In the shadows of blackest night, I lie in wait. Then, at long last, I hear that soft footstep, that clattering of hooves on the rough-hewn cobblestones of the path, sounds that can only mean one thing: a lonely traveler from the land of the living has come my way once again. From out of the dank recesses of night I emerge, my grim visage slowly taking shape in the light of the lantern, a nightmare face covered in repulsive blotches of decayed flesh, the skin peeling back to reveal the gleaming yellowish-white of my hideous skull. My half-rotted lips peel back to reveal a horrible grin as I move in clo—

Wait! Why are you running away? No, no, don't scream like that. Wait! Come back! I promise I won't eat you! I'm not the flesh-eating kind of zombie!

I just want a little companionship. Is that too much to ask? Just because I'm an ambulant remnant of that which was once alive doesn't mean I want to eat your brains. It's just so lonely out here in the damp night, with no one to talk to, or to hold my hand, or to just go for a stroll with.

No! Don't go! I can't run that fast—my legs are just stiff and spindly splinters of desiccated skin and bones. All I can do is lurch about in a grotesque parody of human locomotion, frantically flailing my arms in a futile effort to make you understand.

Please! Don't be frightened by my blood-curdling moan of the undead. That's just my way of saying hello. I can't make myself understood, for my vocal cords have long since turned to dust. But my friendly intentions should be clear from my past actions: I've never eaten a single living human in all my terrible years of shadowy, undead existence. Don't you think that if I were going to eat a person I would have done it by now? What is it with people these days?

Don't you understand? I have no interest in feasting on the still-warm flesh of the living. I just want to shamble slowly out of the mist with my rotting arms outstretched, staggering awkwardly toward you in a lurching limp before, finally, emitting a blood-curdling moan of the undead and giving you a big hug! Why can't anybody understand that?

It's not like there's only one kind of zombie. Haven't you people ever heard of a zombie of the non-flesh-eating variety? The type that doesn't crave biting through a person's skull to slurp away at the soft, brainy tissue inside? So I'm a walking corpse! Guilty as charged! But that doesn't mean I go around eating every living person I see, does it? Some zombies roam the night looking to feast on human prey, and some don't. It's as simple as that. (Not that I have anything against my flesh-eating brethren; I just don't happen to be one, that's all.)

There's really no reason to fear me. I can barely move, for crying out loud. So even if I were interested in taking a huge bite out of your arm—which, I assure you, I'm not—I'd have no chance of catching you. A small, fat child can easily outrun a zombie. We only move at, like, an eighth of a mile per hour. Quarter-mile, tops. A person being chased by a zombie wouldn't even need to run. A brisk walk would do the trick just fine. People only get eaten by zombies when they're surrounded by a massive horde of them, the victim slowly encircled and grasped at, dragged down by the zombies' sheer numbers. Everybody knows that! Hello? Haven't you seen any movies? I'm all alone here!

It would be nice if, just once, somebody would think about how I feel in this situation. Think about it: Misshapen, inhuman monster sees somebody he wants to be friends with; pretty human sees monster and misinterprets his overtures of friendship; human runs away screaming their bloody fool head off; monster walks off sad and misunderstood. Come on, that's got to be the oldest cliché in the book! Do you have any idea how embarrassing that is? My whole existence is this trite, lowbrow scenario. It's only in, like, every single Frankenstein film ever made.

Please, please come back. I just want to, I don't know, have tea or something. I couldn't actually drink it, because it'd run down the sides of my mandible as soon as I poured it into my mouth, but it'd be so nice just to clumsily paw at the cup with my skeletal hands. We could maybe play basketball, as long as you didn't pass me the ball too fast, causing my ribcage to collapse into dust and spilling my rotting entrails onto the ground in front of me.

Or we could just sit somewhere and talk. We don't even have to sit all that close to each other, okay? If it'd make you more comfortable, I could sit a good distance away and just glare at you with my piercing, lidless eyes.

How can I go on, walking the moonlit countryside every night, endlessly searching for that which I can never have? How can I accept this piteous, eternal fate when no one, no matter how nice I act, will be my friend?

The tortures of the damned!