Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CWA: #Zombie Invasion

"Ladies and Gentlemen, please keep your children close and do not leave the the room. We will not be leaving the cruise ship today. I assure the military presence surrounding this hall is of the utmost necessity," Tasha said as a group of soldiers wheeled in large round oil drum and placed it in the middle of the room. They stepped back into formation. All eyes stared upon the large object covered with a black sheet. What was inside?

As if Tasha has heard your thoughts, she lifted the black sheet to reveal the image of a man's head encased inside the drum. People shrieked with horror. Some wanted to run away but the military had stopped them. The sight of head never bothered you. You walk towards Tasha staring at the image. This wasn't no ordinary head. It was a ...

"Zombie," Tasha finished your thought with her hand over the microphone. You glance sharply at her.

"A zombie head? Where are we Tasha, voodoo land?"

"Not quite." She raised the microphone and began to speak. The people slowly gave her their full attention. "Our tour guide cannot take you to her land today for safety reasons. We thought it would be best if we showed you what is threatening humanity in her land and why you cannot go outside this room. Beside me is the head of a Zombie our tour guide had killed this morning. Don't worry it's dead not the living dead. She made certain of that. You may look upon it but I do ask that you don't touch it."

"That's because you can't trust Zombies," an eighteen year old woman said from the back of the room.

"Ah, our tour guide has arrived," Tasha said as the woman walked to the middle of the room. Tasha bent down, took out a Please Do Not Touch sign and placed it on top of the canister.

Zombie by Aprilzosa @ http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-3264882383

I had to go look up cruise ships. You see, in a post-apocalyptic world, there is not a lot of time for shuffleboard and standing in buffet lines. In fact, that is probably what zombies would call a bunch of us living, breathing types standing in a queue…a buffet line.

My name is Snoe Gainey, I am the 18-year-old daughter of Samuel Todd and Meredith Gainey. I never knew my parents. My dad died before I was born and my mom gave me up so that she could go out and explore a world over run by the undead. To each his own, I guess.

It has been almost twenty years since the first zombie was reported. Society didn’t handle it too well. That is a surprise because I guess there were hundreds of books about just such an event taking place BEFORE it actually happened.

These days, we are mostly what you might consider tribal. Small clusters of people have chosen various locations and fortified them. We trade goods and try to offer help when needed. However, there is a rumor of an army massing to the east, and some say that the new president is somebody with an infamous reputation.

I guess the best thing I can do is share what a week in MY world can be like…

Saturday, June 1st

Five years ago, I received my mother’s journal. Now, at age nineteen, I think I have the discipline to begin one myself. Sure, I tried a few times in the past, but it just never took. I would forget, and then, once I remembered, so much time had passed that I would just give up and say why bother. A few days ago, Mama Lindsay came back from her unit’s escort of the Rose Colony’s president out to the Ten Pacific Nations Confederated tribal lands, something to do with a renewal of a bunch of treaties.

Anyways, she sent a messenger for me to pick her up after her DECON certification. (Everybody who ventures out of the confines of a Safe Zone has to be tested before they are allowed in general population.) It seems she found all my old failed attempts at starting a journal when she was loading out for her trip. She didn’t want to bring it up until she got back just in case we had a blow up over it.
I should probably come clean with the fact that I supposedly have a hot temper. Mama Lindsay says it is proof of genetic influence on personality.

So I guess she decided to wait until she got home to have the big conversation about me keeping a journal. I think she was being a little silly. After all, it was just a little scribbling on paper. We have a rule…no arguing before a patrol. Nobody wants to have their last memories of a loved one be of some fight over something stupid. We started that rule after Mama Janie and her entire farming group were wiped out by a Mega Herd—some reports claim there were over twenty thousand undead that day. I was only five or six at the time, but I think Mama Lindsay and Mama Janie had gotten into it over something like taking out the trash or sorting the compost; basically they had an argument over something mundane. To this day, I’ve never had the heart to ask what exactly they had quarreled over.

Mama Lindsay says the only reason she didn’t kill herself in those rough days that followed was because of me. She said I was her sole reason to live for almost two years after Mama Janie died. A few days later, Mama Lindsay sat me on her lap and we made a pinky promise to never let ourselves separate if we are angry at each other. I am proud to say we kept that promise all these years,
When I met her at the DECON station, I could tell she’d had a tough run. Half of her weapons were either missing from their sheathes, or visibly damaged. Her eyes had dark circles under them and her forehead had those two deep creases that it gets when she is either exhausted or pissed.
I took her field pack and we headed to the supply depot for groceries. At first, she didn’t say a word. Since she had called for me, I knew she would get to it when she was ready. Finally she just stopped walking and turned to look me in the eye.

“Are you leaving?”

When Mama Lindsay asked me that question, I guess I was shocked. More than that, I realized that I guess I’d known for a long time that anybody who knew me, or better yet, knew my birth mother, waited to see if I would leave on some crazy journey.

That is the price you pay when your birth mother is famous for being a Traveler. By the way, that’s as close to an insult here as you can get. Here in the Rose Colony, a ‘Traveler’ is somebody who refuses to be a part of the community.

In the world we live in, not being a part of a community carries the same stigma as the Old World welfare whore. I learned in one of my history classes that there was a small sub-culture of women who had babies, lots of times by different men, and lived off of checks they got from the government. I came home from school with a lot of questions that day.

The problem with Travelers is that they don’t even try to help anybody but themselves. They scavenge the Old World and sell anything worthwhile to the highest bidder. Sure, they risk their lives—not many Travelers live past twenty-five according to the statistics—and usually have some amazing artifacts to show for it, but it all self-centered.

It hurt me a little that, after all these years, Mama Lindsay could think I would do anything like that. I was raised to be a part of the community effort. I can’t really remember much about Mama Janie, but the images I do have are one of a person who always helped others and worked very hard. I have one clear memory about how when she would come in from the fields, she would always have something from the garden hidden in one of her pockets for me to find when I helped take them for washing.

It is sad that I know more about the father who died before I was born and the mother who abandoned me than I do about a woman who loved me, told me bedtime stories, and taught me to read and write.

Seeing how worried Mama Lindsay was at that moment made it that much more nerve-wracking about what I had to say. When the words came out of my mouth, I was not sure how she would react.
“I want to join the Escort and Expedition Force.”

Mama Lindsay has been the commander of the EEF for three years. I still remember how proud I was the day that the colony president handed her the sword and crossbow. I knew on that day that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I also knew that she wanted me to choose a safer profession.
I honestly believe that one of her biggest concerns over me was that I would get outside the walls and feel drawn to explore the world. After all, it is what made my birth mother famous.
That brings me to my birth mother. Meredith Gainey. She and my birth father, Samuel Todd, have the three bestselling books of all time in the ZE (Zombie Era). You might think it is neat to be the daughter of two celebrities.

No. It’s not.

You see, there are a few different sorts when it comes to people and my parents. With Sam, it goes one of two ways; there are the creepy ones who see my father as some sort of demi-god, they get all weird when they meet me and it is actually kinda scary. And then there are the ones who have basically memorized his writings and feel the need to tell me about how “deep and philosophical” my father was as a writer.

The reactions about my mother are, shall we say, a bit different. There are some who see her as this avenging warrior. Her battle with The Genesis Brotherhood is a very popular story. There are some who see her as one of the early pioneers who blazed some sort of trail. There are others who see her as a selfish woman who stands as a reminder for a lot of what was wrong with the pre-ZE society.
I just see her as the person who abandoned me right after I was born. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful. I had two amazing mothers who loved me and devoted their lives to making me a good person.

I can still see the look on Mama Lindsay’s face. All of that relief that came first…then the typical “motherly” concern. No, her baby was not going to follow in her birth-mother’s footsteps. Yay! Instead, she was choosing the most dangerous profession in the colony. Crap.

Saturday, June 2nd

Jenifer came over today. I guess Mama Lindsay told her about my decision. Jenifer travelled with Meredith for quite a while. She got burned up real bad during the battle with The Genesis Brotherhood.

I guess it is okay to call her “Jenifer” in my journal. Everybody else calls her “Madame President.”
She wanted to congratulate me on my decision to join the EEF. By the big deal she made of it, I could tell she was enjoying Mama Lindsay’s annoyance.

Jenifer used to be the person Mama Janie and Mama Lindsay called when they needed somebody to watch me. I guess they went through a few sitters when I was two or three because I was “a hellion” according to the stories. In an act of desperation, they called Jenifer. I guess they thought a half-burnt young woman with most of her head unable to grow hair because of all of the scars, coupled with her shriveled raisin of a left eye, would scare me straight. Instead, it seems that I formed quite a bond with her.

I was with ‘Aunt’ Jeni when I killed my first zombie. We were out picking wild blueberries when one came out of the tall grass. Creepers are the worst. Missing their lower half, they get through the picket lines more often than a walker. This one had an even bigger advantage: it was a child.
He couldn’t have been any older than six—my age at the time. His clothing had long since deteriorated, and the years had taken their toll on the belly of the wretched thing.

I remember every detail about that boy. The way you could tell his hair had been curly, even though it was so caked and matted with filth, the piece of bone that stuck out from what remained of the left leg—which was missing from just above the knee. The fact that the entire right leg stayed intact and still had a leather boot practically grafted to the foot.

Jenifer gave me a spear and told me it was time that I learned how to put one down. I thought it would be easy. You hear about it or read my birth parent’s journals and think there is nothing to it. Pop it in the head and it’s done.

It took me three tries. The first time, I jabbed and my spear scraped down one side of its face. The second time, I stabbed it through the neck. I got so mad that I kicked it onto its back and stabbed it through the eye.

I remember staring at it for what felt like just a few seconds, but it was noticeably darker when Jenifer took my hand and led me home. I must have counted each of the nine remaining ribs a couple hundred times.

Anyways, it was sweet of Jenifer to come over and wish me luck. I am pretty sure she doesn’t do that for every single person who enlists in the EEF.

Sunday, June 3rd

My last day as a civilian—so to speak. I met with a few of my friends. (It is a bit creepy with how many ‘Sams’ and ‘Merediths’ I know.) We all went out to the corridor with crossbows, sat up on the barricades, and passed around a bottle of homemade blackberry wine while we took turns dropping shamblers with the crossbow.

The parents all hate it when we do it, but kids have been doing this for years. It is some sort of ritual. Nobody knows who started it, but for some reason, if you join the EEF, you come out here on the last day. You and a few friends drink a bottle and shoot the crossbow. The winner is the person who loses the fewest bolts. I remember something in my mom’s journal about her crossbow being fitted with the retriever reel. Of course, that is standard issue now. Nobody has bolts to waste.

I do have a guy that I like…but we already talked it over and decided that we will hold off getting serious until I finish my first tour. We almost ‘did the deed’ a few nights ago, but he was super sweet and it was actually Tim who put a halt to things.

That brings me to my sweetie, Tim Coatney. He was one of the kids rescued from that mansion where The Genesis Brotherhood had their base. He works the farms and is a very BIG boy. He has this baby fine blonde hair that I love to run my fingers through and arms that make the world disappear. I know that I am going to miss him, and I know that it is possible that some other girl will scoop him up when I leave on my first run.
As I lie in bed with my candle and this silly little book, I wonder if I will be able to keep it up. I actually lost it today…it was in the dining hall at the table where I ate breakfast. I am already wondering how my birth parents carried those damn things through all the crap they went through.

Monday, June 4th

I feel like I’ve been beaten with a really big stick. I hurt in places that I didn’t even know I could hurt. I thought I’d been so clever with my morning jogs and my secret workouts. Thing is…when it is just you, if a little fatigue sets in, you can call it quits or ease up. The only reason I’m writing this entry is to prove they didn’t beat me out there today.

Tuesday, June 5th

Didn’t think it was possible, but I hurt worse today. I made the mistake of asking what all the running and climbing and jumping had to do with being in the EEF.
Our little group had to load a bunch of rocks into our field packs and run Tower Hill. That is a big hill that all the old radio towers for the area sit on top of between The Corridor and Old Portland.
On the plus side, it got us outside the barricade…we even saw a few lone shamblers—no, we weren’t allowed to take them down—which for two of our team, were the first wild contacts. On the down side…did I mention the hill?

I guess now is a good time to say that we don’t see that many zombies close up these days. The Sunset Fortress Colony is deep enough behind the barricade that, if you don’t want to…you don’t have to ever see them. One of the guys in our team is from one of the Revelationist families.
The Revelationists are a religious group. They believe that we are living in the “End Times” or something to that effect. They don’t usually join the EEF, but this guy is the son of the pastor or priest or whatever they call themselves for the Sunset Fortress chapter.

They aren’t crazy like The Genesis Brotherhood; they just have a certain set of beliefs. We have most of the Old World religions represented—along with a few new ones. Nobody cares if you are Christian, Muslim or Revelationist these days. There are too many other problems. I guess it used to be a thing in the Old World. There are lots of things about that time that don’t make sense to my generation.

So, the thing about the guy who’d never seen a zombie before that made my day was the fact that he actually asked permission to get a closer look. All of us were waiting for our field trainer to bust his ass or make us all do more push ups. Instead, he stopped the run and told us all to take up defensive positions around the walker. Then, he escorted the kid down for a closer look! It was like he became human all of a sudden.

I watched them walk down to the thing. The trainer stayed with the guy—I think his name is Pete, but I am really not sure—and was talking to him. Then, when they got about ten or so yards away, the trainer grabbed the kid by the shoulders and turned him so that they were face-to-face before he said something that sounded serious by the tone, but that we couldn’t actually hear. After that, he just gave the kid a pat on the back and let him approach the zombie.

Of course, zombies don’t care what your religion is…they just want to eat you. As soon as it saw the kid, it started for him. I didn’t know what to expect and was sorta curious when the kid pulled a book out of his pack. He just kept walking backwards and I could hear that he was chanting something I just couldn’t hear it clear enough to make out anything. After a handful of seconds, he pulled out this long, heavy blade and split the zombie’s skull.

After that, the trainer was back to being a total jerk. He made us finish our run and acted like nothing had ever happened.

Thursday, June 7th

Yesterday we took an overnight trip out to a small stream where one of the farming teams has been spotting a few shamblers sniffing around the area. It is important to keep the farming areas clear; sighting a few zombies can be no big deal, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, it can mean the leading edge of a mob.

Mobs have been reported (if you can believe what some of the Travelers say when they pass through) to stretch on for dozens of miles. We’ve seen a leading edge arrive almost a week ahead of the main body once. The estimated number was over two hundred thousand.

Some of the older folks, like Mama Lindsay, say that the mobs are like cartoon snowballs. I guess, in the cartoons, snowballs were rolled downhill and became bigger than houses. I’ve rolled a snowball down a hill…it went about two feet and didn’t really do much of anything. Personally, I don’t get it, but there are a lot of things about the Old World that don’t make sense to my generation.
Supposedly, people used to sit at pee-sees and type all their conversations to each other. People would meet and get married without ever meeting each other! They could type things and people in whole other parts of the world could read it right then. Seems creepy.

Some of the old timers say that the reason the zombies wiped us out so fast is because everybody was so busy blogging, tweeting and Facebooking about it. They say that the zombies were at the door before anybody actually tried to act.

So, last night, I was on watch with Sam Simmons. (He is the Revelationist pastor’s son.) We saw a few coyotes, a bunch of raccoons and a skunk. Not one single zombie.
We broke camp at first light and headed back. This evening, the second training unit (who took over for us) just got back an hour ago. They made seven kills!
It is SO not fair.

Who is TW Brown?

TW Brown is the author of the Zomblog series and the Dead series. He is deeply immersed in pursuing his dream of being a “full-time” writer while trying to balance the duties of husband, father, friend, and Border Collie owner. He keeps busy reading and editing the numerous submissions for a variety of upcoming anthologies and full-length titles for May December Publications. He has had short stories published by Pill Hill Press, Living Dead Press, and others. 

You can contact him at: twbrown@maydecemberpublications.com or visit his website at www.maydecemberpublications.com.  
You can follow him on twitter @maydecpub and on Facebook under Todd Brown, Author TW Brown, and also under May December Publications.

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