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If You Want Quinn Reid

IfYouWantYou are not the son your parents hoped for.

Your father is a minister. Your mother is a would-be Olympic skater, a famous local beauty who blew out her knee at the age of 17. They wanted a son to be proud of, a confident son with friends and followers, a clever son who could breeze through school, a handsome and charismatic son.

That is not you. You are the weird son, the son who discovered a skill for drawing painfully evocative portraits of neglected animals. You can smoke almost anywhere without getting caught. You do a perfect impression of the vice principal getting upset. You sometimes wish the zombie apocalypse would come just so you wouldn’t have to spend your days going back and forth between a school where you’re a joke and a home where you’re invisible.

The zombie apocalypse doesn’t come.

You have just graduated from high school. Your father has strong-armed his alma mater into accepting you as a pre-law student.

If you want to accept a place you didn’t earn to practice a lucrative profession you’ll hate, go to college.

If you want a life of loneliness and rebellion, take a job at the amusement park in Springfield.

You have chosen a life of loneliness and rebellion.

You take a job running the Tilt-a-Whirl. Your friends are unreliable and do harder drugs than you do. Your basement apartment has plumbing problems the landlord promises to fix but never does.

Your loneliness becomes harder and harder to bear. You begin to admit to yourself that you have feelings for an old friend from high school, the only old friend you’re still in touch with.

He’s a boy. He is not gay.

If you want to humiliate yourself, suffering disgust and ill treatment from your homophobic co-workers, come out of the closet.

If you want to not be gay, find a girlfriend.

You have chosen not to be gay.

This does not work.

You experience two years of self-denial and guilt over your crushes and feelings. You have acquired an ex-fiancée who hates you. Your homophobic co-workers call you gay anyway.

You finally find a boyfriend, Cal, but he is distant and verbally abusive. When after eighteen months you break up with him, you can’t find another boyfriend.

You are fired from the amusement park because you are too depressed to come to work. You stop paying your rent and after a time receive an eviction notice, but you are never actually evicted, because the zombie apocalypse happens first.

The zombie virus is virulent and impossible to control. The zombies rapidly spread across the world.

The zombies will continue to grow in numbers until they can’t find any more brains to eat, at which point they’ll starve and die (again). However, all of humanity may have to become extinct for this to happen.

Through Cal, you find out about an experimental cryogenic preservation program to save the human race. Participants would emerge to repopulate the world once the zombie apocalypse is over. Freezing has a 98% failure rate because the cryogenic process is so imprecise.

If you want to probably kill yourself but escape the zombies, volunteer.

If you want to be overrun by zombies and eaten alive, hide in your basement apartment.

You have chosen to volunteer.

You do not tell them you’re gay because you’re concerned it would make you an undesirable candidate. They don’t ask many questions. The freezing process is unbelievably painful.

Soon after you’re frozen, it’s discovered that the zombies are repelled by twelve-tone music, and the remaining humans gather, mainly in cities, and place massive speakers all around themselves in a defensive wall. Arnold Schoenberg compositions and random, computer-generated tones are played twenty-four hours a day at top volume.

While the price is high in morale, this defense gives humanity an opportunity to genetically engineer and breed hundreds of thousands of zombie-killing dogs over the next two years. The dogs excitedly hunt down and tear apart the mobs of animated corpses until the zombies are nearly eradicated.

During this period, Cal becomes anxious that you’ll be revived and will be angry at him for suggesting cryogeny, which he only mentioned as a cruel joke. He manages to have your cryogeny records deleted. You are left plugged in but forgotten in storage.

140 years pass.

You are eventually found and are surprised to wake up. Cal has been scanned and uploaded as an immortal virtual personality. New forensic data analysis software determines that Cal purposely caused your record to be deleted. Under the current laws of the Unified Territory of Texlahoma, you have the right to terminate his scan.

If you want to vent your anger and sense of loss on Cal, who after all is a complete ass, terminate his scan.

If you don’t have the guts to kill him, run off to live in a floating city, change your name, and have your memory erased.

You have chosen forgiveness.

That wasn’t one of the options. The options were: One, vent your–

You have chosen forgiveness.

Who’s telling this story, you or me? You can’t just come up with a new–

You have chosen forgiveness.

Fine. Fine! You think it’s easy to plan the course of a person’s life? You think it’s easy to figure out what the important choices are? I should just stop writing your story and leave you with no help at all. How would you like that?

Forgiveness. I ask you! Just think of what he’s done to you, how you’ve lost everything because of him!

Forgiveness! I suppose that’s what you want your life to be now, sweetness and boredom, going around forgiving people all the time. Well, you know what? We’ll just see how that works out for you. Do whatever you want. Just don’t come crying to me if it doesn’t work out. Go ahead: write your own story. See if I care!

You write your own story.

© Quinn Reid

Meet the Author

Quinn Reid

Quinn Reid

Quinn Reid (they/them or she/her) is a nonbinary, bi-gender writer of fiction, nonfiction, and plays who lives in the Champlain Islands of Vermont. In addition to Flash Fiction Online, their work has appeared (much of it under their previous name, Luc Reid) in Writers of the Future volumes XIX and XX, Daily Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex, Escape Pod, Nature, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld and The Writer. The first edition of their dictionary of subculture slang, Talk the Talk, was published in 2006, and their short plays have been performed in venues around Vermont.

Quinn is also a musician, a third degree black belt in Taekwondo, a swing dancer, and an entrepreneur. It has been said that they try to do too many things at once, and they will respond to that charge just as soon as they have some free time to do so.

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