Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Dreaming Wake

Alex woke up. He was gripped with that sense of urgency that often accompanies sudden awakening. What had woken him up? It must have been a dream, but what had the dream been about? He desperately tried to grab at the pieces of memory in his brain and reassemble them into something coherent, but it was too late. The dream, like so many of his dreams these days, was gone forever, scattered to the four corners of his mind.

He looked around blearily, his eyes crusty with sleep. He noticed it was pitch black in his room, except for the dull glow of the clock on the other side of the room. He tried to make out the time. He couldn't. His vision was terrible. "That's what I get for staring at a TV screen for so many hours of my life", he mumbled to himself. There was no light coming through his windows. He reasoned that it must still be very early in the morning.

The silence was broken by the loud rumbling of his stomach. He was extremely hungry. He fought a short battle with himself as to whether to make the effort to go get some food, or just let himself fall back to sleep. In the end, hunger won out, and Alex used all of his willpower to force himself out of the bed. He walked over to the door, his footsteps padded by the shaggy carpet in which he had lost so many small items.

It took him the better part of a minute to wrestle the door open. It had recently taken up the habit of jamming itself in its frame in such a way that it had to be maneuvered just right for it to open. "Stupid door. Dad needs to fix that shit already...", he grumbled. He flicked on the lights so he could see his path to the stairs. The attic was strewn with tools and construction materials, and it wasn't uncommon for them to somehow find a way to trip Alex up. He wished his family would just finish working up there already so he didn't have to wind his way through a veritable obstacle course every time he wanted to go downstairs.

As he reached the top of the stairs, he grabbed the railing and began the trek downwards. Every step he took greeted him with an ungodly loud creaking, which he in turn greeted with a grimace. His parents would give him hell if he woke the baby up again. Good thing her room is right next to the kitchen, he rebutted sarcastically to no one in particular. He did that a lot, he realized. Had simulated arguments in his mind. He often wondered if this was normal. Not that he could help it anyway.

Finally making it to the bottom of the stairs, he opened the door and paused their quietly for a moment. He strained his ears to try and hear if he had woken the baby. Nothing. Relieved, he tip-toed over to the refrigerator. The badly lain tile floor squeaked under his feet. He opened the door to the fridge, the light from within illuminating his face like a flashlight at a so-called-scary campfire story. After rummaging through the fridge's contents for a minute, he emerged with only a yogurt. Figures. Disgusted, he let the fridge door close itself as he walked over to the cabinet to try his luck there. But as he reached up to open it, he heard a noise.

It was a thudding noise, and it had come from one of the bedrooms. Had Zooey fallen out of her bed? But then, why wasn't she crying? Alex began to move slowly down the hallway to the first room. Every step he took was agonizingly loud, despite his best efforts at stealth. He gently pushed open the door to Zooey's room. It was never completely closed. He peeked his head inside. Her bed was empty. Maybe she was sleeping with his parents? He made his way down the hall to his parent's room. Again, he peeked his head inside, and again he was greeted by an empty bed. What the hell was going on? Glancing at the clock on the bedside table, he noticed it read "21:37". Since when did his parents put their clock in army time? And wouldn't that make it 9:37? Dismissing it as obviously the wrong time, Alex moved back into the hallway.

He was starting to get uneasy now. If his brother Cid wasn't in his room, Alex was already resolved to panic. About halfway down the hall, Alex dropped the yogurt he had still been holding. It hit the ground with a clatter, and he could not suppress a silent, "Dammit!" But then he noticed that the yogurt was rolling off to the left. What the hell? Since when was this hallway so slanted? The yogurt rolled into the bathroom, and Alex pursued.

The bathroom was completely empty. There was so sink, no toilet, no shower. The walls were white, the  floors were spotless. He knew his parents were in the process of remodeling, but there was no way they had done this since he had seen it last night. He scanned the room again. No yogurt. He could have sworn he saw it roll in here. What the hell was going on?

Freaked out now, Alex lost all pretenses of stealth. He sprinted to Cid's room and threw the door open. No Cid. He rushed to the living room. Empty. The TV was on and a fire crackled in the fireplace, but there was no one to be found. He only took a moment to note the bizarreness of a fire in June, then dismissed it and dashed upstairs. Julie's room was the only one he hadn't checked yet. He threw open the door, not even expecting to find anyone at this point. And his suspicions were correct.

Sheer panic had gripped him. He ran to his room to grab his cell phone. He would call the police. They would help him find his family. He fought the door open and froze.

What he saw horrified him. He stood there and stared for what seemed like an eternity. He opened and closed his mouth, but no words would come out. Sweat ran down his face. His eyes were unblinking, locked on his bed.

For there lay Alex, sound asleep.

He was riveted to the spot where he stood, his mind racing. Was he insane? Or was he just dreaming? He pinched himself. The pain certainly felt real. What was he supposed to do?

But before he had time to dwell on it long, the person in the bed, Alex, himself, whoever the hell it was, started to stir. The Alex in the doorway wanted to run, but he couldn't. His mind was screaming at him to get out of there, but his body wouldn't budge. The stirring got louder. The covers fell to the floor. The figure began to sit up. Its head turned toward him.

And then Alex woke up.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Conor - Can't You See I'm Dying

Last Sunday I poked my head into the lounge of my dorm when the superbowl was just getting started. My RA, Tyler, was in there and I made awkward conversation with him. The awkwardness there was mainly my fault. I think my RA is a really cool guy, and my mind goes into super overdrive mode whenever I run into him. I try extremely hard to be witty and impressive and cool, and usually I come off as pretty weird.

This time though, my autopilot found an especially pathetic way to leave a lasting impression on this guy. I should have known that I was going to fare horribly in this situation anyway. He was watching the superbowl for christ's sake. I was only really qualified to answer a handful of questions about the superbowl* and it would be suicidal for me to ask them an American Football question.

"Hey guys." I say. Confidently. Everyone in the room greets me. I follow this up with "Watching the Superbowl?" Genius. They're obviously fucking watching the superbowl, says me to myself. They confirm my fears and are, in fact, watching the big game. I stumble for what to say yes. Oh right I'm a MUSIC MAJOR here we go conversation saved.

"Who's playing the half time show, do you guys know?" All three in the room don't actually know, but one tosses out a name I don't recognize and things get out of hand as they all laugh and grow closer to one another over their shared love for Wiz Khlaifa. I just had to look him up. Awesome. So now everyone's talking about their shared love of football and rap. I decide to leave.

As I'm leaving though, as like, an afterthought, I mention that it's my birthday. "It's my birthday today," I say, as I turn and leave the room.


I'm not lonely here in Oklahoma. I know a lot of really cool people, I'm having a really good time. I feel like I'm getting defensive here, but trust me. I'm popular and I have lunch with 4 or 5 people pretty regularly and I never sleep alone, blah blah blah.

I'm just sometimes really, really bad at showing people who I am. As a general rule I try to act more or less the same to and around most everyone I run into, be they authority figures or little kids. But sometimes I just can't be myself around certain people. Or more accurately, sometimes maybe just I, myself, maybe I am really weird and can't really talk to people sometimes. I'd say most of the time it's around people I want to impress, which, you know... of course it is.

I always notice it after it's too late. I same something like "that sounds like a rock n rollin good time!" to somebody whom doesn't know me well enough to understand why I would ever say something like "that sounds like a rocking good time!" and then it just snowballs from there. I question them. I question myself. I question my jokes. But for some reason, I can't stop. I barrel forward. As the situation worsens, I start to find it funny. Which damns the whole ordeal even further, because now I'm saying stupid things and then laughing at the reactions my stupid comments are getting. I say something, allow the silence to become almost overwhelming, and then laugh at the silence that I had created in the first place. A horrible, horrible self-fuffilling prophecy.

I laugh because I understand that things are going badly, and that they're going badly in a comedic way. I can accept comedic failures. Sometimes I prefer comedic failures to boring victories, but I think that's also just a defensive mechanism. I blow things out of proportion the second I just fail to hit it off with a person. It's hard for me to accept that maybe just everybody wouldn't like me, even if they were to get to know me, which is a pretty ridiculous thing to get upset about, I understand. It's not like I want to be perfect, I just want to be good enough in everyone's eyes.

My Uncle David is one of the coolest guys I know, and he's not only a great uncle but a very good friend to me, and when I graduated high school he wrote one of the nicest, most sincere cards to me I have ever received. There was one part of the letter that said something along the lines of "you try to be everything to everyone and you almost succeed." That's so kind of him. I trust David, and for him to tell me that means a lot to me, but the first time I read it I felt it I focused on that implied failure in his statement. Which is preeeeetty pathetic of me. In the face of one of the nicest compliments I'll ever receive I wanted to have earned more. THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS NOT THAT YOU DIDN'T COMPLIMENT ME ENOUGH, UNCLE DAVID. YOU'RE AS COOL AS THEY GET FOR REALZ.

I'm not going to please everyone. I haven't, I'm currently not, and I will not in the future. Yes I understand this. This problem is an easy one to solve when put into context, but it nags at me from time to time. I have a lot and I recognize and appreciate this.

Wanting to please people isn't the worst habit in the world, anyway, as long as I don't let it be an obsession or a need. I never drastically change the way I act in order to achieve the acceptance I want. I honestly believe that. I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect, I just want to get rid of the disappointment of realizing that not everyone wants to be my best friend. I know that. It's not a big deal.

I'm definitely going to stop using "it's my birthday today" as a final play for attention as I leave the room, though. I think we can all agree that's a pretty piss poor strategy that I can safely lose.

Superbowl questions I totally knew: "Who is playing in this year's superbowl?" "Which team does Eliot want to win?" and "What sport will they be playing?"

Thursday, February 10, 2011


by Brendan Cavanagh

So there's this girl here at school that I was interested in for a while, which is ironic because she's short and has black hair- not usually my type.  We shared ballroom dance last semester, and this semester we are in the same introduction to education course.  I see her nearly every day at lunch, frequently in the hallways in between classes and we happen to be in the same group for a project in our education class.  Last semester it took me a while to warm up to her- I was admittedly a little shy, but I asked her to dance every now and then.  She always accepted graciously- she was very talented, mind you- and the two of us enjoyed ourselves immensely as I cracked the jokes and she exuberantly played off them.  Time and time again, she unwittingly showed me the limitations of my comedy as she nearly always improved the jokes with her responses.  I had no worries though; we made a fun pair.  We got to know one another over the course of the semester, and by the last class I had obtained her phone number in order to "let her know if I set up an impromptu dance practice before the final."  Pshaw.  I was shocked at my good fortune, though unsure if my luck would prevail.  But for once I was confident I was doing okay.

This semester I found out we shared another class, so I determinedly decided I would woo her.  And for a while, it seemed to work.  For instance, in class the two of us paired up for an in-class project.  I confidently (and jokingly) did a sort of horrible strut/dance from one side of the room to the other, and to my surprise, she followed behind doing the same thing, repeating "Chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug-a."  For once, I wasn't the only one making a fool of myself with a bizarre sense of humor.  Another time as I walked through the hall in a trance after a class, she caught my attention by very cutely tripping me in front of a group of people, laughing and sprinting away.  If this was yet another case of me awkwardly sprawling out alone all over the stairs, I would naturally have been quite ashamed, but this time I was pleasantly surprised that it was her doing.  I walked back to my room with a smile.

The playful banter between the two of us continued for a couple weeks, and then I was eating lunch with her best friend and a buddy of mine.  We were discussing fraternities and sororities because once you join one that seems to be all there is to talk about with other pledges.  The topic of formal dances between houses came up, and her friend (for some reason it was pertinent, not because of my interest) casually mentioned that this girl I liked would have to attend the formal of a certain fraternity, which confused me.  Did this mean she had set plans with a friend from there?  Wait...does she have a boyfriend?  I kept my concerns to myself and decided I would solve this matter myself.

Later that week I actually remembered what I had planned to do (I forget to check my planner, and I fail to remember any mental notes I make), so I logged onto Facebook to do a little sleuthing.  Totally legitimate means of investigation, nothing creepy about it.  I visited this girl's page, who I was technically not "friends" with, to see if her relationshiop status was viewable by the public.  It turns out that it was, and to my chagrin, this girl was taken.  Bummer.  But I looked at her boyfriend's page out of mild curiosity.  Ahh I knew this guy, I had seen him around campus.  He's the one that, whenever I pass him I think, "That guy is definitely gay."

Sooo basically I'm not really threatened, but I don't believe in breaking up relationships ('CAUSE I'M AWESOME), so I've decided not to worry about it and pursue other girls.  If this girl winds up single and looking for a mate in the future, well, let's just say I'll likely still be single anyway so maybe we can work out an agreement.

ANYWAY, in order to incorporate the seemingly irrelevant title of this post into all of the above exposition, let me relate to you a little dream I had the other day.  First, a few points should be made:

FIRST, that this girl was to be my driver on our class' field trip to an elementary school.
SECOND, that I had to wake up at a very specific time in order to allot myself the proper amount of time it would take to shower, dress, eat and meet with her and my fellow passengers.
THIRD, that I have had the awful habit lately of waking up, turning off my alarm and allowing myself to enjoy another two minutes of light sleep before getting up.
FOURTH, that the following dream transpired in the six minutes I slept after turning off my alarm:

I wake up from my allotted two-minute slumber TWO hours later, at 1:15 in the afternoon.  I fly off of the top bunk and hastily assemble a somewhat presentable assortment of clothing.  When I look at my alarm clock again, another hour has inexplicably passed by, and it is now 2:15!  It's far too late to catch up with this girl and get to the elementary school on time.  Suddenly, I'm nestled somewhat comfortably in the boughs of a tree, where I watch a mind-projected, college-aged student that I feel I've seen before walk up to the tree with his girlfriend, who seems familiar as well, but I have never seen her before.  They speak a few words to the girl I'm interested in, and then the man leaves, leaving the two girls who are now facing me with snow balls in hand.  I realize I'm situated such that I have my legs spread apart, with my crotch exposed before them (still wearing pants, don't worry).  Simultaneously they begin to pelt my crotch with snow balls, as I sit there immobile.

FIGURE THAT ONE OUT.  Clearly I was aware that I could potentially sleep through the field trip.  The dream took on a double meaning, in my opinion, when they began to pelt me with snowballs.  I think, and this is a little explicit I admit, that my subconscious is telling me that even if I consider myself temporarily "over" her, she still remains in control of my sexual urges.  So maybe I really do still like her.  Honestly, I don't care that I was thwarted by my own subconscious because it's pretty sweet that I figured out how I really feel based on a dream, which in my experience is usually trippy as hell and entirely impossible to interpret.

Well, I finally pulled myself out of my sleep by sheer will, as I at that point realized that I was still slightly awake, and it was only 11:21.  Whew.  I had time to complete all my objectives before the field trip, which too played out fortunately.  All I know now is that I'm once again interested in my dreams and the secrets they can reveal to me, so there will be my focus these days.  SORRY CUTE GIRL.


The three of them sit there, practically submerged in snow. Lying down on their backs, the icy dunes cannot touch them. Despite the fact they are wearing little more than jeans and their very specific replica jerseys, an aura of sublimity wraps them warm in “their” accomplishment. Tossing chunks of snow in the air as a means of celebration and exchanging disbelieving giggles and full out laughs, the only words spoken between the three are “we fuckin' did it.” This is what bliss is.

In actuality, all the “they”s and “we”s in that last paragraph should be switched. This is the scene that my two brothers and I experienced on February 6th in front of my dad's house. "They," meaning the team, won the big game, and “we” didn't really do anything. All we did was watch. We watched for the entire year. We have for our entire lives.

The Green Bay Packers have been a staple of Tweet-Sill family living for years. And by years I mean ever. In addition to all the standard Disney films, I watched the NFL Films production entitled The History of the Green Bay Packers regularly. NFL Films, might I add, are some of the finest documenters in the world, and this tape, an introductory crash course on Packers lore, kept me enraptured in the history of the green and gold. My parents raised me a Packer backer, and that part of my identity has burgeoned every year. Let's just say, I was raised by my parents, and then my siblings, and then the Packers, and then my friends. My parents and siblings were raised on the Packers too, so, the effect increases.

Peder, Eliot and Andrew Sill. How f*&king adorable. Also notice the green and yellow vegetation.

We had gatherings at our house pretty much every weekend the Packers were on TV. My parents had friends over, I mingled with their kids, I pissed everyone off by standing in front of the TV, and I grew to love football, and the culture surrounding it.

Every Packer game for like twelve years. And we never won a(nother) Super Bowl. We had won one when I was 4, and lost one when I was 5. We had never gotten back, but damn we had gotten close. Each of the 16 regular-season football games is so important. You win it, you can be happy about it for a week. You lose, it nags at you for a week. Week to week, being a die-hard will mess with your mood. In the post-season however, you win and it means you are elated for a week. You lose in the post-season? And you go into a mild (or severe, depending on your level of passion) depression. Until July or August. I can remember this happening to me seven times. I can remember zero times how it feels to not lose out in the NFL. Either you don't make the playoffs (depressing, let me tell you) or you get beat in the playoffs (yeah, just told you that).

That all changed on February sixth. My Packers brought the trophy home.

Green Bay is by far the smallest city to own an NFL team. Their measly population fails to match that of Springfield, as of 2000 it was roughly 102,000. Yet they have a 72,000 seat stadium and they fill it up every time their boys take the field. And I say “their” boys because the Packers are indeed a team that belongs to the fans. Because of the city's small size, the team sells shares of ownership to its fans. The team has more shareholders than residents in its city. Amazing. The town itself is quaint and non-assuming. The only attractions being the Packers and the Oneida Casino, located on an Indian reservation in the city's metropolitan area.

Green Bay has three things in it. These are those three things.

As Ben Roethlisberger's 4th and 5 pass was broken up with 50 seconds left, and our victory of all victories was sealed, I realized something I've dreamt about since I was seven and watched the clock tick down and the Packers win the Super Bowl. The team's run can positively be constituted as improbable due to the ridiculous amount of players who were injured for the length of the season (15 players landed on the Injured Reserve, football teams have 53 active players) and even in the Super Bowl itself where team leaders Donald Driver and Charles Woodson had to leave the game with injuries. The consensus by mid-season was that “next year we'd have a real good shot at it,” but here we went and won it this year. How about that?

My brother and I committed to going to the ceremony back at Lambeau Field if the team won the title, and when they did, we made good on our promise. We took my brother's '93 Buick Skylark (a real shitty car, let me tell you) to Wisconsin on Monday night, then to Green Bay on Tuesday morning. The city greeted us with feet of snow lining the roads and an unforgiving wind blowing the 8 degree temperature to a negative 18 degree wind chill. Also we forgot gloves. That was a bad idea.

In Illinois, if I see someone donning Packer gear, I compliment them on it. Since we won the Super Bowl (and I've been wearing nothing but Packers stuff) I've turned that to high fives. In Green Bay, if someone isn't wearing Packer gear, they are the black sheep in a flock of thousands of green and yellow ones. Packers fans are referred to as Cheeseheads. This aspect of Packer culture originated with Chicago White Sox fans using the term to insult Milwaukee Brewers fans for the love affair the state has with dairy (so many damn cows...). Packers fans took this mantra and spun it positively, adding the iconic  cheesehead hat to boot, turning the insult into a source of pride. The whole city is electrified by this team, and the community is so in love with their team that it truly does break down any barriers in a way that only religion can. If a town of 100,000 all practiced the same religion, and all went to the same 72,000-seat church. That's how much they support the team, and seeing that first-hand is truly awe-inspiring.

The hallowed gates. Love this place, would live here if I could.

The players and the fans' relationship is second-to-none in professional sports. At the team's training camp in July and August, the team practices for the public's enjoyment at the outdoor field across the street from Lambeau, and when practice ends, the players usually walk and sign autographs or the neighborhood kids bring their bikes to practice and the players will ride back to the facility with either the kid on the pegs or running excitedly alongside. This happens. And it only happens in Green Bay. Every time I visit the town, I have some sort of interaction with the team. Tuesday, I was perusing hats in the team's pro shop, and Super Bowl champion defensive tackle Ryan Pickett sneaks up on me from behind (hard to do, being 300+ pounds), “excuse me,” he says. My brother and I, flabbergasted, laugh in disbelief and Andrew chimes in “no, excuse us sir.” I wanted to give him a hug and thank him for his service, but I also didn't want to be that guy. Only in Green Bay will you see players mingling with fans in a team gift shop on a Tuesday afternoon.

Bad picture. Great player.

Even on this day, cold as hell, fans line the fence to thank the players 
as they walk from their cars into the facilities.

One of my favorite players to talk to is Donald Driver. Oh my God, he has the best smile in the world. When you think of football players, you may think of this guy, or this one, but Donald is none of the above. He is an absolute class act who has been a Packer for 12 years, basically as long as I have been in love with the team, and has a mutual relationship with his team's fans. He never acts too good for anyone, and the whole team does to a degree, but Donald's a politician. He makes you feel like you could invite him to dinner and he'd agree to it and then pay. Donald comes from Houston, Texas. He was at one time homeless, living out his family's car. He sold drugs and stole cars to survive, he was utterly desolate. Yet, he had a dream, and refused to give up on it. He quit the criminal life and told his brother “I'm going to make it.” He went to Alcorn State, a small predominantly black school of 2,500. He was gambled on by Green Bay in the seventh (final) round of the 1999 NFL Draft. Since then he has come within 41 yards of being Green Bay's all-time leading receiver (which is impressive–the franchise got its start in 1919). Tuesday he was paid his dues by the fans, who gave him the loudest ovation of all who were introduced. Donald's first Super Bowl appearance was Sunday, and he was knocked out in the second quarter, an ankle injury disallowed him from playing. That couldn't stop him, or our team, from becoming a Super Bowl champion.

We didn't take this picture. I would date him. Who wouldn't?

I'm pretty sure we are the only franchise to have its very own Hall of Fame, a testament to our franchise's rich history. My brother and I paid a visit to this, where the team's three previously won Lombardi trophies rest and where the fourth one will go. The Packers won 9 NFL titles before the inception of the Super Bowl, which originally matched the NFL's champion with that of the rival league AFL's champion, (now the two are separate conferences in the NFL). And after this we set out to find our seats for the ceremony.
Me and Donald Driver (frozen in carbonite) having a chat outside the stadium.

HOLY CRAP IT WAS COLD. The locals were practically used to weather, and they had at least brought gloves. But the negative wind chill bit at my brother and I. Yet we braved the weather to see the Return to Titletown ceremony, one that has little apparent importance, just a bunch of dudes talking about how awesome their football team was, but historically, it bears significance. It is the last time our team's current roster will probably be together. It reminded the both of us of the time we stood at the Old State Capitol in the freezing freaking cold waiting for some guy named Barry to tell a crowd of folks that he would run for Prez. Except, that was the beginning of something. This was the culmination of something great. The off-season approaches, and we can't keep everybody, which is damn unfortunate. But, we will get some of those 15 IR players back and be ready to seek out a repeat next year.

Packer nation out in full force, all for the purpose of saying thanks.

I love the Green Bay Packers. I feel at home in this city. The security guards at the stadium treat you like your aunt or uncle. The players treat you like you would want them to, and the organization treats its fans like owners, partially because they are. More than the Green Bay Packers, I love loving the Green Bay Packers. It brings my family together, which is nice. Being a football fan is a cumulative effort. Winning it this year has made me feel like, not only did we overcome all the obstacles our team faced this year, but all those years where we weren't any good or where we lost in the playoffs. It feels like all that has led to this.

All in all, a great trip.

I can always count on the Pack to pick me up on Sunday, if not with a victory than with an honest effort and hope for a Lombardi Trophy. That hope, now, has become a reality. And it's the best feeling in the world.

--Eliot Sill

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who like Vaginas?- Mada

Sooo as you may have noticed, I forgot to post last night. And I was doing so well...

Anyway, the reason is because I am currently in tech week for The Vagina Monologues. I tried out without really knowing what The Vagina Monologues were because my friend Sara was trying out and I'm a mindless conformist. Now that I am in it I absolutely love it and I think that everybody who can should come to a performance this weekend.

Friday the 11th- 7:30 pm
Saturday the 12th- 7:30 pm
Sunday the 13th- 2 pm

The Vagina Monologues were written in 1996 by Eve Ensler, a very active feminist. The show is a collection of monologues that are all about vaginas. Shocker. Some of them are really funny, some are really sad, some are quite graphic and most of them are really fucking weird. I am actually in the intro so I will not actually be doing a monologue but my part is pretty funny anyway. All the proceeds of the play go to the V-Day fund which is a charity organization to help women in need. This year the money is going to fight violence against women in Haiti.

Like I said, y'all should come. There is a link to the facebook page here. The shows are going to be at Gregory Hall which is on the south-west corner of U of I's quad in room 112. Check it out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Behind the Scenes of Zombie Snowpocalypse

Zombie Snowpocalypse by Mada
Zombie Snowpocalypse Part II: Back to School! by Eliot
Zombie Snowpocalypse Part III: Breaking the Ice by Brendan
Zombie Snowpocalypse Part IV: The Spiral Collapses by Conor
Zombie Snowpocalypse Balboa by Classic Brian
Zombie Snowpocalypse Part VI: The Darkness and The Dawn by Robert
Zombie Snowpocalypse Part VII: The Final Struggle by Nick

We here at Classic Brian like to pride ourselves in our vast and diverse audience. Except not really, because everyone who reads this blog is a friend of ours. Anyway, the point is that Zombie Snowpocalypse is filled with in-jokes, easter eggs, and things that could use some clarification. So this post is where anything that needs explaining will be compiled.

This is mostly for the benefit of those who don't know all of us personally, as well as an opportunity for some of the subtler jokes to be pointed out. As all members of Classic Brian can contribute to this post, it may be edited frequently.

Roy Schribner

The biggest in-joke that some of our audience might not understand is the guy named Roy Schribner. Roy Schribner is Classic Brian's resident troll. He loves to comment on our blogs and harp on us, Conor in particular. He has his own blog here. Some of his work can be found in comments here and here.

His signature was copied directly for the story. His dialogue is merely our best impression.

Go To Sleep

There are a lot of references to the "Go To Sleep" game. Most notably in Brian's final scene the scene where Robert is on a leash. Basically this is a game the authors of Classic Brian play a lot in real life. If someone pretends to stab you while saying "Go To Sleep," you have to fall down until someone wakes you up. Brian and Robert are noted for frequently getting way too into this game.

Nick typically just stands around and wakes people up while this game is going on, which he flippantly addresses with his "I hate being a white mage" line.

Band Practice

Most of you probably know already that Conor has a band called Band Practice. Their music can be found here. The note written by Conor is mostly an amalgamation of Band Practice quotes. Before and during Conor's monologue in the last episode, six Band Practice quotes are hidden. See if you can find them all! They're in the same order as the songs appear on the Band Practice EP.


Conor, Brian, and Eliot have a tradition of playing through Final Fantasy games together. They call this "Final Fantasy Friends Forever," or FFFF for short. The "Final Fiendish Faceoff Friends" segment of the last episode is mostly a parody of this. Nick often shows up to critique their Final Fantasy skills, which is why he's so critical of their fighting style in this segment.


The cast of Classic Brian keeps a running tally of everyone's kissing ratios. The idea is that if you've kissed more men than women, you are quantifiably gay. (Unless you are a women, in which case you can't lose.) This is why Robert jokes about "sabotaging their ratios" when lips of the dead Brian and Eliot touch. This game is pretty much just and excuse for Eliot and Robert and Brian to all kiss each other.


While Mada and Nick are adventuring together, Mada suggests that they "make a list of their options," to which Nick responds, "no one likes reading your lists." This is a joke about Mada's Classic Brian contributions frequently appearing in list format. This one in particular is being poked fun at.

Conor's Mannerisms

Conor has a very distinctive way of speaking, and several Classic Brian writers made his dialogue reflect that. Notice that he says "sort of" as one word during his monologue, which he frequently does in his Classic Brian posts. (5th paragraph here.) Also poked fun at is his tendency to become grumpy early in the morning, a reputation he received from having sleep-overs with the Easily Amused Teen Improv Troupe. 

In the final episode, Norman Oklahoma, where Conor goes to school, is a prominent location; his music major is also poked fun at. In Brendan's post it is noted that all that remains of Eliot and Mada's "cannibalistic frenzy" (eating Conor) is an outstretched hand with its fingers fashioned in the position of a Gb dim chord.  Conor has been known to flaunt his knowledge of piano chords, particularly on one of the first side "Notes" on Classic Brian except no that totally wasn't Conor, that was another member of Classic Brian posing as him.  Lastly, Eliot makes mention of his "dry-ass knuckles," which is just a reference to Conor's red, cracked skin and his fear of lotions.

Eliot Sill

Brendan also pokes fun at Eliot's fanatical devotion to the world of sports, particularly the Green Bay Packers. At the time of his post, Super Bowl XLV (in which the Packers played) was less than a week away, and Eliot talked nonstop about his beloved team in person, on Facebook and Twitter.

Cory Robinson

Cory Robinson is a hipster, one of the few anyone on Classic Brian knew before college.  He is noted in Brendan's post as drinking PBR, consuming acid, listening to Animal Collective and riding on a fixed-gear bicycle, all of which are favored pastimes of many hipsters.

The "Awkward Sex Scene" Between Eliot and Mada

Brendan fashioned this scene loosely off a scene in the children's action/comedy 3 Ninjas (skip to 1:26).

Brendan's Puns

Throughout several of the past seven installments of Zombie Snowpocalypse, Brendan is seen making unnecessary and usually cheesy puns either to alleviate the gravity of a dire situation or simply for his own perverted indulgence.  His puns show up quite frequently in his posts, like this one and this one.

Mada's Cat-like Agility

Perhaps a tad vague, Brendan writes, "Mada sprung off the ground like a cat" in the scene in which he attempts to murder her and Eliot.  Mada starred in a video with her Improv group in which he she portrayed a human with cat-like tendencies, or maybe a cat played by a human?


Spite is a horrible horrible thing that plagues several of the members of Classic Brian. The fourth Zombie Snowpocalypse by Conor relies heavily on Robert's ability to lower everyone's chances of living for the sake of being contrary. Real life Robert would do this. A little known fact is that spite motivates approximately 43% of the actions taken by the members of Classic Brian.
. . .

Easter Eggs
  • It's noted that Nick is "worst at flirting of the entire Classic Brian cast, which is quite a feat in itself." This is a reference to Brendan's Classic Brian on flirting. Nick shares the inability, to say the least.
  • Nick is the only member of the cast to kill literally no one the entire series.
  • All of the songs on Brendan's iPod come from this article. Many jokes are also directed at Brendan's sometimes-pretentious taste in music.
  • There are several scenes in Brendan's post that involve his character getting "overly sentimental."  It is well known that whenever Brendan writes a blog post about himself, he gets excessively nostalgic and tags his post "overly sentimental."  Also, about half of the posts with that tag are his. 
  • References in Brendan's post to the days on which each fallen Classic Brian member presumably died are linked to the day on which they post each week.  Similarly, before Brendan attempts to murder Mada and Eliot in Brendan's post, the line "Thursdays were never good for me" references the fact that Brendan writes on Thursdays (except in actuality he likes that day).

Nick - Zombie Snowpocalypse Part VII: The Final Struggle

Robert looked back out the window at the rising sun. For the first time, they had a reason to fight. Finally, a purpose. As Robert began folding the paper back up, a small red dot appeared in his matted, unwashed hair. A shot fired, and Robert slumped to the ground, dead.

There was an eerie, chilling silence. It felt like they stood in shock for several minutes, but it was no more than a fraction of a second before Nick screamed, “Everyone, MOVE!” and dived onto the two girls, all three of them tumbling out into the hallway and out of sight of any windows.

More silence.

All three of them heard a faint whirring which became more distant as they listened. Nick furrowed his brow, unsure as to the source of the noise.

“That sounds like the helicopter that came to rescue us...” Mada timidly suggested.

They poked their heads back into the room. Carnage was everywhere. Brendan lay in the far corner, a bullet wound in the back of his head. Eliot lay covered by a sheet from the bed. Mada averted her eyes before they could tear up, and looked toward Robert, most recently slain of the group.

Robert lay slumped partway against the bed. His hair was rugged and unwashed, and his T-shirt and button-up still held their casual and nonchalant look. He had become an icon of survival; he had given up all semblance of civility, he had killed without remorse, and still he had fallen in the end. His aviators lay on the floor in front of him, one lens cracked.

“Look at this...” Nick said, pointing towards Robert’s motionless body. “The bullet went clean through him. It went in his forehead and out through his lower back. Which means...”

“I did hear a helicopter!” Mada interjected. “He had to have been shot from above. But... who would want to kill Robert? And why didn’t they come for us?” As she spoke, her head turned to Brendan’s lifeless form. “And why were you and Brendan so eager to kill each other!? Hasn’t there been enough violence!?” Her voice became shaky as she began to think of her fallen lover. If only Eliot hadn’t died... they were meant to be together...

Nick faltered as tears began to run down Mada’s face. “Listen, we need to pull together if we’re going to get through this. Please stop crying. I don’t know why anyone would come for Robert. I thought maybe you would know seeing as how I’ve been kind of out of the loop this whole time. You guys did basically abandon me after all. Please, please stop crying.”

Mada regained control of herself. She would have to think about Eliot at a later time.

“And here’s the deal with Brendan. He knew this whole thing was coming. I don’t know how. I heard him talking on the phone with Conor about the optimal temperature for the creation of zombies, so I subdued him any way I could. I didn’t want to kill him, but he was obviously up to something. He was dangerous. I tried to get you guys to come rescue us so that I could capture him and Conor and then find out what’s been going on.” Nick paused, looking around the room. “But now they’re both dead. And apparently Brian was in on this somehow too, judging from that note.”

Mada was silent. It was hard to believe that Conor, who had tried his hardest to lead them through the outbreak, was behind all of this. And to imagine that Brendan was also guilty was also difficult to swallow.

Semas had also been standing silently, but she looked a little more self-aware, as if whatever drug Brian had slipped to her was finally wearing off. Finally, she broke the silence.

“You... you saved us. You pushed us out of the room.” She said, while moving in to give Nick a grateful hug.

“Er... yeah... but... I don’t think they were really... looking for us anyway...” Nick mumbled as he awkwardly received her embrace. It is a little known fact that Nick is the worst at flirting of the entire Classic Brian cast, which is quite a feat in itself.

The group took what little supplies they had. Nick pocketed Brendan’s iPod, which had remained on Robert’s lifeless body. He also took Conor’s note, which Robert had still been clutching when he had been shot. He wrapped some clothes around his leg to help the bleeding.

“I guess we’re headed for Norman, Oklahoma.” Mada said. Nick nodded in silent agreement, and Semas followed seemingly without knowing or caring what was going on.

They stopped in an abandoned department store and found winter coats. Nick changed out of his girls’ clothes into a badass leather jacket. He kept the slightly bloodstained Oakley’s he had taken from Brian. He then picked up a pair of scissors.

“We’re going to have to travel light. I’m going to need to be more aerodynamic.”

The group stood in silence as Nick cut off his long hair. He stood before them more confident, agile, and sexy than ever before. Then the group set off again.

Hordes of zombies were rarer now; it seemed that with less people to eat, the weak ones were slowly dying off. After a long journey, they found a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle with flowery brake lights and keys still in the ignition. They set out for Oklahoma listening to a torturous amount of Taylor Swift, because Mada was riding shotgun and therefore in charge of the radio.

As the group arrived in Norman, they noticed that it was far colder and far zombie-er than the rest of the trip had been. This place was the source. This is where it was all going to come down.

“I’m picking up a weird radio signal. It’s interrupting my horrible, horrible taste in music.” Mada said.

Nick looked out the window. There were zombies surrounding them, but they seemed totally oblivious to the car full of human flesh. The hordes were traveling somewhere, as if they were being directed.

“This might be a stretch,” said Nick, “But those zombies are clearly headed somewhere. Maybe the radio signal is directing them...?”

“Then all we have to do is follow the zombies to find out where this is coming from!” Mada interjected.

Semas sat quietly in the back seat and said nothing. Although the drugs Brian had given her had worn off, she was still quiet and scared out of her mind by the whole situation.

After following the zombies to the center of campus, the ended up outside the music building. Zombies were packed all around it, standing completely still, unable to get in due to the metal fence surrounding the building.

“That’s where this is coming from. I think we just need to get inside that building and we’ll find out what’s been going on.” Said Nick, not letting the hordes of zombies around them break through his calm demeanor.

“I don’t know if we should do this,” Mada said, “Maybe we should stop and make a list of our options.”

“There’s only one way in,” Nick responded. “Besides, no one likes reading your lists.”

It was a risky move, but the trio got out of the car amidst the horde of zombies. They walked slowly through the eery crowd to the short fence, which was easily climbable for a human but prevented the zombies from entering due to their poor agility. Mada hops over the fence with her cat-like agility. Nick puts his hand on the it, preparing to crawl over.

The zombies attack.

Mada screams, Nick jumps over the fence, and Semas flails in panic as the zombies crowd around her. Nick and Mada reach over and pull her over to the other side, but not before she is bitten several times.

“NICK! WHAT DO WE DO!?” Mada screams. Semas stands, dumbfounded. Mada gets out machine gun she had taken from Eliot’s body.

“No.” Nick said, putting out his hand. “We have this.” He holds up the flask; all that remains of Cory’s miraculous, hallucinogenic serum. “She’ll be tripping balls for a few hours, but at least she’ll survive.” He pours the contents of the serum into Semas’ mouth. She returns to the silent, out-of-touch state she had been in back when they rescued her from Brian’s tyrannical clutches.

Mada and Nick shared a long, passionate glance. At least as passionate as eye contact can be through a pair of sunglasses. Nick threw down the empty bottle of serum and clutched his knife. Mada held onto her machine gun; there was still a little bit of ammo she had been saving. Semas deliriously clutched her broadsword. The three stepped into the musical fortress.


It was totally dark inside the building. Mada led the way with her gun in hand.

All the lights came on suddenly, blinding the trio. Mada screamed.

Nick took control, protected by his powerful sunglasses. “Mada! It’s okay. The lights must be automatic. Everything’s fine.”

They looked around. The room looked like an experiment gone horribly wrong. It was filled with strange machines. Through the smoke and debris around them they could still see a shadowy figure on the other side of the room.

“I’ve been expecting you.” A voice rang out and the figure stepped forward into the light. “How do you like the new world I’ve created?”

And then Mada sees his face. Covered in tattered flesh like a zombie, the face is somehow familiar. It’s the face of a friend of hers... or one that looks like it. It’s hard to explain how similar yet dissimilar the zombified face looked.

“It’s impossible!” Mada shouted.

It’s Conor. Zombie Conor. His flesh was tattered and pale. There was a large bullet wound in the back of his head.

“How are you... what happened? They said you were dead.” Nick stuttered.

“Allow me to explain.” Said Conor, menacingly. “I was new here in this town. Winter was at my door. I was terrified. And lonely. I didn’t have any friends here in Oklahoma. So I thought, why not create my own friends? I thought I could control people. I got funding from the school to do this science project.”

“But,” Nick interjected, “How did you find time to do all of this?”

“Simple,” Conor scoffed, “I’m a music major. I don’t have any real work to do. Anyway, I was working on my experiment. But then the dean came to visit, and he disapproved. They were going to cut my funding. I had to launch my plan early, and I couldn’t really control people. I could just, uh... sortof zombify them I guess. When my plan backfired, it began to spread. I came back to Springfield to save you guys. AND YOU SHOT ME IN THE HEAD.”

His voice echoed through the large room. The trio listened to the echo grow smaller and smaller each time it repeated.

“Conor... I’m sorry... I didn’t...” Mada tried to explain it, but the words wouldn’t come out. She had, after all, shot him. She could understand his anger.

“But... how are you alive?” Nick asked.

“Well, I had been working on fixing this mess. I developed a way to make zombies that could be controlled. That could talk and act like a normal person. I even trained a few to fly helicopters and shoot guns. I injected myself with a vaccine that would kick in if I were bit by a zombie; I would turn into one of my improved zombies instead of a mindless monster. Of course, I didn’t expect it to be as necessary as it was. It was merely a precautionary measure.”

“So what you’re saying...” Nick started, “is that you can fix this? That the zombies can be stopped? I’m so glad we made it here to talk to you!”

“Oh no,” chuckles Conor, “I think you misunderstand me. I’m not going to turn my lovely hordes of killers into peaceful creatures... I’m going to turn everyone into one of my zombies, and then I will rule over all of them! Plus, uh, I sortof still have a craving for human flesh. I couldn’t work around that side effect.”

Conor burst into maniacal laughter. Mada took aim and fired the last ammunition from her machine gun into him, but the bullets all impacted the dead flesh of his legs with a dull thud.

Conor called out to a doorway behind him. “Assemble, my minions! Our ultimate battle team cannot be stopped: Final Fiendish Faceoff Friends, assemble!”

And from the doorway behind him came zombie Eliot and zombie Brian. Mada began to sob, and called out to Eliot.

“Eliot! I love you! Remember when we went to prom together?”

Zombie Eliot was oblivious to her cries, as he was firmly under Conor’s control.

“We’re going to kill you and eat you.” Said zombie Eliot. “We’re going to keat you!!”

The Final Fiendish Faceoff Friends attacked all at once, and began to run at Nick Mada and Semas.

“Wow.” Nick remarked critically, “You guys are terrible at fighting. What kind of strategy is that? Did you even think this out at all? I mean, you should be running long range attacks on Eliot instead of Conor.  And you clearly didn’t stock up on items before you started this fight.”

Mada and Semas ganged up on Brian, while Nick stood back and healed them.

“Man,” Nick remarked bitterly, “I hate being the white mage.”

“Go to sleep!!” Brian shouted as he lunged with his knife.

“Hey Brian!” Nick shouted, “I’m deriving serious pleasure from fighting you. I’m really enjoying it.”

“Ha! Your spite trick won’t work on me. I’m not going to take myself out just to spite you.” Brian responded.

Mada jumped into the conversation. “Zombie Robert would have been dedicated enough to do it!”

“Dammit!” Shouted Brian, as he put himself to sleep with his knife out of spite.

The trio turned to Conor and Eliot.

“Muahaha! You may have taken out Brian, but it’s getting late. Once we reach three in the morning, I’ll be filled with unstoppable grumpy rage!”

“Oh yeah,” said Zombie Eliot, “You do get kind of bitchy when you’re tired. Like on that acid trip I had.”

“Hey Conor!” Said Nick, waving Brendan’s iPod in front of him, “I was just talking to the zombies outside and they haven’t heard any Band Practice songs.”

“What... really? Well... can I borrow that iPod for a minute?” Conor took the iPod and hurried outside to show the zombies his music.

“Ha! Conor is a terrible villain.” Nick exclaimed, “Well Mada, according to that letter, there should be a way to stop the Zombie Snowpocalypse in here somewhere. I bet it’s deeper in the base. ...Mada?”

Nick turned to see Mada running toward Eliot with open arms.

“Oh Eliot, I missed you so much! Being around Robert and Brian for so long made me realize what a real man you are! They always try and pretend that they’re cool and confident... but you don’t have to pretend, Eliot. You’re comfortable with who you are, and I love you for it.”

With that, Mada jumped into zombie Eliot’s arms and proceeded to make out with him passionately. The only problem was that Eliot was, in fact, a zombie and was actually just trying to eat her face. The two were disgustingly intertwined, Mada filled with love and Eliot filled with a deep hunger for mortal flesh. The scene was startlingly similar to the “sex” scene which had been chronicled with disgusting detail in Eliot’s acid trip, except that Mada probably wouldn’t survive it. As Eliot consumed Mada’s face, Nick pulled Semas away from the adorable/gruesome scene and ran further into the fortress.

Nick was in bad shape. His injuries from the days previous pretty much prevented him from fighting. Semas could only protect him for so long in her drugged state. As the two of them dashed into the next room, Zombie Robert stood in front of them, his bullet wound still bleeding and one lens of his aviators cracked.

“You know,” said zombie Robert, “Working for Conor sucks.”

“Will you let us through?” Asked Nick. It was, admittedly, a stupid question.

“Well...” Thought Robert, “What’s in it for me? I mean, I would let you through, but it’s going to take some serious persuasion to make me ignore the big plot hole. Conor went to Springfield when he could have just stopped the zombies from here? Plus it was never explained why he sent people to kill me but not you. I mean, come on. What shoddy story writing.”

After some negotiating, Nick hesitantly agreed to give Robert Semas in return for passage. She was still totally clueless about what was going on.

“Okay, thanks!” Said Robert, taking his new acquisition with him. “I never even liked Band Practice that much anyway. Your leg is bleeding, by the way.”

As Nick advanced past Robert, he could hear him talking to Semas. “You’re going to be the new Hannah. First I’m going to dye your hair, and then teach you how to do improv, and then make you a Bears fan...”

As Nick hobbled into the last room, a giant computer screen towered above him. It appeared to have the controls for the zombie program on the display. “I’ve got to get to that monitor!” Nick shouted aloud.

“Luckily, I’ve been monitoring your progress!”

Brendan dropped down from the ceiling. He had become a horrifying bird-zombie reminiscent of the Birdndan from Eliot’s imagination. Also, apparently his puns are worse when he is undead.

“Out of my way, Brendan. I’m sorry about what happened between us, but I need to get to that terminal!”

“That’s not the only thing that’s terminal!” Quipped Brendan cleverly, as he left a probably-fatal gash in Nick’s shoulder with his talons.

Nick fell to the ground. Too injured to stand, he could only pray for a deus ex machina. As hopelessness overtook him, he heard a CRASH as someone burst through a wall. (It was a really quick deus ex machina.) Nick and The Birdndan stared open mouthed at the one person they hadn’t expected to see.

“What kind of titty-munching pussy gives up after one hit from this asshat?”

It was Roy Schribner.

“You go ahead,” He said, “I’ll take real good fucking care of this dick-tree.”

Nick crawled up to the computer. He could hear the sound of The Birdndan and Roy Schribner fighting behind him. He guessed Conor’s password (it was “<3 U Rhett”) and found the zombie deactivate button. As he clicked the button, he began to fall in and out of consciousness. Would the button turn the zombies back? Or stop their spread? Or would they all just fall down? It’s really weird how unclear that was. The last thing Nick heard before passing out was a victory cry as the fight behind him ended...


Outside, snow fell. Debris from the crisis lay everywhere. Zombie Snowpocalypse.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Zombie Snowpocalypse Part VI: The Darkness and The Dawn

Robert: Tomorrow, many of you die. Your futures have been determined. Will you survive?

Conor: One of the scariest texts I’ve ever received, yeah, sure. I’ve prepared for all possibilities. Do not worry about me. I will succeed.
Mada: My guess is yes.
Eliot: Save me buddy. I’m already bleeding to death man.
Brendan: I’m cool either way, I just enjoy reading different people’s interpretations of my character/ability to survive.
Nick: I suspect I will do nothing plot-wise regardless of my fate. Please just leave me somebody to finish the story with on Monday.
Brian: I’m not counting on it.

The group eyed Robert with some concern.

"Ok then...guess we should get goi-"

But before Eliot could finish that sentence, Robert had pulled out a knife and go-to-sleeped him for real, right in the neck, just like he promised he would if he ever went psycho. Committed to the end. The group stood there, mouths agape, speechless.

A dooming silence descended upon the group. Nobody moved as Eliot fell to the ground, tears forming in his eyes as he looked up at the fading paint on Robert’s face. The blood poured out from his neck, dripping down his shoulder blade and coming to rest in a pool by his gasping chest. Eliot lay quiet, eyes blinking, then whimpered suddenly, and the spell was broken. All rushed to his side, crowding him in to comfort his final moments.

All, except two. Robert slashed off his leash with the knife and began to circle the group menacingly, his eyes fixed on a single back. There was purpose in his step, but no one could see that. The roar of the dropped chainsaw allowed his footprints to fall in silence. ‘There will be no more spite,’ he said to himself. ‘It ends here, you bastard; here, I take exactly what is mine.’ With that, Nick turned his head around just in time to see Robert plant the knife deep into the back of Brian, just to the left of his spinal column. Brian fell, face-first, upon Eliot’s.

“Hey look, I lowered both of their ratios,” Robert said with a laugh, but no one could hear him over the screaming. Mada chuckled. Robert gave her one of those chin thrusts that acknowledges appreciation while still asserting dominance.

“Where is Brendan?” Nick said suddenly, lost in the din of chaos.

The two bodies were pulled from each other. Brian, unconscious, was laid face-down while Semas wound a tourniquet out of her gladiator sandals. Eliot lay face-up, coughing, with Mada strewn over him, matching him tear-for-blood-drop.

Eliot whimpered again. His coming end had dawned on him. He began to cry. Brendan’s bandana was tied around his neck.

“I wish,” Eliot choked. “I wish…” he coughed again. “I kind of wish…that…I had.”

“Had what?” Mada said frantically. “I will get you anything.”

“A shirt,” he said feebly. He’d lost over a quart of blood. “It’s freezing, Mada. Hold me.” His lips puckered and he grunted in anticipation.

“Where the hell is a shirt?” Mada said. She looked around frantically. There were few shirts to be found among the group. “There’s no god damned shirts!”

“You can thank Brian for that,” Robert said coolly from the corner of the room, his right leg on the ground and his left leg forming a triangle with the wall he leaned against. Inexplicably he’d found a t-shirt and something to button up partially on top of it. Everything was tucked in sort of halfway, as if done casually and nonchalantly. His aviators were back on and a toothpick danced around his mouth. He looked dangerous again.

All attention shifted to Robert, the homicidal sociopath. Robert, the crazed loner. Robert, the spiteful killer. Robert, the figurehead of survival throughout the journey.

“You’re a monster!” Mada screamed.

“No, Mada, I’m afraid I’m not,” Robert said, casually getting up and strolling across the room as he spoke with occasional hand gestures. “Let’s review, shall we? Was it not I who swore a pact to put someone to sleep by literally stabbing them the moment I went crazy? Was it not also Brian? Was it not also Eliot and Conor?”

“I don’t know!” Mada said. “We have different social groups!”

“Well we did. Ask Brian.” Robert snickered. “Anyway, I’m not your problem, Mada. Your bleeding-out boyfriend is,” he said with a point and an eyebrow gesture. “Neither is Brian. You can thank me for that.” Robert snickered again at his turning-around of the ‘you can thank…’ joke. Robert’s jokes were always good.

“Where’s Brendan?” Nick said again.

“What are you talking about, Robert??” Mada said, exasperated. Her time with her dying lover was short.

“You last saw us at the old chapel,” Robert said. “Brian couldn’t handle my lifestyle. He simply couldn’t. He went insane. He became a dictator, forcing our shirts off at his whim. At rest one night he leashed me, and I’ve been biding my time since. He probably should have taken away my knife.”

At this Mada looked around. Neither Nick nor the new girl were making any move to reprimand Robert. Brian and Eliot were incapacitated. Robert had reassumed his position as leader.

“What do you mean he couldn’t handle your lifestyle?” she asked.

“It’s all a game,” Robert responded. “This is all a game. He couldn’t play.”

“We picked up another,” Robert continued. “Her name is Semas. The poor girl doesn’t speak. We think Brian forced drugs on her; she thinks she’s a warrior princess with Brian as her prince. She’s pretty good with broadswords, though.”

“Ma,” whispered Eliot. His voice was coarse. His lips unpuckered. “Ma.”

Attention shifted again, to the dying Eliot. “I’m sorry,” said Robert as he rushed nonchalantly to his side. “I needed to distract Brian. Knives are shorter than chainsaws. I had to make him drop it first. I tried to aim for a nonlethal area. So, the neck.”

“Ma,” he croaked. “I’m leaving the game. I’m done playing. Take this.” A tiny notebook slipped from his chest pocket into the pool of blood. Mada quickly snatched it up.

“No one…can survive,” Eliot coughed. His eyes were clouding and growing dim. “A knife bite.”

With that he was still. Mada, almost blinded by tears, promised to carry on his memory and thumbed through the notebook.

“It’s a journal,” she said after a minute. “It’s short. ‘…I shot Brendan out of the sky…’ What is this?” she asked, almost pleadingly, before answering her own question. “Oh, God. God, he transcribed his entire acid trip into this notebook.”

“You guys found time for acid?”

“…Birdndan….Chief Illiniwek…Zombie Brian…Conor…” she excerpted. “Knife…knives…‘No one can survive a knife bite.’…You guys, I don’t like this.”

Robert took the journal from Mada, and the remaining group began to read through the contents of the disjointed dream. It was quiet and dark as Robert read the journal like an epitaph or a will; the sun had long since set upon Champaign. Nobody stirred after horrific nightmare after horrific nightmare unfolded. The dream was creepy and haunting, almost prophetic, for the group in its present traumatic state, but it was pure coincidence Eliot had been killed by the knife. It had to be. Besides, Brian was killed by a knife. Conor was already dead. It was simply too unrealistic.

Robert finished. Silence. Everyone was numbed by the recent chaos.

Nick spoke for the third time since arriving at the dorm. “Where. Is. Brendan?

This time he was heard. All heads turned to face him. One by one, those heads became wide-eyed as an apparently minor fact dawned on them. They had all rescued Brendan at the chapel under the assumption that Nick was dead. They had taken him into the helicopter and brought him to safety. They had traveled with him miles and miles to Champaign. They had become as close with him as friends could be. Not once did Brendan ever mention that Nick was alive. Not once.

“Uh…” stumbled Robert. For once, he was at a loss for words.

“Give me a gun,” demanded Nick. He was cold. Prepared.

The group checked its inventory. Brendan’s machine gun had run out of ammo. Eliot’s was missing. Brian carried a chainsaw and Semas a broadsword. Robert was unarmed but for his stained and rusted knife.

“Here,” Mada said, hands trembling and eyes welling again with tears. She handed him the revolver from the chapel. “There’s one bullet left. Go get him.” With that she slumped down against the wall and stared into nothing.

Nick assumed a military cover position outside Mada’s door. Everyone watched in amazement as the gentle man who once stayed out of the way prepared to put a bullet into his friend. Nick bounced slightly on his heels a couple times while taking a deep breath, and made as if about to spring around the corner and take the life of whatever might be in the room, if anything.

“I’m here, Nick,” said a voice. Nick froze. “Mada’s room. I’ve been listening. You have one shot. Are you calm enough to hit? Are you even cold enough to shoot? Has the weather really changed you so much? A little snow enough to turn a friend into a killer? I’ve been watching, Nick. You homeschooled little prick. Everyone thinks you’re smart. Everyone thinks you’re funny. Intellectual humor? Bah! I play with language barriers, Nick. What game do you play? Quips on social networking media? Distant observations on social trends? Observe me now, Nick!”

Two shots from Eliot’s machine gun blasted through the baseboards and into Nick’s left leg. Immediately Nick fell to the ground, the back of his head just above the new holes in the wall.

“It’s my turn for jokes! I’ve tricked you, Nick. Haven’t you seen my Classic Brian posts about my college classmates? I’m observant too. I observed you drop the car into reverse and hit my leg, wounding me just in time for a zombie outbreak. I observed you steal my idea to radio in help. I observed you abandon me for higher ground when the zombies reached the chapel. And I’m observing you come to terms with your final minute of life. How does the leg feel, Nick? Is it cold? Because it’s damn cold outside, and damn it if it isn’t going to be colder in hell!”

Brendan open fired. Nick rolled to the right behind the cinderblock walls and kicked the revolver in front of the open doorway by accident. A flat ray of sunlight peaked over the ruins of Champaign and slipped through Mada’s window into her room. Brendan peered back momentarily to see the sun one final time. At that moment, Mada sprang up from the wall, rolled across the revolver, and shot Brendan right out of the sky. Right in the back of the head.

Ten minutes passed without a word. Everyone silently hoped that if no one moved, nothing else could go wrong. No one else would perish. The dorm was somber and dead. Nothing stirred.

At long last, Robert stood up from his crouch. He peered around the hallway and touched Nick on the shoulder. He walked over and touched Mada as well. Robert was unused to emotions, and his comforting was awkward and really only helpful due to the direness of the situation.

“Feel better, please,” he said.

After allowing a moment for his request to sink in, Robert reinstated order.  

“Alright, first we’re going to need some shirts. It’s really cold out and we don’t really need to impress anyone, because, Nick, we’re really the only choices Mada and Semas have at this point. And I really don’t have a preference because you’re both beautiful, ladies.” Robert winked.

Mada pulled shirts for her and Semas out of her closet, while Nick scoured the girl’s dorm for something large enough for him. In fulfilling his final wish, Mada found a shirt size women’s medium and slipped it over Eliot’s head and onto his body. It fit perfectly. She covered him with a sheet and knew with confidence that her time for mourning would come eventually.

Nick returned, dressed in large girls’ clothes and snow boots. Robert retook inventory: a machine gun, two knives, a broadsword, a chainsaw, an iPod taken from Brendan’s body, bite serum, a leash, and Brian’s Oakleys. Robert awarded Nick the Oakleys for finally becoming an important character, as well as in apology for shooting his left hand at the chapel. Semas held onto her mysteriously-acquired broadsword, Mada took the machine gun and a knife, Nick took the serum and the other knife, and Robert wielded the chainsaw and the iPod.

Nick went over to the body of Brian to see if there was anything he had carried besides the cool new Oakleys Nick was sporting.

“You know, I never could get into The Band,” Robert said, quietly judging Brendan through his iPod. “And what are all these Grateful Dead CDs? They’re a fucking jam band, all you need is one album and you’ve got their whole sound.”

“Oh crap.” Mada was neurotically rooting through the complicated math books on her bed. “I still have all this homework here I forgot to do. Fuck I need to do this.” She stopped, realizing the opportunity for a rebirth among the ruins. “No. Fuck this. No more homework. I’m done with old Mada.” Robert looked up from the iPod and smiled at her, remembering his own recent renewal. “I’m doing what I want now,” she said. “Starting after a quick nap. I’m really tired.”

“No sleeping. Sleeping is giving in,” said Robert citing indie music. “We need a game plan. Do we stay in Champaign? Is it safe enough here? Is it safe enough anywhere? How are we going to eat if we leave?” He barked his orders with authority, and the group started to come to attention. “We need water. We need ammunition and a sniper rifle for longer distance killing. We’re going to need warmer clothes than this; most of our jeans are ruined and we need coats. Most of all, we need a purpose. We all have a reason to stay alive, but we can’t live like this forever, so we need something to—”

“Uhm, Robert,” interrupted Nick. “I think I found something important.” Kneeling next to Brian, he handed Robert a folded, crinkled, worn scrap of paper.

Robert unfolded it slowly. The crinkling of the paper was the only audible noise. He began to read:

“Brian, this is my fault. I messed up. I caused this, and I can’t turn it off. It’s up to you now. I’m not a monster, though; that’s the worst part. I’m not. I just got carried away. They can be stopped, yes, I swear. Your answers lie in Norman. Go there. Save my face. If I could only take it back…. –Conor”

Robert looked at the others. “PS — In the morning when the sun comes up, you’ll know.”

Robert looked back out the window at the rising sun. For the first time, they had a reason to fight. Finally, a purpose. As Robert began folding the paper back up, a small red dot appeared in his matted, unwashed hair. A shot fired, and Robert slumped to the ground, dead.