Friday, March 27, 2009

Zombies attack Pennsylvania! Again! Sort of…

Late night commuters in the Richlandtown area were the first to be warned of the dangers awaiting them. As they headed towards their destinations on Route 212 last weekend, they couldn't help but notice the alert posted for motorists on the roadside digital message board: "ZOMBIES AHEAD."

Pennsylvania has a long history of being plagued with swarms of zombies. In the late sixties, the dead inexplicably rose and began feasting on the flesh of the living. Swarms of these reanimated corpses swarmed over rural Pennsylvania, forcing survivors to board themselves up in secluded farm houses on that fateful Night of the Living Dead. Nearly a decade later, massive hordes of homicidal corpses (and the occasional biker gang) would drive people into shopping malls to wait out the shambling cannibalistic cadavers during the Dawn of the Dead. Since then, you could barely throw a rock in Pennsylvania without hitting an undead creature thirsting to feast upon the flesh of the living.

They live again! Well, sort of…

Pennsylvania motorists reading the zombie alert were warned not about living dead fiends, but of a new brand of mischievous pranksters running around. Armed with online instructions on how to gain access to the control panels of electronic traffic signs, rebellious teenagers (we assume) are hacking into the systems across the country and posting roadside warnings of their own. Oddly enough, the majority of pranksters involved in these shenanigans must be huge fans of zombie entertainment like Brian Keene's The Rising, Patrick O'Donnell's Zombie Factory, and Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide. This would explain why most of the tampered messages feel the need to proclaim the imminent danger that the supposedly swarming ghouls pose.

Most law enforcement officials have described these acts as childish vandalism and techno-geek tomfoolery. But maybe these random warnings of zombie attacks are just the sort of wakeup all we need. Those commuters who were simply amused by the roadside warning might be shocked to know that a recent 2005 study found that Pennsylvania is still completely unprepared for the eventuality of a zombie apocalypse. How many states have enacted a Zombie Alert System? To my knowledge, the number still stands at zero.

When the dead eventually do rise from their eternal slumber and feast upon us, we can claim to have been caught off guard, but we can't say that we were not cautioned.

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