Sunday, December 30, 2007

There will be time, there will be time, to murder and create

I have no idea what the hell is wrong with Colleen. As if it isn't enough that the goddamn world seems to have been infested (infected maybe?) with the un-fucking-dead, now I've got the damn wife passed out and muttering about hippies and quarantines and god knows what else. She passed out after we kicked down the first wall; a time that seems so long ago, but that I know (think, I don't really “know” anything these days) was still part of today. What does a day even mean anymore? There's no natural light down here (and while we're at that, can someone tell me just how in the hell we have power ?) and all of the other markers of a sane and routine existence have long since ceased to be. Its funny how so often my days have been defined by the proximity to a meal. In real life, I remember thinking, it's lunchtime, or almost time for dinner, or, my favorite, time for a midnight snack. Time was so closely tied to the normalcy of everyday things, of eating and sleeping and obligations like work and home, bath time for the kiddo, nap times. All the parts of a normal day had their own special time. So when the hell is drag-your-unconscious-muttering-wife-on-a-makeshift-hammock-
compound-that's-been-overrun-by-zombies-time? Huh? Just when the fuck is it time to look startled at a man whose become a leader of a sequestered people when he suggests that the only way to get out of the room currently besieged by dead accountants and high school students is to kick a hole through the plaster walls and hope that what lies on the other side is a room moderately more safe than the one we are in? And who in the jumping jesus christ on a crutch is going to tell me when its time to hand your infant son to some stranger and ask another to help you drag your wife through the tiny gaps in the walls even as the door behind you begins to crumble, splinter, and give in from the terrible weight of the hungry dead? I wonder, as I put my aching foot into and through the next wall only to feel my foot immediately gripped by cold iron hands that pull me off my feet, knocking me to the ground, just what the clock for these times looks like. Do we meet for lunch when the big hand reaches ghouls and the little hand is resting on the image of a small band of deliciously named strangers pulling on my shoulders to haul me back through and out of the reach of the hungry hands that are trying to rip and pull my leg through the gap I created in the wall? I'm hardly even surprised when they succeed, and I tumble backward into the room we are now trying to escape, the seventh such room, the seventh safe wall we've kicked through, and I hardly even feel anything anymore as I brush myself off, and turn to a different wall at a right angle to the one that is now alive with grasping hands and stupid hungry faces. It's time, I think a little crazily, to try a different wall. Without any real thought, without a plan, knowing that when all the options are equally unknowable, any attempt at knowing is a fruitless waste of what seemed to be very precious time, Sage and I wordlessly begin to kick at the plaster interior wall at a right angle to the wall we came through and also perpendicular to the wall of new threats, the pandoras box I just kicked open. We were hoping to use this method to avoid hallways and corridors, open passage areas, and so we had to be conscious as we navigated of where we thought the hallways would be. I imagined briefly what that moment would be, the first kick from my now wobbly legs noisily breaking the plaster, announcing like a dinner bell to the streaming, meandering undead that dinner was served. I could almost hear their moans growing louder as we inadvertently opened our tiny world up to the threat just a few inches of plaster away. All of these thoughts, these images (I never used to be a visual person, but when presented with horrors, my mind seems to have kicked itself into horror overdrive) flashed through my torn and exhausted imagination without registering an emotional response. At this point, I almost didn't care what happened. I was becoming a machine, reduced to fighting only because fighting was what was next. There it was again, I thought, hauling Colleen's unconscious form none too graciously over the powdered gypsum and between two wooden studs (wooden studs, this was an old facility) and into the next room, grateful for its interiority and silence. Next. Next room, next time, the time that follows or will follow this time. I felt myself becoming somewhat punchdrunk with the exhaustion of it all and didn't care. I looked around this new room, this room of now, and stopped thinking all together, gaping stupidly. We stood in a huge commercial kitchen, gleaming of stainless steel workspaces and industrial cook tops and ranges. A massive steel door revealed a walk in freezer or cooler, and I could hear the almost insanely comforting and familiar hum of its compressors. Dinner time I thought both sarcastically and with total seriousness. I was hungry. Very very hungry. I tried to remember when I had last eaten and realized I didn't know, couldn't remember, didn't care. What I cared about was eating now, eating next, and eating a lot. I became aware a moment later of Finn's screaming and realized he'd been crying, bawling really, for who knew how long. Who could blame him. This wasn't a baby's world, hell it wasn't an adults world. This was a world where only the mad felt safe, and they were wrong to feel it. This was the place, I realized. This was where we had to make a stand. This kitchen, these freezers, all of it was ours to claim, and our only chance to survive. We had to eat now, or be eaten. Even as I realized this, I saw the same thing flash across Sage's eyes and we looked to each other grimly. Something terrible was going to happen here. He knew it; I knew it, and we both knew, even as we began to slide a huge stainless steel freezer to block the hole in the wall we had just climbed though, that it was time.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dear Diary...

I hated the old hippie, and I didn't trust these fuckers as far as I could throw them-- and that wasn't very far in my current condition. They all seem weird, and socially removed. It's like they have their own norms down here, and their methods of communicating, moving, and heirarchy are all so foreign. I've never been to another country before, but our differences didn't just stop at social niceties. I couldn't put my finger on it, but they were more primal than us, almost more animal...

I'm still sick-- real sick, but I don't vomit anymore and they say that is an improvement. Though they don't advise it, finn has been nursing like mad. I know I'm sick, but I want him to get my antibodies so he doesn't get sick too. They say it doesn't work like that, but fuck them. what do they know? Fucking troglodytes. I'm his mother and I decide how this goes, not them. I guess I'm not a very good house guest for trolls.

I'm more exhausted than ever, and Tom has had to recap for me what was said in our little 'debriefing', and has kept me abreast of news as it has come.

I am in containment. I have been here with Finn for a few days-- not sure how many. I was able to walk out of that room, but only for about an hour, and then I collapsed. We had to break down some walls and backtrack through these crazy tunnels to get away from the hourdes of undead that were now underground with us. No one is sure how they got here, since they are so dumb. But it only takes one...

I'm in a dimly lit room with a cot, bathroom facilities, this notebook and pencil, and not much else. I'm thankful for the dim lighting because this migraine is still fierce, but sometimes I think I feel it starting to wane. They say I have to stay in here until six days after the headache passes. Sometimes I think that will be the rest of my life. Tom is allowed to visit an hour each morning and afternoon. He brings me food-- if you can call it that, and tells me about the hippies. I spend most of my time sleeping, but I have horrible dreams, so I shower a lot, too. There's no soap or shampoo, but a little hot water is usually all the doctor ordered to clear my head.

Hazel comes in three times a day to 'check on me' and administer more medicine. She says she was the woman outside my door when I first came to, and she was in charge of my recovery. She seems dim, but well meaning, and against my better judgement I trust her. She says I nearly crippled sage with that kick. Good to know I can still pack a punch when I'm incapacitated. She seems impressed by my skill and strength. I get the impression she hasn't met too many 'emancipated' women from above ground before. Her adoration is annoying but cute.

Oh, it's Tom time to visit with us, and I'm eager to show him how well Finn has learned walking in the last several hours. He slept through Tom's last visit.

More later, goodbye for now.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Archive 7o-553-d >> Entry 7

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

Descriptor : Communique
Classification : Exodus

Region >> Chicago,greater

Type >> Audio ; Voice
Delivery >> Portable Digital Recording Device

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 >>
Ron (Deceased)
Third Assumptions >> Male ; 18+ ; Widowed

Playback Source File >> 7o-553-d_AR_0+0007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Leaning Tower

From the corner of Richard's ruined mind, he recognized the ding of opening elevator doors as some sort of signal. No longer able to process what the sound might portend, Richard was drawn to the sound by the undeniable force of his unrelenting hunger. Like a living fire blazing within him, the only thing still living within him, Richard's hunger grew with each moment until it was raw torment, a twisting, gaping need that filled him with an unknowable void that must be filled. Had he any semblance of self left in his shattered mind, this terrible need would have destroyed it, ravenously devoured any soul or mind or sanity in this thing, obliterated through this hunger's singular insatiable desire.

Staggering forward, mindful only of the sounds of the footsteps and heavy breathing that followed the ding of the opening elevator doors, Richard made his way out of the wreck that used to be his office. Moving in a straight line, clambering over an upturned chair instead of going around it, doing the same for the boxes of paper and the file cabinet that were now strewn across his previously immaculate office, the thing that was Richard made his way into the hall.

Without the hesitation of thought and doubt, Richard began his slow stumble toward the sounds of a man cursing softly in the office down the hall. The closer Richard got to the source, the more his hunger gnawed at him. His mind was hungry, his very blood seemed to teem with an angry, buzzing need. He began moaning in an ecstasy of anticipation.

As Richard began to moan, the large man sitting atop a mahogany executive desk dressing a leg wound looked up. The man on the desk was easily twice the mass of Richard, and not the type of man who, in saner times, would or should be afraid of a slight, and slightly pudgy man like Richard, but these were not sane times, and the large man's eyes widened in shock and fear immediately. This man, most recently nicknamed "Juice," looked around the office desperately for something to use as a weapon even as Richard pushed forward down the hall, moaning.

In the corner, dusty and unused, near a plaque for the 1999 Century Insurance Invitational, lay a cheaply gold plated golf club. Juice seized the club and held it in his trembling hands as Richard moaned his way into the office, hands outstretched and grasping, mouth crazily snapping, strings of thick saliva pouring down his chin. Juice pulled the club back, raising its weight over his right shoulder, poised to strike, feeling the reassuring bulge of his massive frame ready for the blow.

Richard stepped forward again, still moaning, and that was all Juice needed. That step brought him within range of the club and Juice yelled crazily as he swung, ripping the air with the speed and ferocity of the strike. The weighted wooden bulb streaked through the air crashed into Richards face like a miniature freight train, sending teeth flying from his head like tiny bloody shrapnel, crushing his jaw and pushing it obscenely off to the side, where it hung, stupid and useless. Even as the wooden club's head smashed into Richard's face, destroying it, it broke from the shaft. The continued motion of the sharp aluminum stick ran like a blade down Richard's neck, slicing it if not cleanly, efficiently in a jagged line, deep enough to expose the windpipe. Blood immediately began to ooze in thick, curdled streams from the frightful gash.

For a moment, Juice felt triumphant. He had connected with that ghoul hard enough to kill a god and he knew it. But he wasn't fighting gods, or men, and though his face was an unrecognizable lump of crushed bones and blood poured in thick streams down his chest, Richard didn't go down. Instead he reached out and grasped Juice, pulling and clutching with surprising strength. Juice, still holding the ruined golf club, shoved Richard back with all of his strength. Richard flew back a couple of feet and crashed to the floor in a heap, but before Juice could react, Richard began crawling toward him, and now the moaning started again, this time sounding thick and gurgling as the air in his lungs mixed with the streams of blood still pouring from his ragged neck and face. Juice was beginning to panic, and, thoughtless with fear and rage, raised the stump of a golf club and brought it down again and again on the crawling, bloody former actuary. Juice was a powerful man, and the force of the blows knocked Richard prone, but the instant the club lifted from his back, Richard was beginning his crawl again, and before Juice could realize what was happening, Richard had a hold of his leg and brought his ruined face to it, trying to close the dangling mess of a jaw on Juice' leg. Roaring, Juice raised the bent and nearly worthless club into the air and drove it down like a lance into Richard's back. He could feel the shock of the club as it first hit Richard, then pierced him, crunching and cutting with its saw tooth tip first through skin and muscle, and then through bone and gristle. For a split second, Juice thought he could feel the thing rip a hole right through Richards heart before the tip slammed its way out the front of Richard's chest, through the thin carpet, and into the plywood, pinning Richard like a bug against the floor. Juice, raised his head and began to howl in primal, triumphant rage, when he felt the crushing pressure of Richards decimated, nearly toothless jaw bear down upon his leg in precisely the spot where that bitch had clawed him earlier. Looking down more in amazement now than pain, he realized that this thing was trying to gum him to death and he nearly laughed when one of the teeth still left in Richard's mouth managed to push its way through the makeshift bandage Juice had applied to his leg. That single, sharp piercing rekindled his rage, and juice jerked his foot out of the grasp of the squirming bloody thing, raised it chest high, and began to drive his foot down into the skull of Richard again and again. A few moments later, panting, Juice realized it was over. Richard's head was a mess of bone, brain, blood, and hair, and Juice was covered in the same. He sat heavily on the desk, panting.

A few moments later, Juice 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 was in trouble, and was vaguely curious about the corpse on the floor, but even as he tried to remember where he was, the answers 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, and stood up. He was slipping, his memories growing harder and harder to reach. A moment later, Juice tried to remember his name. He thought for a moment it had something to do with water, but that passed from his mind as quickly as it came, not to be replaced. 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 Juice became aware he was hungry.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I don’t know what kept me staring down the eight floors to the street below. The moment I saw the soldiers my first thought was, “thank god, I’m saved.” But yet I hesitate. Maybe it’s the carnage, the utter bedlam that keeps me watching, like a car accident you don’t want to look at but cannot turn away from. The hordes of undead crash like ships on an unforgiving shore. The soldiers keep firing, on occasion a tank will fire an explosive round blowing up all the ghouls in the area of impact and leaving a crater a few feet deep. The gunshots and shouts thicken the air until the cacophony it nearly too much to bear. My eyes focus on all the action, darting back and forth taking it all in.

I find it odd that something outside of this chaos could divert my attention. But as I watch the fight rage on below I see something flicker in the corner of my eye. Someone is looking down as I am; they lean out the window across the street a floor below me. They light a cigarette and watch the action. They are dressed in jeans and a work shirt, with a Florida Marlins cap on. They watch as intently as I, and as if a sixth sense notifies them, they look up at me staring at them.

We look at each other for a moment. He’s older than I. Possibly in his forties. A graying beard and sideburns cover a tanned face. He takes a long drag off his cigarette and slowly shakes his head at me.

I wonder what he is shaking his head about. It’s almost a disapproving shake, the kind your father would make if he caught you sneaking out of the house. I wonder what he disapproves of. Does he know my plan of going to the street below? How could he? Does my face belie my intentions? I wonder about his reaction for a few seconds. This few moments is the only delay I need to make me abandon my plan.

I turn my head as I hear the cries from below. These are not the occasional shrieks of ghouls, or the orders shouted by a sergeant to his troops. No, these are civilians. The tide of undead has slowed considerably from the west. I guess the building a few blocks away housed a group that had the same plan as I. When the street looks clear they start to run. They pour out onto the street, and there are about twenty of them. Some start to run and leave the rest to fend for themselves. Two men push a wheelchair; its passenger, an elderly woman, clings to it for dear life. A few injured people hobble along as best they can. They move quickly, but zombies ooze out of the buildings and from the streets behind.

The living race against the undead in a sick rendition of the tortoise verses the hare. The humans have to stop to pick up the elderly woman, who has fallen out of the wheelchair; others have fallen on the debris or cannot move quickly and need to be helped down the street. What started out as a decent pace has slowed to nearly a crawl when they come to the first sandbag wall two blocks away. The slow and steady ghouls keep moving as the group helps each other over the obstacle. It must be the smell of fresh meat that brings the undead out into the street in such numbers. The refugees are on the cusp of being engulfed by the rolling wave of creatures that fill the road behind them.

That’s when the soldiers open fire. The entire time this group is running, the shots continue to ring out in other directions, so it isn’t the sound of guns that alerts me to the massacre that is about to happen. Instead, I see one of the men helping lift the wheelchair over the sandbags go down as his leg is shredded by gunfire. He screams and clutches his leg as the person next to him is hit in the foot. The people freeze, their eyes sweeping back and forth looking for what is causing this. They realize far too late and cannot gain cover. The bullets tear through the group. The troops are aiming low, trying to disable the civilians. The wave of undead inches closer.
I stand above frozen in horror. I cannot believe what I am seeing. The troops continue to disable to group. It is obvious what they were planning when the first undead dives into toward a helpless woman to feed. His head leans down to bite, and he is shot in the head. The soldiers used the civilians as bait, and the ghouls will now pause to feed on the closer meal. The soldiers ease the pressure on the front line and easily take out a large group. It makes sense, but I am horrified nonetheless. I look back to my counterpart across the valley of buildings and he is still shaking his head.

My knees start to weaken. I feel the adrenaline drain away and I slump against the wall. I turn away and hobble back to my room. I want to take my tire iron and run down break the heads of the soldiers below, but know that my fate would be like those who tried to come to them for salvation. No. I realize that my path home has two obstacles, and the thought is so overwhelming that I nearly faint with despair. Then I realize it is almost certainly the lack of blood that makes me woozy. I walk into my office and close the door. I dig through my bag for my earplugs to try to drown out the sound of gunfire. But nothing will ever quiet the screams of those people. That will ring in my ears for years to come…

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Tower of Juice

"Juice," he called me. What a dick.

Of course, six years ago, that would have been true. At a time like this, I find myself wishing I was still using. It's not that I'm not still strong. I've always been a large man, but the strength of a large man pales in comparison to that of a large man who's time is devoted to growing stronger.

My eyes flash down across the palms of my hands. There used to be thick calluses from far too many repetitions with heavy metal bars. Now, the only things close to that are the slight points of wear from my fingertips mashing my keyboard. Not that I'm bitter about the change. I understand that I am healthier and lead a better life since trading weights for words, but being a powerlifter does prepare one better for physical conflict than writing about powerlifting.

My legs move me forward quickly. A short distance behind me, I can hear the chaotic chatter of my former bus-mates. Beyond that are the heavy thuds of what I can only hope are the now lifeless things that were attempting to use our bus as a canned meal. The more that guy takes out, the less there are trying to eat me out here. Further away are sirens, screams and other assorted sounds that one would associate with pandemonium. I scan the area for a building with no one exiting it. I figure that people will flee if something is trying to eat them, and these creatures will exit the building looking for food if everyone has fled. Either way, if no one is coming through the doors, it's probably my best bet.

Up the road a bit is a high rise that looks quiet, so I make for the revolving doors. I attract the attention of a couple of interested parties on my way in, and they try to follow. Luckily for me, they lack the ability to understand a machine even as simple as a revolving door. A well placed chair keep them jammed into their glass pie wedge prison cell. I can hear them banging away at it as I hit the button for the elevator. A friendly ding and the well polished door slides aside. The car is empty. I tap the button for the twenty-second floor. My Mom's birthday was on the twenty-second of last month. The door slides closed again. It cuts off the echoing banging from my friends at the front door, as if it was shushing them. Shhhhhhhud.
The car glides upward for a short while. Not surprisingly, no one is waiting to get on. Another ding and the door opens again.

I don't think this is my floor. A small lobby sits before me, and it looks like some people are waiting for an appointment. With me. I jam the button for whatever the hell floor my fingers make contact with and retreat to the back of the car. A thirty-something woman dressed in a long skirt, white blouse and buckets of her own blood stands just beyond the elevator's doorway. There are a few more people on the other side of the room in similar shape. Oh shit. Is this one of the blissfully antiquated elevators with the bumper on the door, or is it one of the inconveniently upgraded ones with the infra-red beams? I furiously mash the “Door Close” button. Over my clicking I can hear her bizarre steps coming closer. Two clacks from a high-heeled shoe on the tile, and one thump from her gnawed upon bare foot. This is taking far too long. She's right outside the door. I hear the motor snap to life and the door begins to close. My God it takes an eternity. I haven't seen anything move this slow since I tried to watch Seven Samurai. Of course, I would kill for a katana right now. She reaches out towards me and breaks the plane of the doorway. I lunge forward to knock her arms out of the way of the door.


The IR sensor is tripped and the door rescinds its offer to help me escape this floor and swings back to the right. I am now face to face with this bitch who decided to get fake nails from Olga the Sadist. At least she's only as strong as a 120 pound woman. I slam her to the ground in the doorway and rush past. She jams those fucking nails through my pant leg and gashes open my left thigh. Just what I needed, a limp. I spot the door for the stairs to my right and head through it. It's dimly lit, and the reverberations of shuffling feet and groaning fill the stairwell. I can't tell which direction it's coming from, so I'll just have to take my chances. I know the ground isn't safe, and up seems like the way to go. Floor twenty-two. Bah. Maybe I should have remembered to send my Mom a birthday card. I start to scale the stairs as the creatures slam into the door I closed behind me. The cacophony of thunderous echoes they create gives me an instant headache. I scale around ten more floors as quickly as I can. I'm bleeding badly from my leg, and I need to stop somewhere to bandage it. My eyes spot a few listless shapes on the landing above me, so I head through the nearest door. I come out into a long and empty corridor. I start checking the doors. I'm ruling out any office door that is locked or damaged. The first door that opens belongs to some sort of insurance company. It's a heavy door with a strong looking lock, so it will be a good place to hole up.

I stumble into a nearby office. The adrenaline is starting to wear off, and my leg hurts like hell. I trash the desk and am lucky enough to find a spare shirt and tie in one of the drawers. You can always count on insurance people to be prepared. I slump down next to the desk and begin tending my wound. I swear I can hear the bedlam from the streets below, but that can't be right. I'll have to investigate that once the noise of my heart pounding and my heavy breathing subside.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Thank God! Thank God! Thank God! I made it to the Cat without problems. I am confident in my ability to outrun a zombie, but I have even more confidence in my new BFF killing machine I lovingly call “Skiddy”.

[And for a moment, I chuckle at a revised commercial starring me in jean bib overalls with a bowl haircut, on my tiptoes hugging a clean and smiling Thomas-The-Train-Like Caterpillar Skid Steer on a perfectly manicured lawn while a new song plays: “My Skiddy…my Skiddy…wherever I go, she goes…My Skiddy, my Skiddy….my Skiddy and me!”]

I’ve got to get to DuPont Road and I’m going to head straight to my parents’ house about 6 miles away. I haven’t even left my yard yet, but I am taking a moment to get the Cat’s controls down. It has been awhile since I drove it and, figuring it was a one-time deal, had put that knowledge in my mind's Recycle Bin. I test the lift and tilt of the bucket and the rotation of the tread. The tank-like movements are kind of startling and scary, but a cold comfort, nonetheless. It’s like a black toggle-stick and switch video game, but one that I somewhat take to. Funny that I loved Resident reality this truly sucks.

The neighbors in the house to the south (the ones with the stockpile of non-working cars) are zombies, too; a middle aged man and his daughter who I peg to be about 16. They are drawn to the start-up of the diesel engine and slowly lurch from behind their garage while I practice the hydraulic controls in place. Then, when I have the maneuverability down, I move the Cat forward with an awkward jerking motion, tearing deep tracks into the yard-earth. I cautiously move in a slow direct line toward the zombie dad. His dead waggling fingers can’t reach through the cage. His body doesn’t stand a chance under the immense weight of the angry machine and he is pulled under.

[For a moment, I am a red-haired Ripley fighting the Alien Queen...]

I see the bursting of his large overfed stomach and the spewing forth of rotting entrail ribbons pop into the air like a party favor. Then I hear his dead skull crunch into the ground under the metal tracks. This makes me nauseous. The daughter is next. Living Dead Girl. I lift the bucket and the teeth fortuitously grab the length of her once elegant ballerina neck as her body is pulled under. Her head detaches like a dandelion top, as I don’t see it fall to the ground. It is probably grotesquely rolling around in my heroine-bucket. A few more decrepit middle aged zombies suddenly punctuate the yard. They don’t last. Skiddy needs a washing by this point. “It must be Skiddy's time of the month”, I madly muse to no one.
Her pretty yellow coat is tarnished with brownish red filth.

And I think she loves it.

[I wish I had remembered to grab my cell phone – how stupid of me!]

My sister and Toby will no doubt be at Mom and Dad’s. I really feel drawn to protect that baby, as well as help out the rest of my family. Hopefully there is enough fuel in this thing, God please! I don’t know how much punch I can pack with a tire iron clutched by a body weakened with dehydration and hunger. I’m dying for a plate of dill pickles! When I get hungry, I get bitchy. I guess though, that there’s no better time to be bitchy. Bitchy, Skiddy and the Lord might keep me alive today – or a lovely combination of all three.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

As you sow so shall you reap

Edward Huron III, Esq. had a lot of things going for him. He was handsome, young, successful, rich, resourceful, and charming. He was in the seat of this 737 flying out of the nightmare of O’Hare airport and the Chicagoland area. He used every bit of cunning, resourcefulness, charm, and funds he had to get on this plane. Each piece got him only so far, but together with his adorable 11 month old son and his tale of woe, he was able to get that boarding pass and head to Las Vegas. His luck however, was about to run out.


Tricia Huron, or Trish, had returned home from Starbucks aghast. Someone had bitten her outside the coffeehouse. She was sure it was a bum. She pushed him down and got into her pink Hummer, and drove the two blocks home, taking her baby out with her. Her husband had stayed home that day; he had gotten up a little late and heard that the roads in and out of Chicago were jammed. He decided to telecommute that day, and was upstairs on the laptop. She mentioned to him that she had been bitten, and he shrugged and told her to call the police. It was a typical Eddy answer. After bandaging her wound and putting her 11 month old down, she told Ed that she was going to lie down for a bit.

That evening when she woke as the living dead, Ed had no issue beating her to death with a marble rolling pin. In fact, he had been hearing more and more things about the infection all day, and this was something he knew was coming. Now it was a matter of getting out. His house was not some place that he wanted to stay, so he grabbed his child and every bit of cash and jewelry that he had, and left his wife’s broken body on the cold ceramic tile, under the granite countertop.

He got in his black Hummer and headed toward O’Hare. He knew that everyone would be there, but members of his firm had booked all the partners on a special flight. It would cost him, and he would have to sweet talk or bribe his way through security, but he would find a way.

The airport was so crowded that getting around was impossible with his Maclaren Leather stroller. He had to abandon it early and make his way to the gate. He bribed two security guards with surprisingly little money and jewelry, only $10,000 worth. The last security guard was more expensive, and he had to use his charm on her. It was really young Camden that changed her mind and let him through. She was a young single mother and felt compelled to help the little child, if not his handsome recently widowed father.

The checkpoints were unbelievably thorough. He had his son had the indignity of being strip searched 3 separate times, working their way deeper into the airport, closer to his gate. The officers were searching for any kind of bite or abrasion; several were turned away because of some imperfection. The money and jewelry was slowly running out, but he made it to the gate with a little left to spare.

He was in the back of the plane with his other colleagues. Most of them without their wives, and each one with a similar story. He held his son awkwardly. Admittedly, he spent very little time taking care of him. His wife was a stay at home mother, and they employed a nanny. His interaction with the baby was very infrequent. The child could not be quieted, or consoled. He cried and cried, Eddy was sure it was the plane getting ready to take off.

The jet was full of Chicago’s elite: business owners, stock market gurus, TV and movie celebrities, politicians, philanthropists, musicians, and the very rich. He was certainly a small fish on this ride. He saw the president of the options board, several Aldermen, some sports figures, even an “A” list actor on the flight. Somehow being around all these important people made him feel safer.

As the plane left the ground his son became more unruly. He tried all he could to keep him quiet. After a half an hour of pressurizing he seemed to calm and go to sleep.

While a great deal of factors played into his hand as he flew through the sky to Las Vegas, the karmic balance was slowly shifting the other way. His inexperience with his son and his placement in the cabin led to him getting bit. His son was breastfed by his mother earlier that day, and it took several hours for his son to become a creature. If someone was watching behind him, he might have had a chance to pull the child away from his neck, but his seat at the back of the plane made that impossible. The child only had 6 teeth, but there were enough to pierce his flesh.

The crew was alerted right away. The baby and he were taken to the back of the stewardess station and tied together. The pilots were informed, and in turn the military on the ground. Eddy actually thought that he might be able to get help once on the ground when he heard the captain say that two F-16 were coming to escort them to ground.

Eddy and the rest of the passengers were all alarmed, but none of them could have predicted the AIM-9 Sidewinders shot from the F-16’s. Everyone on the 737 died instantly.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My chimpanzee wears a flight suit

We made it about halfway down the hall when we heard the screaming start. Sage, tied to the wheelchair, bloody glass held to his throat, tried to turn in the direction of the commotion, but winced and pulled back. The razor sharp glass sliced him shallowly but cleanly across his throat, tracing the direction of his turned head with a thin line of blood. I hurried the wheelchair down the hallway, neither of us talking, both of us knowing in the back of our minds what those screams meant. Silently, Sage pointed his way through the maze of corridors. I was running now, holding the glass only loosely in my hand and away from his throat as the sound of the screams grew more insistent. A bit out of breath, sweating with exertion and fear, we stood outside a door, next to which a small placard said simply, Nursery. I looked down at Sage, who nodded, but otherwise did not move.
“Turn the handle, Sage.” I said
He calmly reached forward, gripping the metallic handle and opening the door wide. I pushed the chair forward and entered the room.

It was a nursery unlike any I'd ever seen. When you think of a nursery, ones mind typically drifts to wall murals of puppies or smiling cartoon characters, of cheerful colors and toy boxes, diaper bins, and night lights. This nursery had none of these. In neat, military order, stood clear plastic bassinets atop bare metal stands with casters. There were dozens of them, in long perfect rows stretching down the length of the long, narrow room. Harsh fluorescent light saturated the room, exposing the pneumatic bank teller tubes that came down next to each of the bassinets. At the same time that I understood what I was seeing in the teller tubes, I also noticed the harsh metal grid that covered the top of each of bassinet. I had enough time to wonder why these people had turned the bassinets into cages, when I saw Finn.

It was clear that whoever had taken him had tried to make him comfortable, but it was equally clear that this “nursery” was not equipped for children nearing their first birthday. He was sleeping, apparently safe and sound, but was laying on a heap of blankets and towels surrounded by a stack of upturned clear plastic bassinets that were forming a ring and thus a make shift playpen around him. With a sense of relief greater than I had known possible, and far more visceral than I expected, I rushed toward him. Only as I bent to retrieve him did I notice that I was still clutching the shiv that had gotten me this far, and it was then that I realized that Sage was no longer under my control. Wide eyed, I swiveled around, half expecting the old man to be running for the door or inches away from me with murderous intent. Instead, he sat calmly in the wheelchair, smiling bemusedly at me, as if he couldn't understand my relief at finding my son intact. I looked at Sage for only another moment, then I reached out, and still keeping my eyes locked onto those of the old man, I set the shard down in the nearest empty bassinet. Then I turned away from him, bent down, and picked up my son.

He stirred a little when I picked him up, and his tiny moan of sleepy complaint reassured me of his basic safety once again. Clutching him, I turned to see Sage, still seated in the chair, gingerly exploring the shallow wound around his neck. Smiling, he said, “So, shall we collect your bride then?” and without another word rose nimbly from the chair and began toward the door. I had no choice but to follow.

Entering the hall jolted me out of the grateful reverie I had been feeling. I could hear a low steady humming sound that I at first took to be some enormous machine, but which I realized a moment later was a deep, throaty moaning that seemed to fill the corridors with the thrum of hungry, stupid, violence. Hurrying now, Sage and I raced further through the labyrinthine hallways, and I had to concentrate as I ran in order to read the signs that marked our progress. With some alarm, I noticed the words quarantine as we pushed first through one set of double doors, bursting into what looked to be a large showering room, and pushed almost immediately again through another heavy set of doors. We were now clearly in a hospital setting. The institutional paint on the walls, the large centrally located desk with a bank of monitors (only one of which was on, and on which was displayed a blinking alarm), and the steady monotonous beep of some impossible and necessary machines. The moaning had grown fainter as we ran, and we began to slow to a walk as we made our way through what was obviously the quarantine wing of what I was coming to realize was a very large compound. Sage paused for a moment before a door simply marked “recovery,” then turned the handle and entered the dark room.

From inside, I heard the thick grunt of someone exerting a mighty effort followed by a deafening crash. I rushed forward and threw open the door, Finn was now awake and began to scream. It was probably the sound of that cry that saved Sage from another kick, as he lay tightly curled on the floor against the wall, holding his right side. Colleen's foot was poised above his face and was ready to drop onto his face, but she didn't bring her foot crashing down. Instead she looked up at Finn and myself and began to weep even as she abandoned her attack and scrambled to her feet.

There was little time for a reunion however. Even as we held one another, Colleen now grasping Finn to her chest as if fearful he would disappear from her arms again, a middle aged woman followed by Hawthorne breathlessly dived into the room. I realized even as they turned to shut the door that I could hear that moaning again, now much louder and more insistent. If a sound that never changes pitch or tone could seem excited, this one did, somehow seeming to build in intensity as well as volume even as Hawthorne threw himself against the door and locked it, sliding with his back down the heavy wooden door with a sigh of obvious gratitude. Sage was wincing, but beginning to extricate himself from the metal food cart that he had crashed into on his ignominious crash to the floor. Looking around at the room we were in for the first time, I could see a cot that had been rigged with straps, a rather more normal hospital bed covered in what looked to be very old, but very serious blood stains, heavy duty ceiling mounted surgical lighting, a row of monitors, blood pressure cuffs and other assorted medical paraphernalia, and a large armoire. In short, it looked rather like a birthing suit at an advanced but not terribly hygienic hospital. I shuddered to think of what went on in this room that caused all of that blood, and caused whoever it was in charge of this place to deem it unnecessary or too dangerous to clean.

Even as my mind began to mull these things over however, the first of the pursuing undead thudded into the door, fingernails hungrily scraping and clawing at the thick wooden door with such vigor that I immediately began to fear that they may, given time, make some progress. A second later and the next ghoul sent a shudder through the door frame, colliding with all the force of its ravenous desire, then another, and another, each body sending vibrations through the door and floor, shaking small flakes of ceiling dust upon our heads, landing in our hair like drywall snowflakes. Impossibly, this continued for the better part of an hour. Sometimes there would be several minutes between new ghouls, sometimes only seconds or less. I counted at least fifty of them out there, each pressing against the next, clawing and scraping, and most horribly of all, moaning. Finn was screaming now, inconsolable even as he fed from Colleen in the farthest corner of the room. Without thinking, without saying a word to one another, Sage, Hawthorne, and the woman whose name I didn't yet know and I began to push, pull and slide every single thing we could move up against the door.

When there was literally nothing left to pile against the door, I looked at Sage. He looked back, still calm, but no longer wearing that infuriating “What, me worry?” half smile.
“I think,” I said, “it's time for an explanation.”

The old man nodded simply, and sat down indian-style on the linoleum. He motioned for me to join him, and I did, sitting across from him. The others sat too, and Colleen scooted from the back corner of the room, still fiercely clutching Finnegan. We formed a small circle, a band of six survivors, so far, of this madness. Clearing his throat, Sage began to speak.

“Of all the men and women who are part of this project, I'm the oldest. I've been living down here since I was born in 1947. I was part of the original experiment, at least that's what I've been able to gather. I don't remember any adults living here as part of the project I mean, not when I was a kid. There were fifteen of us then, and we lived here from the moment of our births, and for at least fourteen of us, until our deaths.” He looked significantly at the besieged door, and added, “and probably the fifteenth as well. Most of the others here are our offspring, our children if you can call them that, although we were never really their parents. None of us ever had any family other than good old Uncle Sam, and he sent his finest to do the dirty work, changing diapers every three hours like clockwork, and feeding and bathing us on a tidy schedule. I never found out if the project had a name, they didn't really talk to us about what was going on, but they talked about us, and around us enough to know that I was part of the alpha group, and I know enough of my greek alphabet to assume then that I was part of that first wave. You are sitting right now in what I think may be the largest underground city the world has ever constructed. I've been exploring it, mapping it really, in detail now for the better part of twenty years, and I still find a new passage every few months. This place is big, bigger than you can possibly imagine, and as far as I know, we're the only humans left. Make no mistake though, we're not alone.” He looked again at the door, “and I don't just mean them. You see, after World War II, Uncle Sam got it into his head that he needed test subjects, human test subjects, and lots of them. They weren't trying to build perfect soldiers or any of that crap, they just needed plenty of human material that they could experiment on, test new drugs, new gases, new viruses, new weapons, and sometimes all of these at once. That's where we came in. We were grown here you see. You've heard of test tube babies? Well we're the next logical step, only taken by Uncle Sam long before the private sector ever even dreamt of fertilizing the egg out of the womb. We are quite literally the product and property of the United States government, born as children of cold war hysteria and biological advances as questionable as any drummed up by the Fuhrer himself. Mostly, they weren't trying to grow full people, only parts that could be independently tested, experimented on, fucked with. A lung here to test the oxygen absorption rates of poisonous gases, an eye there to set maximum levels of radioactive exposure against soft tissue. We, the people, so to speak, were walking petri dishes, and nothing more. One by one, those that I knew, I guess you could call them my family, fell victim to an experiment that went too far, but not until enough of them was harvested for the next generation of human guinea pigs to be cloned. It was only a matter of time then until I met my own fate, called from my cell and led to my medically approved death. I was saved by the very thing that emptied this facility, by the accident.”

Sage trailed off, looking off into a past I could not imagine. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, Colleen interrupted, the anger and fear in her voice cutting through the room, “I don't really think we have time for this right now. Does anyone know how the hell we're gonna get out of here, cuz I'm not sitting in this room with my baby waiting to die.”

Sage's eyes snapped back into gentle focus, “I think I know a way.”

Monday, October 29, 2007

Finding my Sea Legs

Tom is alive.

I heard the man say that outside the door, but he is captive someplace and they are trying to test him for something… and he is fighting like hell.

Finn is not with him. Finn is not with me. My heart sinks, and I start to feel nauseous again, after all. They have taken my baby, and done something to me to make me sick, and now I am tied to a cot, nauseous, weak, and with a migraine the likes I’ve never felt before. They better not have hurt my child, or there will be hell to pay.

Beyond the throb of my head, and the swimming in my ears, I can hear shouts and voices from somewhere far away. Is that my Tom?

I start to work my legs to loosen the straps around my knees. Slow, methodical, isometric movements stretch the fabric that binds me.

I pray to someone I can’t name for his guidance and safety. I plead and I cry, and I wait. My breasts throb and swell with the unconsumed milk they have made for my son, and tears stream copiously down my face as I search for my strength reserves. How long have I been here? How long since Finn has eaten?

There is someone outside my door. She sounds upset. I think she is crying. Why would my captor be crying? She is not a hostage, I heard her talking to that man about Tom. I think I hear her walk away, but I can’t be sure.

The strap around my knees is loosened, and I start to work the one around my ankles.

I will not sit here and wait. I must get out. I must find Tom, and I MUST find my son. I will kill whoever took my son from us. with my hands. I will not flinch, and I will not waiver. It won’t be hard, and I won’t regret it. He is my blood, and my life, and I created him, and he is my responsibility. He is my everything, and I will not let him down, or I don’t know if I can live with myself.

Who the fuck are these people? As if the Zombies weren’t enough! Where am I, and why? What happened to me in that cornfield? Was I tranqued? Did they make me sick? Am I going to die?

They said Tom got in a fight, and I worry about his well being. I know he is tough. Strong, robust, and healthy. He has always had great strength and endurance, and I hope they serve him now. I hope they haven’t hurt him. I can’t live out there on my own. We’re Team Curry, and we need to get out of here together.

The fabric is slack around my ankles, and I am able to slip them through the strap. I arch my back and work at pulling my knees up to my chest to get them out, as well, but this is harder than it sounds. Every movement strikes searing pain into my head and back, and renews the feeling of impending vomit in the back of my throat.

I vomit, and I rest. I need a few moments to build up my strength so I can get out of these straps. With one giant push, I free my knees, and as I catch my breath, I start to scoot down on the cot to get my chest free of the strap that was thankfully, on top of my breasts, rather than under them. Thank God for small favors, right? If it didn’t hurt so much, I might have laughed.

I fall to the floor of the room. It is cold and feels like linoleum. My vision isn’t so good, and my glasses are missing. I scan for something I can use to cut the rope off of my hands.

I hear voices outside. There is no time for my hands. I crawl next to the cot near the door, and assume the position. IMPACT taught me to use my legs to their fullest. Sick or not, I am fighting for my life here, and someone’s groin is about to get the worst pounding of it’s life. I hope the mother fucker’s junk is severed.

The handle of the door starts to turn, and I see the blinding fluorescent light from outside. It’s go time.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Mike knew they were nearly out of water. It was only a matter of time before they had to go out. He wanted to wait until the last minute. He tried to make sure that he had enough filled in buckets, but it hadn’t rained in a few days, and the supply that they had taken from the tap was dwindling. The taps had gone off shortly after the power, and the problem wasn’t with the building, the city ran a pumping station in the lake, and without power it was useless. He just wish he had some way to get water without leaving this building, or sending any his guys out. In any case, the decision to get more water had to come soon, or else people would start to dehydrate – then die. He had worked so hard to secure this place…


It was late afternoon when the panic struck the worksite. Mike was the foreman and saw the chaos unfold on the streets below. The building was evacuated a little after 1pm. Mike had seen enough to know that going outside was not a good idea. He gathered his crew together, 31 men working on the building.

“It’s fucked up out there, and I know a lot of you have families and want to leave. Any man that wants to walk out that door can do it. And you can take any of your tools with you. I just want to warn you, that your families may not be there when you get home. And as fucked as it is getting, you may never make it home. I don’t want to be a pessimist, I know a lot of you guys can take care of yourself, but we have a better chance to survive staying here and holing up. If you want to leave, do so, but we can’t promise that we will be able to let you in after you go. Anyone that is staying, meet me in the lowest level of this building in five minutes.”

None of the crew talked. The listened and waited until he was finished. When the five minutes was up only 14 of his crew remained. Mike had served in Gulf War I and was a natural leader. He utilized every man on his team at that moment. 3 of them left to get water and food. Everyone pitched in all they had and the three left to venture outside. They would buy what they could, and take whatever they had to. The others retreated to the second floor. His welders sealed the doors to the lower level. Any movement in or out had to be done from the sidewalk shield outside. The rest of his guys searched the building for anything that could be used. When the three came back from “shopping,” the ladder was lowered down into the street and then pulled back up. There was no way in or out.

Free people got the generators out, set buckets up to get all the water they could from the tap before it stopped, and continued to set up the building as a small fortress. A few people passing by asked to be let in, and were. But most of the people on the street had somewhere to go, and as far as Mike was concerned, it was probably to their early deaths.

Mike stopped his crew from communicating with the Marines when they came in. He knew they had a job to do, and when things started looking bad for them, he was glad he had dissuaded his men. The soldiers left in such a hurry, they left some of their own behind. There was no room for civilians. Mike and the construction crew from the East Wabash building knew they were alone here. The only thing they could do was hope for rain. And lots of it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Archive 7o-553-d >> Entry 6

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

Descriptor : Communique
Classification : Siege

Region >> Chicago,greater

Type >> Audio ; Voice
Delivery >> Portable Digital Recording Device

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

Playback Source File >> 7o-553-d_AR_0+0006

Friday, October 12, 2007

To sleep... A chance to dream.

The ground shakes. I hear the megaphone outside.

A shrill almost mechanical voice shouts, “Come out of the pumping house. If you do not comply we will open fire.”

Gabe looks at me from by the controls. He doesn’t say anything, but I can tell from his face that he isn’t going anywhere. I shake my head and go towards the window. I pull up a pistol, break the window with the barrel and point it outside. I say nothing and pull the trigger four times in the direction of the Hummer below, then I drop the ground. Gabe continues to work the controls on the panel.

“We cannot let you leave the area. Come out with you’re hands up and the weapon visible.”

I respond by shooting out the window again, vaguely in their direction. I hear the pumps come on, and Gabe gives me a thumbs up. “You realize,” I say, “There is no way we can hold them off for the 20 minutes it’s going to take to lower the water.”

“You have a better idea?” His voice is shaking, he knows there is nothing else we can do.

“I’m not saying… I’m just saying…”

The air around us erupts. I can hear massive gunfire from outside. It thin steel that this shack is made out of is no match for armor piercing bullets. They fly around us and I can hear them zipping past. I lay as low as I can to the ground without sinking into it. I crawl to the back of the office, my stomach never leaves the floor.

I look back and see Gabe has been shot in the throat and chest. He convulses one last time as his body spews out his lifeblood. His eyes stay open, locked open in an unending stare. I have a strange feeling. I don’t mourn him as a person. I mourn his utility. I don’t care that he died, I just wanted him to live because he was useful. I am sad about him dying only in that his death could lead to mine. The thoughts are shocking and alien, and at the same time natural and instinctive.

I hear the gunfire die down and I stand up and fire the gun. I point it in the direction of the soldiers, but I know that I won’t hit them. I just want them to know that I am not only alive, but also that I don’t yield. I lay flat and reload. As soon as I finish I realize it is time to run for it. I can’t wait for the pump and I have to do the rest on foot. I run for the window on the opposite end of the shack. I start to climb halfway out the window when I hear a sound.


I leap out the window and run. The shack behind me explodes in a way only though possible in Hollywood. I am blasted off my feet landing on my face. The debris files past as another explosion rocks the platform where the small pumping station once stood. It’s so powerful I feel the ground shake so hard, I doubt I could have stayed standing if I were on my feet. Another explosion…


I wake. My side is burning. My mouth is parched. My head and back hurt intensely. I try to stand and immediately fall from both severe dizziness and shooting pain in my shin.

“That went well…”

I hear an explosion from outside. The building shakes. I steady myself, grab my tire iron and force myself to stand. I lean heavily on the desk and walk to the door. I sling it open, and look out into my hall. No one is there, the lights are off and I can hear shouts.

I limp down the hall to my boss’s office. I come to the door and it is locked. I bash the handle a few times and it falls off. The door opens easily when nothing holds it in place. I step inside and see his windows are blown out. I can hear shouts and gunfire below on the street. I walk cautiously to the window and look out.

Hundreds of soldiers hold Wabash Avenue below. There are sandbags and tanks. They look as if they are shooting hundreds of undead as the walk toward the barricades on the street. The waves of undead crash against the sandbags, and the soldiers continue firing. The corpses pile up. I have no idea if they will succeed and looking out at the street below and seeing the long line of creatures, I am more doubtful.

But it looks like my only way out…

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Turned Tables

The tip of the long triangular glass shard pressed against the base of the woman's throat, indenting the soft flesh, my shaking hand tracing a tiny cut back and forth as the first drops of blood begin to slowly well up from the shallow wound. Dimly, I could hear the young woman's panicked breathing, just as I was vaguely aware of the rise and fall of her chest as she struggled for enough air to calm her panic. My left forearm clamped tightly around the side of her neck, and I used as much pressure as I dared without choking her. Looking down at the hand that moments ago had punched its way through an observation window in the medical suite we now found ourselves in, the hand that, with its partner, had battered two members of this cult just hours earlier, I marveled at its effectiveness. My hand, already beginning to bleed from the press of the sharp glass against palm, knuckles grotesquely bruised, purple, and swollen, strips of thin pink flesh hanging limply in jagged tiger stripes from the tips of my fingers to the top of my elbow. Looking down at that great tool of our humanity, five fingers, a thumb, and, when necessary, a fist, I steadied my hand and my resolve. They took my wife. They took my son. If I had to take one or all of their lives to get them back, I was steadfastly determined to do so.

As we stood there, panting amid the upturned exam table, rolls of gauze and tape littering the floor, obscuring somewhere in their midst the syringe loaded with god knew what that had surely been meant for me, I considered my options. I didn't want to kill this woman, at least not yet. Over the past few days, my compunction about killing my fellow man had waned significantly, but I still didn't feel like a murderer inside. Besides, I needed this girl's heart to continue thumping in her chest for a least a while longer until I could figure out an angle and gain some real leverage in the situation.

I stood there thinking, the slim, older man who had accompanied this woman to the medical suite where I was locked, started to back slowly toward the door that led down the hallway. I locked eyes with him to let him know that I saw him, and he froze I realized that they must see me as a madman right now.I had hours earlier beaten two of them as badly as I was able until I realized they had taken Finn, and now I had another of their friends gasping for air with a shard of bloody window glass at her throat.Trying to regain some measure of sanity over an already insane situation, I looked hard at the man.

"Hey, buddy.What's your name?" The man started at the sound of my voice and I realized that I hadn't actually spoken until now.

"Your name buddy." I said, more forcefully and with growing anger, "What is your fucking NAME?” He gulped a bit, and stammered, "Hawthorne...what are you going to do to Ginger?"

I paused for a moment to calm down, then forced myself to speak as calmly and amiably as I could "I'm gonna kill her where we stand if you don't find a way to bring me my wife and my son, in one piece and in about two minutes Hawthorne." The girl, Ginger (I hated knowing her name) sobbed when she heard this, and I tightened my grip around her neck. Hawthorne stared stupidly at me for a moment, as if he couldn't believe what was happening. Then something in his eyes changed and he turned and ran down the hall. I heard his footsteps retreat as his shoes slapped the linoleum floor.

It's a long two minutes, holding a hostage. Not a lot to keep your thoughts at bay, and as each moment passes your mind oscillates wildly. You begin to wonder if you have the nerve to do this thing, to kill this person who has, reluctantly to be sure, protected you so far. You wonder if maybe you shouldn't just let go, make a break for it. Maybe kill the girl as a diversion. I tried to think of a story from the news or even a movie or television show where the hostage taker came out ahead. All that came to mind were murder suicides, police snipers, and swat teams. Not a lot of comforting thoughts.

I heard the sound of footsteps approaching. I am annoyed and a little unnerved that they sound so...casual, the footsteps of a Sunday stroll. When Hawthorne steps into the room, it is with a renewed confidence. Behind him, an older man, bald with a short cropped white beard. He had the look of a modern-day Freud without the pipe or pretension. I distrusted him immediately. I was clearly the only one. Upon his arrival into the room, I could feel Ginger relax a little and her ragged breath turned into even, steady gasps. This was a development I wasn't expecting. Clearly, this man was in charge around here, and he showed no outward sign of concern over the sight of one of his (followers?) friends clutched back to belly with an apparent lunatic. I sensed immediately that he would try and defuse me, to talk me down as it were. I immediately sought to defuse myself and thus foil his gambit by remaining calm and steady.

Who are you?" I demanded, striving to keep my voice in check.

"My name is Sage," the man spoke calmly, evenly, "who are you?"

I debated about giving him my real name for a moment before I answered, "Tom. Where's my family, Sage?"

"They're safe, just like you are, and just like I know Ginger is. You're not a killer Tom; I know that. So why don't you just let Ginger go, and we'll talk about this." He sounded comfortable, confident, like a man who was used to having people follow his lead. I tried to disappoint him.

"Why don't we talk about this right now, with Ginger here?"

He sighed as if my answer upset him and looked down for a moment. In a flash, his head snapped back up and he had a pistol aimed at us. I felt Ginger tense, and before I could do more than tighten my grip on her neck and twist, he fired. Instead of the sharp report I expected, there was a soft whoosh of gas escaping at speed. That small defensive twist was all I needed however and the dart hit Ginger in the shoulder. Almost immediately, she began to sag. As she fell, I was forced down with her until she lay passed out propped against me, both our butts solidly on the cool linoleum floor. Her unconscious body formed a near perfect shield, but completely pinned me to the ground. Getting up and running was out of the question. I decided to force my hand. I held up the shard of glass, now sticky with my own blood, and showed it to Sage. Slowly, deliberately, I lowered the tip to her throat and started to push. Almost immediately, blood began to run from her neck. So far, I knew the wound was superficial at best, but it wouldn't take much of a slip to end this poor girl's life. This was a bluff, but I had to make it look real. I pressed harder and the first couple of millimeters of the makeshift blade disappeared into Ginger's flesh. The blood began to flow a little more freely. Although not the rhythmic spurt of an arterial gush, it was a steady stream of crimson now.

"All right, all right," said Sage wearily, "I'll take you to them. Just let Ginger go."

"No deal. The girl comes with me.I want a wheelchair and I want it now.I'm done playing games here."

Sage nodded to the tall man who ran a short way down the hall.In the moment he was gone, Sage and I stared at one another, each desperately trying to find weakness in the other. Soon enough, Hawthorne returned with the wheelchair and made as if to push it toward me. Realizing I couldn't maintain my position and move the unconscious girl into the chair, I settled on a new ploy.

"No. Sage, you get in the chair." Hawthorne made as if to protest but was waved off by Sage, who sighed another world-weary sigh and sat reluctantly in the chair. Hawthorne looked confused and terrified. "Okay, now Hawthorne, turn the chair around and wheel him, back first to me." He turned the wheelchair around and pushed it to about three feet in front of me. "Closer Hawthorne, all the way to my feet." He obeyed, but stood there unsure what to do next. "Okay, now you go out into the hallway and stay turned away from me. I want to see your back. If you so much as twitch, I'll kill both of them, so this is on you, get it?" He nodded and began walking into the hallway. When he got about a dozen paces into the hallway he stopped. Slowly, carefully, I stood up, letting Ginger go for the first time in an eternity. I stepped forward to the back of the chair. "Put your arms behind your back." He did as he was told, and I watched those arms fixedly as I knelt down, heart in my throat, and pulled a shoelace as quickly as I could from my shoe. I tied his hands together and put the shard of glass to a new throat. "Time for us to take a little walk Sage. I'll drive, you navigate.Take me to my wife."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Apart Again

I am walking through a field of knee high grass with unbridled Goldenrod, Queen anne’s lace, and tiny purple flowers I cannot identify. The sun is high and he sky is the most perfect shade of blue with traces of fluffy white clouds on the horizon. It smells sweet, and I can hear birds chirping in the distance.

I am refreshed. I feel rested, calm, and peaceful. I realize I am watching myself stand there, as if I am God. I can see through my own eyes, and those of the sky. I am wearing a loose fitting, long dress and no shoes. I am pregnant, and I can feel the child inside of me swimming. It is a girl. My hair is long and softly blows in the wind, curling around my neck and shoulders.

Though I am alone, I do not feel lonely, or anxious. I do not know where I am, though that doesn’t seem to matter here. I am warm, comfortable, and happy. I don’t see any reason to question things that may disturb my nirvana. Ignorance is bliss here.

I wander through the open fields and see rabbits and squirrels frolicking and chittering. I see birds flying from the treetops on the horizon, and I enjoy the feel of the grass under my feet. The child within me swirls and swims a dazzling ballet, and my euphoric surroundings seem to stretch on for miles.

Without warning, I am doubled over, and the pain in my stomach is blinding. I cannot catch my breath, and I crumble to the ground with my hands on my stomach to protect the child that is now in danger from unseen forces.

I open my eyes to see a corn field around me, and a very rabid looking possum snarling at me. I am dirty, hot, and stinking. My stomach is revolting with cramps, and I quickly vomit in the direction of the angry possum, causing him to retreat. No sooner do I finish being sick, than I hear sounds in the corn around me.

In the moments that follow it becomes clear that I have become very ill. My head is spinning, and my eyes threaten to close. I am unable to stand, and am not sure if I am lying on the ground, or sitting up. There is no way I can defend myself from the walking dead in this state, and I desperately try to crawl away. However, sightless and pained, all I can do is wildly flail in place.

Over my labored breathing I think that I hear voices, but I can’t be sure. I try to force my eyes open, but am unable. I want to open them with my hands, but I realize that I cannot feel them. It’s as if I don’t have hands at all anymore. All I can feel is the searing, intense pain in my stomach, and a desperate longing to be asleep.

I can hear them coming for me as I lay there, and I am completely unable to defend myself. The violent retching is unstoppable, and my head pounds more loudly with each moment that passes. I feel as if death is upon me. I would beg for it if I could speak.


The group of people come upon the sick woman in the corn field. She appears to be unconscious, save for the intermittent vomiting. She is about 30, and looks as if she has been homeless for days.

Leader, “This must be one of them. I don’t think she is alone. There will be others nearby. There is no way she made it this far alone.”

Person 1: “But is she military? Look at her boots and pants, they are military issue fatigues.” The fear in his voice was unmistakable.

Leader, “No, she would have been innoculated if she were military, and there would be many more of them. Let’s collect her and search for the others. She needs the drug as soon as possible, and her friends will soon.”

With that, two of the larger men scooped up the flacid woman, and carried her away. There were 4 left in the group, and they set off in the direction of Tom's camp.


When I open my eyes, I do not know where I am, but when I try to call out I learn that I cannot speak. I realize I am tied to a cot someplace dark, and give my eyes time to adjust to the darkness. I try to sit up but am prevented from doing so by a headache the rival to which I have never felt.

My stomach is cramping like I’ve never felt before, and I can taste vomit in my mouth. It is clear I have been very sick, but I feel no nausea now. My breathing is ragged and frenzied, as if I had just been running. I want to get up and get out of here, but I can do nothing but lay here and rest.

What about Finnegan? And Tom? Are they where I am? I don’t hear much, and am not sure how I got here, or why I don’t remember it.

I decide to take inventory of my person so that I am better equipped to deal with situation in the event that something changes. I am clothed, and strapped in to a cot of some kind by my chest, knees and feet. My hands are bound. I am under a blanket, and a pillow is under my head and knees. Who takes such care with the comfort of their captives?

What the fuck is going on here?!?!? There are fucking zombies running rampant everywhere, then I get deathly ill, and abducted without my knowledge and am strapped to a cot in some strange place? Truly, I am unsure how to cope with all this… or if I even can.

Just as I begin to panic, I hear a voice outside.


A dark haired young woman sits at the end of a long, meagerly lit corridor reading Gray’s Anatomy with a furrowed brow. She appears to be guarding a doorway when she is approached by a bald man with a white beard.

“Hazel, how is our visitor?” asked Sage, the leader from the scouting group seen earlier.

Hazel replied, “She has been asleep since we administered the drug. I’m not sure, but I think she may be comatose. It’s only been 10 hours, though, so it’s too early to tell. Were there more, or was she alone?”

Sage let out a heavy sigh. “She has a husband, and a son. But they did not come easily. Who can blame them, the world has gone apeshit up there. I’m sure I wouldn’t be too keen on strangers telling me they had taken my wife and that I needed to follow them underground to a former military testing facility.

He beat the hell out of Saffron and Rue when they tried to take him. He only came peacefully when he realized Rosemary had taken the child amidst the chaos. He is angry, and desperate to see his wife, and who can blame him. Right now Ginger is trying to administer a sedative so that we can test to see if he and the child have also been exposed to the virus. He is being less than cooperative”

Hazel’s eyes were wide, “Will we give them the drug? We only have so much…” she trailed off.

Sage quickly replied, “There has been a vote, and it has been decided that they must stay here in the community if we use our resources to help them. We have yet to discuss any of this with him yet, but I think he may be more rational after the sedative, and he sees that we have not harmed his wife or child. He has little choice though, because his wife will be staying with us, having already been saved by the drug.”

“I’m sure the community will be pleased to have new members. I wonder what they know how to do, and how they will contribute. We could really use a medic or a carpenter. Even a gardener would be helpful.” Said Hazel.

A man runs down the hall, “Sage! We need your help. Our visitor has taken Ginger hostage and is threatening to harm her if he is not allowed to see his wife and son.”

“Apparently I am needed elsewhere,” Sage smiled at the look of abject horror on Hazel’s face, and followed the man down the hall the way he had come.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Running out of Options

Fuck…Leaving Chicago is out of the question. I might have been able to make it out if I had just jumped out of a moving train, or if I had just fallen off the EL platform. Those two injuries have slowed me down considerably. However it was after I got shot that I decided to stay downtown.

I started running on the top of the platform toward the Chicago Board Options Exchange building. It was several blocks away at that point, but all the trains had stopped moving. I ran past two on the way. They were completely abandoned except for two cars. I tried to keep myself from looking inside, but the creatures within slammed themselves up against the doors so hard I thought they would break down instantly. They didn’t make it out, and neither did any survivors in those cards. There were 10 to 20 zombies in each. I tried not to notice the two little girls in the bloodstained dresses and pigtails. I failed.

It was bedlam on the ground and I was glad to be up on the tracks. Cars we smashing into things, groups of people were being chased down the street by the undead. I saw one creature standing at a stoplight. He was an obviously blind human at one point, you could tell by the thick sunglasses on his face. And that his hand was wrapped in a Seeing Eye dog’s harness. The thing is that the dog was still holding him back out of traffic as if it were trying to save him. The creature just kept on trying to cross the street and the dog kept pulling back to make sure it wouldn’t. The creature never tried to attack the dog at all. It didn’t even look like it noticed it. I’m not sure why I focused on that, but looking back it had to be the most absurd thing I had seen all day.

When I got to the CBOE I knew I was in for it. The line for the train was out into the courtyard. People were scrambling and pushing to try to get up to the trains. I scanned the crowd and saw a ton of injured people. Several looked like they had been bitten. The thought of riding home packed in a train car with basically several time bombs in the seats chilled me. I really had no other choice.

As I got to the EL platform I made my way to the exit. It was crowded with hopeful people. You’d be surprised how my wounded wrapped leg and a bloody tire iron get the crowd to part. When I got off the EL I noticed a commotion, people were running from the train and trampling those in front of them. I heard popping, it had to be gunfire. I quickly jumped up on the planter to get out of the way of the crowd and to see what was happening. The crowd was running from a group of police officers. A few people were laying on the ground shot. The cops had their guns out and they were taking aim at people in the crowd. I ducked when I saw them pointing and shooting, even though a gun wasn’t pointed in my direction.

The cops were clearing out the courtyard pretty well. I knew this was my chance to make it to the train. I started heading into the courtyard, and at first it was nigh impossible. But as more people fled, the more room there was to go upstream. I headed along the wall, trying to stay out of sight. I noticed two more people go down. I couldn’t tell what they were doing, but I assumed they were shooting obvious undead. I kept on the wall, and held the tire iron in my hand. My thought process was that I hadn’t seen any undead creature holding anything and this might not make me a target.

It wasn’t until I started moving across the open space toward the escalator that I realized one of the cops was tracking me. I also for that split second got to look at 4 bodies on the ground in front of me and I knew I had made a grave error in trying to run past. My brain put the pattern of what each of these bodies had in common before I even realized it. They were all injured, with bloodstained clothes. They had not changed. The cops were shooting anyone with a noticeable injury. And that’s when I felt it, the bullet when right through my stomach.

It didn’t knock me down, but it spun me sideways. It also hit on the side, a couple of inches from the edge of my body. I was so spiked with adrenaline I didn’t think, I just ran. Lizard brain took over and by tire iron bashed the window of the CBOE and I dove in. I kept running full bore through the building and out the other side. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was running to my office. Everything from when I got shot until I got to my building is a blur. I don’t remember a bit of it. I snapped out of it because it felt like my side was on fire, that I fractured my shin and my ribs were broken. I tried to apply pressure to the wound to get it to stop bleeding.

I ran into my building downstairs and climbed up the stairwell to my floor. That was the toughest set of stairs I have ever climbed. When I got to the 8th floor it was all I could do to not pass out. I stumbled into my office and no one was in. The lights were either off or out. I went to the kitchen and got the first aid kit off the wall and walked back to my office. When I was inside with the door shut I started to dress the wound as best I could. It looked as if he just clipped me, and the bullet went all the way out. But it hurt like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I had no idea if he pierced anything vital or not. It did not want to stop bleeding though. I dressed my leg too, and then pulled out my phone.

There was no signal. I figure that the cell towers were down, but I texted Sarah anyway. Hopefully it would keep trying until it got through. I didn’t tell her anything the happened. I couldn’t fit a good summary in 188 characters. What was I going to say?

Zombies. Bedlam down here. Jumped out of moving train to escape. Fought off several. Fell off EL platform. No trains out tonight. Been shot. Might die of blood loss. Hope I don’t. Love you. Cecil

I settled on something simple and un-alarming. No point in worrying her unnecessarily. I said.

I can’t make it home tonight. The trains aren’t running. I will have to be up here for a day or two. I will be home as soon as I can. Be careful. Stay inside. Love you greatly. Cecil

As soon as I finished my eyes were so heavy I could barely keep them open. I had enough energy to lock my door and crawl under my desk before I passed out.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Spin Cycle

Days ago, I heard moaning and quietly crept to the living room window, scaling the wall and gingerly peaking outside from behind the curtain. Then did the same in the kitchen. Swarms of black flies buzzed about in clouds. Dead walkers were slowly hunchbacking around the yard, plodding closer to my house with their outstretched limbs, stinking, rotting flesh. I counted a baker’s dozen.

[I would kill for a dozen Krispy Kremes right now. And I don’t even like them that much.]

I am sitting on a ragged plaid blanket under the basement stairs with my back against the cold cement wall, few provisions litter the floor around me. Tybs is curled up in my lap asleep. Peaches is purring and rubbing his head against my bare foot. As to not encourage them to meow, I don’t speak to them. All I can do is sit there in silence, listening for the moment when I hear Cecil’s keys jingling in the locked door above me. If that will ever happen. I think about where he might be. I wait hours in silence, hearing a distant moan every now and then. It begins to rain and the thunder softly booms. I am scared and vigilant, tired. But at the same time, bored as hell. I swish about in a maddening spin cycle of thoughts:

[“…and its hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain…”]
[“…blame it on the rain… rain that’s fallin, fallin…”]
[“…rainy days and Mondays always get meee dowwwwn…”]
[“…ohhhh, how I wish it would rain now… down on me…”]

[So sick of stale chips. So sick of stale chips. Stupid crinkly bag – makes such a loud noise when I want to eat. Announces my hunger like a crackling fire announcing heat.]

[Have to pee soon. Will go in the sump hole again. Sound of rain should drown it out. Must creep past basement windows without being seen. I did it before, I can do it again.]

[Pee. I want to be peeing out things that I have enjoyed: Lipton ice tea or good hot coffee…not room-temp bottled water. Which is almost gone. I might have to hit the wine soon...nah, can’t.]

[These human functions. Necessary. Designed for daily living, not under-the-basement-stairs living…I wonder if, after we die, if we ever feel the urge to pee or if we always feel empty like that as spirits? Do we just feel comfortably numb all the time?]

[Dear Lord, please keep Cecil and my family safe. I can handle me dying, I don’t think I could handle any of them dying. Watch over Abby and Toby, too. Sweet baby. I think you would understand if I had to kill myself rather than let myself turn into An Untruth. No greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. Does this include taking one’s own life possibly save another from a horrible death I might impart on them? Give us all strength, I humbly pray, God. Help me be strong. I need that. Amen]

[“…knock, knock, knockin on Heaven’s door….”]
[“To die, to sleep, perchance to dream…”]

[Should’ve brought my good pillow or two down here. This one’s too small and annoying. Red bouncy chenille throw pillow with a hole in it. Stupid thing to grab, but I couldn’t get too close to the window where the good pillows were or they’d see me…]

[“…rainy days and zombies always get meee dowwwwn…”]

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My Nemesis

General David Kohler sat at his table by the window. Below him the fort was alive. All his soldiers were doing their part to shore up the defenses around the small outpost to make sure it could withstand an assault. He sat in thought for many long moments, the decision he was about to make was not an easy one. The army of the dead was growing exponentially, the Midwest was getting overrun and something had to be done. “The Push” had failed; the calculated retreat wasn’t something that he agreed with. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” he thought. His next thought was interrupted by the sound of keys and the door opening behind him.

“Good Morning General,” the soldier said to him.

“Lieutenant Thompson.” The general said as he saluted. The soldier set the tray down and saluted in return. “How have the advanced units done?”

“Poorly sir. It looks like they all may have been infected.”

“Damn. Did you tell the scientists to start removing all the alpha team from the cryogenic processor?”

“Yes Sir. We had them removed yesterday, they are still coming out of the thaw though and are a little out of it. We are hoping that they are back to full functionality by Tuesday.”

“Excellent. What of the west lines in Cincinnati?”

“Fallen Sir. They had to call a strategic retreat, they should be here by this morning. What are your orders?”

“I’ve been agonizing with it all night. I know that the project is still highly experimental, but I’ve been thinking of advancing with Nemesis system.”

The Lieutenants face recoiled in horror. “But sir! We can’t just let those creatures go unchecked. Its way too dangerous, even the scientists think it is uncontrollable. I mean it is the most advance cybernetic soldiers we have mixed with infected blood. They have been able to keep the infection to a minimum so far, but it is just too risky…”

“Damn it Thompson! Don’t you see that we have no other choice! We need to activate the Nemesis system right now. The Alpha team may not be ready for a few days. We can’t give Zed a few goddamn days! Now get down to the systems ops people and tell them to get on that right now.”

“Sir, yes Sir. But Sir, you haven’t been eating, please eat your breakfast and I’ll run to distribute your orders right away.” The Lieutenant saluted and spun on his heel. He banged on the metal door once and he heard the keys open the lock. He quickly stepped out while General sat in front of the tray of food.

“May God have mercy on my soul…” General Kohler trailed off as he started to force himself to eat.


Private First Class Thompson exited the room. His fellow guard Private Jarvis shook his head and locked the door behind him.

“Why the hell do you gotta fuck with him like that.” Jarvis said.


“Every time you bring him a meal you’ve got to goad him into just spouting off that crazy Sci-Fi shit. What the fuck is wrong with you? I mean the guy is crazy as a shithouse rat, for fucks sake.”

“Hey man, if there was ever a bastard that deserved every bit of mental anguish, it’s that cock knocker in there.” Thompson replied as he shoved his thumb over his shoulder toward the locked door. “That asshole is the reason we lost Cincinnati. His fucking mental breakdown cost us about a hundred thousand lives. Fuck him.”

Jarvis just shook his head.

“Did you hear that shit though? You can’t tell me that it wasn’t funny. Nemesis? Alpha team? What the fuck. I mean, we may as well get Chuck fucking Norris here with his M-60 to take out all the Zeds.” At this, both the soldiers start laughing.

A break in the laughter and Thompson adds, “Chuck Norris once ate a whole cake before his friends could tell him there was a stripper in it.”

The laughing carries on. Jarvis then continues “Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris!”

The two privates pass the time like this for a while inside the mental health facility at the base. A facility that is slowly reaching capacity, as the siege wears on.