“The Human Race” — Scott Edelman

Scott Edelman is a five-time Bram Stoker Award finalist whose fiction has appeared in a variety of anthologies and magazines, such as The Dead That Walk, The Best of All Flesh, Crossroads, and Postscripts. When not writing, Edelman co-edits SCI FI Wire and in the past edited the fiction magazine Science Fiction Age.

In the intro to Edelman’s story in the first The Living Dead anthology, I said that he was something of a zombie genius, but it bears repeating. In the intervening period, the smart folks at PS Publishing reached the same conclusion and gathered together all of his zombie fiction into one volume called What Will Come After.

Though we all live on the same planet, in a sense we each inhabit a separate reality. After all, my reality consists, to a substantial degree, of the specific building I live in, the specific location I work at, the specific stores I shop at, and the places I hang out. Yet out of the six-billion-plus people alive right now, virtually all of them have never (or barely) set foot in any of those places, let alone all of them, and by the same token I will scarcely set foot in any of the places or meet any of the people that make up, as far as they’re concerned, the world. And while other people’s parents are just strangers or possibly acquaintances to us, our own parents occupy a massively defining place in our own personal reality. So when a parent dies, it can seem like the end of the world.

Author Scott Westerfeld recently took his personal experience with the loss of a parent and used it as inspiration to write his novel Leviathan, about a fantastical alternate history of World War I, in which a parent’s death—in this case, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand—actually does cause the world to come apart at the seams. Our next story is another in which the death of a parent coincides with the end of the world itself.

A zombie apocalypse seems to promise, in some sense, the end of death. For some people, that prospect might be very complicated and challenging indeed.