Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Run, Hollywood, Run


On May 18th, 2015 America suffered its first death by zombie. By August 8th, 2015 4,000,000 plus had been overtaken by the hordes of undead. Unlike in the movies where the world would band together and defeat the threat and live happily ever after, in the real world everyone panicked.

Badly.

By statistics taken three years after the invasion had begun, 8 out of 10 Americans were infected. Those not infected either by genetics, luck, or a forgiving God, are called Alphas. Zombies are called Zetas. Most Alphas became solitary creatures. Zetas on the other hand travel in packs. Many packs. Ray and Thomas have personally removed 3,000 or so Zetas from the world.

By pure luck.
“It's not gonna blink” Thomas said as his cousin Ray stared into the eyes of a zombie. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because you never know” Ray said as he kept his eyes trained on the recently “killed” zombie. “Remember what happened last week with Lisa?”

“That was completely different” Thomas said. “I swear I thought I had hit it in the head. Like, a perfect bulls eye. Guess I was wrong.”

“You guess?” Ray asked. “It came back alive and bit her arm off!” Ray shoved Thomas away from the corpse and fired another shot into its head. “Happy now? Its dead dead.”

“Yes” Thomas said. “Yes, I am. Now let's head over to Universal City. I heard some moans coming from over there a few days ago. Its just been so damned hot I don't wanna walk over there. Nothing is worse than hot Zeta ass.”

“Wet Zeta ass is pretty bad” Ray said as they stepped onto Hollywood Boulevard. Ray looked slowly up and down the street. There were abandoned cars everywhere. He and Ray considered moving them until the first three cars they attempted to move had Zetas inside and ready to eat. “You know what stinks?”

“What?”

“The fact that I finally got to meet Will Smith and he was a zombie” Ray said as they began walking. “I swear I almost let him bite me I was so in shock to see him. I don't know why but I kinda assumed that celebrities would be immune or something.”

“That makes no sense” Thomas said. “Especially since we don't even know how this all started. Remember how they tried blaming it on terrorists at first?”

“And then North Korea” Ray finished. “I still think it was aliens.”

“Mexicans?”

“No, Mars.”

After a while killing becomes simple. “They aren't human” becomes your mantra. You tell it to yourself before sleep as if it were a prayer. Many had taken their own lives because they could not keep that in mind after days of fighting. One of the ultimate tests of whether or not someone would be able to tough this new world out was whether or not you could kill a family member or close friend that had become infected. Many couldn't and in turn got eaten.

Ray watched as the smoke rose over Los Angeles. Wiping his eyes he noticed the black soot and ash on his hand. He sighed and tapped Thomas on the shoulder while pointing towards downtown Los Angeles. Thomas slowly shook his head.

“It makes no sense” he said. “Everything is already fucked up and people are still burning what little is left. Remember last month those two dickheads that thought it was cool to burn all of the Starbucks?”

“Yeah” Ray said. “All this smoke does is make the Zetas come towards it. I'm sure as hell not going downtown anytime soon.”

Rapid gunfire caught their attention and they hid behind a large abandoned truck. Shouts could be heard as well as the unmistakable moan of the Zetas. Their screams chilled you to the bone no matter how often you heard it. A combination of pain and orgasmic pleasure. Zetas did not breathe and no one knew how it was possible for them to make sounds. But they did.

“What a waste of bullets” Thomas said. “Unless they're being attacked by dozens it doesn't make sense to use that much ammo.”

“Should we go and help?” Ray asked regretting the question as soon as it had let his lips. Thomas scoffed. “I take that is a no.”

“Fuck 'em” Thomas said as he checked his gun. “Every man for himself. I'm not wasting my bullets or my life helping someone stupid enough to wander into a group of Zetas. Let's get out of here before they make their way towards us.” Approaching footsteps stopped him as he rose to his feet.

“Shit” Ray said.

“Help!” a large man covered in blood shouted as he saw Thomas' head duck back behind the truck. “Help me!”

“I should shoot him” Thomas said. He could already hear the shuffling of the Zetas as they began chasing after this stranger. “Fucker is gonna lead them straight to us.”

“Let's just run” Ray said as he was already ten feet away from Thomas. They ran until a hand grabbed Ray's leg tripping him. “Shit!” he shouted as he kicked at the Zeta with his heel. He had learned months ago not to kick with anything fleshy or catchable. Thomas began pulling Ray away. Half a torso came along with him. “Fucking shoot it!” he shouted to Thomas. The man that had brought the Zetas had already ran past them. “That asshole!”

Thomas slipped on his thick rubber glove and began punching the Zeta. Zetas feel no pain, but for some reason have kept enough of their humanity to experience annoyance. It released Ray and began moaning. Ray got to his feet and stomped it until it was silent. Thomas looked left and saw that the Zetas were now less than thirty feet away.

“We gotta book it” Thomas told Ray. “These bastards are slow but persistent.” They both began running towards the man that had caused this. Ray turned left suddenly and dove into a small car. “What the fuck are you doing?” Thomas asked.

“This” he said as he started the engine. “Look at how clean this thing is” he said. “It can't have been here too long.”

Dodging cars all across the road they headed away from the Zetas and towards The Hollywood Bowl. They pulled into the parking lot and sat quietly, neither of them knowing quite what to say. Thomas reached into his pocket and removed a small bag of almonds. He handed some to Ray who smiled and slowly ate them. Never knowing if this day would be your last, the two of them had learned to appreciate the small things in life. Bathing, eating, and sleeping. Most nights an hour of rest would be interrupted by the moan of Zetas of the screams of victims.

“Now what?” Ray asked.

“How much gas does this thing have?” Thomas asked as he chewed his nails. “I think its time to get out of L.A.” 

The saddest part of it all is that when the Zeta threat began everyone assumed it was a part of a strange viral campaign or a movie stunt. A Zeta would be seen ambling down the street and people would either laugh or cross the street not wanting to be a part of whatever silly new reality show was being filmed. A few believed the Zetas were homeless people gone mad. It took the transformation of a celebrity for everyone to realize that the threat was real. But by that point thousands were already infected. Nothing like seeing your favorite actress, obviously sick with something, attacking her date of the week on a red carpet to snap you into reality.

“We can't leave L.A” Ray said. By the sound of his voice Thomas knew that he had been thinking about this for some time. “I mean, we can, but what's the point? There are Zetas everywhere. No place is any safer.”

“I know but still…” Thomas said as he trailed off.

“What's wrong?” Ray asked with more panic in his voice than he'd ever later admit. “You see something?”

“Look” Thomas said.

Dozens of Zetas walked, shuffled, dragged themselves towards their car from The Hollywood Bowl. Almost every stadium or large place of gathering had become a cesspool for the undead. Suddenly flames erupted from the back of the pack of Zetas.

“Get some get some!” someone shouted. A thin, camouflage man wielding a flame thrower punched, kicked, and shoved his way through the flaming horde. “Get your zombie asses back to Hell! Woo!” A Zeta clung to his back. He grabbed it by the back of its neck and flipped it over his shoulders, slamming it hard enough to hear its neck snap as it hit the ground. “Better luck next time!” he screamed.

“You see this nut?” Thomas asked.

“Yeah, and I still don't believe it” Ray said. “That guy is insane. Shit, I think he sees us.”

“You gonna help or what?” the man asked them.

“Damn it” Thomas said as he jumped from the car firing. Four shots. Four kills. Ray sighed and joined in. They made their way to the man and cleared a path for him. For almost five minutes they battled until very few Zetas remained. “Let's go!”

“Not 'til everyone of these sons of bitches is dead!” the man shouted. “How else we gonna save the world?”

“I'm more worried with saving my ass!” Ray said as he turned in time to see a Zeta on the hood of the car ready to pounce. Ray aimed and hit the Zeta high on top of its head. Its brains, now blackened with infection, sprayed and it collapsed to the ground.

“Nice shot!” the man shouted.

They fought their way back to the vehicle and climbed inside firing from the open window. The man removed a small semi-automatic weapon and began sweeping the group with high head shots. After a few more minutes there was no more movement. The man climbed from the car and strapped his flame thrower back on.

“What the hell are you doing?!” Thomas shouted.

“Making sure” he said. “Leave these creeps laying here like this, some dumbass walks over, trips, gets cut on a tooth or sharp bone, gets infected, spreads the shit all over again.”

“Makes sense” Ray said.

“Damn right it does” the man said as he set every body on fire. “'Ooh, that smell! Do you smell that smell? Ooh, that smell! The smell of death's around you…'”

Many groups of militants who had long predicted something such as the Zeta attacks reveled in the chaos at the onset of the frenzy. “See?” they all cried. “Told you so!” Once they realized that the Zeta hordes did not care whether or not you were an extremist satisfied at a toppled world order they began arming themselves further. Many put up a good fight but were eventually overrun. Lack of food and shelter vanished far faster than leadership. One man born in Nevada traveled by foot to Los Angeles. They called him Poe.

Ray drove quickly, weaving in and out of traffic. Thomas sat in the passenger seat holding the bridge of his nose. Their new friend sat in the back seat reloading his weapons and whistling a song neither Thomas or Ray knew.

“Shit” Ray muttered.

“What is it?” Thomas asked. He dreaded any bad news right now.

“Almost out of gas” Ray said.

“This is one of them hybrid Japanese things, right?” the man in the back asked. “Just flip the switch. Should get us a few hundred more miles out of this toy.” Ray looked and sure enough found a button. As soon as he pressed it the car whined and began running smoother. “See?”

“Thanks” Ray said. “What's your name anyway?”

“Poe” he said simply.

“Poe?” Thomas asked. “Poe what?”

“Just Poe” he said as he cracked his neck. “This is a new age, my friends. No time to be running around telling everyone every damned thing about yourself. Poe has worked so far. Maybe if know you two long enough I can give you my middle name. Until then just call me Poe.”

“Okay then” Ray sighed. “You don't sound like you're from here. Where did you come from?”

“Come on” Poe said. “Is this a job interview or somethin'?”

“No” Thomas replied. “But its not every day we see a guy with a flame thrower actually holding his own against dozens if not hundreds or Zetas.”

“'Zetas'” Poe scoffed. “They're zombies. Society only made that crap up to make them seem more human. They are dead. No one kills an ant and feels bad about it. Same should apply to these goddamn, and I do mean goddamn, things. Now is not the time to be politically correct. Its kill or be killed and I'm still alive. All I have to do is make sure I take out as many of these things before I run out of ammo.”

“Right” Thomas said sarcastically. “You wouldn't happen to be a survivor of a crazy militia would you?”

“Not at all” Poe said with a smile on his face. The smile of a man that has something clever to say. “Just a regular old militia or sorts. I have trainin' with every weapon I use in case you're wonderin'.”

“Hadn't crossed my mind to ask” Ray said as he made his way towards PCH. “I'm just glad we found you.”

“Where are we headed?” Poe asked.

“We're going nowhere” Thomas said. “Where should we drop you off?” Poe laughed lightly from the backseat. “This isn't funny.”

“Why would we get rid of him?” Ray asked. “He can help us kill these Zetas…”

“Zombies” Poe corrected.

“…zombies and try and restore some order” Ray finished. He looked over at Thomas who stared straight ahead.

“Because we know what happens when there are more than two people in a group” Thomas said stone faced.

“Oh, don't bring that up again…” Ray moaned.

“Bring what up?” Poe asked.

“A year ago we found this guy kinda like you” Thomas began. “A great fighter. In a month we killed almost 1,000 Zetas. He could kill a Zeta with his bare hands and not get infected. And then one day he decides that we should head to Orange County. He wouldn't say why. But we just had to go to the OC. I told him we weren't. He pulled a gun.” Thomas stopped talking and looked at his nails.

“And then…?” Poe asked, leaning forward in his seat and grinning.

“I killed him” Thomas said. “Broke his neck.”

“That was a shitty day” Ray said. “He was a cool guy.”

“Cool guys don't shoot you in the foot” Thomas said. He removed his boot and held his foot up for Poe. A large scar was in the center of his foot.

“That looks infected” Poe said.

“Shockingly it didn't rot off” Thomas said.

“Yeah” Poe said. “That is pretty shocking.”

For a while the scientific community searched for a cure. Hundreds of infected were gathered in military bases and top research facilities. After months of results varying from none to worse the projects were scrapped. Squads were created to take on the Zeta threat. With no cure in sight Project: Red Light was created to kill any Zeta on sight. After the deaths of hundreds on non-Zeta civilians all order broke down. The military abandoned their posts leaving everyone to fend for themselves.

“So what did you guys do before all this happened?” Poe asked as he lay in the backseat. His arms were laced behind his back and his feet hung from the window.

“I worked at a diner” Ray said as he maneuvered the vehicle through the choking traffic. “It was a cool job.”

“What about you?” Poe asked Thomas. “I mean, you broke a guys neck. You must have had some kinda fight training or something.”

“I was training in mixed martial arts” Thomas said. “Never really had a job. Thought about going into the Army but never got around to it.”

“MMA, huh?” Poe said, making a mental note to try not to ever get into a fight with Thomas. “That must've been fun.”

“I wouldn't describe it as 'fun'” Thomas said. “It was rough. Long hours of getting my ass kicked. But it was worth it considering how the world turned out.”

“Check that out” Ray said as he pointed to a smoking vehicle a mile away. Poe sat up and looked.

“Let me get my shit ready” Poe said as he grabbed his flame thrower.

“Slow down, cowboy” Thomas said. Cowboy was a term used for most men in the war against Zetas. Those who would shoot first and ask questions later. Cowboys usually caused more harm than good in a fight. “We don't know if these are bad people or not.”

“I'm not no fucking cowboy” Poe said. “I'm a professional. I know the difference between a zombie and a livin', breathin' human. I have never killed a human.” As they drove past the smoking vehicle a Molotov cocktail slammed into the back of their car. “Here we go!”

“Shit” Ray said as he sped up. Three more flaming bottles hit the car. “Roll up your windows!” he shouted. Through the flames Ray and Thomas saw a large group of men and women converging on their car.

“Now those are cowboys” Poe laughed.

“They know good and damn well that Zetas can't drive!” Thomas shouted. “I hate killing regular people.”

“So do I” Poe said. “But this is a clear cut case of them or me and it sure as hell ain't me!” Another cocktail hit underneath the car and the engine screamed. Ray slammed on the brakes as Poe jumped from the backseat firing at the people.

Humans were harder to kill than a Zeta. They were faster, smarter, and head shots did not always bring them down. Worse case scenario: You shoot a human, they don't die, they scream loud and long enough to attract Zetas, they get infected, you have just added a new enemy to the battle.

“We are not your enemy!” Thomas shouted to the attackers. A man dove from behind an abandoned vehicle and threw a flaming stick at Thomas. He ducked, feeling the embers against his ear, and fired a shot into the mans throat killing him instantly. Ray hit two men in their abdomens, wounding them.

“Nothing but kill shots!” Poe shouted as he killed his fifth person. “I ain't trying to help the enemy!” Poe rushed towards the retreating attackers. “Fuckin' chickens!” he screamed. “Don't start a fight you can't finish!” He hit six more people in their backs. Everyone else got away. Ray and Thomas walked up to two of the people he had shot but not killed.

“Don't kill us…” a man moaned. “Just let us go.”

“Now you know I can't do that” Poe said as he kicked each of them over with his foot. He fired a single shot into each of their heads. A woman screamed in the distance.

“Cowboy” Thomas said as they all turned and began walking down the 10 freeway west.


A Tale Of A Man Named Poe That Burns Zombies

I wasn't gonna wait until they sent us out to handle the situation. I had to take matters into my own hands. That's the way I was raised and its worked out fine. I'm still alive, ain't I? My captain told us that we were gonna ship out in five weeks. Five weeks? Were they out of their minds?! I had a duty to my country. Every minute we wasted was another zombie that killed one of us. There are 50,400 minutes in five weeks. Fuck that.

It was time to go hunting.

It wasn't hard sneakin' off base. By this point guys were more concerned with security. If it moaned and dragged its foot it was a zombie. Me running out of the gate was the least of their problems. I get out and hike, run, and jog 50 miles to California. That's where the action is.

Along the way I came across a few Billy Bad Asses that saw my uniform and wanted to take their anger at the government out on me. One night a group of guys attacked me while I was searchin' inside a abandoned shop for food. That's where I came up with the kill shot rule.

“Hold it right there, buddy” one of them said to me. The big dick of the group. “Give us them weapons and leave.”

This guy had a gun aimed at my chest. So did the four of his friends. I've learned that whenever someone calls you “buddy” they're up to no good. I kill all of them in less than 2.1 seconds. I realize how sleepy I am and find a storage shed to sleep in. I wake up and the place is overrun with zombies. There's no place to run not that I was plannin' on it. I step out into the open and face these sons of bitches.

I knew it was all downhill once people started calling these things anything other than zombie. You can make as many cute catch phrases as you want. These goddamned things are not human. I knew that from the start. You could say its what kept me sane.

You probably wanna know where I come from? That's not important. Not anymore. This is the New World Order. The rules have changed. This is a new ballgame. And whatever other clich├ęs you can come up with. Times have changed but for some fucking reason the people haven't. They keep acting like if they sleep that when they wake up this will all be a bad dream. This ain't a dream. This is a nightmare with no end.
My name is Poe and that's fine with me.  

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