Eeew. Well, this is not a fairy tale!
Cahill is saved in the end, but is he really?
You can take away from this story any number of things: commentary on the prison system; political implications of misguided science research; the lengths people will go to control their environment; the human ability to justify dehumanizing actions; the persistence of humanity’s traits to be ignorant racist fucks; commentary on the US’s previous and current policies for segregation, camps, and reservations. What is taken away by any reader is McHugh’s ability to show that the most horrid monster out there is reading the story.
Her practical and plain writing in this story sets the pace for Cahill and his survivalist existence. Every word is important, but there are not more than there need to be. There are lots of short stories that need to be novels, but this is not one of them. We don’t know what Cahill was incarcerated for, we don’t care. We don’t know how the zombies originated or how they were erradicated, we don’t care. McHugh says what she needs to say and gets this unpleasant, horrific story over with.
content copyright Elizabeth Campbell 2010