Books and movies -- Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, World War Z -- have been warning us that the zombie apocalypse was coming. We've been warned to prepare.
But no one thought it would happen Saturday.
Scores of the rotting undead shambled out from the newly blossoming trees of Columbia Park in Kennewick sometime after 3:30 p.m., spattered with blood and hungering for human flesh. They moaned a chilling cry for "braaaiiiiinnnnssss" as they marched through the park in a loose column.
Still-human survivors ran for their lives. Some climbed trees, where zombies clawed at their dangling feet.
It was the stuff of nightmares.
It also was a unique way for a local couple to gather their friends, dress up in horrific costumes and raise nonperishable food donations for people in need.
The zombie apocalypse was the brainchild of Nathan and Cheyenne Ockerman of Richland, who joked that they came up with the idea one night when they were bored.
They told the Herald that they had heard about zombie walks or zombie flash mobs happening in other places and wanted to bring the concept to the Tri-Cities.
"We didn't like that we never had them here," Nathan said.
"Only big cities get to have fun," Cheyenne said.
"So we figured, why not in our little town?" Nathan said.
They started a Facebook page to spread the word, and expected maybe 30 of their friends to show up. But by Saturday, more than 500 people were buzzing about it online.
About 150 people turned up for the walk, which took the zombie horde from the Edison Street parking lot east to the skate park. Most were in costume depicting various states of decay -- from the freshly bitten to the Ockermans' shaggy, green-faced makeup suggesting a more prolonged period of decomposition.
Being forewarned of a zombie invasion also brought out a couple of zombie hunters -- Chet Norman and Brad DeMille, a pair of Pasco friends, who dressed as the zombie-slaying characters Bill and Francis from the popular video game Left 4 Dead.
"If there are zombies, you need survivors to hunt them," Norman said.
The event also had a more practical purpose -- training for the zombie apocalypse to come, whether it's a little practice fighting or perfecting your zombie shuffle and moan.
"It's going to happen. We have to be prepared, so we might as well practice," Cheyenne Ockerman said.