Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Herd Behavior

I do not excel at many things. It’s a fact that I think a lot of people deal with. I can do many things passably, and fewer well. I can cook well; I have a “good” sense of humor and can be funny at times; I can read a large book of cryptic philosophy and tell you the gist; and I can do many home improvement tasks with little help. I, however, would never claim that I excel in any of these areas. There are people without as much training as I that can cook far better. There some who can dissect Foucault more thoroughly than I can ever hope to. There are others who can construct a house with little more than a pair of pliers and a bent nail. As a human you come to realize your limitations, and understand your strengths. If you distill this thought process down enough you may come across what it means to be an adult. Knowing where you can excel and following it, and knowing where you can fail and avoiding those situations. In any case, I do excel at one thing: fencing.

Or more specifically re-enacting Renaissance swordplay. I’m very good at it. But I’m not good at just one-on-one competition, I can fight well against large groups. You see, we line up several fighters on each side and fight in large melees against one another. There can be 200 people on each side. I fit a small role whenever we fight in these melees, I am a flanker, or as my friends call me, “a fire and forget missile.” Whenever we fight together they just let me do my own thing, which is taking on large groups by myself. I run to engage the enemy and then fight as many as I can pull away from the group.

I don’t just run up and try to score a touch on a whole group at the same time. Instead, I try to make them see me as a threat and then pull off as many fighters as I can to come chase me. This leaves us with superior numbers and then I wait for my group to come help me. If I have to I can take out a number of fighters all by myself. There are some tactics that I use to help me do this:

• I make sure that I position my opponent in-between the other fighters and myself for as long as possible. This makes my immediate opponent an obstacle and gives me a short time to fight him one on one. I can win most fights one on one if given a few seconds.
• I use natural terrain as obstacles. I will try to fight around trees and brush if available to limit my contact with the group and fight individually.
• If the opportunity arises, I always take out the legs of an opponent. A downed opponent cannot chase you nearly as fast.
• Make sure to keep track of everyone. Don’t let anyone flank you.

There is more to it, but the other points only apply to thinking opponents.


I slide down the pole quickly, only slowing myself so I don’t turn my ankle or something. When I hit the ground, I can see that they are only a foot or so out or reach. I run as fast as I can to get to the tire iron. It’s very dreamlike, I am leaning very far forward as my legs push me through the air. It feels like I a running in soup, my motions feel slow. It’s the adrenaline altering my perception, I know it, but I can’t make it go away. When I get to the weapon I snatch it off the ground and spin. I see that one or two had turned away from the bus, but they quickly give up chase and go back to pounding on the glass.

I jog quickly back toward them and see a few start to peel off the side. They are lumbering towards me quickly, but not too quick and I start to herd them. I begin to isolate the closest one, and quickly thrust the tip of the tire iron through its head. As he falls I position myself around the body. The others, four of them, keep coming forward, but don’t pay attention to their fallen comrade. The first stumbles over the body and presents the top of his head to me as it catches its balance. I club it and it falls lifeless to the ground. The pile gets larger as the others fall and stumble toward me. I retrieve more after this group is dispatched, and pull them toward the pile. When it gets too high for them to try to step over, they start to step around, and I quickly start to make a pile in another location. The process of pulling the creatures away from the bus takes about a minute and a half. They offer little resistance, and are easily isolated or tripped up.

When there are none in front of the door, the Rastafarian opens it up and begins to shepherd the people out of the bus. He takes out two that get too close to the running people but he never wavers and gets them all out safely, even Juice, who is last. The people scatter in all different directions. He asks me if I want the crowbar back and I tell him to keep it. The tire iron is longer, easier to wield and has a better point. We part as we hear all the sirens coming. I climb back up the el and pull out my cell phone. I typically get Sarah’s voice mail. She’s probably in surgery anyway. I hang up and head down the tracks. The train that was stopped before is still there. I wander past it and hear more shouts, screams, sirens and what can only be gunshots. I jog as quickly as I can down the tracks and head to the train station. I only hope that I can get out of this city by dusk…

Monday, July 30, 2007

To Hell With Protocol

Taped to the locked door of Cecil and Sarah's house is a single scribbled note:

The TV recommended that civilians retreat to an upper level if possible.

Sarah was never good at following directions.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

School Daze

I know precisely what madness looks like. I can identify the impossible juxtaposition of the real and the unreal; I know the chaos. I know the smell, sweet like rotten flesh, and thick like the musk of a cornered and rabid animal, and you cannot help but breathe it in; in and out mechanically, inexorably drawing the fetid stench of raw death further and deeper into you. Soon, the chaos around you settles into your bones, it becomes you, propping you up; your very being dependent on it until you feel stretched thin and tight around it, flesh beating like some hellish drum across the face of insanity. Time slows, and pauses, but despite what they say, it never stops, eager to show you the next gory vignette. Here a woman huddled over her toddler, shielding his corpse as shuffling damnation slowly closes the last gap that will ever matter for her. Even when you try and look away, that moment burns, stays inside you, and even when you try to shake it, try to move your eyes, to shift, to run, you become awash, swept up and away into the next mad moment. Madness creeps into you, it drifts up into your brain like vapor, penetrating you even as the screams and moans of fear and rage and stupid, unthinking hunger bounce and echo off the same cheerfully colored cinderblock walls that once bounced and echoed the joyous shouts of children, children almost certainly now lost to a walking, grinding abomination. There is no way not to take in the screams of impossible agony and terror. Sounds of madness drift like a soft killing mist around you, and you are covered, blanketed in thick, wet woolen horror. I daresay, I know madness, and for a moment, maybe two, I was consumed by it, became it, and reveled in the terrible glory of awful and final knowing.

It was maybe two minutes, maybe less, that I stood stock still, dumbstruck as they poured in, filling the gymnasium like some cold writhing tsunami of rotting death. I watched, even as they moved further and further toward us; I watched as they cornered a woman and a terrified boy of no more than three (Did I know her? Maybe I did, earlier perhaps, even today. It seemed so long ago already). I was powerless, unable to move, rooted in the glossy wooden gym floor as one of them, a bald, fat man, obscenely naked except for a John Deere trucker hat and a terrible dry maroon gash in the fat of his prodigious belly, grabbed the child with his enormous, fat hands. I watched as the child was pulled and shaken, first screaming, then more terribly still, silent, an impossible tug of war between ghoul and mother. It takes so little time for a life to extinguish, quick as a candle flame.

I think it was the child’s flopping, lifeless head whipping back and forth that snapped me out of it. I blinked, and in a moment was back, present and accounted for, stranded in the center of the gym, Colleen holding Finn who was wailing. He was nearly impossible to hear over the din of slaughter and fear. I think my inaction saved us, or at least bought us the few moments we needed. As the dead piled through the door, everyone retreated, yelling and screaming, running to the sides and rear of the gymnasium, becoming trapped against locked doors and immobile walls. Standing in the heart of the carnage, we were almost invisible, unmoving. I looked forward, to the door they were still streaming into. A few feet back from the door, lay a dead soldier, and above him three of the politely, almost affectionately referred to “infected” crouched over his lifeless body feeding like lions on the savannah. Near him, unused, was his assault rifle, and on his belt, what looked to be a pretty serious pistol.

I turned to Colleen and, knowing it was the only way to guarantee she would not argue, I screamed at her, “Right fucking behind me! Not a foot, not a fucking foot away from me! Now!” and I took off running toward the dead soldier and toward the streaming masses of undead.

As I ran, I slowed for a moment and grabbed one of the aluminum and canvas cots. I braced it hard against my chest, crouched low, still running and slammed into the the feeding undead, feeling Colleen pounding along behind me.

The force of the impact sent the three sprawling from the corpse, and I fell, hard to the unforgiving gym floor. I tasted blood and felt a bit of a tooth and what I thought was the tip of my tongue swirling like a coppery stew in my mouth. There was no pain and I swallowed instinctively, pulling the broken bits of my mouth into my stomach. Crazily, I thought “Best fucking meal since we got here.” I scurried quickly on my hands and knees searching for the gun like a lifeline. I found it, and as soon as my hands closed around it, Colleen screamed.

I stood up, swinging the rifle as I came up and slamming the butt of the gun up under the chin of the zombie who had closed in on my wife and child. The impact shocked my hands, and I grimaced, struggling to keep hold of the rifle. The thing’s head snapped up, hard and fast, and its head seemed to lock at an unnatural angle. It went down like a tongue of bricks.

I looked around. They were coming in around us in a circle of gaping death, closing the gap to no more than ten or twelve feet in a ring around us. I looked down at the gun, flipped the safety off, and took aim.

Thankfully, the gun was not set to fully automatic, and I was able to shoot carefully. I shot and spun, shot and spun. I didn’t hit my target everytime, I won’t pretend I did. I was scared, but a strange calm had settled over me, and I started putting bullet after bullet into their stupid groaning skulls. One by one, they began to fall, forming a small wall of twice murdered corpses around us. Colleen was crouched with Finnegan, watching my back as I aimed, shot, aimed, and shot. When one of them got too close, she would tug on my pant leg, giving me the time to swivel around, aim, and shoot.

The ghouls had stopped coming in through the door, and after what seemed like hours, but couldn’t have been ten minutes, the gymnasium was clear. Colleen and I stood, lone survivors in the center of a scene of such bloody wrath it would have seemed impossible in any but this mad new world we found ourselves in. I looked down at the dead soldier whose gun had saved our lives. Stooping, I closed his eyelids, then stripped him of two more clips, his pistol, and two clips for that. I tried to hand the pistol to Colleen, but she shook her head, eyes terrified, but clear, sane, and with perfect understanding. Without another word, we ran out, into the camp.

Everywhere, fires burned. A semi truck was crashed through the razor wire fencing, trailer open. Around us, we heard gunfire, small explosions, screams, and moans. Gesturing for Colleen to follow, we ran out of the camp, and into the fields of corn that seemed to stretch for miles.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Paddy Wagon Field Trip

After Tom and I left in our neighbor’s car, we were almost immediately apprehended by some seriously disgruntled military folk, and loaded into a paddy wagon. Yes, a paddy wagon. We were in very close quarters with 8 other people who looked just as frightened and hesitant as I felt. No one spoke. I wondered if we were being quarantined, or led off to be killed. I felt like a prisoner of war, and the whole scene reminded me of Nazi prison camp movies. They weren’t answering questions, and we often just listened quietly as they fought and killed what we perceived to be huge numbers of zombies. If they failed, we would be sitting ducks in this locked wagon. At Tom’s insistence they grumpily gave me blanket and a few cloths to use as diapers for Finnegan. He had developed a hell of a diaper rash sitting in that nasty diaper during the trek form my van to my garage. They kept us there with no food and little water until nightfall, when be joined a military caravan heading to what they were calling the ‘safe camp’.

It took us hours to get there, and I’m not sure where we were, except that it was about an hour south of route 30. I got the impression they were taking the long way around and trying to complicate our route so we wouldn’t know where we were. The camp was in an old grade school. Something about the painted cinder-block walls brought me comfort.

Once we arrived at the camp, the uniformed officials explained that this is a holding facility, which is protected by the USMC. They told us we were survivors of a highly contagious mystery pandemic that was causing infected people to cannibalize other people, thus infecting their victims. They diplomatically avoided the word Zombie, and referred to them as ‘the infected’. The irony of propaganda and diplomacy at a time like this was ridiculous. They said we would be examined for contamination before we were allowed in, but that once admitted we would be given a bed, rations, and would be expected to contribute to the survival of the colony. Colony? This was getting sort of creepy... it reminded me of ‘28 days’ where the military nut jobs decided they needed to repopulate with a 13 year old girl.

But I think the word pandemic was what scared me most. I still held out hope that this was a local menace, to be contained and exterminated in a matter of weeks. After which I could get an insurance check for my house and start my family’s life all over again in a safely insulated, Starbucks-laden suburb. Was this to be a permanent shift in the survival of civilized life? What would become of our culture, values, and infrastructure? They wouldn’t answer any questions, and though unsettled, we were glad to be safe. Family units still clung to one another, though now there was a bit of chatter between the groups.

I looked around and guessed there were about 20 of us, and more than 100 uniforms. We didn’t stand a chance of rebelling, and let’s hope we wouldn’t have to. Next, they announced that the men were to be separated from the women for medical exams, and I was very distressed to be taken away from Tom. The look in his eyes as they lead the men out said so much... he was trying to be strong for me, but after being separated once, it was difficult to hide his fear that he wouldn’t see us again. He mouthed the words ‘I love you’ and just speaking them seemed to strengthen his resolve to be optimistic. He squared his shoulders and looked bravely ahead with his fists at his side as they lead the men inside. This moment had the opposite effect on me, and I melted into woeful sobs, tightly gripping my son to my chest. He looked so brave, and I hoped he wouldn’t have to be. The other women and children sobbed unabashedly, and the tension in the air seemed to rise in concert with our cries.

We were next lead to the 'medical wing' which was formerly a third grade classroom, and were told to strip down to our undergarments. It was strange to feel so vulnerable while surrounded by finger paintings and childhood masterpieces. The exams were humiliating but brief. There were no female officers, which seemed to heighten everyone’s wariness of the exam, and were put into a line to undergo partial exams from several different men. We were made to lay on a table and every inch of our bodies was looked over slowly and carefully for cuts and scrapes before passing us along to the next officer. They even parted our hair, checking our scalps for signs of infection. I couldn’t understand what they were looking for. All the zombies I had seen seemed to turn immediately. They checked Finn first, and he was quickly cleared for occupancy. My turn took longer. They lingered near my legs and feet which were torn up quite a bit from my trek in the woods. They took a long time checking them and cleaning them with iodine. I don’t know how they could tell if we were infected by just looking, but I suppose they were looking for bite marks. They were not gentle. The men wore rubber gloves, white coats, masks, guns, and goggles over their camoflaged fatigues.

We were examined out in the open in front of everyone, and even had to briefly remove our panties and bras. I refused at first, fearing their intentions, and wishing for Tom. I told them I would NOT submit to a pelvic exam. Thankfully, they only wanted to check for bite marks. I sarcastically asked if they knew anyone who had oral sex with a zombie and lived to tell about it. The officer coldly told me I could comply, or I would be coerced. I acquiesced to the rest of the humiliating exam while the elderly woman in front of me who had already finished her exam shivered and quietly cried while she did her best to comfort a distressed Finn. He seemed to take extra long moving my pubic hair about looking for wounds, and almost seemed to enjoy checking my butt, thighs, and breasts for marks. It took all I had not to spit in his face when he told me I was finished and could move on to the next man in the line. I won’t ever forget his face.

We were then allowed to dress and taken outside to be sniffed by the dogs. There must have been 20 German Shepherds out there, and we each prayed they wouldn’t bark at us. A few people were removed from the line and taken for ‘additional testing’, and their families roared with fear and grief—until they were taken as well. Little did we know we wouldn't see those people again. I could hear more dogs in the distance, and gunfire. I think they were being used to signal the arrival of more undead at the perimeter of the camp.

We were then reunited with the men who had undergone similar exams. Tom and I held each other in a wordless embrace that calmed my seething mind, and Finn abruptly stopped crying. We were then lead to men with clipboards who recorded our names, addresses, social security numbers, and a few other personal details before handing us all a bottle of water, a protein bar, and showing us into the gymnasium. Here we were told to find a cot with a scratchy pillow and a blanket for the night, and if nature called we were to use the buckets in the back of the gym. It wasn’t 4 star, but it was safe and we were together. Soon we were locked in, and we all did our best to sleep through the barking dogs, gunshots, and soft, muffled crying from the surrounding cots.

The next morning we were given water and some goopy oatmeal type stuff. It was flavorless and slimy, but it was food and I was glad to have it. We were told we could not go outside, but they brought in a basketball for the kids to play with, and the adults huddled in small groups, introducing themselves to one another and speculating on what was happening out there, and what was to happen to us. I expected to be given jobs to ‘aid the survival of the colony’ like they said yesterday, but we weren’t given any. Armed guards sat at the three entrances to the gym and we wondered if they were there to protect us, or to protect others from us. It was unbearably hot, and soon the gym smelled like body odor, feet, and open latrine gas.

I met a couple name Ava and Daneen. They were expecting a baby but hadn’t told the officers, and she wasn’t so pregnant yet that you could tell right away. I wondered which would be harder, protecting an unborn child like hers, or an infant like mine. He was a fireman with broad shoulders and a dark complexion, and he no doubt sought out Tom for being one of the stronger looking men of the group in case there was some kind of battle. She was sweet looking-- sable black hair with high cheekbones and full lips. They had been travelling from Park forest when apprehended, after being driven from the firehouse by zombies. He’d had to kill a lot of them, and agreed that their key vulnerability was their stupidity, and their strength was their numbers.

We were soon joined by two other couples and the same elderly woman who cared for Finn during my exam. Her name was Matilda, but went by Tilly, and she told me I was brave to have a mouth like that with those men. I disagreed that it was probably foolish to pick a fight just then, but like an animal, I bite when cornered. I thanked her for holding Finn and keeping him safe during my exam. I didn’t want to hand him over to them. They would have scared him mercilessly with their masks and goggles. Tilly’s kids were there, and they were also from old Matteson. I recognized the wife, Molly —she was a teller at my bank in her late-forties, and her husband, Scott, was a retired elementary school teacher. They were seized while out looking for their tween and teenage children, and were terrified to think that they may not see them again. The other couples names were Henry and Ramona. Henry was a pastor at a church in Richton Park, and Ramona was a homemaker who seemed the type to make just about anything from scratch. Perhaps it was just the circumstances, but they all seemed very picturesque.

We all speculated about how this started, and to an outside observer, we must have sounded like whacked-out conspiracy theorists. Some thought it was a virus, others a mutation, and others thought it was biological warfare from Al Quaeda. Some wondered if it was merely a disease with a very short incubation period. We were all able to agree that a swift, hard blow to the head seemed to kill them, but short of that they were impervious to pain, injury, or fear.

The guards would patrol the gym every couple of hours. Twice while Finn was asleep they would ask how long he had been down, and if that was normal. They even seemed apprehensive when I breastfed him. I pretended not to notice their vigilance, and I wondered why on Earth they would be so concerned with such a tiny little boy. He can barely crawl.

By the end of the first night we were all sitting in groups playing word games, telling stories, and smiling as if we were old friends on a camping trip, instead of zombie-killing-vigilante-hostages being held at gunpoint in a school gym with dogs barking outside to hunt the undead.

Before bed, Henry and Ramona lead us in prayer. Even in this climate of primitive fear, and dire circumstances, I could not bring myself to believe. This unsettled me more, as I had nothing for comfort, and right now nothing looked more bleak than our future in this camp. Feeling isolated and uncertain, Tom and I went to bed, and I took Finn onto my cot.

I dreamt of my dad. He told me we weren’t safe yet.... he held my son and told me to be vigilant, that the time for rest was not here yet. I awoke to find Tom watching me sleep, reached for his hand, and joined the choir of muffled cries as I listened to the dogs and gunshots in the distance.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Archive 7o-553-d >> Entry 4

Record Logging Protocol : Epsilon
Record # 7o-553-d
Chrono : Suffusion II

Descriptor : Communique
Classification : Debriefing

Region >> Chicago,greater

Type >> Audio ; Voice
Delivery >> Messaging System

Primary Principal >> Chris
Primary Assumptions >> Male ; 20-40 ; caucasian ;

Secondary Principal >> Jen (alias:"Babe")
Secondary Assumptions >> Female ; 20-40 ;
Involved(primary,shared residence)

Source >> 7o-553-d_AR_0+0004

Project Lazarus

A brown envelope sits on the desk. It is addressed to Colonel Marcus Scott, USMC and across the top it is sealed with tape that clearly designates the material inside as classified. The colonel opens the envelope with a deer antler letter opener, and sifts through the contents. A single report among the many catches his attention.

Project Lazarus

Report by:
Thomas J. Finklestien, M.D., Ph.D.,
Steven M. Burns, M.D., Ph.D.,
Kenneth F.D. Walker, M.D., Ph.D.,
Huan Gu Chan, M.B.B.S., B.D.S., B.Sc., M.D.
Juniata Gonzalez, M.B.B.S.B.S.C., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P.,
Christopher G.D. Harrison, M.B.B.S., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P, Ph.D.,
Amrita Vishanamatta, M.B.B.S.., B.Sc., Ph.D, M.D.
Luann M. Wilson, B.A., Ph.D., D.V.M

Summary: Our team experimented on death row prisoners from project Juliet (See lethal injection falsification records in appendix C.) When the Juliet subjects were removed from suspended animation they were given the virus. We used surplus subjects from project Darfur and Rwanda, as well as several “enemy combatants” from the current political conflict for targets.

Our initial experiments were very positive. We did not create the Lazarus virus, only tested its application for biological warfare. We were quite familiar with its make up, but did not know it as well as the creation team. The first several from the Juliet group reacted slowly. The virus took a few days to reach full infection. We found that lack of oxygenated blood to the brain decreased the time of infection exponentially. Several subjects took days to reach the “break point” under normal and optimal conditions. It was concluded that this virus would pair well with several conventional chemical weapons that limit oxygen levels.

The anaerobic nature of the virus made the destruction of an infected subject difficult, but not impossible. Severe cranial damage resulted in immediate or near immediate death. Also spinal injury was extremely effective, as well as electrocution. The virus completely deadened pain, and the use of most organs. Removal of the heart, liver, kidneys, and gastro intestinal tract did not disable those infected. The infected were anaerobic creatures so oxygen in any form was unnecessary.

The virus acts on neurosensors in the medulla oblongata that trigger hostility and hunger. This gives the project Lazarus subjects their recognizable commonalties. The origin team worked hard to isolate certain parts of the brain that increased aggression exclusively toward human targets (only increased aggression toward humans). Our team found that this was the case in all the experiments. All other animal life and all other food substances are completely ignored. We tested the reactions of the infected with a range of animals, and the infected did not react. In fact, we even tested aggressive animals and even under attack, the infected did nothing. (All animals that punctured the skin and received a dose of the virus died quickly after, see the extensive study done by Dr. James Long, D.V.M on the subject)

The infected only ate human flesh, however, it was not a necessary component to their survival. They would not eat infected flesh, but would eat untainted flesh if it were alive or dead or decomposing. They seem to prefer fresh or living flesh to any other source.

Of the 390 subjects from the three projects, 42 were naturally immune. They are currently being tested for antivirus possibilities. We tested these subjects extensively, although only half of these subjects remain, as we had killed the others trying to increase the exposure to the virus.

More experiments will be conducted in Hanger 23 and 44 at Little Rock Air Force Base. We will resume tests in early June, when all the subjects and equipment are transferred.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bus Stop

The boat sways. I stand on the deck, looking out. I can see a large fire in the distance. Not a house… It looks like a whole town on fire. The river is full of boats, as far as the eye can see. There is a great deal of smoke, but the pilot lights can be seen through the dense haze. Shouts can be heard in the distance. The boats communicate with one another as they all head down river. Some are going faster than we are, the wakes they produce rock our boat back and forth. I hear the moans coming from the bridge above. The pilot points as the zombies plummet off the side of the bridge. They fall as he weaves through them. An undead creature hitting our boat from that height would surely destroy the vessel. He guns the engine and we make it through just as one hits the water directly behind us. It is dragged below the surface and the water quickly turns red around the propeller. A boat behind us tries to squeeze past the bridge. It is a much bigger boat and a larger target. It is hit by two creatures. The zombies don’t do too much damage because it is much taller and the undead fell a much shorter distance. The crew is on them and the screams from the boat saturate the night. The boat passes us, we are in its wake and the rocking intensifies. The screams, however, sound as if they are coming from below deck. The boat rocks. The screams continue.

I shoot up with a start. I quickly stand and snatch the crowbar. No one has followed me down. I’m on top of a bus and I suddenly remember what happened. I lost my balance up there when the bus crashed into the support for the El. The bus is moving from side to side, but we aren’t moving. I can hear screams below. I look over the edge and see them, what looks like twenty undead pushing the bus from side to side.

I try to assess the situation. All the creatures are in somewhat regular intervals around this damn thing, so there is no quick and safe way off of it. I see that the bus has torn apart two parked cars below on its way to the support. Both are literally shredded. I do see a nice size tire iron down there in the wreckage. I see that there is a light pole a few feet from the side of the bus. I could easily leap to is and slide down; I would be outside the reach of the zombies and could make a break for it. But I decide on a different course of action.

Most people in this situation would let their morality fly right out the window, and to be honest, my morals about possessions were thrown out on the tracks above. But I’ve always been a firm believer that you really don’t know how moral you are until you are tested. It is easy to be good in theory; it is always much harder in action. I must admit though, while the screams below did tug at my heart a little, it was cold logic that made my decision for me. If I run, I might save myself for now, but I could create 30 undead in the process. I am not leaving these people to die, I am signing them up for the other side if I flee. I need to get these people out of the bus.

I try to pull on the emergency hatch, but it won’t open from the outside. Emergency workers have a key for these hatches, I have a large metal device for prying things open. I use it and start to wrench it open. It pops up and then shrieks erupt from inside. I dodge a purse thrown at my head, and as I lean back in I duck away just as an umbrella shoots up trying to stab me in the face.

“Hey! I’m not a fuckin zombie! Knock that shit off!” I scream inside. Someone in the bus screams at them to stop. They calm momentarily.

The undead keep rocking the bus so I have to kneel to keep my balance and I stick my head back inside. The bus has several people inside; all are in the middle isle. No one is left in their seats. I see the bus driver is not moving, the front of the bus is destroyed, but the glass and metal is still intact enough to keep the creatures out momentarily. A few windows are shattered, and some are cracking with each smash at the hands of the ghouls. The creatures reach in, but can’t climb up the steep side of the bus through the windows. This will not be the case for long. One woman looks she is going to pass out. She’s a fat black woman and is hyperventilating. She sounds like a siren her breathing is so audible.

“Whooooooo, Whoooooo, Whooooooo, Lord Have Mercy! Whoooo, Whhooooo.”

The situation is rapidly deteriorating and I know what I need to do. I see a guy, a big fella who looks like O.J. Simpson a bit. I call to him, “Hey Juice,” he chuckles, “Take this crowbar, I am going to try to get them away from the door. When I do, you get everyone out and cover them.”

Juice shakes his head. “Not me man. If that door opens I am out of here.” As soon as he says that a smaller man starts moving toward me, he is a black man with dreadlocks. He looks Rastafarian. He has on a while linen shirt, and linen pants. He’s got a hemp necklace on and sandals. He is smaller in stature than the other guy, but wiry.

“I’ll do it mon. I can swing dat ting.” He takes the crowbar from me. “What are you gonna use mon?”

“I see a tire iron down there. I’ll get that and try to lure these damn things out of the way. If they turn toward you, swing for the fences and aim for the head. I’m going to get them from the back door because it doesn’t look like the front one works anymore, get ready to go out that one.”

“Ok, Mon. Good luck.”

I normally respond with some snarky comment when someone wishes me luck – this didn’t seem like the time to give my opinion on the existence of providence.

“Line the women and children up first. Get them out then the men go.” I point at the guy who refused the crowbar. “And Juice goes last.”

Juice starts to say something, but he is drown out by the Jamaican, “If he even tinks about goin out I’ll treat him like one a dem.”

“Take it to em.” I say. “I’ll meet you in the middle.”

I stand and look below at the wreckage where the tire iron is. A streetlight is near the bus, about 3 feet out. I need to jump to it and slide down. Then I’ll be on the other side of the undead but only by a few feet. Then I need to sprint 20 feet or so to get the weapon.

I lean over the side and see them snapping below. I decide to dress my wound on my leg. I take my hoodie off and cut it with the multi tool. I make a bandage over the shin and tie it tight. I can’t feel it. Adrenaline is filling my body. The effects are deadening my pain sensors.

I take one step back. “Here goes everything…” I can feel the rush of adrenaline inside me. My stomach knots up and my mouth goes dry as my digestive system shuts down. My legs are energized by the chemical. Time starts to go slowly. I leap.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sarah's Will

For a larger view of this Will, click here.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Garage Days

I cannot pretend I wasn’t angry. I had camped out for a while on the roof of the garage looking for any sign of Colleen and Finn. That is, until I started coughing.
I couldn’t help it. The acrid fumes from the burning house were drifting toward me, covering me in thick, oily black smoke. I wondered vaguely which of my treasured belongs was being incinerated and spewed into the air, drifting onto me, covering my body, burning my eyes, and caking my lungs with what seemed like pure acid. Were these fumes the photos of my family; were they charred and vaporized bits of wedding gifts, or the ashen remains of the dogs I had yet to move out of the house before the fire began? Regardless, I could see through the smoke wandering figures moving through the neighborhood. They didn’t seem particularly interested in the burning house, but once I started coughing, they grew very interested indeed.
I tried to stop coughing, but sitting on the roof, the smoke was thick and heavy, and I couldn’t get away from it. Within a couple of minutes, there were six of them moaning and reaching for me up on the roof. A few moments later and there were a bakers dozen, all groping and clawing at the garage, as if they could climb straight up its walls by the sheer force of their indomitable hunger. I looked around frantically, still coughing, tears streaming from my burning eyes, hoping to find something other than the couple of crowbars I had grabbed earlier. I desperately began peeling off shingles from the rooftop and slinging them down at the creatures below. I must have thrown fifty of them when I noticed something. Not only was this a grossly ineffectual waste of time, but the ghouls didn’t even raise a hand to protect themselves. As shingle after shingle whizzed into their heads and faces, often opening wide, if not particularly devastating wounds on them, they quite literally didn’t blink. They just kept scratching and clawing upward in the same dead mechanical motion. Experimentally, I took my longest crowbar and held it loosely down toward the unruly mob. Although they pawed at my nearer arm with some renewed vigor, not one of them thought a moment to reach up and grab a hold of the steel bar that waived down at them. I lay on my belly, and reaching out as far as I dared, I swung the bar in a wide pendulum arc and crashed the steel of the crowbar into the skull of the nearest zombie. The horrid thing’s skull cracked with a sort of hard thud, and the old woman’s corpse unceremoniously fell to the pavement below. In a moment, another zombie filled in the gap left by the fallen monster and met the same fate. One by one, they came into striking range, and one by one, I crushed their skulls. It was easier and easier as their bodies built a grisly stepstool, bringing each of them closer and closer into the reach of my swinging steel.
As soon as they were dispatched, I jumped down and opened the garage ducking inside. As much as I wanted a better view to wait for Colleen and Finn, I needed to breathe, and no view was going to do Colleen any good if I was swarmed by hordes of the undead.
Amusingly, I wasn’t in the garage organizing my provisions much more than twenty minutes when I heard Colleen screaming and yelling. I opened the door. Over their shoulders, I saw what looked like the whole neighborhood shuffling and rumbling their way toward us. I nearly threw them inside and slammed the door shut. There was little time for celebration. I held my wife and son for only a few minutes, breathing in their scent, and crying softly in gratitude. Our reunion was interrupted a few moments later by the sound of their hands scratching and clawing insistently at the heavy garage door. It was impossible to tell how many were out there, but their sound grew louder and louder as more and more of them tried to scratch their way in. I knew we couldn’t stay here too much longer. Sooner or later, either they would get in or we would be forced out for food or water.
I handed Colleen a hatchet and a small crowbar. I had Excalibur tucked in my belt, a crowbar in one hand and a large shovel in the other. Hastily, I pushed the lawnmower over to the main door and turned it on, clamping a zip cord over the throttle to keep it going. I hoped the sound of the lawn mower would draw them to the front of the garage. Without waiting to see if it worked, I jumped onto a worktable and kicked out a boarded window in the rear of the garage.
Thankfully, there were no zombies immediately behind the garage. I climbed out, and Colleen followed, climbing out the window with some difficulty. Trying to stay as quiet as we could, I hopped my back fence, and again helped Colleen over. Staying low and quiet, we jogged quickly to the neighbors house.
I broke the window in the door, reached inside and unlocked the door without a moments hesitation. Funny how quickly we lose our social taboos in a crisis. We hurried into the dark and silent house, straining to hear the sound of undead footsteps above our frantic beating hearts and panicked breath. I heard nothing, but didn’t feel too reassured. Once I had checked each room of the house, I relaxed a little. In a small wooden box hanging above a coathook in the hallway, I found a neatly labeled display of what I assumed were spare keys, and including what I had been hoping for, car keys. Without a word, and with Finnegan strangely sleeping through it all, Colleen and I crept into the garage, got into the dark green SUV that waited for us there. Feeling safer, I backed out of the garage, pausing only briefly at my burned out shell of a home and the dozens of undead pawing and moaning at my garage door.
I thought we were in the clear, at least for a while, but as I turned onto route thirty, I was immediately forced to a stop. In front of me was what looked like a military blockade, and without a moments hesitation, three soldiers leveled their rifles at us in an unmistakable sign of hostility. Quickly, and not particularly kindly, we were forced out of the SUV. It looked like martial law had been affected, and it looked like we were stuck right in the middle of it all.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Fighting in Flip Flops

Trudging forward, I notice the smell of burning gets stronger. It’s hard to see the smoke. It’s a cloudy night, but I’m sure it’s there. I just wish I knew which direction it was coming from. I’m only about a half a mile from home now, and Finn is finally sleeping quietly, tied to my chest in the Mei Tai. Thank God for small favors. There’s not much you can do to soothe a crying baby while fighting a zombie or running for your life. And his cries only call more of them.

When the van broke down, I cried for about 10 minutes before I could get a hold of myself. I was so adrenalized I couldn’t feel my body anymore. Everything seemed to tingle, and shake, and it was hard to catch my breath. I’m not sure if it was adrenaline, or panic. Maybe a little of both.

There were Zombies in the McDonalds. They couldn’t figure out how to get out, but they were in there, and they were not few. I finally decided that I couldn’t wait out the McZombies in my van. It was too far for me to go get gas, so I needed to walk home. I really didn’t want to leave my vehicle, but I didn’t have much choice. Sooner or later they would find me, and I don’t know how long I could hold out. You can’t exactly fortify a minivan.

I was so scared I threw up a couple of times while I was searching my vehicle for a suitable weapon. No such luck. I had my long ice scraper, and some bug spray. Not exactly ideal weapons for undead hand to hand combat. I just kept telling myself that I didn’t need to be stronger, I needed to be smarter and faster. I ditched the diaper bag and car seat, they were too bulky and rendered one arm useless. I still can’t believe I’m still alive, and I managed to protect Finn. Though I think he may be scarred for life, as little as he is. I hope he’s too small for that kind of damage.

I’m almost home, and am successfully evading zombies by climbing fences and skulking behind bushes and trees and the such. Tom will take care of us soon. He will have a plan. And he’d better have a really good fucking reason why he isn’t answering my calls. I will not even consider that he is hurt. He is strong, young, and determined. Above all, he is smart. If I’ve made it this far, I’m sure he has too. I’m wearing flimsy little $1 flip flops and a skirt- oh, and a 17 pound baby. Unencumbered, I’m sure he’s at home waiting to let us in, and ready with rations and a plan to survive.

I managed to run past the McZombies ok, but Finn started crying and more and more zombies started appearing from the businesses along the road. It soon became clear the main path was not the way to go. Outside the roller rink (I couldn’t fucking believe this) I had to fight a roller zombie. Roller blades on the undead are NOT helpful. Though they lack the agility to maneuver correctly, they can get moving pretty quickly downhill as long as they remain upright. When I saw him coming, I did a modified safe drop (to protect Finnegan) and did a side posture kick at his knee. I was hoping for a broken knee cap, but that didn’t happen. Though the heel is the strongest bone in the human body, it’s less effective when your target is on wheels. I did, however, knock him down, and I used my ice scraper to obliterate his eyes. Roller skates or not, if you can’t see me, I can get away.

So, after jetting past the roller zombie I came to the Richton Park police station. I hoped to break into a car, or steal a gun or something. But I don’t know how to break into or hotwire a car. I’ve only been trained on strategy by the movies. Where is my scrappy delinquent, or unlikely but funny black man to show me ghetto fabulous survival techniques? Anyway, I saw a few police zombies, but I thought it would be best to avoid them. They looked strong, and since I don't know how to fire a gun, I wasn’t sure it was worth the risk of acquiring one.

Since the streets were rather dense with the dead, I decided it was best to cut through residential areas. Old Plank Trail runs from just behind my house all the way to Joliet, and I hoped that would be a safe means to get home. There would be fewer brains in the forest preserve, and hopefully fewer zombies. I was hoping the laws of supply and demand were still in effect, since logic and reason seemed to be out of commission.

I was bleeding a lot along the side of my leg and hip from dropping and swivelling on the blacktop, and I was sure to have a beautifully bruised hip. My feet were bleeding too, from all the underbrush and rocks I was walking through. They didn’t seem to be able to smell me, which was a relief. I only encountered one other zombie on my way to the trail, and I was able to break her knee, use the bug spray in her eyes and run away. It was really hard not to scream as I fought her, because I was conditioned to scream and yell and make noise to help me find my strength in self defense class—and to attract attention. But right now, attention was the LAST thing I wanted. I threw up after the fight again. I was absolutely sick with nerves-- and it was hell to keep Finn quiet after each of these encounters. I gave him some Motrin before getting out of the van because that tends to make him drowsy, and I’m sure that is the only reason he’s not wailing right now.

After that last attack, something new inside me seemed to wake up. Though I was still pulsing with adrenaline, something more primal was beginning to emerge. It got easier to walk in these shitty flip flops, I grew more stealthy while walking in the woods, and all of my senses seemed to be on high alert—without all the puking. I could see zombies meandering about, and had it together enough to freeze and remain quiet until they passed, or to circumvent them entirely. I felt like a hunter, and I wasn’t so panicked anymore. I’m sure this is what helped me get this far.

I looked at my watch—a habit that seems ridiculous and out of place now, to see how long it had been since I last spoke to Tom. It’s approaching 11. We last spoke about 8:30, I think. That seems like days ago. I’m almost home, and I know he’s worried. I can’t wait to change my clothes, and get into some decent shoes. Eating and showering are on my list, too, but I don’t know how safe either of those things will be just yet, so my hopes aren’t too high. Bed sounds like a dream, and I know Finn is in serious need of a new diaper and some clean clothes.

As I round the bend of a side street only a few blocks from home I begin to realize the neighborhood is absolutely infested with Zombies. I recognized several of my neighbors milling about looking for lunch, and grew concerned that we wouldn’t be able to stay home long. It looks like the power is out, too. So much for waiting this out at home. I don’t know how we will transport the baby safely in the truck, and where the fuck do we have to go? I start to think about my mom and brother and sister, but I stop myself. Let’s just get through one obstacle at a time.

The crackling of the fire becomes clear, and the smell of the smoke becomes stronger. There are no fire engines, and this fire has clearly been at it a while. Looks like law enforcement as we know it is also out of commission. I have to get home and call my family asap, before the cell phone lines go down, too. For all I know, they already have. Though my phone is on me, it’s turned off so I don’t alert anyone unsavory to my presence.

I am dodging zombies left and right through the bushes, and praying that Finn stays asleep long enough for me to get us to safety, and to Tom. I am amazed at how easy it is to stay hidden. I know zombies aren’t bright, but I’m not exactly trained in guerilla tactics either. As long as I don’t make any noise, I should be home in minutes. I will have serious problems, though, if I do reveal myself. There are dozens of them, and unless I can climb up the side of a house in these flip flops with a baby strapped to my belly, I’ll be toast.

Walking through my neighbors yard, I gasp, and I break out into a run. My house is on fire. Where is my husband? I run out in the open, temporarily surged with panic and grief, praying to a God I don’t believe in, begging for my husband to still be alive. By the time I realize I’ve jeopardized my position, it’s too late to hide myself. The zombies see me, and the moaning begins. I see Jennie, my crotchety old neighbor who walks the streets and tells you if your lawn is too long, and my heart sinks.

As I reach the house, I am yelling for Tom without even realizing it. I sob and I scream for him, as if the volume of my calls will bring him to me sooner. As the neighborhood beings to shamble in my direction, and the moaning begins to drown out my cries, my garage door flies open and Tom screams for me to get inside. He’s holding a shovel and a lantern and is very angry at me for making so much noise. I’ve never been more delighted to be in trouble in all my life. The baby is screaming as I duck under the slamming garage door, and tears run copiously down our faces as we hold each other in the most powerful embrace of our lives. Even if we die, we’re doing it as a family.

Archive 7o-553-d >> Entry 3

Record Logging Protocol : Epsilon
Record # 7o-553-d
Chrono : Suffusion I

Descriptor : Engagement
Classification : Primary Aggressor

Region >> Chicago,greater

Type >> Audio ; Voice
Delivery >> Messaging System
Double Entry Justification >> Chronological Relation

Primary Principal >> Chris
Primary Assumptions >> Male ; 20-40 ; Caucasian ;

Secondary Principal >> Jen (alias:"Babe")
Secondary Assumptions >> Female ; 20-40 ;
Involved(primary,shared residence)

Source >> 7o-553-d_AR_0+0003(1)
Source >> 7o-553-d_AR_0+0003(2)