Solar Flare - Zombie Novel


Solar Flare Chapters

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Chapter 33

Posted on October 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (6)

Weaving through cars and the meandering vessels of flesh combing the deserted streets for a meal made the progress slow and the silence in the car was deafening in-between the sniffles coming from Kenny. Caleb’s mom kept glancing in the rearview mirror at the boys and was mentally devising a plan for the survival for the three of them. Much to her chagrin, she knew they had to eventually switch from her gorgeous classic ’57 Chevy into something more durable that would withstand a few bumps and bruises. She wracked her brain and decided to go raid the car dealership her ex worked at. Before Caleb was born, she would visit him at the dealership and bring him lunch but that was before she found out some of his late nights were spent banging the 21 year-old receptionist. At least her wasted time spent at the dealership would now be put to good use because she knew right where the lot kept all of their keys for the inventory, and even better yet, where the keys to OPEN the lock box were. Now all she had to do was decide between their 2012 Hummers or one of their factory built Dodge Ram F-150s. Each had great apocalypse survival features, the Dodge with it’s amazing motor and oversized frame which could withstand running over a few obstacles if needs be, and the Hummer with its broad size which was perfectly spread out to avoid tipping and to steady it in rougher terrain. After much thought she decided on the Hummer and inwardly hoped they had a purple one in stock.

After figuring out what her first steps were, she decided to break the silence so she turned on the radio surfing for anything helpful on the radio but it was just news that unless you lived in a bubble, you already knew what was going on by peering out your bedroom window. It seemed most of the stations were playing recorded messages anyways or people were arguing about what was going on and complaining that no one was doing anything about it. She sighed and rolled her eyes and plugged in her mp3 player to her rock folder and Rob Zombie flooded the car speakers. She smiled and her heart melted as she saw Caleb bob his head in the back a bit as he stared out at the wreckage in the streets. She loved that kid that was so much like her and knew his survival meant more than her life was worth.

They pulled up to the dealership at dusk which could either be a blessing or a curse whichever way you wanted to look at it. The darkening lot with its looming vehicles cast multiple shadows that could hold a number of problems, the first being the obvious. She circled the lot, surveying, and killed her headlights while speaking aloud. “Alright guys, it’s time to switch my baby here to get into something safer for us. Caleb you know you and Kenny are to stay in the car and will honk only if emergency otherwise, total silence. While I’m inside make sure everything is ready to go but do it efficiently and quietly. Any questions?” Caleb looked at his mom, the look of dismay clearly crossing his face and said, “Mom you know you need a wingman.” She looked back at him and said, “so does Kenny. Probably more than I. Love you bud.” With that, she pulled into the lot and as close to the entrance as she could.

Senses on high alert, her eyes roamed the lot for any sign of movement. She was about 50 feet from the entrance which wasn’t too bad except she had to run and dodge in between cars and THAT was a less than savory idea. Caleb spoke up and jokingly said, “hey mom looks like they have a PURPLE one in stock look” and she glanced over to the right side of the building and sure enough, there was a darker purple colored Hummer raised up for display. She smiled and once again viewed the lot and muttered, “alright guys, be right back. The sooner this is done the better. I don’t want to be stuck out here when it’s dark. Caleb, get things ready and lock the door ok?” With that she quickly jumped out of the car and immediately crouched down in between a row of cars. She’d grabbed her son’s Louisville Slugger he’d used for baseball practice two years ago out of her garage before they’d left and she now gripped that in her left hand. She had to dart over to get the numbers off of the Hummer to then match them up to the keys inside and then bolt to the front of the building and with luck; the doors were still unlocked to enter the building without any problems.

Bolting over to the Hummer was uneventful and she said the number on the print-out in the window to herself like a mantra three or four times to remember it and as she turned away, kept repeating it like a recording in her head. In doing so, she paid less attention than she normally would and did not see the movement occurring under a red PT Cruiser parked in the first row of the lot. She looked around and straight ahead not thinking of looking on the ground around the cars. She paused behind a GMC to observe the darkened building one last time before exposing herself by running through the open part of the lot up to the glass doors of the entrance. She jumped when she felt a spongy grip around her right ankle that was strong with purpose and heard the simultaneous wail of hunger. She fell forward face first not expecting that strong of a resistance when she’d jumped up and immediately her body crawled with revulsion as the rest of the hand slithered up her body like a snake and exposed the changed underneath the car. She rolled over to see her attacker and her mouth dropped in shock, she KNEW this man. Dressed in an ugly brown suit complete with striped brown and cream colored tie was her ex-boyfriend’s old co-worker, Bob. Bob, once a smooth talking salesman who’d screw anybody over just to make a sale, was now slithering forward from underneath the car, mouth flopping open and swinging to and fro as he slithered his way up her leg. Sores on his exposed skin popped and wept all over her pant leg and the side of his balding head was missing patches of skin and hair where he must’ve dragged himself along in pursuit of his meal. A flap of skin hung limply down over his misshapen ear like a fleshy earmuff.

What happened next was fast and something she’d never forget. One second she was staring into those hungry milky white eyes and the next she watched inches away and in “3-D” as a human man’s head crumpled like a beer can someone deftly stepped on leaking brain matter and bodily fluids out of his nose, ears, and the newly caved-in wound on the top of his balding head. Her mouth opened in shock and after moments of silence snapped out of it and looked up. There, her son stood, hockey stick in hand, trying to wipe bits of matter and hair off of the end of the stick against the tire of the GMC. He barely glanced at her and said, “told ya you needed a wing-man mom.”

She struggled to rise, kicking and shoving Bob off of her and unsuccessfully to ignore the gore that coated her clothing from bellybutton down. She stood, nodded at her son, and cocked her head at the doors to the entrance to indicate it was time to move. Now, all she could remember was the first four numbers now and she prayed that would suffice to locate the keys to the Hummer.

As luck would have it, there was a quiet swish as she tried the doors to the front entrance and after glancing back at her son, she moved into the lobby entrance. There was an acrid smell of burned coffee and it was eerily empty. She looked at Caleb, nodded towards the offices behind the reception desk, and trotted towards them while scanning the rest of the lobby. She reached Ed’s office, the dealership owner, and remembered how he was an even bigger creep than Bob had been back in the days she’d spent time here. He’d give “extra special discounts” and guaranteed financing to the prettier young co-eds searching for their first vehicle if he’d make it “worth their while.” She snorted and mentally said, “pig” as she began to turn the doorknob.

They entered the office and she rushed behind the big mahogany desk to where the lockbox was kept and turned to the file cabinet where a set of keys were hidden in an empty manila file folder named “Justin White.” She snatched them up and turned back towards the right drawer of the desk where the lockbox was stored and backwards a foot banging into the file cabinet. There, under the desk was Ed curled up and rocking back and forth, quietly whispering something repeatedly. She crouched down, put a hand on his shoulder and whispered, “Ken, hey it’s me Maria. I dated Jake a few years back. Do you remember?” Ed ignored her and continued to rock back and forth and then in an extremely creepy way, turned to look right at her and said what he’d been repeating moments ago. “Be quiet or they will hear you.” Then he turned back to face the front again and start rocking. She looked over at her son who smirked and rolled his eyes and she shrugged, stood, and opened the drawer of the desk where the box was kept. She quickly opened it, scanned the rows and rows of keys searching for the matching number, and the forth tray down she hit the jackpot. She snatched them out, quickly pocketed them, and crouched back down to help Ed out of his crouched position and bring him with them. Caleb cocked his head and mouthed “no” and she glared at him and went back to prying Ed out of his current position. He fought her and then loudly stated, “be QUIET or they will HEAR you. Just ask Jackie… oh wait you can’t want to know WHY…cuz they ATE HER!”

Maria dropped his arm, stood upright, and looked at Caleb who was already gripping the doorknob. Ed had apparently lost it and they couldn’t afford to try to help him out when he couldn’t help himself. She sighed, looked down, and looked over at her son. He and Kenny were priority, not poor creepy old Ed. Survival of the fittest she supposed. She walked over to the door, quickly opened it, and was almost bowled over by a once-attractive man in an expensive navy blue two button wool suit. She jumped back and he fell sprawling onto the ground in front of her. She took the metal bat and swung with all of her might as his head caved in against the bottom of the door and the brute force of the bat. He lay in the doorway so she was unable to close the door and she sprinted over to where Ed was in an attempt to pry him out from under the desk on last time. Leaving him with the door open would leave him totally exposed.

Her guilt was gone and decision made to leave Ed when she heard the rising panic of her son’s voice right outside of the office. His voice low and shaking he said, “Mom…I THINK I know who they are now…” She dropped Ed’s arm and ran over to the door. There, coming from behind a partition that was considered a “waiting room” was about eight or nine of the changed people who must’ve been preoccupied before but with Ed’s loud statement, heard a new dinner bell ring. One woman, hair in tangles, was still chewing as she staggered towards their position by the office. Maria looked back at the office and back at Caleb and said once, “Ed, you are right they are coming. Get out here now or you will die.” She only had moments to spare and there was no answer so she clasped Caleb on the back and said, “Run.” The changed were honed into their position and most certainly would have followed suit if poor Ed hadn’t chosen that moment to start bellowing out, “who the Hell would eat Jackie?!? She’s such a nice girl…”

Maria and Caleb sprinted out of the building and before the glass doors swooshed shut she could hear Ed begin to scream.

Chapter 32

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Dr. Keller and Hanson sat in silence as Dr. Keller gingerly sanitized and dressed his wounded shoulder. What was there to say? The shock of what had just happened sat in both of their minds, each of their thoughts going in different directions. Dr. Keller battled with his scientific mind and the events that had just occurred while Hanson battled with the shock of how he had just hacked up a living being who just refused to be put down until all that remained was pieces. Hanson had seen and done some things, but never to that extent. He reached over and removed a veiny tendon hanging from Dr. Keller’s lab coat pocket which was now a darkening maroon color.

Watching Dr. Keller wince from the pain as he put pressure on his wound, Hanson said matter-of-factly, “so doc, any explanations on what the hell just happened? If the people outside the gates are anything like your old lab buddy, we might have a bit of a problem.” Dr. Keller barely glanced up at Hanson and said, “you got me but I do agree, we might have a bit of a problem.” With that, Dr. Keller stood up and looked over at Hanson and said, “I need to do some tests, can you bring that stringy piece of Sanwa you’ve been holding in your hand to my lab? I need to go collect a few more pieces of my lab assistant to examine.” With that he walked out of the office leaving Hanson staring down at the piece of Sanwa he’d been squeezing like a stress ball.

Dr. Keller examined the cells he’d scraped from what was left of Mr. Sanwa’s upper thigh and his mouth hung open in disbelief as he watched the rate of the cells break apart and decompose under his microscopic lens. As a scientist, one of the things he always did while he took his observations was speak aloud to either his lab assistant or into a hand recorder and out of habit, he did so while he observed Sanwa’s remains. All four slides he’d taken from various parts of Mr. Sanwa showed the same incredible rate of decay. The energy it took for those cells to break down and change quickly caused a complete breakdown in physical and chemical makeup. He jumped as Hanson spoke up and said, “so what’s that mean doc?”

He paused, looked over at Hanson and said, “well, this isn’t scientifically possible but I have a guess. Think of it this way, the body has a natural desire to sustain life and with the rate of molecular breakdown and the energy it saps up from the host, the individual craves energy that can only come from other live matter…us to keep it fueled and slow down the breakdown. I’m guessing the effects of the solar flare changed anyone with either direct or indirect exposure to its effects. It might be slower for the individuals who were not exposed directly but eventually they will be afflicted as well.”

Hanson glanced at Dr. Keller’s shoulder and slowly said, “soooo it’s not like the movies then? It’s not an infection right?” Dr. Keller’s lips turned in a half-smirk and said, “well I do believe that’s the only thing we have going for us right now and the only chance people have. We lucked out because it is NOT viral. If it was, we might as well sit down, crack a beer, and say goodbye to humanity. If people can stay safe until these hosts bodies completely break down, they can have a chance at survival. Right now, I need to get this information out and could use a bit of your help in doing so.”


Chapter 31

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Habir had no real intelligence left behind those milky white eyes but he knew instinct and survival. He dropped the cooled hunk of meat and followed the enticing sounds coming from the alleyway as fast as he could manage. Broken fingers knocking as he shuffled into the alleyway, he spotted a shape drop down into the alley and headed straight for it. Mouth opening in keen anticipation, he shambled up right behind the unsuspecting meal who was busy brushing himself off and he reached out and wrapped his damaged arms around his victim and bit savagely down on their shoulder. Warm blood surged down his throat and out of the side of his damaged face as the victim screamed in a high pitch as much from surprise as agony as Habir turned his head to the side in an attempt to rip a morsel free from his meal.

Habir delighted in swallowing a half-dollar sized mouthful of energized flesh and if he could comprehend his need to consume would have understood the importance of a meal. His cells were rapidly breaking down, losing energy as the cells slowly died. Consuming the live, fresh, and fleshy meat slowed the process down immensely so there was his need for survival. He did not see the mid-aged elderly man drop down from the window behind him and did not comprehend what was happening when the man came up behind him and cuffed him on the head, denting in the left side of his head. As gravity would have it and the muscles in his arms useless, he fell to the ground and before he could rise, the mid-aged man had ripped a piece of the man’s shirt to bandage the wound and shoved the wounded prey down to the opposite corner of the building from where Habir had come.

Habir lamented in his loss with a keening sound as he struggled to rise using his broken fingers as leverage but was shoved back down by a wave of his brethren who had heard the delicious scream from his victim’s mouth as he had savored his bit of flesh only moments earlier. They shambled past him, stepped on him, or fell over him in an attempt to follow the prey where they had taken off to on the other side of the building. Habir finally rose to his feet after the last of the crowd went by, ignoring his now flattened and broken arm, his misshapen head, and visibly broken ribs. With a mournful moan, he did the only thing his mind would compute, and slowly follow the crowd to where his savory meal had gone.

He reached the back of the crowd and joined in with their cries as they all followed a pink Vespa as it left them in the distance. It would’ve been obvious how futile their trek was after the Vespa to any normal thinking individual but the crowd would do the only thing it knew to do and that was follow. Little did their prey know that Habir and the others would follow them until they dropped, bodies too damaged or broken to proceed any further.

Chapter 29

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Lopez and Jeramey stood mute as they stared at each other for a brief moment, then looking down, they surveyed their furry comrade who laid there intently nursing her injured paw. Jeramey spoke first, “man that was intense wasn’t sure you were going to make it especially with your wounded friend there.” Lopez nodded, still in training mode, surveying the apartment and door, then making his way to the window. Looking out, the crowd they had drawn in the scuffle was making their way into the building. Not good. He glanced at Jeramey and said, “thanks for the heads-up and assistance man. Name’s Lopez. Have to ask another question, gotta shower I can use?”

After showering and borrowing a t-shirt and sweats, they sat in silence while eating two microwaved burritos and chips, occasionally tossing a morsel to their observant friend on the ground. Lopez took a swig of Mountain Dew and squatted down to examine his furry friend. She sat silent with the exception of a whine as he touched her injured paw. Looking at the dog, he softly said, “well looks like a sprain pup you’ll be alright.” His answer was a wag of her tail and a wet kiss on his hand. He stood and looked over at Jeramey and said, “so my fan club followed me into the building and if their sense of smell is as keen as it seems to be, we might have a bit of a problem friend.” Jeramey went over to the window and peered down. Seems Lopez was right, there was a discarded and forgotten high heeled shoe and an obvious bloody trail on the ground leading directly into the front doors.

He sighed, turned to Lopez, and said, “well from the looks of your uniform earlier, you are a part of New York’s finest so what’s the plan buddy?” Lopez looked at him and said without hesitating, “we clear the building and go from there.” Jeramey stared at the door and somewhat sheepishly said, “hey man, the closest I’ve come to direct combat is in a video game so I’m not too sure I’ll be much good but I agree.” Lopez smiled and said, “just watch my back alright? I don’t want someone coming up behind me and biting me in the ass. I got the rest. I’m pretty used to clearing buildings from my tour in the first Gulf War and at least THESE guys don’t seem to think tactically so far. What kind of weaponry do you have stored away in your apartment?” Jeramey slid the two butcher knives across the counter and Lopez satirically grinned and said, “really?!?” Jeramey shrugged and Lopez closed his eyes quickly shuffling through the images in his brain from the last hour and remembering the fire extinguisher and hatchet locked up at the entrance to the stairwell below.

Glancing over at Jeramey, he said, “grab the knives we are moving to the first floor there’s both an extinguisher and hatchet down there at the entrance to the stairwell you know of it?” Jeramey quietly contemplated that for a moment then looked up and said, “damn your good. I wouldn’t have even thought of that. Kinda sucks it’s on the first floor.” Lopez turned to his new friend who had stood up to follow him to the door and he smiled and said, “not this time bonita. You take care of that paw we’ll be right back.” The dog whined as he turned back towards the door and Jeramey followed clutching a butcher knife in each hand. Before he turned the knob he peered through the peephole and asked, “how many of your fellow neighbors are inhabiting these apartments and better yet, how many are still PEOPLE? Any clue?” Jeramey told him he hadn’t seen anyone else except for the people in Apartment 1 and the people by the Laundry Room. Lopez nodded and emotionlessly said, “yeah already met them and taken care of that problem. So that leaves my fan club who hopefully haven’t made it past the first floor yet. We have to move quietly and fast alright? Just spot me and it’ll work out fine.” Jeramey nodded and Lopez took one last look out of the peephole, turned the knob, and cautiously stepped out into the hallway.

Jeramey quickly followed, clicking the door shut behind him and looking down the adjacent hallways as his eyes adjusted to the dimmer lighting. Lopez moved at a brisk pace towards the stairwell and Jeramey quickly followed suit not wanting to lag behind for a second. He heard scratching and his heart raced but it was only Lopez new friend sniffing and scratching at his door to be allowed to go with. He took a deep breath as they reached the stairwell entrance. Lopez glanced back over his shoulder and whispered, “you ready man?” Jeramey thought, “hell no” but nodded his head in answer.

They quickly entered the stairwell, Lopez immediately going to the rail and peering down two floors below. It was eerily quiet and the darkened stairwell seemed clear enough. He proceeded down to the second floor landing and put his ear up to the door to the second floor hallway entrance. No rustling or movement was heard so Lopez moved to the first floor landing with Jeramey right behind face a nervous but stoic wreck. Lopez pulled his piece out and motioned to Jeramey to grab the handle as he placed himself a few feet back from the door, gun loaded and pointed at shoulder level. Jeramey took a deep breath and swiftly pulled the door open waiting for the crowd to flow through and the shooting to begin.

Oddly enough, nothing came through the door to greet them. Lopez rushed to the opening and looked into the hallway and walked through the door into the hall. There was the crowd, meandering up and down the hallway bumping and clawing at doors or shuffling and crawling on the ground. Lopez went right to the extinguisher and hatchet while Jeramey’s eyes went from hallway to hallway watching the “changed” to make sure none were aware of their presence. Lopez grasped the barrel of the gun and positioned the handle against the glass surrounding the extinguisher and hatchet. He mentally counted to three, and broke the glass not expecting the harsh shrill of the fire alarm to fill up in the building. All of the otherwise complacent and docile individuals in the hallway sprung into activity fired up from the alarm. Jeramey’s mouth dropped open in shock as Lopez said, “what the fuck” and briskly broke the rest of the glass to get to the two items inside. The “changed” moved towards them fast and with direction when they heard Lopez curse and Lopez snatched up the extinguisher and hatchet. Looking down the right hallway, Jeramey was transfixed by the guy dragging himself along the ground, shoes cocked at an impossible angle, legs trailing behind him limp and useless. He oddly looked like one of those wacky wild inflatable dolls used at businesses to get passerby attention. He looked to his right and embarrassingly enough, shrilly screamed like a teenage girl as a woman his height was bearing down on him. In a swift motion, and still screaming, Jeramey brought his left hand up behind his head and looking like Michael Meyers, he deftly brought the sharp knife down and buried it a quarter of the way into the woman’s milky white eye. He wretched as blood and viscous fluid burst forth from the wound and the casing from her eye sagged around the knife blade. He pushed with all of his worth as her hands still clawed at his face, gouging his neck and her mouth opened as she pushed against the blade lodging it into her head further in an attempt to take a chunk from his cheek. He felt a sharp pain as she bit into his neck and it grew sharper as she spasmed when the knife reached the core of her brain. She lay against Jeramey in a lovers embrace, face buried in his neck. He rudely threw up his burrito all down her back and shoved her off of him and was into the stairwell hallway before her dead body had hit the floor. Lopez was right behind him, already surveying the stairwell for some kind of blockade to put up against the door. He quickly dragged the communal metal garbage can over and yelled to Jeramey to grab the 32” tube tv in the back corner and bring it to the door. His muscles screaming and adrenaline pumping, he scraped the tv along the floor and quickly brought it over to the door as the thumping began on the other side. Lopez said, “hopefully these idiots don’t find a way to unlatch the door. Let’s move.”

They bounded up the steps, Jeramey’s neck on fire, and raced into the third floor hallway. Theyflew to the apartment door and raced inside out of breath. Lopez slammed the door and locked it quickly, running over to the window. Glancing over his shoulder, he said, “we have a bit of a problem.” As he peered down the street, the fire alarm was drawing some rather unwanted attention.

Chapter 30

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (1)

Mike panted heavily and blood dripped onto his pants from the wound on his hand as he spun the wheel to peel out of the parking area. Liz scrabbled to put her seat belt on and hit her head on the ceiling as Mike ran right over an elderly man who was crawling into the entrance of the lot. She glared at Mike and said, “really? Slow the fuck down boss or we won’t make it too far before you run us into a car. Look around at all of these cars idling in the street.” It was true, there were cars strewn everywhere, some with doors hanging open and still idling. He took a deep breath and winced at the pain in his hand and Liz looked in the glove box and back seat for napkins or anything they could use to bind the ragged dripping bite wound on his hand. She grabbed what looked like a child’s shirt and muttered an apology as she ripped it to create a makeshift bandage that he could wrap his hand in. As she grabbed his right hand to bind the wound, she jokingly said, “if you start feeling sick I’m afraid I’m going to have to bash you in the head according to Romero. I’m just saying.”

He swerved around a terrified dog running in the road and hit an open car door and swore loudly. Liz sighed and continued bandaging his hand and he winced as she tightened the wrap up and sat back to look around. The streets were a mess, bodies, articles of clothing, vacant cars, and people mulling about with no direction. As they passed by, they would reach longingly out towards the vehicle and start shuffling/crawling towards the car. Mike said, “your condo isn’t too far from here correct? A promise is a promise and we will stop there first but we have to be in and out, my family needs me.” Liz nodded in response and said, “take the next left down Shackley. It’s about four blocks away.”

Mike made a harsh turn and almost ran into a vacant school bus. It was hard to ignore the bloodied handprints and smears on the windows and it was a depressing sight. Mike slowed down partly out of respect and the other part cautiousness and as they rounded the front of the bus, almost hit a group of preschoolers feasting on what was left of a jogger and his dog. Mike slowed to a stop, in shock, staring at the gruesome scene. Little kids in cute dresses, Buzz Light Year and Mario Brothers shirts, complete with pigtails and baseball caps all feasted on raw remains, smearing gore all over themselves with disregard to the blood sticking to their faces, hands, and clothing. One boy in a New York Yankees baseball jersey dropped the hand he’d been gnawing at and rose to his feet scrambling towards the car. In unison, the rest soon followed coming towards the front of the vehicle, slowly surrounding the car. Liz looked over at Mike and said, “hey move or we might be in some trouble here!” Mike shook his head in disbelief and said, “they’re just kids I’m not going to run them over! I can’t that’s not right it’s somebody’s daughter or son.” A once angelic little girl pounded a bloodied fist against Liz’s window and opened her tiny mouth in an attempt to bite through the glass at Liz and she said, “look…you have a six month old daughter to get to so you need to move now!”

Mike sighed, whispered an apology, closed his eyes and gunned the engine running over the miniature New York Yankee baseball player and a little girl dressed in a Dora the Explorer outfit. The kids were so small they barely felt a bump and somberly drove forward down the street. Liz turned to look back and saw the tiny crowd following after the car but they stopped surrounding some easier prey on the sidewalk.

The rest of the ride was uneventful and they pulled up to the gated colorful condo building and Liz rolled the window down and typed in the code to unlock the gate. Mike pulled in as the gate shut behind them. He idled the car and Liz said, “I’m on the first floor on the far left side you can stay here and keep a look out or feel free to run inside with me.” Mike opened the car door and said, “better to stick together you know? Let’s be in and out though ok?” They both hopped out of the car glancing quickly around the grounds. Liz looked up at the second floor to see Mrs. Draper plastered against her patio window in an unfashionable outdated dress and it seemed her vacant eyes stared right at Liz as she thumped her hands and body against the window in an attempt to reach her. Liz quickened her pace and Mike followed suit, nursing his injured hand and gritting his teeth from the pain. She came to the end of the condos and stopped short. She had spent a fair amount of money on a well-trained full-blooded German Rottweiler who would only bark on command or upon full entrance to the condo and she never worried about locking her doors because everyone knew that the hundred and thirty pound dog was trained to be deadly if any intruders broke into her home. Now her Sadie stood staring out the patio windows directly into the eyes of Fidel, the gardener, who was looking a little worse for wear. He lay on the patio clawing at the door at Sadie’s level, yearning to get to the dog. One of his legs was shredded down to the bone, staining the patio floor with fluids and Sadie cocked her head watching as he banging his head against the glass. Liz backed up looking around, a few feet away was a huge pruner by the bushes and she trotted over there, snatched them up, and rushed back to her patio. Without hesitation she stood behind poor Fidel and rapidly brought them down, skewering Fidel in the back of his head. There was a clink as the tip of the shears protruded through the front of his mouth hitting the patio pavement. Fidel convulsed and lay still. Mike exhaled and said, “daamnn…” Liz slid the doors open and dropped to her knees and said, “Sadie baby, good girl! Mommy’s proud of you but we have to go pup! She stood up and pointed at Sadie and said, “Achtung” as she pointed to the sliding glass door. Mike said, “what the hell does that mean?” Liz laughed and said, “it means watch. I spent a lot of money on this dog and included in that price was authentic German Rottweiler training. One sec I have to grab something.” She ran to her room and while Mike stared at the motionless and vigilant Sadie in awe, Liz grabbed a huge duffel bag in her closet and a smaller backpack and came back out into the living room. She went into the kitchen and stuffed a few Vitamin waters and energy bars into the small backpack and returned. She handed Mike the smaller of the two bags and slung the duffel over her shoulder and went over to the couch. She pulled out a wicked looking Samurai sword from behind the couch, turned, looked over at Mike and said, “you ready?” Mike nodded and said, “all I can say is wow…it was definitely worth the stop.”

They went to the patio doors, Liz peering out and glancing back at Sadie saying, “Voran!” and Sadie pushed past Mike and Liz to stand on the patio. She didn’t even pause to sniff the rotten gardener, she went to the edge of the patio and peered out, alert and vigilant. Liz and Mike gingerly stepped over Fidel and she turned to shut her patio door. She looked over at Mike, nodded, and took the lead. They walked towards the car when glass shattered and Liz whirled around. Sadie stood rigidly next to Liz and they watched as Mrs. Draper burst through her glass patio door straight for them. Only she was a floor above and it would’ve been a fitting “Youtube” video any other time because she went right over the patio railing in a swift motion and plummet to the lawn. Liz glanced at Sadie and said, “Fass,” and in unison the pair moved to Mrs. Draper. Sadie stood on top of Mrs. Draper as she made an attempt to rise, and fastened her huge maw against her neck, pinning her to the ground. Liz went to her head and in a swift motion, without apology, cleanly removed the top of her head. Leaning over, she cleaned the blade off on Mrs. Draper’s ugly printed dress, calmly walked back over to Mike, and said, “Voraus!” Sadie immediately released Mrs. Draper and trotted past Mike and Liz to take the lead. Mike looked at Liz and said, “ok you gotta tell me what the hell you just said to her.” Liz laughed as they reached the car and said, “which part?” Mike said, “all of it.” As Liz opened the back door and said, “Hopp!” and Sadie jumped up into the vehicle, she turned to Mike and said, “in summary I said attention, take the lead, attack, go first, and up.” With that she jumped into the car and Mike somberly got into the drivers side.

Liz punched in the code and the gate slowly opened into the mess that was the streets. As they drove off Mike commented, “you’re one bad-ass dispatcher you know that?” She shrugged and looked back at Sadie cooing, “brahfer hoond” and Sadie wagged her tail in response.

Chapter 28

Posted on April 7, 2012 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (5)

Roger was on his second beer when he heard the bathroom door crack and start to split. He shot upright and went over to the door to look it over. He looked over at the teen, Nathan, and rolled his eyes and said to himself, "well this is proof positive why I never became a the kid drunk on five beers. I really AM a bad influence." Looking at the damaged door, and being a former carpenter, he guesstimated that they had all of about an hour, maybe an hour and a half tops, and then they had problems. He looked over at Nathan and kicked his foot then he said, "Martin, Nathan, time to make other plans mates!" Nathan just laughed and said, "I feel real good man! I say we crack a few more until we just don't give a shit what happens next." Roger rolled his eyes, filled two of the cans with cold water from the sink, and threw it on the boy. Nathan sputtered and shivered and said, "what the fuck man you can't get a person drunk and then kill their high! That's pretty shitty man..."

Roger glanced at him and said, "get up and rinse your face with the cold water, sober up friend cuz no amount of booze is going to knock ya senseless enough when those things start ripping you apart." Nathan somberly hoisted himself up, swayed in place for a few brief moments as he stood, and then made way to the sink. Meanwhile, Roger started thinking of ways they could get out of this in one piece, all with little time to spare. Looking up over the last stall was a smoky window that had gone unnoticed before because of the flickering of the lights and his migraine. He went into the first stall and pulled, ignoring the screaming of his upper arm, and grabbed the top of the toilet seat and twisted. It gave way with the second twist and the plastic joints holding it onto the toilet snapped free. He looked questioningly over at Nathan and asked, "sober now?" As Nathan grumbled and nodded in response he looked down at Martin and said softly, "we have to go friend. I think I found a way out."

At that moment, the door splintered further accentuating the need for haste. Roger moved fast, gathering all of the edibles up by the last stall and dumping out the big plastic garbage bag in the bathroom garbage can. He looked over at Nathan, scrabbling to pick up all of the unopened cans of beer and said incredulously, "really son? That's not on my list of priorities right now. Leave it." Nathan grinned and said, "waste not, want not...check THIS feature of my pants out!" As he watched, Nathan began shoving cans of beers into all of these random pockets of his pants. Roger said, "If that's the added weight you want to carry when we have to run like Hell from these things be my guest!" Nathan paused for a few moments thinking that statement over and Roger shook his head and rolled his eyes as the kid continued to stuff the last remaining can into his back pocket.

Roger was helping Martin up when the door splintered in the middle and a mangled mess of a human head and arm snaked through. It looked like what used to be a blonde man in a business suit had been using his head almost like a battering ram in his desperate attempt to reach them. The top of his skull had caved in all the way down to his eyebrows and he now looked something like Frankenstein because the features of his head and face were so distorted and damaged. His skin had split open like a broken zipper in the back of his head and what looked like a piece of a gleaming white porcelain bowl jutted out of the back. The man had completely broken apart the top of his skull.

Nathan screeched wildly and raised his arms back behind his head, metal garbage bin in between his hands, and brought the can down on top of the man's head and arm like he was testing his strength at a carnival game. As the can struck the man and his appendage, it sounded almost like a "gong", and the man's head all but separated from his body, remaining attached by the stretched skin under his neck. It hung down quivering ever so slightly a mess of hair, skin and bone, leaking it's contents onto the floor below. Seconds later a feminine hand snaked through, and her forearm rested directly onto what was left of the skin of the man's neck and as she slapped and pawed to reach them, she pushed the remains of his head around and it bobbed and banged against the door. Nathan said, "man I am sober as Hell now i'm out of here," and started backing away to the last stall.

Roger was helping Martin up when he pushed him away and he looked right at Roger and said, "thank you for everything you've done for me. I am old and broken, and to be quite frank with you, without Hazel I have nothing left. They're coming through the door friend, and realistically you don't have time to save both of us. I'm staying here, where my wife died a few hours ago, a few feet away." Roger looked hard into his eyes and saw truth. Martin would remain here, where his wife's remains were, would die where his wife died, out of loyalty and love. Roger shook his hand, handed him the broomstick, and dashed to the last stall. Martin went into the first stall, reached down and grabbed a rogue Coors Nathan had failed to pick up, and cracked it open sighing.

Nathan was standing on top of the tiny metal trash bin each individual stall had and was cleaning the glass off of the sill so they could drop out onto the ground outside directly below the window. He'd used the toilet seat ring to break through the glass and Roger handed him his shirt to lay down over the sill. The boy started to climb up to jump out and as he did so, one of the beers fell out of his pocket and hit Roger square in the head. Roger all but snarled and told the kid to move so he could throw the garbage bag full of supplies out first. Nathan jumped down and Roger frantically scrambled up the stall and leaned halfway out of the window to look around. He whispered to Nathan to hand him the garbage bag and grunted quietly as he wriggled the bag and it's contents around himself and out of the window. He dropped it to the ground below. Looking around one last time, he stuck his upper half back through the window and said, "go ahead son. When you jump out there is a metal garbage can and stacked boxes a few feet down to your left. Run there until I jump out and we will go from there."

He dropped down and Nathan scrambled up and out of the window while he called out to Martin one last time. Martin just said, "time to go friend. I've made my peace with this and so should you." Roger sighed and scrambled up to the window sill. His body screamed from all of the aches and pains and he thought to himself, "too damn old for this sh*t!" He sat on the sill to jump feet first and as he dropped to the ground he heard Martin talking. He paused to listen to see if he had changed his mind and he almost teared up at what Martin was saying. He was talking to Hazel, recounting their life together and how much she meant to him. As the door continued to splinter and he walked away, he heard Martin call out, "I love you Hazel...see you soon gorgeous."

Chapter 27

Posted on April 4, 2012 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (2)

Dr. Keller leaned back in his cozy office chair and took a moment to reflect on the events of the last 24 hours that had now led up to the pieces of Mr. Sanwa scattered on the makeshift examination table in front of him. The leftovers from Mr. Sanwa’s meal (what was left of Nichols) lay covered up in a bloodstained military blanket on the ground directly below the table and ironically enough almost looked like an offering at a shrine. As that thought escaped his head Dr. Keller absentmindedly covered up what was left of Nichols ravaged leg and gingerly kicked a globule of flesh that had fallen off of Nichol’s calf back under the blanket which landed next to his gore splattered military boot.

With what seemed like hours of sitting outside of the door while Mr. Sanwa feasted on Nichols, Dr. Keller had finally discussed what to do next with Hanson. They had both agreed that before entering, they needed something a bit more effective than a Taser and while Hanson went to the Weapons Locker which held various weaponry and ammo, Dr. Keller went to his lab to gather various tools, examination gloves and gear. On his way out of the office, as an afterthought, Dr. Keller went over to the med kit and grabbed two Ibuprofen for Hanson who was still sporting a massive headache from the events earlier. Before leaving, he went over to the glass which separated the two offices and peered in. Mr. Sanwa was still happily munching on Nichols left arm and surprisingly enough, he had eaten more than it seemed humanly possible. He had eaten Nichols bicep down to the pearly bone and was now sitting cross-legged with Nichol’s forearm planted between his two hands, elbows resting on his two legs, savagely turning his head back and forth to remove chunks of meat from his arm. Dr. Keller ascertained that the normal triggers sent from the brain to signal Mr. Sanwa’s body that he was full and to stop eating were no longer being transmitted. That concept was something odd in itself as no living person was devoid of those triggers and it definitely meant something was very wrong and that certain brain functions were no longer in use that are always present in a normal functioning human being.

They met back in the hallway outside of Mr. Sanwa’s prison to strategize how to safely subdue him without causing massive injury on either side. As Hanson thoughtfully chewed on the ibuprofen he decided the best approach would be to first bind his hands with one of the plastic zip ties from the Biohazard kit located in the Janitorial Supply Room and then to cover his mouth which was deadlier than his hands so he couldn’t snap at them as Dr. Keller examined him. Hanson, being a seasoned officer, obviously knew he would be in charge of subduing Mr. Sanwa so that left, for lack of better words, bait. That, they BOTH knew, was Dr. Keller. That being said, Dr. Keller chuckled and stated, “too bad I don’t have anything besides my lab coat to dress up for the part, nothing tastier than an old man in a stained lab coat!” Hanson smiled, cracked his neck, and said, “you ready?” With a nod, Dr. Keller put his left hand on the doorknob to rush into the room and draw Mr. Sanwa’s attention so Hanson could come from behind and tackle him to the ground.

Due to the confinement of the room, Hanson had a rather large ornamental samurai sword he’d ironically enough grabbed off of the wall in Mr. Sanwa’s office instead of using one of the guns he’d found in the Weapons Locker. It was too close-quarters for comfort to be firing a weapon at close-range and in his rounds he’d seen the sword in Mr. Sanwa’s office and figured that’d be a sufficient secondary option. He knew the Taser was definitely a last choice. It was sharp enough to do the trick but was supposed to be for show only so a lot of force had to be dealt to effectively use it. He had the shaft tucked between his military-issued belt and hanging down his right side. He definitely needed his hands free to deal with Mr. Sanwa and it didn’t have a proper scabbard because it’d been mounted on Sanwa’s wall. So, walking somewhat cautiously because of the sword hanging precariously down his hip, he waited for Dr. Keller to turn the knob and bolt through the doorway and attract Mr. Sanwa’s attention.

What followed next didn’t exactly go according to plan. Dr. Keller DID turn the knob and bolt through the door. He DID run into the room screaming like a madman to attract Mr. Sanwa’s attention, and it DID catch Mr. Sanwa’s attention. But what happened after is what didn’t go according to plan. After entering the room, Mr. Sanwa dropped the remains of Nichol’s arm and struggled to his feet to pursue a noisy Dr. Keller, the piece of skin lodged snugly behind his teeth and attached to Nichol’s arm snapping free in the process. Hanson quietly and patiently waited for Mr. Sanwa to pass by the doorway as he made his way over to Dr. Keller and once he passed, Hanson pulled out the nylon cuff restraints from his side pocket and quickly came up behind Mr. Sanwa.

What happened next was a blur as Hanson shouldered Mr. Sanwa to the floor. He felt and heard the audible crunch of Mr. Sanwa’s ribcage and he must have broken his ribs from the impact of the fall but he paid it no mind as he struggled viciously to attack Hanson. Hanson quickly and efficiently zip-tied Hanson’s wrists behind his back and stood back up to retrieve the duct tape from his back pocket to tape Mr. Sanwa’s snapping mouth shut. As he looked down to fiddle with the sticky roll, Mr. Sanwa struggled to his feet still in pursuit of a new meal. There was a popping sound and Dr. Keller’s mouth dropped open staring at Mr. Sanwa as he folded his left thumb so far inwards while struggling to remove his hands in his restraints that he dislocated his thumb at the joint. His hand free, he raised his arms up and with a great vengeance darted towards Dr. Keller who let out a yell as he fell backwards with Mr. Sanwa atop of him. He turned his head to the side to avoid the blackened line of drool from Mr. Sanwa’s open maw and screeched as Mr. Sanwa’s head struck like a cobra, biting down on his shoulder.

Hanson dropped the tape when all of this started and was struggling to remove the sword from his belt without slicing the belt apart. Finally pulling it safely free, he went over to Mr. Sanwa, who was straddling Dr. Keller and biting into his shoulder, and took the hilt of the sword to hit him in the back of the head in an attempt to knock him out. Instead of knocking him out from the jab, the blunt end of the hilt lodged itself about an inch into his skull because his skin was spongy and weak, his bones brittle and frail. Dr. Keller screamed in pain as Hanson wriggled the sword, and Mr. Sanwa’s head, from side to side in an attempt to remove the end of the hilt. He finally yanked it free, leaving a two-inch long and an inch deep rectangular indentation in the back of Mr. Sanwa’s head. Instead of blood gushing forth from the injury, there was just a slow leak of darkened fluid coming from the four sides of the rectangular depression on the back of his head.

Hanson had enough. His patience broke in dealing with Mr. Sanwa and he snapped partially in irritation with the events of the day, partially exhaustion, and partially with the grating of screaming in his ear. He raised the sword up behind his head and brought it down full-force and completely sliced through Mr. Sanwa’s arm at the elbow. That didn’t stop him, his stub just flailed around sloshing gore all over Dr. Keller and the surrounding area as he paid no mind to his forearm which rolled a few feet away from them. Hanson kept hacking away at an oblivious Mr. Sanwa, slicing through his left leg right above the knee and into his left side. Mr. Sanwa clung onto Dr. Keller’s shoulder like a dog, determined and stubborn, refusing to release Dr. Keller’s shoulder so Hanson kept chopping away until there was a great mess all over the ground and covering Dr. Keller. He no longer had on a white lab coat; it looked like a gory art smock, covered in yellow, red, and darkened fluids. Even though Dr. Keller must have been in great pain, he clamped his eyes and mouth shut in order to keep out the mess of fluids spraying everywhere. He finally looked around while Hanson was prying open Mr. Sanwa’s jaws and was disgusted when he realized Mr. Sanwa’s head was attached to him like a tick, the rest of his body cut away and scattered onto the floor around him.

Chapter 26

Posted on March 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (5)

Going slower this time, Caleb peered through the hazy window searching for his mother while Kenny leaned up against the side of the house in a daze. Caleb, seeing nothing, moved up his back steps avoiding the creeping fourth step and onto the wooden porch. He listened, but heard nothing but the swaying and creaking of their porch swing next to him and he looked back, motioning for Kenny to follow. He opened the screen door and grasped the doorknob and as quietly as he could turn the 20 year-old doorknob, he swung the door to the house open.

Tiptoeing inside, he quickly scanned the living room and dining room, and breathed out deeply when he found it empty. Kenny followed in behind him, slamming the screen door, and Caleb scowled at him and pushed him aside to shut the back door. They used stealth as they crept into the hall and it seemed eerily quiet in the house. They jumped as the Grandfather clock chimed in the foyer. His mom had a love for all things from different generations, and she claimed Victorian houses, grandfather clocks, and old antiques were reminiscent of happier and more honorable generations and she avidly collected them and placed them around their home. Caleb himself thought it pretty stuffy and geriatric but as long as his room remained how he wanted it, filled with video game figures and horror movie posters, he said nothing of the rest of his home. His mom was awesome to him, unique and cool, and even though some would say a bit crazy, she was a survivor and he needed her. Needed her to be here right now.

He stifled back a sob as his eyes teared up and he started up the stairs to their bedrooms. They had a four bedroom home, a guestroom in the basement his mom had made into a workout room, and three upstairs. Caleb had got to the middle of the steps when he heard movement from one of the rooms. It sounded like shuffling and one of the beds creaking. He moved backwards down the stairs pushing Kenny back down, and went into the kitchen. After looking from hand to hand, he chose the butcher knife and handed Kenny the cast iron frying pan. They moved back towards the stairs and painstakingly began their ascent up them. As they reached the top, Caleb's eyes darted into the spare room, seeing only the items that belonged there, perfectly placed. He moved on into the hallway towards his room. The door was still shut, the way he had left it, his George Romero Day of the Dead poster leering back at them. He started for the knob, but quickly froze in place as he heard footsteps in his mother's room. He moved on past the bathroom to her room. He looked at Kenny, eyeing him to make sure his makeshift weapon was at the ready, and he tried the knob.

The door flung open and there, at the bedroom window, was his mother. He let out a squeal of excitement as she swung around and he dropped the butcher knife in shock. It clanged against the hardwood floors and there was a brief moment of silence until he questioningly said, "mom?" She had his bow from camp between her hands and it was drawn back at them, arrow glinting in the sun, and an odd expression on her face. She looked at them, nodded, and said, "hold on." She then turned back to the open window, drew the bow back, and as Caleb walked over and looked out, the arrow was released and lodged itself into their neighbor who had been wandering aimlessly in his backyard. He could almost hear the wet thump as it buried itself deep into his left temple and his neighbor went down like a felled tree.

He said nothing, in shock, as his mom turned to him and said, "now...where were we?" She snatched Caleb into her arms and said, "I've been scouring the neighborhood for you looking like a psychotic Robin Hood having to kill our neighbors left and right. Where the Hell have you been? I went by Kenny's house but it seemed as if nobody was home." At that, Kenny burst into tears again and Caleb looked down to the ground and gently pushed his mother back to tell her what had happened. She listened quietly, nodding and glancing at Kenny, and at the end of the story, hugged Caleb and then moved to Kenny, who sobbed into her arms.

They sat upstairs for what seemed like hours, and Maria looked from Caleb to Kenny and said, "boys, I don't think I need to tell you this old house isn't safe enough to hold up in. Caleb, you know the drill and what we have to do now." Caleb nodded and without a word, went to his room. Kenny mutely followed and sat down on the edge of Caleb's bed as he grabbed his ICP duffle bag, extra clothing, shoes, his Red Rider BB gun and ammo, and his mini radio above his bed. He looked over at Kenny and said, "be right back, have to run to the bathroom and grab a few things." With that he left the room and went into the bathroom to grab bandages, the emergency travel med kit, and their toothbrushes.

He went back to his mother's room and said, "ready." She looked up at him, love and respect in her eyes, nodded, and then shoved her handgun into the outer side pocket of her pink gym bag next to the extra rounds. Caleb left the room, went back into his, and grabbed the only non-essential thing he wanted, his Master Chief figurine. He looked over at Kenny and said, "let's go man," and Kenny got up off of the bed and followed him out. Caleb sadly took one last look at his room as he quietly shut the door. His mom emerged from her room and said, "ready?" They both nodded and went downstairs to the foyer.

They followed her to the kitchen and the respect clearly showed on their faces as they saw she had already packed water, food, and various other items including their tent from the basement and had left it in a pile by the garage door. Seeing their faces, she grinned and said, "who said watching zombie movies weren't educational right bud?" Caleb grinned back and nodded but his face fell as he looked at Kenny, still silently crying. He put his arm around his friend and squeezed and then they filed out into the garage grabbing bags to throw into the back of his mom's classic black and purple colored '57 Bomber. She walked over to the wall and grabbed the spare bow, checking the case to make sure the extra string and arrows were intact, and placed it next to the driver's side onto the passenger street glancing over to Caleb saying, "sorry bud, gotta ride in the back today."

After everything was piled into the trunk and car, they got in. Caleb's mom put her arm across the seat and looked back, "you boys ready?" Then Kenny said the first thing he'd said since they had sprinted out of his house. He slowly looked up into Caleb's mother's eyes and said, "Mrs. Rounds, will you help me? I can't leave my parents how they were. I just can't. I understand if you won't but I can't leave them like that." There was a few moments of silence and his mom broke it saying, "Kenny, you didn't even have to ask."

Chapter 25

Posted on March 11, 2012 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (2)

Lopez had been running for what felt like hours, dodging and clubbing the hell out of the crazed individuals as he passed through various alleys and streets in the city. He never paused until he came to an alley with three of the people cornering something against a fence. Paying the opening to the street no mind, they were almost growling and cornering their victim as they used their hands to serve as makeshift claws once they reached their unlucky meal. Lopez debated on running past but after he took one step by, his guilt and training forced him to stop. Whomever it was cowering against the fence needed help, and offering help was his job whatever the circumstances. He followed the code and would to the end.

He stepped into the alleyway and crouched behind some empty boxes and pulled out his nightstick. His hand wavered ever so slightly, nerves he supposed, and he quickly stood upright. He started to walk at a brisk pace toward the group, then quickly accelerated into jogging and moved over to a thin Hispanic man on the left of the circle while simultaneously raising his nightstick back behind his head. He knew announcing his presence and telling the people to stop would be pointless and perilous after trying that with numerous others on his jaunt through the city. His muscles tightened to deliver the fatal blow to the back of his head and he brought the nightstick down for all he was worth and with a crunching sound, dropped the Hispanic man who twitched and wriggled on the ground while bodily fluids and various bits of meaty brain matter and skin seeped out onto the ground.

Seeing movement, the other two slowly pivoted towards Lopez and he started to take up a fighting stance to ready himself for the attack but lost his balance on the Hispanic man's slimy fluids and fell backwards with a startled cry. Luckily, his head was cushioned by the Hispanic man's abdomen when he fell backwards otherwise he might have been knocked out and an easy meal for the two that were left. The person in the middle, what looked like a delusional housewife complete with robe and curlers, reached him first and he raised a booted leg to hold her off as she snarled and clawed at him from above while drooling frothy dark spittle from her mouth.

Up to this point, Lopez had not used his gun, stealth being key in surviving up to this moment. She was dead weight and it took all of his exhausted leg muscles to hold her up so she didn't fall directly onto him. Behind her, was a portly elderly man dragging one foot, hands grasping the air as they open and closed in anticipation. Lopez knew the possible outcome of this if he didn't open fire, especially with him being pinned on the ground. He reached his right hand down and unlocked the gun holster and drew his unused, recently cleaned semi-automatic weapon out, complete with scope, and centered it directly between the woman's milky whites. He fired one round off, the bullet perfectly lodging right between the housewife's eyes. As her body convulsed and she spewed her crimson colored vital fluids in a stream from the hole in her head while completely coating him with gore, Lopez strained with both legs to kick her dead weight off of him.

He trained the gun on one of the elderly man's liver spots when the trio's original victim sprung into action. A fairly big black and white blur snarled and pounced onto the back of the elderly man, knocking him over. To his surprise, Lopez saw a 75 pound pit bull standing atop of the elderly man, snarling ferociously and clamping down onto the elderly man's arm. It started moving it's head back and forth feverishly, fighting back and irreparably damaging the elderly man's appendage. Occasionally it would cease it's attack to open it's maw and dump ragged looking pieces of meat it had shaken loose from the man's arm out of it's mouth. The elderly man rolled over as the dog pulled on his arm and there was a yelp as the elderly man grabbed the dog's leg and twisted, trying to bring it closer to his mouth. At that moment, Lopez sprang up and bent over the rising elderly man, put his gun flush against the man's head, and fired. There was a wet breaking sound as the man's skull fragmented and exploded outwards while the bullet passed through his skull. Bits of gore, viscera, and teeth rained down onto the man's red suspenders and white button-down shirt and teeth skittered across the pavement bouncing against the fence like dice in a craps game.

Lopez looked up at the life he had just saved and it looked back at him. A moment passed, and he knew he just made a loyal friend for however long his life would be in these recent events. He smiled and said, "come on girl" and started walking towards the entrance of the alleyway. He turned and looked back, but his new furry friend was a bit worse for wear as she walked slower and avoided usage of her paw. He walked back over to her, crouched down, rubbed her head and grabbed her bloodied mouth as he looked into her eyes and said, "now look you gotta move there bonita or we might be in some trouble. Who knows what we attracted with all of the commotion here." He looked down and examined her paw, believed it to only be a sprain, and stood back up and went to stand against the wall of the alleyway so he could peer out of the entrance into the street. To his left, remains of what looked like a shredded homeless man lay strewn about mixed with contents of a garbage can. Empty Cheetos wrappers, Coke cans, newspapers, wadded up napkins all covered with blood and mixed with bits of skin, clothing, and even a boot lay scattered around, soaking up what was left of the fluids from the man's body. His torso and any identifiable features were nowhere in sight. He heard a whine behind him and turned to look at his new-found friend who sat, sadly looking at the remains. He softly spoke to the dog and said, "was that your master bonita?" The dog just gazed forlornly back at Lopez, obviously not being able to speak but he demeanor confirmed the question.

All of a sudden, their quiet moment of respect for the dog's loss was broken when a voice screamed out, "Hey man, watch out! Run!" Lopez whirled quickly around, his eyes darted up and down the street. About a half a block down was about six or seven people, all in different states of disarray. One was crawling on the ground with a broken leg, one's face was a mess while it's broken jaw hung loose resembling a puppet with it's gaping mouth, and the others had milder afflictions but all of them were headed straight for the pair. A voice shouted out, "up here," and Lopez shot his head up to a window a few floors up. Training told him it was two flights up and the guy yelled out, "Dude you better get up here fast, take the two flights of stairs but watch out there's three or four fucked up people running around in the hallway! I'm in apartment 22 I'll meet you on the stairwell to the second floor!"

Lopez looked around for other options, looked back at his injured new friend, and sighed. He knew blockading himself in an apartment building was bad juju but at the moment, the only option. He went over to the dog, ignored her whining, and hefted her onto his shoulders while he ran to the building. Swinging open the doors, he stood silently as his eyes adjusted and darted around for the opening to the stairs. He turned and looked back out onto the street and saw the crowd crossing over to the apartment building location. He sighed, put the dog down and withdrew his nightstick, thinking to himself it was probably time to get a move on and head up.

He fired his gun twice, once hitting some Italian middle-aged man who must’ve stuck his head through the opening of a cracked door of Apartment 1 and the second time going up the second flight of steps, shooting what looked like a fellow police officer in the face. The ascent was slow-moving as he waited for his injured furry comrade but the rest of the way to the second floor landing was uneventful. He waited for the dog to reach the landing and as he started to reach for the handle to open the door to the second floor, it was thrown open and he jumped back in surprise and to avoid getting hit by the door as a wild-eyed guy with a Super Mario Bros tee and Jagermeister pajama pants stuck his head out and quickly said, "hey man, I'm Jeramey."

Chapter 24

Posted on January 13, 2012 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (8)

Jeramey, heaving from strain & exhaustion slumped against the fridge & sat there, soaking in the events of the last hour. He glanced around at what would now become his prison until all of the craziness subsided either way. A thought crept into his mind about his friend & that maybe he should've gone with him & at least TRIED to make it out of the city but he quickly pushed it out of his head & went over to the window to stare down into the street below.

It was eerily vacant, reminded him almost of the story of Roanoke where all of the people just vanished leaving an abandoned settlement behind & without warning he shivered thinking of where, or what, had become of all of the bustling New Yorkers. He went into his room & grabbed his cell to start dialing friends & loved ones up & cursed when he realized he'd forgotten to charge his phone before he laid down. It was blinking red, meaning no charge, & he quickly put it on his charger. Pacing, he went over to the fridge, grabbed a cold piece of pizza & a Sparks, & returned to his perch at the window.

Out of habit he normally looked down into the street but this time, his eyes roamed from window to window as he looked into the building across the street. Perhaps he was looking for survivors, someone to make him feel less alone, camaraderie & fellowship amidst all of the madness. As he scanned, his eyes locked onto a silhouette in the fourth floor window & he somewhat excitedly waved. He couldn't tell if the person was waving or not so he went into his roomies closet to grab out his cheap Superman binoculars that he'd kept as a memento of his childhood summers bird watching with his grandpa. Going over to the window, he adjusted the lenses as best as he could & looked into the window. No, the person wasn't waving, in fact, he was beating his palms against the glass & it seemed he was staring right at him. As Jeramey leaned forward to almost will the binoculars to give him a clearer view of the person, he jumped back as something white streamed past his window. He plastered himself against the glass to look down at the street below.

Someone a few floors above him must of either fell or committed suicide & the splatter on the pavement was horrendous. All that he could make out was that the smear had been a woman in a white nightgown with long black hair & the scene below reminded him of the woman in the popular horror flick "The Grudge." As he continued to stare in horror & shock, the once flawlessly colored white nightgown turned a bright crimson as pints & pints of blood pooled under & around her pulverized body.

Movement in his peripherals caused him to look away to his right, & in between the alleyway of the building across the street, what looked like a vagrant stepped out from behind the monstrous garbage bin & onto the sidewalk. Jeramey didn't know if the guy was drunk or not as he swayed in place & then shuffled forward but he panicked & tried to open the window to shout out a warning to the inebriated man. What happened next was something almost out of Animal Planet, like a pack of lions coming in for the kill, & his mouth dropped open as movement came from four places at once. From the entrance in his building below to the Geno's Italian Restaurant three doors down across the street & from the building across the way came a group of people all headed towards the vagrant. Oblivious to his surroundings & the peril he was in, he started to sift through one of the garbage cans the city had placed on every block & the "people" stalking him got closer & closer. An elderly man & what looked like a transsexual dressed in a flaming purple leotard & bright pink boa had emerged from Jeramey's building but they both stooped, & then slumped, down to the pavement grabbing morsels of the "jumper" & popping them into their mouths. As they peeled pieces of the flattened woman away, it vaguely reminded him of a bony fruit rollup & he wretched.

As he continued to pry the window open that had somehow been painted shut before he moved in, he watched as the handful of people got closer to the vagrant who was busy inspecting an empty bottle for treasure. The vagrant was just about to toss the bottle back into the receptacle just as two women who had emerged from the building across the street reached him. They appeared to be twins with long brown hair & matching jeans & tees. The only exception being one had a purple backpack on. Jeramey finally pried the window open as one of the twins grabbed the vagrant around the neck & Jeramey just had time to yell out, "watch out man" before the girls relentlessly attacked him. The vagrant stumbled & almost fell against the weight of the two girls & in a drunken haze, swung the bottle at them like he was in the midst of a bar fight. The bottled shattered against the face of one of the girls leaving a piece of brown colored glass behind lodged in her skin. Jeramey thought he heard the man slur, "whazz yer problum bitch" & that's the last thing the man mumbled as the crowd overtook him & he fell to the ground. Oddly enough, there was no screaming & all Jeramey could see was a stream of blood start to flow between the bodies covering the vagrant & he watched hopeless as it started to leak down into the gutter. He sadly shut the window & decided he was done window watching for today.

Chapter 23

Posted on January 13, 2012 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (2)

Liz hitched up her beige-colored capris, glanced over to Mike and said, "you ready?" They'd decided to try to sneak out of the window because they KNEW those things were in the hallway already, and after much deliberation, decided to try their odds with the unknown versus the known. They had hoped the commotion from those things scrabbling to get into the building & knocking things over in the hallways had drawn most, if not all, of the others from around the outside of the perimeter to the inside. They'd taken the recycling bag from the bin, dumped out it's few empty soda bottles and cans, and filled it almost halfway full of chips, granola bars, fruit snacks, even candy bars...all of the contents from the vending machine in the Break Room. Liz laughed and said, "man...we owe Carlton Vending a lot of money!" She put the three dollars she had into the other vending machine and bought two bottled waters and threw them into the bag as well.

She looked over at Mike, who had already anxiously started to push the table over to the window so that they could climb up onto the vending machine and out. The scraping was so irritating and annoying echoing on the tiled floor that Liz quickly dropped the bag and hastily went over to help him lift the table up. That task done, Liz went over to grab their goodie bag and her eyes flew to the door just as heavy and urgent pounding started rattling the door against the rickety barricade. She looked at Mike and said, "get the window it's a good thing I'm going with you, you just successfully attracted all of our friends around here to our door."

They both jumped as a chair from the top of their towering barricade clattered onto the floor, and Liz snatched the bag up and got on top of the table. Mike was already on top of the vending machine struggling with the window, and Liz hastily took her dress shirt off, wrapped her hand up to the wrist in it, and punched through the glass. Mike arched a brow and looked over at her and she shrugged stating, "no time for stealth" and they both quickly punched through the rest of the glass as more of their makeshift barricade crashed to the floor. While Mike continued to pull the shards from the top of the window off, Liz looked at the door and saw what once was a well-manicured hand snaking through an opening the "changed" had made and she saw the petite hand opening and closing while it grasped for anything it could get ahold of behind the door.

She practically shoved Mike out of the way, tied the bag closed, and tossed it out of the window. She urgently said, "we gotta go now, pretty soon the owner of that hand will fit through if they keep pushing against the door and I'm not planning on letting them see our escape route. Who knows how much intelligence they really have." Mike looked at her, nodded his head in agreement, and said "yeah I'll go first." He slowly stuck his head out of the window and looked around. It was about a ten foot drop to the ground but it was all clear! His car was parked in the back so all they had to do was jump down and make a run for the car around the side of the building. He looked at her and said, "here goes!" He jumped out and she could hear him land with a thud. She quickly sat her butt down on the windowsill to get ready for her jump. She was scared shitless of heights and could feel her heart thumping in her chest as fear crept in for the second time today. As she looked over to the door what she saw quelled that in a heartbeat. There, sunken cloudy eyes peeped in at her as the owner of that beautifully manicured hand had fit the top part of her head through the door mindless of the fact that her head was stuck at the nose.

Liz jumped down and Mike caught her and she quickly grabbed the bag and bolted for his car. In his panic, Mike must've lost all caution and stealth because instead of manually opening the car doors when they got to the car, he pushed his keyless entry button on his keychain but pushed the alarm button instead. The alarm instantly started blaring and Liz felt her heart drop and race at the same time. Mike frantically pushed the button to turn the alarm off as they reached the car. It beeped and turned off and Liz quickly glanced around. They had company.

Chapter 22

Posted on October 28, 2011 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (3)

The screams had abruptly stopped about 20 minutes ago. It seemed more like hours, every minute horrifying while listening to the bloodcurdling wails and pleas for help that eventually subsided to gurgles, and then finally to silence. Combined with the nauseating migraine pulsating behind his eyes, Roger knew he'd taken a one way plane trip to Hell instead of an exciting vacation in the States.

Roger looked up when the pimply teenager whispered, "hey, do you hear that? Nothing but silence...maybe they left?" Roger jumped to his feet, head pounding, as he saw the teenager pressing his head against the door with his hand on the knob. Roger hissed, “have you gone completely mad? After every American horror movie you've EVER seen, and from the looks of you you've seen a few, you are not SERIOUSLY considering opening the door are you?"

The teen looked up at him wide-eyed and frantic and said, "dude...maybe they left and don't know we're in here. Those people out there might still be alive and need our help!" Roger looked him over and said, "look, I saved your arse once, I'm NOT saving it again. I can PROMISE you, if you open that door, and they are on the other side of it and grab hold of you, I will PUSH your nosy arse right out and slam the door behind you without a moment's though." They stared intensely at each other for a few moments when they heard a whisper. "Please..." It was the elderly man who had finally come to and was looking up at them through tired and bloodshot eyes. "Please...I married Hazel 46 years ago, we have 20 grandchildren together and I'm too old to go out there. Please see if she's alright. She's my life."

Roger looked down at the man, sighed, and said to the teen, "alright I'll play wingman. This vacation SUCKS! By the way, if we're going to die, I'd like to know who I'm dying next to. The name's Roger." The teen looked at him and quietly whispered, "Nathan, and I have to agree this sucks. You ready?" Roger nodded, looked down and said, "Martin, you have to get up and man the door so we can get back in, no doubt in a hurry."

As they looked on, what seemed like ages went by until Martin rose to his feet, adjusted his glasses, and moved behind the Roger. Roger whispered quickly, "ok here's the plan, we rather hastily and above all else soundlessly open the door, and someone needs to stick their head out to check that the coast is all clear. Then, I'll go first, with the shoddy but only choice of a weapon that we have. We will SWIFTLY take a look around the store. No heroics, just recon. Got it?" Nathan shaking and nodding his head, gripped the door and there was a deafening click in the silence as the button popped whent he door unlocked. He looked at Roger for reassurance and Roger just nodded. Nathan, moving painstakingly slow, cracked the door open and his mouth dropped as he sharply inhaled. Roger looked over his head and the scene before him seemed unreal. There was gore and rivulets of blood strewn haphazardly about, splattered against cooler doors and running down the shelves full of Ramen noodles, marshmallows, and other various edibles the store carried for customer convenience.

He thought, "well cant' stop now," and gave the teen a nudge to move aside. Nathan quickly obliged and Roger gripped his make-shift weapon and stepped out from the safety of the bathroom. Maybe it was the migraine pounding in his head but he failed to notice the wet slurping and smacking of lips as he walked down the isle. He saw the obese man first, gutted and mouth hanging crookedly as his jaw must've been broken before he died. All around him mixing in with the nacho cheese and chili sauce were clumps of fat, muscle, and gore. Leading away were lines of blood and bodily fluids leaving smears and trails to where the rest of him must've gotten dragged off to. His cell phone lay on the floor, red light blinking, in a layer of fatty tissue that had been left behind.

Common sense screaming at him, he walked forward and almost jumped when Nathan ran into his back. He quickly turned his head and scowled at him, making a hand signal for him to move back. Nathan sheepishly hung his head and slowed his step so there were at least a few feet between him and Roger.

As Roger came up to what was left of the obese man, he scanned the store and to his left, behind the coffee and cappuccino bar he could see Hazel propped against the side of the counter, right where they had to leave her, her perfectly curlered silver hair now a bright and vibrant red. Glancing quickly around he left the safety of the isle and whispered, "Hazel" but got no answer. Looking down the next isle, which held all of the sweet taboo for grown ups but was the object of desire for children, he saw what was left of the obese man's right leg. He vacantly thought, must've been too hard to carry. The mammoth and fatty upper thigh all that was left. His lower leg looked as if it had been viciously stripped down to the bone below the knee, the man's fat, muscle, and skin all carried off as prizes.

He moved around the corner of the counter and bent low to pick Hazel up but as he did, he slipped and fell face first into three people who had surrounded her and were now eating her from the pearl necklace around her neck down. There was a loud moan in unison and he shouted, "Shit! Nathan get back to the bathroom!" He scrabbled for purchase slipping and sliding on blood and organs and left a bloody handprint on the coffee counter as he shot up. A little girl, of about 7, dropped the line of intestine she'd been fiddling with and snarled. She seemed faster than the rest, jumping up in a blur like a some kind of animal. She almost leapt over the rest and Roger, in shock, bashed her in the head like a pinata. He took off towards the bathroom isle repeating almost like a mantra over and over again, "sorry 'bout that love" and ran so fast he ran careened right into one of the cooler doors. He glanced down, stuck his hand into the fat from the obese man, grabbed the cell, and took off down the isle, stopping to throw open the cooler doors and grab a 24 pack of Coors Light. By then, the crowd outside had entered the store and they were tripping and falling all over one another trying to reach the bathroom isle. Roger grabbed three Shrimp Ramen noodles, being careful to avoid the contaminated packages and grabbed other edibles throwing it all towards the bathroom door. Nathan slammed the door to avoid being hit by the various array of food being cast that way. Roger grabbed one of the 12 packs of bottled water on the floor, put the Coors on top, and grunted as he ran like hell right into the bathroom door. He shouted, "Nathan open up the goddamned door!" Nathan quickly opened it up and Roger moved faster than he'd ever moved in his entire life and started kicking the Ramen Noodles, graham crackers, marshmallow packages, and even a ketchup bottle he'd accidentally grabbed into the bathroom.

By then, the crazed individuals had started pushing and shoving into the isle and as Roger looked back, he didn't notice the one person to his right that had taken a shortcut down the candy isle. He let out a shriek and almost dropped the Coors as he felt the vicious sting of teeth biting into the meat of his upper arm. He threw the water down while Nathan reached out to grapple with it and pull it into the bathroom along with some graham crackers laying next to the door. Roger hauled out and cracked some once rather hot soccer mom in the head with the 24 pack of Coors. It must've been a gift from god because as her head caved in from the blow and she fell to the ground, the seal of the cardboard Coors pack stayed shut. He fell into the bathroom and slammed against the sink as Nathan slammed shut the door and locked it.

Roger's arm burned like it had been thrown in a fire and he looked down to see a tiny and ragged chunk of his upper arm was missing. He looked over at Nathan and grabbed ahold of him and crouched to the ground as he unzipped the bottom pant leg of the boy's pants. Looking up through his pain, he jokingly said, "what the Hell kind of pants are these mate? Never seen a pair with chains and zippers on the pant legs." The boy beamed and his voice wavering, said, "Tripp huh?" Roger wrapped his arm in the pant leg using it like a cuff, and then looked up while the moaning and thumping began and said, "well...who's up for a Coors? This sure has turned out to be one fucked up day."

Chapter 21

Posted on October 28, 2011 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (1)

Caleb and Kenny crept onto their street cautiously and quietly. They ducked into the Wallace's yard and dove behind the hedge. The street was eerily vacant and quiet. Although everything in them screamed to run to the safety of their homes, they knew that would prove to be folly and that it was a very bad idea. Kenny jumped a few feet when they heard banging behind them. There was Mr. Wallace plastered against the front window in his living room staring out at them, reading glasses askew and falling off his nose. He seemed to be intently watching them and clawing at the window. Caleb made a hand gesture that they had to move on when Mr. Wallace started to rub his face against the window and lick the glass, and then start to bang urgently at it with his fists. Sprinting to the edge of the yard they vaulted over the green picket fence into the next yard and moved cautiously on.

They darted two yards over into the Garcia's yard and started to creep quickly through it. It proved uneventful until Caleb tripped over little Carlos bright red plastic mower he must've been playing with earlier in the day and fell, landing face-first into a pungent pile of dog shit the Garcia's Rottweiler Sadie must've graciously left in the yard. The cold and cloying feces stuck to Caleb's face and he shrieked, scrubbing at his face to get it off. His eyes darted around the yard looking for something to wash his face with and he sprinted over to the kiddie pool and plunged his head into the frigid water to wash his face. As he came up, he could hear Kenny laughing and he glared at him and started to say "fuck you Kenny" but his voice trailed off seeing the look of shock and terror on Kenny's face. He swiveled his head to see what Kenny was looking at and there, on the opposite side of the kiddy pool was little Carlos, completely dressed in bright orange water wings and Buzz Lightyear swimming trunks. His once angelic face was now distorted with sores and blisters and his porous skin now bloated from soaking the water in like a sponge. Caleb jumped up and backpedaled as Carlos started keening and opening and closing his hands like a child begging to be picked up. He kept falling in the water as he tried to make his way over to where Caleb and Kenny were.

As Caleb spun around to sprint away, Kenny had already taken off through the yard. Caleb started to follow suit until he ran face-first into Catherine Garcia as she rounded the back of the ancient Oak tree in their yard. She wrapped her festered arms around him and Caleb shouted out in terror and almost vacated his bowels when she opened her mouth and licked her lips, blackened spittle trailing from her mouth onto his hand while he tried to push her back. She struck at Caleb like a Cobra head darting to his shoulder and he cried out in pain as her gold-capped front teeth bit into him like tiny knives. Caleb started to blindly strike out at her, fear and panic consuming him, as he pummeled her to release him. From behind her, he heard almost what sounded like a war-cry, and his mouth dropped as he saw Kenny with the Garcia's metal lawn rake in his hands. He pushed against Mrs. Garcia as he saw Kenny raise it up over his head and strike Mrs. Garcia. The vicious metal ripped through her skin leaving a trail of grisly open wounds starting at her brow and extending to her hairline. Immediately the wounds started weeping glistening inky-colored fluid painting her face and dripping into her mouth. The rake caught her once-beautiful long ebony hair and she howled as she teetered and fell backwards and lost her grip on Caleb. Caleb stood silent and in shock, nursing his bleeding shoulder, as Kenny raged on and beat Mrs. Garcia with the rake. He plunged the end of the rake deep into her eye socked as she madly writhed on the ground. Almost instantly darkened gore and fluid began to spew forth from the hole in her head and it completely coated the end of the rake. He beat her, shrieking madly every time he swung the end of the rake down until there was nothing left of her head but globules of skin, bone fragments, and her long wavy dark hair.

Caleb looked at Kenny and all he could say was, "dude...." and Kenny, red-faced and panting looked up, eyes wild, and said, "man, please don't tell my mom i don't even know what the hell just happened." Caleb looked over at him, nodding, and said, "thanks man." At that point, because of all of the noise and little Carlos finally falling out of the kiddie pool and starting to patter after them, they mentally decided caution wasn't an option and bolted madly to Kenny's house.

Flying up the three tiny steps, Kenny burst into the house yelling, " you here?" He didn't seem to notice that the door had been ajar when they arrived and didn't seem to smell the burning of chocolate chip cookies that had wafted out to greet them out on the porch. Caleb spun him around motioning him to be quiet as they went from the living room to the dining room. Both rooms vacant, they proceeded to the kitchen and Kenny started to sob as Caleb entered the smoky kitchen. His mouth dropped open in disbelief at the carnage he witnessed.

There on the floor was what was left of Kenny's mother. Surrounded by chocolate chips, torso still wearing her Betty Boop cooking apron, she lay in a mixture of flour, sugar, and coagulating blood. The brown sugar had turned an amber color, soaking up her bodily fluids and it lay in clumps next to her head. To her right, was his father ripping through her long-sleeve pink blouse and taking chunks out of her arm gobbling them down to expose the pearly bone in her arm. He had already cleaned the meat off of half of his wife's face leaving half of her face void of anything but her skull. It looked as if the bare half of her face was smiling a toothy smile at them. At that moment Kenny dropped to his knees sobbing and said, "dad...."

Kenny's father immediately perked his head up at the sound of his son's voice, not in recognition, but in feral desire. As he ripped away another meaty piece of his wife's arm and swallowed it down, he simultaneously reached for them. Caleb grabbed Kenny by the shoulder and said, "we gotta go man, now" but Kenny just sat there in shock. As Kenny's father started to rise to his feet, the smoke alarm went off, waking Kenny from his stupor, and he scrambled up as they both took off for the front door. Caleb stopped long enough to slam the front door as Kenny stood at the bottom of the steps, silently crying and sniffling and they both moved towards Caleb's house two doors down.

Chapter 20

Posted on October 21, 2011 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (3)

Habir sat slumped against the large glass windows of the store content in gnawing away at his mangled prize. He had scrabbled and fought to keep it, and his body was definitely showing signs of the abuse it had endured since the events from the Solar Flare began. During the frenzy he had broken two more of his frail digits, and as he clutched what was left of Jeff's foot and brought the odorous, but enticing, morsel up to his awaiting mouth, he didn't notice his fingers knocking against each other and swinging back and forth. In the middle of the fray, while desperate figures scrambled for meat, a rather scantily clad woman had viciously kicked him square in the face with her 5" high heel. The pointy stiletto had caught the left side of his mouth, savagely ripping his soft flesh clear up to his earlobe, revealing the spaces where his back teeth had been pulled years ago by a shoddy dentist back in his home country.

Habir heartily crunched down onto Jeff's pinky toe like he was biting off the end of a Hershey bar. It gave way with a crunching sound and as he excitedly chewed on the tidbit, the hairy digit dislodged and rolled out of the side of his exposed gums and through the gaping holes where his molars used to rest. It bounced onto the pavement and after rolling a few feet it finally came to a stop at the edge of the huge doormat placed outside of the store entrance. Having no intelligence or reason, Habir droped Jeff's meaty foot and started mewling and crawling after the alluring snack. A few feet away, a middle-aged man vaguely resembling Danny DiVito and dressed in a matching blue windbreaker and pants growled with hunger at the discarded hunk of grub on the ground.

As quick as he was able, he began to drag himself along the pavement, using the ragged stump of his right wrist and what remained of his left hand as leverage. Wearing any other clothing might've made it virtually impossible to move at all, but the windbreaker outfit was so coated with slimy bodily fluids he was able to crawl towards the discarded meal with ease, almost like a mermaid, while his shattered legs trailed along behind him like windsocks.

Habir fell face-first as he grabbed the hairy and bloated digit, and he popped the morsel in his mouth, dirty toenail first, like he was snacking on a BBQ Cocktail Weiner. He lay there on the ground almost cooing in ecstasy as it broke open and fell apart in his mouth and he quickly swallowed it down. Then, after the appetizer was gone, he slowly sat upright, just as the crawler grabbed ahold of the foot he'd left carelessly behind.

A low guttural growl came from Habir as his virtually blind left eye beheld the man plucking the second toe off of the stump using his front teeth like he was removing a concord grape off the vine. Habir scrambled on all fours across the pavement towards the man, falling forward and completely skinning his elbows to the knobby bloodless joints. As his face banged against the pavement, he lost his two front teeth, which then lodged themselves into his knees as he continued to scurry over to his meal.

Reaching the crawler, he plopped down onto his back crushing his spine with an audible snap and then proceeded to paw at the foot keening with desire and despair. The two were growling like wolves fighting over a felled deer and the crawler savagely clung to the member gnawing and ripping chunks of meat away. Habir fell forward as he struggled to reach the remaining portion of food. His body weight smashed the man's face into the pavement and the man turned his head to snap at the foot as Habir grabbed ahold of hit by the ankle while getting a finger bitten off in the process.

The crawler opened it's mouth unleashing a deep lament as Habir ripped the foot out of his stubborn hands and at that time, Habir's blackened and misshapen finger fell, discarded and forgotten, from it's mouth in a trail of blood-tainted spittle and dark slime. Habir scurried away, hunched over and crawling, to the end of the building to snack on what was left of the man's foot.

The crawler lay immobile howling out it's misery for everyone to hear. In between bites, Habir cocked his ravaged head to listen to the sound of glass breaking and the tinkling that it made as it showered the pavement below. What interested him most was the low but clearly audible whispers that teasingly caressed his ears.

Chapter 19

Posted on August 31, 2011 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (2)

Lopez had shit himself. A hardened 34 year old cop trained in the streets of New York long before he'd joined the police force, had evacuated his bowls like a two year old when the violent events had started, and now he ran down the street with the embarrassing knowledge that if he was unlucky enough to pass by someone, they would stare at him in disgust as his foul odor followed right behind him. He could feel the wetness sliding down his legs like slugs, slowly crawling down to his military-style boots, leaving a trail of wetness behind. His legs were starting to feel like he had covered them in mud that was just starting to dry and it created a cloying coating on his skin. He usually wears tighty whiteys but today of all days, as luck would have it, he was wearing the boxers his ex-girlfriend had bought him for his birthday last year.

He saw a face in the window of a tiny Antique store and he started to bang on the door. The door opened an an elderly woman opened the door, took one look at him, wrinkled her nose in disgust, and slammed the door. He screamed, "you old puta" and took off running again. This was the most humiliating thing that had ever happened to him but at the present moment, he and everyone around him could probably care less.

The day had started pretty average, up at 5pm, hit the gym, shower, and at work by the start of his shift. He and his partner had stopped at El Gringo's in the mall for a quick bite before they started their patrol, and sitting in the restaurant devouring their spicy steak tacos and pinto beans, were shocked when people starting yelling excitedly and screaming in the mall. Marks looked over at Lopez and rolled his eyes and said, "well...come on partner, guess our shift's starting early." Lopez slammed the rest of his Horchata, scarfed the rest of his taco, threw a $20 on the table, and they moved to the door. He paused for a minute as his guts rolled from how spicy and fatty the food was that he had just pounded down. He absentmindedly thought, "uh oh, going to have to hit the bathroom tonight!"

They went into the mall and Marks raised his voice and said, "excuse me, could everyone please stop what they're doing and remain calm!" Looking over at two police officers, the mall got quiet pretty quickly but then in unison, everyone started pointing and shouting anxiously at the officers. Marks grabbed a middle-aged lady by the arm and said, "excuse me miss, could you please calmly explain what is going on?" Her eyes were like a deer caught in a headlight and she tried pulling her arm away repeating over and over, "I have to get home...I can't be here...this isn't right" and Marks dropped her arm, mouth agape. Lopez doubled over as cramps hit him and he broke out into a cold sweat. Crap, literally...he needed to hit the bathroom fast. First, to figure out what the hell's going on to put his partner at ease. Lopez practically duck-walked over to two thug-looking guys while clenching his rear tightly and quickly said, "Hola, que pasa?" They looked at him, nodded in recognition and one of them spoke up. "Man, ese, shit ain't right out there. There's people layin' out all over the ground like someone did a drive-by this ain't cool. I dunno if it's cuz of that stupid solar thing all over the news but I only took a quick look myself. Was kinda busy dealing with the chicas ya know?" Lopez looked at him, nodded him a thanks, and briskly went back to Marks. He looked at him and said, "seems we might have a bit of a problem outside."

Surprisingly enough, his cramps subsided to a dull ache so he said nothing about hitting the "john" and they went over to the glass double doors and stepped outside. It looked like something from Stephen King's "The Stand" with bodies laying scattered all over the ground. Little old men and ladies who had come for their daily mall walk, rich women headed to Macys with their weekly flyer in hand, and young teenage kids who had nothing better to do than hang out at the mall...all of them laying on the ground. Marks hurried over to a young woman and five children, all hand-in-hand and laying crumpled up next to her. He started to bend down and test their vitals. Lopez looked down at a little old Hispanic lady and his guts started rolling again but not from the spicy food. He quickly spoke up and said, "Marks, don't think that's too good of an idea partner. Might wanna wait for the EMTs eh?" Marks waved him off and went to the last of the children, shaking his head in confusion and horror. "Lopez man, none of them are moving. They're KIDS...I don't know what the hell's going on but we gotta radio this in pretty quick. Run to the squad car and get somebody on the horn because we gotta get these people help NOW!" Lopez started to turn but then he noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. The people laying on the ground weren't laying motionless anymore...

Lopez took a step back as a hand brushed his boot. He looked up and started to tell Marks they were moving now but as he looked up, his mouth dropped open. Marks was dead center in the crowd of "people" and they were all moving and starting to crowd around HIM. It looked totally off and Lopez said, "Marks buddy, I think you should join me in radioing dispatch ok?" Marks looked up, and that's when a little boy with glasses reached up and latched onto Marks like he wanted a piggy back ride. He dug his tiny little digits right into Mark's eyes. Marks immediately scrabbled to remove the child but he clung on with all of his might. Marks knocked his Harry Potter look-alike glasses off of his head and he still hung on fiercely. He reached back to pull him off and the boy bit down voraciously on two of his fingers like they were hot dogs. He screeched and tried to yank his hand back down as he pulled and tugged to get his fingers free. He only succeeded in ripping and separating his skin further apart between the vise that was the child's teeth. In a panic, he started to tug harder, and he pulled out two fingers that were nothing but bone, leaving all of the flesh happily inside the boys mouth. Lopez bolted forward to help Marks but tripped over something and fell flat on his face and what he fell into made him flat out shit himself. He lost all control of his bowls as he stared down into the milky and glazed eyes of the elderly African American woman that had laid motionless at his feet moments before. Her mouth slowly opened as if to speak, but then he saw her tongue almost rolling around in her mouth like a dark and bloated worm. Her eyes wide open, it seemed she stared back at him, but then she quickly bit down on his nose. Lucky for him, she had no teeth save one rotten one on the bottom right, but nonetheless, she gummed the hell out of his nose as he scrambled up off of her. He got up while she was still grabbing onto his boots. His eyes darted over at Marks and perhaps because he was so irritated with the woman pawing at him, he absentmindedly kicked the old lady square in her face like he had just been passed a soccer ball. He looked down in horror and to apologize as he saw her face cave in to look as if her eyes were crossed and his boot was stuck in her face. She did nothing to push against him and protect herself. He yelled, "oh my GOD," and yanked his boot back leaving a trail of spittle and gore stringing from his boot and her face. She was STILL grabbing for him.

He started towards Marks but stopped. Marks was royally screwed. Utilizing his former police training, he evaluated the situation in two seconds and he knew going after Marks was suicide. He yelled out, "Marks, run for the mall doors" and then he took off in a sprint leaving a gory left footprint like a trail behind him as he ran to the doors. Reaching the doors, he yanked on them to throw them open. He looked up when they rattled against the strain and some nerdy Deputy No-Badge, or professionally titled "Mall Cop," was backing away after just recently locking the doors. Lopez said, "What the FUCK!?! Open the damn doors" and the mall cop just shook his head and backed away. "Sorry sir, something is wrong with those people and who's to say it's not infectious. We all took a vote," as he gestured with his hand to the group of people peeking out at him from around the corner of a store opening and sitting on the bench by the doors. Lopez was getting pissed and he lost all composure. He started shouting, "are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?!? Open the damn doors before I shoot the glass out!" Then he pulled his gun and aimed to shoot when he saw a little girl with flowers in her perfectly groomed hair and a pink tutu peek out from behind her mother's legs. Her lips were trembling and she had big alligator tears rolling down her face. Lopez immediately stopped. The voice that was his common sense knew that if he shot these doors out, every single person in there was at risk. Little girl in a tutu being on of them. Obviously he wouldn't care if a few of the fuckers who wouldn't let him in became lunch but many of the others were passive and didn't dare say no to the ones who locked him out.

He stood there enraged until Marks screaming spurred him into action. He turned around and it looked like a huge pile of writhing snakes was on top of his partner as all of the people Marks had tried to help shortly before now fought and shoved and clawed their way through to get to Marks. Lopez looked back at the doors and then back at Marks and took off running. He ran to the squad car and realized Marks had the keys so he took off through the parking lot knocking people over who were just standing upright onto their feet. He suddenly realized his right nostril was stinging and gingerly touched it as he ran. Inside of his nose, the only tooth the old woman had possessed had somehow gotten stuck and remained there, lodged in his nostril. He kept running and briefly thought, "what a fucked up day this is turning out to be..."

Chapter 18

Posted on August 26, 2011 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (3)

This had turned bad, really incomprehensibly bad in a matter of moments. When the two guards came and made their rounds at 8pm, Dr. Keller asked them both to help with Mr. Sanwa so that he could perform a few tests on him to monitor his vitals and brain functions in his present state of mind. It should've been easy for the young rookie and the seasoned vet to subdue Sanwa, but as usual, looks can be deceiving when you don't take into account the lack of concern for personal harm that Sanwa had for himself. Looking down at the blood spattered dog tags in his hand, the rookie "Nichols" had learned the hard way and was made an example for them all to remember from here on out.

At 8pm, Dr. Keller was interrupted from his hourly reports by Nichols and Hanson knocking on the door while Hanson simultaneously announced their presence. Dr. Keller glanced up and told them to come in for a moment as he had a request for them. The tall graying Hanson poked his head in and said curtly, "sir," and Dr. Keller waved them in. Dr. Keller sighed and said, "I know this is unorthodox as you aren't part of the military's medical staff but quite frankly neither am I, and as you well know, the rest of the staff on base vacated the premises earlier. All that remains is our meager ghost staff and that leaves you both to assist me in studying Mr. Sanwa. I need to assess what is going on with him and as you can see for yourselves; I don’t think it wise for me to enter the room while he is unrestrained. His comprehension of his surroundings is unknown at this point and once he is restrained you may continue your rounds until I radio you for your assistance again." Opening a cabinet behind him, Dr. Keller pulled out three pairs of latex gloves and three standard med masks. "Please put these on as we don't know what level of biohazard this subject may be right now." Dr. Keller noticed Nichol's eyes dart over to meet Hanson's, but Hanson, being a seasoned vet, paid no mind to the worry in Nichol's face as he silently began pulling the gloves on, his face blank, with no visible show of emotion or strain.

They entered the room quietly and slowly, Hanson in the lead with a pair of zip ties in his hands. Mr. Sanwa paid them no mind as he continued to paw and slap at the glass, smearing gore and blood all over the window like a child happily finger painting. Dr. Keller and Nichols followed, Nichols being in the rear. Perhaps it was nerves, perhaps it was just plain idiocy, but after Nichols entered, he slammed the door shut with his foot, using both hands to hold a Taser gun that was centered at the back of Sanwa's head. In Nichol's mind, this situation called for something a bit more powerful than a Taser, but human rights activists pushed so much after seeing the controversial pictures and reports of soldiers torturing prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, that the military made a public show of downsizing their weaponry to be socially acceptable and weaponry that would do less bodily harm to a subject when the use of force was necessary. At the sound of the door slamming, in an instant, Sanwa almost fell as he spun around to find the source of the sound and you could visibly see his stance change to be almost predatory-like when he saw the three men in the room. There was a brief moment of silence, then a low growl, and Sanwa lurched slowly towards them at first until he heard Nichols voice cry out, "sir, please remain still." At the sound of Nichol's voice, his lurch became an uncoordinated jog as he moved as fast as he could straight for Nichols. Nichols lost all composure and started to shrilly scream and he fired the Taser directly at Sanwa's face. Normally, when fired, the two small probes released from a Taser will deliver a powerful signal that will completely override the assailant's central nervous system and in turn directly control their skeletal muscles from up to 15 feel away. That was "normally."

As those probes shot at Mr. Sanwa, one hit him square in the eye, and his eye burst immediately from the impact. The second dart-like probe hit him on the cheek and as the current coursed through him, Sanwa slowed but did not fall to the ground as expected. He still moved towards Nichols like a puppet, jerking and twitching. Hanson sprung into action and came up next to Sanwa and tried to wrap his arms around his shoulders but the flailing Sanwa caused Hanson to lose his balance and fall forward, succesfully tangling himself in the wiring connecting the probes to the gun, and he fell to the ground. Hitting his head caused him to knock himself out and he was out cold for just a few moments but a few moments was all Sanwa needed.

During all this, Dr. Keller just stood there mute, mouth hanging open and at a loss. The Taser should have immobilized Sanwa and at this present moment he was unsure WHAT to do. His field was not centered in Human Anatomy but he knew this was wrong, completely wrong. He couldn't react fast enough to restrain Sanwa himself and all he could do was watch as Mr. Sanwa snatched at Nichols, grasping his uniform and falling sprawled out directly onto Nichols. They both dropped to the ground as what remained of Sanwa's mouth bit down onto Nichol's forehead. Instantly, Nichols began to writhe in pain and the blood spray was rather impressive as Sanwa pulled his head back, tearing away the skin on the front of Nichol's forehead. The skin ripped with a quick turn of Sanwa's head and it looked like a rubber band snapping from the strain as the flesh separated from the rest of Nichol's head. Nichols dropped the Taser in self defense and tried unsuccessfully to fight Mr. Sanwa off with blood pooling in his eyes and his vision going in and out because of the pain. He did the only thing he could think of in an instant and ripped the dart-like probes off of Sanwa's face. Gore rained down onto him as part of the eye stem that was left inside Sanwa's eye socket ripped away from the gaping hole that had once held an intelligent brown eye. The dart clung to the root and looking somewhat like a worm, it fell directly onto Nichol's lip. Instinct kicked in and he immediately let go of Sanwa to wipe and claw at the wet piece of skin laying across his lip. Mr. Sanwa, paying no mind to any bodily harm that had befallen him, took the opportunity while Nichols was preoccupied to use his exposed finger bones like tiny fillet knives to find purchase and dig under Nichol's skin in the wet area still attached to him. He almost fell backwards as he started to yank and pull the skin away from him and Nichol's let loose a scream that probably bounced and echoed through every hall of the facility. The screaming stopped as Nichols passed out from the pain. As the screaming stopped, that spurred Dr. Keller into action and he quickly and quietly evaluated the situation. They had nothing adequate to defend themselves against Mr. Sanwa as he obviously had no qualms about and harm that came to him. It seemed like the weapons and restraints they had were the equivalent to pebbles being thrown at a Mountain Lion, and he was no fool. He rationalized that the best thing to do was to get the Hell out of the room while Sanwa was preoccupied. He ran to Hanson and helped him untangle himself from the dual lines of wire and quickly helped him up. Hanson, sporting a immobilizing headache, leaned on Dr. Keller as they rushed to the door. Mr. Sanwa growled voraciously as they reached the door handle and they both froze, but Sanwa made no move to attack them as Dr. Keller turned the doorknob. Dr. Keller looked down and gagged at all of the glistening, exposed, raw muscle that had been shrouded beneath Nichol's face. Now, his face was exposed and shone crimson and wet against the florescent lights in the room. You could see the muscle striations, the pumping blood vessels, and gouges from where Sanwa's pointy little finger daggers had dug into muscle. His face in it's entirety had been ripped off down to the shirt line. Nichols was either dead or passed out, but without eyelids, his blue eyes started right up into Dr. Keller’s face. He felt a huge twinge of guilt as the door hit Nichol's in the head when he pulled the door open but they still squeezed through and slammed the door quickly shut.

With the door safely secured behind them, shock quickly set in and Dr. Keller slowly slid his back down the wall until his rear bumped against the ground. They both sat there in shock, neither speaking, until Dr. Keller realized he could hear the smacking of Mr. Sanwa's mouth, the sound of flesh slowly ripping away from tendon and skin, and a wet rustling sound as Mr. Sanwa probed the tender flesh of Nichols.

Dr. Keller grew pale and sat still for a few moments but then slowly reached into his blood spattered lab coat. He withdrew a tiny recorder. Pushing the REC button, he exhaled and slowly spoke. "0800 hours, this report is an actual eye-witness account of the current mental state of one individual directly exposed to the harmful effects of the Solar Flare. According to outside reports, I believe this to be common among exposed subjects and people SHOULD remain indoors, away from anyone, including loved ones who possess any of the following symptoms. He began listing them slowly and carefully so they would be understood when he sent this recording out via satellite and web.

Extreme hostility, lack of self-preservation, body damage, (either mild OR severe,) drunken-like movement, animalistic behavior, and sores or abscesses on the skin or other visible abnormalities. The subject, my former assistant Mr. Sanwa, has never shown aggression and passed all of NASA's extensive psychological testing, but he just attacked, and most likely murdered, a guard here and is now proving other claims of cannibalism. Please make very good note that Tazers, bludgeons, and other somewhat socially acceptable crowd-control weapons will have ABSOLUTELY and I repeat, ABSOLUTELY no effect on altered individuals. Use extreme caution and harder means to subdue subjects that may be encountered. It is my opinion that martial law be quickly and immediately declared and the use of extreme force be allowed. We will now be returning to the subject and subduing him with heavier force, and if needed, disposal. I will be examining the subject postmortem if need be but prefer to keep him alive for further study. I cannot tell if this can be reversed right now but hopefully further studies will prove fruitful."

Chapter 17

Posted on May 29, 2011 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (4)

Liz & Mike sat slumped on two of the plastic tangerine-colored Break Room chairs, sweat pouring down their faces & silently casting glances over to the makeshift barricade they'd hastily built against the Break Room door. Mike had shut the lights off in the hopes that would cloak their presence better from those THINGS. The only light that shone was from the window above the pop machine. It was early evening and the light was fading fast.

Listening in silence, they heard nothing on the other side of the door so Mike took the opportunity to kick the glass on one of the vending machines. It immediately spider-webbed with cracks & he wrapped his meaty first in his sweatshirt & punched a formidable sized hole through the glass. He grabbed a bag of Doritos & a Payday bar which he threw to Liz. She looked up and said, "it's only been a few hours & my BOSS has become a criminal" & at that they both burst out in nervous laughter. Liz said, "if I'm going to partake in theft, I'm going to grab what I want" & with a huge grin, walked over to the machine, stuck her arm into it, & fished around til she could grab a bag of pretzels & a granola bar. Looking at Mike as she ripped the pretzels open she said, "gotta watch the girlish figure" & winked.

As they sat somberly eating their goodies, Mike dialed his house for the fifth time since this started & again got no answer. As he looked at Liz she could clearly see the despair & fear in his eyes, wondering if his family was ok. Liz said nothing, her own family were strangers to her, but she was upset because her own Rottweiler Sadie was at home, probably staring sadly at the front door, head down next to her food bowl, anxiously awaiting Liz's arrival.

Liz broke the silence, cleared her throat, & got up to turn the tv on that was mounted on the wall. The end result was shocking. Every other channel was either a blank screen with the Emergency Broadcast message displayed on it or panic-stricken reporters hurriedly making reports of chaos & anarchy in the streets.

Liz stopped flipping through the channels as she recognized Tom, their local news reporter, trying to calmly broadcast what was going on & what procedures to take right now. They could see his eyes dart elsewhere periodically & could hear screams in the background that couldn't be edited out because it was a live broadcast.

"This is Tom Hendricks with Channel 27 News, outside of our own broadcast station to show any people just tuning in what the severity of the events going on right now are. With me is Jack, one of our best cameramen at the station, who will remain with me until our last broadcast is possible. Behind me is what remains of Brooklyn's police force along with the rest of the fire department crew. They have worked fast & efficiently, setting up the barricade you see in the backdrop to protect against, for lack of better words right now, the infected. Jack, please show our viewers what we're currently dealing with."

With that, the camera panned outwards & Liz gasped at what she saw as Mike dropped his bag of Doritos onto the ground. Behind Tom was a makeshift barricade of fire trucks, police vehicles, & a line of men & women in combat uniforms who carried riot shields, night sticks, & an array of guns kept at their sides. Three of the firemen were equipped with fire hoses & viewers watched as four of the people from the crowd clambered over a police interceptor & one of the firemen turned his hose onto them to use the force of the water to push them back.

The cameraman focused the camera back onto Tom & he said, "the crowd of people who can be seen behind the barricade seem to be unresponsive, very volatile, & relentless as they continue their attack for no apparent reason. It is unclear right now & unconfirmed but we have heard reports that there may be some possible cannibalism involved but again, that is speculation right now. Armed forces have successfully sectioned off the area right now but as you can see, I'd be hesitant to tell any of you viewers to attempt to make your way here as the streets around are too dangerous & there's no telling how long this will hold. To the left of us, the Chief of Police & Mayor are meeting with a few other faces we have yet to identify & there's talk of forming a safe house or a city-wide evacuation but due to the size of the populace I myself don't see that as an option. Right now, I have been told to recommend to viewers to find a secure location & if possible, hang a sheet or some form of article outside a window to act as a signal that there are people healthy & alive inside. It is currently unclear if this is a viral occurrence so do not attempt to make physical contact with anyone unfamiliar or outside of your current location, family included, until there's more of an explanation found."


The camera suddenly panned to Tom's left as there was a startled shout & a stern warning given. "Sir, do NOT come any closer or we WILL shoot!" It looked like a police woman in her twenties, probably a rookie but her nervousness, was addressing an obese man in his late forties as he had successfully scrambled over the police car & was ignoring the high-pressured stream of water coming from the fireman's hose. As they watched in horror, the fireman adjusted the water pressure to a higher point & when the hose was pointed at him again, the pressure of the water ripped half of his face nearly off & his skin flapped in the stream of water like a flag caught in a violent windstorm. One of the firemen instantly yelled, "turn the water of Joe," & immediately the hose was shut off. The cameraman must've started shaking at the sight of what was going on a bit because the camera picture wavered a bit but the picture was still clear enough that when the water stopped, the viewers could see the man drag himself up again, while ignoring his ruined face, & continue to advance to the line of officers. He seemed oblivious to what had just happened. His white "wife-beater" was now pink from gore & blood that had sprayed out from his mangled face & yet he showed no fear, no pain, no surprise. He raised his left arm up already grasping for the officer still ten feet away. She brought her riot shield up as he moaned & stumbled face-first into it. She fell backwards under his weight & immediately the officer to her right reached out to steady her. The obese man seemed to lunge for his arm & savagely bite down onto the beefy part of his forearm. The police officer let out a blood-curdling screech as a chunk of uniform & flesh were savagely ripped away. When the obese man brought his head back from the officer to happily chew the morsel, a short asian officer quickly fired a shotgun round into the obese man cleanly removing the top of his bald head. For a few brief seconds, the man remained upright still chewing, but then suddenly he dropped to the ground falling sideways like a felled tree as his brain leaked from his cracked open skull. He then lay there twitching but made no further move to rise up again.

It seemed unclear what set the crowd off, either the fact that one of their own had just been shot & killed, or perhaps the fact that the obese man's biting & ripping into the police officer body had sent a smell of untainted blood into the air which whipped the crowd into a frenzy, but instantaneously they moved forward in a wave. The camera panned back to Tom as he started speaking & his voice wavered as he said, "what we just witnessed confirms the speculation on cannibalism & I am unable to comment any further right now. Please stay tuned to any breaking news." With that, he stopped speaking & the broadcast ended as moaning drowned out anything else he could've attempted to say.

Liz waited a few seconds, looked at Mike, & turned the tv off. They sat in silence for a few moments & Mike quietly said, "Liz...I gotta go home. MY wife, my six month old daughter, my LIFE is there..what kind of man am I sitting here huddling in the coming dark hiding out in our Break Room? I don't care what Tom said, I have to leave, have to try, or else I am nothing."

Liz said nothing, thought about what he'd said, then slowly raised her eyes to meet his. She begrudgingly said, "if you're gonna do this, you're DEFINITELY gonna need a zombie expert & guide to help you right? Well here's your lucky day boss man, I am one. I have one condition, when we get in & drive off in your Lowrider out back, we stop by my house on the way to get my baby Sadie. Believe me, you'll be happy we do." Mike looked at her, gratitude he didn't have to do this alone written all over his face, & said one word..."agreed."


Chapter 16

Posted on November 8, 2010 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (5)

The cashier stepped outside & it was an almost instantaneous mob attack. He didn't stand a chance. All he had time for was the thought that maybe the English guy in the store had been right, & that this hadn't been such a good idea. He fell as he was bowled over by the woman, his left foot still caught in the door, leaving it ajar. The door kept on dinging between his screams, & the carnage that followed was horrifying.

Roger just stood there, gripping his lukewarm tea, mouth agape in horror, while the teenager threw up into the sink by the pop machine. The obese man launched himself backwards away from the window, slamming into the food counter, & knocking over the FREE Nacho & Chili Cheese Sauce machine in the process, spilling the Chili everywhere. What spilled out almost matched the carnage that was thrown against the windows of the store.

As Jeff stepped outside, his nose turned up in disgust at the foul & polluted air. Almost immediately, his blood started pumping adrenaline. He turned to the woman right outside of the door & hesitantly asked, "Ma'am...are you alright?" At the sound of his voice, she, & every other person plastered against the store windows, turned in unison, & he was met by five, well four and a half, pairs of milky-colored eyes. In unison, they all started whimpering with desire & anticipation. The woman lunged, & the rest of the group followed in a wave that resulted in what could only be described as some kind of mass football tackle. The group surrounding the window swiftly mobbed Jeff.

He looked up & the woman above him was lowering her maw to his face, & her slavering over him was apparent, as a line of drool dribbled into his eyes. Instinctively he closed them, & instantly they flew open again, as the lady bit down on his left cheek. The pain was shocking & unexpected & he screeched as it seared through his body. He heard the moist, tearing sound his skin made as she savagely ripped away a huge flap of his cheek & instantly felt the cold evening air against his teeth. The shock passed in an instant, & he started to kick & fight back, but by then the others had their hands & broken teeth all over him.

Someone's foul-smelling fingers searched for a good handhold on the meaty parts left of Jeff’s face. When one bony finger was inserted into the side of his mouth where the lady had ripped away his cheek, Jeff savagely bit off the invading digit with a snap. He gagged on the digit as pieces of rotten flesh seemed to slough off against his tongue, but he was unable to spit it out. In that same second, he lost his breath, when the guy with the gauntlets slammed down both of his forearms in an effort to root around Jeff's body to find his own morsel to nibble on. He punctured Jeff's gullet with around twenty of those spikes, each about a half an inch wide, & when he lifted his arms up to paw at Jeff again, Jeff's vital fluids spewed crimson all over the front of the store's glass door & splashed over the faces of the crowd around him.

That drove them into a frenzy & one of them finally found an EXCELLENT handhold, as they dug their fingers up to the hilt into the weeping cavities left by the goth's gauntlets. They broke open his body like a piñata, & it felt like somebody had just unzipped him as he felt the evening air invade him. His eyes started to glaze over as the group tugged, sorted, & divvied out his insides with great fervor. He was violated, raped, trampled, as they clambered over him trying to grab a handful of anything that would tear & come away with ease from their claw-like hands. One of the last few things he heard was the diseased group snarling & fighting loudly over his entrails, & then his eyes slowly rolled back into his head as he started to lose consciousness. He heard an audible pop as his arm was pulled from it's socket & his own death rattle come from inside him, & then there was nothing animate left in Jeff Johnson, cashier of the Mobil Gas Station off of Hwy 55.

After they had ripped the cashier in half, scrabbling over the remains like wolves, the blonde businessman scavenged around for extras, & pulled at Jeff's leg but it refused to budge as it was caught in-between the door of the store & the metal frame of the doorway. Looking for a way to clasp the leg & pull, the businessman snaked his arm through the door opening, rotten sores shredding & bursting against the metal & popping open from the tight space between the door & frame. Roger started backing away from the counter & towards the isles when he saw the unfortunate dilemma they were all in. With the door ajar & poor Jeff now yesterday's lunch, & there being only one way out of the store, they were all in BIG trouble. As the teen saw the businessman's festering arm snake into the store, he started to shrilly scream, & the businessman quickly perked his head up staring STRAIGHT into the door opening, sniffing the air, & right then, poor Jeff was hastily forgotten.


Chapter 15

Posted on November 8, 2010 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Jeramey had unplugged & was moving the cumbersome fridge out of the kitchen & flush against the front door of his apartment in a frenzy, & after running into his hot neighbor Stacy, (who lived about seven doors down from him,) by the Laundry Room, who could blame him? "This is some SERIOUSLY fucked up shit," he thought as he prayed the fridge was heavy enough to keep the door intact & safe from what was now urgently pounding & moaning on the other side of his door.

After his roommate had bailed to check on his girlfriend, Jeramey had proceeded to return to the safe-haven of his apartment, while hugging the wall as he passed the door to Mrs. Hall's apartment. It seemed to have split open from the constant thumping & ramming of Mrs. Hall & the neighbor because half of an arm reached out clawing at the air. He rushed by, certain that he didn't want to be there when the rest of the door gave way.

He bolted up the flight of stairs & flung the door open to see Stacy lying in the doorway of the Laundry Room. Her loving fiancé Rick was kneeling over her like an anointing priest & the Orlowski couple stooped on both of her sides. Officer Orlowski was dressed for work, being a semi-retired police officer part-time. His light-blue uniform was a gore spattered mess & his wife, Laura, looked like a twisted, macabre painter, with all sorts of viscera & fluids splashed all over her white tennis shirt & her hands coated up to the wrists in crimson paint. Stacy turned to look directly into Jeramey's eyes & her fingers grasped the air in a silent plea for help.

The three of them had managed to cleave their way through Stacy's abdomen & she remained in one piece only by her spinal cord. There was gore strewn haphazardly about, coating the nearby walls, & a puddle of syrupy blood was soaking into the cheap neutral-colored carpet in the hallway. Next to Stacy was her laundry basket, dumped over in the fray, which was now stained a deep burgundy color. It was impossible to tell if she'd been washing whites or colors. As he watched, the light quickly winked out of Stacy's eyes forever. His mouth started watering from nausea as the former love of her life peeled off an oversized chunk of her scalp, blonde hair included, & tried to stuff the hairy piece into his mouth. It kept dropping back out of his mouth & he seemed incapable of understanding that the long blonde hair attached to the tasty bit of skin was anchored & stuck underneath his knees. After a few uneventful tries, he dropped the piece as something meatier caught his eye. He grabbed what looked like her thick, glistening, wet lung. Rick stuffed the bulky piece into his mouth & bit on it like a Georgia peach. Blood & fluid gushed forth in a spray, splashing onto his chin & down onto his front. Rick's gluttonous feeding backfired as the particularly oversized muscle became lodged in his lower throat. He slowly shoved his fist into his mouth up to the wrist, permanently unhinging & breaking his jaw in the process, to remove the delectable morsel & gobble it down again.

The police officer, perhaps having a shred of memory left or just smarter than the other two, slowly dragged Stacy's body into the Laundry Room away from the others, leaving a glory blood trail behind, so that he could dine alone. The other two, after what seemed like a scuffle over Stacy's large intestines, crawled after him, mewling as their bounty was dragged away. Jeramey took that opportunity to bolt towards his apartment. As he raced by he heard the sounds of slurping & the grinding of teeth on bone, & he couldn't resist a quick glance into the Laundry Room. He instantly regretted it. Office Orlowski raised an arm towards Jeramey, opening & closing his hand in longing, with most of Stacy's left breast hanging from his mouth. Jeramey shuddered & very detached, thought, "I didn't know she had her nipples pierced," & then bounded down the rest of the hallway to the safe haven of his apartment. Yes, this was some SERIOUSLY fucked up shit & a REALLY fucked up day.


Chapter 14

Posted on November 8, 2010 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Dr. Keller glanced down at his Rolex & it was going on 10pm already. The majority of people working at the NASA facility had hurriedly vacated a half hour before the facility went into a complete shut-down due to the national crisis. Dr. Keller didn’t have any children & his wife had left him four years ago for that bastard Meteorologist in North Carolina that he had attended Berkeley with in his younger years, so he had no ties to rush home to. He sat back & put his feet up on the desk, eyeballing his “Einstein” bobble head, & unsuccessfully trying to ignore the banging on the two-way glass which joined his office to the next room over.

He had decided after a bit of deliberation, (& coercion from the higher-ups,) that it might be a bit more beneficial for him to remain at the NASA facility so he could research what was happening. Although he wasn't a Virologist or anything of the sort, he HAD taken some college courses at Berkeley until he decided on a PHD in Astronomy so he had enough laboratory know-how to navigate the lab & do some testing on different samples. According to the higher ups, his knowledge & warning of the effects of the Solar Flare was enough to put him ahead of the proverbial ball game. He had to find out if it what was going on was actually a global pandemic or only a national occurrence, & if whatever had altered the people exposed to the Solar Flare was viral or just severe mutation. The NASA facility was pretty much run by the military & had everything a military compound would have, complete with supply room, full-kitchen, medical ward, & work-out area. The only thing Dr. Keller DIDN’T have was his overweight cat Ferdinand. He silently prayed the cat was ok.

Scanning the various media forms, (i.e. the internet, satellite t.v. stations, multiple chaotic phone calls, & various YouTube videos that were constantly popping up gave him a pretty grim outlook on things & he was pretty sure that this was a global event. What was most important to HIM right now, & to the asshole who FINALLY called back from the Pentagon, was to study, (he’d already started & had recorded his observations with scribbled notes put into his Mead Notebook,) the effects that the Solar Flare had on people DIRECTLY exposed to the wave versus INDIRECTLY exposed.

It was easy to see the effects on people that hadn’t been notified to remain in a sheltered area or others who HADN’T listened to his advice to stay indoors & were outside when the wave came, as he had successfully locked his intern, Mr. Sanwa, into the office next door. He had scoffed at Dr. Keller’s idea calling it ludicrous & saying all he needed was a pair of NASA’s specially-made lenses to view it safely. He then proceeded on ignoring Dr. Keller’s single retort & went outside to view the Solar Flare. Mr. Sanwa’s opinion was probably the dumbest thing Dr. Keller had ever heard of but presently didn’t have the patience or time to argue with him, although he made a mental note to start looking for a smarter intern.

Now, two of the guards who had remained at NASA along with Dr. Keller, had craftily deposited Mr. Sanwa, (or what remained of Mr. Sanwa mentally & physically,) into the next room. He had watched Mr. Sanwa for a half hour now, as he steadily laid waste to his own body by banging/ramming into the two-way window & pawing/scraping at the glass. He had worn away the delicate skin of his fingers past the fingernails & there were apparent scratches on the glass from his exposed finger bones. He had cracked & lost half of a tooth gnawing at the glass & in turn, chomped off part of his lower lip which fell to the ground in a pool of coagulating blood & gore, unnoticed. His face & front of his shirt were coated with crusting blood & body fluids & he seemed oblivious of anything BUT Dr. Keller's presence. It seemed to consume all of his attention & all of his energy was spent trying to locate & come into contact with him.

Dr. Keller made a mental note to himself that when the guards came through on rounds, he would ask them to help restrain Mr. Sanwa so that he could monitor any brain activity & check his vital signs. It seemed unclear to Dr. Keller if he was dead or alive & monitoring him up close would be the only way to confirm which one it was. He thought it was quite possible that Mr. Sanwa was just functioning differently from the sporadic change in his biochemical makeup. One thing was for certain though, Mr. Sanwa either had no recognition of exactly WHO Dr. Keller was, or he just didn’t care. All he cared about now was the need to attack, (& most likely kill,) Dr. Keller & Dr. Keller STILL wasn’t sure why.