Rule Number 1: We talk about the Zombie Code. All the time.
Why? How else would anybody else know how to avoid the Zombies. It’s logic.
We are not a secret club of overhyped, underdone men in shirts. When we take our clothes off, we are a shade of orange fake tan that is peculiar to Essex. And we do bling. Proper bling. Our teeth are regular and bright, very bright but not our own. Our nails sparkle, our eye lashes are measured in inches and our hair extensions are the tresses of legend. This is Essex.
And we talk about the Zombie Code. Relentlessly.
How did it start?
It started on a very ordinary spring day according to social media, although that could have been filters. If you had been in London and looked towards Essex you would have seen a faint orange glow in the sky. Normal! The good people of Essex were preparing for their holidays, covering their winter skins with an extra layer so they were beach ready for Spain, France, Portugal, or Clacton.
If you turned and looked the other way, there was a sort of blackness, a kind of grey dust that was billowing up and being blown away from you. Pretty normal for London, only this cloud was thicker than most and had random hues to it, some beige, some grey, some more black.
You might have caught the smell of fake tan from the Essex direction, born in on the gentle spring breeze. From the other direction the foul stench of something else was being blown around. You couldn’t smell it yet though, the wind was going west.
Nonetheless there was an air of apprehension that even the promise of summer sunshine on a mispronounced island somewhere in the Med. couldn’t obliterate. About mid afternoon the wind changed direction and the orange cloud blew itself back to Essex. If you had been sat drinking coffee outside in London you would have realised:
a) that London wasn’t built for outside dining and
b) the wind was now blowing in pieces of rotting human flesh.
The odd coloured flakes on top of your coffee were not extra chocolate sprinkles on your cappuccino, they were fleshy particles from someones arm.
The stench would have overwhelmed you as you hurried into Liverpool St station and like me, perhaps you took the last train out of London towards Chelmsford. You didn’t know then that it was the last train. It wasn’t anymore crowded than usual, meaning there were no seats available. The signalling stopped working halfway. Normal!
You would have arrived home at the usual time, 28 minutes overdue, two minutes short of when you are owed compensation by the train company. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary on that journey.
Because what you and I didn’t know was that as we sped (ok this bit isn’t true-there were of course speed restrictions because it was hotter than 19 degrees) out of London, the zombie hordes had hit the outskirts and were making their way through London, feasting on the flesh of Londoners on the way.
Later on that evening at the London-Essex border, the wave of zombies, the notorious eaters of life- stopped. They simply stopped. It was as if the good people of Essex had built a wall. Without having to shut down the government to do it.
In the first few days refugees from other places who’d somehow survived poured in. They were mostly smartly dressed Londoners who had somehow escaped the zombie’s clutches. Slipping over the metaphorical wall they rode their electric bicycles into Essex. They demanded wi-fi access and avocado toast and places in the best schools and the best tables at restaurants. They were appalled by the velvet tracksuits, leather skirts, heels and diamantes that seemed to infest Essex. They stumbled along in their designer flip flops, loose fitting but well cut trousers, clutching their yoga mats and gawping at the locals.
In a case of 21st century paranoia at its worst, we funnelled these refugees over the Thames and into Kent with a promise of better retail outlets and proper coffee. Then we used their yoga mats and their supplies of avocados to plug the Dartford Tunnel. Their electric bikes were strung out along the beaches like barbed wire to prevent any of them returning. It was the mood of the times and not a proud moment in the history of Essex. When we look back now as the sole county that survived, we misjudged, maybe not on the avocado toast, but certainly the rest of it.
I was doing A-level design at the time hoping to get into gel-nail science at university. My friend and I would trek to the border each day just to try and get a selfie with the really gross flesh eating zombies. Not easy. We didn’t know what was holding the hordes back. No one did. We just knew we seemed immune. When approached they fell back en masse as if we had a disease. The stench was overwhelming. We did occasionally get close. The trick was to get the selfie without getting too much rotting flesh on your clothes. I can’t remember which one of us suggested trying to figure out why we seemed repellent to the zombie hordes.
It didn’t take is long. We bared our teeth, no reaction. We flashed our gel nails, batted inch long eyelashes at them. Nothing. What drove them back we discovered was a flash of our fake tanned arms or a leg perhaps.
And then when we were sure, when we were absolutely sure, we started the Code. We posted it on-line for the world to see, well what’s left of the world, which thankfully includes the internet. It turns out zombies don’t like the smell or taste of a fake tan. They want real untouched human flesh. Who knew? And now, now we only have one problem in Essex- the fake tan-it won’t last forever.