I really enjoyed Taha’s blog post, Rest In Peace, in which he discussed the idea of putting people out of their misery and how in Zone One, Mark Spitz has the mindset of doing just that. He is ultimately finding the humanity within the skells, whether he wants to or not. But because they are blood and flesh thirsty zombies, you would think they don’t have any humanity left at all.
In the beginning of the novel, we don’t really know if skells have any humanity left within them. After the disturbing image of them attacking Mark, it is very easy to think that they do not, and they are simply pests to the dying Earth in need of extermination. Any zombie apocalypse movie ultimately makes the zombies out to be the bad guys- they’re killing the normal, innocent humans, so they must be bad, right? This isn’t wrong, but do we ever really stop to think about the fact that these zombies, or skells in the case of this book, did not consent to this life. They didn’t ask to be ripped from their normal human life, that may have had a loving family, friends, a great home and job, and many more, different great things to live for. They were forced into a lifestyle that no one ever wishes to be a part of. In a sense, their bodies were completely abducted from their souls.
This brings in the difference between skells and stragglers: skells, in a sense, have lost their humanity entirely. They have been completely consumed by the infection that ripped them from their human life. Whereas stragglers are desperately holding onto the slightest bit of humanity they have, latching onto the smallest ray of a reminder of the life that was taken from them. They are trying so hard to keep their humanity and not give into the blood and flesh thirsty monsters they know they can become. This idea makes me think of a TV series I’m watching, The Vampire Diaries. When humans turn into vampires, they learn that they can “switch off their humanity”, turning off any emotions, both good and bad. When their humanity is turned off, they become killing machines with no mercy or guilt. They have a choice to do this though, and can reason and make the decision on their own to do this. For the people who are now skells, they didn’t have the luxury of choice.
Mark changes our viewpoint on zombies by letting his mind slip, as he finds their “humanity” by seeing in them the people they used to be, could have been, or as people Mark used to know. Even though skells have lost their humanity, Mark can’t help but shake the images of the lives of these people that was so inhumanely taken from them.