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Deadheads--Part I

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posted on Oct, 8 2014 @ 09:27 PM
All my life, I’ve been a skittish sort of girl. I’m scared of just about anything you could name. The shortlist includes rats, spiders, and bees. Mama used to say, “Quit being a ninny, Tallulah. They can kill you but they can’t eat you.”
Of course, that was before the dead began to rise from funeral homes, dining on the mourners.
I peeked through the boarded up window, wondering how I’d get to the Piggly Wiggly. I had to bake a wedding cake for my cousin Rayette, who’d gotten engaged right before the trouble started. I didn’t want to be the one to tell Rayette that we were living in dangerous times. Nobody was stopping her from turning on her TV and listening to the reports of worldwide violence. People were breaking into homes and biting whole families. Housewives were getting mauled in beauty shops. And the aforementioned dead were roaming the streets.Everybody thought Rayette would postpone the ceremony, but you can’t stop a Bridezilla no more than you can stop a zombie from craving brains. Actually, that’s not true. From what I’ve seen, zombies aren’t picky eaters.
I shouldn’t have baked that wedding cake for three reasons. First, I wasn’t Rayette’s favorite cousin. Second, I wasn’t charging her a dime. Third, I was the only cake lady in Ozone with enough counter space to bake an entire country club. And Rayette wanted a cake that resembled an 18-hole golf course. I wouldn’t have that much space if I hadn’t moved into First Baptist Church, where my daddy had preached before the proverbial s--- hit the fan. I boarded up the stained glass windows, gathered supplies, and cooked in the giant kitchen.
Now, I had to bake a cake to bake; but I was out of butter. So I walked toward the Piggly Wiggly, the only grocery still open for business, seeing as most people in town had either fled or gotten sick. A lot of cities had lost power, but the lights still blazed in Ozone.
Way down at the end of the street, I saw a teenaged zombie wearing Birkenstocks. I gave her a wide berth and turned the corner. She never even saw me. The thing about zombies is, they’re slow. If you run into one or two, or even three, it is best to remember the three Es: Elude, Evade, and Execute, in that order. I learned the hard way that if you shoot them, the sound carries, and the next thing you know, you’re surrounded by Deadheads.
A bell tinkled over my head when I stepped into the grocery. I tried to reach up to shush the clapper, but it was too high. I darted into the store. It was empty except for the sheriff’s wife, Miss Martha. She was a big-chested woman, and she toted an M-16 like it weighed no more than a zucchini.
I loaded my cart with flour and sugar. Weeks ago, when the craziness began, the mayor had called a town meeting. He’d asked for volunteers to deal with the growing zombie population. Since I’d grown up with Men Who Hunt, I was drafted. The mayor assigned me to the high school football stadium. My job was to sit in the press box every afternoon with binoculars and my .22. The owner of Piggly Wiggly, Mr. Thurmond, was the president of the Upper Cumberland Rifle Club, and he’d fixed me up with a silencer so the noise wouldn’t get me in trouble.
I’d been meaning to thank him. I looked around the grocery but didn’t see him. I pushed my cart to the dairy case. It was bare except for cottage cheese and unsalted butter. I grabbed the butter and started toward the checkout. Halfway there, I ran into Miss Willadeen from the Clip ‘N Curl. One side of her head was in curlers, the other side was matted with tissue—not the kind you buy in a box. She staggered toward me, arms outstretched. Her teeth clicked together, like she couldn’t wait to bite. I lifted my gun and drew a bead. She stopped moaning and cocked her head. She looked at me, I swear to god. I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Zombie or not, I’d known Miss Willadeen forever. She’d fixed my hair at every milestone in my life—my first haircut, first perm, first prom. Now she was coming straight at me. I could run, of course, which would mean abandoning my groceries and disappointing Rayette, or I could kill Miss Willadeen. Actually, kill wasn’t the right word. She was already dead. I’d shot more than a few zombies, but I hadn’t known them personally. While I tried to work up my gumption, Miss Willadeen’s head exploded onto the display of Brawny paper towels.
The sheriff’s wife stepped up. “I never did like how she colored my hair,” Martha said.
Minutes later, I darted into First Baptist. I set down the groceries, locked the heavy wooden door, then lugged the sacks to the kitchen. I spent the rest of the day baking Rayette’s cake. It was the cutest thing, complete with sand traps, fairways, water hazards, and little sugar people with little sugar balls--not on the people, of course. Then I went up to my hiding place in the bell tower and listened to the news.
The TV was still working, and the World Health Organization was on Fox, urging people to stay calm. The spokesperson referred to the outbreak as a meningococcal pandemic and denied that the new H1N1 vaccine had set this off. One of the reporters asked why the craziness had begun ten days after the mass inoculations. I switched the channel. A biologist on CNN said a bad batch of the vaccine had gotten distributed, and anybody who’d gotten a shot had become ill. They symptoms were varied, but the results were the same: death, followed by a postmortem transformation. The biologist told Anderson Cooper that the vaccine had caused the victims’ stem cells to go into overdrive. At the same time, it caused massive brain degeneration. That made perfect sense to me.
I turned to HBO and caught the tail end of Bill Moyer. His guests told stories of gridlock, thieves, and military road blocks. Cities were being forcefully evacuated and the highways were clogged with refugees. None of this had touched Ozone, not yet, but something was coming. Something worse than zombies.

edit on 8-10-2014 by drwill because: (no reason given)

edit on 8-10-2014 by drwill because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 8 2014 @ 10:42 PM
a reply to: drwill

Love it, I want more!!

It was a fun read and really enjoyed the nonchalance the characters showed about the zombies.

posted on Oct, 9 2014 @ 11:42 AM
Part 2: The next evening, I pulled into Zion Baptist Church’s parking lot. A mid-September heat wave had settled over the mountains, and I was wringing wet by the time I unloaded the wedding cake from my van. As I passed through Fellowship Hall, I smiled at Rayette’s mom. Aunt Selene looked up from the buffet table where steamer trays were laid out, filled with barbecue, corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, and cornbread. She ran one hand down her beige polyester dress, her nails scratching against the fabric. Her round face cracked into a grin.
“You can put the cake over yonder,” she said, pointing at a long metal table.
I assembled the golf course cake in segments, gluing everything together with icing. Then I edged toward the door. I never stuck around for weddings, and tonight I was in an especial hurry to leave because I’d just broken up with Raymond, my marriage phobic boyfriend. I just wanted to go back to First Baptist and watch CNN for the latest on the Deadhead invasion.
“Don’t you be leaving, Tallulah,” Aunt Selene called. “The pianist hasn’t returned my calls, and Rayette is gonna pitch a hissy fit.”
I could totally see that happening.
“We need bodies in the pews.” Aunt Selene pointed to the ushers. They wore orange mums in their lapels and carried baseball bats, just in case the church was overrun. Behind them, the rifle club members were spread out in camouflage gear and night vision goggles, mumbling into Walkie Talkies.
When it was time for the ceremony, I slipped into a pew. The pianist hadn’t arrived, nor had the maid of honor. Rayette’s husband-to-be stood in front of the altar, smoothing his fuzzy red hair, his copper eyes shifting to the back of the church. I turned. My cousin moved down the aisle, her mermaid gown trailing behind her. Uncle Eben led her to the groom, then sat down with Aunt Selene. From outside, there was a burst of gunfire. Then everything was quiet.
The preacher cleared his throat. He wore a white Hazmat suit, and his belly jutted out, as if he’d swallowed a balloon. He’d been wearing the suit ever since the outbreak. Behind his back, everybody called him Betty the Baker, and he did resemble one.
“Dearly beloved,” he began, and his breath hit the Plexiglas mask, leaving a moist circle.
The side door banged open, and the pianist staggered up the aisle. Everybody turned. I’d known Mrs. Pippin all my life. She’d been a fixture at my daddy’s church, and each time I’d rededicated my life to Jesus, which was often, Mrs. Pippin had played the piano, her fat fingers banging out the notes to “Just As I Am.”
Now she made a beeline for the bride and groom. She slogged up the red carpet, her floral dress wrinkled and stained, her head cocked to the side, phlegm (or Lord knew what) running out the side of her mouth. The ushers closed in with their bats. By the time the Rifle Club showed up, the ushers had dragged Mrs. Pippin into the little room that housed the baptismal pool, then they bolted the door.
Rayette lifted her veil and glared at the minister. “Let’s get cracking. We got reservations in Panama City, and I don’t want to lose them.”
The preacher lifted his Bible.
Aside from that one zombie attack, the ceremony went off without a hitch, and Rayette and Bobby were pronounced man and wife. The cake, I’m happy to report, was enjoyed by all.

edit on 9-10-2014 by drwill because: (no reason given)

edit on 9-10-2014 by drwill because: (no reason given)

edit on 9-10-2014 by drwill because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 9 2014 @ 12:15 PM
part 3--
Two weeks after the wedding, the power got shut off.
Aunt Selene and Uncle Eben loaded their camper and told me goodbye. “We’re driving down to Panama City. Maybe we can find Rayette and Bobby,” she said.
It sounded like a one-way trip to me, seeing as the bride and groom had not returned from their honeymoon. After my aunt and uncle bugged out, the Rifle Club guys got into their Jeeps and bugged out.
I was the only person left in Ozone. And I didn’t like it one bit. Mama used to say, “Everything on this earth is temporary, except for the Corian counters in my kitchen. They’re a petroleum product, and nothing short of an A-bomb will take them out.”
What Mama was saying was, “Everything changes. Yet nothing changes at all.” If she were here now, she’d probably light a cigarette and say, “Zombies will come, zombies will go. Then it’ll be something else. Ebola, melting ice caps, solar flares. Wars and rumors of wars. Nuclear waste and nuclear winter.”
She and Daddy had gotten their flu shots, of course. Now they were six feet under in the Ozone Cemetery. Every morning, I stopped by their graves, then I walked to the high school. I climbed to the press box above the football stadium and waited for the Deadheads. Just when you’d thought I thought I’d killed the last one, a new batch would turn up. Best I could tell, the undead were migrating, following the survivors out of the cities.
Today, I lifted my binoculars and checked the streets around the stadium. Empty. In the distance, the sunset broke over the Cumberland Plateau and yellow light seeped down like egg yolk. A ribbon of smoke curled up from the Ozone State Park. In the distance, Knoxville was burning.
I turned sideways, looked toward the coal mine. The Deadheads were shuffling toward the opening. For some reason, these mountain zombies weren’t like the ones in Night of the Living Dead. They didn’t like the cold and daylight seemed to hurt their eyes. Now that it had gotten chilly, they were congregating in the mines. They were highly contagious.
Below, I heard a gagging noise, and I spun around. There on the football field, a smaller, deadish group shuffled across the turf. I put down the binoculars, lifted my gun, and waited for the Deadheads to get closer. Never in my life did I expect to be a sniper. Maybe it’s because I’m a preacher’s daughter, but I fully expected to burn in hell for what I’d done. But when you were already in hell, you do what you have to, right? In a short time I’d changed from a scared woman to a sharp shooter. If I changed much more, I’d be worse than a Deadhead. If that happened, I’d just have to take myself out.
Down on the forty yard line, I saw a flash of movement. Five Deadheads staggered across the field. Three coaches, a water boy, and the homecoming queen. The queen had lost her bouquet and was holding a man’s bloody arm. Just the arm. The rest of him was lying on the forty yard line. I’d seen him a few weeks ago, a live man pushing a cart out of Piggly Wiggly, the canned goods rattling against the metal sides. He hadn't yet changed over, but his brain was disordered, Worse, he could infect me.
I'd have to take them out.
The queen tilted her head and sniffed. Dammit, she’d smelled me. She opened her mouth--or what was left of it-- to alert the others. I drew a bead on her and squeezed the trigger. There was a pop, no louder than an air gun. The Queen fell. The other Deadheads, including the dismembered human, looked up at the press box. Did they see me? Would they think, Hey, that’s little old Tallulah. According to the last televised report, the Deadhead brain couldn’t recognize human faces. They had the IQ of a chicken. When a hen hears the rustling sound of a feed bag, she knows she’ll get fed. It’s the same with noises and Deadheads.
Now, they were still gaping up at the press box, as if trying to decide if they could climb those steep steps. Deadheads aren’t real agile.
I shot them smack between the eyes. One, two, three, four. I didn’t wait for the armless man to rise. This virus, or whatever it is, had a 7 to 10 day incubation period. It could take days for him to change over, so I did the merciful thing. No blood, just a spray on the forty yard line.
I packed my gear and started down the concrete steps. From the shadows, a deep voice said, “Nice shot.”

edit on 9-10-2014 by drwill because: tinkering

posted on Oct, 23 2014 @ 10:34 PM
continued....The man stepped out of the shadows, a rifle slung across his back.
“Don’t move,” I called. My finger slid over the trigger. Okay, he could talk. So he wasn’t a zombie. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous.He raised both hands. I studied him through the scope. Tall and lean. Clean cut, approximately thirty years old. Square jaw. Blue-eyed. Dark beard. He wore jeans, scuffed boots. On his shoulders was a blue backpack, the kind hikers wore, with a rolled up sleeping bag on top.
“Miss, I was passing through. I would've kept on going, but I heard gunfire. I just thought...." He broke off. But I knew what he meant. The sound of a firearm had become the universal sign of life.
He raised his hands high above his head. "Please don’t shoot me. And I'll be on my way.”
If I let him go, he might hide outside the stadium and jump me. If I tied him up, the Zombies would get him.
“Miss, if you’re not gonna shoot me, then let me go. Before more deadheads show up and rip us both apart."
“Put your hands on your head and walk toward the goal post," I said. Still holding the gun, I began walking down the steps. I half expected him to bolt. He didn't. I eased behind him, smelling grit and man sweat. I reached around and took his gun.
“Any more weapons?” I asked.
“In my backpack. Want me to take it off?”
“No. Put your hands behind you.”
I cuffed him.
“You're not gonna leave me in the stadium, are you?" he asked.
“Not unless you give me a reason. What’s your name?”
“Dillon.” He nodded. “You?”
“Never mind. Where you from?”
“That’s a long way from Ozone.”
“It’s a long story.”
“I got time.” I pushed him across the asphalt track, toward the parking lot.
“Where we going, lady?”
“Not far.”
I’d never taken a hostage so I wasn’t sure how I’d keep an eye on him and avoid the Deadheads. Should I let him go or take him to my safe house? But if I took him there, my place wouldn’t be safe, right?
Walking behind him, we headed to City Park. Then I ordered him to climb inside the kiddie fort. It was about ten feet off the ground. Despite the handcuffs, he made it to the top with ease.
I stepped back. “See any zombies?” I asked.
“Not yet.”
“How’d you get from Memphis to Ozone?”
“Drove part of the way. My truck broke down in Orchard City. Some bad asses took over the Wal-mart. Snipers on the roof. I headed east, toward the Smoky Mountains. Got in Ozone this morning.”
“Why did you come to the stadium?”
“Like I said, I heard gunfire." He stared off in the distance, then cut his gaze back to me. "How many survivors in this town?"
I didn't answer.
“You're alone, ain't you??
I pressed my lips together.
" You might be alone now, but not for long. Cities are being evacuated. Stragglers will find their way to Ozone."
“I’ll take my chances.”
"And I'll take mine." He held up his cuffed “You taking these off?"
"I’ll put the key to the handcuffs on the picnic table.” I pointed to a redwood table under the trees. “You come near me again, or try to follow me, and I’ll blow off your damn head.”
I started toward the table.
“Miss?” the man called.
I turned.
He leaned over the side of the kiddie turret. “You seem like a nice lady, but you don't know how it is out there. Ozone won't be safe for long. I’m not talking about zombies getting you. I’m talking about the living.”
“People like you?
“Not like me. Haven’t you been listening to the radio?”
“I’ve tried. The reception’s bad.”
“You don’t know, do you?”
“The government is nuking the cities. The deadline is November 1.”
My chest tightened, and I thought I might be sick. “What good will that do?” I asked, my voice tight as a banjo string.
He shrugged. “Hell if I know."
“What’s today?”
“October 15. I-40 is crammed with refugees. They're coming from everywhere. Big cities. Little towns. Some folks will come to Ozone. They’ll find you.”
“Maybe not.”
“I did.”
“You worry about you, I’ll worry about me.” I scanned the park. Nothing but empty fields. I set the key on the picnic table and headed toward the road. Then I glanced back. Dillon sat cross-legged in the fort. Probably watching to see which direction I went. No problem. I'd just take a twisty route. All I had to do was cross the train tracks, and I'd be home.
I cut across the street and turned a corner. Three feet away, Deadheads moved around stalled vehicles. Two men and a woman. Their chins were caked with blood. I recognized the first man. It was Mr. Granger from the paint store. Three weeks ago, I’d seen him at Rayette’s wedding. The other two zombies weren’t local. The woman wore thigh-high leather boots. Kohl eye paint ran down her cheeks. The man wore a UPS uniform.
I squeezed the trigger. One side of Mr. Granger's head exploded. Bits of tissue sprayed onto the woman zombie’s face. Her companion was a stubby man. He pointed at me and let out a keening wail. A dozen zombies stepped onto the train tracks and shimmed down the little hill. They all started toward me.
I drew a bead on the woman, then pulled the trigger. Nothing but a hard click. Damn. I checked the chamber. It had two brand knew shells. Again, I pulled the trigger, but it had jammed. I reached for Dillon's gun. The zombies’ shoes scraped over the asphalt as they slogged forward. They spread out, as if to surround me. Off in the distance, gunfire rang out. The woman zombie fell over backward. Her head thwacked against the pavement. Another shot, and the UPS guy dropped to the pavement. The remaining zombies straggled down the street. Crack, crack. One by one, they fell.I whirled. Dillon lowered the gun. Behind him, a new herd of zombies shuffled forward. Dillon took off backpack, pulled out a bottle of vodka, and stuffed it with a handkerchief. Then he lit a match. He tossed the bottle at the zombies. Fire whooshed up.
“Run,” he yelled.

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