I've Been Exhausted Since I Was Thirty
I was talking about Stephen King the today with a Jonathon Narvey. He noted that I had read Cell and he mentioned that he had enjoyed it as well. He has been thinking about zombies of late because he is putting together his next writing project and it may or may not feature a zombie infection. I won’t say anything else about it as he is in the very beginning of planning it out -- but I will say it fanned the flames of a small idea about zombies and exhaustion I had lurking about in my head.
Have you ever heard the phrase: “I am dead tired?”
(I mean, aside from the scene in the action movie Commando where the central character asks an airline stewardess not to disturb his friend because he was “dead tired”. He had just killed the man by breaking his neck and was planning his escape from the commercial airliner.)
Jonathon went on to say that there was something in how the Stephen King zombie-like people could fly in single file but were unable to control where and when they went to the bathroom. I agreed. Even if they are being controlled by some higher being, would they not at least try to find a restroom? The conversation was all very amusing and we talked about what we thought we would do should the zombie apocalypse occur and smell like zombie ass. We decided it would not be very exciting and we would have to kill all the zombies on the Earth in order to prevent a stink-apocalypse.
After the conversation, it occurred to me that the zombie characters were tired. There are a few moments in the book where I thought the manic, crazy people were trying their hardest to regain their composure. They were in the middle of their lives when they suddenly were not. They lost themselves and became mindless monsters. King implies that this may be the case and that the zombies may have some recognition of their situation. They are crazed due to the infection yet are terrified that they are locked inside themselves unable to communicate or control their behaviour.
It is possible I am reading into this but it did strike me as an idea worth thinking about. How would a zombie feel if it had some level of consciousness still intact. Think about it. How would you feel if you were not able to control yourself but were able to watch yourself do and say things that you would not normally do. Zombies eating human flesh is quite extreme but I remember there are other Stephen King books that cover similar territory.
In the novel, Dreamcatcher, one of the main characters fights a mental battle with an invasive presence. He visualizes himself locked away inside his mind. The character’s mind is described as a dusty library-like building filled with many filing cabinets filled with memories. He is able to lock these details away by moving them into the central part of the mind and locking the door, thus ultimately defeating the invader.
The second book of the Dark Tower series, The Drawing of The Three, we see characters being able to inhabit others simply by stepping through a door. They are able to control and experience everything the human they are controling does. It is a very Being John Malokvich kind of thing but the device is used a few times within that book alone.
I was thinking a bit more about this later on this evening. It struck me that I felt tired just thinking about it. But not because my brain was tired -- but because my brain must have been thinking about it on overdrive. I remembered that a Stephen King novel, The Green Mile, is a book about being tired. A major character in that book, Jon Coffey, is a wrongfully convicted man. He has a power where he is able to feel other people’s pain. When the other main characters are preparing him for his execution, one of them says they can’t go through with murdering a man who has been unjustly convicted. But Coffey puts him somewhat at ease with the following:
I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. I'm tired of never having me a buddy to be with, to tell me where we's going to or coming from, or why. Mostly, I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?
I sympathize with the character because he is being killed for no reason other than he is different. But there is something else sad. The character is in pain. He is tired. He accepts his death but tells those closest to him that, due to his power of feeling other people’s pain, he has felt enough. He has had his share of what people do to each other. He feels the sadness. He feels the anger. He feels the frustration and violence. He feels the exhaustion.
So, like zombies being tired, I think we’re all tired. I think the world is tired. We’ve all been working too long, stressing too hard, and not doing enough to live and enjoy. We’ve filled it all up with things we don’t need. We’ve fufilled our wants but not what it is that really makes us who we are. We’ve all become tired.
For what it is worth... those are my thoughts for today.