The dead, as far as I'm aware of, have not risen from their graves and begun to feast upon the living, but if they ever did, the Zombie Squad would make sure you were prepared for the undead cataclysm. That, you see, is their mission:
“...to make sure you are prepared for any crisis situation that might come along in your daily life which may include your home being invaded by the undead menace.”
The Zombie Squad, as former RFT staff writer Ben Westhoff observed in February 2007, is "A St. Louis-based survivalist group that uses the walking dead as a metaphor for the breakdown of society, the Zombie Squad's primary mission is to teach disaster-preparation tactics to the public."
They do this by hosting blood drives, collecting canned foods, earning money for charities, and hosting disaster awareness fairs; essentially, it's a philanthropic group with style. The style should be noted; zombies, popular in horror movies, are often a metaphor for political or social groups/issues. To the people at ZS, zombies are the ultimate natural disaster (or unnatural disaster depending upon your point of view) to be ready for a zombie invasion is to be prepared for most anything the world throws across your plate.
Last night, these ever-ready philanthropists gathered together to host a movie night within the walls of the Atomic Cowboy. The main features were 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, a classy duo of zombie flicks. The cover charge was an affordable two dollars and the proceeds went toward funding for the Disaster Awareness Fair 2008.
Despite the heart-pumping nature of the films, the atmosphere was laid back, as people curled up on couches and chairs for the duration of the films, and the whole event seemed placed in someone's living room instead of a bar. There is a great sense of community I feel when I see a group of people all shrieking and laughing in unison; I find it strangely cathartic. It's odd to be bereft with sappy emotion when watching zombies tear the flesh from the living, but I'll take it when I can get it.
Shortly, within the next month or so I believe, ZS will be throwing another movie night. Again, it will be held at the Atomic Cowboy and the films will be I Am Legend and Omega Man. (Richard Matheson eat your heart out.)And, I hope to see you all there. Soon after, they'll have Zombie Con: a five-day camping trip for Zombie Squad members only. There will be Radio Communications, First Aid and Fire building seminars to name a few of the events. Which, if you ask me, beats the hell out of sitting in an office waiting for the zombie invasion; I imagine it's difficult to beat back the undead with a stapler and a fax machine. You'd probably just be pissing them off.
Whether it's another natural disaster or a truly cataclysmic event it is refreshing to know there are those that are willing to educate and train others in basic survival techniques, as well as helping those that may not be quite able to prepare themselves for the next catastrophe that lands at their feet. My hat is off to those in the Zombie Squad, thanks for looking out.
-- Joseph Olk