That’s Not Corn Syrup: A Real-Life Zombie Story
As early 2008, I would inexpertly smear Halloween makeup on my napping daughter Evie, who was a toddler. Then I would turn my attention onto my second-grader son Beau. I cannot say that makeup was what you call stellar, but it was for a good cause. The goal was to make them and myself look like Zombies. Once we looked the part, we would drive to the Kansas City Plaza where we would gather with a like-minded horde of people also dressed as the undead. That was how our family’s tradition to participate in the Kansas City Zombie Walk began.
The premise was fun and also for a good cause. The KC Zombie Walk for Hunger was can food drive to supply the local charity food stores. To join the walk all you needed was five can goods as admission per walker and an outfit resembling your favorite undead character, minus the sparkly vampires. After this price of admission you get to hang out with others that enjoy Halloween, and of course, Zombies. The best part was after the horde gathered, they shuffled around the Plaza shopping district in one moaning mass. People stared, laughed, and took our pictures in droves. We would get to feel like extras in George Romero flick.
By and by, it’s an excellent way to spend time with the family.
By 2013 I added our youngest 2-year-old son, Rhett, to the undead fray, where I would sneak zombie makeup on him too. Boy! For some reason, the little ones get pissed when you try to make them look like an unholy monster. But this art was tradition, damn it! So, he had to deal!
Anyways other than some makeup snafus, we get to the walk without a hitch. That year, Evie decided to go for the royal Princess Zombie look. Beau wanted to be Zombie herder. He carried a fishing pole with a fake amputated hand on it for bait, that I, just a plain old Dad Zombie, tried to get his bait as I pushed the baby jogger carrying Princess Zombie and her undead baby brother.
We had a blast from the start. Even with Rhett darting for the JC Nichols fountain, shouting, “Water!” We watched an awesome Bride who came to the park for beautiful wedding photos. Boy, was she surprised! She, unlike other sullen Brides we’ve seen in the past, decided to use the hundred or so zombie-looking folks was willing props. Her new photoshoot was epic!
During the actual walk around the plaza, the kids and I stayed close to the back of the pack. You can’t successfully push a two-kid baby jogger through any horde without slowing down. It was just fun to be included!
At the end of the walk, the four of us chilled out on the edge of the crowd as our Zombie Queen gave out awards for best costumes and picked out raffle tickets. That was when things got a little more interesting than anyone bargained for.
I heard a little girl’s scream behind me, and my ears perked up. She sounded terrified! I turned around to see her, a 6-or-7-year-old girl, sprinting while holding up her hand covered in red liquid. I noted one thing instantly, “That’s not Corn syrup.”
She ran right up to a man who turned out to be her stepdad. I walked over immediately and introduced Myself as a Paramedic and asked if I could help. That was when the little girl showed the amputated tip of her ring finger.
I came to find out in the next few minutes that she was playing on some nearby public exercise equipment and accidentally got the end of her finger ripped off. One moment everything all hunky-dory, the next she found herself with a shorter digit.
My first reaction was a little less G rated! I exclaimed, “Shit!” Then directly grabbed the injured fingertip with the end of my shirt and applied pressure.
I instantly shifted modes from fun-loving Dad to a paramedic. I called out, “Someone needs to call 911!” In retrospect, it wasn’t my wisest move. I probably should have just designated someone, her Stepdad, for instance, but there we were.
The Horde of people shifted towards us. Our Zombie Queen, Romero bless her, called them back with her mic, and they heeded her words.
Meantime the little girl’s Mom appeared out of the crowd. I locked eyes with her and said, “We’re going to need the end of her finger.” She was off like a shot.
My children, of course, were understandably concerned, and not heeding their older brother, Beau. While I was administering first aid, Rhett was climbing me like a tree, sobbing. A lovely young woman, who walked by us in the walk, pretending to be a feral zombie, had pried Rhett off of me and was trying to soothe him. I made eye contact with one of the Zombie walk’s volunteers. They were always easy to spot. They traditionally dressed like soldiers from Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation. I asked his name, and he took off his gasmask and told me. It turns out he was a nursing student. Cool! I nodded at my kids and asked him to help her with my kids.
I asked a Zombie Bride (not the actual one from earlier) if she could get me a rag or something to replace using my shirt end. She tore off part of her wedding dress and handed it to me. I wrapped it around the little girl’s finger.
By this time, her Mom showed up with fingertip in hand. Together, the Mom carrying the fingertip, me holding manual pressure with the rag, and the stepfather carrying his girl, approached the street to await the ambulance. I glanced back and saw the Feral Zombie Girl and the Umbrella Soldier had managed to calm my kids. Rhett was clutching her watching me.
When we reached the street, one of the other members of our horde noted that St Luke’s Hospital was only a couple blocks away. He offered to give the family a ride. They accepted, and I bade them goodbye and good luck.
The surgeons at St. Luke’s were able to reattach her fingertip. Her mother told me all about it in the following year’s Zombie Walk.
I think about that often during this time of year. In a circumstance that could have been disastrous, I was amazed at how many people rose up in their willingness to help this little girl. They were strangers dressed in ghoulish attire that didn’t reflect their golden hearts. These zombies stepped up to help this little girl and her family in her time of need. They may look horrifying but their hearts were full of compassion! They were the Light in this family's Darkness! Bless the Horde!
If you like to support these good people in their continued efforts to make this world a better place check out their cause in the link below and consider donating to them.