The container will hold
Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse
by Rae Carson
“Her bony, paper-skin hand grasps mine in a show of strength she hasn’t displayed in weeks. “Honey, it’s okay to let me go,” she says. “Because I win. I win at everything.”
At my puzzled look she adds, “I get to die an old woman. Who does that these days? A badass motherfucker, that’s who.”―
Rae Carson, badass moms in the zombie apocalypse
I read many stories, sad stories, happy stories, fluffy ones, and occasionally violent stories. But in all of my reading, I rarely get a chance to read a mom story. Moms are usually portrayed as one of three different ways: soccer mom, women who are nothing but a mom, and an older mom or grandma-like figure.
Fantasy is full of cliches, and being a mom myself, I don’t see myself in any of these characters. It is as if literature is afraid to portray a mom as a badass or a warrior. Women can’t be warriors and moms. They cancel each other out, right? Just because we had kids, we don’t lose the badassery while passing the afterbirth. And frankly, life is a lot more exciting and complex than a trope.
But then I read Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse, and finally. FINALLY, we have some great badass moms having babies and kicking some ass. Thank you, Rae Carson, for giving the world this story and me, mainly because I needed to be reminded that I am also a badass mom on occasion.
First, let me set a bit of a scene. Giving birth is a dirty business. It is primal; it is the most primal feeling many women feel only seconded to protecting their child from danger. Moma bear is not just a cute saying; most moms would rip the throat out of anyone who would come at their kid and lick their lips.
Now imagine trying to do all this, being pregnant, your body is split in two with excruciating pains that feel like they are tearing at the very fabric of who you are, and zombies are outside scratching at the door. I know zombies get a bad rep; they are everywhere in horror. But they are representative in this story. The mom Brit is being pulled apart by two massive forces, childbirth and the flight reaction of getting the hell out of there. Zombies are scary, and we want none of that.
“I know how tough my baby is. Remember when you came out to your Baptist preacher dad while holding the hand of the most beautiful Black woman in the world?”
“This is not harder than that.”
“Remember when you fucked that trader silly, faking the big O night after night until you were good and sure he’d given us a baby?”
“This is not harder than that.”
“Not even close.”
“You got this.”
“I think my water broke.”
Now imagine that you have to run for it. Fluid leaking down your leg, contractions are squeezing your body until you can hardly breathe. You mostly waddle now that you are nine months pregnant, carrying a watermelon in your pelvis. But you have to be quiet; sound travels. If you make a sound, they will come. And most of all, you need to get to the safe birth room so that you can lock yourself in. In Brit and Marisol’s case, it is a metal freight car.
Zombies love the smell of birth, it drives them crazy, and they will swarm outside and get in given a chance. Also, Brit has no medicine and the most rudimentary help. She is lying on the floor of a metal shipping container stuffing rags between her legs to stifle the smell of birth. If that is not badass, I don’t know what is.
“We barely got here in time,” I say.
“We knew they’d find us.”
We are silent a long moment. Another bang, then a slick whisper of a sound as something slides along the wall. I hardly dare to breathe.
“The container will hold,” Mari says.
“They’ll mass while you push that baby out, and for a day or two after. But we’ll keep quiet, and the birthing scent will fade, and they’ll eventually give up.”
“We’ll go back to the enclave with a brand new baby for everyone to love on.”
“They’ll be so glad we did this.”
“The container will hold. The container will hold,” Brit and Marisol chant to themselves. It will hold. It has to hold. An innocent is being born into this world, and he needs to live long enough so that they can name him.
It isn’t going to hold.
Rae Carson has created a hell of a short story here. I almost gave up trying to summarize and talk about my feelings about it with, “God, this is good. Please read.” Instead, I’ll start with God; this is good. Please read.
But read Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse because Rae Carson took tropes of womanhood and mothers, twisted them, and smacked them with a hammer. There are no weak women in this world of zombies and blood. It is loving; Brit and Marisol are truly loving partners. It is full of community strength. It is primal. It is exciting, and most important of all, it is badass because you will need badass moms to lead the world out of a zombie apocalypse one child at a time.
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Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter