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Our narrator, R, is a dead guy. For a dead guy, he's pretty chatty, and not too decomposed.
He doesn't remember what he was in life, but from the way he's dressed—"black slacks, gray shirt, red tie" (1.1.2)—he thinks he might have been a businessman or banker. If he had a moustache, we'd think he was just some Seattle hipster dead from an irony overdose.
With a team of other zombies, he heads into the city and feeds, bringing back leftover body parts for the zombies who didn't go out on the hunt. Icky—the sloppiest of seconds.
A zombie's life is pretty boring. R lives in an airport and rides around on escalators all day. Okay, it actually sounds pretty awesome.
One day, while riding around on the conveyor belt walkway, R spots a hot zombie babe: "she doesn't lurch or groan" (1.1.30) so she's a prime catch. A nine on the zombie hotness scale.
Plus, she has a nametag. A name! A real live name. Too bad R and all the other zombies have forgotten how to read.
Still, who needs a name when you're a zombie in love? She leads R to the little sanctuary the zombies have built on the runway and they get married.
After the ceremony, they're assigned a pair of zombie children to watch after.
Seeing the kids play and laugh, R says, "Deep inside me, in some dark and cobwebbed chamber, I feel something twitch" (1.1.54). We hope it isn't a maggot. Blech.
"It's time to feed again" (1.2.1). Mmm, what's for lunch? A double cheeseburger? Sushi? No, human flesh and brains. Sounds better than Arby's.
R and his friend, M, get a hunting party together and they head into the city.
They find a conveniently under-prepared group of teenagers huddled up in a building. The teens fight back with guns, but they're no match for the undead. R cracks into a skull and bites down on some juicy brain.
See, when zombies eat brains, they relive memories of the person's life. R finds himself living as Perry Kelvin for a moment. He sees snapshots of Perry's life, including the first time he met this girl Julie and the first time he and Julie got it on.
Back to reality, R realizes that the girl M is about to feast on is Julie. The Julie, from Perry's memories.
R pushes M out of the way, saying "No. Mine," like he's Bill Compton protecting Sookie Stackhouse.
Julie isn't too keen to be that close to a zombie, especially one with her boyfriend's blood all over his face, so she stabs R in the forehead. Being a zombie, it doesn't affect him too much.
He groans out her name, and she stares at him, bewildered, but she doesn't attack him again.
In order to keep Julie alive, R smears her with some zombie gore to disguise her scent. (Are you paying attention, Cover Girl? Crossover marketing opportunity!) They head back to the airport together.
R leaves Julie in his jet plane, which is filled with more tchotchkes than Wall-e's house.
He then meets up with M in the bathroom, where they pass chunks of brain around for splitskies.
R doesn't want to share Perry's brain, however. He wants to keep its juicy goodness (and the memories of Julie) all to himself.
R's bogarting of the brain makes M miffed, so he leaves.
Back in the plane, Julie asks R why he saved her. He doesn't want to admit that he's the one who killed Perry, so all he can say is "I'm... sorry," and shuffles away (1.3.64).
In this short chapter, R has two more memories of Perry Kelvin:
(1) Perry was raised by his dad after his mom left them.
(2) On a roof somewhere, Perry and Julie watch a zombie stumble around in circles. Julie wonders what it would be like to be one of them. Be careful what you wish for...
R's wife isn't happy with his lax parenting as of late. The kids are having to eat old body parts! That's grounds for neglect in the zombie-parenting world.
Someone call ZPS.
They take the kids to school, where they learn to go for the jugular when attacking human prey. Seeing as how R's told us that children don't hunt and zombies barely remember what happened yesterday, we're not sure how productive this is, but it gives them something to do, we guess.
Back in R's jet plane, Julie is hungry. R decides to take her into the airport to find food. He teaches her to zombie shuffle Shaun of the Dead-style, and in they go.
All the food in the airport food court is rotten and moldy (ain't it always?), but R and Julie find some frozen pad thai and microwave it.
Hidden away from the zombies so they don't see her eat "lifeless waste," (1.6.10) Julie eats the freezer-burned delight and makes small talk with R.
She learns his name (well, the first letter of it), and wants to know why he's keeping her at the airport. He says he'll let her go in a few days.
They share a beer, and even though it shouldn't affect R, he feels he's getting a heady buzz from it.
Making small talk, they bond over a shared love for the music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. No mention of the creepiest Beatles song, though: "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."
R found an old Mercedes a while ago, and now Julie's trying to teach him how to drive it.
On the way back to the terminal, R spots his zombie wife... with another man! Being an emotionless zombie, he doesn't really care: "Want it... to hurt. But... doesn't" (1.7.16).
Julie tells R that her boyfriend cheated on her once and she "cried every night for weeks" (1.7.19).
Later that night, R busts out a few vinyl records to listen to with Julie. She criticizes him for not having an iPod or any music newer than 1999, because zombies are known for being on the cutting edge of technology and pop culture.
They listen to some Sinatra, and Julie asks R whom he ate when the zombies attacked her and her friends. He still can't admit to eating Perry.
Julie goes on about how Perry had a death wish anyway, and it's kind of a relief he finally died. She thinks that's what he really wanted.
After chatting with Julie, R falls asleep. He says this is normal—zombies sleep, just not as much as the living. This is abnormal, though: he dreams. It's all a blur, but it makes R wonder where he came from.
Since he doesn't have any memories of his own, he pops his last piece of Perry's brain and sees some of his.
When R starts to relive the last few minutes of Perry's life, Perry's consciousness speaks to him: "If you don't want to see it, you can spit it out" (1.7.86).
He keeps watching, seeing the moment he bites into Perry's neck and kills him. Then he sees Perry's last memory: he and Julie, listening to John Lennon and singing along.
Coming back into his own limited consciousness, R wonders if he is Perry's afterlife. "Where is his soul now?" (1.7.116).
Then R decides he doesn't want to die (and be simply dead instead of Dead). He doesn't want to disappear.
R awakes to the sound of screaming. No, this isn't an alarm clock for zombies; it's Julie being attacked.
She tried to leave by herself and got cornered. R smashes the zombies attacking her and saves her. Again.
One of the zombies he punched turns out to be his friend M. Now the M might as well stand for Mushface.
This angers the Boneys—ancient zombies that are so decayed they have no more skin, just yellowed bones.
They march up and show R a bunch of photos of soldiers killing zombies. The message: "Inevitability. The immutable, binary results of our interactions with the Living. They die/we die" (1.8.24-1.8.25).
R's not having it. He throws the photos down. The head skeleton stares at him (as much as a skeleton can stare), and they all leave.
He then escorts Julie from the airport. Along the way, she wonders what started this whole zombie plague in the first place. And R has to bust a few more heads.
Julie's a little afraid that her dad will come to the airport and wipe out all the zombies, including R.
R decides he'll go with Julie back to the stadium where she lives.
On the way out, they run into M again. He wants to know what's up with R, why is he changing? "When... figure out... […] tell me. Tell... us," M asks (1.8.138).
M escorts R and Julie out of the airport because hundreds of zombies are milling about trying to get a peek at the zombie and the Living girl. It's like the royal wedding of Dead William and Living Kate or something.
Problem: the Boneys aren't content to just let this procession go through. They try to stop them.
R and Julie hop into the Mercedes and plow down some Boneys on their way to the big open road.
As they hit the freeway, rain beings to fall. Romantic? Yes. Ominous? Yes.
Convertible + rain = wet zombie. R and Julie find an abandoned house and go inside to dry off.
Inside, Julie takes R's picture with a Polaroid camera she stole from the Boneys. She asks R why his eyes are "That weird gray" (1.10.18).
After making fat jokes about the house's deceased owners, Julie asks R if he has to eat people. He does, but he hasn't eaten anyone since he rescued her.
He's "been gastronomically celibate since the day [he] met her" (1.10.42). Aw, how sweet.
Julie cracks another fat joke and goes to bed. She invites R to join her, then takes off all her wet clothes and crawls into bed with him. It's like A Rose for Emily, except younger and hotter.
R has another Perry vision: dinner with Julie's dad. It's not pleasant, as they all argue about dad's rigidity, mom's abandonment (looks like Perry and Julie have absent moms in common), and what Perry wants to do with his life. General Grigio scoffs at gardening. Real men don't garden! Try telling that to the Gestalt Gardener.
Perry vision #2: Perry, Julie, and their friend Nora are smoking pot and chatting about the future, or what the future would be like were it not for the pesky zombie plague.
R swaps places with Perry in the vision and tells Julie, "You're going to change the world" (1.10.149).
The next morning, the rain has stopped. R wonders if he'll be able to let Julie go.
Before they leave, Julie calls her dad (yes, phones still work) and tells him that she's on her way back home.
Then, she tells R that she needs to think… and she takes the Mercedes and speeds away. Something tells us she's not coming back.
R starts to return to the airport (the airport Julie just told her dad, the itchy-trigger-finger military general, about…), but it rains again, and R seeks shelter under a tree.
Dream time again. In this dream, Julie's a monster who tells R, "Your hope is absurd. Your romanticism, embarrassing" (1.10.191).
When he wakes up, there's another zombie shuffling toward him. It's M. He's been kicked out of the airport by the Boneys, and a few other zombies who are starting to change like R have come with him. They're dreaming too, having memories.
R decides he has to pursue Julie—and love!—to the stadium. "We'll see what happens when we say yes while this rigor mortis world screams no" (1.10.239). Ah, pure poetry.