Episode 556: From the Horse’s Mouth

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Deathbed Interviews

It is said that no one is more honest than a person on their death bed. Even the US justice system takes this into account, with special cases to admit hearsay as evidence when it comes to a person’s “dying declaration”. The assumption being that there is nothing holding that person back from being honest; after all, they’re mere moments away from dying. That said, I don’t really buy it. Just because you’re dying doesn’t mean you don’t have motivation to lie anymore. You could very well lie to protect loved ones you’re leaving behind, or perhaps allow them to profit from your misdeeds. Or maybe you just want to build a legacy for yourself, telling tall tales on your death bed for the benefit of future biographers.

When it comes to zombie fiction, there are now two different kinds of death beds. There’s the traditional one, where someone who is sick or injured waits for the inevitable. But then there’s also the victim of a zombie bite, who must wait for the zombie infection to take them, and trust that their friends are good enough to ensure that they don’t come back.

About this Episode:

We’ve been making a lot of assumptions about Brent and how he might be reacting to his zombie bite death sentence. I figured it was time to simply come out and ask him. I guess now I’d better get building that cabin bedroom.

Discussion Question: Joy and Michael

BrickVoid suggested making this a discussion question, and I think that’s an excellent idea. I’m curious what everyone here thinks should happen with our guest characters, Joy and Michael. Should they disappear, never to be seen again? Leave with the possibility of coming back at some point? Get eaten by zombies? Betray the group and try to steal all their supplies? Let me know!

13 thoughts on “Episode 556: From the Horse’s Mouth”

  1. I say have them leave and come back later when the group is in a bind, and maybe then they join the group for good.

    • And join up with the same group, or one of the others?

  2. Typo alert, Zombie Cliche Lookout, third sentence: “and how their friends are good enough” How doesn’t fit well here, I would strongly recommend using either “trusts” or a word that implies conveyance of trust in friends here. It’s a statement that implies that the person infected trusts their group to do the right thing when they die, and they’re trusting that the members of the group know to hit them in the head at the time of death in order to stop them from coming back as a zombie and causing further problems. 😀

    About This Episode, second sentence: “time simply come out” insert “to” in between the bolded words. 😉

    • Fixed both; that first one definitely needed to be corrected.

  3. It’s not just that people have nothing holding them back from telling the truth, but many people are scared of what will happen if they don’t. Most people, even those who are not particularly religious, have some sort of religious morality in their upbringing at least from when they were children. Even people who spend their whole lives rejecting religion may try to “hedge their bets” when faced with the aspect that they may not be headed for oblivion but some possibly-unpleasant afterlife. Similar to the old saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” I wonder how many atheists there are in cancer hospice (yes, I know some, but I question whether it is a majority who will stick to that completely all the way to the end — people who believe in an afterlife may have a few creeping doubts as to whether or not they’ve been right all their lives, and I see no reason why the reverse should not also be true).

    That got a little off topic, but still an interesting aspect of death philosophy. I guess the short answer is that most people are assumed to be honest on their death beds only in part because they have nothing to lose, but also that they are at least a little scared and humbled.

    • It might be off topic, but it’s a hell of an interesting discussion. I’m not a religious person myself, but I can definitely see how people would want to “hedge their bets” as you say. It’s the classic Pascal’s Wager situation, it hurts nothing to believe, but if you don’t and you’re wrong, then you’re in trouble.

      This is exactly why my wife wants to baptize our kids.

  4. I say we either keep them around or have them leave then come back. For some reason I dig these characters, especially Joy. It might be fun to have them pop up in the different storylines, you know, encounter each of your survivor groups at different times.

    • That’s really cool; I was really worried that adding these characters was going to upset the balance, but it seems like a lot of people like them.

  5. Unfortunately, when you get to be a little older, you see a fair amount of death and the behavior of people at their ends. I would hope that when my time comes my first concern would be the welfare and peace of mind of those I leave behind. (unless of course, I go like a villain (or hero sidekick) in an 80s action movie and have one last F-you moment)

    When my mother-in-law got sick, she was so consumed with anger and denial she missed an opportunity to give her adult children a sense of peace and closure. I watched my wife sit with her day after day waiting for them to have some moment of connection and resolution, for her to tell her only daughter that she loved her or was proud of her. But the old lady just couldn’t rally to it and would just stare out the window.

    A doctor freind of mine later explained the 5 phases of dying (you know the drill…Anger, denial, bargaining, depression, acceptance) and that when death comes quickly or by surprise people never have time to get past the anger and denial stages.

    I guess in this kind of situation it can go one of two ways. The victim can see the futility in their situation and can do their best to ease the guilt and grief of other survivors who still need to try to stay alive in an insane world. Or they can be desperate and bitter and blame others for their predicament.

    Either way I think this situation will evolve into a major shaping influence on Stewarts character and make him grow up a bit.

    • God, that’s a rough story, Damage. I’ve been lucky enough not to see that sort of thing yet, but I can certainly understand how it happens.

      Do you think that people living in constant life and death situations would affect those five stages of dying? We’re pretty well insulated these days, did people in harder times handle death differently?

  6. I wonder if Brent is a zombie by now? 😀 It would seem to me, that the ideal time, at least as far as the plot is concerned, for infected people to turn into zombies, would be when it’s least expected. 😀 Dave seems to want to explore this issue in depth, although I’m still curious as to how long he’ll hold off on turning poor Brent into a zombie! 😀

  7. Yeah join back up with the same group.

  8. Excellent point Dave. People living in constant danger might just kind of work their way though the first two stages well beforehand. I never tried to calculate our exact timeline here, but in BOTD the ZA seems to be only a few days along, so the constant danger of dying might not have had time to sink in yet.

    On the other hand, you gotta figure that there might be some feelings of invincibility at this point too,
    “95% of the people in the immediate area are dead but Im still alive, I must be really lucky or a total badass,”