Watching Ethical Treatment of Dead Ends and Means

Posted: March 20, 2012 in History, Safe House Lore
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As long as man has walked the Earth we have found ways to show ritualistic reverence for our dead. From burial at sea, to being placed into the ground, to being burnt to ash, or my personal favorite, torn apart and eaten by vultures so that our bodies can renew life, we have shown honor to our loved ones. I can only imagine what it is like for those vultures now when they come to feed and find themselves being the feast. But here in North America, and other areas of the world, from before the outbreak to our post hellish existence there is another ritual that many of us participate in after the death of a loved one. I speak of course about the reading of the will.

In the past it was such readings that allowed you to get an insight into the family dynamic that would never been truly appreciated while the deceased was alive. For some a will was an expression of love and caring for those left behind. For others it was a last spiteful attack upon ones the deceased felt had slighted them in life. Either way it was and still is a true final word because nobody can dispute the dead. Fight them, kill their shell of a body but not really argue out in an intellectual manner the rights and deserved accolades that the living left behind deserve.

When the crisis broke out there were many who had wealth but either not enough wealth, or not enough influence, or perhaps just powerful enemies that prevented them from being in the Green Zone. You can always pick such people out in a survivor camp. They are the ones set bemoaning their fate and how unfair it is. While they are not often bold enough to state they are stuck among rabble you can see it in their eyes and the way they treat their fellow camp members. There is little privacy in most camps and often one becomes front stage audience members to social family dynamics that previously would have been only seen behind closed doors. Who needs paparazzi when we have true reality drama in front of us?

I witnessed such an event while shopping with the Rite Aid gals in ATCO’s markets. You could see by the cut of their clothes and the labels that once this family (a mother and three offspring) had big house likely with a pool and possibly a maid. The kind of house that has at least two garages and likely each family member had their own car. Andigator noted them first, nudging at ossea nodding her head towards the argument that had started. ossea elbowed frostcraft who tapped Lamoh’s shoulder, who in turn kicked at carlagsuperstar’s leg. carlagsuperstar growled out, “what? Can’t you see I’m talking?” as she and I had been discussing a backpack we were thinking of buying but her and I turned to watch the fight that broke out between the two brothers.

I would like to say it was a true gentleman’s fisticuffs fight. The sort of fight their genteel and “good breeding” seemed to suggest that they have. Instead it was a knock down, hair pull, biting fight. And biting is a very dangerous thing to use. Most safe houses will kick you out to the curb for having a human bite, even if you get someone to admit to having bitten you while not being infected. The daughter and mother shrieked and used their purses to smack the boys trying to break apart the fight but it was ATCO’s security that had to step in and pull them apart.

Turns out the whole fight was over a broken Rolex with a cracked crystal face. The watch had belonged to their father, a man who apparently was a giant among the furniture sales industry, well respected and wealthy. I hope the Zee that bite him fully appreciated just how great a man it was infecting at the time, because to hear the family wail about him to security he was apparently a giant and would have sued them all for their rough treatment of the boys. Driven from their home, fleeing the horde of Zees that had over run their location, the family had left behind most of the trappings of their station. All they had left at this point was their clothes and their father’s watch. I would have been interested in knowing how they managed to get the watch from their infected father but that part of the story never came out in the conversation. The boys had been fighting over who should inherit this bit of wealth, the elder and senior sibling, or the youngest who had clearly been daddy’s favorite. Any will that would have been written was lost to some lawyer’s office in a location now far beyond reach.

ATCO’s security dragged off the family. I would predict that they will have to learn to work ATCO’s farms if they wish to remain sheltered there or likely will be kicked out of the sanctuary and left to their own devices. It brought up a conversation between the girls and me about former wills and the rights to loot the dead. All of us have seen things on the dead that should likely have gone to survivors, if they were still alive. Engraved pendants, watches or jewelry, or items personal in nature like photographs and obvious family heirlooms are just a few of the examples we could think of offhand. Was it ethical to keep these items? Was there an obligation to find the survivors and hand them over what memories they have left?

Lamaoh, clearly a sentimental soul, argued that we should, when possible. frostcroft mentioned a time she was in an Raider scavenging party and came across a whole block that had been turned to Zee. When destroying an entire family of infected, that seemed to wipe out any obligation to even consider looking further, she argued. ossea and Andigator found the entire conversation distasteful and pointed out that having an official response might encourage bounties on the heads of Rite Aid members, especially if they have rival family members out there. I had remained quiet through most of it but carlagsuperstar turned to me and asked my opinion.

I was not truly comfortable responding. These ladies, with their near undead appearance, were among those I counted as friends. However there have been times when I felt guilt at what I took from the dead, imagining how I would feel if my mother’s favorite ring was returned to me or a picture of my brother and his wife came into my hands. I did not even know if they were alive or dead. “You guys all know that I have been reaching out in radio and on the CVC to as many as I can.” I started talking slowly at first, sounding out my own thoughts. “I came across two researchers from a group that call themselves Zombease. Decent folk really, you can send in requests for research and they will respond. I’m actually waiting on a response from them now regarding a Zee question I had. Anyway, they talked about the ethics of looting the dead and if it is grave robbing. I joined that conversation briefly and from that I was directed to a card they have created. I am using it now.”

I dug into my pocket and pulled out the card to show them. It is my official last will and testament in pocket size format. It released any obligation from the living to hold back from looting my corpse, should I turn into a Zee. The girls crowded around and peered at it before glancing up at me. One of them muttered, “I’m not sure they got all the indicators correct.” ossea put her hand on my shoulder and added, “Don’t you worry, if it comes down to that, Rite Aid will make sure you get a proper burial.”

I smiled in response and looked towards where the fight had been, the family long since gone. “Yeah well, if it comes down to that, just make sure Bees and Malk don’t turn into dumbasses over my gear. They already know who should get what in any case.” And that is really what it is about. We do not have time for lengthy legal documents anymore. Life is too fleeting and too precious. Focus on the living and being alive, and as for the dead, be practical. Take what you need, not just what you want, and look to who can best use what is offered. Most of all, talk about your possible death with those you love. It is an uncomfortable topic, but do not leave it for them to decide and fight over when you are gone. They will have enough to fight against just to keep living.

Thanks to the researchers at Zombease for allowing me to use their created Last Will and Testament. I look forward to seeing your research on my oddball question!

  1. Jake says:

    Great post, it’s beautiful, sad, important, and very well written.
    I’m glad you had a chance to print out a Will and Testament card, I carry mine everywhere I go!
    Thanks again for the interest and the mention. Keep up the good work!

    • chyrampsc says:

      Thank you again for being willing to share it with me. You guys do great work and I look forward to checking in with your updates!

      • misfitmeow says:

        Chyram how may I get in touch with you please?

      • chyrampsc says:

        Hello misfitmeow! There are a few ways you can get in touch with me. You can find me on PAL under the name Chyram. You can also send me comments here. But likely the easiest if you want to contact me in private is sending me a private message on the PSC forums. If you want to exchange emails with me, send me a private message on the PSC forums and I’ll give you my email address there. 🙂

        (If you’re not sure how to do that let me know and I’ll explain the steps.)

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