The Zombie Plague Book One
Created by Dell Sweet
PUBLISHED BY: Geo Dell and independAntwriters Publishing
The Zombie Plague Book One
Additional Copyrights 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017 Wendell Sweet & his assignee Andrea Scroggs All rights reserved
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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Mike ~ March 17th
It’s late, and it’s been a very tough few days here. We are eleven now, and I’ll get to that. We’ve also been through several more Earthquakes and aftershocks, rain, the world stopping, or being messed up worse. I guess I’ll start from the start, and you can compare it to your own experience. Maybe it will be helpful.
First yesterday, the sun never really rose at all. It barely came up and then went right back down. The night wasn’t too bad at first. It stormed, but then it got worse. Colder, harder rain, lightening, thunder, and then ash started falling from the sky.
That was crazy. But then the rain came down even harder later on and washed all the ash away. Then the earthquakes came. We had to leave the cave, we didn’t know if it would hold up or not. All around us things were crashing and collapsing. Our trucks are gone, fallen into the river. Swallowed up and gone. The road just washed away beneath them. If we had chosen there to wait out the storm…
We made it through to dawn though, but it wasn’t much of a dawn. The sun came up and has been staggering across the sky. It’s erratic. That’s the best description I can come up with. We think the Earth finally stopped and reversed. Or, maybe stopped again and reversed. The truth is, we don’t know. And, the way things are, I don’t think anyone else knows either.
We were all sic, light-headed, sick to our stomachs. It reminded me of going to the fair as a kid. I rode this ride that spun around in a circle. It made me sick, and I stayed sick for a few hours. It felt like that. Exactly like that.
The jury is out. The quakes have stopped, at least for now. Hopefully for good, but we don’t know if the Earth is done changing directions or even if that’s what it did.
So, we are eleven. We were joined by six people tonight. A young woman named Patty. She seems to be their leader, spokesperson. It seems to be like that now. Someone has to take control. No other way around it.
Patty is young. Maybe eighteen or nineteen, dark hair. Small but rugged looking… determined? I don’t know. Likable, that’s for sure. She and Ronnie are together.
Ronnie is her man (Her words), young too, dark brown skin. He was a carpenter. I like him. He’s quiet. Doesn’t say a lot,
but what he does say is worth hearing. I know that already.
Lilly is around the same age. She’s young, blond, looks so much like Lydia, even talks like her. It’s spooky. Tom is already attracted, you can see it, and she looks interested too. It seems unhealthy, or it could be, would be… I don’t know though. Tom has to live his life. The world is so different, but you know that.
Tim is just a kid, Patty’s brother. He worships Ronnie, you can see it in his eyes. Seems like a likable kid as well.
Sandy is Native American, like Bob and Jan. Not from their people, but they clicked immediately, knew the same people back when the world was… well, the way it used to be. She’s a nurse; that’s like solid gold. How many nurses or doctors are there?
Nell is a small, Spanish woman. She looks to be in her twenties. She was stationed here with her husband, but he had left last month for overseas duty. She has no idea if he is okay.
They’re moved in. The cave is large, so eleven people is nothing. Plenty of room. Everything they owned or had been on their backs. They lost everything else when their building collapsed yesterday during the earthquakes and storms. So, it was pretty simple for them to move in.
Patty and Sandy have both asked about our plans for leaving, so later on we’ll probably sit down and talk about it. Nell and Lilly seem more interested in staying. Nell is afraid to leave the area, as if her husband could somehow get back here, and if he did this is where he would look for her. It seems unreasonable to me, but she has the idea in her head. There doesn’t seem to be a way to shake it, at least not yet. Lilly is captivated by Tom. Tom has never made any bones about the fact that he doesn’t want to leave. This gives him someone to be with him. I suppose that’s a good thing.
We knew there were people around, but in the last few days it seems like we’ve met both the bad and the good. I would like to meet more, but no more bad ones.
Candace ~ March 17th (Late)
I know Mike has written tonight, much earlier, so I won’t go over the same things that I assume he wrote. It’s been a nasty couple of days, and we don’t know if the bad things are over or not. We have new people with us. I really like Patty. I can talk to her, and it’s been awhile, even back in the world, since I’ve been close to another woman like that. Relationships seem to form fast now. It’s just the way of the new world. We’re just taking life as it comes, at face value I guess. There are no directions for us.
Patty, her man and her brother have decided to stay. They also decided they’ll leave when Mike and I do. They don’t want to face a North Country winter in a cave. We are not cave people and don’t want to be. But we talked about that too. We may end up in some other cave. It could be the quakes have caused devastation everywhere. If so where else would it be safe? We talked a lot. We talked ourselves out. There’s always tomorrow to talk some more.
If the day is anything like normal tomorrow, we may go out looking for vehicles. Ours were swept into the river during the storm. We’ll see what’s left.
After the meeting broke up, I spent some time talking to Jan, another woman I became instantly close to when all that I had, had been this notebook and a gun to depend on. She really likes Sandy. Sandy is enthusiastic about returning to the land. So are Bob and Jan. I think returning to the land is fine, except a mowed lawn is okay as well. I guess there are no more lawns to be mowed though.
I gave my father’s gun to Lilly. I don’t know why I did that. I thought that it meant something to me, but whatever that was has passed on. She noticed it, liked it. I showed her how to shoot it; what was left to do? Besides, and I’m being honest, after this stuff with Lydia, after having to shoot someone, I decided I’d rather put on another forty five. I have an exact mate to the one I was wearing on me already. I picked it up the other day. I asked myself tonight, would it have made a difference if I was wearing it the other day? One on each side? Well I am now. It makes me feel safer, more ready to deal with whatever comes at me.
Anyway, Jan and Bob turned in, as did Sandy. Mike’s long gone to sleep, and I’ve been sitting here thinking about the last few days, thinking about Lydia… everything. So, I wrote something, if I had a guitar (I intend to get one) I’d put it to music. I have the music in my head. I have, had, a note book full of little songs that I wrote. Sometimes I would get ideas once a week, sometimes a few a day. They just showed up. I would see or feel something, and it would come out as a song. Some people do that with stories. It’s the same isn’t it? Writing is writing.
I heard more than once I should do something with them. Maybe I would have made a better singer/guitarist than dancer? It’s all art isn’t it. Maybe I’ll resurrect some of those lyrics when I have the time. Meanwhile, I’ll write them out as they come to me.
It’s a new world, rust falling from the skies
It’s a new world, scales fallen from my eyes.
Everything gone in the blink of an eye,
got time to hurt, but no time to cry.
Got to keep moving just to stay alive,
take it day by day and try to survive.
It’s a new world, death calling from the cities empty streets.
It’s a new world, mind skipping, heart missing beats.
Life passing by in the space of a dream,
moving too fast to know what it might mean.
Changes and changes, new every day,
looking for answers, don’t know which direction they lay.
It’s a new world, got my heart in your hand.
It’s a new world, time’s spinning through my fingers like sand.
Yeah It’s a new world, rust falling from the skies
It’s a new world, scales fallen from my eyes.
Everything gone in the blink of an eye,
got time to hurt, but no time to cry.
Kind of corny, I know, but I like it. It says how I feel. I think it’s the way we all feel, we’re eleven tonight, not five anymore. I’m going to bed and hold my man.
~East of the City~
They were fifteen now. The old factory was a perfect place to hide. There were two who could bear the daylight, who did not need the darkness, and they kept watch through the long days.
There was no hunger, no real need. The dead were everywhere. The living were everywhere. And then there were themselves, the UN-dead. Those that had tasted death but had somehow come back from death, and there did not seem to be anything to take this new life away from them.
They were very few right now. Some died, and some died and then found life once more. It was a mystery. No way to know which would and which would not come back. They often waited to see, sometimes triumphant in their slow, quiet way, sometimes shuffling away, dejected, but with the knowledge that more would come.
They traveled together at night, avoided those that lived, scavenged the dead and marked their time. Change was on the wind. Big change. It came on the wind. A scent of forever death, along with the stench of the living. It came from the South, and as soon as there were a few more, they would leave and make their way south.
There was no leader. They just felt the same things, knew the same truths, realities, felt the same things inside where their life force was. It was like a collective conscious, a hive. The workers and no queen. But there might be a queen. That was the promise that came on the wind. The scent that tempted them to travel south. It called to them.
~ March 18th ~
With more warm bodies to help guard through the night, everyone slept better, or at least longer and with fewer interruptions, Mike thought.
The night had been another long one, well over twenty hours of darkness, but once the sun did come up, it crept slowly upward on a straight arc across the sky, the wandering, drunken course of the day before was gone.
Mike stood in the early dawn light sipping coffee, back leaned against the rock of the cave entrance, watching light spill over the tops of the cliffs that cradled the opposite side of the river as the sun crept higher into the sky. He felt someone at his side and turned expecting Candace. Instead, it was the young boy, Tim.
“Tim, right?” Mike asked.
The young man nodded his head, seeming pleased that Mike had remembered his name. “Tom sent me. He said he’d like to walk out Arsenal Street today, or maybe Washington Street, and look for vehicles.”
Mike nodded. “Good idea. Tell him I want to change into some boots and let Candace know I’m leaving, and I’ll be ready to go.” Tim nodded, smiled and darted back into the cave. Mike finished his coffee in a few quick gulps, poured out the dregs and walked back into the cave to find Candace.
They decided on Washington Street, simply because of the sheer volume of car lots that had been in that area. The sun rose steadily into the sky, maybe not as quickly as they were used to, but faster than it had been and in a straight line, rising from the South and looking, Mike thought, as though it would sink in the North or Northwest somewhere.
Six of them had come. Mike, Tom, Candace, Patty, Tim and Ronnie. Candace had already wondered privately to Mike where Lilly might be. It hadn’t escaped the notice of anyone that she and Tom had spent the night together.
Candace walked with Patty, keeping up a fairly constant flow of conversation as they walked along.
“So they think the new stuff will start now then?” Patty asked.
Candace nodded. “They think it would’ve started before if we had thought to try it again, but none of us did. It also may have had nothing to do with it at all. We may have just picked bad vehicles to try.”
“Seems unlikely though,” Patty said. “After all, you had no trouble with the other three, and what are the odds of finding three old vehicles that would be able to be started and driven?”
“Yeah. We thought the same. We just don’t know what was causing them not to work.” They both fell silent for a moment.
“So, was Mike your guy before all of this happened?” Patty asked. She flipped her black hair away from her face and studied Candace seriously.
“No,” Candace answered. “I met him when we came to this cave. I knew as soon as I saw him though. It shocked me. I’ve never been like that. But I knew. I decided, and I told him. He decided that fast too. You think that’s wrong… weird?”
“No,” Patty answered. “It’s almost the same with Ronnie and me. I knew him. I liked him. We lived in the same apartment building. When it happened, he came and got me and Tim. I’m not the kind of woman that feels as though I have to have a man around for protection. Hey, for a while there I was a feminist. He just helped, and he wasn’t an ass about it either,” she shrugged, “A couple of days later we were together, and I’m not sorry at all. He’s a good man. He’s quiet. Thinks the world of Tim.” She paused again.
Candace nodded. She understood perfectly. It did seem as though Patty had some distance in her words, like something wasn’t quite true. But it may be the same way it was with her own situation. It was brand new. Sometimes it was hard to believe that it was the truth. They walked in silence, looking at what the latest quakes and torrential downpours had done to the small city.
The ground that had been torn up had been leveled out. The roads had vanished in places under a layer of dirt. The vague outline of the street itself could be seen under that layer of rubble, and here and there a building or part of a building still stood.
Cars, trucks, a few stalled city buses, an occasional glimpse of asphalt where the road rose higher than the water had flowed. Tom, Ronnie, Mike, and Tim had stopped ahead. They were close to where the old high school had been. All that remained on the left side of the road now were a few walls and, strangely, a large oval track that seemed untouched. The parking lot, most of it anyway, still remained and was full of cars.
On the right was a small strip mall, also with a parking lot full of cars. The men were off the road in the strip mall parking lot standing next to what looked to be a nearly new four wheel drive sport utility vehicle. As Candace and Patty caught up, Ronnie turned and smiled.
“Keys are in the ignition,” Ronnie said grinning. Tim tapped the horn, a hard metallic blast sounded.
“Battery’s up,” Mike said, his grin as big as Ronnie’s.
Tom slid into the driver’s seat through the open door. “Well,” he said. He turned the key.
The motor spun and caught immediately. The truck kicked up to a high idle. The stink of burning gasoline filled the warm air.
“I forgot what that smelled like,” Patty said. Everyone was smiling and laughing at once.
“Let’s say we ride the rest of the way,” Tom suggested. No one needed a second invitation. Doors were opened and everyone piled in. Tom shifted into four-wheel low, eased the truck down off the slight rise that lead from the road to the parking lot, bouncing the truck on its springs as it trundled down the rise, over the sidewalk curb, and onto the dirt and asphalt road below.
A small cheer went up inside the truck as Tom made the road, turned right, and headed slowly up the big hill towards outer Washington Street and its miles of car lots.
By the time the sun stood straight overhead, eight hours of the day had passed by, and a small caravan of six vehicles were snaking their way back through the debris and devastation, making their way back to the cave.
Although a wide section of the old asphalt roadway had toppled into the river, a large area still remained. They parked the vehicles in under the small overhang of cliffs above the cave opening. The cliffs extended a little more than thirty feet beyond the caves then dropped down towards the ground, leveled out and disappeared into a small wooded area populated with scraggly, undernourished trees. On the back side of that wooded area was a huge parking lot that ran up and behind the cave. It had once provided parking for the downtown area of Watertown.
Everyone who had stayed behind wandered over from some project they had been working on in front of the cave to admire the vehicles. Three new Chevy Suburbans and three new pickup trucks. The pickups were mismatched, one Ford and two Chevy trucks. The Chevy trucks were different models, one a full size pickup, the other a smaller one, all the trucks were four wheel drive. Bob wore a heavy apron stained with blood and was carrying a large butcher’s knife as he walked over.
“Deer,” he explained as everyone gaped at the blood stained apron. “Wandered right down the road. Had to be about ten of them. I got one and Sandy got one. Fresh steaks tonight, and that isn’t all.” He pointed towards Lilly and Nell where they stood over what looked to be a make shift fireplace of some sort.
It was built up from the asphalt with three layers of thick stone that formed a base. From there the back and sides rose to support a huge wire rack that had been appropriated from somewhere. A good bed of coals glowed under the rack and several ears of corn roasted above them on the rack
“You guys have been busy,” Tom said.
“Never mind that,” Patty said, “where did you find corn?”
Nell laughed. “There were cases of the stuff in the stock room of the market. Won’t be good for much longer, but it is now.”
“We took a wagon, one of those little kid wagons,” Lilly said. She looked around. “We filled it up. It’s still cold in there… It might last a few more days.”
A small, red child sized wagon, still loaded with overflowing boxes of corn, sat off to one side. It made Candace smile when she saw it.
“I built the oversize Barbecue,” Bob said. “I remembered that there was a little rib place down off the square. Wrong time of year to be cooking out of doors,” He looked up at the sky and smiled, “Well, used to be… But, I remembered that place, and I remembered that they had always cooked outside on a huge grill all summer long. So I went and took the grill. I took a few other things too,” He held up a large pair of tongs that had been shoved in a side pocket. He re-pocketed the tongs. “So… the electronics are working again?” He looked embarrassed at the attention and relieved to be able to hand the conversation off to someone else.
“Might have been before,” Mike started. “Just didn’t think to check. But they’re sure working now. The hard part is finding vehicles that aren’t all smashed to hell. All of these have their war wounds. But it’s just scrapes and dents, nothing serious.”
Bob nodded and then went back to cutting up the venison and piling it onto two huge platters. One contained much smaller pieces.
The smaller pieces were long and thin. Janet and Sandy were stringing them over a second smokey fire that had been built just past the stone grill that Bob had built. A makeshift steel roof kept the smoke and heat close to the ground and the meat that hung on the racks. Tom walked up to admire the work.
“It’s all from the Barbecue place,” Bob admitted. “I’m just using it a little differently, to smoke the meat instead of cook it.”
“You know how to do that?” Candace asked. She seemed impressed.
“Oh yeah,” Janet told her. “Bob taught me. He always makes his own jerky, cures his own hams. Knows his roots and herbs as well.” Bob seemed even more embarrassed than he had been a few moments before.
“It’s stuff The Nation taught when I was a child… to preserve our heritage. We pass it on to the next generation. The legends say the people will come back to the Earth Mother. There will come a time when the people will need the old knowledge again.” He grew serious. “Guess that’s now,” he finished. He began to place the thick roasts of Venison onto the grill rack beside the roasting ears of corn.
The group spent the afternoon into the early evening enjoying each other’s company, eating and filling each other in on the details of their day. The sun sailed smoothly across the sky, sinking into the Northwest after about fifteen hours of sunlight.
For the first time in several nights the stars came out, glowing brightly in the cloudless sky. The moon seemed to be in the wrong area of the sky and almost totally eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow.
“Think that was too long?” Patty asked Tom.
“We’ll have to wait and see when the sun comes up,” Tom told her. “But I’d be willing to bet it’s back closer to what it used to be. And we don’t know what normal will be now. Maybe longer days… maybe shorter days,” he finished.
“Yeah,” Ronnie agreed. “It would seem a little too good to be true if it could stop, reverse, and come right back to something close to a twenty-four hour day.”
“Yeah. That probably isn’t going to happen,” Bob agreed.
“We’ll just have to see where it levels out,” Patty threw in.
Candace nodded, looked over at Mike, took his hand and smiled. “This was a pretty good day,” she said. “We have our own little community here. It’s nice.”
“I was thinking that also,” Mike said. He squeezed her hand lightly and pulled her close. The day had cooled off, and the night had cooled off even more after the sun had dropped from the sky. It reminded everyone that, despite the weird weather, it was still late winter; spring was a month or more away. Janet and Sandy kept the smokey fires burning under the drying meat, joining in the conversation when they had the time or opportunity. Lilly and Tom were involved in some sort of heavy conversation, while Bob, Ronnie and Patty were talking about hunting, herbs, folk remedies and what kinds of structures they would like to build for a home. Candace laid her head against Mike’s shoulder and looked up at him. “I’m tired, man of mine.” Mike smiled at her.
“I think I have to put my woman to bed,” Mike said to Patty who sat closest to him. Ronnie laughed and Patty smiled at him. Tim sat on the other side of Ronnie, his eyes heavy lidded. Everyone said their good-nights.
As Candace and Mike got to their feet, Tim trailed along behind them, following them into the cave, leaving the rest of the group to their quiet conversations. The stars shone above. The sky was clear and inky black.
Janet ~ March 18th
Today has certainly been a better day for all of us. Mike, Candace, Tom and some others went looking for vehicles today hoping they would find that the ones with electronic brains would be working. Electronic something. Brains, I guess. I have no real idea. Give me a database and I could tell you something, but I don’t understand anything at all about engines, except they’re working again.
The rest of us stayed back and worked here for the day. We made a few trips around the area. Nell and Lilly went to the Market on State Street and came back with ears of corn that were still good. Bobby and I and Sandy went a little ways down this road to where an old outside restaurant Bob knew about was. They cooked or grilled food outside in the summer. In the winter I guess they cooked inside.
We took all the outside grill pieces to build a grill outside the cave. A big one too. It took a lot of work, several trips back and forth. We found some wheeled carts, probably used to move stuff around inside the restaurant, and wheeled all the stuff we found back down to the cave with them. We got everything back and Bobby set it up.
Sandy and I collected loose rock from the cliffs and river banks to build the back and the sides to hold the racks. The smoking racks were easy to build. The large roof we used had hung over the whole outside grill back at the restaurant. There were long, thin metal rods to hold it up. Sandy and I worked on that as Bob worked on the sides and back of the grill.
We found extra long metal rods and used those to hang the meat on. Here we were dragging all that stuff around, and Bob talking about going hunting so we could have something to cook on the grill besides corn, when down the road we hear some light tap-click tap-click, and the deer showed up just as if the Gods had sent them to us. They saw us about the same time we saw them, and Bobby and Sandy opened up.
I don’t think people hunted Deer much in the old days with hand guns, but it was what they had, well to hand. They each got one.
About then the others came back with six new trucks as our old ones dropped into the river during the storms. We spent several hours talking and eating, just enjoying each other’s company, and then almost everyone turned in.
Sandy and I watched the drying racks. I took the first watch anyway, so Sandy’s catching a little sleep as I write this.
We are, several of us, planning to leave once the spring is here and go on our way. We haven’t yet gotten around to talking about how we’ll do that, or where we will go, only that we will go.
Bobby and I are very enthusiastic about Sandy. She is all for going back to the Earth, building the people up again. Where there are three of us, there has to be more. I guess that’s the same, nearly, as where there’s a will, there’s a way. Our people have always had the will. Now we have the way. I truly believe we’ll collect more people as we go.
The sky is starry bright. The world seems to be settling down. I’m sorry that all of this had to happen, but I’m happy about where my life is now.
Patty ~ March 18th
It’s late. I took this notebook outside to write by starlight; it’s that bright. Janet Dove has the watch, I have the next anyway so I figured why bother to try to sleep. It’s something I’ve learned about myself; if I can’t get to sleep in the first few minutes, I may as well get back up. Janet came over and talked for a few minutes, brought me some roasted meat. I’ve never had anything like that. It was so good. I should be happy. I should be contented. I’m not. I’m not, and I realized today that I can’t be, and I don’t know what I can even do about it. I can’t even write it here. What if someone read it?
The stars are so bright. It’s cold, but not like it should be. I am so messed up. I will only say… No, I can’t say that. I was going to say I never suspected this, thought about this, but I did. I just never dealt with it. Now I have to, and I don’t know how. I guess this is my sounding board, maybe even my conscience right now, and the part of me that is trying to be unselfish says leave it alone. I will, but for how long?
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