Saturday, May 31, 2014
IN THE FLESH: PART TWO
Genre: Horror (Zombies)
IN THE FLESH
ABANDON ALL HOPE
There’s a fine line between the living and the dead. Except nowadays it’s more like a makeshift wall or barrier to keep the living and the dead segregated…
Was no better than Day One. The virus, the infection, the plague had spread across the globe in less than twenty-four hours.
Only Willard Pickman and a handful of other potential survivors knew the truth. The virus was not only blood-borne, but airborne as well. That’s how it spread so fast. This essentially meant that the whole entire world, dead or living was infected.
Everyone carried the disease. But its primary effects don’t impact the body until the carrier is deceased. That’s when the full effects of the virus are revealed.
On Saturday, September 14, 2013, reinforcements were called in. The army, the marines, the National Guard. They all tried to intervene. But the more Biters they slaughtered, the more sprang up from their graves or crawled their way out from the piles of bodies that littered the streets.
The once orderly, manageable situation had dissolved into panic, disorder, chaos. Soldiers retreated. Women and children sought shelter. Every man was left to fend for himself.
The government scrambled to come up with a cure. But there were no quick fixes. No magic solutions to this awful nightmare. What started as a local Long Island pandemic had escalated into a global epidemic. By Sunday, they predicted half the world’s population would be converted.
It was the beginning of the end. The sand was trickling down, filling up the hourglass. And there were many unspeakable horrors that still awaited us.
Kenny Sudrow, Trevor Virden, and Devin Morris spent Day One locked in Trevor’s comic store. They had barricaded the door with everything that wasn’t bolted down and plastered the windows with posters and ripped comic book pages to mask their presence.
They had survived the night on Cool Ranch Doritos, peanut butter cookies, and soft drinks from Trevor’s mini fridge he had stashed behind the counter.
They had moved the girl’s body to the back of the store, and Kenny had done his best to clean up the mess. But he was still finding stray pieces of skull embedded in the carpet.
Trevor had a battery operated radio that they depended on for the latest updates. And the latest updates didn’t sound promising. The way the stations all described it, it sounded as if the government was getting ready to throw in the towel. America was on the verge of abandoning all hope.
And so was Kenny Sudrow.
By Day Three, all contact was severed. The radio wasn’t picking up a single broadcast. The television Trevor had rigged up in the basement was flashing an Emergency Broadcast System logo on every channel. The internet was down too.
But they still had lights, power. For how long though Kenny was uncertain.
“Where’s Devin?” Kenny asked when he realized his absence.
“In the bathroom,” Trevor whispered. “He’s been in there for fifteen minutes.”
“You don’t think he’d kill–”
“No,” Trevor didn’t even give him a chance to finish. “He’s not suicidal. He’s a junkie. I think he’s, you know, shooting up. Or whatever it is they do.”
“Should we, like, talk to him about it or something?”
“Nah,” Trevor shook his head. “Best to leave it alone. He’ll be shit out of luck when his stash is finally gone.”
“When his stash is finally gone, he’ll go through withdrawals. Have you ever dealt with someone when they’re going through heroin withdrawals? It ain’t pretty, my friend.”
“We can’t stay here forever. Help isn’t coming. I was hopeful at first, but now I’m certain we’re on our own.”
“So what’s your plan? Keep in mind our only weapon is a Louisville slugger.”
“You know Arnold Vesti? He owns the hardware store in town. He’s got a bomb shelter in his backyard. The original owner had it installed during the Cold War. Vesti keeps it stocked with food, water, supplies in the event of a sudden catastrophe. It’s worth checking out. We could spend the night, gather supplies, and head out in search for others.”
“Others? You hear any people outside? You hear any cars or trains or buses or planes? ’Cause I sure as shit don’t.”
“It’s been three days, Trevor. Don’t be so pessimistic. There are other survivors out there. We just need to find them…and pray that they’re friendly.”
They say that God built the Earth in seven days. And it took the Biters all of three days to condemn His grand creation.
People tried to flee. Some escaped by boat or plane or helicopter, but who knows where they went or if they even made it there.
The highways, parkways, expressways, interstates were all death traps. Everyone trying to escape at once, jamming up with the roads with bumper-to-bumper traffic. People were sitting ducks out there for the wandering Biters that seemed to multiply by thousands as every hour elapsed.
The government’s plan of defense? They had no plan of defense for something of this magnitude. Or did they?
Carson Ryder sure didn’t know. Truth be told, he didn’t really know anything. It was a man named Damien Albright who had pulled him from the fire. He was unconscious and surely wouldn’t have survived of not for Albright’s intervention.
When he came to he couldn’t remember a damn thing. He remembered nothing of the hospital, of the fire, of the Biters. The first time he heard about it was from Albright’s lips. He didn’t believe him until looked around and observed the evidence.
Damien had saved him, fed him, and even found him a spare change of clothes so he could ditch the hospital gown. He wasn’t content with the black leather pants and Hello Kitty T-shirt, but in a situation such as this, beggars clearly can’t be choosers.
Albright was armed to the teeth, but temporarily without a car. And with the roads all jammed up with abandoned cars, they were better off on foot anyway.
Carson noticed the wedding ring tan line on his finger. The absence of the ring was another mystery to be solved. He couldn’t remember if he had a wife or a family, kids. He knew his name only because of the ID, the only item in his possession. And he knew he lived in Dorchester, a good two hour drive from Cherrywood without traffic or a zombie apocalypse.
“Why can’t I remember anything?” Carson asked. On Day Three, they had taken shelter in an abandoned record store. Damien had got one of the old Victrola’s working and was having the time of his life playing Led Zeppelin albums. He considered the possibility that this was the last time he’d ever jam out to his favorite tunes. He was going to enjoy this moment for as long as he could.
“Retrograde amnesia,” Damien shouted over the music, naming the technical term. “Head trauma would be the main cause. Relax, your memory will return eventually.”
Carson wanted to believe him. But until his memory did return in full, he was stuck relying on Damien for guidance in this strange new world he had woken up to.
They spent the night, subsisting on rations Damien had gathered in his travels. To cap off the evening, Damien played his favorite album of all time, The Dark Side of the Moon. Then he played it again.
“This would be even sweeter if we were watching the Wizard of Oz,” Damien remarked. Carson didn’t get the joke.
By Day Four, they had abandoned the record store, carrying what guns and provisions they could hold in bags draped over their shoulders.
“You know what they used to call records back in the day?” Damien asked as they walked. He was one of those people that didn’t always wait for a person to answer. “Licorice pizza.”
“Man, you got a lot of remembering to do.”
They came across a lone Biter staggering about, the lower half of its jaw rotted down to the gum line. Its exposed skin was black and corroded. It didn’t seem to pose any threat at first glance, until it realized their presence and came lumbering towards them, snarling. Damien wondered if that’s how zombies communicate with each other.
The blast of Damien’s shotgun created a boom that rang out through the seemingly vacant neighborhood. But all it really did was attract the attention of more unwanted guests. He pumped the mechanism and an empty shell popped out from the breech. He still had three more rounds to go.
Carson counted at least eight or nine stumbling out from somebody’s backyard. Three more emerged from behind an overturned semi. Damien put the last three rounds in the shotgun to good use, then tossed it aside, opting for his trusty pistol that held ten rounds.
He and Carson aimed their pistols towards the parade of Biters that had spilled out into the streets. The Biters marched almost in unison, growling, snarling, teeth chattering.
Nine deafening shots later, the horde was reduced to a pile of bodies that riddled the street. Carson heard a noise and glanced over his shoulder, saw a pair of bushes rustling and aimed his gun steady, expecting another Biter to stagger out.
“Is it safe to come out?” a voice called.
“That depends,” Damien yelled back. “Are you infected?”
“If we were, would we be talking to you right now?”
“Very true. All right, come out then. It’s all clear.”
Kenny Sudrow, Trevor Virden, and Devin Morris crawled out from the bushes, their clothes ruffled, hair disheveled. They approached with caution, Trevor still gripped the baseball bat from back at the store.
“Is that the only weapon you’ve got?” Damien chuckled. “No wonder you’re hiding in bushes. Stick with us kids and you’ll be all right.”
“Thanks, mister,” Kenny said. “I’m Kenny Sudrow. My friends call me Squeak because of that movie Basketball. That skinny bastard over there is Devin Morris. And that dumb tub of lard is Trevor Virden.”
“You certainly know how to make an introduction,” Damien said.
“Nice shirt, by the way,” Trevor muttered at Carson.
“Where were you boys heading?” Damien inquired.
“Arnold Vesti’s house. It’s five blocks west from here. He’s got a bomb shelter. Rations, supplies, security. It sounded like a safe bet to us.” Kenny had wondered if he shared too much information with their new allies. But the cat was out of the bag, and Damien and Carson seemed more intent on helping than hurting.
“Lead the way,” Damien insisted.
To be continued with Part Three: The Wrath of the Almighty