Transcript of a digital recording sent to journalist Alex Wright and four other persons of interest on the evening of June 29, 2015. The recording consists of a monologue by late film director George A. Romero. It has been published in its entirety here.
Firstly, thank you. Thank you for not only having the courage to play this file but for what you’ve done until this point. You may not be sure what exactly you have contributed or how you can be of assistance. You may just be wondering what the hell is going on. I’ll do my best to explain.
You will know me as the George A. Romero who made Zombie films a long time ago, back in the real world. What you will not know is why.
To understand that aspect, I’ll need to start at the beginning. But first I’ll emphasise my opening statement as strongly as I possibly can.
I’m convinced that if I hadn’t written The Night of the Living Dead, the Universe’s Great Filter would have dealt us a Zombie apocalypse to bring an end to life on Earth. Quite simply, if I had never existed, we wouldn’t have survived when the Blood Turned.
There’s one thing I am pleased my movies got wrong; dramatically, I tended to jump beyond the battle straight into the end of the world. I should have given the public a little more credit, but that was also precisely what I was trying to achieve. I wanted to give you a vision of what would happen to our planet if we weren’t ready and if we didn’t know their enemy. Otherwise, it would all have been for nothing.
I was in my teenage years when I first encountered them, though I never referred to them as Zombies. 1950’s America had a blissful naivety and certainly had no idea what a Zombie was. In my head I saw them as ghouls, in the mythological sense; monsters hungry for human flesh.
One evening, I could have been no older than 14, I woke to find my bed sheets sodden with sweat. I got up and made my way to the bathroom, the creak of my footsteps on our old wooden floor the only noise I could hear. My bedroom was at the end of the corridor, with my parents positioned into the right and the bathroom directly ahead. I couldn’t bear to sleep with my door closed so I could always look straight down the full length of the hallway. The moon shimmering through the bathroom window used to bounce off the mirror and create a small strap of light on the carpet, perfectly aligned with the route I would have to take if I needed to get up during the night, like an airport runway. I used to pretend that my toes were six inches from the ground to minimise the sound I made and glide along the illuminated path, urinate quickly and then return to my mattress.
As I floated back down the corridor on this occasion, however, I found someone in place on my bed, hunched in the foetal position and facing towards the wall. I struggled to comprehend the presence before me until it burst into life. The ghoul, eyes glowing and mouth slobbering, flipped over quickly and reached forwards to grab me. I turned 180 degrees and motioned to move back along the beam of light, towards the bathroom, but as I did so I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of another version of me staring into the mirror, urinating as I had done just seconds prior. We could see each other in the reflection and, distracted, my alternate version was unware of another ghoul entering the bathroom stealthily, from where, I had no idea.
As we gawped at each other the ghoul attached its mouth to my doppelganger, biting deeply and causing him to slump to the ground with spurts of blackness gargling in every direction. I instinctively swung back around and pushed the initial ghoul, the one who had risen from my sheets, to the floor and leapt back into my bed. My senses seemed to reset, knowing that I hadn’t initially woken at all, but my vision remained in the dream state just long enough to see a Zombified version of me emerge from the bathroom and drag itself along the corridor, dancing with the moonlight as it went.
After that first occurrence, the ghouls were always with me. Every night, I saw them in my eyes before I slept and I saw them in my dreams. For a period of a few months darkness brought with it an unbearable depression and the realisation that another meeting with these creatures was imminent. I knew this wasn’t normal and this dysfunction terrified me but I opted to keep quiet and live with it – live with them.
At lights out I would sit curled against the bedroom wall, trying to remain awake. I didn’t want to go back there again but sleep was, eventually, unavoidable. I had to face them. As time passed, the dreams expanded beyond my mere recognition of these ghouls and onto a wider platform. I would sit up, follow the beam of moonlight to the bathroom but turn left, through the kitchen, open our front door and take the elevator down, walk out into the street and see the dead eating the living in the streets around my home and in the centre of New York City itself. It was as if events were in slow motion, though the humans appeared frozen in time, conscious but unable to move or escape. A ghoul would amble forward, uninhibited, and feast upon them helplessly, leaving behind a freakish, twisted expression of dread.