Performance Review Of The Damned

by Matthew Green

It was an easy question to answer.  “I spend a lot of time thinking about zombies, actually.”

“Then tell me about your accomplishments for the year.  How many traps have you completed?”

“About seven dozen, give or take.”

“And how many of those were deployed?”

“All of them.”  A moment, then “Can you tell me how many of my traps caught a zombie?”

The supervisor shifted in place.  “That’s secured information.”

“Well, I think it’s relevant.  I keep building traps, and they keep being sent out, but I never hear that we’ve caught any.”

“You don’t have to worry about that.”

“It would be nice to know is all.  To know that what I’m doing here is worthwhile.”

“Everyone here has his or her task.  Are you growing tired of your job?”

“Not the work, no.  The atmosphere could use some improvement.”

“How so?” the supervisor asked, becoming defensive.

“I like building traps, don’t get me wrong.  Things in the city are changing though.  The council cut my pay… cut everyone’s pay, actually… without any explanation.”

“Times are tough all over.”

“Yes, but since nobody ever comes into or leaves the city, all of the money stays right here, so why is there suddenly less of it?”

“That’s secured information.”

“And another thing, why are so many things that used to be freely available suddenly kept behind locks?  I have to get permission now to go into the trap supply room, but it’s my job to build the traps, so why do I need the permission each and every time I go there?”

“Surely you can agree that the supplies need to be kept under guard.  We’re running low on parts.”

“Of course we are since I keep building traps out of the parts.  We only had so many when we sealed up the city gates.  Are we trapping any zombies at all?”

“That’s secur-”

“I know.  But just tell me this: do I need to keep building traps?  If we’re not catching any zombies, shouldn’t I work on something else?  I mean, the countryside should be littered with traps by now and nobody in the watchtowers has seen a zombie in years.  Maybe we can finally leave the city.”

“How do you know that there hasn’t been a reported zombie sighting in so long?  That’s secured infor-”

“Some of the guards and I talk sometimes.  Compare notes.”

“You’re really not supposed to do that.  There’s a chain of command that has to be followed.”

“I’ve never really understood that.  We’re all people here just trying to live our lives.  We’re all working towards the same goal.  We’re all stuck here inside the city.  You’d think we could all just work together instead of having to stick to defined leadership roles so rigidly.”

“The others and I all work very hard keeping this place safe and secure.”

“From what?  The outbreak seems to be over.  One of the guards saw some people out picking apples out in the distance last week.  And don’t tell me that that’s secured information because I know and, frankly, I don’t care.”

“Your source is mistaken.  Those were zombies.”

“Zombies don’t jump and laugh and pick apples.  Zombies shamble and stumble.  These are definitely people.  Happy, healthy people.  With an apple craving.”

“Let’s talk about your workshop.  We’ll have to break down a wall next week, and you’ll have to share your space with one of the gardeners.”

“What?  I’m crammed into that little room as it is.”

“Also, we’ll need another two dozen traps by next Wednesday.”

“Well that’s just impossible.  And why do you need so many more traps so soon without zombies out there to catch?”

“Your cooperation during crunch time is appreciated.”

“Don’t tell me that.  This is downright unfair and you know it.  I’ve worked hard without question for years and I’ve taken the little injustices, but frankly, I’ve had enough.  Our whole system has been changed to keep us working on pointless tasks while you and your buddies take a little more away each month in the name of safety and security and tightening belts.  Pay, rations, space… you lock away our basic tools and require authorization for everything.  What happened?  We used to be so productive.  We used to be so happy!”

“The zombie outbreak changed everything.  Also, I’ll need status reports twice a day.”

“But that’s over now!  We can go back to the way things used to be!”

The supervisor leaned into the table and, with crossed hands, said “Look, you’re welcome to leave if you don’t like it here.  If you’re really so sure that the outbreak is over, that is.  If you’ve grown tired of having guarrenteed basic comforts.  If you have somewhere else to go.  If you can find some other city to take you in.  Maybe it’ll be better there.  Maybe worse.  Or you can stay here, safe and secure under our guiding leadership.”

A hesitation.  “Two dozen, huh?  I’ll need you let me in to the supply room.”

The supervisor grinned.  “Make it an even three.”