Monday, January 12, 2015


Genre: Horror (Zombies) 

Carson Ryder: Former marine/Former police officer/Suffers from retrograde amnesia/ Searching for clues to his past/Lost his wife and daughter
Taryn Mills: Survivor found outside the Starlight Hotel/Lost her boyfriend, George Verdi, to the Biters/Not afraid to use a gun/No known family
Nikki Fox: Former registered nurse/Never married/Lost contact with her family during the first initial weeks of the outbreak
Reggie White: Born and raised in Arkansas/Has never left the state before
Scotty Loomis: Originally from Utah/Friends with Reggie/A perpetual fountain of random facts and useless information
Corey Smith: Doomsday prepper/Lives in a fortified compound with a tremendous arsenal of weapons
Paul Langstrom: Former police officer/Originally from Detroit/Transferred to NYPD in 2008/Worked narcotics
Luke Chen: Runner/Competed in the Olympics/Knows how to use a gun but he prefers a katana
Dominic DeVito: Originally from New York/Not too bright/Afraid to use a gun for fear of shooting himself or someone else
Amy Greene: First survivor who was taken in by Corey/She is a recovering alcoholic

By Daniel Skye



          Day Three Hundred and Ten.
          Summertime. The air had grown thicker, the days felt longer. The sun wasn’t setting as early as it had been before. That, and the drastic change in temperature were the only clues that summer had arrived. It was impossible for the group to keep track of the days without a calendar. It was one of the very few things Corey hadn’t bothered to stock up on.
          The food had gone a long way. And there was still plenty of food, water, and supplies to go around. They had enough to last them through the winter, maybe even until next summer.
          Going on scavenger hunts through towns, risking their lives to scrounge up supplies; those days were a thing of the past. The group had virtually everything they needed right where they were. They couldn’t ask for anything more.
Corey’s arsenal, and the wrought iron fences that surrounded the compound, kept the Biters at bay. Eventually they just stopped coming around. Migrated to other areas and left the group at peace.
Amy Greene had spent weeks resisting the temptation to imbibe. And she was happy when the men had finished off most of the booze. All that remained now was a bottle of Tenafly Viper and a bottle of peach schnapps, her preferred choice of liquor.
But the girls had provided a wonderful distraction in the days that passed. Taryn Mills taught them how to play cards and Nikki Fox regaled them with tales of being a nurse.
Taryn also revealed her occupation in confidence to the women. She had been an exotic dancer in her previous life.
“Your boyfriend was ok with it?” Amy had asked.
“He didn’t know,” Taryn told them. “He thought I was going to night school. That’s how I explained my nightly absence.”
“And he bought that?” Nikki asked.
“I think he had his suspicions,” she said. “But he never approached me about it. He never cornered me or showed up at the club.”
“If he was here now, would you tell him the truth?” Amy asked.
“Hell no,” Taryn said. “That would’ve crushed him. I even felt guilty sleeping with Damien after George died. But I’m sorry, I’m still a woman. And a woman has needs just like men do.”
“Was he any good?” Nikki couldn’t help but ask.
“Amazing,” Taryn remarked with a grin and a wink.
“I bet that Carson Ryder is a demon in the sack,” Amy ventured a guess.
“Yeah, I’ll bet,” Nikki sighed.
* * *
          “Will that pickup truck of yours make it to Texas and back?” Ryder asked Corey outside that day, the sun beating down on their shoulders.
          “She should. I’ve been keeping up with the oil changes and I check all the fluids regularly, make sure there aren’t any leaks. The batteries a year old and the starter and the alternator are practically brand new. Why, you planning a road trip?”
          “If a cure does exist, and it is somewhere in Texas, we can find it. We can utilize and implement it. We can turn this whole thing around. We can be the ones that saved the world.”
          “That sounds like one of those scenarios that’s too good to be true.”
          “Maybe you’re right. But I can’t live with myself knowing I never tried. I can’t live knowing that somewhere out there is a miracle that can fix all this and I never even bothered to look for it. I think we owe this mission to all the other survivors. I think we owe it to our friends and our family members, to the people that we’ve lost. If we fail, at least we can say we tried.”
          “All right, you twisted my leg enough,” Corey said. “I’m in.”
          “We’ll need one other person. For backup, in case we run into any trouble out there on the road.”
          “Who were you thinking?” Corey asked, crossing his arms, pondering. “We can’t take any of the girls. Though that Taryn is one tough cookie. And Dominic can’t shoot a tin can that’s two feet away. He won’t be any good to us.”
          “Paul’s an ex-cop like me, right? I assume he’d know how to operate a firearm. He’s probably the best choice we have.”
          “Ah, I hate asking Paul for favors,” Corey said, shrugging his shoulders, arms still crossed over his chest. “He’s already done so much for this community. And he has his bad days, if you haven’t noticed. Some days he’s pleasant. Other days, he’s a grumpy prick.”
          “Yeah, I’ve noticed,” Ryder said. “I’ll talk to him then. Make him understand.”
          “What about Luke Chen? He’d come along if I asked him to.”
          “No disrespect to Luke, but I’d feel safer with Paul. Look, don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to him. He’ll understand. Trust me on this one.”
* * *
          It took some convincing, but Ryder, being an ex-cop, understood his lingo. He knew just how to approach him. How to rile that hero inside of him and make him rise to the occasion. How to wake up this serve-and-protect instincts that every cop possesses.
Remind him that lives are at stake and the fate of the whole world rests in their hands, and any true cop will step up and do what’s necessary to preserve their species.
“Let’s do it,” Paul had said, shaking his hand to seal the deal. It was easy for Ryder to make him understand what was at stake. The world had changed, but Paul agreed it wasn’t too late to save it. They all deserved a second chance. And if this cure could provide that second chance, then it was worth risking their lives for.
Ryder packed two cans of gasoline and his Remington into the bed of the truck. Corey packed a bag of food, water, and medical supplies. And he took along two extra pump-action shotguns and three automatic pistols.
“I was going to bring the bazooka but I figured it’d be overkill,” Corey said to Ryder on the road. There wasn’t enough room for the three of them in front, so Paul had volunteered to ride in the bed, on the condition that Ryder would take the bed on the way back from Texas.
          “Yeah that would’ve been a bit much,” Ryder agreed.
          “I’m sorry this thing doesn’t have a CD player,” Corey said. “The guy knocked an extra hundred bucks off the sticker price if I bought as is, no CD player installed.”
          “I’ll live,” Ryder shrugged. “You don’t have any cassettes?”
          “Who has cassettes nowadays? That shit went out of style in the mid-nineties.”
          The 90’s. Ryder remembered the 90’s. Ryder was starting to piece together his splintered memories, connecting the fractured pieces like a jigsaw puzzle.
          He remembered AOL, dialup modems, passing trends and fads like pogs and Pokémon and baseball trading cards. He recalled the panic of Y2K, the Clinton-Lewinksy scandal, conflicts with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, taxes.
          And he recalled the 2000 election, the inauguration of George W. Bush. The horror of 9/11. More struggles and conflict with Iraq. The rising price of gasoline and cigarettes. More taxes. More conflict over access to oil. And the inevitable war that followed all this conflict.
          He started to remember the intimate little details of his relationship with Caroline. And all the little things he could recall about Charlotte, like being at her dance recitals, taking her to the movies or out for ice cream on Sunday’s. And the way Charlotte would wrap her tiny arms around his neck, give his cheek a big wet kiss, and say, “I wuv you, daddy.”
          He was still carrying their picture in his back pocket, all bent and creased and faded. It was something he’d never part with.
          “You wouldn’t happen to have a cigarette, would you?” Ryder asked.
          “Nah,” Corey said. “Wish I did. I’m pretty sure when the doomsday clock struck midnight, cigarettes and booze were the first things to go. I’m surprised you guys have managed to find any liquor at all.”
          “We’ve been lucky,” Ryder said. “Well, some of us have.”
          Corey tried the radio. Nothing but static and dead air. They had been on the road four hours before dark came around. Corey agreed it was in their best interest not to stop and rest. If they pushed it, they could probably make it to Texas by the morning.
          But they did require a stop once on the interstate when the road became too narrow and cluttered to navigate. They had to stop to push a few abandoned vehicles to the sides of the road.
          Paul put the Chevy in neutral and steered while Ryder and Smith pushed. Then they repeated the process with the Prius and the Ford Fusion.
          “How long were you a cop?” Ryder asked Paul, trying to make conversation and pass the time.
          “Too fucking long,” Paul said. “I was a beat cop. Then I did vice before they transferred me to narcotics.”
          Something clicked in Ryder’s mind. Suddenly he realized why Paul’s voice sounded so familiar. Something told he knew this man before. And something told him they weren’t friends. They were enemies.
* * *
          Sherwood, Arkansas.
Eli Carver and Mr. Jones had found more survivors, more people who shared their cause. What started as a group of about thirty people grew to a group of forty people. Then another ten survivors roamed along and the count was up to fifty.
          The group now had sixty members in total. More survivors meant more mouths to feed, more people to clothe and shelter. Their small community had already taken up residence in the library, the post office, the supermarket, and the police station, where the group had additional guns and ammunition in evidence lockers and gun racks.
          Eli found a series of Mossberg’s and more ammunition locked in a cage inside a police storage unit.
          One of their newest members was a young man, age seventeen. Ronnie Dash was the kid’s name. He’d been with them about a week and he’d found a box of jelly donuts stashed in the bottom drawer of one of the desks.
          There were six left and they were almost a year old. He’d taken a bite of one and nearly cracked his teeth. The donuts had petrified, the jelly filling inside had dried and hardened into a thick inner crust.
          But that didn’t stop him from wolfing down the first donut. And the second donut. By the time Jones had caught wind of what Dash had found, the whole box was gone. Dash didn’t leave a crumb behind.
          Ronnie Dash was a small town boy from Oklahoma who never knew his father. He grew up as the man of the house. Mom had not been easy on him, but she hadn’t been cruel either. The worst she ever did was force Ronnie to wash dishes, take out the trash, spruce up his bedroom, finish his homework before watching television.
          She was just trying to raise him right. To teach him about responsibility and hard work. And it paid off. As Ronnie got older, he’d volunteer to wash the dishes and take out the garbage. She didn’t even have to ask if his homework was finished or his room was clean.
          Ronnie was the best son a mother could ask for. But he’d been separated from his mom the day the chaos erupted. The schools in his area had been on lockdown and he was unable to reach her, unable to protect her.
          By the time the police came to escort the children home, it was already too late. Ronnie came in, saw the trail of blood. He rushed up the stairs and found his mother in the bathtub, her throat torn open, a flap of skin dangling under the collar of her blouse.
          The Biters had already gotten to her and she had staggered up the stairs, to the bathroom, tried to stop the bleeding, but collapsed and tumbled over into the tub. And then, when Ronnie returned home, she came back.
          Ronnie had survived his first encounter with a zombie. But Jones made sure he wouldn’t survive the next.
          Gathering a small group of his agitated followers, Jones led a march from the police station where Ronnie Dash and many others had camped through the nights. They walked fifteen blocks, then Jones stopped and motioned for them to do the same.
          “Ronnie Dash, you’ve been charged with the crime of gluttony,” Mr. Jones said, Eli Carver standing at his side, gleaming. “How do you plead?”
          “Jones, please don’t do this to me,” Ronnie begged. “Don’t leave me out here by myself. I’m sorry I was greedy. I’m sorry I didn’t share with the group. I was just so freaking hungry. It’s been days since we’ve eaten more than a handful of rations. I just couldn’t help myself. I’m sorry! Please forgive me!”
          “How does the jury find the defendant?” Jones asked.
          “Guilty!” his followers chanted in unison.
          “It’s official,” Jones said. “The defendant has been found guilty and will be sentenced to death…by exile. Because if the lack of food doesn’t kill you, the zombies surely will.”
          One of his followers had a bundle of rope and advanced on Ronnie. “You can’t just tie me up and leave me to die out here!” Ronnie screamed. “It’s inhuman!”
          “You’re right,” Jones said, telling his follower with the rope to back off. “We can’t tie you up and leave you to die out here. We might need the rope later on for something else. I have a much better idea…” Jones pulled a knife, a switchblade, from his coat and held it out for Eli to accept.
          A sick, twisted grin spread across his face when Jones passed him the knife. Several of his followers forced Ronnie onto his belly, holding him down while he thrashed and screamed, and while Eli used the switchblade to slice his tendons, ensuring he wouldn’t even be able to stand on his own two feet again.
          “This is the price you pay for stealing from this group,” Jones said to the rest of his followers as they walked back to the station, ignoring Ronnie’s pleas.
          “We’re running low on food and supplies,” Eli pointed out on the walk back. “And we’re taking in more followers every day that share our beliefs. Eventually, we’re going to need more. More food, more guns, more supplies. More everything. I think I know a place. It might be just what we’re looking for.”


No comments:

Post a Comment