Death of a Zombie

The Zombie Emergency Relief Organization is saddened to report that one of the children featured in our Wednesday’s Child post, Luigi, has succumbed to injuries sustained in an accident.

English: Grave stone at St Mary's

English: Grave stone at St Mary’s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luigi was not the poster child for zombie child rehabilitation.  He was our youngest resident and only toddler. Initially hopes were high he could be mainstreamed with the rest of  our children. Unfortunately his emotional development remained stuck at 18 months old. His tantrums, mood swings, and stubbornness tried the patience of staff members, but they never stopped trying.

They didn’t stop trying after the first staff member infection nor the second and third. Before he could infect a fourth, we instituted strict protocols for dealing with Luigi. These included wearing protective equipment adapted from bomb detonation units and lockdown procedures taken from a Super Max prison. There was a deep divide within the staff members between the belief that every zombie child deserves to be saved, and the knowledge that if you had to kill one zombie child, Luigi would be the one marked for death.

Regrettably, his impulsive toddler nature triggered the tragic event that took his life. When a small circus performed at our sanctuary, we couldn’t risk letting Luigi interact directly with the performers or the other children. Instead he watched the show via webcam. The act that most interested him was the sword-swallower.  We suspect the shiny knives caught his attention.  Afterwards, Luigi gravitated to any bright metal object in a knife-like shape.

Last night during Luigi’s evening walk around the play yard, he happened upon an area of the fence that was under construction. As part of a larger project, the  fences were being reinforced with metal spikes along the top rail.

Old metal fence post, Uptown New Orleans

Old metal fence post, Uptown New Orleans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fence panel had fallen and lay sideways, propped up by a rock. When Luigi saw it, his eyes lit up. He sped away from his caretakers and to the shiny metal. Once at the fence he put his mouth up to the spikes and attempted to “swallow” them. Unfortunately they were angled toward his brain and his forward momentum pushed the spikes into his brain. He died shortly afterward.

At the request of his grandparents, there will no service or calling hours. Donations may be made in Luigi’s memory to the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization.

Wednesday’s Child: Luigi, Toddler Terror

The Zombie Emergency Relief Organization dedicates this space to one special child each Wednesday to help people look past the zombie form and see the child within. None of our zombie kids asked to be zombified. In most cases they were bit by those they loved the most, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters, who succumbed to the disease and then spread it. Others were the victims of contamination at Cratchit Nutraceuticals, a company that made pituitary-derived human growth hormone. Seeking only to be as tall as their classmates, their hopes were dashed when they became flesh-eating monsters.

Zombie Walk in Edmonton

Zombie Walk in Edmonton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second wave of zombies, those bitten by siblings, include remarkably few infants and toddlers. Strange, in that infants and toddlers are less able to escape when attacked and they have over-sized heads, presumably making them a more attractive zombie target. For some reason, though, the number of surviving zombie toddlers is miniscule. In fact, Luigi is the only toddler at our facility.

Pittsburgh Zombie Walk 2011 - 95

Pittsburgh Zombie Walk 2011 – 95 (Photo credit: cory.cousins)

Luigi, our best guess puts him at eighteen months, was left at a Safe Haven drop off site at a local firehouse. Imagine the surprise of the firefighters, when they returned from fighting a 5 alarm fire and found a 3 foot tall, 30 pound infant flailing about in a large, duct-taped box. Actually, the firefighters were first surprised to find a large, reinforced box blocking their doorway. They were startled when it began to rock back and forth and they realized something was inside. They were shocked when they opened it and saw the child, a small bucket of frogs next to him. The squirming legs of a frog dangled from his cupid bow lips.

Luckily, one of the firemen had seen a news report on our organization and he convinced his coworkers to turn the child over to us, instead of using a fire ax on him. We’ve had several confirmed reports of Safe Haven sites executing zombie children dropped on their doorstep.

We wish we could say we’ve successfully acclimated Luigi to our facility, but we feel compelled to share the truth about our charges. Raising a zombie toddler is hard work. Luigi has not developed past the mental capacity of an 18 month old and that means he’s permanently stuck in the terrible twos. He can be stubborn.  Sometimes it takes three of our staff members to safely remove him from the common area when it is time for bed and he wants to stay up late. There is no sharing in his world and he covets every shiny thing he sees. When denied, he melts down into temper tantrums. Though hitting and biting is expected at his age, the transmission potential of zombie virus is high. Our staff members must wear full padding and face masks whenever they are within hand or mouth reach of Luigi.

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Normal toddler coping behaviors, such as thumb-sucking or hair twirling, aren’t possible due to Luigi’s chronic decomposition. This leads to increased tantrums and physical acting out. Working with Luigi is a high stress job, as nerve-racking as working for a bomb disposal unit. It’s also as dangerous.

Imagine the destructive nature of a toddler with a deadly bite and you can understand the reasons we treat Luigi as we do. Luigi is denied hugs and other physical signs of affection. He isn’t allowed to participate in group activities. Our physicians don’t believe he will ever grow past this stage, physically or emotionally. Though we try to give him as normal life as we can, we realize many would find his isolation and treatment barbaric. All we can do is try to keep everyone safe.

On that somber note, we remind you that we feed the zombie children so you won’t have to.

Zombie Emergency Relief Organization

Wednesday’s Child: Resilient Roni

sneeze
As our staff is stricken with “could be,” “maybe,” I’m not sure,” I don’t wanna say” it’s a cold or the flu, we take time to reflect on the experience of running a facility where none of the children can catch or spread respiratory infections. According to the CDC, “nearly 22 million school days are lost annually due to the common cold.” These school days aren’t just felt by the children, often times it’s the parents and teachers that feel the impact of these walking-talking-contagious kids. Days like today help us recognize that we’re fortunate to work with children who can only spread one type of virus.
Even so, zombies are vulnerable to certain ailments, most noticeably those that arise from their state of chronic decomposition. Roni, a bubbly fifteen year old with hair like Raggedy Annie, is the zombie child most afflicted with this.
Redhaired annies aka Raggedy Ann

Redhaired annies aka Raggedy Ann (Photo credit: almost witty)

Prior to her arrival at our facility, she spent at least a month wandering the back roads and woods of Maine. We can’t be certain, but we believe she was dropped off in the woods when her parents could no longer take care of her. We base this on the fact that no other zombies were found with her and normally as new zombies are infected they link up with the nearest group. Additionally, there were no zombie outbreaks reported in the county she was found in, making it likely she was transported from another area.
By the time she was found and transferred here, she had been wandering the woods for several months. Her hair was matted and thick with leaves and dirt. Her skin was covered with tears and cuts from the underbrush. Porcupine quills dotted her legs and several of her toes were missing. After a thorough washing and disinfection, our team of plastic surgeons went to work, suturing her lacerations, attaching toes, and tightening loosened and sagging skin. When they were done, she wasn’t the prettiest zombie in the room, but she had the biggest smile.
Our greatest concern, once the surgeons were done with her, was that she wouldn’t integrate with the other children as she had spent her entire zombie life alone. Zombies that are used to a pack, for lack of a better word, adjust easily to our facility and tend to follow along in activities and mimic the behavior of the others. Without any socialization, we feared Roni would fear the other children. Surprisingly, the first day we held her in isolation, she spent the day trying to walk through the fencing and join the other children. After a number of attempts, she gave up and stood at the fence, one hand clutching the cold metal, and moaned in harmony with the other kids. The second day, we allowed her to interact with two children while five of our staff members stood by, ready to intervene if necessary. Our worries were groundless. She had no hesitation in joining the group and spent the rest of the day happily following along. By the third day, we’d moved her into our least restrictive environment where she has remained to this day.
In spite of her massive reconstructive surgery and the almost weekly repairs that must be made to her skin, Roni remains pleasant and unafraid of our surgeons, seamstresses, and other staff members. Like the Energizer bunny, she continues to bounce back.
Zombies Invade San Francisco!

Zombies Invade San Francisco! (Photo credit: Scott Beale)

And, to give you an idea of what our work is like, in a normal residential children’s facility, one would spend this time of year looking for lost mittens and misplaced boots. We spend our time looking for missing fingers and misplaced toes. Keeping Roni intact is a big job, but we are up to the challenge.

Remember, we feed the zombies so you don’t have to.

Zombie Emergency Relief Organization

Wednesday’s Child: Madison

Photograph of a toddler holding a mop with a b...

Photograph of a toddler holding a mop with a bucket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every Wednesday we shine the spotlight on one of our zombie kids in an effort to cut through the negative stereotypes that abound regarding zombification. Madison, a toddler, has been a resident here since our earliest days. Much of her story remains unknown to us as we woke up one morning to find her, strapped in a shopping cart seat, on our doorstep. She was loved. We know that because her clothes were clean, her hair adorned with a big pink bow, and a laminated name tag hung from her shirt proclaiming, “Hi, I’m Madison.”

Whether it was her young age or our suspicion that she was never put out to fend for herself as a zombie, Madison was non-aggressive and eager to please from the first day. She would sit quietly in her high chair during feedings, eyes wide open and interested in the meal, but never lunging at the food or noisily clamoring for it. Her table manners were an inspiration as, early in our existence, we weren’t entirely sure of the capabilities of these children to exhibit self-control or good table manners.  She became the standard by which we measured the progress of our other children. Without her and her outgoing, playful attitude we may have never realized the freedom we could provide these children in a secure environment.
Over the Christmas holidays,  Madison became fixated on our janitorial staff’s’ cleaning carts. She started to follow the housekeepers and mimic their behavior. Armed with an imaginary dust rag or mini mop, she’d cheerfully play at wiping down counters, cleaning floors, and washing windows. After a few days, the housekeepers cut down a mop for her and gave her a small carry-all filled with sponges and rags.  Each morning they would wheel in their cleaning carts and present Madison with her supplies. Her squeals of glee filled the common area and, as the days went on, they provided her with cans of furniture polish and bottles of window cleaner. Amazingly enough, she used each of these gifts appropriately, never using the furniture polish on the windows or the window cleaner on the wood. For Christmas, the housekeeping staff chipped in and purchased Madison a cleaning outfit like theirs. Her smile when she opened that present warmed the room. While the other children opened their presents and filled up on our seasonal brain treats, Madison slipped into her new uniform and cleaned up after them. At the end of the day, despite the Holiday festivities, our common area was spotless. Madison’s decision to slip two cleaning pads over her shoes earned her a new nickname, our little Roomba.

Roomba

Roomba (Photo credit: pboyd04)

The recent loss of a housekeeper due to retirement left us wondering how we would fill the gap as many people are too fearful to work with our zombie child population.  Surprisingly the housekeeping staff asked that we not replace their missing member, they were content to keep Madison on as part of the team.  The money we’ve saved from this small change freed up the funds to add ten additional beds to our facility.  Madison deserves the credit for allowing us to expand and give more zombie children a normal childhood.

Remember, we feed the zombie children so you don’t have to.

Zombie Emergency Relief Organization

Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe

zombie puberty

zombie puberty (Photo credit: zenobia_joy)

Welcome to a new feature on our blog, Wednesday’s Child. Traditionally, the Wednesday’s child designation has been used for a foster child in care of the state hoping for a more permanent placement.  Obviously we can’t foster out our zombie children as most families don’t have the resources to cope with the challenging behaviors and emotional needs of these metabolically challenged children. What we can do, though, much like Feed the Children and other humanitarian organizations, is introduce you to the children we serve and ask you to find it in your heart to support them.

Our inaugural Wednesday’s Child is a bright, inquisitive twelve year old named Jacob who was one of the first residents in our program.

Jacob was the eldest of three children who lived with his mom and dad in a suburb outside of Philadelphia. One day, while his siblings napped, Jacob decided to take a book outside and read in the backyard.  Unfortunately, he was accosted by a stray zombie that day and infected. By the time his mother heard his cries, the damage was done. He’d been bit.
Janet, his mother, spent two weeks attempting to divide her time and energy managing Jacob’s new behaviors while  protecting her other children from his overwhelming desire to eat them. In desperation, she purchased a large outdoor dog kennel to house him. Luckily,  while trying to corral Jacob into it,  a neighbor saw Janet and referred her to our facility.
Janet arrived skeptical, but like most of our visitors, she acknowledged Jacob’s needs were difficult to meet. She left him with us for the weekend and went home to her other two children. For the first time in two weeks she was able to enjoy quality time with her children and sleep without worrying Jacob would infect his brothers. When she returned on Monday, she was overjoyed to find that Jacob was well-fed and well-managed. She turned his care over to us.
 As part of Yellow Group, Jacob enjoys carrying books and shuffling outside during his free time. He interacts appropriately with the others in the Yellow Group, enjoys watching Sponge Bob Square Pants, playing Whack-A-Mole, and playing in the Bouncy House. With the proper guidance and restrictions Jacob is safe and thriving, as are his siblings.  Janet and her husband visit monthly and have been two of our biggest supporters, hosting informational sessions in the Philadelphia region to educate parents about our services.
Like any other illness or condition, the zombie transformation is not a death sentence, but an overall family adjustment. Most parents automatically assume keeping their child zombie home is the right thing to do, but contained, supervised living is fast becoming a preferred alternative for educated parents and guardians of zombie children. Numerous tragedies have happened and will continue to occur when zombie children are not handled by trained professionals.
The care and management of zombie children is a full-time job. Trust your loved ones to the staff at the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization. We care, we’re kind, and we’ll keep all of your children safe.