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A Simple Question (Analog Shorts)

A Simple Question is a quick zombie tale without the blood and mayhem. Dikeman follows two interns — one of them a total tool — as they attempt to survive an experiment gone wrong. As far as zombie scenarios go, this feels like a more realistic telling than most, with believable characters and a well-structured story.

A SIMPLE QUESTION

Kris Dikeman
Analog Science Fiction & Fact, July/August 2018

Spoiler

STORY

It’s a different kind of zombie story in that there’s no urgency. They’re safe in their break room and can easily see all of the zombies through glass walls. It’s honestly the best-case scenario, especially since they have food. The idiot co-worker is the only terrible thing about the situation and I feel deeply for the main character who has to listen to his stories and his condescending explanations. In classic zombie story fashion, a dumb decision is made at the end, leaving the fate of the coworker in question.


CHARACTERS

A Simple Question houses two characters within a break room, attempting to survive as their coworkers disintegrate into mold spores. You can imagine how gross it would be to spend days with a coworker you don’t like, eating vending machine food and pooping into a bucket. Add in the fact that the male feels the need to explain everything to his female coworker like she’s an idiot, and you have a pretty frustrating situation. I was waiting for her to lose it on him, but the ending hints at retribution. I’m also amazed at how level-headed both of them are in this situation. There are no freakouts or screaming fests. They just eat and go to the bathroom and talk, waiting for a move to present itself.


SETTING

It’s a typical zombie story location – a secluded laboratory doing secret experiments, with built-in precautionary measures that contain employees in the lab. This seclusion adds to the frustration.


CONCEPTS

Zombies, Horror, Laboratory, Experiment, Science

Interested in more short stories like A Simple Question? Check out our short story reviews here.

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