Treat Your Zombies Well this Halloween

This Halloween, many of us doddering, old codgers (a.k.a. “vibrant, active seniors”) are breaking the bank and renting a service zombie as a safety precaution for our infrequent attempts at independent ambulation.

Service zombies are a product of the same late-stage capitalism that brought us the gig economy: creating a scheme to monetize virtually anything, then exploiting it for profit. Accordingly, service zombie providers figured out a new way to monetize death, by harnessing the feeding instincts of the living dead.

The science of service zombies is simple, but clever. Zombies have one irrepressible desire, to eat brains. A hungry zombie will destroy anything that blocks its access to brains, such as head wear. Hence, the service zombie providers cleverly put a medical-alert system transmitter inside a selection of fashionable, customizable hats. 

If a codger is tethered to a zombie and collapses for whatever reason, the zombie will immediately rip off the hat to eat the codger’s brain, triggering the medical alert. Instantly, the zombie’s attack is thwarted by the hat, which plays loud zombie-repellent music, such as Donnie and Marie’s nauseating “I’m a Little Bit Country.” Such tunes are so unbearable to zombies that they will frantically try to dig a new grave to escape it. Thus, the codger is saved, and the zombie has earned its keep. 

The service zombie rental companies are amazingly efficient. When my service zombie, Ricardo of Spain, was delivered, the rental  techs had already installed his 10-foot by 10-foot cage, a replica of the White House oval office, complete with life-size replicas of the 45th president and first lady. It also features a TV monitor playing endless loops of Fox News.

When I asked why, the techs explained that zombies require an atmosphere of zero brain activity to remain docile and out of feeding mode. “The current White House and Fox News are as close as it gets,” they said.

Ricardo also arrived with several symbolic “13 each” containers of accessories. There were 13 full-length, black, zombie gowns emblazoned with 13 whimsical famous last words:

Look at that pretty mushroom cloud; No worries; I drive better drunk; This old ladder’s in great shape; Tree-trimming isn’t rocket science, you know; I can eat anything; There hasn’t been a train on these tracks in 20 years; Just pump the brakes; Believe me, that’s not a shark, it’s a carp; Don’t worry, it’s not loaded; Ok, fire it up; They say the volcano’s extinct; and People are crazy, but not that crazy.

In addition to the gowns, 13 vitally important zombie-repellant tunes were included as a special downloadable playlist. I found that Ricardo is particularly fearful of Kanye West. I need only say “Kanye” and Ricardo collapses into a fetal position. Those carefully tested tunes are:

  • Bobbie Goldsboro, “Watching Scotty Grow”
  • Sue Thompson, “Norman”
  • Kanye West, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen cover)
  • Celine Dion, “You Shook Me” (AC/DC cover)
  • Perez  Prado, “Patricia”
  • Debbie Boone, “You Light Up My Life”
  • Britney Spears, “Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones cover)
  • Johnny and the Hurricanes, “Rockin’ Goose”
  • Hillary Duff, “My Generation” (The Who cover)
  • Steve Lawrence, “Pretty Blue Eyes”
  • n Sammy Davis Jr., “Candy Man”
  • n Donny And Marie, “I’m a Little Bit Country”
  • n Mitch Miller, “Happy Days Are Here Again”

Ricardo also came with 13 bags of zombie food, a powder that is mixed with water to produce a gray, brain-like, lumpy, quivering, tasteless, viscous mass that is not unlike the cuisine served at local hospitals. Ricardo likes his with a dash of red pepper. Like many service zombie users, I have found Ricardo to be better company than my senior friends.

With Ricardo I get the same faint odor of decay and long, uncomfortable silences, but I don’t get the excruciating, tedious, boring conversations, like: “I still can’t find my dentures!” or “Have you seen the new price of Lipitor?” or “I get all of my incontinence supplies at CVS. How about you?” 

As a Halloween treat, I’m taking Ricardo to a Republican campaign event. When we travel, someone invariably sees my service zombie hat and asks “Which one’s the zombie?” I blush, knowing that even at my advanced age, I still resemble a well-embalmed corpse.

At the event, I will safely un-tether Ricardo and let him roam freely with his living-dead brethren, confident that such political gatherings are one of the few public happenings devoid of brain activity.


Author’s note: In these Orwellian times, where truth is stranger than fiction, I am compelled to inform any satire and hyperbole-impaired  readers that this piece is largely fictional. Write me at

Editor’s note: Gil Michaels has been covering the zombie technology scene for the Alameda Sun for more than a decade. For more on the phenomenon, see “New Store Provides for Local Zombies,” Oct. 26, 2017, and “Building Better Zombies,” Oct. 25, 2018.