It’s three o’clock in the morning. I wake up and have to pee. I get up out of bed.
But first: some background.
My boyfriend and I both suffer from chronic insomnia. When either of us does manage to sleep it’s not so much a miracle or luck as it is testament to the Modern Tools of Sleep. Besides the sleep drugs we both take, we also keep our bedroom pitch black thanks to expensive, custom-fitted blackout shades. Boyfriend usually gets up more often and so has a straight shot to the bedroom door, whereas I have to make my way around the foot of the bed and stumble blindly in the dark toward the faint outlines of light that demarcate the exit. We have a set of bookshelves that block my view of these outlines until I’m right in front of the door. I should add that both of us sleep with industrial-grade foam earplugs in our ears.
Let’s return to the darkness.
So as I’m rounding the corner of the bed and fumbling in the general direction of the door there is sudden movement in the room. My boyfriend has gotten out of bed roughly five seconds after I have. I become aware of a shambling figure off to my left, headed straight in my direction. I know rationally that it’s my boyfriend, but some irrational zombie-fearing part of me takes over and I can only perceive him as an attacking ghoul.
My brain is waging battle – Zombie! Boyfriend! Zombie! Boyfriend! – and meanwhile he’s getting closer and closer. I’m nearly to the door, but I can’t find it, so I’m crashing into bookshelves and panicking. I debate backing up. But I really have to pee and, besides, I had this idea first. Now I’m desperately trying to reach the door before he does, looking for its edges, groping for the doorknob. The whole time, I know that if he walks into me then we’ll both start screaming. Then I start laughing because that would be so awful and hilarious.
I find the doorknob in time. As I throw open the door, I look back and there he is, my zombie boyfriend. As the light from the hallway hits him he freezes in mid-step, his hands grasping, his head cocked slightly, his lips slightly parted, eyes rebelling against the assault. And in that moment, he has never looked more like a zombie to me. A beautiful, vulnerable, most human zombie. My zombie.