The Usual Precautions IV – Transylvanian Zombie Apocalypse


A village square in Transylvania. Dnieperburg. Midnight. A full moon. Villagers hanging out of their upstairs windows. No-one can sleep with all this noise going on.

In the South corner of the square where the road leads out across the fields and up the mountain to the Castle: a tall figure, cloaked, dinner-suited, suave. In the North corner where the road wanders down to the misty marshes, home of the in-bred and Our Saviour-alone knows what else but Birgit went there to pick mushrooms on Thursday and hasn’t been since: a lurching monster in a faded blue dress.

So far, the battle is one of words. That can’t last much longer, since neither of them has what could be described as a wide vocabulary. Bets are being laid. Sour home-made wine is being drunk. At some windows, thatch is in danger from over-excited pipe-smoking.

“Blood!” hisses the vampire.

“Braaains!” moans the zombie.

The vampire steps forward, eyes on its opponent. The villagers roar – Dirk has won the bet on who would advance first.

They’re offering long odds on the vampire actually winning – no-one knows how much blood there is in a zombie. Does the heart pump? Does the blood flow? Could a vampire drink from that rotted, flesh-flaking neck?

On the other hand, the zombie attack of choice is decapitation followed by brain consumption. But a decapitated vampire will dis-incorporate, leaving no brain to consume.

No-one knows what will happen.

“Is that my little Birgit?” wails her mother.

“Go, Birgit, go!” chant her brothers.

The vampire sneers at his opponent and turns his back on her to smile up at one of Dnieperburg’s many delectable virgins.

“Good evening, my dear. Fancy coming down for a drink?”

“He didn’t ought to turn his back on our Birgit,” observes her father.

“Go, Birgit, go!”

The zombie flicks back her blond plaits, roars,

“Braaaains!” and rushes forward.

No-one was expecting that! In one swift and surprisingly coordinated move, Birgit picks Vlad up by the ankles, swings him round her head and smashes him into a wall.

Vlad just lies there.

“Stunned, by God!”

Birgit punches a hole in Vlad’s skull and scoops out handfuls of brain.


The crowd may be groaning but money is still changing hands.

When she has finished, Birgit wipes her hands tidily on her ragged blue dress. Then she takes Vlad’s silk-lined cloak and swings it around her shoulders. She looks down at the corpse. The village holds its breath. Will she finish him?

She looks up at them.

“Oh Birgit, love!”

You can see the zombie brain trying to work it out. Now that Vlad is gone, who will she eat next? Can she eat any of them? Is there enough of Birgit left in there to hold her back from matricide and other crimes?

“Braaaains!” she cries in her frustration.

The slumped bundle of vampire at her feet moves spastically then buries its teeth in her ankle. The village roars. As the wound in Vlad’s head seals itself, losers are transformed into winners.

Vlad rolls out from beneath her skirts and gives Birgit a bloody smile,

“Mmm, gamey!”

Birgit simpers down at Vlad. A wolf howls in the forest. Birgit throws the cloak over her right shoulder and Vlad over her left.

“Braaaains!” she murmurs with a happy smile. She waves to her brothers and stomps briskly up the track to the castle and destiny, because, of course, she will go down in history as Saint Birgit, Defender of Dnieperburg, Destroyer of Vampires.

“Oh, she’s a good girl!” wails her mother.

It is a match made in heaven. No, not heaven. I don’t think heaven would approve; there is an element of suicide here. Not to mention, the damned. And the damned feasting on the damned. Nevertheless, they are perfectly matched: Every morning, just before dawn, Vlad feasts on Birgit’s ripe blood, then tucks himself up in his coffin. And every evening, just after dark, Birgit knocks Vlad out and eats his brain.

Isn’t it always like that?


Enough with the zombie stories!

Except that I have requests for more…

I like them. I like the opportunity to boil people down to primitive urges and see what happens. What happens to us when we genuinely do have to kill each other to stay alive?

And I like the way they are complex analogies for power. Right now, with the TTIP and other trade agreements, global corporations are trying to take over from elected governments. In their Ayn Rand-inspired world all is for profit and everyone is rewarded for hard work. When bad luck hits, you should be insured; you should have worked hard enough before the ill-luck hit to ensure that you are covered.

But closing the borders or closing the gate doesn’t stop the war from coming in. Insurance doesn’t work when societies fall apart. Zombie stories teach us about that. They teach us that there are implacable, unstoppable opponents out there and we should be banding together in all our human frailty to solve the problems that beset us. Step by step; monster by monster.

And the point of the economic system is not to act as a Darwinian filter, starving out the unfit and rewarding the economically fit with palaces and privileges; the point of it is to improve the wellbeing of all within the limits of what the planet can sustain.

More on that here: