With the Halloween season at hand and a Zombie Walk slogging through Charleston as I pound out these words, it's no wonder that an old man's fancy turns nightly to thoughts of the living dead.While I'm not generally a fan of horror movies, there's something about zombies that I find endearing.When life, or the partial lack of it, deals zombies a shovel to the face, they take it in stride, doggedly going about their business without a lot of whimpering and bellyaching -- if you don't count grunting.Zombies help humans feel better about ourselves, since we all have better complexions, body odor and fashion sense than those among the living dead.Since they're already dead, for the most part, and appear insensitive to pain while posing a mortal threat to full-fledged humans, zombies can be attacked without guilt and put out of commission in a variety of colorful, creative ways.But according to Business Insider's 24/7 Wall Street blog, there's a much better reason for having a warm spot in your heart for zombies: They pump $5.74 billion into the U.S. economy through the sale of zombie movies, video games, comic books, novels, costumes and merchandise.West Virginia, with its abundance of spooky hollows and abandoned coal company towns, could be in position to court the valuable zombie industry.In fact, according to an article in the Weekly World News, the publication that broke the news of Bat Boy's West Virginia roots a number of years ago, the Mountain State has already created a population explosion of zombie turkeys.
Last November, a scientist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reportedly told Weekly World News, "We are currently witnessing one of the worst zombie attacks in recent history. Turkeys across America are rising from the dead and feasting on the flesh of their golden brown, perfectly roasted brethren."The source of the zombie turkey outbreak, according to the tabloid, is an unidentified West Virginia turkey farm, where an effort was made to develop a fatter, juicier turkey by injecting turkeys with serum.The serum, laced with DNA from turkeys with desirable traits, was injected into the flesh of dead turkeys "hoping they would plump up a little," an unidentified turkey farmer allegedly told Weekly World News. "Next thing we knew, they were coming back to life and trying to eat our brains."Turkey zombies from the West Virginia outbreak spread across the country, according to the tabloid, causing more than 6,000 supermarkets to close and prompting President Obama to ban Thanksgiving turkey sales and suggest tofu dinners instead.But starting a couple of colonies of human zombies here -- say at Lost River and Scary Creek -- may enable West Virginia to carve out a share of the $5.74 billion industry before our neighbors get the idea.It could provide useful work for political science grads like me, who have none of the skills needed for good pay or long-term employment.State-paid "zombies" could start a statewide literacy campaign, "Better Undead Than Unread," and hand out books and do read-aloud events in schools. Or they could allow themselves to be "hunted" by tourists renting paintball-firing weapons.
Who better to stop the brain drain than a zombie?