In this extract from my debut horror novel DEEP LEVEL, Roz, who is enjoying breakfast with her friends Syeeda and Ffion, offers up a theory on a particular aspect of modern popular culture…
As Syeeda was talking, Ffion was fishing her mobile phone out of her bag. She placed it on the table in front of her and swiped the screen. Rosalind cleared her throat. Ffion looked up to see Rosalind’s eyes dart down to the phone and then back up to meet hers.
“Oh yeah. Sorry. Forgot.” Ffion put her phone back in her bag.
“She did that to me too,” Syeeda sighed.
Rosalind ran a hand through her short, greying hair. “Have I told you my theory about why the zombie is the bogeyman for the modern age?” she asked, addressing both of her friends.
“And this has what to do with mobiles?” asked Syeeda with an arched eyebrow.
“You’ll see,” Rosalind smirked. “In America in the fifties, it was all flying saucers and aliens. That’s because their biggest fear at that time was the threat of Soviet invasion. So the whole flying saucers thing was a metaphor for invasion. In the eighties it was all body-horror movies, like The Thing and The Fly, because of AIDS. The corruption of the body. Go back about fifteen years or so and that’s when the so-called torture-porn movies started coming out, because America was stomping across the Middle East renditioning people and waterboarding them.”
Ffion was transfixed. Where was Roz going with all this?
“In Japan it was Godzilla and other assorted giant mutated monsters, because of the fear of radiation after the atomic bombs. But the bogeyman for today is the zombie. Everywhere you look, there’s zombies; Walking Dead, World War Z, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. You can go and have zombie experiences where actors in make-up will chase you around, for god’s sake. And why? Because of these.”
She pulled her mobile phone out of her pocket and held it up.
Ffion and Syeeda looked at each other blankly.
“Okaaay,” Syeeda eventually said. She sounded unconvinced.
“Yep. Every single day, everywhere you go, all you see are people plodding along, stupefied, phones in hand, not looking where they’re going, mouths hanging open, only half aware. And what do they all look like?”
“Zombies,” said Syeeda and Ffion in unison.
Smugly, Rosalind slipped her mobile back into her pocket.
“But you’ve got a mobile.” Ffion couldn’t help but point it out.
“Yes, but mine’s not a smartphone,” replied Rosalind. “It’s not internet-enabled and I certainly don’t plod around staring at it when my attention should be on what I’m doing. Not that there’s going to be much of a signal where we’re going today.”
“Or any signal at all, for that matter,” added Ffion.
“I would literally die without my phone,” Syeeda stated firmly.
It was at moments like this that Rosalind usually called Syeeda out on her use of the word ‘literally’, but it was still early and right now she simply couldn’t be bothered.
DEEP LEVEL is available now from Amazon.