This comic was loosely inspired by my most recent near-scrape with a toddler, which drew the above conclusion into our minds as I recounted it.
It was a couple of days ago when I made a run to the corner store to grab a few essentials for the evening. Being the (somewhat) environmentally conscious-type and likewise having an awesome backpack —
— I bought an armload of crap, passed on the plastic bags, and walked my haul outside to the corner of the building to load it into said awesome-pack. It was while I was crouched down and deciding whether the gin should go in before the beef jerky when I heard a distant sound behind me. A gurgle.
I looked over my shoulder and spied a stray toddler making its way cheerfully down the sidewalk, mere yards away, parents obliviously ogling the antique store instead of noticing my wide-eyed horror. The toddler’s head lolled around like a balloon behind held by its knot before the glazed-over eyes landed on me and for a moment, both of our bodies locked up with a start. Its slobbering lips spread to show its (I’m assuming countless) alarmingly small teeth and its stumbling gait suddenly had a target.
I’m not ashamed to admit, I actually felt a little bit of panic at that point. Realizing I was the end of that little blob’s trajectory, I turned back to my backpack and groceries. What was once a lazy game of packing-Tetris suddenly became a frantic, disorganized shoving of items, regardless of size, weight, or potential to shatter. Every time I glanced over my shoulder, the toddler was closer, the strange stains on its shirt more apparent, and my hands became more uncoordinated than ever.
And I’d like to insert here: did the parents notice the spooked and (making snap-judgments about my purchases) possibly boozed burnout of an adult giving their kid wild-eyed glances while fumbling with what could easily be a different kid’s backpack? No. Of course not. Bad things never happen to stray children.
In what I will forever deem one of the closest calls of my life, I finally strained and got the zipper closed. As I swung the heavy pack over my shoulder, a nubby hand reached out for my pants, the fingers covered in something that made me pray that kid had just eaten some chocolate, or a caramel apple, or dear god, anything but what it looked like. I stormed away with a bit more than my usual speed-walking gait and left the sound of burbling confusion in my wake.
Zombies might not be real, but the terror they cause surely is.
Stay safe out there, everyone.