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Rated: 13+ · Novella · Horror/Scary · #1022750
One man and his dog must survive an unknown virus epidemic. Written in the present tense.
What the hell? The zombie staggers forward. He got into the house completely unnoticed. What the . . . it isn’t a he. It’s a she. "Mom?" I was living with an infected individual. And I didn't even know it was there. The virus . . . the infection showed no symptoms. It killed its victims in their sleep. This virus was sadistic.

I ended up killing her with a steak knife. It was fairly simple; cramming it into the left temple was extremely effective.


Just as the stories on TV, the zombies are what they appear to be. Slow, stupid. That's what the radio said. The radio was also the cause of the 1932 War of the Worlds scare. But I believe what I hear, as I just survived an attack. “The Vatican is calling the incident ‘Il Risveglio dei Morti’ or, more loosely, ‘Mortuus Ressurecito’, the Awakening of the Dead,” the radio states.

“The scientific community was already aware of a similar state caused by a mixture used in the Caribbean during religious practices. All of the ingredients are known to the outside world except for one, a certain species of wild plant. The plant, which indigenous priests will not disclose to the rest of the world, is an extremely powerful central nervous suppressant that causes zombie-like states in its users. These priests, or “bokors,” practice the religion of voodooism, a monotheistic Afro-Caribbean religion brought to the Caribbean islands from the African continent during the slave trade. The religion has no organized central authority, as opposed to the Pope or the Vatican; its god is referred to as “Bondye,” from the French “Bon Dieu” or “Good God.” “Houngans” or “Mambos” are believed to be able to actually bring the dead to life by the local Haitian population.

“It is met with skepticism in the developed nations. In the Americas, it has fused with Catholicism. A common saying is Haiti is 80% Catholic and 100% Voodoo (often spelled V-o-o-d-o-u). The religion has found a home in the southern United States, centering in New Orleans, Louisiana. Its users are most commonly used as slaves and prone to suggestion, like those under the influence of hypnosis. These ‘victims’ can be easily confused with the zombies portrayed in movies and video games, due to their blank stare, lack of facial expression, and general loss of intelligence. The plant’s toxicity is so strong the frontal lobe is basically shut down, making its victim/user appear to have been lobotomized. The effects are only temporary; the brain reaches full capacity after a short period. A similar state can be induced by a toxin produced by the puffer fish called tetrodotoxin, or TTD. TTD is fatal if ingested in even moderate portions.

“But this is not the case in this outbreak. The free world did not discover the plant, and this is not a boom of drug users. Scientists are stating these are corpses that are dead and rotting. And returning to the living world. These are zombies, folks. As seen on TV.” Zombies. As seen on TV. I laugh.

I begin to prepare. For exactly what, I am not sure. I prepare for something I know that is coming. Time for a little “preparation” at the super market. I make a list, checking it twice. It is an intimidating list:

• Water
• Hand-pumped water filter plus extra filters
• Iodine
• Canned food
• Gas generator
• Flares
• Dog food

I need a lot of everything. I bring my dog, and get in the car. Under a new local ordinance, I could leave the dog in the car for half an hour (half an hour after discovery by police), but because I have a list I finish in 20 minutes. And that includes my buying a rifle. Damn 3 day background checks. On the way back to the house, I turn on the radio.

“Reports of more infections are coming in from New York and Boston, due to the higher population density. There have been no known occurrences in Alaska or Hawaii. If you are just tuning in, doctors have discovered and isolated the virus. Due to the fact that a virus causes this condition, there is no cure. It is unlikely a cure will be found in the near future for the same reason. The virus is very closely related to the bacterium Pseudoalteromonas tetraodonis. It is very unlikely that this epidemic will reach the Midwest,” states the anchorman calmly.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, have classified the following outbreak levels based on size: Class 1 is those infected/dead numbering between 2 and 100, and more commonly occurs in rural areas. This class can be easily contained by private citizens and local police. Class 2 is those infected/dead numbering between 101 and 5000. This occurs in semi-large cities such as Grand Rapids or Lansing. The state police and the state National Guard will be mobilized. Class 3, such as the class this country is experiencing now, has total infected/dead reaching between 5000 and, in extreme cases, that of the country’s population. The nation’s active military is deployed to contain the infection. The case in the United States is a rare class 3, as the previous two classes develop into a class 3. The infection started in New York and worked its way out, due to the more communal living.

Besides my dead mother, I am not aware of any more infected. I suppose checking would be a good idea. I walk to the back slider and peer out. I check first to the right, which turns up nothing. I turn to the left, again, with no movement. Behind the fence there is no shadow. I assume it’s safe to leave, so the door is unlocking and opening. The dog runs outside. Guess she has to pee. She follows me into the neighbor’s yard. I always felt exposed here. Visible from the lake and from every direction up to 100 yards and from 4 houses. In my yard I’m only visible from two directions up to 100 yards and from 3 houses at any given time, plus I’m only visible from the lake and 1 house when I’m standing on the porch, even then I’m barely visible from the lake. There are no cars in the driveway. I knock on the door anyway. When the door does not open I ask myself if I should use the key hidden under the rabbit. I remind myself there are no cars, which means there is no one home. Should I check inside anyway, just to be sure? No.

I turn to leave. My dog is staring at me from the bottom step of their porch, her head tilted up at me, tongue hanging out of her mouth, panting. I could smell her bad breath from here. She is wondering what I’m doing. “Come on, there’s nothing dead here.” I go down the one step leading to their porch and cross the yard, into mine, up the two steps to my porch, and open my slider. I usually just open the slider then step off to one side, letting my dog in first. But I don’t hear her claws clicking on the linoleum. I look around for her, spotting her sniffing at the grass that forms the border between my yard and my neighbor’s. I shout her name, and she comes running. She jumps up the two steps and into the house. I shut and lock the slider.

“News of viral infection is reaching our office more and more often. The virus is spreading, seemingly unsatisfied with the 6 million people in the city of New York. Occurrences are now as far west as Pittsburgh and as far north as Toronto and Ontario. For those unprepared for self-confinement, the CDC has developed this plan: buy as much provisions of food and water as you can. Bring a weapon, if at all possible.

“If living in a two-story home, head for the second floor. Destroy the staircase, either with a sledge hammer or an axe, as the dead do not possess the intelligence to construct a ladder of their own, thus ensuring your survival. You’ll survive as long as you have enough supplies. If you and your family remain quiet, the dead may not be aware of your presence, and may not even know a second floor or attic exists. Do not use fire or explosives to destroy the staircase, as fire is unpredictable and could easily fall out of control. If in a one-story home, head for the attic. Pull the stairs up with you. If you live in a one-story home that does not contain an attic, climb onto the roof. Do not kick down the ladder. Pull it up behind you. You may need it to get back down to the ground, rather than risking broken legs, ankles, or feet. Prepare the second story, attic, or roof before news breaks out of infections or sightings of the dead. When those reports come in, head for the prepared areas. Be sure you have come into possession of and stored enough provisions for every one in your party.

“The virus is moderately communicable. It is not airborne, which means you can not breathe it in and become infected. Nor is it waterborne; one cannot ingest diseased water and contract the virus. Individuals can only become infected through open wounds, for example, if bitten, scratched, or already possessing an open wound and come into direct physical contact with an open wound on an infected individual, or, Heaven forbid, through infected blood transfusions.” The radio is beginning to annoy me; I could have told you that.

Days and nights pass without incident. I begin to wonder if the case of my mothers is just a fluke, just an isolated incident. I almost forget about my rifle purchase. I bring my dog and get into the car. I reach the store in ten minutes. It usually takes twenty. Shit, I need ammo, too. As I’m picking up the gun I ask for a case of bullets. Grand total around $300. I don’t care.

As I get back to the car, I find a police officer circling it. “Can I help you?” I ask. “Any longer, you wouldn’t have had a passenger window. You’ve been gone a while, haven’t you?” he states. “I’ve been gone ten minutes! That law requires a half an hour’s wait!” I shout. This can’t be good for my image. I’m giving him an excuse to do something. I calm down. “You’re probably going to need a license for that weapon, too.” I try not to act agitated. “I bought one with the gun. It’ll be in the mail shortly, or so I hear,” I say forcefully. That was a lie. “Are you going anywhere else?” he asks with a sigh. “No. I just came to pick this up; I almost forgot about it,” I answer with a chuckle. I’m trying too hard. “Right,” says the cop. He scratches his nose with a finger that has a very oddly shaped knuckle. “Break that knuckle a few too many times?” I ask. “Yeah, I never use my pistol. Well, if you’re on your way home . . .” he’s trying to get out of here. “Next time we meet, I’ll know you were carrying a gun without a license,” he says as he walks away. I get in the car and leave.

To be continued . . .
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