We at the New Jersey tourist board would like to remind you that The Garden State is kind of nice now that everyone here is dead. As you’ve read in the brochure, we still don’t know what happened. Suddenly, people stopped receiving gossipy phone calls and the second rate radio shows quit broadcasting. The outside world felt initial relief at the break in communication, but panic started when the crew for MTV’s Jersey Shore: Where Are They Now? failed to report in after a couple of days. Those cameras are expensive.
Let me rephrase something: the entire population of New Jersey didn’t really die. It’s important that we don’t push the death thing for PR reasons. Sorry, first-week jitters for me here with the tourist board. The zombies are all considered dead legally but, medically speaking, the term is used loosely.
MTV/rescue crews found dozens of 50-something great-grannies shuffling along the boardwalk like before. The others, the muscly guidos and slutty chicks stuffed into shorts that’d be tight on a fourth-grader, grunted and strutted around with their mouths hanging open. So they hadn’t changed either. In fact, it took the good folks from the rescue squad and MTV four hours to determine that the population had gone zombie. But after those four hours, Jesus, people were shitting bricks.
The brick shitting was over soon. Turns out, New Jersey zombies were mostly harmless. Crews discovered that when one MTV guy dared another one to stick his hand in a girl guido’s mouth and she started sucking his finger. The revamped New Jerseyites might have been even nicer than the originals because they didn’t talk so much. Telling the real deal from the zombie version became a skill, like spotting a perfectly ripened eggplant, but people picked it up.
We weren’t about to let the great state of New Jersey go to rot because, remember, it was kind of nice with everyone in it dead. City Council members formed this tourist board with two main goals:
1) Conquer people’s fears of becoming zombies themselves.
2) Convince people to visit New Jersey.
Making people want to visit New Jersey was the tough one.
For insurance purposes, the council slapped a big warning label on the zombies’ foreheads, the type of label you see on cigarette packs and rollercoasters and bottles of sleeping pills. To excite tourists, they took some of the New Jersey zombies and put them in costumes, so now you can see them walking around and take your picture with Disney character knockoffs. Donald Douche (a pantless duck covered in gold chains) is a crowd favorite. They strapped others to old bumper cars salvaged from defunct amusement parks. Kids ride them like chariot drivers and whip packs of zombie guidos who drag them up and down the boardwalk. I don’t think they feel anything, but whipping them sure is a lot of fun. We’re fairly certain there’s no risk of becoming a zombie now. After some of the unnatural things park construction crews did with the former guido-ettes, well, if that ain’t doing it, I don’t know what would. We apologize we can’t offer that as one of our services – we’re trying to run a family entertainment center, and those employees have been fired.
Stop on by because, all in all, New Jersey is pretty nice nowadays. Now that all the people are dead.
Ian Couch has previously served as a fiction editor for Barely South Review, worked as a head writer for the sketch comedy show Magic Pants, and written for several television programs. Having taught fiction classes at various schools and received awards for both fiction and screenplays, his stories appear in Papyrus and Clockhouse Review. He holds an MFA from Old Dominion University and lives with his wife in the Washington, DC area.