I’ve always thought zombies were entirely fictional, but last week I encountered a real one for the very first time. It was hilarious… in a disturbing sort of way. Then again, I didn’t actually see the zombie; I only spoke with him on the phone. An in-person encounter might have been scarier.
Here’s how it happened:
I’m hoping I won’t have to make a disability claim for my back problems, but I had to comply with the insurance company’s 30-day reporting deadline. So I made the initial call. And a zombie answered.
It was a deep, sepulchral voice; utterly without expression. For a moment I thought I’d been connected to a computerized AI system, but then I realized that AI voices are a lot more expressive than the guy (I’m assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that it was a man) on the other end of the line.
After I explained what had happened, he replied, “I’m sorry to hear about your back injury.”
I had to stifle a burst of laughter. I can’t fathom how anybody could pronounce those ‘sympathetic’ words while keeping their voice so completely devoid of emotion. This guy could make good money hiring himself out as a drone for bagpipes — he was that toneless.
Actually, y’know what? Even bagpipe drones are more expressive. (I don’t know what’s in this recording; so if you listen all the way to the end, let me know. I couldn’t make it past the first 10 seconds):
That was the zombie’s tone for the entire conversation. Maybe the guy was desperately depressed or vastly over-medicated; or maybe that’s just the latest innovation in customer ‘service’: Detachment so profound that even that crankiest complainer gets dragged down and smothered in a black hole created by the total absence of human emotion.
But the soul-suck didn’t work on me — I’m still giggling. And I’m wondering: Do they have to hire extra cleaning staff to sweep up all the fingers and toes that drop off the customer service team throughout the day? How long do zombie employees last before too many bits fall off and they have to be shovelled into a bin and replaced with a fresher corpse? And where do they get fresh zombies, anyway? Zombies R Us? ZombieZon?
Or maybe they create their own zombies by forcing new employees to read every weasel-word in the policies over and over, eight hours a day for a month. Only the strongest survive and become managers; the rest gradually lose the will to live. At the end of the month the HR team swoops in, jams an IV drip of downers and stale coffee into their victims’ deflated veins, and then rolls the zombies (still in their office chairs) to the Customer Service Call Centre. There they remain until they’re in such an advanced state of decomposition that they’re no longer capable of answering the phone.
That would explain a lot…
Book 17 update: I’m on Chapter 16 and Aydan can’t decide which of her friends to protect. It seems like they’re all in danger… and so is she.