Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Archive 7o-553-d >> Entry 5

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

Descriptor : Communique
Classification : Extrication

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)

Third Principal >>
Third Assumptions >> Male ; 18+ ; Widowed

Source >> 7o-553-d_AR_0+0005

Friday, August 24, 2007

Notes From A Rogue

“For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.”

Ecclesiastes 1:18

The landmark lawsuit that cost PG&E millions as portrayed in the movie Erin Brockovich as well as the Enron scandal taught corporations all over the world the same big lesson: shred it ALL. Except that the rogue employees who smuggled out said evidence and information set an example for rogue employees all over the world: if it incriminates, it means leverage. And leverage means power. So, get the power before it reaches the shredder. For one employee –especially a lowly Junior Research Assistant—to be able to feel powerful against an entire corporation –well, that is a sexy, sexy thing. And thank you, Mr. Timberlake, I believe I will bring sexy back.

I work for Allergan, a global specialty pharmaceutical and medical device company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative products for the ophthalmology, neurosciences, medical dermatology, medical aesthetics and other specialty markets. Headquartered in Irvine, California, if you care. You may have heard about their big stock split (symbol: AGN) on CNBC several weeks back or their innovations in the ways of biocompatible silicone breast implants. As of late the big thing is Botox®. Botox® is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It's the same toxin that causes a life-threatening type of food poisoning called botulism. The injection reduces the activity of the muscles that cause those frown lines between the brows to form over time –yes, these are the days when laughlines are actually frowned upon. How screwed up is that? Rich women everywhere can achieve that haute couture Stepford wives look in minutes.

As a female rogue employee of Allergan whose psychiatrist suggested journaling as therapy to get through the divorce, I once possessed the fatal flaw of having been walked on and cheated on for years, but, with help from therapy and meditation I finally grew a pair. So, I am proud to announce that I recently began cutting out the bullshit in my life – along with the worthless husband, I finally left the hypocrisy of the Catholic church for subjugating my gender and keeping me apart from the loving God they claim will strike me down for saying this —and for once in my damn life—feel powerful. This need for power is heating all aspects of my life like a stove on high to boil water. I feel it is my responsibility to disclose research notes that would counter indicate the effects of the Botox® injection, thus safety and side effects are a chief concern as it was not fully tested before FDA approval. If I leave this confidential information sitting out on the table in full view to other Allergan employees, I will be fired in a second, so until I can smuggle the report file out, this is for my own eyes only. I write this only for my own satisfaction, I guess. But I have to do it. I am obligated. I just need to plan the “attack”. Do I leak it to the media or go straight to the government? You’d think that’s like deciding which color of Jim Jones’s Kool Aid I should drink.

How do I know there are problems with the substance? In a non-technical nutshell, I was the recording researcher assigned to the project. Now, I know what shit has been going on in the news. I know that everywhere humans are dying and science fiction is becoming fact --reanimation and cannibalizing. And for a split-second there, I though God might be smiting the earth, but in the end, I attribute it to good old-fashioned human error. I know that the source of the outbreak is virtually impossible to trace, and as the subjects are hostile, the idea of further testing is bleak. Now, I’m not saying that the Botox® Initial Studies substance is the cause of this undead outbreak – I am just introducing the idea that this is a result of pharmaceutical roulette - that an undertested substance happened to be prematurely released to the public around the exact time when people began to eat...each other. The "convenience" is startling. It can’t be ruled out, but it can't be scientifically proven either. Either way, the public has a right to know.

In lab rats I tested with the Botox® injection, approximately 30 days following the injection, the rats acted increasingly violent toward one another. My supervisor attributed this to a batch of inbred rats which the lab had received from a new Utah supplier. The substance paralyzed the muscles where they should have been paralyzed. The stuff was doing what the developers hoped it would do for sagging faces everywhere. The muscle paralysis gripped and eventually faded when it should (after all, we can't have women NOT come back to buy a second round of injections). But the side effects left in its wake were eye-opening in these rats. I kept notes on the activities of these rats and on day 45 the rodents began gnawing off each other’s tender pink tails and feet to bloody stumps and infections were spreading. I went into the office of my supervisor and began to attest to problems stemming from side effects but he heard none of it, the bastard. He just condescendingly put up one hand, palm out, while still looking at his Los Angeles Times and said, “No. We have orders to keep going with this.” On day 49, he came into the lab and announced with a smile and a clap of his hands that they were going to move forward with the release of Botox® as the Christmas season was approaching and they had to get the press release over to Marketing, stat. I was really uneasy about it. So, in rogue fashion, I made a copy and filed the original report in a different cabinet under lock and key. I just need to make sure Jose the security guard temporarily turns off the lab hall and corridor cameras when I sneak back in to retrieve it. I will achieve this with the complimentary dime bag of pot (we are in California, after all). I think ----wait -----someone’s coming…will write more later.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Giuliani for President

When the medic, Rudolph Giuliani heard the commotion, and when he learned that Stonewall had been infected, he went straight to his commanding officer. “Major Rossdale, Stonewall has been infected, Sir, and we have to save him. We have the means, please allow me to administer the vaccine.”

Rossdale turned slowly, “I am aware of the situation, son. Just as you are aware we don’t have enough antigen to create vaccines for all of us. You know we will only administer the vaccine when there are only enough of us left to exhaust the supply.”

Giuliani spoke, “but sir, it’s Stonewall…”

“Goddamn it to hell, Giuli!” Rossdale interrupted, “don’t you think I know that? Do you think this is my choice? These are my orders, and I do not disobey orders!”

“Sir….” He seemed to lose his nerve, but thought better of it and started again, “Sir, maybe there is no one left but us, and no orders left to follow… I just don’t want to lose any more men, sir.”

Rossdale pursed his lips, and spoke more quietly now, but just as sternly. “Giuli, I am just as broken up by losing Turner and Hooch as you are, but that gate crashing lunatic got the better of us. But you know damn well that there were nine other bio-contamination containment experiment areas in the states, and those are just the ones we know about. I don’t want to lose Stonewall, either, son. So, unless you’re the fucking President, and you’re here to change my orders, I suggest you pray that the vaccine takes hold of him before the infection does.”

Giuliani looked as though he would argue, but Rossdale turned away and held up his hand to dismiss him, and to indicate that no further pleas would be tolerated.

Giuliani walked quickly away, and decided that orders or not, he was going to save his friend. That night, he snuck into the kitchen, where the antigen was kept, and he stole a vaccine module, and inserted it into a hypodermic. He went down the hall toward the gymnasium, and waited.

He wasn’t sure what he was waiting for, but no doubt would know it when he saw it. He heard screams coming from the gym, and heard Stonewall banging on the doors. It was uncharacteristic for him to break that way—he had known stonewall since basic, and he never once complained—ever. It was too much for Giuliani to stomach, hearing his friend yell out like that, and he decided he could no longer wait for Coop to take that smoke break to get in.

He walked down the hall, and said “Hey Coop. Remember that favor you owe me? I’m calling it in.”

Cooper looked startled, but said “Sure, Jewels, what’s up? What ya doin’ over here, anyway? I hope ‘yer not outta smokes, cuz I am, too. ‘Bout ready to gnaw off my arm for the nicotine under my finger nails,” he chuckled.

“No, coop, I need you to let me in there—I’m going to save Stonewall.” He said as he showed Cooper the needle.

“Jewels… I got my orders, man. Shit, Does Rossdale know you’re here?” and after a brief pause, “you know I want to help him, too, man. But I just can’t let you in there. It ain’t safe fer none of us if I do.”

They eyed each other, and each saw steady conviction in the other’s eyes. Cooper looked away and said, “Man, don’t make me do this… don’t make me report you…” but he was cut off midsentence by a blow to his stomach.

Giuliani had attacked him, and was hoping odds were good that Coop didn’t have the balls to shoot him. They yelled as they fought, Giuliani to silence Coop, and Coop to tip off the night watch that something was going down.

But after a short struggle they were on the ground, and Giuliani had taken Cooper’s gun from it’s holster, and pistol whipped him. Before the blood even spread to the ground, Giuli was at the door of the gymnasium.

As he opened it, he saw stonewall go into convulsions, and pass out. He knew he didn’t have much time, and as he bent to administer the vaccine, Stonewall’s eyes opened. At first he appeared dazed, but after a moment his pupils narrowed, and he extended an arm to Giuli. By the time Giuli realized Stonewall was already changed, and that arm was not the friendly gesture he had hoped, his teeth were already sinking into his arm.

He sat stunned, as the infection coursed through him, and within moments, before he could even scream, he became one of them. Ironically, he was still holding the vaccine in his hand when he changed.

Stonewall's Secrets

Stonewall Brutus was not the type to break orders. Nor was he the type to fall asleep at his post. Since the mass infection (no one had the guts yet to call it an epidemic), no one from his unit had heard from their loved ones, and morale was really low. Last night’s poker game was the first time he had felt normal in weeks, and though he was tired, he wanted to enjoy the few meager moments of amnesia granted him.

He had been stationed in Pekin, Illinois to help with the bio-contamination containment experiment, when the shit started hitting the fan. One of the other experiment hubs must have failed, and not contacted the proper chain of command to be shut down, and all of a sudden there were infected everywhere. Of course, this was more confidential than who killed JFK. He couldn’t help but feel ashamed that fellow soldiers had made a mistake that might have caused this nightmare to come about, and he was going to work his tail off to make up for the shortcomings of those responsible few, once he got through the quarantine, anyway.

But the only emotion strong enough to overcome his sense of duty, responsibility, and shame, was grief. His mother was old. She was in a wheel chair, and though he couldn’t be sure, it could only be assumed that she was infected. Just the thought of her dragging her limp, lifeless legs behind her in search of food, or the low moans she would make to signal to the others that she had found food… it was enough to turn his blood to ice, and his stomach inside out. He hoped his brother had gotten there in time, he hoped that he had known it would have been humane to kill her in her sleep, but as the saying goes, ‘hope in one hand and shit in the other. See which one fills up faster.’

His Christian name was Cesar, Cesar Brutus—his mother had been an English teacher with a sense of humor. But since he was fourteen, even she called him Stonewall. Fact is, he was built like a brick shit house. Standing at six feet seven inches, pushing three hundred pounds, he had always stood out in a crowd. He had big shoulders, a washboard stomach, and a will stronger than all that combined. He had a hard body, solid will, and strong convictions, but he had soft eyes. His mother said it seemed he was built to be a soldier, and though she had her heart set on a college education, she wasn’t naïve enough to think her aspirations were going to keep him from his calling.

As he sat in quarantine, solitary and resentful, this was all he could think about. His mother, his orders, his imprudent poker game… anything but to think about the infection that was coursing through his veins. Luckily, he was a slow-changer, so they were able to help him. Most people changed within minutes, but when they realized he was bitten but not infected, they rushed him to the medical quadrant for the vaccine. They had used the antigen with success in Pekin but there wasn’t enough research yet to know if it worked, or to determine the proper dosage. Despite his size, they had to err on the side of caution—with so many unknown side effects, they didn’t want to kill him with the cure. He had only time now, forty eight hours with his thoughts in an empty gymnasium. Their research had concluded that slow changers take up to forty eight hours to complete the infection. He hoped the vaccine would work, but he wasn’t sure yet if he would be intact when his time was up.

Why had he stayed up to play poker? He knew why, and he knew his humanity was to blame for his weakness, and nothing more. But still, he was so ashamed to know that this was the reason he was infected. After a long night of Poker and moonshine, he had gotten little sleep before his day duties were to begin. Then after a long, exhaustingly hot day of digging latrines, he found that since Cagney and Lacey were still not back from the semi-trailer transport that crashed the gates a few days ago, he was on first watch. Not an ideal circumstance, but he had to do his part for his country, his camp, and himself. He was too proud to ask for reassignment, and this was his tragic flaw.

He had fallen asleep at his post, and though the watch tower had spotted the crawler in time, his timing was groggy and slowed, and he had been bitten. He’d been given the antigen within fifteen minutes, like they were supposed to, and he knew that protocol meant forty eight hours in quarantined lock-down, but he couldn’t help but feel let down and deserted by his friends and poker buddies. He knew it was for his own good, as well as the welfare of the camp. His mind wandered to the campers he was quarantined from—anything to keep his mind of his shame, or his mother.

He thought of the young mother with the cropped hair and her strawberry-blonde, infant son with the clearest blue eyes he had ever seen. He had given her an old pair of fatigues and boots so she could help with the labor in the camp. He saw no reason why an able bodied woman should be resigned to dishes and childcare duties when she was willing to do so much more—and all that held her back was her clothing. He also respected that she wore her baby on a sling around her chest or back instead of leaving him in child care while she worked. It had to make the work harder, but she never complained. He always felt it was important to teach children the value of hard work, and that you couldn’t start early enough. It was for her sake he was in here. He scratched his beard and laid back, thinking it was probably time to try to sleep

He woke covered in his own sweat and blood, though he didn’t know where the blood was coming from. He was hot, sweating, and seemed to have lost control of his bladder. His head pounded, his eyes watered, and it took him a few minutes to remember where he was and why. He made his way to the steel doors; he was in trouble, and he knew they would need to document every moment of his case… his transformation? He hoped they would give him more of the vaccine, but since it was in short supply, that was quite unlikely. He banged and screamed with all his might, and waited. He knew they heard him, but there was no reply. He banged again, this time with the feracity of a cornered animal, with the same result. They were not coming… they were really not coming.

He thought he heard arguing from outside, but the sirens in his ears proved too difficult to translate through. He did not know how much time had gone by since he last banged on the door. He was cold now, his head still throbbed, and his eyes still watered, and he was still covered in blood, urine, and surprise-- feces. It occurred to him that suicide was the only dignified option at this point, but they had left him with no tools of that kind—surely for their own safety, in case he did change.

He felt more terrible than he thought possible, and knew death would come soon. Every aching, pounding, bleeding moment seemed to last for hours as he prayed for death to come. It shouldn’t be long now, it couldn’t be. He pled with himself, willing himself to let go before he was crushed by the impossibility of the pain. He went limp, and there were hundreds of tiny, colorful explosions under his eyelids as he felt his body quaking on the hard linoleum floor beneath him. He heard the sound of the door behind him opening, and more hollering, as he slipped out of consciousness.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Camp, Chaos, and Corn

Tom had been having bad dreams for eight days, now. I think we were all starting to show signs of PTSD now that we were in the relative safety of the camp. Several times each night he seemed to wake with a fury, ready to fight. I never asked him what he dreamt about, it seemed obvious. I, too, was dreaming, but of my father. Each time the circumstances varied, but each time the message was the same—be ready to get out, you’re not safe yet. I was grateful he wasn’t alive to see all this.

The first 48 hours in camp were the roughest. But we soon learned that things were not as they seemed. After two days, almost to the hour, we were all lead back to an open encampment behind the school. There were probably 25 open air tents, and several areas designated for kitchen, firearms, etc, and it was all closed in by a fence. The camp was outdoors, and there were about 100 people already living there. The perimeter of the camp was set a quarter of a mile out from the fence on all sides, and guarded by men with guns, and dogs. At all hours we heard the static of radio communiqué of the guards checking in from their posts. There was even a makeshift watch tower.

All in all, we were relieved to see that life would not consist of an elementary school gym, and were pleased to assist in the cooking and upkeep of the camp. There were cold showers that we were allowed to take in 60 second increments twice per week. They let me have 15 seconds longer so I could wash Finn, as well. One kindly, older officer even gave me an extra pair of fatigues and shoes since my skirt and torn flip flops weren’t going to make it much longer. They gave me fabric scraps to make cloth diapers for Finn, and as long as I washed them daily, I had enough. The food wasn’t great, but the safety and comeraderie was. We made friends and settled in, not sure if were there to ‘wait out’ the threat, or to create a new, enclosed civilization.

The guards and officers kept their distance from us for the most part. Their sleep tents were at the opposite end of camp from us, and it was clear they were trying to maintain some secrecy. We didn’t ask, and they didn’t tell—a policy we were all familiar with. We learned to clean firearms, and took turns digging latrines, doing dishes, cooking, and helping out wherever needed. It was beginning to feel like home.

On our second day in the open air camp, another paddy wagon arrived. We saw another group unloaded, checked and quarantined for 48 hours. Then again on our fifth day, but this time something went wrong. The people had been transported in the back of a semi-trailer, which appeared to have hit the building, and when they opened the doors, zombies spilled from the cargo hold. It took under 30 minutes to contain the threat, and we were all grateful, if not morosely astonished at their efficiency. That night, the truck was loaded with the bodies of the slain undead, and driven away, not to be seen again. Tom seemed to be really affected by this, and his dreams were especially turbulent that night. No one could say it wasn’t nerve-racking, but then, no one said much about the incident at all. The air was heavy with grief, and the sudden reminder of what we had all survived before we got to this place.

On our eighth night, I awoke at my father’s insistence, he said it was time to go soon, and to be watchful. I woke Tom when I heard the commotion, and we listened to the lookout tower soldier hollering to one of the guards on his radio to retreat post haste, and we heard dogs and shots erupting like wildfire from our left. An automatic weapon was unloading, and it was soon joined by another and another—a chorus or machine fire filled our ears and chests as we waited, and the camp seemed to erupt into chaos. Campers were crying and huddled, fearing the worst. Tom and I sat quietly on our cots, hoping for a sign of what was to come. I wondered if it was really time for us to leave.

After about fifteen minutes of this, we were told in no uncertain terms by a very persuasive soldier that we were to remain in our tents, be quiet, and await further instruction. He told us there was a potential security breach, but that protocol was being followed and we would remain safe. We heard shouts that a soldier was compromised (bitten…?), and that he needed to be quarantined. We were surprised that he hadn’t already changed…and the rumors began circulating.

By dawn, we had ascertained that the soldier had been asleep at his post when the lookout saw the threat, and tried to rouse him over the radio. We weren’t sure if he was bitten or not, but we did know he was being held in the quarantine gym, so must have been exposed somehow. Despite the rumors, campers settled back in to their daily routines despite their bleary eyes and weary hearts.

The next night I woke again, my father urging me forward, telling me it was no longer safe. I know it’s crazy, but I could feel in my bones that he was right. Something was wrong here, and it was too damned quiet. I woke Tom, told him my feeling, and insisted that we needed to leave. He asked the practical questions, “How could we leave? Where would we go? What would we use to protect ourselves? and Are you out of your fucking mind?”. I had no answers, but I knew it was time.

The soldiers moved quickly, quietly, and with purpose, as the other campers lay sleeping. Once more we heard gunfire, but this time it was coming from the school. My heart sunk as I realized that the quarantine was broken, and there were zombies inside the camp. The solider must have been bitten last night, and now he would infect us all. We were under attack from an undisclosed, and soon to be exponentially endless number of zombies, and one hurried glance told me that Tom was ready to leave now, as well.

We grabbed our blankets, and I quickly tied the baby to my back with them, using a pillow to pad his back in case I fell, or ran into something. I was surprised to see a pair of bolt-cutters from the manual labor tent emerge from under tom’s pillow. He didn’t meet my eyes, I knew he was embarrassed to have shown me his fear, but now his precaution told us how we would get out.

The campers were starting to stir now, but we waited until the coast was clear, and cut through the fence. We couldn’t afford to travel in high numbers, and we didn’t want to be apprehended and forced back in by the soldiers. One glance behind me revealed that a few had seen us but stayed on their cots, as if their stillness would protect them from the legions of undead that would soon be upon them.

We crawled on our bellies and made our way slowly through the tall grass until we were past the unguarded perimeter. All the soldiers must be in the camp now, trying to save it. We could hear screams and destruction from behind us, but we dared not look back to see our new friends ripped asunder. We had seen enough carnage to last a lifetime.

And then we ran. We ran all night, stopping only for a minute or so every half hour to rest. I never knew I had it in me. I managed to nurse while jogging a few times to comfort Finn, and I was grateful for the pillow and blankets so I could keep my hands free to swat away branches and debris.

We were in the country somewhere, and as day broke, we approached a small deserted town. Where were the zombies? Or the people? How could there be none here at all? I saw my question reflected in Tom’s incredulous expression, and we moved slowly and stealthily through the thoroughfare, hoping to find a clue or some food.

We were both too frightened and weary to search the homes just now, but we did manage to gather up a splintered baseball bat, a box of paper towels, and a few large rocks. We took our bounty with us into the surrounding corn fields, and began to erect a shelter.

I always hated those survival shows, but had never been happier to have seen them! We used the bolt cutters and corn stalks to erect a shelter, and laid down one blanket to keep the bugs off the baby, and the other overhead for some shade. I found a nearly dry creek bed, and used the pillowcase to filter some water from the mud. We were surrounded by feed corn, which was hard but still edible, and we did out best to eat some of that. We used the paper towels to keep Finn’s bottom clean and dry, since it seemed diapers were a thing of the past. By mid afternoon we had made camp, and I volunteered to take first watch while Tom slept with Finn on his chest.

As I stood watch my mind began to drift:

What the hell was next?

Where were we, and how would we stay safe?

Where would we go from here?

What the hell happened to that town, and why was no one in it?

I wonder if we can find a car there…

God, I’m hungry…

And then I was sleeping.

Turning point

The bite occured quickly, without Richard even realizing it. Thus is the nature of an emergency situation that in the thick of great terror a man can sustain a grievous injury and carry on, oblivious. When the shambling undead finally broke his door, richard had retreated, backpedaling out of desperation against his floor to ceiling office window, pinned against the glass. Richard was not a stupid man, not by a long shot. An actuary at a midsize reinsurance company, he had spent most of his adult life cooped up in an office, balancing risk versus premiums. He had, he realized too late, spent precious little time fighting hordes of marauding hungry corpses. His trained actuarial mind kicked in, quickly assessing the options, none of which looked particularly pleasant. He could, he thought, attempt to fight, but years of fine wine and fine meals had not left him the specimen of physical prowess. He had nowhere left to run, no weapons, no barriers. Doing the math between the unbearable agony of being ripped asunder by the cold dead hands and rotting teeth of his former city dwellers versus a long fall with a short stop from his office window, Richard made the only viable choice. Reaching forward toward the approaching horde, he grabbed a heavy lucite paper weight off of his desk. Hefting it, he swung the paperweight in a powerful, if rather ungraceful arc, bringing it crashing into the window. Initially, he thought nothing happened. Then a split second later, the glazing gave way and the entire window shattered, raining thousands of tiny glass safety pebbles upon him.

Richard turned, looking out the window at the expanse of nothing that lay below. He edged his way out to the precipice, the toes of his neatly polished shoes poking out into space. Even as he contemplated the gap before him, the first of the ghouls grabbed his suit coat. The pull shocked him out of his silent contemplation, and with no more hesitation, Richard's exquisitely trained mathematical mind turned immediately to survival. With a shrug, Richard sloughed the six hundred dollar jacket off, grabbed the window frame, and swung himself out, onto the ledge.

Gripping the edge of the window frame Richard edged as far as he was able, terrified to let go. The first thing he noticed out on the ledge was the wind, ferocious and cold, it threatened at every turn to hurl him off the ledge. The second thing he noticed were the hands and heads of the moaning horde poking fearlessly over the edge, grabbing at his hands and arms as he tried to stay anchored to the building, so many floors over the concrete that defined his ruined city. This must have been when he was bitten. Its the only thing that made sense, but Richard didn't feel it. He finally relinquished his grip from the window frame not from the pain of a ghoul's crushing jaw, but because the undead began trying to literally climb his gripping arms. Pulling free of their grasp was difficult, made even more so by his terror at being unmoored, kept on the side of the building by nothing other than his rather untrustworthy sense of balance. When he succeeded finally, in pulling himself free, he edged as quickly as he dared about six feet from the window frame.

Richard was only on the ledge a moment when the first ghoul fell silently from the window. Failing in their desperate unthinking need to recognize the inviolable laws of gravity and distance, they streamed from the window after Richard, each plummeting hundreds of feet to the unyielding pavement below. After only a few moments, the stream of undead stopped, the last one moaning slightly, reaching and clawing up at Richard even as he fell and ruptured on the pavement below. To his continued horror, Richard could see one of the zombies below dragging its ruined body with undoubtedly shattered arms across the pavement, still pursuing some ghastly meal, trailing its own organs behind its halved body. On shaking legs, whimpering, Richard edged slowly back to the windows edge, and crawled gratefully inside.

A few moments later, Richard jerked his head up, realizing dimly that he'd been staring at the wall opposite him, but not remembering why or for how long. He knew he should try to reach his wife, his kids, but even as he thought this, their names seemed to dance out of reach. Vaguely, he understood that he was beginning to drool, but before he could reach up to wipe his chin, his pupils expanded, and the world was painfully bathed in light. Moaning, he reached out, staggering forward. His precise, orderly actuarial mind was slipping, memories growing slowly harder and harder to reach. A moment later, Richard slowly, laboriously, tried to remember his name. Even as he tried to concentrate, his feet shuffled forward. He began to become aware, as if from a distance, that he had stopped shaking. A calm settled over his mind, erasing not only worries, but thoughts, and after the thoughts went, memories. With a blank mind the most studious Buddhist monk would envy, the thing
that used to be Richard became aware he was hungry.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Principals and Principles

The creatures streamed down the hall of the school. Some were former children, others were unlucky teachers. They filed past the rooms on either side, heading for the people scurrying away. Some lockers in the hall were left open, their contents strewn about on the floor. The sprinklers had gone off earlier, and the residual water and garbage made every step sound like the undead were walking in a swamp. They shuffled silently, only making brief moans or grunts as they plodded after the living.

The children and the teacher were exhausted, there was no place safe to go. Three hours ago they called for the evacuation and when they did the halls filled up quickly. That also put the population of the school at risk. Several bites occurred in that minute or two. The creatures that were being contained in the principal’s office burst out, the principal now joined them, when the halls filled with bodies. The running and screaming set off the whole school, and panic set in. Children were trampled, teachers tried in to calm the students, but noting is as unnerving as your former principal tearing the throat out of the lunch lady. The hurt, were descended upon, the hidden were found, and the zombies grew in number.

This small group was in the computer lab until one of them sneezed, the whole group made a run for it out the other door when the undead started pounding the door down. Now Mr. Rasion and his “Web and the Media” class were on the run. Karl was not a brave person, and as the situation grew dimmer, he knew that the only real way out is to abandon the children. “Class, get in this room, I will lock you in and pull the creatures away from the door. I’ll circle back and get you.”

Karl had no intention of ever coming back, and some of the junior high students knew that. The protested and he used the last weapon in the arsenal to convince them – his teacher voice. If these were high school students, it wouldn’t have worked, but they were younger and more susceptible to this. They herded themselves in the room and he locked the door. The creatures at the end of the hall started streaming after him. He called to the children to stay away from the door and pretended to have trouble with the lock. His delay had the exact goal he was looking for, the zombies started to chase him, and then paused as their prey grew farther away and the children became an easier target.

Karl Rasion ran away from the door without looking back. The creatures pounded, the children screamed, and the safety glass was starting to break. It only took the creatures three minutes to break through the security glass and accidentally hit the handle for the door, and as it swung open the children screamed agian.

The creatures were making their way into the room when the last in the line was felled. The shovel connected perfectly with the back of its head, and the former Ms. Makerson, world and US history teacher, fell like a sack of mud. The young janitor Lukash Kazmierz burst into the room tearing into the group of undead. “Ocknąć się mi demony…” he said in his native Polish tongue, and he slaughtered every last one of them.

When the last one fell, he turned to the students, “Come with Lukash children,” he said in his thickly accented English. “We hide in steam boiler room with rest of pupils.” Not one of the students protested. He led them silently to the small room, opened the door quickly with his master key, and ushered them inside to safety.