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(© Calvin Voxx)

Page 2

ĎCause see, the messed up thing about this one is, youíre both victim and tornado. You get to take turns.

Yeah, they didnít tell you about that part. All the movies weíd been watching about the zombie apocalypse hadnít prepared us for that. Thanks, Alex Garland. Thanks, George A. Romero. Thanks for nothing.

I wonít tell you how it starts. You already know that part. It starts with an isolated case in rural China. Then a freak face-eating incident in Southern Peru on one of those rickety buses that winds over the mountains. Then a business man blows it at an airport in Manilla, just after landing from an intercontinental flight.

Before you know it Ė global pandemic.

Thatís pretty much how it unfolds in the movies and thatís more or less how it unfolded in real life. I mean, it took weeks. We all watched on the news. At first, with voyeuristic glee. Who doesnít like a good pandemic scare? For a while there had been avian bird flu and swine flu and ebola and mad cow disease and there had even been the first variant of the so-called "zombie flu," which had turned out to just not amount to much if you were a healthy individual Ö and then it just went quiet for a while. So when this came along, at first it was a break from the regular doldrums of the news of the day Ė politics, murders, the economy sucks, whatever.

Cable news channels went nuts. They trotted out the "experts." They read us the comments in their email inbox from every random idiot under the sun, as if learning how to operate email somehow makes your opinion newsworthy. They even had Max Brooks up there telling us what kind of hand-held weapons we should own. Everyone was having a grand old time.

Which was fine for a while. And then about three weeks in, it started to sink in: this was for real.

They started mandating blood screening before traveling overseas. Airports emptied out as all non-essential travel shut down. The entire southern half of Brazil was quarantined. Kids stopped going to school. People stopped coming into work. Everybody was into telework all of a sudden.

China just dropped plain off the grid. Locked down. The only footage that made it out of the whole country was a single five minute clip from a shaky handy cam with that one scene the cable news kept playing over and over again. The body lying in the alley, suddenly pulled around the corner by something unseen.

And thatís how it was everywhere. You saw the helicopter footage of rioting in the streets, burning cars and coils of black smoke rising from S„o Paulo, but you didnít see them. They were there, in the darkness, sometimes heard but rarely seen.

You wanted to. There was a sickness to it all, a perverse voyeuristic glee in seeing it all come to life, the very same scenes you had watched on television and movies all these years. And now it was here, but so much more exciting knowing that it was real.

The truth, though, is that itís only safe and good when you have the barrier of your TV screen between you and reality. The TV screen leaches out the texture of the horror. You can see the curved bit of white in the distance and you think it might be a human rib bone, which is kind of titillating, but you donít know for sure. And you definitely canít see the teeth marks on it.

You can imagine the horrors inside now-abandoned buildings, but you canít actually smell the ripe stench emanating from a daycare center.

Ö Or the sounds coming from within. The crunching.

They shut everything down. But, as you know, it was all for nothing. By then, itís too late. Youíre chasing the back-end of a wildfire, waving a garden hose. Whatís the point?

One day I came into work and the building was shut down and there was a splotch of blood on the sidewalk in front of the lobby. There was blood on the doors too. The building was locked and a hastily drawn sign simply said: "closed." There was a phone number written underneath. I called, but no one answered.

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Genre:Living Dead
Type:Medium length story
Rating:7.77 / 10
Rated By:37 users
Comments: 7 users
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