“Mouja” — Matt London

Matt London is an author and filmmaker who lives in New York City. He is a graduate of the Clarion Writers Workshop, and a columnist for Tor.com. This story is his first piece of published fiction. He has no less than three escape plans should the zombies take Manhattan.

The samurai were a warrior caste in feudal Japan who wore distinctive armor and often fought with a sword in either hand, one long (a katana or tachi) and one short (a wakizashi or tantō). Though they were feared because they had the authority to execute any commoner who displeased them, they were bound by a strict code of honor—Bushido—which demanded they commit seppuku—ritual suicide—should they dishonor themselves.

Samurai have had a massive impact on popular culture, everything from westerns (The Magnificent Seven and A Fistful of Dollars are remakes of Akira Kurosawa samurai movies) to Star Wars (the film is heavily influenced by the Kurosawa film Hidden Fortress, and Darth Vader’s helmet is modeled after a samurai helmet).

Our next story explores what happens when these highly trained soldiers face off against their first horde of zombies. The author says, “Lore would have us believe that samurai were almost superhuman in their devotion, but of course people are people. I wanted to create a character who is a slave to what he is, much as the zombies are slaves to what they are. I studied film at NYU, where I had a passionate interest in Kurosawa and horror cinema. Seven Samurai essentially has the same plot as most zombie movies: protagonists improve the defenses of a location, deal with social problems among the survivors, and then fight off the horde.”

London’s primary resource in writing the story was the Hagakure by Tsunetomo Yamamoto, a samurai how-to pamphlet written in the eighteenth century. Its opening line is: “I have found the essence of Bushido: to die! In other words, when you have a choice between life and death, then always choose death.” Which somehow seems appropriate as a lead-in to a zombie story.