Firstly, sorry Chad, but immitation IS the sincerist form of flattery. Sure, I could have suggested that you do a Memory Card on this topic but, A: you may have not had this memory and, B: suggesting you do this as a request on my behalf would be like me asking you to do my lady friend. Just a litttle too personal, you know?
This story starts a while back, if memory serves it was around '97 or '98, and I'd rented a PSOne from a video store to play Resident Evil. I'd been a gorewhore my whole life, and a zombie nut to boot, so the idea of something that fed both those desires was too much for me to resist. The thing is, I was poor, so the extra ten dollars for a memory card seemed a bit much, hence my decision to skip renting one.
I played Resident Evil for the next 8 hours without dying or switching the machine off, every time I hit too hard a puzzle, I would go away, maybe have a cup of tea, and return afresh, only to conquer the problem. Then I got killed by that motherfucking plant-boss.
The point is not the plant or the loss (heartbreaking as it was), but that, within that time, I had grown deeply involved in the Resident Evil universe and there was no going back. I had always had a deep interest in the concept of Zombies, from my knowledge of the Haitian roots of the idea, to my own theories on the modern day cannon of films and it was in the Files of Resident Evil that I found my sustinance.
I wanted explaination. I wanted theory. I wanted closure.
Then I got to the Keepers Diary, and one of the best pieces of gaming literature ever. Now, by literature, I mean actual written-to-be-read word, not delivered dialogue, as transcribed (copied and pasted from DEngel) here...
May 9, 1998
Played poker tonight with Scott and Alias from Security, and Steve from
Research. Steve was the big winner, but I think he was cheating. Scumbag.
May 10, 1998
One of the higher-ups assigned me to take care of a new creature. It looks
like a skinned gorilla. Feeding instructions were to give it live animals.
When I threw in a pig, the creature seemed to play with it...tearing off the
pig's legs and pulling out the guts before it actually started eating.
May 11, 1998
At around 5 A.M., Scott woke me up. Scared the shit out me, too. He was
wearing a protective suit. He handed me another one and told me to put it on.
Said there'd been an accident in the basement lab.
I just knew something like this would happen. Those bastards in Research never
sleep, even on holiday.
May 12, 1998
I've been wearing the damn space suit since yesterday. My skin's getting grimy
and feels itchy all over. The goddamn dogs have been looking at me funny, so I
decided not to feed them today. Screw 'em.
May 13, 1998
Went to the Infirmary because my back is all swollen and feels itchy. They put
a big bandage on it and told me I didn't need to wear the suit anymore. All I
wanna do is sleep.
May 14, 1998
Found another big blister on my foot this morning. I ended up dragging my foot
all the way to the dog's pen. They were quiet all day, which is weird.
Then I realized some of them had escaped. Maybe this is their way of getting
back at me for not feeding them the last three days. If anybody finds out,
I'll have my head handed to me.
May 16, 1998
Rumours going around that a researcher who tried to escape the estate last
night was shot. My entire body feels hot and itchy and I'm sweating all the
I scratched the swelling on my arm and a piece of rotten flesh just dropped
off. What the hell's happening to me?
May 19, 1998
Fever gone but itchy. Today hungry and eat doggie food.
May 21, 1998
Itchy itchy Scott came ugly face so killed him. Tasty.
This is brilliant. Beautiful even.
Firstly, it creates a dynamic universe by throwing the reader into an existing point with characters and events that are important to the protagonist but remain undescribed. This removes the sense of fiction from it. The poker game and it's characters stands as an easy way of making a real space.
Then the brilliance starts.
How many people, with words or film, have ever really captured the change from human to zombie with such pathos. This is a person, who hates cheats and uses the word "scumbag" changing into a cannibalstic corpse. It's the thought process of Zombification.
Writing this without it being a descent into pathetic cliche ("BRAINS!") is tricky but the author behind this succeeded admirably. The itching and necrotic flesh are nice but obvious, so the key to the success of this lays in the final lines.
"Scott came face ugly so killed him", this is good writing. This is motivation, for a goddamned ZOMBIE, motivation for a shuffling cannibal. Nobody has ever put such nuanced feelings into a ravenous creature of the dark before (the "Living Dead" movies are retarded and don't count, the zombie gas station attendant in Land of the Dead is after this and doesn't count either), so this stands as a real achievement. The zombie, the shambling humanoid death pile, found the human ugly.
Did anyone ever think about that before? Think about that now and you will find it opens a real possiblility for the psycho-evaluation of the living impared. IT finds US ugly, this adds intent beyond hunger, it even adds the idea that it may be more afraid of us than we are of it.
And the final line, the last consciously recorded thought, "itchy tasty". This has become a catchphrase of mine, one that often requires explaination, but one I love nonetheless. Whenever I find myself without a thing to say, dumbstruck to the point of zombie, I tend toward this phrase. It succinctly describes a mind that is going to the point of being halfway out the door but it does it with sympathy.
The writer cared about this character, this zombied man, his last thoughts weren't malignant or cruel, just different. He was hungry and itchy and Scott was ugly. I know what I'd do in that situation. read