Posted: 6/17/2008 10:15:16 PM
[Last Edit: 3/10/2009 3:26:36 PM by Halffast]
THE IMAGE ABOVE IS A PAID ADVERTISEMENT
It is quite a departure from what you might expect from me. I always try in some manner to challenge myself with a new story and this one has quite a few challenges. I honestly don't know how it will turn out. As always, I really need feedback, good or bad, to know if I'm on the right track. Please be honest with your opinions and don't worry about my feelings. I want to know what you think and how the story makes you feel as you read.
Lost & Found is still my first priority, so chapters for this will probably not come regularly.
You all have been so kind to me over the years that there is no proper way to thank you. I hope you enjoy the story.
PS - An early tip of my hat to Ops for giving me the title almost two years ago, even if he didn't know it.
It was called the discovery of the century, even though less than ten years had elapsed since the odometer of History had rolled over into the 2nd millennium. A Mayan temple, so deep in the South American wilderness that modern man had never seen it, gave scientists hope that it might give them some clues as to what had happened to that ancient society.
The media had played up the discovery to the point that it consumed most of the water cooler talk in the civilized world for a week. The president of the news network that had bought exclusive rights to broadcast the first entry of the archeologists hoped that it didn’t turn into a debacle like that Geraldo special had. The network had agreed to totally finance the excavation of the site for five years. It was an offer that the archeologists couldn’t refuse, even if they had to explore the whole pyramid in three hours so that it could be a live television special. Their stipulation was that only one cameraman would be allowed into the pyramid for this uncharacteristically rapid initial exploration as the most tenured archeologist explained the findings to his camera.
The network sent their best. George Roman had been to every war torn country, back woods shithole, and celebrity event of the last twenty years. His talent with a news camera was unmatched, and so was his ego.
Normally, a lightweight wireless camera would be used for such a broadcast, but the producer was concerned that the thick stone walls of the pyramid might degrade the signal. He insisted that George use an older, and heavier, hardwired camera. George didn’t like it, but he understood that this was the defining moment of his career and he wanted everything to go perfectly. He insisted that men be assigned to pull the power and video cords so that they wouldn’t get tangled and impede his movement. The archeologists argued that they had agreed to only one person, but George contended that this was for the best to make sure the cords didn’t disrupt anything inside. They reluctantly agreed when the producer threatened to cancel the deal and made George and the producer agree that the helpers would only step where the entry team stepped.
When the huge rock door was pried from its seal, the archeologists were immediately surprised and excited. Skeletons and half mummified corpses littered the floor. It appeared that the people placed in this tomb, at least most of them, were alive when the door was sealed. One of the scientist speculated that this might have been an attempt to quarantine the sickness that wiped out the Mayans. From the looks of things, another observed, some of them must have gone mad.
George followed the scientist as they explored deeper and deeper. He knew the world was watching the skillfully taken images he was sending them with the greatest interest. He wondered how many awards he would receive for this piece of work and how much those awards would mean to his upcoming new contract.
The entry team made it to the central chamber at the two hour and forty-one minute mark. They quickly opened the door and entered; wanting to make sure they fulfilled their obligation to show every part of the temple-turned-tomb. The people that had been placed in here must have been dead when they were entombed. They were neatly laid in rows. As the explorers began to examine them, it was apparent that they had been sacrificed in different ways. Some of them seemed to have been tightly wrapped in some kind of fur. The leader of the expedition guessed that the tribe must have tried many different sacrifices to try to please their gods and thus rid themselves from the plague that was killing them. One of the other scientists noticed that the canine teeth of these corpses were slightly elongated and wondered if this was some type of genetic anomaly that made them outcasts and that was why they were killed. George knew that everyone at the network would be ecstatic about this. “What a way to end the show,” he mused. He moved in to get a shot of the elongated teeth.
The young man that had been tasked to hold the cords closest to George had stayed out late the night before. He had successfully fought his sleepiness to this point, but it had finally caught up with him. As he stood outside of the central chamber, almost in the dark, he didn’t notice the band of cables moving.
When the cords tightened, it caused the camera to rock upwards slightly. Most cameramen wouldn’t have been upset, but George was furious. His coverage so far had been perfect and some idiot had now ruined it. He reached back with his off hand and found the bundle of cables and jerked them as hard as he could.
The cords slid through the young man’s hands. A nylon wire tie that held the cables together had not been trimmed properly and a sharp edge cut his hand. The jolt of the jerking cable coupled with the pain in his hand, caused him to fall. Instinctively placing his hands to break his fall, the bloodied one ended up on some of the mummified remains.
On that day, scientists didn’t think that a virus could be passed from someone dead so long to a living being. The world would soon find out how wrong they were.
The hammer hit the titanium firing pin with an empty click.
“Shit!” Zoe Hunter said. She grabbed the charging handle on her black rifle and attempted to pull it back. It was stuck. She checked the distance between her adversary and herself. She had time. Still applying pressure to the handle, she bent over and struck the butt of the weapon on the ground. It took two good whacks, but the improperly sized cartridge came out of the rifle. ‘Fucking reloads,’ she thought.
She quickly checked the chamber and released the handle. The bolt stripped a fresh round from the thirty round magazine and pushed it into the chamber. Zoe hit the forward assist with the heel of her hand to make sure that the bolt had closed completely on this cartridge. The carbine came to her shoulder as smoothly as if it were part of her and she tried to align the sights on the sick man’s forehead. His herky-jerky movements caused his head to move from side to side like an upside-down pendulum. Zoe timed the man’s movements as she squeezed the trigger. It broke just as his head centered itself in the rear aperture.
This time the rifle barked and the man crumpled like a destuffed rag doll. Zoe checked all the way around her for more infected. She walked to within ten feet of the dead man and looked at him. His skin still had most of its color. He was early in stage two. That was both good and bad.
It was good because the man was still slow. If he had been in stage three or, God forbid, stage four he would have been too fast for her to clear the jam. She would have had to use her pistol. She didn’t have much ammunition for it and it might have taken three or four rounds to get a stopping shot since she didn’t shoot it nearly as well as she did the rifle.
It was bad because it meant that he hadn’t been infected that long. That more than likely meant that there were late stage infected in the area. Fortunately, they were seldom seen in the bright daylight.
Zoe crossed herself and whispered, “Poor bastard.” She made her way to the back of the pharmacy. Reading signs over the isles, she found the one she wanted. The glucose test strips were all gone, but there were a couple of boxes of lancets. She put them in her pack and moved on.
The door to the back had been kicked open. She entered and found, like at all the drug stores before, the narcotics shelf was empty. That was not what she had come for, however. She found almost a full bottle of Glucophage and one and a half bottles of the generic, Metformin. She smiled as she opened one and took a pill out. This would keep her going for a while. The substitute she had been taking for the last two weeks was better than nothing, but it didn’t work for her nearly as well as this. After securing the medicine, she cased the store for anything else that she could use. There was nothing.
Exiting through the broken plate glass window where she had entered, she scanned the street. It was empty. She looked at the sun. It was still high, but soon it would dip low enough that more infected might come out into the open. She would wait until tomorrow to check out the other stores on the square. She crossed the street and made her way into the courthouse and went downstairs to the sheriff’s office.
Even though she had cleared the office before she went to the drug store, she was still very cautious. She wouldn’t normally expect infected to be moving around unless disturbed. However, the man in the pharmacy proved that you couldn’t be sure of anything. Zoe pulled a key from around her neck. She opened the padlock and removed the short chain that locked the cell. Entering the six by ten cubicle, she chained the barred door behind her. Before the infection, it was a punishment to sleep in here. Now it was a blessing.
The bars kept the infected out and the bed, not much more than a cot, was better than sleeping in a tree or on a rock ledge. She set her rifle in the corner and took off the small pack. Next, the vest that held her pistol and spare magazines was dropped onto the bed.
Opening her large pack, she removed her stove, fuel, and a packet of dried soup. Mixing the packet with water in a large enameled steel mug, she lit the stove and placed her dinner on it. Digging deeper, she removed one of her glucose meters and tested her blood. This was her least favorite meter because it took more blood than the others, but it was the only one for which she had any test strips. The digital display read 203. Not horrible, but not as good as it should be. Hopefully, her new supply of medicine would get her back in line quickly.
The vegetable soup was soon ready and she began to eat. It wasn’t much, but it would keep her going and wouldn’t run her blood sugar up. Dinner finished, she wiped out her cup and put it away. The light from the small bar-covered window at the top of the cell was beginning to fade. She pulled a candle out of her bag and lit it. Then she found her book, and began to read.
Between the dry text and the distance she had traveled today, her head soon began to nod. She rolled out her sleeping bag onto the bunk and lay down on top of it. The bunk was little lumpy, but she was able to squirm around and find a comfortable position. Blowing out the candle, she was soon asleep.
The dream was almost always the same. It didn’t come as often as it had when the virus was at its peak, but it always woke her up dripping in sweat. She put her head in her hands and took some long deep breaths in an effort to slow the thundering drumbeat in her ears.
As the sound of her pulse subsided, she heard an evil hiss. She pushed her pillow off of the bed and grabbed at the three glowing dots that were her pistol’s tritium sights. Was she still dreaming? If so, the firearm would not work when she needed it most. She heard it again, closer this time. Her finger found the switch of the small but powerful light that was mounted forward of the handgun’s trigger guard.
The image burned into her brain like a photograph. The ghostly while face peering at her and the arms reaching through the bars as if begging for help. The slightly elongated canine teeth that made the snarl even more malicious were set below a mostly bald head that sprouted small patches of wire-like brown hair. The pale eyes were soulless.
The evil eyes closed and the man recoiled to escape the blinding light, but it was too late. Without thinking, Zoe’s finger slipped into the trigger guard and took up the slack while she centered the front sight on the infected man’s head. The pistol barked almost before she knew what happened. She cursed. She had pulled the shot. Between that and the man backing up, she had missed the sweet spot. A bloodcurdling scream erupted from the S3 infected man. He whirled around and disappeared from her sight with the characteristic speed of a late stage three victim. She heard him race up the stairs and then all was still.
Zoe noticed that her heart was racing again, but the ringing in her ears from shooting the pistol in such an enclosed space drowned out her heartbeat. She hoped that she hadn’t damaged her hearing too badly. If she wanted to stay virus free she would need all of her senses. That and some luck too, she knew.
She used the light under the pistol to scan the part of the room she could see. Where there was one, there could be more. She slowly zigzagged her way toward to bars, checking every nook and cranny with the light beam until she could see had checked the whole room. Satisfied that all was clear, she thumbed a loose cartridge into the pistol’s mag to take the place of the one she had used and lay back down with the 9mm under her pillow. Soon she was back asleep.
The light filtered into the small cell from the tiny window and Zoe opened her eyes. It took a second for her to remember exactly what had happened last night. Zoe stood on the bed and looked out the porthole. It was cloudy. She hoped the clouds would burn off as the sun rose higher. The brighter it was, the safer it was for her.
She fixed herself some breakfast and tested her blood. 184 is what the meter read. That was not too bad. Of course it was still double what a normal person would have first thing in the morning. She took a Metformin tablet and vowed to really watch her diet today.
She pulled out her book and read, checking outside every fifteen minutes or so. By 9:30, it was bright enough. She put her vest and hydration pack back on and unlocked the door. Stepping out, she was careful not to step on any of the blood from last night. She locked the door behind her and purposely put the key back around her neck. Then she meticulously re-checked all of her gear. She smiled at the irony of it all. Before The Infection, she had been unorganized. Every year her New Year’s resolution was to be more disciplined with her affairs, and by February she had always given up. Now she was nothing, if not systematic.
She followed the blood trail, but she knew it was pointless. The S3 infected man had stopped bleeding almost before he had exited the building. Before he was infected, the wound probably would have killed him before he could go a hundred yards. Now, the coagulants in his blood would let him live, at least for a while. Unless the central nervous system was hit or an organ was completely destroyed, infected could live with some pretty gruesome trauma.
A handgun, that was a marginal man stopper before the infection, was little better than a BB gun now. A hit between the eyes and the mouth would stop them dead, but anything else was a crapshoot. Well, she shouldn’t have to worry about infected, unless they were stage 1 or very early stage 2, on this sunny day. She carefully walked up the stairs and out the door.
Food was first on her agenda for today. She walked to the grocery store with her rifle slung around her neck. When she got there, it was obvious that it was in vain. The front doors of the old brick building had been pried open. That wasn’t unusual, though. She walked in and saw that the shelves were picked clean. In most small towns, the virus ran through the population so quickly that the stores were sometimes untouched. This store being cleaned out meant one of two things. It could have been drifters who had trucks and were able to take everything, or it meant that there was, or had been, an uninfected population here.
The fact that she had killed the newly infected man yesterday lead her to believe the latter. The big question now was if he was the only one that had been recently infected, or if the whole group had somehow succumbed to the plague.
It really didn’t matter though. The healthy could be just as dangerous as the infected, and they were much more unpredictable.
Zoe spent the rest of the day going from house to house looking for food. She had found over time that the poorer neighborhoods were best for finding staples and canned goods. The wealthy would go to the store more often and buy fresh food. The not-so-well-off would often stock up with food that would last when they didn’t have money.
She wasn’t having lots of luck today, though. She had found some dry beans and some rice. The beans were good, but the rice would run her blood sugar up. What she needed was some cans of green vegetables, but she had only found a couple and they were all spinach. Zoe hated spinach. Canned meat would be a blessing, but she dared not hope for that.
After checking a house for food, she looked through it for other consumables. Highest on her list was ammunition. Of course, frozen T-bones were easier to find. But, she had to look. One never knew what she might luck on to.
Fuel for her stove was also something that was looked for. The little Coleman single burner stove would burn gasoline in a pinch, but most of it had gone bad in the two years since the infection began. An unopened can of camp fuel would be a godsend. But none of the things she really needed were found.
Zoe wasn’t surprised, though. If there were uninfected residents here, or if there had been until recently, they would have already scavenged the town. She decided to call it a day and return to the jail. In the morning, she would leave for the next town. Back in her cell, Zoe pulled out her maps and looked them over. She could stay on the main road that took her to the next county seat, but that was most likely the way that everybody else who had passed through here had gone. There was a small town to the south that she would have to take secondary roads to reach. She figured she might have better luck going that way, even if it were barely a dot on the map.
She was on the road as soon as the sun was above the horizon enough. The little town was almost twenty miles away, but she should easily make that distance by mid to late afternoon. The day was perfect and Zoe enjoyed the scenery and the brisk walk down the two-lane road. The fields were green, mostly with grass or what the farmers would have called weeds. Some had patches of whatever had been planted in them when The Gripa had hit. One spot had wild corn coming up and she ate some of the tiny ears. They were delicious. The corn was full of fructose, but since she was hiking at a brisk pace, she should burn most of it up.
She stopped a little after noon and fixed some lunch. Relaxing under a tree as the can of green beans warmed, it was almost if the world hadn’t ended two years ago. After eating she leaned back against the tree trunk to rest for just a moment. The warm sunshine along with her full stomach caused her to drift off before she knew what was happening.
They were running and screaming. The father was trying to keep them together, but it was no use. The infected were everywhere. Even though the diseased horde moved like spastic marionettes, they soon surrounded the man and the two children with their staggering numbers. As they closed in, the sounds of teeth clacking together crescendoed to a mind-numbing level. Zoe screamed for them to run, but it was too late. They were bitten. She saw their eyes pleading for the end, and soon there was nothing left of them but a small pile of dust.
She awoke with tears streaming down her face. It took a few seconds for her to realize that it was just the dream, again. It always seemed so real. She prayed that the end really had come that quickly for them. She couldn’t bear the thought of the little family running through the countryside, all semblance of humanity stripped from their appearance and psyche. Zoe packed her things as she chided herself for falling asleep in the open.
The quaint little sign said, Welcome to Morgan. Established 1893. Population: 2397. “Yeah. Right!” Zoe thought. If there was even one, she would be surprised. She walked about another mile until she was in the heart of the little town.
It looked like a hundred other small towns she had been in. Or, was it a thousand? It seemed so long ago that she had started her nomadic trek. She walked down a street filled with historic homes. A couple of blocks further on, she found one with decorative bars over the downstairs windows. Lacey curtains flittered in the breeze on both floors of the big white house.
She dropped her pack on the sidewalk and double-checked the chamber of her carbine. Walking up onto the porch, she looked through the windows. The house appeared undisturbed. The furniture was simple, yet elegant, as if from a different era. It reminded her of the sets of television programs from her youth. She tried the heavy wood front door, but it was locked.
Zoe walked around to the back, careful to tactically pie each corner. Once in the back yard, she could see the large screened in porch. The door to it was hanging by one hinge and the wicker outdoor furniture on its wooden floor was askew. There were some rust colored stains on the concrete steps that went up to the broken door. She looked at the ship-lapped boards that made up the outside of the old house. The absence of bullet holes told her that the bloodstains most likely came from one of the infected. She wondered how old the stains were. Since they were under the eve of the porch and protected from the weather, they could have been from the first wave.
Zoe wondered if perhaps an uninfected member of the family who lived here might have shot an infected member. It was a question that seemed to occur to her regularly. She often wondered if she would have been able to do that. She knew the answer was no. At least it would have been back then. She wasn’t so sure about now, though. She was just thankful that she hadn’t been faced with that decision.
She slowly and carefully made her way up onto the porch and to the back door of the house. If anyone had been watching, they might have thought her paranoid. After each step, she methodically and totally scanned left to right, checking everything in a 360-degree circle. She wouldn’t have cared what anyone would have thought. There were too many shady hiding places back here for her liking. You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you, she thought.
When she got to the door, she tried the knob. It turned, but the door would not open. She put her boot at the bottom of the door and pushed. The wood pushed away from the jamb slightly. That was good. It meant the door wasn’t nailed shut. She turned and scanned again, while she automatically pointed her carbine’s muzzle where she was looking. Convinced that she was safe from any boogiemen, at least for a moment, she turned back toward the door.
Her hand ran over the top of the doorframe, but there was no joy. There was no mat to hide a key under, either. She checked the dirt piles from the turned over and broken flowerpots, but there was nothing in any of them, as well. “I guess I’ll just have to do this the old fashioned way,” she said.
She leaned her carbine against the door and pulled a set of lock picks out of her pocket. Except for learning to really run her carbine, this was the only useful skill she had picked up from The Rednecks. It only took a few seconds and she was in the house with the door locked behind her.
“Hello. Is anyone home?” she called. There was no answer just as she had been sure there wouldn’t be.
With the rifle slung across her back, Zoe checked every window in every room on the first floor. All of them were open and all of the bars over them were secure. She carefully went upstairs and checked the windows there. All of the screens were in place. That was a good sign. She found the pull down staircase that went to the attic and lowered it. Leaving her rifle against the wall, she drew her pistol and attached the light. Climbing the stairs, she listened for anything out of place. When she stuck her head through the opening, she was happy to see that small windows on each side of the house made this an unlikely hiding place for any infected. That only left the closets.
Zoe hated closets. She used to think that children’s fear of closet monsters was irrational. Now she knew that it was a natural instinct just like a pigeon’s fear of a hawk. She picked up her carbine and illuminated the bright weapon light attached to the handguards. Quietly approaching each closet, she turned the doorknob and yanked the door open. She jumped back as far as she could, shining the light into the dark abyss with her finger ready to find and squeeze the trigger. Fortunately, she found no monsters.
Relaxed, as much as she could be, Zoe opened the front door and retrieved her gear from the sidewalk. It was always eerily peaceful in towns like this. The only sound was the breeze gently whistling through the trees and the chirping of birds. She often thought that this must have been what it sounded like in the Garden of Eden. However, this was not paradise and she wished that wicked serpents and poison apples were all she had to worry about.
Zoe pulled out her glucometer and tested her blood. The digital display counted down and then read 198. Damn, she thought, I walked almost 20 miles and was pretty careful about what I ate. She wondered if the baby ears of corn had more sugar in them that the full size ones did. That might explain the higher level than she had expected. She opened the compartment of her pack that held her small pharmacy and took a pill.
Next, she explored every nook and cranny of the house, starting in the kitchen. Not surprisingly, there was no useable food in the house. Someone had obviously holed up here for a while after the outbreak, so that didn’t surprise her. She was sure that she could at least find some food in this town. She had enough medicine to last for a while now, so she could take her time and check each building if the place hadn’t been picked clean by drifters. She would know by tomorrow.
In a drawer in one of the upstairs bedrooms, she found a box and a half of shotgun shells. Of course they were only good for small game and birds, even if she had found a shotgun to go with them. They would be good barter material, if she found someone to trade with, but they were heavy and she decided to leave them. The only things she found that she could use were some paperback books. A couple she had already read, but there were three that she hadn’t. They were just cheesy romance novels, but hey, something to read was something to read. And, reading was the only pleasure she had left.
She sat on the bed and opened one of them. It was titled Summer Longing, and she started devouring it. It was quite clique with the main character named Summer, but unlike the favorite she had been reading for the umpteenth time, she didn’t know how this one would end. Well, she kind of did. All these dime store romance novels ended one of two ways. Either Summer would find love and live happily ever after, or she would find love and lose it. Zoe didn’t have any idea how this one would end, but at least the title was semi-clever.
She noticed that it was getting dusky outside. She returned to the kitchen to fix some dinner before it got dark. She really wanted some rice, but she chided herself that she needed to stay away from any carbs until she got her sugar back in line. If there was any insulin to be had, it would be easy. However, there wasn’t any and it was no use wishing for something that could not survive without refrigeration. Zoe was just thankful that her weight was down to where she no longer needed the daily injections. She would just be extra careful with her diet for a day or two until the oral meds started working again.
She opened her pack and pulled out the single burner stove. Shaking it told her that it was about half full of fuel. As she pulled out her lighter, she saw the old gas kitchen stove. Was it propane or natural gas, she wondered. A town this size might not have a natural gas system. If not, then there might be fuel left in the propane tank. She walked over to the stove and turned the knob to one of the burners. She flicked the lighter and held the flame next to the burner. Nothing happened. “Shit,” she said.
She smiled as she thought about the curse she had just uttered. It seemed as if most of the words that she vocalized these days were “colorful metaphors”. She remembered the time when curse words were hardly ever part of her vocabulary. Being an elementary school teacher and a mother required her to always watch her language. But, she no longer had to be concerned about little ears hearing or little mouths mimicking what she said.
She lit her stove and fixed a simple meal. After that she checked all the windows and doors, went upstairs, and found a bedroom that the breeze blew through. She lay down and noticed how much more comfortable the bed was than any she could remember sleeping on since the infection. Before she drifted off, she prayed that the dreams wouldn’t come tonight.
Zoe woke and was surprised to see how late it was. She hadn’t slept this long in quite some time. She rose and dressed. The dresser in the room had a mirror over it and when she saw her reflection in it, she wondered for the briefest of moments who it was. She walked up to it and looked at her face. There were little lines around her eyes. Her Fingers pulled at the skin to see how much pressure it took to make them disappear. She didn’t know if they were from losing weight or from the stress of the last two years. Probably both. One thing was for sure, she hadn’t been this thin since she started college. She had packed a few pounds on in her freshman year, and then quite a few more after the wedding. Two kids had added even more weight and the start of her diabetes.
She stepped back and looked at her body. The clothes hung on her and she couldn’t see any thing except for how small her waist was where the belt was pulled tight. She pulled the material of her shirt back so that it tightened up across her front. There was no doubt that she was female. Although her breasts were quite a bit smaller than they had been when she was heavy, they were well proportioned to her now athletic frame. Her arms were slim and muscular, but still very feminine. She knew her legs inside the camouflage pants (although she couldn’t remember the last she had shaved them) were more shapely and sexy than when she had been a cheerleader in high school. She wondered how she would look in the dress she wore to the Senior Prom so long ago. Probably better than I did then, she thought as she twisted from side to side in the mirror.
She noticed her hair and it was a mess. She found a comb on top of the dresser and tried to pull it through the unruly mop. “Ugh,” she said as the comb stuck in a tangle. Maybe if I can find a pair of scissors, I can trim this up some and make it look at least presentable. She started pulling open the drawers to see if she could find a pair.
“This is stupid and a complete waste of time,” she chided herself as she tossed the comb down. “Who gives a crap what I look like?” she said to the face in the mirror. She fished a rubber band out of one of her pockets and pulled her dark hair back behind her head as tight as she could.
She made her way down the stairs and into the kitchen. Opening her pack, she removed her glucometer and tested her blood sugar. It was better than yesterday, but still not as good as it should be. Another day of being extremely careful should get her back in line. She pulled out her stove and fixed herself a small serving of oatmeal.
As she ate, she read more about Summer and her struggles. She inwardly laughed at how difficult the writer made life seem for the heroine just because she couldn’t find a man. Zoe placed the back of her hand on her forehead as if she might swoon and smiled. She returned to the book and read a long passage of Summer continuing to lament her troubles. Zoe slammed the book shut and quickly stood up. She patted her black carbine and said, “Come try some of this shit, sister. Then you can talk to me about how hard life is.” This time she laughed out loud and the sound of it surprised her a little. It had been a long time since she had expressed any kind of amusement.
She thought about what she needed to do today as she cleaned out the canteen cup she had cooked and eaten out of. First on her list was food. She needed water, too. If she could find some food and a reliable source of water, she could perhaps stay here for a while. It would be nice to not be on the move, if only for a few weeks.
Zoe emptied the contents of her pack’s main compartment onto the table. If she found anything she could use, she would need the empty pack to bring it back here. She double-checked her carbine to make sure it was loaded and then she put on her tactical vest. It held her handgun and had a place for two spare pistol magazines, but Zoe didn’t have enough of the 9mm ammo to fill more than half of the first one. It also had pockets to hold six of the 30 round mags for her AR-15 carbine. She knew the chances of her living through an encounter where she would need more than one or two of them was extremely low, but like the rednecks had told her, “You don’t want to die from a lack of shooting back.”
“Fucking Rednecks,” she mumbled and then spit without thinking. The glob of spittle landed on the linoleum with a smack. The brothers were probably both dead, but that didn’t change her feelings. Well, she knew that one of them was burning in hell and if the other was still alive, he’d never again do to anyone what he had done to her. Despite her hatred, the irony that she would be dead if it weren’t for them wasn’t lost on her. Neither was the fact that she had changed. She was a little embarrassed by the fact that she had spit so easily and without any thought. She would have never spit, let alone inside a house, before.
“Before,” she whispered. How she wished she could go back to before. If she hadn’t been across the country at that damned teachers convention when the Gripa hit, she would be with her family now. She had thought about trying to join them a time or two, but there was no easy way to do it. Sure, a bullet from her pistol would take her out of this world, but if she did that, she wouldn’t be able to meet them. And, if she let an infected kill her, would God look at it any differently? Even if He did, she couldn’t bear the thought that she might live and turn into a spreader of this disease. She would struggle on as long as she could. It was the only way to be sure she would be reunited with those she loved.
Zoe removed a neatly folded dishtowel from one of the kitchen drawers and cleaned up the small puddle, wiping her thoughts of mortality away at the same time. She threw the sullied towel into the sink.
Using a key she had found in a drawer, she locked the door after she stepped out onto the back porch and checked the yard for infected. Then she walked to the street and made her way toward the center of town. Half a mile up the road, the neighborhood began to change from residential to commercial. First there were a few old historic looking houses that had been converted to offices. One was a lawyer’s, another a realtor’s, and even a dentist’s office. The next block held buildings that had been built to be what they were, a bank, a dry cleaner, a café, and a grocery store.
Zoe looked at the small grocery store. It was old, with big plate glass windows across the front and double doors in the center. Signs hand painted in red and blue on white butcher paper were taped in the windows announcing specials on hamburger, tomatoes, and ice cream. Zoe knew there was none of those things to be had, but simply reading the words made her mouth water. She walked forward and pulled on the door. To her surprise, it opened.
She stepped in, optimistic about her chance of finding some food, even if the open door made that possibility remote, but she instinctively scanned the room for danger first. Her carbine on her shoulder pointed slightly down below her line of vision where she could bring it up and fire in less than a second if needed, the business end tracked across the room in sync with her eyes.
The store, at least the front, was devoid of any threats. It was also devoid of food on most of the shelves. Zoe was disappointed, but not surprised. There were no canned or dried foods left. The only items remaining were by now spoiled, stale, or rotten. She carefully worked her way to the small stockroom in the back and found nothing usable there, either.
She exited the store and made her way down the street. The small town pharmacy had no medication that would help her, although she did find a box of test strips for one of her glucometers. A couple of blocks further down was a small hardware store. The door was off the hinges. She carefully entered and cleared the store. It was too bad that she didn’t need a new lawnmower as there were several nice ones sitting neatly in a row. Another row of small kitchen appliances was also mostly undisturbed. Most of the shelves in here were empty, though.
In the back of the store was small sporting goods section. The firearms case was broken open and it was empty. The ammo shelf was cleaned off except for a couple of boxes that said .303 British on them. Zoe opened a box to satisfy her curiosity and pulled out one of the twenty cartridges it held. She had no idea what kind of gun would fire this, but it was way too big and fat for her carbine. She placed the deadly looking case and projectile back in line with its fellows, closed the box, and placed it neatly back in its place.
On the shelves across from the gun counter, there was a little fishing tackle left. Zoe didn’t know the first thing about fishing. Her grandfather had offered to take her a couple of times when she was a child, but she had been too busy to go. She regretted that decision now, as some fresh fish would be wonderful.
An aisle over, a few camping items were left in a pile where some of the shelves had been dislodged. Zoe wondered if that had happened in some kind of altercation. It wasn’t the first mess she had seen like this. She bet that two or people were fighting over one of the guns and one of them knocked the shelves down. It had probably been picked through several times, but she decided that she had nothing to lose by going through the heap.
She knelt down, carefully placing her carbine on the floor beside her and started digging. The items she found were damaged or not suited to her ambulatory lifestyle. She pushed them to the side as she investigated deeper into the pile. Disappointed when she reached the bottom at not finding a single thing she could use, she grabbed for her carbine and began to stand up. Noticing that the bottom shelf sat about two inches off the floor, it occurred to her that something might have rolled underneath. She pulled her flashlight out and looked under both sides. At first she saw nothing, but as she searched back and forth, something slightly reflected her beam of light. It was on the other side of the isle, with the fishing stuff, but she couldn’t tell what it was. She went around and all that was there was a box that held some cheap cartoon character rods and reels. Zoe could tell that no serious fisherman would use these. The layer of dust looked much deeper than what would have accumulated in two years. She pulled the whole box off of the shelf and saw her prize.
Her heart leapt at the discovery, but she quickly throttled back her excitement, as she knew it was probably no good. The metal can was covered in dust and there was some rust visible under the grimy layer. She reached for the handle, and the weight of the can told her it was full. She pulled it out and blew as much of the filth off of the top as she could. Pulling a handkerchief she kept just for dirty jobs like this, she wiped off the remaining grunge. The rust wasn’t horrible, but it concerned her more than the dirt. She wondered how old the can was. There was no way to tell. It did have a plastic cap that told her it was younger than she was, but how much younger. She twisted the cap and took a sniff. It smelled like it should. She set the can on the floor and shined her light into the opening. The liquid was clear and clean. This was enough camp fuel to run her little stove for a long time. She quickly screwed the top back down so that none of the precious liquid could spill or evaporate.
Zoe wasn’t sure if the euphoria was from adrenaline of finding the fuel or the vapors from smelling it, but she wiggled her hips and shook her shoulders in a little victory dance. For the second time in a day, laughter escaped from her lips. She pirouetted as if she were still in the ballet class she took when she was eight. On the second turn, her heart jumped into her throat as she caught a glimpse of something moving in the doorway.
Zoe squatted down behind the shelves and grabbed her carbine. She duck walked over three aisles and then slowly rose to where her eyes just cleared the top of the shelf and she was peeking between two boxes that held hydraulic jacks. There he was, just standing there, looking at where she had been with open-mouthed disbelief frozen on his face. Zoe felt her heart thumping in her chest. If he had been one of the infected, this would be easy. She would have put him out of his misery as she had hundreds before. But, a healthy young male presented a quandary. She would just as soon face down a stage four beast. She tightened her hand around the grip on her rifle.
It was obvious that he had seen her, so hoping that he hadn’t was a waste of time. He seemed unsure as to what to do so she did hope that he would turn and leave. His mouth opened a couple of times as if he wanted to call out, but he didn’t. He was tall, thin and young. Zoe estimated that he was in his mid twenties. He had an AK-47 type rifle slung around his neck and an old canvas chest rig to hold the extra magazines. She didn’t see a side arm or a backpack. His clothes were neat and in good repair.
After what seemed an eternity to Zoe, he turned to leave. She realized that she had been holding her breath and finally let out the staling air she had in her lungs. Thank God, she thought. She would give him a few minutes to clear the area and then she would haul ass back to the house and probably leave this town in the morning. Just as she finished formulating this plan in her head, the young man turned back around and took a step into the store. His eyes scanned back and forth as he held his rifle in the low ready position.
Zoe instinctively ducked back down again. “What do I do?” she asked herself over and over. She could sneak up to the front as he worked his way to the back. But then she would lose the precious fuel she had found. The big question was what did he want? If she knew the answer to that, deciding what to do would be easy. The fuel was too important to lose. She eased upward slowly and looked between the boxes again.
He had moved a few steps closer, but was looking away from Zoe. She popped up and aimed her carbine at the man. “Freeze right there!” she yelled.
It was as if her words held some mystical power. The man stopped and didn’t move a muscle. Zoe couldn’t even tell if he was breathing.
“Drop your weapon and show me your hands,” she commanded.
He did as instructed.
“Now, slowly turn and face me.”
Again, he obeyed. The first thing she noticed were his eyes. It had been a long time since she had looked into human eyes that hadn’t had the life sucked out of them by The Grippe. They were the color of the sky and looked as if tears might start running out of them at any moment. The next thing she noticed was how pale he was. His face was clean-shaven and his long brown hair was neatly combed.
“Is it really you?” he asked in a tenor voice.
Zoe was a little surprised by the question. Did he think she was someone he knew?
“Who do you think it is?” she said.
“I mean, are you real?” he said beginning to look frustrated. “Of course you’re real. I mean, I just haven’t seen anyone who didn’t have the sickness for a long time. I just don’t hardly believe it.”
“Well, I am real and I’m not infected,” Zoe said flatly. Something about him rubbed her the wrong way. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to look for some stuff I need.”
Zoe felt he was hiding something in his answer, not that she would have trusted anything he said anyway. “No, why are you in this small town all by yourself?”
“This is where I was born and raised,” he said.
That seemed like an honest enough answer. “So you’re the last one left in this town?”
“As far as I know,” he said. “There was a group of us until about six months ago. Then it was just my mom, me, and a teenaged girl. My mom died four months ago and the girl took off. I haven’t seen her since.”
“What happened to the group?”
“Some got killed and the rest split up.”
“We had sent a patrol to Sherman, about thirty miles from here, with the last of our gasoline to look for supplies. They didn’t find much and ran out of fuel on the way back. They decided to hike back and got caught out in the open at dusk. A hairy one killed all of them except for the leader of our group. He told us he had escaped clean, but we found out a few days later that he had been bitten on his leg when he started getting the flu-like symptoms. We figured out that he was infected and it caused a big rift in the remainder of us. He said that we couldn’t kick him out of his own place and about half of them agreed. The three of us, my mom, me, and Angie, went back to our house. We found enough food scavenging the houses in the neighborhood to keep us going until we got a garden going.”
“What happened to your mother? Did she get infected?”
“No. She had heart problems. She made it quite a while without her medicine, but it finally caught up with her.”
“And the girl? Why did she take off? Did you try to hurt her?” Zoe asked accusingly.
“No,” the young replied. The realization of what Zoe meant by hurt spread across his face. “God, no,” he said with distain in his voice. “What do you think I am?”
“I really don’t know that, now do I?” she said.
“I guess you don’t, but you don’t need to be afraid of me.”
Zoe didn’t answer.
“Can I put my hands down?” he asked.
Zoe was amused. Some of it was the way he phrased the question, as if he had asked her to pass the salt. Some of it was the fact that she really hadn’t noticed that his hands were still up, but mostly it was because she would sooner have a rattlesnake in her pocket as let him place his hands closer to his weapon.
“Tell you what,” she said, “let’s just both move real slow up toward the front of the store. Then you can put your hands down.”
The young man turned and walked toward the door. Zoe carefully sidestepped that direction so that her carbine covered him constantly. With no shelves between them, Zoe could see how thin he was. His clothes fit fairly well, so she assumed that he had been lanky before the infection had come to America.
“Okay,” she said, her carbine still in a position were she could fire before he could cover the short distance between them, “you can put your hands down, but don’t make any sudden moves.” The ‘Or else’ was implied.
The man’s hands slowly fell to his sides. “I think someone had, um, hurt her, though.”
“The girl, Angie. I think something had happened to her before. We found her wandering the street one day. She never trusted anyone but my mom. She hardly ever even spoke. Something happened to her, or she saw something that made her not right. I can’t even imagine how humans could be so cruel to each other to do whatever they did to her.”
‘I can,’ Zoe thought. If he was telling the truth, then the girl just taking off after his mother died made sense. If he was telling the truth.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Why do you want to know?”
“I don’t know. You asked me, so I’m just asking you back.”
The question seemed adolescent. “I’m just passing through,” she said.
“Where are you going?”
His questions annoyed her. “It doesn’t matter,” she said as if she was settling an argument between school children and didn’t want to hear anything else from them. “What do you do for water?”
“We have barrels on the downspouts on the house. If those are dry then I go to the creek on the east side of town. Of course I boil anything before I drink it.”
“I see. Is there any food left in this town?”
“Not much that I know of,” he answered. I have some at my house. You’re welcome to come over if you want. I’ll fix you something to eat,” he said optimistically.
“Oh, sure, and we can go up to your room and listen to records afterwards, too, I bet.”
The young man’s brow knitted. “No, I’m sorry, but we don’t have any electricity.”
Zoe almost explained that she was mocking him, but stopped herself. “What about at the house of your bitten leader? Is there any food or supplies left there?”
“There could be. I haven’t been back since we left. I’m kind of afraid of what I might find. But with two of us it should be safe enough to check out. You want me to take you there?”
He was just a little more eager than Zoe liked. “Not today. Meet me here tomorrow and we’ll go.”
“There’s plenty of time before dark today. It’s not that far.”
“I said not today. I’ll go with you tomorrow. Meet me here at 10 sharp,” she said in her best teacher’s voice. “You get along now and I’ll see you in the morning.”
“If that’s what you want,” the young man said. “Just let me get my gun.” He took a half step toward the weapon.
“No, I’ll get it!” Zoe said forcefully. “You back out the door and I’ll hand it to you.”
The man did as he was told and Zoe backed down the aisle where he had dropped the AK. She was careful not to lose sight of him. When she reached the weapon, she quickly bent over and picked it up while sliding her carbine on its sling across her back. She noticed it was one of the cheaper stamped receiver versions of the ubiquitous rifle and gave a little “pffft” of disgust at the sheet metal weapon. The irony that she could even tell one rifle from another, let alone the quality of their build, hit her funny bone and she smiled briefly.
She removed the magazine from the rifle and stuck it in her pocket. Then, she smartly pulled back on the charging handle. The chambered round came out of the weapon and turned somersaults in the air from hitting the ejector. She caught it in her free hand, mildly pleased with her prowess. Setting the butt of the rifle on the floor and leaning the barrel against the shelves, she checked to make sure the man was still where she expected him to be. Seeing that he was, she removed the magazine from her pocket and placed the round of ammo in it with a roll of her thumb that would have illustrated to the initiated how many times she had done it before.
She picked up his rifle and walked back to the door. She handed both the weapon and the magazine to him at the same time and then quickly stepped back while bringing her own carbine back to where it could be deployed quickly.
“Don’t load it until you get out of sight,” she instructed. “I’ll see you at 10 in the morning.”
“Okay,” he said in a mildly disappointed voice and turned to walk away. He took a few steps and then turned back around, his rifle and the ammo still in separate hands. “My name is Roy. What’s yours?”
It seemed a harmless question to answer. “Zoe,” she said.
Zoë watched him walk down the street and disappear around a corner three blocks down. She waited about a minute and then sprinted down to where he had turned. She carefully peeked around the corner and was glad to see that he was still walking away. She jogged back to the hardware store, picked up the can of fuel and hiked back to “her” house.
She fixed some lunch, actually using the new fuel. It burned perfectly. The gasoline she had been using, even though the stove was supposed to work fine with it, didn’t burn very cleanly. Of course, the fact that it was two years old and smelled more like varnish than gas was the main cause of that. Zoë figured that if she were careful, this fuel would last her for several months.
After lunch, she sat in a big easy chair and read more about Summer. The heroine had finally met a man. He didn’t seem interested in her, but she was using all of her feminine wiles to attract him. This turn in the story didn’t surprise Zoë as it was a pretty standard plot twist for romance novels. What did disturb her a little was that her mental picture of Summer’s new fascination looked astonishingly similar to Roy. Unable to shake the young man’s image from her mind, she slammed the book closed.
Zoë was in position long before ten o’clock. Hidden in the shadows of some bushes and trees a block and a half from the hardware store, she watched through a small pair of binoculars. Roy showed up around 9:45. He was early, but not too early, she thought. That was good. He sat on the sidewalk with his back against the front of the store and his rifle lay across his legs. His head turned from side to side every so often. Zoe watched carefully to see if he looked at any one area more than others. She couldn’t discern that he did, but she carefully glassed any place that he seemed to gaze at for more than a moment or two.
The young man looked at his watch every so often. The interval between looks decreased as the top of the hour approached. Zoe stayed in her spot and watched as ten o’clock came and went. Roy seemed to become impatient around a quarter after. He stood and started pacing back and forth. As the minutes ticked by, he paced further up and down the block. Zoe was very careful not move when he was facing her. Finally, at 10:25 he headed off the same way he had gone the day before.
Zoe let him round the corner and then quickly but carefully made her way to it and peeked around the building. He was a couple of blocks down, walking away. Most importantly, he was still alone. Zoe followed him, cautious to stay where she could quickly hide if he turned around. Three turns and several blocks later, he walked up to a house that didn’t look much different than the one she was staying in. Instead of bars on the windows, there was plywood with narrow slits cut vertically screwed over them. Roy stuck a key in the door and was opening it when she yelled.
“Hey, Roy,” she said, trying to sound out of breath. He turned and smiled when he saw her. She trotted up close enough to where she could see in the house but not so close that Roy could grab at her. “Sorry I was late. I saw you turn the corner just as I was getting there.”
“I thought you blew me off,” he said.
“No, I just overslept. Sorry.”
“That’s alright. I’m just glad you came. I was looking forward to the company. It’s been pretty lonely since Mom died.”
He didn’t seem upset at all that she had not shown up as expected. She wasn’t sure how to take that. “I’m sure it has,” she said.
“Have you had breakfast?” He opened the door wider. There was no hint that anyone was in the house.
She had, but to admit it would perjure her oversleeping story. “No.”
“I can fix you something.”
“I wouldn’t want to trouble you.”
“It’s no trouble at all,” he said as turned his back to her and stepped into the house. He set his rifle down next to the stairs and walked further into the house, the door open behind him.
He sure is trusting, Zoe thought. She approached the doorway and looked around.
“Then, I accept. Thank you.”
She stepped into the house, but kept her carbine slung in front of her. She closed the door, making sure it didn’t lock. The living room was connected to the kitchen through a large opening; typical for the era this house was built in. Zoë slowly made her way behind him, checking each corner as she went. The house was spotless.
As she walked into the kitchen, Roy was putting on an apron. I was decidedly feminine with pictures of flowers and ruffles around the edges. She looked around, noticing that the décor matched the apron. She sat on the backside of the table, her back to a corner. The carbine stayed on her lap and her eyes moved quickly but thoroughly from left to right.
“What do you want? Oatmeal or eggs?” he said.
Zoe, momentarily forgetting her recon of the house, wondered if she had heard him right. “Did you say eggs?”
“Where did you get eggs?”
“A couple of blocks from here. The people that lived there had chickens. Some of them made it through the worst of the plague and they lay a few eggs a day. I go over and check on them and pick up the eggs every other day or so.”
“That’s fortunate. I’d love some eggs,” Zoe said enthusiastically.
“How do want them?”
“Scrambled eggs, coming up,” Roy said. “Sorry there’s no bacon. I do have some bread. I can toast you a slice or two if you want.”
‘Toast? Is this a dream?’ Zoe wondered. She thought about her blood sugar. It was still a little high and the toast would run it up a little. “Thanks, but the eggs will be enough.”
Roy smiled. He pulled a skillet out and cracked three brown eggs into it as Zoe watched. A few minutes later, he was placing a plate on the table with Zoe’s breakfast. She savored each bite of the eggs. The flavor surpassed anything she could remember eating since The Gripa had come. In fact, the last eggs she remembered eating where some of those freeze dried ones the Rednecks had stored. They tasted like shit. When was the last time she had really eaten fresh eggs? Her memory took her back to breakfasts long ago where the happy little family had sat in the sunny breakfast nook and hurried through the morning meal countless times, unaware of how good their life was.
“So, where are you from?” Roy said.
The question brought Zoe back to the present. “What?”
“Where are you from?”
She realized that she had let her guard down. She scanned the kitchen and the other parts of the house she could see from her seat. Should she tell him, she wondered. She decided there was no harm in the truth. “California.”
“Wow. How’d you end up out here?”
“I was at a teacher’s convention in Atlanta when it happened. By the time we knew what was happening, travel had been restricted.”
“Are you trying to get back home?” Roy said.
“No. Not really.”
“Then what are your plans?”
Zoe just looked at him for a moment. “Thanks for the eggs,” she said robotically. “How far away is the house we’re going to search?”
Now it was Roy’s turn to just stare for a few seconds. His mouth opened to speak, but nothing came out. Finally, he replied, “Not too far.”
The two sat in silence as Zoe finished her eggs. When she was done, Roy picked up the plate and washed it in some water that was already in the sink. She noticed that his movements were quick and efficient. She wasn’t sure if it was because he had done this so many times, or if she had hurt his feelings by avoiding his question.
“I really appreciate the breakfast,” Zoe said with some honest gratitude in her voice.
“You’re welcome,” Roy said as he dried the plate and put back in the cupboard.
“How long since you’ve seen an infected, Roy?”
His mouth curled up at one end and the eye on that side half winked in thought. “It’s been a pretty good while. I hear hairy ones sometimes at night, but I haven’t seen one since our group broke up. It could be going on a year. Of course, I never go out at night so I’d only see recently infected, anyway.” If his feeling had been hurt, there was no trace of it in his voice or demeanor now.
“That’s good. How are you fixed for food?”
“I still have a good bit. When we came back here from Henry’s house, we brought our share of the food for the three of us. Plus, Mom and I started a garden in the back yard. I canned lots of vegetables over the summer. Since it’s only me now…” his voice trailed off.
“Will it last long enough until next year’s garden comes in?”
“I haven’t really calculated it, but I’m sure I’ll have way more than enough for that. Not to mention what I can add to it by hunting. The thing I’m most concerned about is garden seed.”
“Don’t you have any?”
“I have enough for next year. It’s the year after that that I’m worried about.”
Zoe’s shoulders shrugged. “Just save some of the seeds from whatever you grow,” she said.
“It’s not that simple.”
“Because the seeds I have are mostly hybrids. They are engineered to produce more fruit. However, lots of them won’t grow right the second year. Sometimes they will revert back, but often you get little to nothing from them,” Roy said.
“Well, can’t you get seeds that aren’t like that?”
“Yes, but they aren’t common. I haven’t been able to find any non-hybrid or heirloom seeds in town.”
“You said sometimes they revert back. Maybe you’ll get lucky,” Zoe said. Like anyone who’s not infected or dead by now hasn’t already used up a lifetime’s worth of luck, she thought.
“I guess I’ll have to try it.”
“You said you hunt, too?”
“Deer?” Zoë asked.
“I would, but mostly small game like rabbits and squirrels. Some birds, too. Deer mostly move early in the morning and right before the sun goes down. Not really a good time to be out.”
Zoe nodded her head. “Aren’t squirrels like rats with bushy tails?” Her nose wrinkled.
Roy laughed. It was the first time she had heard him do that. It was deep and rich, not at all what Zoe would have expected. The sound invited her to join in and she did just a little. “I guess they are,” he said. “But if you fix them right, they’re delicious.”
“I’ll take your word on it,” she said with a smile.
“You know, you’re very pretty,” Roy said, the look of amusement gone from his face.
“Maybe we should go check out that house now,” Zoe said, standing and slinging her carbine around her neck.
Posted: 6/17/2008 10:34:43 PM
Jeeze not even done with your last one and I'm already hooked on the new one!
Posted: 6/17/2008 10:45:11 PM
I need more!
Posted: 6/17/2008 10:53:07 PM
I done read this
Posted: 6/18/2008 1:06:32 AM
Me too, but I still read it again.
Posted: 6/18/2008 10:36:25 AM
Sounds great so far!
Posted: 6/18/2008 12:26:43 PM
me, three, and yep, I still read it again... LOL... just call me an addict...
Posted: 6/18/2008 3:25:08 PM
Posted: 6/18/2008 3:46:00 PM
I want MORE!!! great read so far. Thanks a bunch.
Posted: 6/18/2008 4:40:06 PM
[Last Edit: 6/18/2008 5:13:45 PM by RckClimber]
I'm posting without reading it. I just want to say thank you for doing this, and damn you for getting me hooked on ANOTHER one of your stories. Like I said, I haven't read it yet, but I know I"m screwed, so without further ado, MORE!!!!!!!!!
ETA: Read it, great, still want more.
Posted: 6/18/2008 5:24:18 PM
Posted: 6/18/2008 6:03:16 PM
I like it!
I like that the character has defects above and beyond the infected she must deal with to survive, rather than some super-hero Rambo-type in the peak of health.
Some of your descriptions could use more thought, such as replacing "herky-jerky" with something more professional, but I don't know what those words would be...
Posted: 6/18/2008 9:21:32 PM
Old fashion tag!
Posted: 6/18/2008 11:39:54 PM
Posted: 6/19/2008 4:32:58 PM
How does that subscription button work again
Posted: 6/19/2008 5:06:42 PM
A zombie story by Halffast?
So. Fucking. Awesome.
Yes, I understand they may not be zombies in the traditional sense, but close enough.
Posted: 6/19/2008 9:15:44 PM
Awesome start, but when I first saw the title I thought of the movie Land of the Dead and the anti-zombie vehicle in it called Dead Reckoning.
Posted: 6/19/2008 11:47:20 PM
The Mayans- what an original idea- this has unlimited potential!
Posted: 6/20/2008 12:38:39 AM
Good so far, looking forward to more.
Posted: 6/20/2008 2:26:11 AM
OH man,great,another story that hooked me.Damn,nice work bro,keep it up!
Posted: 6/20/2008 5:17:10 PM
[Last Edit: 6/20/2008 5:17:55 PM by vanilla_gorilla]
Hooray! A diabetic story.
Edit: I mean that in a good way. Don't ever hear anything in these stories about people like me.
Posted: 6/24/2008 12:55:37 AM
I keep saying that I will not start any more stories until they are finshed.
I failed again.
Posted: 6/24/2008 7:18:24 PM
Always a pleasure to find a new story from you HF!
Now this one looks to be a new direction and I'm liking it. Have fun pard, we sure are.
Posted: 6/25/2008 7:32:58 PM
Probably your best yet.
Good composition - Excellent use of vocabulary (IE: not written to 6 grade level), etc.
Keep up the good work!
Posted: 6/25/2008 11:06:59 PM
WOW, great beginning.
Looking forward to owning Lights Out, Lost and Found, and this one when offered.
Truly some of the best fiction I've read.
Whenever any of them are published, I'm buying several for Christmas and Birthday presents!!
Posted: 6/25/2008 11:35:07 PM
You said a mouth full. Great SF