Fact is often stranger than fiction


  • Living
  • Monday, 16 Nov 2015

A population of infant stars in the Milky Way. We can’t even begin to guess what we might find out there in the hugely unexplored universe. Photo: AFP

Despite our advances in science and space exploration, it seems that we have investigated only 4% of our universe. By way of illustration, this would be like all of mankind living in Australia while knowing absolutely nothing about the rest of this fine planet.

In such a scenario, if I were to make an announcement (still bearing in mind that no one has ever ventured outside of Australia) that there is a possibility that creatures are living in another country far away, most people would probably agree with me. But if I were to describe one of these creatures as looking a little like Homo sapiens, but with longer arms, shorter bowed legs, and long reddish-brown hair covering its head and body, some people might say I’d been watching too many science fiction movies.

And yes, I’ve just described an orangutan.

We can’t even begin to guess what we might find in the huge, unexplored part of our universe: wondrous creatures with amazing abilities so different from anything we’ve experienced so far.

If you just hold that thought for a few seconds, it won’t be too much of a stretch for you to believe in the possibility of something that already features in our lives, although fictitiously: the humble zombie. Well, not a zombie per se, but the virus that causes someone to turn into a zombie.

And no, I’ve not been consuming large quantities of mind-altering drugs as if they were Smarties. I stopped all that last week.

Time for another example. Let’s say you’re unaware of the existence of elephants, which would be the case if everyone lived in Australia. Now, if I were to describe an elephant to you (the size and shape, the wrinkly skin, the tusks, and the enormously long nose and flappy ears) followed by a description of a zombie virus, which one would sound the most believable? The zombie virus, of course. I mean to say, we’ve had HIV, Ebola, bird flu and all sorts of other nasties – viruses that we couldn’t have imagined a hundred years ago – so it’s possible for any number of other unknown viruses to be out there, waiting for a host.

I believe everything happens for a reason. And I suspect that we’re being flooded with zombie movies, zombie television programmes, and all sorts of zombie merchandise, because governments around the globe are preparing us for the inevitable zombie invasion. They have to do it covertly, because openly informing the public would result in the sort of mass hysteria that’s usually reserved for the January sales. Governments are notorious for keeping information from their citizens, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

Nonetheless, these fictional zombies differ from real zombies in a few significant ways. Like, we could trust Hollywood to get all the facts right.

Consider for one moment, if you will, the following disturbing facts:

> 95% of us live within a few kilometres of a cemetery or mortuary.

> Most people use and value their brains – the natural food of zombies.

> All that nonsense about zombies just wanting your flesh and intestines is all wrong.

> 95% of zombie-related fatalities will occur in the home.

One minute, you could be lying in bed, just about to drift off, and the next there could be a gentle tap on your shoulder. You think it’s your partner wanting a bit of fun, but it could well be someone who loves you more for your brains than your body.

You want to be able to go about your business without having to keep checking the locks on the doors every five minutes, or worrying if one of them is hiding under your car, or behind the bougainvillea plant beneath the living room window.

Of course, you don’t have to worry about zombies hiding under your bed. Don’t waste your time checking. Everyone knows only bogeymen hide under your bed.

The only proven defence against a zombie attack is an effective early warning system. If you’re anything like the majority of folks out there, the first thing that came to mind after reading those facts was: “When survival is a matter of a few minutes warning, no family can surely afford to be without the new, improved Zombie Zapper – available from the writer of this column for an unreasonably large, non-refundable amount of money.”

For those of you who don’t believe in zombies, I’m working on the prototype of what will eventually be known as the Bogie Blaster. My assistant, Frank Stein, is now manning the phones, eagerly awaiting your advance orders.


Check out Mary on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mary.schneider.writer.

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