Mother Nature’s a Mother

Tropical Cyclone Bingiza

Tropical Cyclone Bingiza (Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video)

I’ve been so preoccupied with the living dead prowling outside my doors that I’d completely forgotten about good ol’ Mother Nature. She came back into focus yesterday with the storm news from the upper east coast. The internet is on overload. The pictures I’m seeing are mind boggling. It looks to me like a hurricane. Do they have hurricanes in New England?

Reports are coming in about power outages in several storm states. I fear that once power is lost, it will be lost for good. After all, who’s going to bring it back on line? For those without power, I pray it’s a mild winter.

This brings me to my own regional vulnerability. It’s been five years to the month since wildfires ravaged southern California. If not for the firefighters, I’d have lost my home. What will be the result with no one to fight the fires? You’ve certainly heard the reports that Fresno, Bakersfield, and Oxnard are burning.  I feel like I’m sitting on a time bomb. How long do I have before my home goes up in flames?

Of course, fire is also a fool proof means of purging the living dead. May this eastern storm have a similar effect.

Wildfires

Wildfires (Photo credit: agrilifetoday)

Spilt Milk Syndrome

English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings

English: Managing emotions – Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I witnessed something yesterday that moved me like nothing else I’ve yet experienced. It literally brought me to my knees.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the lack of emotion on my part since the apocalypse began. I certainly have. Not that it bothered me. I thought I was merely facing hard times with hard logic. After all, why dwell on what you can’t change? What’s the point in crying over spilt milk? No need to be human. Sever your emotions. Live like one of the living dead––just don’t eat anyone. Let’s call it the spilt milk syndrome. I know I’m boring you with all this talk about emotions so let me tell you what happened before you turn the channel.

Yesterday morning, Shelly and I set out to forage for cigarettes and other basic essentials. Our destination was a small market/liquor store a mile and a half away. Shelly insisted she carry the 9mm which left me with the machete––I’d broken my shotgun and left it behind during my botched rescue attempt. And no, I didn’t let Shelly finagle the pistol from me. The truth is I’m just not a very good shot, and I can’t waste ammunition with a machete.

Our plan was to enter the store, clear out any rotters loitering about, then loot and vamoose. We made it there with only one incident. A dead teenager began to follow us down the road. Although she wore the pallor of death, she was in much better shape than most of her kind. She had a bite mark on her upper arm and her bloody hands told the tale of her suicide. Poor kid, she must have believed she’d truly die if she took her own life. Although we could easily outpace her, Shelly insisted I dispose of the girl. She was right, of course. Once a rotter catches the scent, they’re relentless. Nevertheless, there was enough left of the young girl that her decapitation shook me up a lot more than you’d think. Perhaps that’s what helped pry open the door to my emotions.

We came into sight of the store. Rotters were scattered about, sprawled over the street, twitching and crawling, broken, mangled, crushed. Further down the street, a throng of dead swarmed over and feasted on something large, which I at first took to be a horse or cow. Whatever it was had drawn every rotter in sight, leaving us free and clear to accomplish our mission. I’m sure I would have been fine if I hadn’t suddenly realized that the thing in the road was not common livestock, but an honest-to-God rhinoceros.

The rhino jerked and tossed off several rotters who picked themselves up and resumed with their repast. The creature was still alive, though beyond any hope. It seemed absurd to me that such an extraordinary and powerful animal should die in such a manner. Without warning, I envisioned mankind as that dying beast, and everything I’d bottled up inside me over the last few weeks poured out. If Shelly hadn’t pistol whipped some sense into me, I’d probably have drawn the entire pack of living dead down on us.

For the rest of the day and far into the night, I continued to mourn the people I’ve lost and the world that’s crumbling around us. Shelly, I should say, got her smokes and joined me in my grief when we returned home. I’ll also mention how much my jaw hurts from where she hit me with the gun. I’ll give her this. Whatever she does, it’s never half-assed.

Note: As much as I could really go for a genuine miracle about now, the rhinoceros most likely walked here from the San Diego Wild Animal Park, which is located about thirty miles away.

The Squeaky Wheel and Other Squeakers

Disney

Disney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent so much time preparing for the big stuff that I overlooked many of the little things. The Zen term for this, I believe, is SNAFU. While I was prepared to weather a total collapse of civilization, be it due to economic upheaval, revolution, human or extraterrestrial invasion, or plague, I completely neglected to factor in the lesser evils. As much as I hate to admit it, it was Shelly’s constant nagging about getting cigarettes that alerted me to the problem.

With the prospect of future bartering in mind, I’d stored several cartons of cigarettes with my supply of emergency freeze dried food, which I kept in a large closet connected to the laundry room. The problem with this location is that keeping up with laundry has not been a priority of mine of late. Had it been, I might have heard or smelled the problem sooner.

It basically came down to this. Shelly badgered me to help her procure cigarettes until she finally wore me down. Desperate for peace and quiet, I told her about the hidden stash of smokes. She kissed me and cursed me for holding out on her. She then rushed off with a spring in her step, and I dared hope for a respite for the rest of the day. That lasted up until I heard her scream.

I immediately envisioned a zombie breach at the back of the house. Against my better survival instincts, I grabbed an iron skillet and made straight for the screams. Shelly stood in the laundry room, shrieking and tugging at her hair while staring into the open closet. I cocked the skillet, ready to let it fly, and yelled for Shelly to run. Ignoring my command, she remained where she was and screeched, “They ate my %#&@ cigarettes.”

I then spotted the damage, and the skillet slipped from my grasp and clanged to the floor. On every shelf, package after package of food had been gnawed open and the contents scattered. At first sight, I believed the destruction total. The closet smelled of rank urine. Feces droppings identified the culprits. Rats.

Among the casualties were Shelly’s cigarettes, which, it turned out, were the cause of her distress. I’ll leave it at that, seeing as how she’ll undoubtedly read this post.

I’ve spent the better part of the day salvaging what I can and estimate we’ve lost more than half the food. I’m certain I could salvage much of it, if not for another of my oversights. I’ve run out of zip-lock baggies with which to reseal the partially damaged packages.

Seems like Shelly’s going to get her wish. Tomorrow we’re going scavenging. Shelly for cigs; me for rat traps, baggies, and as much hard liquor as I can carry.

We All Cream for I Scream

It seems Shelly and I fight about nearly everything. She says it’s because I won’t go on a cigarette run with her. Says she wishes she was back with her husband. Apparently, he beat her at the drop of a hat, but was better than me in the fact he bought her smokes when she was out. If that’s her idea of an ideal relationship, who am I to judge?

Be grateful you didn’t hear her when she read my last post. She may only be 5’ 4” but she’s got a vocabulary that would make the editors of the Urban Dictionary blush. I’m quite certain I never want to meet the guy who married her. I’m also certain there will be hell to pay, if I find the nerve to post this blog, which brings me to my point.

Shelly says I’m a %*&@ idiot to believe anyone would be interested in reading about my pathetic existence. She says the only thing interesting about me is her. So here’s the clincher. I find myself agreeing with her. This despite the strange fact that Z has become a central focal point of the apocalyptic web community. So is this my farewell post?

Not on your life. I will continue with my mundane posts as usual. However, after scathing hours of discourse with Shelly, I’ve decided to sift the direction of Z.

In the last few weeks, we as a people have lost vastly more than we can fully fathom. With death literally prowling outside our doors, we can no longer casually visit our neighbors as we once did, even if they live next door. Why did we visit like we use to? What was it we did when we visited? I think what we did was exchange stories. “I did this. My wife told me that. Can you believe how so and so lost the football game yesterday.” Isn’t that about how it went?

So I ask you, isn’t the swapping of stories an essential part of being human? Shelly and I believe this to be true, and by that we mean we believe it’s absolutely essential to our nature. Do you? If your answer is yes, send me your story.

Why so many survivors have focused on this site is a mystery. What matters more is that whoever posts here will have an audience. Think of Z as the blazing fire-pit where the last tribesmen of humankind gather at night to enthrall each other with their tales of woe, warning, and enlightenment.

Step into the light and tell your tale.

Visit http://zotale.blogspot.com/ for guest survivor guidelines.

Hero

Ash Williams

Ash Williams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I scrambled away as fast as I could with the severed hand clinging to my ankle. Pus-face crawled after me, though he was slow as any other rotter. Now that I was free, I was in little real danger.

Hacking off the hand had sickened me. I wanted my stomach to settle before I did any more hacking. I couldn’t help Sparkman with pus-face hounding my steps. A bullet to his head might have done the trick, but I wasn’t willing to draw attention with the noise.

It turned out the solution was simple. I climbed inside the Cadillac and, leaving the door open, slid across the seat to the passenger side. When pus-face crawled in after me, I exited and closed the door behind me. I then ran around the car and slammed the driver side door. Gnashing his teeth, the rotter pressed his face and hands against the window, fouling the glass with maggot laced ichor. Problem solved.

I’d learned my lesson and took my time from then on. I moved from the road to the trees. The air was foul. I took advantage of the cover and made my way to a clearing where the water tower resided. Sparkman had not exaggerated her predicament. I estimated no less than two hundred rotters lumbered about the clearing.

“Sparkman’s screwed.” That’s the first thing that went through my head when I saw the situation. She’d told me there were too many rotters to handle on her own. Who did she think I was, Bruce Campbell? Sure, I’d done pretty well with pus-face—though his stupid hand was still latched to my ankle. But two hundred? What’d she expect me to do, whistle Dixie and lead them away like some Pied Piper of the living dead?

Ends up that’s pretty much what happened. What I’d forgotten was the rotters sense of smell. They smell the living as well as the living smell them. Even worse, I didn’t realize what was happening as more and more of the gathering appeared disoriented and turned in my direction. By the time I fully registered my peril, I had a horde of zombies surging my way.

Did I mention I’m out of shape? Well, let me tell you, it’s amazing how fast you can run when two hundred rotters are after your ass—and liver and spleen and intestines and—you get the idea. Problem was I ran out of steam. My side cramped up and hurt like hell. The bruising I’d taken from crashing into the Cadillac protested with every step.

I limped into town and saw my doom. Slow though they are, rotters have the virtue of perseverance. From every direction, the dead were merging my way. Although I‘d avoided them on my way through town, I could only assume they’d caught my scent and followed me at their tortoise pace.

If could not outdistance them, I was screwed. I thought of shutting myself inside one of the cars and blowing my brains out. Lucky for me, I’m too much the coward for that.

I climbed onto the roof of the BMW and unslung the shotgun from my back. I’ve always been a “live and let live” sort of guy, but I was discovering there’s something about the living dead that sort of makes you want to blow them to kingdom come.

If I told you how I held my own until I ran out of ammunition, you’d say I was telling a big-fish story or tooting my own horn, so I won’t.

Screw it. I’m too tired to lie. I was magnificent. I was John Wayne on the ramparts of the Alamo. It was amazing. I knew I was about to die, but it didn’t matter. All my pains evaporated. I literally broke the wood stock of the shotgun when I smashed it into an umpteenth skull.

Blood rained. I have no idea how much of the shit I swallowed. I just know it’s the worst thing I’ve ever tasted.

I’ve been sick for days, running the gammit between fever and chills.  I presume it’s from the blood I swallowed.

It was Sparkman who saved me, though the memory of her screaming at me to get on the back of her motorcycle is no more than a colorless blur. She didn’t escape unscathed. Her back is lacerated with deep scratches, and she’s suffered far more than I from infection. Up until today, I didn’t believe she’d pull through. Had I not stockpiled a supply of antibiotics, I’m certain neither of us would. Her name is Shelly, by the way.

On the downside, The Lord of the Rings Online expansion was due to be released about now. Damn. I’d been really looking forward to exploring Rohan. The end of the world really sucks.

I’m too weak to write any more. I need to check on Shelly and get some rest. Hopefully, I’ll feel up to removing this damn hand from my ankle come tomorrow.

Hanging Up My Cape, I’m Not Cut Out For This Hero Crap

Bicycle hazard sign, Portland OR

Bicycle hazard sign, Portland OR (Photo credit: Salim Virji)

I set out at dawn. There was no phone service and I’d not been in contact with Sparkman since the night before. Hope alone persuaded me she was still alive.

I stood on my front porch and sniffed the air, ready to bolt indoors if I smelled the stench of rotting meat. The air was fresh. The only rotter in sight was shuffling across the slope of a nearby hill. It wasn’t moving toward me so I reasoned it was oblivious to my presence.

Presuming the roads would be obstructed with derelict vehicles, I left my car in the garage and took my bicycle instead. It’s funny how conspicuous I felt peddling through town with a 9mm Beretta strapped to one hip, a canvas sheathed machete hanging from the other, and a twelve gauge pump shotgun slung across my back. Flabby Rambo on a bicycle. I couldn’t shake the feeling I’d be in deep trouble if a cop caught sight of me. If only I’d been so lucky.

Fewer rotters wandered the streets than I’d expected. When too many were congregated on the street ahead, I backtracked until a vacant cross-street presented itself. I almost made it through town without a fight. Almost.

The water tower peeked above a stand of oaks beyond the edge of town. Seeing I was so close to my objective, I grew careless and raced between several cars and trucks abandoned in the road. I managed to perfectly time things so that I collided with a rotter when it stepped from behind a UPS truck and into my path.

The impact knocked down the rotter, and I smacked into the grille of a vintage yellow Cadillac. In case you don’t know, striking a wall of steel at thirty-plus mph hurts a lot. If the rotter hadn’t started crawling toward me with jaws a gnashing, I might have lay there for a good while, tragically bemoaning my aches and pains.

This was my first face to face with one of the hungry dead. The pictures and videos posted on the web had done nothing to prepare me for the reality. The look in its eyes—let’s just say I now know what it feels like to be a Big Mac.

The rotter was bloated and swollen. Three parallel gashes raked its face. Pink milky pus oozed from the maggot chocked wounds. Flies buzzed and swarmed in a dark cloud. The stench defied description. I retched and would have lost my breakfast, had I bothered to have eaten.

Pus-face lurched and grabbed my ankle. I forgot my pain and kicked. I think I might have screamed. I couldn’t shake its grip. It chomped down on the toe of my boot. My toes felt near to splintering under the pressure. I drove the heel of my other boot into its nose. The blow broke the hold on my boot and tore a swath of skin from pus-face’s cheek. I don’t even remember drawing the machete, though I do remember hacking off the hand clamped to my ankle.

My bike lay on its side, the front wheel bent and useless. I scrambled away as fast as…

My apologies. Something urgent requires my attention. I’m posting this partial blog in the event anyone out there gives a rat’s ass whether I survived my harebrained outing. I’ll finish this up when time permits.

God willing

Solitude’s Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

English: Jack Daniels whiskey

English: Jack Daniels whiskey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sparkman’s alive! He texted me not two hours ago. Says he was worried the ones doing the shooting in Moulder would home in on his cell signal, so he removed the battery. He stayed until he saw the helicopters leave the area and figured it was time to split. Good figuring on his part. He missed his own cremation by a few ticks of the clock. He didn’t risk texting me until everything went to hell.

All to Hell. Have you stopped to think just how much the end of the world messes with your plans. I’ve prepared for this day for three years. I saw myself, all righteous and alone, weathering an alien invasion, or a civil war, nuclear holocaust, or a pandemic of Biblical proportions. I guess number four is what we got. Funny, the one scenario I never believed could happen was a stupid Zombie Apocalypse. Damn, I wish they weren’t dead. That’s what makes the whole end of the world thing seem so unreal, like it’s just some really bad Hollywood dream. I mean, if E.T. were wiping us out, that would make sense. But with these walking chum-buckets, how do you make sense of anything?

Not that it matters a rat’s ass, but I’m getting off track. Maybe that’s my point. Solitude sucks. I’ve been holed up here for what, five or six days? Hell, I’m pretty sure it’s only been a couple of days. Just seems like forever. Losing my mind. Where was I going with this?

Sparkman! That’s where I was going. He’s got nowhere safe to go. Hard to believe, right? He pulls off this James Bond spy shit, and yet he has no place to stay? I know, right?

So I invited him to stay here. The reason being I hate being here alone with those things wandering outside the door. For the first time in my life, solitude is creeping me out.

Here’s the kicker.He took me up on my offer. So the question now is can he make it here without gettin’ et? I promised I’d break out the Jack Daniels if he did.

As you probably can tell from my writing, I sort of jumped the gun on the whiskey.