Zedlist – Part Two
‘Celebritydeathlist.com’ listed fifty celebrities considered most likely to die each year, as voted for by the dedicated curators of the site. The names got checked off with a skull and cross bones as each celebrity passed away.
Included in the site was a busy discussion board where users could post up related converstaions. There was a thread called ‘death by Jazz’ deliberating on which Jazz musicians might be most likely to be “hitting their last bar”, and another called ‘Reality bites the dust’ covering the topic of reality TV stars. One of the more popular threads, entitled ‘Z List’, had been created by Kevin himself. He noted the people that had recently died in red, life threatening or terminal diseases in blue, and other factors like severe drug habits and suicidal tendencies in green. Under the list was the following statement:
“In the past six months the deaths of minor celebrities have increased by over 300%, while the death rates of more well-known celebrities have remained approximately the same. The above findings are based on deaths in Europe and America. For all we know this could be happening all over the world. No one wants to be a zed-list celebrity, but never before has it been so fatal!!”
There were other posts from people discussing the subject. One was from someone making a similar list, but of minor Bollywood stars. Another person sparked debate over what distinguished a minor celebrity from a moderately famous one. It was finally decided that the level of fame may be determined by amount of media exposure each celebrity had; whether it was negative or positive made no difference.
Kevin had drawn the reader’s attention to the suspicious circumstances in which some of these celebrities had departed. One of the cases focused on a reality star called Johnny Essex, who had died in a freak accident while snowboarding. An overly ambitious French novice had landed on him and severed Johnny’s carotid artery with his left ski. There was blood all over the snow, indicative of an iconic scene from the film Fargo in which man gets pushed head first into a wood-chipper and redistributed evenly over the white Minnesotan landscape. He died long before the rescue team could get to him. The unusual part was the investigation to follow. According to a police statement, he had not told a single person of his trip to the Alps and had never shown an interest in the sport. Johnny may have disputed being labelled as a zed-list celebrity if he were still alive to do so.
After posting Kevin ripped another bong and waited for a response. Several minutes passed and a message arrived from ‘Kip48’. Kevin had not seen this name before in any of the other forum threads and the avatar was blank.
“I have been following your research on the topic of Celebrity deaths for some time. I know that we could be of great use to each other. I have information of a sensitive nature that I believe you will be most interested in. It is imperative that we meet. 40 Norman Street, St. Leonards. 1pm.”
Ignoring the message, Kevin put his exhausted computer to bed, he switched on his T.V. and fell asleep to George E. Remaro’s Night of the Living Dead for the third time that week.
Kevin slept like a baby that night – he woke up every thirty minutes screaming. Never before had he suffered such graphic nightmares. In the morning he remembered only one. Without delay he took down the address from the night before, checked train times, scrambled around in his drawer for a red hat and left the house. As Kevin walked out onto the street he noticed a black van across from his house. There was a figure in the driver’s seat. As Kevin made eye contact, the man looked away sharply, burying his head in a newspaper.
Kevin liked the people of Croydon. He required nothing from them, and they expected even less in return. Kevin had been brought up in the Kentish village of Edenbridge where everyone knew everyone else’s business.
On the train there was an old man muttering something like:
“They’re everywhere,” and “… not to be trusted.”
The man’s piercing eyes peered out at Kevin from beneath dark bushy eyebrows. Lost in his phone, Kevin was unaware of the strangers attention. He had taken this opportunity to test out a new game, designed specifically for android software called ‘Nazi Zombie annihilation 2’. The touch screen controls were clunky and the levels were no challenge at all. The zombies were classic voodoo, rather than a stealthy ‘rage virus’ kind. True to the ‘shoot-em-up’ genre, killing people made money and money bought bigger guns. As the game proceeded the enemies got faster and harder to kill. Standard.
The biggest issue for Kevin was that if you are going to kill zombies you want to get really stuck in there. You want them to die in spectacularly graphic ways and to end up covered in their Zombie guts. This game lacked all the necessary detail; the gorgeous sound of blood spurting from a head shot, or the crunch and squelch of a skull being stomped on. Without this, you are left with a second rate product. This game was suited only to kids wasting time on the school bus, and not for the ‘mature gamer’.
So intent was Kevin’s attention on the small screen, that the elderly gentleman’s interest in him wasn’t all he had missed. He hadn’t noticed the small child on the table next to him, whining to his mother and picking his nose until it bled onto the seat’s faded patterned fabric. He hadn’t noticed the minty trace of fisherman’s friends on the train guard’s breath, failing to mask the stench of halitosis as he leant forward asking to see Kevin’s ticket. Nor had he noticed the headline on the newspaper, folded neatly on the seat in front of him.
more by LUCAS HOWARD
Photograph by Thomas Leuthard