ants are huge, with the soldiers reaching a half inch in length. You will also not be surprised to learn that they have massive, powerful, machete-like jaws half the length of the soldiers themselves. They’re notorious for dismantling any living thing in their path, regardless of size. They’re also completely blind, which for some reason makes the whole thing worse.

They’re called army ants because the entire colony, comprising up to and over one mil ion insects, is a 100 percent mobile battalion. They don’t make permanent hives, like other ants; they bivouac down in single locations just long enough for the queen to push out thousands of eggs, while the soldiers spread out in wide fans in search of food. Then the eggs hatch and they enter the dreaded swarm phase of their existence.

Much like the word
, nature takes words like
very, very seriously. The ants go on the move, a near-solid mass of insect death and horror, moving steadily and swiftly along the jungle floor, flaying alive and disassembling every living thing too stupid, slow, or asleep to get out of the way. There are no painful stingers or bal istic acids; this is the kind of terror that simply flows over you by the hundreds of thousands and rips you apart with unbelievably powerful jaws, utterly and literal y blind to size and species, considering everything in its path to be a threat to the continuation of the colony.

There are reports of animals the size of horses being overwhelmed and shredded by them. Go stand next to a horse and then think about what that means for you.

Army ants are also masters of whol y organic, living architecture. For the good of the colony, the ants will use their own living bodies to build any conceivable structure necessary, latching on to each other to create protective wall s and ceilings against the ravages of the weather, bridges to cross otherwise impassable spans, whatever happens to be needed.

There is no other living thing in the entire world that does this.

And, they’re blind.


Oh boy. Ohhhhh boy. Okay, botflies.

Each variety of botfly is highly adapted to target a specific animal, and they have delightful y descriptive names like horse stomach botfly, sheep nose botfly, and, hey, guess what? Human botfly. The details vary, but each botfly has the same MO.

The horse stomach botflies, for example, lay their eggs in grass. Horses eat the eggs when eating the grass. The eggs hatch in the heat of the horse’s mouth; then the larvae chew through the horse’s tongue and burrow into its bel y. There they meet up and dig honeycombs into the horse’s stomach, getting fat. When they’re ready to be flies, they just let go and get pooped out of the system.

The human botfly lays its eggs on a horsefly or a mosquito, which finds a human and lands on him or her. The eggs rub off onto the human, whose body heat hatches them. The larvae drop onto the skin and burrow right the hel in. Where they live. Under your skin. Eating.

The larvae can grow anywhere in your body; it just depends on where the eggs wind up. You could end up having a fat wormy thing in your tear duct. Or eating through your brain. We know, because it’s happened.


doesn’t matter; it’s what’s inside that counts.” “Love is color-blind.” “There’s no black and white; everything is just shades of gray.” Phrases like these dismiss the influence of color, but that’s not what science says: Science thinks colors are screwing with your head pretty much 24-7.


Blue skies signal a nice, relaxing day, and blue eyes have more songs written about them than all other eye colors combined. People who don’t fish or swim will pay more money to live next to the ocean blue. It seems that blue just happens to be associated with a lot of the things that make us feel good about the general state of the world.

BOOK: You Might Be a Zombie . . .
12.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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