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.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Somnolent Wishes

I prefer my dreams to reality lately. In my dreams, I am nearly always powerful. In my dreams, I am ready and equipped. I dream of a competent, quick moving me. Like I said, I prefer my dreams to reality.
Colleen doesn’t know what happens when the men and women separate every morning. She has no idea that while the women gather and work, laboring together inside the camp, safe on the interior of the fences, digging latrines and building a tidy little infrastructure, we are taken outside for a different kind of work.
The trucks always come to the side of the camp furthest from where the women are working. No one actually told us not to tell the girls where we go or what we do all day, but no one has to. Even on the first day out, we knew something was wrong. As we civilians climbed into the camouflaged transports, a silence crashed onto us, rendering each of us still and mute. Not a man amongst us even looked up as the trucks bounced along. Heads down and silent, each of us recognized how truly alone we were at that moment.
We would eventually learn to look forward to those quiet rides in the transport trucks, moments of silence, no spouses to look into the eyes of, no hard eyed soldiers gripping guns like talismans.
They called it, “Bioreactive Containment and Disposal.” I never really got over the grand presumption of the military, finding such important sounding names for sorting the corpses, former military in one pile, usually smaller and fresher, the undead in another much larger and infinitely more fetid pile. The strongest, healthiest of us were usually handed a small four pound sledgehammer right out of the truck. I think this was why the grunts knew they didn’t need to tell any of us not to say anything. “How was your day today honey?” I could hear Colleen asking. “Oh, no big deal,” I would reply, “Spent the morning caving in the skulls of mostly dead soldiers and immobilized civilian zombies with a sledgehammer. Then we poured gas on the lot of them and gave them the Auschwitz treatment. Typical day at the office.”
Some days, if the skirmishes the night before were lower key, we would get a break from the gruesome task of ‘Bioreactive Containment and Disposal’ and we would reinforce the fences and other defenses that surrounded the camp. Twelve hours laboring in the sun, building and repairing fences and that felt like a vacation, anything not to feel the terrible weight of that sledgehammer in my hands. I asked one of the soldiers the first day if they called our work on the fence “Non Oxidative Metallic Structure Construction and Maintenance.” Without a smile, I was handed a large pair of bolt cutters. I decided to keep them.
And now I find myself here, in this cornfield, with what I can only assume is an overrun military camp behind me, an abandoned town in the middle of corn country nearby, and my infant son sleeping fitfully on my chest. Before we left camp, I dreamt of protecting Colleen and Finn. In my dream, I was armed and confident. Here, I’m exhausted and exposed, and my only defense for my family is a pair of bolt cutters. I close my eyes, and for the first time since I held it in my hands, I found myself wishing for that tiny sledgehammer. Colleen said she would take first shift. I only hope that the rustle the cornfields make will warn us if any of them show up.