What follows is sort of long. But give it a few minutes. Because doing so could just save your life.
To begin with, you should know that at the Real Deal Brazil, our own zombie-killing bona fides run far deeper than just our being the hat worn by that wildass Woody Harrelson in Zombieland.
Because we at The Real Deal Brazil have prevented the worst of all possible things, something of cataclysmic awfulness, something formerly just the realm of horror flicks and fantasy fiction. We have, you see, recently foiled an insidious global plot to enslave us all – by turning us all into zombies. Real ones. We’re talking full-on zombie horde here, with horrible oozy dead people lurching around lusting after the tender sweetmeats of the still-living, plus the usual stuff going boom, societies collapsing, the human race going out like a light, etc., the whole apocalyptic ball of wax. This is all true, of course, else we wouldn’t be telling you about it.
We should mention here that we didn’t do all of this on purpose. But accidentally saving humanity still counts! Cuz while most of you have been busy going to work, or maybe beating the Metropolis level in Halo 2 or finishing a crossword puzzle, we, on the other hand, have made it so nearly everyone alive is not now lumbering around soulless, in rags for clothes and with one eye hanging out of their heads, trying to eat the mailman’s brains, while one of the few remaining living human beings – decked out, no doubt, in one of our fabulously protective Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hats! – tries to blow all your undead brains out with a sawed-off Smith & Wesson loaded with chopped-up construction nails. Your welcome.
We don’t, however, suggest you try confirming any of this. It’s just not safe to do that! The People Who Control All the Stuff You Always Secretly Suspected Was Controlled by Someone Who Would Kill You if Ever You Learned About It will surely track you down, toot sweet. These pitiless evildoers will then arrange it so you yourself might quickly qualify to become a zombie, so to speak. See, these are just bad people. Truly awful. So it’s best to simply trust us on this one, OK? We’re heroes of the highest order, after all, which automatically makes us very trustworthy.
The story here is expectedly dark and twisted, traversing oceans and spanning continents, and involving, of course, shadowy ne’er-do-wells with unlimited financial means and hard-to-pronounce names jam-packed with consonants and very few vowels. But mostly it’s about a guy named Ted, a laid-off Coney Island Tilt-a-Whirl operator from Jersey City prone to lousy judgment, and with a fashion sense straight out of a Nick Nolte mug shot.
This whole thing actually went down only about a month ago. Really, it was just that recently, and you hadn’t so much as the faintest idea, right? Scary stuff.
It happened like this: Ted, resplendent in an ocean-blue nightmare of a shirt excruciatingly detailed with orange parrots and blood-red hibiscus blooms, was camping out at his cousin Tony’s Hamilton Square Condo, on the opposite side of Jersey City from Ted’s own rent-free room in his parents’ single-story walkup. Tony had a steady state job, and sometimes his ex would even let him keep his 9-year-old son, though mostly, no. It was a few minutes after 11 p.m. on a Friday, following two solid hours of Ted and Tony slamming Jaeger shots with Heineken chasers every time someone on MTV said “yo!” A hammered Tony had just turned in, scheduled to pull a double the next day working a turnpike tollbooth. (You can safely check this last detail. Call the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Ask if they’ve got a guy named Tony working for them. They do. You’ll see.)
With Tony off to bed, Ted made a beeline for his cousin’s fridge; per usual, there was nothing good to eat in there. And Ted had a sudden yen for a salami-and-cheese sub, though he probably should have just settled for a couple slices of Tony’s bologna. Good sense, never in overabundance with Ted anyway, was right then in particularly short supply. Because he was actually a whole lot more hammered than his cousin (Ted had taken a shot even when someone on MTV said “you,” reasoning that it was still “yo,” just with an extra letter). But how was he gonna make it the dozen blocks south and half a block west to Esperanto’s Pizzeria before they closed at midnight? Ted couldn’t see blowing his unemployment on a friggin’ cab ride, y’know? Of course, if he’d just checked with the restaurant to begin with, problem solved; Esperanto’s has free delivery. If he’d checked, which he didn’t.
And so it was that Ted set out from Tony’s precariously perched atop Tony’s kid’s nuclear-green BMX bike with the big silver sticker that said “CHAOS” on it. Ted’s knees came up so high he could barely keep his balance, but sometimes you just want a nice salami-and-cheese, so what the hell, y’know? Ted also nabbed a Heiny for the road, plus that crazy-cool Real Deal Brazil hat his cousin had bought online after seeing that effed-up zombie flick with the bartender from Cheers in it. And damn if it didn’t make him look kind of cool, too – in an out-of-work-carny-in-a-loud-Hawaiian-shirt-and-swim-trunks sort of way. Seeing himself in the hall mirror reminded Ted he really needed to ask his ma to do some of his laundry soon. His swim trunks were the only thing by way of pants that were sort of clean when Tony had dropped by to pick him up earlier. Up until then, Ted had just been kinda laying around in his underwear.
Ted got his directions fouled up from the start, wobbling out of Hamilton Square going north. A few blocks and a poorly chosen right turn later, and he was pedaling due east on 12th Street, coming up short on a slowing Sunoco gas truck. In another what-the-hell moment, he grabbed hold of the truck bumper with his left hand, figuring the driver would be going slow through town and Ted wouldn’t have to pedal any more for a bit. He was already badly winded. It was all he could do to hold his beer in his right hand and still keep a grip on the bike handlebar, too.
It occurred to Ted a bit too late that he was now, in fact, headed straight into the Holland Tunnel, unseen in the truck shadows. As the lanes converged down to two and the driver started speeding up, Ted had the sudden presence of mind to freak out a little, letting loose of the bumper. Confusion gave way to terror as Ted found himself squeezed between the two lanes of westbound traffic, which were actually moving at a pretty good clip for the tunnel. Gritting his teeth through the horn blats and eff yous, Ted pointed the bike just as hard as he could, straight down that blessed centerline. There was nowhere else to go but forward.
After what felt like hours of frantic peddling – it was actually right at 17 minutes – Ted glimpsed the tunnel exit just ahead. The relief that overcame him caused him to lose all focus. “Oh, God!” his mind screamed, upon realizing he’d just drifted too far left. “Oh, Jesus! I’m dead! I’m dead!”
Ted wasn’t aware he’d maneuvered himself into a brief lull in left-lane traffic. Immediately, he jerked back wildly to the right, his spastic movement launching him straight over into the other lane instead; Ted’s head came just inches from colliding with the souped-up Impala then passing fast beside him. So it seemed almost like a dream when he heard what later he was pretty sure was a car grinding against the left tunnel wall behind him, then a sound back to his right like metal being pounded apart by giant hammers. But all that was drowned out by an unholy explosion, followed then by sudden wave of heat pressing against his back like a furious fist. “I shoulda just had the bologna!” Ted’s mind howled. “I shoulda just eaten Tony’s freakin’ bologna!”
And then Ted and his little green bike were spilling out into the cool air of Canal Street in lower Manhattan, just feet ahead of a careening metal fireball that finally scraped and skidded and slammed into a mangled heap against the left guard wall.
By then Ted had become blind terror itself. Scooting down every side street he chanced upon, he finally came to an exhausted halt at a stoplight about 15 minutes later, more sober than he’d ever been in his life, and with his heart beating about two feet in front of his chest. Ted found himself then on Catherine Street, the heart of Chinatown, with a tiny wrinkled woman in an oversized straw hat trying to sell him a live chicken. He started laughing in a gasping sputter, then promptly burst into tears. Only later, after scarfing down an egg roll that tasted like a grease fire, did Ted realize he’d left Tony’s wearing his cousin’s favorite hat, and that hat was now no longer atop his head. Tony was going to take a pretty dim view of this. Also, come to think of it, Ted had Tony’s kid’s bike, too. And then there was that whole thing about a car that apparently had, y’know, blown up behind him. And all he’d freakin’ wanted was a freakin’ Italian sub, y’know?
It took Ted much of the rest of the night, but he managed to pedal all the way down to Coney Island. He still had a couple bucks left, and when the parks opened in the morning, he was gonna ride the Tilt-a-Whirl.
Cut to about eight months prior, to the tiny Eastern European country of Banglivoria, a place you’ve never heard of because some – including the citizens of Banglivoria themselves – insist it doesn’t even exist.
Banglivoria is less a distinct country than it is a ferociously guarded private theme park of bad, worse and worst – imagine a Disneyland for the world’s tyrants, terrorists and thugs, for those ex-CIA goons who killed Kennedy and the NASA jokers who faked the moon landings, for the bloke pretending to be Paul McCartney, for former Third World despots and Illuminati New World Order-ites, for blood-diamond profiteers, Facebook spammers, horse thieves and beyond. Also, Simon Cowell, ex of American Idol. The tiny Balkan country’s ruling elite decided, upon carving out the place in the mid 1980s from hinterlands its neighbors had no use for once a certain outlandish selling price was established, that it was far more profitable to auction itself to the highest bidder than to bother with such vagaries as the global economy or such bureaucratic claptrap as taxation.
In Banglivoria, they don’t return phone calls, and all mail addressed there comes back stamped “SORRY, NO SUCH PLACE.” Though appearing on no map and not recognized by any other country, Banglivoria is, in fact, very real, the world’s most secretive, and permissive, service economy. (Think Vegas, but with a thick accent and Texas-size bollocks.) For the right price, your every nasty little wish is their very willing command.
It was here that a small summit of the world’s most powerfully and imaginatively corrupt met to discuss a plot to bring about the kind of global domination usually only boasted about in Superman movies with a young Gene Hackman. Turn the people of the world into nonliving, breathing zombies, the thinking went, and then turn those zombies into slaves for us, the world’s most powerfully and imaginatively corrupt.
“Oh, please,” you yourself may now be saying. “That’s all just more silly movie talk.” Oh, if only. If only!
Offer a bunch of godless scientists some fat cash incentives and killer stock options in the expanding Asian market, a mention in People magazine of having once dated Adriana Lima, a catered dinner with Leonard Nimoy and an open bar, and just watch how long before humanity isn’t drooling all over itself in hunger for a taste of its own flesh is all we’re sayin’!
These science sellouts began by extracting the potent alkaloids from what’s commonly called devil’s weed (scientific name datura stromoniom, the basis of the Haitian voodoo paste known as the zombie cucumber) and infusing it with select DNA strands swiped from hemodialysis blood from Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, the crusty eye deposits of several South American three-toed sloths and liposuction leftovers from unaging pop icon Cher. They then added a couple shakes of powdered human pineal gland, two jiggers of Vicks Nyquil and roughly 17 ounces of that artificial maple syrup flavor in Jimmy Dean’s Chocolate Chip Sausage & Pancakes on a Stick, irradiating the whole horrid brew with a highly focused blast of Strontium 90. And voilà, liquid-evil concentrate.
This undeath-dealing concoction was to be unleashed into select urban water supplies worldwide by simply pouring it into any sink, shower drain or toilet. Once drawn back to the water-treatment facility and then piped out again, the life-corroding compound would, even after heavy filtration, chlorination and massive dilution, begin to fulfill its despicable purpose, with just a few seemingly innocent sips from a glass of tainted water turning a living human being into an ambulatory enslaved corpse with a raging case of the cerebellum munchies. As in first you’re dead and then you’re not, and then it’s all “Zombie, fetch me my slippers” and “Zombie, go overthrow the government” and “Zombie, tell me you love me.”
The inaugural test site had always been a foregone conclusion. New York City. Of course. Because the world would simply overlook the widespread manifestation of zombie traits as just another example of what typically passes in the Big Apple as native charm. Then, by the time the wretched truth was fully understood, the new zombies would already, in essence, be breeding their own, in their inevitable quest for untainted human flesh.
Bingo, the start of your basic zombie apocalypse.
Ten lead-lined vials of the vile solution were shipped into Newark on a pallet of Chinese plush toys that themselves would have sent any working Geiger counter into a whacked-out conniption fit. The vials were to be shepherded into New York City by a former Geffen Records executive, the same guy who had signed pop super-group ASIA back in the ’80s. An unrepentantly evil man, and already something of a zombie himself, when you get right down to it. Once in the city, he’d drive a block in any direction to a Starbucks where, following a quick latte, he’d pay a visit to the bathroom, shut himself in the stall and basically flush humanity straight down the toilet.
The driver had been uneventfully navigating his black Lexus eastbound through the Holland Tunnel when, just within sight of the exit, he was startled by some moron in an atypical hat and an impossibly loud shirt furiously pedaling a kid’s bike straight down the centerline. The bicyclist himself then appeared startled, jerking the bike headlong into the driver’s path before overcorrecting in an arc that nearly sent him into the side of another car bearing up hard on the right. With one arm up as if to block the feared collision – and what the hell was that in his hand? A beer? – the guy on the bike promptly knocked loose his hat and dropped his brew. The hat, tumbling over his left shoulder, bounced atop the hood of the Lexus and up against the windshield. The driver impulsively flipped on his wipers, which promptly hung up on the sturdy fabric of the Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat, jamming the twitching blades and blocking all forward visibility. At once blinded, the driver involuntarily yanked down on the steering wheel, and the Lexus struck the left curb at a hard angle, its wheels catapulting upward to be pinned against the metal pedestrian barricade. The fireworks display of sparks from rims grinding against steel caused an immediate chain reaction in drivers to the rear; slamming brakes brought traffic to a standstill amid a sea of fender-benders. In the minutes to come, the stalled New York and Jersey drivers, exceptionally skilled in the art of verbal offense, found themselves with that rare stage worthy of their talents. You couldn’t get an eff you in edgewise.
Things for the Lexus were meanwhile getting worse. The metal barricade collapsed, slamming the left side of the car against the base of the tunnel wall, where the torque from the spinning wheels jerked the vehicle even further left, flipping it onto its hood. The Lexus careened then like a pinball across the tunnel, rocketing off the right wall and hurtling back left again to go skidding straight out into Canal Street. The gasoline pouring from the car’s cracked tank about then found its opportune spark, converting car, beheaded driver and dark cargo into a blast of blistering energy that finally slammed to a mangled halt about five yards beyond the tunnel’s mouth. And just feet ahead of it all was Ted, pumping the pedals on Tony’s son’s tiny bike and staring straight ahead with all his earthly might.
Wow, huh? It just kind of staggers the imagination a bit, doesn’t it?
Just think of it: If Ted had set out that fateful night wearing just any hat, where would the rest of us all be about now? On our way to ordering the new McBrains Sandwich at McZombie’s and using splinters of our former neighbor’s bones to pick at our crumbling teeth, that’s where!
So at the risk of stating the obvious: Without our heroic Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat, the world as we know it would be on its way to a blunt, brutish life of continual undeath. A tragedy of almost inconceivable magnitude, to be sure, and averted by us, the humble folks at The Real Deal Brazil.
But please keep in mind that the formula for that toxic zombie-making concoction is still out there, in the hands of those who would so willingly enslave us all into a life that is little more than death on rotting feet. So in the interest of your own continued existence as a free and living being, go out into this troubled world only with a head armed for battle, and a hat that says, “Bring it!,” even to the worst of all possible fights. Do not venture into life’s great, uncertain adventure without first donning your very own Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat!
Good luck out there, brave pilgrim. And, by the way, you’re welcome.