In case you missed the earlier instalments of our contributor Kevin Keys's book that were shared on AKAAWOL.com, check them out here before going on to Chapter Three below.
"I am gathering up the crew, guns, ammo, and anything else I can find," exploded out of my cell phone.
"Why?" I asked. I could never have guessed what this day had in store for me.
"It's the fuckin' apocalypse dude turn on the goddamn news. Fuckin' zombies are everywhere! This is fuckin' great I've been running the stupid mother fuckers over all morning!" Then he hung up the phone just like it was a normal call. You know, like hey buddy I'll pick you up in a half hour bring your fishing pole. Fuckin' lunatic.
So I poured a cup of coffee as Ginger turned on the TV and when it blinked to life the channel was already switched to SNN. I stared at the screen in disbelief, or maybe it was amazement, either way.
Ginger, who wasn't paying attention to the TV asked, "What's up his ass?"
"Well," I replied. "Either the dead have risen to devour the living or somebody put LSD in my coffee again."
It didn't take long for Ginger and I to realize that Smot wasn't joking. Every channel had stories of ghoulish creatures rising from the dead and feeding on the living. The Today show told how some people believed that there was someplace they could avoid quarantine and hide from the disease or that they would be safer on an island with less people. So they boarded cruise ships or smugglers planes and fled to the relative safety of Australia where there were no reported attacks. There were also few safeguards against the spread of the plague because that government chose to stay somewhat tight lipped as to the seriousness of the pandemic.
I flipped my laptop open and searched YouTube for safe zone. I found one video filmed from a Green Peace boat. They documented the journey of a group of Pilipino refugees who were trying to get to the safety of Japan. They're always ready for the shit to hit the fan over there, whether it's a nuclear accident a tsunami, earthquake, Godzilla or whatever. They always seem to be prepared for it. The Japanese government acted proactively and closed all of its airports and harbors. They were turning all traffic away before it got close to its borders. Japanese importers chose to offload supply ships fifty miles off the coast with coast guard protection. They even gave all of the crew members thorough physicals before they left port and after they returned from sea. The Japanese Coast Guard caught the group of Pilipino refugees trying to sneak through their flotilla, without mercy they opened fire with .50cal deckguns. They continued to fire until the forty five foot boat until it slipped beneath the waves with all hands.
Ok now I was more than a little bit freaked out by all of this but then decides to Ginger come completely unglued. First she started to cry, then she got hysterical and was screaming "We-wewe're all going to die!" So I figured a slap across the face would calm her down. Ya...bad call. I think she broke my nose.
"What the hell was that for?" she asked in a quiet, hurt tone.
"I'm sorry baby doll. I was just trying to help," I answered as my nose bled down the front of my white shirt.
Note to self: The slap across the face thing only works in movies.
"Change your clothes and get ready to go zombie hunting," Ginger shouted to the boys.
This had them hurriedly dashing off to their rooms to prepare for adventure. Ginger switched the channel to Fox News, where Geraldo Rivera was hanging from a crane broadcasting live from Times Square. He was locked inside of a steel shark cage with six cameras attached to it. There was one pointing down and in from each upper corner and a helmet cam with the lens pointed at his face to show his expressions.
"Are these really the living dead?"
"Is this life after death?"
"Who will they vote for?"
"This and more coming up on Geraldo at Large," claimed the exuberant Rivera. By hanging in the litup cage high above the street Rivera was like zombie bait and damn good bait he was. There were so many ghouls under him that all you could see was buildings and zombies, no street or cars...nothin'. It was a bigger horde than the camera mounted on the top the crane's cab could capture. Rivera smugly narrated the scene but it was getting very hard to hear him as the crane started lowering him to the ground while the ghouls swarmed into the square by the thousands.
After a coffee commercial and two severely right leaning political ads, Rivera was back and continuing his descent into the zombie horde. As the cage disappeared into the mob of creatures the helmet cam showed his expression turn from indignant to panic when he realized he was within arm's reach of every side of the cage. He screamed for the crane operator to pull him out but the crane had completely stopped and left the Great White shark proof cage hanging just inches above the ground. There were six small split screens on the TV, one from each camera in the cage and the one on top of the eighty foot crane's cab.
"I'm kind of amazed that they don't go to commercial or something," I said. Ginger just stared at the TV, stunned.
Rivera was screaming in pure terror now as the cameras showed each of his futile attempts to fend off the onslaught of flesh hungry zombies. Several ghoulish hands came into view of the helmetcam. They grabbed his arms and legs, he continued to struggle but then he was pulled by the left arm toward the bars of the cage. Blood sprayed the lens of the helmetcam when his right arm was ripped off at the shoulder leaving his shirtsleeve hanging limp as his blood poured out from the cuff.
Rivera's face went ghostly white when a large black man's hand came into the view of the helmet cam and grabbed him by the face, thrusting a mighty forefinger into his eyesocket and thumb stuffed into Rivera's mouth, pulling him toward the edge. The problem was that there were dozens more of the undead creatures pulling Rivera in different directions. The helmet cam showed the horror of death as the cheek and nose were torn slowly from the right side of Rivera's face, exposing the mandible and skull leaving his right eyeball hanging down to his mouth. The cameras in the cage showed Rivera as he fell to the steel bar floor and was torn apart by the ghouls. There were so many arms inside the cage that he seemed to disappear under them when he went down. The screen went black and the broadcast was cut short due to "technical difficulties."
"I guess he should have used Al Capone's vault instead of that stupid cage," I snickered.
"Oh my God, that poor stupid man how could he ever have thought that sounded like a good idea?" Ginger whispered.
Now, we're not morbid people or anything, but that was truly a spectacle to behold. It was the most fucked up thing either one of us had ever seen, well up until that point anyway. We had no idea what we were in for.
Note to self: Sharks don't have arms, zombies do.
"You and Smot are the ones that have been planning for this," Ginger said with a smirk.
"We were playing with the boys Baby, you know that," I grinned.
"I think you can do it...we can do it."
"It ain't much of a plan baby. In fact once we get to the tower that's it, plans done, wait for Smot."
"So we're slightly less screwed than most people? I can't say I find that very encouraging but I'm willing to go along with it," She said.
"We'll take the Camry to the tower, its right around the corner. We'll lock the car inside the fence and leave Red and Buddy to stand guard on the ground while we take the stairs to the top. I think we can the raise lowest flight of stairs up like a fire escape," I said, trying to grasp the reality of the situation.
Ginger seemed to be taking things a bit more in stride now aside from the one minor panic attack. As for myself I couldn't tell from one minute to the next whether I was going to lose control of my bowels or bladder.
"The tower is right around the cornerYou're a good husband, you're a good father and you love to fight zombies," Ginger chanted in an attempt to psych me up to fight off the zombie hordes. Personally fighting is not my favorite "F" word, but the thought of a bunch of flesh eating zombies tearing my family to pieces genuinely scared the shit out of me.
I was getting that feeling you get when someone is watching you? Well when I looked down I saw the cause of this feeling, standing in front of me – a seven year old blonde Mohawk-coifed boy wearing a blue muscle suit with a big yellow Ant on the chest. He was carrying a big repeating Nerf gun in his hands with another one slung over his shoulder, as are two Nerf ammo belts.
"Who are you, the Tick?" I asked with a smile.
"I'm Antman," he replied in his best graveled Batman voice.
I was barely able to hold back the smile that was tearing at my face like Geraldo's horde. Spud and B marched into the living room of the small mobile home and stood at parade rest. They were wearing the camouflage wrangler jeans, long sleeve camouflage shirts, boots and hats they wear when we play paintball in the woods. Spud, with a brown mop of hair and round glasses looked a lot like a chunky Harry Potter. B, who was a bit smaller than his brother with a more slim build and a red buzz cut. Together with the Antman I had three deadly zombie hunters eagerly awaiting orders for combat. They were all three sporting pretty much the same gear except that Antman had the super suit and Spud and B had also applied camouflage to their faces. It appeared to have been done with a sharpie.
The five of us huddled up for the day's briefing, the plan was simple. We had been jokingly planning this day ever since we moved in a few months prior.
"Ok boys, you know the drill. B and Spud you come with me to collect weapons and canned food. Antman you protect your mom in the car."
I led the older boys to my closet where I had stashed all of the swords that I had been collecting since I was a kid. There were more than a dozen to sift through in order find the stronger looking of them. We were able to come up with three usably strong weapons: a beautiful handmade WWII vintage Katana, a big double handed Claymore that I got at the medieval fair and one that I made myself. The five foot long one and a half inch thick hickory pole staff had a 6 inch wide curved machete on either end, it looked a bit like a kayak paddle. I put the weapons on the kitchen table and told the boys to get out all of the food in the lower cupboards. Spud started laughing as loud as I have ever heard him laugh when he pulled out the case of spam that had been forgotten under the kitchen sink.
"Why's that spam so funny?" I asked.
"Because Dad...B hates Spam, he says it will kill you," he chuckled.
I kept a close watch outside through the big windows while I dug through the upper cupboards for canned food. The boys and I packed everything into the trunk with boxes of canned food and slim-jims, which I'm not sure is food. Ginger put Antman in the car and helped me load the zombie survival kit into the trunk then we loaded up an eight pound sledge hammer and three baseball bats along with several cases of water.
Ginger loaded the coolers with ice from the kitchen freezer and the fishing freezer on the porch then forced them into the back seat while. I put my gun belt with a pair of Glock 9mm pistols in the back and five clips on each side loaded with hundred and fifty grain semijacketed hollow points, they go in the size of a pencil and come out the size of a typewriter. Anyway I tossed them on the dashboard with the holsters unsnapped and the safeties off.
I took B and Spud to the shed and reached up on the top shelf and pulled down a machete with a belt and sheath for each of them and wow did they light up.
"I'm giving two eleven year olds machetes."
"I'm giving two eleven year olds machetes."
I said it out loud twice and it still didn't sound right, but I did it anyway. I knelt in front of them and wrapped the belt around each of them and cinched them snug then tied the lanyard at the tip of the sheath around their lower legs, almost the ankle, I showed them how to work the retaining snap and how to draw it and how to put it away safely and I told them that they were to stay in the sheath unless they were killing zombies.
I sent the two older boys with the dogs to patrol the yard. Each boy was tightly gripping a short training leash. Spud went to the left with Buddy. A young Boxer Dingo mix, he's very loyal he sees and hears everything and is very protective of Spud...but as dumb as a fencepost. I sent B through the backyard to the right with Red. We're not sure what he is so we call him a rocky mountain curly tail. He's 85ish pounds and obsessively protective of Ginger. Anyway this gave me a few minutes to finish loading the car with supplies.
Barking came from the other side of the trailer. It was Buddy's high pitched yowl, almost a chirp, like a sixty pound canary. Then Red started in fiercely barking and both boys began shouting at someone a few houses away. It was Mike from the end of the road walking toward us. Mike appeared a bit out of sorts, kindof disheveled as if he had just woken up...hungover in a ditch, so I waved to him.
"Have you been watching the news?" I shouted.
He didn't reply he just kept walking toward us with an irregular, clumsy gait. Mike got to within about twenty feet of us and I could see that his skin was ghostly pale with what appeared to be bluish black veins protruding from it. He had a big wound on his right forearm that looked horrible. I think it was a bitemark. It was as big around as my fist and deep enough to see the bones through. But it wasn't bleeding at all. His eyes had these weird, flowing silver clouds moving around inside of them just like the people trapped in the shell station beer cooler.
I quickly hurried the boys and dogs into the car with Ginger and Antman much to their chagrin as the boys all wanted to see what was happening up close. I led Mike to the clearing behind the trailer over the septic tank where I tried to get him to respond to me. I shouted his name as loud as I could several times "Mike...Mike...MIKE!!! Don't make me hurt you buddy." But he kept walking toward me and as much as I didn't want to I gripped the still sheathed katana like a baseball bat and swung at his head like an allstar. It hit him in the ear really hard, but he just stared at me like I was a ham sandwich. So I pulled it from its beautiful hand carved wooden scabbard that was now missing the bottom half and poked him in the chest with it and told him, "Dude don't make me do this." He seemed pretty unimpressed so I drew the sharp sword back and drove it with all of my might straight at his chest. My sword tip must have hit a rib or something because it just glanced off of his chest which threw me completely offbalance and nearly sent me floundering face first to the ground.
Mike didn't even notice the attack. He followed me with his grotesque eyes and just kept coming toward me at the same dronelike speed forcing me to retreat. But just fast enough to stay out of his reach. I thought to myself, I've seen enough zombie movies. I'll just lop his head off. I wound the sword back like a baseball bat and gave an allmighty swing at his neck. But his head didn't fall off the way I had it pictured in my mind. Nope not like that at all. The blade stopped halfway through his neck. It hacked into his spine and got stuck. I had to put my foot up on his chest to pull it free. Being relatively fleet of foot I darted behind him and did the same to the other side and when he turned to me again I continued to attack his neck with a furious volley of fortunately accurate homerun swings. Six swings later his head toppled to the ground but his body kept staggering around aimlessly. However Mike continued to follow me with his eyes as his head lay on the ground, snapping his teeth at my feet. And then there was this short whip of spine sticking out of his neck, twitching. "The weird shitometer is pegged."
I held the tip of the antique katana over his freakishly discolored right eye, then I drove it down with all of my body weight. His eye socket offered little resistance to the razor sharp blade as it plunged through his skull bursting through the back, splintering shards of bone into the ground. There was some kind of cottage cheese textured grayish goo coming out of the wounds with amazing pressure when I pulled the sword out. He stopped biting at me and his body fell at the same time
Note to self: Kill the head first.
"Ok baby I can honestly say that as of right now...I've seen everything" I shouted to Ginger as I approached the car. I put the now scabbardless Katana in the open trunk and retrieved the massive Claymore broadsword that had at least three times the weight of the Katana. I drove the Claymore into the ground a few inches and finished loading the car with supplies. After I filled the last of the cabin space with bags of dog food I told Ginger,. I grabbed the Joe Rocket Kevlar motorcycle racing jacket that was hanging on the mirror of my GSXR1000 under the carport and put it on then pulled the sword from the earth and tossed it up on the jacket's armored shoulder and proceeded to walk around the neighborhood to see if anyone was still alive.
When I got to the end of the short dead end street I saw that Mikes hog hunting pitbulls were still locked in the patio sized cage, where they were kept. They are really aggressive but I couldn't just leave ‘em there to starve to death. So I carefully approached the cage to unlatch the door and set ‘em free. I thought long and hard about this because these dogs would bite all but one person and that was Mike...and I just chopped his head off.
The dogs were silent as I approached the door which was unnerving so I slowly reached for the door handle and all four musclebound dogs watched my hand, then my face, then my hand like a tennis match. I unlatched the steel gate door and quickly swung it open keeping it between myself and the dogs. To my immense relief they ran full tilt toward the back of Mike's yard.
A small figure shambled through a maze of various citrus trees and bushes that separated Mike's yard from his neighbor's. Old Miss Norma Jean, she was ninety if she was a day and claimed she was Marilyn Monroe and that she had been in the witness protection program since the early sixties. She was pretty funny. She always dressed the part with a blonde wig and bright red lipstick. She had these big fake titties that she must have been real proud of because she kept trying to show ‘em to everyone...well anyway, she's a zombie and all four dogs are viscously attacking her, ripping huge pieces of flesh from her legs and arms.
I thought it was pretty weird that Norma didn't defend herself from her from the dogs. In fact, she showed entirely no interest in them whatsoever. She did however show a keen interest in me. The hog dogs handily subdued my ancient neighbor and brought her to her knees so I took the opportunity to test out the claymore. I gave the sturdy "combat ready" fifteen pound behemoth of a sword a powerful overhead swing and to my amazement the blade parted her hair and split her in two all the way through her chest. When the old woman stopped moving the dogs all looked up at me in unison and then they took off running in the direction of the main road.
Note to self: Dogs hate zombies.
After stuffing the old Camry with more than it should hold then cramming all three boys up front in the passenger's seat next to Ginger. There was no room for me or the dogs so I leashed them up and started walking to the tower with the Camry right behind us. Feeling quite confident after my first encounters I tossed the claymore back onto my right shoulder and clutched both training leashes with my left hand and we began our trip to the tower. It was three quarters of a mile to the tower and I was more than a little curious about what we would find once we got to the main road. There was a car horn that had been blaring for the last halfanhour. We had also been hearing occasional car crashes and screams coming from the main road. So I really had no idea what to expect.
We didn't hear screams anymore, but there was this really creepy moaning sound that got louder as we got closer to State Road 776. It was a horrible, soul crushing moan that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The dogs were pulling hard on their leashes and took me for a little run before I got ‘em settled down to a brisk walk. They still barked at every ghoul they saw though.
The dogs and I kept ourselves a few paces in front of the car as we . There were people leaning on wrecked cars and there were some with gray deeply veined skin hunched over dead bodies ripping them apart and eating them. Still other zombies chased accident victims as they got out of the wrecked cars that came hurtling over the humpback bridge and crashed into the cars that were blocking the road. I was a bit disturbed to see that some of these zombies were moving a lot faster than fat Mike and old Norma Jean.
A young girl in a yellow bikini top was trapped inside of a wrecked green Volkswagen that was pouring steaming fluid onto the ground. There were two moaning zombies pawing at the windows trying to get to the poor girl. She was screaming in terror at the murderous monsters but she seemed to be safely locked away from them. Several other survivors on El Jobean road had seen us and were calling to me for assistance. Whether it was the right thing to do or not I ignored the pleas from the injured motorists and concentrated on my family's safety.
From the end of my road to the tower was slightly less than half a mile away. The road was blocked with wrecked cars so I told Ginger to take the sidewalk while the dogs and I ran to the tower to open the gates so she could pull the car into the small gated yard. Red and Buddy started barking nonstop at the growing throng of undead moving at us at a fairly frightening pace.
A middleaged woman, who was tearing the middle out of some poor bastard in the middle of the road, stood up from her human casserole when she saw me running with the dogs. She had what looked like entrails stretching from her hands and mouth to the midsection of the guy in the road. I remember from high school anatomy class that human intestines are something like twenty eight feet long. Well this undead MILF had John Dough's intestines wrapped around her neck and when she got up to come toward me she quickly came to the end of her leash. She struggled like a dog at the end of its tether with her arms outstretched and she was moaning at me...now that was funny.
I looked around to see if any ghouls were close when I saw my friend Bahbi who ran the gas station on the corner. He was from some place in India that I can't pronounce let alone spell.
He had four sons back home that he missed terribly, so my boys became his surrogate kids. Which they liked because it meant free candy and sodas. He was carrying a Chinese version of an AK47 with a big scope on top and five ammo clips taped together with red duct tape. He came running through the bushes toward the car asking if the boys were safe. I told him they were fine and that he could help me keep them that way. He looked over Ginger and saw the three boys cramped together on the passenger's seat. Bahbi smiled from ear to ear when he looked in and saw the boys safely locked inside of the car giving them the thumbs up.
Bahbi and I escorted Ginger and the boys in the car without coming across any zombies on the walk to the Ranger Station. We got to the parking lot next to the hundred foot tall fire watch tower when we noticed a few ghouls following us. They bellowed that stomach churning moan that makes my skin crawl.
"It's fucking locked!" I shouted a bit too loudly. "It's never been locked before, what the fuck?" By that time the freaks had gotten a little too close for comfort so Bahbi picked ‘em off like an expert marksman.
"We need to make sure the gate is lockable to keep these things out and us safe ‘till Smot gets here to pick us up," I said
"Baby I am going to run back to the house. I'll be right back."
"Bahbi get on the roof and cover me."
Bahbi simply nodded and ran to the where the fire tower fence met the Ranger Station and quickly scaled it. He stepped carefully around the razor wire coil on top of it. From there he could reach the roof of the Ranger Station and pull himself up to where he was safe and from the highest point he could cover me almost to the front door of our little mobile home. I stuck my head in through the driver's window of the Camry and kissed Ginger.
"Hurry your ass up, get this damn gate open." She said, with tears in her eyes.
"I love you baby," I said. Then I unclipped the dogs leashes and put them into the side pocket of my camouflage wrangler jeans. I told Red "stay," and he sat down next to Ginger's door, ever the watchdog that one is.
Buddy ran with me back to SR776 and into what looked to be a crowd of ten or more zombies. An old man with most of his face and scalp missing began walking across the road from an overturned ambulance followed by two paramedics. Buddy leaped at his chest pushing the old man down on his back, he was just laying there like an upsidedown turtle waving at the sky so I walked over to him and shoved the pointed tip of the heavy claymore in through right eye making a nasty crunching sound, that sent shivers up my spine. I stirred the tip around a bit, to scramble things up until he stopped quivering.
"Good boy one down," I told Buddy, as he stood there panting looking a bit dopey with his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth.
"Alright Buddy, I count eleven zombies." then two shots rang out "OK, nine." My faithful companion was at my side fiercely growling like a wild dog. I've never seen him angry before he's a mean little bastard. Two more ghouls came from behind a group of tall bushes. One was a guy in white surfer shorts with black palm trees on them. The other was a girl with an incredible body wearing a little bitty blue bikini that nearly matched her skintone. They were wearing full face motorcycle helmets so they couldn't bite me anyway. Bahbi must have seen them too and impressively he took only one shot for each helmet.
"Goddamn it," I said loudly when I saw the familiar face of a man in his late thirties with no shoes, black denim shorts and a red Hawaiian shirt heading toward me from behind the gas station, he was out of Bahbi's sight and in my path. He had what looked like a bite wound on his arm where a big piece of meat was missing. He was yet another friend and neighbor, Calvin Hobbes his son George was Antman's best friend. Calvin was coming at me with an open mouth and those silver eyes. Once again I noticed the completely one sided relationship between dogs and zombies as Buddy attacked his thigh fiercely ripping huge bloodless pieces of muscle from bone. Calvin paid him no attention at all instead he just locked those creepy silver eyes on me and started moaning really loud as he continued to move in my direction. Calvin's moaning caused other zombies that were already heading toward me to move a bit faster and attracted the attention of others from as far as the bridge a mile away who hadn't seen me. When Calvin rounded the corner of the building bone, hair and brain exploded from the right side of his head as soon as he came into Bahbi's sight.
That incessant moaning continued from the zombies that were still following me so I walked just fast enough to stay in front of them. I was leading them away from Ginger and the boys. Hopefully these zombies are as stupid as Smot said they are and will just forget what they were chasing when they lose sight of me. When we reached the house I pulled the dog proofed screen door open for Buddy then locked it behind us.
"Like that's gonna help," I said to Buddy, as I set the Claymore on top of my tool box before opened it up I grabbed a big pair of bolt cutters and my shed key from of the top drawer of the box.
When I turned around to see how close they were, there were already four or five gray ghouls pushing at the closed screen door, too stupid to pull it open. I broke the screen out of the other side of the porch and jumped through the opening and ran to the shed with Buddy right next to me. We just left them bouncing off of the screen door trying to get in. When we got to the shed I unlocked the heavy padlock hanging from the hasp next to the door and put it in my pocket then turned and called to Buddy "Come." We ran through yards to avoid going back the way we came and meeting up with the zombies that were still meandering down the narrow street. Leading them in a big circle worked pretty well the only zombie we came across, ironically, was the Ranger who lived in the Ranger station next to the fire tower. Realizing I had left the claymore behind I ran past him as fast as I could and swung the heavy bolt cutters at him connecting with his forehead and making a hollow thud that made me want to stop and puke right there.
Note to self: I really need a pair of earplugs.
Bahbi was proving to be quite the marksman, sitting on the roof gave him a great vantage point to shoot any zombies that noticed the car and Red dog, before they could start that fucking moaning that was like a zombie dinner bell calling others to the feeding frenzy. Buddy and I ran to the gate where I cut the heavy tractor chain that held the ten foot wide gate shut and pulled it open. Ginger pulled the car in and I closed the gate as fast as possible. I pulled the padlock from my pocket and securely locked the eight foot tall razorwire topped gate that was attached to the fence that was the same height, also with the razorwire topping. I tossed the key to the padlock onto the roof of the Camry just in case I wasn't there when it needed to be reopened. We were in a small yard that surrounded the base of the fire tower. It was about thirty feet long on all four sides with part of one side joined to the Ranger Station. All three boys had been to the top of the tower several times after having befriended Travis, who was the Ranger in charge of the fire tower, ten flights of stairs with no walls. I'm terrified of heights and I am not looking forward to that climb.
"Everybody grab something to carry to the top," I told the boys and handed a case of water bottles to B and that case of Spam to Spud, much to his delight. Ginger grabbed a small cooler filled with ice and started to the top.
"I'm going to go first, to make sure there are no zombies in the tower," Antman said, as he started running up the stairs in front of Ginger. Which I figured was fine being as these dumbass zombies can't work a screen door so there is no way they could get into the tower.
Editor's note: Chapter Four coming up next month. Look out for it!