The following is an “interview” with the character Cyrus V. Sinclair from my novels, The Undead Situation and The Undead Haze.
When Cyrus informed me he wanted to do an interview I shook my head, said absolutely not, and locked him away. Our last dialogue didn’t go so well—mostly a lot of blame and angry words—but after a moment’s thought I decided to give him a chance. Cyrus goes through a lot, I reasoned, and deserved a second chance.
I unlocked the part of my mind where Cyrus resides and asked him what his intentions with an interview were.
“To reach out to the fans. Let them hear from me directly without you or The Editors interfering,” he told me through a mouthful of red Jolly Ranchers. “Plus, and here’s the big part, I’m bored out of my fucking mind in here and April feels like a long way away.”
For those reading, I apologize. You know how Cyrus can be.
I agreed with him on April being far away and thought the fans might like to hear from him. His points were valid. When he suggested asking the Facebook fans what questions they’d like answered, I agreed to that, too. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have.
An Interview with Cyrus V. Sinclair
I sit across from Cyrus in the infinite blackness of my mind and wonder where to start. The Undead Haze hasn’t treated him well. His face is bruised and scabbed where he’s been beaten. When his hand absentmindedly goes to his chest, then drops away, I know he is feeling phantom pain from the brand he received.
I start off simple. “How are you doing?”
“Oh, I’m great. People using your body as a punching bag, almost freezing to death, almost being eaten alive, and having mental breakdowns for 29 chapters does wonders for the mind and body.”
I should’ve seen that coming. It’s hard to talk to Cyrus, even on the best of days. “Sorry about that. Let’s talk about something other than The Undead Haze. I know it was, ahh…difficult for you.”
I make a bag of Sour Patch Kids appear in the air beside him. He takes them and tears the bag open. His face puckers as he only eats the green ones—his least favorite—first.
“I guess this brings up one of the fan questions. Peter Clines asked, ‘With his massive candy-and-sweets addiction, doesn’t Cyrus worry about his teeth? In the world after the apocalypse, dental infections could be a killer, and it’s not like he can get implants or crowns if he loses a tooth…'”
Cyrus smirks. “Leave it to him to ask a question like that. Pre-apocalypse I only had a couple cavities from when I was a kid. My dental hygiene was almost impeccable. Once everything went down my candy intake was dramatically reduced. Sometimes I can’t find it. Sometimes eating something more substantial is the better choice. Though it seems like I eat it a lot, I don’t. I just savor every second of it when I do. And just because it’s the apocalypse doesn’t mean I can’t brush my teeth or use some fucking Listerine and do a bit of preventative care.”
He thinks his answer is funny. He laughs for a bit but his amusement fades. He thinks for a beat, then says, “I do worry about my teeth, but listen; if Eloise keeps doing what she’s doing, I have a feeling I won’t live long enough to care about teeth problems.”
“Ok, Cyrus! That’s enough of that.” My nervous laugh cuts through the empty space of my mind and I continue the interview. “Let’s lighten things up a bit, yeah? Craig Scott asked, ‘What was your favorite zombie movie before the apocalypse, and are you on Twitter?'”
“The original Dawn of the Dead. Everything about it seemed real to me. How the characters interacted, the progressive loss of sanity. Before the dead really did rise, I imagined that’s how it would be. Some parts of it ended up being true.” He crumples the empty bag of candy and tosses it into the nothingness. “And as for Twitter?”
Cyrus makes a motion like he is pulling something out of his pocket. He gestures as though he is texting on a phone. “Dance like nobody’s watching. Live life to the fullest. YOLO. That kind of stuff, right?” He drops the imaginary phone after giving me a snarky expression. “The answer to that is ‘no’.”
“Well, speaking of zombie movies, Steven Desilets wants to know if you prefer walking zombies or zombies that can run.”
“Are you—” Cyrus laughs. He laughs so hard he can barely speak. Eventually he recomposes. “—Are you kidding me?”
“I don’t know if he was being sarcastic or not. Just answer the question,” I say.
“Slows. Walkers. Shamblers. Damn, do you think I like dealing with runners? There is absolutely no advantage to fast zombies. I would’ve died a lot sooner if every zombie out there was a fast one. I’m just grateful they’re only fast for a while.”
I smile and point to myself. Cyrus groaned. “Yeah, yeah. I’m grateful Eloise made my world that way.”
“You’re welcome, Cyrus. Moving on. I’ve got two questions that I know will link up for you. Allen Taylor wants to know what your favorite color is.”
“What’s the first emotion that comes up when thinking about that color?”
“Regret, then happiness. I think about the people that have died because of me, or for me, and I see their blood. But red also means the blood of my enemies splattered on the ground after I’ve killed them.”
“And last of Allen’s question; security or freedom?”
“Freedom, but not for the usual reasons. Freedom means people should be held accountable for what they do, make their own decisions, and find their own way. That they’re on their own. It’s their responsibility. Security ends up meaning people think they should be protected by someone. I fucking hate that. In the world I live in, people who still like the idea of security how it was pre-apocalypse are insane. I say freedom because I want to be free of dealing with other people’s problems.” A wicked glint flashes in his eyes. “I mean, at least the cannibals are embracing the new world and doing their own thing. They’re all about freedom.”
“Err, okay. This is a good segue for the last question. This one comes from Tamara Biediger.”
“Oh no. Not her. Can we skip her question?”
“Cyrus!” I chastise. “Tamara is the kindhearted yet delightfully brutal first editor who helped whip The Undead Haze into shape. Don’t speak a word of ill about her.”
“That’s exactly why. It’s her fault so many extra bad things happened to me after the second rounds of revisions. Crazy Kevin? I blame her. She makes you think about even more twisted, awful things to do to me.”
I get up and give Cyrus a firm slap to the face. He doesn’t like it. My point comes across perfectly.
“She would like to know if you have any desire to run your own community in the future. She even said, ‘Since, you know, he’s only seen the ones run by the crazies and he could probably do things at least more logically.'”
The guilt is evident. He casts his eyes downward and wrings his hands in his lap. “I see the compliment there. Thanks, Tamara.”
“Well, would you? I am working on the third book. Maybe what you say here will determine what you end up doing.”
“The truth? I’ve thought about it. I wondered what it would be like to find a community and run things logically. Teach people to fend for themselves. To give up the idea of someone coming to save them, or things getting better.” He takes a deep breath. “But from what I’ve seen, people will never be like that. Almost every survivor I’ve met is salivating for a leader who will protect them. I’m more of a ‘teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime’ kind of guy. But no one wants that.”
“You’re saying it isn’t so much you don’t want to, but that people wouldn’t receive you?”
Cyrus stands up and paces the void. “I guess so. Yes. Instead I’ll do the next best thing.”
“Murder every last cannibal and crazy I can find, stay alive, and have a good time along the way.”
As I finish typing this interview Cyrus gets into one of his brooding moods and disappears into the recesses of my mind. He’ll stay there until we resume work together on the third and last book of his story.