I turned away from the window, “What the hell is going on, who are those people?”
“They’re not really people anymore,” Blisk explained, “they’re all dead. Infected with a virus that reanimates them.”
“Are you telling me that they’re zombies?!” I blurted out.
“Keep your ****in’ voice down. And yes, they’re zombies, for the most part. They’re not like the walking dead you remember from George Romero movies; they’re fast and they’re not stupid. They can climb run and swim, if you make a mistake, you’re dead. Also, your traditional definition of zombie is a corpse that is reanimated. As far as we know, these ones are living and breathing. They do not decay, and they look just like us. If you don’t destroy the heart or the brain, they will get back up eventually. The virus seems to reanimate not just the brain, but the organs as well. As long as their heart keeps pumping they can heal and stay alive more or less. But that’s really all we…”
His voice trailed off as a noise was heard outside the door. All three of the soldiers snapped their weapons up and focused on the door that was pinned shut by the couch; I froze and held my breath. No one made a sound. Several moments passed, and I began to think that maybe it was just the wind blowing a door shut, and then I heard it.
Crunch, there was something outside the door stepping on what sounded like broken glass. I heard the sound several more times, each time getting closer and closer. I felt dizzy all of the sudden, I could feel my heart pounding in my ears. I stayed perfectly still, terrified that any noise I made could give away our position. The crunching stopped right outside of the door. The soldiers slowly switched their weapons from safe to fire, waiting in nervous anticipation.
Several seconds felt like several hours. A bead of sweat ran across my temple and down my cheek, and gathering at the bottom of my chin. I could feel it collecting mass and getting heavier and heavier. My awareness of it made me want to wipe it away, but I was too scared to even move my hand. Finally it fell free and dropped to the floor. I realized that I had been holding my breath for quite a while, and I cautiously let out a very slow controlled breath.
A clumsy hand slapped itself against the door handle outside, and violently turned it from side to side, jerking the door in and out, but the weight of the couch leaning against the door kept it firmly closed. I jumped, startled. I gasped. Chief Blisk shot an annoyed glance at me, as if to warn me to not make any noise.
The rattling of the door suddenly stopped. I wasn’t sure what to expect next, anticipation was rising to unbearable levels within me and I started to feel nauseous. ‘No’ I thought, ‘I can’t hurl right now, if I do that thing will hear me.’ But the thought of not throwing up made me want to throw up even more. I started to breathe deeply to calm myself. I suddenly felt like my esophagus got two feet shorter, panic shot through me as I realized that I was going to throw up, and there was nothing I could do about it.
At the exactly moment I began to hunch over in an awkward gag reflex, one of the soldiers mashed a balled up t-shirt into my face. I retched. I tried to gag as quietly as possible, and with the shirt over my mouth it came out as muffled coughs and gasps for air. The shirt itself was pressed hard against my mouth and nose, and filled up with the vile smelling fluid quickly. It became hard to breath, I was now being suffocated by my own stomach fluid. I finished gagging and convulsing, and tapped the soldiers arm to let me go. He hesitated for a moment, and then removed the vomit soaked shirt from my face. The rush of cool fresh air to my vomit covered face was literally, a breath of fresh air. I kneeled on the floor, and then rolled to my back to catch my breath.
Outside the door, I heard a familiar crunch. It hesitated for a moment, then scraped as if there was weight on it turning in place, then another crunch followed. It continued at a steady pace and faded away down the hallway.
I felt drained, I lied on the floor and caught my breath as the soldiers lowered their weapons and caught theirs. I looked up to see my sister standing in the bedroom doorway, ‘she sure did grow up’ I thought to myself. I suddenly felt robbed of the last 6 years. I couldn’t remember anything. It was like yesterday she was just a kid.
Brisk towered over me and broke me from my current thought. His face was exploding with anger. “If you don’t snap out of it soon, you and your sister are nothing but dead weight to us. Pull another stunt like that and I’ll personally take you out to the woodshed.” He managed to keep his voice low while yelling at me. I was both impressed and intimidated. He looked briefly at his wristwatch, “I’m going to give you another 4 hours to rest, but then we’re leaving… you either keep up, or you get left behind.”
“Where are we going?” I asked.
Brisk looked at me with a very serious expression, “We’re going to the Holiday Inn.”
Note: this is the story that sets the stage for this post. http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=18665
I opened my eyes to what I could only describe as… a bedroom. I looked around bleary eyed and confused. Dim orange light poured in through the thin white curtains. It was that transitional point in which it could have been either dust or dawn.
I was lying in a bed. It was freshly made; the white sheets over me were clean and firmly tucked in on the sides. Looking past my feet I could see a dresser sitting comfortably between an open closet, and a closed door that I would assume opened to another room or a hallway.
I thought back to the alleyway, “Maybe I dreamed the whole thing. It was all just a bad dream.” That must have been the case. My head was pounding, I ran my hand across my face and rubbed my eyes in a vain attempt to ease the pain.
I turned to the side and saw a familiar face, a very familiar face. The young woman from my dream was sitting in the corner in a wooden chair; her head leaned against the wall as she slept silently. She had long dark curly hair that looked somewhat askew. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew I’d seen her before.
I sat up in the bed as quietly as I could to avoid disturbing her, but the moment I began to move her eyes snapped open and darted around the room until they came to rest on me. Her eyes were bloodshot and looked like she hadn’t slept in a month. She cracked a half smile that looked like relief, “Oh, you’re awake.” She said in a hushed sleepy voice.
“Yeah, what happened? Where am I?” I said, giving in to the probability that I had not been dreaming everything up. My voice croaked out as if my throat were coated with sandpaper.
She put her finger to her lips, “Shh, you have to keep quiet. Just whisper.” she then ran a hand through her hair and thought about the next words she was going to say. “Well… we were being chased, so we took a shortcut through the alley. We came to a dead end, that fence, and we had to climb up here. You fell off the ladder… I thought you were dead…” her voice trailed off and her eyes swelled with tears which she quickly wiped away.
“Ok” I began, “I’m feeling a little confused about some things… well everything actually. What were we running from?”
She reached into her shirt pocket and pulled out a small pen-shaped flashlight. She leaned over and focused the light into my eyes. The light made me recoil, “What are you doing?!”
“SHUSH!” her voice came out stern yet quiet, “you have to keep your voice down.”
“Who are you?” I blurted without hesitation.
She paused and stared at me, not sure what to say, “It’s me… your sister.”
I focused on her. “No you’re not…” I was suspended in disbelief. She looked a lot like my sister, but much older.
“Yes I am.” Her voice came out at a normal speaking volume; she caught herself and lowered her voice back to a whisper, “Yes I am. It’s me.”
I let several moments pass before I spoke again, my mind reeling in disbelief, “My sister is fourteen. You look like you’re twenty.”
“Rick,” she said and then paused, her face seemed to say she understood what was going on, “I am twenty years old now. I was fourteen 6 years ago. You have a concussion and you’re obviously confused. You probably have amnesia.”
I thought about this for a moment, “Ashley? Is that really you?” I paused, “Yeah that would make sense, even if it does sound completely ridiculous.”
“Anyway, we’re in an apartment building on the south side of the city.” Her sentence was cut short by the sound of the door opening. An older man with very short grey hair walked through the door into the room. He was about 5’6” or 5’8”, but had a solid build to make up for his stature. He was dressed in black tactical gear and had an M-4 assault rifle slung across his chest. He appeared to be in his late forties or early fifties and had a skin texture that suggested he had seen plenty of days in the sun.
“Ah, you’re awake, good.” The older man moved into the room and closed the door behind him. “I brought you some water”. He handed over a small plastic bottle. I gingerly accepted the water and started drinking it. It tasted great considering how warm it was and the fact that the bottle looked like it had seen better days. The plastic was scuffed with dirt, and the label was torn off. “We have plenty of water, so drink up. There’s nothing water can’t cure.”
“What about Hyponatremia?” I said. I then realized that maybe I shouldn’t be a smart ass in this situation. I wouldn’t want to make this guy mad.
The old man cracked a friendly smile, “You mean the electrolyte disruption caused by hyper-hydration, the potentially fatal condition caused by drinking too much water? Yeah, I suppose drinking more water wouldn’t be good for you. Nice try, but I’ve been playing ‘stump the chump’ for a long time Doc. But that was a good one though.”
“Doc? What, is that my new nickname or something?”
“Not really, doctor just doesn’t seem to flow that well.”
“I’m not a doctor though, I don’t get it.”
He turned to Ashley with a confused look on his face, “I thought you said he was a doctor?”
“No, I just started med school…” I began.
Ashley spoke over me “… he is a doctor, he has a slight case of amnesia and doesn’t remember the last couple of years… more or less.”
I spoke quietly to myself “Wow, I finished med school?” for a moment I actually felt proud of myself.
“He’s also a little confused. He has a concussion.”
The old man stared at me in contemplation, “so, we have a doctor who doesn’t remember med school…” he let the sentence drop off. His expression and tone of voice dictated disappointment.
“It will come back to him soon, generally amnesia is short term, and as long as there is no serious brain damage, he should recover quickly. Might take six hours, might take a few weeks. It’s hard to tell.” Ashley retorted. She was twirling her hair around on her finger like she used to do when she was younger; it usually meant that she was worried. She never took stress very well, when she got upset at school she would often spend the day crying in the nurse’s office. She seemed tougher now, but it was just a rouse.
“Look, I’m not going to lie,” the old man started, “we need a doctor, and if you can’t get your **** together, then you’re just dead weight to us.” He focused on me intently.
Feeling the pressure of the situation, I said, “I’m not sure I understand what’s going on. Why do you need me?”
“Look kid, I can’t lead you by the hand here… so why don’t you just come see for yourself.” He said as he motioned to the door. “By the way, I’m Chief Blisk. I’m a Chief Warrant Officer, United States Army.” His voice was coarse and hushed, but each word came out with confidence and clarity. I got out of bed and shook his hand, then followed him into the living room. In this room I saw a few wooden chairs arranged in a semi circle and the couch was propped up against the door, which I imagined led out to a hallway of some sort. Also in this room were two other people dressed in the same black tactical gear; one sitting next to the window with his foot propped up on the window sill, a bolt action sniper rifle rested between his knee and his shoulder; and the other person sat on the floor reloading magazines. “Let me introduce you to everyone, since you don’t remember.” He said, motioning to the one sitting next to the window, “That’s Sergeant Mike, our sniper. The quiet one on the floor is Sergeant Varland. He is the one who rappelled down the fire escape and pulled you up.”
I looked at Varland; he had the same sort of gruff appearance as Chief Blisk, only a few decades younger. “Thanks for saving my ass, I would have been dead for sure.” I said, making an honest attempt to sound grateful. He didn’t look up from his task, just nodded, appearing to be far too focused on his repetative task.
Mike spoke up without turning away from the window, “Don’t takes it personals, he just doesn’t talks much”. He spoke with a noticeable eastern European accent. I couldn’t tell which country exactly, my knowledge of such things were limited to movies.
“Come over here and take a look.” Blisk gestured to the window. I walked over and peered out. What I saw below made a chill run down my spine. Below us in the alley there were thousands of people surging back and forth. They looked to the sky and yelled, pushing each other back and forth in an angry mosh that looked like a stormy sea. An orange light came from below and I could feel heat on my face, I peered closer to get a better view. I saw the dumpster below us engulfed with flames. Seeing that the flames had caught my attention, the old chief explained, “We set the dumpster on fire to keep them from climbing the ladder. It’s not going to burn forever though.”
I scanned the ground quickly and looked in the dumpster and found nothing that resembled a gun. ‘Why would I have ammo in my pocket?’ the thought echoed through my brain as I heard a scraping noise above my head. I tilted my head back to look up at the noise, and as I did the world spun just a little bit more. After a moment, my eyes rested on what was causing the noise; a window three floors up had been opened, and a woman who appeared to be in her early twenties was leaning out of it. “Quick, climb up here!” she whispered just harshly enough for me to hear over the ringing in my ears.
Ignoring her request I yelled up to her, “HEY! Do you think you can call an ambulance or something? I think I need to go to a hospital!”
My voice echoed through the alley way, and as it did I heard a very faint and distant sound. I wasn’t quite sure what it was… sounded like humming possibly. It seemed out of place. I looked back to the girl in the window whose complexion appeared to be a few shades lighter than before. Her eyes darted around the alley way and then back to mine. She raised her voice slightly and emphasized her words “Climb up the ladder!”
“Look, I just…” My voice trailed off as the distant humming turned into a roar of excitement. My eyes followed the source of the sound to the end of the alleyway with the chain linked fence just as dozens of people ran around the corner at full sprint. Their faces contorted into angry expressions while they screamed at the top of their lungs. Their battle cry paralyzed me in fear. As soon as they cleared the corner, even more were following them. I stood frozen while they piled in, dozens at a time. The first of them ran straight into the fence at full speed without even blinking, and just as fast as they ran into the fence, the ones behind trampled them. More and more of them kept coming, if I had to guess, I would say there had to be one hundred at the very least on the other side of the fence, screaming, trampling and clawing at each other to get to the other side… to get to me.
The girl in the window screamed at the top of her lungs, “CLIMB THE ****ING LADDER!” This shook me from my paralysis, and I turned to look up at her. She was now standing in the fire escape pointing a shotgun at me. She squeezed off a round with a deafening boom that rang in my ears like a church bell. I recoiled in fear and then realized that I had not been shot, I turned around to see someone on the ground behind me spurting blood out of a major chest wound. The body twitched and convulsed.
I shifted my attention to the right (the side of the alley way that faced the street) and saw nearly two dozen people running at me from that direction, and closing in fast. Their enraged screams rang through the alley louder than any human voice I’ve ever heard. My feet started to move before my mind could even process the thought. I began to climb the side of dumpster, one of the attackers in the lead closed in on me and reached out a hand. He was no more than an arms length away when I saw his feet slip up over his head as he fell hard onto his back. My mind processed this action while my body steadied its footing on the side of the dumpster in full on auto pilot mode. I looked down to his body sliding across the ground underneath me, face still contorted in rage, bleeding from the nose and several other wounds all over his body. I back tracked his trajectory with my eyes and saw that he had slipped on the banana peel that I had previously discarded from my pocket.
A single thought came to mind ‘divine intervention’. My body leaped from the edge of the dumpster straight up into the air with my arms stretched out over head. A few moments felt like a lifetime as I hung in the air. Suddenly I felt my hand make contact with the bottom rung of the fire escape ladder. As gravity pulled the rest of my weight back to the ground I felt my hand slip off the rung. For a brief second, I felt like an idiot. ‘This is history repeating itself’ I thought, but my mouth said “****!”
I began to fall back to the ground, I could see angry looking people gathering around the dumpster, they all frenzied below me as I descended. They jumped and waved furiously at me, clawing the air with inhuman ambition. I was falling to my death. It was a sobering state of reality.
Suddenly a hand from above grabbed me roughly by the collar. My shirt ripped slightly as my falling body came to an abrupt halt, the whole motion made my stomach retch and my head spin. I looked up to see the face of a man in his late twenties hanging upside down from a rope, clutching my collar single handedly. His attire was black nylon and looked like military issued web gear. He turned his head to the side and yelled to some unseen person above him, “I GOT EM, PULL US UP!” Immediately we began to quickly ascend in an unsteady motion. The world spun and went black.
I figured I would post up some more parts of my zombie story. the first part is in first person. I dont like it, but I think it would lose some of its... I dont know... stuff, if I rewrote it into 3rd person. so maybe I can just use it as an introduction to the plot. who knows. anyway, yeah, I know the first part has a lot of verb tense fubars... just bear with me here.
chapter 1: (part 1 of 4)
I opened my eyes to what I can only describe as absolute complete darkness. My back felt wet and I had a terrible headache that felt something like a rat trying to claw its way out of the back of my skull. I couldn’t tell exactly if I were lying down or being catapulted through space. I wondered if I was dead, but the pain and ringing in my ears suggested I was not. And then there was that smell, I wasn’t sure how to describe it… rotten meat, milk and cigarette ashes? I touched my hand to my face, I did this for two reasons; to assure myself that I had a hand, and to assure myself that I had a face.
Satisfied that both were still intact, I decided that it was best to find out which way was up. I thought back to a Saturday morning watching the discovery channel as a child. I remembered a documentary about people who survived avalanches while climbing mountains. They would get trapped under tons of snow and debris and would find themselves disoriented and not know which way was up… some would die digging the wrong direction, the ones who lived, however, used a highly calculated technique. For nearly a decade and a half I considered this to be what I referred to as “useless trivia” but today I was going to use it for the first time, and hopefully last time, ever. With this newly recalled trivia, I prepared myself for the execution of this highly advanced technique. I began to gather all the spit in my mouth, took a deep breath, and hurled it out in front of me as hard as I could. A moment passed and nothing happened, which could have meant a lot of things… mostly that the results of my experiment were inconclusive, or that I just plain didn’t do it right. Suddenly, I felt a splat of warm liquid collide with my forehead. As a small droplet of the splattered liquid ran down the side of my head into my ear I thought to myself ‘if the laws of gravity still apply in this strange place, that way must be up’. I motioned slightly to the area in front of me in vain, realizing that I couldn’t see what I was motioning too, and that there was most likely no one around even paying attention.
In an effort to gain some clarity on the situation, I decided to sit up. As I raised my upper body, the unstable mass below me shifted, and the lower half of my body sunk in a few inches. ‘Where the hell am I’ I thought to myself, starting to lose my composure. I ran my fingers through my hair, as my hand ran to the back of my skull I felt a decent sized lump. Touching it made a spark of pain shoot through my body.
Waves of panic rushed over me. “Crap, I must have slipped and hit my head somehow, and now I’m blind… of all the senses to loose, why vision? Why couldn’t I lose my sense of smell, this place is rank”, I whispered to myself. I waited for someone to respond, but heard nothing in reply. I thought ‘Wherever I am, I must be alone.’ Then I thought about the smell… What was that? What kind of place would smell like that? A list of possibilities ran through my mind; the library, swimming pool, video game store, old people hospital. With the exception of the old people hospital, none of those places seemed to fit the bill.
Something caught my attention. I turned my head to the left and out of the far corner of my eye, I could see a pin sized speck of light! Excitement and relief rushed through my veins as I realized I wasn’t blind, or dead. I was just in a very, very dark place.
I put my hands on the floor to both sides of me to steady myself as I shifted my weight to my feet. The “floor” under my hands seemed to be made of a combination of solid and not-so-solid material which shifted under my weight. My right hand stayed planted, however, my left hand sunk into the matter nearly eight to twelve inches of cold, slimy mush. Entirely off balance and straining for energy, I rolled to my knees and stood up quickly, and slammed my head into something hard that made a “CLANG” noise. Bright lights and pretty stars swam through my vision for several minutes before I realized that I had dove face first into the semi solid matter that made up the “floor”. My cheek resting in a puddle of what smelled like applesauce which was far passed its prime. I rolled back on to my knees, and wisely put a hand up to the “ceiling”.
My hand made delicate contact with the matter I had earlier forced my already damaged skull into. It felt warm and solid. I applied a slight amount of pressure to test its structural integrity, as I did so, the pinhole speck of light in the corner got slightly bigger. I rested both of my hands on the “ceiling” and stood up, my legs wavered slightly, and then effortlessly straightened themselves out as I rose up into the unknown. As I stood, the pinhole of light in the corner became a long sliver of light growing longer and wider until sunlight pierced through the darkness in overwhelming force.
The intensity of the light was too painful, and I closed my eyes and continued to stand up into the mysterious new world around me. I attempted to open my eyes, which consisted of a series of stupid facial expressions and a lot of blinking. After 30 seconds of this I manage to open my eyes and keep them open. I avoided looking into the light, and angled my face down. I saw that the “floor” I was laying on was actually a pile of garbage. Used Kleenexes, paper towels, chicken bones, cigarette butts, and a familiar pool of applesauce with mystery chunks mixed in. My stomach started to turn and I felt a little dizzy. I decided it was best I didn’t think too hard about the origin of the “mystery chunks”. I shifted my gaze up slightly and realized I was standing in a large green metal box; a dumpster, if you will.
With a grunt, I heaved the “ceiling” up. It was hinged to the back side of the box, and flipped up, and clanged against a brick wall that was positioned behind it. The sound echoed through my head, and for a moment, I thought I could actually FEEL my eardrums. With my hands now free, I rubbed the back of my neck. It was now that I realized that my entire body hurt, not as bad as my head, but pretty bad. My head swam and the world was spinning. I thought to myself ‘Why am I in a dumpster?’
I climbed out of the dumpster and scanned my surroundings. I saw several other dumpsters, and some smaller plastic garbage cans. I appeared to be in an alleyway, a narrow one with brick buildings on either side. They appeared to be two or three stories tall and had metal fire escapes going up the sides. I could see the street on far right end of the alley; the view didn’t tell me much other than the fact that there was a street in that direction, I also saw part of a dark storefront window. In the other direction, the alley went maybe 100 feet, to a chain link fence. Beyond the fence another 50 feet the alley came to an end with a corner that lead to the right.
I shifted my attention to the escape ladder which was positioned above my dumpster. The ladder itself was about 10 feet from the ground, and the section of ladder that normally would slide down was missing. I started to piece together that for some reason, I wanted to get up that ladder. I imagined that the lid, or “ceiling”, of my dumpster was probably open, and I stood on the side of the dumpster and jumped for the lowest rung. I must have slipped and fell backwards, smashing my head on the corner of the dumpster, and then the lid closed from the force of my unconscious body slamming into it. I wasn’t sure which was more disturbing; the fact that I injured myself doing something so dumb and laid unconscious in a dumpster, or that I couldn’t think of a logical explanation as to why I would want to climb that fire escape. The only thing I could think of was ‘I must have been drunk’.
I fished around in the pocket of the green cargo pants I was wearing; they didn’t seem my style, and I couldn’t recall where I got them from. I felt something slimy in my pocket and pulled it out; what I discovered was a banana peel. Convinced that I had no further need for the peel, I tossed it to the side. I moved down to my leg pocket, which felt considerably heavier than the previous pocket. From this pocket I produced two fully loaded pistol magazines. This came to me as a shock. They appeared to be .40 caliber bullets, the clips held anywhere between twelve and fifteen rounds based on a quick estimation. Things really weren’t making any sense to me at the moment. I searched my other pockets and found nothing, namely, the gun that the clips belonged too.
Separate names with a comma.