“Zombieville” — Paula R. Stiles

Paula R. Stiles is the author of more than two dozen stories. Her work has appeared in Nature, Albedo One, the zombie anthology History Is Dead, Shine, Writers of the Future XXIV, Jim Baen’s Universe, Space and Time, and in many other venues, such as the South African magazine Something Wicked, where this story first appeared. She is also the editor of Innsmouth Free Press. From 1991 to 1994, Stiles served as an Aquaculture Extension Agent with the Peace Corps in Cameroon, West Africa.

Resident Evil, a 1996 video game set in a haunted mansion, combined polygonal characters with pre-rendered backgrounds, and was one of the first games in the “survival horror” genre, following the model of Alone in the Dark. The game has spun off numerous sequels, as well as three feature films starring Milla Jovovich and written by Paul W. S. Anderson, most recently the Mad Max-inspired Resident Evil: Extinction. The most recent video game in the franchise, Resident Evil 5, is set in Africa, which has provoked some criticism of the game’s handling of racial imagery.

The author of our next tale says, “I kept hearing they wanted to do a Resident Evil movie set in Africa, and I groaned a little, thinking about how many boring clichés they’d come up with for that. Then I thought, ‘Well, self, why not do your own take on an African Zombocalypse?’”

Stiles made the protagonists of the story Peace Corps volunteers because she used to be one. “AIDS was already at epidemic proportions in Cameroon by the time I left in ’94, and that’s a pretty scary atmosphere to be in for two years,” she says. “So when I was hearing people talk about the zombocalypse as if it would be this catastrophic event, I kinda laughed and thought, ‘You know, I should just write a zombocalypse tale that’s a metaphor for AIDS in Africa.’ It’s not actually the first AIDS-in-Africa metaphor tale I’ve written. Probably won’t be my last, either.”