Zombies: The Movie

FADE IN around a se­ri­ous-look­ing group of uniformed mil­i­tary officers. At the head of the table, a se­nior, heavy-set man, GENERAL FRED, speaks.

GENERAL FRED: The re­ports are con­firmed. New York has been over­run… by zom­bies.

COLONEL TODD: Again? But we just had a zom­bie in­va­sion 28 days ago!

GENERAL FRED: Th­ese zom­bies… are differ­ent. They’re… philo­soph­i­cal zom­bies.

CAPTAIN MUDD: Are they filled with rage, caus­ing them to bite peo­ple?

COLONEL TODD: Do they lose all ca­pac­ity for rea­son?

GENERAL FRED: No. They be­have… ex­actly like we do… ex­cept that they’re not con­scious.

(Silence grips the table.)


GENERAL FRED moves over to a com­put­er­ized dis­play.

GENERAL FRED: This is New York City, two weeks ago.

The dis­play shows crowds bustling through the streets, peo­ple eat­ing in restau­rants, a garbage truck haul­ing away trash.

GENERAL FRED: This… is New York City… now.

The dis­play changes, show­ing a crowded sub­way train, a group of stu­dents laugh­ing in a park, and a cou­ple hold­ing hands in the sun­light.

COLONEL TODD: It’s worse than I imag­ined.

CAPTAIN MUDD: How can you tell, ex­actly?

COLONEL TODD: I’ve never seen any­thing so bru­tally or­di­nary.

A lab-coated SCIENTIST stands up at the foot of the table.

SCIENTIST: The zom­bie dis­ease elimi­nates con­scious­ness with­out chang­ing the brain in any way. We’ve been try­ing to un­der­stand how the dis­ease is trans­mit­ted. Our con­clu­sion is that, since the dis­ease at­tacks dual prop­er­ties of or­di­nary mat­ter, it must, it­self, op­er­ate out­side our uni­verse. We’re deal­ing with an epiphe­nom­e­nal virus.

GENERAL FRED: Are you sure?

SCIENTIST: As sure as we can be in the to­tal ab­sence of ev­i­dence.

GENERAL FRED: All right. Com­pile a re­port on ev­ery epiphe­nomenon ever ob­served. What, where, and who. I want a list of ev­ery­thing that hasn’t hap­pened in the last fifty years.

CAPTAIN MUDD: If the virus is epiphe­nom­e­nal, how do we know it ex­ists?

SCIENTIST: The same way we know we’re con­scious.


GENERAL FRED: Have the doc­tors made any progress on find­ing an epiphe­nom­e­nal cure?

SCIENTIST: They’ve tried ev­ery placebo in the book. No dice. Every­thing they do has an effect.

GENERAL FRED: Have you brought in a home­opath?

SCIENTIST: I tried, sir! I couldn’t find any!

GENERAL FRED: Ex­cel­lent. And the Taoists?

SCIENTIST: They re­fuse to do any­thing!

GENERAL FRED: Then we may yet be saved.

COLONEL TODD: What about David Chalmers? Shouldn’t he be here?

GENERAL FRED: Chalmers… was one of the first vic­tims.


(Cut to the INTERIOR of a cell, com­pletely walled in by re­in­forced glass, where DAVID CHALMERS paces back and forth.)

DOCTOR: David! David Chalmers! Can you hear me?


NURSE: It’s no use, doc­tor.

CHALMERS: I’m perfectly fine. I’ve been in­tro­spect­ing on my con­scious­ness, and I can’t de­tect any differ­ence. I know I would be ex­pected to say that, but—

The DOCTOR turns away from the glass screen in hor­ror.

DOCTOR: His words, they… they don’t mean any­thing.

CHALMERS: This is a grotesque dis­tor­tion of my philo­soph­i­cal views. This sort of thing can’t ac­tu­ally hap­pen!

DOCTOR: Why not?

NURSE: Yes, why not?

CHALMERS: Be­cause—

(Cut to two POLICE OFFICERS, guard­ing a dirt road lead­ing up to the im­pos­ing steel gate of a gi­gan­tic con­crete com­plex. On their uniforms, a badge reads “BRIDGING LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY”.)

OFFICER 1: You’ve got to watch out for those clever bas­tards. They look like hu­mans. They can talk like hu­mans. They’re iden­ti­cal to hu­mans on the atomic level. But they’re not hu­man.

OFFICER 2: Scum­bags.

The huge noise of a throb­bing en­g­ine echoes over the hills. Up rides the MAN on a white mo­tor­cy­cle. The MAN is wear­ing black sun­glasses and a black leather busi­ness suit with a black leather tie and silver metal boots. His white beard flows in the wind. He pulls to a halt in front of the gate.

The OFFICERS bus­tle up to the mo­tor­cy­cle.

OFFICER 1: State your busi­ness here.

MAN: Is this where you’re keep­ing David Chalmers?

OFFICER 2: What’s it to you? You a friend of his?

MAN: Can’t say I am. But even zom­bies have rights.

OFFICER 1: All right, buddy, let’s see your qualia.

MAN: I don’t have any.

OFFICER 2 sud­denly pulls a gun, keep­ing it trained on the MAN. OFFICER 2: Aha! A zom­bie!

OFFICER 1: No, zom­bies claim to have qualia.

OFFICER 2: So he’s an or­di­nary hu­man?

OFFICER 1: No, they also claim to have qualia.

The OFFICERS look at the MAN, who waits calmly.

OFFICER 2: Um...

OFFICER 1: Who are you?

MAN: I’m Daniel Den­nett, bitches.

Seem­ingly from nowhere, DENNETT pulls a sword and slices OFFICER 2′s gun in half with a steely noise. OFFICER 1 be­gins to reach for his own gun, but DENNETT is sud­denly stand­ing be­hind OFFICER 1 and chops with a fist, strik­ing the junc­tion of OFFICER 1′s shoulder and neck. OFFICER 1 drops to the ground.

OFFICER 2 steps back, hor­rified.

OFFICER 2: That’s not pos­si­ble! How’d you do that?

DENNETT: I am one with my body.

DENNETT drops OFFICER 2 with an­other blow, and strides to­ward the gate. He looks up at the im­pos­ing con­crete com­plex, and grips his sword tighter.

DENNETT (quietly to him­self): There is a spoon.

(Cut back to GENERAL FRED and the other mil­i­tary offi­cials.)

GENERAL FRED: I’ve just re­ceived the re­ports. We’ve lost Detroit.

CAPTAIN MUDD: I don’t want to be the one to say “Good rid­dance”, but—

GENERAL FRED: Aus­tralia has been… re­duced to atoms.

COLONEL TODD: The epiphe­nom­e­nal virus is spread­ing faster. Civ­i­liza­tion it­self threat­ens to dis­solve into to­tal nor­mal­ity. We could be look­ing at the mid­dle of hu­man­ity.

CAPTAIN MUDD: Can we ne­go­ti­ate with the zom­bies?

GENERAL FRED: We’ve sent them mes­sages. They sent only a sin­gle re­ply.

CAPTAIN MUDD: Which was...?

GENERAL FRED: It’s on its way now.

An or­derly brings in an en­velope, and hands it to GENERAL FRED.

GENERAL FRED opens the en­velope, takes out a sin­gle sheet of pa­per, and reads it.

Silence en­velops the room.

CAPTAIN MUDD: What’s it say?

GENERAL FRED: It says… that we’re the ones with the virus.

(A silence falls.)

COLONEL TODD raises his hands and stares at them.

COLONEL TODD: My God, it’s true. It’s true. I...

(A tear rolls down COLONEL TODD’s cheek.)

COLONEL TODD: I don’t feel any­thing.

The screen goes black.

The sound goes silent.

The movie con­tinues ex­actly as be­fore.

PS: This is me be­ing at­tacked by zom­bie nurses at Pen­guicon.

Only at a com­bi­na­tion sci­ence fic­tion and open-source con­ven­tion would it be pos­si­ble to at­tend a ses­sion on knife-throw­ing, cry “In the name of Bayes, die!”, throw the knife, and then have a fel­low hold­ing a wooden shield say, “Yes, but how do you de­ter­mine the prior for where the knife hits?”