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Zombies Aren’t Real Are They

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Part One by TOKYBOOK

I hate getting a lecture. I especially hate getting a lecture in front of everyone else even worse. They already think that I am the weakest one. This only makes them think it more. But I wanted this notebook. I wanted it bad and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it. I’m tired of having nothing to do but run and run and run. And when I’m not running I’m scrounging for food or other supplies the group needs and praying that I get a bit of what I help to find. Survival of the fittest and all that. The biggest and baddest always get their share first.

Well I wanted this notebook. It didn’t matter that I almost got torn apart. It doesn’t really matter that I got beat on again. Well, yeah it does but it was kinda worth it. And I didn’t go down this time like I normally do. I felt righteous. I wanted something for myself and I got it for myself. I even got myself out of the jam without anyone’s help. They just saw me get in trouble is all. But I got out of it before they could decide whether they were going to take the time to help me. That’s what really stunk their britches up. That for once I didn’t need any of them.

I mean but still. C’mon. Jerry is the one that beat the crap out of me yet I’m the one that Moses lectured. How totally unfair is that?! Sherry said that he was doing it to toughen me up, that Jerry didn’t need toughening up. Geez. No kidding. The guy makes a raw hide dog treat look like soft cheese. She added her own bit of salt to my wounds by saying that if I didn’t toughen up I was going to get left behind. But you know what? That is scaring me less and less every day.

Let’s see, would I rather be chewed on by the monsters or chewed on by the monsters the guys are all turning into? Hard choice right there. I mean gross. Mr. Morris offered me an energy bar if I’d do something for him. Uh … no … don’t think so. As in absolutely no freaking way in you know where. Mr. Morris is like this old guy in his 40s and I’m fifteen. You tell me there isn’t something wrong with that particularly gross picture. And his breath makes me want to hurl big time.

Mr. Morris isn’t the only one. Some of the girls go along with one of them when they get hungry or scared. Most everyone in the group still try and pretend nothing is going on but everyone knows. I mean come on, sound carries which in and of itself is a spectacularly nasty bit of information that needs bleach to get out of my brain. Only I don’t have any bleach. The only thing of my own that I have I carry around in my backpack and I’ve had to fight to keep that a few times. And this notebook. I’ve got this notebook now too.

I’ve paid attention even though none of them think I have. They seem to think I am some kind of half-wit or something. Shows what they know. I notice a whole lot more than they give me credit for. For instance, I notice the girls and women aren’t any less hungry or scared the next day after doing whatever the guys ask them to do so whatever they get from doing it doesn’t last long. That’s what my economics teacher would have called a high cost, low return equation. I may not have much but Mom said no matter what I could always have self-respect. Dad said self-respect and honor go hand in hand and they have to be cultivated. Going with one of the men would be like cutting my own wrists. I’m not that bad off. Not yet.

I wanna go home. I wanna go home so bad. I know there is no one there. I know it isn’t really home anymore, but it is still a place I want to go see one more time before … if … I turn into one of the infected ones. I just want a picture of my family. Just a picture. I don’t want to forget their faces and I’m afraid I’m starting to. Is it too much to ask for one stupid picture? Mom had cleaned out her purse that day so she could take her small one and so only had a few things with her. I just want a picture of us all together. Surely not everything has been destroyed. I’d even settle for that really bad family portrait we took when I was in sixth grade where Toddie has the leftovers from a broken nose and I’d just gotten my braces.

Maybe nothing has been destroyed. Maybe I could find not just pictures but enough other stuff that I could make it on my own … or make it on my own until things get better. They have to eventually get better. They have to. But it is going to be awhile, probably a long while, so I need to be prepared for that.

We had camping gear in the garage and my bike is in there too; everything BUT the car was always in the garage. I could fly like the wind on that bike. I can go anywhere I want … well maybe not anywhere but certainly someplace away. Or at least as far away as I can get. Maybe I could take Toddie’s mountain bike and head towards that place we used to go camping; there’s cabins and everything up there. I’m sure Toddie wouldn’t mind. It isn’t like he is ever coming home from college to get it.

God. Did I really just write that? God. My parents would kill me … or not. Maybe they are all up there in Heaven together wondering what in the heck is taking me so long to get my crap together and my head screwed on right. I’m not a little kid anymore. I know I haven’t done anything to shame them – not yet – but I haven’t exactly done anything to make them proud either. I haven’t been a hero and saved a bunch of people like Moses. I haven’t found some huge stash of food like Sherry did although it is all gone now. I can’t shoot a gun worth spit because my glasses are all scratched up. About the only thing they keep me around for is to help with first aid but they’ve got Doc for the important stuff.

And speaking of Doc, he’s another one that is weirding me out lately. He used to be cool most of the time and weird only some of the time, now it is the other way around. He’s always wanting to examine me to make sure the other men haven’t been messing with me. Ew. He wants me to sleep beside him so he can “protect” me. OK fine, I’m young but I’m not young enough to be that stupid. Then he gets all weird when I do have to go off with one of the guys for scavenging and stuff. When I get back he’s like all over me, asking rude questions, acting … well acting all jealous and stuff. It’s not just gross, it’s embarrassing.

Sherry said it is because I’m the only girl that hasn’t chosen a protector, temporary or not. So that’s what they’re calling it these days I say back to her. She shook her head and said I was acting too old for my britches again and if I didn’t stop I was going to get into some trouble I wouldn’t be able to run away from. Sherry ought to know. She used to be a real tough kinda person but then she mouthed off to one of the guys and he “put her in her place.” She was hurt for a long time after that and a lot of the guys took advantage of her making her hurt worse. She’s better now but not the same as she was and I get the feeling she’ll never be the way she used to be.

Sherry is with Moses now. I guess it works for her because he treats her better than a lot of the women and girls get treated. Some of them are even jealous and try and take pokes at her but she has toughened up enough that she won’t be pushed off from him.

I suppose Moses really isn’t such a bad guy if you like the biker guy thing. But I don’t think he ever wanted to be top dog … or at least didn’t want to be top dog the way he got there or of a bunch of “leftovers.” He sure doesn’t like some of the people in the group and would probably kick them to the curb if we didn’t need numbers to keep us all alive.

Moses used to be a felon. Seriously. He told us he was like in the city jail waiting to be taken to the courthouse when things blew apart. But he is an honest felon. He doesn’t mind that my dad was a cop. Geez that doesn’t even make sense. I just mean he has his own code and sticks with it; you know his rules and follow them then you haven’t got any problems. And even though he slept around … alot … before him and Sherry hooked up he never went after young girls and wouldn’t let anyone take one if they were unwilling. That’s probably the only reason I’ve been able to make it as long as I have. The men are all too scared of Moses to force me into anything.

But I’m not so sure they are scared enough of him anymore. Moses is getting tired and it shows. And he has to fight with the men more and more to prove he is top dog. I think he’s been thinking of taking Sherry and moving on and seeing how far they can get on their own. I think Sherry has been thinking the same thing because I’m pretty sure she is going to have a baby; she pukes in the morning but no one says anything. There’s a couple of guys who could probably take Moses’ place if he does take off but I’m not sure how long they would last. Moses isn’t what you would call book smart, but he is street smart. These others guys, I don’t know; they think they are smart and talk about it alot … which kinda tells me they aren’t.

Crud, gotta run. Looks like the infecteds have found us again.

Zombies Aren't Real Are They

Part Two

Finally. Three days of running this time. I betcha another horde is building up. They do that sometimes when so many get into an area. They get like this hive thing going on. They get smarter or more focused on the hunt when they get together like that. Dad used to complain that one or two bad guys could be handled but when too many got together in the same place at the same time with the same purpose it made for a whole lot bigger mess to deal with. Toddie used to say stupid stuff like, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” But I think it might actually make sense about this stuff. Kinda like the gangsta’ kids at school. Dealing with them one on one wasn’t so bad. You didn’t want to deal with them when they got into a group because it was like they fed off each other’s bad energy and it made them worse together than they would have been separately. So bottom line, if there is a horde you want to be someplace else and someplace else quickly.

I’m so tired I should be sleeping while I can. But I can’t. I’m too hungry. The men split the last of the food we had up between them and now if you want to eat you have to ask one of the guys for something. Only you know what they want, what you’ll have to sell to buy a little sustenance to keep you going. Doc acts like it is only a matter of time before he can persuade me to let him examine me. He said if I let him he’ll feed me up good. No way in H E double hockey sticks. Even if I was desperate I sure wouldn’t give myself to some druggie. Two days ago I caught him popping pills during the run. I thought that might be what he was doing before but now I know for sure. If Moses finds out he’ll drop Doc over the side of a building. Head first. Drunks and druggies are like the absolute worst. They’d rather be high than alive. They always seem to be doing things that attract the puss brains’ attention.

Lucky for me everyone else is just as tired as I am and they’re all sleeping. All of them. No guards tonight. If we had them you can bet they’d fall asleep on duty. So we barricade ourselves in and do the best we can. We’ve had to do it before and it worked out ok. Just doesn’t feel right this time. That’s another reason why I can’t sleep. It feels like bugs are crawling all over me.

There is enough moonlight tonight that I’m going to write as long as it lasts. Try and settle my nerves. And then I’m going to decide.

First off how did this whole mess start? Don’t know. Don’t care right now either. Don’t have the time or energy to care. All I know is that whatever this mess is, it took my family away and left me running for my life. I do know it seemed to pop up all around the world at the same time. Doc – before he got really creepy and weird – used to talk about how impossible the odds were that something like that would occur naturally.

In other words a lot of people think – not that there are a lot of people left to think it – that it was some kind of bio-terrorism. And maybe by that totally punked up eco-terrorist group, the ones that think (or thought) that humans were like a plague on the planet and that there were way too many of us around. If that’s the truth bet they didn’t expect for things to go quite like they have. Instead of people plaguing the planet we have zombies plaguing the people. Yeah, yeah. I know they aren’t real zombies but close enough all things considered. They have heart beats and all that but the infecteds are way strange, like mutants or something.

I was out shopping with Mom when everything went to pieces. We’d come to the city to try and find a thrift store that had a “modest” homecoming dress; or at least one modest enough that it wouldn’t give Dad a heart attack and have him following me to the dance in his cruiser with the lights flashing and the siren going off. He wasn’t real happy about me dating to begin with but I told him it wasn’t like I was dating, that it was only one date; one date was not dating. He didn’t appreciate the difference. But it was also hard to say anything because the boy that had asked me to the dance was Kingsley “for Pete sake call me Lee before someone hears you” Berio who just happened to be the sheriff’s son.

Lee wasn’t a bad guy. Actually he was one of the good guys. But I know for a fact the only reason he asked me out was because he could say that he had to, that his dad had made him. It would have been a lie; the sheriff may have suggested it but he would not have made him. But it kept Lee out of hot water with the three popular girls that had been fighting over him since the year before. Of course being a guy he didn’t realize getting him out of hot water only got me into it. Wow they were awful and I got backed up in the bathroom a few times by those nasty she-cats. I didn’t care – well I did but not enough to tell Lee no when he asked me. No one had ever asked me to a dance before and Lee was one of the older, popular guys in school. I was a freshman and it would have been so cool to go to the dance with a junior.

Never got the chance which sucks. And I suppose they’re all dead now. That would make me sad if I didn’t think they were the lucky ones. So long as they aren’t you know, stumbling around like puss brains and stuff. Better to get chewed up completely and get it over with. Sometimes when you are fighting one off you can tell they aren’t far enough gone that they’ve stopped feeling pain. That’s harsh. So you try and do what you gotta do as quickly as possible. Just don’t look in their eyes. Makes for fewer nightmares that way.

Anyway Mom and I had gone to the city that day. It had to be a thrift store because dresses were expensive and Toddie’s grant had ended and if he worked more than twenty hours a week his grades nose-dived. Dad and Mom had agreed to help him for one more year but after that he was either going to have to find another way … like another grant or scholarship or internship or something … or he was going to have to come home, sit out a semester or two, and save up the money on his own. He was the one that had chosen to go away to university instead of doing his first two years at the community college so Dad figured he was going to have to be responsible for what the savings account my grandparents left him didn’t cover.

I had found THE perfect dress. It fit all the parameters Dad had said it had to. It wasn’t too expensive. It covered all the vital bits both top and bottom, front and back. It was age appropriate without making me look like a little girl … not like that was likely because my boobs had finally come in over the summer … or making me feel like someone’s granny which was actually a bigger worry for me. And it wasn’t skin tight or made from animal print. It also couldn’t be hooker red or funeral black or hoochie momma orange. Yeah, my dad really said that. He didn’t just say it, he wrote it down so I couldn’t possibly pretend to forget any of it. I still have the note in a little bag I carry around my neck. It also says “Love Dad” which is more important to me than the other stuff. Dad was a good hugger but saying the mushy stuff was hard for him so when he did you really remembered it. I’m glad I have that part to actually see. My dad loved me and I’m totally cool with that.

The dress was a couple of seasons out of date and had been worn by more than one person but I didn’t care. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it on the hanger. And it was the perfect color too. Mint. I’d always wanted a mint colored party dress. Of course Mom hated the color but had to admit that Dad would probably approve. Then again he was the man that didn’t think there was anything wrong with wearing one black sock and one navy colored sock so long as neither one had holes in the toes or heels; used to drive Mom up the wall. The only thing about the dress was it was asymmetrical and only had a strap across one shoulder. That meant trying the dress on just to be on the safe side.

The cubicle they called a fitting room wasn’t much bigger than my school locker but at least it had a door and not just a curtain like most places. I was in there when there was this huge explosion. I was thrown against the mirror and cracked it with my forehead. As I saw stars and was still figuring out if I should be scared or hacked off that the shopping day had been ruined the lights started to flicker. I must have been in shock because all I could think about was getting blood on the dress and having to wear stitches on my face to the dance. Then I heard a lot of screaming and then a lot more screaming of a different type. I tried to open the door but it wouldn’t budge. I screamed for my mother. She screamed back, “Don’t you dare come out of there Deandra Dawn Phillips. Don’t you dare!”

Mom only called me by my full name when I was in serious trouble. Most of the time people just call me Dee Dee. I was wondering what I had done when there was some breaking glass kind of noises and something hit the door hard enough to make dust fall from the funky acoustic ceiling. Then there was more screaming that went on and on and on but then a door slammed and things got quiet which was somehow worse. Then the growling started and I got scared. Really, really scared. I nearly wet myself but Mom had told me not to come out. She’d specifically ordered me. I kept waiting and waiting for her to say something else, to tell me I could open the door. Then I got smart and tried to call Dad and when I couldn’t reach him I tried to call Toddie.

I did get a hold of him but he wasn’t himself. Apparently there had been some kind of riot on campus and he’d been taken to the infirmary because some guy had bitten him. The nurse put him on the line but he didn’t seem to understand what was going on. Then the nurse took over and I guess I freaked her out and then we lost connection. I’m pretty sure if my brother is still in this world he isn’t my brother anymore. It usually takes less than twelve hours from a bite and you’re just another infected puss brain. Toddie was always a pain as a big brother, he gave me absolutely zero respect, but not even he deserved to be a puss brain.

After a while I tried to open that door and it wouldn’t budge. I kicked it and hit it with my shoulder. Nothing worked. That’s when I kind of turned off. I remember the feeling and it was pretty spooky; not something I want to do again because it leaves you too vulnerable. Sherry is actually the one that found me in that stupid dressing room. My mom or somebody had shoved a chair up under the door knob and then a clothing rack had really jammed it up and the door frame was all warped. Sherry told me she almost gave up budging it. If she hadn’t found me and let me out I would have probably died in there. She’s the one that made me change out of the dress and back into my street clothes. She also made me get two more changes of clothing off the racks of the store and stuff them in one of those reusable grocery bags. She’s also the one that said it was gonna be ok when I found my mom’s purse, but not Mom, and started crying again. It wasn’t gonna be ok but it’s what I needed to hear at the time so I don’t hold the lie against her.

I looked and looked for Mom. The one place Sherry wouldn’t let me look was the manager’s office. She said it was really bad in there. I know it sounds awful but I kinda hope Mom bit the bullet and isn’t wandering around someplace for me to run into and have to put her out of her misery. I have no clue about Dad but he was a cop. From what I’ve seen since that day almost all of the cops and soldiers died fast and hard trying to protect people; so chewed up or tore up that they didn’t go the way of the infecteds. That was my Dad’s job. He protected people.

Not the kind of protection Doc and the other men want to give me though. I … Oh crap, not again … Time to run.


Part Three

Huh. What do you know, I didn’t have to decide after all. They left me. They just flat out left me behind. I don’t think Doc meant to but he was kinda busy getting chewed on. I know he was a creep and all but he was nice in his own way in the beginning so I put him out of his misery. I might be a terrible shot but I’ve developed really muscular arms and a good swing. Better than I ever had when I was playing softball at school.

My weapon of choice is an aluminum baseball bat that has a couple of round training weights glued to the end. All you have to do is pop the skull or take out the heart by crushing the rib cage. I suppose a sledge hammer works too but it doesn’t feel as right in my hands as the bat does. The do-hicky-ma-jigger on the end of the bat means that even if your hands get slick from sweat or other stuff the bat won’t go flying away. I lost two hammers that way – nearly hit Moses with one of them and boy was he hacked – before I figured out a bat would work much better.

No matter what you’re swinging though you gotta be quick because the infecteds heal … and I mean heal fast, and from things they shouldn’t be able to heal from. I think that is why they are always hungry. They have to burn up a lot of energy doing that healing thing. I’ve seen them eating the covers off a leather chair. They’ll eat grass mats. They’ll even eat cotton clothes … not synthetic ones though. Anything that used to be a live something or other they’ll eat.

The mess the infecteds make – their waste – smells sooooo bad when it is fresh. But it is so dry when it comes out it decomposes fast and stops smelling or I’d have been puking every moment that passed for the last year. So if you can smell the mess the infecteds make then you know they’ve been in an area real recently; within the last twelve hours or so.

They’re messes have made most of the water sources we used to have too dangerous to drink. You gotta be real careful about what you eat too. Soap and water or bleach and water if you got it. If not, boil it. You keep your utensils and drinking bottle clean or else. Infected is a really hard way to go. It didn’t happen to anyone in our group but when we cross paths with other groups we share news and gossip and we’ve heard stories.

Like I said, infecteds need to eat and they’ll eat almost anything that used to be live … even carrion. But they prefer the live something or others. The feral dogs and cats that are left in the city are mean but cautious. They’ve gotten good at hiding and usually the only reason you know they are there is if they attack you first or you feel their eyes watching you as you go through their territory. Believe it or not the infecteds have gotten to most of the rats too … when the rats haven’t attacked them first. Don’t hack off a rat pack. Especially not one that has started to consider people shaped things as a food source. And never go below ground. Not even the puss brains go down there. I don’t know if that is true of every place but it is certainly true of this city.

The bigger something is the more likely the puss brains are to be attracted to it. Before the electric went out there was a youtube of some puss brains attacking a herd of elephants. I never want to see anything like that again. It gave me the runs. It even made Sherry gag.

And just for chucks and giggles the weirdos who made the whatever it is that causes the infection that makes the puss brains made it so the older the infecteds are … or I mean the longer they’ve been infected … the faster they heal. Their bones and connective tissues do anyway – skin, muscle, tendons, and that sort of thing. Some stuff doesn’t … like eyes. Gross. Alot of them look like they’ve got mange too. And alot of them have fingernails that are missing. Doc said it was because they weren’t getting the right nutrition for their condition and that it would eventually kill all of them. It’s always good to have hope. And if they get busted up bad enough but not killed, when they heal it is like a broken toy that doesn’t get glued back together right. I’ve seen some really freaky looking and moving puss brains. And right now I don’t want to think about that too much. I’m kinda upset enough as it is.

My feelings are hurt that Sherry would just dump me like she did but I’m thinking maybe she thought I was dead or bit up … not salvageable at that point which is what Moses used to call members of our group that got the infection passed along to them. I wouldn’t blame her if she did believe that. But if it had been her I would have made sure to put her out of her misery. I wouldn’t have left her to wander around as a puss brain for who knows how long.

By rights I should be chewed to ribbons but I fell through the floor where it was being repaired before things went to heck in a hand basket. It knocked the wind out of me and hurt like you figured getting your boobs wracked would, but it also meant the puss brains were a floor behind me and since they couldn’t move too fast on stairs – the ones that cornered us acted like they had inner ear issues – I started running.

I didn’t stop running until I was as far away from the developing horde as I could get. Not coincidentally I’m pretty sure I’m heading in the right direction to go home. I also got to one of our group’s caches before any of the others did. They’ll get around to it eventually but I’ll be long gone by then and so will most of what was in the pipe; a big PVC pipe that was capped on both ends. Except for the booze; they can have that. And the cigs. In the past I’ve tried both to see if it would make me feel any better like the others made it seem like it did them; the booze just gave me a headache and queasy stomach and the cigs stole my breath to run. So, no booze and no cigs. Wasted weight in my backpack and this thing is heavy enough as it is. Well, except for the Everclear but that isn’t for drinking; it is for sterilizing stuff. Doc used to use it to sterilize his medical stuff or what he used as he medical stuff because he said nothing survives a 24 hour soak in Everclear. The smell alone makes me tend to believe him.

Ravioli, potted meat, two canned hams, some fruitcocktail, beanee weenees, and some other canned junk should hold me for a while. Sherry also taught me about some weeds that can be eaten. I recognize them but I keep forgetting the names. I nibbled on some wild ruffage last night to keep things moving because that canned stuff totally kills my digestive track. TMI but true.

I shouldn’t feel as good as I do but … well … I do. For one thing I’ve made killer time today. I found these really cool inline skates and they’ve been as good as a bike. Even better because I can maneuver with them better than I could a bike. And I only took one header when I hit a crack in the side walk running – er, skating – from a group that had marked a whole city block as their territory since the last time we passed through there. Luckily in addition to the skates I found the knee and elbow pads and a helmet at the same time. It was in this store that sold sports and exercise equipment. I went in there looking for some tape for my bat handle. I walked out with some clean clothes – totally rocking the sports bra thing – a new rain proof jacket with a hood, and a couple of other odds and ends that I found back in the camping area. The place was a wreck but I also managed to grab some first aid junk and some thirst quencher gum and some of those whacked out energy bars. Mom would have had a kitten over the number of carbs in these things but hey, a girl needs some energy if she is going to run … or skate … away from the puss brains.

I try and balance eating the “carb bars” and the “protein bars” because too many carbs and I get tired, too many proteins and my kidneys feel like someone kicked them. The carb bars have a lot of sugars in them which is why I want to take a snooze after they run out. Doc says the protein bars are hard on people’s waste disposal system when they don’t get enough water to help process them through. I guess I learned something from Doc after all.

And I’m jazzing on one of those five-hour energy drinks. I need to sleep but I can’t afford to, not tonight anyway. I couldn’t find a real secure place so I’ve got to be my own guard since I don’t have anyone to share the job with. If the map I found in the bus station is right as soon as I get on the other side of the warehouse district I should be real near one of the bridges. The question is whether I can get across the bridges on this side of the city. The ones on the other side were blown up by the soldiers or something like that and another one fell down when a barge hit one of the those things that hold the bridge up out of the river.

I’ve seen the bridges though not up close. Moses always said it was a waste of time and energy to go that way because even if we could figure out a way to get across the broken bridge spans people on the other side of the river didn’t want us and would shoot us to keep us bottled up with the puss brains. In the beginning that was true, Sherry and I saw it happen before we joined Moses’ group. It was so bad that people just stopped trying to get across. But I figure enough time has passed that surely they wouldn’t care about one girl wanting to go home. It isn’t like I expect anyone to feed me or anything. I just want to go home one more time.


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