A Zombie Ate Toto
Journal Entry: Murph June 21st.
Well ... they went and did it, created a virus that made the dead walk again.
Someone from the Middle East detonated a couple of bombs near a United Nations Conference. No one knew that those same bombs contained a deadly virus. Only six people were killed, in what was thought of as a botched terrorist attack. It was actually quite successful. Unknowingly they killed themselves with their own creation as well.
A week after the conference, the infected attendants had started to get sick. There were symptoms to distinguish the virus. A rash was the first symptom, closely followed by normal cold-like symptoms, and then severe respiratory infections. Nothing could be done for the afflicted, but they did plenty by spreading the virus. Eventually all the infected would die after about two to three weeks of being sick. Twenty-four hours after passing, the victims reanimated.
We all know the outcome after that - fucking zombies biting people. The virus had mutated in the undead corpse. If the reanimated bit a person, that person died and came back within twenty-four hours.
It was true; if a person got bit they turned. Isolated cases could be contained. The problem was that everyone that got doused at the conference was highly contagious. When the conference was over, the attendants scattered to the four winds, infecting everyone they came in contact with. That was not containable.
My name is Sam Murphy, but all that know me call me "Murph." I am a twenty-nine year old Army veteran; Green Berets to be specific. My parents died a few years ago from carbon monoxide poisoning living at their "historic" old farm-house. I took a discharge from the Army when I received the news and went back to Kansas. I had a younger sister - who was a single parent - to look out for, after all. Mom was rather rich when she died; big inheritance from her family back east. So, my sister Elizabeth (Lizzie to me), and I were set up for the rest of our lives. Yeah right, I'd rather have mom and dad back.
I am a self-employed handyman and happened to be off that day in the middle of the week when the story broke. I worked for something to do that would let me take off when I wanted to.
I lived in an apartment over my shop in the old downtown area of a sleeper town outside Wichita. My place used to be an old tire shop back in the day. The main floor was basically a huge shop about 50' by 120', and what used to be the showroom and customer waiting area was an area 40' by 30'. I had bricked in the old plate-glass windows at the front and installed a solid steel door with a small window. The store front contained a laundry room, my walk in vault, and the man cave - basically a small bar, poker table, couple of couches and chair in front of a big screen television on the wall. Stairs on one side of the room went up to my apartment, which used to be the offices and more stockroom. The second floor ran about three-quarters the length of the building. The backdoor of the apartment opened to the roof on a sort of patio area.
There was another room on the main floor, a buffer zone between the shop and store front. It was a 50' by 50' area that had previously been filled with tire racks. I had a diesel generator installed in a sound-proofed room, with a couple of battery banks in the room next to it. I hated to be without power and being in tornado alley we had lots of thunderstorms where we lost power. Opposite the generator room was my reloading room with storage, and a walk-in freezer in between. I did have a 20' by 30' cellar dug under this area when I first bought the place. It held my wine collection, emergency stores and the hidey hole.
My "hidey hole," as I liked to call it, was rather large but there was a standing invitation to all my buddies and their families to come in case there was ever the need. I'd installed barrack-type bunk beds that I had picked up from time to time for people to crash on if needed.
Some people called me paranoid, but I considered myself a product of my grandfather and the special forces: contingency planning (and I'm also a Boy Scout). My grandpa's paranoia of the Cold War was part of the reason I am the way I am. He had a nuclear fallout shelter, emergency supplies, the whole nine yards. That and the movie Red Dawn scared the shit outta me as a kid. I went from being scared of the Russians as a kid, to being scared of Y2K, economic breakdown, Nostradomus ... take your pick. To cope with my fear, I decided to prepare for the things I could control - a secure shelter, water, food, protection. Hell, I even still had my grandpa's land just outside of town and maintained the old fallout bunker. That is also where I kept my truck, garden and a few cattle.
There were only two buildings left on my side of the block downtown. The other structure that was next to mine was an old hardware store that was only used twice a week for an upstart church. The rest of the block was converted to parking for downtown business. I did have a 15' walled off area running the length of my building that held the 1000 gallon diesel and propane tanks, as well as a 500 gallon gas tank. That wall was 12' tall and two foot thick.
Told you I was prepared.
Being the person that I was, I started preparing before the news story of a bad flu pandemic had even finished airing. Call it "gut feeling" or a sixth sense, but as I was watching the news report a cold feeling started in my gut and traveled up my spine. I knew something wasn't right about it. I have been involved in enough cover-ups to smell bullshit a mile away. Maybe, it was a Kansas thing too. I started by calling all my suppliers to come out and top off the different fuel tanks I had on my properties, including the ones at the bunker.
I then called Lizzie's boyfriend Hank, whose family operated the local meat processor, and told him I was going to bring five cattle in for a quick cutting job. We chatted a bit about the news that had just broken. He was not as concerned as I was, but said he would have the beef processed in about a week.
Hanging up the phone I called Lizzie and explained my concerns to her.
"Sam," she said, "normally I would call you 'grandpa' and start giving you a little hell, but for some reason this news is making me feel weird. A weird chill went up my spine while watching the broadcast. I hope it's not true, but I just can't shake the foreboding I feel. Is it ok if I pack up Belle and come stay in town with you for a little while?"
"Absolutely sis, pack up what you want and we can go out later and get the rest."
I told her what I was going to do the rest of the day and asked if she needed anything from the big city. After listing a few items we hung up and I went out and hopped in my truck.
There is only one thing I need to say about my truck. I grew up watching Transformers, so when I saw Ironhide in the film I had to have one. My GMC Topkick 4x4 was all blacked out in flat black and had a grill guard from hell. When I first bought the thing I wondered if it would fit through the 10' by 10' steel overhead door in the back of my shop. I did have to have the stacks shortened a little.
I quickly drove the five miles out to the bunker and hooked up my cattle trailer to take the cows by to Hank. Hank let me drop the trailer there for the evening so I could grab my enclosed trailer from the yard at the shop and head to Wichita.
I stopped at Sam's Club to pick some bulk dry goods and paper products mostly. I did have a propane freezer in my trailer for when I worked out-of-town, or went on long hunting trips. Frozen vegetables, fruits and juices filled that.
I hit a few gun shops I knew of and grabbed all the loading supplies I could, as well as ammo. I didn't clean them out because I didn't want to draw attention to myself. I went to Gander Mountain and grabbed more ammo and a few others things that caught my eye.
My last stop was at the Tractor Supply store where I picked up two 1000 gallon water storage tanks. Those big fuckers barely fit; good thing it was a large trailer.
I had just driven into to town when my cell phone went off. It was Louis Blackwater, my best friend. He told he had three packages that had arrived for me at his shop. He owned the only pawn shop in town. Having no clue what they could be, I informed him I was just getting back in town and that I would stop by.
I just managed to pull the truck and trailer into the parking lot and maneuver it to get out again before heading into see Lou.
Louis Blackwater is a proud Apache Indian. We ran into each other just after I made it into the Green Berets. At first we hated each other; he was always so serious and I liked to joke around. It came to a head one night after we had gotten back from an assignment and all of us were a little drunk. Lou started giving us hell for being too loud, so I stood up facing him from across the room and said in my best Heath Ledger joker imitation,
"Blackfoot ... why so serious?"
Next thing I know I'm waking up in my bunk with a splitting headache. Maybe he didn't like impersonations.
We progressed like that for a while; he'd harass me and I would mock him. We were deployed in Iraq when I just happened to save his life by keeping him from triggering an IED. The rest, as we say, is history. We became brothers that day and he felt he owed me. I introduced him to a woman who by chance was another Apache Indian, and who would later become his wife.
His enlistment was up a couple of years before I took my discharge. After I had gotten back home, he just showed up with his wife and child in tow saying he still owed me. I was unable to change his mind so ... he stayed. I eventually backed him financially in opening the pawn shop and he has since paid me back the start-up loan amount.
He told me his wife had a bad dream last night. Jesse, his wife, said that her dream foretold dark times with unknown dangers ahead. We talked of the recent news and my gut telling me it was time to circle the wagons. He too felt it was time to prepare for something. Lou said he was going to post a notice that the business was closing indefinitely at the end of the week. He asked me to bring by my welding trailer so that we could fabricate a barricade for the doors.
Believe it or not, a pawn shop is a virtual gold mine in survival situations. Guns, tools, equipment and other odds-and-ends could be priceless. When I loaned Lou the money I made a few stipulations after learning he wanted to open a pawn shop. The items had to work and be quality brands. Say tools for instance ... DeWalt tools ok, that cheap shit from places like Harbor Freight, not ok. He was to pay good money for good items.
After we made plans to secure his shop, we finally got around to the mysterious packages. The packages originated from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where we were stationed with the Green Berets. The smallest box was a complete AS Val silenced assault rifle. I had liberated one on an op and I assumed this was it. I got gifts from my old teammates from time to time. So far, I had received my personal gear I used and then some. The second box was 500 rounds of each nine millimeter SP-5 and SP-6 subsonic ammunition. Where the boys found this I have no clue, but I wasn't going to ask. The last box had four of the new ATN PS23-4 4th generation night vision goggles, which brought my total to six. I had already bought two sets of the goggles myself.
I'm not real proud of it, but I helped start the little smuggling ring in my old outfit. When Lou left the team, he asked me to somehow get his Colt M4 carbine to him. He got it piece by piece along with a few other things. It seemed to me that the tradition was continuing, just on a larger scale. So far, I had received all my personal gear ... a few others as well. I wanted to know whose idea it was to ship me ten pounds of C4 in tins of popcorn. The man who thought of that needed to be promoted.
Lizzie and Belle greeted me after I had backed the truck and trailer into the shop. After hopping out of the truck, I grabbed my beautiful little seven-year old niece, swinging her up and on my shoulders with much squealing and laughing. Belle rode my shoulders like the princess she was as I strode around to open the trailer's doors.
The next thing I heard was a very unladylike guffaw from my sister saying...
"My gawd grampa, what did you do now?" I replied just as my grandfather would.
"Proper planning prevents piss poor performance."
Lizzie and Belle went inside to finish getting settled into their rooms and to make dinner. I cussed and wrestled the water tanks to where I wanted them, then stuck a hose in to fill. I used the two-wheeler to shuffle the dry goods into the hidey hole. The frozen items went into the walk-in freezer. I was going to have to buy another 25 cubic foot chest freezer to put in the hidey hole. I already had a freezer in the trailer, but it was secured too well to remove plus it was a propane unit.
The only items left to unload were all the ammo and reloading supplies, but I was called to supper before I could finish. Lizzie and I had a beer with the tuna casserole she cooked. We talked of what else we would like to have. She brought up a good point about getting a good supply of fuel stabilizer. I knew the tanks at the bunker were treated, but I hadn't done anything to the tanks here. She indicated a lot of things that I hadn't thought of yet. One other thing she wanted to do was set up a clinic in a spare room. There was a room big enough that hardly had anything in it that would be perfect for her use. I told her I would clear it out and let her and Belle roll a couple coats of Killz on the walls, then I would cover it all with shower board and caulk it real good.
Lizzie was a physician's assistant at a local doctor's office. She had yet to hear of a case in our town, but she had already decided that when a case showed up she would stop going to work. In the meantime she stocked our little clinic with medical supplies.
After the excellent meal, I finished unloading the reloading supplies and spent the remainder of the evening sorting shell casings. When I was still in the service, I had spent a lot of time with the armorer. It became a passion to load my own ammo. Of course, I loaded ammunition for all my friends as well. They, in return, would bring me supplies and shell casings from time to time. I only had dies for the bullet types I used, but if they wanted me do specific loads they would get me the dies for them. My friends were very enthusiastic about my hobby. I had enough supplies to loads shell for a long, long time. I bought a closet size explosive magazine that vented out, for all the powder I had.
In the morning, we watched the news and heard that more and more people were getting sick. I needed to finish getting our provisions so we could lock ourselves inside, away from this virus. At the time I thought we were just facing a viral epidemic. I assumed that this was a super flu that would decimate earth's population. How naïve of me.
I was getting prepared to lock us all inside away from what I thought was a deadly virus or bacterial agent. The CDC determined that the virus was only spread by direct contact with the infected.
I was determined to make Lou close his shop today. We needed to get shit done quickly before it was too late. I wanted us to be barricaded and closed off by the end of Sunday. It would take a tank to get in Lou's shop now that we were done. We had the women finish getting food stores and other essentials as Lou and I fortified my shop and made sure things were secured at his place and the bunker, which was our fallback position and emergency rally point.
As the virus spread, Hank finally came around to our way of thinking. This virus was spreading like wildfire. Wichita's hospital was inundated with the sick. When word spread that the conference attendants had started to die, Hank came fully on board. Hank had been one of my best hunting buddies since I came back home and had hit it off with my sister. The simple fact that he adored my niece made him okay in my book. The meat had been processed in record time and Hank had even added a pig to the larder along with a couple dozen chickens. The bird population would probably not survive the virus. A fresh supply of eggs would be nice. Hopefully the modified feed timer would help the lone rooster and four hens he had left survive.
The seven of us, Lizzie, Belle, Hank, Lou, Jesse, Jake (Lou and Jesse's eight year old son) and I couldn't think of anything else we truly needed. The shop was full. The only real open space was the shop floor which had the Topkick, my 1968 Chevy 4x4 truck, and Lizzie's Tahoe. Lou had his 1970 crew cab power wagon outside in the courtyard locked behind the heavy gate. Seems we had finished just in time too.
The news that night was absolutely unbelievable. The people that had died from the virus were somehow moving around again. "Reanimated" was the term being thrown around; "undead" was as well. These things were not rationale, they were aggressive, and violent. Basic instincts were its only reason. They attacked and fed on other humans.
We sat and watched in stunned disbelief. No one wanted to say it until a director from the CDC got upset during an interview. After being asked over and over again if there was a cure, or they were working on one, he finally broke.
"Look you idiots, we have never had a need to cure ... zombie," he yelled at the cameras and then stormed off.
The small town in Kansas I lived in didn't see any zombies for about three weeks after the epidemic started. Our little town was about thirty miles from Wichita. Each town was trying to quarantine itself. Like that could really happen. People got caught everyday trying to smuggle in friends and relatives. It was inevitable that an outbreak would occur.