As for my own story, I’ll let you know man, by the time the initial phase was over I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about. I thought it had maybe been a Rodney King thing, or those London riots, and a couple of civilians might end up hurt or in jail. My agent, Harvey, called me and said that under no circumstances – like I was a fucking idiot or something – should I leave the house until he called me back. He said something had happened and he couldn’t reach me, the streets were too busy or whatever and that he’d be in touch when he knew more. I hadn’t turned on my TV – I’m not much of a newsie kinda guy, so I decided to keep it that way. Luckily I was in between movies and sitting in my huge-ass mansion with enough supplies to see out a nuclear holocaust, so I just chillaxed for a few weeks. It was good. I found my Zen, shot some pool, masturbated a whole bunch and then watched all my movies back with some chips and soda, waiting for the full thing to blow over.
After a few days, though, I was getting a little restless. You are only as famous as how the normals out there perceive you and I felt as if I was losing famousness with every autograph I wasn’t signing or camera phone picture I wasn’t in. I called Harvey again to ask him if shit had been sorted out yet.
He was pretty short with me – which I didn’t enjoy – but he told me to maybe try going to my master bedroom to look out across Los Angeles. I remember climbing the stairs, telling myself that he was due a firing, but as I drew the curtains wide and stepped out onto the balcony the situation suddenly became about slightly more than his snarky attitude.
Through the fucking LA smog I could see fire, helicopters and smoke, stretching as far as the pollution would allow. I couldn’t speak, just mumble, and Harvey said something along the lines of ‘Chew on that for a while and call me back,’ before disappearing into the dial tone.
I stood for about half an hour, just staring. I had made a movie a few years earlier about an alien invasion and the CGI scene at the end reminded me of what I could see. After an eternity of gazing outside wondering which version of the apocalypse I had missed while doing sit-ups in my personal gym, I noticed a group of Zombies wandering aimlessly in the street. Remember that I didn’t know what Zombies were at this point, so when two dudes with football gear on but carrying baseball bats approached aggressively and proceeded to beat the living shit out of a guy in the street, I got a little nervous. I called Harvey 20 times until he finally answered and he gave me the quick version; dead people making other dead people by eating people. He relayed this as I stood with Fox News talking about a major blood disease and mass casualties. They mentioned the word Zombie over and over. When I’d had enough I crawled upstairs, locked myself in to my rumpus room and took enough Vicodin to knock me out cold.
I came to a full day later and once I’d assessed my situation, I felt better. This is where famous was really gonna pay off. My mansion’s walls could keep out the KGB, let alone a bunch of shambling dead folks. They were never getting in and I had enough shit to ensure I didn’t have to get out. I worked on my tan, kept things low key. It was easy. You’ll be surprised how comfortable it was for me to ride it out. Failing to establish a meaningful relationship with anyone out there among the dead meant I only had to worry about me and I knew for certain I was doing just fine. A month, maybe, and LA was safer, a few more and the Zombies had been restricted to specific danger zones. I could be famous in person again. It was reassuring.
And after that we kind of went back to our celebrity lives. I thought so anyway – y’know, my imminent death has got me thinking about a few things and the fact that I’m thinking about thinking, makes me wonder if I’ve ever been thinking before. I was sitting in my friggin’ hot tub when eighty-six million ate the pavement. I treated it as a minor inconvenience and went back to making movies. The public needed something to take their minds off shit, didn’t they? I provided a service, though in the first year I made the cameras come to me and filmed 75% of my scenes from inside my own house. The toughest part was making every flick look different from the last one, rather than ‘Take 100 – Action!’ from the side of my pool. Filming a remake of A Christmas Carol whist trying to keep my stainless-steel fridge out of the shot was a real headache.
But my attitude changed completely when I attended a party in the Hamptons maybe a year after the Blood Turned.
It was a stupid benefit evening, probably one with a self-righteous title such as ‘Fuck, glad we survived that thing that happened.’ It was at the mansion of a producer friend of mine up in the hills, strategically positioned and surrounded by snipers and armed gunmen. This dude had worked on one of my most extraordinarily awful movies, the kind of turd where my smile could sell the poster and I could ogle the tits of an uncaring but slutty co-star for a few months, bang her and never call her again. He usually secured me the GDP of an African country for these gigs so I decided to grace him with my presence along with around three hundred more of LA’s elite.
It was the usual affair and for me to say now that I didn’t enjoy those events would be to betray what a total douchebag I used to be. ‘Come see how good I look’ was always on my mind. No matter what way I brushed my hair I always looked a million bucks. Straight teeth, no imperfections – you can’t learn that in acting class. It was also comforting to be around others who had a similar ability to appear incredible by default and who had, in the main, breezed through the postponement of the end of the world without their careers being impacted.
Even after the drama of the Blood Turning, being the beautiful, powerful and, frankly, better people that we are means we get bored much easier than the average Joe. A once-in-a-lifetime thrill for you is something I’ve done a hundred times, naked, backwards and with a supermodel wrapped around me. What I’m saying is we tend to need something to keep us on our toes at these soirees.
What’s more, we hadn’t roughed it among the Zombies. Those in that room had kept well away from any of that nonsense, but it did generate an element of curiosity. What’s it like to walk into a shop and buy a pack of gum with a dollar bill? I don’t know. What’s it like to have a Zombie right there? No idea, but I was interested to find out.
So we hired three of them, attached leashes to their necks and tied them around pillars next to the finger food and champagne. Don’t ever attempt to judge or even ask where the hell we got them. We did because we could and because you can’t.
They weren’t any threat; it was the post-NZ equivalent of having a stripper dance in a cage. They were there if you wanted to stare at them, but they could be ignored if that wasn’t your thing. Their leashes were held on to the pillars by a thick steel hook which stretched maybe a foot-and-a-half to the Zombie’s neck. Their reach was minimal, but just close enough to add an element of danger. I’ve always enjoyed performing my own stunts.