In case you missed the first instalment of our contributor Kevin Keys’s book that was shared on AKAAWOL.com, check it out here before going on to Chapter Two below.
July 10, Sunday morning, the sun was just peeking over the trees and it was already looking like it was going to be another oppressively hot day. Somehow the humidity far surpassed the temperature. Smot and his brother Stan were walking down a narrow path from the fishing hole they had been at since the previous evening.
“It’s ninety eight fuckin’ degrees and the fuckin’ humidity is a hundred and four goddamn percent, SHOULDN’T IT BE FUCKIN’ RAININ’?” Smot shouted at the weather report on the radio that was bungee corded to a cooler that they had nearly filled with speckled trout and a couple of nice redfish. Stan wore a beat up orange backpack full of fishing gear, mostly weights, on his back and Smot clutched six fishing poles as they walked shoeless down the crushed shell road. It was almost six in the morning and there were already more people on the street than they had ever seen on a Sunday morning, or any other time at all for that matter. This is not really an urban setting, people here drive. The men came to the road that led to their property as a small group of people staggered by under a streetlight in the distance.
“Look at them pill head mother fuckers stumblin’ around...must of got their scripts filled yesterday,” Smot chuckled as they walked home.
The brothers set the cooler in Smot’s kitchen before Stan went next door to his house to go to bed. While Smot waited for the coffee pot to finish brewing he flipped on the TV and rolled a joint. Then he set to the task of filleting the nights catch while he watched reruns of Baa Baa Black Sheep. After the fish were filleted, bagged and in the fridge he sat down on the couch and fell asleep with his cup of coffee in his hand.
“WEEEEEEEEEEEE...” the emergency broadcast signal blared from the TV. Smot quickly sat up and relit the joint that was still in his mouth and watched in amazement as the world burned.
“This is the emergency broadcast system, this is not a test.”
And then they went into dissecting a report released by the World Health Organization claiming that called this the “new great plague.” And that the infection was caused by a parasite that consumes the brain of the host but leaves enough of the medulla oblongata to send signals throughout the body to move muscles. It is believed that the parasite was originally waterborne and is communicable through body fluid transfer. Like from the mouth of an attacker as it bites into its victim, the parasite moves into the victim through these wounds.
Smot flipped the channels up and down the dial but every single one of ‘em showed variations of the same news. One channel showed the smoldering ruins of Detroit both before and after the National Guard closed it off and launched scores of airtosurface hellfire missile strikes.
“Looks the fuckin’ same to me,” Smot mumbled as small wisps of smoke escaped from between his lips.
Next, live video streams from New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Tampa and almost every major city in the U.S. and around the world showed the chaos in the streets. Some parts of the cities were in smoldering ruin while others were rioting or under Marshall Law and under quarantine-like lockdown conditions.
When Smot turned back to SNN there was a news crew on site at Englewood’s local hospital morgue. The tag scrolling across the bottom of the screen read, several bodies of “red tide” victims had been reported missing and extremely dangerous. A very tall brunette locked Maria Sanchez did a few extremely dull interviews with a couple of doctors an overly ambitious cameraman wiled the entire crew into one the examination rooms to broadcast live. They came to get footage of the corpses of seven morgue workers had been found mauled to death. When the crew entered the room the blood covered gurneys were no longer occupied by the morgue staff.
Instead they were all pressed against the big first floor windows that looked out on the unusually crowded parking lot. Most of them were full body pushing on the glass as though they were trying to walk right through it.
Some of them turned to lock eyes on the news crew when the door opened. The rest of them did when it closed. They had bloodless flesh hanging from their injuries, some of them had no eyes and one was just a head on a table looking directly into the cameraman’s eyes as he snapped his broken toothed maw at him. They seemed instinctively drawn to the crew who had no idea what they had gotten themselves into.
“Maris Sanchez reporting live from Englewood Hospital. Where seven morgue staff members have been found dead, disemboweled by the very corpses that lay on their examination tables,” Maria said into the microphone.
Maria was walking toward a staff member who was wearing a blood soaked labcoat, a woman who was awkwardly stumbling toward the reporter too. When Maria got close to her, the short woman attacked the much taller reporter. She bit deeply into her breast then shook her head as she pulled back like an animal, ripping out a blood covered breast implant. By the time she began to scream two others were on her, gnashing into her shoulders and arms. The horrified crew retreated as fast as they could to keep away from the monsters. But they trapped themselves in a corner. The camera continued to roll as the ghouls tore the crew to pieces and then the screen went black.
“What the fuck?”
Traffic helicopters with cameras attached to their sides were flying over Sarasota and Venice which are small cities north of Englewood, it was chaos. There were wrecked cars strewn all over the road and people were attacking each other, it looked like they were biting.
“Fuckin’ zombies...? FUCKIN’ ZOMBIES!!” Smot delightedly screamed.
Then he jumped up and reached up for a chrome plated fireman’s axe that rested in a rack on top of the bookcases in the living room. It had an American flag and 9/11/2001 engraved in gold on its head and SMOT carved into the handle. It had been sitting in that rack in his living room since it was given to him. He burst into Stan’s house and turned SNN on the TV and turned the volume up as loud as possible.
“GIT THE FUCK UP, ITS THE ZOMBIE APOCLYPSE!” he shouted at his brother.
“Fuck you I’m sleepin’,” his brother shot back.
“THEY FUCKIN’ CLOSED TAMPA.”
Stan immediately shot from under the covers.
“What? How the fuck do you close a fuckin’ city?”
Stan’s wife and sons had been vacationing in Tampa at Busch Gardens for the weekend and were staying at a hotel across the street from the theme park when the road blocks were put in place.
“National Guard troops have closed all roads and bridges and air traffic to and from Tampa and Saint Petersburg and US Navy warships are on standby just outside the Port of Tampa Bay to forcibly enforce this quarantine zone?” said the incredulous anchorman Phil Phucet.
“I can’t believe that I am saying any of this.”
“The bodies of recently deceased victims of an unknown waterborne parasite have been somehow revived and are now feeding on the living.”
“States of emergency have been declared in forty two sta...”
The rest was lost on the brothers as they ran to Smot’s truck slamming the door behind them. On his way out the door Stan took down the fifteenth century warhammer he had hung next to the front door for unwanted guests and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both men reached over to put their stash into the false bottom under the center console of the four wheel drive’98 Dodge one ton dually diesel pickup truck. The truck still had the snow plow on it that had been there when he bought it in 2001 while he was volunteering at the Twin Towers site. Where he lost his wife Tina and their six year old daughter Rayne had gone to the World Trade Center to pick up a family friend for breakfast on September the eleventh.
“Fuck you, you fuckin’ piece of shit!” Smot shouted when the diesel engine wouldn’t turn over.
“Get the fuckin’ jumpbox I’ll get the hood up,” he barked.
Stan went back to the house to oblige his brother’s request. As he stepped onto the porch Stan heard breaking branches and gut wrenching moans coming from inside the peppertrees.
“Come here,” Stan shouted to Smot.
“And bring my hammer!”
Smot came running through a row of rose bushes with weapons in hand. Stan was just standing there. He stood with his mouth hung open, staring at the six zombies trying intently to get at them. But they were completely tangled in the branches of the pepper trees that surrounded the property. Pepper trees are more like a ten foot tall bush with a convoluted maze of small tangled branches that go every which way. The tangled branches make them a huge pain in the ass to climb through.
“Look, that bitch is stuck as fuck,” Smot laughed.
He was pointing at a young man with a large piece of his cheek dangling from his face. The creature had his silver eyes locked on Smot, biting at the air. He struggled desperately to pull himself through the labyrinth of branches. Stan just watched, dumbstruck as this thing struggled to pull himself free.
“Look at his eyes, they’re all fucked up like the people on the news,” Smot said.
The men stood and just watched in amazement for several minutes before they realized that there were moans coming from almost every direction.
“Oorah motherfucker!” Smot said then he turned his axe sideways and swung it angrily at the creature. He connected the flat engraved side of the axe with zombie number one’s exposed melon. The blow sent chunks of bone, flesh and gray matter flying almost to the road thirty feet away, killing him instantly.
“Yep, he was a zombie,” Smot said.
“How do you know?”
“’Cause when I broke his head...he died.”
“When you break anything’s head it’ll die, fucker,” Stan sniped back.
“Yeah I s’pose. Whatever.”
“He did look like a Chad though, didn’t he?” Smot pondered.
“What?” Stan asked.
“He looked like a fuckin’ Chad,” Smot continued. “Look at him, don’t he? Clean shave, cargo shorts, polo shirt, penny loafers...he’s a fuckin’ Chad. That blonde broad with her titties hangin’ out, she looks like a Brenda, blonde, hot, nice body...yep Brenda.”
Stan decided to see if these were really zombies so he walked up to Brenda, a sexy woman about thirtyish, nice looking, wearing only dainty yellow panties, it looked like her left ear had been torn of bitten off, but it wasn’t bleeding. Stan held out the antique four foot long war-hammer by the six pound hammerhead that had a flat side for smashing and a spiked side for piercing armor, kinda like a Knight tenderizer. He poked her in the forehead three or four times with the spike on the handle’s end. Each poke was progressively harder than the last, opening big wounds that didn’t bleed either.
“Well ok then,” Stan said, and flipped the warhammer in the air catching the handle and dealing the cute blonde a crushing blow to the temple.
“HEY HEY FUCKER, don’t splatter that shit on me,” Smot shouted, as he dodged some flying brain chunks.
“Fuck this,” Smot said. He pulled his Marine Corps issue Colt 45 side arm from his belt and dispatched the four remaining zombies. When they turned back to the truck they realized that there were at least thirty more of them coming down the road toward them.
“Musta bin too loud,” Stan said, pointing at the group of moaning ghouls that were staggering toward the brothers.
“Whatever man, look how slow them stupid mother fuckers are, they ain’t but three hundred yards away and I bet we could take a fuckin’ nap before they get here,” Smot said.
“I told you they’d be slow,” Smot told his brother.
Smot grabbed a 200’ coil of mountain climbing rope from the shed and threw it on top of the dive gear and metal ammunition boxes in the back of the truck. The big diesel roared to life so Stan hopped into the truck with the battery jump box. Smot pulled the truck onto Old Englewood Rd. and stopped to raise the snow plow up to about five feet or so and tilted the bottom of the blade in with his left hand while he casually pulled a joint out from behind his ear with his right.
He slowly ran it under his nose to thoroughly enjoy its musky sweet aroma.
“Bet Johnny Law don’t fuck with us today.”
“Fire it up, let’s find out,” Stan laughed.
The rear tires of the old Dodge protested to Smot’s stomping the accelerator to the floor.
When the truck pulled through the cloud of white smoke you could see a gun rack in the back window with three assault rifles and stuffed into the corner of the window was a license plate that read SNS SHOW. Smot steered the truck into a crowd of a couple dozen zombies smashing their heads with the top of the plow and sending them tumbling under the truck as they sang in unison, “Hey hey hey hey do the zombie stomp.”
“See, that’s why I left the plow on,” Smot said.
“Yeah ‘cause you knew this was gonna happen.”
“I’ve used that plow to clear a hundred boat launches in the woods but this is the first time I’ve used it to plow people,” Smot said, while he fumbled for a lighter to light the joint hanging from his mouth.
“This is way more fun. I can’t find my fuckin lighter gimme yours,” he told Stan, who was already patting his pockets with no luck.
“I don’t have one either.”
“Look in the glove box,” Smot said, as he opened the center console and fished around pulling out a well read, dogeared copy of The Anarchists Cookbook, he tossed it up on the dash but still no lighter.
“Dude we got no fuckin’ lighter, stop at the corner store I’ll grab a lighter and some Gatorade,” Stan said.
“Good ‘cause I ain’t had no coffee yet neither.”
“Get me two jumbo black coffees, rolling papers and some smokes. I’m going next door to shop for some new fishin’ gear,” he told Stan, and jogged to the shop next door.
Smot pulled both of the double doors open at once making a grand entrance. In his haste he nearly tripped over the store’s owner Ed, who glared at him with silver eyes and moaned loudly as he writhed on the floor. He was tangled in some large blood soaked cast nets that normally hung next to the double doors.
“Fuck, I forgot my axe,” Smot grumbled when he saw the old man. He looked over to the anchor rack and picked up a twenty five pounder. He raised it over his head then powered it back down, crushing the skull of the sixtyish bald man. Ed’s assistant Billy had a massive bite wound on his right shoulder that tore flesh and muscle from the wound all the way down to the nipple. He was trapped and moaning behind the counter with his silver eyes glued ravenously to Smot. He pulled the Colt 45 from his waistband and held it up to Billy’s forehead and purposefully pulled the hammer back with his thumb.
Suddenly the glint of something shiny and orange caught his eye from inside the glass
case. Grinning, he stepped away from the counter and stuck the pistol back into his waistband after using it to break the glass front of the counter that held Billy at bay. He reached in through the broken counter front and pulled out an orange twelve gauge flare pistol and a box of flares. He loaded one into the breach and pointed at Billy’s left eye and pulled the trigger. The flare stopped short of penetration so he quickly reloaded and did the same to the right eye. The flares burned brilliantly, shooting fiery red sparkled plumes from the old man’s eye sockets. Smot quickly pulled out his cell phone and took a picture before the flares burned out. When he turned around, Smot looked at the selection of gear at his disposal and began to mumble lists off to himself. Let’s see, I need a new Shark rod. Oh shit I need that fifteen foot cast net and oh, one of those and some of those. Stan had been waiting in the truck for a few minutes when he saw Smot swing the tackle shop door open and block it with a huge white marine cooler. He went back it and pulled out two more of the big coolers. He was dragging them onto the sidewalk as if they were heavy. When Stan saw the loads his brother was pulling outside he slid over to the driver’s seat and pulled it in front of the shop’s front door.
“Holy shit this is fuckin’ heavy,” Stan protested, as he helped his brother load the coolers into the truck.
“Well I left all of my shit at the house, besides zombies don’t fish,” Smot said, as he pulled the truck onto Dearborn St. and headed out to see who was left.
“Hey look at this,” Smot pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and held it in front of his brother’s face. He showed off the picture of old Billy with red burning flares where his eyes had been, sending Stan into hysterical laughter.
The road ahead of them was littered with wrecked cars blocking the way to the main road. Zombies were just ambling around aimlessly in small groups. Then an exceptionally tall panicstricken red haired woman stepped out of her wrecked car and started running toward the rumbling truck. These monsters seemed to have an uncanny sense for the living. She didn’t get more than ten feet from her car before several groups of ghouls turned in her direction and started scrabbling toward her, moaning really loud. She was too far away for the pair to get to her in time and too close to the creatures to get to safety. The brothers took to the sidewalk to try to get to her faster. The plow was smashing zombie heads and forcing their carcasses under the truck as they raced down the sidewalk. She was only twenty or so paces from them when she was grabbed by the leg and pulled to the ground and mauled by a ghoul that had been trapped under the rear tire of a Jeep. The veteran Marine and his brother both turned their eyes from the sight but continued driving toward her. When they got to where she was there were five creatures already pulling her into twitching pieces. Smot lowered the plow and sped into the crowd of undead creatures sending them flying in all directions. Stan pulled an AK47 fully automatic assault rifle from the gunrack in the back window. He stood through the truck’s sunroof and took careful aim at the redhead. He squeezed the trigger one time and ended her suffering.
When the truck came to a stop in the dollar store parking lot the pair climbed into the truck’s bed and placed the AK47 along with a pair of M16A2 Marine Corps issue rifles on the roof of the truck. Smot jumped to the ground and shouted, just barely over the moans of the creatures a hundred feet away in the street,
“This is fuckin’ boring. I’m goin’ over there to chop some fuckin’ zombie heads off…you in?”
“And miss out on smashin’ these fucker’s heads?” Stan replied. “Of course I’m in.”
With that they set off toward Englewood Road leaving the rifles behind. Smot with his axe and Stan with his hammer they began running at a full sprint. They ran to where the largest group of ghouls was staggering toward them. The zombies moaned so loud that Smot and Stan could scarcely hear each other as they screamed back at the zombies.
“FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKIN’ FUCKS!!!” Smot shouted at the first of many zombies that stepped into the path of his chrome axe. He was swinging his axe with incredible ferocity, but not out of anger...it was more like he was just having a good time splitting heads.
“Here zombie zombie zombie,” Stan taunted, as he jumped onto the white roof of a red Civic hatchback and kicked the pizza delivery sign off of the roof. Stan used his hammer like a golf club. He was teeing off with zombie’s heads as the monsters approached the little red car.
While they had amassed pretty big piles of smashheaded ghouls, the brothers were forced to retreat after they were nearly overrun by a massive zombie horde numbering what appeared to be several hundred strong.
The gray fleshed, moaning creatures were now coming at them from all sides. They fell back to the bed of Smot’s truck picked up the M16A2s off of the roof and within fifteen minutes they were standing ankle deep in spent cartridges with huge numbers of redead...undead? Piles of the ghouls collected just a few yards from the truck.
“Fuck that was close,” Smot said as he climbed back into cab of the truck.
“We finished off the M16 ammo and only got three clips of AK rounds left,” Stan said, after rummaging through a pile of empty two hundred round military surplus ammo boxes. Smot picked up his cell phone and typed “CODE PLAID!!! CODE PLAID!!!” and sent it along with the picture of Billy as a mass text to everybody that mattered to him. Stan climbed into the truck holding the AK and three, thirty round magazines.
“We better git movin’, there’s a shit ton a zombies comin’ down the road and we’re ‘bout outa ammo,” Stan said.
The brothers sped off toward East Englewood to check on the rest of the gang. They plowed through large groups of undead that slowed the powerful truck to a near standstill as the rear tires began to spin on the bodies that were being stuffed under the truck by the plow’s down turned blade.
“Holy shit we need to put it in 4wd,” Smot laughed.
“Well, git this fucker somewhere there ain’t no zombies and I’ll hop out and lock in the front hubs,” Stan shot back.
The truck came to a complete stop while the mud tires threw gray lumpy liquid into the air and all over the truck, “That’s just fuckin’ nasty,” Smot and his brother said in stereo when Smot turned the wipers on and they simply smeared the lumpy fluid and entrails in that double rainbow pattern on the windshield.
Only a few minutes had passed before the first response to the mass text came in, Smot wedged his cell phone between his shoulder and cheek and without any greeting he shouted “Git to the fuckin tower, take some shit...and fuckin guns,” Smot put the truck into reverse and turned the wheels to the left and hammered the throttle to the floor which sent the truck into a wild backward spin that crushed several zombies with the passenger side of the truck. The door mirror hit a short silver eyed old woman square in the face splitting her head in two and sending Stan into hysterical laughter cackling like a hyena.
“I am gathering up the crew, guns, ammo, and anything else I can find.”
He straightened the truck out on State Road 776 and again floored the accelerator pedal, building up speed and crushing as many of the infected as possible with each pass.
“It’s the fuckin’ apocalypse dude turn on the goddamn news. There’s fuckin’ zombies are everywhere. This is fuckin’ great I bin running the stupid mother fuckers over all morning,” he barked at the phone. Then hung up and shoved the phone between his legs. He raced back toward town navigating between small groups of infected, making sure to hit as many of them as he could. After clearing a large section of road with the truck’s plow Smot turned it into the Shell station to fill the fuel tank and lock out the front hubs so he would be able to use the truck’s four wheel drive.
Back on the road toward East Englewood the brothers headed straight to the spot where they had nearly gotten stuck in front of the marina and continued plowing a path through the masses of zombies.
“There’s about forty thousand people in Englewood...looks like most of ‘em are zombies...there’s two of us...they’ll need more zombies,” Smot said to his brother as the plow smashed into a small group of biker zombies, sending them under the truck. Smot handed his brother his cell phone and told him, “Call around, see if anyone needs picked up before we head to the tower.
Editor’s note: Chapter Three coming up next month. Look out for it!