“Rural Dead” — Bret Hammond

Bret Hammond is the coauthor of the book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching and the publisher of Geocacher University (www.geocacher-u.com), a website devoted to providing education and materials to both new and experienced geocachers. This story is his first and only fiction published to date, which originally appeared on the zombie website Tales of the Zombie War. In addition to his interest in geocaching and zombies, he’s also a pastor and has published articles and cartoons in a variety of religious publications.

The Amish are a Christian community of Swiss-German origin centered in Pennsylvania, perhaps best-known in pop culture thanks to the Harrison Ford movie Witness. Amish culture emphasizes hard work, humility, and family. They dress simply, largely forego modern technology (notably automobiles and electrical appliances), socialize mainly among themselves, and work in trades such as farming, construction, and crafts-making. Their main method of ensuring that members keep to Amish ways is peer pressure, known as shunning. Whether or not an individual is to be shunned is determined by the leadership, and when someone is being shunned even their spouse may refuse to speak to them. In severe cases of noncompliance a person may be expelled from the community, though they are always welcome to return if they mend their ways.

Many schisms have developed in Amish communities over the years over what rules are to be followed and how severe shunning should be. The Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Yoder established the precedent that Amish are exempt from many American laws, including those involving compulsory education (Amish children are not educated past eighth grade), child labor, and Social Security. The Amish are also extreme pacifists, and once faced severe penalties and abuse for refusing to fight in America’s wars.

Our next story, which is a bit more wholesome than the last one, takes a look at how this unusual and close-knit community weathers a zombie apocalypse, and what happens when extreme pacifism collides with extreme circumstances.