Sci-Fi November is a month-long blog event hosted by Rinn Reads and Over The Effing Rainbow. It was created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction. From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it was intended to help us share our love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms.
Zombie on a Plane
I don’t know about you, but I love flying. One of the main reasons is because it is a guaranteed three hours of undistracted reading time: no getting up to wander around the house, no stopping to make a snack, no internet. It’s just me and my book.
While I am from the chilly, snowy, overcast New England, I went to College down in the warm, sunny, happy South. This would require me flying at least six times per year – start of school, back and forth for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then end of school – or more if there happened to be a hurricane that fall. One tradition that I started during all this flying, was I would always buy a mass market at the airport before each pair of flights.
For those of you that don’t know: my favorite author of all-time is Stephen King, and my favorite book by him, and the most influential book of my life (for other reasons outside of the scope of this story), is Duma Key. I picked up this book in November of 2008, when I was flying home for Thanksgiving break.
I don’t remember exactly why I picked it – I do remember one friend picked up The Alchemist then, and was quite disappointed with it – but when I saw Duma Key, I recalled that I had read a preview chapter for it at the end of a previous King novel (whatever one that was, I have now forgotten), and that I did like it. It was quite a thick book, roughly 600 pages, but I had six hours flying ahead of me this weekend, so, I decided to give it a go.
I did not end up finishing that book until March 2009, however, that is not important; what is important is what happened to me when I was reading that book on a flight home, later that year in December
◊ ◊ ◊
When I fly, I like to sit two or three rows in front or behind of the the wing seats. Why? I haven’t a clue. I choose which side of the plane to sit on, based on what time of the day it is: the Sun rises in the East, and sets in West. This flight in December, I recall I was really tired getting on the plane, so it must have been morning, and I was sitting on the right side – thus, I was flying home – and wing of the plane was slight in front of me… so, we’ll say two rows behind.
I was already about an hour or so into the flight, bright and sunny day, with a clear blue sky. I had a seemingly perfect view of the wing. It was at about this time that I was at the point in Duma Key where we first the “monsters” of the story. The monster of this book happened to be a zombie/undead-like person, who rose from the sea. As I was reading this section of the story, out of the corner of my eye, I swear to Zues-All-Mighty, that I saw a zombie crawling on the wing of the plane toward me.
I stopped reading immediately and looked out the window – knowing that I was crazy, but had to check – and, of course, no zombie there. I tried to get back to reading, but I just couldn’t shake that thought away, and for a second time, I was swear I saw a zombie out there!
I knew there wasn’t actually a zombie, but I couldn’t figure out why I kept thinking there was one. I was convinced that I had seen one out there before. This wasn’t some type of deja vu moment, or something I was creating in my mind from my imagination. No. This was a memory.
I could see it so vividly clear, looking out the window, as if it were happening right then. The zombie looked as if it had just crawled out of the sea: flesh still decomposing, but wrinkly and bloated from the water; it had long wet hair, torn shirt and pants; and mixed in with everything were strands of seaweed, and sticking to its skin were barnacles. It reminded me a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean.
This sea-zombie was crawling on all fours, hair and clothes whipping in the wind, toward me with an outstretch hand… calling to me.
It was the creepiest, most bizarre thing ever, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why it came into my mind. I assumed the sea-zombie was because of the book, but what about it crawling on the plane? Was the because I happened to be on plane? Even if it was, that doesn’t explain why it feel like a memory? That was why it was so weird. Like I said, this wasn’t a deja vu moment; this was something that I knew as clear as day.
I must have sat there for a good thirty minutes looking out at the plane, looking at my book, and racking my brain trying to get this whole zombie on z plane thing solved. That went nowhere no though, and I gave up.
I thought about it few more times over the next months when I was still reading the book, and then, when I flew again, but ultimately I forgot about the whole situation, and chalked it up that I must have been wrong and delusional or something.
Please, excuse my ego for one second, but if there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s that I am always right. Maybe I’m connected to some flail like Captain Braylar Killcoin, and just I don’t know about it – but either way, when I get a feeling about something, that feeling is right. And I knew I wasn’t going crazy.
◊ ◊ ◊
As a child, I used to sit on the couch and watch The Twilight Zone with my dad. To be honest, I have zero recollection of this, but he claims it to be true.
Most sci-fi fans should know that the Sy-Fy channel (or whatever it’s called nowadays) runs a Twilight Zone marathon on various holidays every year. One of those holidays is Thanksgiving.
((Some of you may know where this story is going (and I assume are laughing at me), while others are probably wondering what the point off all this is. Well, stick with me a bit longer. The answers to everything came when I was home for Thanksgiving the next year, 2009.))
I was sitting on the couch, flipping through the channels, when I noticed The Twilight Zone was on. I exclaimed to my dad about it, but his response lacked my enthusiasm – he already seen all of them and wasn’t in the mood. Well, I wanted to watch it, so I did not give up.
“This episode coming up next has… it has William Shatner in it! I didn’t know he was in any of the episodes,” I relayed to my dad.
My father was still not eager, and was now confused. “What do you mean you didn’t know that? You’ve seen that episode before.”
“When you were a kid; when we used to watch it together. I told you it was the same guy from Star Trek.”
I shook my head and shrugged shoulders.
“C’mon, I know you’ve seen this one before. It’s where Shatner goes on the plane, and there is a monster on the plane’s wing.”
I froze. It was as if the Sun has just exploded in head. “What did you say?”
“Shatner goes on a plane and sees a monsters. You have to remember this one.”
Nope. I did not. Not a trace of it. Consciously, at least. But once he mentioned it, my Thanksgiving flight from the year previous, came rushing back to me and everything mad sense.
◊ ◊ ◊
People like to say that we only use 10% (or whatever it is) of our brains. While that is true, people don’t fully understand what it means. That 10% only refers to our conscious mind. We are always using 100% of the brain; every second of every day, wether we are awake or sleep, our brain is working at 100%.
Our brains have billions of neurons, and each neuron is making billions of connections to the other billions of neurons each second! It’s a lightening storm in there! We don’t have access the entire brain because it would be too much to handle. Having to consciously to take control of all our visceral organs and autonomic processes, it would be impossible to do all of that. The same goes for all the information that our senses pick up and the memories we store. We couldn’t never sort through everything to decide what we actually need to know.
In order to do all of that, our brains have to be working at 100%, and the reason we don’t have access to that 100% is because we consciously wouldn’t be able handle all that responsibility. It would basically be a sensory overload! (Shout out to Jeff Salyards’ Bloodsounder’s Arc again).
◊ ◊ ◊
It’s crazy to think about: not only could I not remember anything about that William Shatner episode, but I didn’t even know he was in an episode! But according to my father I had seen it – multiple times. I have no reason to doubt my dad was telling the truth. He recalls having a conversation with me then about Shatner with Star Trek (and we all know parents are good about remembering moments see moments like that with their kids when they are young). But consciously, I had no idea this was in my memory bank! And yet, apparently it was; it was lurking around in my mind… waiting…
I have been on planes dozens of times in my life, and have read dozens of zombie books, and dozens of various books on a plane, all in roughly the same seats – but until I was sitting on a plane, near the wing, reading a book where a zombie-like monster appeared, did my memory of that episode, hiding deep in my subconscious, come to me. Suddenly, I was convinced that I had seen a zombie on a plan wing before!
◊ ◊ ◊
Even though we consciously have access to only a very limited amount of our brain’s information, it is all there. Our eyes pick up much much more than we actually register, and our brain does take it all in; and we have more memories buried in our subconscious than we can actively recall. It is our brains job to sort out all of this and tell us what is relevant and what is not.
Makes me wonder what other forgotten memories I have lurking beneath the surface… makes me wonder what would be possible it we did have conscious access to, and could handle, the rest of our brain…