‘Dead Inside Do Not Enter’

The novel Dead Inside Do Not Enter: Notes from the Zombie Apocalypse is a new take on how to tell the story of a viral outbreak that spreads an undead plague across the world. Created as part of a collaborative project by the group Lost Zombies, the book experiments with storytelling in multimedia, mostly through photographs of notes and pictures that people make during the zombie apocalypse.

A timeline located at the beginning of the book acts as the story’s anchor. It chronicles the disease outbreak in the space of a year, noting that many thought it was a new flu strain at first. This flu mutates and soon reports surface of the dead attacking people.

A few other pieces of information at the book’s beginning help to contextualize the visuals that follow. A section titled “Present Day” explains that the virus is spread by a zombie’s bite. This is not unique, following a long-established tradition in the zombie apocalypse genre. However, people bitten can turn into zombies while still living. The ones that turned while still alive are faster than the ones that turned after death.

From here, the book turns into a series of notes and photographs that people wrote to one another throughout the course of the apocalypse. The notes are visually interesting – at the beginning, written on torn pieces of paper, decorative note paper and even hospital forms.

As the plague spreads and people leave their homes, notes are written on posters, old grocery lists, envelopes and pretty much anything else people can get their hands on.

A few photographs are also interspersed within the novel, although rare. Some are compelling, like the photograph of the end of a rifle with a tally scratched into it. Others, like the blurry Polaroid of someone’s bitten shoulder, don’t add much to the overall story.

The notes form a disjointed storyline, providing snapshots of the personal experiences of many individuals during this zombie apocalypse. Some are only a few words long while others span an entire page or more.

Some accounts of what people did to survive are chilling, such as the one that recounted leaving a family behind to be consumed by zombies. Other notes contain flashes of dark humour in their observations.

Characters recur throughout the book, such as someone identified as K trying to make her way to her mother, and someone else looking for a person called Doug. Others are identified through their handwriting and the colour of pen they use.

Dead Inside Do Not Enter is an entertaining, quick read that can be found on shelves at the Calgary Public Library as a summer pick.

Lost Zombies is a collaborative online project free and open to anyone who wants to participate by sending in notes, photographs and videos documenting surviving in a zombie apocalypse. Visit www.lostzombies.com to learn more.

ksaretsky@cjournal.ca