“Living with the Dead” — Molly Brown

British Science Fiction Award-winner Molly Brown is the author of the novels Invitation to a Funeral and Virus. Her short fiction has appeared many times in Interzone, and in the Mammoth Book anthologies: Jules Verne Adventures, New Comic Fantasy, and Future Cops. Other anthology appearances include Steampunk, Time Machines, Celebration, Villains! and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Many of these stories have been gathered in her collection Bad Timing and Other Stories. In addition to writing prose fiction, Brown has written and appeared in a several short zombie films, and some of her stories have been optioned for film and/or television.

One of the challenges of assembling an anthology of zombie fiction is deciding exactly what constitutes a “zombie” story. The term originated in the Caribbean and originally referred to recently deceased individuals who had been brought back to life through magic to serve as slave workers. After the word zombie was used in connection with the marketing of George Romero’s 1978 film Dawn of the Dead, the term has mostly been associated with masses of mindless, hungry undead who kill and convert the living. In recent years, the film 28 Days Later and the video game Left 4 Dead have depicted zombies as belligerent infected who aren’t actually undead. However, they are otherwise so similar to Romero zombies that everyone calls them that, and they can really be classified no other way.  

But where do you draw the line? In this anthology series we’ve chosen to take an inclusive view and expose readers to the broadest possible spectrum of zombie fiction. Which brings us to our next story. One thing that’s been interesting to watch is how the term “zombie” has fallen into colloquial usage—i.e., we often refer to people as zombies when they’re performing mindless tasks, or planted in front of the television, or in a state of emotional detachment, even if they’re not trying to kill anyone. On this view, the defining feature of zombies is that they’re animate but not present. Our next story is a quiet tale of suburban life that explores this side of zombiehood.